Grease (1978)

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Grease is the word.

And the word this weekend was…old.

I had no idea that Grease was entering its 40 year anniversary this year until I saw a Fathom Events advertisement for it.  I remember seeing Grease in the theater as a child so I immediately felt very old.

I have always loved the music from Grease.  Summer Nights, Greased Lightning, the theme song Grease, Beauty School Dropout, covers by Sha Na Na.  There are so many great tunes that I knew I wanted to see it in a theater again, despite the chance that it made me feel really old.

After seeing it today, I did not feel old.  I enjoyed the film’s energy and music.

In 1958, Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and Danny (John Travolta) spent much of the summer together on a beach with a lot of platonic fun.  Not expecting to see each other again, they head back to their individual lives.  However, Sandy’s family winds up moving her to the same school that Danny attends. Danny is the leader of a gang called the T-Birds and they are your typical 50s leather coat wearing punks who have a smart remark for anything.  When Sandy meets back up with Danny, he is extremely happy, but needs to save face with his gang mates by playing his feeling off.  Will Danny and Sandy find each other?

Well, watching Grease now a days, I was amazed how little of an actual story there was to it.  I mean, they had individual arches for the characters, but there is barely a throughline for the plot.  It truly feels like a series of scenes strung together by these characters knowing one another.  And the school year goes from first day to graduation without any semblance of time passing.

The key to Grease is the soundtrack and the remarkable dance routines.  From the boy-girl switch of Summer Nights to the huge blow up of You’re the One (That I Want), the ensemble cast dance in amazing ways.  This is a hoot to watch.

I love the song Sandy, sung by John Travolta after being dumped at the drive in.  The image of Travolta singing this on a swing set in front of a giant movie screen is iconic.

As a child, I also loved Sha Na Na, the cover band that sang a bunch of songs from the 50s and 60s.  Sha Na Na had a variety show on television for several years which I loved.  Sha Na Na was actually the first concert I went to as a youth.  Seeing Sha Na Na in Grease was great as I am picking out members from behind the cast.  In fact, Sha Na Na keyboard player Screamin’ Scott Simon wrote the song Sandy for Grease.

There are a ton of fun cameos in Grease as well.  Sid Caesar plays Rydell High’s Coach (who must coach every sport at the school, which go on at the same time).  Scene stealer Principal McGee is played by Oscar nominated actress Eve Arden.  Oscar nominee Joan Blondell was a waitress.  Frankie Avalon appears in a dream sequence to sing to Frenchie (Didi Conn).  Edd Byrnes (Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb) is here as the movie’s “Dick Clark” – Vince Fontaine.

Stockard Channing and Jeff Conaway were wonderful together as the misbehaving Kenickie and Rizzo.

Sure some of the messages of Grease are antiquated these days, especially the Olivia Newton John must change into something she is not to get her “man.”  But to be fair, Danny Zucko was going to do the same for her as he somehow lettered in track.

Sure this is not a great movie, but there is enough here to have a lot of fun and the music is simply tremendous.

Grease is certainly the word.

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North By Northwest (1959)

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I wanted to break out of the monster rut that I had gotten myself into with the Sunday Great Easter Binge-a-Thon.  So I was looking for what I wanted to watch and I pulled up the AFI list of Top 100 movies.  There are several of these films that I have not seen that I consider holes in my film knowledge.  As I was going through them, I came across North By Northwest and, being a Hitchcock fan, I thought that was a perfect film.  I had never seen it and it was available on YouTube.

Cary Grant played Roger Thornhill, a New York advertising executive who found himself unwittingly stuck in the middle of an international espionage plot.  Finding himself as a fugitive, Thornhill jumped a train to Chicago where he met beautiful blonde Eve Kendell (Eva Marie Saint).  Eve helps him avoid capture by police and Thornhill tries to figure out exactly what happened to him.

This film is a lot of fun.  Cary Grant really goes all in on the story and the weird things that happen to his character.  You can see the character of Roger Thornhill change as the film progresses and he is placed in one dangerous and confusion situation after another. You can see Thornhill get better and better at the trickery as the film progresses.

Eva Marie Saint is great as Eve Kendell as well.  She was way more than just a pretty face in this story.

Hitchcock creates suspense throughout the entire story as the viewers try to figure out what is going on.  Hitchcock drops pieces of the truth as the film moves along.  He mixes humor in with the suspense and mystery making this very entertaining.

