Max Dugan Returns

Max Dugan Returns. 20th Century Fox 1983.

Before watching the movie:

This seems strongly positioned as a guardian angel/Mary Poppins kind of movie, but I think that’s just metaphorical, and hopefully tongue in cheek. The movie I would really like this to be is Max Dugan dropping into his daughter’s life expecting to fix everything and be instantly forgiven and failing miserably on both accounts, then working to earn his way back into her family and in the process making things better. That’s the plot vibe I’m getting from this movie, and I hope the magical trappings are just because it’s the kind of art Neil Simon brings to a project, because if it’s as straightforward as it looks, that would easily become too simple and saccharine.

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The Right Stuff

The Right Stuff. The Ladd Company 1983.

Before watching the movie:

I suppose I shouldn’t be so surprised a movie known for one sequence (slow-motion astronauts) is over three hours long. After all, Lawrence of Arabia is mainly known for the desert montage. I am surprised to learn the scope of the movie. I always understood it to chronicle the Mercury program, and possibly Gemini leading to Apollo. But I’m now seeing it described as starting with breaking the sound barrier. On reflection, supersonic speed would have come from the same test programs that produced the Space Race astronauts, but I never connect aeronautics and astronautics.

I should address that I somehow got the idea the film was made in the 60s, which is ridiculous, since it chronicles the 60s. But on the rare occasions I thought about that, I considered it kind of a propaganda film doing a victory lap after a successful moon landing. Which would still probably make it early 70s, but that’s quibbling.

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48 Hours

48hrs_onesheet_uk-1Before watching the movie:

I think I first heard this existed in some kind of Eddie Murphy retrospective. I just remember an interview clip of Murphy talking about being awed at getting the chance to work with Nick Nolte. This looks like a slight revision of the “buddy cop” formula, where in this case, one of the chalk and cheese pairing isn’t a cop but a convict, presumably with the connections the one who is a cop needs.

Buddy cop wasn’t played out in the early 80s, but I think it was still well established at the time. What comes to mind right now is that the two-year later Beverly Hills Cop seems like a streamlined version of this premise without the buddy cop dynamic, merging the streetwise fast-talker character with the unshakeable detective character. It’s highly likely from the similarity and proximity that Murphy got Beverly Hills because of this movie.

I’m not sure I’ve seen Nolte in anything other than Lorenzo’s Oil, which I saw in a science class in high school. I don’t remember much of it, but I do know it’s clearly a very different film from this. Continue reading

Easy Money

Easy Money. Orion Pictures 1983.
Easy Money. Orion Pictures 1983.

Before watching the movie:

Rodney Dangerfield should be able to play a slob pretty convincingly. It’s a large part of his persona. And all he has to do to inherit a windfall is give it all up. It’s an interesting conflict for an actor known for one personality to do a movie where he has to give up a large part of that personality. Vaguely like Jerry Lewis turning ultra-suave in The Nutty Professor.

Beyond that (admittedly large) nugget I’m going into this movie pretty blind. I don’t know how it’s going to play out in any detail beyond a guess at the basic plot structure.

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Going Berserk

Going Berserk. Universal Pictures 1983.
Going Berserk. Universal Pictures 1983.

Before watching the movie:

This movie’s plot looks completely insane, which I suppose fits the title. John Candy acquires a congressman’s enemies by getting engaged to his daughter, so religious aerobic instructors come after him, and then somehow the poster is involved at some point. I have no idea what to expect.

I’d never heard of this movie before. I don’t remember what specifically got it recommended to me, but it’s in my list with a handful of other John Candy movies. The timing might put it in line with when I looked up Top Secret!, but this one may not have been the one specifically like it.

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To Be Or Not To Be

To Be Or Not To Be. Brooksfilms 1983.

Before watching the movie:

Mel Brooks. Nazis. Shakespeare. Sounds like a lot of fun. My concern creeps in with the facts that this is a remake of a 40s film and has been described as less satirical than his best. When I think of Mel Brooks without satire, I think of Dracula: Dead and Loving It, which (as I said on Twitter) relied too much on physical comedy.

Useless fact time: as you can find out from any other reference on this film, it’s the only time Mel Brooks acted in the same movie with his wife Anne Bancroft. Much like that Wall Street is notable for featuring Martin Sheen and Charlie Sheen as father and son (and Michael Douglas as the inspiration to all the authors of the economic recession), it’s an interesting fact that doesn’t mean much but takes up space.

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Strange Brew

Strange Brew. Metro Goldwyn-Meyer 1983.

Before watching the movie:

I don’t think I’ve seen any of Second City. As far as I know, SCTV never aired in either area I’ve lived in. I’ve only heard of Bob and Doug McKenzie through one or two audio tracks on Doctor Demento albums. I was surprised to find out that the not-Rick Moranis McKenzie brother is played by Dave Thomas (no, not the Wendy’s guy), whom I’ve seen on The Red Green Show. He looks more like Andy Richter in this picture.

I’m hoping this will be pretty light comedy, apparently with parallels to Hamlet, so there’s some intelligence to it. I’ll probably get back to my usual array of genres next week.

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