TV Review: Chucky (2021- )

Original Run: October 12th, 2021 – current
Created by: Don Mancini
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: characters by Don Mancini
Music by: Joseph LoDuca
Cast: Zackary Arthur, Björgvin Arnarson, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Teo Briones, Brad Dourif, Jennifer Tilly, Fiona Dourif, Alex Vincent, Christine Elise, Lexa Doig, Devon Sawa, Barbara Alyn Woods, Michael Therriault

Pheidippides, David Kirschner Productions, Eat the Cat, Universal, Syfy, USA Network, 8 Episodes (so far), 45 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I’ve been a fan of every Child’s Play/Chucky film that’s ever come out and featured the Brad Dourif version of the character. All the stuff that Don Mancini has done with his franchise has been solid and entertaining. I’ve loved seeing this evolve over almost thirty-five years now.

So I was a lot more enthused about this than I was the Child’s Play remake from a few years ago, despite my love of Aubrey Plaza. But like I said in that review, the doll and the concept were different enough that they shouldn’t have made it a Chucky movie, it should’ve been its own thing. And had it been, they could’ve done a killer doll crossover at some point. Hollywood is out of ideas, though. But at least someone in that town greenlit this series, regardless of the remake and how it sort of came and went then fizzled out. Are they even doing a sequel to that one? I have no idea.

Anyway, this television series picks up after the events of Cult of Chucky. With that, we revisit the interesting concepts and developments that film introduced. Making this a television series, instead of another 90 minute movie, was the best thing they could’ve done, as it gives the story enough time to explore its new creative avenues.

Just about all the characters from the past come back, as well, as that was something that Mancini started two movies ago.

The main characters in this series, however, are a group of middle school aged kids. They have their middle school aged problems and Chucky capitalizes on that in an effort to coach a kid into killing. The reason being, is that this will allow Chucky to use a new sort of voodoo magic that I won’t reveal because I don’t want to spoil too much of the show.

Ultimately, this is really fucking entertaining in the way that you’d expect but it also exceeded my expectations and subverted some, as well.

Obviously, you have to suspend disbelief quite a bit but if you’re able to, this is just a fun, ridiculous show with a beloved psycho.

Rating: 7.5/10

Film Review: Private Lessons (1981)

Also known as: Philly (working title)
Release Date: May, 1981 (Japan)
Directed by: Alan Myerson
Written by: Dan Greenburg
Based on: Philly by Dan Greenburg
Music by: Willie Nile, various
Cast: Sylvia Kristel, Howard Hesseman, Eric Brown, Ed Begley Jr.

Barry & Enright Productions, Jensen Farley Pictures, 87 Minutes

Review:

“Who the hell takes baths with other people, except for the Japanese, I mean. Have you heard of any?” – Sherman, “No. Nobody except the Japanese.” – Philly

Since I recently watched and reviewed Private Resort, I figured that I’d review the last film of the Private trilogy that I hadn’t covered yet. This is actually the first of the three movies, though. Also, they’re just a loose trilogy, as none of the films actually connect with one another.

This is the one I’ve seen the least and I haven’t seen it since the mid-’90s or so, when I was working at a video store and used to take home a dozen movies per week.

Private Lessons is a film that couldn’t be made today, as it actually features pedophilia. A fifteen year-old boy is crushing hard on his new housekeeper. The boy’s driver and the housekeeper devise some confusing plot for the woman to seduce the boy. Whatever, it seems so farfetched, even for being based on a book from the ’60s. But I guess they needed to have a reason to have some twentysomething foreign chick fuck a fifteen year-old, awkward kid. I’d assume that the story was inspired by The Graduate and the author just decided to do something even more extreme.

As a teen, I didn’t think the plot was that big of a deal. As an adult, I’m kind of shocked that this got to theaters but it was a very different world in 1981. While teens having sex in movies wasn’t new and sex comedies were a huge money maker in that era, seeing a minor have sex with an adult was usually just implied or the “teen” actually looked like he was twenty and not twelve.

That being said, it is what it is and it’s a product of its time. I’m fine with the film’s existence because it’s not like they were really fucking and this was made to pack teen boys into theaters, which it did fairly effectively. In fact, it made back nearly ten times its budget.

In the end, it’s not a good movie and it’s a bit of a chore to get through. But it’s also not the worst of the teen sex comedy trend… not by a longshot.

