The Mighty Ducks

The Mighty Ducks. Walt Disney Pictures 1992.

Before watching the movie:

I’m not exactly sure how I missed the Mighty Ducks phenomenon of the 90s. I knew it was a thing, but not only was I not interested (it’s a sports movie, and there aren’t any real ducks), it was never foisted upon me. I do recall noticing it (or one of the sequels) on a muted TV across the room once in the orthodontist’s office, but that’s it.

The spinoffs this movie had were ridiculous though. Two sequels is one thing, an in-name-only animated adaptation about superpowered hockey-playing cartoon ducks is another, and creating an actual NHL hockey team off the success of a movie is bizarre.

I didn’t intend to do two Disney movies concerning ducks in a row, it just happened. They’re so far apart in time and subject that I didn’t realize until I was set on this movie.

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Million Dollar Duck

Million Dollar Duck. Walt Disney Productions 1971.

Before watching the movie:

There’s a tendency for the family comedies Disney made in the 50s-70s to blend together, unless they reached you early enough to trigger nostalgia. At this point, it’s hard to say if that’s the classics rising to the top, or one generation passing their nostalgia to the next.

This is not one of the well-known ones. At least, I only learned about it by finding it on a shelf. It stars Dean Jones, but so does almost every movie Disney made back then. Disney’s stable of reliable actors reminds me these days of the contract system of the Golden Age of Cinema, where actors contracted to do so many movies of whatever kind they were assigned to with the same studio before they were free to leave or renew their contract, which also created a kind of repertory effect.

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The Money Pit

The Money Pit. U-Drive Productions 1986.

Before watching the movie:

So a young couple makes a real estate investment to live their dream, and then everything that could possibly go wrong with that choice does. That sounds a lot like The Long, Long Trailer to me. Only this time it’s Tom Hanks and Shelley Long, and the house doesn’t roll. (Probably.)

Unlike that movie, a lot of the problems turn out to be disastrous unexpected costs, rather than just ruining their marriage, which probably happens too, because money is the top reason couples fight.

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The Astronaut Farmer

The Astronaut Farmer. Spring Creek Pictures 2006.

Before watching the movie:

What I’m most interested in about this story of an ex-astronaut who had to quit NASA to save the farm, but then decides to build his own rocket, is how the movie makes it plausible that one man can build a rocket on his own. The farm must be doing really well to be able to afford that kind of DIY equipment.

It’s meant as a feel-good story about Following Your Dreams™, but it’s just about the most extreme way to depict it. Solo rocketry projects are most likely to end up with the hobbyist spread across the landscape, no matter how much of an expert in engineering the rocketeer is.

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The Wraith

The Wraith. Alliance Entertainment 1986.

Before watching the movie:

So what I’m seeing described here is a techno ghost chasing down the drag racing gang that killed him in a magic racing car. I’m trying to come up with a crazier movie synopsis and, okay, Ghost Rider probably counts. And a whole lot of other contemporary horror stories, I guess. I withdraw the question.

I’m not clear right now on who the protagonist is. The summary I saw framed it as the dead guy’s story, the poster looks like it’s about a group of people who may be the drag racing gang that got him killed, but I don’t think the heroes of a horror story would be as culpable as the summary I saw made out.

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Shaolin Soccer

Shaolin Soccer. Star Overseas 2001.

Before watching the movie:

I know there must be a whole range of movies about applying martial arts to unusual activities, but I can’t come up with any others off the top of my head. Jackie Chan has probably made five of them. Maybe the training sequence in The Karate Kid counts?

This is maybe one of the highest-profile ones. I dimly remember being aware of its release, but it at best ranked “vaguely interesting”, which wasn’t nearly enough draw to get me to try to see it.

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Movies of My Yesterdays: Jetsons: The Movie

The Jetsons. Universal Pictures 1990.

I believe I have been told this is the first movie I was ever taken to see. Of course, I was young enough that I don’t remember that at all. It was always a part of our home collection in my memory, one of the Beta cassettes that got run into the ground.

I always understood The Jetsons as having been a 60s series that the movie had revived, but I eventually learned that most of the episodes were produced over 20 years later. I’d thought that was either to justify or follow up on the movie, but some quick research right now informs me that the movie came years later, after the show had done well in syndication. I have no doubt the main reason for the 80s episodes was so there would be enough episodes of the property to sell in syndication.

As a kid, I didn’t pick up on much of a difference between the movie and the episodes I’d seen. Longer of course, and a big deal is made about moving the family to a new location, but pretty much the same. Oh, and the interminable song breaks, that I can now appreciate as pretty good MTV music videos that still don’t belong in the movie. As I got older, I came to recognize the CGI, and the cultural shift that had happened underneath the surface.

The last few times I watched this movie, I saw it as the wholesome 60s family uprooted to place them in a setting more relatable to contemporary audiences, but they’re slightly modernized themselves, Judy’s starstruck melodrama (it was just a date with a touring celebrity, not a long-term boyfriend she’s torn away from, come on) aside. Their roles within the family unit are slightly less regimented and clean.

The environmentalist and coexistence message might be a little pat today, but it’s a movie made when those messages were at their most popular in the industry, especially in children’s media. And it certainly wasn’t an overused message for me as a kid. Star Trek taught us that we can make the future better, but it seems very distant next to The Jetsons, which shows us that in the future, we’ll be much like we are now, but with better technology. And this movie asks us to consider what that kind of lifestyle might cost, and if we can do better than that. Sometimes, that just seems possible.