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Saturday, 30 April 2016

Weekend TV Movie Review: Liar Liar - ITV2 (1997)

Liar Liar
Cast: Jim Carrey, Maura Tierney, Justin Cooper, Cary Elwes, Anne Haney, Jennifer Tilly
Genre: Comedy
Estimated Worldwide Gross: $302,710,615

Plot: Fast-talking lawyer and habitual liar, Fletcher Reede (Jim Carrey) is constantly coming up with excuses for not visiting his 4-year-old son, Max who lives with Fletcher's ex-wife, Audrey (Maura Tierney). When Fletcher misses Max's 5th birthday party, Max makes a wish that his dad will stop lying for a whole day. The wish is immediately put into practice, & Fletcher thus finds himself becoming disturbingly honest with his boss, his colleagues, and worst of all, in court  

'Arguably Jim Carrey's Most All-Round Comedic Best Effort' 

From the producer of the Eddie Murphy 1996 remake of The Nutty Professor and director of Patch Adams, comes this comedy feature starring the impromptu, Jim Carrey of Ace Ventura and The Mask fame.   

Though I'm not a big follower of Jim Carrey's work, I did enjoy Ace Ventura Pet Detective, The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, as well as his TV turn In Living Color and Liar Liar follows the same formula as with all of those comedy-based flicks. And I do find him hilarious. 

Jim Carrey was a huge star in the 1990s, and much like with Robin Williams, he made that successful transition as a TV star and comedian on the small screen to become a Hollywood movie actor, with earlier efforts such as Peggy Sue Got Married and Earth Girls Made Easy in the 1980s. Not since Robin Williams, for a long time until the early 1990s had there been a comedian, whose sense of comedy thrived on high energy, off-the-wall and madcap antics. A lot of people aren't too keen on his style of in-yer-face, improvisational and physical comedy, however. But with movies such as Liar Liar, there is no doubting that it makes the most of his abilities. 

Whilst Ace Ventura, Dumb & DumberThe Mask and to some extent, Batman Forever as the antagonist, the Riddler pretty much put Jim Carrey on the map, Liar Liar is arguably the first real movie where he displays his comedic and acting talents, full-on. And the end result is pretty darn entertaining and highly amusing. 

The humour is just as you'd expect from those hits, yet it operates on a slightly more mature level than that of Ace Ventura Pet Detective and The Mask: the broad humour in both movies can be easily understood by viewers of all ages. 

The movie gets off to a slow start, but as soon as Max starts blowing out the candles on his birthday cake and makes a wish for his dad not to tell a lie for one whole day, chaos and hilarity then ensue. It's not a surprise that this movie was a huge box office hit back in 1997; the director did a great job bringing the best out of Jim's comedic talents. 

What also makes this movie really funny is the fact that every lie that comes out of liar lawyer's (hey the movie could have been titled 'Liar Lawyer' but that would have sounded awful) Fletcher's mouth is one crazy thing after another. The story is about a man who constantly lies in order to get himself out of every predicament, yet what happens when he tells the honest truth? At times this lands him into even bigger trouble, angers people and on certain occasions, it also makes him realise that in exposing all of his flaws, he has to change for the greater good. 

But not only is it funny, it teaches some valuable and fundamental lessons in life, and that lying all the time doesn't get us and will never get us very far in our lives. It is not a typical 'dumb' comedy, but a comedy with heart and lots of humour.

Fans and viewers of Mrs Doubtfire will instantly recognise Anne Haney, who plays Greta in the film. Maura Tierney of ER fame was not bad, but I just didn't feel Cary Elwes as Audrey's boyfriend. He was very dull and the boy who played Max was, cute. 

This is rubber-faced, manic Jim Carrey at his comedic best; with a strong script, some amusing slapstick, sad and heartwarming moments and almost complete performance by Carrey, it is undoubtedly (one of) the best he has delivered. And even more so, as the majority of his latter movies that came right after Liar Liar have been so-so, in terms of quality. 

Final Verdict:

Arguably Jim Carrey's finest and all-round moment, Liar Liar hits the spot in all the right places. Worth owning if you are into slapstick humour and family-friendly comedies. 


'Cast Robin Williams In A Movie' Idea: The Animated Cross-Over


Title of Movie

The Bat & The Magic Lamp ('sounds very unoriginal and crap, I know') 

Movie classification ratings

U (UK), G (Australia, Canada, USA)

Notes: suitable for audiences aged 4 years of age upwards, contains mild animated violence 

Estimate feature run-time: 1 hour, 30 mins

Year of Production & Release

Production: 1993, theatrical release: 1995 

Tag lines

'Get ready for one of the biggest - yet unexpected & uncharted crossover adventures in animated history'

'Behold the magic, wishes can come true.... especially if you're a bat!'

What type of movie is it?

A family animated movie cross-over starring the 2 comic- relief characters: Genie of Aladdin and Batty Koda of Ferngully, set in the Aladdin universe.

