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.
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.
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.
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."
'The Courtship of Eddie's Father:' 1963 Version of 'The Bachelor (Father)' Dynamite Dad's Day Donation DVD
Staying up past my bedtime to watch the DVD of the 1963 Vincent Minnelli, Liza "The Other Lucille" Minnelli's father, film "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" was consistent with this genuinely delightful film centered around eight-year old Ron "Opie" Howard.
With all due sympathy to his fans and family, giggling this morning on learning that there was a race car driver named Dick Trickle also was in the spirit of the wonderful humor in "Father."
The simple plot of "Father" was that Howard's titular character Eddie wanted his very recently widowed pop Tom Corbett, played by Glenn Ford, to remarry so that Tom would be happy. The Bobby Bradyesque problem was that Eddie did not want a step-mother.
Watching the interaction between Ford and Howard evoked thoughts of Howard's incredible talent for interacting with his screen sires. The relationship between Tom and Eddie was very similar to that of Opie and his widowed dad Andy Taylor on "The Andy Griffith Show." The "Father" relationship also had shades of the chats between Howard as Richie Cunningham and his father Howard on the early seasons of the '50s-based '70s sitcom "Happy Days."
This terrific element of Howard's character stole the show. I laughed out loud when he tentatively told his father his theory that a woman's bust size determined her character. Howard pointed out that the evil women in comic books always had large busts and slanty eyes. This became a hilarious recurring theme.
A similar conversation later in the film revolved around Howard wanting to use a tape measure to determine the dimensions of one of the bachelorettes.
This aspect of "Father" and the film's overall awesomeness prompted a rare direct endorsement of buying this film as a Father's Day gift for the special male parental figure in your life.
"Father" is noteworthy as well for being an early example of a critically and commercially successful film that spawned a successful sitcom of the same name. Other examples include "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" and "M*A*S*H."
Complete candor requires confessing limited knowledge of the "Father" sitcom. The only reason for this was that WLVI Channel 56 in Boston ran it against all-time favorites on WSBK Channel 38 in the dark ages before even VCRs. I loved the episodes that I watched and looked forward to the epilog "man-to-man" walk on the beach scenes between the beyond awesome Bill Bixby and his TV son Brandon Cruz when I flipped to Channel 56 to watch "Father" film co-star Shirley Jones in "The Partridge Family."
The large difference between the "sleep out" housekeeper character Mrs. Livingston in the film and the series was one distinction. Additionally, Tom went from being a program manager at a radio station to being a magazine executive. Seeing the genuinely good guy cub reporter Tim O'Hara from "My Favorite Martian" stay in journalism was nice.
Jones played the first bachelorette in the "bachelor" competition in "Father." She was a blonde grass widow who lived across the hall from fils' et pere's envy-worthy Manhattan apartment. Jones' character Elizabeth was a good friend of the deceased Mrs. Corbett and a second mother to Eddie. Seeing Shirley Partridge nurse and counsel Opie Taylor was a real treat.
The wonderfully funny Stella Stevens played the sweet but dim redhead beauty contest loser Dollye Daly whom Howard maced on at an arcade. This country girl new to the big city was a genuine hoot.
Bachelorette number three was the frontrunner. Brunette sophsticate Dina Merrill played the Holly Golightly type character Rita Behrens. Behrens was a "chic designer" who enjoyed the glamour of New York nightlife with the elder Corbett and had a yappy poodle rather than a wonderfully wild orange tabby cat.
The feel of "Breakfast at Tiffanys," which was released two years before "Father," extended beyond the Golightly like character. Both films had the wonderful feel of live theater, revolved around the relatively glamorous life of New York City's upper-middle class in the early '60s, and had perfectly executed very revealing dramatic scenes at the end. (I still do not know if George Peppard or the cat prompted Golightly's transformation at the end of "Tiffanys.")
The cautionary note regarding "Tiffanys" is that, pop songs aside, recalling that you "kinda" liked any film does not provide a solid basis for a lasting relationship any more than a common fondness for pina coladas and getting caught in the rain but not being into yoga.
The crystal-clear video and audio of the Mill Creek Entertainment June 4, 2019 B;u-ray release of thje 1990 Dana Carvey comedy "Opportunity Knocks" is a perfect addition to the MCE "I Heart 90s" series" that is a companion to the MCE "Retro VHS" DVD and Blu-ray releases. Other June 4 "90s" releases include the recently reviewed Paul Shore comedy "Jury Duty" and the soon-to-be-reviewed Alicia Silverstone action-adventure comedy "Excess Baggage."
Just as "Duty" showcases the weasel persona of Shore, "Opportunity" highlights the impish charm of Carvey. The film providing a chance for Carvey to perform his well-known George HW Bush impression is highly predictable.
The good news regarding both "Duty" and "Opportunity" is that they put entertaining spins on decent tried-and-trued comic concepts. The better news regarding "Opportunity" is that Carvey is extremely likable.
The figurative 25-words-or-less premise of "Opportunity" is that Carvey plays small-time con-man Eddie Farrell, whose quasi-youthful exuberance earns him both the wrath of a mobster and a belief that Eddie owes that dangerous criminal a great deal of money. In true teencom tradition, this requires that Eddie lay low until the heat is off. His literal insider information that the owner of a luxurious house is on an extended trip.
Eddie soon makes himself at home until the mother of the homeowner pays a surprise visit. This leads to a wacky misunderstanding in the form of Mom (a.k.a. Mona of Milt and Mona) assuming that Eddie is housesitter Jonathan Albertson. The rest of the story is that Albertson is a business whiz kid who is the former college roommate of the homeowner.
The first film homage is to the 1983 Eddie Murphy comedy "Trading Places." The opening scenes in "Opportunity" are of Eddie pulling off the same low level con as the Murphy character. The similarities continue with both characters soon living at least some semblance of the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
The other homage is more central to "Opportunity." Ala the Tom Hanks character in the 1988 classic "Big," Carvey is a man-child learning to play with the grown-ups. The similarities continue with Robert Loggia playing the big-hearted mentor to the quirky guy with the unique perspective, In this case, Loggia is bathroom hand-dryer king Milt,
Milt brings potential son-in-law (no relation (pun intended) to the Shore film of the same name) in the company and his heart. Of course, a pivotal scene involves Eddie bringing the dryer company executives out of their comfort zone and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
It is equally predictable that nooses start to tighten in on Eddie on both sides. The mob boss tracks him down just as he starts to think that he can permanently enjoy his new life. This pressures Eddie to massively betray the trust of his new family just ahead of the exposure of his scam.
