Rene Russo

Ransom

Year: 1996
Directed By: Ron Howard
Written By: Cyril Hume and Richard Maibaum (story), Richard Price and Alexander Ignon (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie made it into the collection when I first started shopping on Amazon a few years ago. I bought a used copy of this movie for 4 cents. I figured that whether I liked it or not, and I liked it just enough, I had to see what was going to arrive in my mailbox for just 4 pennies. I marveled over Amazon for weeks afterwards when I received not only the movie but a DVD that was in good condition. I remembered this movie because it was part of our movie collection growing up. My family was made up of big Mel Gibson fans, mind you this was back in the 90s; years before he became publicly known as that crazy guy. I considered it for a moment and figured this movie was worth each one of those pennies. In truth it cost a bit more because of the shipping and handling but when I tell the story it was only 4 cents.

When I sat down to watch this movie I reverted back into a mind frame from my youth. A time in the 90s when Mel Gibson was the greatest, Rene Russo was still beautiful and sexy, and Gary Sinise was an actor that everybody wanted to see more of. That mindset made this the perfect movie to watch but nevertheless I don’t think it stands the test of time. At least when it comes to being exceptional. If you want to see more of the same with actors that were really good in 96 then this is your movie but you won’t find anything crazy in this one.

In 1996 the duo of Rene Russo and Mel Gibson was something Hollywood really wanted more of. They had hit it off with great chemistry in Lethal Weapon 3 and I can never express how much Mel Gibson was THE MAN in the 90s, everybody loved him. We don’t own the third installment of the Lethal Weapon franchise because I hate when a franchise established on an R rating goes to PG-13. I think the 3rd Lethal Weapon suffered because of it; as did the 4th when they got even farther from the true nature of the franchise. When it comes to Russo and Gibson in this movie I don’t think the chemistry is really there this time around. They seem to turn on each other way too soon for one. They may look good together but I don’t think they lived up to that rep with this movie.

I am a big fan of Gary Sinise, but I really don’t like the role he took on in this movie and I think it was this film that generally stopped the momentum he had built up prior and since Forrest GumpIn this movie he is a bad guy, and not even the kind of bad guy that you relate to and like. He’s the sleazy cop that does something dirty for the money, and in addition to that betrays his companions and murders all of them to claim the reward himself. This role was a momentum killer for Sinise’s career and that sucks. I thought he was a good actor. My favorite role of his was actually the TV version of The Stand when he played Stu Redman. I’m a big Stephen King fan and I have always envisioned Sinise in the part when reading the book.

If you haven’t seen this movie you haven’t missed much in truth. It’s a fairly typical kidnapping movie with a little bit of Mel Gibson impulsive insanity thrown in the mix. You must keep in mind this is long before his crazy side was ever revealed to the public, this was during his king of the world years. It’s an alright movie just nothing exceptional. If you’ve seen this movie before I think it is easily worth four pennies of your own money. Otherwise I don’t know that it is really worth your time to see it.

NEXT MOVIE: Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

 

 

 

Major League

Year: 1989
Directed By: David S. Ward
Written By: David S. Ward

RYAN’S REVIEW

When it comes to sports movies they are often looked at on a different level.  This movie for example isn’t really a great one but it still manages to be great in its own way.  It has an interesting story filled with interesting characters and is funny enough to stand the test of time. This movie was actually on my mind quite a bit this past fall during the 2013 NFL season.  I referenced it regularly during football conversations when the Jaguars came up saying that owner Shahid Khan was “pulling a Major League on Jacksonville.”  This appears to be wrong at this point since Jacksonville found some rhythm late in the season and managed to get some wins. There was a point during this past season though that I felt the team was so bad there had to be a driving force behind it.

For the first half of the NFL season the Jacksonville Jaguars weren’t just bad but something far and away worse than bad.  They weren’t simply beaten by other teams but murdered, losing by margins of points unaccustomed to an NFL football team.  I thought all of this was intentional and it was this movie that gave me that impression.  The team has a relatively new owner in Shahid Khan (a guy who knows how to rock a mustache) and a weak fan base within its hometown of Jacksonville.  Coupled with the Commissioner Rodger Goodell’s excessive efforts to build NFL support in London by having games played there I thought it seemed practical.  Jacksonville would finish the season so pathetic they had no fans left and their new owner could simply move the team across the Atlantic and Goodell gets the London franchise he is obviously working towards.  Now that the season is over this doesn’t seem so likely and in truth never did.  They did only muster four wins on the year but three of them were in a row and they ended up not being the worst team in the league.  The state of football in Jacksonville is still pathetic, but they showed just enough life to prove they were at least trying to win games.

