Archive for John Candy

Cool Runnings

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2018 by Mystery Man


A fictionalized account of the unlikely story of Jamaica’s first bobsled team, Cool Runnings follows their journey to the 1988 Olympics. When Derice Bannock’s (Leon) chances of qualifying for Jamaica’s track team are dashed, he looks for another sport. Derice persuades U.S. bobsledding gold medalist Irv Blitzer (John Candy), who now lives in Jamaica, to coach him and his friends as they attempt to become a world-class bobsled team.

What people are saying:

“The offbeat, fact-based saga is enlivened by the perfect balance of humor, emotion and insight and should be one of the true sleepers among fall box office releases.” 4 stars

“The offbeat, fact-based saga is enlivened by the perfect balance of humor, emotion and insight and should be one of the true sleepers among fall box office releases.” 4 stars

“In and of itself, it’s a harmless, family-friendly story with a few laughs here and there. As long as you realize that nothing – other than some Jamaicans went to Calgary in 1988 – happened in real life as it did in the movie (no bad guys in real life – the others teams were happy to help with sleds and advice; no scandal in 1972; there were five Jamaicans, not four; heck, the Jamaicans didn’t even qualify to be in the official competition in ’88). It’s historical fiction, a color-by-the-numbers feel-good movie. ” 3 stars

“It meant well, but unfortunately fails on every level. I think they were planning on the idea of Jamaicans competing in a sport that takes place on ice to be funny enough to carry it. It’s never funny. The whole first third of the movie never finds the right tone. It’s not even dumb funny. It doesn’t inspire, nor does it give you the feeling of anticipation before the competition. ” 1 star

Cool Runnings is a really great movie that I’m sad that I didn’t get to watch any of John Candy’s films when I was young until recently. It’s surprising that they doesn’t use a large amount of fish out of water jokes which is good, and when they use them, it’s really funny. The acting is really good, especially the late John Candy who hasn’t made a bad performance from the movies I see him in. The bobsled scenes are riveting to watch, and the characters are really good. The plot is actually a bit different from other kid sports films as it has some twists and turns which were unexpected. The writing is really good, even if it is a bit corny, and well directed. For sport fans, Cool Runnings is the perfect film for them which for non sport fans, they would still like it.” 4 1/2 stars


Uncle Buck

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2018 by Mystery Man


In this cheerful, lightweight comedy, excruciatingly clumsy, disorganized, and messy Uncle Buck Russell (John Candy) becomes the screens most unlikely babysitter since Clifton Webb in Sitting Pretty. While their parents are away, eight-year old Miles (Macaulay Culkin), six-year old Maizy (Gaby Hoffman) and their teen-aged sister, Tia (Jean Kelly) are left in the care of Buck. Surprisingly, the very inept Uncle Buck entertains the younger children who come to love him and earns the respect of Tia when he rescues her from her worthless boyfriend. However, in doing so, Buck nearly loses his long-time girlfriend Chanice (Amy Madigan).

What people are saying:

“…an agreeable comedy that benefits substantially from Hughes’ undeniable gift for seamlessly blending laughs with drama.” 3 1/2 stars

“This is a straight foreword John Candy 80’s comedy. If you are a fan of Candy and his silly antics you will love this movie. The acting is fantastic. The story is not entirely believable but where it strays off that road it is for the sake of laughs. ‘Uncle Buck’ is a touching comedy/drama speckled with laugh-out-loud scenes and covered in tongue-in-cheek humor about parenting. If you are looking for a lighthearted feel good comedy that is mostly wholesome check this out” 4 stars

“It’s a goofy movie, but also extraordinarily sly, unafraid to permit generous screentime to bizarre jokes and situations of slack guardian supervision.” 4 stars

“As only John Candy could, this movie takes you from laughing out loud to crying through the poignant scene. The screenwrite then brings you back from the abyss with a final round of robust laughter. I can’t imagine anyone watching this movie without immediately looking up every movie John Candy ever performed in. He was truly a master!” 5 stars

“Irresponsible, cigar smoking, gambling black sheep uncle Buck is his brother’s last resort to look after his teenage daughter and two younger children. Buck starts out not being liked but by the end he’s a stand up guy. This comedy isn’t very interesting and is a result of a thin storyline and thin screenplay. The writer’s had a good idea but that’s about it.” 1 star

Only the Lonely

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , on March 28, 2017 by Mystery Man


Adapted from Paddy Chayefsky’s Marty, this film from writer-director Chris Columbus stars John Candy as Danny Muldoon, a Chicago police officer who still lives at home with his overbearing mother, Rose (Maureen O’Hara). When Danny meets the shy Theresa (Ally Sheedy) one night at a bar, he’s instantly smitten. Unfortunately, both Danny’s friends and Rose disapprove, making his quest for a normal relationship and life seemingly impossible.

