Also known as: Fletch Saved (working title) Release Date: March 17th, 1989 Directed by: Michael Ritchie Written by: Leon Capetanos Music by: Harold Faltermeyer Cast: Chevy Chase, Hal Holbrook, Julianne Phillips, R. Lee Ermey, Richard Libertini, Cleavon Little, Randall “Tex” Cobb, George Wyner, Geoffrey Lewis, Richard Belzer, Phil Hartman
Cornelius Productions, Vincent Pictures, Universal Pictures, 95 Minutes
“It takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong. I am not a big man.” – Fletch
I was surprised that I liked this film as much as I did.
The reason being, I remember people trashing it pretty heavily when it came out. While I used to see pieces of it on television over the years, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in its entirety in one viewing. But people did always say that this was a pretty shitty sequel and not on the level of the original.
Well, it’s not as good as Fletch but Fletch Lives is still a pretty funny movie that’s tailormade for Chevy Chase’s strengths. So while I have a much higher opinion of this movie than the majority, I feel like maybe I should defend it, as I feel like it probably deserves that.
I think that the new setting of the film actually helps it and makes it fresh. I liked seeing Fletch go to the bayou to expose some seedy shit. I also liked how they used it to emphasize the cultural clash between an L.A. investigative reporter and the Cajun folk, ranging from the good Southerners to the outright racist pieces of shit. I also loved the televangelical angle and R. Lee Ermey’s role as the megachurch pastor.
Beyond Ermey, I also enjoyed the great Hal Holbrook playing a crooked Cajun millionaire.
Additionally, I liked the chemistry between Chase and the film’s leading lady, Julianne Phillips.
Chase also had solid camaraderie with Cleavon Little. Seeing those two comedic icons come together is a real treat regardless of the perceived quality of the film.
This installment of the series relies more on Chase wearing funny costumes while “undercover”. I really like these sequences, though, and I like seeing Chase play odd characters.
Overall, Fletch Lives is pretty solid and I say that as a guy who was never a big Chase fan. However, I do really enjoy him as this character and I honestly think it’s his best.
Sadly, we never did get that third Fletch picture and I’m pretty sure the ship has sailed on that.
Also known as: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished (working title), The Very Excellent Mr. Crocodile Dundee, Mr. Dundee (alternative titles) Release Date: July 17th, 2020 (Australia, New Zealand – Internet) Directed by: Dean Murphy Written by: Robert Mond, Dean Murphy Music by: John Foreman Cast: Paul Hogan, Rachael Carpani, Jacob Elordi, Chevy Chase, John Cleese, Olivia Newton-John, Reginald VelJohnson, Wayne Knight, Paul Fenech, Shane Jacobson, Kerry Armstrong, Charlotte Stent, Luke Hemsworth, Jim Jefferies, Costas Mandylor, Nancy O’Dell
“He’s back, whether he likes it or not.” – tagline
I grew up loving Paul Hogan, which is honestly why I even watched this in the first place. I certainly wasn’t lured in by the trailer or the 4.9 out of 10 on IMDb. But Hogan is a hell of a cool guy and I wanted to give this a shot because I immensely enjoy Crocodile Dundee I and II.
Needless to say, I thought that this was better than a 4.9 but not by a large margin. I enjoyed it, mostly, but it isn’t something that I’ll probably ever watch again. It was certainly better than the mostly terrible Crocodile Dundee III but a hair beneath Hogan’s Almost An Angel.
That being said, it’s nice spending time with Hogan again, as well as some of the other people he brought into this movie like Reginald VelJohnson, John Cleese, Wayne Knight, Chevy Chase and Olivia Newton-John. It’s also chock full of cameos from a lot of Australian celebrities and other friends of Hogan’s.
The plot sees Hogan playing himself and I guess it’s a lot like an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where the actor playing himself constantly screws up in every situation. For the most part, though, Hogan means well and not to offend but he either doesn’t fully understand the situation he’s in or someone else is a complete asshole but Hogan is blamed for it – like when the nun gets knocked out, which was due to Hogan protecting himself from an object thrown by a raging imbecile.
