Love at First Bite

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 June 2017 19:59

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Slap Shot

slapshot-revSlap Shot  (1977)    Universal/Comedy    RT: 123 minutes    Rated R (pervasive language and vulgarity, brutal sports violence, nudity, sexual content)    Director: George Roy Hill    Screenplay: Nancy Dowd    Music: Elmer Bernstein (supervisor)    Cinematography: Victor J. Kemper    Release date: February 25, 1977 (US)    Cast: Paul Newman, Michael Ontkean, Strother Martin, Jennifer Warren, Lindsay Crouse, Jerry Houser, Jeff Carlson, Steve Carlson, David Hanson, M. Emmett Walsh, Swoosie Kurtz, Melinda Dillon, Kathryn Walker, Andrew Duncan, Yvon Barrette, Allan F. Nicholls, Brad Sullivan, Stephen Mendillo, Yvan Ponton, Matthew Cowles, Paul D’Amato, Ronald L. Docken, Guido Tenesi, Jean Rosario Tetreault, Christopher Murney, Ned Dowd, Paul Dooley.    Box Office: $28 million (US)

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 Slap Shot, great movie! It’s my favorite sports comedy and in my top five all-time favorite comedies. It’s the outrageously funny and outrageously profane story of the Charlestown Chiefs, a losing minor league hockey team that resorts to violence in order to turn things around. I first saw it on video in summer ’85 at the continued insistence of an acquaintance that proclaimed it to be the greatest movie ever made. It’s a slight exaggeration, but I’m glad I acted on his recommendation. Slap Shot, starring Paul Newman (The Color of Money) as the team’s coach, is FREAKING HILARIOUS! That’s no exaggeration.

Last Updated on Sunday, 25 January 2015 21:21

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Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Ace-Ventura-revAce Ventura: Pet Detective  (1994)    Warner Bros./Action-Comedy    RT: 86 minutes    Rated PG-13 (off-color humor, some nudity, language, comic violence)    Director: Tom Shadyac    Screenplay: Jack Bernstein, Tom Shadyac and Jim Carrey    Music: Ira Newborn    Cinematography: Julio Macat    Release date: February 4, 1994 (US)    Cast: Jim Carrey, Courteney Cox, Sean Young, Tone Loc, John Capodice, Dan Marino, Noble Willingham, Troy Evans, Udo Kier, Raynor Scheine, Randall “Tex” Cobb, Frank Adonis, Tiny Ron, David Marguiles, Bill Zuckert, Alice Drummond.    Box Office: $72.2 million (US)/$107.2 million (World)

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 Boy, was I wrong on this one! When I first saw the poster for Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, I predicted that it would suck hard. How could it possibly be any good? It starred the white guy from In Living Color and it came out in February. The winter of ’94 was particularly brutal here on the East Coast and I jumped at every opportunity to get out of the house. That’s the only reason I decided to join my friends for a Saturday night advance sneak preview of Ace Ventura. As further evidence of my desperation, the regular attraction was Car 54, Where Are You which we stayed and watched afterwards. But I’m getting ahead of myself. It became clear about ten minutes in that I was way off on my initial assessment of Ace Ventura. I couldn’t believe that I was actually laughing at this idiotic movie about an overgrown child of a man that makes a living looking for lost pets.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 November 2014 18:55

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I'm Gonna Git You Sucka

im-gonna-get-you-suckarevI’m Gonna Git You Sucka  (1988)    United Artists/Action-Comedy    RT: 88 minutes    Rated R (crude and sexual humor throughout, language, comic violence, brief nudity)    Director: Keenen Ivory Wayans    Screenplay: Keenen Ivory Wayans    Music: David Michael Frank    Cinematography: Tom Richmond    Release date: December 14, 1988 (US, limited)/January 11, 1989 (US, wide)    Cast: Keenen Ivory Wayans, Bernie Casey, Ja’net Dubois, Isaac Hayes, Jim Brown, Antonio Fargas, Steve James, Dawnn Lewis, John Vernon, Clu Gulager, Kadeem Hardison, Damon Wayans, Clarence Williams III, Eve Plumb, Kim Wayans, Ann-Marie Johnson, Hawthorne James, Chris Rock, David Alan Grier, Robin Harris, Gary Owens, John Witherspoon, Ariana Richards, Ben Ryan Ganger, Tony Cox, George James, Marc Figueroa, Robert Colbert.    Box Office: $13 million (US)