What people are saying:

“A splendid little comedy about love lost and found featuring a terrific performance from O’Hara as a salty, prejudiced Irish mother who struggles with the thought of being alone. Sheedy also performs well as Candy’s would be “Sicilian/Polish” fiance. A very enjoyable watch.” 3 stars

“A real stinker from Chris Columbus. Makes Maureen O’hara seem and look like a witch. Terrible script, predictable and poorly conceived. It is no Home Alone ot Trains, Planes and automobiles…not even a near miss. Only Ally Sheedy shines.” 1 1/2 stars

“This movie came out in 1991 and it was a throwback even then: sweet, full of love and hope and not at all cynical. Today’s romantic comedies could learn a few things. Maureen O’Hara is priceless here as the interfering, guilt mongering mother and John Candy proved once and for all he was a natural comedic film actor, not just suited for TV comedy skits. Ally Sheedy is also wonderful here, having shed her previous troubled teenage brat roles to play a shy, young woman who clearly has the strongest sense of character in the movie. Watch this if you want to see real love on the screen (and chuckle along the way). After all, this is at least the second time “Only the Lonely” has been put back into rotation and I think that largely shows how popular this movie is.” 5 stars

“This is pretty much as cute and warm as movies can get! However, for all I was very entertained by this movie; as a whole it still felt quite average… Yet I really did enjoy watching it! The plot is very interesting as a man struggles to find love because he feels the need to take care of his mother! It’s definitely a great little movie which everybody needs to see!” 3 stars

“A delightful romantic comedy with a surprising amount of substance. The characters really rang true, as over and over again I found myself reminded of people I’ve known in real life. The movie is also good for a good many big belly laughs, too. ” 4 1/2 stars

Home Alone

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on February 26, 2017 by Mystery Man


Home Alone is the highly successful and beloved family comedy about a young boy named Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) who is accidentally left behind when his family takes off for a vacation in France over the holiday season. Once he realizes they’ve left him home alone, he learns to fend for himself and, eventually has to protect his house against two bumbling burglars (Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern) who are planning to rob every house in Kevin’s suburban Chicago neighborhood.

What people are saying:

“Macaulay Culkin is arguably one of the best child actors to ever hit the big screen. Home Alone shows how he can take the spotlight and entertain any viewer. With an addition of the Wet Bandits’ hilarious antics and physical humor this is a very strong Christmas comedy that should be watched every year.” 4 1/2 stars

“A true holiday classic! I watch this movie almost every Christmas and it never seems to get old. The movie has pretty much everything; family conflicts, crime, action, comedy, and is also great for kids! If you haven’t seen this yet – now is the perfect time!!” 5 stars

“Home Alone has not aged well, but it’s still a well made film. John Hughes started losing his touch right around here. The John Williams score is great. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are perfect as the bumbling crooks. Who would’ve thought that? Macaulay Culkin was definitely one of the best, most spirited child actors of all time. Watching this as a 32-year old adult it just doesn’t have the same magic it did when I was a kid.” 3 stars

“Classic jokes and an all-star cast make this a great movie to revisit. Fast paced silliness accompanied by a variety of Christmas music entertains the whole family. We tend to forget about the vast array of characters and side-stories in this movie aside from Kevin (Macaulay) and the burglars.” 5 stars

“This is the movie as a kid that proved to me that laughter is great medicine. I was pretty sick the day my dad took me to see this in the theaters and walked out of the theater feeling much better. Great script by John Hughes and full of slapstick greatness by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.” 4 stars

Revisited: 1941

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

On Saturday, December 13, 1941 at 7:01 a.m., a woman goes swimming somewhere on the California coast, only to find a Japanese submarine surfacing beneath her. The submarine crew believes they have arrived in Hollywood, and the vessel submerges while the woman swims to safety.

Later that morning, a 10th Armored Division tank crew, consisting of Sergeant Frank Tree, Corporal Chuck Sitarski, and Privates Foley, Reese, and Henshaw, are at a restaurant where dishwasher Wally Stephens works. Wally is planning to enter a dance contest with Betty Douglas, against the wishes of Ward, her father. Sitarski takes an instant dislike to Wally, particularly his civilian attire, and trips him. A fight ensues, leading to Wally losing his job. Wally later takes his friend Dennis shopping for a zoot suit and steals one.