  • Is an example of a dimensional crossover - has its own dimension with some kind of travel. How the character/s who are out of time and out of place get back to where they belong. 
  • Is an example of a crisis crossover - characters brought together to deal with some massive threat >> Batty Koda in Aladdin setting teaming up with Genie to set right what went wrong 
  • Is an example of negative space wedgie - used to bring characters together when the crossing series takes place in distant worlds, times, universes 

A crossover generally implies 2 or more fictional characters from different media properties interacting on a TV show or movie which is something they wouldn't normally do. Is an example of inter-continuity crossover 

-  Is a Buddy Picture >> a story about 2 friends or friends to be and their adventures, they serve as dual protagonists. The friendship itself will provide much of the drama and humour along the way. The 2 characters work together to defeat a common enemy and reap a shared reward, is fueled by the power of friendship. 

- Team Up >> concept of 2 heroes teaming up, them being Batty Koda and Genie 

- Adventure Duo >> they are a specific pair from the world of animation & film 

- Animation Bump >> improved animation quality compared to Ferngully at least

Main Cast:

Robin Williams as Batty Koda and Genie 

Gilbert Gottfried as lago 

Douglas Seale as Sulton

Plus other unknown voice actors playing a variety of characters, of which I won't bother mentioning as they are pretty much not as important and crucial to the story and plot of the film. 


- 'Be careful what you wish for' - character makes a wish and gets what they wished for, only to find out that the reality does not live up to their fantasy

Based on this Disney rendition of the classic Aladdin tale, a bat going by the name of Batty Koda, who claims to have been genetically experimented on by humans, thus giving him a crazed, unstable personality, has been magically transported to the Arabian city of Agrabah. Batty eventually stumbles upon a magical oil lamp and with one rub, inadvertently unleashes the Genie, thus granting him 3 wishes. However, this in itself, has unexpected consequences. To further complicate matters, he soon finds out that an enemy wants to get hold of the lamp, as well as to have Batty killed. 

Will Batty, with the aid of Genie, be able to restore the lamp to its rightful place, as well as return home safely to Ferngully? 

Genie >> 'Big Good' - character stated to be the counterpart to combat the forces of evil & a 'Non-Human Sidekick'

Is a 'Ball of Light Transformation' - peculiar form of voluntary shape-shifting where character turns into a flying orb, flame of light

Is a Benevolent Genie >> a cool Genie, is nice and subservient 

Batty >> adorkable, Hyper-competent  side-kick who tends to be smarter, more efficient and more industrious 

Inter-species friendship >> Genie the erm, Genie and Batty Koda, the fruit bat 

Odd friendship >> Genie and Batty Koda; the friendship between 2 characters that would seem unlikely to be friends for various reasons. Through their friendship, they learn more about each other & themselves 

So it seems that Robin would be playing and voicing dual roles?

Yes. Dan Castellaneta and Matt Miller - had I been in charge of this crossover -, would not be reprising the roles of Genie and Batty in this particular film. Not that I have anything personal against them. After witnessing Aladdin: The Return of Jafar and Ferngully 2, I noticed that Robin Williams's absence, as well as the low-budget production values in the animation & poor musical numbers, was a detriment to those movies, and as a result, the movies themselves turned out to be lackluster follow-ups to the original films. 

It is possible to have Robin Williams voicing both the Genie AND Batty Koda - he probably would have had to record his lines for those characters individually first or be able to switch to each character simultaneously, one after the other. It is a quite a huge feat, especially for an animated movie that is 1 hour 15 mins long. But knowing Robin Williams has that knack of voicing a multitude of characters with varying personalities, he would have been more than capable of pulling this off. 

What else do we need to know about this movie?

Aladdin and Jasmine are notably absent throughout this feature, as is the antagonist, Jafar. Therefore, there would be a different antagonist in his place. Batty Koda is the lead protagonist and character of this film, with Genie, as usual playing his supportive role. Both characters serve as dual protagonists. It has some of the humour and wit of Ferngully and Aladdin. Genie is well, Genie with his magical powers and character transformations whereas Batty is more or less the same character as he was in Ferngully, but in addition, a lot more emphasis is placed on his development as a character & his origins. He would be a lot more fleshed out in terms of personality; he is also a lot braver than ever before and he pretty much leads this movie, right from the front. In Batty Koda and Genie, they are the 2 main characters, though it is more so about Batty, rather than Genie.  

It also contains cameo appearances from the Sulton and parrot, Lago, lots of clean and G-rated humour, some pop culture and entertainment references and a few musical numbers thrown in. And lastly, it will be co- produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Kroyer Films. It would have the same high production values as the original Ferngully and Aladdin movies, rather than the straight-to-DVD fare of Aladdin: Return of Jafar, Aladdin and the King of Thieves and Ferngully 2: The Magical Rescue. 

Though the fallout between Robin and Disney was well documented in the press at the time of the 1990s, it still would have been cool to see a crossover feature starring Genie and Batty Koda, who unlike the former, isn't owned by Disney. 

Why Batty Koda in particular? 

