Robin Williams

Hook

Year: 1991
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: J.M. Barrie (novel), James V Hart, Nick Castle, and Malia Scotch Marmo

RYAN’S REVIEW

I once heard the hosts of my favorite morning radio show, Two Guys Named Chris, criticizing this movie and suggesting that it was a stain on Spielberg’s career.  I was shocked because I was under the impression that everyone loved this movie. Although maybe that is just because I have grown up loving this movie and still do. I was seven years old when it came out and I was exactly who the movie was made for.  I supposed it seemed silly to adults then and probably does now as well but through a seven year old’s eyes it just doesn’t get any better than this. Hook was made for young kids and it was made by a director with a reputation for getting through to kids.  This movie is dear to me for many reasons and it is one that I look forward to watching with my children one day.

If there is a stain on Steven Spielberg’s career it’s Indiana Jones 4 or the re-editing of E.T.. I say if for the simple fact that Spielberg’s career has been so distinguished that it’s easy to overlook the minor lapses like the aforementioned. I hardly think this movie was bad though, it might fail in comparison to some of his other work but I think it had a real special quality to it.  Spielberg used his talents to get great acting out of a group of young kids and paired them with a group of seasoned and talented actors. Robin Williams was on the rise in the early 90s and I think he was great as the grown up version of Peter Pan.  Dustin Hoffman was fantastic as Captain Hook, his wardrobe and stylist had a lot to do with that but he was really terrific.  As I got older and saw more Dustin Hoffman movies I could never believe that he was the guy that played Captain Hook.  The guy that I saw in those other movies just didn’t look the same.  It’s because Hoffman wasn’t Hoffman in this movie, he was Captain Hook in this movie. I think his performance makes the movie memorable as much as anything else does. I am not usually a Julia Roberts fan but I think she was great as Tinkerbell in this movie.  It was a role that I don’t think will ever be matched with that character. Roberts looked so great in that little outfit too, she has great legs. Though I read that she was so difficult to work with on set they nicknamed her “Tinkerhell.” Bob Hoskins is great playing the part of Smee, but I think he is too lovable as the character.  Hoskins is at his best when he is the mean and nasty villain, but I like the diversity we see with this character.

I also think a good argument against the critics of this film is the simple fact that it is a good idea.  I like the idea that Peter Pan decided to leave Neverland and grew up in the real world. That he forgot all about who he was until the day that he had to return to Neverland. The Lost Boys have had to learn how to survive without him and they turned to a new leader, one who isn’t keen on the idea of turning leadership back over.  When I was a kid I thought Rufio was the coolest guy I had ever seen.  I desperately wanted to have my hair done in that crazy multi-mohawk thing he had going on but my mom wouldn’t allow it.  She was protecting me from reality though really, it never would have worked with my hair and I would have looked ridiculous. I also like the idea that Neverland as a place can start to change who you are, just as the real world did for Peter Pan.  We see this with Peter’s son played by Charlie Korsmo.  By the time his father has regained his persona he barely remembers who his father even is, and he has become the protégé of Hook.

The battle at the end of the movie is epic and fulfilled all my wildest expectations out of a movie at seven.  It was big and exciting battles like this that influenced and developed my love for these types of scenes in movies today.  The all-in fighting and swordplay was so exciting, and then the tragedy makes it all real before the ultimate and final showdown between Pan and Hook. I also like that in the end Hook isn’t finished off by his greatest enemy, but by the creature he feared the most.  There were many themes I related to as a kid watching this movie.  Such as having a father that spent the majority of his time at work and missed things.  It was a movie that gave me comfort at the time because there was so much excitement and everything worked out happily in the end.

This movie may have been hated on by plenty but I doubt I am the only person of my generation that has sentimental feelings for it.  It’s that movie we all loved during the same age range and we remember the feelings it invoked within us.  I would recommend this as a good movie you could watch with your kids and one that if you take it for what it is you will enjoy yourself.  This movie is worth your time and I hope I have convinced you to give it a chance.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I remember watching this movie as a kid and loving it. I still love it. I think it especially special to kids who grew learning about the Peter Pan story. This is a real-life version of it including some popular people in the cast. I think Robin Williams makes a good Peter Pan, and in my book Julia Roberts is Tinkerbell.

I don’t hate this poster, but I don’t love it either. I think it is a little done over and over, this use of old paper and torn edges. This poster reminds me somewhat of the Goonies style poster. The characters are in a painting style, which I feel leaves Robin Williams looking way younger than he actually is in the movie. The font choice is perfect; it’s my favorite thing about this poster.

