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Showing posts from 2021

MMYIF Science Fiction Double Feature: Flight Of The Navigator / The Transformers: The Movie

My Misspent Youth In Films... Flight Of The Navigator Directed by: Randal Kleiser Starring: Joey Cramer, Paul Reubens, Cliff De Young Released: August 1, 1986 In 1978, a boy travels 8 years into the future and has an adventure with an intelligent, wisecracking alien ship. The Transformers: The Movie Directed by: Nelson Shin Starring: Orson Welles, Robert Stack, Leonard Nimoy Released: August 8, 1986 The Autobots must stop a colossal planet consuming robot who goes after the Autobot Matrix of Leadership. At the same time, they must defend themselves against an all-out attack from the Decepticons. What I Thought Then These were two of my absolute favorite childhood movies that I watched again and again and they came out a week apart! Flight Of The Navigator  was dark and just a little bit scary, but ultimately a lot of fun. The Transformers: The Movie  was one of the most talked about films of my elementary school playground. It was a cartoon--that had a dirty word in it! As well as non-

MMYIF: Labyrinth

My Misspent Youth In Films... Labyrinth Directed by: Jim Henson Starring: David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly, Toby Froud Released: June 27, 1986 Sixteen-year-old Sarah is given thirteen hours to solve a labyrinth and rescue her baby brother Toby when her wish for him to be taken away is granted by the Goblin King Jareth. What I Thought Then This was another frequent rental. I didn't see it until I was maybe ten and I remember finding the whole thing weird and magical and also I was having some very confusing feelings about this Jennifer Connelly person. A lot of details have stuck with me, like Dance Magic Dance  and the doors where one of the guards always tells the truth and one always lies. What I Think Now The last time I saw this movie was about ten years ago and I did not like it at all . For one thing, it's campy, and I have a very low tolerance for camp. As I mentioned in my post for The Muppets Take Manhattan , while Jim Henson was a talented visual artist, he wasn't a

MMYIF The Sequel Was Better Double Feature: The Care Bears Movie II / The Karate Kid Part II

My Misspent Youth In Films... The Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation Directed by: Dale Schott Starring: Maxine Miller, Pam Hyatt, Hadley Kay Released: March 21, 1986 The Care Bears try to help a young girl at summer camp who, in an effort to revamp her dorky social status to agility and skill, enters into a sinister bargain with a shape-shifting demon posing as a young boy. The Karate Kid Part II Directed by: John G. Avildsen Starring: Pat Morita, Ralph Macchio, Pat E. Johnson Released: June 20, 1986 Daniel accompanies his mentor, Mr. Miyagi, to Miyagi's childhood home in Okinawa. Miyagi visits his dying father and confronts his old rival, while Daniel falls in love and inadvertently makes a new rival of his own. What I Thought Then We didn't own a copy of Care Bears II , but it was a frequent rental. I remember thinking it was very intense with the evil shapeshifting cloud that was haunting a summer camp, and while we watched the first Care Bears  movie as well, this is the


 My Misspent Youth In Films... Clue Directed by: Jonathan Lyn Starring: Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn Released: December 13, 1985 Six guests are anonymously invited to a strange mansion for dinner, but after their host is killed, they must cooperate with the staff to identify the murderer as the bodies pile up. What I Thought Then We taped this one off television and watched it constantly, so my memory of this film is of a very specific edit that had most of the jokes cut out of the first half. As a result, my impression of this movie has always been that it starts out dark and broody and then builds up a crescendo of silliness. In fact, the first time I watched it I thought it was a serious murder mystery right up until the third act. What I Think Now I mean, the recurring dog-shit joke is a bit much, but man this thing holds up. Take a bunch of veteran character actors and give them a nice meaty script and the result is joyous. Of course, the whole thing is held together o

MMYIF: Follow That Bird

My Misspent Youth In Films... Follow That Bird Directed by: Ken Kwapis Starring: Caroll Spinney, Jim Henson, Frank Oz Released: August 2, 1985 Big Bird is sent to live far from Sesame Street by a pesky social worker named Miss Finch. Unhappy, he runs away from there, prompting the rest of the Sesame Street gang to go on a cross-country journey to find him. What I Thought Then It's a Sesame Street movie! Of course I freaking loved it! I think we owned the soundtrack on vinyl, but it wasn't one that Dad made a tape of, so we didn't listen to it. What I Think Now Before  Sesame Street  was overrun by Elmo, Big Bird was the mascot character, and he has a lot more depth to him than Elmo. Elmo is unbridled joy. Big Bird was friendly and generally optimistic, but every now and then he would have to reckon with sadness and anxiety. So what's his foray onto the big screen like? Deep, beleaguered sigh. It's not very good. I guess we'll start with the positives, though. I

