Ron Howard

Gung Ho

Year: 1986
Directed By: Ron Howard
Written By: Edwin Blum, Lowell Ganz, and Babaloo Mandel

No trailer was available.

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a movie about culture clashes and I always enjoy those because they can teach us so much about the differences between us. In this movie it is the efficient and hardworking culture of Japan versus the “me first” attitude of the American culture. I think this is a great movie that doesn’t get enough recognition today. It has a timeless quality to it and it is a movie we can learn from so it should have more of a presence in our culture today.

I have been hearing a story my entire life that revolves around this movie. When it came out in 1986 my dad was managing a theater that it was playing in. My mother and grandmother had gone into to see the movie one night and I think it was during the baseball scene that my grandmother created an uproar in the theater. When George Wendt knocked down the Japanese player everybody in the theater started cheering and apparently it really bothered my grandmother, who has never feared to speak her mind. She stood up in the theater and let the cheering people know exactly what she thought of their reaction. It wasn’t an appropriate action in truth, what Wendt’s character did was cheap and shameful. Later during the movie my dad came to investigate what he had heard about and he sat down with my mom and grandmother and asked them to point out the crazy person who had made everybody angry. It became an awkward situation that both parents talked about for some time. Making it even funnier is that I hear a completely different versions of this story regularly from my long since divorced parents.

There is another story about this movie that I will also be telling for years to come. I got into Twitter a few months ago after a long time of refusing to give it a chance. I am not big on social networking and Twitter seemed like the stupidest form of the new communications form to me. I was wrong though, and I can admit that now. I got into Twitter specifically for this blog and we have gained a lot more traffic since I started. Well, about a month or so ago I saw that Ron Howard had retweeted someone who had tweeted him that they were watching one of his old movies. Well I checked the shelf and saw this movie coming up so I tweeted him that we were watching it soon. Howard retweeted me and responded that he really enjoyed making the film. Now I know that isn’t really a big deal in the Twitter world but it was a huge deal to me. I grew up watching Howard on The Andy Griffith Show and then on Happy Days because my dad was a huge fan of both shows. As a child Howard became even more endeared to me with films like Willow that I thought was the greatest thing ever as a young boy. I have lived most of my life in North Carolina and we all love Ron Howard down here. I actually go to Mt. Airy regularly for work and The Andy Griffith Show is still a big deal there. The loss of Andy recently was sad news all around and he will always be remembered fondly here, just as Ron Howard will always be thought of in high regard.

In this movie we see two very different cultures clash. When they begin they run into the typical problems between two peoples but by the end they learn to appreciate one another. The actions of the American are based mostly on arrogance and ignorance. Americans do not like foreign people coming in and telling them how to do things, or that they don’t do things the right way. There has always been a certain air of superiority that comes with being an American. It’s not our fault really; it’s just part of growing up in post WWII America. I like to think that we always have the ability to be better though and I think you can see that in this film. The Americans have their flaws but they do eventually earn the respect of the Japanese and vice versa. The American spirit to never give up in the face of adversity is a quality I think most of us are proud of, but we have been spoiled by freedom and prosperity. This movie may be twenty six years old now but I don’t know that the things we see in this movie have really changed much sad as that is. Of course I have always grown up in the south, maybe things are different in other parts of the country but I have my doubts. This movie is also still relevant today as it gives an idea of how long the automotive companies were a problem for America.  The economic crisis that has ensnared the U.S. in recent years can be directly tied to, among other things, the automotive industry.

I am a big fan of Michael Keaton and he does a great job in the lead role. Mimi Rodgers plays the female lead opposite Keaton and does well. This film also has a good supporting cast playing the American workers including John Turturro, George Wendt, and Ron Howard’s little brother Clint Howard. Clint Howard is often cast in his brother’s films; he also casts his parents frequently. I didn’t notice his mom in this one but you can see his dad, Rance Howard, as the town mayor that greats the Japanese when they arrive. The Japanese cast was all great as well and they actually reprised their roles on a short lived TV series based off the movie.

This is a movie I always enjoy watching and I think it is still relevant today. It was made by one of my all time favorite directors, starred an actor I really like, and told a story I learned from. I think this movie is more than worth your time and I would recommend it to anyone.

 
AMBER’S REVIEW

I think the first time I ever saw this movie was last year some time. I was surprised, like I usually am when we come to a movie that I have never seen before. I like to think that I have seen all of the movies that “we” own, but I am always surprised when we come across one that I haven’t. This was one that I wished I had been watching for a lot longer. I thoroughly enjoy this movie.

