Congo. Paramount Pictures 1995.

Before watching the movie:

So much as I thought I knew what this was about, it seems I completely misunderstood this movie. I had the idea this was some kind of action drama about conservation, like fighting poachers or something. Maybe a military operation in the jungle.

What this actually seems to have something to do with is a new species of killer gorilla and also a signing gorilla, and the preview I saw looked a lot funnier than I expected. So I’m completely at a loss for what to expect now, besides Tim Curry and Ernie Hudson being in it.

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It Takes Two

It Takes Two. Dualstar Productions 1995.

Before watching the movie:

I dimly remember watching Full House and I remember a lot better having an interest in the Olsens’ Dualstar work when I was young. I won a couple of their detective series videos in a contest I think I got a third just because I liked the series, and I saw others without owning them. I know I saw a few of their movies, but not as much of their filmography as I expected looks familiar.

It’s not surprising to see identical siblings (or close enough in their case) build a career in show business out of their similarity, but I can’t think of another pair that built a brand (or at least had a brand built around them) the way Mary-Kate and Ashley did. While they have plenty of productions that demonstrate it’s possible to create a vehicle for them without banking on their identicality, this one is a “Prince and the Pauper” story, apparently with a bit of The Parent Trap thrown in (I always wondered why the Parent Trap remake had Lindsay Lohan in a dual role instead of getting still-bankable real twins).

After watching the movie:

Amanda Lemmon has spent the first ten years of her life in an orphanage. Alyssa Callaway has spent her whole life raised by her wealthy father Roger, their butler Vincenzo, and her boarding school. They happen to look uncannily alike. Amanda is about to be adopted by “orphan collectors” the Butkises, but would much rather be adopted by her social worker Diane. Alyssa returns from her boarding school for the summer to learn that her father will be marrying Clarice, selling the lovely mansion, sending Alyssa to a school in Europe forever, all the standard golddigging wicked stepparent stuff, prompting Alyssa to formally Run Away in protest, not long before Amanda gets dared into ringing the bell at the “haunted” mansion across the lake, and they promptly get mistaken for each other. Quickly overwhelmed by being swept into another life, they both run off into the forest and find each other. Amanda and Alyssa decide to spend a day in each other’s lives, and quickly find that Diane and Roger would be perfect for each other, and setting them up together would take away both their problems.

The cartoonish evil of Clarice is saturated in tropes. There’s no relationship between her and Roger at all, her first scene without Roger has her talking openly about her golddigging plans so that Alyssa and the audience can hear them, and there’s a major rush into the wedding. All of those things come up a lot in romantic comedy plots, especially where children are involved. When you make the fiancee that needs to be dumped so unambiguously villainous, there’s no room for any justification for why they’re together in the first place. Roger makes some comments about “this family needs a mother”, but if that’s the only qualification, there are doubtless many better candidates in his life.

We learn that Roger made his money “accidentally”, by buying the frequency band that cell phones use back when it was a cool, futuristic idea that would never take off. Where did he get the money to buy up radio frequencies? Never mentioned. Just something that anybody with dumb luck can do, I guess.

I really do like Diane and Roger together, and there’s some great humor from the kids at camp. I would’ve liked to see more involvement from the other kids once the plot to get them together was under way. This may have started from a “rich kid/poor kid switch places like Twain” place, but it quickly gets away from that and really, for me, Alyssa and Amanda being each other’s doppelganger was one of the least interesting parts of the story.

I don’t mind a story being by the numbers, but some of the numbers this hits are lazy and worn out to the point that it took me out of the story. It’s mostly just a fun good time with the Olsens, Steve Guttenberg, and Kirstie Alley, and that’s all it’s trying to be. And it’s for kids, so it doesn’t have as much of a need to innovate.


Balto. Amblin Entertainment 1995.

Before watching the movie:

When I was very young, I had a book about Balto, the heroic sled dog that saved the diptheria inoculation run from Anchorage to Nome that the Iditarod race commemorates.  I don’t really recall why Balto was particularly celebrated as the hero of the relay, and it looks like this movie will not be very concerned with that.

