Daily Archives: December 24, 2015

Throwback Thursday-The Karate Kid (1984)

For many, being bullied in school during their formative years is just one aspect of their young lives.

In The Karate Kid (1984),  Daniel (Ralph Macchio) is the new boy school. Moving to California from New Jersey, this dark-haired Italian boy with the New Jersey accent does not exactly fit in well with the blonde beach going, surfer crowd. While he gets out of some fights, Daniel soon finds himself at the mercy of some of his classmates who take classes at the local karate school.

Rescued by Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), Daniel is told that he is going to learn karate.  But it seems that his teacher is more intent on Daniel completing work around the house than learning karate. Will Daniel learn karate and get back at the bullies or will he forever be a target at school?

What I like about this movie is that Daniel is taught more than the technique that goes into karate. He is being taught about life and persevering over the his fears and the challenges in front of him. It’s a lesson that we all need to learn, regardless of our age.

I recommend it.

 

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Throwback Thursday-Pete’s Dragon (1977)

Orphans escaping horrible circumstances is not a new plot line. From Dickens to Annie, this is a plot line that audiences have seen time and again.

In 1977, Disney productions put their own spin on the plot line in Pete’s Dragon.

Pete (Sean Marshall) is an orphan running from his abusive adopted parents, the Gogan family and their matriarch Lena Gogan (Shelley Winters). His best friend is an imaginary dragon named Elliott. Pete and Elliott escape to the warm and loving arms of Nora (Helen Reddy), a light house keeper and her father Lampie (Mickey Rooney) in the small town of Passamaquoddy, Maine.  But trouble is not far behind in the form of Dr. Terminus (Jim Dale) and his associate Hoagy (Red Buttons).

Can Pete find a family can give him the love and support that he deserves? Will he and Elliott escape the clutches of the Gogans and Dr. Terminus?

Like all Disney movies, it is aimed squarely at the 4-12 age group. Most Disney movies are not meant to create deep thoughts and life changing discussions.  But for a kid’s movie, it could be much worse.

Do I recommend it? I would put this movie in the maybe category.

 

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Throwback Thursday-Actor Spotlight-Angela Lansbury-Murder She Wrote (1984-1996) & The Court Jester (1955)

At the age of 90, Angela Lansbury is one of the most respected performers in Hollywood. Her career of 70 years has included a variety of roles.

In this Throwback Thursday/Actor Spotlight post, I am going to talk about two very different performances by Ms. Lansbury.

The first is Murder She Wrote (1984-1996).

One of the most popular television shows of its era, Murder She Wrote is based around Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), a retired teacher who has a second career as a crime novelist and amateur detective. By sheer happenstance (or the magic of television writing) crime and murder seem to follow Jessica wherever she goes. Using her wit and her intelligence, Jessica is able to solve crimes that no one else can.

Three decades earlier, Ms. Lansbury was part of an ensemble cast lead by Danny Kaye in the movie The Court Jester (1955).

In Medieval England, King Roderick (Cecil Parker) sits on the throne. The only issue that Roderick should not be on the throne. The rightful king is an infant boy with a purple pimpernel birthmark. Roderick needs to get rid of the boy before he can be found. But to get to Roderick, the key to the King’s secret tunnel must be found.

In the forest of England, The Black Fox is an outlaw who is working to ensure that Roderick is overthrown and the boy who should be king will be king. Among the Fox’s men is Hawkins (Danny Kaye), a man who prefers not to fight.  Maid Jean (Glynis Johns) is tasked with taking care of the boy and Hawkins. While traveling, Jean and Hawkins meet the King’s new jester.   Knocking the jester out, they come up with a plan for Hawkins to become the jester. Naming himself Giacomo, Jean and Hawkins plan to infiltrate the king’s inner circle and find the key.

It sounds too easy, right? Nope. Roderick falls for Jean and his daughter, the Princess Gwendolyn (Angela Lansbury), who is betrothed against her will, falls for Giacomo. Add in a witch, poison pellets and a random song that are supposed to be recognition codes and you have a very funny movie.

Even though it is 30 years old, Murder She Wrote still holds up. Jessica Fletcher is a smart, capable woman of a certain age. Then and now, a woman of a certain is most likely a grandmother who the audience only sees as the grandmother. She is not seen a standalone character outside of that role.

The Court Jester is my favorite Danny Kaye movie for several reasons. First of all, it is very funny. Decades after this movie was made, fans still went up to Danny Kaye and asked him to repeat “The Brew That Is True” speech. Secondly, the women in this movie are smarter than the men. Hawkins maybe the lead character, but Maid Jean is a badass female (as much as a female could have been badass in 1955). Gwendolyn may be the Princess, but is smart enough to go about getting what she wants, even if it means a little trickery on  her part.

Do I recommend them? Absolutely.

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Throwback Thursday: Classic 80’s Sitcoms: Family Ties (1982-1989) & Growing Pains (1985-1992)

In the 1980’s, the family sitcoms were a blend of classic sitcoms with the then modern era.

In this Throwback Thursday post, I will be exploring two different 1980’s family sitcoms, Family Ties (1982-1989) and Growing Pains (1985-1992).

Family Ties

Elyse and Steven Keaton (Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross) are 1960’s hippie flower children. Their children are the exact opposite. Eldest daughter Mallory (Justine Bateman) is the classic teenage girl who thinks more of boys and clothes than grades. Oldest son Alex (Michael J. Fox), who has added the middle initial of P. to his name is the quintessential 1980’s Republican. Younger daughter Jennifer (Tina Yothers) is an eight year old who just wants to be a normal kid. In 1986, producers added a fourth child, a son named Andy (Brian Bonsall).

Growing Pains

Set on Long Island, Growing Pains introduced audiences to new sitcom family: The Seavers.

Dr. Jason Seaver (Alan Thicke) is a psychiatrist who works out of his house. His wife, Maggie (Joanna Kerns) is a journalist. Their first-born, Mike (Kirk Cameron) is the typical under-achieving slacker teenage boy. Their eldest daughter, Carol (Tracey Gold) is the exact opposite of her elder brother: a type A perfectionist. Younger son Ben (Jeremy Miller) is the average kid. In 1990, fourth child was added to the Seaver household, Chrissy (Ashley Johnson).

In the final year of the show, future superstar Leonardo DiCaprio joined the cast as Luke Brower, a young man from a troubled home who is taken in by the Seavers.

What I like about these shows, besides being classics in their own right, they still speak to audiences. The 1980’s was an interesting decade in America. While many aspects of the culture had not changed, others had changed dramatically. This shift was reflected in the sitcoms that audiences sat down to watch every week.

Do I recommend them? Of course.

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