The blessing and the curse related to the August 2019 Del Shores film "Six Characters in Search of a Play is that there is so much good in it that knowing where to begin is tough. Starting from a highly macro level (and to borrow from another "minor gay celebrity") the real-life Shores is one of the most kind and compassionate people in "this filthy world."
"Play" is the lucky seventh performance of the titular one-man show of Shores. The comparison to fellow (deceased) highly literate storyteller Spaulding Gray begins with Shores explaining the classic work to which he is paying homage.
The meta concept of "Play" is that six real-persons in the life of Shores inspire a desire to insert them in work that will join this impressive body of work that includes (reviewed) "A Very Sordid Wedding" that is part of the hilarious "Sordid Lives" franchise of Shores, the MUST-SEE (reviewed) "Southern Baptist Sissies," and the (reviewed) Shores performance film "My Sordid Life" that ties the aforementioned (and much more) together.
This concept evokes thoughts of the reasoning of a summer-camp co-worker who made a big deal about not owning a television when such a s statement was considered a lifestyle. The conclusion of this woman was that the people in her life were more interesting than television characters.
The rest of this interlocking story is that the married middle-aged woman who co-owned the camp with her temporarily absent husband spent the summer openly having an affair with the gregarious hunky blond farm boy who ran the satellite camp.
The taking of liberties with the help proves the point of the counselor AND validates the long history of Shores including the "characters" in his life in his films and plays.
The extension of this is that "Characters" is funny because it true sans any exaggeration or other embellishment. Spoilers regarding these unique individuals. including one who blurs the line between fact and fiction, is mostly limited to discussing the first one. Hearing about the "loud-mouthed lower-middle-class Republican with a heart of gold" (and how a chihuahua upstages her) will require watching the film.
The truly enchanting evening that ends too soon begins with Shores reminiscing about chain-smoking character actress Sarah Hunley, who plays Juanita Bartlett in the "Sordid" films and the television series. Much of this centers around Hunley setting a highly relatable "send her back" style deadline as to filming "Wedding."
Our Gayrisson Keillor especially shines during this portion of the film when describing a frequently repeated ritual in which Hunley engages when he visits her Studio City apartment, Many of us who have called on older people can relate to strict routines greatly prolonging achieving an objective (not to mention an exit strategy).
The stories of Hunley and of the other five people who are varying degrees of near and dear to Shores prove yet another couple of points as to comedy. Carol Burnett is well known for saying that her classic skits work because truly funny material is timeless. Similarly, Burnett notes that she gets big laughs without resorting to blue humor.
NOTHING in "Play" is an more raunchy than Burnett coming out of stage with comically large breasts or Tim Conway silently expressing great pain from straddling a door knob.
Shores further emulates Burnett by presenting material that appeals to everyone from teens just starting to develop secondary sexual characteristics to folks who have reverted to wearing diapers and going to bed at 7.
All of us have these characters, including the guy who finds it necessary to hurl homophobic slurs based on a gas-station encounter, in our lives. Further, everyone in this demographic at least must smile on hearing about the Kum and Go; yes. they do sell Big Gulps.
Mill Creek Entertainment once more proves itself to be the champion of sofa spuds everywhere as to the August 13, 2019 DVD release of "Hart to Hart: Movies and Murder Collection." This four-disc set includes all 8 1993-96 made-for-TV reunion movies of the 1979-84 ABC light-hearted mystery series.
Having a handful of "B-listers" guest in each movie provides a wonderful hybrid vibe of "Murder, She Wrote," which gets its own set of made-for-TV reunions, and "The Love Boat." These celebrities include Joan Collins, George Hamilton, Alan Young, Mike Farrell, and Jason Bateman. The roster truly goes on and on and on from there.
MCE follows this up with a Halloween treat in the form of an October 2019 Blu-ray complete-series release of "Charlie's Angels."
The titular couple is an '80riffic "lifestyles of the rich and famous" version of one-percenter silver-screen amateur sleuths Nick and Nora Desmond of "The Thin Man" fame.
As the voice-over narration in the "Hart" series and movies reminds us, Jonathan Hart (Robert Wagner) is a self-made millionaire. This exposition includes that "it was murder" when Jonathan met "gorgeous" spouse/free-lance journalist Jennifer Hart (Stefanie Powers). The rest of this part of the story is that gruff but loving live-in servant Max (Lionel Stander) "takes care of them, which ain't easy."
A typical "Hart" episode finds a series of unfortunate circumstances embroiling the soulmates in a crime that often involves murder. It is just as likely that someone embezzling funds from a charity for which Jennifer is organizing a fashion show kills an assistant who discovers that crime as it is that Jonathan must clear his name as to Hart Industries being accused of nefarious business dealings.
The aptly titled first movie in the series is "Hart to Hart Returns." This one stays the closest to the spirit of the series while including a notable development that is too momentous to the lore to even remotely spoil. The central plot involves a pending business deal of Jonathan with an old friend prompting the corporate villains of the week to take desperate measures in response to the desperate times as to the aforementioned pursuit of profit.
The next one, "Home is Where the Hart is" arguably is the best one in that it virtually is a live-action "Scooby-Doo" mystery. The death of the mentor/first boss of then cub-reporter Jennifer brings our heroes to the small town where Mrs. H. begins her career.
The list of usual suspects and the spooky subterfuge that is concealing covert activity make one long to see family pet Freeway, Jr. speak English and Jonathan to pull a rubber mask off the villain. An "I would have gotten away with it except for you meddling millionaires" would have made this one purely sublime.
"Old Friends Never Die" is another memorable one due to both its campy fun and its homage to another genre; this time Agatha Christie books are taken to Hart. A publisher tells the couple that wanting to add Jennifer to his stable of writers is why he is inviting them to a weekend party at his lavish estate. The rest of the guests are eccentric scribes.
The plot thickens on Jennifer overhearing a detailed murder plot; the explanation that the conversation relates to a novel concept wears thin on life imitating alleged art. This culminates in the truth ultimately coming out, and the Harts finding themselves playing the most dangerous game.
More of the same occurs in the other films, which culminate in the aptly titled "Til Death Do Us Part." An early scene in this one indicates that Jonathan may be dyslexic in that Dog is his co-pilot.
The rest of this story is that the Harts travel to Germany so that Jennifer can donate bone marrow to a young cancer patient. The intrigue this time relates to our dynamic duo encountering a French woman who is a doppelganger of Jennifer. Of course, Powers plays this crazy pair.
"Death" ends on the same concept as the last several films in the series in that the epilogue involves the Harts in a fantastic or fantasy situation. These include this pair magically transforming into a couple performing a song-and-dance number on a stage or being transformed into lovers in a cuckoo clock.
Old and new fans should take all this to hart; the series and the movies are good cheesy fun that show that entertainment need not be edgy.
These thoughts regarding the breaking glass pictures April 2012 DVD release of "Del Shores My Sordid Life" is a perfect inaugural topic for an ongoing series of "evergreen" reviews of pre-2016 breaking releases.
Any friend of Dorothy (Zbornak or Gale) or fan of good campy humor knows Shores as the writer of the "Sordid Lives" play, film, and Logo television series about a young gay man and his hilariously "shameless" white trash family. Shores is lesser known as the writer of the (fave) play "Southern Baptist Sissies," which is as autobiographical as "Life" and "Lives." Fans of all three will delight in the charming insight that "Life" provides regarding the aforementioned true labors of love by Shores.
"Life" further is appropriate for this new group of reviews because it it is consistent with glass beginning to give another Philadelphia-based home-entertainment company a run for its money regarding releases of indie art-house gay-themed films. Upcoming Unreal TV posts are on "People You May Know," which features a 30something gay man looking for love, and the documentary "Seed Money" about the founder of the gay porn film company Falcon Studios.
"Life" is the one-man show of Shores in which he discusses "Lives," "Sissies," and several other projects. He nicely sets the tone by discussing his work on the '90s Foxcom "Ned and Stacey" that stars a pre- "Will and Grace" Debra Messing and a post "Wings" Thomas Haden Church. Shores admits that dissing "Lowell" by literally calling him an asshole distresses fans of Church but states in his terrifically sweet Southern voice that that actor is one.
A similar story relates to Shores working on the groundbreaking Showtime series "Queer as Folk." The surprising bad guy this time is dreamy young blond boy Randy Harrison, who plays dreamy young blond Justin. Shores discussing the revenge of the writers for the scorn that Harrison expresses regarding the program surprisingly is not a memorable episode that literally puts the ass of Justin in a sling. The lesson to not make the writers your enemy is much more poetic and clever.
Other shocking moments include Shores amusingly discussing sharing explicit information about the mechanics of gay sex with his mother. This segment includes not telling her absolutely everything in order to not overwhelm her.
Hearing about the play "Daddy's Dyin ... Who's Got the Will" beginning life in a 64-seat theater before going on to become a Shores thing hit (and hilarious) film is very entertaining. The best part of this story is the outrage of an aunt regarding the portrayal of her in the film and the surprising reason for that anger.
Shores additionally addresses marriage equality in that era before every state recognizes that right. This includes Shores discussing his daughter posting a YouTube video, which is a DVD extra, on California Proposition 8. That video demonstrates that Shores raised his girl right.
Many of the more personal stories relate to tales that are funny because they happen to someone else surrounding truly southern-friend family gatherings of the Shores clan. These include a family reunion and a funeral.
The appeal of the performance itself relates to Shores, who awesomely engages the audience throughout the show, being as shameless as the rest of his kin regarding the perverse nature of their past and the harmful anti-gay attitude that stems from being a practicing Southern Baptist. Regarding the latter, Shores takes a page from the playbook of fellow skilled storyteller Mel Brooks as to the Nazis. Our favorite "sissy" robs his ignorant relatives of their power by showing the foolishness of their beliefs on the subject of sexuality. He is a boy of whom any momma and daddy should be proud.
The copious truly special extras extend well beyond the aforementioned Proposition 8 video. We see fans and Shores actors, who include "Lives" star Beau Bridges, share their thoughts as they leave the theater. We additionally get three deleted monologues, which include Shores sharing a powerful deleted speech from Sissies, from "Life."
Other features include behind-the-scenes looks and the theatrical trailer for the film.
The clear homage to quintessential New Yorker Woody Allen adds awesome irony to the studio named Gravitas Ventures separately releasing the 2017 Quincy Rose afternoon-in-the-life-of urban comedy "The Narcissists" on Blu-ray and DVD on September 3, 2019. The BD format adds a great deal to the travelogue quality of the cinematography of what looks to be late October footage of Manhattan.