The suspense is at its highest peak on the top of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.  For 1959, the effects were decent and did not take me out of the excitement of the situation.

A Hitchcock classic.  Check that box off – Have Seen.

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North by Northwest

The Fly (1986)

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It was unintentional, but the Great Easter Binge-a-Thon has kind of turned into monster central here, as the next film I have watched today is the 1986 remake of The Fly starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis.  This has joined today’s monster fest with Jaws, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and the zombies from Zombieland.

The remake of The Fly was one of those films that received a lot of positive remarks from members of the staff at Collider, and I had not seen it since it came out (and I am not sure I eve saw the entire film) so I thought this would be a good one to include.

I love Jeff Goldblum, and there are plenty of Goldblum-isms here.  The film wisely does not lose its sense of humor and the script keeps returning to that humor as a way to mask the fear of what was happening.  At least that is until there is no room left for humor.  And then it is horrifying.

Again, much like the Creature, the practical effects may not look as realistic as some of today’s CGI films,but I think it is much more terrifying.  Some of the things that happen to Brundle here – well, I would hate to have happen to me.

Goldblum plays scientist Seth Brundle who is trying to impress journalist Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) by showing her his new technology that was going to “change the world” in his words.  It is a teleportation device that he has created.  After some experimenting, Brundle believes that he has perfected it enough to teleport a living object.  So he, like so many other mad-scientists, tries it on himself.  However, a house fly found its way into one of the chambers and gets fused together with Brundle.

At first, the changes were positives.  Brundle had more stamina and strength, but soon he realized that there was going to be changes that altered what he was.

David Cronenberg directed the reboot and brought a level of fright to the slowly transforming man.  The man into a monster trope is certainly well represented among horror films, but this one is done with a flair and a humor that most do not attempt.

This version of the Fly brought us the well-known quote “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

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Zombieland (2009)

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And now during the Great Easter Binge-a-Thon, it is time to “Nut up or shut up.”

That is right… it’s Zombieland!

I remember seeing this movie at the Voy Theater and going in without any expectations.  I came out of it completely loving it.  One could argue that Zombieland was at the head of the renaissance of zombie related pop culture.  Zombieland certainly took the genre in a different way.

Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) is a survivor of the zombie curse and he has a list of rules that he follows.  These rules pop up on the movie screen whenever they come into play. The rules include “Double tap”, “Don’t be a hero,” “Always Wear your seat belt,” and “Beware of bathrooms.”

Columbus, who was a loner, hooked up with Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a bad ass zombie killer, and sisters Wichita and Little Rock (Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin) and the foursome tried to survive the land while learning to trust one another.

Zombieland also featured one of the greatest movie cameos of all time with Bill Murray.

I found Zombieland to be remarkably funny and still enjoyable to this day.  The four actors have great chemistry together and they have great comedic timing as well.  Some of the “zombie kills of the week” examples are a hoot (especially with the piano).

Zombieland was a whole lot of fun.

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Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

The winner of the past year’s Academy Award for Best Picture was Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, which, for obvious reasons, owes a lot of dues to the 1954 classic, Creature from the Black Lagoon, as del Toro saw the film as a child

One of the Universal monsters, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, sometimes referred to as Gill-man, premiered in 1954 near the end of the 3D craze.  Over the years, the Creature became popular and successful as the other Universal monsters.

In the film, Dr. Thompson (Whit Bissell) discovered an artifact in the Amazon of a fossilized hand, a hand of something that had never been seen before).  He went to recruit help where he found David (Richard Carlson) and Kay (Julia Adams).  David was a former student and he was intrigued by what the doctor had found.  He brought his benefactor Mark (Richard Denning) with him and they formed a group to see what htey could find.

However, once they got back to the excavation site, the men the doctor had left were killed.  To make it worse, they spent several days finding nothing.  Then, David came up with an idea that the fossils had wound up in the nearby Black Lagoon, so the group took off on their boat to explore the idea.

The conflict between the human characters made it easier for the Creature to pick them off, but, like King Kong before him, the beauty killed the beast.  The Creature seemed to have some kind of attraction for Kay (and who could blame him).

I enjoyed the film in the black and white that it was originally shot in, and the Creature itself looked decent for the special effects of the time.  The practical effects were very well done and the fight scenes underwater must have been difficult to shoot.  Either way, everything looked tremendous.

I had a great time watching this film and I can see how Guillermo would be inspired by this.

