Danny Glover

The Royal Tenenbaums

Year: 2001
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Written By: Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson

RYAN’S REVIEW

This one takes me back to a long time ago when life was so much simpler. A time when a good time was a an hour down the road at my brother’s apartment and life’s greatest concern was getting school work done on time. It was at my brother’s apartment where I first saw this film and I fell in love with it immediately. I was in college myself at the time and this movie just spoke to me at that time and place in life.

I think Wes Anderson is an awesome filmmaker with a very unique style that sets him apart. I am a bigger fan of the movie he followed this one up with, The Life Aquatic, but this was a great movie in and of itself. This movie tells an interesting story about a family that used to be a big deal but tragedy befell them all as time moved on. They are all estranged until they find themselves being drawn together for the first time in almost 20 years. Their conflicting and contrasting personalities make for a great black comedy.

The cast of this movie is quite remarkable. I don’t know the whole back story behind the connection between Wes Anderson and the Wilson brothers. I know they went to college together and have a friendship beyond their careers but there is certainly more to the story than that. He must be a quite likable director because many actors and actresses continue to work with him regularly. Some even go out of their way for him actually. I read that during the shooting of this movie some of the other actors like Anjelica Huston and Bill Murray would specifically work to shield Anderson from Gene Hackman who notoriously can be difficult to work with. I read that Murray would actually show up on set during his days off just for this purpose.

Whether he was hard to work with or not I have always been a big fan of Hackman and like him in this movie specifically. He is perfect as Royal Tenenbaum and I think it was a role that capped off a great career. It hurts my heart to consider that after more than a decade of not acting we have definitely seen the last of him. At 86 years old he is still with us though, and hopefully enjoying his retirement. The last time I heard anything about Hackman he had been in a road rage incident in which he beat up somebody giving him guff, and that was only a few years ago. The man, even in his 80’s, is too badass for the general public to cross. I could be wrong about the story I’m remembering but I like it the way I remember it.

Beyond Hackman the cast is nothing short of fantastic. It’s always fun to see Ben Stiller and the Wilson brothers together but I think specific props go to Gwyneth Paltrow who played such an interesting character in this one. I think the role that Bill Murray plays is his weakest of all the roles he has played in Wes Anderson films. Murray is great as always but his character is just underused and not his best. I think Danny Glover is fantastic as Herny Sherman. While still very active as an actor Glover just doesn’t get the roles he used to and that’s a shame.

I don’t feel like I’ve said enough about this movie but this movie is all Wes Anderson and I have written my thoughts on him before. For more insight into my thoughts on the director see some of our reviews of his other films. We have reviewed The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limitedand Moonrise KingdomWe also have The Grand Budapest Hotel in the collection but it was a late addition we have yet to get around to reviewing.

So in the spirit of not being redundant I’m going to close out this review simply by letting you know that this movie is worth your time. If you are a fan of Wes Anderson then you should have already seen it but if you aren’t then you should check it out and see what you’ve been missing.

I am sure there is plenty of backstory to this movie that is interesting and note worthy. Unfortunately I have never taken the time to read about it. Anybody who does know more about the Anderson/Wilson relationship and how it transitions into the movie feel free to leave a comment and enlighten us.

NEXT MOVIE: The Rules of Attraction (2002)

 

 

Lethal Weapon 2

Year: 1989
Directed By: Richard Donner
Written By: Jeffrey Boam, Shane Black, and Warren Murphy

RYAN’S REVIEW

I couldn’t even begin to think where I would start with this review before starting the movie but holy shit that’s Dean Norris! I am a big fan of Norris from his role on Breaking Bad but was under the impression that was the only thing I had ever seen him in.  I never thought about how much he had aged and it turns out he was in the background of a few beloved action movies from the late 80s and early 90s.  In addition to this film he played small parts in Total Recall and Terminator 2This might seem silly but it has certainly brightened a bad day to realize this for the first time.  Without even looking I can clearly see in my mind who he played in Total Recall; he played a mutant who fights for the resistance and has some large growth or thing on his face.

images (1) This is the only picture I could find from the movie that showed the character he played.  He’s that guy to the very left who has a little more hair than the version we have now on Under the Dome and Breaking Bad. Exciting right?

As for this movie I think it is a pretty cool sequel.  Not quite the same exact thing as the first film and the heat was turned up quite a bit. This has everything a good sequel to an action movie should have: More action, more profanity, and more nudity.  Not only that but this film had the addition of Joe Pesci, and I’m under the impression that any movie is instantly better the minute Pesci steps on set. This wasn’t his best role granted, but still, you can’t go wrong with Joe Pesci.  The beauty of this movie was that it didn’t have to really be anything special. It only had to be more of what people already loved and that’s exactly what it was.

