LETHAL WEAPON (1987)

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Lethal Weapon Ii (1989) Mel Gibson, Danny Glover Die Polizisten Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson,l) und Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) zielen nicht immer in dieselbe Richtung ... Regie: Richard Donner ,

Christopher

My only real connection to this series is when I rented Lethal Weapon 3 for a birthday sleep over in middle school. I remembered the duo of Danny Glover and Mel Gibson being much funnier and cooler than what was in this first film.

Glover and Gibson seem to look the same age in this film but it’s suggested Gibson is a young reckless suicidal wildcard on the force. He lost his wife and he’s been a wreck ever since. I really feel like most of the movie is pretty forgettable. However the climax of this film is not one I will soon forget.

The film comes to its climax at the end of the movie when everyone follows the main villain to Glover’s home. He’s going to kill his whole family and Gibson and Glover were the first on the scene. And what’s that? They stop him immediately!! Good job! But then Gibson decides he needs to fight the villain in a bare knuckle fight to….um, what? While they fight the rest of the police force are standing around watching. Even if this guy beats Gibson he’s still going to jail. WHY ARE WE WATCHING THESE PEOPLE FIGHT??? What’s at risk?

I’m already confusing this movie with 48 Hours in my head so I don’t think it was a favorite.

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

I wanted to see two bad-ass buddy cops take down bad guys while making charming quips here and there. We watched Lethal Weapon and instead I saw a psychopath be a bad cop and a girl almost get raped.

Mel Gibson is a problem. I grew up loving him; even though he tended to be in movies too adult for me he always seemed so charming, nice, and oh so cute. I inherited my love for Mel Gibson from my mom and then cemented it myself when he played the father of my own love, Heath Ledger, in The Patriot. He wasn’t the young heartthrob in that movie, but he played the I-Just-Want-What’s-Best-For-You Dad to one, which was close enough. When I got a little older I was finally able to watch Braveheart. When I saw that I felt like I truly “got” what everyone loved about him. The performance . . . the ass . . . everything was just so great. Things started to crack a little about a year after The Patriot came out and I read that Heath Ledger had been so excited to work with Mel Gibson and then had been so disappointed by actually working with him. After reading that, I figured maybe Gibson wasn’t exactly as I had imagined – at the very least he sounded like such an intense actor to work with that he often was just mean. But I mean, that happens, right? Actors are intense, we don’t all personally know actors, etc. Then the recordings of his drunken, hateful rants came out in 2010 and I felt duped. It seemed to prove that he wasn’t an intense actor at all, just an enraged, racist, sexist, mean asshole.

So now when I watch a movie like Lethal Weapon where Mel Gibson plays Martin Riggs, a completely unhinged wildcard cop needing a stable partner, it’s hard to feel impressed by much of Gibson’s acting. His rage is quivering and unfiltered and supported by his mediocre performance whenever he’s not a psychopath. And he’s supposed to be a cop? It was so stressful watching someone who is clearly supposed to be a good guy act like a bad guy. The best part about him was his dog that I think was only in one scene. The only time I felt an emotion for him other than disgust was when we wept over his inability to kill himself after crying over his dead wife. Extremely sad, but inevitably a completely unearned emotion.

Then we have Danny Glover as Roger Murtaugh. Murtaugh is a good, level-headed cop with a good track record. He’s a perfect dad. He’s a perfect husband. He has a cute cat named BURBANK. He’s good looking, charming, and nice – for real. So of course he’s going to get paired up with Riggs and Riggs is going to fuck everything up. I was constantly waiting for Murtaugh’s perfect family to be in danger until it finally happened. His teenager daughter, Rianne, is kidnapped and the note left behind for Murtaugh says “Your daughter looks pretty naked,” with an unseen-by-us Polaroid. This was a minor detail in a major plot point but it completely distracted me. What was in that picture? Just a naked Rianne, which would be horrible enough? Or was she being raped, which is more in-line with the viciousness of the bad guys Riggs and Murtaugh are dealing with? I stressed out over that for probably a solid 5 minutes that I should have been watching the movie. Part of me was scared for the Rianne character and part of me was scared for what I may yet see. The next time we see Rianne, she’s being held by her captives but is fully-clothed. She really doesn’t look like she’s in bad shape at all. So I thought, despite that Polaroid, it’s not going to get any worse. Then Riggs and Murtaugh later break in to where Rianne is being held. When they find her, she’s in silk underwear and is a little bruised up. After beating Murtaugh, one of the bad guys remarks how attractive Rianne is as her hands are bound above her head. He either flicks one of her camisole straps down her shoulder OR my mind was racing so much with anxiety that I imagined it. I truly don’t know. That’s essentially as bad as it got – we never saw Rianne get assaulted or raped. But the prospect of it was right there – this teenage girl getting kidnapped and then raped in front of her bound father was so fucking stressful for me I literally couldn’t pay attention to other parts of the movie. When it didn’t happen, it was a relief. But I felt tricked – Lethal Weapon couldn’t make a tense, suspenseful movie without threatening to rape a kid?