MMYIF Fantastical Trauma Double Feature: The NeverEnding Story / Return To Oz

My Misspent Youth In Films... The NeverEnding Story Directed by: Wolfgang Peterson Starring: Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver, Tami Stronarch Released: July 20, 1984 A troubled boy dives into a wondrous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book. Return To Oz Directed by: Walter Murch Starring: Fairuza Balk, Nicol Williamson, Jean Marsh Released: June 21, 1985 Dorothy, saved from a psychiatric experiment by a mysterious girl, is somehow called back to Oz when a vain witch and the Nome King destroy everything that makes the magical land beautiful. What I Thought Then Here are two movies about fantasy realms full of wonder, magic, bizarre rock-creatures, dead ungulates, a ruling class of underage girls who are suddenly out of power, deus ex machina endings, and evil things that want desperately to murder children. They were so cool! They were also completely terrifying. What I Think Now Fantasy was weird in the 80s. The make-up and special effects were just on the cusp of being abl

MMYIF: The Muppets Take Manhattan

My Misspent Youth In Films... The Muppets Take Manhattan Directed by: Frank Oz Starring: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz Released: July 13, 1984 Kermit and his friends go to New York City to get their musical on Broadway only to find it's a more difficult task than they anticipated. What I Thought Then We watched this, The Muppet Movie , and The Great Muppet Caper  a lot when I was a kid (and this entry is kind of standing in for all of them), but this was my favorite of the batch. Seriously, it was like kryptonite for me and my sister. As my mother tells it, we saw this in the theater, and in the scene when Kermit shouts from the top of the Empire State Building that he's not going anywhere, my then two-year-old sister stood up in her chair and shouted "Yes! Yes, Kermit!" back at the screen. Oh, and it had that live-action version of Muppet Babies , so that was pretty cool. What I Think Now As a rule, Jim Henson productions don't age very well for me ( Labyrinth

MMYIF: Ghostbusters (1984)

My Misspent Youth In Films... Ghostbusters Directed by: Ivan Reitman Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver Released: June 8, 1984 Three former parapsychology professors set up shop as a unique ghost removal service. What I Thought Then I was a huge fan of the Saturday-morning cartoon The Real Ghostbusters , and this movie felt like a really cool, if slightly scary, live-action tie-in. What I Think Now I mean, it's a modern classic, right? And one that came together completely by accident. For those not familiar with the backstory, Dan Aykroyd conceived of this movie as a SNL-style comedy that he would star in alongside John Belushi, something of a spiritual successor to The Blues Brothers . The Winston role was written for Eddie Murphy. But then Belushi died and Murphy had a conflict with Beverly Hills Cop , so it was reworked into what we have now: a workplace screwball comedy supernatural thriller that is just damned near perfect while also not really being about a

MMYIF: Return Of The Jedi

My Misspent Youth In Films... Return Of The Jedi Directed by: Richard Marquand Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher Released: May 25, 1983 After a daring mission to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt, the Rebels dispatch to Endor to destroy the second Death Star. Meanwhile, Luke struggles to help Darth Vader back from the dark side without falling into the Emperor's trap. What I Thought Then OKAY OKAY OKAY, this is kind of standing in for the entire trilogy. Kind of. This was the first Star Wars  movie I saw, when I was like four, an age in which having seen it somehow did not spoil the twist in Empire  that Vader is Luke's father. This was my favorite Star Wars  film for most of my life, mostly because it had the best (read: biggest) ending. Just to be clear, I loved the entire trilogy, but if I had to pick one, it was this one. What I Think Now I still like it. It's long on spectacle, and it really mines a lot of drama out of Luke's attempt to reconcil

MMYIF: Pete's Dragon (1977)

My Misspent Youth In Films... Pete's Dragon Directed by: Don Chaffey, Don Bluth Starring: Sean Marshall, Helen Reedy, Jim Dale Released: November 3, 1977 An orphan boy and his magical dragon come to town with his abusive adoptive parents in pursuit. What I Thought Then I remember being particularly impressed by the special effects in this one--the way the animated dragon was able to interact with live action characters and the environment. One of the songs also stood out in my memory. The schmaltziest song in the movie, naturally . What I Think Now It's. So. Long. I borrowed a copy from the library that had a misprint on the box. It said the movie was 1 hour and 28 minutes, but really, it's 1 hundred  and 28 minutes. Which is entirely too long for a children's film that isn't Mary Poppins . And this movie does not bear that length gracefully. About halfway through it runs out of steam, right around the time a zany snake-oil salesman shows up. He's important to t

MMYIF: Robin Hood (1973)