Batty Koda is, and will forever be synonymous with Robin Williams than with Matt Miller, in the same way as Genie is synonymous with Robin than with Dan Castellaneta - who is better known as Homer from The Simpsons. He is one of my favourite Robin Williams characters, of whom doesn't get the same recognition or attention as Genie. Batty is very underrated as an animated character and his manic personality, sarcastic wit and humour is just an ideal foil for Genie's larger-than-life, yet often subtle, mischievous and down-to-earth charisma. 

You have very chalk-&-cheese personalities to compliment one another. That, & that they'd make for one heck of a cartoon duo. And though the idea of a crazed fruit-bat in the outskirts of Arabia mingling with the locals and Genie may sound off and peculiar at first, on-screen, I think this would work. 

Another reason is by giving Batty Koda his own standalone crossover/spin-off, this would further boost his reputation as an animated character & to hopefully make him more of a household name, like with Genie. 

Examples of Shout-outs 

- Various Disney properties and pop culture references, movies, TV shows, references to Mork & Mindy 

- The Cameo >> a Disney-fied portrait version of Peter Pan from the movie, Hook appears on the wall of a house 

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Weekend TV Movie Review: The Rugrats Movie - Film 4 (1998)

The Rugrats Movie
Cast: Elizabeth Daily, Christine Kavanagh, Kath Soucie, Melanie Chartoff, Phil Proctor, Tara Strong, Jack Riley, Cree Summer, Melanie Chartoff, Busta Rhymes, Tress MacNeille, Tim Curry, David Spade, Iggy Pop, Whoopi Goldberg, Lisa Loeb, Margaret Cho
Estimated Worldwide Gross: $140,894,685

Plot: Tommy Pickles tries to return his baby brother, Dil to the hospital after being warned by his mean-spirited friend, Angelica that once his new sibling is born his parents won't care about him. But, soon after they embark on the mission, Tommy and his friends lose their way in the woods and get into trouble with a pack of wild monkeys who have escaped from the circus. The kids begin to think that maybe things weren't so bad at home after all. 

'The Last Of The Best of The Rugrats Before They Grew Up, & With That Came The Decline'

It has been a long, long time since I tuned into the Nickelodeon Kids animated series, Rugrats. 

One of my favourite cartoons from the 1990s decade, it certainly has its moments, thanks to the clan of toddlers, comprising of Chuckie, Tommy, Phil & Lil' and their never-ending adventures. So when the movie came out in 1998, I avoided it for a long while. Until I saw it in full on Film Four. It did get a lot of promotion and publicity hype, thanks to Nickelodeon, and it wasn't long until the popularity of the Rugrats animated series soon soared to new heights. 

The movie also introduced a new character: the addition of baby brother Dil. When Dil is born, the kids don't seem to get along with him, with Tommy feeling the brunt of his parents increasing attention towards his younger sibling. When the babies find themselves lost in the forest, they are left fending for themselves and trying to take Dil back to the hospital. But that in itself isn't as straightforward as it seems. Later on, Angelica begins to tag along when her doll, Cynthia goes missing. 

One of the aspects that is emphasized quite a lot and is a running theme throughout this movie was that as siblings and having brothers and sisters, that no matter how much they may get on our nerves, they are still flesh and blood to us and it is a relationship that we have to get used, as we grow up. As kids and whilst transitioning into adulthood. The bond between Tommy and Dil was well- written and we see from the beginning to the end, Tommy's jealousy and dislike towards his brother disappears when he realises that not only does he need him, they need to be there for each other through the tough times, as well as good ones. The scene where Tommy is sleeping beside Dil in the woods was really moving and sweet - yet sad & heartbreaking also, I shed a few tears. Dil was a cutie and is a good addition to the Rugrats crew. 

The first feature film outing for the little toddlers, it also features a celebrity voice cast that includes Whoopi Goldberg, actor David Spade, rapper Busta Rhymes, and pop stars Beck, Iggy Pop and Lisa Loeb alongside the regular character voice actors in the late Christine Kavanagh, Cree Summer (who is mostly known to A Different World fans as Freddie), Elizabeth Daily, Tara Strong and Charlie Adler. 

Sadly, the decline of the Rugrats began with Kimi's arrival and continued into the latter years when the rugrats grew up and became kids. Though fans have cited this movie as the beginning of the downfall of the franchise, for me, as soon as Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil and Dil were no longer toddlers, & Kimi turned up, it pretty much signalled the end of the Rugrats. It's a shame really because Nickelodeon had a good run going by not having the kids growing up. And when they did, the episodes were less amusing, fun and interesting as a result. 

Nonetheless, the animation is fantastic with vibrant colours, interesting motion picture soundtrack, with a stellar voice cast and the story is good.

It has everything a Rugrats fan would expect it would have in a feature-length movie, and because it is longer, you get more of an insight into the babies thoughts, feelings and emotions, as they all try and come to terms with Dil's presence, but with Phil & Lil and Angelica feeling more animosity towards Dil than Tommy and Chuckie. 

Speaking of Angelica, she is her usual b****y self and is the same character as she is in the TV series. 

Final Verdict:

As I write this, it is almost 20 years since this movie was released and it still holds up well today. It is still the best Rugrats movie by far, in addition to it being the last of the best years we have seen of Tommy and co. 

