Film Review: Splash (1984)

Release Date: March 9th, 1984
Directed by: Ron Howard
Written by: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, Bruce Jay Friedman, Brian Grazer
Music by: Lee Holdridge
Cast: Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, Eugene Levy, John Candy

Touchstone Pictures, Buena Vista Distribution, 111 Minutes

Review:

“What you looking at? You never seen a guy who slept with a fish before?” – Freddie

Splash was a movie that was on television all the time when I was a kid. I’d catch pieces of it from time-to-time and I have probably seen all of it but I haven’t actually watched it in its entirety from start-to-finish until now.

It wasn’t a film that I was super into, back in the day, but my mum dug it a lot. It was good enough to watch, though, because it has Tom Hanks, Eugene Levy and John Candy in it and I’ve always loved those guys, especially in the ’80s.

The film also stars Daryl Hannah, who was approaching the height of her popularity, which this film brought to the next level.

If you weren’t alive in the mid-’80s, you might not be able to comprehend how popular she was for a short time. I always thought it was a bit odd that she worked steadily for years but never really seemed to maintain that momentum she had in the ’80s. Regardless, she did always find decent work and had a bit of a resurgence from Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill movies.

For those who don’t know, the story follows a guy that is rescued from drowning by a mermaid. She ends up with his wallet and uses maps on a sunken ship to locate his home, New York City. She does track him down and the two fall in love. However, he doesn’t know she’s a mermaid and she only has a few days to spend with him before she reverts back to her fishy form. He discovers her secret in the worst way possible and is at first freaked out. However, love wins out in the end and this fairytale has a really satisfying ending.

For being a fairly standard comedy in the ’80s, it’s really well acted by the core stars, especially Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah. However, I loved the hell out of Eugene Levy in this, as a total bastard that ended up having a heart of gold and risked everything to put things right.

This is fun, amusing and sweet. But it also has heart and I think that shows how talented Ron Howard was as a director, even at this very early stage of his career.

Rating: 6.75/10

Film Review: Vacation (1983)

Also known as: National Lampoon’s Vacation (complete title)
Release Date: July 29th, 1983
Directed by: Harold Ramis
Written by: John Hughes
Based on: Vacation ’58 by John Hughes
Music by: Ralph Burns
Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Anthony Michael Hall, Dana Barron, Imogene Coca, Randy Quaid, John Candy, Christie Brinkley, Brian Doyle-Murray, James Keach, Eugene Levy, Frank McRae, Jane Krakowski, John Diehl

National Lampoon, Warner Bros., 98 Minutes

Review:

“I don’t give a frog’s fat ass who went through what. We need money! Hey, Russ, wanna look through Aunt Edna’s purse?” – Clark Griswald

Full disclosure, I’ve never been a huge Chevy Chase fan. However, the Vacation movies still hold a special place in my nostalgic heart.

I think my reason for liking these films has more to do with John Hughes’ writing and just the bonkers scenarios that the family constantly fall into.

Additionally, I think that these are Chase’s best comedies but Beverly D’Angelo seems to be a perfect balance to his over-the-top shenanigans and every movie did a good job casting the kids. Why do they change every movie? I’m not sure but they’re always pretty good, regardless.

I also enjoy Chase’s scenes with Randy Quaid and they’re the highlight of most of these films for me. In this one, however, I also liked seeing Chase’s scenes with John Candy and Eugene Levy.

I think that this film works pretty well because of Harold Ramis’ direction, though. He got the best out of his cast and he has always had a great sense of comedic timing and how to build a comedic scene. Case in point, look at his great work as one of the creative minds behind the great SCTV sketch comedy television series.

From memory, all of these films are pretty equal and consistent. This is the one I’ve seen the most, though, and it may have the slight edge for being the first. However, I’ll probably review the others in the near future, as it’s been way too long since I’ve seen them and want to see how well they’ve held up.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: the other Vacation pictures, as well as other movies by National Lampoon.

