Gary Busey

Point Break

Year: 1991
Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow
Written By: Rick King and W. Peter Iliff (story) Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

When it comes to adrenaline fueled action films there are few that are as fun as this one. As I have always said, the cool factor is important in any film, especially in a mindless exaggerated action flick. Being cool in an action movie is as important as being scary in a horror film. This movie not only has the cool factor but all along the way there is shooting, surfing, and skydiving. What more could you want? With a cast that screams the early 1990s and a great filmmaking duo this film never fails to entertain. Despite being a household favorite while I was growing up this was never a movie I intended to own because I always considered it a bit silly. Yet it found its way into the collection anyway when I bought it as a gift for my brother a year or so ago for Christmas and just decided to assimilate into the collective instead. I specifically remember wrapping the gift for him and reflecting on the film as I did so. I thought to myself “this is a cool movie, why do I have a stick up my ass about it?” and before I knew it I was fitting it onto the shelf in the “P” section.

It’s true that I do have a certain mentality about this type of movie today. I don’t even watch the mindless action flicks that are coming out anymore but I appreciate the ones that I grew up with. When our collection was smaller I had a smug attitude about the films that would be part of it and I felt it was too good to be sullied by silly action films like this. As the collection grew it absorbed plenty of movies that made that line of thinking moot and there was no reason to deny this movie. This movie is cool and it is fun. As entertaining as any cops and robbers film and plenty of films have since ripped off exactly what this movie did. As I started to wrap this movie up for my brother years ago I thought about all of this and decided there was no need to waste it on him. I had already bought the DVD, might as well just keep it for myself because I had a place for it. I had suddenly realized it belonged and I couldn’t send it away to collect dust on some other shelf as part of an insignificant collection of films that had no purpose. I am such an compulsive person when it comes to collecting things and would it not be for my wife I would most likely be the worst kind of packrat. I channel all that type of insanity into this movie collection and for me it embodies something that has taken on a life of it’s own.

This movie always reminds me of my stepdad. While we differ in this way, my stepdad and stepbrother have always been thrill seekers. I, as a naturally clumsy and accident prone person, steer clear of activities involving such obvious opportunity for risk and embarrassment. They on the other hand have always been fearless in the face of danger and when I was about 15 or 16 my stepdad went skydiving for the first time. This involved many nights both before and after where as a family we all sat down to films like Drop Zone, a few of the Roger Moore James Bond pics, and of course Point Break. It was much more fun before the actual skydiving because seeing these movies afterwards in round two consisted of nonstop talk about how unrealistic it was. First time around I had no idea that you didn’t have time for all kinds of acrobatics as you fell through the sky. I was completely innocent of how ridiculous the notion of jumping out of a plane without a parachute was. I knew deep down such a thing was ridiculous but it was still cool to see Johnny Utah jump out of the plane without a chute to chase down Bodhi through the air. After all, I had seen Roger Moore as James Bond do it several times when I was growing up. It was kind of a buzzkill to watch it in round two and hear all about how this wasn’t right and that wasn’t possible. Who cares what is and isn’t possible when watching a movie like this anyway? The skydiving scenes in this movie are about as cool as they get, and as a person who intends to always stay grounded I at least like to imagine such things could really be so cool.

The cast of this movie is like a snapshot of 1991. Looking at it today the young movie watcher might scratch his head and wonder but back in 1991 it all made so much sense. In 1991 Patrick Swayze still had his youthful good looks, Gary Busey wasn’t insane, and Lori Petty as a leading lady was something that happened. I have never been a fan of Patrick Swayze but I’ll give him credit where it is due. This was easily one of his best roles and he fit the part of Bodhi perfectly. I read somewhere that he was an actual accomplished skydiver prior to the making of this movie. If that’s true it’s not only pretty cool but made him an even better fit for the role. I wonder what young people today, who watch this movie for the first time, think about seeing Gary Busey play this part. The Gary Busey they know today is not the guy we had 24 years ago. I am told he didn’t become this crazy Gary Busey until some accident he had some time back when he sustained a head injury. I don’t know about that one way or another but I’d find it hard to believe Busey’s current persona isn’t just the result of having done copious amounts of drugs. I admire how well the man markets himself these days but I just don’t care for it. It seems fake and intentional to me. I much more preferred the Gary Busey of old like the one we see in this film. As for Lori Petty, well I have just never understood. She had a few significant roles in the early 90s but I have never really liked her. She has a really whiny tone to her voice and her persona always gets under my skin, especially in this movie.

Keanu Reeves is still finding success as an actor today but I can’t imagine how he got the role in this movie back in 1991. It seems like an awfully progressive idea to take Ted and turn him into an action star but it worked. I wonder if his obvious practice at using surfer type lingo played into the decision at all. Had he not done so well in this role so many things might have been different in the future with movies like Speed and The Matrix. One of my favorite actors from the time was in this movie as the over the top asshole boss. John C. McGinley is one of those actors who can do just about anything and I have always liked him in these types of supporting roles. If I remember correctly he went on to play nearly the exact same role from this film in one of the many films that followed in the footsteps of Point BreakSet It Off. After Point Break nearly all heist movies looked for new cooler ways to mask their bank robbers, and Set It Off was no different. Correct me if I’m wrong about Set It Off, it’s been almost 20 years since I saw it in the theater and I’m surprised I remember it as much as I do.

