Matinee (1993, Directed by Joe Dante) English 7

Starring John Goodman, Cathy Moriarty, Simon Fenton, Kellie Martin, Omri Katz, Robert Picardo

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(7-Very Good Film)

Amusing. Fun. Nostalgic.

Set in Key West during the ’60s, a young Naval brat, Gene Loomis (Fenton) deals with a new school and new home at the height of the red scare. He escapes through B movies, and when he learns that his favorite director, Lawrence Woolsey (played by John Goodman), is coming to town to promote the new movie, Mant!, he’s determined to help. Terrific fun, nostalgia for some, I’m sure, and excellent time capsule for all. It’s a loving piece of cinema by a director (Dante) who built a career on monster movies himself (Gremlins, The Howling).

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(700)

A Kid in Aladdin’s Palace (1997, Directed by Robert L. Levy) English 5

Starring Thomas Ian Nicholas, Rhona Mitra, Taylor Negron, James Faulkner, Nicholas Irons

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(5-Okay Film)

Mediocre. Juvenile. Fun.

A sequel to the equally silly, meager, and enjoyable A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, A Kid in Aladdin’s Palace suffers mainly from the fact that this was my first time watching it. The former film is bolstered by waves of merry nostalgia from years of watching it on VHS as a child. A Kid in Aladdin’s Palace receives no such sentiment. Despite this, I was still entertained. Calvin Fuller of Reseda (Nicholas) takes that joke to ancient Arabia where he meets a genie, Aladdin, Sheherazade, and Ali Babba and squares off against an evil sultan. The special effects are unsurprisingly horrible and the last act resorts to a couple too many poop jokes but as long as your expectations are reasonable, A Kid in Aladdin’s Palace is reasonably enjoyable.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(695)

 

Drumline (2002, Directed by Charles Stone III) English 7

Starring Nick Cannon, Zoe Saldana, Orlando Jones, Leonard Roberts, Candace Carey, J. Anthony Brown, Afemo Omilami

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(7-Very Good Film)

Entertaining. Flashy. Modest.

I’ve never given marching band much consideration. Football games are about football. Marching band is background noise, but, similar to what Pitch Perfect did years later for Acapella, Drumline makes marching band look really cool. Drumline follows Devon Miles (Nick Cannon), a hot-head drum recruit to Atlanta A & T’s revered marching band who immediately finds himself at odds with the band director, Dr. Lee (Orlando Jones), and the percussion leader, Sean (Leonard Roberts). This film is super solid entertainment. You know as soon as the film starts what it’s about and where it’s going but you’re happy with the execution. Supporting players-Jones, Roberts, and J. Anthony Brown as the rival band leader-stand out, while Nick Cannon proves a capable lead despite being cocky and hard to like for a good portion of the film.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(694)

Starter for 10 (2006, Directed by Tom Vaughan) English 7

Starring James McAvoy, Rebecca Hall, Alice Eve, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dominic Cooper, Charles Dance, Mark Gatiss, Lindsey Duncan

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(7-Very Good Film)

Winning. Likable. Smart.

Coming of age, youthful romance, academic contests, these are a boundless source of storytelling. Set in the 1980s, Starter for 10 stars James McAvoy as Brian Jackson, an intelligent but meek freshman student at Bristol University who joins their “University Challenge” team, a trivia competition between schools, popular on television. Brian falls for his worldly teammate, Alice (Alice Eve), and befriends the politically passionate, Rebecca (Rebecca Hall), as he navigates his first year away from home. This is a very engaging, well-acted film. My only reservations were that the endearing but awkward Brian makes so many wrong decisions and has so many uncomfortable moments that I struggle to watch the film straight, instead, taking a number of lengthy breaks to get through the narrative.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(691)

Bedtime Story (1964, Directed by Ralph Levy) English 7

Starring Marlon Brando, David Niven,  Shirley Jones, Marie Windsor, Dody Goodman, Parly Baer

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(7-Very Good Film)

Clever. Appealing. Amusing.

The inspiration for ’80s classic Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Marlon Brando stars as Freddy Benson, a soldier who cons women into sleeping with him. David Niven plays Lawrence Jameson, a rich gentleman who cons women out of their fortune. The two meet and decide the French Riviera isn’t big enough for the both of them, instigating a wager. The first to swindle Janet Walker (Jones), a beautiful tourist on vacation, gets to stay, while the other leaves town. Very funny and well-played between the stars (Brando surprisingly shows a knack for comedy, strengthening his case for best actor of all-time status). I do feel the remake surpasses this film with a few slight changes and a twist ending.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(690)

Tomcats (2001, Directed by Gregory Poirier) English 3

Starring Jerry O’Connell, Shannon Elizabeth, Jake Busey, Horatio Sanz, Jaime Pressly

(3-Horrible Film)

Unfunny. Gross. Offensive.

Tomcats desperately wants to be There’s Something About Mary, an early Farrelly Brothers’ film that worked but instead more closely resembles Boat Trip, Cuba Gooding Jr.’s infamous stinker. Jerry O’Connell leads a cast of semi-famous people who never made it past the D-list (thanks in part, I’m sure to this film), as a cartoonist named Michael, who, together with a group of friends, makes a bet that the last man to stay unmarried gets a huge cash prize. Years later, with the pool of bachelors whittled down to two, a desperate Michael teams up with an embittered policewoman, Natalie (Elizabeth), to seduce his last opponent and make sure he wins that bet. The plot has potential, but the laughs aren’t there to distract us from how juvenile it all is. Plus, the level of misogyny is incredible.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(688)

The Girl Can’t Help It (1956, Directed by Frank Tashlin) English 7

Starring Tom Ewell, Jayne Mansfield, Edmond O’Brien, Julie London, Juanita Moore, Henry Jones

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(7-Very Good Film)

Sparkling. Amusing. Memorable.

Jayne Mansfield plays Jerri Jordan, a dumb blonde with hidden depths, named by her gangster boyfriend Marty “Fats” Murdock (Edmond O’Brien) who wants her to be a star singer. He hires a washed-up talent agent, Tom Miller (Tom Ewell), to make it happen. Fats hires Tom solely on the down-on-his-luck agent’s reputation for not trying anything with the ladies he represents, but you can guess where the story goes from there. The pleasure’s in the style, the over-the-top characterizations, and most of all, the music. Little Richard, The Platters, Eddie Cochran, and Fats Domino all turn up over the course of the film.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(685)