Amusing, poignant and sad at times, with a well-told story & great animation production values from Klasky-Csupo via Nickelodeon Movies & heart, for their first outing in The Rugrats Movie, it was well worth the journey. 


Saturday, 23 April 2016

Retro Movie Review: Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) #RobinWilliams

Mrs Doubtfire  
Cast: Robin Williams, Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan, Lisa Jakub, Matthew Lawrence, Mara Wilson, Harvey Fierstein, Robert Prosky
Genre: Comedy
Estimated Worldwide Gross: $441,286,003

Trivia: the prosthetic mask used by Robin Williams as Mrs Doubtfire was actually a prop. The real make-up was made up of 8 separate pieces

Plot: Troubled that he has little access to his children, divorced Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) hatches an elaborate plan. With help from his creative brother (Harvey Fierstein), he dresses as an older British woman & convinces his ex-wife, Miranda (Sally Field) to hire him as a nanny. 

'Mrs Doubtfire's Irritations Brings Out Robin Williams's Most Memorable & Famous Role - If Not Remarkable Movie of His'

It's funny you know sometimes, how some of the things you loved and enjoyed as a child or teenager back in the days, that when you revisit it a decade or so later as a grown-up, you notice that it wasn't and isn't all that it is cracked up to be. That is partly because when we were younger, we don't think about it on a deeper or sub-conscious level. We just consume things as they are from the director's perspective; you just don't contemplate what the hidden messages were and are. You just buy into it, because with films, their main purpose is to entertain, rather than to enlighten and make us think. 

Having said that, we all read movies, TV shows differently and interpret events in our own ways; what some may find amusing, others will find that same thing irritating. What many people would consider as brilliant or excellent, there is a small or considerable majority or minority who feel the exact opposite, and vice-versa. 

That has been the case with so many movies that I have watched; & this particular statement echoes how I feel towards the Robin Williams 1993 flick, Mrs Doubtfirethat somewhere down the line, Mrs Doubtfire moved on from being a really outrageously funny and hilarious comedy movie in the early '90s to a decently average flick, after countless and repeated viewings. 

I used to watch this film repeatedly when it came out on video in 1994 and practically got sick of it. Having recently caught up with it on TV for the first time in aeons, and having avoided watching it on DVD, and as I also own it on DVD as part of my Robin Williams collection, it seems to me that my perceptions and views on it are less pessimistic and slightly more optimistic. And though it is not without its flaws, watching Mrs Doubtfire for the first time in say over 8 years or so, it definitely deserves a place in anyone's Robin Williams collection. Even with the flawed characters and plot-holes. 

Daniel is devastated when his estranged wife, Miranda grants a divorce and after 20 years, their marriage is over. Desperate to see his three children, he disguises himself as a Scottish housekeeper under the pseudonym of Mrs Doubtfire and unknownst to Miranda, he lands the position and works as a nanny. 

The premise is nothing that has been attempted before - although arguably it does tread on familiar territory as in Tootsie, with the struggling actor dressing up in drag as a woman. & contrary to most people, Tootsie is not a rip-off of Mrs Doubtfire, given as Tootsie came out in 1982, years before Mrs Doubtfire. Concept-wise, Mrs Doubtfire is Tootsie meets Kramer vs. Kramer, which are also the titles of movies starring Robin Williams's co-star in Hook, Dustin Hoffman.

Still, there are several issues with this film that I am going to touch upon & highlight.

The first being one can easily get bored and tired because time after time, in seeing the same jokes, puns and gags over and over, it loses its humour and some of its appeal. Alas, making it less funny and amusing. 

Secondly, Robin Williams is a jack- of- all- trades: he can do comedy, drama, action-adventure (Jumanji and Hook), the whole she-bang. Unfortunately, more evidently so with Jack, What Dreams May Come and Bicentennial Man & from the mid-2000s onwards, the same cannot be said about some of the projects he chooses to assign himself with. That's not to say I completely knock his role in Mrs Doubtfire - he gives a good account of himself as Daniel Hillard & I can't really think of another performer playing that character, especially a comedic performer who could pull off a performance as convincingly well as he did in this movie. But as good as it was, I cannot say the same thing about Daniel himself. At times, I just find him childish, moody and comes across as a dislikeable character. 

It's kind of strange how as Daniel, he is a total jerk towards people around him and that when he transforms into Mrs Doubtfire, he acts and becomes a different person. Well, when he pretends to be nice towards Stuart, in his efforts to wind him up. 

