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Young Frankenstein Review


Essential
Mel Brooks was just about at the top of his game back in 1974, when he directed both Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. Young Frankenstein tells the tale of an heir (Gene Wilder) of the original Frank, who inherits his creepy castle (shot in the original castle from the first Frankenstein movie) and starts work anew on his ancestor's experiments. Of course, this is courtesy of Mel Brooks, and it's perfectly parodied -- probably the best horror spoof ever made and a far cry ahead of Brooks' later Dracula: Dead and Loving It gag. Wilder and Peter Boyle (as the monster) are hysterical, but it's Teri Garr who steals the show as Frankenstein's buxom and considerably vapid assistant. The special edition DVD is especially recommended -- with a handful of outtakes and deleted scenes (though none are nearly as funny as what made the final cut).

Outland Review


Very Good
You're stuck as a lawman on a moon of Jupiter, where they do nothing but mine titanium. When the shit goes down, who ya gonna call? This harrowing sci-fi flick has mellowed with age over the years, but Sean Connery's performance is still good, and the first couple of acts are still quite engaging. Too bad the finale ends up being one big shootout. Hell, we could get that back on earth.

The Santa Clause Review


Very Good
Attempting to bring the Christmas movie into the 1990s, Disney enlisted drug offender and raunchy stand-up Tim Allen to play Santa Claus based on the strength of his TV show Home Improvement. Funny then that The Santa Clause would indeed become a minor classic of the genre considering its iffy pedigree.

Credit that to a clever script that has Santa falling from a roof on Christmas Eve (and presumably dying in the process -- be ready to explain that to the kids) and Allen's Scott taking up his job after donning the Santa suit. Scott then has a year to prepare to take over the job full time. This mainly works out to Scott's putting on a ton of weight and growing a Santa-style beard, all the while denying he is becoming Mr. Claus.

Continue reading: The Santa Clause Review

The Candidate Review


Extraordinary
"Politics is bullshit."

Such sentiment, spoken early in the film, sums up The Candidate's position on politics, not to mention my own. Robert Redford plays the title role, a fresh-faced kid and son of a former governer goaded by a group of campaign strategists (namely Peter Boyle) into running against an "unbeatable" Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate. With nothing to lose, he starts off by running the campaign by his conscience and the seat of his pants, but eventually it all gets away from him as the machine takes over. Much like Network, this satire on an American institution continues to gain relevance instead of lose it. The scene of Redford finally losing his mind stands as one of cinema's most classic moments. Plenty of one-liner gems only add to the majesty of the film.

That Darn Cat Review


Weak
Barely amusing, this remake of the Disney kiddie flick features an (inadvertent) crime-fighting cat, Christina Ricci, and the near-instant cinematic meltdown of Doug E. Doug. The story and the performances are universally appropriate for The Disney Channel fare -- which is to say, they are far from good. I suppose this would be fine to plop a kid in front of for an hour and a half, but is that saying much? Try something with animated animals instead.

Joe Review


Good
Radical working-class bigot Joe (Peter Boyle) certainly has some ideas ("32 percent of all liberals are queers!"), and in his namesake cult film, he discovers that the wealthy father (Dennis Patrick) of a junkie (Susan Sarandon in her awkward motion picture debut) has murdered her drug dealing boyfriend. He extorts Patrick into a friendship, and together they strike up an unlikely friendship. Unfortunately, after the initial shock wears off, so does Joe wear out his friendship in the film. Little happens for the last hour, leaving us to wonder if writer Norman Wexler couldn't have fashioned a better story for this creep to wander through.

Doctor Dolittle (1998) Review


Very Good
If I could talk to the animals, I'd be a millionnaire... I wouldn't be locked up in the loony bin.

Continue reading: Doctor Dolittle (1998) Review

Taxi Driver Review


Essential
A masterpiece of Cold War-era cinema, with De Niro in the role that would define his career and spawn a catchphrase that still endures, but never with the same power. Probably did for cab drivers what Psycho did for showers.

While You Were Sleeping Review


Weak
In case you aren't already prepared, brace yourself for a literal onslaught of summer movie romances. While You Were Sleeping is one of 1995's early entries. It certainly isn't going to be the best.

As heavily promoted as it's been, you should know the plot by know. Sandra Bullock is Lucy, a goofy, salt-of-the-earth Chicago Transit Authority toll booth attendant who falls in love (at first sight) with Peter (Peter Gallagher), a yuppie lawyer. Almost immediately after Lucy swoons, Peter gets pushed onto the train tracks, whereupon Lucy comes to the rescue. Then the obligatory "misunderstanding" occurs: Peter's concerned parents think Lucy is Peter's fiancee, pulling Lucy into the family as a new member. But when Peter's brother Jack (Bill Pullman) arrives on the scene, Lucy and Jack begin to fall in love and, well...you get the picture.

Continue reading: While You Were Sleeping Review

Monster's Ball Review


Very Good

The opening shot of "Monster's Ball" -- a strenuous, sorrowful, racially-charged drama about finding solace in unexpected places -- is a simple image of Billy Bob Thornton sleeping, his face almost entirely obscured by shadows.

Even though he doesn't move a muscle, his whole body seems somehow racked with so much tension and stress that you inherently understand this slumbering soul is a deeply tormented man.

Now, if he can project all that while completely inert, just imagine how powerful Thornton's acting becomes when he wakes up.

Continue reading: Monster's Ball Review

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Peter Boyle Movies

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed Movie Review

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed Movie Review

Clearly, the Scooby-Doo franchise is geared toward kids; after all, it is a cartoon. Yet,...

Monster's Ball Movie Review

Monster's Ball Movie Review

Strangeways, here we come: Marc Forster represents jungle fever in some mighty odd ways throughout...

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