Too many people today look at Woody Allen’s 1979 “Manhattan” for evidence of the filmmaker’s alleged perversions. After all, his character in the film is a 42-year-old having a relationship with a 17-year-old girl played by Mariel Hemingway – and wouldn’t logic dictate that everything Allen does on screen is autobiographical?
Thomas Bezucha’s “The Family Stone” is that movie that takes from “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” and in many ways feels like a tribute to that very film. It’s still about acceptance and coming to terms with growing up, in the end. Except rather than the central theme being acceptance of race, the subtext revolves around a liberal brood accepting a conservative opposite as one of their own. It’s a rich, touching, sometimes painful look at the highs and lows of family, challenging our own perceptions, and dealing with an impending loss. The question that lingers in “The Family Stone” is not whether the matriarch of their very tight knit middle class brood can survive breast cancer, but whether the family can survive losing her.
Originally airing on December 14, 1952 for the Colgate Comedy Hour, Abbott and Costello get to celebrate Christmas with the viewing audience and have a raucous time doing so. As with all Abbott and Costello comedy, the show moves at a rapid fire pace with consummate professionals Bud Abbott and Lou Costello having an impossible time staying still and taking a breather. Despite some segues here and there which were very typical of variety shows in the height of their popularity (there’s a wonderful dance routine by the Nicholas Brothers). Lou Costello is brilliant at reaction shots and double takes, and Bud Abbot is a wonderful straight man and foil. Also like skilled comedians, they make the best out of flubs.
If you loved the out there nature of “WolfCop,” you’ll be happy to know that director Dean Lowell rewards fans for their long wait for a sequel with “Another WolfCop,” a sequel that is so far out there, it’s surreal at times. Director and writer Lowell channels a lot of classic films once again, centering on our vigilante WolfCop as he protects his small town in the most violent methods, all the while concocting a premise involving the furry vigilante that feels like an amalgam of “Halloween III,” “V,” and “Howling II,” if you can believe it. That’s not where the wheel stops spinning though, as director Lowell deals his furry crime fighter a new villain that is beyond anything he’s ever experienced.
Nickelodeon’s “Hey Arnold!” was one of the banner animated series from the heyday of the 1990’s. It was a subtle, sweet, and often funny coming of age show with a lot of heart and some brilliantly memorable moments that evoked pure emotion from its audience. Despite ending in 2004, Nickelodeon gave the series a final send off in 2002 with a flimsy and absolutely wretched big screen film that did nothing to close the world we’d come to love. Most of all, it did nothing for the story arc of main character Arnold, who spent a majority of the series under the care of his elderly eccentric grandparents.
Mid-way through the series, we learned that Arnold’s parents were explorers who spent their days traveling, and the last they ever saw of him was before they left for one last adventure to help a village suffering from a mysterious illness.
The preparation Jim Carrey undertook to play Andy Kaufman has often bee cited as a surreal experience that went oddly under reported and barely discussed. In 1998, Jim Carrey played iconic stand up comedian and performer Andy Kaufman for a biopic and embodied the man in every form, refusing to break character even between takes. For years the studio behind “Man on the Moon” hid the footage recorded of Jim Carrey on set of the Andy Kaufman film to avoid bad press for the actor. Nowadays with the man known as Jim Carrey shunning Hollywood, “Jim & Andy” is a glimpse at how he crossed that road, and how it began with Andy Kaufman.
If “Batman v Superman” was Zack Snyder’s own way of exploring how antiquated Superman is, “Justice League” is the proof by Joss Whedon that Superman is actually a bad ass with the right mind behind him. I won’t pretend that “Justice League” is a masterpiece of the comic cinema boom, but I can’t claim it to be one of the worst movies of the year, either. With some spit and polish, it could have risen to be a fantastic film, but in its final form, it’s a neat diversion with a manic energy, and the return of a modern cinematic Superman who presents an iota of positivity, charm, and hope. Finally.
Widescreen and Uncut for movie buffs everywhere, “Satan’s Cheerleaders” is a wonderful piece of crap that mixes all of the seventies hallmarks in a ninety two minute piece of junk food. There’s your disco soundtrack, your scantily clad cheerleaders (Kerry Sherman is a stonecold babe), and of course what would the decade be without Satanic cults and women in the buff praising an altar of some kind? “Satan’s Cheerleaders” is a delightfully campy bit of nonsense that felt like someone had a script for a horror movie and a teen sports movie and put them together for the sake of getting a movie funded.