Hollow Man

Hollow Man. Columbia Pictures 2000.

Before watching the movie:

I remember this being framed in the commercials like the invisible guy was the villain of a horror story, which I suppose could be from his slide into monstrous behavior without human consequences for his actions. I vaguely remember the movie coming up in an early explanation of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, though that’s probably more because it was recent than because it’s a particularly significant hub in Bacon’s connections with other actors.

I also remember it putting CGI effects that seemed completely novel front and center to do a more visually engaging telling of The Invisible Man than had been seen before. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen came out not long after, but I don’t think they put as much effort into the Invisible Man effects because he was part of the ensemble, but also it wasn’t as new anymore.

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Rewind: Adventures in Babysitting

Yesterday’s Movies began in December 2009. I’m marking ten years of … uh, zeitgeist hitting the fan, apparently, with a look back at the first movie I reviewed on a weekly update schedule.

Adventures in Babysitting.
Touchstone/Silver Screen Partners III 1987

I remember this movie positively, so I’m surprised how negative my review sounds. My topics still might not necessarily flow into each other, but I try to be coherent on at least the level of paragraphs. I’m pretty sure my original review is more jumbled than the movie seemed to me at the time.

While Thor is still a random character to be enamored with for the 80s, his film appearances in the last decade have certainly raised his relevancy now. In 2009, if I even knew that Marvel Studios was making a Thor movie, I was aghast and perplexed that someone thought he was a movie superhero. His first two solo movies didn’t do much to change my mind, but as an ensemble player and in Ragnarok, I enjoy him a lot now.

Chris’s boyfriend cancels on their anniversary dinner at the last minute, and Chris ends up agreeing to babysit Thor fan Sara and her older brother Brad, who has a freshman crush on Chris. When Chris’s friend Brenda spends all her money running away to the bus station downtown, Chris takes her charges into the city, along with Brad’s lecherous friend Daryl. A fast succession of misadventures soon causes them to be targeted by a murderous gang of car thieves.

It’s a lot easier to complain about movies than to discuss what’s good or analyze them. I still think Daryl’s initial portrayal is way over the top, but that comes from a combination of him being a kid who doesn’t know or care what’s not okay in a time when they didn’t know as well what wasn’t okay. Everyone’s characterizations as they’re introduced are a little heavy-handed, it’s just that Daryl’s really hasn’t aged well.

For a city as diverse as Chicago, it seems a little odd that the three different music venues visited are all into rhythm and blues. It’s good music, and the Babysitting Blues is a highlight of a scene, but I think it reveals where someone’s taste in music lay.

I think Sara’s love of Thor might be meant to draw a parallel between comic book adventures and the gang’s series of travails. Every time they get themselves out of trouble, they quickly land in a new kind of it. Also Thor may a bit of an odd choice, but he definitely is one of the easiest comic book superheroes to accidentally cosplay as, which leads to the most important Sara scene.

Looking back at what I was writing ten years ago, I think it’s easy to see how much I’ve grown into this. I don’t always feel like my writing makes sense, but I’ve developed a sensibility that I don’t think would let something that disjointed get published now. A good movie deserves better than a pile of disconnected complaints.


Soapdish. Paramount Pictures 1991.
Soapdish. Paramount Pictures 1991.

Before watching the movie:

There is so much star power in this movie I hadn’t heard of. I know Robert Downey Jr. was popular when he was young before he had to take a break to get clean and rebuild his reputation, but I think he’s still a bigger hit now than he ever was before. I always enjoy Kevin Kline, but while he’s gotten a lot of great comedy leads and supporting roles, I don’t think he ever got the comedy superstar status he may deserve. And of course, the movie is led by Sally Field and has Whoopi Goldberg in a role that might have 30 seconds of screen time for all I can tell with how prominent her name is versus how big she was in the 90s.

It occurs to me that I really enjoy spoofs of soap operas, though I don’t really seek them out. I saw several episodes of Soap some years ago but never continued after we finished the first disc or two, maybe because it was too much actual soapiness vs. mocking soapiness. Or perhaps I like the spoofs in concentrated bursts. Even Saturday Night Live’s “The Californians” was funny the first time. But what really draws me to this is that the story is about the drama going on off-camera, which makes me expect something like if Noises Off collided with Days of Our Lives.

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Adventures in Babysitting

Adventures in Babysitting. Touchstone/Silver Screen Partners III 1987

(Starting this month, Yesterday’s Movies updates on a weekly schedule)

Before watching the movie:

This is one of those movies that always looked interesting, but I just never committed to before. I’ve seen it around here and there, but it never really called out to me before I started looking for films to blog about.

The blurb on the back doesn’t tell me much more about what to expect than the title and cover do, so I don’t know what I’m getting into, other than a wacky, implausible adventure starring young protagonists. Let’s see how this goes. Continue reading