Wednesday, September 29, 2010


It is really hard for Barbra Streisand to escape the genre of UGH movies. She makes so many that are UGH worthy. She honestly knows no boundaries when it comes to film. She will push you to the limit and leave you there. Almost like she just forgot about you because she is too busy worrying about her special "Barbra" lighting or making sure she gets a good shot of leg in a frame. She ups the ante for the 1987 drama NUTS. She is Mad! But is she angry or just plain....nuts? You get to decide! I knew my answer the minute the credits rolled. But I won't sway your decision.

The movie starts off promisingly enough. Babs is in prison and that is always a good thing. Keep her away from the public. She is surrounded by streetwalkers and is fitted in a beautiful prison robe and laugh out loud flip flops. She looks Nuts from the get go and as the camera pans away, we get a glimpse of the most beautifully lit jail cell. All the other lady prisoners look well worn and look like they belong there, but not Babs. She has a warm pre- Prince of Tides glow about her. All soft and fuzzy. Her hair is kinda kinky and moussed up messy. A good look. She is shipped away into the courtroom to plead her case. And it's a doozy. She is being convicted of manslaughter, but this is no ordinary hearing! It first must be determined if she is competent enough to stand trial or if she is certifiable NUTS! And after she has some flashbacks of herself cutting her hair off, then decks her lawyer, the court realizes they have a major problem on their hands. Luckily, all the ho's that are waiting sentencing cheer her on as she is dragged out of the courtroom screaming! In one last ditch effort to make a statement, she grabs ahold of the flag positioned in the corner and rips it to the ground. JUSTICE IS SERVED!

Babs finds herself back in the holding pin and gets assigned a new lawyer. Richard Dreyfuss in full on Were-Lawyer mode proceeds to determine if Babs is nuts or just annoying. She smiles, laughs at the most inappropriate moments and flashes her Woo-Hoo a whole half decade before Sharon Stone even thought about it. Thankfully, her back is to us when it happens, but the reaction shot of Dreyfuss is quality goods. That is called method acting. Their banter ranges from playish to snooze worthy, but there is something that just keeps you interested just a little. The dialogue spoken by any other actor would be enough to stop watching, but seeing Babs say things like, " No. I just go by the seat of my pants" (YUCK!) and "You know what I use this dress for? For the ones who want to sit on Mommy's lap" ( DOUBLE YUCK!!) makes you want to hang onto every word she utters. The mere fact that Dreyfuss tells everyone that she is overtly sexual (TRIPLE YUCK!!!) is a good clue into the psyche of Babs. She also is known to "Give Good Head" (YUCK SQUARED!!!!).

Dreyfuss tries his darnest to get Babs under control, but with so much scenery to chew apart, he is no match for her appetite.
The state drags in her parents, played by Maureen Stapleton and Karl Malden, and they set out to crucify their daughter for no real reason at all....or so it seems. Skeletons come blazing out of the closet and rattle their bones at anyone who will listen. It seems that Pops use to slide a twenty under the door of young Bab's room and get a little somethin' somethin' for his troubles.
Stapleton, seen in one flashback, seems to know what is going on, but the drink in her hand calls her name. GULP away all the guilt.

Into another flashback, we see Babs cross her beautiful legs and count some Benjamin's. The camera pans away and slowly turns to her john and it is fucking Leslie Nielsen in black bikini briefs. Babs is ready to move on to her next trick, but Nielsen enjoyed that Woo-Hoo so much, he wants seconds. When Babs blows him off, it turns ugly. We get to see a half dressed Babs run around her zillion dollar upper Manhattan condo (hookin' ain't easy, but it pays the bills!) and fight off Nielsen. It all ends with a dead dude in her bathroom and her arrest. So, the big question is... She is NUTS?

Doctors swear she is. Her parents want her to be and Dreyfuss isn't too sure. The only person that knows is Babs. Will she get aways with murder? Will she get sent to the loony bin? I can't disclose that information, but when she screams, "I won't be NUTS for you! I won't be NUTS for anybody!", we know she is not happy!!

Interestingly, NUTS is based off of an play and it shows within the film. The filmmaker didn't really open it up, besides the flashy flashbacks. And it is clear that Babs had a major hand in directing the film. Just helpful hints and suggestions. It stinks of Oscar and Babs didn't get nominated. It happens. Is Babs too old to play the role of a hooker who kills? You decide.