Folks who savor the "video killed the radio star" aspects of home video also can watch "Narcissists" on Prime Video or iTunes.
The following "Narcissists" trailer provides equally strong senses of the Allen and the related "its funny because its true (and because it is happening to the other guy)" aspects of the film. The scenes of 30-something NYC friends discussing "nothing" additionally will evoke Seinfeldian thoughts; not that there is anything wrong with that.
The aptness of the film title begins with the I bet you think this movie is about you (don't you, don't you) vibe of it, A personal example of this is having a friend whose financial status requires continuing to share an apartment (and a bed) with an ex-partner after a break up,
Hitting closer to home, "Narcissists" seemingly reflects the real life of Rose (Oliver), whose other "joints" include the (reviewed) "Miles to Go" and (reviewed) "Friends Effing Friends Effing Friends." Interviews with Rose and his castmates that blur the line between fact and fiction at the end of "Narcissists" reinforces that Rose personally knows that of which he writes.
As an aside, concluding "Narcissists" with the interviews is highly reminiscent of use of that technique in some episodes of the '60s musical kidcom "The Monkees" and the '80s Cybill Shepherd/Bruce Willis dramedy series "Moonlighting."
Rose fully shows his genius by putting a spin on a seemingly compulsory expository technique for modern films. The opening scenes include Oliver standing on a subway platform opposite whom we soon learn is live-in (ambiguously on-a-break ala a classic sitcom NYC couple) girlfriend Cassi (Jessica DiGiovanni). The Rose variation on the common theme is only discovered at the end of the film.
The action then shifts to a voice-over of a meta-conversation in which Oliver and best bud Max (Zack Tiegen) are discussing the next film of Oliver. Their topics include confusion of Max as to the extent to which Oliver wants him to play himself or his character in the film within the film.
Although there is no direct reference to Rose muse Woody Allen, conversing about specific considered elements of the fictional project unambiguously refer to borrowing from the master of New York-based films. Good laughs come later as Oliver consciously adopts a do as I say, not as I do attitude.
All of this leads to Oliver and Max and Casi and her best friend Letty (Augie Duke) spending the next hour separately wandering the streets of New York hashing out whether Oliver and Casi should stay together.
Rose, who wears Allen-esque horn-rimmed glasses in real and reel-life, particularly shines in a scene in which he slouches and stammers in a heavy New York Jewish accent in response to what he considers an offensive remark by Max. This should make the real-life '70s-era employer of the father of Rose very proud.
The voice of Rose comes through more clearly in Cassi and Letty discussing a man who apparently is from Nantucket sustaining an equally embarrassing and painful injury while teasing a cat. Every male viewer is defied to not cringe at this (mercifully off-screen) image.
The impetus for the soul-searching accompanied by copious witty banter and wry observations is that the lease on the apartment that Oliver and Casi share is expiring. They must decide if their love is adequately strong to commit to staying in a place that neither can independently afford. This analysis includes a very close-to-home (no pun intended) observation (recalled as being by Max) about never living in a place that requires pooling financial resources.
As both Oliver and Rose observe, love in one's 30s is observed from a more practical perspective than in one's 20s.
The oft-mentioned realistic aspects of "Narcissists" ensure that the ending is neither especially happy nor unhappy. Both Oliver and Cassi will get on with their lives either way.
The bigger picture is that the strongest appeal of "Narcissists" is (ala his other films) the talent and the integrity of Rose. His aforementioned interview emphasizes that he values art over commerce and chooses making a quality (seemingly largely improvised) film with his own limited funds over potentially having to sell his artistic soul in exchange for being touched by an angel.
The most apt final thought is one can only hope that Rose continues the grand tradition of the late '70s Woody Allen comedies that include "Annie Hall" and "Manhattan." This relates to a scene in the brilliant semi-autobiographical 1980 Allen film "Stardust Memories" in which a fan tells the fictionalized version of himself that Allen plays that that admirer likes his older funnier movies than his more recent serious fare.
The Mill Creek Entertainment August 13, 2019 Blu-ray release of the 1987 Steve Martin/Darryl Hannnh comedy "Roxanne" is among the latest (mostly '80s and '90s) cult classics in the MCE "Retro VHS" catalog with fun videotape-style packaging. The (review pending) James Woods/Robert Downey, Jr. drama "True Believer" is a fellow August 2019 addition to this series.
"Roxanne" is a perfect example of the glee associated with another bite of the apple as to those of who saw it in the theater and is a chance for younger folks to see what they missed the first time around, The second bite refers to the '80s and '90s being an era of so many movies that either are so good that they are good or that are bad but have an appeal that makes them good. The curse as to this embarrassment of riches is that "Roxanne" and similar fare in the middle of the bell curve either does not make the cut for a cineplex visit or is not fully appreciated on a first viewing.
The following "retro" trailer for "Roxanne" does not provide much insight into the film but does highlight the talent of Martin and the '80ness of the film.
The titular astronomer (Hannah) is the new girl in the Pacific Northwest town of Nelson, Washington. Unlike source material "Cyrano de Bergerac," comically large-nosed fire chief C.D, Bales is not the cousin of this object of affection. Handsome dim-witted new firefighter Chris (Rick Rossovich) is the subordinate with no play who (at least temporarily) gets the girl.
The rest of the initial premise is that C.D. is a martial arts master who dos not gladly suffer fools who make fun of his huge schnoz. One of the best scenes has C.D. making a long series of self-deprecating jokes before the inevitable flattening of a barroom bully.
Roxanne and C.D. meet in a typically romcom-style manner. She is in an embarrassing state when she comes to the firehouse seeking aid. Martin being Martin mines great comedic potential from this vulnerability. The bonding continues when Roxanne takes asking for help moving a couch up a notch.
A comedy of errors leads to Roxanne believing that Chris has brawn and brains; Chris wanting to maintain the misperception as to the latter leads to C.D. putting words in his mouth and on paper.
The funny because it is happening to someone else trauma and drama amps up when the "Roxanne" variation of the handsome suitor wooing the girl while the ugly guy feeds him his line gets Chris in the bed of Roxanne. The lack of callousness relates to these young lovers not knowing about the romantic feelings that C.D, has toward Roxanne.
Of course, the truth ultimately comes out despite the frantic efforts of C.D. to maintain the charade. It is equally predictable that Roxanne is irate as to being duped, The outcome drives the remainder of the film.
The appeal of the film itself extends beyond improving with age now that it is not competing with a flock of competing fare. It is a cute, charming, amusing film that reminds viewers of a better time in which "adult" comedies did not heavily rely on being crude and rude.
Warner Archive has absolutely no 'splainin to do as to recently releasing the 1963 Bob Hope/Lucille Ball comedy "Critic's Choice" on DVD. This awesome follow-up to the (reviewed) Archive Blu-ray release of the 1974 Ball/Bea Arthur comedy "Mame" is highly evocative of '70s-era Sunday afternoon movie marathons on local independent stations.
This strong entry in the numerous film collaborations between real-life friends with comedic benefits Ball and Hope slightly falters only in showcasing the former in favor of the latter. This "fault" is not in the stars, but in the focus of this Ira Levin ("Deathtrap") screenplay based on his play of the same name.
Behind-the-scenes irony as to the uneven spotlight relates to real-life Ball spouse Desi Arnaz helping make "I Love Lucy" a beloved classic by allowing his better half to universally upstage him in that series. Irony as to "Choice" itself is addressed below.
The following HILARIOUS MUST-SEE theatrical trailer of "Choice" has Hope and Ball stepping out of their roles to ham it up equally for the enjoyment of the audience and themselves. One spoiler is that Ball never looked so glamorous as she does in this promo.
The simple but brilliant premise of "Choice" is that highly esteemed New York theater critic Parker Ballantine (Hope) proves that he is his own worst enemy when his arguably unduly harsh criticism of Broadway fare strongly contributes to second wife Angela Ballantine (Ball) trying her hand at writing a play. The rest of this story is that Parker and his audience delights in his witty negative take on virtually everything that he watches.
The aforementioned on-screen irony commences very early in "Choice." The opening scenes are of a play starring Parker ex-wife Ivy London (former sex kitten Mailyn Maxwell) that Parker and Angela are watching. Stating that he has seen and heard it many times before, Parker soon accurately predicts dialogue from the production.
Irony enters the picture (pun intended) as to "Choice" being environmentally conscious by regularly recycling Hope jokes. The most obvious example is Parker encountering an annoying small boy wearing a space helmet and asking which planet he is from. Not that there is anything wrong with that. (That irony is fully intentional.)
The tried-and-sometimes-true concept of the prose of Angela is a comedic take on "Mildred Pierce" as to Angela growing up with her interior-designer single mother of Angela and the equally off-beat sisters of Angela. An aside regarding this is that Ball and guest-star Joan Crawford fully extend their claws while filming a "Lucy Show" episode in which Crawford guest stars.
Angela is pure Lucy as she literally and figuratively looks over the shoulder of Parker while he reads her finished product. This comfort-food feast continues with Parker following up his cynical prediction that Angela cannot finish the play with the assessment that the end result is lousy.
Karma further catches up Parker as to Broadway producer/friend S.P. Champlain (John Dehner of "The Doris Day Show") agreeing to bring the play to the stage. The obvious intent here is to make Parker face raking his future ex-wife over the coals.
Champlain amps up this red-hot revenge by hiring playboy director Dion Kapakos (Rip Torn of "Men in Black" and "The Larry Sanders Show") to collaborate with Angela.
All of this triggers an existential crisis that involves Parker becoming an awesome hybrid between a Hope and a Jack Lemmon character. Fortunately for Parker, the doctor is in the house in the form of highly respected psychiatrist Dr. William Von Hagedorn (Jim Backus) being his downstairs neighbor. It is less fortunate that Von Hagedorn is an aspiring playwright with a finished product.
Things predictably heat up when Parker follows the pattern in films of this nature by surprising Angela during an out-of-town preview of her play. He catches her involved in what may be behavior that is banned in Boston. Ivy, who is in a league of her own, does not help matters by giving Parker possibly fake news that is part of her Lover come back strategy.
"Choice" continues staying true to form by centering the climax around the night of the Broadway premiere of "Sisters Three." The Parker/Angela relationship is a marriage on the rocks, Parker is a heartbeat away from ending up back in the bed of Ivy, and Angela seems ready to fully go Greek.
Continuing the true-to-life elements as to our real housewife of Park Avenue, the numerous moving parts of "Choice" come down to Angela deciding if she is happier with Parker than she would be without him. A nice aspect of this is that all our star players are assured at least a temporary happy ending regardless of the outcome.
