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Showing posts from 2021

MMYIF: Joe Versus the Volcano

 My Misspent Youth In Films... Joe Versus the Volcano Directed by: John Patrick Shanley Starring: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Lloyd Bridges Released: March 9, 1990 When a hypochondriac learns that he is dying, he accepts an offer to throw himself in a volcano at a tropical island, and along the way there, learns to truly live. What I Thought Then I remember there was a lot of slapstick humor in this, as well as the second-most-famous set of luggage in all of nerd-dom. What I Think Now Well, if this isn't some biting social satire dressed up as a romantic comedy draped loosely across a fairy-tale framework. It's kind of funny how having a soul-sucking job in a depressing office just doesn't seem all that relatable at 10, but feels much more personal now, as does Joe's lonely, vacuous home-life. (23 was a dark time for me, okay?) There's a theatricality to this movie that feels like a less-nihilistic version of Terry Gilliam's Brazil . During the opening credits , we see

MMYIF: Back to the Future Part II

 My Misspent Youth In Films... Back to the Future Part II Directed by: Robert Zemeckis Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson Released: November 22, 1989 After visiting 2015, Marty McFly must repeat his visit to 1955 to prevent disastrous changes to 1985...without interfering with his first trip. What I Thought Then Weirdly, this was on the only movie out of the BttF trilogy that we owned a copy of, having--ahem--time-shifted it off of a rental. And at some point someone (probably me) accidentally taped over like ten seconds from the middle of the Cafe 80s sequence. I remember it being fun and kinda scary in the middle What I Think Now Everything about this movie is an over-the-top romp and I absolutely love it. The characters are big and boisterous, the plot is bonkers, and the film's depiction of the future is just a big, fun, wacky mess. Even when things go dark and dystopian in Act II, it's hilariously so, with cop cars randomly crashed in front of house

MMYIF: The Little Mermaid

My Misspent Youth In Films... The Little Mermaid Directed by: Ron Clements and John Musker Starring: Jodie Benson, Samuel E. Wright, Rene Auburjonois Released: November 17, 1989 A mermaid princess makes a Faustian bargain in an attempt to become human and win a prince's love. What I Thought Then This movie came out of freaking nowhere. A studio best-known for depressing movies about animals released this thing that was joyful and spoke to every child's sense of how parents just don't understand us. And also  Under The Sea  was an absolute banger, as the kids say. This movie kicked off the Disney renaissance of the 90s and its hard to overstate just how pervasive it was in the culture. What I Think Now There's been a lot of discourse around this movie in the last thirty-odd years, such as the feminist backlash against Disney Princesses or the revelations about how Ursula was not only patterned on the drag queen Divine--and indeed, the number Poor Unfortunately Souls

MMYIF: Turner & Hooch

My Misspent Youth In Films... Turner & Hooch Directed by: Roger Spottiswoode Starring: Tom Hanks, Mare Winningham, Craig T. Nelson Released: July 28, 1989 A detective must adopt a rambunctious dog in order to help him find a killer. What I Thought Then I remember this being one of the more serious movies we watched because there was a police procedural subplot. The dog antics were fun, but mostly I remember specific jokes like Tom Hanks trimming his nose hairs or "This is not your room" or "Send hail, God. Hail the size of cantaloupes." What I Think Now This movie is super horny for Hanks. Our first shot of him is a slow pan up his body while he's exercising on a ski machine, sweat glistening off his face. He spends an inordinate amount of time in his underwear--which are not white but are definitely tight. While watching with my wife I asked if she thought the movie was especially female-gaze-y. She responded that it was not, but that it was probably what a

MMYIF Happy Birthday Double Feature: Batman / Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

My Misspent Youth In Films... Batman Directed by: Tim Burton Starring: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger Released: June 23, 1989 The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being Jack Napier, a criminal who becomes the clownishly homicidal Joker. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Directed by: Joe Johnston Starring: Rick Moranis, Matt Frewer, Marcia Strassman Released: June 23, 1989 The scientist father of a teenage girl and boy accidentally shrinks his and two other neighborhood teens to the size of insects. Now the teens must fight diminutive dangers as the father searches for them. What I Thought Then These two movies released on my ninth birthday, and it's quite likely I saw them both in the theater at some point. Both had huge hype trains--I owned Batman  trading cards--and were considered special-effects bonanzas for their time. And both were in heavy rotation in our home. For a few years, Batman  was a mainstay of Thanksgiving Day watch