I think this is a fun movie but it’s never really been one of my favorites.  I don’t particularly like baseball, although watching a movie about baseball is much more bearable than actually watching baseball.  There are fans everywhere but I just don’t get it.  The game is so slow and so little happens but in a movie about it only the action is caught on film.  I admire the people who have the patience for it and their dedication to the sport is impressive.  This movie in fact was made by one of those fans and David Ward has actually said before his motivation for making the film was simply to actually see his team win.  As a Cleveland Indians fan he spent a long time watching his team lose so he wrote a story in which they actually won despite all odds.

I think the biggest problem with this movie, a problem easily overlooked because it hardly matters in the scope of things, is the relationship between Tom Berenger and Rene Russo.  Sometimes a film just HAS to have a love story element to it and the relationship in this film just seems so forced.  It doesn’t seem to really fit into the story at all and I think it is only in there because some producer probably insisted on it. Speaking of Tom Berenger, does anybody out there know what happen to this guy? He made some great movies during the 80s but just fell off as the years started stacking up.  I thought it was really cool to see him in Inception, but the years haven’t been good to him.  I find it odd that of all the actors in this movie Charlie Sheen is the only one that has been able to maintain success twenty five years later.

Sheen may be crazy but he has made bank on that insanity.  I tend to ignore most of it because I never watched Two and a Half Men and cared little when all the drama went down.  After a while it became too odd not to follow though when it came to tiger blood and the hookers and so on. To make matters more interesting is how Sheen managed to leverage all the attention he was getting into even more money with a new show and deal from FX.  I have never been a really big fan because I don’t think he has ever been that great of an actor with few exceptions, most notably his roles under the guidance of Oliver Stone in Platoon and Wall Street.  He does pull off his role in this movie well enough though.  As Wild Thing he fit the bill given he always had notoriety as a bad boy to begin with.  One interesting tid bit is what he did in preparation for the role. Where there is Charlie Sheen there are undoubtedly drugs somewhere close by and even though it was probably completely unnecessary he has admitted to using steroids for this part.  Why he needed PEDs to simply act at playing a sport I don’t know but he did say he thought the steroids helped him take his fast ball from 80 MPH up to 85 MPH.  I suppose a movie about baseball wouldn’t be quite accurate though if steroids weren’t involved some way or another.  Thanks Charlie Sheen, you brought the whole thing full circle.

My favorite actor of this cast is without doubt Wesley Snipes.  I have always been a big fan of his and hate that things have gotten so bad for him in recent years.  His career had already taken quite a nosedive even before going to jail for tax evasion but now that he is out I hope there will be something left for him to salvage.  It didn’t take long for Stallone to help him out with a role in The Expendables 3.  If I’m not mistaken Stallone actually wanted him for the first film but had to cast Terry Crews instead when Snipes’ troubles started.  I doubt a role in the third Expendables movie will do much to get Snipes back into the limelight but it’s a start and I for one hope he gets a chance to make something happen again.  Dennis Haysbert has one of his most recognizable roles in this film playing Cerrano.  I think Haysbert is an incredible actor and specifically loved his role as David Palmer in 24He also has one of the coolest code names ever in The Unit where he is known as “Snake Doctor.” I haven’t seen The Unit since somewhere in season 2 but I thought Haysbert was great in it.  I don’t actually use Allstate insurance but I have to admit every time I get my insurance bill I hear Haysbert’s voice somewhere in the back of my head telling me I should “be in good hands,” and I briefly consider switching companies.    

I don’t think this is a great movie but I do enjoy watching it.  It’s a fun movie and sometimes that’s all that really matters.  I’m sure it is thought of much higher by actual baseball fans so if you enjoy baseball and haven’t seen this then you should check it out.  It spawned at least two more sequels that I haven’t seen but I can’t imagine there is much to another scenario where the team has to overcome being set up to lose again.  This movie qualifies as a classic I think for no other reason than it was well received and it’s about baseball.  There will always be an audience for it and I think that makes it worth your time to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I have been watching this movie since I was a little girl. It’s also one of those movies you watch as a little kid and then watch it again as an adult and go oohhhhh a million times. It is a cheesy but funny movie. My family loved baseball when I was younger, mainly because we all played it, so its no surprise that my this is one of my favorite movies to watch with my brother. We can laugh at it even harder just because.

MPW-16167

This is a cheesy poster. It’s hardly review-able because it is almost a joke. This little baseball dressed as a native american and wearing sunglasses to make him “cool.” The only clever part of the design are the baseball stitches. They positioned it so it looks like he has angry eyebrows and a mean frown. It’s a WILD BALL! (See what I did there?) I tried really hard to see what was going on in the reflection of the glasses, but I couldn’t figure it out. I think its a woman and some kind of animal…small dog or cat. I don’t get it. The typography of major league isn’t that bad. A little cliche but I think it works here. A cheesy poster for a cheesy movie.

NEXT MOVIE: The Maltese Falcon (1941)