Archive continues the focus on Hope by including one of his shorts, but no Ball fare, in the DVD extras. The Popeyeesque "Calling All Tars" (1936) has Hope playing small-town man Bobby on the town in New York on vacation with his buddy.
These aspiring wild-and-crazy guys having absolutely no game with the dames prompts renting sailor uniforms in an effort to get some play. This leads to being Shanghaied under the command of a CPO with whom they have a brief but negative history. Suffice it to say that "McHale's Navy" style hilarity ensues,
Archive supplements this with the highly stylized 1962 Looney Tunes cartoon "Now Hear This, which most likely is the theatrical opening act for "Choices." This very early '60s avant-garde short is a surreal adventure full of surreal images and accompanying sounds.
Writer/director Autumn McAlpin fully embraces the modern-woman girl-power of the 2016 "Ghostbusters" reboot with the July 12, 2019 theatrical/VOD/digital release of "Miss Arizona." Also, like "Ghostbusters," McAlpin pays wonderful homage to the past in a very woke fashion.
[Update: "Arizona" was released on DVD on August 27, 2019.]
The first of a few asides is that the title of "Arizona" relates to a classic riddle. The question is "why was the Miss America pageant short a contestant?" The answer is "because no one wanted to be Miss Ida Ho."
The "elevator speech" recap of the ""Arizona" concept is that a former beauty queen turned trophy wife forms a sisterhood of the travelling misfits and learns the value of hos before bros.
The following YouTube clip of an "Arizona" trailer follows the same principle as the above synopsis. This promo. rapidly takes us through the entire movie and even briefly provides the life story of each major character.
The second aside in this post is that the always-amusing and often hilarious "Arizona" coming attraction honors the humor of the HILARIOUS nine-minute indie film "Trailer: The Movie" (2001). IMDb PERFECTLY describes that one as "when two filmmakers discover their blockbuster is really just a bust, they cut together every half-decent shot into a misleading trailer to dupe audiences and save their careers."
The traditional aspects of "Arizona" begin with this almost literally "day in the life of" film commencing with titular American beauty Rose (Johanna Braddy) waking up in bed next to negligent power-agent husband Rick (Kyle Howard). She then wakes up growing boy 10 year-old Sawyer and serves her men a delicious nutritious breakfast because their maid has the day off.
Rick heading off to New York to attend the Tonys, and Sawyer going to school ahead of a sleepover leaves Rose with an empty nest.
Our lady of leisure becomes a lady who lunches on Rick calling her to demand that she perform her corporate spouse duty. The aside this time is that your not-so-humble reviewer refers to this as Samantha Stephens duty without the fun of being able to turn the client into a monkey when asked to attend a corporate event.
Rose gathering with her fellow real housewives of Beverly Hills leads to her volunteering to teach a life-skills class at a women's shelter that afternoon. The ensuing unfortunate circumstances lead to the hilarity with a touch of "Orange is the New Black" that ensues in the film.
Rose arises to find male shelter manager Bigs largely indifferent to her presence. He offers this rich white lady (avec sash and tiara) who has always lead a privileged life minimal support in her effort to reach the down-and-out shelter residents. These folks on whom enlightenment is being forced are even less receptive.
The imminent arrival of an uninvited guest requires that the shelter residents run, do not walk, to the nearest exit. Car trouble leads to Rose becoming their chauffeur.
A chance encounter drives (no pun intended) the rest of the action. Shelter resident Leslie (Robyn Lively of "Teen Witch") sees the car of her husband at the home of his cousin. This is of particular interest because the husband is guilty of parental kidnapping, and Leslie does not know where he is keeping their offspring.
Subsequent subterfuge results in the group learning where the kids are stashed; the gig being up leads to a frantic car chase.
The type of treat that makes indie films so special follows when the women go to a police station for assistance. A cop played by master of deadpan Tom McLaren ("Expelled" and "All American Bikini Car Wash") is surprised to find a former acquaintance in the station waiting room. He gets good mileage from merely saying "You again? Keep you nose clean." and walking out before the woman can respond.
Rose discovering that she cannot rely on her friends and family leads to the closest homage of the entire film. She and her new friends find themselves in West Hollywood (aka WeHo) in desperate need of money.
Discovering a drag-queen contest leads to the Lucy and Ethel caliber crazy scheme of having the former Miss America contestant compete. One character aptly refers to the classic Julie Andrews cross-dressing period-piece comedy film "Victor"/"Victoria."
It seems that McAlpin has a "Must See" show in mind when taking the film in that direction. An episode of the '90scom "Wings," which revolves around two brothers operating a struggling commuter airline on Nantucket, finds one of the brothers and the "girl" to the "two guys" stranded in New York. Their solution is to have the woman compete in a drag contest so that they can get enough money to return to their island.
Personal experience shows that McAlpin is well-tuned into the drag-queen mentality. They generally are a vicious lot that equally steal the clothes almost literally off the back of the others and get very upset when that occurs. At the same time, some of these boys who put so much into their art can be the nicest people in the world.
Suffice it to say that a permed "Cher" out there does not take kindly to being mistaken for Fran Drescher, and that anyone should be cool with adoration that includes a kiss on the cheek from a nice queen.
Worlds collide and revelations are achieved during the contest. Finding out about the secret life of an acquaintance is another true-life aspect of this portion of "Arizona."
This long strange day and night ends with a neo-Hollywood ending that involves the standard unexpected angel as well as Rose getting her groove back.
Although largely presented as a feminist fable, the message of this movie that should appeal to everyone from their teens to their 80s comes from another classic film. Everyone of every gender and sexual orientation should be excellent to each other.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions that I share are my own,]
The proper perspective regarding the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment August 27, 2019 Blu-ray/DVD combo. pack and separate DVD releases of the 2019 horredy film "The Banana Splits Show" is context. The first example is that setting a gorefest at the modern taping of a real live-action kids' show from the late '60s arguably is better suited to the '90s.
The Clinton years is when wholesome fare such as the "Splits" series and "The Brady Bunch" enjoys renewed popularity under the very flimsy guise that hipsters like such entertainment ironically, A common aspect of this is putting a dark twist on a childhood favorite ala the big-screen "Brady" films.
This is from the perspective of a guy who has had his Google home assistant repeatedly play the infectious "Splits" theme since learning of "Movie" several weeks ago. Whether this also prompts doing the spastic "Splits" dance requires pleading the Fifth.
The press materials for the film perfectly convey the above by describing "Movie" as "get nostalgic and horrified all at the same time while watching the trippy '60s characters in this all-new tale about fear, power, and an oversized puppet rock-band."
The following trailer for "Movie" further illustrates the nature of this creative take on a classic.
The next bit of context is that ANY mashing up of two disparate genres is almost certain to result in a compromise in the form of everyone getting something that he or she wants but hopes for more. A brighter aspect of this is that "Splits" fans get their first new material in decades.
"Brady" further plays into "Movie" by contributing to a more ideal premise than the one used.
Young and obliviously dorky Harley seems to literally be the biggest fan of "Splits" 50 years into their run. It is indisputable that he is in for misery (not to mention much more agony than ecstasy) when mom Beth sets him and the rest of the family on the road to Hell via her good intentions as to buying tickets to a taping of "Splits" as a birthday present for Harley.
The rest of the clan is 19 year-old slacker/loving half-brother Austin, and Harley dad/Austin step-dad Mitch. The one friend of Harley calling in sick leads to young girl Zoe being drafted to round out the group,
All of this turns out to be a textbook example of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The animatronic American Idols already are turning evil thanks to reprogramming when sudden news of an imminent cancellation of their series fully triggers their homicidal instincts and related Cylon-caliber glowing red eyes. A kinder and gentler version of this is the hilarious leaked photos of real Disney "cast members" engaged in adult behaviors while wearing the costumes of the characters whom they portray.
It seems that a "Brady" episode in which the bunch encounters the Splits and other Hanna-Barbera characters while at the King's Island amusement park in Cincinnati provides a no-brainer basis for "Movie." Even if the folks at the ironically named Blue Ribbon Content production company that makes this film could not get license right to use the Bradys, it seems that a "Westworld" tale (ala the Simpsons at Itchy and Scratchyland) of an all-American family having to flee the rampaging Splits at a theme park would provide perverse entertainment.
Although it would slightly distort "Brady" lore, many folks would perversely delight in seeing Cousin Oliver suffocate from having his head shoved in a cotton-candy machine. That, and his being why the family goes on the trip in the first place, would remove any doubt as to his being a jinx.
Returning to our actual movie, this Willy Wonka style adventure starts on a happy note both for our family and a self-proclaimed influencer and his girlfriend. Things are slightly less happy for the young daughter of the stage father, who is obsessed with using the taping to get his Honey Boo Boo discovered. Fans of "Wonka" can guess how things end for the folks who are not pure of heart and/or deed both in the audience and on the production team.
The creepy backstage area fully becomes the killing fields of our literally dead-eye murderers; highlights include an obstacle course of death and using a lollipop as a deadly weapon. This is not to mention a macabre banana split that costs an arm and a leg.
The rest of this plan involves providing a captive audience of children an endless show while the adults wait in the wings.
The most unintentionally amusing aspect of all this is that ignoring the elephant in the room allows keeping the body count from further escalating.
The DVD and Blu-ray extras include two "making-of" features; a memorable scene in those is seeing the actual guys in the costumes and hearing their tales of trying to navigate while dressed that way. An amusing fake news report can be considered a highlight reel.
The final act to all this is not a "rock out." it is a reminder that "Movie" should be judged in the context of entertainment in the form of distorting something sweet into something acidic for the sick pleasure of those who find such twists entertaining,
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2017 film "Pinsky" provides a chance to see the best movie about a hipster Boston 20-something lesbian with a domineering Russian immigrant grandmother having a quarter-life crisis that you will see this year. The accolades for this quirky indiecom include the Best Narrative Feature at the 2017 Santa Fe Independent Film Festival.
Much of the appeal of this dysfunctional Jewish family film relates (pun intended) to it evoking thoughts of the Neil Simon semi-autobiopic "Brighton Beach Memoirs." That one tells the tale of an adolescent Simon living in a full house with his parents, his brother, and the rest.
"Pinsky" opens on a terrible, horrible, no good day for titular Millennial Sophia Pinsky (producer/writer Rebecca Karpovsky). Her grandfather drops dead in the street within hours of the live-in girlfriend of Sophia leaving her a Dear Jane letter. All of this is on top of Sophia still working at the Jewish grocery store that is her college-era employer.
