Little Giants (1994, Directed by Duwayne Dunham) English 5

Starring Rick Moranis, Ed O’Neill, Shawna Waldron, Devon Sawa, Brian Haley, Susanna Thompson

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(5-Okay Film)

Goofy. Amusing. Slight.

The younger, Danny O’Shea (Moranis), has always been in the shadow of his Heisman trophy-winning brother, Kevin (O’Neil). When Kevin starts up a local Peewee football team but cuts Danny’s daughter simply because she’s a girl, Danny decides to start his own team. Since each town can only have one, the two brothers will face off to determine which team stays. I do try not to grade on the curve. At the same time, you can’t watch something like Little Giants with the same criteria used for The Godfather. The fact is Little Giants was made to please children first and foremost and is pretty successful on that front. Beyond that, it’s a fast-paced, goofy, creative effort with a solid premise and a handful of strong characters. Even its sillier moments (the annex of Puerto Rico and numerous gags) are pretty memorable, as are the nicknames “Icebox” and “Spike.” Fun for a kid, reasonably amusing for an adult.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(817)

Quick Change (1990, Directed by Bill Murray and Howard Franklin) English 8

Starring Bill Murray, Geena Davis, Jason Robards, Randy Quaid, Tony Shalhoub, Stanley Tucci, Philip Bosco, Phil Hartman, Kurtwood Smith

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(8-Exceptional Film)

Clever. Cynical. Funny.

The fact that Bill Murray has only directed one film suggested to me that it must not be very good. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is not the case. His lone directorial effort, Quick Change, is modest but effective, clever, funny, and best of all, a showcase for an exceptional cast from the top down. Murray, himself, stars as Grimm, a New Yorker who’s had enough. So he walks into a bank and holds it up, Dog Day Afternoon style, before walking out scot-free with a million dollars thanks to his well-executed plan. The problems don’t really start until afterwards when he attempts to flee the country. He gets Police Chief Walt Rotzinger (Robards) after him and every possible situation New York can throw at him slowing him down.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(816)

Cobra (1986, Directed by George P. Cosmatos) English 7

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen, Brian Thompson, Reni Santoni, Andrew Robinson

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(7-Very Good Film)

Cool. Entertaining. Simple.

Marion Cobretti, a.k.a “Cobra” (Stallone) is a one-man army. Part of the LAPD’s “zombie squad,” he only gets called into the cases deemed to difficult for ordinary measures. His latest case is a whopper. Someone known as The Night Slasher is killing off citizens at an alarming rate and after an attractive model named Ingrid witnesses an attack and confirms Cobra’s theory that The Night Slasher is a gang and not one man, Cobra must do all he can to keep her alive. This is a simple-minded, action-packed ride and one of a number of films that I really disagree with the critical consensus. What are you expecting from Cobra? Literate dialogue, dramatic heft, plot complexity? If so, don’t bother here. You’re wasting your time. Cobra is pure action, cool, macho Stallone with those glasses and the matchstick dangling from his mouth. The villains are evil, ineloquent, and need to die. Guess who’s going to kill them: Cobra.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(815)

Casa De Mi Padre (2012, Directed by Matt Piedmont) Spanish 4

Starring Will Ferrell, Diego Luna, Nick Offerman, Génesis Rodríguez, Gael García Bernal, Efren Ramirez

(4-Bad Film)

Underdeveloped. Goofy. Erratic.

Will Ferrell plays Armando Álvarez, a devoted son and small-time rancher, who must save his brother, Raul (Luna), who’s caught up in a shady business deal with a drug lord, Onza (García Bernal). Spoofing Spanish soaps, the concept of Will Ferrell speaking Spanish is funnier than the film and the complete irreverence in this Spanish language comedy never merits more than a few chuckles.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(814)

Edmond was a Donkey (2012, Directed by Franck Dion) French 7

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(7-Very Good Film)

Bleak. Perplexing. Vivid.

Disconsolate Edmond is pranked by his office coworkers who put a pair of fake donkey ears on his head. To their astonishment, Edmond never takes them off. Never. Not while he’s asleep. Not when he’s at home. A bizarre take on mental illness and severe depression, this animated short also captures the monotony of life doing a thankless job. Strong work though with an ultra crude visual style.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(813)

Murder, My Sweet (1944, Directed by Edward Dmytryk) English 8

Starring Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley, Otto Kruger, Mike Mazurki, Miles Mander

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(8-Exceptional Film)

Witty. Fast. Hardboiled.

Raymond Chandler’s immortal character, Phillip Marlowe, gets his big-screen debut in this adaptation of Farewell, My Lovely. Marlowe’s played by song and dance man, Dick Powell, who wanted to expand into dramatic fare and did so successfully, thanks to a strong performance here. Two cases collide for Marlowe as he searches for missing gems that were stolen during a payoff he was paid to monitor. This leads him to the wealthy but dysfunctional Grayle family, a sinister “psychic healer,” and a mentally unstable brute named Moose (Mazurki). Murder, My Sweet is an excellent adaptation and an early example of film noir. It has all of the wonderful conventions of the private detective subgenre: femme fatales (in this case two), a small-time case that unravels into a big one, thugs, murder, mystery. I love this stuff. It’s impressive to me the degree of complexity it accomplishes with such few characters and an economy of runtime.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(812)

Let It Snow (2019, Directed by Luke Snellin) English 5

Starring Isabela Moner, Odeya Rush, Shameik Moore, Kiernan Shipka, Jacob Batalon, Liv Hewson, D’Arcy Carden, Joan Cusack, Mitchell Hope

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(5-Okay Film)

Tame. Melodramatic. Clichéd.

Here’s Netflix’s attempt at a Christmas film for the young adult crowd. The diversity is well-orchestrated. They’ve really covered their bases. I personally don’t see the teen house party film meshing well together with an earnest Christmas sentiment. Let It Snow tries. A handful of teenagers grapple with their love lives in a small, snowed-in town in Illinois, while Keon (Jacob Batalon) just wants to host an awesome party. Every note is dutifully done, but a good house party movie needs to be raucous in my opinion and a good Christmas movie needs to be earnest. Let It Snow is somewhere in the middle, aside from being melodramatic and clichéd.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(811)