Retro Review: Savage Steve Holland’s Better Off Dead Turns 30 and Is Still Every Bit As Good (and Weird) as It Was Back in 1985

Better Off Dead poster - original

Better Off Dead recently celebrated its 30th Anniversary. The characters in this film have my co-pilots for so long, it’s hard to remember what it was like before Savage Steve Holland pulled them from the depths of his demented brain. This film is still a treat after 30 years and I don’t doubt that it will continue to be for the next 30. Happy belated birthday, Better Off Dead!

better off dead - lane

It’s hard to describe Better Off Dead to someone who didn’t grow up in the 80s and make it sound watchable. It sounds weird and depressing, which in many ways it is and it certainly was when it was released in 1985. But the endearing humor that is infused throughout and the performance of John Cusack, who I happily think tucked himself into the memories of the youth at the time as the archetypical “good guy” in movies. This is a role he played until his unfortunate decline after what I believe to be his last great film, High Fidelity. But we can save that discussion for another time. As for now, let’s concentrate our efforts on the task at hand…

Better Off Dead tells the tale of one Lane Meyer (John Cusack), a high school student who couldn’t be more in love with his girlfriend Beth (Amanda Wyss). One need look no further than this picture:

Obsessed much?

To Lane, Beth is everything, so when she dumps him for the new kid in school who takes Lane’s spot on the ski team, the prickish and evil Roy Stalin (Aaron Dozier), Lane literally doesn’t know what else to do except kill himself. He feels that, yes, he would be better off dead than to live without her (cue Elizabeth Daily). So Lane comes up with several different methods of killing himself throughout the movie (none ever succeeding, of course) as his life spirals into deeper and deeper into depression.

better off dead - lane meyer

Sounds like a fun movie, right? Well, it actually is. Each time Lane is about to take his own life, he thinks better of it and doesn’t commit that act. However, each time something inadvertently occurs that causes him to nearly die through no fault of his own. See what happens when Lane prepares to douse himself with some primer and light himself on fire:

Along the way, Lane is constantly encouraged (“buck up, little camper!”) by his only friend and the town’s residential drug lover, Charles De Mar (played so perfectly by Curtis Armstrong).  Quick to offer words of solace while vacuuming anything he can up his nose, Charles’ wisdom might be the only thing that keeps Lane going. He is without a doubt the finest part of the movie. Here’s a little sample of why:

Lane is a complete chicken shit in his “efforts” to win Beth back and they really never get off the ground. That is until he meets Monique (Diane Franklin), the French exchange student who lives with his gross neighbor Ricky Smith (Dan Schneider) and his mother (Laura Waterbury).

Well hog my hooter! You do speak English!She works with Lane on ways to get Beth back in his good graces – fixing up his Camaro, teaching him how to ski better so he can beat Stalin in a race down the feared K-12 mountain and in general how to be confident. However, as might be foreseen, Lane finally finds the one thing that will help him get over Beth…and this is Monique. After that the only thing he’s interested in is “language lessons” (wink, wink).

Now, go kick eez ass...

The scenery around this Lane’s narrative is what really gives this film life and color. From Taylor Negron‘s (RIP) slacker ass mailman:

to the Dr. Frankenstein/Hamburger/Everybody Wants Some scene:

from the absurdity of the paperboy Johnny Gasparini’s (Demian Slade) quest to collect his $2:

to the two Asian brothers who race Lane Meyer, one who speaks no English and the other who speaks only Howard Cosell (a reference likely lost on many of today’s youth):

this is one of the strangest movies about teenagers maybe ever made. And that it ever got made is all the more perplexing. If this were pitched today, no way anyone takes a chance on it. This movie is pure 80s gold with a killer soundtrack that features Howard JonesRupert Hine, and the aforementioned Elizabeth Daily (Dottie from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure) prominently. And I will say that the usage of Rupert Hine‘s “Arrested By You” is one of the most underrated in 80s cinema, perfectly contextualized, matching the tone of the scene that it plays over. When Meyer breaks out his sax, we clearly see this is the precursor to Lloyd Dobler and his boombox from Say Anything and really the beginning of building the persona he was known for before Cusack started appearing in ridiculous action and horror flicks.

