VAMPIRES VS. THE BRONX (2020)

Story & Directed By: Oz Rodriguez 

Written By: Blaise Hemingway 

Cinematography: Blake McClure 

Editor: Sara Shaw & Alex O’Flinn 

Cast: Jaden Michael, Gerald Jones III, George Diaz IV, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Coco Jones, Joel “The Kid Mero” Martinez, Sarah Gadon, Shia Whigham, Zoe Saldana, Judy Marte, Chris Redd, Jeremie Harris, Imani Lewis, Jordan Tyson, Torre Alexandre, Adam David Thompson 

A group of young friends from the Bronx fight to save their neighborhood from gentrification…and vampires.


The film manages to have an opening celebrity kill to try to throw you off and gives the film some star power and sets out the gauntlet to show that anyone can be a victim in this film. 

My love for this film might be because it so a film That is so recognizably New York and relatable to ave rain extent when you come to the neighborhood and the characters. An element that is disappearing in New York and not necessarily modernizing. 

This is a movie made by a New Yorker for New Yorkers. The title gives away the plot but also gives it a sheen that seems like a gimmick or an exploitation movie title. That actually has a lot of heart and surprisingly a coming of age tale partially. While keeping the genre elements.

The film is kind of a modern-day urban  LOST BOYS. Even mimicking a scene from in the latter half of the film. Or even the film THE MONSTER SQUAD only all with vampires instead of a choice of movie monsters  If looking more for mood, this film is a horror, but the appeal is more aimed at teens who are the protagonists and heroes though more humorous. Offering a film for a neglects audience with crossover appeal. 

As this is an Amblin type film. It’s never scary and while it does have violence. it never gets too gory.  Tying into the STRANGER THINGS audience a bit.

A flavorful offering slice of life with colorful characters of color with a natural presence, personalities that make them charismatic.

The film is constantly humorous, while also horror in a kind of old school classic horror way. It’s a film that is nurturing and wears it’s Inspirations while trying to create some and subvert some coming of age cliches. 

A good gentrification analogy making it look more like a species battle or battle of the living undead. Following in Jordan Peele’s and George Romero’s social commentary or socially conscious genre filmmaking. A genre movie that informs while being a solid genre specimen itself.

The film presents an urban neighborhood. Not in a bad light for once but as a colorful, cultural fin and supportive community. A film obviously made by a resident or insider to the neighborhood. As the film isn’t stereotypical nor does it talk down to the audience or characters. As it remains a self-contained adventure with supernatural elements.

Like they don’t have enough to worry about day to day. Now the supernatural who want them exterminated for access to what they were never concerned with or thought they were too good for. Again Europeans trying to take over land cultivated by the locals for decades. 

Nice to see a film about a community coming. Together.

Satirizing gentrification taking over urban neighborhoods and spaces with new stores and posters that seems to take over and work like subliminal messages and inside jokes. Similar to those in the movie THEY LIVE. Not necessarily a message movie but has a minor one.

It’s like reading a young adult book, not necessarily the audience for the film but get into it nonetheless. Easily could have gone the exaggerated route of slapstick sort of HOUSE PARTY 2.

It’s nice to see people of color in this type of film and be the main characters. As I am all for more people of color in horror films. Though less as victims or the first one killed. And usually the only one in the film, usually the provider of illegal substances or drugs. Still desire more representation even though it still counts but more equal. If the victims and protagonists are in the same number. 

It’s only main weakness might be that it is a little predictable. Though it ends up being a fun rollicking adventure with characters you rarely see in movies especially this type. 

Grade: B

HOCUS POCUS (1993)

Directed By: Kenny Ortega

Written By: Mick Garris & Neil Cuthbert

Story by: Mick Garris & David Kirschner 

Cinematography: Hiro Narita 

Editor: Peter R. Berger 

Cast: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Omri Katz, Thora Birch, Vanessa Shaw, Larry Bagby, Doug Jones, Charles Rocket, Sean Murray, Kathleen Freeman 

A curious youngster moves to Salem, where he struggles to fit in before awakening a trio of diabolical witches that were executed in the 17th century.


This film has garnered a cult following over the years. Unfortunately, I am not one of that crowd. Even though when it came out I was really looking forward to seeing it. 

