Friday, June 24, 2022

Junesploitation 2022 Day 24: '90s Comedy!


  1. Jim Abrahams' HOT SHOTS! (1991, Blu-ray, 84 min.) and HOT SHOTS! PART DEUX! (1993, Blu-ray, 86 min.), both for the first time in 1080p high definition (region free BD).

    When the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker team behind "Airplane!" and "Police Squad!/Naked Gun" series broke off (and agreed to share custody of writer Pat Proft, who went back-and-forth between both camps), Abrahams struck box office gold in the early 90's with his parodies of 80's cinematic stalwarts "Top Gun" and "Rambo II/III." Then "Mafia!" happened in 1998, and that was the end of Abrahams' career helming comedies. And while no "Naked Gun 2 1/2" or "33 1/3," the "Hot Shots!" series offers a pretty good bang-for-buck ratio of laughs and groans given you can watch 'em both in less time than it takes to see a "Transformers" sequel. :-(

    As I mentioned in my review of "Days of Thunder" for Cars! Day, I've had "Top Gun" in the brain since seeing "Top Gun: Maverick" on IMAX late last month. I've only seen "Hot Shots!" twice, both times in the 90's on cable before seeing OG "TG." I didn't get it then and didn't laugh much. Now I've seen "TG" a bunch of times, so rewatching "Hot Shots!"... I still didn't find it as funny as the movie it's making fun of, or its sequel. Go figure. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ It's only marginally less of a shot-by-shot, scene-for-scene remake than Gus Van Sant's take on "Psycho." And it's surprising how the tone and pitch are only slightly more over-the-top when Charlie Sheen seduces Valeria Golino ("Escape From L.A."), or Cary Elwes ("Saw") channels cocky Val Kilmer but with hair rulers and mousse. :-D I'd completely forgotten this is where the "Two And A Half Men" leads (Sheen and Jon Cryer) first worked together, or that this is only Lloyd Bridges' second collaboration with ZAZ members after "Airplane!" I laughed hard at the 'don't look, window plate reflection' gag, but "Hot Shots!" is only worth seeing to watch the low-tech, miniature-friendly effects (airplane wings flapping another airplane!) hold up better than you'd expect. 2.75 WEINERS ROASTING ON A JET FIGHTER'S ENGINE (out of 5).

    "Hot Shots! Part Deux" has better source material to take inspiration from (the then-recent Iraq/Kuwait war, Stallone's cartoony "Rambo" sequels), and its prequel's success gave it the pull to (a) get Richard Crenna himself to send-up his own "Rambo" role and (b) get Charlie Sheen's dad Martin to appear in a single joke (and it's a beauty). Lloyd Bridges goes from a dumb cartoon in the first 'Hot Shots!" to full-blown buffoon here, topped only by Jerry Haleva's cartoony Saddam Hussein shtick. Charlie Sheen has both the comedic chops and the physique (not Stallone-level ripped, but pretty damn close) to play Topper Harley as his own thing and not strictly a Tom Cruise shadow play, and his chemistry with Valeria Golino is palpable. Loved seeing Miguel Ferrer ("RoboCop") and Rowan Atkinson in the supporting cast. Many jokes die (the "Star Wars" duel between Saddam and Tug Benson is kind-of embarrassing), but a lot of them (the fight-as-spectacle brawl, the chicken arrow, the running counter of kills, etc.) made me laugh today as much as they back in '93. Dated, silly fun. 3.5 U.S. EX-PRESIDENTS SHOVELING THEIR OWN DIRT INTO ONE ANOTHER (out of 5). :-D


    Drink your malt liquor, take care of your homies, watch out for those drive-by shootings, and collect those welfare checks! Of all the categories this month, this is the one I am most out of my element in. Though I was an adolescent for most of the ‘90s, I was largely dismissive of the comedies of the era. I barely watched any of them. The Wayans brothers’ spoofs I definitely would have avoided. For some strange reason, DON’T BE… is a film I have been curious about. I probably heard or read some good things about. I had also been big fan of the first few seasons of the sketch comedy show In Living Color. (I know, different Wayans family member involved there.) Seeing it available on Prime, it immediately was my first choice. And… I was pleasantly surprised. Even though I do not know the films being reference very well, I still had a fun time. There is a story connecting the individual sketches. A few of the comedic bits I found very funny, like the athletic obstacles to save a person during a shooting or the convenience store scene. Even if one fell flat, there is always another skit thrown at you. I was particularly impressed with Marlon Wayans’ character Loc Dog, who is simultaneously serious and ridiculous. That is not an easy balance to pull off. Grandma is such a badass, too.

  3. BASEketball (1998)

    David Zucker made Airplane!, Top Secret and The Naked Gun movies so we should really be forever forgiving everything he does, but he’s a pretty great person by all accounts, serving as a staunch environmentalist and ah, never mind, he made some Republican political ads and a video in which he attacked President Barack Obama for the Iran nuclear deal within a prescription drug ad. At least he wrote 11 updated verses to the song “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” right?

