Tag Archives: Robin Williams

Robin Williams: Five Years Later and it Still Hurts

Mental health, like any disease does not discriminate between rich and poor, black and white, celebrity and non-celebrity.

Five years ago today, mental health took the life of one of our most beloved performers: Robin Williams.

He was more than a comic who could do impressions. He could play drama, he could play comedy and everything in between. Underneath all of his performances was a huge heart that was evident to anyone in the audience.

This past week, his eldest son, Zak, spoke to CNN about his father.

When it comes to those who are no longer with us because of suicide, there are always questions that start with what if. While the question is certainly valid, at a certain point, we need to ask other questions. I firmly believe that we need to not only accept mental health issues as a valid disease, but treat it as a valid disease.

When confronting a problem, the first and hardest step is to ask for help. The issue with mental health is that many are afraid to ask for help because of the backlash they may receive.

Mental health and the diseases that fall under the categories of mental illness are real. The sooner we accept that, stop stigmatizing mental illness and open the doors to treatment, the better our country and our world will be.

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Aladdin Movie Review

I will try to make this review as spoiler free as I can, but if you have not seen the movie, I will not be bothered if you only read this review after you have been to the movie theater.

Hollywood has been addicted to reboots since it’s inception. Over the past few years, Disney has added to the general idea of reboots by releasing live action versions of their classic animated films. The most recent film in this sub-genre is Aladdin.

Like it’s 1992 animated predecessor, the film is set in Agrabah, a fictional Middle Eastern city. Aladdin (Mena Massoud) is an orphan who lives by the seat of his pants and whatever food he can steal. One day, he meets Jasmine (Naomi Scott), who is Princess of Agrabah. Locked in the palace, she yearns for freedom and escapes to the anonymity of the Agrabah marketplace.

Aladdin is roped into Grand Vizier Jafar’s (Marwan Kenzari) plan to find a mysterious lamp in a mythical cave. But Jafar is less than honest and leaves Aladdin to die. Inside the cave, Aladdin meets Genie (Will Smith), who offers him the possibilities that he could have only imagined of before.

When the original film was released back in 1992, I was a child and had a completely different view than I do now as an adult. Director Guy Ritchie surprised me. I’ve never seen any of his previous films, but based on the trailers, I can’t say that any of them were aimed at or appropriate for the audience that typically sees a Disney film. However, Ritchie and his creative team were able to create a film that is an homage to its predecessor while standing on it’s own two feet.

Two major changes that from my perspective elevated this film from the 1992 animated film was the expansion of Jasmine as a character and the casting of actors whose ethnic background matches the ethnicity of the characters. Instead of just giving lip service to feminism, Jasmine is truly a character in her own right. Not only does she wear more clothes, but she is more than arm candy to the man who she will potentially call husband. In the casting for this movie, the actors who were ultimately chosen are of South Asian or Middle Eastern descent. The specific choice of actors adds a level of authenticity that is lacking in the 1992 film.

Speaking of changes to the film, I was very impressed with Will Smith’s version of Genie. Robin Williams’s performance a quarter of a century ago can never be duplicated. However, Smith is able to put his own spin on the character while showing respect to Williams’s Genie.

Though the film is over two hours, it does not fee like it is over two hours. The narrative has a nice pace and the musical sequences fit in nicely with the overall story.

If I had one takeaway from this film (as was the same takeaway from the 1992 film), it was that being yourself is the most important thing and you should never change who you are to please someone else.

I recommend it.

Aladdin is presently in theaters.

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Thoughts On the New Aladdin Trailer

Reboots have been the rage in Hollywood since the beginning of Hollywood. Over the last few years, Disney has capitalized on this reboot fever by releasing live action remakes of their classic animated films. With the success of The Jungle Book in 2016 and Beauty and the Beast in 2017, some might say that they are using nostalgia as a way to fill up movie theaters.

This week, the complete trailer for the live action reboot of Aladdin was released.

 

I have to admit that I am impressed with the trailer. It looks like a fun movie, even though a part of me will always love the 1992 animated film. I appreciate that the cast is ethnically accurate to the world that Aladdin is set in. Stepping into the animated shoes created in 1992 by Scott Weinger and Linda Larkin are Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott.  I am also impressed by Will Smith as Genie. Though he will never be able to replace Robin Williams’s version of the character, I have a feeling that Smith will bring his own unique sensibilities and flair to Genie.

Will I be seeing the movie when it hits theaters in the spring? The answer is likely yes.

 

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Robin Book Review

Robin Williams was one of the most remarkable performers of our time. When he took his life in 2014, his passing created a hole in our culture that will never be filled.

Earlier this year, Dave Itzkoff published Robin, a biography of the late star.

