Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Junesploitation Day 28: '80s Comedy!

No sex is safe tonight!

46 comments:

  1. 80's COMEDY! DAVE THOMAS' COLD WAR/STARS-WHO-MET-THEIR-FUTURE-WIVES-ON-SET DOUBLE FEATURE:

    John Landis' SPIES LIKE US (1985, 102 min.) on DVD.

    Dave Thomas ("Strange Brew") co-wrote, alongside Dan Akroyd ("Ghostbusters"), this cold war comedy about two bumbling government employees, problem-solver Austin Millbarge (Akroyd) and bullshit-artist-extraordinaire Emmett Fitz-Hume (Chevy Chase, aka Sean Spicer with a sense of humor), chosen as expendable decoys to the real spy team sent deep into Soviet-controlled territory to do some nuclear missile tampering. The duo make some allies (including future Mrs. Akroyd, Donna Dixon) and enemies (the entire Taliban Army) along the way, and may or may not the key to saving the world from nuclear annihilation (because STAR-WARS-SUCKS-SPLOITATION! Get it? :-P).

    The chemistry between Akroyd and Chase is so good you wonder why they didn't do more comedies together besides the Tupac Shakur vehicle "Nothing But Trouble" (you have to see "All Eyez On Me" to get that one). It loses steam toward the end when it uses that "Soul Finger" song way too many times, but damn it, where else can you see Bernie Casey now down a team of ninja assassins with his bare hands? Do as B.B. King says: have a Pepsi, relax and enjoy the ride. Recommended.


    Dave Thomas' THE EXPERTS (1989, 94 min.) on Amazon Rental for the first time.

    The Russians haven't updated their American spy-training, all-American English-speaking town of Indian Springs since the 1950's (think "Pleasantville" meets "The Truman Show's" Seahaven). Rather than shut it down, though, the Politburo gives the supervisor (Charles Martin Smith, excellent) one more chance to modernize the town and bring it up to 80's pop culture standards in order for the spies trained there to better pass themselves as true Americans. So Mr. Smith travels to New York and kidnaps meatheads Travis and Wendell (John Travolta and Arye Gross), then convinces them that Indian Springs is a Nebraska town in dire need of their nightclub expertise. Wendell wants nothing more than return to civilization, but Travis talks him into taking advantage of Smith's limitless budget to inject some life into a dead town. A place where the local burger joint closes during lunch hours, and introducing Ma and Pa Kettle to the joys of boom boxes, VCR's and an active dancing lifestyle will drum up business for the new nightclub.

    Shot in 1987 but not dumped into theaters until early '89 (a few months before The Berlin Wall fell), this high-concept comedy stars Travolta at the nadir of his career slump. While it's not that funny it milks its 'fish out of water' premise (which applies to every character except the leads pretending they're Americans who think the new duo are Russian testers testing them) for all its worth. Kelly Preston, playing one of the Russian spies training at Indian Springs, has never looked hotter than when she and future hubby John do a sexy dance to show the town squares how to move their bodies. James Keach (brother of Stacy and producer of "The Experts") stands out as a Russian pilot forced to live in the town after flying Japanese electronics there at the Americans' request. Worth seeing for Travolta and Arye Gross' "Bosom Buddies"-caliber chemistry keeping "The Experts" flying higher than its thin comedic premise should.

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  2. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

    The musical source material is unquestionably great - Howard Ashman was this perfect combination of showbiz pizzazz, biting cynicism, and wide-eyed longing. Throw in on top, the work that Lyle Conway does with Audrey II, it really is a movie marvel. I also love the fact that I can choose whichever ending I'm in the mood for - both the "happy" ending and the "bleak" ending work! Very rarely can you say that a movie has two working endings.... if you were wondering, I chose the bleak ending this time.

