Haley Joel Osment

Stir of Echoes

Year: 1999
Directed By: David Koepp
Written By: David Koepp (screenplay) Richard Matheson (novel)

RYAN’S REVIEW

Back in the fall of 1999 everyone was still “seeing dead people” while I was hearing echoes. The Sixth Sense had come out in August and it was still all the rave by the time this film was released only a month later. I had heard all about The Sixth Sense but it was rated PG-13 and I didn’t think a horror movie with such a rating could be so good. Come September I found myself immediately engrossed in this R rated movie that was also about a kid who sees dead people. By that time nobody had any interest in another ghost story after they had seen that shocker at the end of The Sixth Sense.

It would go on to be years before I actually saw The Sixth Sense because somehow by not watching it I was being loyal to the film that had actually caught my eye. It wasn’t the first time two films of a similar premise have come out, in fact it seemingly happens all the time. Immediate examples that come to mind are Antz and A Bug’s Life in 1998, Volcano and Dante’s Peak in 1997, Tombstone and Wyatt Earp released in 1993 and 1994 but only six months apart, Armageddon and Deep Impact in 1998, and the list goes on and on. It still happens as I remember in 2013 White House Down and Olympus has Fallen both came out in the same year. By rule I only watch one of these movies when they come out, if either, and in the case of this film I watched Stir of Echoes over The Sixth Sense. I would eventually become a big M. Night Shyamalan fan but not because of his breakthrough film but rather Unbreakable and his work that followed.

This movie may have gotten lumped into this anomaly of films with similar premises coming out in the same year but they are much different actually. They weren’t featuring the same natural disaster or different biographies of the same men, but there are similarities that can’t be overlooked. Even after seeing The Sixth Sense I still prefer this movie. Yeah, Haley Joel Osment made for a cute as shit kid that could really act, but what does this kid have over Kevin freaking Bacon? In fact I think it is Bacon’s performance in this movie that gives it the edge in my opinion. I have always been a fan of Bacon and he even retweeted me once, which was pretty cool, pretty pretty pretty cool. Sorry, bingeing Curb Your Enthusiasm came to a halt swiftly at the turn of the month

Where this movie wins is that it is actually scary. The opening shot alone is spooky and it leads right into the kid talking to a ghost. Hypnosis is always fun to play with too, as a beginning to the horror to come. Hypnosis is one of those fake gimmicks that everybody wants to believe in and it is sort of real to a certain degree, but nothing like what we see in the movies. It’s ironic that Kevin bacon develops a “sixth sense” of his own after the hypnosis. Another place it wins is simply all the advantages that come with an R rating. I just think that as far as places where fuck is appropriate go, horror films are one of those places.

Now that my memory is thoroughly jogged I think these movies are far too similar. It seems as if this movie is a rip off of the one that came before but actually it could be the other way around. This movie was loosely based on a novel by Richard Matheson, who is one of Stephen King’s favorite authors incidentally. The movies are fundamentally different but when two movies about a kid seeing dead people come out within a month of each other something is wrong. This anomaly I discuss is odd and if anybody out there can explain it I would love to know your thoughts on the matter. I may be alone but I think this is a better movie and it was overshadowed and fell victim to the said anomaly.

It’s a shame because Kevin Bacon does give quite an exceptional performance. He isn’t alone either, being surrounded by a supporting case that I really like. I am a big fan of Kevin Dunn and like him in many roles he has played, including this one. Zachary David Cole wasn’t the actor that Haley Joel Osment was but he holds his own. I also like Kathryn Erbe and Illeana Douglas who play the two female leads. I don’t know who plays Neil the cop but he really reminds me of Halloran from The ShiningI wonder if that is a coincidence or an influence King got from Matheson.

This movie doesn’t end with the same kind of shocker as its anomaly but it keeps the mystery and excitement through to the end. I don’t think I’ll ever win over a fan of The Sixth Sense in the personal argument I have but I will always be on the side of Echoes. I think this is a cool movie and I’ve enjoyed watching it again. I think this movie is easily worth your time and it works for the Halloween season.