The fact that everyone is wiser and happier and order is restored to the universe in the end is especially appealing in our wildly unpredictably dystopian times. This is so awesome that it alone warrants buying the Blu-ray.
The Lionsgate June 11, 2019 separate DVD & BD release of S6 (a.k.a. "To the Max") of the Netflix women behind bars dramedy "Orange is the New Black" provides a good chance to watch this reformatting of this multi-Emmy winning series from the beginning, It additionally is a good chance to see all the action ahead of the July 27, 2019 release of the S7 episodes.
Also. aside from not having to worry about Netflix dropping episodes from its service, the enhanced BD images look and sound far better than the streaming versions. This is not to mention the awesome home-video special features that include "Litchfield to the Max" and a gag reel.
The following YouTube clip of the official S6 trailer introduces many of the copious primary themes of the never-a-dull-minute 13 episodes. It also shows why this series warrants comparison to the former Showtime boys behind bars dramedy "Oz."
Our (mostly) season-long story arcs begin one week after the quelling of the S5 riot. Our girls in orange aptly find that they are not in Oz anymore. This involves them facing the challenge of adapting or perishing in their new environments,
Said different worlds from the ones from which they come are the C, D, and "Florida" cell blocks at their new home. The Jets versus the Sharks mentality as to C & D begins with the C Block girls initially getting all the relatively good perks and privileges while the D girls are the low women on the totem pole.
The "Florida" residents mostly are the older inmates and include others whose mental states are adequately impaired to get them a spot in this coveted area. The rubs as to this include that some outsiders are willing to kill to create a vacancy in the Sunshine State. "Orange" fans should not be surprised to learn that popular character Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren ends up in Florida and constantly irks the Golden Girls.
A long-standing violent sibling rivalry between C and D block residents Carol and Barbara (Mackenzie Phillips) brings the aforementioned simmering bad blood to a boil. Flashback scenes of the joint crime that gets the sisters labelled "The Little Debbie Killers" and that lands them in the joint are season highlights. They also shine in all their ruthlessly violent interaction and hilarious dispute regarding an incident at a restaurant where they both worked during high school.
Other drama relates to investigations and related proceedings as to holding prisoners culpable for their actions during the riot and for holding folks on the other side of the bars accountable for what they did and did not do during those events. This is not to mention a hilarious run for the border by one inmate who gets away with a little help from her friend,
One spoiler is that the search for closure regarding the riot is just as likely to involve being satisfied with a convenient truth as it is to strive to meet the ideal of truth, justice, and the American way.
This is not to mention central "Orange" character Piper Chapman contending with the absence of her fellow inmate/fiancee Alex "Boss" Vause, addict convict Nikki facing renewed Daddy issues, and the guards creating a fantasy league that involves proportionately profiting from convict misbehavior of various degrees of seriousness.
All of this occurs in the context of season-finale kickball tournament that sets the stage for an epic rumble between the C and the D block inmates. In true "Orange" style, this does not occur as expected.
All of this amounts to "Orange" further fulfilling the theatrical ideal by leaving the audience wanting more; fortunately, S7 provides the payoff regarding that.
The Mill Creek Entertainment well-remastered "I Heart '90s" slate of June 4, 2019 Blu-ray releases of films from that era adds memorable ones to that collection. This additionally nicely builds on the even-better "Retro VHS" MCE line of Blu-ray and DVD releases that the MCE section of this site prominently features.
Our topic du jour is the 1995 Pauly Shore comedy "Jury Duty." Posts in the not-too-distant future will discuss the Dana Carvey comedy "Opportunity Knocks" and the Alicia Silverstone action-adventure comedy "Excess Baggage," which are fellow June 4, 2019 MCE "90s" BD releases. Even more surprises will come in the next few weeks.
Shore, who looks like the test-tube baby of flamboyant fitness guru Richard Simmons, puts his outrageous weasel persona, which can be considered the junior-high version of Matthew McConaughey, to good use in this tale of not-so-lovable loser Tommy Collins embracing the titular civic responsibility.
The larger picture is that "Jury" semi-successfully blatantly parodies the American obsession with the trial of the century in the "O.J." era. This context, combined with "Jury" being a showcase for Shore during his heyday, make the movie the entertaining guilty pleasure that MCE intends.
The following YouTube clip of a "Jury" trailer highlights the classic teenboycom elements of the film. We get a glimpse of the silly pranks, the innocent homophobic humor, and the overall non-stop silliness.
As indicated above, the appeal of "Jury" relates to the film playing it safe. This begins with joining the ranks of several TV Land sitcoms that parody the theme of one hold-out juror that is a central element of the STAR-STUDDED MUST-SEE 1957 Henry Fonda courtroom drama "12 Angry Men." "Jury" looks to Hollywood royalty Shelly Winters to be the real-life A-lister who appears in such movies well past his or her prime. We also get grumpy old man Abe Vigoda playing the judge presiding in the "Jury" trial.
The amusing central twist in "Jury" gives rise to the funniest segment in the film. Tommy very abruptly finding himself evicted from the double-wide of Mom embraces the coincidental call to duty by the State of California. His motive is securing a place to stay until he once again can put a tin roof over his head.
The aforementioned laughs come during the montage in which Tommy sabotages his chances for being selected as a juror on a trial that is expected to be short and sweet. These antics include claiming to know a bewildered defendant,
Our lead finds a Shore thing in the murder trial of suspected serial killer Carl Wayne Bishop, who allegedly has an extreme prejudice against fast-food joint managers. A conjugal visit between Tommy and Bishop is a highlight. It seems that Bishop gets to do to Tommy what many cinephiles would like to inflict on Shore.
Attempted hilarity ensues as Tommy goes to great lengths to prolong the outwardly wham, bam, fry 'em Sir case. Having Tommy bunk with his former high-school principal/current co-juror contributes more humor.
