Category Archives: Flashback Friday

Throwback Thursday-Flash Forward (1996-1997)

Our pre-teen and early teenage years are some of our most trans-formative years.  The growth from childhood to young adulthood can be traumatic, but also life changing.

The short-lived television series Flash Forward (1996-1997) told the story of four best friends, two of whom have known each other since they were little. Tucker (Ben Foster) is the goofball. His best friend, Becca (Jewel Staite) is the serious one. Miles (Theodore Borders) provides the reality check. Christine Harrison (Asia Vieira) is the listener.

While this show only lasted one season, it still stands out because it spoke to the audience, who were the same age as the characters.  It spoke to the audience because the audience understood the characters and visa versa. Unfortunately, the show was not given the opportunity it could have had.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

 

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Flashback Friday-My Week With Marilyn (2011)

There is an old saying: all that glitters is not gold. The same could be said about Hollywood and the movie stars that fill up our screens. Behind the performer is the real human being who is dealing with the same sh*t that we all deal with.

In the 2011 movie, My Week With Marilyn, Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) is in London in the mid 1950’s to film The Prince And The Showgirl. Being directed by and starring opposite Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), Marilyn is not the easiest performer to work with. Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) is a young film student who gets a job as a part of the film crew. As time goes on, Marilyn reveals that there is much more to her that the on-screen sex goddess and Colin begins understand some truths about people and life that only time, experience and maturity bring.

What I really appreciated about this movie was that it revealed some truths that many of us, regardless of whether we are a Hollywood star or a John or Jane Doe, deal with on a day-to-day basis. I also appreciated that the film humanized one of Hollywood’s best known icons and brought her down to a level that makes us appreciate and respect her as a person, not as a performer.

I recommend it.

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Flashback Friday-Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day (2008)

Sometimes, when life throws us a curve-ball, we can only think quickly and hope for the best.

In Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day (2008) Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) is a middle-aged governess who has just lost another job. The agency who has found her work in the past is not so quick to find her a new position. With no other way out, she steals the information of a new client and presents herself as the new social secretary for Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams), an actress and nightclub performer. Delysia is juggling three men: Nick (Mark Strong), the owner of a night club, Michael (Lee Pace), who plays piano for Delysia and is ready to marry her at a moments notice and Phil (Tom Payne), a young theater producer who is eager to cast her in his newest production.

While juggling all of that, Guinevere has caught the eye of Joe (Ciarán Hinds), a fashion designer. Will Delysia choose from one of her three boyfriends and will Miss Pettigrew be unmasked for whom she truly is?

Set during World War II, this film is the perfect modern screwball comedy that was a staple of the movie going experience in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Amy Adams channels Marilyn Monroe as a goodhearted, but not all there actress who does not know what she wants. And of course, there a couple of 1990’s Austen leading men, which always makes a film that much better.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Throwback Thursday-Free Willy (1992)

A child and their pet animal has been a story that never gets old. The question, is how does a writer spin the story so it stands out among other stories in the genre?

In he 1993 movie, Free Willy, Willy is a orca whale who was caught by fisherman when he was young. Since then, he has lived in a marina. Jesse (Jason James Richter) is a young man with a troubled past. When he is caught vandalizing the marina, he is let off easy. His punishment is to clean up the mess he made. While cleaning his mess, Jesse makes friends with Willy and is able to train him. But when Willy cannot perform, the owners of the marina seek to kill him. It is up to Jesse and his friends to free Willy.

What can I say about this movie? It’s very early 90’s, especially with Michael Jackson singing the movie’s theme song.

However, it is quite sappy and borders and predictable.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Flashback Friday-Just Looking (1999)

Being a teenager is the most confusing, amazing and life altering experience that anyone will ever have.

In 1999’s Just Looking, Lenny (Ryan Merriman) is a 14 year boy living in the Bronx in 1955. Summer has just begun and Lenny has only one goal to complete by the time school starts: watch two adults, well, make whoopee, as was the phrase from the period. His mother Sylvia (Patti LuPone) sends him to Queens for the summer to live her pregnant younger sister and her husband. Meeting the gorgeous and much older Hedy (Gretchen Mol) turns Lenny’s world upside down.

Lenny’s original goal may be to catch two adults in the act, but he learn much more that summer.

Coming of age stories are nothing new. But in the hands of skilled writer, the coming of age story feels universal. It also helps that this film is set in the mid 1950’s, creating an emotional distance that allows the audience not only to consider the age of the main character, but the world he lived and grew up in.