The third issue is that some aspects of the movie don't hold up very well and that it comes across as being too sickly sweet, saccharine and sentimental. I know it is a family movie and all, but you don't have to always go overboard with it. Though it is labelled as a comedy, sometimes, the movie doesn't know whether it wants to be a full-on comedy or drama. & yet when it tries to become a full-on drama, some of it is good and yet some of it is also a little overdrawn and feels slightly 'contrived' too. Perhaps dramedy is a better genre distinction for Mrs Doubtfire

The fourth and fifth issues relate to the characters themselves: I'm not a fan of Daniel - in fact, I supported him when I was a child when I first saw this film and felt sorry for him when he was being berated by his ex-wife, of whom I couldn't stand. But over time, I suddenly realised he wasn't the complete saint that he makes himself out to be because what I found funny as a child whilst watching Mrs Doubtfire, as an adult I actually found some of Daniel's antics & behaviour silly, immature and out of order. His incessant whining and moaning on several occasions during this movie though was a turn-off. But he isn't the only character I have a bone to pick with: the ex-wife Miranda came across as not a very nice person, off-putting and cruel and the kids were so banal. One would think after divorcing her hubby, she would take a break from dating for a while, but no - just to rub it in her ex-husband's face, she meets up with and dates another guy (who is an ex-boyfriend from high school), so soon after her marriage break-up. It's no wonder why some fans of this film loathe Miranda. I loved Sally Field in Soapdish and Steel Magnolias, but in Mrs Doubtfire as Miranda, not so much. Like Robin with Daniel, her performance was convincing & well acted. & also her character came across on screen as being very bitter and unsavoury. Both the adult characters, Daniel and Miranda are just as flawed in their own ways as each other. As for Pierce Brosnan, who went on to become the next James Bond after this movie, as Stuart, he looks kind of out of place here as Miranda's muse.  

Back to the kids themselves, I was surprised at how little attempts were made to develop the younger characters, i.e. the Hillard kids and their relationship with their father. Had the film touched upon this aspect more, then I would have cared more about them. And alas, I don't. 

The sixth issue I have with this film is it is 2 hours long- which for a comedy, is frankly ridiculous. A couple of the scenes that exist for trivial reasons, could have been easily edited or cut out altogether. 

And lastly, the restaurant scene during the final third or so of the film should have worked; it could have and should have turned out much better than it did on screen, but the way it was played out was so disjointed, jarring and sloppy, it didn't flow as well as it did. There were too many interruptions, stops that disrupted that flow. 

But one of the few saving graces was the handling of the subject of divorce; it was very realistic, especially the ending. I give credit to the writers for that. I was just thinking to myself that had Mrs Doubtfire been a straight-up comedy, slapstick farce -type of movie, and not have all of these family components, whether or not it would work just as well. Come to think of it (& in all likelihood), most likely so. So, yes it would. 

With a mixture of good and bad writing, some unsympathetic protagonists and dated gender politics, Mrs Doubtfire, for all of its box office success and millions of dollars generated from box office takings, never reaches the same heights as other movies of this type; i.e. Tootsie. The acting performances (but for the child actors) are very, very good; it's such a shame the same cannot be said for the characterisations and characters. You can enjoy an actor/actress's performance, and still, take a disliking to their character. That is the case with Mrs Doubtfire, which is a subpar version of Tootsie set in a family-friendly context. It was the characterisations that effectively hampered this take on the drag comedy formula, as 'terrible' as they were.

The humour and slapstick, like with all of Robin Williams's comedy roles, movie and TV-wise with Mork & Mindy, is there; although some of it becomes tiresome and less amusing after repeated viewings. It is one of those movies where you can't get away with watching it on repeat all the time because by then you'd get bored afterwards. And the least said about the toilet scene involving Mrs Doubtfire and the son, Chris, the better. 

But for a few curse words, it is a pretty inoffensive film that can become too sentimental for its own worth, but also that sentimentality is thankfully undercut by Williams's humourous antics. Which might be a chore for some people, but for those who watch Mrs Doubtfire, just to see Robin clown around, is, at times, fun and entertaining. 

It's strange: this film would have been dire and duller without Robin Williams in it - though the same argument could be used for Tootsie and by taking away Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange, - and yet with Robin, this is still not what I consider to be his best ever effort. Not by some distance. But the film's entire success was largely made up of his performance as Mrs Doubtfire. Even under Chris Columbus's mundane and tame direction, without Williams, Mrs Doubtfire would have easily bombed. 

Being an avid Robin Williams fan & in going through his filmography way back from his time on Mork & Mindy up to his cinematic efforts of the 1980s and 1990s myself, I am going to go out on a limb, and with all honesty say that Mrs Doubtfire doesn't quite deserve all the plaudits it gets, especially as Robin Williams has given far better and all-round performances in movies such as Good Will Hunting, Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Awakenings and Hook. As well as playing much more likeable protagonist characters than Daniel in Genie (Aladdin), Dale Putley (Fathers' Day), Adrian Cronauer (Good Morning, Vietnam), Donald Quinelle (The Survivors), comedy-wise. 

Though personally, Mrs Doubtfire is far from the best thing Robin Williams has done in his entire career (with Good Morning, Vietnam being it for me personally), and yet still, it does have re-watch-ability & provides plenty of entertainment. I generally love Robin's style of comedy; that improvisational style with the silly voices. He still makes me smile and laugh through most of the funny scenes and as enjoyable as this film is, but for the kids, Miranda, in rewatching it less frequently, makes me appreciate it slightly- if not more. 

Favourite Lines

'Broke my bag, the b*****d!'

'I can hip-hop, be-bop, dance 'til you drop, and yo-yo I can make a wicked cup of cocoa'

'Hey Miranda, Wassup?'

