February 2011 - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
26Feb/110

Always (1989)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

Danny INDIFFERENTIn what may be a first for a review that I've written here, I'm going to try and talk about Always as little as possible. While many of Hepburn's films were new to me, this is my third time through Steven Spielberg's story of a ghost helping his ex-lover find new love, and one viewing of this film was probably more than enough.

The problems of Always are many. Richard Dreyfuss, as the man who is first a cocky aerial firefighter and soon thereafter quite dead, is tone deaf in his role. He's supposed to be a charming bastard, but Dreyfuss plays him like Woody the Woodpecker: shrill, annoying, and egomaniacal.

26Feb/110

Hall Pass (2011)

Hall Pass is a frustrating type of movie because you can see there was a well made and sweet movie struggling desperately to get out but ultimately doesn’t succeed.  With a rewrite and toning down the unneeded gross out humor the movie could have been one of the Farrelly Brothers better films, but ultimately ends up being a decent but forgettable film.

25Feb/110

Let the Good Times Roll (1973)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

Danny INDIFFERENTIt's tough to age gracefully. I look at myself in the mirror every morning, at all the ugly scars, insane amount of hair (I'm like a freaking wolf), and my protruding belly, and I can't help but recall when things were sleeker, cleaner, and significantly less hairy. Mind you, that puts me at age seven, but you get what I mean.

Mind you, I've been on this particular lark before back when I looked at Robin and Marian, but, while the film I watched today isn't specifically about yearning for the old days, it really is about yearning for the old days.

25Feb/110

Toy Story (1995)

I have been called "wordy" many times with my reviews and articles since I was in college.  So when I saw Toy Story was coming up for my 30 Years at the Top series I thought I would have no problem writing the article.  I love the film and it is probably my favorite film of all time if I really had to choose.  So why have I been struggling with writing this for a week and a half now?

One of the best duos ever in film

I think the easy answer is I don’t know where to start.  I love my kids, wife, family, but if you asked me why it would be hard to put into words.  I love them now, I have always loved them, I will always love them and Toy Story is the same way.   I saw this film over Thanksgiving when I was 14 years old, when you are that age liking a “kids film” means you are not old, sophisticated or manly.  Yet, I loved this film from the start and was evangelical in spreading that love after I saw the film.  The movie was the highest grossing film in America in 1995 mainly because there were a lot of people like me out in the world that saw the movie fell in love and did their best to make sure anyone they have ever spoken to or met went to see this film.  It was a personal goal to make sure all my friends, family, acquaintances and strangers on the street knew about Toy Story and went to see the movie.  To this day I still don’t understand when people tell me they have not seen the movie. Added to that I am pretty sure that I couldn’t be friends with someone who didn’t like the film.

I have talked about the fact that I LOVE the film but I have not said how or why, and this is where I have been running into trouble.  How do I convey what is so special about this film.  I have talked in previous podcasts about how magical I find the whole series and I have even named the toy solider scene one of my favorite moments in all of film, but I still don’t think this does justice to the movie.  Before even getting to what it so great about the actual film, the impact that it has had on the film industry is staggering.  Lets break down how Toy Story really changed the movie industry.

Who doesn't love these little guys?

  1. It brought us Pixar.  At the time Toy Story was released, no one knew what Pixar was.  Here was a company which was owned by Steve Jobs before he became (again) the great tech guru and they had won some awards for their shorts.  Even when the film was released you barely heard the name Pixar mentioned and most people (I would say 9 out of 10) thought it was a Disney film and not just distributed by Disney. At the time the Disney name was the selling point.  How that has changed in the last 15 years.  Pixar is such a big company and so marketable that the company can release anything with its name attached and gross over $200 million.  Comparing the last 5 Pixar films to comparable Disney and Dreamworks animated films; it shows that Pixar is above in quality and box office numbers.  You average the numbers on the last 5 films and Pixar has a box office of $276 million and a 92% good reviews.  Dreamworks averages at $196 million per film and 73% good reviews.  Trailing both of these companies, Disney has seen their average box office plummet to $129 million average for film and a score of 73% good ratings on their films.  Without Toy Story being as successful and great, who know what Pixar would have ultimately become?
  2. It ushered in the era of computer animation.  If you look at those same 15 movies (the last 5 of each company) only ONE of them was a traditional hand drawn film and that one was seen as a disappointment.  Although I don’t think the technical marvels on display are the reason people love Pixar so much, but it has taken over the film industry.  Now instead of computer animation being a novelty as it was when Toy Story came out, it is now unique to see hand drawn animation in either movies or TV.
  3. It was one of the first movies to make celebrity voice-overs “cool”.  Before this, you might see Billy Joel in Oliver & Company or Buddy Hackett in Little Mermaid but many A-list celebrities found this beneath them.  After Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, some of the biggest names at the time, did Toy Story and promoted it heavily it became ok and cool to do voiceovers.  Now, celebrities “star” in animated features with their names being on the posters (Shrek, Megamind, Madagascar etc…) and do voices for anything from animated TV shows to video games.
  4. Toy Story took animated films from the kiddie table to respected and critically acclaimed genre.  Many people might say that this was a step in the wrong direction and it just goes to further dumb down our culture.  I disagree with this greatly.  Since Toy Story animated films have been consistently some of the best-reviewed films, most profitable and most loved.  Although Beauty and the Beast was the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture, it was Toy Story and all of its animated brethren at Pixar (and to a lesser extent Dreamworks and Disney) that made the Oscars designate a specific category for animated films and treat the genre with much more respect.

 

The great supporting characters this film series has is astounding.

 

I have now said what Toy Story did for the movie industry, but I still have not gotten to why I love it so much.  Well here is a list:

  • One of the best screenplays ever.
  • Great voice acting
  • Most magical film ever
  • Beautiful animation
  • It was funny
  • It was sweet
  • It was exciting
  • It was something totally new
  • I couldn’t help but smile the whole time I watched it
  • I can still put it on when I am in a bad mood and feel better afterwards.
  • The Aliens
  • The Claw
  • Don Rickles was born to play Potato Head
  • John Ratzenberger was born to play Hamm
  • “Look I’m Woody, howdy, howdy, howdy” still cracks me up
  • The childhood wonder and glee the movie captures perfectly of playing with your toys.

 

I am at over 1100 words and I feel like I have scratched the surface of why I love Toy Story so much. If you haven’t watched the first film in a while, watch it again and relive the magic.  I truly believe there has never been a more delightful film ever made.

 

"Look, I'm Woody! Howdy, howdy, howdy!

24Feb/114

Commentary: The Racial Underpinnings of Sister Act

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

Danny COMMENTARYSister Act is one of those movies that was got a lot of play when I was younger: school trips, friend's houses, church school, the whole nine yards. And who can blame them? It's got singing and dancing, it had Whoopi Goldberg at the height of her popularity, and, most impressively, it's a film about religion that's tailor made to appeal to both the religious and not offend the atheists. If someone could make a career out of doing that once a year, and they'd be swimming in pools of gold.

But, underneath a family friendly veneer, Sister Act paints some strange racial undertones that can hardly match the progressive attitude the film claims to possess. For while it's plot congratulates itself repeatedly about bringing the church into an exciting new area full of singing and dancing, the way it treats the race of its main character is a subject ripe for discussion.

The film starts with Delores (Goldberg) as a young girl attending a Catholic school. The beginning puts young viewers on Delores's side and sets up her rivalry with nuns. It also sets up the first plot thread for Delores's racial identity crisis as she cracks wise about a number of famous rock singers who are all white: Elvis and the Beatles, all of whom had co-opted black musical styles in their career. More on that in a bit.