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Alpha and Omega (2010)
I went to this movie not expecting much and it lived up to my expectations. None of the wolves have any real character development or character for that matter. The plot is quite bland and offers very little in the way of surprises. The trip back to Jasper Park comes a bit too easily. This would have been a perfect time to develop the two main characters a bit better or perhaps allow them some self realization. Granted this is a kid's movie, but so are all the gems that Pixar generates. This film gives no characters to cheer on, no conflict with any level of complex resolution and it just has an overall bland quality to it.
Smokey and the Bandit II (1980)
A Wasted Effort
When compared to it's predecessor, Smokey and the Bandit II is a complete waste of time. The film makers were fortunate enough to reunite the complete cast of the original but chose to make a live action cartoon instead of another great movie with fast cars, loose morals and entertaining characters. I would have much rather seen Bandit, Carrie and Cledus's trip to Boston to pick up some clam chowder, sans the Trans Am and rig, than see the weak effort put forth here. In some places the film is a sloppily done rehash of the original: Carrie is about to marry Junior again, Buford T. is hot on the trail of the Bandit with Junior in tow as a result and the Bandit is driving alongside Cledus in a black Trans-Am. Given the situation in this movie, why was the Bandit even needed? They drive the speed limit most of the movie! Cartoonish elements missing from the original include Buford's summoning of his brothers to help him catch the Bandit, a man falling out of an ambulance in a most strange looking gurney and Sheriff Justice's car being dropped from a toll bridge, only to appear again unscathed later in the film. It seems the writer of this piece of garbage said, "Let's take what worked in the original, increase its outlandishness 100 times over, add some weak one liners and throw in something for the kids while we are at it." Honestly, what minister answers a phone during a wedding ceremony? Everything that worked in part one was forgotten in part two.
Angel in My Pocket (1969)
Wasted Talent of Andy Griffith
I finally got to see this film thanks to a bootleg DVD from ioffer.com. I had wanted to see it for many years as I am huge fan of Andy Griffith. Boy was Angel In My Pocket a disappointment. It is surprising to see all the praise in other reviewers comments. It starts off trying to be a comedy but never really delivers. Is Samuel wrestling his hungover brother-in-law around the living room and tearing pajama's owned by his father supposed to be funny. The town is seemingly full of angry and bitter people who lack any charm whatsoever. Think of Emma Brandt on the Andy Griffith Show and her comical uppity ways and drama over her "pills" or the curmudgeon Ben Weaver. The feuding characters in this movie lack any of that. The potential for a subplot involving the star-crossed lovers has potential but is brought into the film too late and wrapped up too quickly. Suddenly a mayor's race is tossed in at the film's conclusion. This film is a shaky mess of drama, attempted comedy and characters that are wooden as two by fours. There is also a burlesque show that that viewers get to view in its entirety for no good reason.
All the audience knows about Samuel Whitehead is that he was a marine who paid his way through seminary while working at a brickyard. Why not a scene telling us what gave the good minister his calling? Somehow Whitehead's enabling mother-in-law and completely worthless brother-in-law have mooched their way into his home. These characters were not comical and added little to the story. The kids seem mere ornamentation and serve only as part of the dilapidated school subplot which again wraps up too quickly and arrives too late.
With the great cast, great setting and a plot full of potential, this could have been a great family classic that launched Andy Griffith into a new level of stardom. Unfortunately, all these elements never gel as they should and what results is a lackluster film with only a few chuckles here and there and little else.
Possibly the worst Christmas special I have ever seen.
Today, Hallmark aired the LHOTP Christmas episode where Laura and Almonzo's child is kidnapped and Jason in Walnut Grove is trying earn money to buy his mom a scarf. I enjoy LHOTP, but this Christmas special seemed lacking on so many levels. First of all, it was obviously summer when it was filmed. The trees were green and nobody was wearing jackets. Had Walnut Grove been south of the Mason Dixon line, this would have passed, but not in Minnesota.
The whole kidnap drama was wrapped up too cleanly. Laura and Almonzo take back Rose with just an apology and then leave the orphan boy with the family. It is obvious the woman had some mental instability and they left the boy with her? He immediately calls the man "dad" too and I highly doubt the orphanage in Mancato would just say "Oh, thanks" when they were given word the child was left behind with a family a few towns over.
In addition to these gripes, the pacing of the episode was just slow and failed to keep my interest.