'Touch me again & I'll drown ya, ya b*****d'


'The fact that Pudgy the Parrot has a cigarette shoved in his mouth, is morally irresponsible'

'I'll be crazy to make a deal with you!' *in a wacky voice*

'I hope you bring cocktail sauce. She's got crabs, dear, and I don't mean Dungeness' 

'Oh s**t!' (Daniel after seeing his latex mask get run over)


Pros +

- Has some amusing and light-hearted moments

- Good performances by Robin Williams and Sally Field

- Is fully watchable throughout 

- Robin Williams was a hoot

- The initial situation and handling of the subject of divorce was well done

- Highly entertaining 

Cons -

- Dis-likeable, and to a certain extent, unsympathetic main protagonist characters

- The Hillard kids lacked personality 

- Movie being 2 hours long 

- Is a poor man's Tootsie 

- The speech made by Daniel at court near the end felt a little too sappy 

- This movie would be nowhere as good had Robin not been in it


Final Verdict: 

Personally, it is nowhere as fantastic as others have made it out to be. I only bought this DVD to add to my Robin Williams DVD collection. It is not a movie I'd watch all of the time, as it would only lose its charm. That is not to say however it is bad - there are a few other Robin Williams movies on my radar that I consider to be a lot worse than this one (*cough* Bicentennial Man, Being Human, What Dreams May Come & most of his post - 2000 offerings). 

Yet Mrs Doubtfire, as very good as it is, is still arguably the most overrated Robin Williams movie in my opinion: he has appeared in far better fare than this, - and so I am a tad disappointed that Robin will be mostly saddled with and remembered for Mrs Doubtfire, more-so than for the other superior movies and roles he has starred in. 

But Mrs Doubtfire is more of a memorable movie; in the sense that it will be Robin's most well known on-screen role, rather than as a remarkable comedy it was billed as. It is too bad the characterisations (not that it is the fault of the actors themselves, but of which I cite as the biggest problem) had let this film down - because I didn't really take to any of the characters in Mrs Doubtfire, whatsoever. Not even Robin Williams's Daniel. Well not so much, even though a few of his scenes as Mrs Doubtfire puts a smile on my face -, which is kind of unusual for a Robin Williams movie because usually most - if not all of the other character roles he undertakes are favourites of mine. Yet at the same time, it is he who makes it entertaining to watch, moreso than for the other cast members. 

Had the writers & creators spent more time in making the characters more likeable, interesting and appealing to the audience, in addition to cutting down the length of some of the scenes, it would have made the movie far more enjoyable. It's not a completely terrible movie; in fact, watching Mrs Doubtfire less often, as I said, makes me appreciate it more, but it is most certainly overrated. 

Having said that, if you are a massive Robin fan, it is a movie that you have to have in your collection. 


*last updated: 28 February, 2018*

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Saturday, 16 April 2016

Retro Movie Review: Fathers' Day (1997) #RobinWilliams

Fathers' Day
Cast: Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Nastassja Kinski, Charlie Hofheimer, Sugar Ray, Mel Gibson (in a short cameo)
Genre: Comedy
Estimated Worldwide Gross: over $35 million

Trivia: during the filming of the concert scene, Robin Williams took a break & walked into the Bleachers, where he entertained the extras who gathered around him 

Plot: A woman cons two former boyfriends into searching for her runaway son by convincing both of them that they are the boy's father

'Contrary To Critics, Fans & Movie Goers, Fathers' Day Is My Beloved Robin Williams Comedy Movie'

Overshadowed by and overlooked in favour of Mrs Doubtfire, the first time I had seen the trailer for this movie, I thought to myself 'what is this?'. & so off the back of that trailer, I thought it would be dumb and stupid, and that I would loathe it. Add to that a somewhat awful poster that accompanied it, negative reviews from across the board that practically trounced it to death, I didn't have high hopes for this film; so much so I had low expectations and saw it as typical Z-list comedy movie fare. 

But man oh man, was I wrong about this movie. So wrong. Fathers' Day has the same silly, stupid, farcical humour that was in Mrs Doubtfire, and yet all of a sudden when Robin Williams dresses up as a woman, people take notice. But when he plays a character with a tragic backstory and who is much more kind-hearted as Dale, audiences take no notice. It doesn't make much sense. Until they find out his character is suicidal: very much like Robin Williams himself when he was much older. 

I still find the suicide references and the opening scene still uncomfortable and unsettling. I was literately taken aback by that, especially as Robin had died through suicide in real life. So as coincidental as it was, even in the context of a comedy and despite it being part of the main plot, it still brought back horrible memories of his death.