    He also made this, based on a game that he’d been playing forever that makes no sense — the players in the movie are the actual original players of the Zucker-driveway game, asked by the director to be in the movie — and that doesn’t matter because just like any of the Zucker movies, we’re here to see non-stop jokes, as well as Joe “Coop” Cooper and Doug Remer (Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, who agreed to do BASEkeyball thinking that the cartoon would be canceled by the time filming was due to happen) act like idiots.

    I think I cast this movie, as it features Ernest Borgnine as league money mark Ted Denslow, Robert Vaughn as the bad guy, Jenny McCarthy as his mistress (and Denslow’s widow) and Bob Costas, Al Michaels, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dale Earnhardt, Reggie Jackson, Tim McCarver, Pat O’Brien, Dan Patrick and Robert Stack — appearing on Unsolved Mysteries — as themselves.

    They made t-shirts of this movie! How did that happen?

    Confession: Beyond loving this movie no matter how silly or outright dumb it gets, my brother and I grew up with hardly any other kids around us, so we’d invent games just like BASEketball. One was Street Tennis and whenever I watch this, I laugh because I remember just how complicated our rules were and we were the only two people who would ever play this game.

  4. Mystery Men (1999, dir. Kinka Usher)

    A parody of superhero movies almost before superhero movies were a thing.

    Mr. Furious, Blue Raja and The Shoveler are a c-list superhero team in the shadow of Captain Amazing, the hero everyone in Champion City admires. But when the Captain is kidnapped by a criminal mastermind, the Mystery Men are the only ones who can save the day (with the help of a few additions to the team).

    The cast is incredibly deep (Ben Stiller, William H. Macy, Hank Azaria, Janeane Garofalo, Geoffrey Rush, Greg Kinnear, Wes Studi, Paul Reubens, Eddie Izzard, Tom Waits, Claire Forlani...) and they all show up to play. The jokes come in rapid fire and the hit-to-miss ratio is pretty good. Greg Kinnear saying "ah dang" is the funniest line reading I've heard in a long while.

    Half a star off for putting Smash Mouth's All Star on the soundtrack. Now it's stuck in my head. Again.

  5. Nothing but Trouble (1991) dir. Dan Aykroyd

    The most Tobe Hooper movie to not have a any involvement from the man. More horrific than most straight up horror, Nothing but Trouble is still equal parts gross and perplexing- the ultimate example of star power overriding common sense. One of the few movies I still find myself watching through my fingers in parts out of revulsion, I couldn’t tell you if I like it or not, but I’ve been fascinated by it sense seeing it as a kid. My immediate thought after it ended this time around was “eww, I never want to see that again,” before I immediately started looking to buy it on disc.

  6. Safe Men (1998, dir. John Hamburg)

    A bumbling mob boss kidnaps two bumbling idiots and forces them to work for him, because his bumbling right-hand-man mistakes them for safecrackers. They bumble from one coincidence to another through to the end, which fails to tie the loose threads together.

    I wasn't entirely on this movie's wavelength, a little too much bumbling for my taste. Harvey Fierstein's flammable pants story and Mark Ruffalo are the highlights of the movie. Bonus points for mentioning Finland not once but twice, and the fact that the New York Rangers' 1994 Stanley Cup win factors into the plot.

  7. Loose Cannons (1990, dir. Bob Clark)

    Pretty fine pedigree for such a silly movie. Richard Matheson wrote and Bob Clark directed this buddy cop action/comedy starring Gene Hackman and Dan Aykroyd. Hackman is the straitlaced cop and Aykroyd is of course incredibly quirky. Aykroyd goes into a fugue state when under stress and starts doing impressions of other characters - Cowardly Lion, Pee Wee Herman, Roadrunner, etc. I never knew I needed to see Aykroyd impersonating characters from Star Trek while Hackman is trying to navigate a car chase, but apparently I did! I found this movie amusing despite its extreme goofiness. Recommended.

  8. Dick Tracy (1990)

    Not totally a comedy, but funny as hell. More Pacino, less Madonna, twice as much Caan - and it's the greatest movie ever made.

    Rodney Dangerfield plays the host of a sleazy Jerry Springer-like talk show, making an enemy of a powerful politician. I wanted more UHF-style TV parodies, but the glimpses we get of Wally's show are fleeing. Instead, it's about him clashing with the uptight rich folks. The filmmakers clearly gave Rodney a lot of leeway, as he punctuates nearly every bit of dialogue with a one-liner. The real story, though, is all the big-name celebrity cameos. Rodney must have called in every Hollywood favor he has for this one. All the '90s talk show hosts cameo as well, to show they're good sports. I don't know. This is hacky comedy that's way too in love with itself, but I certainly wasn't bored.