By all means, this is a film one should hate, but I don’t. It’s not good but it is cute. Perfect for kids who should love it as it fits in with what would seem to be their fantasy. Mildly scary but not violent and it also includes all the ghostly elements of monsters. Not to mention that is who the film is made for.

It also is a throwback to when movies came out aimed at them that were goofy and maybe simple but relied on stars and not so many special effects.

Another reason it’s not a total failure is that it’s almost like watching a bunch of adults playing dress-up. The three main antagonists Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as a coven of witches watching them. As the witches from the past getting acquainted with modern times and mindsets are silly.

One can admit to having a weakness for Bette Midler movies. Just as some people have a weakness for Barbara Streisand movies. She is just an amazing performer and even as ridiculous as this is. She puts her all into it and seems to be having fun. Her and the cast are the reasons I even watched the film in the first place.

One of the reasons she did this film supposedly is that she passed in the film SISTER ACT. Which revitalized Whoopi Goldberg’s career so she took this hoping for a smash hit. Unfortunately, it bombed and it’s been rare that she has really been on-screen since. Yet over the years, it has become a cult classic.

The film is dated and gaudy but good for children. As it is simple and colorful. If it was made now it would have been a film that would have been a Disney channel original movie.

definitely, a children’s film that tries to be a bigger feature and modernized but ultimately is more a fairy tale or bedtime stories strictly for kids. There is nothing wrong with that. So that it is perfect for it’s core audience.

Directed by Kenny Ortega the movie has certain rhythms which other than having Bette Midler as the star there is a bunch of scenes that revolve around singing or music or group scenes of dancing or crowds moving together.

This is pretty much a Disney original movie you would normally see on their channel. Only at the time when they still made these features for theaters and got big stars to headline. So much bigger-budgeted and higher expectations. So at least it offers a family Film

It has an innocence yet remains dark to a degree. It’s a fun film that never quite got it’s due but finally seems to gain an audience every year due to it being entertaining. You can’t be cynical or dark. Go into this movie or you will miss It’s appeal and nuances

It has a feckless teenage romance story in it that goes nowhere except to maybe appeal to that demographic. Who wouldn’t be going to see this film anyway unless forced to. In the end, the film is perfectly harmless. 

Wait for it on cable or even television, but even they don’t play it that much. But really it’s a movie where looking at the poster you know what you are getting yourself into.

Grade: C+

ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES (1993)

Directed By: Barry Sonnenfeld 
Written By: Paul Rudnick 
Characters Created By: Charles Addams 
Cinematography By: Donald Peterman 
Editor: Jim Miller & Arthur Schmidt 
Music By: Marc Shaiman 

Cast: Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, Christina Ricci, Christopher Lloyd, Joan Cusack, David Krumholtz, Carol Kane, Jimmy Workman, Christine Baranski, Peter MacNicol, Mercedes McNab, Sam McMurray, Dana Ivey, Nathan Lane, Harriet Sansom Harris, Charles Busch, Peter Graves, Cynthia Nixon, David Hyde Pierce, Monet Mazur

On any day of the week, you could expect a newborn baby to be nurtured and loved by his older sister. Except, of course, if it’s Wednesday. Pubert is the latest addition to the Addams family and, to prevent sibling rivalry escalating to fratricide, Wednesday and Pugsley are shipped off to summer camp and a nanny is hired. Debby Jellinsky is great with wrinkling baldies, which makes her the perfect nanny for Pubert and the unlikely wife of Uncle Fester. The question is…”Is she grave-digging or gold-digging?”


This is an underrated film. One of the rare sequels that excel over it’s original. Though here they seem to have more room to explore the world that the characters live in, but also the culture clashes.

The first film seemed to try to be more loyal to the fans of the television show. While trying to set a tone. Here the film is allowed to have its own personality, the actors also seemed more relaxed, laid back, and energetic. making the characters their own and not so much an imitation. Everyone seems to have found their groove.

Directed with flair and an intricate style that is assured.

The cast is superb. This I believe was the great Raul Julia’s final good role definitely better than M. Bison in the film STREET FIGHTER.

Christina Ricci deserved a best-supporting actress nomination for her work here. She steals the film. She makes Wednesday three dimensional, sadistic and quite witty.