Mel Gibson and Danny Glover had terrific chemistry and they only got better a second time around.  This movie took everything from the first film a step further and in truth may have taken a step too far.  Far too often second films can be so good that they raise the bar too high, so high that a third film can’t hope to achieve the same success.  Off the top of my head I’m thinking specifically about Terminator 2, X-Men 2and The Dark Knight.  I didn’t dislike the third film in this franchise but I didn’t like it either.  It was all wrong really, everything from the PG-13 rating to the sub par story line.   

We do not own the third or fourth film in this franchise and I never intend to.  I cannot stress enough how asinine I think it is to take a franchise built on an R rating and soften it up to make it PG-13.  I get why they do it because it’s all about money and kids spend money on movies.  Nevertheless I think as adults we deserve movies that are made just for us and this franchise wasn’t for the kids, neither was the Die Hard franchise for that matter.  I don’t care what anybody says, action heroes and their enemies are just much cooler and more believable when they are letting the fucks fly.  Die Hard going to PG-13 was much worse than this was though, at least Riggs didn’t have a catch phrase he couldn’t say anymore because of the new rating.  Murtaugh’s “I’m too old for this shit,” was still acceptable to get the rating but I can’t help but think Die Hard lost something when Willis couldn’t say his tagline anymore because it ended with motherfucker. Not only that but I can’t fathom how John McClane goes from saying fuck every other word to a dialogue absent of the word altogether.

This was a cool follow up to a really cool movie and if you liked the first one there is little doubt you will be satisfied with this one as well.  I like that the bad guys were from South Africa because it is so easy to hate Afrikaners whether they are breaking the law under the shield of diplomatic immunity or simply being racist assholes.  I don’t know if the diplomatic immunity thing is accurate but feel like anybody that would take something from this movie as fact and accurate should probably stand up and bang his head against the wall. Certainly it may exist in some small form but I seriously doubt diplomats from foreign nations are simply allowed carte blanche while they are here.  Nevertheless I do not know and won’t lower myself to researching the accuracy of something from an 80s action sequel.  Regardless, this is an awesome movie that is a lot of fun.  It’s a must see for action fans and it’s without doubt worth your time.

NEXT MOVIE: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

Lethal Weapon

Year: 1987
Directed By: Richard Donner
Written By: Shane Black

RYAN’S REVIEW

I think this is an action movie equally as significant as Die Hard was for the genre; the buddy cop action comedy film that would influence so many that followed. It was a very successful film that would lead to three sequels and countless knockoffs.  Were Mel Gibson still even vaguely marketable today we might still be seeing Lethal Weapon movies just as we are still seeing Die Hard movies being made.  I’m not really a fan of these franchises continuing past their time but studios will do anything these days to cash in on name recognition.  There has actually been talk of rebooting this franchise all together with new cast members and a new story.  I think it’s a shameful and pathetic idea.  Luckily this was an idea announced back in 2011 and nothing has ever come of it.  It would be a waste to do it now; not only would it probably come with  PG-13 rating today but there is no reason to think it would be successful at all.  It’s one thing to reboot superhero films but quite another to reboot an action franchise that’s formula has been copied time and time again.  There is no value other than name recognition and the market out there today isn’t going to turn out for a name that hasn’t really been popular in over twenty years.

I don’t think this was a franchise that had a lot of staying power in the industry but I do think it had its day in the sun.  The first two films are great.  They are action packed with witty dialogue and a cast that was spectacular at the time.  I’ll admit I had a difficult time trying to get into this movie watching it again last night because it is so hard to look at Mel Gibson and take him seriously again.  What a far fall from grace that man has had, to the point that I can’t even watch his older movies and enjoy them like I used to.  I used to think he was great in this movie and in truth he was but watching it now I’m thinking he didn’t do a whole lot of acting in it.  He plays a cop that might be a little crazy and this no longer seems like a convincing performance from an actor who might be seriously crazy.  Still, I can remember a time when I really liked the Riggs character. I liked that he was this cop who was sort of crazy and just really skilled when came to killing people.  The franchise lost me when they got away from that though.  Not only was it a bad decision to make the third movie PG-13 but in the fourth movie they went way out there.  Making the third film PG-13 was crazy and really limited the effectiveness of Joe Pesci.  Let’s face it, the guy just isn’t himself when he isn’t saying the “fuck” word over and over again.  In the fourth film Riggs was just any other cop.  What happened to the killing machine that knew Ju-Jit-Su and could snap necks with his ankles?  Every time he crosses paths with Jet Li he gets his ass handed to him in that movie.  I thought it really strayed from the character that chooses to close out this first film by fist fighting with the bad guy just because he can. Riggs was cool because he was a crazy killer, when they tried to make him family friendly they destroyed the character. Incidentally, Bruce Willis was first considered for the role of Riggs, oh how different the movie and action genre might have been had that happened.

