Stockard Cahnning, Louise Fletcher, Madeline Kahn, Neil Simon, Eileen Brennan, Ann-Margaret, Marsha Mason and Peter Falk - The Cheap Detective (1978) directed by Robert Moore shown clockwise from lower left: Stockard Cahnning, Louise Fletcher, Madeline Kahn, Neil Simon, Eileen Brennan, Ann-Margaret, Marsha Mason center: Peter Falk - United States - Wednesday 26th July 1978
Nicolas Cage plays Cris Johnson, a Las Vegas entertainer disguising his true abilities with a cheesy stage show. FBI Agent Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore) has decided that the best way to stop a smuggled nuclear bomb from detonating somewhere in the U.S. is to use Johnson's talent for prognostication. Never mind the fact that he can only see two minutes into the future, giving her a very brief window in which to act if he were to see the bomb. That's about the level of logic at which this film operates.
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Ostensibly a children's fairy tale about a farmer's daughter (Robin Wright), her poor lover Westley (Cary Elwes), the prince (Chris Sarandon) who catches her eye, and the battle that develops among them all. Filled with memorable supporting characters -- Wallace Shawn's Vizzini ("Inconceivable!!!"), Mandy Patinkin's Inigo, Andre the Giant's Fezzik, and Christopher Guest's six-fingered man, The Princess Bride is as much fun as you can have in a film. Even the fringe characters (Peter Cook's priest, Carol Kane's nagging wife, Mel Smith's albino torturer) are hilarious and unforgettable. And director Rob Reiner has imbued this film with so much pure joy that you can't help but want to watch it over and over.
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Cassavetes gets credit for the homage this picture still is paid. The monotone piano music is hauntingly similar to that in Eyes Wide Shut. Remember that music and be warned: Even on DVD, this picture has the worst sound I've ever heard on a feature film. Shame on the studio for not cleaning it up for the digital release.
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Here's the origin of the term: Scared Straight! a watershed documentary about highschool delinquents who are exposed to the real criminal element during a three-hour deprogramming session in a real prison. Here, 30-year-to-lifers get face to face -- nose to nose, really -- with uppity teenagers thinking they're invulnerable and will never get caught during their petty crimes.
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Of course, this is what we owe movies like Cannonball Run to. But the original will always reign as the only two-tape comedy on the rental rack. Enjoy.
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Saddled with the worst title you could give to a comedy, Enemies of Laughter gives us David Paymer as Paul, a semi-failed sitcom writer whose experiences in Hollywood are echoed in his love life. He ends up on dozens of dates with your typical collection of L.A. airheads, but it isn't until he meets Carla (Rosalind Chao) that Paul figures he's met his match. Too bad he ruins their date with paranoid crazy-talk, sending Carla running for the hills.
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Ten years ago, rising boxing superstar Monroe Hutchen (Wesley Snipes) was sent up for life imprisonment due to a fit of passionate and murderous rage. He's serving time in Sweetwater Prison in the Mojave Desert and continues to box in the Inter-Prison Boxing Program with a flawless record and the title of undisputed champion. To prove that he could have amounted to something outside the prison walls, Hutchen unexpectedly gets his chance to fight the undisputed World Heavyweight Champion, George "Iceman" Chambers (Ving Rhames), an arrogant megalomaniac who has recently been sent up for six to eight years for a charge of rape. Hmm, who does that sounds like?
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Sinatra plays a low-level gangster named Robbo, and his band of merry men (with usuals Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., plus a cryptically cast Bing Crosby) battles the malicious big-time hood Guy Gisborne (Peter Falk, quite funny here). Things aren't going so well until Robbo comes across $50 grand he refuses to accept. He ends up donating the money to charity -- and suddenly, the legend of Robin Hood, who robs from the rich and gives to the poor, is born.
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The reason for the long drive: Ben Kleinman (Reiser) is looking after his elderly father Sam (Peter Falk), who has just received a terse letter from his wife; she's fed up with him and he's leaving. Ben himself has read a second letter, far more generous with exposition (perhaps to a fault), which goes into greater detail about why this may have happened. Ben takes Sam on the road while his sisters and wife search for the errant Mrs. Kleinman; over the course of their misadventures, he tries to talk out some dysfunction with his father.
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But then we cut to Nicky, and he is indeed standing in the street in the very same spot as before. The moment fits the plot, which follows the adventures of these two over the course of one long night in which Nicky unknowingly thwarts his friend's every attempt to place him within striking range of the hitman, and it fits Nicky's character, which is that of a hyperactive, wearingly obnoxious adolescent boy occupying the body of a full-grown man. But more than anything, it's another moment of eerily misplaced humor in a film full of anger and remorse.
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