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Jaws (1975)

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Jaws Class of 2016

The Great Easter Binge-a-Thon continues this Easter morning with one of my favorite movies of all time.  Another Steven Spielberg classic…. Jaws.  The movie that made people everywhere afraid to go into the water.

Jaws was credited as the first of the big “summer blockbusters” as it led to what we have today.  It creates a tone unlike many of these types of films.  Spielberg famously got very lucky during filming as the shark robot, named Bruce, would not work properly and forced Spielberg into shooting Jaws differently.  The had to hide the shark with camera tricks and shots.  The ensuing scenes created that fear of the unknown and a sense of mystery that served the tone brilliantly.

Jaws boasts three of the great movie characters of all time.  Roy Schneider played Chief Martin Brody, the Chief of Police of Amity-an island in the New England area who had a fear of the water.  Richard Dreyfuss played Matt Hooper, a young marine biologist brought in as a shark expert.  And Robert Shaw played Quint, the grizzled shark hunterhired to kill the shark who owns the Orca, a boat that needed to be bigger.    These three characters are the lifeblood of this film and the interactions between the three of them made Jaws more than just a horror film.

in fact, perhaps the best scene of the entire film is the USS Indianapolis scene where Quint revealed that he was aboard that ship during World War II when in was sunk by a Japanese submarine and 1200 men floated in the water for days.  After rescue, only 300 men survived.  That scene should have earned Robert Shaw an Academy Award.

As a child, nothing scared me more than the scene where Quint was slowly being consumed by the shark.  And there are plenty of suspenseful moments like this scattered through Jaws.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the score from EYG Hall of Famer John Williams.  There may not be a more iconic theme than the Jaws theme.  Every time we heard those well known beats that picked up intensity, you couldn’t help but be uneasy.

Jaws is one of the best movies of all time and can be watched at any time and still create the same emotions in a viewer as it did the first time you saw it.  It holds up today and is a must see for any cinephile.

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Minority Report (2002)

I had not seen this film in a long time so I wanted to make sure it was included in the Great Easter Binge-a-Thon.

This past Friday, I saw the most recent Steven Spielberg film, Ready Player One, in the theaters and I found it missing something that made it feel off.  I could not put my finger on it, but it just lacked something.  Minority Report is 100% wonderful and is a compelling and considerably better futuristic movie directed by Spielberg than Ready Player One.

John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is the Chief of a bureau of the police called Pre-Crime.  This bureau used three orphaned people called the precogs to see murders before they take place and arrest the perpetrators prior to the crime.  The process seemed to be working well.  So well that the program was going to be expanding nationwide.

However, things get strange when Anderton himself is shown to be committing a murder in one of the precogs’ vision, leading to him trying to avoid capture while investigating what is going on.

This movie is based on a short story from EYG Hall of Famer Phillip K. Dick and Spielberg takes the imaginative story and creates a brilliant world.  But there is more here than just the futuristic technological advances.  There is a mystery behind the story that sends the characters on a journey as interesting as any technology or precog.

Max von Sydow gives an excellent performance that keeps you guessing up until the very last moment.  Colin Farrell is one of the detectives trying to track down Anderton.

Minority Report is one of the top science fiction movies of the past 20 years and features a top notch performance from Tom Cruise.  Cruise believed in the pre-crime technology for years until it became something that he was forced to look at closer.

This was another film talked about by the Top 10 Show and I am so glad that I added it to the binge-watch.  It was a great reminder of what a fantastic director Spielberg can be.

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The Wrestler (2008)

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A powerhouse performance highlights the next film in the Easter Binge-a-Thon as Mickey Rourke resurrects his career with his role as Randy “The Ram” Robinson in Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler.

This is a tough watch, one that really rips at the emotional heart of the viewer.  Randy Robinson is a broken-down, aging professional wrestler who is no longer the headliner of the major promotions.  Going form small arena to small arena on the weekends, riding on his reputation, Randy struggles trying to balance his real life with the life in the ring.

Honestly, this film is only somewhat about professional wrestling, although the parts about wrestling is the most realistic parts of any wrestling film.  The movie focuses on Randy “The Ram” as a character study.  Randy tries to make money with a job at the supermarket, tries to make up with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) and tries to start a relationship with a strip club dancer (the effervescent Marisa Tomei).

The way Aronofsky filmed The Wrestler showed how sad and alone Randy was and how he used the ring as an escape.  Even when he was faced with the dangers of his heart trouble, he found the ring to be an easier place to exist than the real world.