I haven’t even touched on the weirdest and worst part. Gary Busey is in this, too, presumably before he was a walking joke. He’s a henchman named Joshua who, because he’s so crazy and unstoppable, eventually becomes the main bad guy. Toward the end of the movie Riggs and Murtaugh have chased him to Murtaugh’s house for a final showdown. What you think will happen is that one of them will kill Joshua right away, fight and then kill Joshua, or fight and then arrest Joshua. What instead happens is Murtaugh “lets” Riggs “have him.” Riggs and Joshua start fighting in the rain and as more and more cops show up, Murtaugh keeps them away from the fight, telling them that he (Murtaugh) will somehow “take the blame” for whatever is happening and is about to happen. Apparently this message gets through to every cop there, including those in a helicopter, because they all stand around patiently and wait for the fight to end. What the fuck? Why would we want to see Riggs and Murtaugh act like the bad guys they’ve been fighting for hours instead of like the good cops we’ve been convinced that they are? What is Murtaugh even offering to take the blame for? And why the fuck are there so many Lethal Weapon sequels starring Danny Glover and Mel Gibson if Murtaugh did take blame for whatever happened?

THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963)

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Elizabeth (spoilers!)

After The Magnificent Seven, I was ready for The Great Escape. Like The Magnificent SevenThe Great Escape was a movie I hadn’t seen because it looked long and boring. But both films were directed by John Sturges and star Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn. So things started to look up for The Great Escape.

I was dying to see Richard Attenborough in this because my only image of him is from the Jurassic Park/Miracle on 34th Street era. Chris and I tried to spot him, first thinking he was a different British actor, but when Attenborough came on screen it was unmistakably him. It was kind of amazing to watch him so young and to have the same voice, eyes, and mouth as he always did under that white beard. And it’s always nice to see James Garner from this time period, in all of his masculine sexiness. And the more Chris talked about it, the better it sounded. Sexy dudes banding together? Check. Allies fighting and defeating Nazis? Check. That plus knowing the movie wasn’t about actual battles (therefore not being super bloody and sad) really convinced me.

But you want to know something about The Great Escape? There is no great escape. Before you argue, I will counter by asking how great can an escape actually be if you’re murdered immediately after? By Nazis? How about: NOT THAT GREAT.

We spend about 2 hours learning about our characters, American and British soldiers being held in a Nazi POW camp. This particular camp is kind of a camp of misfits; the Nazis seemed to have dumped every POW that’s made an escape attempt into this camp. The Nazi Kommandant in charge of the camp is surprisingly likeable; he’s a career soldier who’s really ready for the war to be over. He thinks he and the POWs shouldn’t have a problem peacefully living among one another while they all wait out the war. Like The Magnificent Seven, all of the POWs we meet are charming and tough. They come up with an elaborate escape plan using tunnels they dig underground, including the necessary documentation to get them out of Nazi territory once they’re on the other side of the fence. They even build 3 tunnels simultaneously in case the Nazis discover one.

When the night of escape finally arrives, the Nazis have already discovered one tunnel. The POWs realize, a little late, that the tunnel they’re using isn’t long enough to safely get them past their Nazi guards. They figure out, using signals to each other, how to escape one by one without getting caught. After a whopping 76 POWs escape successfully, one of the POWs makes noise to alert the Nazis and the escape is cut short. As insanely stressful and tense as the escape was, I was shocked to learn that 76 had escaped because it was kind of hard to keep track on screen. It was awesome! As a viewer, you feel like celebrating. Fuck you, Nazis! Go USA! But what’s strange is there’s almost a full hour of the movie left at this point. But that’s surely to track some of the main POWs in their escape out of Nazi territory. Right?

Ha, ha! Gotcha! After we watch the 76 POWs escape we are fortunate enough to watch 50 of them get murdered by Nazis. And a bunch more get re-captured and sent back to the Nazi camp. Literally only three POWs actually escape. It was one thing when four of the magnificent seven were killed because A.) I mean, you kind of expect it and B.) they died on their own terms, trying to save the village. Both The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape have the same number of good guy survivors. Not. Cool.

I wouldn’t say this movie is bad, per se. Those amazing actors are still amazing in it. And it’s a harrowing true story for sure. I just kind of wanted to curl up and die after watching it.

