Rebecca De Mornay

Stephen King’s The Shining

Year: 1997
Directed By: Mick Garris
Written By: Stephen King

RYAN’S REVIEW

I had never seen this movie before sitting down to review Stanley Kubrick’s version of the film. Stephen King was so disappointed with the famous rendition that he bashed the film for years before signing himself to silence for the opportunity to make his own version. In this incredibly long version of the story you can easily see why he disliked Kubrick’s version. However, while operating on a TV budget and with a much less skilled man behind camera this movie still manages to be exciting while staying very true to the source material.

Stephen King’s problem with Stanley Kubrick’s version was that Jack seemed kind of crazy the whole time and there was no build up to it. He also really disliked Shelley Duvall in the role of Wendy. With both of those things he made right with his own version. He made a six hour television special that could focus more on Jack’s alcoholism and his slow descent into madness. With Wendy he cast an actress,  Rebecca De Mornay, that fit the part more truthfully to the source material. Shelley Duvall was the exact opposite of Wendy as she was written to be curvy and blonde. Kubrick wanted a more vulnerable and on edge Wendy, which is exactly what he got with Duvall but all King saw was a character robbed of all the strength he wrote her with.

Jack’s struggle with alcoholism was a big part of the book as King was writing it during his own trouble coming to grips with the problem. In this movie we see much more of it while Jack slowly gets influenced to madness by the hotel. King didn’t like Jack Nicholson’s performance because he seemed to have always been crazy. Stephen Weber brought a different personality to the role and you can actually believe in him as a loving and caring father. You never had that with Nicholson and that was a big part of the character. He was supposed to be an unlikely man to lose his mind and that is clearly conveyed with this movie.

I really like this version of the film but I really don’t like Courtland Mead in the role of Danny Torrence. It’s not his fault he’s just a kid but he was a poor substitute for Danny Lloyd. Mead just doesn’t convey the strength of character we saw from Lloyd in Kubrick’s version. I’m also a big fan of that finger thing he did, which was his own and absent from this rendition of the character. It may not have been something done in the book but it was quite creepy and brought something to the Kubrick version.

I have read The Shining and while it was never a book I was in love with I do appreciate a more truthful adaptation. It’s typically hailed as one of King’s greatest books and I have always disagreed. I’d take The Dark TowerThe Stand, Under the Dome, or 11/22/63 over it any day of the week. This book was too much about alcoholism if you ask me and I’ve always found it to be a bummer.  I will vouch for the sequel to the book, Doctor Sleep. I actually liked that book a bit better than the first although it too was a bit too much about alcoholism.

This will never be the version of The Shining you turn to when you’re looking for scares during the Halloween season, but if you are a fan of Stephen King and his book you should definitely see this one. So, while I think this movie is pretty cool I am by no means recommending it for Halloween. It was a three night TV special back in 1997 so it runs about six hours long. It’s a very thorough version but it simply takes too long to watch.

 

 

Risky Business

Year: 1983
Directed By: Paul Brickman
Written By: Paul Brickman

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is an 80s movie for the fan that wants something racier than John Hughes was capable of. Hughes of course made many incredible classics from the 80s era but they were all about as PG as you get when it comes to sexuality. This movie offers everything that he simply teased you with. Sexuality with nudity included, more prevalent profanity, and an R rating that is as fulfilling as only something suited for 18 years old and up can be.

I grew up with this movie, although watching it as an adult makes me question my father’s decision on what I was allowed to watch as an early teenager. He calls this a classic and I agree but when you get down to the nuts and bolts of the whole thing this movie is about prostitution. I’m a parent myself now and watching this movie kinda makes my skin crawl when I consider it in any context of reality. Joel’s mother comes home and is disappointed there is a crack in her precious egg. She should be much more concerned with what she doesn’t know. Which is the God only knows how many prostitutes made use of her bed, and you know the teenage would be pimp Joel didn’t bother to change the sheets!