Ironically, this movie shows how Japanese and American cultures interact. I say ironically because we just reviewed Guess Who, which also revolves around race relations. Gung Ho shows how the cultures are different and alike and how those cultures value things differently. In Japanese culture, it is important to show your work ethic. That you are a contributing member of a team working toward a goal. Your honor is a stake. I think for Americans, life is more important outside of work. The fun times you have with friends and family. Work is mainly something that you do to make money in order to do the things that are more fun to do. We look at hard work differently. Neither one is better than the other and I think we can all learn to be better, adopting the positives from each other.

I really recommend this movie. I really enjoy almost everything Ron Howard makes and this one is no different.

NEXT MOVIE: Half Baked (1998)

The Da Vinci Code

Year: 2006
Directed By: Ron Howard
Written By: Dan Brown

RYAN’S REVIEW

When I sit down and give it some serious thought, I can’t really figure out why we own this movie.  I think part of me felt compelled to see it when it came out because of its controversial nature.  I think I later bought it because I found a good deal but in truth I do not really care for this film.  I think it is a great movie made about a dull book.  I have read the book and found it boring.  I am interested in all the things here.  Christian history and the conspiracies that revolve around it, a scary albino bad guy, and in the movie they cast Sir Ian McKellan.  For all practical purposes this book and movie should be right up my alley but I just don’t think it is really good.

This movie is made by a great filmmaker in Ron Howard and it sports a great cast.  Tom Hanks is the headliner here but I am actually talking about nearly everybody else when I say great cast.  Tom Hanks has been on a downward spiral since losing the Academy Award for Cast Away.  He has failed to make a difference for most of the past ten years and this movie is no exception to that.  He has virtually no chemistry with Audrey Tautou, who is equally as bad in the film.  Paul Bettany however is unbelievable as the albino Silas.  He is scary in a way I did not know he was capable of.  His performance actually gave me hope that he would be cast as the Joker in The Dark Knight before Ledger was cast.  Jean Reno is great and appropriately cast as the French commanding police officer.  Alfred Molina was a good choice to play the Archbishop.  I think that Sir Ian McKellan makes every movie he is in better and we have to cheerish everything he continues to gives us at this point in his career, he is 72.

I think the information in this film and story is very interesting but I don’t find the story itself to be up to par.  I don’t really like the character of Robert Langdon and I think it is ridiculous to treat this Harvard professor as a murder suspect when you can easily verify his alibi.  People argued about this film to no end too and for what?  Yeah all the info in the book and movie wasn’t completely accurate. Go figure, you picked it up off a shelf labeled fiction.  I think what bothers Christians the most is that it brought up enough that was true and in the end of the day they really don’t know enough about the history of their own religion.  I am no person to speak on such things though, and my opinion should be of little significance here.

This is a good movie, Ron Howard is worth his weight in gold, but I don’t really think it is worth your time.  By now no matter who you are you have heard of this film or book and know what it is about.  You either saw it or you didn’t for reasons that were your own.  I am telling you it isn’t worth your time not for any personal motive but only because I actually don’t think the movie was that great and I’m questioning why I own it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I am not a fan of this movie. I know that its popularity reigns from the popularity of the book that it is based on, but I find it boring for the most part. I think that I used to like it when we first bought the movie, but after watching it again for this post, I don’t even know why it is in our collection. In theory, it should be a great film. Ron Howard is extremely talented and I usually like the majority of the projects that he is a part of. Tom Hanks is also one of my favorite actors, but in this film I find him boring, That would be my review for this film. Boring. It isn’t really worth your time. If you happen to be religious, it just might piss you off. I don’t have that problem, but nevertheless this movie is not worth the time.

NEXT MOVIE: Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Cinderella Man

Year: 2005
Directed By: Ron Howard
Written By: Cliff Hollingsworth

RYAN’S REVIEW

I distinctly remember having no interest in seeing this movie when it came out back in 05, but I saw it in the theater despite that.  I went to the movies with my brother and it was his suggestion. I only agreed on this one because Russell Crowe had recently got in trouble for beating someone up. I don’t remember what the circumstances of what he was in trouble for were but it was for beating someone up for something.  I remember liking the idea of a guy in the news for beating people up having a big budget movie where he was a boxer in theaters.  Thinking back to it now I find myself wondering if that was indeed a coincidence or an interesting plan for publicity.