Christopher

Another John Sturges movie I’ve seen well over ten times. I loved this movie when I was younger and I really wanted Elizabeth to watch and enjoy it as much as I did.
While I still enjoy the film quite a lot, it wasn’t quite how I remembered it. I wish they had taken more time explaining some of the escape routes and showing us all the tunnels. I wish we had a better understanding of how many people did escape. And I really wish there was more Steve McQueen! I totally forgot how much of an outsider he is in this film.
I think the highlight of this film is the scene where the Americans make moonshine on the Fourth of July. Besides celebrating it in front of British troops it’s an exciting scene.

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960)

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Christopher

I’ve seen this movie so many times now but it’s never become dull or uninteresting. The story in this film seems very textbook but I think that’s part of what makes it so great. We become acquainted with the main villain in the first scene of the film. We get to meet our main character in an exciting carriage ride which has us rooting for him from the very beginning. We meet our team and what makes them above average. And finally we get to see the battle unfold and who does and doesn’t make it to the end.
My favorite of the seven is hands down James Coburn’s character, Britt. To me he has the greatest setup of the seven.  He comes off cool when people he works with argue that he can’t do what he says he can: draw quicker with a knife than a pen. Once this is put to the test a man is dead and we know exactly who’s the perfect fit for the team!
I saw this many years before I saw Seven Samurai but finding that connection in high school was my first real exposure to Kurosawa. If that hadn’t happened I don’t know what I would of done if I didn’t have Ikiru to watch a hundred times.
I doubt I would enjoy the remake anywhere close to this but I hope we watch it at some point.

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

There wasn’t one main thing about westerns that made me dismiss them when I was younger. In fact, I remember watching Stagecoach sometime in elementary school and liking it. But I hated John Wayne. When I first knew he existed I didn’t know why he was famous; when I found out he was an actor I felt like I got the joke – ohhhh right, that guy’s a HORRIBLE actor, ha ha! The fact that John Wayne seemed to be the epitome of a western actor did not bode well to me. Then I saw The Searchers in a summer camp film class the summer after 9th grade and my fears were confirmed: westerns are long, westerns are boring, women are property in westerns, and John Wayne sucks. That was the last time I wasted time on a western for a while.

In my defense, it would have helped to see cool westerns with cool guys like For A Few Dollars More or The Magnificent Seven. And in fact, The Magnificent Seven combines a lot of movie tropes that I’ve always loved: a good guy posse, male friendships, meeting each member of the posse individually, an unexpectedly bad bad guy, and sexy cowboys.

I admit I sort of laughed when I found out Eli Wallach was the bad guy. Eli Wallach? Of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly AND Keeping the Faith? Right, okay. He even acts jolly! Until he murders a man in front of his whole town for no reason. With that he enters different bad guy territory: an unexpectedly bad bad guy, the scariest kind. Wallach and his posse are terrorizing a Mexican village, pillaging it whenever they need supplies. The men of the town decide to hire guns to defend themselves. Then they meet Chris (Yul Brynner), a very casually sexy cowboy who tells them their money will go further if they hire gunmen instead of buy guns. Chris looks around at the villagers, sees their level of attractiveness, and realizes he must be the one to recruit the gunmen.

It doesn’t happen exactly like that but because of one of my favorite parts of the movie, he may as well have. Along with the main 7 and the bad guys, there are villages and posses full of extras throughout the movie. In any of these larger scenes with lots of characters, any of the 7 stick out like a sore thumb. Why? Because they are gorgeous and no one else is. It’s not even a case of the extras being made to look dirty or grimy; it’s straight up attractiveness. The 7 all look like movie stars, and even though there are ranks of attractiveness within the 7, all of the extras just look like normal people. The contrast was so stark I made up a subplot that included sexy radar that all of the 7 must have had in order to find each other.

Chris, who looks like this:

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picks up Vin, played by Steve McQueen, who looks like this:

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Together they gather Harry Luck (Brad Dexter), who looks like this:

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Bernardo O’Reilly (Charles Bronson), who, no joke, looks like THIS:

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Britt (James Coburn), who looks like this (cute butt added for good measure):

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And Lee (Robert Vaughn), who looks like this:

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The six men start to get followed around by Chico, a local villager played by the hilariously German-named Horst Buchholz, and they have no choice but to take him along because he looks like this:

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Anyway, each of the 7 has a niche skill that they bring to the good guy posse. I expected there to be one big, final showdown between the 7 and Wallach and his posse, which the 7 would win, which made me think I sort of knew how the whole thing was going to end. There is a big showdown, which the 7 win, but it doesn’t end there. Chico infiltrates the bad posse and finds out that they’re coming back, and soon, because they’re out of food. The 7 ride out to meet the posse and deal with them there, but find the camp abandoned. When they come back to the village they find it overtaken by the bad posse. Knowing they’ve won, the bad posse lets the 7 go, figuring the 7 have just found out that this village isn’t worth dying for. After the bad posse leads the 7 out of the village and gives them back their guns, Britt is immediately ready to go back, pissed off that they were bested. Everyone but Harry agrees to go back and fight; Harry rides off on his own just to come back to the village in the nick of time to save Chris from being shot. In the end, Chris shoots Wallach and all but he, Vin, and Chico of the 7 are killed trying to save the village. The 7 technically win, but as Chris says in the last lines, “We lost. We’ll always lose.”