Anyone who has seen "Men" or ANY of the aforementioned classic shows that pay homage to it know that Tommy ultimately sees that justice is served. It is equally predictable that he gets the babe; the rest of the story opens itself up to a parody of the teencom "Legally Blonde."
Omnibus Entertainment does parent company Film Movement very proud regarding the June 4, 2019 DVD release of the literally simple and sweet fable "All You Ever Wished For." The cred of this tale of the Roman holiday of young Manhattanite Tyler Hutton includes Darren Criss portraying Tyler in this production by Barry Morrow, who is the Oscar winning writer of "Rain Man." One spoiler is that Tyler, who probably does not know who Wapner is but likely thinks that Wal-Mart sucks, does not fly Qantas to Italy.
Another spoiler is that the combination of a modern fairy tale and a pure-at-heart romantic reluctantly working in the New York-based fashion company of his domineering father makes "Wished" more like "Princess Ugly Betty Bride" than "Rain Man."
Although "Wished" is entertaining and charming, Criss no longer having his youthful exuberance and related appeal evokes thoughts that his "Glee" co-star Grant Gustin or another guy who still knows how to play the boy-next-door may have been a better casting choice.
The very Grimm opening scenes set the stage for the main events of the film centuries later. Newly heart-broken Tyler is ordered to travel to Rome to represent the family business. His antics on arriving illustrate why the probability of such enterprises failing increases with each new generation that takes over. A variation of the "ugly American" stereotype also does not bode well for the future.
The stereotypes continue with not-so-bright wiseguys snatching Tyler up off the street with an eye toward holding him for ransom on behalf of their mob boss. This surprisingly well-executed plan goes off the rails when the group gets lost after going into the woods.
This not-so-biblical adventure fully kicks off when the crooks and their captive audience awaken in a barn the next morning. The underlying events that set things in motion result in Tyler cutting his not-so-great escape short when her literally experiences unrequited love at first sight with local woman Rosalia. His not-so-longtime companions also meet their soulmates; much of the comedy relates to one pairing being a case of each person both being the same but also different; not that there is anything wrong with that. Another infatuation is creepy and does involve giving away the milk for free but fortunately is (presumably) never consummated.
The strong motive to stay prompt our boys to do their best to be productive members of the small community with very amusing results. We further see that Tyler has virtually no game.
In true farce style, everything comes to a head during a festival. There is a game-changer just as the sins of the son are more fully bringing the father into the picture. This leads to good potential for our boys to get their happy endings. The rest of the story is that there is one heartbreak and a fable that shows that one ultimately is true to thine self.
'The Prisoner of Second Avenue' Blu-ray: Jack Lemmon and Anne Bancroft Awesomely Play Neil Simon Says
The wonderfully restored Warner Archive May 14, 2019 Blu-ray release of the 1975 Jack Lemmon and Anne Bancroft urban comedy "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" is the epitome of something that is tragic to the person experiencing it being hilarious to the rest of us. The very strong live-stage vibe of "Prisoner" relates both to master playwright Neil Simon (also of the reviewed similar Archive BD release of "The Goodbye Girl") being the writer and the film being based on a 1971 hit Broadway play. The BD enhancements make both films look MUCH better than their '70slicious theatrical releases.
Stating that Lemmon is the perfect choice for beleaguered middle-aged middle-management New Yorker Mel Edison illustrates that cliches are cliches because they are true. One only need watch Lemmon in the 1973 film "Save the Tiger" to see that no one plays a white-collar dude experiencing the mother-of-all-mid-life crises better. A memorable scene in that one has the character of Lemmon lamenting his financial obligations.
The MUST-SEE 1962 film "The Apartment" and the equally good 1992 "Glengarry Glen Ross" illustrate the skill of Lemmon at playing a stereotypical lovable loser who finally snaps after years of abuse by masters of the universe.
One further only look at "The Odd Couple" to see that Lemmon also a master at roles that require equal parts drama and comedy. No one does it better. Baby, he's the best.
Mrs. Robinson (Mrs. Brooks in real life) herself Anne Bancroft does equally well as long-suffering loving and supportive spouse Edna Bancroft. An awesome part of her role is proving the cliche that at least one person in a committed relationship must be the stable one.
A notable cameo has Sylvester Stallone bumping into Mel after the latter has snapped; a less recognizable F. Murray Abraham of "Amadeus" plays an awesome stereotypical NY cabbie in an early scene. His appearance, performance, and role make one think that Judd Hirsch is playing the part.
Simon does his usual expert job sadistically heaping increasingly horrific insult on injury that New Yorkers endure everyday until the damn dam inevitably bursts. This starts with Mel trotting to get to his bus stop just ahead of that vehicle only to have the modern-day Ralph Kramden driving it literally pass him by. This is the beginning of the end in the form of Mel and Edna is a dystopian version of the "American Gothic" painting.
One of the biggest blows comes when 48 year-old Mel loses his job; the modern relatability of this is the 1,000,000s of middle-aged professionals jobs who found themselves unemployed around 2008 and know that they will never get comparable employment.
The bigger picture is that the '70s is the beginning of the end of the era in which the man gets "the job" on graduating high school or college and receives fair rewards for doing his job properly until he retires 40 years later with a pension that allows him and his wife of the same period to continue enjoying the life style to which they have become accustomed. Any sane person know that that social contract between employee and employer (and husband and wife) is more obsolete than disco and polyester leisure suits.
A desire to keep spoilers to the minimum is behind merely stating that the next few months find Mel and Edna suffering through a sweltering New York summer as they experience virtually every evil that can plague Manhattanites and out-of-towners alike. The aforementioned talent of Simon for depicting this makes one seriously wonder why anyone would choose to live in that city.
Additional fun comes in the form of clever bumpers; director Melvin Frank contributes to the live-stage vibe by separating scenes with shots of Manhattan accompanied by parody radio news broadcasts read by Dan Rather and other real reporters.
The aforementioned unhappy ending is equally awesome because it reflects the gritty realism that makes many '70s New York films so special. Mel and Edna do live to fight the rest of their days, but he does not get an 11th-hour offer of the job of his dreams, and they do not get to have the witty and privileged one-percenter lifestyle of Nick and Nora Charles. The moral is that reality bites even for folks who have been out of college for 20 or more years.
