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Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Directorial Feature Spotlight: Chris Columbus

'Direction is Pedestrian and A Tad Too Sentimental, But Otherwise, Columbus's Work Has Been Solid & Satisfactory'

Chris Joseph Columbus (no, not that Chris Columbus) is a movie director, born in Spangler Pennsylvania & raised in Champion, Ohio who did Home Alone 1 & 2, Mrs. Doubtfire, the first two Harry Potter films, as well as a movie version of the musical, RENT. A protege of Steven Spielberg, Columbus also directed the dramedy, Stepmom starring Julia Roberts & Susan Sarandon & made his directorial debut with The Adventures in Babysitting in 1987.

He's had two of the highest grossing action comedies of the 1990s in Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire, which made a big star out of Macularly Culkin, well for a brief while, and an even bigger star out of Robin Williams, as his movie career in the 1990s surged upwards and continued to flourish. Columbus also produced the Arnold Schwarzenneger Christmas comedy caper, Jingle All The Way

Columbus's last couple of films, Percy Jackson & The Olympians, I Love You Beth Cooper and Rent all underperformed at the box office and received less than satisfactory reviews. Whereas his last effort to date, Pixels grossed nearly $245 million worldwide, but it was met with negative reviews from critics and movie reviewers alike & whilst they were not as big and were relatively low key movies, even Bicentennial Man (which I loathed) & Stepmom (which I enjoyed), mainstream Hollywood produced efforts, didn't do as well as one would have hoped.

If you grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, then you'd have come across Gremlins, which was a smash hit in the 1980s and The Goonies, which has now become a cult hit and of which Columbus had a hand in producing, followed by The Adventures of Babysitting starring a young Elisabeth Shue.

When I think of the name Chris Columbus, besides being the famous explorer, is with this Chris Columbus, he has carved a name for himself with his comedies and comedy dramas that incorporate sentimentally and melodrama. He typically creates films that young people and families can enjoy and appreciate and whilst his direction can be accused of playing things too safe for audiences and that it is not very excitable, his protagonist characters are likeable, sympathetic and appealing enough for me to enjoy the film. Thanks to performers such as Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, Macaulay Culkin and Daniel Radcliffe. Now, it would be an entirely different matter altogether if all of his movies are generally terrible or bad, or annoying, but I wouldn't use any of those words to describe his movies because there is not a single film of his I hated. Okay, scratch that, but for Bicentennial Man: I didn't like that movie, whatsoever, it looked silly, seeing Robin in that role was so corny and it is also my least personal favourite Robin Williams film. But other than that awful blip, his movie output has been easy and pleasant on the eyes for me. Nine Months, however, wasn't completely crap; I found some of it amusing, but the actual film and the writing just weren't that entertaining. That, and I wasn't fond of Hugh Grant and Julianne Moore's performances in this one. 

His direction is generally bland, not very creative or daring enough and needs more work and though he is past his best nowadays, like with many other directors who have had hits in the 1980s and 1990s, his best days were the '80s and '90s, some of the best decades for movies, well, in my eyes. Columbus hasn't directed more than one film that I didn't like. Like I mentioned, even with the somewhat pedestrian direction he takes, there are films of his I still enjoy because of the actors' performances especially that impress me & of which help elevate the movie that makes up for it. 

Overall, I find Chris Columbus's output to be rather decent and solid, although with Mrs Doubtfire and Home Alone, as much as I enjoyed those films, he should have toned down the tooth-rotting sentimentality in them. 

But other than that, Columbus has done far more, which I enjoyed that fully outweighs the bad that I disliked in his other films, which are so few.

Notable Favourites: Adventures In Babysitting (1987), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Home Alone (1990), Stepmom (1998), Gremlins (1984), The Goonies (1985)
Notable Non-Favourites: Bicenteannial Man (1999), Only The Lonely (1991)

Grade I Would Award Towards Chris Columbus:  C+

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