Film Review: Heavy Metal (1981)

Also known as: Universo en fantasía (original Spanish language title)
Release Date: July 29th, 1981 (premiere)
Directed by: Gerald Potterton
Written by: Daniel Goldberg
Based on: original art and stories by Richard Corben, Angus McKie, Dan O’Bannon, Thomas Warkentin, Bernie Wrightson
Music by: Elmer Bernstein, various
Cast: Rodger Bumpass, Jackie Burroughs, John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Don Francks, Martin Lavut, Marilyn Lightstone, Eugene Levy, Alice Playten, Harold Ramis, Susan Roman, Richard Romanus, August Schellenberg, John Vernon, Zal Yanovsky

Canadian Film Development Corporation, Guardian Trust Company, Columbia Pictures, 86 Minutes, 90 Minutes (premiere cut)

Review:

“A shadow shall fall over the universe, and evil will grow in its path, and death will come from the skies.” – Narrator

Fuck, this movie is so damn cool!

However, it does lack in the “heavy metal” department, as far as the music goes. That’s not to say the music is bad, this is just a lot less heavy than the title implies. Still, this developed a really strong cult following and for very good reason.

I love the rock and pop tunes in this, though. I mean, where else can you see a sword and sorcery story with sci-fi elements playout to a Devo song? Nowhere!

This entire movie is an animated anthology. The various segments were inspired by some of the stories and art that appeared in the pages of the Heavy Metal comic magazine. This is also a very adult cartoon, as it features nudity, sex and violence. There really isn’t anything here for kids but I saw it as a kid and it blew my mind. The ’80s were a different era, though. Kids today can’t watch Gremlins without needing the light on till they turn thirty.

Anyway, this was produced by Ivan Reitman and it featured a lot of his regular actors in voice roles. It’s kind of neat watching this for the first time in years and hearing John Candy, Harold Ramis, Eugene Levy and Joe Flaherty. It almost needed Bill Murray in there to round it out but it was still pretty dope hearing these comedic legends voices pop up in something like this.

That being said, this is just a really unique experience and it still conjures up a sort of magical feeling when watching it.

Despite the action and violence, the film has a calming, chill vibe to it and I think that has a lot to do with its visual style, tone and the superb use of music to season the already flavorful meal.

Heavy Metal is a weirdly comforting movie that reminds me of a time when filmmakers were still daring and experimental and with that, often times gave us movies that were really interesting, wonderfully eccentric, bizarre and special.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: its sequel, as well as other late ’70s and ’80s adult animated films.

Film Review: Bride of Boogedy (1987)

Release Date: April 22nd, 1987
Directed by: Oz Scott
Written by: Michael Janover
Music by: John Addison
Cast: Richard Masur, Mimi Kennedy, Tammy Lauren, David Faustino, Eugene Levy, Vincent Schiavelli

Michael Janover-Oz Scott Productions, Walt Disney Television, ABC, 93 Minutes

Review:

“[after stealing the magic cloak] So this is the secret of your success, eh Davis? Magic! Well two can play at that one my friend! When I’m through with you, you and your family will be sorry you ever moved to Lucifer Falls!” – Tom Lynch

I figured that I’d have to watch this after revisiting its predecessor a week or so ago. Plus, both are streaming on Disney+, which I re-upped to watch and review all the classic animated films.

This one is slightly better than the first but I think that mostly has to do with the fact that it is twice as long and actually the length of a regular film. An issue with the first one is that it felt rushed in its pacing, due to only having about 45 minutes to tell its story.

In this one, the filmmakers had more room to breathe and could tell a richer, more complete story.

I did miss Kristy Swanson and John Astin in this one but that was also off-set by the inclusion of Eugene Levy and a smaller part for character actor, Vincent Schiavelli.

The story sees Mr. Boogedy return after he’s essentially raised from the netherworld by a professional rival of the protagonist family’s father.

The film is primarily made up of gags and amusing sequences but there isn’t a whole lot in the picture that really matters. Everything is building up towards a big town carnival though.

At the carnival, Mr. Boogedy appears in front of everyone and steals the family’s mother away to be his bride. The family then has to find a way to pull her back into the real world while locking Mr. Boogedy away once again.