I have always been a fan of Danny Glover and I like him as the “old school” cop in these movies.  Yeah his chronic complaining about how he has gotten too old for this shit got annoying from time to time but I still liked him.  Glover is 66 years old now and still very active as an actor but he hasn’t had any really significant parts in a long time.  In truth he never really had many significant parts outside of this franchise and The Color Purple but I still liked him all the same. Gary Busey got top billing as the villain and I thought he showed quite a knack for the role as Mr. Joshua.  Like Gibson, Busey is a bit of a crazy guy but the difference is that people never fell in love with Busey like they did Gibson.  I don’t know that Busey is really as crazy as he comes off either or if it’s all just a front to maintain some relevance in today’s media world.  Nevertheless he was great in this movie; cold and capable of killing anybody whenever he was on screen.  His career was on a downward spiral before he landed this part and credits it with reviving his career. Busey has developed into a more popular reality TV character than he ever was as an actor but I have liked many of his roles in cheesy action movies.  My favorite probably being his role as Commander Krill in “Die Hard on a Boat.”

This movie is as cool now as it was when it first came out.  It has everything you want out of a mindless action movie and actually set the tone for all action movies to come. It is a significant film that is worth your time and if you like action movies then this is a must see.

NEXT MOVIE: Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

Antz

Year: 1998
Directed By: Eric Darnell and Tim Johnson
Written By: Tim Alcott and Chris Weitz

RYAN’S REVIEW

In passing I’ve noticed a pattern in movies that I have never looked into but garners some need for research.  Frequently during the mid to later 90s two movies were released at the same time that were virtually the same thing.  Off the top of my head I remember these examples: Volcano (1997) and Dante’s Peak (1997), The Sixth Sense (1999) and Stir of Echoes (1999), Armageddon (1998) and Deep Impact (1998), Tombstone (1993) and Wyatt Earp (1994), and of course this movie, Antz and A Bug’s Life both made in 1998. Those 10 movies are merely the ones I can remember specifically off the top of my head, I’m sure I could think of many more if I gave it more thought. I don’t think this is coincidental, but I’m sure there is a fascinating story that practically nobody will ever know about behind it all.  It probably has to do with the big time movie studios and the rivalries that most of us will never know about.  In this case I think Dreamworks was trying to prove a point to Disney, but I know nothing factual about it, just my own personal assumption. I don’t know why I have never researched this trend myself but it is weird.  Typically I only saw one of these movies and didn’t care about the other.  Just about every one of these movies had large and reputable cast.  This one is no different sporting the voices of Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Gene Hackman, Christopher Walken, Donald Glover, and Jennifer Lopez.

Far too often this movie feels like a typical Woody Allen movie but the strength of the story and cast make it worth wild.  Most of the animated movies in our collection have been taken off our movie rack and moved to our daughter’s collection.  This movie remains because it doesn’t seem even remotely like a kids movie to me.  There isn’t anything childish or silly about it, yeah it’s about ants but they are ants with really adult problems.  Z is questioning his purpose in life, the queen is nervous about her arranged wedding, the General is planning a hostile takeover, an entire ant army platoon is specifically sent to their death in battle. These don’t seem like problems young children would understand or care about, and in some cases I don’t know that they are even appropriate story lines for children.  I imagine A Bug’s Life was more kid friendly.  Early on, this was one of the movies that got me interested in animated films, and showed me that they were moving away from the stereotype of being only for kids. These days Amber and I find ourselves loving the movies we watch for Cadence as much as we love the ones we watch for ourselves.  Up, How to Train Your Dragon, The Incredibles just to name a few are fantastic movies that I enjoy as much as I enjoy any of my favorite movies.

Antz is a cool movie and if you have a chance to see it you should check it out.  It’s a funny and interesting film that is easily forgettable because it came out at the same time as A Bug’s Life.  There have also been so many successful animated films released  in the last 12 years that this movie is overshadowed.  Never the less, take it from me, this movie is worth your time and you will probably like it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

There are two types of people in this world, optimistic and pessimistic. The main character in this film, Z is the worst case scenario pessimistic person. We all know them. This movie is really made for adults and contains many real life morals and lessons for humans, set into the life of ants. I thoroughly enjoy the real life questions this movie poses and answers. From the worker, to the fighter, to the queen and the free ant, they all relate to our own human life questions. This movie is worth watching.

NEXT MOVIE: Any Given Sunday (1999)