For some reason, the 1980s had a rash of films in which the central theme was putting a teenager in an adult’s body, or an adult in a teenager’s body. 1989 had no less than five, from the obscure Vice Versa to the modern classic Big. Mike Rocco’s Dream a Little Dream tied the trend in with another 80s film trend, the two Coreys, Haim and Feldman. Having recently sat through 17 Again, I thought I would take a look at Dream a Little Dream and see if things were done better when this oddly-specific genre was in its heyday.
Corey Feldman plays the lead role, Bobby Keller. Corey Haim plays his best friend, “Dinger”; Haim broke his leg just shortly before shooting, and so Dinger had a few lines hastily added to incorporate the broken leg into the script. In the movie, Dinger’s leg was accidentally run over by his own mother and this pretty much sums up Dinger’s role in the film: he’s the unfortunate comic relief. Bobby has some more typical teen problems. He’s flunking all his classes (so is Dinger, but he doesn’t seem to mind), his parents (played by Alex Rocco and Victoria Jackson in fun small roles) don’t seem to understand him, and he has frequent run-ins with the school bully Dumas (Matt Adler). He’s also developing a serious crush on classmate Lainie (Meredith Salenger). That last is a problem because Lainie is the girlfriend of his other best friend, Joel (William McNamara). Continue reading →
It’s Friday morning, and so it’s time for another dose of the Weekly Weblinks. This week’s blog posts include another take on Brave, a review of a film that is coming out soon, and a few reviews of films that range from a year old to a 1960s classic.
In the news, an unlikely TV adaptation, a prog metal group’s demise, Keanu Reeve’s next big thing, and yet more puppet film news. So read on for a Weekly Weblinks that is surprisingly heavy in the Scottish influence. (I swear I don’t plan these things.) Continue reading →
There’s a trick to a dark comedy. There has to be a fundamental wrongness about the situation — else it isn’t dark — and yet there also has to be something likeable about the protagonist. Maybe it’s a genuinely good person in a bad situation. Or maybe it’s somebody who isn’t so good, but manages to be entertaining. In director Jan Egleson’s 1990 film A Shock to the System, the latter approach is taken, and a large part of its success can be put at the feet of star Michael Caine.
Caine plays Graham Marshall, a British-American living in New York and working at a large corporate conglomerate. Caine also narrates the film, although his narration is in the third person. This helps to create a sense of disassociation from his character, which is appropriate, as Graham is very much disassociated from life. His wife Leslie (Swoosie Kurtz) seems to respect his position more than she respects him, and that position is quickly shown to be going nowhere. He’s passed up for a promotion he’s been bucking for when his friend and superior George (John McMartin) retires, and it’s given to a younger man. Graham feels overlooked. He works hard at his job, and nobody notices. He does right by his underlings, and nobody notices. He seethes with frustration at the injustice, and nobody notices. He gets in an altercation with a bum and inadvertently shoves him in front of an oncoming train… and nobody notices. Continue reading →
Heath Ledger may well be this generation’s James Dean. His career tragically cut short (though in his case more by a bad decision than by happenstance), he had a few more films than Dean, but like Dean was just reaching his peak at his death, and appeared to be on his way to becoming one of the all-time greats. His last few roles were among his best, and his final role in 2009′s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is no exception.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was written and directed by Terry Gilliam, with frequent collaborator Charles McKeown co-writing, and as one might suspect from both the title and the creators, it deals heavily in imagination. In fact, though it has something of a darker tone to it, it feels very similar to their earlier collaboration, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Continue reading →
There seems to be something about entertainers — singers and actors in particular — that leads them to want to try their hands at other professions. Every so often you hear about an actor who puts out an album; most often, you simultaneously hear laughter and derision from the masses. And it works the other way as well, of course; singers have been trying to break into movies at least since the days of Bing Crosby. This usually doesn’t work all that well either, though it does have an occasional success.
Frauds, a 1993 film by Stephan Elliott, attempts to be one of those successes by casting Phil Collins in the role of insurance agent Roland Copping. It turns out to work rather well indeed, as on the outside Phil Collins is very much the picture of a meek, mild-mannered accountant type, but Collins turns out to be able to channel an absurdist sense of humor and a childlike glee at bullying into a character that is both charming and irritating, and just short of menacing. Continue reading →
The entries in the Morbid Curiosity Files are a lot like greatness. I don’t mean they’re good, let alone great; I mean that like greatness, there are a number of ways they can come about. Some are “born”, found at random, and catch my attention. Some are achieved, ones I learned about and deliberately sought out because I just had to know. And still others, a very few, are thrust upon me. 17 Again is one such film. I never had any intention of seeing it. If I had come across it at random, as an offering on Hulu or on TV, I would have shook my head and passed it by. But it was given to me, as noted previously, by Flixster. It’s now a permanent part of my UltraViolet collection, whether I want it or not. And since it’s there, I figured I might as well take a look. This is not to say my optimism was ever engaged, however.