I find the transition of Joel’s character in this movie to be the most interesting thing about the movie from start to finish. He goes from outrageously horny virgin to having the confidence of a boy who has been made a man by a woman. What guy doesn’t remember that difficult time in adolescence when we were so horny we couldn’t concentrate on anything else? So eager yet so woefully unaware of what to do and overcome by fear when and if an opportunity presents itself. I think this film does an excellent job of capturing that haunting stage of pubescence and it gives me a nostalgic memory from my own teenage years. I don’t know that turning to prostitution is an answer for any guy in that uncomfortable stage but ……different folks different strokes? (pun intended). I’d imagine Joel needed to see a doctor after having “the time of his life” because he could probably use a shot of penicillin, and if that’s all he would have been lucky.

Personally, I consider prostitution to be really disgusting. As a happily married man I have very little interest in outside activity in the female department. Even if my wife wasn’t awesome and gorgeous enough to keep me interested I can’t even fathom the idea of making life that much more complicated. Life is complicated enough right? Adding in an extra marital affair just seems too stressful to me and the last thing I want would be more stress.  However, even if there were such unusual circumstances in which I found myself in a position to do so I can’t imagine prostitution is the way to go. No matter how good the apple looks it just seems too iffy to taste what’s already had several bites taken out of it. You don’t know who took bites before you and tasting that fruit is like inviting disease into your life and household. For the overly horny teenager whose just desperate to get some my position is the same. Suck it up and deal with it like all of us do until some girl is finally willing to let you go “all the way.” Paying for sex with a woman who literally has sex for a living is just gross and dangerous.

Plus, screw around when you don’t know what you’re doing and suddenly Guido the Killer Pimp is after you and you don’t want to mess with Guido. “It’s a hard ass life for a pimp,” and they won’t hesitate to make your life hard too if they can get an upper hand on you. I think that Joe Pantoliano is awesome in the part of Guido and it’s a fun opportunity to see him at such a young age. I have always been a fan of Pantoliano because of several roles. In this film he plays a part that really was the biggest of his career for a long time. He’s been in the game for more than thirty years believe it or not and has managed to portray many memorable characters beyond Guido the Killer Pimp.

Maybe it’s just because I watched this movie at that tender age of desperation but the sexuality of Rebecca De Mornay has been fused onto me for a lifetime. I had nearly forgotten till sitting down to watch this movie for the review but it all came flooding back the minute those patio doors blew open as she undressed. Long before I sowed my wild oats I was planting them with the goddesses I saw on screen and Rebecca De Mornay in this was near the top of the list. It’s a great thing that by the time I was a late teenager DVDs had taken over. Were my dad to have any reason today to pop in his old Risky Business VHS he would undoubtedly find it perplexing that the movie started right at that scene.

It’s always interesting to look at a film from this long ago featuring Tom Cruise. Back in 1983 he still looked young, but somewhere along the way in the 90s he simply stopped aging. Cruise was 21 when he made this movie and the funny thing about his look is that it isn’t even natural. That baby faced teenage look he has going on was accomplished in an interesting way. Before shooting Cruise went through a rigorous work out routine to get real lean and then spent a few weeks eating fatty foods to gain an extra layer to give him the teenage look. I think Cruise did a great job in this movie and it stacked his resume going forward as he would build what has become a highly impressive career.

I find it very interesting how iconic this movie has been for the last 30 years. Even today references continue to the lip syncing routine in oddly feminine garb scene. Not even a month ago I saw the movie and scene referenced in the popular TV series The Goldbergs (great show). In the PC world we live in today I get a great laugh out of this movie’s continued popularity. It’s lived on when so many have been forgotten and in this PC world we live in today I find that funny cause it’s about a kid who falls into running a prostitution ring. Irony equals a joke in the natural order of things.

I have never particularly loved this movie but I have always enjoyed it, in one way or another. I was surprised when we sat down to watch it again how sucked in I got. Even Amber, who was working, found herself distracted and pulled into the movie. I think it takes a good movie to do that to you, to catch you off guard when you least suspect it. To take you on a journey through an adventure in some fictitious life. Joel reminded me of when it was like to be that age, and he did something that qualified as what all of us at that age spent far too much time thinking about. I think this is a cool 80s movie and it’s worth your time to seek out and see.

NEXT MOVIE: Road to Perdition (2002)