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 What Airplane does for disaster movies and The Naked Gun does for cop shows, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka does for 70s blaxploitation flicks. Time and time again, I’ve discussed how difficult it is to make a spoof that’s truly effective. Many have tried and failed miserably over the years, never attaining the giddy heights achieved by Team ZAZ. Yes, I’m looking at you, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer! The key to a successful spoof, as I’m sure you know, is understanding your subject inside and out. It’s abundantly clear that writer-director Keenen Ivory Wayans (In Living Color) understands the blaxploitation genre and its various conventions as I’m Gonna Git You Sucka hits its mark dead center. This movie is hilarious! He takes on such classics (and non-classics) as Shaft, Superfly, The Mack and Abby in this goofy action-comedy in which a group of former black heroes jump back into action to take down a crime boss.

Last Updated on Monday, 19 January 2015 20:40

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Silent Movie

silent-movie-revSilent Movie  (1976)    20th Century Fox/Comedy    RT: 87 minutes    Rated PG (some language, comic violence, adult humor, alcohol abuse)    Director: Mel Brooks    Screenplay: Mel Brooks, Ron Clark, Rudy De Luca and Barry Levinson    Music: John Morris    Cinematography: Paul Lohmann    Release date: June 17, 1976 (US)    Cast: Mel Brooks, Marty Feldman, Dom DeLuise, Sid Caesar, Harold Gould, Ron Carey, Bernadette Peters, Carol Arthur, Liam Dunn, Fritz Field, Chuck McCann, Valerie Curtin, Yvonne Wilder, Harry Ritz, Charlie Callas, Henny Youngman, Arnold Soboloff.    Cameos: Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Liza Minnelli, Anne Bancroft, Marcel Marceau, Paul Newman.    Box Office: $36.1 million (US)

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 When film lovers discuss Mel Brooks, they usually refer to Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein or The Producers. You don’t hear Silent Movie (joke intended!) come up in conversation much and that’s a shame because it’s a laugh riot. It’s a hilarious homage to the silent movie genre; slapstick comedies in particular. It’s obvious that director and co-writer Brooks feels great affection towards funny folks like Mack Sennett, Charles Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Silent Movie, in which Brooks plays a once-great director looking to make a comeback, is a fitting follow-up to the dual success of Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein in ’74. It was a risky venture parodying a genre that 70s audiences weren’t all that familiar with. Silent movies went the way of the dinosaur once “talkies” (movies with sound) became the norm circa 1927.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 September 2014 22:02

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A Fish Called Wanda

a-fish-called-wanda-revA Fish Called Wanda  (1988)    MGM/Comedy    RT: 108 minutes    Rated R (language, violence, brief rear nudity, sexual content and references)    Director: Charles Crichton    Screenplay: John Cleese and Charles Crichton    Music: John Du Prez    Cinematography: Alan Hume    Release date: July 15, 1988 (US)    Cast: John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin, Maria Aitken, Tom Georgeson, Patricia Hayes, Cynthia Caylor, Geoffrey Palmer, Roger Brierley, Llewelyn Rees, Stephen Fry.    Box Office $63.4 million (US)   

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 Everybody has their idea of the funniest comedy ever made. Mine is A Fish Called Wanda, a hilarious caper about a jewel heist and its aftermath with everybody trying to steal the loot for himself (or herself). There truly is no honor among thieves as evidenced by all the double and triple-crossing going on.   I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve NEVER laughed so hard at a movie than I did (and still do) at A Fish Called Wanda. In one of those all-too-rare instances, everything comes together perfectly. Every scene is great and every line a classic. I still quote it to this day. Talk about a super-cast, this one stars John Cleese and Michael Palin (of Monty Python fame), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween) and, in an Oscar-winning turn, Kevin Kline (The Big Chill).

