Rating: The Good – 88.9 Genre: Comedy Duration: 98 mins Director: Harold Ramis Stars: Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield
If Caddyshack was merely a reflection of the sum of its parts, those parts (top comedic actors, original premise, tremendous script, outstanding soundtrack, and a great comedy director) are of such high quality that the film would still rank as a comedy classic. However, the film transcends the sum of those parts to become one of the most enjoyable movie watching experiences. Set in the hilarious Bushwood Country Club, the movie follows its caddies, the rich eccentrics they caddy for, and the various staff including its unstable groundskeeper as they go about their ridiculous daily business. Michael O’Keefe is perfect in the lead as the likable but cheeky Danny Noonan but this movie is as much if not more about the supporting cast of comedic heavyweights. Ted Knight is a riot as Judge Smails, Rodney Dangerfield finds the perfect vehicle for his unique brand of humour (“hey lady, you wanna make 14 dollars the hard way?”) while Chevy Chase’s Ty Webb is Chase at his skewed and improvisational best. Best of all though is Murray as the deranged groundskeeper Carl. This is easily one of his best performances and one of the most off the wall eccentric characters you’ll find in any film. From his “kill all the golfers” line to “you wore green so you could hide” Murray will have you howling with laughter for the full 90 mins and beyond. The quantifiable magic that occurs when every aspect of a movie comes together in perfect harmony is something we rarely encounter in life so let’s just be eternally thankful that Caddyshack is with us. “In the words of Jean Paul Sartre: au revoir”.
Rating: The Good – 77.1 Genre: Thriller, Science Fiction Duration: 87 mins Director: Steve De Jarnatt Stars: Anthony Edwards, Mare Winningham, John Agar
Obscure thriller from the vault of hidden gems that follows a love struck young musician on a frantic chase through LA after he gets an anonymous tipoff about an imminent nuclear attack. As he tracks down the girl of his dreams in order to evacuate her, he encounters one curious character after another under a series of hectic circumstances. Anthony Edwards is the everyman at the centre of things and he’s a ball of nervous energy and dorky charm. As he whisks us through a succession of bizarre episodes like wheeling his unconscious girlfriend in a trolley down the streets of nighttime LA, his unassuming presence keeps the madcap hijinks grounded in a kind of tilted reality. Steve De Jarnatt and DP Theo van de Sande are to be commended for bathing the entire aesthetic in a soft blue neon glow. LA looks every bit the fantasy world the story demands and it’s rather pleasing to behold too. Several other factors work towards a successful movie experience but none more effectively than Tangerine Dream’s intense electronic harmonies. It’s what we came to expect from them back in the day and like Sorcerer or Near Dark, they catch the movie in a current of unabated tension. There’s no doubting that Miracle Mile is a weird ride, kind of like John Landis’ Into the Night on mushrooms, but it’s also uniquely affecting and brimming with warped fun.
Rating: The Good – 79.8 Genre: Drama Duration: 110 mins Director: George Lucas Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Harrison Ford
For those who (somewhat understandably) used the most recent Star Wars films as reason to doubt George Lucas’ talent as a director, this is one of two films they should watch that will assuage any such doubts (the other being THX 1138). An ode to the 1950-60′s cruising generation, American Graffiti follows a group of friends the night before two of them are due to head off for college. Lucas knits each of the scenes together with a medley of era-specific rock and roll hits which are intermittently punctuated by local radio pirate Wolfman Jack and he quite brilliantly uses the radios of passing cars, restaurants, gas stations, etc to ensure the soundtrack is a constant feature of the background. The fun of the evening’s adventures are had in a series of cracking set pieces ranging from drag races to that now classic liquor store robbery. On the acting front, all acquit themselves admirably with Richard Dreyfuss and Paul Le Mat scoring particularly well. Dreyfuss brings a lot of depth to his character and taps that ever present ability to strike up immediate chemistry with a variety of on-screen partners. On the other hand, Le Mat quite simply gives us one of cinema’s coolest characters as king of the strip John Milner. Unmissable.