NEXT MOVIE: Hostel Part 1 & 2 (2005 &2007)

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Death To Smoochy

Year: 2002
Directed By: Danny DeVito
Written By: Adam Resnick

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is my third favorite movie of all time. It’s hard for me to keep any kind of ranking system when I love so many movies but I have had a set and unchanged top three of all time since I saw this movie for the first time.  It’s mystery movie #1 that we haven’t reached in the collection yet, The Big Lebowski, and Death to Smoochy. When I saw this movie for the first time I was in love with it in the first few minutes, it took no more than this and I was sold. It’s so ironic and awesome. Something about Robin Williams surrounded by little people singing that song just hits my funny bone the right way.  I distinctly remember seeing this film on a list in the newspaper of “10 worst movies of the year” back in 2002.  I have also never met another person who likes this movie as much as I do (or at all), but it is special to me and I think it is great.

I think Danny DeVito did a masterful job directing this movie.  I think the direction and the performances are what make this movie so good.  He has great lighting, great set design, and uses excellent angles when filming.  I have always liked Danny DeVito but he isn’t so great as an actor all of the time.  He has gotten so disgusting and weird in his old age on the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I actually think that show started a downward spiral the minute he joined the cast. The show was funnier before he arrived.  There is an entire episode about him pooping down his pants leg regularly because “poop’s funny.”  Is poop funny? I have one kid who just got out of diapers and we are due in a week with another baby.  I don’t think poop is funny and can’t find anybody else who does.  Nevertheless DeVito has done many great things in his career like Batman Returns, Twins, Matilda,  and in my opinion this film. I don’t know why people can’t appreciate this film, it got really horrible reviews.  I think the story is clever, the dialogue is witty, and the performances are fantastic. This is a dark comedy, and I think most people just didn’t get it.

This was part of Robin Williams psycho trilogy that also included One Hour Photo and Insomnia. I consider this the last good movie Williams made but I have to admit I haven’t seen much of his recent work because I have heard bad things.  I know that Williams has struggled with drugs and alcohol throughout his career, I think those issues ultimately created problems later and recently in his career. Williams is great as Rainbow Randolph who  grows more insane as the film progresses.  I love so many of his lines in this movie. When he calls Sheldon to threaten him and says he’s going on a safari I burst into laughter every time. When he proclaims Smoochy as the face of evil and points to the grinning and dancing Edward Norton on the big screen I can’t help but smile.  I also love when he has Sheldon and Nora at gun point in the condo he used to live in. He describes a picture he had on the wall when he lived there of a naked woman, “not a picture of your F-ing mother!”, there is a picture of a Rhino on the wall. When someone throws an egg at his head he begins to first scream that he has been shot and then starts shouting “SALMONELLA, THAT’S SALMONELLA!” Robin Williams is really great in this movie and he has so many great lines, but he isn’t the best.  I’d have to say the best performance went to Edward Norton.

Edward Norton was coming off several roles as a bad guy including American History X, Fight Club, and The Score. He played really violent people in a couple of those movies.  When he curbs that guy in American History X is sent a shock through me that left a mark for a while. So when I saw him playing the part of Smoochy, I was blown away by his complete reversal in character.  I think the character of Sheldon Mopes is so interesting.  He is an over the top nice guy that has a dark part of his personality suppressed and we only see it briefly near the end of the film. Norton seemed so natural and honest in the part.  He had a joyfulness to him that burst through the screen and made his performance special.  This role made Norton one of my favorite actors, but unfortunately he hasn’t had many hits since this film.  I really liked him in The Incredible Hulk and was disappointed that Marvel chose to replace him for The Avengers.  He will be playing a substantial role in Wes Anderson‘s next movie Moonrise Kingdom and I am really looking forward to that.

This is a rare acting role for Jon Stewart and I think he brings a lot to the film.  I should really have a lot more to say about Stewart but I have never really watched much of his show.  Not because I don’t like him but just because I try to avoid politics and that’s his thing. I like Catherine Keener in the female lead, she doesn’t get the lead very often but she is usually good when she does, such as in The 40 Year Old Virgin. Danny Woodburn is also worth mentioning. He played Angelo, the leader of the little people so to speak.  Woodburn was really great as Kramer’s friend Mickey on Seinfeld and I have always been fond of him because of that role. All of these actors as well as the ones I haven’t mentioned came together to make a really weird movie that meant a lot to me even if nobody else liked it.