Rating: 5/10

Film Review: Private Resort (1985)

Release Date: May 3rd, 1985
Directed by: George Bowers
Written by: Alan Wenkus, Gordon Mitchell, Ken Segall
Music by: various
Cast: Rob Morrow, Johnny Depp, Emily Longstreth, Toni Azito, Dody Goodman, Leslie Easterbrook, Hector Elizondo, Andrew “Dice” Clay, Karyn O’Bryan, Michael Bowen

Delphi III Productions, TriStar Pictures, 82 Minutes

Review:

“Oh, thank you, Baba Rama Nana!” – Shirley

Private Resort is the final film in the Private trilogy, which is comprised of three unrelated sex comedy films. It’s also my favorite of the three, just beating out Private School. However, I haven’t seen Private Lessons since the ’90s and should probably revisit it again for a review and to compare to the other two films.

This is a dumb, goofy, ’80s comedy with lots of raunchy sex jokes and random boob shots. So basically, this is something I loved as a kid back when this sort of stuff was still acceptable.

Sure, things like this were never considered “high art” but people generally enjoyed them because we enjoyed life back then and we also used our entertainment as a means of escape from the problems that come from reality. Everyone needs a break and comedy used to be a great medicine for negative emotions. Boobies are also a great medicine for that but you’re not supposed to admit stuff like that anymore.

Anyway, this stars Rob Morrow, who would go on to be the lead in Northern Exposure, and Johnny Depp, just after he was in the original A Nightmare On Elm Street and before he blew up from his role on the original 21 Jump Street.

The film also features Andrew Dice Clay in one of my favorite roles he’s played, Leslie Easterbrook, Hector Elizondo and a young Michael Bowen.

The story follows two young guys showing up at a beach resort in an effort to get laid. While chasing girls, they draw the ire of the hotel security manager, a jewel thief, a total dick that works at the resort and a buff womanizer.

It feels like half the movie is just zany, slapstick chase scenes throughout the resort’s grounds but I’m fine with that, as a lot of the gags are still funny and they still make me laugh. Granted, I don’t know how well any of this would play for modern audiences that didn’t grow up with these kind of movies.

Overall, this is mindless fun and if you’ve read enough of my other reviews, you know that’s something I’m a fan of.

Rating: 6.25/10

Film Review: The Rescuers (1977)

Also known as: Bernard and Bianca (alternative title)
Release Date: June 19th, 1977 (Washington DC premiere)
Directed by: Wolfgang Reitherman, John Lounsbery, Art Stevens
Written by: Larry Clemmons, Vance Gerry, Ken Anderson, Frank Thomas, Burny Mattinson, Fred Lucky, Dick Sebast, David Michener, Ted Berman
Based on: The Rescuers and Miss Bianca by Margery Sharp
Music by: Artie Butler
Cast: Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor, Joe Flynn, Geraldine Page

Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Productions, 78 Minutes

Review:

“Poor Evinrude. Your carburetor is all pooped out.” – Miss Bianca

The Rescuers was a movie I watched a hell of a lot as a kid. It came out before I was born but my uncle that had access to things gave me a copy, I think before it was even commercially available on VHS tape. I was young, details are murky.

Anyway, I guess this was immensely popular, even though I feel like it’s been forgotten today. In fact, Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers originally started out as a Rescuers show. It was changed once The Rescuers were given a theatrical sequel film, being the first and only Disney animated feature of the old hand-drawn style to receive a theatrical sequel. There would end up being many sequels for various Disney films after that, however, except those were always straight-to-video.

Staying focused on this film, however, it still plays well and I think it’s aged tremendously and represents an era of Disney that is too often overlooked and underappreciated.

The Rescuers is also kind of a dark film, even if it is kid friendly. It deals with dark subject matter and a fairly realistic, truly evil woman as its villain.

However, most of the characters are cute animals, so that helps keep the movie from going too deeply into darkness.

I love the characters in this, though, specifically the mice Bernard and Miss Bianca. I think it also helps that they were voiced by the great Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor, who already had voicework experience from The Aristocats.

The story is about a kidnapped orphan, an evil woman obsessed with a mythical diamond and how these two mice are on the search for the little girl and ultimately, have to take down the villainess.

I really liked the setting of the film being the bayou. It gave it a very unique look and style and it also provided the right type of place for those two villainous alligators to thrive. I always loved the alligators as a kid but I also grew up on the edge of the Everglades, which isn’t too dissimilar from the bayou.

The Rescuers is still an entertaining movie and my second favorite of the ’70s Disney animated features after Robin Hood.