Of note, Karl Malden and Eli Wallach, the stars of BABY DOLL, reunite for NUTS. And after dealing with Baby Doll herself, they know NUTS when they see it.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


It's a tale that is old as time. Toss in two people from different backgrounds, have the cops chase them and everyone learns a valuable lesson. Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis set the standard in The Defiant Ones in 1958, then Pam Grier and Margaret Markov put a ladies touch on the theme in 1973 with the classic girls on the run film White Mama, Black Mama. But my favorite in the "I don't care if our skin color is different, JUST RUN!" genre has got to be 1985's classic Certain Fury.

Stephen Gyllenhaal, think Jake but not as sexy and older, directed a handful of films and did mostly TV work, but Certain Fury is clearly his best work. With it's sweeping musical cues and enormous set pieces, Gyllenhaal went all out for this simple tale of two sassy gals on the run. Teaming two Oscar winning actors does not always mean movie magic, unless you are a huge fan of Tatum O' Neal and Irene Cara, which I am. Score one for me! Tatum is a bad girl with a rap sheet as long as her dads. Irene is the good girl who somehow was in the wrong place at the wrong time. They all say that! Both join forces when they are waiting for their sentences in a courtroom and some whore got ape shit and grabs the security guard's gun and starts killing everyone! The girls escape, only to find that the gun woman is running with them! BEAT IT BITCH!! She won't let go! The cops massacre her in the street and Tats and Irene plunge into the labyrinth of sewer tunnels beneath the city. When any character goes into the sewer system, it always means two things are going to happen. There will be tons of rats and the water (usually clean) will erupt and turn the entire movie into a non-stop water slide! One of my favorite things to happen in a movie! Certain Fury does not disappoint.

Soaking wet and another dead cop on their hands (not their fault, but everyone will think it is), Tats has a brilliant idea to hide in the apartment of her drug dealer ex-boyfriend, but not before screaming racist terms at Irene and disclosing that she is illiterate. It kinda reminds me of the end of White Fang when Ethan Hawke yells at White Fang to leave him alone, but White Fang won't go. The girls changes clothes and Irene decides that it is a good idea to take a shower. After all she was just in jail and swimming around in the sewer. Irene, always comfortable with uncomfortable nudity, shows everything and almost gets raped by Tats ex. She stabs him with broken glass and beats it. Only to find herself along side of Tats again! Those girls!

They steal some drugs and go to a crack house, where Irene decides it is a good idea to take a nap and ends up getting shot full of heroin and almost raped again! The crack house, which looks like a borrowed set from The Poseidon Adventure, is fucking huge! Full of ladders and little hiding places, you can get lost for hours. Like a bad night at BP. Or a good night if you ask the right person. The place burns to the ground and everyone thinks the girls are dead and they celebrate by eating doughnuts and trying to figure out what to do next. Irene suggest going up to the mountains and living in a cabin and growing a garden. Tats has other plans.

The movie ends on a railway bridge, with the cops closing in and the girls finding themselves between the truth and a hard place. Will anyone believe them? Will Tats learn to read? Will Irene sing the end credits song? All the questions will be answered in due time.

Certain Fury, clocking in at about 80 minutes, packs a lot of high octane thrills into its small time frame. The girls are full of gusto and Tats seems super high on something, which just adds to the joy of the film. They aren't great in the movie and they aren't really just okay in it, but it is fun to watch them run and jump off the roof and slide down pipes on the side of a building.

It is one of my favorite movies to watch whenever you need to fill that Tatum O' Neal void that haunts us all.
Irene went on to do nothing else of importance and Tats went on to do tons of drugs. In her book, A Paper Life, she relegates Certain Fury to a couple of sentences of nonsense. I wanted the juicy details, but I don't think she remembers them to well.

Monday, September 20, 2010


SUPERMAN and SUPERMAN II are two of the best films ever made. There is no way to figure out which one is better. I lean toward to part two, but lean back to the first one, cuz I love a good origins story. Christopher Reeve IS Superman. He always will be. The re-launch a couple of years ago failed so miserably that all us Superman fans cried crocodile tears and it looks like our beloved Supes will not fly again for awhile. But it hasn't always been love and praise for the Superman series. Part 3 was good when I was a kid, but even then I thought it was a little loooong in the tooth. Then there was the nasty business of SUPERMAN 4: THE QUEST FOR PEACE.