Archive awesomely supplements this classic film with truly special bonus features. These begin with Bancroft appearing on the "Dinah" talk show that her friend Dinah Shore hosts. Much of fun of this relates to these women discussing a recent doubles tennis game with their fellas Mel Brooks and Burt Reynolds.. The obligatory film clip includes entertaining outtakes.
We also get a five-minute making-of feature that also includes much of the aforementioned footage that ends up on the editing-room floor.
The Warner Archive March 26, 2019 Blu-ray release of the 1966 Doris Day romcom "The Glass Bottom Boat" offers a threefer in terms of combining a typical Doris Day comedy, a beach movie of the era, and an equally era-apt Cold War comedy.
The following YouTube clip of Day and co-star Arthur Godfrey singing the catchy theme from "Boat" provides a good sense of the fun of the film.
Day plays premature widow Jennifer Nelson, who is an entry-level public-relations worker at an aerospace research lab that roguish Elon Musk of the '60s Bruce Templeton (Rod Taylor) owns and operates. The film title refers to the tourist vessel that the father (Godfrey) of Nelson owns and operates on Catalina Island. An element of "com" enters in the form of Nelson supporting the family business by swimming below the boat while dressed as a mermaid.
Nelson and Templeton meeting under embarrassing circumstances while engaged in their typical weekend activities introduces the "rom" element. Later meeting at their day jobs enhances this element. More '60slicious fun come in the form of Dick Martin of "Laugh-In" fame portraying the playboy business partner of Templeton.
The Cold War aspect relates to the degree to which Nelson and Templeton develop their "rom" coinciding with the increased espionage activity related to a government contract. This provides the context for Paul Lynde to play a comically overzealous security officer who ultimately finds his job to be a drag.
The real fun begins when Nelson gets wind of Mr. Right and his colleagues suspecting her of treason. This girl subsequently seeking to turn the tables on her bosses finds her embroiled in genuine life-threatening intrigue.
The beach movie vibe relates to the catchy theme that Day sings, Templeton almost literally learning about the quantity of fish in the sea, and a couple of scenes in which a boat runs amok in a busy harbor.
All of this makes "Boat" a perfect example of an escapist '60s comedy. Day sticks to the independent woman whom Mother would love for you to bring home if being scorned is not causing her to "Hulk" out. There also is ample good clean slapstick and holding up the military-industrial complex to gentle but well-deserved ridicule.
Archive does equally well regarding the DVD extras; we get three entertaining featurettes related to the film, the highly stylized Chuck Jones Oscar-winning cartoon "The Dot and the Line," and the theatrical trailer for "Boat."
The Warner Archive April 16, 2019 DVD release of the well-remastered 1936 screwball comedy "Three Men on a Horse" is a good reminder that funny never stops being funny and that comedy does not require shock value.
The cred. of "Horse" begins with drector Mevyn LeRoy, whose other credits include "The Wizard of Oz" and "Mister Roberts." In front of the camera, Oscar nominated wise-cracking vaudeville veteran Joan Blondell plays stock floozy with a heart-of-gold Mabel. Fellow vaudeville vet Frank McHugh plays henpecked greeting-card writer Erwin Trowbridge.
The following YouTube clip of the fun-filled "Horse" trailer shows that they don't make those promos like they used to.
Our story begins with a wonderful look at 30s-era suburbia. Erwin and his wife Audrey live in a poorly constructed tract house in the development of her brother Clarence. Erwin is getting ready for his job, and Audrey is yelling for him to throw down his suit so that she can send it to the cleaner.
The Lucy and Ricky vibe continues with Audrey finding a little black book in a suit pocket. Being convinced that the entries are names and telephone numbers of loose women prompts Audrey to call Clarence to come over. The stereotypes continue with Clarence quickly going into a tirade about Erwin being a louse and Clarence having warned Audrey not to marry him.
The plot initially thickens on Audrey and Clarence learning that the notes are horse-race winners that Clarence successfully picks on his daily commute. The suspicious minds are additionally schooled regarding Erwin not actually placing any bets.
The added insult to the injury additionally is the straw that breaks the back of the camel. A COD package containing $48 worth of dresses requires that Erwin defend his male pride in front of Clarence by using money saved for other small luxuries to pay for the couture.
This bad morning drives normally sober Erwin to drink; his bar crawl brings him to the watering hole from which professional gambler Patsy (Sam Levene of "The Thin Man" series) and his two stooges operate. Mabel is the wannabe starlet who is the dame of Patsy and helps keep the boys in gambling money.
Learning that easily duped Erwin is the boy with something extra prompts Patsy and the boys essentially to kidnap their new acquaintance. Much of the ensuing comedy relates to providing a conducive setting for picking the ponies.
For her part, Mabel finds both a kindred spirit and a receptive audience in Erwin. This start of a beautiful friendship does not sit well with Patsy.
Meanwhile a distraught Audrey is lamenting over the disappearance of her husband, and his stereotypical fuming boss is irate over the absence of his employee. An oblivious Erwin merely is trying to please everyone.
Of course, all worlds ultimately hilariously collide. The happy endings this time show that justice prevails in Golden Age comedies.
Wrapping up the four-part series of reviews on the uber-diverse Olive Films August 16, 2016 Blur-ray/DVD releases that has dominated Unreal TV this week with the very groovy psychedelic 1968 dramedy "Wild in the Streets" arguably saves the best for last. This is because this satire regarding granting the actual disenfranchised the vote is very relevant in what arguably is a satirical actual presidential campaign makes it the most relevant of the four.
"Wild," which has a wonderful LSD vibe sound track, opens with '60s style surreal scenes of the oppression/abuse and subsequent drug activity and related rebellion during the childhood and teen years of later counterculture rocker 24 year-old Max Frost. Dreamy Christopher Jones of "Ryan's Daughter" does a terrific job playing Max as someone mainstream enough to (initially) not scare parents while being enough of a rebel to be a teen idol in this era of free love.