Rating: 8/10

Film Review: A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

Release Date: July 7th, 1988 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Charles Crichton
Written by: John Cleese, Charles Crichton
Music by: John Du Prez
Cast: John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin, Cynthia Cleese, Stephen Fry

Star Partners Limited Partnership, Prominent Features, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 108 Minutes

Review:

“You pompous, stuck-up, snot-nosed, English, giant, twerp, scumbag, fuck-face, dickhead, asshole.” – Otto, “How very interesting. You’re a true vulgarian, aren’t you?” – Archie, “You are the vulgarian, you fuck.” – Otto

I remember adults talking about how much they loved this movie when I was nine years-old. I also vaguely remember seeing the John Cleese getting caught naked gag whether from trailers or just seeing it pop up on HBO while flipping the channels.

That’s really all I knew about the movie, though, but people still talk about it fondly, so I figured that I should finally check it out. Plus, I like Cleese, as well as Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Palin and Kevin Kline. Cynthia Cleese and Stephen Fry also pop up in this.

For the most part, this was amusing and I liked that it was essentially a film-noir structured comedy. Curtis essentially plays a femme fatale without the murder and you never really know which guy she’s screwing over and who she may choose in the end… or no one.

Cleese was as likable and hilarious as always and this really felt like somewhat of spiritual successor to probably his most famous character, Basil Fawlty of Fawlty Towers. Although, Cleese’s character here is less of a shithead.

Kline is solid as a total bastard and I especially liked his banter and scenes with Michael Palin.

Overall, this is pretty quick paced, whimsical and entertaining. However, it didn’t captivate me on the level that it has seemed to for other people, especially at the time of this picture’s release. Maybe it worked better in 1988 and for an audience that was older than me then. 

Honestly, it reminds me a lot of other comedies of the time featuring a small group of people all trying to fuck each other over. It was kind of a normal comedy trope at the time and with that, I can’t really see this as something wholly original or refreshing, even for its era. While it beat Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to the theater by a few months, it pales in comparison to that by a pretty substantial margin.

Rating: 6.25/10

Film Review: Porco Rosso (1992)

Also known as: Kurenai no buta (original Japanese title), The Crimson Pig (literal English title)
Release Date: July 18th, 1992 (Japan)
Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
Written by: Hayao Miyazaki
Based on: Hikotei Jidai by Hayao Miyazaki
Music by: Joe Hisaishi
Cast: Japanese Language: Shuichiro Moriyama, Akio Otsuka, Akemi Okamura, Tokiko Kato, Sanshi Katsura; English Language: Michael Keaton, Cary Elwes, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Susan Egan, Brad Garrett, Bill Fagerbakke, Frank Welker

Japan Airlines, Nibariki, Nippon Television Network, Studio Ghibli, 94 Minutes

Review:

“I’d rather be a pig than a fascist.” – Porco Rosso

I’ve gotta say, I went into this with no real expectations but it kind of blew me away and impressed me a great deal.

The humor in this is fantastic and up to the point of this film’s release, this may be Studio Ghibli’s best use of comedy. It helped set the film’s playful tone from the get go.

The story is about an ace pilot during the World War I era. He’s Italian and work as a bounty hunter around the Adriatic Sea. He’s also been cursed with the head of a pig, even though he’s a pretty normal human being.

Over the course of the film, he develops a rivalry with an American ace and loses a contest against him. He then is convinced by a young girl that she can design and build a better plane for him, even though he doesn’t initially like the idea. Over the course of the story, they develop an incredible bond and Porco Rosso sets his sights on redeeming himself against the American ace.

While this is more of a comedy than a drama, it has very strong dramatic moments and I think it’s those parts that make this pretty great.

I watched the English dubbed version and I thoroughly enjoyed the voice acting. I especially liked Michael Keaton and Cary Elwes as the voices of the two rival aces, which made their banter pretty entertaining.

As far as the animation goes, this is exactly what you should expect from a Hayao Miyazaki picture. I also think this has a lot more energy than many of his films, as it features so much aerial action.

While I doubt that I’ll ever discover a bad Studio Ghibli film, this wasn’t one that I expected to be really impressed by. In the end, it did just that and I think this may be one of my favorites of the bunch. But I still have many to get through, that I haven’t seen.

Rating: 8/10

Film Review: Doctor X (1932)

Release Date: August 3rd, 1932 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Written by: Robert Tasker, Earl Baldwin
Based on: Terror, 1928 play by Howard W. Comstock, Allen C. Miller
Music by: Leo F. Forbstein, Bernard Kaun
Cast: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Lee Tracy, Preston Foster

First National Pictures, 76 Minutes

Review:

“Were the murdered women… attacked?” – Dr. Haines, Academy of Surgical Research

I don’t know if this is the first horror/comedy ever made but it’s gotta be pretty close. However, it also blends together several genres in what’s a really unique experience for a motion picture from 1932.