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  3. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

    I've been trying to stick to movies I haven't seen before so this one is a bit of a cheat. I did see this once at the drive-in when it came out (I would have been 9 at the time) but I'm pretty sure I slept through chunks of it and I haven't seen it since. Even had I been awake for the duration I'm pretty sure most of the jokes would have flown over my head with plenty of room to spare.

    On this viewing though I have to admit I kinda liked it. Yeah, there's a lot of jokes about her chest, most of which aren't particularly clever. There are some bits, particularly in the first 15-20 minutes that feel like a first time screenwriter trying to pad out the screenplay. The writing seems to improve a bit later although it's never great. What carries this movie for me is Cassandra Peterson. Far from what the jokes would have you believe, her greatest assets aren't her breasts. I really enjoy the deadpan delivery of her lines, and while I hate to downplay her looks just to emphasize them again in the next sentence I think even to this day she has great eyes and a great smile. If Junesploitation has made me realize anything, it's that I want Cassandra Peterson, Malin Akerman, and Emma Stone to star in a movie together as the world's most charismatic family.

    Working Girl (1988)

    This one reminded me a bit of The Secret of My Success in that the plot revolves around a low level employee (played here by Melanie Griffith) pretending to be an executive. There's a ton of people in this movie. You've got Sigourney Weaver playing her boss, Harrison Ford as the love interest (for both Griffith and Weaver), Alec Baldwin as the cheating ex, Joan Cusack as the best friend, and even Kevin Spacey in a small part.

    It's an enjoyable movie for the most part and I'm not sure how I'd never seen it before, but I'm actually surprised how many Academy Awards it was nominated for (Best Picture, Director, Actress, two Supporting Actresses and Original Song which was the only winner out of all of them).

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  4. The Burbs (1989)

    How have I spent 36 years on this planet and never seen The Burbs before now?!?! It's frecken glorious! Just so many little perfect moments.

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    1. Yes! This is in my top ten favorite comedies of all time. I'll say it again - I miss funny Hanks.

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    2. I know what you mean Hanks eating sardines and pretzels is just wonderful

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    3. I watched it a couple months ago - it had been a big favourite growing up but I hadn't seen it in years - I was so happy to see how well it holds up - still love it.

      Question for you two fans - why do you think Rick Ducommun never really hit? I'm quite familiar with him from some Canadian stuff and he had some great standup too but it seems like he should have done better in American comedies. My weird theory is that he wasn't fat enough. He was just kinda almost fat and Americans prefer their funny guys either thin/normal or obese. Your thoughts?

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    4. Sol, Rick Ducommun will forever be beloved by this American for playing "Walt" in Die Hard, "Art" in The Burbs and the house owner who Milo kills in "The Last Boy Scout" - three of my favorite films ever. Not to mention his other bit parts in greats such as Spaceballs and Gremlins 2. If I had to guess, The Burbs was supposed to introduce him to America but the film was such a flop at it's release that it blew his chance. I also read that he lost a lot of weight for that movie so, yeah, maybe not fat enough as Candy was still reigning supreme at the time and I mean, c'mon, we only need ONE fat Canadian comedian. :P

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    5. I was going to say (and I say this only seeing his American work) it might have to do with persona. Ducommun feels a little more sutble than Candy who's personality would take over. I love Ducommun Die Hard and in now The Burbs (Satan is good, Satan is your pal), for me he works amazning in an ensemble, and maybe just never got the chance to stretch his legs as a lead, or that more 80s traditional 'fat guy' role. But I think I matter prefer Ducommun. :)

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    6. Oh yeah, I forgot he was in The Last Boy Scout. I didn't realize The Burbs was a flop on release - I remember my video store had a stand-up for it and everything so I assumed it was a pretty big deal - it shoulda been!

      Yeah, you might be right, Lindsay. He's got a lot of personality FOR A CANADIAN but I can see how it wasn't quite big enough to really break through. I love him though.

      My introduction to his "work" was on a variety show for kids called "Zig Zag" - unfortunately it doesn't really hold up but if you consider it was a kids show it's kinda subversive - if you're interested your YouTube rabbithole can begin here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEk7pBoKO2s

      Thanks for rappin' some Ducommun with me guys!