Most of the gags are still amusing, even if you see them coming from a mile away.
I thought that was is just a charming and lighthearted picture because of Paul Hogan. But honestly, there’s not much reason to watch it more than once and you should already have a love for its star.
Release Date: August 5th, 1988 Directed by: Ken Kwapis Written by: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, Deborah Blum Music by: James Horner Cast: Cyndi Lauper, Jeff Goldblum, Julian Sands, Googy Gress, Peter Falk, Michael Lerner, Steve Buscemi, Park Overall
Imagine Entertainment, Columbia Pictures, 99 Minutes
“I’d give you the finger but I’m too refined.” – Sylvia Pickel
I was nine years-old when this hit theaters but I remember seeing the ads on television constantly. I never did see the movie in the theater or thereafter until now, over three decades later.
I generally like Cyndi Lauper but I haven’t seen her act in anything else. In this, she’s not great by any stretch but she’s at least likable and entertaining. Then again, she’s pretty much playing herself with psychic powers.
Beyond Lauper, you have Jeff Goldblum, who I love in everything he’s ever done. He’s good here but he also plays a character that’s pretty much just himself with psychic powers. So neither lead in this movie really had to try too hard.
You also get Peter Falk, Julian Sands, Michael Lerner, Park Overall from Empty Nest and a very young Steve Buscemi in this.
I guess out of everyone, I enjoyed Falk the most.
The plot is pretty damn rickety and it’s not very good. Although, it is somewhat salvaged by the charm of the Lauper and Goldblum, who I thought had fairly decent and unique chemistry.
Vibes just barely kept my attention, though. I didn’t find it tough to get through but had it lasted longer than its 99 minutes, I would’ve probably needed to take a break.
In the end, this is pretty forgettable and I can see why it’s been lost to time and never really gained a cult following, even from the many fans of Cyndi Lauper’s that still exist today.
Also known as: Doctor Giggles (alternative spelling) Release Date: October 23rd, 1992 Directed by: Manny Coto Written by: Manny Coto, Graeme Whifler Music by: Brian May Cast: Larry Drake, Holly Marie Combs, Cliff DeYoung, Glenn Quinn, Doug E. Doug
Largo Entertainment, JVC Entertainment Networks, Dark Horse Entertainment, Universal Pictures, 95 Minutes
“Sorry…the Doctor is in…sane” – tagline
I remember how hard the studio was marketing Dr. Giggles when it was coming out. Being that I was in 8th grade, at the time, I didn’t see it in the theater and just planned to wait for it to come out for rental on VHS like most horror movies when I was that age. However, it came and went and I never did rent it.
So nearly thirty years later, I finally checked it out.
To start, it’s not very good. But it’s also not terrible. It’s very middle of the road, predictable and doesn’t make a big enough mark to warrant a film series like so many other slashers with unique villains that came out over the ’80s and ’90s.
That’s not a knock against Larry Drake, who plays the title character. Drake is a multi-time Emmy Award winner and a talented actor in the right role. I’ve always liked him in movies where he’s the villain like the Darkman series or when he’s just simply in a horror movie like Dark Night of the Scarecrow.
Drake really got to shine as the focal point of this picture and he was superb at being creepy. His laugh was great and unique. His character also had a decent backstory, capped off by an incredibly well-crafted scene where the child Dr. Giggles emerges from the womb of his dead mother in the morgue. It’s actually the highlight of the film, if I’m being honest.
The rest of the cast is pretty bad, even if the movie has some notable people in it like a young Holly Marie Combs, Colin Quinn, who played Mark on Roseanne, and Cliff DeYoung, who I will always have a fondness for because of his role as the dad in The Flight of the Navigator. The movie also features Doug E. Doug before he’d become better known in Cool Runnings and Cosby.
Apart from those actors, the rest of the cast is abysmally bad and it drags the movie down, as it relies on throwaway caricatures and tropes for these characters.
This is a forgettable movie and that’s probably why people forgot about it immediately after its release in 1992.