This is also the first time I remember a Peter MacNicol performance and the prey time I remember seeing Christine Baranski as an actress.

The Addams family always struck me as strange of course the ultimate goths, by what were they? At least with THE MUNSTERS, you knew who or what they were supposed to be even though they came off as normal just happen to be monsters in appearance. With the Addams other than a cousin, it and thing and maybe lurch the butler, who appeared to be a zombie. The others appeared normal just macabre. I mean if you had I guess Fester was a mad scientist, Grandma was a witch Morticia dressed like a vampire, but could also be seen as a witch who just never cast spells. But Gomez was always a question mark. All you knew about him was that he was wealthy and energetic. More like a game show host mixed with a use car salesman and mortician.

because of films like these being so successful, it had the trend of films being made of old television shows and cartoons. This worked as it garnered a new generation of fans. While not being so far removed in years from the shows Initial popularity that there was still a sizable audience for it. Mistakes films like SPEED RACER made (while that film also had more of a cult following)

This film is a clever mixture of dark comedy, surrealism, slapstick, and satire. This is one of the films that made me realize why I truly embraced dark humor.

The only problem I have ever had with the first two Addams Family films is that the theme song for the updates was always tied into whatever pop star was popular at the time tieing in their hit songs style to fit the theme. Hence for this film whoop the Addams family there it is by tag team. Who’s hot the previous year was whoop there it is. This seemed to be common for tent pole franchise movies at the time. I still have frightening memories of the music video from hammer and the original movie theme the Addams family. Done in a more upbeat dancing style of music.

Michael Jackson was signed on to write and perform a song for the film’s soundtrack and to promote it with a video. Although he was able to finish the song, contractual difficulties coupled with the child molestation allegations made against Jackson resulted in the song being dropped from the soundtrack, and the video was never filmed. The song, “Is It Scary,” was later included on Jackson’s 1997 ‘Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix’ album and was also used in his short film Ghosts.

This film does everything right by bringing the Addams out more and exposing them to the public in daily life. Mixing with regular everyday citizens. Making it more of a culture clash comedy. That reaches it’s highlights at the Wednesday and Pugsley being forced to summer camp. (A genius idea) That ends with a classic comic set-piece celebrating thanksgiving.

Adding more than just makeup to the character, Morticia Addams is always lit separately from everyone else in a scene. Her lighting always consists of one beam of light across her eyes that gradually fades outward to add to her grim look.

The film reaches more comedy apex with the scenes involving Joan Cusack as a nanny out to seduce Fester. She is her regular brilliant comedic self as the homicidal gold digger.

When Fester announces his engagement, Morticia makes an overt reference to the ring worn by Debbie being the same one in which Fester’s grandmother was buried. Debbie slyly whips out a shovel, adding a literal component to her character’s “golddigger” status.

Carol Kane, who plays Grandmama, is almost a year younger than Anjelica Huston, who plays her daughter, Morticia Addams.

The reborn baby Pubert doesn’t work but needs to be there for Cusack’s character to enter the picture.

Some of the jokes are more of the moment and seem to make a stab more pop culture at the time. That brings a nostalgic feeling for those who remember the times. Though might be lost on others.

I can’t help but love this film and I really think it is a dark comedy the family can enjoy and have fun with. I remember seeing this film twice I. Theaters and even knowing all that would happen. This film still made me enjoy it as much as the first time.

Grade: B+

THE BABYSITTER: KILLER QUEEN (2020)

Directed By: McG
Written by: Dan Laguna, McG, Brad Morris & Jimmy Warden
Based on characters created by: Brian Duffield
Cinematography: Scott Henriksen 
Editor: Martin Bernfield

Cast: Judah Lewis, Jenna Ortega, Emily Alyn Lind, Bella Thorne, Andrew Bachelor, Robbie Amell, Hana Mae Lee, Ken Marino, Chris Wylde, Leslie Bibb, Samara Weaving, 

Two years after Cole survived a satanic blood cult, he’s living another nightmare: high school. And the demons from his past? Still making his life hell.


I was wasn’t expecting this but there was a part of me that was expecting this movie. Now while I enjoyed the first film in this franchise a lot more than expected. I didn’t know if it really had legs for more sequels.

