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.
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.
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.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that love is not something that can normally be found by using a credit card.
The Beatles 1964 song, Can’t Buy Me Love is also the name of a 1987 high school comedy starring Patrick Dempsey and Cindy Mancini.
Ronald Miller (Dempsey) is your average high school nerd. Awkward and unpopular, he is at the very bottom of the high school social strata. To achieve popularity, he pays Amanda Peterson (Mancini) to go out with him for one month to appear that he is no longer the uncool nerd that his classmates assumed him to be. He becomes popular, but as the saying goes, not all that glitters is gold.
The movie is full on 1980’s. But there is a truth to the underlying message that being yourself is more important than appealing to those who look down on you.
In 2003, the movie was remade into Love Don’t Cost A Thing. The title again borrows from another popular song, Jennifer Lopez’s Love Don’t Cost A Thing.
Stepping into the shoes of Patrick Dempsey and Cindy Mancini are Nick Cannon and Christina Milian.
The only difference between this film and it’s predecessor is the racially diverse cast and the then updated references. Other than that, it’s pretty much the same film.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
The best animated films are those that appeal to young and old.
In 2004, The Incredibles hit theaters. It’s been 15 years since Bob and Helen Parr, aka Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl (voiced by Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter) have left the superhero world. They appear to live a life of suburban normalcy. But when Mr. Incredible receives a communication that the world needs him, he springs into action with his, his children and Lucius Best aka Frozone (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson). Can they save the world once more?
The thing that I remember about this film is that not only that is funny and entertaining, but the jokes are on multiple levels. The kids in the audience get one type of joke and the adults in the audience get another kind of joke. I also appreciate that Elastigirl is as much a superhero as her husband.
I recommend it.
Sometimes, the simplest narratives are often times the best. Especially when layered with the perfect comedic sensibility.
In the 1940 movie, His Girl Friday, Walter Burns (Cary Grant) has lost touch with his ex-wife and former employee, Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell). Now she is back in his life and about to re-marry. His plan is to keep Hildy from marrying her fiance, Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy) and once more disappearing from his life. Will he succeed?
The movie is based on a 1920’s play, The Front Page by Ben Hecht. When the film was adapted for the screen, the character that Rosalind Russell played was changed from a male character to a female character. This movie is absolutely brilliant for a number of reasons, including the subversive feminist statement of Hildy being a working woman in the early 1940’s.
The best scene is the first scene, it never fails to make me laugh.
I absolutely recommend it.
Human beings have had a fascination with our immortal creators since the beginning of time. For better or for worse, this has created some rather interesting narratives.
In the 2008 short-lived series, Valentine, the ancient Greek g-ds are becoming anxious about the state of romantic love in our modern era. The head of the family, Grace Valentine aka Aphrodite (Jaime Murray) recruits a romance novelist, Kate Providence (Christine Lakin) to ensure that true love still exists and soul mates are brought together.
Some television series are fated to not last. Valentine is one of those shows. It was cute, but cute does not much when it comes to the potential success of a television series.
Do I recommend it? No.
For twenty years, Law And Order was a staple of the television schedule. With that success, the creative team decided to try a spin-off. That spin-off is Law And Order SVU (1999-Present).
While the original SVU was focused on a variety of crimes, this spin-off focuses solely on sexually related crimes. The current cast includes Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T, Kelli Giddish, Raul Esparza and Peter Scanavino.
I have been a fan of this show since the beginning. Like it’s predecessor, the show deals in the grey areas of life and fighting crime, especially when it comes to the cases that the characters deal with. I also very much appreciate the strong women on show, Lt. Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Detective Rollins (Kelli Giddish).
I absolutely recommend it.
Babysitting from the outside looking in, appears to be simple. But it is not so simple, especially when the baby one is baby sitting will not stop crying.
In the 1986 movie, Labyrinth, Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is not happy about being forced to babysit her baby brother. When the baby is unable to stop crying, she makes a wish to the Goblin King, Jareth (the late David Bowie) to take away her brother, her wish is granted. Sarah quickly regrets her decision and asks Jareth to return her brother. But Jareth refuses and Sarah has until midnight to rescue her brother. If she does not, he will become a goblin. Teaming up with fantastical creatures, can Sarah rescue her brother?
What makes this movie stand out for me is not just the fact that it is Jim Henson film, but that David Bowie, as both an actor and a musician has a unique take on his role. If he was just an actor and not a musician, the role would have come across differently on-screen. I also appreciate that the female lead is not the typical female lead who follows the typical narrative.
I recommend it.
When a writer mines for ideas, sometimes the best ideas come from their childhood.
The 1987 movie, Radio Days, is based on the childhood memories of writer/director Woody Allen. Growing up in Rockaway Beach, NY during World War II, Joe (played by Seth Green as a child and voiced over by Woody Allen as an adult) associates the various aspects of his life with the radio programs of the era. Told through the memories of the adult Joe, the film is a love letter to not just childhood, but also a time when radio was the medium that the world relied on for news and entertainment.
The best films are timeless because there is a universal quality to them. Despite the physical location and the time period that the film is set in, anyone from anywhere will find an aspect of the film that they can relate to. This movie is universal because it is about childhood, family and the memories we have long after we have become adults.
I recommend it.