Also known as: Dr. Detroit (alternative spelling) Release Date: May 6th, 1983 Directed by: Michael Pressman Written by: Bruce Jay Friedman, Carl Gottlieb, Robert Boris Music by: Lalo Schifrin Cast: Dan Aykroyd, Howard Hesseman, George Furth, James Brown, T. K. Carter, Donna Dixon, Fran Drescher, Lydia Lei, Lynn Whitfield, Kate Murtagh, Peter Aykroyd, Glenne Headly
Black Rhino Productions, Brillstein Company, Universal Pictures, 89 Minutes
“Mom, I am going to rip off your head and shit down your neck.” – Doctor Detroit
This is a Dan Aykroyd movie that, for whatever reason, eluded me until I was much older. I probably would’ve loved it, as a kid, but maybe it was just buried down deep in the video stores I visited and thus, I never came across it until I worked in one as a teenager in the ’90s.
I like this movie and it has a pretty good cast. However, it is kind of sloppily thrown together and the humor is crude, even for the ’80s. That’s more of a reason why I would’ve liked it back then. But because I don’t have those fond childhood memories of watching this, I don’t have much nostalgia for it and I think that allows me to be more objective.
Aykroyd is good in this, as are most of the core people, but I can see why this went down the memory hole for most fans of ’80s comedies and why it was never a hit when it came out, despite Aykroyd’s popularity from the early days of Saturday Night Live.
The plot is goofy and you have to suspend disbelief quite a bit. The Doctor Detroit persona that Aykroyd creates is way over the top and so bizarre that it’s hard to believe that anyone would’ve taken him seriously, even in an ’80s screwball comedy. That’s not to say that the character isn’t funny and entertaining, he is.
The story is pretty wonky and poorly crafted and you kind of just have to enjoy the segments as they happen and not think too deeply about the movie. During the era in which this was made, though, this sort of stuff was the norm.
Audiences coming out of decades of civil and political strife in America just needed to breathe and enjoy life again. Many ’80s comedies are products of this societal feeling. And honestly, I think that’s why so many are still beloved today and still matter to so many people, as modern times aren’t all that great.
Doctor Detroit just isn’t one of those that can be considered a classic like Ghostbusters, Caddyshack, the Vacation movies or all those John Hughes teen dramadies. This isn’t even Revenge of the Nerds quality, it’s more like Revenge of the Nerds II or Caddyshack II.
However, like Revenge of the Nerds II and Caddyshack II, I enjoy this movie where I’d assume most people probably wouldn’t. And maybe this is actually a bit better than those, as I don’t have the nostalgia factor as part of its equation.
Also known as: Cruella de Vil (working title) Release Date: May 18th, 2021 (Hollywood premiere) Directed by: Craig Gillespie Written by: Dana Fox, Tony McNamara, Aline Brosh McKenna, Kelly Marcel, Steve Zissis Based on:The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith Music by: Nicholas Britell Cast: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, Emily Beecham, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Mark Strong, John McCrea
Gunn Films, Marc Platt Productions, Walt Disney Pictures, 134 Minutes
“They say there are five stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. We’ll I’d like to add one more… revenge.” – Cruella de Vil
Cruella is two movies trying to be one movie. Hell, maybe it’s even three movies.
That being said, I do like the film in spite of my better judgment but I’ll explain why while also pointing out the myriad of things wrong with it.
To start, this is just another soulless attempt at Disney trying to cash-in on an old, beloved franchise by making a live action adaptation of some part of it. In the case of this film, it’s a “prequel” of sorts to the 101 Dalmatians franchise. Like some other live action adaptations Disney has done, as of late, this tries to tell the origin story of one of the studio’s most famous villains. But really, this just shows how Disney is out of ideas and how it really keeps trying to inject identity politics into everything it touches now.
Additionally, this is basically trying to capitalize off of the success of 2019’s Joker by taking it’s general concept, switching genders, switching franchises, not going for an R rating and trying to pass it off as something fresh, cool and unique. Let’s also ignore that Warner Bros., who put out Joker, have also put out three movies with his psycho, villain, girlfriend Harley Quinn.
