Andy Watches Movies and Cinema Schminema are hosting a Nostalgiathon Blogathon, the idea of which is to examine things from our youth through our now-adult eyes. Since that’s a large part of what I wind up doing here anyway, it’s a natural blogathon for me to want to join in, but I wanted to do something a bit special for it. Most of the time when I review a movie from my childhood here, it’s one that I don’t remember much at all; I usually don’t even remember whether I liked it, perhaps because I missed out on it, or wasn’t paying attention, or perhaps it’s just faded that much from my memory. Contrariwise, if I do remember it, and how I felt, I probably feel much the same way now as I did then; I’m actually fairly constant when it comes to liking things.
So I wanted to watch a film that would occupy a rare niche for me: something that I knew for certain that I had seen and liked, but yet remembered virtually nothing about. This would give me the best chance of seeing whether my enjoyment for it was out of genuine regard for the film, or if it was, indeed, just pure nostalgia.
Fortunately, a day spent at the flea market a few days after the Nostalgiathon introductory post provided me with the perfect subject for my review: Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird. The film was released in 1985, and of course stars the usual Muppet performers under Jim Henson and Frank Oz, and the human actors from Sesame Street. I remember watching it at home, and I know I watched it more than once. But I didn’t remember any details from it since I hadn’t seen it in a few decades and had been relatively young when I did see it — and it’s not exactly the sort of film that even 80s nostalgia fans go out of their way to remind each other about. Continue reading →
It’s Friday morning once again, and so that means it’s time for the Weekly Weblinks. There’s a good chunk of variety in the blog posts, with some new reviews, some vintage reviews, and some previews. And the news section is almost bloated, with twice the usual tidbits.
So rather than having me natter on for a bit, let’s just get right to it! Continue reading →
Back, once again, to the oeuvre of John Hughes comedies. Although Hughes didn’t direct this 1988 film — Howard Deutch did — he wrote the script, and it’s easy to recognize his hand in its creation. Throw in John Candy and Dan Aykroyd as the lead characters, and it’s a shoe-in that I’d be checking this movie out.
The Great Outdoors is one of those films that I have, technically, seen before. At least partly. I can remember it playing in the VCR at a family friend’s house when I was a child. But, as was so often the case when I was a child, I only watched bits and pieces of it as I ran around the place. I remember everybody laughing, and I remember thinking it was funny when I stopped to watch it. But I only really remembered the scene with the bear (it’s the sort of thing that leaves an impression on a ten year old). So, as a film lost to the fog of easily-distracted youth, I had to check it out again as an adult. Continue reading →
“It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.” “Hit it.”
I have to wonder what the executives at Universal Pictures thought while The Blues Brothers was in production. Besides the fact that it went over budget and ran over on time, which are always concerns, it had to have seemed to be a little risky just on the face of it. John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, the stars, were both popular comedic actors, but their previous outing together, Steven Spielberg’s 1941, had a lackluster reception at the box office (likewise, so did their third and final collaboration, Neighbors; both are actually good films, but have largely been forgotten). Belushi had Animal House to his name, but nothing else of note; Aykroyd didn’t even have that. The characters of the Blues Brothers were known from their appearances on Saturday Night Live, but as a musical act more than just a comedy sketch, and there hadn’t been any prior attempt to bring an SNL concept to the big screen (though obviously there would be several later; other than Wayne’s World, I don’t think any of them were worth watching.)
Musicals were largely a thing of the past. So was blues music. The film called for the casting of several blues and R&B musicians in significant roles, and not only were they not experienced actors, but most of their careers were in slumps at the time; they weren’t going to draw any audiences in on their own. Dan Aykroyd was the writer who came up with all of the ideas, and he hadn’t made a name for himself as a writer yet; in fact, it was his first project, and he handed director John Landis a literal tome — the size of and in the covers of a phone book — which Landis then had to trim down in order to make a working screenplay out of it. Landis himself was also known solely for Animal House and a couple of schlocky cult comedy films — Kentucky Fried Movie and one literally titled Schlock. And then in order to shoot everything that still remained after Landis trimmed the script, they would have to get unprecedented permission from the city of Chicago to film. On the surface, it had to have looked like a risky proposition; there was every chance that it’s large-for-the-day budget of $27 million would be going to a box office bomb. Continue reading →
“Six bucks and my left nut says we’re not going to be landing in Chicago.”
We all have our favorite films, and when you have a movie blog, it’s almost obligatory to occasionally push them onto your readers. So, considering we are exactly one week away from Thanksgiving in the United States, I’ve decided to open up my “Favorite Films” series of reviews with what is arguably the greatest comedy to take place at Thanksgiving. Granted, it’s not the most crowded field when it comes to holiday movies — Christmas, being just a bit more universal (or at least extending into the rest of Western civilization) certainly gets the lion’s share of holiday movies — but I am confident that even had John Hughes’ 1987 odd couple comedy Planes, Trains, and Automobiles been set at Christmas, it would still be a fondly-remembered comedy classic.
From the dialogue, to the plot, to the acting by its two stars, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is just about perfect. Continue reading →