Directed by Ivan Reitman of Ghostbusters and Kindergarten Cop, and with producer - who is oddly enough-, Joel Silver, who is well known for action movies such as Die Hard and Lethal Weapon, Fathers' Day was the fourth in the line of family comedy- based movies from the 1990s starring the team-up of comics & closest friends, Robin Williams & Billy Crystal. And Robin's comedic role pretty much follows the same or otherwise, similar trademark improvisational style as seen in Aladdin as the Genie, Batty Koda in Ferngully and as Daniel Hillard/Mrs Doubtfire in Mrs Doubtfire. His character routine and improv style throughout this film allows him to demonstrate his comedic acting and stand-up talents that made him famous during the standup scene, on Mork & Mindy and later on with Good Morning, Vietnam, Aladdin and Mrs Doubtfire. If you have seen all of Robin's comedy films, bar this one, then you need to take a look at Fathers' Day

Two men are approached on separate occasions by the same woman, an ex-girlfriend from back in the days, who tells each of them that they are the father of a teenage boy named Scott. Scott has run away from home after a falling out with his parents and the mother and ex-girlfriend of Dale & Jack seek their help in getting him back. Some will ask why doesn't she carry out a DNA paternity test to see who the father is, but anyhow. So Dale & Jack have to work together to achieve this task, whilst putting aside their differences. Scott, meanwhile, runs into some drug dealers, as well as gets involved with a girlfriend, who is not all she seems. 

Along the way, some silly, stupid and funny things happen in the movie, and they come courtesy of Robin Williams's Dale. He never ceases to disappoint in a comedy film, up until the 2000s that is. Be it The Survivors, Good Morning, Vietnam, The Birdcage and Mrs Doubtfire, as well as on TV on Mork & Mindy, and with Fathers' Day, Robin didn't let me down, one bit. 

The plot, as unoriginal as it is & is based on the French movie, Les Comperes, may not be much to write home about, but it is through Robin's improvisational scenes, silly voices and impressions and gags and the physical and slapstick comedy scenes that for any Robin Williams fan, who like me enjoys his funnier fare, Fathers' Day is a movie that they can't pass up. But in all honesty, it is Robin Williams who steals the show and of whom has the funnier scenes and lines, right from the get-go. Whereas in previous year's effort, The Birdcage as Armand he was essentially playing the straight man role with Nathan Lane operating as the funny wise guy, here, Robin Williams as Dale is back to being the funny, amusing wise guy, alongside Billy Crystal as his straight man; Robin pretty much carries this movie and makes it more amusing, entertaining and watchable. Without him, it is more of a dud, as well as it isn't anywhere as good as it is with him in it. His character undergoes some lows in his life but over time, there is light at the end of the tunnel and as sad as his character is most of the time, he always tries to find humour and remains positive in the darkest of times. Robin Williams as Dale is hilarious and in a sweet way as well. And I respect that a lot - and which is indicative of Robin Williams himself. 

Several times I was laughing my head off whilst I was watching this film, it was just so funny. Stupid most of the time, but it was oh so amusing. I like this film way more than Mrs Doubtfire (although I still enjoy Mrs Doubtfire in small doses). & when I saw Fathers' Day a couple of times, I thought it was and is so hilarious and downright silly, but in a good way. Whether as Dale Robin Williams said something funny or amusing, or when something stupid happened to him, it made me laugh and smile. To me, he came across as very sympathetic, sweet, as well as funny and a much more likeable character than say Daniel from Mrs Doubtfire 

I didn't really care about the other characters, apart from Jack (Billy Crystal) and his wife (Julia-Louis Dreyfus); they were extremely forgettable and served as background fodder, whilst Williams, Crystal and to an extent Dreyfus were doing their own thing. There were a few scenes with Scott's father and mother, both individually and collectively; but I pretty much switched off, as I found them and son, Scott to be rather boring with no personality to speak of. I had practically no sympathy towards Scott's mother and I thought she was an awful person. Same goes for his girlfriend and the drug dealers. But the movie shines, thanks to Robin Williams; take him and his offbeat, zany antics away and you don't have much in the way of a highly amusing comedy to speak of. And it is because of Williams as Dale that he is very much let loose with his improv skills, as well as being insanely funny in the role.  

Despite this film being overlooked by the audience, and for those who ignored it, it is your typical standard Robin Williams comedy farce film. Much less along the lines of Good Morning, Vietnam & The Best of Times, whereas 1983's The Survivors has some of the slapstick & physical comedy that can be also found in this movie. & but more so it is like Mrs Doubtfire; I'd say they bear some similar hallmarks: Robin Williams's characters becoming the butt of jokes, Robin Williams acting goofy and silly, the slapstick, the fact they are both family comedies. And so if you liked Mrs Doubtfire a lot, I would recommend this movie. It is more of a wacky comedy and unlike Mrs Doubtfire relies less so on sentimentality and schmaltz.

Highlights from this movie are the penis coffee scolding scene, Jack and Dale's German banter to the band, Sugar Ray, & Robin Williams's funny impersonations & voices. 

Another aspect I want to highlight that most reviewers and comments seem to ignore in their critique was the choice of music featured in this movie; Fathers Day' has a brilliant selection of tracks ranging from The Mighty Mighty Bosstones 'The Impression That I Get', Paul McCartney's 'Young Boy' to Sly & The Family Stone's 'I Wanna Take You Higher' that I'm actually surprised that there wasn't an official motion picture soundtrack CD released for it. 