Using what seems to be the living room set of the wholesome '50s sitcom "Leave it to Beaver" for the childhood home of Max is almost as awesome as casting top-billed Shelley Winters as his status-obsessed (and later borderline-incestuous) typical '60s housewife mother Daphne.
The action soon shifts to the palatial estate where multi-millionaire commodity Frost lives with his entourage/band. These include adorable 15 year-old Yale Law graduate/accountant/guitarist Billy Gage (who looks as if he is one of My Three Sons). Richard Pryor does well in his early film career role as hilariously named drummer Stanley X.
Classic TV fans will enjoy seeing Kellie Flanagan of the '60s fantasycom "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" as the young daughter of Fergus. As a first aside, Flanagan states during a May 2015 Unreal TV interview that "Wild" star Hal Holbrook is extremely caring and nice. As a second aside, Flanagan gets one of the best lines in the film during her final scene in which she takes Frost to old school.
"Youthful" 38 year-old California Congressman/U.S. Senate candidate Johnny Fergus (played by a wonderfully youthful Holbrook) recruiting Max and the band to play at a campaign rally gets those kids thinking about the real-world issue regarding 18 year-olds being eligible to be drafted and sent to Viet Nam but not being allowed to vote until they are 21. A related thought is that the majority of the American population is 25 or younger.
These events soon lead to Fergus losing control of Max, who begins an aggressive campaign to lower the voting age to 14 as shown in an awesome video courtesy of YouTube. This, in turn, lead to other satirical reforms that take the '60s concept of not being able to trust anyone over 30 to a hilarious extreme. The expert handling of this includes every scene with Fergus and Frost having the other appear much taller than the latter and looking like father-son interaction.
The related hilarity includes what can be considered weaponized LSD, an outraged senior in every sense U.S. Senator witnessing the free-spirited debauchery at Chez Frost, and the straight-laced teen son of Fergus engaging in the cutest form of rebellion ever.
Like all great satire, this exagerated version of reality in "Wild" works because it uses a talented writer and director to determine what likable and/or absurd characters say and do. Being given power is a fantasy of the young, and absolute power corrupts absolutely regardless of who yields it.
On a larger level, "Wild" is fun nostalgia for folks old enough to remember psychedelic cinema and a great look at the "ancient" past for folks who have never seen a corded telephone.
The Mill Creek Entertainment April 16, 2019 Blu-ray of the 1987 USA Up All Night caliber film "Hard Ticket to Hawaii" shows that sexploitation god Andy Sidaris follows the tradition of making a sequel bigger and bolder than an original. "Ticket" is the follow-up to the (reviewed) 1985 Sidaris "classic" "Malibu Express."
The even better news for Sidaris fans is that he states during a "behind-the-scenes" feature for the "Ticket" Blu-ray that that film is the first in series of 12. It is likely that MCE will release the other 11 films in the not-to-distant future.
Speaking of MCE, releasing the shot-on-locations "Malibu" and "Ticket" respectively highlights the SoCal and 50th State beauty of the cinematography.
The following YouTube clip of a "Ticket" trailer provides a perfect sense of the mid-budget '80stastic cheesy fun of this film that warrants a T and A rating.
The titular yacht from "Malibu" makes a cameo in the opening scenes of "Ticket." "Malibu" lead character Cody Abilene apparently has lent cousin Rowdy Abilene (Ronn Moss of "The Bold and the Beautiful" and "The Bay") his love boat. Aptly named race-car driver June Khnockers apparently is not along for the ride either.
Although Cody is the main "Malibu" focus, Rowdy takes a backseat to busty blonde bimbo DEA agents Donna and Taryn. Donna especially looks as if she has spent time in Silicone Valley. She also is notable for being half of an homage to '80s busty blonde bimbo Donna Dixon.
Trained agent Donna and witness protection program participant Taryn work a cover job as pilots for a small cargo and charter service airline. (Insert your own cockpit and joystick jokes here.)
The primary action begins when the girls fly a honeymoon couple to a secluded spot that apparently is as accessible by Jeep as it is by airplane. They have just left the lovebirds to sunbathe and take sleazy Polarioids when they see a high-end radio-control plane land. The rest of the story is that that plane has smuggled diamonds that belong to a Bond villain stereotype who does not like doing things the easy way.
This discovery results in the first of several shootouts that sets the game fully afoot. Highlights include a stereotypical evil drag queen, a slice-and-dice Frisbee, and a lounge-lizard Maire D. The latter provides some of the best humor when the response of a woman to an invitation to sit on the face of the host speculates whether his nose is larger than another organ of his.
Another highlight involves a psychotic skater armed with an explosive sex doll.
A variation of a snakes on the plane plot is the B story in this delightfully C-movie with decent production values but porn-star caliber acting and a lace-thin plot. A stateside mishap leads to the girls transporting a rat-cancer infected snake. Of course, this reptile gets free and goes on a feeding frenzy.
The noose tightens on Rowdy, Donna, and their sidekicks teaming up for a raid; their premature declaration of mission accomplished leads to a final showdown in which the good guys get unexpected help, This involves the best entrance in the entire film.
All of this amounts to "Ticket" being an even bigger dream come true than "Malibu" for horny teen boys whose parents are clueless regarding the nature of these new additions to the home-video library. The appeal to the rest of us is no reason to feel guilty pleasure regarding this nostalgia reminder of how the advent of direct-to-video facilitated making movies such as this.
KBreaking Glass Pictures continues its limited dickumentary series with the April 9, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 non-fiction film "Bigger Like Me." This self-described extended director's cut of the 2014 film "Big Like Me" further chronicles the efforts of comedian Greg Bergman to remedy endowment-based angst.
"Bigger" is most akin to the (reviewed) 2013 Breaking DVD release "Unhung Hero." That one involves actor Patrick Moote dealing with the same anxiety as Bergman and taking comparable remedies to improve the Marco Rubio-sized hand that he is dealt. Comparing the two films is akin to the decades-long "Bewitched" v. "Jeannie" and "Munsters" v. "Addams Family" debate, One thing that can be stated with certainty is that Moote is much safer than Bergman in the f**k, marry, or kill game.