Gran Torino (2008)
Great concept with average results
Perhaps I expected too much of this film since it stars Clint Eastwood. Gran Torino had the potential to be a great dramatic film, but it was poorly executed. Does the audience need to hear Walt growl at his disapproval of his granddaughter's belly button ring and at other modern day things he disagrees with? Clint Eastwood is a fine enough actor that a simple furrowing of the brow could have pulled this off. His grandson's rummaging through his old foot locker clearly establishes he was a Korean War veteran, but again this seems overdone. It was all ready been established his grandkids were disrespectful brats by the attire they wore to their grandmother's funeral. Why not a more subtle clue that he is a veteran? There could have been a Marine Corps insignia hanging in the home or even the trip to the VFW would have sufficed. As the film progresses, we see Walt cough up blood several times. It seems one or two references would have done well to let the audience know that Walt is not well.
As the film progresses, Walt's love and adoration of the Hmong children next door seems to come a little too quickly. Sure, we want him to befriend them and like them, but it doesn't take long before he is drinking beer with them and giving love advice to the kid next door.
However, the film is not without its strong points. Having Thao work off his debt by fixing up the neighborhood was a masterful move in the film. Walt is able to teach the boy something and see his old neighborhood improved. The scene where Walt rescue Sue from the three men on the corner was also very well done. It was a wonderful example of the clash between races and generations that existed in the decaying neighborhood. It was also fun to see Clint Eastwood in a "kick-ass" moment again. It brought back memories of the tunnel scene from Dirty Harry.
The film concludes with what is to be expected. Everything has been overly crafted throughout the film that the ending should come as no surprise.
The Night Before (1988)
An After School Special Starring Keanu Reeves
I found the VHS of this film in the bargain bin at a local used DVD, CD and books megamart. I thought I may have stumbled upon some lost Keanu Reeves film. It also stars Jesse's hot wife from Full House. While I never cared for Lori Loughlin's "Becky" on Full House, I thought she might do better in a more adult role. As I watched The Night Before I found it to be much like an ABC After School Special I saw years ago. Keanu Reeves had not developed his acting ability enough to engage the audience and Lori Loughlin's performance was fair at best. The story has potential as Keanu Reeves' character has to find out what happened on prom night, the night before. I am glad this average ho-hum film served as a stepping stone to Keanu Reeves' eventual super stardom, but had it been more popular, it could have sunk him too.
Brilliant and overlooked
I had never heard of this movie until a month ago when a friend recommended it. Memento's reverse concept is most intriguing and very well done. As you watch the film work its way backwards, one interesting plot twist and turn is developed after another. The film maintains a gritty quality throughout that really enhances the viewing experience. Guy Pearce is awesome as a man with "this condition" and the supporting cast performs magnificently as well. Much like Shattered, The Sixth Sense and The Game, a second viewing would not be nearly as much fun. However, Memento's brilliance makes the first viewing most memorable.
Kid Colter (1985)
All the makings of many great movies.
This film is a plethora of ingredients that make films great: comedy, drama, action. However, there seems to be no recipe to make these ingredients into something good. The film begins with a very "Lifetime movie" tone as the young boy must visit his father in a place he is not familiar. Some raccoons attempt to liven things up and draw some laughs but it just doesn't work. Soon the boy sees a cute girl in town and the film misses a great comedic opportunity. The kid is just too boring to make the film very interesting. After the visit with dad is over, the film moves on to the adventurous part. There is a kidnapping that could have been much more harrowing than him getting tossed into a car. Enter two bizarre hillbillies who are portrayed by a pair who fail to deliver on most any count. Were these guys some friends of whoever made this dud? They who thought, "He'll shoot the TV over a soap opera! That'll get the audience rolling!" The kidnappers are no better as one is dumb as a box of rocks and the other just angry all the time. After the boy is left for dead, he decides to trail the kidnappers back to civilization and decides to take them on at the same time! The film is conveniently moved along as the kid talks to himself. Finally, the kidnappers are done away with and this boy must "survive in the wild". His rescue has such a serious tone, but it is a quite ridiculous conclusion to the film. However, at this point, the entire movie is so off balance, this kind of thing is expected. Mediocre acting, an off kilter story and outright outlandishness make Kid Colter a most forgettable 80's film.
