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Showing posts from 2021

MMYIF: Aladdin

My Misspent Youth In Films... Aladdin Directed by: Ron Clements, John Musker Starring: Scott Weingar, Robing Williams, Linda Larkin Released: November 25, 1992 A kindhearted street urchin and a power-hungry Grand Vizier vie for a magic lamp that has the power to make their deepest wishes come true. What I Thought Then Up there with Beauty and the Beast  for my favorite of this era of Disney. Beauty and the Beast  is the better movie, but I think I liked this one more. Because Robin freaking Williams! What I Think Now Aladdin  was the last film that featured songs by Howard Ashman, the musical half of the duo that spearheaded the Disney animation renaissance of the early 90s. The next 2D animated film, The Lion King , would still be a quality movie thanks in no small part to songwriting from Elton John, but after that the Disney tide would ebb. Their next tentpole movie would be the disappointing  Pocahontas , and a few months later Pixar would release Toy Story  and at that point the p

MMYIF: The Mighty Ducks

My Misspent Youth In Films... The Mighty Ducks Directed by: Stephen Hereck Starring: Emilio Estevez, Joss Ackland, Lane Smith Released: October 2, 1992 A self-centered Minnesota lawyer is sentenced to community service coaching a rag tag youth hockey team. What I Thought Then This was our sports movie. We didn't do Rudy or  The Sandlot or The Bad News Bears or Little Giants . We did The Mighty Ducks and its sequels. Also, when this movie came out people told me that Averman was basically my twin, which caused me to do a little soul-searching. What I Think Now Some of these re-watches are a surprisingly rewarding, and some are so awkward that you have to pause halfway through and take a break. This was one of the latter. Let's start by saying something nice. The kids are good actors. (Oh, hey, Elden Hensen is in this! And so is... Jussie Smollet...) The hockey is well-shot. I can't tell if it's a  good hockey portrayal, but it's at least recognizable as the sport

MMYIF: Sister Act

My Misspent Youth In Films... Sister Act Directed by: Emile Ardolina Starring: Whoopi Goldberg, Maggie Smith, Kathy Najimy Released: May 29, 1992 When a nightclub singer is forced to take refuge from the mob in a convent, she ends up turning the convent choir into a soulful chorus complete with a Motown repertoire, until the sudden celebrity of the choir jeopardizes her identity. What I Thought Then Not only did we love this movie, we listened to the soundtrack a lot. I loved the music and had some very confusing feelings about Sister Mary Robert. What I Think Now Whoopi Goldberg is Deloris Van Cartier, a lounge singer who walks in on her mobster boyfriend bloodlessly murdering someone. She runs to the cops and is placed in witness protection, hiding in a small, struggling convent. While there, she does some unfunny fish-out-of-water comedy and locks horns with Maggie Smith's Mother Superior before settling in as choir-mistress. In this role, she reinvents their music program with


My Misspent Youth In Films... Hook Directed by: Steven Spielberg Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts Released: December 11, 1991 When Captain James Hook kidnaps his children, an adult Peter Pan must return to Neverland and reclaim his youthful spirit in order to challenge his old enemy. What I Thought Then A big fantasy adventure starring Mork. It was whimsical and visually inventive. We came back to it a lot. Also, the boo box was kind of scary to think about. What I Think Now Robin Williams is Peter Banning, a doughy workaholic absent father who goes with his family to visit his wife's grandmother and childhood home in London, which happens to be the same home where Peter Pan visited Wendy Darling in the stories that would later be fictionalized into the stories by J. M. Barrie. While there, his children are kidnapped by Captain Hook because, it turns out, Peter Banning is in fact Peter Pan, now all grown up and having entirely forgotten his childhood. Now he

MMYIF: Beauty and the Beast (1991)

My Misspent Youth In Films... Beauty and the Beast (1991) Directed by: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise Starring: Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, Jessi Corti Released: November 22, 1991 A prince cursed to spend his days as a hideous monster sets out to regain his humanity by earning a young woman's love. What I Thought Then It was my favorite of the Disney Renaissance era when it came out. I loved the music, the joyfulness of the finale, and felt like it was just an incredibly well-told story with some genuinely impressive technical accomplishments behind it. Also, Lumière was a great character. What I Think Now Boy, Disney's animation department was on a hot streak! They could do no wrong. The vibe was similar to what we felt in the early days of Pixar. And Beauty and the Beast  is arguably the best to come out of that entire era, and yet it does so while still sitting firmly in the Disney-animated-musical mold. This is still the era of villains who revel in their villainy, musicals

MMYIF: What About Bob?