This film is just as fun as the first film but a lot dumber than the first film. This film seems to know what type of film it is and goes full tilt with its own distractions and humor. No matter how stupid or illogical it could be.

If you are a fan of these types of films and want to have a good time and be entertained then this film is for you. As it seems to continue In Director McG’s wheelhouse of horror and sci-fi films for Netflix that have teenagers or preteens at the center of everything. Though this film and the first babysitter film feel more money he works or inspired by director Joseph Kahn(DETENTION)(BODIED) who has more of visual flair and quicker cuts when it comes to editing.

As this film seems to be missing a certain element. Maybe the dynamic of having Samara weaving on screen more made the film a little more believable and watchable if even just for her charisma in the role.

Here it is almost a repeat of the first film only at a different and bigger location and a twist in the story that seems there to make room for a new character and leading lady for the main character. Though we have the same characters returning from the dead to try to sacrifice the main character for a blood ritual that will make them Immortal.

This is an interesting premise, but as they return they are just as easy to kill as in the first film. So again they are dispatched in a similar manner only here more gruesome and grotesque.

The new main villain is just as close as the babysitter was int he first film and the film tries to also sex her up more in tight and revealing clothes which is the first amongst other clues in the film before the big reveal that they have become evil. What is interesting is that at least they kept the new leading lady Jenna Ortega cute but dressed normally and sarcastic but a hard ass. So she is the opposite of the villain though has the dirtier look.

We see How the original crew was recruited which offers a distraction. Visually but seems like they were recruited in the 1980s more even as the film and the last one was more modern. This just seems out there as a stylistic choice but then also disrupts the continuity of what we know from the original film, but then again this isn’t the type of film to take seriously.

Though most of the cast from the original returns. It is actually nice to see them and their characters. As they remain hilarious and it is nice to catch up with them and learn a little more about them and their pasts.

The film never takes itself seriously and doesn’t expect the audience to either. As the film constantly shows or uses inspiration from the past or other movies to power scenes and the soundtrack. 

This movie feels lien CRANK 2 where it takes all that was from the first film And cranks it up as more for a spectacle that while not going to make any cinematic elitist lists is a fun time and a proper guilty pleasure. That you wish was just a bit better though that might take away the charm. 

The film tries but doesn’t come close because it seems to kind of pander to what it believes the audience wants more of rather than have more of a clear plan and structure. 

So it becomes kind of what it is parodying. Where you can tell when someone is trying to be something or someone that they aren’t to try and impress and while it’s entertaining at first it becomes sad and obvious quickly. Whereas if maybe it was itself from the get-go the audience would come and get to k ow it and appreciate it for it’s sincerity and truths. Though if you are a fan of splatter and gore in your horror. You have come to the right place.

Samara weaving does return for this film in more of an extended cameo. The film needed more of her. As whenever she comes on screen she seems so smooth and takes over her scenes. That when she is gone it only exposes how hard others are trying to just be as good and memorable.

It seems like in most teen horror films I see Bella Thorne always has a death scene. It would be nice to see her survive in a horror film. As here yet again she seems typecast.

The title seems to imply there is a queen when in fact it just seems to have that title as either claiming Samara Weaving’s character is a queen of the kill or tied into the and Queen’s recent popularity or trying to imply that this film is full of campiness. While the film is full of humor, sarcasm, and cynicism. Nothing is truly campy in this film 

Grade: C

SCOUT’S GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE (2015)

Directed By: Christopher Landon
Written By: Carrie Evans, Christopher Landon & Emi Mochizuki
Story By: Lona Williams, Carrie Evans & Emi Mochizuki
Cinematography By: Brandon Trost
Editor: Jim Page

Cast: Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, David Koechner, Cloris Leachman, Joey Morgan, Sarah Dumont, Halston Sage, Patrick Schwartzenegger, Missy Martinez


Three scouts, on the eve of their last camp-out, discover the true meaning of friendship when they attempt to save their town from a zombie outbreak.

The film delivers the title, but when you see the advertisements. You expect a squadron or at least Boy Scouts. Who are at the least 12 years old or younger. Which is horrifying and unique. Yet funny.

The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2010 Blacklist; a list of the “most liked” unmade scripts of the year.

