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 Ugly – 63.8 Genre: Comedy Duration: 101 mins Director: Howard Deutch Stars: Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson, Lea Thompson
John Hughes’ films are great nostalgia fare and usually deliver some seriously funny moments which hold up to this day. Some of them (i.e., Sixteen Candles and Ferris Bueller) were almost if not totally flawless while others were weighed down with contrived story lines where poor and rich kids play out West-Side-Story type melodramas. Like The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful is one such story. Eric Stoltz plays an 18 year old high school kid who has designs on one of the more glamourous girls in his class (played with a confident vulnerability by Lea Thompson). When he makes his move he attracts the unwanted attention of her rich boyfriend and ostracises his tom-boy best friend, the equally outcast Mary Stewart Masterson. This story is essentially a rehash of Pretty in Pink because Hughes wasn’t happy with how the studio forced him to end the latter movie. Thus, he set about making it again with a few gender reversals thrown in and finally got the ending he wanted. The three leads are great together and Stoltz’ sometimes understated presence is helped by the Masterson’s boisterousness and Thompson’s maturity. John Aston and Elias Koteas steal the show as Stoltz’ father and tough-guy classmate respectively. The actors get in the spirit of the film and all do their bit and while the pretext to the plot and scenarios the characters find themselves in is somewhat laughable at times, the film comes off as really quite charming. This is largely down to Hughes’ ability to write interesting teenagers, parents, teachers, etc. and the cast he has playing them. Howard Deutch’s contemporary direction and that great soundtrack contribute strongly also.