These worlds initially collide due to the death prompting Sophia to attending Shiva at the apartment of her grandmother (a.k.a. Bubbie). This is the first interaction of these women in several years after Bubbie cuts Sophia out of her life for moving in with her girlfriend.
The rest of the story in this regarding is that family rabbi Bob Stern (Alan Blumenfeld of the Marion Ross Jewcom "Brooklyn Bridge"). We subsequently learn that Bob has a very personal interest in the activities of the Pinskys.
Bubbie first exerts her Yenta side in coercing newly single Sophia to move back into Temple Beth Pinksy. The fellow members of the congregation are Sophia's father, who is obsessed with his ballroom-dance partner, and aimless sibling Victor, who has delusions of qualifying for the Boston police force. One can give Victor credit for realizing that he lacks the right stuff for the BFD.
The unavailability of an eligible Jewish doctor prompts Bubbie to aggressively promote the next best thing. She coerces Sophia into dating long-time family friend/medical researcher Trevor. Trevor agrees to play along despite having no romantic interest in Sophia and knowing that she prefers her phallic items to be of the plastic variety.
The final piece of the puzzle comes in the form of Sophia beginning a friendship that she apparently hopes reaps benefits. This object of her affection is Jessica Elliott, whose black skin is one of a few characteristics that distinguish her from the other patrons at the aforementioned Jewish market.
Jessica being an open-mic night regular introduces Sophia to the world; that leads to her aspiring to become a hipster lesbian version of Jerry Seinfeld; not that there is anything wrong with that.
Families of every religion and nationality can relate to the developments in the wake (pun intended) of the death of the grandfather leading to comically extreme trauma and drama at a Shabbat (a.k.a. Friday Night) dinner. The Mogen David freely flowing may be a factor regarding the gefilte fish hitting the fan.
Part of the gist of the listing of grievances is Bubbie laying the mother of all Jewish maternal figure guilt trips regarding her heavy sacrifices for her ungrateful family; we also learn that Trevor has his limits.
The biggest picture is that "Pinsky" illustrates the truth of the expression that you can pick your friends but not your relatives. It also brings to mind a foreign film from a few years ago in which a nice young Parisian Jewish man is planning to move to Israel; his sister reminds him that his planned destination is full of people who are like their parents. A third perspective is the Seinfeld joke that Jewish men marry shiksas because they want a wife who does not remind them of their mother.
The always excellent Breaking DVD extras this time are an interview with Blumenfeld and a short clip of Karpovsky doing stand-up.
Best friend of edgy off-beat films Breaking Glass Pictures embraces the spirit of the 2018 quirky indie comedy "Wobble Palace" by releasing the DVD of it on October 30, 2018. This praise relates to "Palace" occurring over the October 30-31, 2016 weekend just ahead of the presidential election that year.
Breaking does another solid by providing a spot-on synopsis of "Palace" in the press materials. This makes life easier for over-worked reviewers everywhere who welcome any chance to half-ass it. This brilliant prose that aptly begins with the phrases "auteur-driven," "hyper-independent," and "Millennial anti-rom-com" is below.
"WOBBLE PALACE takes place on the eve of America's most traumatic election, where a couple on the verge of a nervous break-up decide to split their house up over the weekend. Desperate to make new connections, Jane and Eugene find themselves in a series of unpredictable misadventures, sexual escapades and emotional traumas. From this simple premise we delve into a manic and hilarious world of lust and mistrust, revealing the identity crises and narcissistic self-loathing at the core of the millennial experience."
This adventure begins with easily the most divisive narrative technique in modern film. A series of texts establish the context for Eugene (producer/director/writer Eugene Kotlyarenko) and Jane to divide their shared abode that artist Jane has decorated in early Pee Wee's Playhouse for the Halloween weekend. Folks who have good eyesight and embrace all innovations apparently love this popular exposition tool. Those of us whose eyes are less-than-perfect and who are less fond of copycat gimmicks do not embrace this method as much.
The real action begins on the morning of Saturday, October 30. This is the day that Eugene has the house. Seeing more of his morning routine than we need to includes watching him create the worst comb-over in a LONG history of cinematic bad efforts to hide a receding hairline,
The day of Eugene starts well before rapidly picking up momentum that leads to an epic crash-and-burn that deprives him of every last shred of dignity. This nottie surprisingly gets a hottie blonde photographer that he meets through a dating app. to come by. It is even more surprising that she sticks around after uncovering the truth about his relationship with his "roommate."
Eugene soon putting himself in a literally and figuratively compromising position proves that all men are stupid. His learning the extent to which an angry woman hath fury provides the audience great entertainment and our boy intense anguish. His relationship with Jane being much closer to hate than love at this point does not help matters.
The primary action then shifts to Jane, whom we join on Sunday morning after a wild Saturday night party. This starving artist trying to hold her own with one who lives in an expensive loft is very amusing.
For her part, Jane is spending her day at the house with a member of the Millionaire Boys' Club who is a regular booty call. Watching this horny pair have a room but needing to wait for a bed is both relatable and hilarious. This two-pump chump making an ill-advised dump adds more comic drama to their intercourse.
Kotlyarenko augments this study of the mating habits of Millennials with apt flashbacks that establish how they get to where they are at the present of the film. This includes the more traditional rom-com style segment that can be considered when Eugene met Jane. These scenes not only depict the joy of new (if not true) love but the cyclical nature of everything.
All of this wraps up with Jane and Eugene reuniting after their weekends of freedom. This leads to them determining if their flame is reignited, has burned out, or simply is a Hanukkah light that adequately is keeping the relationship going until they either fall back in love or experience enough hate to call it quits. Real and reel life allow accurately predicting which of these is the outcome.
The special features include a separate audio commentary by Kotlyarenko and his entertaining four-minute introduction to 15 minutes of deleted scenes. The elan with which this aforementioned auteur describes his film, the support of Breaking, and the context of the footage that ends up on the editing room floor communicates his tremendous love for the art for which he bares all.
The breaking news regarding all this is that "Palace" presents a compelling portrait of a modern man-child clown who receives a harsh wake-up call on starting his day alone in bed.
The Mill Creek Entertainment August 2019 DVD release of the 2011-12 ABC period piece dramedy "Pan Am" provides another bite at the apple regarding this show that reminds us that flying was not always the horrendous nightmare that it is today. This series also is notable for launching the career of Margot Robbie.
"Pan Am" must be put in context that is apt for its "Love Boat" style format of each episode centering around a flight that has passengers whom guest stars of varying calibers play. It is fluffy fun with a relatively strong prime-time soap vibe.
The following YouTube clip of an ABC promo. for "Pan Am" provides a good sense of the strong production values and the related style of this series set in the mid-60s. The network further reminds us that the cred. of the series includes "West Wing" and "ER" veterans.
On the broadest level, "Pan Am" follows the "Marshall Plan" that reflects the wisdom of "Happy Days" creator Garry Marshall. Marshall notes that setting a '70s sitcom in the '50s prevents it from looking dated.
The opening scenes of the pilot (no pun intended) demonstrate the good balance between exposition and getting down to action that indicates that a show has good potential; fanboys think of this as "The Firefly Lesson."
We see our four central "stews" in their morning routines ahead of their inaugural flight on the maiden voyage of the brand-new Clipper jet of their titular employer. This montage helps establish the personalities of this '60s version of the "Sex and the City" quartet.
The Robbie character Laura "Charlotte" Cameron represents the mix of plausible and absurd that makes the 14-episode "Pan Am" the best of shows and the average of shows. It simply seems that the producers want to provide a little something for everyone in a show, with a strong girl-power vibe.
The closest to sublime element of Laura is that she is a bright, intelligent, and charming recent college graduate. The spring of her discontent relates (no pun intended) to seeing that rebellious black-sheep Pam Am flight attendant sister Kate "Miranda" Cameron (Kelli Garner) is enjoying the freedom and adventure that increasingly is available to their generation,
The gradual descent toward ridiculous begins with Kate showing up at the last-minute for the wedding of Laura to a nice clean-cut young man and facilitating the "Thelma and Louise" style prison break of the runaway bride.
This lead to the more improbable developments of rookie flight attendant Laura being at the right place at the right time in that a Life magazine photographer snaps an impromptu photo that ends up on the cover of that publication, This ultimately leads to an increasingly liberated Laura posing for "art photos" that end up getting very public exposure (pun intended) that catches the eye of a "pop" idol of the era.
The pilot adventure of Kate revolves around the CIA recruiting her to be a Cold War courier. This leads to increasingly dangerous adventures that ultimately involve aiding assets from behind the Iron Curtain, engaging in gun play, and helping expose a double agent all while maintaining the on-the-job poise, grace, and femininity that her day job requires.
French-born Collette "Carrie" Valois (Karine Vanasse) largely provides the perspective of someone who spent a childhood under Nazi occupation; this is especially prominent in which the flight crew attend the Kennedy "Ich nin ein Berliner" speech in Germany.
The entertaining absurdity of the Collettte story arc relates to a romance that becomes a royal disaster. A background check regarding her suitability for the relationship reveals both a surprise regarding her heritage and the existence of a relative about whom she lacks prior knowledge.
Last but not least is Maggie "Samanatha" Ryan, who is portrayed by Christina Ricci of "The Addams Family" movies. Maggie represents the liberated Bohemian woman of the era. She is a very feisty problem child who seems even more sexually liberated than European Collette.
The absurdity of Maggie relates to her radical (as in subversive, rather than awesome) boyfriend Max essentially throwing her in the arms of a Congressman, who essentially is a poster-child for the Republican party. We also see Maggie not hesitating very much as to throwing a co-worker under the jet when her wanton ways seriously jeopardize her job.
As is the case in every series that centers around a fantastic four group of women, the men are all deeply flawed and mostly are window dressing. Largely hairless WASPy pale farm boy Dean Lowrey lacks much personality and emotes so much about runaway fiancee/flight attendant Bridget that even men who eat quiche everyday likely want him to man up at least a little.
Co-pilot who considers himself a god Ted Vanderway resents his privileged background not providing enough pull to have him sit in the "right seat" has more of a personality. He has the same Daddy issues as many sons of a wealthy "master of the universe" type father. Ted also is a former "Top Gun" Navy test pilot who has a past "incident" that is why he no longer in the service.
All of this occurs in the context of the times that are a changin' in the mid-60s. We see prejudice against a black sailor who enters a friendship with potential benefits with one of the stews, get a lesbian woman who is looking to enter an open marriage of convenience, and even get a side trip to Haiti during great unrest on that island.