MMYIF: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

My Misspent Youth In Films... Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Directed by: Steven Spielberg Starring: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Alison Doody Released: May 24, 1989 In 1938, after his father Professor Henry Jones, Sr. goes missing while pursuing the Holy Grail, Professor Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. finds himself up against Adolf Hitler's Nazis again to stop them from obtaining its powers. What I Thought Then This was the only Indiana Jones movie we watched in my household. Raiders  was intense, but didn't really hold my attention as a child, and I noped right out of Temple of Doom . And they never made a fourth one. And thank god, right? Because it would have been terrible if they had. What I Think Now 1989 was a helluva summer for movies in general and movie franchises in particular. Batman  would kick off an early boom in mainstreaming superhero movies, Disney would enter their animation renaissance, Weird Al's UHF  would help spell the end of Orion Picture

MMYIF: The Naked Gun

My Misspent Youth In Films... The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! Directed by: David Zucker Starring: Leslie Nielson, Priscilla Presley, O.J. Simpson Released: December 2, 1988 Incompetent police Detective Frank Drebin must foil an attempt to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II. What I Thought Then I thought Leslie Nielson was a comic genius based on this movie, its sequel, and the various other spoofs he made. What I Think Now I've said it before, but satire is extremely hard to pull off, and I generally don't think Abrams and Zucker are as good at it as they're reputed to be. Their best works tend to be remakes of actual schlock rather than send-ups of shlocky trends in genre pieces. Notably, Airplane!  is a remake of Zero Hour  with jokes added in, and the pilot episode of Police Squad!  is essentially a remake of the second season premier of the show M Squad . Side note: do people know that Police Squad!  was a television show? Or that The Naked Gun: From the File

MMYIF: Without a Clue

My Misspent Youth In Films... Without a Clue Directed by: Thom Eberhardt Starring: Michael Caine, Ben Kingsley, Jeffrey Jones Released: October 21, 1988 A drunken Sherlock Holmes is really just a cover for the real detective, Dr. Watson. What I Thought Then This was my first introduction to the character of Sherlock Holmes and for many years after the Holmes/Watson dynamic in this film was my default way of thinking about the characters. Which is just shockingly wrong. What I Think Now Dr. John Watson is a genius who, several years back, solved a mystery for the police but didn't want to reveal that he was the one who solved it, as he was hoping to receive an appointment to a fairly conservative medical college where they would probably frown on him solving mysteries in his spare time. So he invented a character named Sherlock Holmes, attributed the solution to him, and suddenly everyone wanted to meet this man. Watson hired an alcoholic third-rate actor named Reginald Kinkade to p

MMYIF Used Rental Bargain Bin Double Feature: Hot To Trot / Elvira: Mistress of the Dark

My Misspent Youth In Films... Hot To Trot Directed by: Michael Dinner Starring: Bobcat Goldthwait, Dabney Coleman, John Candy Released: August 26, 1988 Comedian Bob Goldthwait stars as an insecure stockbroker who teams up with Don the Talking Horse, a chatty four-legged financial advisor. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark Directed by: James Signorelli Starring: Cassandra Peterson, Phil Rubenstein, Larry Flash Jenkins Released: September 30, 1988 Upon arriving in a small town where she has inherited a rundown mansion, a famous horror hostess battles an evil uncle, and townspeople who want her burned at the stake. What I Thought Then For a family with an extensive VHS collection, we purchased very few of them new. Most of our movies were... uh... time-shifted indefinitely from TV, but a significant portion were purchased second-hand from the video rental section of our grocery store. Because, yes, grocery stores rented movies even before Redbox. I have no idea why we owned (or were allowed to

MMYIF: Short Circuit 2

My Misspent Youth In Films... Short Circuit 2 Directed by: Kenneth Johnson Starring: Fisher Stevens, Michael McKean, Tim Blaney Released: July 6, 1988 Robot Johnny Five comes to the city and gets manipulated by criminals who want him for their own purposes. What I Thought Then A silly romp featuring everyone's favorite fast-talking robot and his nutty inventor friend Ben. We watched this a lot . What I Think Now Sooooo, are we gonna talk about the brown-face now? Or are we going to come back to it? Let's come back to it. The original Short Circuit  was a Steve Guttenberg comedy featuring an interesting sci-fi concept that's awfully slow for the first two acts and has exactly one memorable line: "Hey laser-lips, your mother was a snow-blower!" It also has Fisher Stevens in a minor roll as Guttenberg's partner Ben, an Indian played by a white dude because that was just a thing that happened in the 80s--no, no, we're gonna talk about it later. Anyway, the fir

MMYIF: Who Framed Roger Rabbit

My Misspent Youth In Films... Who Framed Roger Rabbit Directed by: Robert Zemeckis Starring: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy Released: June 22, 1988 A toon-hating detective is a cartoon rabbit's only hope to prove his innocence when he is accused of murder. What I Thought Then This was a fun movie that was also a crazy-impressive technical accomplishment starring a rabbit whose comic sensibilities closely mirrored my own. Also, I was always surprised to hear Bob Hoskins' natural accent after seeing this film. What I Think Now It's still very impressive, on a technical level. Think about all of the challenges of a modern digital film but without being able to do any compositing. All you can do is draw on the existing frames, and anything you draw will obviously be drawn. That means a lot more effort needs to be made during principal photography to stage the shots for later insertion of animated characters. When a cartoon weasel is holding a real prop gun, that