So, The Magnificent Seven was not only not boring but it was actually cool and full of eye candy in tight jeans. I’m annoyed with myself for not watching this sooner, but I also just blame John Wayne. If this dude was instead the ultimate face in cowboy badassery:

31257629_1300x1733 instead of the lumbering, eternally-an-old-man-who-can’t-act John Wayne, I probably would have wanted to watch this a lot sooner.

RODEO AND JULIET (2015) WITH SUPER SPECIAL GUEST POST!!!

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Elizabeth

It’s hard to say what the biggest problem with Rodeo and Juliet is. Is it the immediate comparison to Romeo and Juliet, which it kind of follows and then gives up on? Is it the fact that you never get a clear understanding of the main characters’ ages? Is it that all of the main characters are distractingly ugly?

When we first meet Juliet, she is eating pizza (teenager?) and video chatting with her girlfriends (teenager?) and complaining about being forced to spend Christmas break (teenager? college?) with her mom. It’s also difficult to gauge Juliet’s age under the 10 pounds of makeup she constantly wears:

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Juliet’s mother, Karen, doesn’t make it easier to determine age. She dresses like a teenager but looks like she’s had some kind of work done to her face.

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Karen’s father, whom Juliet has never met, has just died and Karen is taking Juliet to Louisiana to collect her inheritance, mainly the “ranch” that Karen’s father worked so hard on it killed him. I’m from Louisiana, too, and found it hard to imagine exactly what kind of ranch they were talking about. All we ended up seeing was a house on a biggish piece of land and one horse. It doesn’t look or sound like a ranch but it was apparently enough of a ranch for Karen’s former love, Hugh, and his nephew, Monty, to work on apparently full-time. Hugh is mentioned a few times before we meet him, and I didn’t know what to expect. Some overly-rugged overly-handsome dude.

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That’s the dude causing all this inner-turmoil in Karen? And she lives in New York now? Uhh, well he apparently wasn’t worth even breaking up with when they were previously ENGAGED, so I think it’s safe to say that he’s not worth it (for both of them, really). Then at a “barn dance” Juliet meets Hugh’s nephew, Monty. Monty looks like a cartoon character and Juliet dresses overly sexy for . . . a . . . teenager? College student? Hmm . . .

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Karen finds out that Juliet and Monty have met and freaks out and forbids Juliet from seeing Monty again. Okay, so at this point JULIET meets a boy and his uncle whom when their names are together make MontyHugh which is a fucked up version of Montague, at a party and his forbidden to see him. INTERESTING! But she also meets a horse named Rodeo. So who is Juliet’s true love: Rod[m]eo or Monty[gue]?

Karen wants to sell Rodeo and Juliet fights to keep him. She starts secretly training with Monty to win a horse show with Rodeo, to win enough money to keep him. Karen finds out Hugh owns part of the ranch and keeps hating him. Juliet’s face gets harder to look at:

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Karen realizes she doesn’t hate Hugh, she loves him and has loved him all along! Juliet loses the horse competition but Karen, her cold bitch heart now full of love, lets her keep Rodeo anyway. She and Monty are told they are on demand on the horse circuit now, and so they all get to stay and be one big (slightly incestuous) family. So I guess . . . Juliet is not in high school? Or school of any kind? Or Karen just doesn’t give a shit and just wants Juliet to do whatever she needs to do to stay. Good thing it doesn’t matter!

I hated this movie. And I would never watch this without the motivation of company:

SUPER SPECIAL GUEST POST: MIKE WILDER OF https://waldersblog.wordpress.com/

First of all I want to say that it is an honor to be featured on Chris and Elizabeth’s wonderful blog. They are both wonderful people with interesting perspectives on cinema and I hope I don’t embarrass either of them but especially Elizabeth. Anyways here comes my take on Rodeo & Juliet!

I came into this movie expecting one of those stories where the stuck-up city girl goes to the country and, despite her shock at the way Real Americans live, falls in love with the hottest guy there. Instead it was exactly like that. This is a powerfully unoriginal movie full of unremarkable performances and plot points that are objectively uninteresting. But keep reading my review of it anyway please.