In Death Valley, cigar-chomping, unruly Army Air Corps Captain Wild Bill Kelso lands his Curtiss P-40 fighter near a grocery store and gas station; while refueling, Kelso accidentally blows up the station.

In Los Angeles, Major General Joseph W. Stilwell attempts to keep the public calm. At a press conference at Daugherty Field in Long Beach, Captain Loomis Birkhead is attracted to the General’s secretary, Donna Stratten. He lures her into a bomber to seduce her, aware that Donna is sexually aroused by airplanes. When his attempts at seduction fail, she punches him and accidentally knocks him out; as he falls, he lands on a bomb release control, sending a bomb rolling towards the podium just as the General promises, “There will be no bombs dropped here.” It explodes, though Stilwell escapes.

At the Douglas family home in Santa Monica, Wally is told by Betty and her friend Maxine, both USO hostesses, that he cannot enter the USO dance because he is not a serviceman. Wally is forced to hide when Ward shows up. Sgt. Tree and his tank crew arrive to deliver an anti-aircraft battery; Sitarski is attracted to Betty and about to ask her to the dance when Wally falls on him from a loft. Ward and Sitarski dump him in a garbage truck.

The Japanese sub becomes lost trying to find Los Angeles when the ship’s compass is broken. A landing party looking for “Hollywood” instead captures Hollis “Holly” Wood, who reveals only his name, occupation, and social security number. They see he has a small Cracker Jack compass, but he swallows it. Hollis escapes, hoping to find the authorities.

That night, Stilwell goes to a showing of Dumbo. Birkhead and Donna are at the 501st Bomb Disbursement Unit in Barstow, where Colonel “Mad Man” Maddox shows them the unit’s aircraft. Maddox, convinced the Japanese are sending paratroops into the hills near Pomona, lets Birkhead and Donna borrow a plane, assuming they are going on a reconnaissance flight. Donna, stimulated by the entire experience, eagerly ravishes Birkhead during the flight.

Outside the USO, Sitarski kicks aside Wally and drags Betty into the dance. Maxine tags along. Wally sneaks in by wearing a stolen Shore Patrol uniform, He steals away Betty and they win the dance contest whilst evading Sitarski, who is pursued by Maxine. As the contest ends, Sitarski finally punches Wally, setting off a brawl between soldiers and sailors.

Sgt. Tree arrives with his team, just as L.A. goes to Red Alert with an unknown aircraft in the air. At the Douglas’ home, Ward spots the sub. Birkhead and Donna fly over L.A., causing anti-aircraft batteries to open fire. Kelso shoots down Birkhead’s plane, which lands in the La Brea Tar Pits (the crash only momentarily interrupting his tryst with Donna). Kelso then sees the submarine, only to be shot down by two spotters (who were positioned on the Ferris wheel) who mistake his plane for a Japanese fighter.

Sitarski is about to make off with Betty when she is rescued by Wally, who knocks Sitarski cold. They find Kelso, who informs them about the sub. Wearing an army uniform, Wally commandeers Tree’s tank and heads toward Pacific Ocean Amusement Park. Ward begins firing at the submarine, causing massive damage to his house in the process. The submarine returns fire, hitting the Ferris wheel, which rolls into the ocean. The tank sinks when the pier collapses. Kelso drives a motorbike into the ocean and swims to the submarine, where he is captured by the Japanese; undaunted, he declares, “Take me to Tokyo!”

On Sunday morning, December 14, Stilwell arrives at the remains of the Douglas home, where most of the other protagonists have been drawn. Ward delivers an inspirational speech to those present, vowing that Christmas will not be ruined; to punctuate his point, he nails a wreath to his front door, and the impact destabilizes the unstable house, bringing it crashing down. The General simply mutters as he walks away, “It’s gonna be a ‘long’ war.”


I have been on a serious WWII kick this summer, especially since my trip to WWII museum down in New Orleans where I felt like a kid making his first trip to Toys ‘R’ Us. I think a project is in the works, so there may be more war films on the way, possibly even the elusive Saving Private Ryan, but first we must discuss 1941.

What is this about?

In the days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, panic sets in among California’s citizens, who imagine their shores as the next target. Military and civilian defenders of the West Coast embark on self-appointed missions to protect the nation.

What did I like?

