In the early 1990’s Macaulay Culkin was the child star of the moment. His face was everywhere. His movies stayed on the list of box office top ten lists for weeks. There were even product lines from his movies (Does anyone else remember the Talkboy?).
In 1991, Culkin starred in one of the most heartbreaking movies of my generation’s early years, My Girl. Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) is on the verge of her teenage years. Her mother is dead and her father Harry (Dan Aykroyd) runs a funeral home. In love with her much older English teacher, Vada joins his poetry class to try to catch his eye. Vada’s best friend, Thomas (Culkin), is allergic to everything. Adding to the mix is that her father is starting to fall for Shelly DeVoto (Jamie Lee Curtis), the makeup artist at Harry’s funeral home.
This movie, despite being set in the 1960’s, speaks to the preteen in all of us. Vada’s journey through this film is recognizable to anyone who lived through the emotionally and physically turbulent preteen and early teenage years.
Three years later, Culkin starred in Richie Rich, a live action film based on the comic of the same name. Richie Rich (Culkin) is the wealthiest child in the world. But what he really wants is friends. Representing his father at a factory opening, Richie sees some kids playing baseball. But they prefer to play without him. Then Richie’s parents disappear and Lawrence Van Dough, the #2 man at Rich Industries is the main suspect. Richie must gain control of the company and find his parents, with the help of his new friends.
This movie is a bit over the top, but so is the premise of the comic book. What I like about the movie is the underlying message is that money cannot buy happiness and is never the replacement for the ones who love you most.
Twenty years ago, a little movie with mostly unknowns was released. It was Empire Records. It is the story of a mom and pop record store that is trying to stay open amongst the competition of the big box music stores.
Flash forward to today, the fate of this fictional record store would have probably been the same as their real life counterparts. It seems that these days, there are less and less independently owned stores and more big box stores.
I will admit that I do shop at these stores. I do go into Target and K-mart when I need to. I have ordered music from Itunes and books from Amazon.
There was something about going into an independently owned niche store. Whether it was a record store or a book store, it was a magical experience. But times do change and businesses must change with the times. Even if that means changing the way we buy.
Nick (Cary Grant) lost his wife Ellen (Irene Dunne) seven years ago. Presuming her to be dead in a shipwreck, he has just gotten married again, to Bianca (Gail Patrick). Ellen returns to her husband and her family, but she is not alone. Traveling with her is Burkett (Randolph Scott), with whom she was stranded on deserted island with for seven years. The question is, will Nick stay married to Bianca or will he go back to Ellen?
Jerry (Cary Grant) and Lucy (Irene Dunne) are in the process of ending their marriage. But before the ink is dry on the divorce papers, they decide to have a little fun by ruining their soon to be ex’s new relationships.
I highly recommend both of these movies. While the plot are deceptively simple, both movies are hilarious. Now these are what I call movies.
Adam Sandler, no matter how old he gets or how many movies he makes, will always be known as the man-child to movie going audiences. He may be grown physically, but he has the emotionally capacity and the maturity of a 14 year old boy. While he may not be the most mature of men, he has a big heart and will eventually grow up.
Two of his early movies in the mid 1990’s, Billy Madison (1995) and Happy Gilmore (1996), cemented Adam Sandler’s man-child status.
Billy Madison is the only son of Bryan Madison, a man who made his fortune in hotels. Bryan would like to leave his business to his son, but only if Billy can repeat grades 1-12.
Happy Gilmore has a dream of being a hockey player. But that dream has not become reality. To save his grandmother’s house from being foreclosed on, Happy joins the P.G.A and discovers that he is pretty good at golf.
These movies are not Shakespeare and are probably looked down by some people. But they are funny in a way that makes you laugh, regardless of whether or not you want to laugh.
The movie starts during World War I. Two soldiers, a man named Adenoid Hynkel and an nameless Jewish barber are both fighting for the country of Tomania. Flash forward twenty years. Adenoid Hynkel is now the dictator of Tomania, whose goal is get rid of the Jews. The unnamed barber has been in the hospital for twenty years and has no memories of the past two decades. He is unaware of the persecution that the Jews have been facing.
Hannah (Paulette Goddard) takes an interest in this barber. The barber is saved from the persecution that his fellow Jews are facing by Commander Schultz, whom he saved during the war. A sudden policy change is on the books and appears to be good. But the dictators may have other reasons for the change.
Charlie Chaplin was known to use his movies to make statements about what was happening in the world. This movie is no different. It’s the funniest, it’s the most political and it was made at a time when World War II was on the horizon. If you have never seen this movie and watch one scene, I recommend the final speech by the barber as Hynkel. Best part of the movie.
This is one of my favorite movies from the 1940’s. It’s pretty typical World War II movie, where the Allies are the heroes and the Nazis are the villains. The two leads, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall have this magnetic, sexual chemistry. It’s no wonder they were married for twelve years. This movie is a perfect example of creating sexual chemistry between characters without resorting to removing of clothes.
Now this is how a rom-com and a office comedy should be. Cary Grant is the editor of a newspaper. Rosalind Russell is his ex wife and ex-employee. She is getting married again and Cary Grant’s character is looking to find a way to keep her on the paper and in his life. If nothing else, just watch the opening scene. An interesting aspect of this movie is that it was based upon a play, in which Rosalind Russell’s character was originally a man and changed to a female, which poses an interesting feminist twist, twenty years before the second wave of the feminist movement.
This movie is perfection. This movie should be required viewing for every filmmaker. Carole Lombard and Jack Benny are the lead performers in Polish theatrical troupe during World War II. They indirectly join the war when they work with a soldier to track down a German spy. Like His Girl Friday, I highly recommend to watch the opening scene if you don’t see the entire movie. The comedy timing is perfect, Lombard is one of the greatest actresses and comedienne’s of her era. The irony of this movie is that Jack Benny (born Benjamin Kubelsky) was Jewish. It takes balls to make a movie of this type during this period with a Jewish leading man. There is also a re-boot, made in the early 1980’s by Mel Brooks. As much as I love the re-boot, which is most certainly a Mel Brooks movie, the original just stands the test of time.