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 January 2015 20:30

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In & Out

in-and-out-movie-revIn & Out  (1997)    Paramount/Comedy    RT: 91 minutes    Rated PG-13 (language, sexual content, adult humor)    Director: Frank Oz    Screenplay: Paul Rudnick    Music: Marc Shaiman    Cinematography: Rob Hahn    Release date: September 19, 1997 (US)    Cast: Kevin Kline, Joan Cusack, Tom Selleck, Matt Dillon, Debbie Reynolds, Wilford Brimley, Bob Newhart, Gregory Jbara, Shalom Harlow, Shawn Hatosy, Zak Orth, Lauren Ambrose, Alexandra Holden, Lewis J. Stadlen, Deborah Rush,  Ernie Sabella, J. Smith-Cameron, Kate McGregor-Stewart, Debra Monk, Joseph Maher, William Duell, June Squibb, Alice Drummond, Joanna Wolff.    Box Office: $63.8 million (US)

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 Once again, I offer praise to the brave studio executives that take great financial risk in green-lighting an adult-oriented comedy. This time, they hit gold! In & Out, directed by Frank Oz (Little Shop of Horrors, What About Bob?), is an absolute riot! Kevin Kline (A Fish Called Wanda) stars as a small town English lit teacher that gets outed in public by a former student. The problem? He’s not gay. Or so he claims. On the one hand, he’s about to marry his longtime girlfriend Emily (Cusack, Nine Months). On the other hand, he has this thing for Barbra Streisand. It’s hard to say. Kline, who deservedly won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his hysterical turn in A Fish Called Wanda, has long been one of my favorite actors. He’s one of the most dependable comic actors in the industry.

Last Updated on Sunday, 31 August 2014 19:38

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Spaceballs

spaceballs-revSpaceballs  (1987)    MGM/Comedy    RT: 96 minutes    Rated PG (language, crude sexual humor, comic sci-fi violence)    Director: Mel Brooks    Screenplay: Mel Brooks, Thomas Meehan and Ronny Graham    Music: John Morris    Cinematography: Nick McLean    Release date: June 24, 1987 (US)    Cast: Bill Pullman, John Candy, Rick Moranis, Daphne Zuniga, Joan Rivers (voice), Mel Brooks, Dick Van Patten, George Wyner, Leslie Bevis, Michael Winslow, Lorene Yarnell, Jim J. Bullock, Dom DeLuise (voice), Sal Viscuso, Ronny Graham, Sandy Helberg, Stephen Tobolowsky, Dey Young, Rick Ducommun.    Box Office: $38.1 million (US)

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 As far as I’m concerned, Spaceballs is the last great movie from Mel Brooks, the comedic genius behind classics like The Producers (1968), Blazing Saddles (1974), Young Frankenstein (1974) and History of the World Part I (1981). To be fair, Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993) is pretty good, but he just had to follow it up with the anemic Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), his last film to date. Spaceballs is the last Mel Brooks comedy that had me cracking up in the theater. It’s a dead-on spoof of the Star Wars movies starring Rick Moranis (SCTV) as the villain Dark Helmet and Bill Pullman (Independence Day) as reluctant hero Lone Starr. My dad came with me to see it which surprised the hell out of me since sci-fi wasn’t his thing. I had to explain a few of the references (e.g. Alien, Planet of the Apes) to him on the ride home. Some have said that Spaceballs is similar to parodies like Airplane and The Naked Gun and while that may be true to some extent, it’s a bit different in that Brooks has a unique style.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 January 2015 20:49

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Police Academy

police-academy-revPolice Academy  (1984)    The Ladd Company/Comedy    RT: 96 minutes    Rated R (language, comic violence, nudity, sexual content/humor, racial epithets, lots of rude humor)    Director: Hugh Wilson    Screenplay: Neal Israel, Pat Proft and Hugh Wilson    Music: Robert Folk    Cinematography: Michael D. Margulies    Release date: March 23, 1984 (US)    Cast: Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall, Bubba Smith, David Graf, George Gaynes, Michael Winslow, Marion Ramsey, Bruce Mahler, Donovan Scott, G.W. Bailey, Andrew Rubin, Brant Van Hoffman, Scott Thomson, Leslie Easterbrook, George R. Robertson, Debralee Scott, Ted Ross, Georgina Spelvin, Doug Lennox, Don Lake.    Box Office: $81.1 million (US)/$146 million (World)

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 Roger Ebert, a film critic that I admire, gave the comedy Police Academy a zero-stars rating (out of four) indicating that it’s an especially bad movie. He criticized it harshly which I think is unfair. I strongly disagree with his take on Police Academy; I think it’s hilarious! He compared it to Airplane! which I also think is unfair. That was a spoof; Police Academy is more of a “misfits vs. establishment” comedy like Stripes (1981) to which it bears a strong resemblance, right down to the contentious relationship between smart-ass recruit (Guttenberg, The Man Who Wasn’t There) and tight-ass leader (Bailey, St. Elsewhere).

Last Updated on Sunday, 24 August 2014 21:10

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