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  5. The Blues Brothers (1980)

    My music teacher showed this to me in junior school (ironically, a Catholic school) and in the intervening years when all my friends were getting into Star Wars, Spider-man, etc, I secretly just wanted to be a Blues Brother. I mean when I was older and learnt that everyone on the production was basically running on a coke buzz... it kind of shattered the sanctimonious reverence I had for the movie, but goddamn, it is a cracking movie that I love dearly. Should also point out that my music teacher also screened Sister Act for our class... seriously, any movie that vaguely related to music in a Catholic school was fair game for this teacher.

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    1. 'Do you have Miss Piggy' makes me giggle every single time

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  6. Airplane! (1980)

    Isn't this Doug's favourite movie? Where is Doug btw? Busking on a LA corner, I assume.

    This movie is packed to the teeth with jokes. Obvious, ridiculous, painfully dumb, jokes. But it's just none stop. "The white zone is for load and unloading passengers only. There is no stopping in the white zone."

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    2. Also watched The Ice Pirates (1984) catching up for Sci-fi day. My goodness! This movie is a ton of fun! Why hadn't I heard of this before...The bumbling robots are great.
      Thanks to Brent Petersen for the solid recommend.

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    3. This is a movie I can't help but quote, the amount of times I have just said 'I had the lasagna'.

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  7. Beetlejuice (1988)

    I have not seen this movie since I was maybe 12. But it still felt so familiar that I could run through the dialogue as it played. I watched that many times growing up.

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    1. I think that's my pick for tonight!

      Would highly recommend Used Cars for anyone who hasn't seen it - one of my free-space favourites from earlier this month (as rec'd by Riske - oooh new column? "Rec'd by Riske"?).

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  8. Meatballs (1979, dir. Ivan Reitman)
    Meatballs Part II (1984, dir. Ken Wiederhorn)
    Meatballs III: Summer Job (1986, dir. George Mendeluk)
    Meatballs 4: To the Rescue (1992, dir. Bob Logan)
    The original Meatballs has been a significant hole on my movie resume that I keep forgetting to deal with, so I figured this was a good opp to wipe out the whole thing. What a weird franchise. 1 & 2 = kids movies, 3 & 4 = T&A. Only the first two are set at legit camps; part 3's at a damn bar, and 4's at some kind of water skiing retreat. It's one of those franchises where each installment is about twice as bad as the one before it. 1 is okay, just Bill Murray ad-libbing around a bunch of kids. 2 takes a huge nose dive into stupidity; as soon as the flying saucer showed up, I thought things would get awesome, but they only got worse. 3 has the ghost of a porn star trying to get nerdy Patrick Dempsey laid and bikers on jetskis, and 4 is physically painful to get through thanks to its deluded, abusive insistence that Corey Feldman is cool, funny, and sexy. He unironically is allowed to do his Michael Jackson dance moves, and makes every lame reference you can think of ("Cars? We don't need no stinkin' cars!") Jack Nance is in this. :( So is the boyfriend from Pumpkinhead II and Return of the Living Dead III. The last word spoken in the movie is "Goonies".

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    1. Yikes. Although Ken Wiederhorn's short filmography is pretty damn great, including this which just jumped to my must see list! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107147/?ref_=nm_flmg_dr_2

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  9. All the Colours Of The Dark (1972) for Italian Horror day

    I instantly perked up when I saw Edwige Fenech in the opening credits. The dubbing, which doesn't bother me usually, was terrible in this. There was a young teenage boy dubbed over by a deep man voice.

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    1. It is hard to go wrong with Sergio Martino's films from the early 1970s.

      I find that it is always better to have the option of an Italian track with these kind of films. Bad dubbing can ruin a viewing experience.

