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The Bottom Shelf #98

03.08.2007

Occasionally I can be funny. I've been known to be witty and translate that into a form of charming. Personally, I prefer the word beguiling, but how many people really use the word beguiling anymore? Oh yeah... I'm reviewing comedies this week. I'll let them be funny for me since I don't seem to be able to pull it off on my own right now.

OSCAR (1991)
Directed by: John Landis
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Marisa Tomei

-- click here to buy this DVD at Amazon.com --
-- click here to rent this movie at NetFlix.com --

I remember seeing this film when it was first released in the theaters. The DJs on the local radio station (ah, Pirate Radio... the only one locally that would play hard rock and heavy metal. Those were the days) complained about it on their Monday show, saying how it was a piece of crap. Me being the already overly opinionated 16 year old that I was decided to call in and defend the movie. The guys listened to me the entire time, thanked me for my rebuttal and then promptly said, "Don't listen to that chick, she doesn't know what she's talking about," when I hung up. I've defended this movie several more times since then, usually greeted with the same response.

Sylvester Stallone plays a gangster who is coerced into going clean by his father who beats the promise out of him on his death bed (a killer cameo by Kirk Douglas). On the day that he is to meet with the presidents of the local bank and become officially legit, all hell breaks loose at his house. His accountant comes to ask for a raise and then his daughter's hand in marriage, he learns that he's been swindled out of money, there are multiple mistaken identity situations and Tim Curry comes in to teach him a diction lesson. Hell, the character of Oscar doesn't even make an appearance until the end of the film, things are that mixed up.

What the movie thrives on is a cast of actors who are fantastic character players, from Chazz Palminteri to Peter Riegert to Harry Shearer. What a lot of movie watchers aren't going to be able to get into is the pace of the movie. While it's fast, there is a feeling of cutting to the next scene which might not seem as if it's one cohesive package. That's because the movie is based on a play and most people aren't familiar with how scenes will play out quickly and then stop and cut to another set of characters. The set-up is a long lost art that is lost on most people and suffers slightly from its transition onto the silver screen. But I maintain now as much as I did 16 years ago that this is a damn funny movie. It's one of the few remaining films that I would solidly get behind recommending that the entire family watch, from little Midgets like my own 6 year old daughter to perhaps an older relative who might have actually been around during the '30's. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Favorite Scene:

When the Finucci Brothers are mistaken for being hit men.

Favorite Line:

"She seems to have such nicely rounded diphthongs!"
"That's what got her into this jam!"

Trivia Tidbit:

One night, after filming wrapped, a fire destroyed destroyed several sets, many of the actors' trailers (among them Tim Curry's), and all of the costumes. Production was halted for two weeks while they were remaking all of the costumes. A Universal security guard later admitted to setting the fire.

See if you liked:

BULLETS OVER BROADWAY, CLUE, TRADING PLACES

LET IT RIDE (1989)
Directed by: Joe Pytka
Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Jennifer Tilly

-- click here to buy this DVD at Amazon.com --
-- click here to rent this movie at NetFlix.com --

I couldn't remember this movie based on its title but when I saw the cover art I recalled it being in the comedy section of the video store I worked at back in the early '90's. It's one of those flicks that was meant to capitalize on the harmless humour that was big during the '80's, coming in at the tail end of that era. The eighties seemed filled with similar comedies, meaning mostly nothing and generally hailing the little man, someone who comes up out of nothing and makes it big. Not too surprising for the "ME!" decade.

The story starts off with a man and his wife making promises to one another in an attempt to save their troubled marriage. One of the things that is a thorn in that marriage's side is Dreyfuss' penchant for gambling at the race track. When a fellow cab driver stumbles upon two men having a conversation about fixing a race, he decides that this is his opportunity to finally get lucky. As the movie continues on it becomes less about stumbling into some good luck and the supposed transformation of this man who was previously unlucky. A magic has come over him and he continues to bet all of his money and win on the long shots.

The main problem that I see with this film is that much like I couldn't remember it by just hearing its title, I doubt that I am going to remember it after this afternoon. Being that I am unfamiliar with the goings on at a race track, I am assuming that there are parts to the comedy that were lost to my ignorance. There are moments which are flat and forced as well, something that seems to follow Dreyfuss films more than his character's bad luck. However, I recommend watching this movie just for the women involved. Jennifer Tilly never fails to bring a smile to my face with her baby doll voice and sexy sense of innocence. The fact that the other women in the movie (Teri Garr and Michelle Phillips) are "older" actresses and put on the same level of sexiness as Tilly is also very refreshing. Plus I guess it IS nice to see the loser win. We all have those moments where we get close to kneeling down in a dirty restroom stall and begging for a chance. It's nicer to watch someone else do it than to go through the motions ourselves, isn't it?

Favorite Scene:

When Tilly offers to go to bed with Dreyfuss and he breaks the fourth wall and talks to the camera.

Favorite Line:

"You've got great legs." "Thanks. They go from my ass all the way to the floor."

Trivia Tidbit:

The racehorse owners say their horse is running on Saturday, but on the day of the race Trotter opens the race form dated for a Wednesday.

See if you liked:

WHAT ABOUT BOB?, MIDNIGHT RUN, STAKEOUT

Har har har. Or, if we had a trio of D's, we might actually be in business. Yeah, I might have been lying about the being funny thing.

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