Dead Poets Society

Dead Poets Society. Touchstone Pictures 1989.

Before watching the movie:

Robin Williams has done a lot of feel-good movies, but none seem to have the reputation for soaring inspiration that this one does. Sure, it’s all about a teacher trying to inspire his students, but I can think of other movies about Williams’s character inspiring others. Maybe it’s that this is the most quotable, but the main quote I know is a cliche.

One thing that’s becoming apparent to me is how little of his work I was actually familiar with when I was in the height of my appreciation for Robin Williams as an actor.

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Family Business

Family Business. Gordon Company 1989.

Before watching the movie:

I remember this came up very recently, but I don’t recall what it was in connection to. I think it was a related movie on IMDB, but I’m not even sure of that. Maybe it had sufficient keywords in common with The Sting, but I can’t recall for sure and it wasn’t there when I checked. What I am sure of is that the idea of Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman, and Matthew Broderick playing a criminal family running a caper was something I needed immediately.

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Teen Witch

Teen Witch. Trans World Entertainment 1989.
Teen Witch. Trans World Entertainment 1989.

Before watching the movie:

I was entirely unaware of this movie until it came up in algorithmic recommendations. Surprisingly, it has no relation to the Archie Comics series “Sabrina the Teeenage Witch”, which I know as the 90s sitcom of the same name. It really looks like the same setup, with the dreamy, unattainable boy and everything. I guess that’s just the story writers want to tell about teenaged girls. According to the summary on Wikipedia, it started life as a female twist on Teen Wolf, which… okay. Not exactly as weird and desperate as Teen Wolf 2 telling the same story again with the first werewolf’s cousin in college.

This is probably the best place to comment on how bad the theatrical posters are. I always try to use a poster from the original theatrical release, and sometimes that results in using things like this one, where who cares about the title character, there is a cute boy who is the most important part of the movie probably. More recent box art, as seen on IMDB, has just the girl on a broom, which at least gets the priorities straight. Also the German poster is very nice, but not in English and the only pictures I can find are folded.

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Penn and Teller Get Killed

Penn and Teller Get Killed. Lorimar Film Entertainment 1989.
Penn and Teller Get Killed. Lorimar Film Entertainment 1989.

Before watching the movie:

I’m not entirely sure when I first encountered Penn and Teller. I clearly remember that my seventh grade science teacher, who was a magician himself, showed us some tapes of televised magic acts, and there was at least one Penn and Teller illusion in the bunch. They appeared on an episode of Home Improvement, though I don’t know if I recognized them when I was regularly watching that show. I knew them well enough when they released “Off The Deep End” in 2005 I made an effort to tape it myself. So I would conservatively say I knew of them by the early 2000s and had seen their work from as early as the mid-90s.

But when I discovered “Fool Us!”, I went looking for a list of their old specials and series, and discovered one that was pretty different from the others. Magic isn’t exactly unscripted, and it may tell a story, but here, among all these magic shows, was, nearly at the beginning of their career, a theatrical, scripted/narrative film where they play themselves. It’s perfect for them, but how did this even happen?

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Parenthood

Parenthood. Imagine Entertainment 1989.
Parenthood. Imagine Entertainment 1989.

Before watching the movie:

I always thought this had something to do with a Bill Cosby book that doesn’t seem to actually exist. I’m probably thinking of a section of Himself, but I thought he wrote a triptych of books on growing up (I couldn’t give a title for this), raising a family (the nonexistent “Parenthood”), and getting old (Time Flies). If one of his books of comedic anecdotes were filmed, he’d probably have been cast as the star anyway.

It sure seems like I’ve reviewed this before. It seems to be a sibling to Father of the Bride, and the synopsis sounds an awful lot like Cheaper By The Dozen, which not only has a “suggested by” not-remake with Steve Martin, but also, as I discussed, seems to have been made many times as many different movies. So, here we go again?

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Major League

Major League. Mirage Enterprises/Morgan Creek Productions 1989.
Major League. Mirage Enterprises/Morgan Creek Productions 1989.

Before watching the movie:

This is one of those that I feel like I should have more preconceptions of than I do. It’s a “The Producers” kind of sandbagging scheme, only the sandbagger isn’t the protagonist. It’s just about a team that’s so bad they’re good, I guess. I can’t tell what the mohawked sunglasses-wearing baseball is trying to convey. Attitude? Eighties attitude? Am I reading too much into the mohawk that’s probably just for the Cleveland Indians?

Kind of impressive that a movie could be made with a real pro sports franchise cast as the ragtag misfits. The only comparable example I can think of is The Mighty Ducks, and I think Disney money made the Ducks a real team after the fact. Maybe Angels in the Outfield, but the team is reasonably competent in that.

There are some more familiar names lower down in the credits, but of the headliners, I only really know Charlie Sheen.

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Erik the Viking

Erik the Viking. Prominent Features 1989.
Erik the Viking. Prominent Features 1989.

Before watching the movie:

This just sounds odd. It doesn’t help that all the summaries I’ve seen are one sentence long. As I recall, it runs something like Erik starts Ragnarok because he’s bored. That sounds like a two minute sketch. I don’t see how it can last as long as it does. But it’s Pythonesque, so I have to trust that it’s fun.
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