My Misspent Youth In Films... What About Bob? Directed by: Frank Oz Starring: Billy Murray, Richard Dreyfuss, Julie Hagerty Released: August 17, 1991 A successful psychotherapist loses his mind after one of his most dependent patients, an obsessive-compulsive neurotic, tracks him down during his family vacation. What I Thought Then Peak Bill Murray. This was one the whole family rewatched, and we loved it. "I'll be peace" was referenced often in our house. What I Think Now There are a lot of different lenses through which you can appreciate this movie, and my level of appreciation fluctuates over the course of the film as these various lenses become apparent. On the one hand, it has a lot of its DNA in the "slobs vs snobs" genre of comedy that Murray cut his teeth on, a genre that's pretty passé these days and not one that I particularly enjoy. On the other hand, it's kind of "the odd couple, but with therapy" and that's fun. On yet another

The Wheel of Time is not Game of Thrones... Nor Should It Be

The long-anticipated live-action adaptation of Robert Jordan's epic fantasy cycle The Wheel of Time  landed on Amazon Prime last weekend. I've watched the first three episodes and I have opinions! I'm a fan of the books, but I had a decidedly mixed reaction to the show. There are things I really like about it. I like the diverse casting. If there were ever a property that could be diversified while still holding to its medieval sword-and-sorcery roots, it's this one. This is the series that asks the question: "What if desert bedouins were Celts, but also ninjas?" I like the location shots. They're beautiful and unique, and very clearly not shot in New Zealand. I loved the design of Shadar Logoth. And I'm mostly fine with the changes from the books so far, with one big Perrin-shaped exception that I'll get into later. What I'm less thrilled about is the mostly unlikable characters, the grim-and-gritty vibe, and the need to shock and depress audi

MMYIF: Terminator 2: Judgment Day

My Misspent Youth In Films... Terminator 2: Judgment Day Directed by: James Cameron Starring: Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong Released: July 3, 1991 A cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, must now protect her ten-year-old son John from a more advanced and powerful cyborg. What I Thought Then An epic action adventure, much better than the original, and it was great to see a different side of Leonardo DiCaprio and Chase from The Mickey Mouse Club. (Yes, I thought both of those actors were in this movie... neither of them are.) What I Think Now This is the best film in the entire Terminator  franchise, full-stop, no qualifiers. Every other movie is bad except the first one, which is only fine (it has a good story and compelling action, but it's marred by clunky effects, saggy pacing, melodrama, and James Cameron's weird insistence on casting Bill Paxton as a "tough"). This one takes all the groundwork from the original movie

MMYIF: The Rocketeer

 My Misspent Youth In Films... The Rocketeer Directed by: Joe Johnston Starring: Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin Released: June 21, 1991 A young pilot stumbles onto a prototype jetpack that allows him to become a high-flying masked hero. What I Thought Then The first time I watched it I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where I knew Jennifer Connelly from. I liked this one a lot, although I don't remember watching it all that often. It may be the first time I ever read a tie-in novelization. Also, I couldn't understand why Elton John's Rocket Man  wasn't featured in the movie at all--that seemed like a gimme. What I Think Now Was this Disney's first foray into comic book superhero movies? It might be. The film stars Bill Campbell as Cliff, a pilot who finds a jetpack in an old plane that was left there by mobsters running away from the FBI. Along with his coworker and roommate (I guess?) Peevy, played by Alan Arkin, Cliff ends up strapping the t

MMYIF: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

My Misspent Youth In Films... Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Directed by: Kevin Reynolds Starring: Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio Released: June 14, 1991 When Robin and his Moorish companion come to England and the tyranny of the Sheriff of Nottingham, he decides to fight back as an outlaw. What I Thought Then I thought it was one of the best interpretations of Robin Hood  that I'd ever seen. Way better than that one with the animals. And much more serious. What I Think Now This is Kevin Costner at the peak of his career. Field of Dreams  and The Untouchables  were behind him. The apocalyptic miscalculations of Waterworld  and The Postman  were still in the future. He'd just come off directing and starring in the awards darling Dances with Wolves , and here he was teaming up with his old friend/director Kevin Reynolds to make a reinterpretation of Robin Hood  that focused on a "poor little rich kid discovers social justice" angle instead of

MMYIF: Kindergarten Cop

My Misspent Youth In Films... Kindergarten Cop Directed by: Ivan Reitman Starring: Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Penelope Ann Miller, Pamela Reed Released: December 21, 1990 A tough cop must pose as a kindergarten teacher in order to locate a dangerous criminal's ex-wife, who may hold the key to putting him behind bars. What I Thought Then I knew Arnold primarily from Predator,   The Running Man , and Twins , and I remember this being an amusing fish-out-of-water comedy with some fun action beats and some memorable lines. What I Think Now Can we just take a moment to marvel at how weird Arnold Schwarzeneggar's career was? I mean, there was a stretch where this Austrian behemoth was routinely cast as an all-American everyman because he was the world's biggest action star and after Die Hard  came out every action film had to be about an everyman facing impossible odds in order to save his family or some such. Over the course of the 80s and 90s, we are led to believe that Arnold was