betteroffdead - parents

Better Off Dead still remains one of the most fun movies from when I was a kid. I still relish seeing Roy Stalin get his just desserts. I love watching Lane’s weird ass family as well as seeing him bloom from the meek loner to the guy who gets the girl in the end. It’s just a fantastically bizarre trip with a quality payoff.

Better Off Dead Placemat

So if you haven’t seen, get there. Some of the jokes and gags don’t necessarily translate well to today, but the film has an incredible sense of humor and a real heart, despite the dark nature of Lane’s mindset/circumstances.

Here’s the trailer:

Retro Review: Martha Coolidge’s ‘Real Genius’ Was Released 30 Years Ago Today and Remains one of the Great 80s Comedic Cinematic Treasures

real genius poster

When most people think of Val Kilmer‘s greatest performance, they usually default to his portrayal of of Doc Holliday in the uneven Tombstone. Don’t get me wrong, his performance as the gunslinger is impressive, but to me he has never been and never will be finer than he was as Chris Knight in Martha Coolidge‘s incredibly humorous and wonderful Real Genius.

real genius - ice is niceReal Genius is centered at Pacific Tech (loosely based on CalTech) where under the direction of Dr. Jerry Hathaway (the always bastard-y William Atherton), geniuses hone their skills, bringing fortune on both them and Dr. Hathaway. The narrative focuses mostly on two characters: Knight, resident brainiac who is about to graduate, and his new protégé, Mitch Taylor (Gabriel Jarret), who happens to be a 15-year old and the first student ever admitted to Pacific Tech for the mid-Winter term.

real genius - mitchWhy was Mitch admitted to the university early, you ask? Well, it seems Dr. Hathaway is working in league with the military on a top secret project, one which employs a high-powered laser to vaporize single targets/people from outer space. Of course, the students aren’t privy to what Hathaway has been up to. When the military decides they need the project complete in 4 months, not 18, Hathaway brings in Mitch, his ace in the hole.

real genius - gangKnight doesn’t act like what most would expect from a genius. He is insubordinate, he is wild and all-together unpredictable. He and Mitch couldn’t be more opposite. A perfect example:

So it takes a while for them finally find a good footing, but they do and for the most part prosper. Like any good 80s movie, one villain isn’t enough. Not only do they have to deal with Hathaway, but also his toadie, Kent (Robert Prescott), who is jealous that Knight and Mitch get all of Hathaway’s attention despite the fact the he has done everything Hathaway has ever asked him to do. He’s the typical brown-nosing asshole that we all hated when we were in school.

real genius - kentIn keeping with a certain weirdness that crept over 80s teen comedies (a la Better Off Dead), this film wouldn’t be complete without the crazy genius recluse who lives in a closet, right? And that would be Lazlo Hollyfeld (the incredible Jon Gries), the gentle-souled former BMOC from Pacific Tech, who went underground after finding out that a product he invented was killing people. He also lives in Mitch and Chris’ closet. But never fear, he’s not some nut – he ends up being the last cog in the wheel that helps set everything straight in the end.

real genius - lazloWhen Kent sabotages the project finally tipping Knight over the edge, he has an epiphany and is able to solve the problem with the laser:

When Hollyfeld finds Knight, Mitch and their merry band of misfit geniuses including Jordan (Michelle Meyrink) and Ick (Mark Kamiyama) celebrating, and tells them what they’ve done, they band together to stop the military from testing the weapon all while exacting revenge on Kent and Hathaway.

Despite being every bit an 80s film, Real Genius was strangely prophetic. When you look at the Crossbow Project, which is the weapon that the guys build, it is basically a different version of the now famous and widely reviled drone program employed by our government and military. The Crossbow was undoubtedly born out of of Ronald Reagan‘s delusional Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) unveiled in 1983. So go figure, right?

This is one movie that I truly believe still stands tall given its age. The humor is as fresh and biting as when this film was released nearly 30 years ago (for the most part). Val Kilmer had just come off of a strong comedic performance in the Zucker Bros.’ Top Secret! and really shines in this film. From his delivery:

to his reactions:

to the offbeat:

…it’s just a a top notch performance. It’s a real shame he abandoned the more comedic roles and instead went for fare like Top Gun. Literally broke my heart when he was in that one.

And how can we ever forget probably the best line in the entire film delivered by Dr. Hathaway?:

PRICELESS and applicable on so many occasions in real life.

And like all 80s movies, the soundtrack is very important contributing immensely to the film. The usage of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” over the ending and credits is an absolutely perfect complement to the premise and the actions of Dr. Hathaway and the US government. Add to that the two incredible montages set to “I’m Falling” by The Comsat Angels and “Number One” by Chaz Jenkel and you have yet another example of the effective use of music to convey the feelings of the characters and add to the story. I just think that 80s movies had a better grasp of this concept. There was no equivalent of Rick Ross playing over a western like in Django Unchained and for the better.

While there are mediocre performances (Mitch?), the whole of the film is strong. Getting a rare glimpse inside the world of the young genius is quite fun and this film is positioned differently than other films like it from the same time, i.e. War Games and The Manhattan Project. While the pall of the Cold War is cast over the three of them, only Real Genius is able to make light of the situation and really empower the kids in the film. I tribute that to a great script from Neal Israel and Pat Proft (who co-wrote Tom Hanks’ Bachelor Party and Police Academy) and Peter Torokvei with really adept direction by Martha Coolidge. A winner on really every level. If you haven’t caught this one, do so at your leisure. It’s one that is not to be missed.

It’s a shame that this one has been relatively forgotten amidst so many of great 80s films. This one still resides at the top of my list.

Here’s the trailer:


Retro Review: Weird Science Joins the 30-Year Old Club and It’s Still as Funny as Ever

weird science - poster 1

Fewer films have ever made me laugh as hard as John HughesWeird Science. This film is a sign post of my childhood, one that carries tremendous meaning and nostalgia. While this one may not register on many folks’ radar as a top notch Hughes example, I happily rated it my favorite of his oeuvre back in 2013. That it came out in what might be considered the most 80s month of films in the entire decade (along with the original Fright Night, Real Genius, Teen Wolf, Better Off Dead and American Ninja) makes it all the better. So, it is with great pleasure that pleasure that I fête Weird Science as it turns 30 this year (released August 2, 1985), a fantastic example of 80s film hijinks replete with Hughes‘ ability to take something that is on the surface a typical male teen horn-dog film and give it some substance at the end. I am unashamed in my love for this film and I can happily report that even to this very day, Weird Science towers above the poor excuses for teen comedies of today.

weird science - openingThe story of the film, for you unfortunate louts who have yet to see it, is a somewhat standard territory for Hughes – two loveable losers, Gary (Anthony Michael Hall in his finest role) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith), cast outs at their school long for nothing but to be cool. However, those dreams are consistently dashed again and again by the masses, especially Max (Robert Rusler) and Ian (a very young Robert Downey Jr.). That Gary and Wyatt are smitten with Deb (Suzanne Snyder) and Hilly (Judie Aronson, one of my all-time crushes), Max and Ian’s girlfriends certainly doesn’t help. So when Wyatt’s parents leave for the weekend, they decide to make a girl…actually make a girl, using Wyatt’s then high-tech computer set-up and know how, a sort of new wave Dr. Frankenstein. When it actually works and Lisa (the stunning Kelly LeBrock) materializes in Wyatt’s bedroom, the boys’ futures start to change for the better.

weird science - kellyBut as always, there are roadblocks. Wyatt’s older brother Chet, in what is arguably the best shithead older brother performance in film history graciously given to us by the incomparable Bill Paxton, is home from college to “watch over” the boys. He harasses and harangues them all while they and Lisa set about changing their fortunes over the course of one weekend. The key to this is not only was Lisa created to be incredibly beautiful (and trust me, in 1985 LeBrock was the pinnacle of beauty) but she also had special, witchcraft-like powers that allowed her certain license to create ideal situations in which Gary and Wyatt could prove themselves to their otherwise unsuspecting classmates. They do so in memorable fashion thus ingratiating themselves to said classmates and more importantly the apples of their eyes, Deb and Hilly.

weird science - chetThis is a month that will likely be a one-way Nostalgia Express for me. It’s fitting that it is starting out with Weird Science. I hold this film in the highest regard. While it may not be Hughes‘s “best” film, it certainly is my favorite of his. It may not have quite the same touching ending that both Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club have,but Weird Science earns its ending. It’s honest despite the preposterous nature of the events leading up to it and there is something that we can all likely identify with in Gary and Wyatt. And to me, any film that gives moviegoers a scene like the one where they go to a bar on the Southside of Chicago is complete and total magic. Check it out:

There are very few scenes that are as quotable as this one. That it’s just one among many in the film is a testament to the quality of Weird Science. And despite falling into the shadows of the acting world for a long while, Anthony Michael Hall gives one of the all-time great comedic performances in this film. I wish I could understand why he faded away like he did even though he has resurfaced in the past few years. The same could be said of Ilan Mitchell-Smith who was solid in The Wild Life and really encapsulated the character of Wyatt. This film is a true treasure and deserves mention alongside any comedy of the 80s and beyond.

This film has significant personal meaning to me as I got to see it with my brother and sister at the Rivoli Theatre in downtown Muncie, Indiana, when my parents were in court hammering each other over visitation rights post-divorce. This film was the perfect antidote to the trepidation my siblings and I felt that day. So to John Hughes, the cast of the film and anyone else who had anything to do with the making of this film, I thank you. It’s rare the one can point to one person and call them the voice of a generation, but I don’t doubt that anyone who came of age in the early to mid-80s couldn’t at least tip John Hughes as the most likely candidate.

Enjoy the tasty original trailer and if you have yet to watch this puppy, get there people:

Retro Review: ‘Back to the Future’- We Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Films Release!

back-to-the-future-posterDirector Robert Zemeckis probably hoped that his film about a time traveling boy would be a remembered, but I’m reasonably sure he had no idea the impact it would have on the legions of fans for years to come. To say this movie was a success would be an understatement. Since 1985, Back to the Future has gone on to gross more than $381 million dollars worldwide and was the #1 movie of 1985. Back to the Future was voted the 23rd greatest film ever made by readers of Empire Magazine, it has been included in AFI’s Top 10 Science Fiction Films of All Time, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”, and most importantly, it is my #1 movie of all time. Let’s look back 30 years into the past and travel Back to the Future.

Back-to-the-Future-MartyMarty (Michael J. Fox) is your average rebellious teen destined for rock stardom and all the spoils that come with it; there’s just one problem…he’s a McFly and in Hill Valley, that name stands for mediocrity; but things are about to change. Marty lives with his parents George (Crispin Glover) and Lorraine (Lea Thompson) along with his siblings Dave (Marc McClure) and Linda (Wendi Jo Sperber). George is the pushover type never looking for trouble but seemingly finding it. He works for a supervisor named Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) who is always looking to bully George and seems to have a past with the family. Lorraine, Marty’s mom, is an alcoholic who’s life just hasn’t turned out quite the way she imagined. Marty’s siblings still live at home after graduating high school and just can’t seem to catch a break in life. During an exchange at the dinner table, Lorraine recants the tale of the night her and her husband met, a story which involving George being hit by Lorraine’s fathers car. It was the moment she knew they fell in love and would be together forever.