At the start of the film, Juliet (like from Shakespeare) has to go with her mom to the country for a little while to settle her grandfather’s estate. While they’re out in the country, she learns she is a naturally talented “barrel racer” and meets her hunky country boyfriend who helps her learn to ride. It’s a little bit like Star Wars Episode 1, I guess, with the horse as the podracer and Juliet as Anakin Skywalker: the talented youngster who makes the best of a bad situation by learning to race fast. Anyways, Anakin somehow learns to be one of the best “barrel racers” in the area in like two weeks and goes to the Big Local Competition where she goes head to head with the defending champ. She loses.

Besides the horse sports story line, the central conflict here is that Juliet and her mom might not be able to sell the ranch that kind of belongs to them. They can’t sell it because they don’t have Juliet’s grandfather’s will. BUT the will might be out there somewhere. Every time the will comes up, everybody starts talking about how they haven’t found it but it might exist. This really happens so much throughout. My favorite part of the whole movie was when they finally found the will and everybody had to shut da fuck up about it. Anyways, the will said that Juliet’s mom had to split the ranch with her ex-lover and so they fell back in love and got engaged and (miracle of miracles!) Juliet’s boyfriend is that guy’s nephew/son so they have a perfectly efficient Family Romance Unit! There’s also something about how Juliet and her mother have things they are avoiding in New York, but selling the ranch and falling in love are clearly the important things here.

At the end of the movie, after 90 minutes of things that didn’t really matter at all have happened, Juliet and her mom don’t have to go back to New York. Which is a relief even though that’s where they live. The viewer is left to assume that Juliet and her mother didn’t have any relationships in New York worth maintaining. I guess they just turned their two-week trip into a new life with their new boyfriend/husband combo who are, once again, essentially a father/son combo. Makes sense.  Good movie. Really really good. I strongly recommend this movie. Especially if a horse once kicked you in the head so hard it made you like bad movies about horses but you don’t want to shell out $2.99 to rent War Horse on iTunes.

Christopher

It’s an honor to have a guest reviewer on our blog today. It can be a difficult duty watching these terrible movies and it’s nice when you know another person is going through the same experience as you. Mike also has his own movie blog so you should absolutely check that out right after you read this. 

After watching The Longest Ride, still one of my favorite terrible romance movies we’ve seen, I’ve been interested in love on the ranch. Though there isn’t an attractive person in sight, Rodeo & Juliet was pretty engaging to me throughout 88 minutes.

It’s very apparent that this movie was on a very low budget but nothing said it more than the insane makeup of the main character. There were many moments in the film where it was almost hard to watch her on screen. I feel like the closest I’ve ever come to that before was when I saw Pink Flamingos with my roommates in college. But what’s also distracting is how much older she looks than what I assume the character is supposed to be. She is upset that her mom has to take care of the legal issues surrounding her father’s ranch. This means she has to live in the middle of nowhere indefinitely with her mother. No cell service, yuck. No internet, unfair! Just on her own. But luckily within days there she ends up loving the ranch and wants to ride her grandfather’s horse, Rodeo, in a barrel race. And yes, the horse is called Rodeo. I wonder is this movie helped inspire Travi$ Scott.

When the mom is dealing with the deed of her father’s ranch we meet the town judge. Or some old guy that runs a business out of his home and it’s slightly cluttered but only in the sense that what did clutter the office was only what the producers of the film could find around set. The house the mother and Juliet live in is also very bare and eerie. Did the grandfather need such a giant house if he only had a few belongings? And going with the theme of this movie feeling cheap the audio is very distracting. In multiple scenes the white noise level jumps all over the place depending on who’s talking. It reminds me of freshman film classes at SCAD.

Another frustrating part of the film is the ranch itself. We know the mom wants the land. We know that the mom’s love interest wants the land because he spent most of his life riding with the grandfather and working the ranch. But we never really see the ranch. Is it just the house? At one point they say it makes money. How does it make money? It’s very vague. It’s similar to Tyler Perry films trying to talk about law. It’s just a bunch of very generic terms.

This movie has some bad acting. The two male love interests are the obvious ones. But Rodeo & Juliet gives us lines like this: “Everything looks accurate,” said by a DMV notary documenting a supposed agreement with the grandfather that he owned all the land. And before Juliet starts the barrel race in the not-so-climactic end, Juliet says to Rodeo, “So don’t lose.” Ohhhh how charming she’s just a silly quirky high school adult? Actors such as Juliet’s love interest Monty, mumbles most of the film. When I fist became obsessed with Bob Dylan my mom made fun of a part in “Talkin’ World War II Blues” where he kind of mumbles and doesn’t complete a sentence. While I think it’s perfect and has a purpose in the Dylan song it doesn’t work when people mumble and don’t enunciate most of their lines throughout Rodeo & Juliet.
Anyway, this was fun to watch but I wouldn’t really recommended it to anyone. Instead go see Vampire’s Kiss.