This movie really was a financial disaster. It had a budget of $55 million and only managed to gross $8 million.  That is really bad and I’m not sure why it was so unsuccessful.  Robin Williams was actually nominated for a Razzie for his part in the movie. None of this means anything to me though, I think this movie is awesome.  I often enjoy dark and weird stories that nobody else seems to appreciate, and I care little about what others think when it comes to something I like.  I am interested nonetheless in anybody else’s opinion about this movie.  If you haven’t seen it then check it out and let us know what you think.  I think this film is worth your time and I hope you enjoy it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This is one of my all-time favorite movies. Not a lot of people have heard of it or seen it, but it is truly one of the funniest, most interesting movies that I have ever seen. This film shows a side of Ed Norton that we have never seen before. He plays the part of a well to do, vegan eating, people loving purple dinosaur and plays the part to a “T.” The movie is interesting and weird and it is hard to actually explain it. I know that Ryan wrote a book about it, so I am going to just simply say watch this movie. There is no if you want to or not, I am just saying go and watch it. It is awesome. We both loved it, and I know that it wasn’t received well by critics, but what do movie reviewers know anyway?

NEXT MOVIE: Deliverance (1972) <————————-You must read this review….I need to explain.

Dead Poets Society

Year: 1993
Directed By: Peter Weir
Written By: Tom Schulman

RYAN’S REVIEW

There is an episode of The Simpsons where someone suggests that this movie ruined an entire generation of teachers. I can say without doubt that the generation of teachers that they were talking about was the one I went through high school with.  I literally saw this movie four years in a row with four different English teachers at two different schools.  I don’t know that the movie actually ruined that generation but it did make them more annoying and a bit obvious in some cases.  I was very fond of a couple of those teachers though and my favorite one was in fact in full-blown Robin Williams mode. If there is a movie out there worthy of influencing so many educators I have to say it is this one.  The Professor Keating character was fantastic and he was the kind of teacher all of us would want to have. My teachers that emulated the character, one specifically, did challenge me more and I felt I responded better than I did to other teachers.

I think this is a great movie and it’s one that gives me a real nostalgic feeling from all those years watching it in high school.  Being one that I saw so frequently during my formative years it definitely had a big influence on me.  I sadly could not emulate Robin Williams as a teacher, I am way too straight laced in my professional life. I take my work very seriously, but regardless of that fact I lacked that kind of energy, that spirit like the one Williams sports in the film.  Robin Williams was so good in this role that he not only inspired his students in the film but he inspired us, in the audience.  At this point in his career Robin Williams was bursting with theatrics and entertainment (cocaine may or may not have been involved).  I thought he was great in this role and did a good job containing the louder part of his persona to play a more serious part.  I am a big fan of Robin Williams but his career has spun out of control in the last several years. Since he made his trio of psycho movies about ten years ago anyway. Something I usually like to tell people about Robin Williams is how he sang the song “Blame Canada” at the Academy Awards back in 2000.  The song “Blame Canada” from the movie South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut was actually nominated for an Academy Award and what might be even crazier than that was that it was scheduled to be performed during the ceremony. However, before the awards ceremony the woman who had recorded the song committed suicide.  I do not know why and I could be mistaken about that back story but Robin Williams sang the song in her place at the Academy Awards.  You can check it out on YouTube here. It will be a long time till we get to the South Park film on this blog, but I can’t wait. One of the funniest movies ever, and Robin Williams singing the song at the Oscars is awesome.

I like most of the actors that play the students who join the Dead Poets Society in this film, although most of them never did anything else in their careers.  Of course Robert Sean Leonard who plays Neil has been a character on the show House M.D. for several years now.  I have never watched the show but I think he did a good job in this film, he had one of the finest roles. Ethan Hawke has gone on to have some success but is usually sitting on the cusp of stardom and never quite getting there.  I am not really a fan of Hawke but I have liked some of his films, such as this one.  However, like in his other movies that I like, I think anybody else could have played the part just as well or better.  He does nothing to distinguish himself in any film that I can recall.  I think the guys who play the characters Charlie and Knox were both great too, but these guys especially didn’t do anything else worth mentioning.

This movie now reminds me both of being a student and being a teacher.  I think all teachers aspire to be beloved by their students like Keating, at least in the beginning of their careers.  We don’t have enough teachers out there that inspire their students enough and it’s not their fault.  Teaching is a hard job, the students are monsters, the work is relentless and never-ending, and at the end of the day you aren’t paid enough for what you do.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed, to get exhausted and frustrated, it happens to everybody in all aspects of life.  Many teachers lose sight of what got them started in the first place and sooner rather than later they are counting down the years to retirement.  Not all teachers are like this though. During my brief time teaching I had the opportunity to work with some really special teachers.  Men and women who work really hard for a bunch of monsters that don’t appreciate or care about anything. I appreciate and respect those people and considered it a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with them for that brief stint.