And yes so what if the humour is stupid and silly? (Hello, this is based on the French film, which had exactly the same type of humour). This is what one would expect in a typical Robin Williams comedy farce type of film and a lot of the comical scenes and lines did put a smile on my face. But the humour in Fathers' Day is not by any means crude or twisted; rather it is good-natured & more along the lines that we laugh with Dale and Jack, as opposed to laughing at them, and so it is suitable for people of all ages, but for some of the mild language that is not suitable for very young children. Fathers' Day may lack the depth of Mrs Doubtfire, but that is just a minor issue as I base my favourite Robin Williams's film choices on the characters he plays. That and that this movie is just as funny & I prefer Dale over Daniel.    

Though I still wished some of the scenes that featured in the original trailer that appeared for promotional use had been in the official movie, because as awful as the trailer was, there were some moments that looked interesting and would have made the film even more enjoyable than it is, just by including them. 

It is also one of Robin Williams's much lesser known movies - and when I say much, I meant it is so obscure (& as obscure as The Survivors, Club Paradise, The Best of Times) to the point that it is either ignored and/or dismissed by many fans. Apart from Amazon, I've yet to come across one single (positive) review of Fathers' Day online; it's always the usual main 5 in Good Morning, Vietnam, Mrs Doubtfire, Dead Poets Society, Hook, Good Will Hunting. & yet this movie rarely gets mentioned & celebrated when it comes to Robin's list of works by many other fans. Especially comedy films, which is a shame really. 

Out of all the latter and least commercially successful movies he released towards the end of the 1990s, Fathers' Day is by far my favourite of the bunch. 

In some ways also, chronologically speaking Fathers' Day is and was the last ever comedy film of Robin Williams that I have thoroughly enjoyed - as almost all of his other comedy movies that ensued, post - 2000 wise, have been largely disappointing affairs.

It gets half a mark deducted though for the suicide references and scene at the beginning of the movie with Dale (Robin Williams). 

Favourite Robin Williams Character Lines:

- He poured hot coffee all over my penis 

- Jack: Listen, Chip, Dale: Dale 

- When you're young, you do some things you're not that proud of

- Jack: She was just so....., Dale: Stimulating... 

- This is a curl, that's a whirl

- And then she showed me a part that was cut from the original

- Uncle! Uncle! Stop! Stop!

- She cares about you. Do you know how lucky you are to have that?

- If springtime had a face, it would be you

- I didn't know she was your wife, I thought she was a sexy woman

- The boy and I were in the shower

- What did you do, run her t*ts through the visa machine?  


Pros +

- Very funny movie with some side-splitting moments (the coffee pouring on Dale's penis is one of many) & hilarious lines 

- Great comedy movie starring Robin Williams that doesn't involve dressing up in drag, dressing up, nor becoming a voice-over animated character 

- Robin Williams, Billy Crystal and Julia-Louis Dreyfus

- Main protagonist Dale - I just love him to bits, he was so amusing and kind-hearted & sweet throughout, thanks in part to Robin 

- The songs in this film are terrific 

- & yes I enjoy Fathers' Day much, much more than Mrs Doubtfire. There I said it.

Cons -

- Plot not much to write home about

- If only some of the scenes in the trailer had made it in the final cut of the film 

- The drug dealers, the teenage boy Scott, his girlfriend and Scott's parents

- The suicide scene during the opening of the movie was in bad taste, as well as the suicide references, given Robin Williams's death - did not find them amusing 

Final Verdict:

An interesting concoction of parentage, responsibility, humour and confusion intertwined with some heartfelt moments, a narrative that gets more interesting as the movie progresses, as well as slapstick and comedic silliness and stupidity, Fathers' Day may not be the best comedy movie, especially coming from Robin Williams and as the plot is rather stale. But for me other than that & the suicide references (that one ought to put aside or ignore completely), it is those above reasons, as well as the likeable protagonist, Dale played by Robin and his fun, light-hearted and hilarious shenanigans, which makes it my favourite & beloved comedy movie he has done. I loved Dale Putley.

After repeated (and sufferable) viewings of Mrs Doubtfire, thankfully Fathers' Day made a refreshing change, whilst providing something different as a comedy movie. Particularly for a Robin Williams comedy movie. I realise a lot of people don't like this movie (I had my worries too after seeing the trailer); fine - however, the amount of vitriol and hate this film gets and that in Fathers' Day being branded one of the worst films, ever, considering that Robin has appeared in far worst movies than this one (& ones I have mentioned in my blog), is staggering. 

Yet thank God I didn't fully buy into all the negativity and bashing it received. 

In one's own view, Fathers' Day served as the last (overly) decent comedy film he has ever done. Billy Crystal, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and, but more so Robin Williams, makes this comedy watchable, fun and entertaining, arguably more so than the rest of the entire cast. 

Fathers' Day is a rip-roaring, howl fest that will make you laugh a lot and crack up with sheer amusement and delight. It did that for me. 

If you enjoyed Mork and Mindy and Mrs Doubtfire and that particular type of slapstick, farcical and improvisational humour, then Fathers' Day will be right up your alley.


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