Irby Smith

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City Slickers Review


OK
If Hollywood had any "it" writers in the 1980s and early '90s, it was the duo of Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, who cranked out comedy after comedy, drawing on reasonably current events or topical themes while banking on the fact that giant stars would sign up to appear in the big-budget movies. No one seemed to care if the writing was good as long as Tom Hanks was talking to a mermaid (Splash) or Michael Keaton was trying to make his way through the Japanese auto industry (Gung Ho). A funny setup goes a long way.

Ganz and Mandel's most successful outing was arguably this one, and it's the highest-concept story of them all: City slickers go on "vacation" to work a real cattle drive, and of course they'' also find themselves along the way. In this case, Billy Crystal takes the reins (ho ho!) after coming off the huge success of When Harry Met Sally... He's a down-in the-dumps advertising executive named Mitch Robbins who is tasked by his equally dour wife to "find his smile." Naturally, herding cattle's the place to do it.

Continue reading: City Slickers Review

Major League Review


Extraordinary
A baseball nerd like me loves Major League because the action scenes look realistic. No one throws the ball like a three-year-old or swings the bat like a drunken teen making a pass at his prom date, though Tom Berenger needs work on his bunting. The storyline involves real teams playing in real stadiums.

For those who wish ESPN never existed, Major League is easy to love because it's very funny and its characters are likeable beyond their athletic ability. For a movie that focuses on a sport that has long ceased to be the national pastime, anyone can love Major League.

Continue reading: Major League Review

Prefontaine Review


OK
Slightly less-realized than late-to-the-race competitor Without Limits, Prefontaine is still a reasonably good retelling of the life story of Steve Prefontaine, the opinionated and brash distance runner who choked during the Munich Olympics and died in an untimely car crash before he could redeem himself in Montreal in 1976. Prefontaine focuses more on tertiary characters than Limits, some of which are interesting and some of which are not, but really gets annoying for its mock-documentary style. Namely, the actors are "aged" and interviewed in the present day, talking about Pre, complete with subtitles identifying who they are. The problem, of course, is that it's all fake -- and the last thing you want to feel when watching a biography is that you're being lied to.
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