The New Centurions (1972)
A Forgotten Film But Deservedly So
I picked up this movie at a local flea market. I noticed George C. Scott was a star and it was a cop movie. Being a fan of law enforcement films, I paid $2 for a VHS copy. When I finally was able to sit down and watch it, I found it wanting. There was no central plot to the story, just the random calls that this "rookie" and "veteran" receive. It was entertaining to see the old timer's methods of dealing with the prostitutes, as well as Isabel Sanford playing one of them. The "rookie" struggles to keep his family together and turns to the bottle as the rigors of police work take their toll. There is some insight given to the lives of the officers while out of uniform, but there is no depth. The entire film seemed to have the quality that one might expect from an episode of Police Story or one of the other many cop shows that graced the TV screen in the 1970s. I found the film full of clichés about life as a cop. Of course, given this film's date, perhaps it was the "cliche setter".
Kenny Rogers as The Gambler (1980)
Fun for what it is.
I never expected a movie based on a song to be a masterpiece in cinema. The "made for TV category" suits this movie just fine. For a movie that aired on network television, this film is quite good. You have two stories intertwined: Brady Hawkes meeting his son and the history there and Brady's great skill as a fair and honest poker player. Billy Montana seemed a little to pretty to pass as a cowboy in the wild west, but the character's charm makes up for it. I was expecting the Jennie Reed character to be fleshed out a little more and maybe some more interaction between Brady and his son Jerimiah. For what the film is, it works well and is an entertaining way to spend an hour and a half.
Coward of the County (1981)
For what it was, it was good.
When critiquing Coward of the County, I must keep in mind that it is a made for TV movie based on a country song. I had a difficult time connecting with the "lead character" because I never was clear if that character was to be Matthew (Kenny Rogers) or Tommy. The film opens with Matthew giving a most unusual (and ineffective IMO) sermon about turning the other cheek. Why not start the film with "the final words my brother said to Tommmy"? A little more background of Tommy's character earlier in the film might have served better to draw the audience more into the character. The films trudges along with the outbreak of WWII and all the young men in town joining up and Tommy staying behind to meet Becky. It seems there was a lot of filler leading up to when "the Gatlin boys" came calling. Much of the space was filled with Matthew's shortcomings as a preacher, which had little to do with the story of the "Coward of the County". Overall, the film is good enough for TV and the acting was not bad. It is just slow at times and takes "the scenic route" in dealing with Tommy reaching the decisions that he does.
Skin Deep (1989)
A good end to the 1980s
The 1980s gave us some really great and really bad movies. Skin Deep is a perfect way to end the decade of misguided dreams and bland taste. Skin Deep gives the audience some great shots of humor but does not maintain the laughs throughout the film. I kept wondering if if I was watching a slap stick comedy, a dramedy or a drama with a few laughs. It was directed as though it were a made for TV movie with plenty of wide shots, bland sets and bland characters. Additionally, I found none of the women in this movie very attractive either. I blame part of that on the 1980s hairstyles for women that left a lot to be desired. Skin Deep is enjoyable one time around but after that one time, it's easy to see why it has been forgotten by many.
Kitchen Nightmares (2007)
Ramsay makes the show.
Hell's Kitchen introduced me to Gordon Ramsay. The commercials for that show portray him as a harsh tyrant in a chef's jacket. This is not the case on Hell's Kitchen or on Kitchen Nightmares. Kitchen Nightmares is an enjoyable show that allows the viewer to better understand what goes on behind the scenes of the restaurant business. Part of the the show's entertainment though lies in the incompetence and arrogance of those working in the restaurants Gordon Ramsay sets out to rescue. Without Gordon Ramsay, this show would find itself on The Food Network or TLC. He truly makes the show great as he is hard but fair. He seeks to raise the bar to improve skills, decor and ultimately business. As he does this, it makes for a fairly entertaining reality show.
A Most Lousy Sequel
What a disappointment this film was. I was pleasantly surprised with the film's predecessor, White Lightning. While no master piece in film, White Lightning was an enjoyable film set in the deep south. Gator on the other hand leaves so much to be desired. The film opens with one of the most ridiculous chase scenes I have ever seen. There is little improvement as the film goes on. Jerry Reed plays a kingpin and does not do it very convincingly. Burt Reynolds, as Gator, does not seem nearly as tough this time around. Perhaps his second stint in prison made him soft? It seems Gator is not as confident this time around. The remaining cast members are most forgettable. Most forgettable was the slob/federal agent that Gator is in cahoots with. There was one good shot the entire movie. Gator visits with a 15 and a half year old prostitute and the part of the scene is shot in the reflection of a music box mirror. Somebody else must have suggested this to Burt Reynolds as the rest of his directing in this movie is deplorable. The film's failings can't lie solely on bad directing, most every film making element of "Gator" falls short. What a shame, Burt Reynolds seemed to be such a promising talent in White Lightning.