Also, this shows modern Disney’s problem with morality. In almost everything the studio puts out now, it gives audiences situations where it’s obvious that their writers don’t understand the basic concept of good versus evil. I’ve seen this in all the Disney+ Marvel shows and they also did it twice with Maleficent in her two live-action movies that try to justify her villainous behavior and make her the tragic victim.
Cruella is a mess and to be honest, I don’t know where to start with it and I’m not going to cover all of its problems other than to say that the biggest problem of all is that Disney very clearly wanted this to be a “girl power” movie and wanted it to work no matter what, so they forced it into existence without much thought in regards to story, character development, logic and again, morality.
So looking at the story, this movie just does things because it needs the story to work with the studio’s agenda remaining intact. It insults the intelligence of viewers with intelligence and hopes that they don’t start asking questions as the film tries to rush from point-to-point.
Like why does Estella/Cruella essentially have a dual personality? Why did the villain lady agree to see Estella’s mother during an opulent ball the poor mother had no business at? How did Estella get to the fountain in London on her own? Why is Estella as Cruella suddenly a complete bitch to her best friends? Why do the friends stick around? Why does villain lady not recognize Cruella’s posse when they’re front and center at every fucking public troll? Why did Cruella never actually hate the Dalmatians and basically adopts them? Why was her necklace a key to a box that revealed her secret identity that a stranger had and why was the adoptive mother given the secret key necklace when she knew the truth, anyway? There’s a lot more but I’ll leave it at that.
A lot of those questions tie directly to the problem with character development. But honestly, it’s like this movie completely ignores who Cruella de Vil was in the original animated films and even those Glenn Close live-action movies. Cruella is 100 percent evil. She’s a woman that wants to kidnap puppies, kill them and make clothes out of them.
In this movie, we just have a chick with a temper that discovers that the boss she idolizes is the same woman that had her dogs push her mother off of a cliff. Cruella never hates the dogs, though. She kidnaps them to upset her rival and she jokes about making a handbag out of them but by the end of the film, they’re part of her entourage like her own non-Dalmatian mutt.
Now I can suspend disbelief in Estella/Cruella having a dual personality without much explanation but Estella is a pretty kind person that loves her friends, who are essentially her adoptive family. So with that, it’s hard to believe that she would suddenly be a cold bitch to them and just treat them like low level henchmen. Additionally, why the fuck would these two guys, who grew up with her, take her shit? I’d ask if they’re that cucked but I know the answer is “yes” when this is a modern Disney movie.
Moving on to the logic problem, I’ve already kind of hit on that point with the other issues but it is a problem for this film when a viewer isn’t the type of person to just take what’s being spoon-fed to them from sequence-to-sequence. This movie moves at a pace too quick for the casual viewer to really think too deeply about the details and that’s deliberate. It’s similar to how the Disney Star Wars movies are, in that they just quickly move from one thing to the next thing without allowing you to take in the details and ask questions. Again, Disney just needs the story to work to make their point, even if it’s not logical and a bit of a mess.
As far as morality goes, this wants you to cheer this woman, who is doing bad things because the story’s villain is worse. But what you really have is two villains. Still, Disney doesn’t fully commit to the bit because in 2021, you can’t have this woman killing puppies or even implying as such, other than her throwaway joke that immediately draws the ire of her two best friends.
What we end up with is a character that shows the audience that it’s okay to be a vengeful, selfish bitch, as long as you don’t go completely bad. What completely bad is, I don’t know, but neither does Disney. And at the end of the film, you’re left with a character that still really isn’t Cruella de Vil, she’s just some stylish punk rock chick that destroyed her rival and took her empire because the story needed to end, I guess.
Now after all that, if you’re still here, you’re probably assuming that I hate this movie. Well, I don’t. I still liked it in spite of all its problems, which shows me that this could have been a great film on its own, apart from being tied to the 101 Dalmatians franchise and carrying Disney’s woke message.
Had this not been forcibly tied to the Cruella character and just been a movie about a woman who discovers her idol murdered her mother, we could’ve had a really good movie about two feuding fashion industry rivals.