LITTLE WOMEN (1994)

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Elizabeth

I wish I knew how many times I’ve seen Little Women. I had seen it enough times to quote the movie by the time I finally got around to reading the novel in fourth grade. Between countless views and reading the novel, Little Women is a movie I could probably accurately re-write from memory.

At different points in my life I identified with each March sister, usually identifying with all of them at once. First there’s Beth, played here by Claire Danes. After I read the novel there was a week at school where I tried to change my name to Beth by only answering to Beth. Around day 3 I forgot to correct people when they called me Elizabeth, so it never really worked. But while I was still deep in my Little Women obsession, another little movie called Romeo + Juliet came out and became something I practically lived my life around. Claire Danes as Juliet only further fueled my love for Beth and solidified my belief that Beth was the most underrated character.

Then there’s obviously Jo, played by Winona Ryder.  While Beth and I basically shared a name, Jo and I seemed at times to share the same personality. Was Jo reacting just as I would react? Or have I seen Little Women so many times that Jo’s reactions have become my own? Who the hell knows, and who the hell really cares. The biggest flaw I found in Jo growing up was her refusal of Laurie (Christian Bale)’s marriage proposal. Were Jo and I not looking at the same person? Not hearing the same words? It seemed completely insane to me that she would not want to be with someone who seemed like her perfect match. I remember my mom trying to explain to me that Jo wasn’t in love with Laurie and wanted to see who else was out there, but Laurie being played by Christian Bale really made that hard to believe at the time. Jo ending up with Friedrich (Gabriel Byrne), whom I saw as just an old guy,  seemed like it was practically a plot hole. But I admit that watching Little Women as an adult makes the situation much clearer. Christian Bale is still there, but now he kind of looks like a little kid. Gabriel Byrne is still there, but now he looks sexy. It just kind of makes more sense.

The oldest March sister, Meg (Trini Alvarado) struggles with trying to be a good “lady” while simultaneously trying to figure out what that even means. I had some rich friends in elementary school who treated me the way the Moffats treated Meg – like they were doing me a favor by letting me into their world. And like Meg, I ate that shit up. But, luckily also like Meg, I found my rich friends’ lives to also be a little sad and cold. An Abercrombie & Fitch spending spree can’t match to being able to talk to your mom.

The youngest March sister, Amy (played first by Kirsten Dunst and then Samantha Mathis), was ironically the hardest for me to identify with despite being the closest to my age during the height of my obsession. I know in reality that this was clouded with jealousy – I mean, little Kirsten Dunst, who had ALREADY KISSED BRAD PITT, got KISSED (okay on the head) by CHRISTIAN BALE. That blew my mind. Something I felt really deeply about, though, was the scene where Amy burns Jo’s manuscript. Jo and Meg go to the theater with Laurie and John (later Meg’s husband); Amy perceives being left out as a complete slap in the face. I remember 100% agreeing with Amy at the time. They could’ve invited her, they just didn’t, just to be bitches. Amy is filled with a rage that seemed so understandable at the time that I don’t think it even registered as rage to me. Watching as an adult her request is completely absurd – a nagging child begging to go to the theater with adults. But then something switches. While they’re at the theater, Amy takes Jo long-worked-on manuscript and throws in the fire just in time for Jo to come home and watch it burn. That was when my writerly side trumped my child side. Be mad all you want, Amy, but don’t fucking touch Jo’s writing. That’s just crossing a line too bold to come back from. Of course, Jo eventually forgives her, but watching it as a kid I knew I would never be able to forgive someone for doing that to me. As an adult . . . I pretty much feel the same way.

Susan Sarandon as matriarch Marmee really stuck with me, too. First of all, Susan Sarandon looks so beautiful the entire movie despite being in a completely unsexy role. But mostly, it was the fact that she reminded me of my own mom and her reaction to Amy being hit by her teacher at school. While reading her letter to the teacher, Marmee says something along the lines of “if you hit and humiliate a child all you will teach that child is to hit and humiliate.” Hearing that as a child made total sense to me. In fact, after hearing that, I thought parenting was maybe not as difficult as it seemed, if you just understood a basic fact like that.

Of everything that happens, though, there is one moment in Little Women that I will always love and identify with the most. Growing up, I was known for my long hair. I grew it from about 1st-6th grade. Along the way I would get small haircuts, each one ending with me in tears and convinced feet of hair had been chopped off. In Little Women, rather than asking her awful great-aunt for money to help Marmee visit their wounded father in the hospital, Jo cuts her waist-length hair to her chin and sells her hair. That night, hearing Jo quietly sob in their bedroom, Beth wakes up and gently asks Jo, “Is it father?” Jo fingers the ends of her hair and pathetically whines, “My haaaaaaaaair.” Beth bursts into laughter, which must put the ridiculousness of the situation in a clear light for Jo to see, because Jo starts laughing, too. It’s a moment that’s genuinely funny and charming, but is also deadly realistic to a girl who’s had at least a couple of similarly dramatic haircuts.