Right off the bat, we have problems. I am all for peace. I campaign for it. Peace is great, but to be the center of a Superman movie? BORING. And the poor director found his budget slashed from 36 million dollars to 17 million about halfway through making the movie. It ain't looking good. What you have is a mixture of special effects not completely fleshed out and very cheap looking costumes. Also, the director had to cut about an hours worth of footage, including two battles between Superman and his nemesis. The film has this "we don't care, why should you" feel to it. Too bad, because it could have been something mildly interesting.

Co-written by Reeve, it really tries to pound the message of disarming nuclear warheads and calling for sanctions among the countries of the world. All things that little boys care about. There is lots of talking and Superman holds TWO press conferences. FLY! BITCH! FLY!! We don't want to watch this. Where is Lois Lane? Oops. Lois Lane went crazy! Margot Kidder is back, somehow, and she is a full on mess. She looks really harsh and seems to really hate being on the set. She goes through the motions and snatches her paycheck, but that is about it. The filmmakers had to call in Mariel Hemingway to liven things up a bit, but she is about as lively as disarmed warhead. She wears lots of beige and seems to just melt right into the background.

Reeve, on the other hand always looks good! He is getting a touch older, but still kicking it. The biggest debate between Superman fans (the gays ones at least) is Reeve hunkier as Superman or Clark Kent? This has been a question that has troubled our community for three films. Part 4 takes all the sexiness out of Reeve. As Superman, the suit is a little ill-fitting and frayed around the lettering. As Clark Kent, he wears monster size glasses and Mom jeans. But he still pulls off the hunk bit though. His hair is weird in this movie. It doesn't have that hot scoop in the front like normal, but it is rather a do that resembles The Great Gatsby era, for girls. Not a good look on Superman.

What sort of resembles the plot is as follows. Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman reprising his role) bust out of the chain gang with the aid of his punk-esque nephew played by Jon Cryer. For some reason two hottie girls are along for the ride and never utter a word. Cryer talks like a Valley Girl and wears skinny leather pants with high tops. I think his character is suppose to bring in the kids. It didn't work. He seems like he is high on coke the whole movie, which I totally understand. Saddled with this film, one looks for an escape. Tons of his scenes were sacrificed in the editing room and we don't ever understand what he is doing in the film or even why he is in the film. Together they one up the UN and Superman's plan to disarm all the nuclear warheads and toss them into the sun. They steal a piece of Superman's head, mix in some potions that turns into silly putty and then they launch it into the sun. Once heated up, they create NUCLEAR MAN!!! Yes, they just create him. It's easy!

Nuclear Man wasn't the first model though. Lex and nephew created a punkish Frankenstein monster at first, that was kinda out of control. You have to watch about five deleted scenes on the dvd to get the whole story. So another good 25 minutes slashed out of the film. It is almost like part 3 1/2 or something. Here is the first model of Nuclear Man. Not really something you could make an action figure out of.

The movie jumps from the Nuclear Man storyline to a weird double date storyline with Mariel Hemingway with Clark Kent and Lois Lane with Superman. See, Clark and Superman are the same person, so he can't be in the same place at the same time and hilarity ensues. The entire segment proves just how dumb both women are and it is kind of masochistic. I can't vouch for Mariel character, since the filmmakers decided to cut all of her development, but Lois Lane is no dummy. I really hated that they reduced her to that. Very Typical Male if you ask me. It is suppose to be madcap, but it is just maddening.

So many things drove me bat shit while I watched Supes 4, but one of the things that made me bonkers was all the extras that kept looking at the camera. Directly into it. I kept waiting for someone to wave or hold up a "HI MOM!" sign. No luck. This compounded on top of all the strings on the cast as they flew away and flew around the city and landed was too much for me to handle. I finally just gave in and pretended that I was watching a rehearsal version of Superman 4: Quest for Peace.

The flight scenes are really long and drawn out, but you can get through them easily, if you sit on the couch and lift your feet up in the air and pretend you are in the SOARIN' ride at Disney! FUN!