The broadest appeal of all this is showing they folks who think of the mid-60s as the beginning of the end regarding true style in America and others who consider that period as one in which the oppressed begin overthrowing the oppressors and the general population begins to get woke that the truth lies in the middle.
'The Best of the Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Edition' DVD: Timeless Tribute to True American Idol
The Time Life August 6, 2019 release of its best ever DVD tribute to "The Carol Burnett Show" awesomely provides a good reason to stay inside during the hazy, hot, and humid summer of our discontent. The gift-worthy. "The Best of the Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Edition" shows that Time Life is not a three-trick pony as to similar deluxe massive sets to Burnett pals (and guest stars) Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, and Jackie Gleason. This is not to mention giving "Burnett" admirer Robin Williams similar (reviewed) royal treatment.
"Burnett" show by the numbers is 11 seasons, 279 episodes, 8 Golden Globes, 25 Emmys, and numerous other awards and nominations. A very incomplete list of the pop-culture contributions of "Burnett" begins with the "Family" sketches, which get their due in the "Burnett" set, that beget the sitcom "Mama's Family" that has its own deluxe (reviewed) Time Life CS set. A cool tie-in with the "Burnett" set is an included modern interview in which Burnett discusses how a combination of her perfect comedic instincts and her childhood tweak the concept of "Family" in a manner that shows that Mama Burnett knows best.
Other "Burnett" memories that remain fresh in the minds of fans several decades include the "Gone With the Wind" and "Sunset Boulevard" sketches, which this set includes, that show that parody IS the sincerest form of flattery. Other highlights include Burnett playing a dim-witted bimbo secretary in the "Mrs. Wiggins" sketches and improv. master Tim Conway claiming to have gotten PEER Harvey Korman to laugh so hard that he pees his pants in the "Dentist" sketch.
The "Burnett" set by the numbers is 60 hand-picked episodes (including the two-hour series finale) that span all 11 years and 21 discs. The three sets that comprise these discs in a literal box set include the (reviewed) "The Best of the Carol Burnett Show."
We also get a truly collectible booklet (avec photos) that includes a timeline of the series and a paragraph by Burnett as to each season. The icing this time is a partial listing of the notable guests each season.
The series-finale aptly gets its own set; Time Life further gives this Golden Age classic its dues by presenting it in its original broadcast version avec bumpers but sans commercials. Stating too much would spoil sharing in the glee of Burnett on discovering the surprises that Conway et al have planned for her.
Things start out strong with Burnett introducing audience member First Lady of American Cinema Lillian Gish during the final of so many truly iconic show openings that are notable for (often hilarious) Q&A sessions. Commenting that Gish looks as if she is a resident of Grey Gardens is fully in the spirit of Burnett good-naturedly spoofing the greats.
Watching numerous clips that remind audiences of the '70s and of 2019 of the loss as to the series ending is a highlight. We also get an apt good-bye as to Wiggins and a (temporary) equally good send-off for Mama and her family.
Burnett letting Conway steal the show as they and co-star Vicki Lawrence demonstrates the class and the wisdom as to Burnett allowing herself to be upstaged for the good of the show, Conway returns this love by blindsiding Burnett with a very special guest star who leaves her speechless. This expression of fandom for this Hollywood royalty who NEVER becomes box-office poison expresses the love of the greats that allows Burnett to honor them so well.
The next big surprise comes at the end as the (yes again) iconic charwoman character of Burnett cleans up backstage one last time. This again is too special to spoil and REQUIRES paying attention.
This leads to Burnett providing the best-ever final scene in any television series. Still dressed as the charwoman, she explains her decision to head up before the lights go up for last call., Her subsequent exit is far from a walk-of-shame, and she leaves all of us wanting far much more.
The most apt final word regarding all this is that Burnett points out in the aforementioned interview that funny always is funny and that making people laugh does not require going "blue." Sadly, very few realize and achieve this.
The plethora of special features in the Warner Archive July 16, 2019 Blu-ray release of the 1933 James Cagney musical-comedy "Footlight Parade" is the most obvious bonus regarding this highly enhanced film. This movie-industry history lesson in this film ala the theme in "Singin' in the Rain" of the transition from silents to talkies is the icing on the cake as to "Footlight."
The overall quality of the all-star "Footlight" earns it inclusion in the National Film Registry in 1992.
The following clip of a "Footlight" trailer does the film justice. This begins with including a cat fight that unarguably is the best moment in the whole movie. We further get a sense of the grand-scale of this let's put on three shows extravaganza courtesy of Busby Berkeley complete with an Esther Williamsesque water ballet number years before she begins her career.
One relevant context for "Footlight" is that the central story reflects the increasingly popular film industry being the video that kills the "radio star" in the form of live-stage productions that cost Depression-era audiences much more to attend. Another driving force is making and setting "Footlight" in the period in which the 1930 Hays Code is beginning to be enforced.
We meet musical-comedy producer Chester Kent (Cagney) as he is beginning to realize that he is facing obsolescence. His first saving grace is forming a partnership with a couple of shrewd businessmen. The brilliant idea behind making these men unlikely bedfellows is making live-stage prologues a lagniappe to help fill movie theaters.
Things first get amped up when an Eureka moment causes Kent to realize the benefits of economy-of-scale. A series of unfortunate circumstances related to corporate espionage leads to a do-or-die effort to produce three lavish numbers in as many days and to prevent "Gimbel's" from discovering what "Macys" is up to. The tactic of Kent includes a literal lock-down to prevent any loose lips from sinking his ship.
Other backstage drama includes the same form of creative accounting that has made headlines in the modern era, Ruby Keeler playing stenographer turned star/love interest Bea Thorm to crooner with his own backstory Scotty Blair whom Dick Powell portrays, Joan Blondell as Gal Friday/potential love interest to Kent, and Claire Dodd as tough broad/gold-digger Vivian Rich.
It is equally amusing that Code commentary includes objection to a wholesome (but thoroughly silly) alley-cat number of Keeler and Powell but not a peep as to a bit involving Powell and comic-relief Francis (Frank McHugh) demonstrating a number intended for Thorn and Blair.
All of this culminates in the aforementioned lavish number. "Honeymoon Hotel" is the most entertaining in that it is the most racy and perverse. The overall theme is that the titular lodging establishment facilitates extra-marital activity. The fun includes a troupe of "brides," and much of the perversion comes ala Krofft lttle person Billy Barty playing an odd child whose frantic antics include scurrying away after accidentally ending up in bed with Thorn,
"By a Waterfall" is an elaborate water ballet that provides the aforementioned Williams vibe; this easily has the most precise and impressive choreography of the three.
The grande finale "Shanghai Lil" plays very true to the "show must go on" spirit of both "Footlight" and the era. This one has the leading man singing and dancing his way through a dive bar in search of the titular soulmate. It is highly suggested that the other women in the joint have plenty of two bits for their brews. This leads to a "Coyote Ugly" style dance number on top of the bar.
Considering many of the themes of "Footlight," it is highly apt that the audience is exhausted and satisfied at the end of this never-a-dull-moment film.
The Blu-ray extras start out strong with a 15-minute documentary titled "Footlight Parade: Music for the Decades." Gleeful King of Raunch John Waters and others share their perspectives, which largely mirror those in this post. We also get several highly relevant interesting factoids.
A quartet of vintage Warner cartoons ties into the documentary by illustrating the comment that that studio gets good use from songs created for musicals by also centering animated shorts around them. Archive providing the standard disclaimer regarding the racist nature of older cartoons does not prepare the audience for the scene in the highly offensive "One Step Ahead of My Shadow" in which two of the Orientals (my people call them Asians) that populate most of this one double down by doing an Amos and Andy impression; they do stop short of using blackface.
"Vaudeville Reel #1" includes the standard acrobats, child star, etc of this form of entertainment. The absence of the act titled "The Aristocrats" is an obvious omission.
An amusing aspect of all this is that Archive honors a major theme of "Footlight" by making this masterfully restored release a bargain for movie lovers or simply anyone who is seeking roughly 2.5 hours of escapist fun that includes an epilogue.
An introduction to the wit and wisdom of producer/writer/director Quincy Rose regarding his hilarious and insightful (reviewed) indie flick "Friends Effing Friends Effing Friends" led to nice online communication with him. This led to a recent chance to watch the DVD release of his 2012 romantic drama "Miles to Go," which Indiewire states is "one of the 12 indie films to watch."
The following YouTube clip of the "Miles" trailer nicely informs without hyping. The wry low-key style of this promo. provides an excellent sense of the film with minimal spoilers.
Rose, who is producer/director/writer, shines as the titular nerdish 30-something Los Angeles writer. His black plastic rimmed glasses and poster for the vintage Woody Allen film "Take the Money and Run" in his reel-life living room reinforce the strong vibe from "Miles" and "Friends" that Rose is the rightful heir to the kingdom of Woody Allen. Much of this relates to Rose wisely emulating (but not parodying) Allen. This homage includes opening and closing credits that are simple white letters against a black background.
The oozing symbolism in "Miles" extends well beyond the title referring to our hero being neurotically pessimistic regarding any relationship passing the test of time. This is in the context of Miles frequently frequenting massage parlors and engaging in other unhealthy pursuits of a happy ending in the five months since a break-up with long-time repeatedly on-again off-again girlfriend Julia.
Other symbolism relates to this relationship-impaired man creating permanency in the form of several tattoos. The ink that he receives during the film is the most meaningful one of all.
The current state of Milia is that a combination of loneliness, horniness, and attraction has them alternatively reaching out to the other in ways that more often then not lead to sex. The only thing keeping those crazy kids apart is both of them wanting a commitment to a long-term relationship but Miles being unsure of his ability to provide that stability.
The aforementioned wit and wisdom includes the inner high-school boy comments regarding which Rose is a master. A hilarious bit in "Friends" relates to a character sharing that the nature of his penis warrants giving that love muscle the name of a well-known supermodel. "Miles" has similar commentary regarding the (briefly glimpsed) love organ of our hero.
Rose additionally adds a teen-boy twist to the standard Allen scene of childless yuppie friends conversing during dinner. A discussion of sexual accommodations leads to the topic of women agreeing to engage in anal sex if doing so is adequately important to their man. The spirit of Allen is most present regarding an observation that even highly straight men have a strong enough homosexual urge to want to penetrate someone anally. The Rose side comes through regarding Miles making amusing tasteless jokes on the subject.
Another scene has Miles playing his regular role of providing the male perspective to a woman to with a relationship history that rivals his own. He explains that a man who engages in pre-coitus interruptus in the form of just wanting to snuggle does so only due to embarrassment regarding covertly crossing the finish line during foreplay.