You’ve seen Little Women, right? If you haven’t, don’t tell anyone and just watch it right now. You’ll feel better about everything.

Christopher

I always thought this movie was an epic. Something that would warrant two VHS’s. Though it’s not long it still packs a lot of story. I was hesitant about whether or not I would enjoy this film but in the end I found it super enjoyable. I felt like some stuff didn’t quite work. Such as Laurie and Amy getting together but I’m sure that makes more sense in the book.

I also enjoyed the huge cast. Ever since I saw The Usual Suspects I’ve really liked Gabriel Byrne and seeing a young Christian Bale is always great.

TOMMY BOY (1995)

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Christopher

I watched this movie well over thirty times when I was in middle school. Because of this I was a bit worried the humor might be too sexist or something. Fortunately it wasn’t the case at all. I still laughed through most of the movie.

When I was young I definitely thought it was just understood that Chris Farley was the funniest comedian to ever live. That’s obviously not the case but thinking about that now I feel like it was his physical comedy that made me feel that way.
I also used to have a sound bite of “fat man in a little coat” I downloaded from Napster.

 

Elizabeth

Before watching it with Chris, the most exposure I had to Tommy Boy was its trailer on a VHS I had growing up. Even from that all I remember is Chris Farley getting sprayed with gasoline and him mimicking Darth Vader’s voice in a fan. Despite growing up in the ’90s I managed to miss most of the Chris Farley-David Spade craze. I thought Chris Farley was sad because everyone just seemed to make fun of him and I thought David Spade was mean because he just seemed to make fun of everyone. Plus I’m pretty sure my mom would have dropped dead before seeing a movie starring Chris Farley.

A lot of the jokes that seem to be classics, according to Chris, were totally new to me and were therefore super funny. I braced myself for a lot of gross-out humor but was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of physical comedy but not a lot of super gross shit. One of the funniest scenes was when Tommy (Farley) puts on Richard’s too-small blazer to make him laugh, swinging his arms and repeating “Fat guy in a little coat.” I know now it’s a famous scene but it just cracked me the fuck up. I was also pleasantly surprised with Tommy’s character in general. He managed to be pathetic enough to be funny without being too pathetic to laugh at. And I liked that he wasn’t mean at all – I expected a lot of the dialogue to be Tommy and Richard insulting each other. But Tommy’s actually really nice and he makes you want to see him do sorta well, at least.

A weird misstep to me though was the whole stepmother subplot. Tommy comes home from college to find that his father, Tom (Brian Dennehy) has proposed to a new woman named Beverly (Bo Derek) who has an adult son, Paul (Rob Lowe). Paul is a creep from the start and Tom is just as nice as Tommy so you know they’re setting you up for something to be off about the relationship. Tom and Beverly get married as planned but while singing at the reception Tom has a heart attack and dies. Tom’s death sets off the chain of events that the movie revolves around – mainly Tommy and Richard going on a cross-country sales trip to save the family business. But it also reveals the truth about Beverly and Paul: Beverly planned to divorce Tom and take all his money (somehow). But since Tom died, they really just need to prevent Tommy from saving the company so they can sell what Tom left them of the company. Oh and also, Beverly and Paul are lovers – not mother and son. Sooo, why was this weird relationship included? It feels like when the movie was first written, Tom didn’t die and Beverly did divorce him, but died in the re-write so they just had Beverly acknowledge that now her job was easier. It was just so weird and clunky and I definitely did not expect the grossest thing about a Chris Farley movie to be Bo Derek and Rob Lowe making out.

Tommy Boy isn’t an intellectual giant of a movie, but that’s okay. It’s just funny.

MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1994) + WE’RE BACK FOR 2017!

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Elizabeth 

While 2016 managed to be an infamously bad and crazy year in a lot of ways, for Chris and me it ended up being a very good, albeit very busy, year. So far 2017 is shaping out to be less busy and we’ll be able to devote the time we always want back into the blog. And we’re starting now!!

As for Miracle on 34th Street . . . FUCK. THIS. MOVIE. Okay, let me back up a bit. I’m not a very Christmas-y person. Most of my Christmas spirit died when I found out Santa Claus wasn’t real. In fact, finding out Santa Claus wasn’t real – therefore discovering a giant conspiracy between EVERY ADULT against ME, A CHILD – was probably the first step for me to really grow up. I admit, I was a sensitive child. I understand most kids didn’t feel their reality shatter when they found out this piece of news. But mine did, and that’s that.