The summary seems to indicate that the main conflict comes from how the other characters treat Balto because he is a wolfdog, but that’s not a detail I recall from the history.  Apparently, the real Balto was a purebred husky, so I guess the movie’s main concern was a clumsy message about race.

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Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat. Threshold Entertainment 1995.

Before watching the movie:

I’m not a fan of fighting games. I don’t consider learning complicated button combinations to use against your opponent until all their health is drained to be all that fun, and the carnage Mortal Kombat offered as its selling point did not sweeten the deal.

I know so little about fighting game franchises I was thinking about Raul Julia camping it up when I selected this, but that’s Street Fighter. So all I have to go on for what to expect is mystic Orientalist action focused through a tournament. I’m not sure if it would be more fun for it to make sense or not make sense.

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Judge Dredd

Judge Dredd. Hollywood Pictures 1995.

Before watching the movie:

I expect this movie to be a lot like RoboCop. A police state dystopia set in the near future that is now both uncomfortably dated and also overly optimistic about technological advances.

I’m not sure if Dredd is a satire or just a warning, but I know the point of him is that the degree of force he and other law enforcement are allowed to use is meant to be far beyond excessive. I don’t know if that carried through into the movie, or into fan understanding of the comic or the movie. Starship Troopers is mostly loved for the hyperviolence it was meant to be satirizing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the same happened to Dredd.

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The Net

The Net. Winkler Films 1995.
The Net. Columbia Pictures 1995.

Before watching the movie:

I first heard of this movie at least five years ago, and pretty much every time it comes up, it’s being mocked for confusing the Internet with Magic. However, that’s hardly unique in Hollywood, and the main examples I’m thinking of seem less implausible now that the Internet of Things is a trendy consumer electronics buzzword on the horizon.

Basically, Sandra Bullock gets on the wrong side of some Hackers for Reasons, and they use the power of the Internet to destroy her life. The drama comes from the fact that since the assault is Online, her antagonists are basically everywhere yet nowhere. At the time, this was clearly New Things Are Scary But We Don’t Really Understand Them, but I want to see if it’s any better now that technology has gotten its hooks into more things.

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Bad Boys

Bad Boys. Don Simson/Jerry Bruckheimer Films 1995,
Bad Boys. Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer Films 1995,

Before watching the movie:

Action movie, probably some laughs but not exceptionally comical, though I think Will Smith and Martin Lawrence both have a comedy background. The main thing I know about this is that its sequel is widely considered the best action movie ever made, or something to that effect. But I’m not watching Bad Boys II right now.

There’s something in the summary about the two guys having to switch lives for some reason? Not sure how that works, but that should make things interesting. There’s a lot of room for comedy in them criticizing each other’s impressions. Otherwise, it looks like a pretty standard bit of fun with explosions.

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Tommy Boy

Tommy Boy. Paramount Pictures 1994.
Tommy Boy. Paramount Pictures 1995.

Before watching the movie:

I know this is a big cult favorite, but I was never very into Chris Farley. Maybe if he’d lived longer, he’d have done something that specifically interested me, but the main thing I think of for him is the “I live in a van down by the river” guy, which is not a character I find funny.

On the other hand, his costar is David Spade, whom I do like, and don’t see enough of. While I think I had my fill of Just Shoot Me, some slightly less abrasive Spade is a lot of fun. I’m not really sure that gets the idea a cross, since “abrasive” is what he does, but he was just too much there.

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Canadian Bacon

Canadian Bacon. Dog Eat Dog Films 1995.

Before watching the movie:

From the synopsis, I was expecting stereotypes and satire even before I read further and found that this is a rare (I think) non-documentary from Michael Moore.  So maybe it will be like An American Carol, only on the other side of the political spectrum. Regardless, I expect satirical stereotypes of both Americans and Canadians.

This is a satire of the first Gulf War, so I wonder if  I’ll see anything relevant to the second. I also wonder if this film can top South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut for silliest war with Canada.

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