Going back to Cali. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the world wondered what would be the next target. If the events of this film are to be believed, that target was to be Los Angeles. Not exactly a strategic target from a military angle, but imagine if they had taken out many of the great stars, directors, and studios, who were producing propaganda films during this period in time, that were popular at the time by destroying L.A. It actually makes sense, as it would have totally demoralized the country and perhaps the world.

Swing that music. I am a huge fan of jazz, especially the swing subgenre, so you can about imagine that I was in love with the swing dance scene of this film. With exciting dance movies, cooking music, and a bar fight over a girl thrown in there for good measure, this turned out to be a hidden gem of comedy and adrenaline that the audience was craving by this point of the picture. I’ll say it now, anytime you put swing on the soundtrack and/or incorporate it into the film, I’m pretty sure I’ll love it…unless it makes no sense.

Silly. As a comedy, it is expected that there will be some comedic moments. Some of these moments are just plain silly and, in contrast with the more serious tone of other parts of the film, make for some interesting yin and yang. How else do you explain a hardened military general stopping everything to go watch Dumbo? How about a reporter who gets turned on by just talking about planes, let alone going up in one!

What didn’t I like?

Join the cause. From everything I have heard and read about this period in time, guys that didn’t get drafted and/or sign up for the military were looked down upon, almost as if they had done something wrong. There is a scene where one of the soldiers is picking on a young man who isn’t in the military (I don’t recall a reason being given). Problem is, at least to me, it seems as if there should have been more of this going on, or at least more than just the one solider picking on him. The rest really didn’t do anything until Dan Aykroyd’s character told them to knock it off because “…I won’t stand for Americans fighting Americans [sic]”

For real? Robert Stack’s character, General Stilwell, is actually a real person. Yes, in all this madness, there is a connection the real events. From what I’ve seen, Stack was made to look very close to Stilwell, but I question the decision to make the guy a caricature. A part of me wishes that they would have portrayed Stilwell as he was in real life, and let all the silliness around him contrast his serious demeanor. On the other hand, I appreciated the change to his persona.

Bumbling idiots protecting the country. They call this “the greatest generation”. Except for this annoying, ungrateful teens and tweens of today, I don’t think anyone would argue that point. However, if the war was left to these guys, I’m almost 100% we would have lost. If we would have managed to win, it would have been by sheer luck and the destruction would have made it feel like we lost. Take for instance John Belushi’s loose cannon pilot who shoots first, asks questions later. Yes, this was the attitude back then, but you have to know what is a U.S. plane and what isn’t! The troops on the ground aren’t much better. Their commanding officer gets knocked out and they start to take orders from a kid in a stolen uniform, just because “he’s got the stripes”. What if that kid would have been a Nazi in disguise?!?

All in all, 1941 is a fun little war film that is not the serious drama most in this subgenre seem to be. You’ll fin yourself cracking up at the hijinks of these officers, tapping your foot or marching along to the soundtrack, and just overall having a good time. Is this a film without flaws? No, not by a long shot, but I do think it is one that is worth watching despite its shortcomings. Oh, and guys…it starts with a chick skinny dipping! This is a definite recommendation from me, so give it a shot!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Revisited: Heavy Metal

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The movie’s title sequence story (Soft Landing) begins with an astronaut named Grimaldi descending through Earth’s atmosphere in a 1960 Corvette.

This leads directly into the film’s framing story (Grimaldi) when he arrives at his home, where he is greeted by his daughter. He shows her something he brought back: a crystalline green sphere about the size of a baseball. When he opens the case, the orb rises out of it and painfully melts the astronaut. It introduces itself to the terrified girl as “The sum of all evils.” Looking into it, the girl sees how it has influenced societies through time and space. The orb, known as the Loc-Nar, forces her to watch the following stories (in order):

•Harry Canyon: Written by Juan Gimenez. In a dystopian New York City, cynical taxicab driver Harry Canyon narrates his day in film noir style, grumbling about his fares and the occasional robbery attempt (which he thwarts with a disintegrator installed behind his seat). He stumbles into an incident where a fat gangster and his cyborg henchmen murder an archaeologist. Harry grudgingly allows the murdered man’s daughter into his cab, and she tells him about her father’s discovery: the Loc-Nar, an artifact over which people are killing each other. Harry cannot afford to pay for a police investigation, so he takes the girl back to his apartment. That night, the girl strips, climbs into his bed, and they have sex. Harry awakens alone the next morning when the cops bust into the apartment looking for the girl, whose existence he denies. One of his fares that day is the fat gangster, who threatens Harry if he doesn’t cooperate. Later, the girl contacts Harry and offers to sell the Loc-Nar and split the proceeds with him. He agrees to take her to the exchange. When the gangster gets the Loc-Nar, he takes it out of its isolation case, and he disintegrates. Meanwhile, the girl pulls a gun on Harry, who is forced to use his self-defense ray to evaporate her, after which he keeps the money.