      Do you think Edwige Fenech is too much the damsel in distress here? I remember that aspect of her role in this film being more heavy-handed than usual, but I could also be thinking of another of her giallo roles. It has been a while since I watched those.

      Ivan Rassimov is very menacing in this movie. He looks so striking in the dream sequence. Those blue eyes. No matter how terrible the film is (ever watch EATEN ALIVE?), he is enjoyable to watch.

      The soundtrack for All The Colours... is wonderful. Composed by Bruno Nicolai. "Sabba", the music in the cult initiation sequence with the voices and the sitar, is a tremendous piece.

      A Casual Listener

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    2. Fenech is playing very much the damsel in distress. I thought she was great. It might be a little heavy handed, but that's what I'd expect from this type of movie.

      The music during the cult scene is pretty great, but it's poignancy I suspect has faded greatly with time. The voices are supposed to add a sense of evil-is-afoot, but unfortunately comes of as a little dated... Most of the rest of the movie, the music is just atmospheric, "mystery is in the air" stuff.

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  10. The Great Outdoors (1988). Not as good as some of the movies above (Burbs, Bettlejuice, Airplane, Used Cars etc.) but I really love this one. It is definitively '80's nonsense (Aykroyd is all decked out in traditional 80's yuppie wear; Jetski antics) and not consistently funny but when it hits, it hits big, (John Candy telling the story of the bears by the fireplace). I think it is on the stream-pix free movies thing still.

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    1. Saw this on Canadian Netflix, and have been meaning to watch it. Lesser Candy is still usually very good. I'm less of an Aykroyd fan that I should be though.

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  11. Dragnet (1987)

    I actually liked the movie more this time around than when it originally came out. I think it just works better as a period piece than it does trying to be a hip, contemporary comedy. There's a lot of good stuff here. I've always felt Dan Aykroyd is better off as a straight man, and this is kind of the ultimate straight man role, so this might be one of his strongest performances. Plus, this is the loose, breezy, Tom Hanks that we all fell in love with. It's so refreshing to see him having fun in this as opposed to, say, oh, I don't know... SULLY. As a personal side note: watching this, I kept having the following thought: When is Patrick going to program a 24 hours of Dabney Coleman marathon? I would be FASCINATED to see what that would look like.

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    1. I predict Meet the Applegates makes it in there 7 or 8 times.

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    2. Or maybe we could just have 24 hrs of D.A.R.Y.L.

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  13. License to Drive (1988)
    A light comedy of errors. The Corey's were in their heyday here.
    I had not seen this since I first did on VHS in probably 1990.
    I hate being negative, especially to something I enjoyed as a kid, but It didn't age particularly well. Or my now adult logic has kicked in and can't take the gleeful joyride I could as a 13yr old.
    Also. I didn't remember how much Heather Graham is basically a prop in the movie. She's passed out in the trunk for a large portion of the film. It's very unfortunate considering how we've come to know how good she can be in a role.
    It would have been more fun with her as an active participant in the mayhem, and not just window dressing.
    One final note, the scene where Feldman takes photos down her shirt while she's passed out, really pulled me out of the "fun" the movie wanted me to have.

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  14. Losin' It

    Tom Cruise is so young and adorable it's like watching an episode of Jim Henson's Scientologist Babies. He and a few of his friends (including fellow member of the Never-Had-A-Growth-Spurt Club, Jackie Earle Haley) head down to Mexico (well, California standing in for Mexico, anyway) in the mid 60's in order to lose their collective virginity.

    It's really no better or worse than any of the other handful of interchangeable sex comedies focused on a group of high school guys trying to get laid that came out around the same time, like Porky's or The Last American Virgin (minus the dickpunch ending of that one, thankfully). Shelley Long is pretty great as a woman looking for a quickie divorce that they meet along the way, she brings real charm and humanity to the shenanigans, but it's not enough to save the movie. All in all it just isn't very funny, and for a comedy that's pretty much the kiss of death. Cruise is good and considerably likable, but I can see why it took until Risk(e)y Business before he became a breakout star.