By the end, Nuclear Man has ripped The statue of liberty out of the ground and tosses her into the city, but Superman catches the statue and everything is okay. Then Nuclear Man, in an all of a sudden finale, kidnaps Mariel Hemingway and flys up into space with her. Now, wait a goddamn minute!! Even the animators of the Super Friends cartoon knew to draw an invisible space helmet around Wonder Woman or Aquaman's head when the traveled to space. Then he drops her, but Supes snatches her up. Lucky for him, she didn't burn up going through the atmosphere.

Superman 4: Quest for Peace suffers from being too comic bookish, but trying desperately to be serious and have a message. It comes off as a preachy message. Maybe with a bigger budget to touch up all the special effects and a better screenplay, we could have had an interesting movie. Sadly, Supes 4 is as my mom says, "plum pitiful".

Christopher Reeve's legacy will live on forever as audience discover the first two films in every generation. Christopher you will always be in our hearts and forever a part of everyone who ever dreamed of soarin'.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


From the moment you see Susan Tyrrell with a child in her arms as the opening credits roll, you have this impending feeling of doom. Something seems off with this scene, but you can't place your finger on it yet. There is something written all over her face, but it is going to take awhile for all the facets to be stripped away and the truth revealed, but once it happens, you are in for one of the wildest rides of your life. NIGHT WARNING does not hold back and it out to toss anything and everything at you all at once! Hold on!

NIGHT WARNING has one objective and that is to make you squirm. It revels in playing with your sanity and bounces you up and down on the ick scale. It cannot be bothered with your comfort level. It goes above and beyond, then rockets to the moon! Destination moon!!

A fun loving couple wave good-bye to their toddler son as Susan Tyrrell presses him tightly against her bosom. She smiles and politely waves back. Promising to return for their son, the fun-loving couple drive off to some area where all the roads are extremely downhill. When the brakes fail, the fun-loving couple know they are toast. what happens next is what i consider a WOW! opener of a movie. An excruciatingly shot decapitation is so impressive that it resurfaces in a flashback later in the movie, with the same effect! With one passenger down, the woman of the fun-loving couple goes through hell in less than 20 seconds! In a sequence that mixes shock with a rebel rousing spirit, the audience it thrust into pure horror then immediately burst into laughter! That is hard to pull off! Destination moon!!!

Flash forward 15 years and we are smack dab in the middle of the once toddler son's high school life. He has morphed in the body of Jimmy McNichol (yes, Kristy's little brother) and has secured himself a girlfriend, played by Julia Duffy, whose name just happens to be Julia. EASY casting! He also is the star player of the basketball team and the coach has his eye on him, if you catch my drift. Susan T. still reigns supreme as his adopted mother now and she also has her eye on him. He goes through various stages of undress throughout the first half of the movie, with both Susan T. and the basketball coach inapporiately touching him and giving him longingly looks of lust. His girlfriend is content to just hold hands and discuss feelings, which also seems fine with him too. We also get a sexy bully. I always love a sexy bully. And one played by a young Bill Paxton! Hotness abounds.

On Billy's, Jimmy McNichol's character, birthday he gets the biggest surprise of his life so far. His legal guardian murders the electrician in a desperate act of loneliness and an overblown libido. Billy walks into the house and welcoming him is his aunt covered in blood and barely dressed. The electrician is spawned out on the floor with a knife sticking out of his back and blood is EVERYWHERE! Susan T. begs him to help her, but being a good guy he calls the police, which immediately think that Billy killed the guy out of jealousy after catching his aunt sexing it up with him. When Susan T. cries rape, they soon discover that he couldn't have raped her, because he is a homosexual or as the sheriff likes to say, FAG! And he says it over and over and over again. I counted at least 20 times in about 15 minutes. A record maybe? So the police then discover that the dead dude has a boyfriend and his is Billy's basketball coach and they deduce that Billy STILL killed him in a jealous rage of homosexual love! Billy cannot win. And this is all in the first 30 minutes!!! We still have 45 minutes to go!!!

NIGHT WARNING does not even teeter on the line of going over the top. It just goes there and if you aren't willing to go with it, then it just leaves you behind. The plot gets more and more complex and confusing, without being annoying. You have to search for clues just like Billy and Julia have to do. They climb up in the attic, they dig around the house, read police reports and ask all the right questions. All while Susan T. is going deeper and deeper into full tilt insanity. She is that level of crazy, that is someone walked past her on the street, they wouldn't think a thing, but the moment she opened her mouth, the truth would be exposed. She cannot hide it very well.