•Den: Based on the original story by Richard Corben. Dan, a nerdy teenager (voiced by John Candy) finds a round “green meteorite” and puts it in his rock collection at home. Weeks later, during a lightning experiment, the orb hurls the boy into the world of Neverwhere, where he changes into a naked bald muscle man called Den. Landing on a giant idol, he witnesses a strange ritual and rescues a nubile young woman who was about to be sacrificed to “Uhluht’c” (“C’thulhu” spelled backwards). Reaching safety, she tells him that she is from the British colony of Gibraltar, on Earth, and that her name is Katherine Wells. While she demonstrates her gratitude with sexual favours, they are interrupted by the minions of Ard, an immortal man who wants to obtain the Loc-Nar and use it to rule the world. He puts Katherine in suspended animation and orders Den to get the Loc-Nar from the Queen (the woman who performed the ritual). Den agrees after Ard tells him “If you refuse, you die, she dies, everybody dies!”, and infiltrates the Queen’s palace with some of Ard’s warriors. He is promptly caught by the Queen’s guard, but she offers leniency if he has sex with her. He complies, while the raiding party steals the Loc-Nar. Den escapes and, with the Queen and her forces in pursuit, races back to the idol, where Ard is attempting to recreate the sacrifice himself. Den rescues Katherine, and the Queen’s arrival sparks a bloody battle between her and Ard (backed by their respective armies). Den ends the battle by recreating the incident that drew him to Neverwhere, banishing Ard and the Queen. Refusing the opportunity to rule, Den and Katherine ride into the sunset, content to remain in Neverwhere as heroes with idealized bodies.

•Captain Sternn: Based on the original story by Bernie Wrightson. On a space station, a square jawed space captain named Lincoln F. Sternn (voice by Eugene Levy) is on trial on numerous serious charges (and one moving violation) presented by the prosecutor (voiced by John Vernon). Pleading “not guilty” against the advice of his rat-faced lawyer (voiced by Joe Flaherty), Sternn explains to his astonished lawyer that he expects to be acquitted because he bribed a witness, Hanover Fiste, to praise his character. Fiste takes the stand, but his perjury is subverted when the Loc-Nar, now the size of a marble, causes him to blurt out the truth about Sternn’s evil deeds until he angrily denounces Sternn to the point of suggesting gruesome execution methods (Sternn is nothin’ but a lyin’, cheatin’, back-stabbin’, double-dealin’, larcenous perverted WORM!! Hanging’s too good for him! Burning’s too good for him! He should be torn into little-bitty pieces and buried alive!). Fiste rants with such fury that he changes into a muscled giant like the Incredible Hulk, and chases Sternn throughout the station, breaking through bulkheads and wreaking havoc. Eventually, Fiste corners Sternn, receives his promised payoff for his part in Sternn’s plan to escape, and promptly shrinks back to his gangly original form (this may indicate that, rather than the Loc-Nar’s prompting, the whole event, complete with Hanover’s ability to grow and go insane, was planned ahead of time, to allow Sternn the chaos necessary to escape or fake his own death. Or, it may have played on Fiste’s suspicion that, having paid only part of the bribe, Sternn would renege on the rest). Sternn then adds a bonus: he pulls a lever opening a trapdoor under Fiste, and the Loc-Nar reenters an atmosphere with Fiste’s bodyless flaming hand still clinging to it.

•B-17: A World War II bomber makes a difficult bombing run with heavy damage and casualties. As the bomber limps home, the Loc-Nar rams itself into the plane, and raises the dead crewmembers as rampaging, flesh-hungry zombies. The pilot is the lone survivor. After the Loc-Nar rams the plane, the pilot puts the plane on auto pilot and leaves the cockpit to survey the damage. While at the rear of the plane, the zombie crew attack the pilot who runs back into the cockpit and locks the door. When it becomes obvious that the zombies will defeat the cockpit door, the pilot dons a parachute and barely escapes through a trap door in the deck of the cockpit. Unfortunately the pilot lands on a desert island populated by more zombified airmen.