There are more movies made about boxing than any other sport and not all of them were made by Sylvester Stallone.  Men who dedicate their lives to fighting often find themselves in interesting situations in life.  The lives they live can be so dramatic yet so inspiring, either way their lives are often story worthy.  It takes a special type of person to choose a life of fighting, of hurting and getting hurt. Those people are fascinating and we all love the opportunity to observe them from a distance, and to cheer for them when they are punching the shit out of the other guy. James J. Braddock was one of these interesting men and he lived not only an interesting life but through a very interesting time in our country’s history that we should all remember and learn from, The Great Depression.  Braddock was an inspiring fighter during a time when many people were in serious need of inspiration. This movie does a really good job of capturing the desperation of the Great Depression without going too far and becoming overly sappy.  Times were harder than most of us can imagine today and it took a hard person to survive it.

I always love a movie that surprises me and this one definitely did.  I am a fan of both Russell Crowe and Ron Howard but didn’t really like their earlier collaboration with A Beautiful Mind so my expectations for this one were low.  This movie proved to me that they both still had a lot to offer in their careers.  I think this is just one of many fantastic movies from Russell Crowe, he seems to get better with age too. He apparently took quite the beating during the making of this film and sustained several injuries on set.  I was raised in North Carolina not all that far from Mt. Airy, in fact I have to go there for work often and pass right through old Mayberry.  I grew up watching Opie Talyor, then Richie Cunningham, and then the fantastic movies made by Ron Howard.  Howard is an interesting person because he has spent his whole life in the business.  There is a lot of talk about what stardom can do to children with the problems of so many celebrities but Ron Howard has only gotten more successful as time went on.  Ron Howard did a great job with this movie by really capturing the struggles on all levels of society during the Depression, and the boxing matches were wicked.

The rest of the cast to this film was great as well.  Renee Zellweger is such a fantastic actress, and she brings a lot to the film as Braddock’s wife.  The film industry chooses beauty over talent far too often and we don’t have enough actresses like Zellweger because of it.  I think Paul Giamatti falls into the same category oddly enough, he has had to work really hard to get where he is, and it is his talent that got him there. He brings a lot of emotion to this film in a seemingly effortless fashion and it is his performance that helps captivate us with the Braddock character.

As in all boxing movies you need a loud mouth opponent to hate.  Hating the other guy makes us fall in love with our hero even more.  In this film that opponent is a former real life heavyweight champion Max Baer and the film may have taken some liberties with the character to fit him in the mold of the bad guy.  Max Baer is actually the father of Max Baer Jr. who played Jethro on the original The Beverly Hillbillies, and needless to say he and the Baer family weren’t thrilled with the portrayal of their patriarch. He was portrayed as a brutal man who wanted to hurt men more than beat them, a rude and despicable man.  Craig Bierko played the part well whether it was an accurate portrayal or not.  This movie may be “based on a true story” but that doesn’t make everything in it true, and we as viewers must always understand that.

I think I have rambled on about this movie enough now but I hope you give it a shot if you haven’t seen it.  It’s got a great and inspiring story, great performances, and was made by a grade A professional in Ron Howard.  Historical accuracy not withstanding there is still plenty to learn about our own nation’s history with this film.  The poverty on all social levels was true, the homeless taking up residence in a shanty towns they named Hooverville, after President Hoover, was true, and James J. Braddock really was a nobody who managed to beat the world heavyweight champion and inspire the masses during tough times. All that makes for something worth seeing, this movie is definitely worth your time.

One final note about Ron Howard.  I mentioned his early work on The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days, but failed to mention some of his more recent work in television, Arrested Development. It is probably one of my all-time favorite comedies and it did not last long enough.  It was an intelligent comedy that people weren’t ready for and it didn’t get the ratings it deserved. With the lack of ratings it only made it three seasons before being shut down by FOX. If you have never seen it then you should go out of your way to buy it and watch every episode multiple times.  If you have seen it then I have fantastic news for you.  The show is reuniting for six episodes that will be aired on the internet via Netflix.  It’s awesome because we get more of the hilarious Bluth family, and interesting because it is being offered the show via internet only.  This signals big changes in the industry that will also eventually affect how we receive all viewing media.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Wow, Ryan wrote a book. First of all let me just say that I can’t stand Russell Crowe. I am the only person that I know that doesn’t like him. I also hate movies about boxing and wrestling. I never want to watch them and I dread it when a new one comes out because I just know Ryan is going to make me watch it. However, this movie is more than worth your time. It is the classic cliché boxing movie, but it is so worth you time for the uplifting power that it has. It will take the problems in your life and make them seem like little details in your life.  I also love the fact that it is set during the Great Depression. Sometimes, in America, especially right now, we think we have it so hard, but in reality we just have no idea. Nothing really compares to being that poor. This movie is heart-felt and well worth your time.

NEXT MOVIE: Clash of the Titans (1981)