On a more respectable level, Rose further shares his thoughts regarding pretension related to keeping books that you have read on the shelf. This is in line with a real-life independent bookseller observing that Millennials buy hardcover books because that is their only affordable means of expressing their personalities.
In other words, "Miles" works because it is true. Gen Xers and Millennials are from generations in which most relationships do not endure. They further have the blessing and the curse related to casual hookups often being lauded and no dishonor being associated with not marrying until late in life if at all. This simply makes it tough for those of us who want forever after and fear the heartache associated with that not happening.
A personal note regarding the Rose take on relationships is that recently losing a greatly loved (and exceptionally loving) dog renewed always present feelings that we animal lovers fully give our hearts to canines and felines (and get just as much love back) despite knowing that we will lose them within 15 years. At the same time, we are back at the shelter looking for a new "child" no longer than a year later.
The Gravitas Ventures October 11, 2016 VOD release of the 2016 comedy "Friends Effing Friends Effing Friends" is both a good companion to the August 20216 Gravitas release of the Millennial dystopia drama "There is a New World Somewhere" and the early '70s Woody Allen films on which the father of "Friends" writer/director/voice actor Quincy Rose worked.
A personal cool element of "Friends" is finding on reading the statement of Rose in the press materials that thoughts regarding this movie coincide with his mindset while making it. Understanding the artistic vision of a film is always a good thing. This theme relates to the tangled relationships between friendship and sexual desire as well as the theory of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs that essentially shows that man (and woman) is never happy despite how good he (or she) has it.
The Millennial vibe of "Friends" begins with the opening scene in the way cool retro-style bar that looks like the hangout in the 20-soemethings-oriented Foxcom "New Girl." BFFs from childhood openly (and hilariously) discussing their pre-adolescent mutual sex play to the amusement of Steve's live-in girlfriend Laura further establishes that our leads are open-minded close friends.
The catalysts for the ensuing moderately hot drama include Laura introducing freelance editor Jacob to friend/aspiring author Sarah and Steve pushing the limits of his "don't ask/don't tell" relationship with Laura by starting an affair with a woman who is more than Ms. Right Now.
Having the proposed book by Saarh focus on the contributions of her grandfather to the "scale of sexuality" research by Kinsey is very apt for this film.
Good guy but relationship-shy Jacob quickly develops strong chemistry with Sarah but is attracted to her hot and flirty roommate Camille. The encouragement of Steve to pursue Camille does not help matters.
Roughly the next hour of "Friends" focuses on the titular activity of this group and their justifications for the associated directed and indirect betrayals. As Rose observes in the aforementioned statement, we all can justify doing what (or whom) we want to and (in true Allen style) fail to consider the impact of our actions on others. In other words, something feeling good does not always justify doing it. Said consequences adds a deeper meaning to the "effing" portion of the title of the film. It further proves that you can both "ef" 'em and tell 'em a joke.
Highlights include the very live-stage feel to all the dialogue, the brotalk between Steve an Jacob, and a very high school style discussion regarding trying to learn the extent of the sexy activity on a memorable night that three of our Gang of Five share.
This being 2016, the amusing ending reflects modern Hollywood. Everyone is a little wiser but not essentially a happier; one spoiler is that the film does not end with a wedding in which our quintet joins hands and dances or skips around accompanied by a Motown or '70s soft rock hit.
Fans of '80s teencoms have reason to rejoice regarding the Warner Archive DVD release of the 1987 cult-classic "My Demon Lover." This "Mannequin" like tale of the titular "monster" is a prime example of '80s films that are vehicles for the top-billed popular TV stars. "Demon" features the offbeat comedy of Scott Valentine, whose breakout role is lovable figurative space-cadet Nick Moore on the '80scom "Family Ties," which features "Back to the Future" star Michael J. Fox. The lasting legacy of Nick is using two syllables to pronounce the name "Alex."
The following original trailer for "Demon" provides a good sense of this film that can be considered a PG-13 version of the Robin Williams sitcom "Mork and Mindy."
The fantasy begins with setting "Demon" in New York, which represents Utopia for many Gen Xers. Many of these children of the '70s and '80s are drawn there with dreams of a combination of fame or fortune. Other simply want the freedom to love a counter-culture lifestyle that reflects their inner spoiled child. Films, such as "Demon," that idealize life in The Big Apple to various degrees sadistically fuel that fire.
Valentine plays street saxophonist Kaz, who is in remarkably good shape for someone who lives well below the poverty level, Character actress Michelle Little plays wholesome girl Deny, whose trusting nature consistently gets her in trouble. This includes her most recent boyfriend stealing most of her meager worldly goods right in front of her at the beginning of the film.
The rest of the story is that a supernatural beast dubbed "The Mangler" is preying on the babes of New York. It is equally obvious that the audience is supposed to believe that Kaz is that malfeasor and that he is proven innocent in the final reel.
All of these elements converge when Kaz, who already made a hilariously bad first impression on Denny, comes to her rescue when The Mangler attacks her. This leads to Kaz couch surfing at the apartment of sweet and naive Denny.
Another obvious element is this review referring to Kaz as a horny devil regarding his transforming to his horrific primal state whenever he gets aroused. The flashback that serves as the origin story of Kaz is a "Demon" highlight that will help protect the "virtue" of teen girls.
Additional predictable fun comes courtesy of the obligatory montage of Kaz and Denny frolicking around New York to the accompaniment of an '80s rock ballad. This one strongly suggests that the good folks at Warner Prime had a "My Demon Lover" sitcom in mind when making the film.
This honeymoon period is interrupted wihen The Mangler takes another bite at The Big Apple as to having Denny for dinner. This abduction with shades of "King Kong" leads to requiring Kaz to "wolf out" in order to save his girl. Getting that savior to that state requires that the best friend of Denny take one for the team.
The inevitable good vs. evil showdown mines humor from The Mangler and Kaz being more alike than they could have guessed. Of course, the boy gets the girl in the end.
The delight this time involves watching Valentine take his impish charm to a slightly more adult level; we also have the fun in the form of this reminder about how they made 'em 30 years ago.
The Warner Archive July 30, 2019 DVD release of the noir romcom "Double Danger" (1938) makes it great fun to figuratively go back to the movies. This glee begins with true-crime novelist/perpetrator Bob Crane sharing the name of the actor who plays titular undercover POW Robert Hogan in the '60scom "Hogan's Heroes." The "Hogan" analogy continues with the reel Crane reveling in an ongoing cat-and-mouse game with friend/police Inspector David Theron.
The doll who provides the "rom" is jewel-thief Caroline Martin; she is another mouse with whom Crane can play.
Our story begins with a cocky Theron telling angsty jeweler Gordon Ainsley "trust me; I know what I'm doing" as to especially precious diamonds. Thus begins our tale in which this ice is a hot potato throughout the film.
Martin begins the game via a successful ruse that gets her custody of the loot until Crane pulls a trick that results in his adding a new link to the chain of custody. One lesson here is that there is no honor among thieves.
The plot thickens on Martin and Crane unexpectedly reuniting at a weekend house party at the stately home of Theron. The ruse here is that Theron strongly suspects that one of his guests is the jewel thief known as "The Gentleman" but must obtain direct evidence before bestowing a pair of bracelets on that malfeasor.
Comic relief is provided in the form of flighty teen daughter "Babs" Thornton and her would-be suitor Roy West (Arthur Lake of the "Blondie" film and television series). The complication there is that Babs only has eyes for sophisticated older man Bob.
The final piece of the puzzle this time is that Theron has Ainsley essentially literally crash the party with a duplicate set of the diamonds that provide one meaning to the title of "Danger."
The bedroom farce in this Code-era film comes in the form of Crane and Martin rotating the two sets of diamonds between themselves in an effort to implicate the other. This leads to a classic drawing-room confrontation that does not go as Theron plans. The lesson here is the one that every thief knows; part of a plan is the plan going awry.
More hilarity ensues until everyone gets what amounts to a happy ending in this film that expertly keeps several plates spinning in a tale that expertly blends comedy and pulp fiction.
The Virgil Films DVD of the 2017 Ralph "Daniel San" Macchio day-in-the-life film "Lost Cat Corona" is a textbook example of a fun quirky indie comedy; it has faded stars playing oddball characters, urban on-site shooting, and a bizarre set-up that provides ample "sits" for good "com."
The aforementioned former Karate Kid plays King of Queens Dominic, whose wife Connie (Gina Gershon) is an even more formidable opponent than the evil Coba Kai (COBRA KAI!) group of martial-arts experts that torment the kid.
Our story begins with Dominic happily starting his day off when Hurricane Connie blasts him for allowing family cat Leonard to run away. The arguments with which Connie browbeats Dominic include that she must spend the day at the hospital with her mother, who is having minor surgery.
Dominic initially enlists the aid of morally-challenged buddy Ponce to find the kitty. Their adventures include finding money that seems ear-marked for a very specific purpose, We also learn that Dominic has a near-obsession for maps and later find out the reason for that strong interest. This is not to mention going fairly deep into the mind of Dominic by the end of the film.
Dominic subsequently interrupts the search for the cat to attend the wake for the father of cop friend Sal (Adam Ferrara). For his part, desperate times in the form of an immediate need for a significant amount of money drives Sal to the separate but equally desperate measures of selling merchandise that "fell off the truck" and of effectively seeking a rebate of a funeral-related expense,
Timid Dominic gets involved in the sale of the hot goods to the extent of unwillingly becoming the contact of the buyer. The scene in which the deal goes down is one of several that demonstrate the talent of Macchio for comedy.
Meanwhile, Connie is enduring constant complaining by her mother; This does not deter the younger woman from regularly haranguing Dominic over the telephone. Another character letting the air out the balloon of Connie is cathartic for the audience.
Dominic truly is an everyman when his encounter with two delinquent truant teen boys finally pushes him over the edge; watching this guy who just wants to find his cat and salvage the rest of his day off put the punks in their place is beyond awesome. Dominic soon setting the adolescents up for another fall further adds to the perfection.
Like all good things, "Cat" comes to an end. This is special in that it reinforces that all of us are connected and must endure our own personal Hells. We additionally are reminded that we are lucky to not be cats, who must live nine lives.
Warner Archive continues making the best movies of which you never heard available by releasing the 1932 thriller with social commentary "Roadhouse Murder" on DVD on June 11, 2019. Archive using the term "the deadly Dykes" in the back-cover synopsis enhances this joy.