•So Beautiful, So Dangerous: Based on the original story by Angus McKie. A scientist (Dr. Anrack) arrives at the Pentagon for a meeting about mysterious mutations that are plaguing the United States. At the meeting, Dr. Anrack tries to dismiss the occurrences, but when he sees the green stone (Loc-Nar) in the buxom stenographer’s (Gloria’s) locket, he starts behaving erratically, goes berserk, and attempts to sexually assault her. In the sky above, a colossal starship with a smiley face design breaks through the roof with a transport tube and sucks up the berserk Dr. Anrack and by accident, Gloria. The ship’s robot is irritated at Anrack, who is actually a malfunctioning android, but his mood changes when Gloria arrives. Supprisingly Gloria is not shocked at being sucked up by the ship and instead is annoyed by the encounter, commenting “who is going to pay for my dry cleaning?” With the help of the ship’s crew of burn-outs (the pilot and co-pilot) the robot convinces Gloria to stay on board and talks her into having “robot” sex. She even reluctanly agrees to marry him (provided they have a Jewish wedding). Meanwhile, the burn-outs snort a massive amount of plutonian nyborg and fly home completely stoned, zoning out on the cosmos and passing space junk. Too stoned to fly straight, they crash land in a huge space station, though they think it was a nice landing.

•Taarna: Inspired by Moebius’ Arzachstories. The Loc-Nar crashes onto a planet and into a volcano. At the base of the volcano, a religious leader and his followers have assembled to worship. The Loc-Nar causes the volcano to erupt a green, foamy substance that flows down volcano and swallows the worshipers and their leader. The leader changes and his followers are corrupted by the green slime and change into mutated murderous barbarians. The leader organizes the mutants into an army who ravage a peaceful, prosperous city. The city elders, who consist of scientists and statesmen and lack an army, desperately try to summon the last of a warrior race, the Taarakians. Taarna, a strong, beautiful warrior maiden (the last of the Taarakians), receives the summons and goes to an ancient temple where she swims across a pool and collects a sword and a tight fitting, revealing leather uniform. She arrives too late to stop the massacre and resolves to avenge the city. After leaving the city, she stops at a tavern and orders a drink. The tavern’s patrons of mostly mutants see her as easy prey and try to gang up on her so they can sexually assault her. She decapitates them with a single swing of her sword, giving the rest of the mutant patrons a message. Her search leads to the barbarians’ stronghold, where she is captured, stripped naked, tortured and left for dead by the leader. With the help of her avian mount, she escapes and confronts the barbarian leader. Though wounded, she defeats him and in one last effort, then flies into the Loc-Nar, destroying it.

As the final story ends, the Loc-Nar terrorizing the girl is similarly destroyed, blowing the mansion to pieces. Taarna’s mount, reborn into a younger form, appears outside and the girl happily flies away on it. It is then revealed that Taarna’s soul has been transferred across the universe and through time to her. This is further signified by the change in hair color the girl now exhibits and the appearance of the Taarakian crest on her skin. Thus the girl is revealed to be the next Taarakian herself.


Have you ever watched a film and could just tell that it was a product of its time? One that captures the era so well, you wish you could go back in time and really relish in it? I think that is what Heavy Metal tries to do, not necessarily with the “plot”, but more so with the atmosphere it creates, as well as some things that one could only et away with in the early to mid 80s!

What is this about?

A cult classic featuring a thumping metal soundtrack, this animated extravaganza centers on a menacing meteorite thought to be the root of all evil.

What did I like?

Soundtrack. Blue Oyster Cult, Journey, Cheap Trick, Stevie Nicks, Nazareth, Devo, Riggs,  Sammy Haggar, Black Sabbath, etc. No, this is not the lineup for some music festival, but rather artists that contributed to the soundtrack. That is an all-star lineup, no matter when you are watching this flick. Aside from the astonishingly great animation, one could just listen to the music and be mesmerized. I know that I often time crank Don Felder’s “Heavy Metal (Takin’ a Ride)”. I wonder if one can find this soundtrack anywhere. After I post this, I think I’m going to go have a look.

Variation. With anthologies, it is important to note the differences in styles. Take for instance, Fantasia. Not only does each section have a different composer, who had their own style of composition, but the animation for each was totally different, as well. You would never confuse “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” with “Rite of Spring”. They were totally different styles of animation. In this film, the styles aren’t that varied, but there is a distinct difference. An example would be the “Captain Sternn” and “So Beautiful…” segments. They have a more, shall we say, Saturday morning cartoon look to them, as opposed to the other segments which have a more theatrical animation (at the time) style to them. Then of course, there is the B-17 segment, which was actually taken from real life ad then turned into animation with the help of rotoscope, much like the animated version of The Lord of the Rings. With all these different styles, an animation student can go to school watching this film.