My Misspent Youth In Films... Robin Hood Directed by: Wolfgang Reitherman, David hand Starring: Brian Bedford, Phil Harris, Roger Miller Released: November 11, 1973 The story of the legendary British outlaw is portrayed with the characters as humanoid animals. What I Thought Then In my memory, this was probably the peak of early Disney, before their 80's collapse with The Black Cauldron  and 90's renaissance that began with The Little Mermaid . I remember thrilling at the action sequences, especially the escape after the archery tournament. And then, as a somewhat older child, I got to relive the opening song as it gained new life with The Hamster Dance. What I Think Now This one's a very mixed bag. As with basically everything else on this list so far--and really, everything in Disney's pre-90's animated back catalog--it's a movie that lacks momentum. It's a set of amusing sequences that don't flow into each other. We never really get any insight into R

MMYIF Magical Nanny Double Feature: Mary Poppins / Bedknobs and Broomsticks

My Misspent Youth In Films... Mary Poppins Directed by: Robert Stevenson Starring: Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke Released: June 18, 1965 In turn of the century London, a magical nanny employs music and adventure to help two neglected children become closer to their father. Bedknobs and Broomsticks Directed by: Robert Stevenson Starring: Angela Lansbury, David Tomlinson Released: December 13, 1971 An apprentice witch, three kids and a cynical magician conman search for the missing component to a magic spell to be used in the defense of Britain in World War II. What I Thought Then For our first ever double-feature, I present two very different musicals about magical women looking after children in England only to take them on a misadventure into a cartoon and have odd run-ins with David Tomlinson. They were a lot of fun with catchy songs and silly characters and just a dash of awe and wonder. These movies were the reason that--as a very young child--I constantly confused Julie Andrews and

MMYIF: The Sword In The Stone

My Misspent Youth In Films... The Sword In The Stone Directed by: Wolfgang Reitherman, Clyde Geronimi, David hand Starring: Rickie Sorenson, Sabastian Cabot, Karl Swenson Released: June 21, 1964 A poor boy named Arthur learns the power of love, kindness, knowledge and bravery with the help of a wizard called Merlin in the path to become one of the most beloved kings in English history. What I Thought Then This was one of my favorite movies that we didn't own--which meant whenever we visited someone who owned it, we made sure to watch it, which ended up being rather often. I loved the magic, Merlin's zany antics, and the running commentary from Merlin's surly pet owl Archimedes. I remember being completely stunned to realize in the end that this little boy was the  King Arthur (a detail that was provided in the opening titles, but what do you want I was six). What I Think Now Based on T. H. White's eponymous book, the first part of The Once And Future King , this film ha

MMYIF: Darby O'Gill And The Little People

 My Misspent Youth In Films... Darby O'Gill & The Little People Directed by: Robert Stevenson Starring: Albert Sharpe, Janet Munro, Sean Connery Released: June 22, 1960 A wily old codger matches wits with the King of the Leprechauns and helps play matchmaker for his daughter and the strapping lad who has replaced him as caretaker. What I Thought Then A magical story of Leprechauns in which two old men match wits against each other. The effects were so convincing that between this and The Gnome-Mobile I figured little people must exist somewhere. Also, there's a banshee at the end and it was terrifying, but not so terrifying that I didn't want to watch it again and again. What I Think Now You know what? It holds up rather well. The "little people" effects are well done for the time, using size-matched sets and composites with well-hidden matte lines. The banshee effects, on the other hand, don't look great. The pacing is deliberate, but it's not slow.

MMYIF: Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

 My Misspent Youth In Films... Seven Brides For Seven Brothers Directed by: Stanley Donan Starring: Jane Powell, Howard Keel Released: June 22, 1954 In 1850 Oregon, when a backwoodsman brings a wife home to his farm, his six brothers decide that they want to get married too. What I Thought Then This was one that we watched a lot. It's fun, funny, and filled with fighting, dancing, and slapstick humor. I loved the barn-raising scene, and I especially liked Frank, the hot-head. After decades without seeing it, I could still rattle off the names of the seven brothers (Adam, Benjamin, Caleb, Daniel, Ephraim, Frank, and Gideon). A good time for the whole family. What I Think Now Let's just say that the sexual politics of film have changed a lot in six and a half decades. But before we dig into that, let's talk about the stuff that works. Structurally, it is a taut film, which is not what you expect from a musical made during the Hollywood musical boom. Keel and Powell have very

MMYIF: My Misspent Youth In Films

 In 2019 I blogged about music. Last year I wrote about board games. For 2021, I'm going to write about the movies I grew up on and how they've aged (as I have). I'll be going through them in the order in which they were released, starting a week from today with 1954's Seven Brides For Seven Brothers . The list is not finalized but it's going to be in the 60-70 range, which lines up really poorly with the weeks of the year. So I'm going to post on Fridays (because that's when new movies come out--or used to when I was a kid) and there will be some double-features, probably around summer of 1989, since basically everything came out that summer. Still working out the kinks, honestly. We'll see how it plays. I expect to find some hidden gems as well as some full-on cringe. I'm limiting myself to movies that I have re-watched (or will have been able to re-watch) in the last decade.