Here it is three teenagers and a cocktail waitress. So it becomes more of a teen movie with respective gross, low class sense of humor that tries to be explosive, but never goes fully to its capacity and tries too hard with no enthusiasm as some zombies are capable to think to a degree that leaves the film just seeming to revel in what it thinks is cool or what it believes the audience is after. Rather then tell it’s story with confidence and skill.

Though the film feels small scale and a bit scattershot with the throw everything and the kitchen sink type of plotting. The film seems more mainstream and wanting to tell a joke and get the audience to laugh with it. Though the jokes seem innocent they come off more as raunchy, but seem to want to have heart.

The film just ends up feeling like a cheery caffinated cheeerleader when you just want to watch asimple game.

Though strangely the film is scored like a Steven Spielberg film. Though not as skilled and knowing how to make the score work for the film and the emotional current of the scenes. Not using it for it’s strength or depth. Especially as Spielberg seems to be one of the masters of incorporating it as a desired ingredient and needed thread to his films. The soundtrack songs seem More like outdated music cues that one wonders if for recent nostalgia? Or for how pathetic they are and in bad taste? Or did the filmmakers really think it was still hip and was doing it as an audio version of product placement.

The film tires to do what it can with the premise that you would think would leave some opportunities for comedy and some originality to a familiar tale. Though it ends up going the more crass and uninspired route. That plays like a teenage sex comedy to a degree. That happens to have the threat of zombies at it’s center.

The film had very few inventive or innovative additions to the genre. Then again this isn’t a film that was made to do that or further cinema. Luckily the film doesn’t make the mistake of trying to incorporate any zombie film homages.

What happens here in this film is that it sounds like the tons of cash-in low budget films that fill the V.O.D. Market that end up making a quick buck out of general wonder if the audience and the late night crowd looming for something generally fun but entertaining. Studios see this and attempt to do the same with a film and title like this and though the film plays up a juvenile attitude and humor it still feels like a safe film that fits more into blockbuster entertainment for the masses. It feels too inside of the joke to really let loose and be the oddball curiosity type film that the title might imply. It lacks a certain explosive zeal the title seems to hint at. In other words, it fakes the funk. Just as when rich kids try to make themselves look of the people or poor. Yet they can afford extravagant things while having no job and their parents pay for everything.

The film is an average time waster that keeps your interest to a degree. Even after the initial appeal has worn off. Rather quickly and the premise plays itself out, to only be another zombie surviving another zombie attack film. That time to time reminds you that the main characters are boy scouts. Though really the film at heart is just a teen comedy with zombies. That typically happens all in one night, which leads to the truth that has an Initial betrayal but leads the main characters to bond and learn lessons whole overcoming their fears and problems.

It seems like the horny character keeps getting piss and blood sprayed on his face as sort of a punishment for his character’s behavior and overall attitude that comes across as a money shot (facial) at least.

The film also offers the violence, Sex, and nudity that a teenage or audience that really looks for that in films. (Which includes a revealing Cameo from an adult movie star Missy Martinez) Which seems to be making a comeback recently. Though this isn’t necessarily a film where you would expect it. Just a lot of talk about it.

The film is easily forgettable, but it interested as long as your hopes aren’t high. You might actually enjoy it. Though if not you definitely can skip it and not really miss anything.

 Grade: D+

FLOWER (2017)

Directed by: Max Winkler
Story by: Alex McAuley
Written By: Max Winkler, Alex McAuley & Matt Spicer
Cinematography: Carolina Costa
Editor: Jeff Seiben & Sarah Beth Shapiro

Cast: Zoey Deutch, Joey Morgan, Kathryn Hahn, Tim Heidecker, Adam Scott, Dylan Gelula, Maya Eshat, Eric Edelstein

A sexually curious teen forms an unorthodox kinship with her mentally unstable stepbrother.


Though the story focuses on a teenage girl. This still reeks of a kind of romantic fantasy that throws in some quirks but then some hard-hitting subject matter and scenes, but then tries to get off on a certain crude charm and edge.

As we are supposed to follow the teen characters more and be compelled yet the fil keeps wanting to remind us though they are doing serious actions. They don’t know any better or think about the consequences they are just kids.

While the ending is sweet, it also feels more like wish fulfillment. Which goes against the whole vibe the film seems headed towards. Even with its quirky quality realism.