Dangerous curves. The female body is a thing of beauty. Apparently, the filmmakers and animators think the same way, because in just about every segment, they take the opportunity to draw naked, curvy, voluptuous women, complete with hard nipples and, in one case, matching carpet. They even go so far as to make sure that one of the females dresses very slowly and seductively…if what she is wearing can be called getting dressed. As an adult, I feel I should say that this is sexist, misogynistic, blah, blah, blah. However, I can’t help but revert to the teenage boy who would watch NC-17 (back then, they were X) movies through the scrambled cable. It is that thinking that leads me to believe this was made for a purely male, adolescent audience. Who else would appreciate so much gratuitous boobage?

What didn’t I like?

Loosely connected. Since Loc-Nar is telling this frightened little girl of his exploits throughout the galaxy and whatnot, wouldn’t it serve a purpose for these stories to actually be connected? As it is, the only real connection is that Loc-Nar appears in them. A few happen to transition with him in it, but that isn’t enough of a connection for my taste. I guess I just would have liked it better had there been something saying this evil happened here, so beware, or something along those lines.

Candyman. John Candy has a great voice. As a kid, I enjoyed waking up and watching Camp Candy on Saturday mornings and I still enjoy his movies to this day (good and bad). I’m not sure if there was a budgetary reason behind this, but why must they use Candy for every voice? Ok, I exaggerate. Eugene Levy and a few other no name people provided some other voices, but Candy was at least 4 or 5 characters, if I’m not mistaken. Would it really have been so hard to call someone else in to do some voice work? Again, nothing against Candy, I just don’t think using the same guy to do half the voices like this is a good idea.

5 seconds of realism. With all of the great animation to be seen in this film, as well as techniques that were still finding their footing, it seems odd that at the end, we get this one scene of live action. I question that decision because it didn’t do anything to the “story”. The film starts off with an astronaut dropping from the spaceship in his car. Now, had that been live-action morphing into rotoscope or something along those lines, it would have been cool, but this random scene, which is maybe 5 seconds in length, of live action speaks of laziness on the behalf of the animators, to me.

I’m not sure if it is still published, but if you can believe it, Heavy Metal is actually based on several short stories from the magazine of the same name. Truthfully, there isn’t much else to say about this film. If you’re a fan of 80s rock, animation, and gratuitous boobage, as well as some violent sci-fi, then this is the film for you. Otherwise, you’d be better served moving along to something else. I hear there’s a new Barbie video coming out. Perhaps that would be more to your liking? Ha! Seriously, though, this film does have some issues here and there, such as the size of Taarna’s breasts. In one scene, she looks as if she’s a DDD, and the next she could be down to a B-cup. Small animation errors like that hurt the film, but I still had a good time watching. If you get the chance, I highly recommend you give this a shot!

4 out of 5 stars

The Great Outdoors

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Chicagoan Chester “Chet” Ripley (Candy), his wife, Connie (Faracy), and their two sons, Buckley “Buck” (Young) and Ben (Giatti), are on vacation at a lake resort in Pechoggin, Wisconsin during the summer. All is going as planned until Connie’s sister, Kate (Bening), Kate’s investment broker husband, Roman Craig (Aykroyd), and their twin daughters, Mara and Cara (Rebecca and Hilary Gordon), crash the vacation.

Ghost stories at the family BBQ include one of a man-eating grizzly bear that Chet met face-to-face when he was younger. Chet says that while he and Connie were honeymooning at the same lake, he was attacked by a giant grizzly bear. When Chet fired at it with a shotgun, the buckshot shaved the hair off the top of the bear’s head and from that day on, it was known as the ‘Bald-Headed Bear’ of Claire County.

After Roman pulls Chet around the lake on an impromptu water ski ride with his rented speedboat, tensions between families erupt. Chet is ready to pack up and go home, even as teenager Buck tries to romance local girl, Cammie (Deakins). The budding romance goes well until Chet is challenged to eat the Old 96’er (a 96-ounce steak) at a family dinner which causes Buck to break the date. Buck tries to apologize to Cammie for being late, but Cammie refuses to speak to him.

Connie and Kate bond at a local bar when the conversation drifts to Kate’s challenges of being wealthy. Later, just at the peak of tension between families, it emerges that Roman has made a bad investment and is broke. He has not told Kate and was planning to hit up Chet for the cash.