When Julia and Billy figure it all, but need some good evidence, they hatch a plan that involves distracting Susan T. Sounds easy. It isn't. The movie flips from thriller to horror film, as all the characters collide with each other and the body counts rises so fast, you start to lose count on who died. NIGHT WARNING waits for no one!

With so much going on and with a plot so twisted, most actors would not be able to pull it off. NIGHT WARNING filled it's cast with reliable character actors and lesser known people. Julia Duffy is wonderful as girl in peril, but smart enough to get herself out of a messy situation. Jimmy McNichol is quiet and plays the loner stuff up nicely. Even Bo Sevnson as the homo-hating sheriff is good. But, honestly the movie belongs to Susan Tyrrell. I have never seen a performance like this in a film. Susan is like a hurricane in just about any film she is in, but in NIGHT WARNING she is doing it up, sister!! Think Grace Zabriskie, but sexy. or Sexier, depending on how high your Grace Z. sexy level is. Nobody seems to know what to do with Susan Tyrrell. She is one of a kind and something of a kindred spirit. I appreciate anyone who always gives it their all. Susan does just that.

From the great cover box (that lends you no clues to the plot) to the movie's finale, you will find yourself shocked over and over again. And that is what NIGHT WARNING sets out to do!

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Take two parts Valley Girl/ one part Porky's and mix in a little My Chauffeur and you have the amazing film VALET GIRLS!! If you are going to park it, you should do as the tag line reads and PARK IT WITH THE BEST!

The set up is simple enough. Three dumb California surfer types work for a valet company. They are mediocre at best. Luckily for us, the head dumb surfer type is Steve Lyon, better known as CAMPUS MAN!!!
We are talking MAJOR Dreamboat action going on here. If you haven't seen Campus Man, you should dash out and see it. Back to the girls...

So two gals, Lucy and Rosalind, have a small start up valet parking services for the richest of the rich in the Beverly Hills, but they just need that big break in the valet parking business. When they run up against the boys and decide that they can do a better job than three dumb boys, they overtake the valet parking service and the owner of the company completely changes the mood of his valet parking service and gets the girls to dress in mid-80's Madonna lace and successories, makes them custom jackets that read VALET GIRLS in cool 80's font and gives them one chance to prove their parking skills. To help them out, he tosses in his latest girlfriend, Carnation. She is fresh off the bus from a small town just outside of Biloxi, Mississippi!!!! HELLO!!! PICAYUNE!!! She has no parking experiences, but is willing to learn. Set over the course of one night, the three girls have only a good 12 hours to make a name for themselves, find love, lose love, learn to love themselves a little more, learn some valuable lessons, get tossed in a pool and dry out and have brunch under the Hollywood sign. I tell ya, VALET GIRLS launches into full on GIT IT GIRL mode, quickly.

With one foot in the door, the girls set in motion many, many schemes to bust into the rich Hollywood elite party after parking their clients cars and make a name for themselves. Lucy is hell bent on a recording career and is willing to do just about anything to make it big!! Well, just about anything. Her big chance comes early in the party, when she catches a music producer getting ready to bang a Madonna wanna-be. After, she turns down his advances and he tells her that she will never work in this town again, Lucy storms out, intending to never sell herself out for a record deal. Madonna wanna-be turns to the music producer and says, "Is this how Madonna started out? Pia Zadora? What about Vanity?!" HOLY SHIT! You get a Madonna reference from a girl dressed as Like a Virgin era Madonna, then you get a Pia and Vanity reference. Listen, VALET GIRLS is good stuff.

So it seems Rosalind, who has a Lady Swan/Kevin Costner Robin Hood British accent, use to date Campus Man, but they just became different people, but they both still park cars. There is something in common. They just can't seem to make it work. When the boys decide to bust up the party and ruin it for the girls, he feels bad about it, but still dresses up in a chicken costume and pours ants and spiders all over the food. JERK!

