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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Harlem Nights

Harlem Nights. Paramount Pictures 1989.

Before watching the movie:

This movie came to my attention from a book of Drew Struzan movie poster art (his design was not used). I was interested by the art deco style of Struzan’s poster and headliners Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor, but I was scared off by the way it seemed to be promoted as a serious film about organized crime. I was relieved to read today when I chose it that it is in fact an action comedy. About organized crime.

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Breaking In

Breaking In. Samuel Goldwyn Company 1989.

Before watching the movie:

This is a comedy about safe cracker mentoring. When I think of safe crackers, I think of No Deposit No Return, and there’s room for similar cracking hijinks, but beyond that, I have little to go on.

I don’t know what to expect in terms of performances because it’s Burt Reynolds playing an older man but not his reputation “self” and an actor I think I only know because he was part of a gang in one of the Back to the Future movies.

This movie was made in 1989, but doesn’t this poster look more late 70s/early 80s? Maybe I don’t have as good of a feel on poster styles as I thought.

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See No Evil, Hear No Evil

See No Evil, Hear No Evil. Tristar Pictures 1989.

Before watching the movie:

A blind man and a deaf man work together at a newsstand, get falsely accused of murder, and then get in trouble with criminals. Hilarious, right? That’s what all reports indicate. I can see where the humor comes in, namely that the two leads are Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder. I just have no idea what direction it could go other than the nebulous “madcap.” I fear it will be madcap comedy that could be accused of terrible taste.

Also, the last time I saw a Richard Pryor movie, it was Superman III, which while not as abysmal as Superman IV, was not helped by his presence. Apparently his partnership with Wilder has a good reputation, though. Also, this film is R-Rated so he won’t have to stick to harmless family fare. What I’ve seen of his Saturday Night Live guesting is hilarious (go watch “Word Association” if you haven’t seen it).

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When Harry Met Sally

When Harry Met Sally. Castle Rock Entertainment 1989.

Before watching the movie:

I know about something like two scenes from this movie. Apparently it explores the subtlety between friendship and romance, which is an issue presently on my mind as well.

From the tagline, I’m worried this will be the poster movie for the “friends with benefits” concept, or Zack and Miri Make a Porno without the audacity, but it has a good reputation.

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The Wizard

The Wizard. Universal Pictures 1989.

Before watching the movie:

One hears a lot about this movie online, or at least in the circles I move in. It’s pretty universally reviled as “a feature-length commercial for Nintendo/the Power Glove.” But while the characters are playing with the toys, they have to have something to do. Home Alone 2 isn’t worthless because it heavily features the TalkBoy. I’ve seen some clips brought out as examples of how bad it is, but anything can be stupid out of context.

I defy this movie to make me join its hatedom, and demonstrate how a movie about playing video games can be not dull, but still actively a waste of time.

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Who’s Harry Crumb?

Who's Harry Crumb? Frostbacks/NBC Productions 1989

Before watching the movie:

One thing I love about browsing for movies, especially from online streaming sites, is the ability it gives me to find films I know absolutely nothing about. I’m used to watching movies that I already know many details from because of trailers or various online sources. Who’s Harry Crumb? is a movie I found in a streaming service’s collection that I’ve never heard of. It stars John Candy, who is apparently a bumbling detective. It sounds madcap and slapstick, so this should be pretty fun.

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