Later, during a thunderstorm, the twins wander off and fall into a mine shaft. Chet and Roman eventually find them, but the claustrophobic Roman is reluctant to descend into the tiny mine shaft. After some encouragement from Chet, Roman summons up all his courage, while Chet goes in search of a rope to pull them out. Upon realizing that the mine is stocked with old dynamite, Roman takes his daughters and climbs out of the shaft on his own.

When Chet returns with the rope, he is horrified to discover the ‘Bald-Headed Bear’, lurking in the mine. It chases him back to his house, smashes through the door, and rampages through the house. Wally (Prosky), the cabin owner, bursts into the house with a loaded shotgun. Chet takes the gun and shoots the bear’s rear end, blowing off the fur and leaving the bear’s bottom exposed. Roaring in embarrassment, the bear runs out of the house.

The next morning, the two families part on good terms. Unbeknownst to Chet, Connie has invited Roman’s family to stay with them until they can get back on his feet. Cammie and Buck make up and end their summer romance, as Buck and his family head back to Chicago.


Well, if the 80s knew about anything, it was buddy movies and family vacations. The Great Outdoors takes these two popular elements, merges them together, and then lets John Candy and Dan Aykroyd so their thing, along with some mischievous raccoons. Is the final product a piece of entertainment or schlock?

What is this about?

Chet Ripley takes his family to a lakeside resort for a quiet vacation away from it all. When his brother-in-law Roman shows up with his family, Mother Nature steps in to add her two cents.

What did I like?

Raccoons. Maybe the funniest part of this movie is the raccoons. They bring in the kind of funny one expects to see when you hit play on this film. The self-effacing humor and insulting the humans had me cracking up. Had Dr. Dolittle done this kind of stuff, perhaps I would have liked it even better than I did. As it were, though, the raccoons were nothing more than some comic relief. Yes, comic relief in a comedy! What sense does that make?!?

Two peas in a pod. When you name of the 80s funniest guys, two names that pop up near the top of the list are John Candy and Dan Aykroyd. The guys have a great rapport with each other, which helps the film move along at the pace it should, even if their relationship is never really explained, unless I missed it.

Children are our future. In films about families, such as this, the focus is usually on the bumbling father. As you can imagine, no difference here, but the kids actually do get something to do besides show up, say a few lines in the beginning and end, and appear at the dinner scenes. These kids actually have a life. For instance, one of them meets a girl, the twins get into mischief, etc. Much better than just having some kids on the payroll, as most film of this ilk tend to have.

What didn’t I like?

Twins. There is a superstition amongst people which seems to be getting more and more popular that gingers have no soul. I love redheads, and can vouch for the fact that they do indeed have souls rather than lifeless, automaton bodies. However, the twins in the film gave me cause to pause. These girls were slightly less creepy than the twins from The Shining. Thing is, they don’t really do anything that is inherently creepy, other than just exist, which just makes it worse!

Formulaic. I briefly touched on the fact that this film follows the formula that was standard faire in the 80s. Thing is, with the exception of the little girls getting lost down in the well and the bear attack, which is a prerequisite if you in the woods in a movie, you can just about guess everything that happens or at least see it coming.

So much for Vacation. The National Lampoon Vacation franchise would have been the perfect place for this film to shine. Can’t you just see it? National Lampoon’s Wilderness Vacation?!? Unfortunately, we didn’t get that. Instead we are stuck with a subpar film that is trying to capitalize on that franchise’s popularity, but with much less success. My thing is, if you’re going to imitate something, that’s fine, but don’t just blatantly rip it off! I felt this film was doing that, unfortunately.

Please excuse the jumbled thoughts (more than normal) in this review. I’m just getting back from my weekend trip and while watching, I’m also answering e-mails, catching people up to personal matters, and getting ready for work tomorrow. So, let’s get right to final thoughts on The Great Outdoors. Someone posted in a review that Dan Aykroyd’s dance in the credits to “Land of 1,000 Dances” might be his shining moment. The fact that a post-credits scene shows the life of a character is never a good sign…unless its a Marvel stinger HA! Seriously, though, this film has moments interspersed here and there, but nothing memorable. Do I recommend this? Eh, it is one of those pictures you feel you should at least check out once, if for not other reason than to say that you saw it. Otherwise, this is just a forgettable film from the 80s that exists solely for nostalgia reasons nowadays. Your choice whether to watch or not.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars