Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953, Directed by Howard Hawkes) English 6

Starring Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe, Charles Coburn, Elliot Reid, Tommy Noonan, Steven Geray, Taylor Holmes

American Dreams: How Joyce and Faulkner Fell For a Blonde

(6-Good Film)

Breezy. Witty. Fun.

Lorelei Lee: Don’t you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn’t marry a girl just because she’s pretty, but my goodness, doesn’t it help?

Much like the stereotypical, ditzy blondes being lampooned in its story, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is mostly superficial amusement, but that’s not to say it isn’t charming, at times witty, filled with catchy songs, or filmed with panache by Howard Hawkes. Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell get a great vehicle for their personas. Monroe is the money-crazy, beautiful chorus girl (Lorelei); perhaps a little naive. Russell is the tough-talking dame (Dorothy) who does her best to look out for her friend. When Lorelei gets engaged to a millionaire’s son, the father hires detectives to dig up some dirt on her and break up the engagement. Fun, light entertainment that makes good use of its stars and Charles Coburn is always a scene-stealer.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(999)

The Happytime Murders (2018, Directed by Brian Henson) English 5

Starring Melissa McCarthy, Elizabeth Banks, Maya Rudolph, Joel McHale, Ben Falcone, Leslie David Baker, Michael McDonald

Spoilers: A 'Happytime Murders' Ending Explanation

(5-Okay Film)

Promising. Crude. Uneven.

Phil Philips: I never knocked a guy out with his own balls before.

The Happytime Murders is a brash, consistently vulgar romp starring Jim Henson-like puppets. That premise, alone, is going to repel a lot of people. I was interested. The result, however, is only sporadically funny and inspires more head shaking than laughter. Phil Philips is a puppet in a world that doesn’t care one bit for his kind. They’re less than second class citizens. Once a promising cop, he’s now a seedy private detective, but after the bizarre death of his brother, an actor, and other cast members from an old sitcom, “The Happytime Gang,” Phil’s forced to team up with his old partner, Detective Edwards (McCarthy), to catch the killer. Director and puppeteer, Brian Henson, son of the legendary Jim Henson, has proven to be an incredibly creative filmmaker. Even in this film, there are a number of good ideas, but a film like this needs to be as funny as it is vulgar and it’s not. Still, you can appreciate the work of the puppeteers which remains a form of magic even after they reveal the process behind it.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(996)

Mr. Deeds (2002, Directed by Steven Brill) English 5

Starring Adam Sandler, Winona Ryder, Peter Gallagher, John Turturro, Alan Covert, Jared Harris, Peter Dante, Blake Clark, Steve Buscemi, Erick Avari, Conchata Ferrell

Mr. Deeds (2002)

(5-Okay Film)

Amusing. Likable. Juvenile.

Crazy Eyes: I wasn’t talking to you, Deeds. I was talking to that squirrel over there.

Adam Sandler and his Happy Madison production company have their own brand of comedy and they’re not changing it for anybody. No amount of negative criticism can affect them, apparently, because there are enough people who enjoy their juvenile sense of humor. I’m one of these people, and you should know by now whether you are or not. If you’re not, there’s no point in watching any of his Happy Madison movies. Sure, you can start with the early superior ones like Happy Gilmore or The Wedding Singer but his output hasn’t matured with age if that’s what you’re hoping for. Mr. Deeds is somewhere in the middle as far as his comedies go. A remake of the wonderful Frank Capra film, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, you won’t be getting anything like the charm or sweetness of that classic. Sandler takes over as Longfellow Deeds, a small-town Joe (a little eccentric) with a good heart who inherits a vast fortune and moves to New York. There, he’s tricked and reported on by Babe Bennett (Ryder), who begins to feel guilty as she falls for him. Silly, breezy and enjoyable.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(995)

The Princess and the Pirate (1944, Directed by David Butler) English 7

Starring Bob Hope, Virginia Mayo, Walter Brennan, Walter Slezak, Victor McLaglen, Hugo Haas, Mike Mazurki, Maude Eburne

The Princess and the Pirate (1944) David Butler, Sidney Lanfield ...

(7-Very Good Film)

Madcap. Irreverent. Fun.

Sylvester: My act is known all over Europe; that’s why I’m going to America.

