Had a pretty random assortment of movies this week, starting with License to Drive (1988). Although I didn’t see anything especially great at home this past week, I was able to get to the theater three times to see The Mummy on Monday, Baby Driver on Thursday, and Despicable Me Saturday night.
License to Drive 17% on Rotten Tomatoes 5 (Netflix)
Starring Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Heather Graham, Richard Masur, Carol Kane
Plot Summary-A teenage boy on the cusp of getting his drivers license fails the test, thus, in his mind destroying any chance of a social life. He responds by going joyriding for a night with his two friends and the girl of his dreams, who happens to be unconscious for most of the movie.
My Take-It’s not as horrible as its reviews would suggest. It does a good job of making its silly premise (Haim getting his license) seem vital, and the adult actors are all very good. I like the parents in the film. They’re given more to do than the typical teen comedy where the parents play the heavies. It’s problem is that it’s not very funny, and nothing that exciting happens on their night of adventure.
-Directed by Greg Beeman, 1988
Atlantis: The Lost Empire 49% on Rotten Tomatoes 7 (Netflix)
Voices of Michael J. Fox, James Garner, Don Novello, David Ogden Stiers, John Mahoney, Jim Varney, Leonard Nimoy
Plot Summary- Milo Thatch has always been considered crazy for believing that the lost empire of Atlantis exists. Than one day, he’s asked to meet Preston B. Whitemore, an eccentric millionaire who wants to fund an expedition and wants Milo to lead the way. Set in the 1910s, this is Disney animations first sci-fi flick.
My Take- I think critics focused too hard on the flaws of this film, and missed out on some of its greatness. No, it’s not a great film, but it is ambitious, gorgeous, innovative, and entertaining. The voice actors are fantastic. Michael J. Fox is always an engaging protagonist. Its flaw is the lack of character development. It carves out nice characters, but we don’t get enough time to care about them. I actually think it could have been interesting as Disney animation’s first epic, meaning longer than an hour and twenty minutes.
-Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, 2001
The Lamp Short Film 5 (Filmstruck)
Plot Summary-When a toy maker leaves his shop, the parts come alive. Whispering amongst each other.
My Take- It’s pretty bare-bones and inconsequential outside of the fact that the great Roman Polanski directed it. It’s one of his student films, and it without question shows off his talent at suspense and intrigue, but it’s not very interesting.
-Directed by Roman Polanski, 1959
Scared Stiff 83% on Rotten Tomatoes 7 (YouTube)
Starring Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Lizabeth Scott, Carmen Miranda, Dorothy Malone
Plot Summary-Thinking he killed a man, Larry Todd (Martin) goes with a pretty heiress to her ancestral home on an island said to be haunted. He brings with him his best friend, Myron (Lewis), a hapless and most ridiculous sidekick.
My Take-I’m no great Jerry Lewis fan. I find him generally annoying, but I love Dean Martin, and this movie was a blast. A decent mystery plot, a haunted mansion, Martin crooning, beautiful leading lady, non-stop jokes, action. It’s all here.
-Directed by George Marshall, 1953
Phantom of the Paradise 91% on Rotten Tomatoes 9 (YouTube)
Starring Paul Williams, William Finley, Jessica Harper
Plot Summary-A nobody composer, Winslow Leach, has his work, what was to be his magnum opus, stolen by a ruthless record producer who runs a night club called the Paradise. A heinous plot against Winslow leads to disfigurement, and so he stalks The Paradise looking to exact his revenge. There’s also touches of Faustus and The Picture of Dorian Gray in addition to the obvious Phantom of the Opera.
My Take- What a trip this movie is. It’s completely nuts. The eye-popping colors, Brian De Palma’s technical wizardry, the excess. It’s incredibly silly at times, but often clever and satirical. “Beef” will forever live on in my mind, but you’d have to see the film to know what I mean. Hilarious and the music is fantastic. Easily my favorite adaptation of Phantom of the Opera.
-Directed by Brian De Palma, 1974