Back-to-the-Future-back-to-the-future-8227843-640-480Marty’s best friend scientist Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) has created a time machine….out of a DeLorean! How can it time travel you may ask? Well you preset a travel date into the console, a date like, oooooh say November 5th, 1955. Yes! November 5th 1955, the day Doc Brown hit his head on the porcelain sink while hanging a clock in the bathroom, when he came to he had a vision of the Flux Capacitor. The vehicles time displacement is powered by plutonium, but don’t worry, this suckers electrical, it uses the plutonium to create a nuclear reaction to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to power the Flux Capacitor. But watch out, once this baby hits 88 mph we’re gonna see some serious shit.

Back to the future 3So where would a scientist from California get his hands on plutonium? Well from a Libyan terrorist group of course, and they are sure pissed that he stole from them. They show up to collect what is owed to them and they are out for revenge. Marty witnesses the assassination of his old friend which leaves him little choice, jump in the DeLorean and haul ass. But as Marty is speeding away, he hits the magical 88 mph and Marty is shot back in time to Hill Valley 1955.

michael-j-fox-marty-mcfly-and-crispin-gloverOf course Marty’s immediate reaction is to explore Hill Valley and search for Doc Brown to help him return to the future but in the process some unexpected events occur. Marty encounters his father George who is again being bullied by Biff. As George fleas the scene, Marty decides to follow him only to find him spying in a tree at an unsuspecting female. George loses his balance and falls out of the tree, but Marty comes to the rescue, pushes George away from the car and inadvertently is hit with the car instead. Marty wakes in his mothers room where she has become smitten with Marty. He realizes that he has mistakenly taken the place of his father in the tale of their impeding love story and subsequently altered the future.

michael-j.-fox-and-lea-thompson-in-inapoi-in-viitorMarty finds Doc and Doc explains that the only available power source capable of generating 1.21 gigawatts of energy is bolt of lightning. Marty knows that lightning stuck the towns clock tower and 10:04 pm on November 14th, 1955. All that Doc and Marty have to do is figure out a way to harness its power. Oh, and convince George to ask Lorraine to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance and re-change the past so Marty can save his future! But of course Biff has something to say about that.

thomas-f-wilson-as-biff-tannen-in-back-toMy love for this movie knows no bounds. It was the first movie I latched onto in my younger years and I’ve watched it at least once every month since…yes I’ve seen this movie over 350 times. The film’s story was so original and fresh that it immediately found an audience with young viewers. Michael J. Fox was a star at the time with the popularity of the hit show “Family Ties”, but interestingly enough Fox was the producers second choice for Marty (Eric Stoltz was originally cast); but there was no better choice than Fox as he ultimately proved. Marty McFly has become an iconic character who’s appeal is as beloved today as it was 29 years ago…maybe ever more so. Christopher Lloyd’s portrayal as Doc Brown is equally as iconic as Fox’s performance. The mannerisms, the delivery of the dialogue, the chemistry he created with Fox brought an immediate emotional connection to the movie which resonated thru the following two sequels. The friendship between Marty and Doc is one very few can top. These characters will live on in film history as two of the greatest ever created.

back-to-the-futureThe supporting cast was amazing. Lea Thompson was fantastic in her duel roles as Lorraine Baines and the future Lorraine McFly. Her beauty was unsurpassed and her presence omitted a touch of youthful mischief that added a level of playfulness that was key to the execution of her relationship with Marty. Crispin Glover was equally as phenomenal as George McFly. His mannerisms as a youthful outcast whose dream of becoming a sci-fi writer and sweeping the woman of his dreams off her feet are quirky and awkward but extremely lovable. Glover brings a level of tension to each scene that allows the audience the feeling of concern yet allows for a playful exuberance to shine thru. And who could forget Tom Wilson. The antagonist of the film, Biff Tannen, arguably one of the top villainous performances of the 1980’s and beyond. Wilson is THE perfect bully. From his interactions with George to his confrontations with Marty, Wilson stands with each actor toe to toe and creates memorable scene after memorable scene. From his bruting mannerisms to his off beat comical delivery, Wilson is a gem in every scene.