I recommend it.

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Flashback Friday-Rookie Of The Year (1993)

When we are children, many of us will say that we have an ambition for this career or that career. But how many of us can say that we achieved that goal before we graduate high school?

In 1993’s Rookie Of The Year, Henry Rowengartner (Thomas Ian Nicholas), has a dream of playing baseball, like his late father. But while he has a dream, his physical abilities don’t exactly live up to his dreams. While playing baseball at school, Henry breaks his arm. When his arm heals, Henry finds out that he has gained an unusual skill for throwing fastballs. Soon Henry goes from the school field to the field of the major leagues. What Henry discovers along the way is not only the truth of what happens when dreams become reality, but also what happens when a young person deals with adult issues.

What I recall about this film is that while it spoke to the young people in the audience, it also spoke to the adults in the audience. That is what makes this film stand out.

I recommend it.

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Flashback Friday-Pee-wee’s Playhouse (1986-1991)

The best children’s programming appeals to both adults and children. It is entertaining and/or educational to the children watching, but can also be slightly subversive to the adults who are watching with their children.

Pee-Wee’s Playhouse was on the air from 1986-1991. Paul Reubens played the titular character, Pee-Wee Herman. It was a child’s dream come true. There was wacky characters, cartoons and household objects coming to life.

As a kid, I remember finding the show amusing. But now as adult, not only do I recognize that some of the jokes were very over my head at the time,but I also recognize that several actors, including the late Phil Hartman and Laurence Fishburne has Pee Wee’s Playhouse listed on their resume.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Flashback Friday-Flubber (1997)

The archetype of the professor who is book smart, but street dumb has existed for many generations and has been used by multiple writers over the years. The question becomes how does a writer use this archetype without creating a 2D, predictable character?

In 1997, the late Robin Williams starred in Flubber (a reboot of the 1961 movie The Absent Minded Professor starring Fred MacMurray). Professor Philip Brainard (Williams) is working on creating a substance that will save on the energy bills for the college in which is he is employed by. While the creation of the substance called Flubber is a success, his personal life is taking a downturn. His wedding to his fiance, Dr. Sara Jean Reynolds (Marcia Gay Harden) has been postponed twice. Will he choose his career and his creation or will he finally walk down the aisle?

This movie is very interesting. On one hand it is a reboot with Robin Williams playing the lead as only he can. But on the other hand, it feels like a generic family comedy without any elements that make the film standout.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Flashback Friday-The Starter Wife (2007)

When life gives us lemons, we try to make lemonade. When we are single after years of being in a relationship, what looks like a dark path of unknowns may actually be an opportunity to grow in new and exciting ways.

After 8 years of playing Grace Adler on Will and Grace, Debra Messing completely stepped away the world of Will and Grace to play a new character: the eponymous title character in the 2007 miniseries, The Starter Wife. Molly Kagan (Messing) has been married to Hollywood mogul Kenny Kagan (Peter Jacobson) for a number of years. All is well in her world until Kenny divorces her. Molly has to face her new reality as a single woman with the help of her friends, Joan McAllister (Judy Davis), Cricket Stewart (Miranda Otto) and Rodney (Chris Diamantopoulos).

I remember enjoying this mini-series. It had humor, it had heart and it also spoke to the idea that new normals happen all the time. It’s just a matter of rolling with the punches and putting one foot in front of the other.

I recommend it.

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Flashback Friday-The Real World (1992-Present)

Change often comes not when we stay in our own little bubble, but when we step out of our bubbles and into the Real World.

The Real World is the mother of the reality genre as we know it to be today and MTV’s longest running program. Premiering in 1992, the premise is simple: take a group of diverse young people who have never met before, have them live together for a short time, film them while they live together and see what happens.

No topic was off limits: sex, religion, prejudice, abortion, etc. While the original season was filmed in New York City, the show has since traveled all over the US and to parts of Europe. Over it’s 25 year history, the Real World has been the career spring-board for a handful of alumni: Jacinda Barrett and Jamie Chung both have successful acting careers. Sean Duffy, who has represented the state of Wisconsin in the House Of Representatives since 2010.


One could argue, that like every other reality television show, it is a little contrived and as scripted as a non-reality television program. But, at the same time, the show spoke to its teenage/early 20’s audience because the cast was the same age as the audience. To have a television show, when you’re at the age when you are starting to form your own opinions and build your life in your way, speak to you in a way that is unique to your age group is powerful and potentially life changing.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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