Since then, I’ve been pretty adamant about not perpetuating the lie of Santa Claus. This is pretty easy for me to do without having any kids. But as nieces and nephews have come along, I’ve managed to avoid the subject altogether and maintain my goal of not lying. The thing is, I think Christmas would be more enjoyable without Santa Claus from the beginning. Without Santa Claus, there’s no lie to ever come clean about and nothing has to really “change” about Christmas per se. Even with outside pressures of media and other kids and family members, I’ve always thought it was perfectly reasonable to raise kids without raising them to believe in Santa Claus.

I never saw Miracle on 34th Street growing up, this version or any version. Christmas movies seemed to make the sting of Santa Claus that much more painful as so many of them address and subsequently explain away skeptical thoughts about Santa Claus. This fucking movie takes that to whole new heights.

Elizabeth Perkins plays Dorey Walker – my kind of woman. She’s a single mom working as the special event director for Cole’s, which is a stand-in for Macy’s. In addition to her dope job, she has a DOPE AS SHIT apartment in New York City, a dope 6-year-old named Susan (Mara Wilson), and a dope fuck-buddy-who’s-in-love-with-her-and-is-Dylan-McDermott named Bryan. Susan is a borderline child prodigy in her maturity – think real-life Louise from Bob’s Burgers. Dorey has raised Susan to believe that Santa Claus isn’t real – that parents pretend to be Santa Claus at Christmas and the Santa Claus that works at Cole’s every year is an actor. This works fine for Susan, who loves Christmas regardless. Dorey is always upfront with Susan, despite Bryan actively telling Susan Santa Claus is real behind Dorey’s back. But it still never seems to be a problem for Susan.

Until Dorey hires a new Santa Claus for Cole’s – Kris Kringle, played by Richard Attenborough. Kris throws Susan off by nonchalantly insisting he’s Santa Claus. Usually when met with Susan’s precociousness, adults would concede that Santa Claus was fake and move on. But Kris is Santa Claus, according to him. Susan pulls a pretty sweet move on Kris – she says she’ll believe in Santa Claus if Santa Claus gets her everything she wants for Christmas: a dad, the giant country mansion Cole’s uses for photo shoots, and a baby brother.

Some dumb shit happens where Kris is lazily framed for an assault that never even happened. The whole case suddenly rests on the idea of whether or not Kris is actually Santa Claus or not. Susan gives the judge a Christmas card containing a $1 bill with the words In God We Trust circled. This of course makes the judge realize that since the U.S. Department of Treasury can put its official faith in God with no hard evidence, then the people can believe in Santa in the same way. SOOOOOOOOO the judge dismisses the case and declares that Santa is real.

After the case is dismissed, Kris/Santa literally tricks Dorey into marrying Bryan. Afterwards, they for some reason take Susan to that country mansion, where Kris/Santa hasn’t really bought it for them but makes it possible to buy it, which for some reason they do. And goddammit, you know what happens next. Susan tells Dorey and Bryan about her wish for a brother, Dorey and Bryan literally look at Dorey’s belly and kiss. SANTA CLAUS IS REAL!!!!!

Okay, so who gives REGULAR people the presents then? This is a world in which parents (WHO FOR THE RECORD, IS SANTA CLAUS) KNOW Santa is fake (as seen in Dorey’s explanation to Susan) but also in which Santa is REAL and GIVES OUT PRESENTS, presumably to the same parents who know Santa is fake. So are parents buying all these presents or not? If they are, what the fuck, Santa? If they aren’t, what the fuck, parents?

In the end, this movie is a total nightmare and one every child should avoid at all costs.

Christopher

We’re back!! This year has been hectic but I think Elizabeth and I are finally on more of a routine to start this blog up again. We’ve been watching movies in between Sex and the City, Big Brother, and Channel Zero. Now’s the time to finally write some of those reviews. We may just post a giant list of movies we watched and just start from there too.

Since it’s the holiday season I felt like it was perfect to watch at least one movie that’s Christmas-themed. Miracle on 34th Street was not a movie I saw more than once as a kid but I felt like it was a good choice since it does have a somewhat star-studded cast. James Remar is always a great addition.
Before we watched this I assumed it followed the main girl who might not believe in Santa but with a little help along the way she would see he is real and that Christmas is a magical time after all. Once the movie started it was kind of like that. The kid didn’t believe, everyone else wants her to believe except her only blood relative. But what surprised me was how the kid still loves Christmas. She just knows Santa doesn’t exist. It’s unfortunate that every adult this kid runs into during the film tells her she’s wrong and she just has to believe. More than a little condescending and wouldn’t that really just make her not trust her mother??
Well this movie was pretty dumb. Not a lot makes sense but that’s most kids’ movies, right? I mean I’m pretty sure most adults would say that Minions is the best movie of the year so maybe adults do actually like this movie. For me though it delivered in its absurdity and in making Elizabeth roll her eyes at almost every line! I can’t wait to read her review for this!