Especially when it asks you to believe that it ends up as a love story after all of a sudden between two characters you wouldn’t expect.

We never fully understand somewhat, what makes the main character work. Though she still comes off as a kind of fantasy. quirky, cute, with daddy issues, and overtly sexual as she likes giving oral sex and seems to constantly offer it. As even the first scene we see her in the middle of it. Yet dresses like a tomboy. She is a teenage manic pixie dream girl only here the protagonist. She is the main character who doesn’t know any better that she needs to be saved. She thinks she is the one who is helping.

Luckily she is played by Zoey Deutch who shines in the role and always feels believable. One of her first leading roles and she goes through it with flying colors as she stays believable. While being relatable and a comedic character of sorts.

Adam Scott provides great shades to his character where you find him charming and angry enough to believe he is an innocent man railroaded but at other times white devious looking enough to believe maybe he is guilty. So a nice guy bad boy charm. Who should know better than to be hanging around with a teenage girl after what he has been accused of. At first, he seems like a viable inappropriate love interest as they bond but a nice guy none the less, but at every turn, there is a question as his shifting behavior doesn’t help. 

The movie was filmed for half a million and filmed In 17 days. This is impressive in fact a return for writer/Director Max Winkler his first since 2010’s CEREMONY. His films are usually

Dramatic and fun comedically quirky with some artistic merit. As they are inventive only wish he made more of them. When not being a successful television director. Didn’t even know he had made it until the end credits.

The film is smart in having a vision and matching it with a laid back California vibe. Definitely a geek fantasy of sorts.

GRADE: B-

SUBMARINE (2010)

Directed By: Richard Ayoade
Written By: Richard Ayoade & Joe Dunthorne
Based on a Novel By: Joe Dunthorne
Cinematography: Erik Alexander Wilson 
Editor: Chris Dickens & Nick Fenton

Cast: Craig Roberts, Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins, Paddy Considine, Yasmin Page, Gemma Chan 

Precocious Oliver struggles with being popular in school but when a dark-haired beauty takes interest in him, he’s determined to become the best boyfriend in the world. Meanwhile, his parents’ already rocky relationship is threatened when his mother’s ex-boyfriend moves in next door. Oliver makes some unorthodox plans to ensure that his parents stay together and that Jordana still likes him.
Now, this film is another one where I read the book first and greatly enjoyed the book and wished that they could incorporate most of the book into the film. It is smart and fun.

It takes what it can from the book to make a coherent story. It doesn’t fail to entertain to stand back and marvel at. It’s a film that will be criticized for copying or emulating the style of Wes Anderson.

Let’s face it any movie that has visual camera tricks. A Minuit style, colorful sets and contains a certain innocence in a cynical world, will be accused of copying the style. Wes Anderson didn’t create it. He liked and revels in it as an artistic choice. As it was there before so if another chooses to use a similar style as ling as it is its own story. Which is what director Richard Ayoade does here. One doesn’t see the problem to do the book justice. You would need that style.

The visuals in The film can be distracting but they are so abstract and creative. They never fail to amaze though after a while you tend to get used to them, but you are glad they are to really get to the heart of the scene.

I can admit story-wise there isn’t much at stake. There will be no great tragedy. No one will not be able to recover from, but just as it always will be when you are a teenager. Your emotions are so on edge. Everything even the small moments and decisions feels magnified and the wrong one feels like the beginning of the apocalypse.

It’s a quality film. The only weak spots I felt were the believability if our main Characters’ parents played by Noah Taylor and Sally Hawkins. Who are both good and heartbreaking but they feel in the movie more like characters instead of human beings.

Sally Hawkins seems too unemotional. While Noah Taylor is over the top emotional and you wonder how their characters even Fell in love, but that relationship of what could have been lies in perfect contrast to the main characters Oliver’s relationship with Jordan’s. What is supposed to be and where is this going as when he is romantic she doesn’t want to be close. When she wants to be close be is scared Away.

The film is directed and co-written by Richard Ayoade. Who is a British comedy writer, performer, and sitcom star. I gained an admiration for him. As he presents himself to be a thoughtful, witty, inventive, and talented filmmaker.

