03 July 2007

Netflix Notes: 03July2007

Armed & Dangerous [1986]

For a film that stars two of SCTV's biggest talents, John Candy and Eugene Levy, this comedy certainly isn't very funny. In fact, it's amazingly unfunny, and I say that as a bonafide SCTV freak (I grew up on the show) and John Candy apologist. Hell, my main nickname in high school was LaRue, and if you get the reference, you're probably just like me. Anyways, I had this plan a few weeks ago to try and watch as many '80's comedies as I could via Netflix, and here we are in Week Three, and I'm already giving up on the plan. This comedic crime caper is unfunny enough and disappointing enough to break my spirit. I should have expected it, since my memory of seeing it in the theater in 1986 is vague and non-descript at best. It already wasn't funny when I was 20 and a couple of my friends were still calling me LaRue. Anyways, there is a scene wherein Candy goes drag ala Divine and Levy dresses up as a Leather Boy and that spark of SCTV ignites momentarily, but it comes too late in the movie, and Levy's pale, dimpled ass extinguishes the scene and that spark. I guess I should note that Candy plays a good cop who gets thrown off the force, and Levy plays a pathetic and ineffectual lawyer , and the two end up working together for a private security firm, and happen upon a conspiracy by the union boss to embezzle the pension (in Reagan's America, unions were deemed "evil") and well, what else do you need to know. I believe this was Meg Ryan's first feature film. She ends up with Levy in the end, but you know that by minute 15, and you don't care. I would have given this film 1 out of 5, but John Candy, as always, merits an extra star. LaRue! 2 out of 5

Foul Play [1978]

Chevy Chase plays it mostly straight in this somewhat comedic crime caper that isn't great, but is certainly a better film than Armed & Dangerous. But really, Goldie Hawn is the star here, and at this particular stage in her career, she could essentially carry a film on her looks alone. The woman was cute beyond belief, and she knew how to play it to her advantage. Here she plays it clumsy, but never dumb, as an unassuming librarian who inadvertently falls into an international plot to assassinate the Pope at a performance of The Mikado in San Francisco. Chevy Chase plays the detective who inadvertently takes on her case, and that mix of smugness and charm that Chase can do so well is present here, if a bit muffled, which actually probably works best for this particular film. Like I said, this is Hawn's show. Elsewhere, Burgess Meredith is solidly funny as an old anthropologist who happens to be Hawn's landlord, and his fight scene with a "nun" in the second half of the film is probably my favorite couple of minutes. Also of note is Dudley Moore playing a playboy who tries seducing Hawn. In the beginning, he tells her that he works for the city, but at the end, he's conducting the orchestra at that Mikado performance, and I don't know if my brain is glitching, or if conductors are technically municipal employees. Anyways, there's a dwarf, an albino, two old grannies playing dirtyword Scrabble, and a youngish, thinnish Brian Dennehy. There's chase scenes, fight scenes, a python, and less "San Francisco as character" than I typically like, but it's not a bad film in the end. Damn, Goldie Hawn was cute in 1978. 3 out of 5

Reno 911!: Miami [2007]

The mockumentary style of the television show, Reno: 911!, doesn't quite translate well to the big screen, despite the fact that the entire cast is present, castmember Ben Garant is directing, as he often does on the show, and much of the dialogue is semi-improvised, and edited from much larger, free-flowing takes, as witnessed in the deleted/extended scenes on this DVD. Part of the problem might be the very fact that the Reno Sheriffs Department takes their bumbling freakshow to Miami in the first place. It's a silly conceit, this fish outta water thing, and it sorta works, but seems meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Dick jokes and slapstick plays about the same in Reno and Miami, and there's an abundance of it, and the times they really do exploit the cultural differences between the high desert plains of Reno and oceanside Miami, those scenes are the best. The dead whale scene is probably the high point, and the alligator scene ain't bad either, but there really aren't a whole lot of these kinda South Beach specific scenes, and that's a shame. Tattoo parlors, cheap motels, and squad car interiors are the same in Miami as Reno, and there's maybe too many of 'em to make this film truly work for me, to be a film that stays true to it's one overriding premise. Anyways, Patton Oswald and Paul Rudd both contribute solid supporting roles, and even Paul Reubens makes an appearance at the end. If you like the TV show, this is worth a watch, and the four or five deleted/extended scenes are are nearly as good as the film itself, and just as long, so I guess we're getting a double dose. In fact, I laughed hardest at a Clementine riff during the deleted bus trip scene. If you don't have cable and haven't seen this show, rent a disc or two from Season Two. 3 out of 5

Hotcha! Hank

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