The following YouTube clip of an Archive promo., for "Roadhouse" is of a pivotal sequence that wonderfully illustrates the vintage early talkie feel of this highly theatrical film. The flawed picture quality of this clip also highlights the much better images and sounds of the Archive DVD.
Like a full gamut of '30s films, our story begins in the bullpen of a newspaper; in this case, a disgruntled veteran reporter is expressing his job dissatisfaction in strong language for films of that era, We soon see the basis for those sentiments.
The toxic editor who inspires the ill will subsequently turns his wrath on cub reporter Charles "Chick" Brian. Chick does good by catching a loose woman red-handed with hot ice and by getting a photo of her in literal hot water. This dame having a friend in a high place kills both the story and the immediate potential for Chick to advance his career.
This blow prompts Chick to take secret girlfriend Mary Agnew, who is the daughter of homicide Inspector William Agnew, for a ride in the country, Things take a combined "It Happened One Night" and "Scooby-Doo" turn when a sudden deluge requires that this unmarried couple without any physical baggage take shelter at The Lame Dog Inn. The manner in which the innkeeper takes advantage of the assumed vulnerability of these guests is a "Roadhouse" highlight.
Things going bump in the night lead to our nice young people discovering the titular crime and knowing whodunit.
Rather than immediately finger the perps, Chick decides to frame himself with the idea that his story literally will be front-page news. The rest of this career-advancement plan involves entrusting Mary, whose name literally is kept out of the papers, with a figurative smoking gun. The rest of her job is to produce this compelling evidence before Chick becomes a permanent guest of the state.
"Roadhouse" then uses a technically advanced method for the era in a variation of using shots of newspaper headlines as an exposition device. This clearly shows Chick is both the story and the author of his tale.
The honeymoon ends on Chick being caught in the worst place at the worst time. This leads to the climatic courtroom scene that seems mandatory for most Golden Age films of every genre. A nice twist ensues courtesy of a chain-of-custody issue requiring that Mary (with help from Dad) does more than just stand by her man.
More fun comes via the cynicism that pervades "Roadhouse" creating the possibility that truth, justice, and the American way will not prevail.
The scoop regarding all this is that "Roadhouse" reminds us of the era in which even B-movies have strong merits.
Warner Archive once again shows its perfect instincts by releasing the crystal-clear (bordering on 4K quality) Blu-ray of the 1980 Clint Eastwood comedy "Bronco Billy" on July 9, 2019. Summertime is the season of tacky lowest-common-denominator attractions such as the failing Wild West Show that the titular urban cowboy (Eastwood) is hoping to keep afloat.
The bigger picture this time is that "Billy" perfectly reflects the films of Eastwood before he turns auteur by directing films such as "Bird" and "The Bridges of Madison County." "Billy" comes in the era in which Eastwood moves from the spaghetti westerns that solidify him as a household name to the time in which he makes the Dirty Harry films and the lowest of the low-brow comedies "Every Which Way You Can" franchise. All this is decades before he talks to the invisible man at the Republican Convention.
The final piece of this puzzle is that reel- and real-life Eastwood leading lady Sondra Locke plays "Billy" love interest heiress experiencing a reversal-of-fortune Antoinette Lily (a.k.a. Miss Ida Ho).
The following standard-def. '70slicious trailer of "Billy" highlights the almost literal night-and-day difference between the theatrical presentation of the film and the Blu-ray. The contrast between the washed-up red of the convertible of Billy and the bright and shiny showroom red of the one in the Archive version is incredible. This is not to mention the numerous era-specific elements that include this promo. featuring Scatman Crothers ("Chico and the Man" and "Hong Kong Phooey") as sidekick/sage Doc Lynch.
The melange of westerns and "Loose" relates to Billy struggling to keep his oh-so-cheesy wild west show going. The early scenes of acts such as Chief Big Eagle (Dan Vadis) doing a rattle-snake dance and a seemingly all-American boy doing rope trips while dressed as an insurance salesman on vacation at a dude ranch provide the picture.
The rest of this part of the story is that we see Billy showing off his riding, shooting, and knife-throwing skills. He does this with the help of the latest in a long string of lovely assistants/bimbos.
Meanwhile off the reservation, Antoinette crosses paths with Billy at an Idaho city hall. He is buying a permit so the show can go, and she is about to marry wimpy John Arlington (Geoffrey Lewis) so that she can inherit a fortune and he can be a kept (but sexually frustrated) man. John indisputable gets the best line in the film as to his being denied any semblance of marital bliss.
A very light "Harry" element enters the picture when Antoinette discovers on awakening the morning after her nuptials that the honeymoon is over. John and all of her money are gone. This ultimately leads to the evil stepmother and the family attorney conspiring to convince John to confess to murdering Antoinette. The compensation for this unfortunate incarceration is $500,000.
Worlds collide when the desperate but not serious status of Antoinette leads to this New York socialite joining the motley crew of Billy. Her rude awakening this time involves quickly learning the variation of the ass, gas, or grass principle that Billy enforces as to the caravan that brings his group from town to town. It does take awhile for the kisses of Billy to drive Antoinette delirious.
"Harry" also enters the picture when a night out at a redneck bar goes Big Dan's with respect to Antoinette and leads to Billy also having to rescue the aforementioned boy-next-door on learning that he is on the run from the law. This leads s to a "Smokey and the Bandit" style showdown that it is a "Billy" highlight.
A subsequent surprise family reunion leads to more trauma and drama; this leads to a celebration of truth, justice, and the American way.
The strong appeal of all this begins with Eastwood obviously fully embracing this role that perfectly reflects his career. We also see how this spirit (and the associated '70s "free to be you and me" philosophy) permeates the film that we badly need in our hostile dystopian present.
The recent Olive Films Blu-ray release of the gay-themed dramedy "Partners" is a great example of the '80slicious titles that comprise a significant percentage of the Olive DVD and Blu-ray catalogs. The brat pack classics "Class" and "Making the Grade" are two of scads of bodacious examples of these films.
The following YouTube clip of the "Partners" theatrical trailer nicely showcases the early '80s style of the film, the good performances, and the era-appropriate humor.
"Partners" takes a nice twist on the odd couple theme by pairing hunky homophobe cop Benson pair with closeted desk jockey officer Kerwin for an undercover mission in West Hollywood to investigate the murders of young gay men. Dreamy funny Ryan O'Neal and very talented John Hurt play Benson and Kerwin respectively.
Veteran gruff character actor character actor Kenneth McMillian, who perhaps is best known as rough but kind costume shop owner Jack Doyle on the '70s sitcom "Rhoda," shines as the stereotypical commanding officer of the pair. His threatening to put police detective Benson back in uniform and on the beat in the worst part of the city and his aggressively pushing a very insecure Kerwin out of the closet to get the men to work together are highlights.
The comedy cred. of "Partners" relates to James Burrows, who is behind "Rhoda" and too many other to mention classic sophisticated '70s and '80s sitcoms, directing the film. The street cred. comes from having Francis Veber, whose gaycom credits extend well beyond "La Cage Aux Folles" and the "Folles" American cousin "The Birdcage," scribe the film.
The early scenes in "Partners" have Benson and Kerwin set up housekeeping in a West Hollywood apartment building. Benson stereotypically hurls slurs at Kerwin and is otherwise brutal. The submissive manner in which Kerwin reacts both reflects the less accepting '80s regarding alternate sexual orientations and is a perfect analogy for the verbal abuse that many black people passively accepted for years before expressing their own well-deserved pride.
Other outdated prejudice comes in the form of both Benson and the commanding officer of the team discount theories of Kerwin simply because he is gay, Anyone who has been in the position of knowing that he or she is right but cannot get people to listen can relate to this.
Benson getting his eyes opened on finding himself on the other end of sadistic gay bashing by the police is another positive message in an era in which even seeming to be gay can have serious negative consequences.
An unduly brief cameo by Jay Robinson as the old queen landlord of the boys is a real treat for fans of the Sid and Marty Krofft '70s Saturday morning show "Dr. Shrinker" in which Robinson plays the titular madman with an evil mind who is as crazy as you'll ever find. Being able to joke "so that's what happened to Igor" in response to the landlord sharing the tale of the end of a 20-year relationship is some compensation for his very limited screen time.
Much of the humor predictably comes from the assignment requiring that a devastatingly humiliated Benson wears revealing and/or fetish clothes and subjects himself to equally unwelcome groping by gay men. A particularly embarrassing bow-and-arrow "outfit" of an oiled-up Benson is a personal favorite.
Seeing Kerwin and Benson grow as a professional and a personal team is very sweet; one especially endearing scene has Benson express great delight in having Kerwin surprise him with a homemade gourmet feast to celebrate their one-week anniversary.
The supporting actors and the extras who play the members of the West Hollywood community representing a wide spectrum of the population is another awesome aspect of "Partners." A blond haired blued eye preppy who is attracted to Kerwin is one of the more likable secondary characters; others in the group are disco queens, leathermen, and just ordinary blokes.
On a larger level, "Partners" is very far from being a documentary on the Stonewall riots or other significant moments in gay history but does provide an entertaining history lesson on the attitudes toward gay people in the early days of the pride movement. The strong probability that many gay men did not see the film in the theater out of fear of being labelled as homosexual is an aspect of this. Olive allowing the men to buy the Blu-ray and throw a fabulous fondue party to watch it is a good thing.
Warner Archive aptly celebrates its 10th anniversary with the Perfect 10 June 11, 2019 DVD release of the 1937 Robert Young ("Father Knows Best") screwball romcom "Married Before Breakfast." This nicely remastered film goes beyond the typical Archive standard of showing that they ought still make 'em like that to being a movie that can be made word-for-word and shot-for-shot today and still provide roughly 90-minutes of quality escapist fun.
The following YouTube clip of this overlooked gem wonderfully highlights many of the copious Depression-era elements of the film.
Young plays inventive everyman Tom Wakefield, whom we meet on the brink of selling what he thinks is his perfected cream that removes facial hair without having to use a razor. As is the case in many of these films, his dreams are dashed just as he believes that he literally can make an honest buck and enjoy the lifestyle to which he would like to become accustomed while he is young (no pun intended) enough to enjoy it.
The rest of the beginning of the story is that Tom is engaged to practical June Baylin, who never has had to worry about from where her next gourmet meal was coming. She is standing by her man but strongly prompts an attitude adjustment.
The first of several nice twists comes when an outfield-adjacent angel tracks down Tom to offer him $250,000 in 1937 dollars for his invention. The faith of that investor in the ability of Tom to work out a figuratively fatal flaw is one of many feel-good aspects of "Marriage."