Rating: The Good – 66.8 Genre: Action Duration: 114 mins Director: John Milius Stars: Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson
John Milius’ uneven film has been criticised for being jingoistic and yes, there are some grounds for such criticism. There are also some spectaular leaps of logic and Harry Dean Stanton screams “Avenge me boys” without even a hint of humour. However, for the most part Red Dawn is actually a well orchestrated and even epic depiction of a fictitious invasion of the 1980’s United States by communist forces. Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen play two brothers who take to the mountains and form a rag-tag resistance behind enemy lines. It shouldn’t work but somehow this becomes an entertaining and sometimes touching examination of how life could’ve changed in such circumstances. Swayze and Sheen are charismatic in the lead roles and are supported by a number of young and, at the time, promising actors one of whom being Swayze’s future Dirty Dancing co-star Jennifer Grey. Milius’ and Kevin Reynolds’ screenplay can get clunky in parts but holds up for the majority of the film and there are some decent action scenes throughout.
Rating: The Good – 64.8 Genre: Drama, Sport Duration: 107 mins Director: Catherine Hardwicke Stars: Heath Ledger, Emile Hirsch, Victor Rasuk
As with all films that deal with a particular subculture, Lords of Dogtown seems to gain as much criticism as it does praise for its relevance or lack thereof to real life. However, judging it simply as a film, this is a well directed story that properly evokes a feeling of a time and a place now gone. It tells the story of the beginning of skate-boarding as a legitimate sport in Venice Beach California by focusing on three of its originators. The acting is top notch by everyone except Emile Hirsch, who at times comes across a little stilted, and the story is compelling and well told. Better still, there’s also a levelled but genuine warmth towards the principal players that gives this film the kind of substance that most of its kind lack.
Rating: The Good – 71.2 Genre: Comedy Duration: 90 mins Director: Amy Heckerling Stars: Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold
It has dated somewhat over the years but Fast Times at Ridgemont High tapped the zeitgeist of its times and remains an enjoyable glimpse of a year in the life of a bunch of high school kids as they deal with romance, sex, jobs, and hardcase teachers. For those who grew up on 80′s comedies, the jokes are bolstered by the sense of nostalgia but for those who didn’t those same jokes may come across as dated and weak. Its major strength is that the movie doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a bit of fun. This might not be the right tack to take when dealing with some of the trials and travails that the characters go through but, for a slice of teen comedy, getting bogged down in the emotional trauma of abortion or betrayal just won’t do. So everything is artificially sugar-coated and the audience is left all the happier for it.
Rating: The Good – 77.8 Genre: Horror Duration: 97 mins Director: Joel Schumacher Stars: Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Haim, Dianne Wiest
The film that redefined the vampire genre by blending the traditional mythology with the swagger and verve of MTV Generation. Two brothers move to Santa Carlo with their mother to make a fresh start only to fall afoul of a group of troublemaking bikers who have a penchant for sleeping upside down and drinking blood. Although it’s over twenty years old now, The Lost Boys has lost none of its coolness thanks chiefly to its terrific soundtrack. The actors were a who’s who of up-and-comers at that time and armed with the witty script they give the movie a refreshing vibe. Jason Patric and Corey Haim are great together as the brothers, Diane Wiest is (as always) excellent as the mother, while Kiefer Sutherland chews the scenery as the charismatic leader of the vampire gang.
Rating: The Good – 76.9 Genre: Comedy Duration: 94 mins Director: John Hughes Stars: Anthony Michael Hall, Kelly LeBrock, Bill Paxton
“Not having a good time? Well, do you think they’re having a good time being catatonic in the closet?” “Weird” is not the word to describe this behemoth of movie madness. John Hughes’ seminal teen comedy is as purely and authentically eccentric as we’ve seen on screen and so it’s a testament to the genius behind it that so many moviegoers of all ages have still found it so irresistibly funny. John Hughes regular Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith star as two dorky teenagers who program their computer to create the perfect woman (don’t ask) who once alive and kicking, promptly begins to give them a wild and madcap series of life lessons.