Back to the Future is a film that changed the way I watched movies at an early age and solidified my love for film. It is a movie that deserves every one of its accolades and will stand the test of time as one of the all time films. This movie takes me to a place emotionally that allows me to relive a small piece of my childhood with each viewing. I owe so much to this film and I have no way to pay it back. I can simply say thank you Marty and Doc for taking me on your journey.


5 out of 5 stars


Retro Review: Michael Schultz’ Martial Arts Epic ‘The Last Dragon’ Turns 30 Today

The last dragon - poster 2

As we take another spin around the films that came out in 1985, it’s hard to pass up an 80s cult  classic like Michael Schultz‘ (or should I say Barry Gordy‘s) The Last Dragon. The 80s were an interesting time for martial arts films. Since Bruce Lee’s death in 1973, the genre lingered in the exploitation realm with no bona fide star to bring it to the forefront again. Grossing $26 million (33rd best of 1985), The Last Dragon was a hit despite opening opposite Friday the 13th Part V and Porky’s Revenge. Did it help resurrect the genre? Likely not. However, it helped keep the martial arts film in consciousness of moviegoers until the late 80s when stars like Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal picked up the mantel.

the last dragon - bruce leroy 1

So for the unlucky few who haven’t seen this one, this is how it shakes out. Local legend “Bruce” Leroy Green (Taimak – yes, that’s his name…and he isn’t the only singular name in the film) trains hard with his master, gives everything he’s got to take himself to the next level of consciousness as a student, to achieve the final level where the spirit takes over for the mind and guides the body without thought. Why do you ask would he want to do this? Well, whoever achieves this level will find him or herself engulfed in “the glow”, a power that, if in the hands of a true master, could create beauty that would be without bounds. But if it got into the wrong hands…well, I think you know where this is going. This struggles unfolds by happenstance when Leroy rescues popular club deejay and singer Laura Charles (former Prince protégé Vanity…see, another singular name) after refusing to help video arcade magnate Eddie Arkadian (Christopher Murney) by playing his girlfriend’s music video on her show.

the last dragon - laura charles

As Arkadian attempts every trick in his devious book to persuade her to play the video, including letting her order a la carte at dinner, Leroy is there to thwart his efforts. So he decides to look for a little help to get Leroy out of the way. And who does he turn to for help? Only the Shogun of Harlem, Sho Nuff (Julius Carry), that’s who. He’s the meanest, prettiest, baddest mofo low down around this town and he has serious issues with Leroy who has turned down his attempts to battle in the past. In this situation he sees the opportunity to once and for all decide who is the master. Using Laura and Leroy’s little brother Richie (Leo O’Brien) as bait, Sho Nuff and Leroy finally come to blows and the ending is incendiary.

the last dragon - sho nuff

I loved this film as a kid, all of 10 when it was released in the spring of ’85. It had some funny parts (mostly courtesy of the character Johnny Yu played by Glen Eaton), it had the beautiful Vanity (Denise Matthews is her given name) and had some badass kungfu in it. What was there not to like, right? And I still love the film. I will say that it hasn’t necessarily held up that well over time. Taimak, while an asskicker in the martial arts department, is no actor. He is awkward and his performance is quite stilted, but his presence was there for one reason – to kung fu the hell out of his role. The charisma just isn’t there. I love that Christopher Murney is the heavy in this film. His turn as Hanrahan, the insane goalie, in my favorite movie, Slap Shot is as good as it gets and he brings that same energy to this film. And he looks the part of a crazy bastard, too.


Barry Gordy‘s participation in the film is one of the most interesting aspects. Gordy is the founder of Motown Records and it’s strange to see his name so prominently displayed on every piece of marketing for this film. You don’t see Michael Schultz‘s name hardly mentioned and when the final credits roll in the film, it’s Gordy‘s name as producer that is mentioned first (really, Schultz’ name is absent from the end credits). This film was used in large part to launch musicians, especially DeBarge, whose megahit single, ‘Rhythm of the Night‘, is played in its entirety in the film, appears on the soundtrack and was nominated for a Golden Globe for best song. The soundtrack is actually an awesome time capsule of pure 80s sound with Dwight David‘s theme song, Vanity‘s awful ‘7th Heaven’, Willie Hutch‘s awesome ‘The Glow’ and cuts by Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Gordy‘s son, Rockwell.

the last dragon - macy

Rewatching this film gave me two shocks – first was seeing William H. Macy as Laura Charles’ lackey and Chazz Palminteri as one of Arkadian’s goons who is dispatched by Leroy. The Last Dragon is quite representative of the 80s – style over substance. One thing I will give to this film is that racial stereotypes that were so prevalent up to and beyond this time are largely absent so deserving credit to the filmmakers for that. While The Last Dragon doesn’t really hold up, it’s a fun film to revisit from time to time for all the things I’ve mentioned above.

There have been rumblings that the Wu Tang Clan’s own RZA is in talks to remake this film, which I think would be quite interesting. His martial arts homage Man with the Iron Fists received mixed reviews (I actually liked it, but I think I’m in small company). I’m almost exclusively against remakes of any kind, but it would be interesting to see the envelope pushed a little more with the martial arts and the removal of the advertising for Motown recording artists in this film. I guess we’ll see if that actually happens or not.

So if you haven’t seen it before or have forgotten about it and want to revisit it, here’s the trailer:

Retro Review: John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club Changed the Teen Movie Game Thirty Years Ago Today

Breakfast Club poster 1

When John Hughes died nearly six years ago, we all lost something pretty big. People throw around terms like “voice of a generation” all the time without merit, but I think that many people would openly and happily vouch for Hughes as the voice of my generation, me included. I have argued that he might have had the strongest 5-year run in film history before and I think that its hard to argue against it especially since so few filmmakers are able to match Hughes‘ output. While my favorite film of his oeuvre is Weird Science, for many reasons, but I don’t think there is any doubt that his most enduring film is The Breakfast Club. One of the crown jewels of film from 1985, The Breakfast simultaneous took the teen movie genre to new heights and smashed them at the same time. I don’t think another teen film prior to or since has captured the teen experience as well as this film. Hughes had some preternatural feel for the teen condition, for their trials and tribulations, even coming at it from a sizable distance – he was 35 when he made The Breakfast Club. Read More →

Retro Review: 30 Years Ago, the World Was Introduced to the Coen Brothers with ‘Blood Simple’

blood simple original

In my opinion, there have been very few filmmakers that have changed the cinematic landscape for the better since my birth some forty years ago. Many would likely point to folks like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg as standard bearers for the post-New Hollywood Cinema gang. And while those two certainly changed the cinematic landscape, I wouldn’t say their effect has been good or for the better. That’s another story, though. What I can say is that January 18, 1985 announced the presence of two game changers in Hollywood, and with Blood Simple‘s release, the world met Joel & Ethan Coen. Without a doubt two of the most original filmmakers still working in Hollywood, the Coen Brothers speak in their voice, tell the stories they want to tell and all with flourishes befitting the finest filmmakers in the history of cinema. Read More →