Some of the scenes with Randy and his daughter were just heart- breaking and so very real.  It played like some of the scenes from the documentary Behind the Mat.  There was not that many scenes with his daughter, but they were sincerely impactful to the story and to the character.

Then, after seeing the hardcore wrestling scene, it was one of the hardest scenes to watch as a wrestling fan.  Just watching the backstage doctors trying to remove the pieces of glass and staples from these men was difficult to watch.

And the final match with the Ayatollah (Ernest Miller) was really tough to watch as well as Randy faced his reality that inside the ring was more to him than outside.  The way the end of the film is left up to interpretation is a brilliant (although frustrating) way to end the film.

Mickey Rourke was absolutely robbed of an Academy Award as he should have won for this rile.  It is one of the most personal, most raw, most devastating and real performances you will ever see.  Whether you love professional wrestling or not, The Wrestler is a masterpiece in cinema.

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A Few Good Men (1992)

Next film in the Easter Binge-a-Thon is the Rob Reiner classic, A Few Good Men.  It features a strong movie with perhaps one of the best third act scenes in the history of movies.

The whole “You can’t handle the truth” scene is one of the most iconic scenes shot and show off the amazing performances and antagonistic chemistry between Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson.

This is one of the first times where you really see Tom Cruise as the charismatic, charming lead character he will become.  He nails all of the smart-ass lines that he was given and he also had to handle complex emotional scenes.  He showed that he belonged on the screen at the same time as a heavyweight like Nicholson.

Demi Moore does a solid job here, but Cruise is clearly the star of this movie.  One thing I did like was that the film did not try to force a romantic entanglement into the story between Moore and Cruise.  Both Kiefer Sutherland and Kevin Bacon bring strong performances to the film and Kevin Pollack provides a nice counter-balance to Cruise’s Kaffee.

James Marshall from Twin Peaks does a great job as the more naive and childlike Marine Downey.  Another great performance came from improv stud Christopher Guest, who appears as the doctor from Guantanamo.

Most of the courtroom drama is well done and is really carried by the likability of Tom Cruise.  If you have never seen the film before, you have the real feeling that there is no way that Cruise could win this case and that is a great success for Rob Reiner.

A Few Good Men is a top of the line thriller with great performances.  I loved this one.

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Ocean Eleven (2001)

It is time to begin the first Awesome Easter Movie Binge-a-Thon!.  Now, I plan on doing a bunch of movies (older ones) that I will include in the Doc’s Classic Movies Reviewed section of the web site.

We started off on Netflix with a movie that I had actually never seen, Oceans Eleven.

I did not love it.  Honestly, I thought much of the beginning of the film was fairly dull.  We moved around to all of the different characters but a lot of them receive little to zero development.  The heist itself picked up considerably, saving the movie for me.

Now, there was a lot of suspension of disbelief here as this group of thieves seemed to have everything perfectly planned out and there were no hiccups in the plan.  Every time it looked like there might be some unforeseen aspect that might cause them some problems, it turned out to be part of the plan.  That kind of foresight is hard to believe and does make the situation a little more boring than it should be .

There is no denying that there is a great cast of charismatic actors involved in this movie.  George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle, Elliott Gould, Casey Affleck, Bernie Mac, Carl Reiner, and Julia Roberts.  Add to that list the villain, Terry Benedict played by Andy Garcia, who is a solid character, you can tell what a lineup was here.

Everything just went so smoothly, I wish there would have been a couple of bumps in the road just to keep the doubt alive.

On the whole, Ocean Eleven was okay, and got better as it moved along, but it just did not hit for me.

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Moon (2009)

Thank you, Matt Knost.

During the discussion this past week on the Top 10 Show, Matt Knost placed a movie on his list of “Technological Dystopian Future Movies” was a film that I had no idea about.  I had never heard of this movie before, so I checked on Netflix and, sure enough, there it was.  And it had Sam Rockwell starring as well, and I like him as an actor.  So I planned on watching this one, and I am really glad I did.

Sam Rockwell plats Sam Bell, a man alone on a station on the moon, monitoring the outposts that are mining gases from the moon that could allow the earth to reverse the energy crisis.  Sam had a three year contract but it was coming to an end and he was looking forward to seeing his wife and daughter when he returned home.

Of course, there is more than meets the eye here.  Sam has a robot at the station named Gerty (Kevin Spacey) who does all kinds of stuff for Sam.  They have an interesting and strange relationship.  There are several little things hinted at as the film progresses that show you that something weird is going on.

Sam Rockwell is tremendous in this role.  It is one of his best performances that I have seen.  He goes through a plethora of emotions as the situation is revealed to him.  Rockwell was certainly overlooked for Academy Award consideration for this performance.

This is a great science fiction film.  It may be a little slow at times, but I honestly enjoyed that part of the movie.  I think sci-fi has fallen into a trend of being too action oriented, where this embraces the old style of sci-fi.  It is more psychological and thought provoking.  I find these movies every bit as thrilling as the action/adventure films.

I do not want to spoil the main part of the film, which actually does make it hard to discuss Moon, since that spoiler would be a major talking point.  I will say that the relationship between Sam and his wife Tess (Dominique McElligott) is fascinating and heart breaking.

The film looks great as well.  The director, Duncan Jones, certainly has a winner in this film.  If you have not seen Moon, it is on Netflix and it is a great film.  It is a compact film just under 100 minutes and it is worth the time to watch.

Once again, thanks Matt Knost.  Great choice.

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The Fugitive (1993)

The final of the Snowy Saturday movie binge is one of my favorite movies of all time and probably my favorite Harrison Ford movie where he is not named Han or Indy.

The Fugitive was based on a old television program where the character Dr. Richard Kimble was arrested, charged and convicted for his wife’s murder despite his consistent claim that she had been murdered by a one armed man.  In our movie, Kimble (Harrison Ford) was able to escape after the bus he was on wrecked.  Instead of heading for the hills, Kimble remained in Chicago and began his own investigation.  All the while, enigmatic U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) arrived on the scene and was on Kimble’s heels the entire time.

The best part of this is that Kimble wasn’t a huge action guy.  He was a doctor.  A man who was really smart and who showed off his intelligence by being able to avoid arrest while still finding his way through Cook County Hospital among other locations in Chi-Town despite being pursued and watched for.  I love a protagonist who uses his brains to get through life.

Another great trait of Dr. Kimble was how much he was sworn to protect human life.  Even after he became the fugitive and was concerned with keeping himself free, any time he needed to, he paused to help someone in need.  The guard on the bus, the boy in the hospital, even the police officer who gets shot, Richard stops to check on or go out of his way to help these people.  That is a heroic trait that I admire from this character.

Both Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones are at the top of their games in this movie.  Jones won an Oscar for this role that was also spun off into his own (much less interesting) film called US Marshals.

I remember seeing this movie the first time in the theaters and being totally on the edge of my seat.  I wanted Kimble to succeed but there were so many times that it seemed as if he had no chance of getting away.  The suspense created by this script and the wonderfully played characters really provided great tension.

The Fugitive is a fun, exciting, suspenseful movie that moves quickly and boasts two of the powerhouses of movies.  It is one of the best straight action movies you are going to see because it is more than just action.  It is action with intelligence.

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Moulin Rouge (2001)

Next up… something to cry over.  My favorite musical of all time…Moulin Rogue.

When this was first out, I had no interest in seeing it.  It was up for Academy Awards and people were raving about it, but it just did not interest me.

How wrong I was.

Moulin Rouge is a beautiful story of love and loss that is mixed with some of the best acting and some of the best music you are ever going to get.

The music was special here.  Being a “jukebox” musical, Moulin Rouge features a compilation of music besides just original songs.  And the music is incorporated in this film so perfectly.  Songs such as Elton John’s Your Song, Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend and the Police’s Roxanne are woven into the tapestry of the story.  The Elephant Medley included such a variety of artists as The Beatles, Kiss, Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warrens.  The music was intricate and vital to the story.  There were also original songs for the movie as well, including the “lover’s secret song” Come What May.

Christian (Ewan McGregor)is a penniless writer who falls for the beautiful courtesan Satine (Nicole Kidman) at the French night club/bordello the Moulin Rouge.  Unfortunately, Satine is supposed to be seducing a wealthy Duke (Richard Roxburgh) looking for backing for the ultimate Bohemian play.  When Christian is mistaken for the Duke, he and Satine fall magically in love, putting the entire production in jeopardy.

McGregor and Kidman are brilliant in this movie.  They have chemistry dripping off of them in every scene they share.  You buy them together and you invest in their love.  The challenges they face only serve to make the audience all the more invested.  And they both showed that they could sing.

The color of the movie was wonderful to watch and created an environment that fit the time of the Bohemian revolution in Paris.

The final act of Moulin Rouge is as strong and as emotional of an ending as you are going to get.  It truly is a special film that will not fail to rip your heart out  while reinforcing your belief in an all-encompassing love.

Moulin Rouge, as it says, is a story of love.

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The Monster Squad (1987)

Guilty pleasure time.

The next film in the snowy Saturday binge watch is a silly, downright dumb, film from 1987 that, for whatever reason, I enjoy.  The Monster Squad is a group of children facing off against the iconic monsters of all-time in Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolfman, the Creature and the Mummy.

The Monster Squad is pure 1980s goodness.  It is like the Goonies blended with Ghostbusters in a B-movie extravaganza.  Is is stupid?  Sure.  Does it have major holes? Yep.  Does it work in today’s world?  Not so much.  Still, I cannot say that I don’t enjoy watching it every time it is on.

As I am watching the film, I am amazed at the small moments of depth that the film tries to sneak into the film.  Scary German Guy has a tattoo from a concentration camp on his forearm that we see after one of the kids say that he really knows about monsters.  When Rudy shoots the Wolfman, you can see the conflict within the boy’s face.  Whether intended or not, you can see he was shaken by his killing of the Wolfman.  The realization by Frankenstein’s Monster that he was an ugly creature and how that bothered him was surprisingly effective.  Sean later insists that they do not call Frankenstein’s Monster a monster, referring to him as Frank instead.

All of these moments were enjoyable and brought more to the story than just the silliness of the plot.

Now, there were a lot of things that would be frowned upon today.  Like, for example, how Rudy blackmails Patrick’s sister into helping them by taking pictures of her partially naked and threatening to post them at school.  Not cool, Rudy.  And… why did this group of boys desperately need to find a virgin to perform the ritual so badly?  I mean, they are in a monster club.  All of these boys were all certainly virgins.  Pretty sexist when you indicate that your virgin has to be the girl.

Shane Black, yes that one, wrote the script for The Monster Squad along with director Fred Dekker.  They weaved several hints and homages to the original Universal monsters of the old days of film in their script.  There is little wasted time here as the film moves quickly from intro of the monsters to the final struggle with the kids.  The kids do a good job of getting you invested in them and being cute.

And of course, it has one of the classic lines of all time with “Wolfman’s got nards.”

This film is absolutely not very good, but it certainly could be a nice introduction for families looking for monster/horror movies to watch with their kids.  The rating should not be a surprise since I use a picture of the Monster Squad on the graphic.  The Monster Squad is…

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

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The snow movie binge continues with a 2005 reboot film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp in the iconic role of the eccentric chocolate factory owner.

This 2005 version was a reboot of the 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory that starred Gene Wilder.

Someone thought that this reboot was a good idea.  Spoiler alert…it wasn’t.

Among many things that this new version was lacking was one important detail.

Magic.

Watching these scenes of this reboot, it was clear that the magical moments that were throughout the original version felt dark and pedestrian here.  The color was muted.  The music was completely different.  The ambiance was just wrong.  The “Pure Imagination” scene in the original is beautiful, dream-like, stunning.  The same scene, sans the iconic song, was nothing more than one more poorly lit, nasty, unlikable moment.

Gene Wilder played Willy Wonka with a sense of sarcastic wonder, a hidden dark side breaking through.  Johnny Depp replaced that sense of wonder with a feeling of being broken.  We see completely unnecessary flashbacks to the character’s childhood, including his dentist father (Christopher Lee).  Willy Wonka does not need an origin story.  The mystery of why he does what he does should suffice.  This is a major flaw of this film.  And with all due respect to Johnny Depp, there are so many choices in his portrayal that simply do not help this character.

I did enjoy the performance of young Freddie Highmore as Charlie.  Highmore would go on to star in Bates Motel as the iconic Norman Bates and then on to The Good Doctor.  Highmore has shown his acting chops in these versions and he has a charming visage throughout the film.  You could see that the young man had a bright future here.

I also must say that I enjoyed some of the quips between Willy Wonka and Mike Teevee (Jordan Fry).  Seemed as if Mike kept noticing when Wonka was spinning his lies and then called him on it.  Of course, we also were meant not to like this kid either.

Perhaps this film would not be as bad as I think had it been an original film instead of remaking an indelible classic of all time (a member of the EYG Hall of Fame), but it did so every scene from the new film is being peppered by the memory of a completely better version.  If there was nothing to compare this too, maybe we would not realize how much it was missing.

How much magic.

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