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Hallmark Hall of Shame, by Bob Connally

5 Nov

“Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” Dying – or drama – and comedy have one key thing in common. Both of them tend to work best when they are treated seriously. Even when the comedy is a very silly parody. Throughout the 1980’s, the team of David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams demonstrated how to do this right with Airplane!, the all-too-short-lived TV series Police Squad!, and that show’s much more successful spin-off film, The Naked Gun. They achieved this through brilliant writing and equally brilliant casting, emphasizing sincerity from the performances. Dramatic actors such as Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack, and Leslie Nielsen delivered utterly ridiculous dialogue with complete seriousness in Airplane!, and that very simply is why it worked. If Nielsen had said, “I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley,” pulling a goofy face, it would have killed the joke. The makers of Cup of Cheer would have done well to heed that lesson.

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Must Be the Season, by Bob Connally

24 Oct

Since its release in 1978, John Carpenter’s original Halloween has been one of the best-loved and most imitated horror movies ever made. Carpenter and his producing partner, Debra Hill felt that there was nowhere to take the characters or the story beyond the first film. However, with Universal clamoring for a sequel, they reluctantly wrote the screenplay for Halloween II. Released in 1981, Carpenter- who did not direct this time around- was deeply dissatisfied with the finished product, declaring it, “an abomination and a horrible movie.” The sequel received poor reviews but performed fairly well at the box office. The film ended with Michael Myers seemingly burned to death after an explosion, as though Carpenter and Hill were telling the audience, “He’s dead now, so it’s over.” Halloween III would be a new beginning and set up a viable and very creative franchise for years to come. That was the plan anyway.

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Into the Wild, by Bob Connally

1 Sep

Get Duked!, the feature film debut of music video director Ninian Doff wastes no time getting moving. We are introduced to three Scottish teens named Dean (Rian Gordon), Duncan (Lewis Gribben), and DJ Beatroot (Viraj Juneja) ignoring a decades-old video explaining the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Their teacher, Mr. Carlyle (Jonathan Aris), further explains that the boys will be traversing the Scottish Highlands without the aid of technology as they try to earn their award. What it really is for them though is punishment after setting a fire. Once they arrive in the Highlands they meet Ian (Samuel Bottomley), a boy who’s very excited for their outdoor adventure. Unlike the others, he has chosen to be there in hopes of being able to add it to his university applications. With that, Mr. Carlyle quickly rattles off an explanation of the route the boys will need to take and that he’ll see them at the campsite, and away they go.

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Most Triumphant, by Bob Connally

30 Aug

It would have been difficult to imagine saying this in 1988 as Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure sat on a shelf, unlikely to be released in theaters, if at all. But 32 years later, we need Bill S. Preston, Esquire (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves) more than ever. We need their enthusiasm, we need their positivity, and in a year that has been, “Bogus. Heinous. Most non-triumphant,” we just need something to put a smile on our faces. Moviegoing as we know it has all but ceased to exist completely since March, but thanks to a video on demand release, Bill & Ted Face the Music is here just before the end of summer to give us all an escape from the never-ending nightmare we call 2020.

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Is That a Man? by Bob Connally

22 Aug

Upon seeing the 2-minute trailer for Disney+’s upcoming series adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book, The Right Stuff, I was struck by how unexciting it all looked. How do you make the story of the pioneer days of humanity’s greatest and most exciting endeavor appear so dull? Hopefully, the series – when it premieres on October 9 – will turn out to be the engrossing and thrilling show that the story deserves, but whether it is or not, the greatness of Philip Kaufman’s 1983 film adaptation stands the test to time.

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Trying Not to Come Back, by Bob Connally

16 Aug

It’s only been in the last couple of years that I have really started to embrace horror. I haven’t become a full-on gorehound, but I have developed an appreciation for horror movies and what they can deliver that is unique to any other genre. The biggest obstacle I had was the misconception that horror movies, by and large, did not care about their characters. While this may be true of many slasher films (the original Friday the 13thbored me to tears), it was an idea that had gotten into my head and it took a long time for me to realize I was wrong. The thing is, even slashers with little to no character development can be fun in their own ways if the filmmaker is inventive. After all, if I can love big, dumb action movies like Sudden Death and “The Greatest Movie Ever Made,” Commando, then I can enjoy a horror movie that delivers on the same level.

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Plenty of Time, by Bob Connally

18 Jul

Going into Palm Springs, I had not seen a trailer. I knew who the two leads were and a friend of mine had told me she’d enjoyed it. That’s it. So when it very suddenly becomes something more than a standard rom-com about 15 minutes in it comes as quite a shock. If you have not watched the trailer and want to go into the film completely unspoiled then I recommend simply going to Hulu and watching the movie before reading the rest of this review so you can be as surprised as I was. Also, that makes this easier for me as it’s really impossible to review Palm Springs by dancing around the bulk of the movie.

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Brutish Squad, by Bob Connally

12 Jul

The premise of The Old Guard sounds like a teenage boy saying, “What if Highlander but Furiosa is John Wick?!” The resulting film feels as though it was written by a teenage boy. Basing it upon his own graphic novel series of the same name, Greg Rucka’s screenplay is full of cringe-inducing dialogue delivered by actors who are either trying to hide their own embarrassment or whose weaknesses are only exposed by it. The only exception to this is Chiwetel Ejiofor who is giving it his all as a character potentially more interesting than the immortal leads of the film. In his relatively small role, he’s better than this movie deserves.

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Breathless, by Bob Connally

11 Jul

As the grandson of not one but two men who served in the United States Navy during the Second World War and the son of a naval officer who was in the Mediterranean the day I was born, it’s fair to say I have a connection to the world Greyhound takes place in. That being said, my only real experience with naval vessels has been from ship tours and of course, war movies. Greyhound feels a bit different from most seafaring war movies in that its brief 92 minutes are filled to the brim with almost nonstop action. In this sense, it’s a far cry from Das Boot, where it’s around the 90-minute mark of the full miniseries cut before any action even occurs. The resulting film is fast-paced and certainly holds one’s attention though it doesn’t have anywhere near the sense of tension of Das Boot and it’s unlikely to have the high rewatchability in years to come of The Hunt For Red October.

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Synthesized Terror, by Bob Connally

7 Jul

If you’ve been watching movies and TV for the past decade and a half, then you’ve certainly noticed ’80s nostalgia being a big part (sometimes too big a part) of our pop culture landscape. The most unabashed and probably the most famous example of this has been Stranger Things, the ’80s set kids adventure, sci-fi, horror series that is packed with references to the films and shows of that era. There are numerous ’80s pop hits on the soundtrack and the show’s original score is pure synthwave. 

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