Retro Review: ‘Boyhood’- Growing Up is Hard to Do

boyhood-teaser-posterAll too many times Hollywood uses the phrase “Once in a Lifetime” to describe a film that we’ve encountered way too many times before, but finally, a director and film studio have come thru and brought us a film like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Boyhood is that film and it just might be the best movie you will see all year.  Directed by industry legend Richard Linklater, the film is a true labor of love.  The film, shot intermittently over a twelve-year period, follows a young  boy named Mason through his childhood from first grade (age 6) thru his high school graduation (age 18). It’s a documented journey that will most likely never be duplicated in our lifetime and one that will resonate with each viewer for decades to come. Read More →

Michael’s Review: ‘American Sniper’- Memoirs of An American Hero


Clint Eastwood has been immersed in a streak of lackluster efforts since 2004’s Oscar winning Million Dollar Baby. The 84 year old actor/director has spent much of the last decade exploring different subject matters including multiple biopics, many of which were valiant efforts, but Eastwood has struck gold with this war drama based on the life of decorated Navy Seal Chris Kyle. Bradley Cooper leads this powerful film which shows the struggles of our soldiers who risk their lives every day on the ground in Iraq, a depiction reminiscent of Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker. The most lethal sniper in US history takes center stage as we are taken to the front lines of the Iraqi war. Read More →

Christmas in July: Liz’s Favorite Holiday Flicks

Christmas is only 5 months away. You’re welcome. Did I just stress you out? Doesn’t change the fact that you should start buying gifts like a boss, now. If you need a break from said gift purchasing and you want to beat the heat, here is a list of my favorite Holiday flicks (in no particular order).

PS- I’m a big fan of shiny things.


Black Christmasblack-christmas_hq 

Crazy killer on the loose after a house full of sorority girls? Happy Holidays, Ladies. Weird Fact: The film is based a a string of actual murders in Canada around Christmas. Yikes.

Gremlins-poster-1984Always pay attention to directions when caring for a gift.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacationnational-lampoons-christmas-vacation-1 

   Classic Chevy Chase


Man-child and comic genius, Will Ferrell. “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?”

Edward Scissor Hands


Tim Burton at his Burton-y best. Johnny Depp plays an oddball like nobody’s business.


The Family Stone  

family stone

Hands down, one of my all time faves, period. You’ll laugh, cry, and contemplate life.

Miracle on 34th Streetmiracle-on-34th-street-movie-poster-1947-1020517152 

This film is all about believing. If you haven’t seen this, for shame.

The Nightmare Before ChristmasThe Nightmare Before Christmas 

Danny Elfman‘s voice is now burned into my memory. A great holiday meets holiday twist. This needs to be turned into a Broadway musical, already! Can someone get on that?


Bill Murray. That is all.

The Muppet Christmas Carolthe-muppet-christmas-carol-movie-poster-1992-1020190528

Who doesn’t love the Muppets? And can we get a what, what for Michael Caine?

8 Crazy Nights8 crazy nights

A little Hanukka love for you all. You can keep pretending you don’t like Adam Sandler if you want to, but we all know you watch Billy Madison when it comes on TV… every weekend.

Love Actuallylove-actually-movie-poster-2003-1020189066

Another brilliant cast. “To Me, You Are Perfect”

It’s a Wonderful Lifeits a wonderful life

 The Ultimate “What If” movie. Jimmy Stewart is a talent like no other. 

Home Alonehome-alone-movie-poster-1990-1020269039

I feel like it’s your duty to watch this every year. “Merry Christmas, Ya Filthy Animal.”

A Christmas Storychristmas-story-quote-along

We all have a bit of Ralphie in us. Do you remember the first time you said “Fuuuuuuudge”? I do.

We wanna know what films are on your list??

10 Movies From My Childhood That Made Me Cry (and still do) Like A Little Baby

Being an avid movie watcher since early childhood has given me a whole lot of perspective on life; like, how NOT to be a good parent. My dad thought it appropriate to show me Poltergeist at age 2. He’s not my dad anymore. But seriously, here is a list of the Top 10 Movies that traumatized me back then… and still cause me to grab the tissue box today… because I am a wimp… and I have a soul!

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