Emma Stone and Emma Thompson are absolutely superb in this and without them, this movie probably would’ve been total shit. But damn are they good, especially in the scenes they’re in together. Additionally, all the other key actors are great and it kind of makes me sad that they didn’t have a script or story that could’ve maximized their talents even better.
I also loved the style of this movie. It primarily takes place in 1970s London, has a punk rock edge to it, but it also takes from 1920s-1940s fashion and architecture, mixes that in, giving the film an unique, somewhat otherworldly, but “lived in” feel. It’s a visual feast and I got lost trying to absorb the details of it all.
In the end, I wish this was just it’s own movie, not tied to a preexisting franchise. I wish it tried to make more logical sense and developed its characters better. It had all these things working for it but Disney’s soulless overproduction of everything it puts out derailed what could’ve been the best film they’ve produced in years.
At this point, though, Disney doesn’t care about quality. They only care about their agenda and the bottom line. But we’re now getting to the point where their agenda will start diminishing that bottom line, regardless of what the Disney owned media wants you to believe with their puff pieces and excuses.
Release Date: September 18th, 1987 (Toronto Film Festival) Directed by: Penelope Spheeris Written by: Randall Jahnson Music by: Charles Bernstein Cast: Jon Cryer, Catherine Mary Stewart, Daniel Roebuck, Flea, Lee Ving, Glenn Withrow
Vista Organization, 90 Minutes
“Look, Milo, we’re talking about real life here, okay? Real life is not California. Real life is a shit sandwich and every day you gotta take another bite.” – Grant
Dudes is a pretty cool movie for its time. It sees three teenage punk rockers from Queens go cross-country in an effort to make it to California and hopefully a new, better future.
However, along the way, while camping out in the desert of Arizona, the three teens are attacked by a gang of vicious rednecks and one of the boys is murdered and their stuff is then stolen.
The two surviving teens find the local cops to be useless and ultimately, decide to take down this gang by themselves. Along comes the local tough, hot chick that teaches them how to actually shoot a gun properly.
Now maybe the premise sounds a bit wonky but the story works well within the world that this film creates for itself. Sure, the movie is a comedy but it’s still got a lot of real drama and heart to it. I also think that Jon Cryer was the perfect guy to handle what was needed for the lead role. He’s good at comedy, can handle serious stuff and he’s likable as hell and can give a convincing performance with the right material.
I also really enjoyed Daniel Roebuck as his large, punk rock sidekick. While Roebuck looks like the more imposing of the two, I like that this movie’s plot doesn’t just run with that and it gives us something more realistic where the big punk rocker is more of a gentle giant.
Catherine Mary Stewart was perfect as the local girl. I’ve always loved seeing her ever since I first watched The Last Starfighter, as a kid. Here, she reminds me a lot of her tough girl role in Night of the Comet, which is my favorite role she’s ever played.
Additionally, you have two real musicians in this. Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers plays the friend who is murdered by the gang while Lee Ving of Fear is the leader of the scumbag gang. Both of these guys brought their A-game to the picture and showed they had legitimate acting chops.
Dudes really is a western movie at its core. Being that it takes place in what was modern times when it was made doesn’t really matter, as it follows the beats of that genre. Maybe there are other punk rock neo-westerns out there but I don’t think I’ve seen any others and it’s kind of a cool mix now that I’ve seen it come together.
All that being said, I dug this movie quite a bit. It was well cast, the story was decent but made better by the performances and it leaves you pretty satisfied at the end.
Also known as: John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China (complete title) Release Date: July 2nd, 1986 Directed by: John Carpenter Written by: Gary Goldman, David Z. Weinstein, W. D. Richter Music by: John Carpenter, Alan Howarth Cast: Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun, James Hong, Victor Wong, Kate Burton, Donald Li, Carter Wong, Peter Kwong, James Pax, Suzee Pai, Chao-Li Chi, Jeff Imada, Al Leong, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, James Lew
TAFT Entertainment Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, 99 Minutes
“Sooner or later I rub everybody the wrong way.” – Jack Burton
There are very few films I watched more than Big Trouble In Little China once it was out on VHS and I rented it to dub a copy. New release VHS tapes were like $99 back then and I was still way too young to get a real job.