James Cameron served as Executive Producer for this film and his wife at the time, eventual Academy Award winning Kathryn Bigelow, directed the film. I read somewhere that they also wrote the final version of the screenplay together although weren’t listed because of a dispute over the credit. I have grown up as a huge fan of anything James Cameron was involved with and still marvel at his film making abilities today. We will all have nearly forgotten about how awesome Avatar was by the time the next one comes out and that will be perfect timing for Cameron to remind us who he is. I think the whole point of Avatar is lost if you try to watch it at home but that’s only part of what makes it so incredible. In an era when movie theaters are suffering, James Cameron made something that was necessary to see in the movie theater to get the whole effect of it. I don’t get out to the theater anymore like I did when I was younger and the same was true in 2009. Yet I made it out to see Avatar  times because it was something to make exception for. I will certainly do the same when the sequels eventually come out too because I have faith that Cameron will blow our minds ago. This movie doesn’t involve the same type of special effects he is known for using but Cameron has a great mind for action sequences. His influence undoubtedly played a role in this movie as it offers several action packed scenes that are exceptional. Incidentally, James Cameron is a filmmaker who appreciates the value of the “cool factor.” Of course this movie is cool, James Cameron had a hand in it. Whether the guy is dressing Arnold Schwarzenegger in all black leather or putting Sigourney Weaver in a giant robot suit he knows how to make something better by making it look cool.

This movie has been remade and that is a travesty. I don’t think the movie has come out as of this post but I remember a few years ago when the idea was announced I was incredibly disappointed. I don’t know which asshole in the movie industry is pitching these awful ideas but I wish he/she would get fired. I specifically remember that this movie was referred to as a “timeless classic” in the announcement that it would be remade. Who thinks it is a good idea to remake a “timeless classic”? It’s timeless because it will always be entertaining. Why sully its name with some kind of knock off version that will never live up to what people have already enjoyed for over 20 years? It’s ridiculous and lazy. These executives are reaching when they can’t do anything better than remaking or rebooting something just to capitalize on the name recognition. They think we, as the audience, are stupid and they treat us as such. They are ruining movies in vain by making foolish efforts to sell more tickets. They want to sell tickets to kids so they pussify something to get the PG-13 rating. They’ll abandon new ideas because we are too stupid to be interested in something new and instead they simply remake something with a name we might recognize and turn out for. On one end I get it, home entertainment is killing the industry and these guys got to do what they can to make a buck. I think it is the wrong way to do it. Don’t ruin classics by remaking them but find new and inventive ways to get people in the theaters, like James Cameron did when he made Avatar. That kind of thing costs a lot more money though, so the studios cheap out and do what is easy. Ruin something to make more money or make a weak effort to format it into 3D so the ticket prices are higher. What a waste. Bottom line: don’t waste time watching the remake of this movie people, just watch the original because it’s a good movie and there’s nothing wrong with it.

I have seen this movie more times than I can count. Yet when I sat down to watch it for this review I found myself just as sucked in as I was the first time. That says everything about how good this movie is. It’s a fun movie that doesn’t get old, it’s a “timeclass classic.” After everything else that I have said it goes without saying that I think this movie is worth your time. I am even happier now than I was before that I decided to keep this movie for the collection. There is no reason to turn your nose up to something when it’s something you will enjoy. Some movies are made to make statements and teach lessons but others do only what movies were originally intended for, they just entertain and there is nothing wrong with that.

NEXT MOVIE: Poltergeist (1982)

 

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)

Black Sheep

Year: 1996
Directed By: Penelope Spheeris
Written By: Fred Wolf

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie gets criticism because people say it’s just like Tommy Boy, and the truth of it is that it is just like Tommy Boy.  Is that really a bad thing though? I personally think that Farley and Spade could have made Tommy Boy over and over again in several different scenarios and still continued to make me laugh. Farley and Spade were great together and they were hilarious in both Tommy Boy and Black Sheep. It would have been interesting to see what the future held for the pair had Farley not died.  Farley died in 97, only a year after this film was released.  His life was probably already spinning out of control when he was shooting this film.  I don’t know if Farley’s death was the result of his obsession or his depression but it was unfortunate all the same.

Chris Farley had a fantastic quality about him, he was so effortlessly funny.  America needs the funny big man, and for a few years in the 90s Chris Farley was America’s funny big man.  Part of a long line of funny big men like John Belushi, John Candy, Kevin James, Jonah Hill, and others I’m not remembering. Chris Farley was my favorite of all of them, and he died much much too young.  As I read it when it happened it seemed he wanted to die at 33 to follow in the foot steps of his idol John Belushi.  He was living on the edge and completely out of control, it hardly seemed like an accidental overdose to me.  He was using very aggressively when he died. Too many talented entertainers are lost young to drugs.  I think David Spade’s whole career has been downhill from here, he buried his career when he buried his best friend. He has managed to stick around for all this time and I will give him that, but I wouldn’t call his career successful.  Nevertheless Spade had fantastic whit to bounce off of Farley and it was very funny.  Those two guys together were like peanut butter and jelly, they are just natural compliments of one another.

Some would say this is the lesser of their two movies but I think Farley and Spade offered a lot to laugh at in this movie.  I enjoy it, maybe it is the same movie they made before, but I liked it the first time around and I liked it the second time as well.  Gary Busey has a role in the film playing a guy that’s a little crazy, imagine that right? Christine Ebersol is also very good as the bitchy Incumbent Governor. I enjoy this movie and I think you will find it funny as well.  It is definitely worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is ridiculous. I can watch it over and over and over and still think it is funny. There is something extremely special about Chris Farley. My dad loved watching him on Saturday Night Live when I was growing up. The running joke still to this day between him and his three brothers is the motivational speaker skits. “That’s why I liiiiiivvee in vaaaan…down by the river.”

One could easily confuse this movie with Tommy Boy, but it hardly matters. I take them both as slapstick comedy that you don’t have to think to hard about. I laugh every time. I have met a few people along the way that really hated Chris Farley and I just can’t believe it. All of his movies are worth watching, just for the fun. He just seemed to me like he would be really fun to hang out with.

NEXT MOVIE: Blade (1998)