The party goes full force when a mermaid shows up, then a thin Ron Jeremy (non nude role) shows up and the coke starts flowing like a river. The Valet girls siege their chance to overtake the party. Lucy sneaks onto the stage and quietly instructs the band and BUST THE SHIT OUT!!! She starts doing some of the most amazing coke kicks I have ever seen! LEGS!!
Her anthem "The Reach (do the reach)" has the kids pumping their fist in the air as Lucy sings about reaching up and reaching out. Helping yourself, while helping others. A good message song. As if that weren't enough, we get a second song called "Heartless Love" and then i realized just how much Lucy looked like Adam Lambert and decided that Adam should totally remake VALET GIRLS as VALET GAYS and play the role as Lucy. Very exciting stuff!

Carny's boyfriend arrives from Picayune to marry her country ass. Now the role of Archie Lee Samples is very,very important. VALET GIRLS gets deep with his character. It is a hard role to play, but luckily for us, the ALWAYS amazing John Terlesky tackles the role. John is BADMOVIEART alumni based on his tremendous work in the the films Chopping Mall, The AllNighter, and Deathstalker II. The gals, going undercover as Nerd Girls, enlist Archie Lee Samples to help them frame a record producer into some compromising positions. For some reason, Archie Lee Samples has to do this all in drag. Even though, the only people who know him in L.A. and have seen him at the party are the three Valet Girls. Sneaking into the party, the girls quickly change from their Nerd Girls costumes to cute party going outfits. But for some reason Archie Lee Samples keeps his drag on and mingles with the guest for the rest of the movie.

After the boss bust them for all their scheming, he proclaims that they will NEVER PARK IN THIS TOWN AGAIN and they pull a take this job and shove it moment. Lucy gets her recording deal, Carny blows off her boss/boyfriend and agrees to marry Archie Lee Samples. Rosy cooks up a great way to get back at the valet boys for trying to ruin their lives. She coyly invites them all to Sunday brunch. The three boys meet the girls under the Hollywood sign and are forced to strip and climb the sign! And the girls all form a kick line and kick it out until the credits roll. AND Archie Lee Samples is there and is STILL in a dress!!!!!

Valet Girls is one of those films that just makes you crazy from its awesomeness. By the end of the movie, you are left spent! I tell ya! SPENT!!! And it has one of my new favorite movie quotes ever. "From now on I only fuck for fun!" YOU TELL EM!!! I must give a big shout out to Kim Gillingham as the Madonna-wannabe (as she is credited in the cast list). She totally nails it. Damita Jo Freeman (choreographer to the stars) works with Lucy to really give her stage performance that edge it really needs to WOW the crowd. Did I mention lots and lots of high kicks. And low kicks too.

John Terlesky I love you!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

ICONIC: Beaches

There is one certain in this wack life of ours. And that is the fact that BEACHES is one of the best movies ever made. Beaches will hand you your ass without even batting an eye and then make you sit there for another 20 minutes, so you can sit back and reflect on how Beaches just played you like a used harp.

I have never read the book that Beaches is based on. I know that it is suppose to be pretty good and there is a sequel called Beaches II. But, no one ever seems to talk about it. I do know that if the book is anything like the screenplay, I would consider it a Mean Read! Bette only got the best and she called in Mary Agnes Donoghue (her friends call her Mads) to work her magic on the Beaches screenplay. It would prove to be her second screenplay and her strongest. After everyone raved of the screenplay, she went on to direct her own film. She thought she could tackle the novel Le Grand Chemin, which had already been filmed and is one of the best modern French films to date, and proceeded to seal her fate. Darn that Beaches!! It worked! How come Paradise bombed? She went right ahead and did the screenplay for the Goldie Hawn vehicle, Deceived. That was about it. But at least she still had credit for the Beaches screenplay! It's everything you could ever want in a film and then some. Every line of dialogue crackles with honesty and sincerity. It is full of honest emotions and sassy comebacks that you can use in everyday life. Like, "You just spent two hours dying your hair the same color!" Or, "I feel things deeply." Genius.

Beaches is given that little something extra that just about any film needs from behind the lens. Garry Marshall is really in touch with what makes a movie click with an audience. He had the sleeper hit Overboard under his belt and after Beaches, went right into his masterpiece Pretty Woman and is still working. His last project Valentine's Day, was a film so saccharin sweet, that American audiences turned away from it in a diabetic coma. Marshall has a way of directing a picture, that seems to pile on the sentiment and cut out the heart, but Beaches never ever falls into that pit. It tightens its vice grip on you as the film weaves its tapestry of sisterhood and motherhood, all the while having some great songs tossed into the mix.