Anyway, I fucking loved this movie when I was a kid and it was really my introduction to John Carpenter. His films before this one were all hard Rs and things like The Thing and Prince of Darkness would’ve given me nightmares for months. Yeah, I loved horror by this point but Carpenter’s hardest films were still way too hard for my 8 year-old brain.
I really loved this because of Kurt Russell. I can’t say that this was my introduction to him but this is probably the first film that made me know who he was.
Beyond Russell, I just loved the giant martial arts battle in the alley and found myself completely in love with this movie as soon as the three elemental dudes showed up along with the evil wizard Lo Pan. That whole sequence and its special effects blew my mind.
By this point, I’ve seen this movie dozens of times. However, it’s been at least five-to-ten years. I’ve felt the itch to revisit it for awhile now and I had to wedge it into my schedule.
I still love this movie. It’s action packed, has a great adventure, cool fantasy and horror shit, a very charismatic lead and it’s a hell of a lot more fun than anything Hollywood puts out today.
I actually enjoy Kurt Russell’s Jack Burton even more now. I think that’s because he’s heroic as hell but he really is this bumbling idiot that fucks up more than he actually does badass things. As a kid it was all just for a laugh but as an adult, I see that he wants to be that heroic guy but he gets in his own way. However, when it really comes to pulling off the big win, the dude succeeds and wins the day… and the girl. Well, until he gets in his own way again.
All the core characters in this movie are great from the heroes-to-the villains and even those with small one-scene roles are pretty memorable.
Back in the day, I loved all the monsters in this movie and seeing them all these years later, they’ve held up well. While Carpenter was working with a fairly decent budget on this movie, there were still limitations. In spite of that, the practical effects still look superb and the not-so-practical ones still pass the test.
Big Trouble In LittleChina is a movie that has a little bit of all the things I was into when it came out. While my tastes have evolved, these are still things I enjoy.
There are very few movies that are as fun as this one.
Release Date: May 31st, 1985 Directed by: Michael Ritchie Written by: Andrew Bergman Based on:Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald Music by: Harold Faltermeyer Cast: Chevy Chase, Joe Don Baker, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Richard Libertini, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Matheson, M. Emmet Walsh, George Wendt, Kenneth Mars, Geena Davis, George Wyner, Chick Heam
Vincent Pictures, Universal Pictures, 98 Minutes
“Why don’t we go lay on the bed and I’ll fill you in?” – Fletch
Because I’m not a big Chevy Chase fan, I hadn’t seen Fletch since the ’80s and even then, I don’t think I ever watched it from start-to-finish until now.
Seeing this as an adult, though, I think my mind has shifted. I actually dug this movie quite a bit and it’s made me rethink Chase and his contributions to cinematic comedy.
If I’m being honest, he was perfect in this, it truly utilized his charm and his comedic style. In fact, I’d even say that his style was enhanced by this script and the situations throughout the movie.
He wasn’t a complete self-absorbed prick like he was in most of the Vacation movies. Sure, he was definitely self-impressed with his own antics but he was actually a heroic character, trying to uncover a mysterious plot and rid the beaches of drug pushers with ties to the local cops. He also had this coolness about him that was similar to the coolness he had in Caddyshack but this even eclipsed that, as he was this film’s focal point and he wasn’t competing for laughs with Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray.
The cast is also stacked with lots of great character actors like Joe Don Baker, M. Emmet Walsh, George Wendt, George Wyner and Kenneth Mars. It also featured Tim Matheson and a very young Geena Davis. However, I really liked Dana Wheeler-Nicholson in this, as the female lead. She had good chemistry with Chase and their budding relationship was believable and nice to watch.
I also thought that the Harold Faltermeyer score was solid. I think it’s my favorite score he’s done after his work on the first two Beverly Hills Cop movies.
Fletch might be the perfect Chevy Chase film. I’m going to have to review the sequel in the next few weeks. While I think it’s safe to assume that it’s not as good as this flick, I hope it utilizes Chase’s talent as well as this did.