The film is magical it reminds you of the many off-kilter films about young outsiders. Over the years and I must admit, I am a sucker for stories about them. Which is what attracted me to the book in the first place.

The film Most reminds me of HAROLD AND MAUDE. Down to Craig Roberts resembling a young Bud Cort.

I believe this film to be a small gem worth seeking out. Definitely an addition to the film library. I only wish it was a criterion collection. Dvd. So one could know all about the production and the director’s choices. I’d even settle for an audio commentary

GRADE: B+

THE HARD WAY (1991)

Directed By: John Badham 
Written By: Lem Dobbs & Daniel Pyne 
Story By: Lem Dobbs & Michael Kozoll 
Cinematography By: Don McAlpine & Robert Primes 
Editor: Tony Lombardo & Frank Morriss 

Cast: Michael J. Fox, James Woods, Stephen Lang, Annabella Sciorra, LL Cool J, Delroy Lindo, Luis Guzman, Penny Marshall, Mary Mara, Christina Ricci, Lewis Black, Kathy Najimy, Yasin Bey, Michael Badalucco 

Nick Lang is a famous Hollywood actor, well known for his action movies. For his next movie, he needs the proper motivation and inspiration for his role. Thus he teams up with the reluctant New York policeman Lt. John Moss. Not only does he have to put up with Nick, who is laborious and out of touch with realities, but he also has to catch a coldblooded murderer.


This is a film I remember being heavily promoted on the radio, television and talk shows and I was really looking forward to it. I am sure the buzz helped as this was LL Cool J’s first major film role and he had an album coming out around the same time with a hot single that was on the soundtrack for this film. The good old days of movie tie-ins and marketing that you just don’t see as much now. Especially when it comes to soundtracks.

LL was a big part of the marketing. It helped bring in a more youthful and urban audience as this was his major acting debut. Even if the role was smaller and supporting. Though he also gets to be the more streetwise detective who is more the joker of the crew.

Now it also helped that I am and was a huge Michael j fox fan. As at the time it seemed like while his movies not a sure thing when it came to success. He was always starring in something and I was more the. Willing usually to go see it. As I had been a huge fox fan from his films but beginning with the sitcom FAMILY TIES.

I believe I always liked up to him as he was funny, had great comedic timing, was short like I am, and still managed to be a heartthrob as well as being energetic and charismatic. Everything you looked for in a star and also what I had hoped to grow up to be. This is one of his most Beloved films for me. Where he had smaller roles like CLASS OF 1984 which was a totally different pace and MIDNIGHT MADNESS. As well as his starring TV-movie HIGH SCHOOL USA. In fact, one of the rare films he starred in that I haven’t seen is still Paul Schrader’s LIGHT OF DAY with Gena Rowland’s and Joan Jett

So obviously this film was kind of a big deal as it was more an action film that I had seen him before. It also had a hard grit and it seemed the first time he was trying something a bit more gritty and challenging though a comedy at heart since the films CASUALTIES OF WAR and BRIGHT LIGHTS BIG CITY.

The film of course is instantly dated and makes fun of Hollywood to a degree and the image of a movie star. Though quickly turns into a more urban action buddy comedy.

It’s a high concept film that seems to be written by the marketing committee. As it is violent and a rated R film. It remains innocent enough to never qualify as a film to keep kids away from. In fact, it seems more aimed at teenagers.

It is certainly a film that couldn’t be made today and if it was. Never would it be such a random team-up of lead actors. It would also more be either cutest with more comedy if made today. Making it even more unbelievable or it would be a big-budget film where they have to take anything offensive out of the film and as this film aspires to have a steamy grittiness it wouldn’t work as well any other way.

Universal Studios originally wanted Kevin Kline and Gene Hackman to star. Which wouldn’t have had the same ring, nor the same kind of hard-edge the film seems to have and go for. Which makes it a perfect time capsule to ’80s/90’s new York and times square in particular where the final action set-piece takes place.

Shot on the streets of New York it seems like the filmmakers went overboard in making it look super dirty and dingy to match the toughness of the so-called reality of the films New York City. Whereas in the few scenes in Hollywood everything is clean and overly lit.