Given that I went so many rounds with this movie in English class I almost feel compelled to diverge into several elements of it but this post has already dragged on too long. There is a lot to be said about the relationship between Neil and his father, Neil’s ultimate and unfortunate decision in the end, and poetry in general, but that will have to wait till later. If you are still with me this deep into the post then I hope I have convinced you to see the film or at least to see it again if the opportunity presents itself.  This is a fantastic movie and I would recommend it to anyone, it is definitely worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Don’t we all just love this movie. Because, I know you have already seen it…right? Who hasn’t seen and fell in love with this movie? This movie is touching and uplifting. I think that we can all relate to the stories of teenagers that have difficult relationships with parents and the troubling life of high school. I imagine it would be even more of a struggle being a teenage boy who was forced to attend an all boys private school. In high school, I am sure we all remember that one teacher that made a difference in our lives. He or she probably believed in us when we thought nobody else or did something that we found extra special or noteworthy for our lives. Robin Williams is that teacher in this film. He provides an outlet for this group of young guys and helps to lead them into forming the Dead Poet’s Society.

This movie is really great. It has some amazing actors in it and plays out a really great story line. I completely recommend this film if for some reason you haven’t seen. “Oh Captain, My Captain!”

NEXT MOVIE: Death Proof (2007) 

The Birdcage

Year: 1996
Directed By: Mike Nichols
Written By: Jean Poiret and Elaine May

RYAN’S REVIEW

When I was 12 years old I went to work with my dad one night at the theater.  This was something I did often, while he worked I would go from theater to theater and watch movies.  Well one night when I was 12 I wondered into The Birdcage not knowing anything about the film or what it was about.  I might have made it four minutes into it before getting up and leaving.  As soon as I realized those women dancing on stage were men dressed as women I had seen enough.  I went on to tell the story of me getting up and walking out of that theater for another eight years until I was in college. I had a roommate who owned the movie and suggested I watch it, I had no idea what I was in for.  Today I consider this one of the funniest movies I have ever seen, and I love it.

This movie isn’t for everyone.  There are a lot of small-minded people out there with very strong feelings about homosexuals.  Nevertheless I challenge anyone to watch this movie and not laugh. While the characters are most definitely gay they are not doing anything offensive by any means. These are funny people put together in an outrageous scenario and what they made was a very funny film. Gene Hackman is great as Senator Keeley and Dianne Wiest is great as the joyful Republican wife. Robin Williams and Nathan Lane are hilarious as two gay men trying to act straight.  Hank Azaria should not go unmentioned here either, he is a very talented entertainer who has shown a lot of versatility in his career.  I wouldn’t call myself a Mike Nichols fan but I have liked many of his films, like The Graduate and What Planet Are You From? Of all his films, I think this was his best, but it does have steep competition and there is a lot of room for argument there.

I fully support gay rights and equal treatment but I did not always feel that way.  In a weird kind of way this movie helped me to be a more open-minded person and more accepting of other types of lifestyles. I was in college when I saw it for the first time and it was during that time that I learned to think for myself.  In a psychology class I learned that homosexuality is not just a lifestyle people chose but that genetics played a part.  I believe it is wrong to judge or hate someone for being who they were born to be. The way I see it whatever or whoever anybody out there chooses to be is none of my business or concern anyway.  I do not see the point in getting angry or malicious about something that you cannot control and will never change anyway. The bigots and homophobes out there are wasting their time and energy on hate. Homosexuality is not a fad, it’s been part of society from the beginning of time and always will be.

I don’t know that this movie would teach everybody to be open-minded but it will definitely have even the most uncomfortable guy laughing.  I consider this movie one of the funniest I have ever seen and it is one of my all time favorites.  I hope you will give it a chance if you have never seen it, it is worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

In college, when Ryan told me that he had never seen this movie, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that he had never seen it, when I had seen it a couple hundred times, I wasn’t sure how he was going to take it or like it. I fell asleep during the movie at some point, and while I was peacfully dreaming away I was all of a sudden awoken with laughter and the words that I will never forget…””Baby! (that’s what we call each other) Baby! Wake Up! LOOK WHAT HE IS DOING!” Those words will live on forever in our relationship. He was so shocked by the outcome of the dinner that he was urged to wake me up.

I thoroughly love this film. i really like Robin Williams in this role. I think he does an incredible job and Nathan Lane is priceless as his lover. I think this is a great movie. I don’t know if it is qualified as a movie for everyone, but if you are open-minded (which I feel everyone should be) then you would most likely like this movie and probably benefit from having watched it.

NEXT MOVIE: Black Sheep (1996)