Although Moote is less crude and explicit in discussing his endowment and in showing what he is packing than Bergman, it seems clear that the latter has a couple of inches in both length and width than his "little buddy" at the start of their journey.
Another difference is that a size-related humiliating rejection of a marriage proposal motivates the desire of Moote to transform his earth worm into a water moccasin. Bergman being in an overall happy marriage at the beginning of "Bigger" shows that he is packing enough heat to adequately satisfy his wife. That relationship becoming rocky later in the film reflects the wisdom of gay columnist Dan Savage in "Unhung." He states that angst about not measuring up can harm a relationship more than falling on the lower end of the bell-end curve.
We also see that 32 year-old Bergman is his own worst enemy; he explicitly states that his natural endowment respectably falls in the "average bear" category regarding both length and width. This guy who spends much of the film naked or only wearing tiny briefs never addresses that losing 50 pounds both would make his junk look proportionately bigger and make him overall more attractive. This is not to mention how manscaping would benefit him. His aforementioned unduly assertive personality is another matter.
Noting the SPOILER that Bergman succeeds in becoming a bigger man is done to show that this prompts him to fully embrace the "if you got it, flaunt it" philosophy. He repeatedly drops trou to his ankles in very public settings without receiving any encouragement to do so. A silly aspect of this is that having to artificially enhance size is not a point of pride. This sincerely is not to say that the chosen people should go around showing passers-by and new acquaintances how either God or heredity has blessed them.
Another way of thinking about this is that most men whose endowment is a valid point of pride generally follow the "speak softly and carry a big stick" philosophy. There is something to be said for providing Mr. or Ms. Right (or Mr. or Ms. Right Now) a (hopefully pleasant) surprise during an initial unveiling in the boudoir.
On a similar note, Bergman shows very poor taste regarding repeated displays of dildos. Having one frequently sticking out of his backpack is bad enough. Numerous woman on the street interviews in which he uses three of these devices in a "Goldilocks" style survey is more creepy than funny.
A DVD bonus deleted scene in which Bergman engages in the above poll in an interview with a surprisingly willing and candid 16 year-old Mennonite girl clearly shows why this exchange does not make the cut even in the extended version.
Scenes in which Bergman and his college-aged little brother openly discuss their endowments and repeatedly wave around the aforementioned marital aids is only slight less creepy than the aforementioned exchanges.
A bigger pet peeve relates to statistics. Early in the film, Bergman joins an organized group of men who formally identify themselves as being among the 55 percent of the male population that is unhappy with their penis size. Bergman goes on to state the goal of every man becoming a one-percenter. The obvious flaw regarding that statement is that virtually every man packing a Magnum would make that size the norm, rather than the except to the rule.
The bottom line regarding all this is that Bergman is sure to entertain fans of Howard Stern and other abrasive raunchy humor. He is a cautionary tale to the rest of us in the form of showing the perils of obsessing about a perceived physical flaw. Our "average Joe" would have been much better off accepting his lot in life and understanding the concept of "TMI."
Briefly returning to "Hero," Moote succeeds where Bergman fails because this presumed member of the "Fantastic Four" has a more legitimate issue than his fellow comedian. Further, Moote displays better humor and perspective. As the aforementioned reference to the game of three indicates, size is not the only thing that matters.
The Wild Eye Releasing January 22, 2019 DVD release of the 2016 comedy-horror "Caroushell" is a prime example of the good that can come from friends contributing their individual talents to a minimal budget movie that is equal parts camp and scare. Learning the origin story of the film from co-writer Aleen Isley in the 45-minute interview reel on the DVD greatly enhances the entertainment value of this future cult classic.
The following YouTube clip of the official "Caroushell" trailer highlights all of the well-presented lowest-common-denominator elements discussed above that justify adding this one to the guilty pleasure section of your home-video collection.
The first of several clever twists comes very early in the film when we learn that the disgruntled amusement-park employee who is lamenting that he don't get no respect is Duke the plastic carousel unicorn. Do NOT call him a horse.
The action then shifts to the working-girl class home of late-teens Laurie, her tween brother Larry (a.ka. Lunchbox), and their single mother. The family casually talking about needing Laurie to watch Larry while Mom dances at a bachelor party provides good humor. A delusion regarding the absence of Dad is the icing on the cake.
Of course, these two worlds quickly collide. Laurie and Larry go the park where the latter rides Duke in a manner that proves his ability to join the family business in a few years. Although Duke has been suffering in relative silence, Larry pushes him to break free of the carousel and get his revenge on the boy. This initially leads to a few wonderfully low-budget slayings.
The action kicks into high gear as Duke tracks the siblings to a parents out of town party (complete with very amusing foreign students) that newly out bronicorn Preston is hosting. Writer/producer Steve Rudzinski steals the show as uptight, clueless, and frustrated pizza guy Joe. This holder of a classic McJob also is the surprising voice of reason in the film,
Duke gaining entrance into the house allows him to increase the body count before enjoying his role in what can be considered a Tijuana production of "Equus." He then eliminates the clutter before zeroing in on his primary prey.
The bro and the ho then literally run for their lives as the animated carnival ride zeros in for the final kill. The fun of this is that the filmmakers do not even try to make this absurd set-up very suspenseful.
All of this amounts to roughly 70-minutes of mindless fun that shows good instincts regarding when to end the party and send everyone home.
The DVD extend well beyond the aforementioned interviews. Wild Eye also includes a blooper reel, deleted scenes, and two trailers.
The Mill Creek Entertainment separate April 16, 2019 DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2010-13 Showtime dramedy "The Big C" is just what the oncologist ordered. This Emmy and Golden Globe winning series about middle-aged high-school history teacher Cathy Tolkey Jamison (Laura Linney) getting schooled in the realities of stage four (stage five is death) melanoma shows that even the worst of times can provide the best of humor.
The most subtle humor relates to setting "C" in a Minneapolis suburb. Although Cathy lives in a typical TV Land attractive middle-class home, her life is a far cry from that of pioneering working girl Mary Richards of Twin Cities based "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."
"C" is one of three unrelated recent Showtime series that have strong actresses playing courageous middle-aged suburban women in crisis. "The United States of Tara" has Toni Collette playing a woman with a severe case of split personalities. "Weeds" centers around Mary Louise Parker playing a housewife who must resort to selling the titular substance to keep her boys in designer duds.