This is directed by Michael Curtiz, who would go on to direct several film-noir pictures, as well as big budget swashbuckling blockbusters starring the legendary Errol Flynn. Curtiz was a pretty versatile and now celebrated director but this may be his most unusual film.

So the version of this that I watched was actually the one restored by George Lucas’ people, which was also in Technicolor, as opposed to the traditional black and white.

However, I really liked the Technicolor work in this film and it made it feel gritty and real and also somewhat haunting and majestic. The use of green accents enhanced it in a unique way and while I typically prefer to see films, as they were intended, this almost makes a good argument for the use of colorization just by how it was employed here.

I thought that the film was amusing, I liked the comedy and it still works for those few of us that still enjoy pictures from this era.

I also enjoyed the performances by Lionel Atwill, a guy that was featured in a slew of classic Universal Monsters films, as well as Fay Wray, who will always be remembered for her iconic part in the original King Kong.

While this is sort of your typical mad scientist tale, it’s genre bending narrative comes across as fresh and unique when compared to similar movies of the time.

Rating: 7/10

Film Review: Office Space (1999)

Release Date: February 19th, 1999
Directed by: Mike Judge
Written by: Mike Judge
Based on: Milton by Mike Judge
Music by: John Frizzell
Cast: Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston, David Herman, Ajay Naidu, Diedrich Bader, Stephen Root, Gary Cole, Richard Riehle, John C. McGinley, Paul Wilson, Michael McShane, Alexandra Wentworth, Greg Pitts, Todd Duffy, Orlando Jones, Joe Bays, Mike Judge (uncredited)

Cubicle Inc., 3 Arts Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, 89 Minutes

Review:

“So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.” – Peter Gibbons

Office Space just kind of came and went when it hit theaters in early 1999. However, once it hit VHS and everyone was able to rent it, it developed a cult following, which then became so large it wasn’t “cult” anymore and was more or less, mainstream.

This is a movie that nearly everyone loves because nearly everyone can relate to it on some level. Also, watching it now, I realized just how timeless it is, as the corporate world hasn’t changed much and many of us have very similar work lives to the characters featured in this story.

The core characters, here, are all pretty likable. So much so, I know that many people wanted a sequel just to spend more time with them, even though the story doesn’t need to be explored more than it was in this movie. I hope that ship has sailed and that Mike Judge would never actually sign-off on such a thing.

What I found most impressive about this now is that all the jokes still land and a lot of the anti-office stuff is still relevant.

The film also benefitted from being so well cast with Ron Livingston being such a great lead. Plus, all the other actors are pretty perfect in their roles.

Oddly, Jennifer Aniston is the only one that feels somewhat out of place but not because she was bad but because her role almost felt unnecessary. The story didn’t need a love interest and those scenes felt like they were in the way of the main plot.

However, Aniston’s character and her issues with working in the chain restaurant industry probably inspired the film Waiting…, which was a pretty enjoyable flick with similar themes.

Overall, Office Space was one of the best comedies of its time and it is still one of my favorites, today. I don’t think I’ll ever be sick of it and it’s one of those movies that you’ll just stop and watch if you walk into a room and it’s on. 

Rating: 8.5/10

Film Review: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

Release Date: March 11th, 1977
Directed by: John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman
Written by: Larry Clemmons, Ralph Wright, Vance Gerry, Xavier Atencio, Ken Anderson, Julius Svendsen, Ted Berman, Eric Cleworth
Based on: Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
Music by: Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman (songs), Buddy Baker (score)
Cast: Sterling Holloway, John Fiedler, Junius Matthews, Paul Winchell, Howard Morris, Bruce Reitherman, Jon Walmsley, Timothy Turner, Clint Howard, Sebastian Cabot (narrator)

Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Productions, Buena Vista Distribution, 74 Minutes

Review:

“It’s not much of a tail, but I’m sort of attached to it.” – Eeyore

It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen this animated Disney classic but I loved it as a kid and I think it still plays exceptionally well.

The story is narrated by the great Sebastian Cabot and it features a bunch of small tales set in the world of Winnie the Pooh. So this is more of an anthology featuring the same core characters than it is a feature length story.

The animation is smooth and dreamlike and I still think that this is the best adaptation of the written material and the quintessential Winnie the Pooh film to introduce to kids that might like the character and his world.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh also features a pretty stellar voice cast that brings these characters to life in a remarkable and memorable way. Sterling Holloway, especially, achieved legendary status with his performance, here, as he gave the world the voice and personality that we would forever associate with Pooh.

I also didn’t know until now that Clint Howard provided his voice for Roo, the little kangaroo character. That, in its own way, adds another layer of coolness to the picture.

Rating: 7.75/10