Our excitable boy then literally puts his fresh-off-the-presses nouveau riches to good use. He takes a large step toward making June an honest woman and bestows exceptional personalized largese on his landlady and his neighbors at his immaculate and well-run boarding house. He goes one step further in hiring Tweed the valet, whom Tom renames Senior for a reason that makes perfect sense in the context of the film.
The chance encounter that changes everything in every romcom occurs when Tom goes to a travel agency to book a honeymoon cruise. Agent Kitty (perhaps literally) going the extra mile to deliver the tickets leads to an overnight adventure that evokes thoughts of the 1985 Martin Scorsese dark-comedy "After Hours."
The genesis of this is Tom taking his he can't do a little because he can't do enough attitude to heart in trying to help Kitty overcome an obstacle that is delaying her marriage to insurance-agent Kenneth. The "sit" that drives much of the rest of the "com" in "Marriage" is that a promotion for Tom is conditioned on selling a policy to a very reluctant milkman named Mr. Baglipp.
Tom responds by pledging to get the milkman to deliver by getting him to buy a policy for which Tom will pay the premiums. The related promise is that Kitty will get the titular nuptials.
The adventure begins with a visit to Chez Baglipp; not sealing that deal despite a criminally diligent effort leads to an obsessed Tom dragging Kitty along on a crusade to convince Baglipp to purchase some "protection."
The too numerous to mention (and too amusing to spoil) misadventures begin with Tom renting a taxi for use in his plan. Before the sun comes up, Tom and Kitty will tangle with both cops and robbers as well as start a fire. This is not to mention taking a bus passenger for a ride.
Of course, Tom keeps putting off his increasingly angry fiancee throughout all this. As time goes by, it becomes clear that his odds for a June wedding are slim to none.
"Marriage" follows a wonderfully circuitous route to the courtroom scene that provides the setting for many a Golden Age comedy and drama. The icing on the wedding cake comes in the form of more action, adventure. and laughs that ensue after the judicial proceedings conclude.
All of these moving parts provide fun as to which boy (if any) will end up with which girl and if the good intentions of Tom will literally lead to his writing a check that he cannot cash.
It is equally valid to say that "Married" has a dull moment and will leave you wanting more,
The summer fun that is the plethora of Mill Creek Entertainment retro "I Love 90s" June 4, 2019 Blu-ray releases continues with the surprisingly entertaining 1997 Alicia Silverstone action-adventure-comedy vehicle (pun intended) "Excess Baggage." This group, which includes the already reviewed Pauly Shore funfest "Jury Duty" and the (reviewed) charming Dana Carvey film "Opportunity Knocks," join the (reviewed) hilarious teencom "Can't Hardly Wait" in this portion of the MCE catalog.
"Clueless" star Alicia Silverstone plays to type in playing Emily, who is the spoiled 18 year-old spoiled daughter of a master of the universe. One difference this time is that her shady dad is the polar opposite of the loving and compassionate attorney who is her "Clueless" parent.
A very '90s-style dreamy Benicio Del Toor plays adorably clueless car thief Vincent, who fills the role of the boy from the wrong side of the tracks who reforms and gets the princess. All this occurs to a soundtrack that can be considered K-Tels Indie Hits of the '90s. This is not to mention this relationship evoking thoughts of the Melissa Joan Hart/Adrian Grenier 1999 teencom "Drive Me Crazy."
Our story begins with Emily in the final stages of her self-imposed and executed kidnapping; she is locked in the trunk of her (of course) BMW awaiting "rescue" when Vincent steals the car without knowing of the titular luggage.
Moderate hilarity ensues when boy meets girl, girl beats boy, and boy handcuffs girl in dingy chop shop bathroom.
The real fun begins with Emily separately purposefully getting "fixer" Ray (Christopher Walken) onthe trail of Vincent and carelessly getting her downtown man in Dutch with the mob. This results in a raucous road trip for our new couple.
Of course, ala "Opportunity," the noose begins to tighten from both directions as Ray and the dim-witted thugs of the mob boss narrow in on their prey. This leads to the typical Hollywood ending accompanied by a hit for Soul Asylum, The Lemonheads, or a comparable group.
Taking things back to the beginning, "Baggage" and the other releases are just what moviegoers need in this hot and humid summer that lacks any truly escapist teencoms at the multiplex.
Olive Film once again simultaneously lives up to its guiding principle "cinema lives here" and proves that we're not worthy with the separate Blu-ray and DVDs releases of two cult classics on June 25, 2019. The 1965 beach-musical "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini" is the topic du jour.
The equally good (and equally they don't make 'em like that anymore) occult thriller "The Believers" (1987) is a topic for early next week. Blu-ray does films justice, but the bright and sunny musical "Bikini" particularly looks and sounds spectacular in that format.
Doing "Bikini" any justice at all (pun intended) requires much more space than this forum can provide. Suffice it to so that it has every element (and more) of the beach movies of the '60s. You cannot help but feel good while watching it. This is not to mention the star-studded cast of A- and B-Listers that rivals the ensemble of the 1963 "Cannonball Run" style comedy "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World."
Comparing "Bikini" to an episode of the wonderfully, zany, madcap kidcom "The Monkees" of the same era provides additional context. Both shows feature the nicest kids in town enjoying the sun and surf of California as they rock out at the drop of a hat while contending with comical villains and square adults. Yes, they are too busy singing to put anybody down.
The closest modern equivalent is the way-cool movie-within-a-movie "Wet Side Story" that is a major element in the Disney Channel "Teen Beach Movie" franchise starring "Austin and Ally" star/real-life rocker Ross Lynch. The inexcusable delay in releasing the long-promised "Teen Beach Movie 3" is disappointing.,
Veteran beach movie and "Bewitched" director (as well as real-life husband of "Bewitched" star Elizabeth Montgomery) William Asher provides "Stuffed" additional '60scom cred. Further, "Stuffed" centering around the work of Tahitian witch doctor Bwana (Buster Keaton) is only one way that Asher pays homage to his day job. The other connection is too awesome to spoil.
We further get "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" star Dwayne Hickman keeping the TV Land spirit alive. The occasions on which Hickman, as literal man in the gray flannel suit Ricky, breaks the fourth wall evokes wonderful memories of "Gillis."
Beach-movie goddess Annette Funicello rounds out our top three as virtuous beach bunny Dee Dee. This character supports the theory that dames ain't nothin' but trouble.
Our story begins with Dee Dee beau Frankie (Frankie Avalon) serving naval reserve duty in Tahiti; his getting restless with a native girl triggers thoughts that the girl back home may conclude that what is good for the goose may be worth a gander.
The island girl then brings Frankie to Bwana; the two men strike a not-so-gentlemanly deal whereby Bwana will provide the titular bikini, babe Casandra with which to stuff it as a decoy for the Moondoggies back in Cali, and a deep undercover spy to both keep tabs on Dee Dee and to serve as a rooster blocker. The other side of the bargain is that Frankie makes a daily payment for the rendered services.
Some of the rest of the story is that Ricky and madman Peachy Keane (Mickey Rooney) make the scene in the quest to find the girl and the boy next door to be the wholesome image of a motorcycle company. This honor goes to the couple that wins a motorcycle race. Their competition includes reformed biker Eric Von Zipper (beach-movie veteran Harvey Lembeck), who zeros in on Casandra as the one whom he wants.
Hilarity ensues as Ricky pursues Dee Dee, the beach boys (including Bonehead) woo Casandra, and Von Zipper and his gang enact their evil scheme.
All of this culminates in the titular contest with strong elements of the cartoon of the era "The Wacky Races." Dirty tricks galore keep the fun going. This leads to the related bestowing of the modeling contract and the right boy getting the girl. One should keep in mind that Frankie getting Annette is not set in stone.
The new teencom "Extracurricular Activities," which hit Blu-ray, DVD and VOD on June 4, shows that the spirit of mainstream '80s comedy at least is not totally extinguished. The bigger picture (no pun intended) is that people of all ages DESPERATELY need a fun and silly summer movie like this in this worst of times that lack any sense of the best of time.
The following YouTube clip of an "Activities' trailer validates that if you only see one comedy about a boy-next-door hitman this year you should see this one.
Colin Ford, who looks like a typical Disney Channel tweencom star and has amassed 52 IMDb credicts in his 17-year career, is perfectly cast as perfect teen Reagan Collins.
Outwardly, Reagan is an honors student who adequately works and plays well with others. His dark side consists of arranging fatal accidents for particularly onerous parents of his classmates. The two-birds-one-stone principle of this for-profit enterprise is that the offsprings are rid of a toxic 'rent and Reagan earns more for a less than an hour of work than he would bank flipping burgers for a year,
The especially awesome aspects of this concept extend well beyond the peers of Reagan condoning his titular activity and virtually every adult aptly being clueless regarding this "hobby." Reagan (sometimes literally) goes the extra mile to make his justice poetic, This begins with the opening scenes of the despicable parents who fat shame their "chunky" daughter and also are cruel to her gay brother driving their Hummer with a "SIX MPG" license plate off a mountain road as a calm Reagan rides past in his family car.
A statistically improbable "accidental" death of the father of another classmate of Reagan triggers the spidey sense of comically obsessed father of a Reagan classmate/police detective Cliff Dawkins. Extra humor comes courtesy of Dawkins milking beyond dry his apparently sole professional success in his relatively long career.
The fun fully begins as Dawkins futilely tries to connect a figurative smoking gun to Reagan, who deftly not only evades his prey but repeatedly sets him up to make himself look foolish. This is on top of the bulls eye being on Reagan not slowing down his work as a contractor.
The climax begins to build as Dawkins thinks that he has an ally in cheerleader/Reagan friend (perhaps with benefits) Mary Alice. Discovering the horse that Mary Alice has in the race is a film highlight.
The fun fully begins when a completely unhinged Dawkins literally takes the law into his own hands. This only proves that some people are too stupid to live.
The amusing dark-humor concept, strong performance by Ford, and good jobs by his more stock-character portraying cast mates alone provides reasons to add "Activities" to your home-video collection. The highly relatable dynamics are the icing on the cake.
Adults will enjoy the stereotypical (but not caricature) teens and the mostly buffoonish (and universally clueless) parents and teachers. Kids will love the highly embarrassing grown-ups and should see themselves in the teens. This evokes thoughts of Matt Stone and Trey Parker stating in the early days of their creation "South Park" that they at one time or another were the fat kid, the poor kid, the Jewish kid, etc.
The two lessons from all this are to never embarrass your kids and to get while the getting is good as to rare genuinely funny modern films such as "Activities."