Do Not Disturb

Do Not Disturb. Arcola Pictures 1965.

Before watching the movie:

This is being promoted as a romp with a wife who invents a lover to get revenge on her husband for spending more time with his secretary. Apparently it also involves travel to Europe, but I’m not clear how big a part of the movie that is. I suspect the story starts with them relocating for business reasons, and then the new secretary at the new office gets too much of the husband’s attention.

This is based on a play, so I’m expecting some really good dialogue, very long scenes, and a handful of location scenes in Europe because movies feel obligated to Open Up a play.

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Kate and Leopold

Kate & Leopold. Konrad Pictures 2001.

Before watching the movie:

This is such a minor detail in my memory of the time and all that I’m not sure if I remember any promotional material that would have said this is about a time-displaced nobleman in modern times or if I more surmised it from the way the title makes a point of highlighting the difference in their names and extrapolating. Extrapolating very, very far. And also he dresses very nicely, but the basics of men’s formalwear haven’t changed in the last few centuries. Anyway, I know that that’s what this is about now, but since I don’t directly remember being told that before I selected this now, I’m not entirely certain if I was ever told that.

Turning my thoughts to “person from history is now transplanted to the modern day” movies, I’m particularly interested in the fact that I can’t think of any stories that were contemporary to before the 80s (Specifically, Time After Time). I’m sure there were some, and now I’m pretty interested in what the early part of the 20th century would’ve imagined the people of earlier centuries would have thought of them.

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Gremlins

Gremlins. Amblin Entertainment 1984.

Before watching the movie:

So, here’s one of those 80s classics I missed. I know the rules of the gremlins, I’ve heard an argument that the change the gremlins undergo is a metaphor for puberty, but I really don’t know all that much about what’s actually in the movie.

Apparently it’s one of the things Spielberg was involved in at least to the point of having his name on it opened doors, but the fact that it’s written by Chris Columbus probably tells me a lot about what to expect.

After watching the movie:

Randall Peltzer, an inventor trying to sell his comically disappointing inventions, visits an antique shop in Chinatown to try to sell something or at least get his son a Christmas present. Finding an adorable furry creature the shopkeeper calls a “Mogwai”, Randall insists on buying it and is refused on the grounds that one is too much responsibility, but the shopkeeper’s grandson secretly sells it to him with the instructions to keep him away from bright light, never get him wet, and never feed him after midnight. Randall takes “Gizmo” home to his son Billy, who cares for him well, until a friend spills a glass of water on him and five new, more mischievous Mogwai spawn off Gizmo’s back. Not long after, the younger Mogwai trick Billy into feeding them late by stopping his clock, and they metamorphose into vicious monsters bent on killing anyone they see, wrecking the town, and generally having a lot of fun.

I never realized Billy would be so old. I expected a child protagonist, and Billy is in his late teens or early 20s, and moreover the principal breadwinner for his family through his job as a low-level peon at the bank thanks to his father being a full-time crackpot inventrepreneur. He is in fact, old enough to have a love interest subplot with his principal companion for the final act, though the nature of his relationship with Kate doesn’t really add much.

What’s really odd though is the inclusion Billy’s dog Barney. Barney is in a position to be a major player in the plot and he’s just kind of there, except for the large chunks of the movie when he’s not even present. I’d say Barney mainly exists for Mrs. Deagle to be awful about, but that doesn’t really go anywhere either. She complains about and makes threats toward Barney until she exits the movie as a casualty of the gremlins’ mayhem. I guess they wanted to show the gremlins kill someone, but really wanted it to be okay for that person to get killed. But it’s not even a kind of poetic justice, so establishing her as being vile enough to deserve to die could’ve been done in much less time.

Orientalism is never a value add, but it’s a fact of older movies. So I’m not exceptionally bothered by the way “they’re from China” explains these fantastical creatures or the stereotypes depicted in the shopkeeper Gizmo came from. What bothers me more is the guy in town who goes on rants about how “foreigners” started putting literal gremlins in our equipment as sabotage in WWII (a superstition that was probably mostly in jest) and are still doing it… for reasons. Which could just be giving voice to prejudice for the sake of local color and setting up another unlikeable victim, except the ending narration lends credence to the rants by specifically tying the Mogwai to those foreigner sabotage gremlins. Sure, the movie calls them gremlins by title and by dialogue, but without that narration, they could just be “mischievous creatures wrecking everything” without any connection to malice from foreign enemies.

A lot of horror movies have comic relief, and aside from the prop comedy of the failed inventions, the humor here is very low-key. It’s called a horror-comedy, but to me it’s just a horror with cute fuzzies. It seems a little confused throughout, but it’s probably just me not getting it.

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Mr. 3000

Mr. 3000. The Kennedy/Marshall Company 2004.

Before watching the movie:

It occurs to me that even though I remember seeing all of the tv spots for it at the time, and I have a synopsis in front of me, I don’t know much about this story other than “Bernie Mac unretires from baseball to protect his record”.

I’m guessing the tension comes from him clashing with his teammates, mostly due to them resenting him using them like that, but also maybe an old school baseball/new school baseball rivalry.

I’m still going to go with “it’s about Bernie Mac playing baseball” though.

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Turner and Hooch

Turner and Hooch. Touchstone Pictures 1989.

Before watching the movie:

It occurs to me that while this is significant in the zeitgeist, or at least in the Hanksgeist, I’m not sure in what way. It gets referenced as something anyone who knows about Tom Hanks should know, but I’m not sure if that’s meant as a high point or a low point. Opinions will differ, but is it an adorable action comedy masterpiece, or that time Tom Hanks had to spend an hour and a half yelling at a dog? People seem to expect me to know already. Maybe I will now.

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The Legend of Drunken Master (Drunken Master II)

The Legend of Drunken Master (Drunken Master II). Paragon Films 1994.

Before watching the movie:

I was very close to reviewing this a few months ago, but then when I started to get ready to, I quickly learned that not only was it a foreign-language import, it was also technically a sequel. Its original Chinese title is “Drunken Master II”. However, it is described as a “reboot” of the original movie from sixteen years earlier, with “little in common with… its predecessor”.

And what’s different? Well, I was hesitant even when I found out it wasn’t originally in English. But I’ve crossed that now. After a tough month, I want to review something silly, and since this is only spiritually connected with the movie that gave this one its II, I’m not that concerned by it. I’ve reviewed adaptations and remakes, and I’m given to understand this is essentially a fresh take.

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License to Drive

License to Drive. Davis Entertainment 1988.
License to Drive. Davis Entertainment 1988.

Before watching the movie:

I am aware of the Two Coreys heartthrob duo of the 80s only through discussion of them, as they were just before my time (I was dimly aware that Jonathan Taylor Thomas was a big deal a decade later).

This is looking suspiciously like “Ferris Bueller, but with the Coreys instead of Matthew Broderick”, though I’m still interested. The car wasn’t a very big part of Ferris Bueller, whereas this could potentially be a road trip kind of joyride.

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