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  15. Joysticks (1983) (First Time Viewing):

    Pretty trashy and extremely silly and mainly irredeemable. The one thing worth watching is John Gries’ performance as King Vidiot He is really funny with some incredibly scenery chewing. I mean he literally chews the scenery. At one point he bites a houseplant apart for no reason. Overall, I still feel some of the humor was lost on me, I can’t quite figure out what the joysticks are a euphemism for…

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  16. I MARRIED A VAMPIRE (1987)
    A young woman living on her own for the first time in the big city has many misadventures, including but not limited to marrying a vampire. This has a real low budget indie-movie feel, with long stretches of penniless characters doing “daily life really sucks” stuff in the city. The actual vampire seems thrown in as afterthought.

    PARTY CAMP (1987)
    Not all summer camp comedies are created equal. This one has the exact same pranks, shenanigans, and horniness as so many other, much better movies of its kind.

    HAMBURGER: THE MOTION PICTURE (1986)
    A too-cool-for-school college dude goes to a fast food franchise’s “hamburger university” as his last shot to get a degree. This is one of those movies where the jokes are so corny and hacky that you end up laughing at how unfunny it is.

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  17. Joysticks (1983, dir. Greydon Clark)

    Was this movie written by a 16 year old?

    "Totally Awesome Video Games" is now stuck in my head.

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  18. Night Shift (1982)

    Michael Keaton and Henry Winkler decided to become pimps to help out Shelly Long and her coworkers. Very enjoyable! A lot of fun and totally sweet and charming.

    Also, Kevin Costner is in the credits as "frat bot 1". THAT Kevin Costner???

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    1. Yep, just checked. That Kevin Costner.

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    2. Love that movie. "Looooove Brokers!"

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  19. Used Cars (1980):

    This one's for Riske.

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  20. Windrider (1986)

    The lead literally throws Nicole Kidman over his shoulder against her will and tries to kidnap her in a limo. At least she punches him instead of immediately falling in love with him. Anyway, this is some windsurfsploitation out of Australia's pretty damn awesome '80s film scene. This one isn't as cool as say, BMX Bandits, but has its moments. Kidman was pretty great even at eighteen. She does some of the more convincing lip syncing you'll see (not easy apparently) and when she's not delivering lame dialogue her reaction shots give you little glimmers that you're watching a great actress. This movie gets points for having a zany morning routine character introduction, zany race against the clock climax and zany windsurfing sound effects. That may make it sound really zany, but actually it needed to be a little more zany. Zany!

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    1. Postscript: every '80s comedy and most non comedies have a little "computers doing something impressive that they can't/couldn't actually do" scene and I like all of them very much.

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  21. Trespass (1992)

    catching up on Western day...but this wasn't a western! Dammit, the movie I meant to be watching was Extreme Prejudice. Trespass was pretty good though. It's got BOTH Ice-T and Ice-Cube in it.

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  22. Risky Business (1983)
    This one's also for Riske.

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  23. Fraternity Vacation (1985)

    I was going to watch something that didn't have both Barbara Crampton and Kathleen Kinmont in it but then I realized that would be stupid. Despite the cast, this movie is the definition of nothing special.

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  24. Beetlejuice (1988)

    I watched this probably 10 times the year it came out on VHS and then not again until last night. It was great for really bringing me back to that time and place in my life (I still remember watching it with severe rope burn on my hands from trying to Tarzan from the branch of a tree to the ground - kids, don't do it) and I can totally see why 9-year-old Sol loved the shit out of it, but it didn't hold up for me. While I certainly appreciated some of the comedy there was no way I was getting at the time, Betelgeuse is just too obnoxious and gross to be remotely likable for me now.

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  25. License to Drive (1988)

    The Coreys get into some crazy hijinks when Haim's takes his grandfather's car out without permission and without a license, all just to impress a girl. Not the most memorable collaboration of the two, but still fun in it's own way.

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