The film, released in 2009, and directed by Burr Steers, stars Zac Efron as the young version of main character Mike O’Donnell. This right away raises the question of just who the film was made for. At the time, Efron was largely known for High School Musical, so on that basis one would expect the film’s target market to be girls in their early teens. And yet the themes of the film are about regret, making up for lost chances, and the responsibilities of fatherhood; these themes, particularly that last one, aren’t exactly aimed at young women. Continue reading →
A few days ago, I discovered that Flixster is offering some free movie downloads for people who sign up for an account, and who do some social media blurbs for them (if you’re like me, and don’t want to pester your follows with such, you can do as I did and delete the posts after you’re given the movies.) These movies are made available through their “Flixster Desktop” application; while you’re awarded the movies through their website, and can check your “collection” there, both the download process and playing the video take place in the application. I don’t see any way to outright buy movies through Flixster yet, so I suspect that the application and the offer are part of a beta program so Flixster can test the process out before getting their feet wet. (Although you can apparently also access your regular UltraViolet collection through it, so that may be what they’re angling for. EDIT: You can indeed access your regular UltraViolet collection.)
The first movie is your choice out of a limited selection; I went with Dog Day Afternoon. The other two are randomly selected; I got Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and 17 Again, starring Zac Efron. This is not what I call getting things off on the right foot, but oh well. I can hardly blame the program for that. While I have reviewed one of the movies, and will hopefully get to the others soon, I thought it might be worthwhile to say a few words about the program itself.
It should be noted I’m using the Windows XP version of the software, but I suspect the salient points of this review will apply to all versions. Continue reading →
I never really watch a made-for-TV movie with high expectations, though I’ve seen a few that are actually pretty good. While I hope that every theatrical movie I watch is great — minus those few that are obvious candidates for the Morbid Curiosity Files — when it comes to their small-screen counterparts, I mostly hope for something that’s just OK. Every so often I get surprised by one that’s better than expected, but especially with older ones, it doesn’t happen very often.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons to check them out, though. Sometimes an older TV movie can be fun to watch just to see who turns up. In the case of Charles Braverman’s 1986 TV movie, The Brotherhood of Justice, the reason to watch is the chance to see a young Keanu Reeves play off a young Kiefer Sutherland. Continue reading →
I’m out hitting a 52-mile stretch of garage sales today, and a community garage sale tomorrow, so I may not be right here on the site for a bit. But that doesn’t stop the Weekly Weblinks from going up right on schedule! This week’s blog posts include a review of a film coming out today, a couple films debuting at a film festival, and some retro classics.
In the news there’s some info on Michael Bay’s fourth Transformers picture, the latest on the Bay-produced Ninja Turtles, and some more puppets coming to the big screen that, as far as I know, have nothing at all to do with Michael Bay. This week’s selection of posts and news is also surprisingly heavy on Disney, but there’s more to the Weekly Weblinks than Bay or Disney, so whatever you’re interested in, read on! Continue reading →
I never had any real intention to watch Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery in full. I wasn’t won over by the previews when it was released in 1997, and ignored it upon its release. Later, when some friends were watching it, I caught about a third of it. I thought it was OK, but nothing I felt compelled to watch the whole thing. Then I saw the first sequel, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, also directed by Jay Roach, and frankly, it was terrible. So I didn’t have any inclination to go back to the first one and view it in full — after all, what I had seen hadn’t wowed me, and what if what I had seen was the only tolerable part?
Call it fate or dumb luck, but circumstances conspired against me. Flixster has a few offers going currently whereby one can download a few high-resolution movies from them for free. I chose Dog Day Afternoon for one, and was thinking I’d get to choose on the other two as well. Nuh uh. Those were randomly selected, and you get what they give, and one of the ones I got was Austin Powers. I may not have been intending to watch it, but since I’ve got it available to me anyway, I’m going to make use of it. After all, the third was 17 Again, and I’m going to grit my teeth and watch that eventually, so surely I could make it through Austin Powers. Continue reading →