My Misspent Youth In Films... Big Directed by: Penny Marshall Starring: Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, Robert Loggia Released: June 3, 1988 After wishing to be made big, a teenage boy wakes the next morning to find himself mysteriously in the body of an adult. What I Thought Then Honestly, at age 10 or so, this felt like a kid empowerment fantasy with some boring relationship bits at the end. What I Think Now I think what amuses me most about the premise is that it's basically just another  Freaky Friday  remake, but with the less interesting half cut out. And man , does this film play differently now that I'm middle-aged. It doesn't even feel like the same movie. It's uncanny. As a kid, I was 100% on board with Josh Baskins (Tom Hanks) and his life choices and I laughed uproariously at the adults around him who didn't understand why he was acting the way he was. Now that I'm grown, I felt a little embarrassed for him. As a kid, I couldn't understand why his

MMYIF: Beetlejuice

My Misspent Youth In Films... Beetlejuice Directed by: Tim Burton Starring: Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Michael Keaton Released: March 30, 1988 The spirits of a deceased couple are harassed by an unbearable family that has moved into their home, and hire a malicious spirit to drive them out. What I Thought Then A goofy and kinda spooky movie, to be sure, but I was mainly here for Beetlejuice's antics. Also, I was a fan of the tie-in Saturday morning cartoon . What I Think Now Oh, hey, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, and Michael Keaton are in this! And also Winona Ryder and Catherine O'Hara. And that creepy guy from Ferris Bueller's Day Off . It's crazy to think that this was Tim Burton's second feature-length movie, after Pee-Wee's Big Adventure , or that he would follow it up with Batman . This film firmly established him as an auteur and made him a household name. It's a rich playground for his fervent imagination, darkly comic sensibilities, and signature camp-

MMYIF: The Princess Bride

My Misspent Youth In Films... The Princess Bride Directed by: Rob Reiner Starring: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright Released: October 9, 1987 While home sick in bed, a young boy's grandfather reads him the story of a farmboy-turned-pirate who encounters numerous obstacles, enemies and allies in his quest to be reunited with his true love. What I Thought Then My sister and I regularly disagreed about what movies to watch. I wanted to watch Star Wars  and she wanted to watch Babes In Toyland . So we'd compromise and watch this instead. What I Think Now This is my favorite movie. I've probably seen it a hundred times. I watch it at least once a year, and we quote it often around the house. We just showed it to the kids, so now they know why I say "Have fun storming the castle" when my wife is going to run errands. It's damned near perfect, and even three decades later it holds up brilliantly. It's got a taut script and a pace that's brisk without

MMYIF: The Monster Squad

My Misspent Youth In Films... The Monster Squad Directed by: Fred Dekker Starring: Andre Bower, Robby Kiger, Stephen Macht Released: August 14, 1987 A young group of monster fanatics attempt to save their hometown from Count Dracula and his monsters. What I Thought Then This was a fun, edgy, kid-centric horror movie with some comic element and a few iconic lines of dialogue. What I Think Now Good grief... Some of these movies I revisit knowing that they're not going to hold up well on re-watch. Some of them pleasantly surprise me; most are exactly what I expect them to be. But this one... I didn't expect  it to be good, but I had no idea how bad it was. This feels like it was made for twelve-year-olds  by  twelve-year-olds. There's a profound lack of story, character development, or even basic narrative cohesiveness. This is a film with an important character named "Scary German Guy". This is a movie in which a seven-year-old successfully calls in the military by

MMYIF: Robocop (1987)

My Misspent Youth In Films... Robocop Directed by: Paul Verhoeven Starring: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O'Herlihy Released: July 17, 1987 In a dystopic and crime-ridden Detroit, a terminally wounded cop returns to the force as a powerful cyborg haunted by submerged memories. What I Thought Then I watched this movie when I was seven years old and wouldn't eat red meat for two weeks after. It was the awesomest thing I'd ever seen. What I Think Now In my defense, they marketed this to children. I mean, they didn't really, but they totally did. There was an arcade game, a Nintendo port of that game, even a Saturday morning cartoon . It was one of many not-in-any-way-appropriate-for-children movies that dominated playground conversation when I was in grade school. The only film series that got more talk was probably the Nightmare on Elm Street  franchise, because if there's one thing kids like talking about more than robot cops with targeting computers built into thei