When you get right down to it, the movie is essentially about Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey and their on-going battle to not murder each other. Through loves, loss, triumphs, heartaches and the occasional cat fight in a department store, the girls always have each other. That is until Babs gets the death cough and her lips get larger and you know she is a goner. You can see it coming a mile, well about ten, miles away. The moment Babs closes the big book in the library and Midler starts singing, "tin can at my feet, think i'll kick it down the street", it is ON! Bette straps on her most powerful Diva armor ever and goes for blood. She has one concern and that is to make you suffer and hurt and she is going to make sure that you never ever doubt her power again. She takes the whole world on, including the littlest brat in the world, plus she has to deal with Pouncher the Wonder Cat. Can she waddle through all this sentiment and heart on our sleeve emotions and deliver an Oscar caliber performance? YOU BET YOUR SWEET ASS SHE CAN. And she does. She didn't get nominated for an Oscar, but that does not lessen her performance. And Hershey is actually amazing as well, but that is all very unimportant. Bette just needed someone to bounce off of, and Hershey is perfectly fine at it and with it.

Rounding out the main cast is this little girl who seems to hate being in the movie and constantly gets upstaged by Pouncer the Wonder Cat. He knew exactly what he was doing in every shot!
Casting is always key and Beaches does it perfectly. As a younger C.C. Bloom, Bette's character, there was only one natural choice. BLOSSOM!! Well, before she became Blossom. Little Blossom. Mayim Bialik is so adorable as lil' C.C. She brings in a mix of the movie version of Annie with a peppering of the Divine Miss M's late 70's glitz. On a kid's budget of course. She sings, she taps, she yells at her mom and most importantly, she shoots dangers with her eyes at her arch enemy, Iris Myandowski. Otherwise known as the hand walking queer. Everyone knows that hand walking is always a showstopper. The role of lil' Babs is really incidental.

The entire movie is manufactured around getting Bette's character, C.C. to sing. Along with singing she does it all. She screams at everyone, cries while driving in the rain, slams doors, dances on the beach and leads an entire supporting cast through the motions of not just one, but two showstopping numbers. The first comes early in a flashback, where the gals are BFFS and living in NYC and just getting it all together. A hobo ladies sleeps outside of their apartment and they have a snow covered veranda! Sisters are doing it for themselves, but back to the musical numbers. C.C. lands the lead in a avante garde play about, well, lets just say it. Oh, Industry. We understand. If you ever drive through the Luna Park area in West Seattle, you will see Oh, Industry first hand. The production number is all smoke and various shades of gray and stomp dancing, but C.C. nails it and the crowd goes nuts when she comes out for her bow. If you dig deeper in the Beaches lore, you will see how the" Oh, Industry" number shows the inner turmoil that the girls are going through as they try to figure out their lives and understand humanity. Also, C.C. has to dress as a big bunny to make ends meet, while Babs (loaded with daddy's money) volunteers for causes and drives C.C. around. OH! Industry! INDEED!

The next big musical number comes in the form of re-hashing an old Bette number from her early live shows. The girls have grown apart and C.C. kinda stole Babs man, so there is some friction, but Babs being the good friend flya across the country to attend the opening night of SIZZLE!! It is a bawdy and raunchy revolving doors comedy/musical with C.C. in the eye of the hurricane. "Otto Titsling" showcases C.C.'s "fun" side. She basically eats the stage alive and regurgitates it back onto the viewing audience. Much to any viewers delight. After the show, she and Babs have a full on diva showdown in a department show. Bitch vs. Bitch! Folks it is good. Once again, dig a little deeper into the Beaches lore and you will realize that SIZZLE represents where the characters are at in this stage of their lives. Both women are unhappy and everything is just show. C.C. has her career and a huge dog and Babs has a trophy husband and all the money she could ever want, but all they really want are to recapture the feeling and life they had during their "Oh, Industry" days. But once you leave "Oh, Industry" behind, there is no going back. SIZZLE!