This film is cheesy and goofy but it’s also endearing, as you do care about the family and how positive and optimistic these people are, even after moving to a haunted house in a town called Lucifer Falls.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: it’s predecessor and other episodes of The Magical World of Disney.

Film Review: Cannibal Girls (1973)

Release Date: April, 1973
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Written by: Daniel Goldberg, Ivan Reitman, Robert Sandler
Music by: Doug Riley
Cast: Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Ronald Ulrich

Scary Pictures Productions, 84 Minutes

Review:

Strangely, I didn’t know about this movie’s existence until a few years ago. The reason I find that strange is that I’m a fan of Ivan Reitman’s work and I also really loved SCTV and that group of Canadian comedians.

I also find it odd that Reitman did a cannibal movie that starred two major players from SCTV before any of them had any real notoriety. As one might expect, this isn’t just straight horror and it sort of parodies the cannibal and gore movies that were popular with audiences of exploitation film.

All that being said, this was a cool experiment. It didn’t hit it out of the park or leave much of a mark but it was one of the very first steps in the careers of three talented people.

Now compared to the things it parodies, this is pretty light on gore. It’s more about capturing the same sort of vibe but having some cheekiness thrown in. It still has a gritty and brooding atmosphere that definitely feels authentic to the time.

However, also like the films it is channeling, it’s also mostly dull. While the black comedy sort of makes up for the lack of real exploitation, it isn’t enough to carry the picture or really salvage it.

Although, I liked seeing Levy and Martin play characters that were somewhat serious. They hadn’t quite grown into decent actors by this point but they are the best actors in the picture.

Reitman would go on to make some of the most memorable comedies of all-time but he was very raw as a director here. The film feels very green and there are some noticeable issues but to be fair, this was also better than similar films that lesser directors put out that wouldn’t go on to do anything worthwhile after starting in schlock.

This really isn’t a blip on the radar when looking back at exploitation cinema but this is something worth checking out just to see some of the earliest work by Reitman, Levy and Martin.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: the exploitation films it sort of parodies: Blood Feast, The Organ Grinders and The Wizard of Gore.

Film Review: Goon (2011)

Release Date: September 10th, 2011 (Toronto Film Festival)
Directed by: Michael Dowse
Written by: Jay Baruchel, Evan Goldberg
Music by: Ramachandra Borcar
Cast: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, Marc-André Grondin, Kim Coates, Eugene Levy, Liev Schreiber, Jonathan Cherry

No Trace Camping, Caramel Film, Don Carmody Productions, Inferno Pictures Inc., Alliance Films, Magnet Releasing, 92 Minutes

Review:

“You have my respect. Whatever that means to you, you got it. But, know this shit hard. If ever there comes a time when it gets down to the marrow, and it’s you and me. Kid, I will lay you the fuck out.” – Ross Rhea

Goon is the best hardcore hockey film since the Paul Newman classic Slap Shot. And to be honest, as a fan of hockey, movies and testosterone, I think that Goon is either on or pretty damned close to the Slap Shot level.

Written by Jay Baruchel (who also stars in the film) and Evan Goldberg, this is a movie that lives up to their previous collaborations and their great individual efforts. It also provided Seann William Scott and Liev Schreiber with the two best roles they’ve played. In fact, I would be all for a spin-off about Schreiber’s character, the veteran goon Ross Rhea.

Actually, the scene in the bar between Scott and Schreiber is one of my favorite verbal confrontations ever filmed. The mood, the lighting, the lines spoken and the chemistry between the two men in just that one scene, elevate this film to something much more than a late night sports comedy. Kudos to both actors.

This is a quick paced and never boring 90 minute mixture of bad ass hockey shit, lighthearted adult comedy and just a really compelling story about a lovable tough guy that just wants to find something in the world that he is good at. It is about a guy who wants to belong somewhere.

The final confrontation in this film is also a pretty epic scene. The film builds towards the inevitable battle between the two toughest guys in minor league hockey and when it finally goes down, it makes the three hour battle that is The Return of the King look like Strawberry Shortcake.

This film is great. I can see where it wouldn’t be many people’s cup of tea but fuck people and fuck tea.

Rating: 8/10