"C" also is one of the latest additions to well-produced DVD and Blu-ray CS sets of off-beat shows that put art over commerce in the MCE catalog. Recent examples include a reviewed set of "Rescue Me," and a phenomenal award-winning release of "The Shield." The especially strong praise for the latter in a post on that release does not do it justice.
The accolades for "C" include Emmy and Golden Globe Best Actress awards for Linney and an AFI "TV Program of the Year" win.
Our story commences at the beginning of the summer. Cathy is at the final stage of acceptance regarding her grief; a spoiler is that she and her friends and family rotate through all five stages throughout the series.
Cathy is throwing money at the "rich people" problem of wanting a pool in her backyard and wanting it now. The rest of the story is that she wants to enjoy what she believes is a very limited time before her death. One of many rubs is that middle-manager husband Paul Jamison (Oliver Platt) and generally good 14 year-old son Adam do not know why the woman in their life suddenly is acting weird.
For that matter, Paul cannot understand why one display of juvenile behavior in two decades of such antics gets him ousted from the marital home. For his part, Adam is upset that he literally is pulled off the bus to soccer camp and that Mom is very clingy. A hilarious scene has Cathy interrupting a private moment and adding injury to injury by immediately using that moment for a highly embarrassing lesson about how to properly stimulate a woman.
The overall change is that Cathy is putting herself first much more than she ever has and is deciding to stop being polite and to start being real.
Like many cancer patients, Cathy is trying traditional and alternative treatments. Her refusal to undergo chemo. is very reasonable considering that the benefits of that procedure come at the cost of many ill effects. Early examples of alternative medicine include travelling to Canada to be repeatedly stung by bees and staying closer to home for a clinical trial.
The progression of the disease occurs in the context of reel and real-life situations that are exasperating even without piling them on top of a presumably fatal disease.
Cathy must contend with helicopter parents at school, her manic bipolar brother Sean, Adam having a very active puberty complete with a sexual encounter that leads to the entire family getting crabs, and Paul losing his job and being unrealistic about his prospects for new professional employment. This is not to mention the already feisty elderly neighbor lady with Alzheimer's and the self-absorbed former college classmate who re-enters the life of Cathy at both the best and the worst of times.
The bigger picture regarding all this in this era in which virtually all those who practice medicine are in it for the money is the frustration that even those of us with what should be decent health insurance experience getting anything beyond basic medical care. Just in the first two seasons, we see Cathy dealing with a doctor not returning her calls and with being denied approved treatment because of a problem related to notice of coverage. This is not to mention health insurance prompting Paul to take a job that he otherwise would not have accepted.
"C" further tackles the issue of the fine line between compassion and annoying levels of charity. Cathy wants people to be nice to her but does not want to be treated like a porcelain doll. Similarly, Adam quickly tires of being the kid at school with the mother who has cancer.
The nice thing about "C" lasting four seasons is that quality writing and a strong cast draw the audience into the lives of the Jamisons and the people with whom they interact. We come to share their joy and feel their pain right up to the series finale.
Warner Archive pulls a twofer regarding the DVD release of the 1979 original version of "Going in Style." We get a quality comedy that does not resort to sex or cheap laughs for entertainment. We also get a golden boys cast in the form of senior actors in both senses of that word. This dream ensemble is George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg. This film also makes a great companion to the Archive DVD of the Carney/Lily Tomlin 1977 noir movie "The Late Show."
The entertainment value of "Style" alone warrants adding this well-remastered DVD to your collection, The clip of Burns and Carney plugging the film on an episode of the Dinah Shore talk show "Dinah and Friends" should seal the deal. This seven minutes in Heaven has Shore being her usual good sport when Carney does a classic Ed Norton bit. Burns perfectly setting up a story about Carney playing pocket pool in a "Style" scene should seal the deal.
Burns is semi-fresh off the success of the 1975 film "The Sunshine Boys" and more fresh off his bigger hit "Oh God." Carney also is basking in the glow of this Oscar-winning performance in "Harry and Tonto" (1974) and his "Show" fame.
Joe (Burns), Al (Carney), and Willie (Strasberg) are fixed-income roommates in a shabby Astoria apartment. They stereotypically spend part of their day feeding pigeons in the park.
Joe watching money wheeled into the bank as he cashes his meager Social Security check has him put two and two together in a manner reminiscent of the real housewives who pull a heist to make ends meet in the 1980 comedy "How to Beat the High Cost of Living."
Joe concludes that a bank robbery is no-lose situation in that the trio enjoys a better standard of living if they succeed and do not experience much of a reversal of fortune if they get caught. Al is a more eager accomplice than Willie, who largely is along for the ride. Willie also checks out soon after the caper.
The main event goes off without a hitch. This venture nets them both fun and profit. Watching Carney especially channel Norton as he grooves out to the tunes of a street steel-drum band is a highlight. Al and Joe subsequently hit Vegas to enjoy their new-found wealth.
Our boys experience reversals of fortune on their return home. Both the law and time are closing in on these senior versions of Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton with much less yelling and despair than the originals. The better news is that the past-primetime players have fun and adventure before facing their new normal.
The delight of this "Style" extends beyond seeing Burns and Carney do their bit during their golden years. As mentioned above, this movie entertainingly tells a tale almost as old as time without sacrificing art for commerce. How sweet it is.
The Mill Creek Entertainment separate April 16, 2019 Blu-ray releases of the Andy Sidaris films "Malibu Express" (`1985) and "Hard Ticket to Hawaii" (1987) provide good chances to enjoy the entertaining pillow soft R-rated porn of this master of mainstream-friendly sleaze. Think "Porkys" with adult-film quality production values and acting. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Our current topic is "Malibu;" "Hawaii" literally is a subject for another day.
"Daniel Boone" television series star Darby Hinton strays far from that wholesome fare to play hard-bodied, hard-loving, and hard-fisted Texas trust-fund baby Cody Abilene. Think a younger, buffer, and cruder version of '80s TV detective/Magnum clone Matt Houston.
