Sunday, September 10, 2017

Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)

"Gooooooooooooooooood Morning, Vieeetnaaam!"

Robin Williams is best described as a comedic genius, at least early in his movie career. One of his best movies is the glorious "Good Morning, Vietnam" which not only allowed him to shoot off wise crack after wise crack but also deliver a touching story about what life in Saigon was like during the Vietnam War.

Live wire disc jockey Adrian Cronauer (Robin Williams) is shipped to Saigon to boost troop morale with a new radio show. With his witty remarks and love of modern music he soon becomes a hit with the troops but runs afoul with his superiors who are less than impressed with his disregard for the rules and protocol. While posted in Saigon he gets to know the locals especially a young girl and her brother as well as experiencing the war at first hand.

On face value, this film may appear to be about an unorthodox approach to radio broadcasting which comes across unsettling to his immediate superiors. Look into the film at a deeper level and it's not just about a man bringing joy to the troops but also a man who hides behind jokes yet has to face reality. What is surprising is while "Good Morning, Vietnam" is set during the Vietnam War, it really isn't about war, it merely provides a backdrop more than anything and never encroaches on the main storyline.

"Goooooooooooooooooooodbyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye, Vieeetnaaam!"

Overall: With a superb cast (Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, J.T. Walsh, among others) and a lot of hilarious one liners and an awesome sound track, this is a movie you don't want to miss. It's set during the Vietnam War, but it's not an actual war movie.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

30 Years of Film Birthathon - Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

In light of my 30th birthday last week, this week has been devoted to films released in 1987. Today we're looking at the underrated John Hughes' 80s teen drama, Some Kind of Wonderful.

Keith (Eric Stoltz) is a high school senior who has eyes for the most popular girl in school, Amanda (Lea Thompson) all while ignoring his best friend, tomboy Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson), who just happens to like him a little more than he thinks.

It's been used over and over again in film over the years, and I'm sure we've all had personally experienced it once before. You ignore someone you could actually be with for someone more popular and prettier. Although this film tanked in the box office, this has the best elements in a John Hughes film. The chemistry between Watts and Keith is powerful and real - much like Molly Ringwald and Jon Cryer in Pretty in Pink.

RATING: 4/5 - Forget the box office numbers, this one is a must watch!

Directed by: Howard Deutch
Written by: John Hughes
Starring: Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson, Lea Thompson
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 95 Minutes

Monday, July 24, 2017

30 Years of Film Birthathon - The Princess Bride (1987)

In light of my 30th birthday last week, this week has been devoted to films released in 1987. Starting with what I've been told is a classic fairy tale, which I've put off watching until now.

The Princess Bride opens with a sick boy (Fred Savage) who receives a visit from his grandfather (Peter Falk) who visits to read to him from a book handed down from his father. The boy is not exactly pleased to be distracted from his world of sports and video games. However, his mood quickly changes as he and the viewer are transported to a place out of time. We are taken to Florin, a kingdom in an imaginary land, complete with dashing heroes, cowardly princes, rhyming giants, rodents of unusual size, fancy sword fights, and yes . . . even some kissing.

The fairy tale begins on a farm in the countryside where the young woman, Buttercup (Robin Wright) resides with farmhand Wesley (Cary Elwes). It's there where Buttercup quickly learns that "as you wish" really means "I love you" as she falls in love with him. While trying to seek his fortune, Wesley disappears at sea and becomes an apparent victim of the Dread Pirate Roberts. A few years later, Buttercup, who is now engaged to Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), is kidnapped by a trio of misfits.

The focus of this film is to show that you can't stand in the way of true love. Throughout the movie, there are many hardships and trials that true love must endure. It has a mixture of fairy tale and witty one liners which you may end up repeating, such as "I am Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die."

RATING: 4/5 - A must watch film and even appropriate to include the kids if you've got them.

Directed by: Rob Reiner
Starring: Fred Savage, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Robin Wright, Billy Crystal, Mandy Patinkin, Cary Elwes
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 98 Minutes

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Wilson (2017)

Directed by: Craig Johnson
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Judy Greer
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language throughout and some sexuality
Run Time: 94 Minutes

Wilson (Woody Harrelson) is a neurotic middle aged man who has lived alone most of his life. He loves to talk, to anyone, about anything even if nobody really cares to what he has to say. When his father passes away, he returns to his hometown for the funeral and decides to track down Pippi (Laura Dern), his ex-girlfriend who left him seventeen years ago. While they reconnect and everything seemed to be going great and wonderful, Wilson learns that they had a child together, in the form of Claire (Isabella Amara). Although Pippi put Claire up for adoption when she was born, Wilson takes it upon himself to find her and striking a sort of relationship that they clearly missed out on.

Rating: 3.5/5 Wilson has a mixture of comedy and drama but mostly, it's a sad attempt to string together a bunch of characters and ideas.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Keeping Up with the Joneses (2016)

Ah, the American suburbia, where your social status means everything and your status improves by the amount of money you have or the material goods you buy. Back in the day, neighborhoods like the one in the movie were close-knit communities, today it seems like the most you'll get out of your neighbor is a friendly nod.

The Gaffneys had a good life. Jeff (Zach Galifianakis) works as an human resources director at a big defense plant. He's an average guy who hasn't met a problem that couldn't be solved with a stress ball. His wife, Karen (Isla Fisher) is an interior decorator who took some time off to raise their kids. On the surface everything appears to be normal, however it feels like something is missing in their lives, especially now that they're kids are away for the summer.

That is, until the Joneses' family moves in across the street. Natalie (Gal Gadot) is super sexy, who excels at everything she does and Tim (Jon Hamm) is an handsome, accomplished travel writer. Tim and Jeff hit it off immediately, while Karen is a bit hesitant to connect with the ever-so-suspicious Natalie. As it turns out, the Joneses' moved in next door for a purpose, they are spies and have their eyes set on Jeff's place of employment. It involves a mole within the company, a vicious arms dealer who is only known as "Scorpion."

Let's face it, espionage movies involving ordinary people have been done many times over the years. Similarities include, but are not limited to, Spy, True Lies, Mr and Mrs Smith, among others. Keeping up with the Joneses isn't any different, actually truthfully it may be one of the worst of the aforementioned titles.

RATING: 2/5  A movie to watch if you're really, really bored and have a buck-fifty burning a hole in your pocket but don't expect anything close to a masterpiece.

Directed by: Greg Mottola
Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm, Patton Oswalt
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, action/violence and brief strong language
Run Time: 105 Minutes