Robin Williams was a walking contradiction. He was a performer who could make audiences laugh and cry at the same time. He played iconic characters in Mork and Mindy, Aladdin, Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs. Doubtfire. But not even those remarkable performances could mask years of dealing with the triple demons of addiction, self-esteem and mental illness.

I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed because when put Hollywood celebrities on a pedestal, we forget that they are still human beings who deal with the same issues that all human beings deal with.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

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Thought On The 25th Anniversary Of Aladdin

25 years ago today, Aladdin hit theaters.

Loosely based (and I do mean loosely based) on the folktale One Thousand and One Nights, Aladdin (Scott Weinger) is an orphaned boy living on the streets in fictional Agrabah.  He falls in love with Princess Jasmine (voiced by Linda Larkin) and asks Genie (voiced by the late and sorely missed Robin Williams) to make him a prince. But the king’s right hand man, Jafar (voiced by Jonathan Freeman) sees through Aladdin’s disguise and has plans to use Aladdin and Genie for his own ends.

As much as my former child self adores this movie, my adult self has a few qualms about this movie.

  • These characters are stereotypes. I get that this Disney’s attempt at cultural sensitivity and multiculturalism, but their attempt is merely an attempt, not a success.
  • Jasmine is 15 and an unnatural size 2. She is also the only major female character and tries to come off as a strong female character, but doesn’t really come off as the creative team intended.
  • All of the actors are Caucasian. Not even the scene stealing performance of Robin Williams can dull that fact.
  • The ending can be seen a mile away.
  • There is a subliminal message about underage teenage sex. Stop the video below at :19.

While more current adaptations of the movie (including the stage production, the upcoming movie with Will Smith as Genie and the reboot via Once Upon A Time) have tried to correct the errors of the 1992 film, there are some things about this film that as a thirty something, doesn’t sit well with me.

Readers, what are your thoughts about this film? I would be curious to know.

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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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Robin Williams-Gone Three Years Today

Today we remember the late, great Robin Williams who took his own life three years ago. He is sorely missed for his humor, his heart and his own unique brand of comedy that can never be duplicated.

When I think of Robin Williams, I think of one of my favorite childhood movies, Hook. There was no other actor who could have portrayed that character of the adult Peter Pan so perfectly.

His death also reminds me of how mental illness and depression specifically are not one size fits all diseases. For some people depression means staying home all day, mindlessly watching television and afraid to step out the door. For others, it means scheduling every moment of their day so they don’t have to face what is brewing inside them. For another group, it means putting on the mask and doing what has to be done, even though all they want to do is lay on the couch and watch television.

If I take away anything from his death (in addition to recent and heartbreaking loss of Chester Bennington), is that we need a new approach to treating mental illness. We also need to remove the stigma of mental health to allow those suffering to receive treatment openly and honestly.

Z”l Robin Williams. You are truly missed and loved.

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Throwback Thursday-Good Morning Vietnam (1987)

The Vietnam War was one of the most brutal and controversial wars in recent memory.

In 1987’s Good Morning Vietnam, it is 1965. Adrian Cronauer (the late and sorely missed Robin Williams) is a Airman and a radio DJ sent to Vietnam to entertain the troops and bring some reminder of home. His unorthodox personality and on air persona does not go over well with some of the military higher-ups on the base. Though he is not on the front lines, he will experience the war in a very real and raw manner.

What strikes me about this movie is that while it is very funny at points, it is very dark and hard to watch at other points. The brutality and destruction that war brings is not lost on either the audience or Adrian.

I absolutely recommend it.

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The New Jumanji Movie-Why?

The trailer for the new Jumanji reboot has just been released.

I have one question and one question only: why did this movie need to be re-made?

The 1995 original movie, starring the late and sorely missed Robin Williams is to my mind, a new classic. It’s an adventure film with the perfect Robin Williams twist.

I have nothing against The Rock, or Karen Gillian, but why a) is she the only female and b) why as usual is so skinny and her costume tiny?

Only time will tell if this film succeeds or flops at the box office. But for my money, I prefer the original 1995 film.

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Flashback Friday- Jack (1996)

Age is a funny thing. When we are young, we want to be grown up. When we are old, we wish to be young again.

In the 1996 movie, Jack, Jack Powell(Robin Williams) has an unusual medical affliction. He ages four times as fast as other children age, which creates a unique set of challenges.

This is the quintessential Robin Williams film. Mingling with the humor is the reality that life is not always fair or happy. In the end, Jack knows that while he may have the mentality of a 10-year-old, his body is that of a 40-year-old. At the end of the film, the audience is reminded that life is short and we should make the most of it while we can.

I recommend it.

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