Follow Me, Boys! (1966)
What a shame.
What a shame that Hollywood can no longer put out movies as fine as this. "Follow Me Boys" is a most enjoyable film about a man with high ambitions finding himself very happy with a life so ordinary. Lem sought to someday be a lawyer but instead finds great fulfillment mentoring the boys of a small town. He takes the job of scout master to gain the attention of a local lady. His job as scout master turns out to be most fulfilling and he gets the girl! While Fred MacMurray does a fine job in the lead role, the film is not all about him. During the story you see what a positive effect his leadership has on the boys he mentors in the Boy Scouts. A very young and somewhat troubled boy named Whitey, played by Kurt Russell, joins Lem's scout troop and much like Lem finds it an unexpected life changing experience. "Follow Me Boys" is a very entertaining and very wholesome movie. It's a shame Hollywood, or even Disney, can't put out films like this anymore.
Meet Wally Sparks (1997)
Entertaining film given the circumstances
Meet Wally Sparks, if not taken seriously in any context, is an entertaining film. It is full of Rodney Dangerfield's crude humor and funny one-liners. The supporting cast does their job adequately with the exception of Burt Reynolds. He seems really out of place in this movie. Like others who have commented, I can only assume he wanted to pay some bills or perhaps owed Rodney Dangerfield a favor. The plot is quite simple, but what can one expect from a movie starring Rodney Dangerfield? If you have a warped or crude sense of humor, you will likely find this an entertaining film that serves to pass the time on a rainy afternoon. If you have any reservations about the crude humor, skip it.
Howie and Rose (1991)
Doomed for failure
I believe there was only one episode of this show and it was not good. I recall flipping the channels to see TGIF's next installment of "Family Matters" . Instead of seeing Urkel and hearing him ask "Did I do that?" yet again, I was subjected to "Howie and Rose". The story was that Howie, played by a non-bald Howie Mandel, somehow inherits this street smart/tough girl named Rose. I don't remember there being too much to like about Rose. I thought she was the girl from My Two Dads, but based on the actresses credentials, I guess I was wrong. The first (and only as far as I know) episode dealt with the prospect of Rose leaving. I can't imagine why any viewer thought she might especially since the title of the show was Howie and Rose, but I won't spoil it for anybody. You never know when you might stumble upon this rejected pilot. Perhaps it will someday appear on a Howie Mandel DVD collection and then you will know the outcome of the one and only (as far as I know) Howie and Rose episode.
Finally, I have found it.
For years I have asked friends, family and strangers if they ever saw this 'ABC Weekend Special' and have only had one person even acknowledge it existed. This person made this acknowledgment only after seeing it air at the same time I did and even she forgot it later on. I knew I did not dream this show/movie. As it turns out it was an ABC Weekend Special per the IMDb. It was shot on video and is about a boy who wishes for "all the money in world" after he catches a leprechaun. When he does this, the doors of a nearby barn fly open and currency of all kinds comes flying out. I really don't think any barn could hold all the money in the world, but it did in this case. The money soon turns out to bring nothing but misery for the boy as he can not spend the loot because "it is his". He tries giving some to his friends but it flies right back out of their hands. The leprechaun tells him, "You didn't wish for friends..." I really don't recall him not wishing for friends either. Maybe I was too young to understand whatever lesson ABC wanted me to learn but I recall learning nothing back then and being very disappointed with the story of the boy who wished for all the money in the world.
The Corner (2000)
Sad, Sad, Sad
I watched this miniseries after seeing the documentary, The Boys from Baraka. Damn, this entire mini-series is so depressing. I dreaded watching it, yet could not look away. I had to find out what decisions each person would make and the impact it would have on their lives. I really wish more of the character's back story would have been more drawn out and not shown in flashbacks that seem to last milliseconds. I'd like to have know the very moment Gary first picked up that needle, the day he and Fran split and more about Fat Kurt's past. The short flashbacks didn't do the story justice. Tears filled my eyes as the ultimate fate of Gary was revealed. The man had so much going for him at one time and could have very likely had a lot going for him again. He showed all the signs of wanting to give up the life, yet he did not. Just like the rest of the miniseries, this made me very sad.
Death Wish 3 (1985)
This movie is hilarious!