 

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The Sixth Sense

Year: 1999
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Written By: M. Night Shyamalan

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is where it all started for M. Night Shyamalan and as far as I am concerned it was where everything went wrong for him. He burst onto the scene with this fantastic thriller that had a twist that really shocked everyone. That shock was his undoing though as it spawned certain expectations the director would never fulfill in the future. This was an incredibly successful movie but each succeeding film has been less profitable and less of a success with the audience. I don’t think it is Shyamalan’s fault and in fact like him quite a lot as a director.

I think that the shocker at the end of this movie gave people the idea that every film he made would feature something on par, and the studios tend to market Shyamalan movies like that. More often than not this is not what Shyamalan movies are meant to be like. His movies are more about human nature than anything else but people expect something much different. The expectations generated from this first film coupled with how the films are marketed make people really grow to hate Shyamalan. For more on why people hate M. Night Shyamalan see these reviews of his other works: The Happening, Lady in the Wateror Devil.

I have often written about how occasionally two movies of similar premise come out at the exact same time. To name a couple of examples: Dante’s Peak and Volcano, Armageddon and Deep Impact, A Bug’s Life and Antzthis list can go on and on. Point being, when this anomaly happens I only ever watch one of the films. It just so happens that The Sixth Sense came out at the same time as another movie that was very similar, Stir of Echoes.  While I was aware of The Sixth Sense I had no interest in seeing it after watching Stir of Echoes with Kevin Bacon. Knowing I didn’t intend to see it one of my friends who was, like everybody, awed by the film excitedly told me the big shocker at the end. I will discuss more about the similarities between these two movies when we get to the one I liked more.

So this movie never got to knock my socks off with the big surprise. I had known what would happen long before ever actually sitting down to see it and the movie was never one I really cared for. That being said, I think it has everything to do with why I am a fan of M. Night Shyamalan. By the time his next film Unbreakable came out I had not had my expectations raised to unreasonable levels. I really enjoyed the movie that many found disappointing and continued to enjoy his movies as everyone else finds them flawed. I think it’s because I don’t expect the big shocker, I sit back and enjoy his movies for what they are.

This movie is actually one of my least favorite Shyamalan movies. I think Bruce Willis is great and Haley Joel Osment was outstanding but the movie just never really interested me much. There was the one scene with the kid who had committed suicide and that bothered me as a teen. I had a friend once who had ended his own life in much the same fashion seen in the film and it was just too soon for me. Put that together with the fact that I knew what the big shocker was and this whole film was lost on me. The thing about a big shocker is it only really gets you once and afterwards the lack of surprise equals a lack of excitement. I have found so many Shyamalan movies to be the type I love to watch multiple times, specifically The Village, which is my favorite of his films.

Haley Joel Osment was such a renowned child actor when I was young but he really grew up to be an unfortunate looking adult. All the youthful cuteness that he has in this movie faded away with puberty and today he is doing things like Tusk. There are plenty who would suggest that isn’t pathetic but I found that movie to be so ridiculous. As great as Osment was in this movie he was arguably even better in A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Under the direction of the child whisperer Steven Speilberg, Osment gave such an eerie performance you might believe the kid actually was a robot. It’s a shame he couldn’t carry that talent into adulthood.

Despite the lack of positive reviews M. Night Shyamalan continues to make films and in fact his newest one Split looks really cool. Although to be fair, all his movie look really cool. I hope that this movie turns out to be as devious as it looks and is not simply the trick of misguided marketing. Check out the trailer below to see what he has coming up. Otherwise I have never vouched for this movie and won’t start now. If you haven’t seen it you are in the minority because it was that big of a film. However, I do not personally think it is worth your time if you have seen it. If you haven’t and somehow manage to not know the big shocker at the end then by all means seek this out and let it blow your mind.

NEXT MOVIE: Slackers (2002)

Secondhand Lions

Year: 2003
Directed By: Tim McCanlies
Written By: Tim McCanlies

RYAN’S REVIEW

Occasionally as I make this journey through our DVD collection I look at what comes next and have to comb my memory for an explanation. When I reached this movie I had to dig deep into my psyche for an answer. Sometimes I come to a film and it’s one I haven’t seen in more than a decade and it can be really difficult to remember. This is a movie that really seems to not belong so it took me a minute to figure out how it ended up in our collection.

It was until half way through this heartfelt and cute movie that it dawned on me how it ended up here. This was a movie my Grandmother talked me into watching years ago and I found it surprising if not silly. I think I bought it one day for a cheap price with her in mind and the memory it brought about her.  I think she really liked seeing an older Robert Duvall in a tough guy role despite his advanced age.

This isn’t a bad movie by any means it just isn’t my forte. It’s cool to see Haley Joel Osment grasping hold of that last little bit of youth he had. He was a terrific child actor and it was a shame for him to grow into an awkward adult nobody wants to watch. In this movie he still had some of that boyish look that people fell in love with in The Sixth Sense. He actually went through puberty during the filming of this movie and it is noticeable if you listen to him closely.

This is a nice heartfelt movie that you can watch with your kids. There is something to be said about that. Otherwise I don’t think it really measures up to the caliber of film I generally add into our collection. My Grandmother may have loved this movie but for anybody else out there I would consider before investing my time in watching it.

NEXT MOVIE: The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

 

 

Forrest Gump

Year: 1994
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis
Written By: Winston Groom (novel) Eric Roth (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was ten years old when this movie came out and I remember so much about it.  I remember watching it in the theater.  I remember watching specials on TV about it, how they inserted Tom Hanks into footage of JFK specifically.  Overall I remember how big of a deal the movie was when it came out, and I have probably watched it one hundred times between then and now over the years. I think this is a great movie and I have always loved it but to be perfectly honest I’m just not feeling it right now.  For whatever reason this movie feels totally worn out to me at the moment and I don’t have much to say about it.  Frankly, we have been writing the hell out of some reviews lately and maybe I’m just a bit exhausted with it.

This was the greatest role Tom Hanks ever had.  He was already a celebrity but this took him to the next level of super stardom.  I have heard that despite what most people think of him that Tom Hanks is actually a really big asshole.  I heard once that he really hated this movie specifically, because ten years later he was still being sent random boxes of chocolate. I hope none of this is true though because I do really like Tom Hanks.  He hasn’t had a really big hit in nearly ten years though and I don’t expect much more from him in the future. Nevertheless Hanks made many memorable films and above all of them is this movie and this performance as the one and only Forrest Gump. I have always been a big fan of Gary Sinise as well but his star has faded also. He saw a spike in his workload after this movie but that passed in time. I think he ended up on one of the CSI shows, but I haven’t seen him in that or anything else for that matter, for a long time. I think Sally Field was great in this movie and I have never been a big fan of Robin Wright, but she is good in this movie too. This was probably the biggest role Mykelti Williamson has had in his career and he was great at it. I do specifically want to mention how much of a badass he was in season 3 of Justified, his character was great. Also worth noting is an early role by Haley Joel Osment as Forrest’s long lost son.  Osment faded away once he hit puberty but he was an incredibly gifted child actor.

This movie has a really great soundtrack and tells a fantastic story that everybody loves.  This movie is remembered fondly all around and for good reason. It won many awards and again, for good reason.  It is a great movie and you don’t need me to tell you that because you most likely already know that for yourself. This movie was based off a book that had a sequel and for years there was talk of that book being made into a movie, but I really doubt that will ever happen now.  I have not read the book but from what I understand it begins with Forrest explaining that you should never let anybody make a movie about you. So I assume the movie doesn’t follow the book accurately. Also in that book he fights in the Persian Gulf War and plays football for the New Orleans Saints.  I don’t know about this accurately because I haven’t read the book myself but it seems stupid to me.  Nobody that fought in both The Vietnam War and The Persian Gulf War could play football in the NFL for any team.  Forrest’s story in the movie and presumably first book goes on through the early mid 80s and he would be much too old to actually play professional football.