    Bonus Lloyd Kaufman-sploitation, day 24: POULTRY IN MOTION (2006)
    Behind the scenes of Poultrygeist, and once it's all chaos. The main narrative is Kaufman hiring die-hard Troma fans as his crew, who worked for free and had no prior experience. You get what you pay for, Lloyd. We see over and over how filming is delayed, with everyone getting increasingly frustrated. No one's getting any sleep, there's hardly any food, and only one working bathroom for the entire production. This makes actual zombies look preferable to filming a zombie movie.

  10. The Wrong Guy (1997)

    Because I enjoyed the new season of Kids In The Hall so much, and I'm not a huge fan of Brain Candy, I decided to go back and re-watch the other KITH adjacent project from around the same time. This movie is amazing because it's a premise that absolutely should not work. Dave Foley plays a murder suspect on the run from the police, except for the fact that he's not a murder suspect and the police aren't looking for him. And, David Higgins as the lead investigator who is only interested in grifting as many free meals, lap dances, and show tickets as he can is fantastic. I love this movie.

  11. Spice World (1997)

    Despite growing up in the 90s, and certainly not being above owning the first Spice Girls album on a cassette tape, somehow I never caught their movie back in the day (maybe I already felt I should be above it by the time it came out). I was glad to finally fill in that gap because it's a completely harmless, utterly silly and at times actually funny promotional vehicle, essentially a revamp of A Hard Day's Night, only with much better outfits. There's real actors hamming it up like crazy, a ton of celebrity cameos (Elvis Costello as a bartender!) and a fair amount of cheese all done in good fun. The script finds the thinnest excuses possible to throw the Girls into one ridiculous scenario after another (boot camp, running into actual aliens) but what always shines through is their natural stage presence and undeniable chemistry with each other, and that's more than enough to sell all this nonsense and make even the dumbest stuff palatable. Also, maybe that's nostalgia glasses speaking but I was pleasently surprised to see how well a few of these songs have aged (Too Much is still a great ballad and I'll fight anyone who says otherwise).

  12. Happy Gilmore (1996)

    I probably watched this movie 50 times in college. Between HBO, Comedy Central and my roommate Todd, this was probably on our TV once a week. College was the last time I watched it, turned out it didn't matter. Every lin, every motion, every inflection is just burned into my brain. I was concerned that my recently discovered complete hatred for golf would cloud my experience, but I'm glad to report that it holds up. Sandler is a lot of fun here, and Carl Weathers is a revelation, probably the MVP of the movie.

    1. Bob Barker NOT the MVP of "Happy Gilmore," but Apollo Creed instead? :-O

    2. Barker's scene is fun. But the way Carl Weathers says "Hell no! Damn Alligator bit my hand off!" cannot be replicated.

  13. Dick (1999, dir. Andrew Fleming)

    "You suck, Dick! Love, Deep Throat"

    I had never even heard of this until someone mentioned it on the podcast (perhaps might have been another podcast, no sure). Dunst and Williams are great in it. I loved how every single scene they're in they sport a completely different but fabulous outfit. The overall story of it isn't anything to write home about, but there's ton of little moments that are incredibly funny. The addition of a couple of Kids In The Hall guys was great, and McCulloch has the single best scene (when Will Farrell is on the telephone and McCulloch is just looking at him). Worth a watch, and it's streaming for free on CTV (Canadian channel that has a surprising number of movies and TV show available) for those north of the border.

  14. Hot Shots! (1991 – Jim Abrahams)
    It’s been a while since I’ve last seen Hot Shots! I’ve to admit that it was better in my memory than it actually is – yet I’m not saying that it is a bad movie, just maybe a little overrated? At the same time, I was impressed how Hot Shots! tried to have a joke every 10-30 seconds. I miss those movies.

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Serial Mom (1994)

    This movie has a pretty constant stream of hilariously off-kilter dialogue. There's something sort of unexpected about the funniest lines that creates an absurd humor. For example, there's a scene where Kathleen Turner and Sam Waterston are about to have some wholesome husband/wife sex, and right before they get to it, Waterston's character says to his wife, in a passionate tone, 'You bring me such peace." I cracked up, had to rewind to make sure that was really the line, confirmed it, and cracked up all over again. There are a lot of quirky character beats (hatred of gum, love of birds), and the juxtaposition of June Cleaver All-American family with the bloody serial murder plot really works as a darkly comedic premise.

    There's also a scene where Matthew Lillard, playing the horror movie-obsessed son of Turner's serial-killing mom, is sort of trying to use horror movie logic to anticipate what's going on with his mother's killings, and it really struck me as a sort of prequel to his character in Scream. There's definitely a double-feature concept there, and I'm sure I'm not the first one to think of it.