MMYIF: Home Alone

My Misspent Youth In Films... Home Alone Directed by: Chris Columbus Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern Released: November 10, 1990 An eight-year-old troublemaker must protect his house from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation. What I Thought Then This was an unexpected hit that people just couldn't stop talking about. It was a wish-fulfillment fantasy that spoke to every elementary-school boy's desire to beat up dumb criminals while protecting their home. I guess. What I Think Now The biggest difference for me watching this movie now is that I relate a whole lot more to the plight of the parents. Catherine O'Hara's near-maniacal drive to get home to her son feels 100% authentic, whereas it seemed like background plot business that ate up time between set-pieces when I watched it as a kid. To be sure, this is a film largely framed around one big set-piece at the finale, in which Kevin McAlist

MMYIF: Ducktales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp

My Misspent Youth In Films... Ducktales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp Directed by: Bob Hathcock Starring: Alan Burnett, Christopher Lloyd, Terence McGovern Released: August 3, 1990 Scrooge McDuck takes Huey, Dewey, and Louie to Egypt to find a pyramid and magic lamp. What I Thought Then A feature-length version of one of my favorite "Disney Afternoon" television shows. Behind Darkwing Duck , obviously. What I Think Now For good or for ill, it really is just a feature-length version of the television show. Barely. At seventy-five minutes, it's technically a movie, though it features roughly the same level of animation that you'd expect from a television show. It makes zero attempt to catch new viewers up on the characters or the world. Are Huey, Dewey, and Louie even named in this? The story is functional--the plot is cohesive and there's a whiff of a narrative arc underpinning it all--but it still feels pretty derivative. You'd swear it was nothing but

MMYIF: Arachnophobia

My Misspent Youth In Films... Arachnophobia Directed by: Frank Marshall Starring: Jeff Daniels, Julian Sands, John Goodman Released: July 18, 1990 A species of South American killer spider hitches a lift to the U.S. in a coffin and starts to breed and kill. What I Thought Then This was one of the first thrillers that I really glommed onto. It was on TV a fair amount and had some excellent humor. And besides, it's not like it was going to make me more  afraid of spiders than I already was. (True story: I once bug-bombed my entire apartment because I found a wolf spider in my laundry.) What I Think Now Jeff Daniels stars as Ross Jennings, a arachnophobic family practitioner who has relocated his family to the small town of Canaima to get away from the hustle and bustle (and earthquakes) of the San Francisco. However, two big problems meet him when he gets there: the doctor whose practice Jennings was supposed to take over has decided at the last minute that he's not ready to reti

MMYIF Grown-up Movie Double Feature: Bird on a Wire / Ghost

My Misspent Youth In Films... Bird on a Wire Directed by: John Badham Starring: Mel Gibson, Goldie Hawn, David Carradine Released: May 18, 1990 An old flame discovers her ex-boyfriend from the past is a relocated FBI informant out to stop the bad guys. Ghost Directed by: Jerry Zucker (yes, that  Jerry Zucker) Starring: Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg Released: July 13, 1990 After a young man is murdered, his spirit stays behind to warn his lover of impending danger, with the help of a reluctant psychic. What I Thought Then These are two of the adultier movies in our collection that I was probably too young to watch but watched anyway and the rule in our house seemed to be "well if they've seen it once there's no harm in them seeing it again." I only understood the stories in the broadest senses, but I really enjoyed the set-pieces and tone, as well as the bits of humor. What I Think Now Both of these movies feel like throw-backs, in a way. They're mid-

MMYIF: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie

 My Misspent Youth In Films... Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Directed by: Steve Barron Starring: Judith Hoag, Elias Koteas, Josh Bais Released: March 30, 1990 Four teenage mutant ninja turtles emerge from the shadows to protect New York City from a gang of criminal ninjas. What I Thought Then This movie was huge. It was the second big cultural touchstone for my generation to transition to the big screen (the first being The Transformers-- we don't talk about Masters of the Universe ), but this one made the further jump from animation to live action. It was ruthlessly entertaining to my nine year old brain, and yet it still felt like a big, serious story with higher stakes and harsher consequences than we'd gotten from the television show. I was hooked. What I Think Now For many years into my adulthood I unabashedly loved this movie. Now... I somewhat abashedly love it. Parts of it have aged poorly, and parts of it I've aged out of. But it's still a high-intensity dose of