James Woods is good and believable in the lead and matches Fox comedically beat to beat, but can also be dangerous and touch when need be. Both characters teach each other lessons throughout that will help each of them to achieve what they seek to get ahead. There is a romantic subplot with James Woods dating Annabella sciorra and not being successful mainly because he can’t really talk to her or charm her daughter.

This is also the first movie I remember seeing Stephen Lang In a film and being quite impressed. As he seemed to be a one dimensional as far as his mission, but his performance was flamboyant enough that he seemed serious but also was making fun of it at the same time. He seemed to have a sense of humor about all of this. Though still stayed scary almost like an early iteration of the Joker from Batman.

The comedy sticks even if the action plays off as basic and the film seems to seek to have a more urban feel. The film has a very hazy look about it that makes most scenes seem filled with steam and making everything not look sharp but more moist and bland. Though truthfully it also looks like a film that is not quite as sharp or visually talented as director Tony Scott while trying to copy its style.

Though it does offer a look at the old New York before it became so polished and gentrified.

Director of photography Robert Primes was fired halfway through filming by director John Badham and replaced by Donald McAlpine. Badham thought Primes was working too slowly; he had similar complaints during the filming of BIRD ON A WIRE, their previous (and first) movie together.

The film seems to go for a hard edge in the action scenes that make it feel a bit excessive and like it is going over the top at times but quickly reigns it in with the aftermath. Not necessarily an adrenaline junkie movie but one that seems to make you want to feel the bones crunch. It wants to be a tough movie. Though still feels like Hollywood.

While reminding one of the grittiness of New York at the time, though not quite as bad as the movie makes it out to be. At least not in my experiences.

Like the character Michael J. Fox plays it wants to be smooth and likable, but like the character James woods plays is more gritty and tough. That it makes a Compromise but is never clearly defined in either way.

This film as directed by John Badham who seemed to be a go-to Director in the ’80s and 90’s for action films and who o noted every time he made a film. As I could never make a decision as he made some more gritty action films as far as the violence and action but they all seemed to have a heavy gloss that made them look too polished that and usually, their plots seemed so ridiculous that they were hard to believe, but with this film and the remake of LA FEMME NIKITA named POINT OF NO RETURN starring Bridget Fonda. Which I saw before LA FEMME NIKITA so to me point was so original and soulful. Now watching it. It obviously pales in comparison, but as is often you usually are more a fan of something we’re introduced to first even if not the original. So while I love LA FEMME, I have a soft spot for the remake. That I still find watchable despite its flaws.

The film is a hallmark of 90’s action comedies. While not a legendary one. For those who saw, it remains memorable as it follows and introduces a formula. While not rising to classic or great standards. It is good and a worthy watch even if you probably won’t end up adding it to your collection.

Grade: B-

NORBIT (2007)

norbit

Directed By: Brian Robbins
Written By: Eddie Murphy, Charles Murphy, Jay Scherick & David Ronn
Story By: Eddie Murphy & Charles Murphy
Cinematography By: Clark Mathis
Editor: Ned Bastille

CAST: Eddie Murphy, Thandie Newton, Cuba Gooding Jr, Terry Crews, Clifton Powell, Eddie Griffin, Katt Williams, Marlon Wayans, Michael Colyar, Kristen Schaal, Rob Huebel

Norbit is a normal person, who after being adopted by Mr. Wong, ends up being married to the very large, Rasputia. Norbit’s childhood love, Kate Thomas arrives back in town to buy the orphanage. Norbit sees this as his chance to get back together with Kate, until he discovers that she is in fact engaged to Deion Hughes. Norbit isn’t going to lay this to rest, whilst he tries to survive life with Rasputia, and it looks like Deion also has something he would like to keep secret.

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ANGUS (1994)

Agnus

Directed By: Patrick Read Johnson
Written By: Jill Gordon
Based On The Short Story By: Chris Crutcher
Cinematography By: Alexander Gruszynski
Editor: Janice Hampton

Cast: Charlie Talbert, Ariana Richards, George C. Scott, Kathy Bates, Rita Moreno, Kevin Connolly, Chris Owen, James Van Der Beek, Lindsay Price, Salim Grant

A miserable fat teenager secretly has a crush on the class beauty, ends up becoming the surprising participant to dance with her at a high school dance, meaning he’s got to get his act together with the help of his best friend.

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