In a long, prolific career with several dozen films, each chock-full of snappy one-liners, Bob Hope’s best lines might be found in The Princess and the Pirate. It also happens to be a pretty good swashbuckler. Hope plays The Great Sylvester, a not-so-great performer working in 18th century Europe, who gets caught up in the middle of feared pirate, Captain Barrett (McLaglen), and his crew’s abduction of Princess Margaret (Mayo). The production is first-rate and Hope is surrounded by a fantastic supporting cast. Mayo is winning as his love interest. Brennan is a blast as Featherhead (bearing a strong resemblance to Dopey from Snow White) and McLaglen lends the film just the right amount of austerity to work even apart from being funny.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(992)

Underclassman (2005, Directed by Marcos Siega) English 3

Starring Nick Cannon, Shawn Ashmore, Roselyn Sanchez, Kelly Hu, Hugh Bonneville, Cheech Marin

(3-Horrible Film)

Dumb. Unoriginal. Uninteresting.

Tracy Stokes: [at a five-star restaurant with Rob] I’m telling you, in my old neighborhood, gettin’ crab is something totally different.

Nick Cannon is a young out of control cop with smarts. He pretends to be a student at a prestigious high school. He’s investigating some huge scandal. He has a weird relationship with his Spanish teacher (Sanchez), who looks like a supermodel. Lots of lame jokes. Really bad movie. Lord Darlington from Downton Abbey is in it.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(991)

Son of the Mask (2005, Directed by Lawrence Guterman) English 2

Starring Jamie Kennedy, Traylor Howard, Alan Cumming, Bob Hoskins, Steven Wright, Kal Penn, Ben Stein, Magda Szubanski

Son of the Mask - Is Son of the Mask on Netflix - FlixList

(2-Atrocious Film)

Embarrassing. Painful. Vulgar.

Odin: There was a baby, born of The Mask!

Loki (Cumming), the trickster god born of Odin (Hoskins), Norse mythology’s All-father, created a mask designed to unleash havoc and sent it down to the humans. Somehow this mask ends up in the hands of Tim Avery (Kennedy), a struggling cartoonist. One night, after wearing the mask for the first time, Tim gets his wife, Tonya (Howard), pregnant, and the result is a baby boy, Alvie, with all the powers of the mask without having to wear it. Watching this movie made me appreciate Jim Carrey in a way I never had before. I’ve always been a fan but seeing him in The Mask after seeing this made me realize how good of a performance that was in addition to being funny. Son of the Mask is a miserable experience. There is not a worthwhile idea in the movie. The story and tone are crass and unpleasant; much too vulgar to be a kids’ film. Kennedy’s performance is embarrassing. His character is an idiot. His voice-acting while wearing the mask is annoying. None of the jokes are funny. I’d like to nominate the musical “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” sequence for the worst movie scene of all-time. There’s nothing anybody can do with this film but pile on. There are dozens of angry, hilarious rants about how unfunny this movie is and all I can do is agree.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(981)

The War of the Roses (1989, Directed by Danny DeVito) English 7

Starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, Sean Astin, Daniel Castellaneta, Marianne Sägebrecht

THE WAR OF THE ROSES in the Media: A Compilation of Dysfunction in ...

(7-Very Good Film)

Manic. Funny. Bleak.

Oliver Rose: I think you owe me a solid reason. I worked my ass off for you and the kids to have a nice life and you owe me a reason that makes sense. I want to hear it.

Barbara Rose: Because. When I watch you eat. When I see you asleep. When I look at you lately, I just want to smash your face in.

There isn’t a clearly defined reason why the Roses’ marriage doesn’t work out after nearly twenty years together. True, Oliver (Douglas) works extremely hard, often at the expense of his family life. True, he doesn’t really listen very well, but look at it from his side. He’s worked extremely hard for his family; so that they can have that beautiful house, the fancy kitchenware, and the like. I empathized with both Barbara (Turner) and Oliver at separate times in the film, but, ultimately, none of it matters. Neither one is right and, by the end, their efforts to out-petty each other lead to the logical conclusion. Along the way, however, The War of the Roses is a very funny picture. Told at a fever pitch, we watch the Roses devolve slowly but surely until it goes from a few childish antics to seriously demented violence and destruction. DeVito, starring and directing, gives the movie a faux-cheeriness and a Looney Tunes level of mayhem. It also manages a few perceptive moments. I enjoy Throw Mama from a Train (DeVito’s film prior to this one) but felt it was let down by softening the material and not going all-in on the black humor. The War of the Roses threatens at a few points to go soft but thankfully never does. Kathleen Turner, though something more here, is one of film history’s greatest femme fatales. I’m not sure anyone does contempt better.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(979)

Charlie’s Angels (2019, Directed by Elizabeth Banks) English 6

Starring Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, Elizabeth Banks, Sam Claflin, Patrick Stewart, Djimon Honsou, Nat Faxon, Jonathan Tucker, Noah Centineo, Chris Pang

Charlie's Angels': Review | Reviews | Screen

(6-Good Film)

Entertaining. Likable. Misjudged.