There are too many standout moments to speak of but those involving Bill Paxton as Mitchell-Smith’s older brother are particularly memorable. Funny as Hall and Mitchell-Smith are, the star of the show is undoubtedly Kelly LeBrock as the mysterious woman who can bend reality to her will. She carries the barely graspable concept on her shoulders with a charming ease and improves every scene she’s in. Watch out too for a young Robert Downey Jr making a decent contribution to the comedy quotient.
Rating: The Good – 67.8 Genre: Drama, Comedy, Romance Duration: 107 mins Director: Greg Mottola Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds
Quietly endearing comedy set in the 1980′s about a grad student (Jesse Eisenberg) who takes a summer job at the local amusement park called Adventureland to pay for his tuition. Nothing about this film is in your face and that’s exactly what’s so refreshing about it. The comedy, the romance, the drama all unfold naturally giving the audience a legitimate sense that we’re following Eisenberg’s character throughout his summer. Even the retro setting seems incidental. Any other film set in the 80′s would be hitting you over the head with references to the era but in this film it’s just part of the background. If anything this approach actually heightens the nostalgia, the drama, and the comedy leaving us with a film that’s very easy to like. Eisenberg is terrific as usual and in playing yet another geeky college kid it’s a testament to his acting ability that he gives this character a distinctly different personality to all the others.
Rating: The Good – 77.2 Genre: Comedy Duration: 93 mins Director: John Hughes Stars: Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Justin Henry
“No more yankie my wankie. The Donger need food.” Effortlessly wacky comedy from John Hughes that’s delightfully devoid of all the cliches of Pretty in Pink and the melodrama of The Breakfast Club. This is just 90 minutes of pure fun, mayhem, and outlandish humour. The story focuses on a high school teenager (Molly Ringwald) who turns 16 the day before her sister is getting married. However, the premise is really just a backdrop for a series of wild characters to crash parties and cars and spout one immortal line after another. The scene set-ups are utterly deranged and will live long in memory. Scenes such as the school bus journey, or where the heavily inebriated “geek” (Anthony Michael Hall in superb scene-stealing form) stops to put on his headgear before he passes out in the Rolls Royce he just crashed, or where Long Duk Dong jumps out of a tree shouting “Oohh, sexy girlfriend!”. Sixteen Candles is Hughes’ finest hour and in the modern era when directors-for-hire are cynically trying to simulate quirkiness in order to project a false sense of freshness, Hughes’ film serves as a lesson from the past in authentic quirkiness. “You’re in a parking lot opposite my church”, “You own a church?”
Rating: The Good – 85.5 Genre: Comedy Duration: 96 mins Director: Woody Allen Stars: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Mariel Hemingway
Woody Allen’s greatest homage to his native city pits an array of characters on different sides of the love divide as they each embody the contradictory nature of the city he loves so well. Shot in sumptuous monochrome and giving a virtual masterclass in the use of lighting, Manhattan is not only one of Allen’s most personal works, it also perhaps his most technically accomplished. And as is typical with Allen, the script ain’t half bad either!
Rating: The Good – 64.8 Genre: Comedy, Mystery Duration: 98 mins Director: Michael Ritchie Stars: Chevy Chase, Joe Don Baker, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson
Iconic 80′s comedy as famous for its electronic score as it is for Chevy Chase’s dry wit. Chase plays Fletch, an undercover reporter who gets wind of a drug racketeering real-estate scam and quickly becomes a target for those responsible. Chase was at the height of his powers at the time this film was made and was always one of the few comedians who managed to remain funny even while gaining the upper hand and generally coming across as quite cool. Crossing the comedy and mystery genes is not necessarily an easy task but Michael Ritchie finds the right balance so that fans of both genres are kept interested.