The film title relates to an ambiguous tribute to the deceased mother of Cody that he creates at the entrance to the yacht where he lives. His Higgins is a stuffed shirt official at the yacht club where the vessel is docked.
Although the new bimbos next door do not hesitate to come a knockin' for a gang shower on a rare occasion on which the boat of Abilene is not a rockin', his aptly named race-car driver friend June Khnockers does not make a booty call during the film.
The still-timely plot device of Russian spies using personal-computers in the United States for nefarious purposes in this pre-Internet era prompts "Higgins" to recruit Abilene for a game of Stud v. Spy.
The first stop on this this thrill-ride is a visit to seductive and liberated friend with extensive benefits Contessa Lucianna (Sybil Danning). Said perks include a needed introduction to Contessa friend Lady Lillian Chamberlain, who is the stereotypical matriarch of a stereotypical one-perecenter household. Her effeminate nephew is a not-very-well closeted homosexual; his beard does not let her marriage vows slow down her extra-marital activity. Studly chauffuer/blackmailer Shane separately gives each spouse the same thing that he or she needs.
The plot thickens on Shane getting murdered as apparent revenge for the blackmail. Of course, Abilene both gets on the case and discovers a tie between that crime and the Russian activities.
The investigation heating up provides plenty of chances for car chases, shoot-outs, and fisticuffs. The latter particularly demonstrates the pattern of Sidaris casting professional bodybuilders in his movies.
The best surprises and most fun come near the end of "Malibu." Abilene proves that he is more than a pretty face when he conducts a very SoCal version of the traditional drawing-room reveals at the end of classic murder mysteries. This aptly leads to an equally Eureka State variation of the hero riding off into the sunset.
The auteur himself provides both a introduction to "Malibu" and extensive gleeful insights in a behind-the-scenes featurette.
The true-to-comic-book spirit of "SHAZAM!" makes it by far the best entry in the current round of WB DCU superhero movies. This light-hearted romp is a wonderful diversion from the (often poorly acted and produced) dark live-action and animated fare with beyond gratuitous sex, violence, and profanity that the House that Jack built is churning out these days for far more profit than fun.
The following YouTube clip of a "SHAZAM!" trailer perfectly illustrates to Millennials and Gen Zs that this movie is their daddy's (or grandddaddy's) superhero flick. These kids also learn that there is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with that.
The simple but brilliant concept of the source material that director David F. Sandberg and writer Henry Gayden expertly adapt to the big screen is that 14 year-old Billy Batson is the chosen one who transforms into he whose "marvelous" name that shall not be spoken and back to his original form by uttering the titular acronym. This largely is the only similarity between this film and the (reviewed) 1974 live-action Saturday-morning series of the same name.
Zachary Levi of the 2007-12 action-comedy series "Chuck" (five seasons! and a movie?) releases his inner-Bartowski in playing this half-man half-boy champion. He proves once again that he is adept at playing a lovable loser nerd who must adapt to a super-powered new normal. This one can be consider Chuck vs. The Seven Deadly Sins.
The most general thought regarding this tale of a boy who goes from being a delinquent foster child to becoming a mighty superhero in a 'verse in which The Justice League really is fighting for truth, justice, and the American way is that is akin to the limited appeal of another boy hero.
Wil Wheaton coming up in conversation a few years ago prompted my remarking that I hated his smug young teen genius (with shades of Hamlet) character Wesley Crusher on TNG. I mentioned as well that i considered it absurd that the highly skilled and equally experienced Enterprise crew members gave that arrogant punk a respected seat at the table. The wisdom of my not foolish friend was that young teen boys that watched the series fantasized about being Wesley. A desire for candor requires confessing to shouting "SHAZAM!" and hoping for the best when watching the '74 series as a young boy.
A more obvious comparison is to the 1988 blockbuster comedy "Big" in which Tom Hanks plays a tween who (presumably on a Friday) magically transforms into an adult. "SHAZAM!" makes one blatant homage to the film and another more subtle one. The confession this time is admitting to still saying "I want to be big" every time that I pass a Zoltar fortune-telling machine.
The '80slicioiusness continues with "SHAZAM!" having strong shades of the cult-classic action-comedy TV series "The Greatest American Hero." This early example of the importance of RTFM centers around the Mr. Kotter of the '80s Ralph Hinkley being the chosen one whom "little green guys" give a super suit. The primary idea is that these brothers from another planet being confident that Hinkley realizes that with great power comes great responsibility make him their guy.
Much of the humor in "Hero" relates to the titular Reagan-era Cold War Captain America both discovering the extent of his abilities and learning how to control them. "SHAZAM!" honoring this legacy extends beyond a very "Hero" like montage.
These fanboy homages begin with the opening scenes. The identified year of 1974 works very well for the 2019 theatrical release in which our time is identified as "the present;" however, this will seem more odd as time goes by. it is even odder later in the film to see a single school that apparently goes from grades 1-12 in the same building.
Fourteen year-old Thaddeus "Lex" Sivana is sitting in the backseat of the family sedan as his father (John Glover of "Smallville") is driving the boy and his older brother over the river and through the woods to grandfather's house. Dad (channeling his best Lionel Luthor) and the older sibling are engaging in their usual practice of berating the backseat boy when Thad finds himself transported to a spooky cave.
Ala "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," Thaddeus meets the weakening ancient guardian of the "grail." Unlike Indie, Thaddeus does not choose wisely. He then is thrust back to his reality, where he quickly sets incidents in motion that do nothing to endear himself to his father and his brother.
The copious discussion of the proud history behind "SHAZAM!" precludes going much deeper into the plot of the film. Suffice it to say that Shazam and now-Dr. Sivana ultimately find themselves in an extended clash of the titans. The Team Shazam that our hero assembles to help fight his battle will come as no surprise to folks who are familiar with earlier incarnations of our central figure; this approach also is familiar to fans of Team Bartowski.
The team building, as well as the central plot, reinforces the "anyone can be a hero" theme of a film from a competing 'verse. It additionally reflects the "friends and family" aspect of admission into Mormon heaven and avoiding spooky Mormon Hell.
Those who agree that "Aquaman" stinks worse than three-day-old fish will find glee in a "SHAZAM!" stinger.