Sabina Wilson: [with a playful giggle] I think women can do anything.

Jonny Smith: Well, just because they can, doesn’t mean they should, right?

The “angels,” Sabina (Stewart), Elena (Scott), and Jane (Balinska)  take on a corporation covering up a newly invented energy device that has the power to be a world weapon. I don’t consider myself the target audience for “girl power,” and most attempts over the past few years at rectifying 80 years of “male gaze” have left me unmoved; mainly because they were ham-handed. This iteration of Charlie’s Angels is still ham-handed but slight too, and, in any case, it’s much better than the last 2 films led by Drew Barrymore. For one thing, this is a pretty solid action flick. The “angels” are likable, there’s a red herring or two to keep us invested and a certain knowingness about the humor that makes the film slightly more intelligent than goofy. This is not a great film by any means but watch Charlie’s Angels after reading the IMDB reviews and it will easily exceed your expectations.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(978)

Shakespeare in Love (1998, Directed by John Madden) English 6

Starring Joseph Fiennes, Gwyneth Paltrow, Geoffrey Rush, Judi Dench, Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson, Anthony Sher, Jim Carter, Simon Callow, Ben Affleck, Imelda Staunton, Rupert Everett, Martin Clunes

Shakespeare in Love – a minor masterpiece. | Tim Haslett's Blog

(6-Good Film)

Amusing. Attractive. Overrated.

Viola De Lesseps: This is not life, Will. It is a stolen season.

What to do with this film? I can’t agree with what seems to be the majority’s consensus; I don’t consider Shakespeare in Love a great film. That’s forgivable, and it’s not because of the Best Picture Oscar that I say that, but I don’t even consider Shakespeare in Love a superior romantic comedy. It follows the famous playwright early in his career, played by Joseph Fiennes, toiling in obscurity and struggling for inspiration until he meets the beautiful Viola (Paltrow). A romance ensues and motivates him to write Romeo and Juliet.  There’s a lot more involved and most of it is very interesting. I enjoyed the period detail, the backstage antics, and much of the humor. I enjoyed Judi Dench’s portrayal of Elizabeth I, and the supporting cast, in general, is fantastic. I’m less enthusiastic about what might be considered the heart of the film; the romance. I don’t wish to pile on Paltrow or Fiennes, who strike me as easy targets (Fiennes especially), and I don’t say that they are bad, but I’m mostly indifferent to their characters and their relationship. It’s superficial and dull.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(975)

Yolanda and the Thief (1945, Directed by Vincente Minnelli) English 7

Starring Fred Astaire, Lucille Bremer, Frank Morgan, Leon Ames, Mildred Natwick, Mary Nash

Yolanda and the Thief: An Out of the World Place | Bright Wall ...

(7-Very Good Film)

Lofty. Peculiar. Beguiling.

Yolanda Aquaviva: Mr. Brown doesn’t dance… except, perhaps, on the head of a pin.

Yolanda and the Thief, I gather, was not a success. Astaire retired for a period after and its leading lady, Lucille Bremer, hardly ever worked again. The critics sneered and modern opinion hasn’t exactly warmed to it. As it stands, I think Yolanda and the Thief will have to settle for being a niche picture; a film made for a very select group of people, and if that group doesn’t exist yet, I’ll start it, because this is a film that’s at least as special as it is flawed. Astaire plays the thief, Johnny (some people, evidently, didn’t like the idea of dapper, refined Astaire as a thief) and Bremer plays Yolanda, a young woman raised in a convent who’s suddenly inherited a vast fortune. Several con artists set their sights on her but Johnny’s got the perfect con cooking. Overhearing her prayer for a guardian angel, he poses as one, convincing her to sign over the power of attorney and all of her wealth right along with it. The trick, of course, for Johnny is getting the money and running before he falls for the mark. Set in some imagined Latin-American country, but designed on a Hollywood backlot, Yolanda and the Thief is a gorgeous fantasy with an unforgettable detour by way of a mid-movie dream sequence. In fact, it has a kind of dream-like, illusory quality all over that I enjoy very much. Bremer’s performance is heavily criticized and not without reason, but I, for one, find her artificial, syrupy performance at home with the aesthetics and tone of the picture.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(973)