BE IT KNOWN, there may be comments considered SPOILERS in this comment. I laughed so much watching this movie! I remember when I was much younger, I thought it was a kick-ass action flick. Not today! It has some of the cheesiest dialog of any action movie. The lines by the criminals are what make this film great. When confronted with stealing Paul Kersey's car, the thug says, "Time to die..." In preparing for his next robbery another says, "I'm a little short on cash, I'm going to have to make a house call" and after the poor Jewish man's gun is taken away, the big muscled thug is stealing the TV and claims, "Now we can come in here anytime we want..ANYTIME WE WANT!" Thankfully these comic no-gooders actions will soon come to an end. Paul Kersey, now a full time vigilante, is there to help. Instead of putting up some bars over the window or giving the folks a new gun, he rigs up some board-spring contraption to hit intruders in the face as they enter. My question would have been, "What if two of them break in? The other guy might use this board to beat me!" Another thought, "If the robber loses his two front teeth, will he abandon the robbery or just come in and kick my ass for putting up the springy-board thing in the first place?" This movie is so fun to rip apart because it is so easy! In the final war zone scenes of the movie, a group of motorcycle riders meet their end when residents raise a chain up across the road. What if these were "good guys" on their way home after getting word that somebody was running around with a heavy caliber machine gun shooting up the neighborhood? Ah, I could go on and on, but I won't. I love this movie for how bad it is!
Bound by Honor (1993)
Just plain bad.
When I started watching this movie, I thought I'd stumbled on some "overlooked masterpiece". It seemed to have a really solid beginning. It started it's downhill spiral when the white Hispanic guy goes to prison. Did they use real inmates because it seems none of these guys can act! It was fun to see Billy Bob Thorton as Lightning, but his role is small. I was a good hour and a half into this movie and kept expecting it to wrap up. Finally I looked at the DVD box and thought, "DAMN! This movies 3 hours long." As far as I was into it, I decided to "ride it out". It never got any better. The dialog is just downright hokey in some spots. It seemed the leader of the Hispanic prison gang was reading his line off a cue card made up of block letters. The lead character wasn't too good an actor either. The detective in the movie, he was good. I've seen him in more recent work and he is a pretty good actor. This movie had the potential to be something really good. They just needed to give the actors a few more lessons, give the writers a little more time to ponder the dialog and maybe shave 30-45 minutes off the final cut. I read in the trivia it was originally 5 hours long. I never could've endured that.
Mr. Majestyk (1974)
Watch this film to be entertained. Don't view it expecting something the quality/caliber of "Death Wish" or "Dirty Harry". The story is simple, the acting good and the action average. Charles Bronson did well in most any role he took on. Mr. Majestyk is no exception. I can think of only a few other "average man" actors who could have made this film work. The role of a "melon farmer" seems too tame for many of the action stars of the day. It was a very good fit for Charles Bronson. He is not the only one delivering a fine acting job. The "muscled" head-thug did a good job too. He greets the scrawny little blonde guy with "Who is this ass-hole?". The movie is simple, entertaining and just the right length. They didn't try to make a "melon farmer" more than he should be.
The Boys of Baraka (2005)
Could have been much better.
This documentary had potential to be really great. Instead, it comes across and incomplete and mediocre. The story focuses on four of the boys who go to the school in Africa. Not much is shared with the viewer about the school. It'd have been nice to know who the counselors were, why they were there and some more information about the school. More history about the four boys chosen would have been good too. The documentary follows the boys for over a year, but it the documentary is just over an hour and a half. Such a long time is covered a in a very short time. The documentary provides little information about the challenges the boys face as well. It left me wanting to know more and this is something a documentary should not do.
Planet of the Apes (1974)
A really good show!
This was a really good show that should have given Apes fans more episodes to enjoy. It is a shame that only 14 or so were produced. Each episode had an interesting story line that provided the viewer insight to the ape culture. The two main leads were very likable and had flaws that required the help or encouragement of the other. Roddy McDowall did a fine job playing the sympathetic ape, Galen. The show did not try to mimic the films but created it's own story lines in an ape setting that was set apart from the films. I would have liked to have seen more stories involving this trio and perhaps even some type of resolution/conclusion to Allen and Burke's continual evasion from the apes.
Kids' Court (1988)
I can't believe there are no comments on this show! It was a fun show for kids and taught some tidbits on the legal system too. The cases I remember were where a kid's mom threw away his TV guide collection and another when somebody was responsible for picking up a package to be delivered and they didn't, resulting in that package being ruined in the rain. At the end of the show, the one who won the case was given a giant gavel. The host would say, "Let's keep the gavel in good hands!" At the end, the host would read off some kid's gripe to which the audience would reply, "FAIR" or "UNFAIR". Fun TV from Nickelodeon's old days.