Look at this, for crying out loud.  Even when I intend to keep something short I go on forever but I really thought I had nothing to talk about when I started.  This is a great movie and if you haven’t seen it you need to make a point to do so.  That pretty much sums it up and I’m going to wrap this up before I go off on some other tangent.

UPDATE

Something has been bothering me about this review and I just now realized what it is.  There is a big question about this movie that I didn’t even bring up.  Did little Forrest have AIDS? I heard this question brought up on my favorite morning radio show Two Guys Named Chris on Rock 92.  The disease that Jenny dies from is obviously AIDS and she presumably had it when she showed up at Forrest’s house and conceived little Forrest.  Obviously Forrest didn’t have it but I thought the crew on Two Guys Named Chris brought up an interesting question.  In lieu of rewriting this entire post and including topics like this I’m simply going to put the question to anybody that reads this post.  Do you think Little Forrest had AIDS? Have you read the book and is this covered? I would be interested in your thoughts on the topic if you would leave us a comment about it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is on my list of all-time favorite movies. I was 9 or 10 when this movie came out. My mom usually let my brother and me watch about anything we wanted to watch, which was different from Dad’s house where we didn’t usually get to watch movies. My brother and I watched it with Mom for the first time and for some reason I loved the movie even then. Growing up with this movie has been really cool. There is a lot to the story line and for a 10 year old, it is sort of a brief history of the past few decades through the eyes of this guy, Forrest. He tells his story and you fall in love with the characters and the story that is his life.

Watching this movie as a 10 year old, I had no clue about some of the things that were happening. The more I watched it as I grew up, the more I started to understand. Some of the historical scenes didn’t resonate with me until later while I was in middle and high school and started to learn our country’s history. The scene with Forrest and Jenny in her dorm room is another example of how young I was. I didn’t have a clue what had happened when he said “I think I ruined your roommate’s bathrobe.” After watching it later in life, I understood a whole new part of the movie. It’s fun when movies from your past do that.

This movie is so quotable that I couldn’t resist ending it with my favorite Forrest Gump quotes.

“Dear God, make me a bird. So I could fly far. Far far away from here.” -Jenny

“Goddamn it, Gump! You’re a goddamn genius! This is the most outstanding answer I have ever heard. You must have a goddamn I.Q. of 160. You are goddamn gifted, Private Gump. Listen up, people…” -Drill Sergeant

“…Jenny, I don’t know if Momma was right or if, if it’s Lieutenant Dan. I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time. I miss you, Jenny. If there’s anything you need, I won’t be far away.” -Forrest

Lieutenant Daniel Taylor: “Have you found Jesus yet, Gump?”
Forrest Gump: “I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking for him, sir.”

“Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.” -Bubba

NEXT MOVIE: Friday (1995)

A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Year: 2001
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Stanley Kubrick

RYAN’S REVIEW

I’ve read that Stanley Kubrick began working on this film in the 70s, always waiting for the necessary technology to develop before getting into actual production.  It seems Kubrick actually wanted a real robot to play the part of David.  Kubrick may have been a little nuts and unrealistic but he did make great movies.  Unfortunately he did not live to actually make this one and his friend Steven Spielberg took up the helm after his death.  Spielberg is a terrific filmmaker and you can see his talent throughout this film as with all his others.  I don’t think this is his best movie however.  It is long and can be painfully boring at times.  Haley Joel Osment delivers a fantastic performance, but the kid creeps me out.  At times I still find myself feeling like I’m watching a horror movie.

A.I. does deliver an interesting view of the future that at times is reminiscent of Blade Runner.  This is a powerful film and the performances are great.  Not just Osment, who really is phenomenal, but William Hurt is great, Francis O’Connor is at her best, and Jude Law isn’t that bad.  If you have some time to kill and the patience to stick with a slow movie then check this one out, it’s a great science fiction film.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I have always loved this movie. It is really long and tiresome, but the theme and story are really original and different. I think the acting done by Haley Joel Osment is great. I think he really understand this robot’s character and fully embraced it. He is eerily creepy in some scenes, which I think he is supposed to be and he completely succeeds. This is a film to watch if you like the sorts of futuristic “what if” storylines.

NEXT MOVIE: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)