Planet 51

Planet 51. TriStar Pictures 2009.

Before watching the movie:

I vaguely recall the publicity for this movie at the time, and it didn’t particularly interest me then. The concept of extraterrestrials reacting to an astronaut from Earth as an alien invasion plot turned inside out was moderately intriguing, but it didn’t particularly call out to me at the time. Animation outside of Disney and Pixar (and sometimes them as well) at the time struck a tone that didn’t really connect with me, and still doesn’t. But as that tone was almost obligatory for the market of the day, it was probably exaggerated in the advertisements and this has the potential to be more in line with what does appeal to me.

I didn’t even know that the astronaut is played by Dwayne Johnson. The character design even looks a little bit like a redheaded reimagining of Johnson, how his appearance (and race) would have to change to fit the classic image of space race NASA astronauts. Or I may just be very bad with faces.

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The Nutty Professor (1996)

The Nutty Professor. Imagine Entertainment 1996.

Before watching the movie:

There are two reasons I avoided this movie. First, the original probably didn’t need a remake (I thought I reviewed that but I guess it was before I started this blog), and second, I’m concerned by how the Eddie Murphy version of the character is ostracized for being obese, not for being a nerd, which almost certainly means that fat jokes will fuel a lot of the movie. Why wasn’t it enough for the Dr. Jekyll side to be nerdy? 1996 was still a little before geek culture took over the zeitgeist. Was a black nerd drinking a potion to turn suave too close to Steve Urkel/Stefan Urquel, debuting three years earlier on television? Judging from Eddie Murphy’s live action movies since this one, I suspect he just thinks wearing fat suits is funny, and he’s Eddie Murphy so he can make whatever movies he wants.

I am kind of excited to learn that James Coburn is in this somewhere.

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Battleship Potemkin

Battleship Potemkin. Mosfilm 1925.

Before watching the movie:

While this is Soviet propaganda, it’s also considered a highly influential piece of cinematography. It got mentioned in my film studies class and we saw a clip of some metaphor-driven editing, but the main thing I remember is that it was briefly mentioned that this movie doesn’t have a traditional protagonist, but is focused on the collective actions of the crew, and because of how steeped I am in individualist Western hero narratives, and especially American big damn hero narratives, I have a hard time imagining how such storytelling can work. But after a lot of “one man in the wrong place at the right time” action movies lately, I’ve developed an interest in seeing what a movie that refuses to put any one person in the spotlight looks like.

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The Caddy

The Caddy. Paramount Pictures 1953.

Before watching the movie:

I don’t really know much beyond that this is a Martin and Lewis movie. I guess Jerry Lewis is the good golfer posing as his friend’s caddy because he can’t handle the attention of the crowd. But he’s hopeless as a caddy. Laughs ensue.

Looks like they both have love interests? I guess there’s room for some subplot around the slapstick and friend arguments.

I’m not sure I’ve seen enough of Dean Martin to know what to expect from him. He’s clearly the straight man of the duo though.

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Congo

Congo. Paramount Pictures 1995.

Before watching the movie:

So much as I thought I knew what this was about, it seems I completely misunderstood this movie. I had the idea this was some kind of action drama about conservation, like fighting poachers or something. Maybe a military operation in the jungle.

What this actually seems to have something to do with is a new species of killer gorilla and also a signing gorilla, and the preview I saw looked a lot funnier than I expected. So I’m completely at a loss for what to expect now, besides Tim Curry and Ernie Hudson being in it.

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Major Payne

Major Payne. Wife n’ Kids Productions 1995.

Before watching the movie:

One more that I never heard of until I saw it floating around my sources. Damon Wayans terrorizes some JROTC kids as their drill instructor, so it sounds like fun. As the instructor is the protagonist, it sounds like a bit of the inverse of movies like Sgt. Bilko and Stripes.

I’m sure there will be one or two kids with an interesting quirk, but I don’t have high expectations for a memorable bunch, just a generic group of misfit boys trying to get the ex-Marine off their backs.

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The Toy

The Toy. Rastar 1982.

Before watching the movie:

I’ve seen many stories about an obscenely rich person obtaining living characters as a personal plaything for themselves or their children, but I doubt any of them were direct references to this story so much as just yet another commentary on how rich people live in a completely different world.

I think Jackie Gleason is primarily known for playing a decidedly blue collar guy, so it seems like an unusual choice to cast him as the eccentric millionaire. However it seems like most of Richard Pryor‘s movies in the 80s were about him reacting to finding himself in impossible situations, so the dissonance of agreeing to something bizarre he doesn’t believe in because he needs the money fits that pattern.

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Under the Same Moon

Under the Same Moon (la Misma Luna). Creando Films 2007.

Before watching the movie:

I didn’t know this movie existed before I watched it, so all I had to go on was that a lot of it is in Spanish, it’s about border crossing for family and Eugenio Derbez is in it. And I seriously can’t come up with more to say about it.

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War of the Satellites

War of the Satellites. Santa Cruz Productions 1958.

Before watching the movie:

I probably know about as much about this movie as Roger Corman did when he decided to make it. Earth is about to start launching satellites and aliens disapprove, and it’s all very “hey, remember Sputnik?”

It sounds more interesting to watch than to write. The effects and action sequences will probably be hilarious but also the best part. It looks like even though the United Nations is standing in for the United States, they still manage to let the United States be the most American part of the Earth.

I like going into movies completely blank on them until I have to write about my nonexistent preconceptions.

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