Both women find themselves on the outs in love and life and realize that they only have each other. Babs gives birth to a mouthy little girl and reads in a big book that she is going to die. From what I am not really sure. C.C. sweeps in to take care of everything and charm the pants off of no one. The last 30 minutes is probably one of the hardest times to get through. Beaches turns into an emotional roller coaster, with Bette at the controls. She masterminds your ups and downs, while making sure you are firmly locked into your seat and makes sure you are holding on for dear life. Once you see the limo tire roll and you hear, "oh, whoa, oh..." you are a goner. The waterworks start and you are fully trapped in the clutches of one of the most powerful divas in the history of diva-dom. When the finale screen flashes back to those early days on the boardwalk and Blossom mugging for the camera, you are left a shell of a person, but longing to watch it all over again. Once you have memorized all the words to the songs on the soundtrack, including the non-musical number songs, like " I know you by heart" and have set up reenactments of the big Bitch Fight in Nordstrom or Macy's, then you realize what Bette has been trying to tell us. You will worship Beaches. Some might call it a false idol, but i like to call it Iconic.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

ICONIC: Chopping Mall

Before slipping into T&A fodder, Jim Wynorski, one of the most constantly working directors, had a handful of films that proved that he knew exactly what he was doing and he had his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. Always winking at the audience and laughing with them, he created the masterpiece THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING, but his magnum opus will forever be CHOPPING MALL.

With Chopping in the title of a movie, you would think it would just be your run of the mill slasher movie. And honestly, any movie where people get trapped in a mall with a killer or killers or animal gone wild or what have you is ALWAYS fun. But, with Chopping Mall, we get killer ROBOTS!!! Robots gone wild! Renegade Robots with one mission and that is to protect the mall from anyone! Luckily for us, a group of nutty teens decided that it would be a great idea to stay late at the mall and Party. Basically, that means we get to see some necking, cigs smoked and booze drank, but before the night is over, the KillBots (a horrible alternative VHS title) will rule the night!

When the mall introduces the new security system to the store owners, everyone seems pleased...well besides Paul and Mary Bland, who have opened a quite little store right across from House of Almonds. With a roll of their eye and a sassy complaint, the Blands know the score. The robots are set into motion and start roaming the mall. Carpeted for the most part too. I love a mall that trust its patrons not to make a mess, even though the entire opening sequence is built around the suspenseful moral tale of will the lady drop the tray full of Cokes and hot dogs.

The cast of teens, is made up of some great character actors, ranging from Tony O' Dell to the always reliable Barbara Crampton. Russell Todd squeezes into the tightest pair of jeans he could find and Dick Miller plays the janitor with a chip on his shoulder toward the robots. But the real star of the movie Kelli Maroney. Now, Kelli sells this movie! No, she doesn't sell it, she owns this movie! With such a crazy ensemble cast, you have a hard time picking out who will be the final girl/guy, but you straight up hope and pray it is Kelli the minute you see her tossing burgers at the food court, but it is when she is bored and watching TV with Tony O'Dell while everyone makes out that you realize there is a really good chance your dream is going to come true!!

Lightening strikes the mall (the Beverly center/somewhere in Canada?), the robots lose their shit and focus and go after everyone! An epic battle ensues, with the kids having to ransack the mall for weapons. What follows is what a classic film is all about! Tons of running through the mall, heads getting blown up, crawling through the heating ducts, an old western type shoot-out, and explosion after explosion. This film was the first film that brought to the light the now infamous MALL DROP. A Mall Drop is one of those amazing stunts where the stunt man drops from a very high place and the crashes to the ground, but we get to see it from a couple of different camera angles. It also MUST be set in a mall or in a mall pretending to be a warehouse or something. You will know it when you see it. MOVING TARGET also has an amazing Mall Drop. By the end of the movie, Miss Kelli has HAD IT! She launches an all out assault on the robots and is determined to kill them all. Either it is her or them! Fuck Terminator!! This is the best man vs. machine film ever made! And the best mall movie ever made!

CHOPPING MALL is iconic, because with it's run time of 77 minutes, this movie uses its time wisely. It takes off with lightening speed and never ever slows down. And with every viewing you discover more and more to love. In-jokes abound, but there is so much going on, that it takes repeat viewing to catch it all. I promise if you have not seen this film, there is no way you will not instantly fall in love with it and start obsessing over it. It might cost you an arm and a leg, but scares at this much of a discount are going to fly off the racks! Mall jokes!

And if you have seen it, then you know what is about to happen here. Movie History.