Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Week In Movies - I Like Horse Movies More Than Actual Horses

Secretariat (2010) Let's face it - there are only so many stories you can tell involving a horse and if the horse doesn't talk that just cuts your storytelling possibilities in half. There's just about nothing new on display here in this Disney biopic about the Triple Crown winning horse and his owner. Every scene and plot device has been seen before in one horsey movie or another. It's a well made film and it gets by on it's charm, thanks mostly to John Malkovich as an eccentric horse trainer, but in the end it offers nothing new. They could have tightened the film up a bit by chopping off 20 - 30 minutes too. As Disney films go, this sits in that weird position of being too fluffy for most adults yet too sophisticated for most children. Rated PG for some mild language.

George of the Jungle (1997) As far as cartoon-to-live action movie translations go, George of the Jungle is at the top of the heap. The original source material is treated with respect and faithfully reproduced with real people in the real world...that's the most you should ask from a movie based on a cartoon show. I remember seeing this in the theatre when it came out and thinking it was absolutely wonderful and hilarious. Perhaps it's another sign of getting older and grumpier but watching it for the first time in at least 10 years it wasn't as funny as I remember it. It's still a good movie, I just don't know if I would consider it the comedy masterpiece I did when I was 24. Relatively inoffensive, this is however a good choice for a family movie night. My kids enjoyed it. Rated PG for poop jokes and elephant urination.

The Giant Claw (1957) Thanks to the same neighborhood kid who got my son hooked on Godzilla, we had to watch this camp classic sci-fi film about a giant bird that terrorizes the planet. The first half of the film is spent watching the characters try to figure out what some mysterious UFO is. Since going into this picture, the audience already knows it's a giant bird there's not much tension built up. When they do discover that it's a giant bird, it's hard to take any of it seriously when the creature is constantly referred to as "The Big Bird." What's worse, Sesame Street's Big Bird is a more realistic bird than the creature in this movie. The wires on the flying creature are clearly visible in almost every shot and the thing flops around on screen like a marionette operated by a drunk guy. My youngest son fell asleep about 15 minutes in while the older one lapped up every second of it. Not rated, typical 50's sci-fi with little to scare the most timid of viewers.

Spring Break (1983) Four guys spend a week in Ft. Lauderdale looking for girls in this T&A comedy classic. The bad news: at 104 minutes, this teenage sex comedy is way too long. These sort of affairs should never exceed 85 minutes. The good news: along with the usual spring break hi jinks on display there is also a super silly subplot involving corrupt politicians. I love it when these type of movies fell they need to have a "real story." Also, somebody gets a pie in the face - that's always good for a laugh. However, the verdict is still out on the wet t-shirt contest scene that literally eats up 20 minutes of this film's run time. Guess what? It's rated R for language and nudity.

Blondie Has Servant Trouble (1940) Let's talk about the Blondie films for just a second. This is the 6th of 28 movies based on Chic Young's very popular comic strip about the Bumstead family; Blondie (played by Penny Singleton who later went on to play the voice of Jane Jetson,) her ditsy husband Dagwood, their son Baby Dumpling and family dog Daisy. Yes, I said there were 28 movies in this franchise - all produced between 1938 and 1950. How awesome is that!? As much as Hollywood loves sequels, we hardly ever go above a part 4 nowadays. The Blondie movies are silly slapstick with simple situations, light laughs and good hearted fun. In this 6th instalment, Blondie and Dagwood end up spending a weekend in a haunted house - for reasons I didn't quite pick up. At the mansion there are met by two servants who turn out to be no-so-good guys. This is classic haunted house stuff here with eyes peeking through pictures on the wall, hidden doorways and people covered with bedsheets mistaken as ghosts. The Bumsteads also meet Horatio Jones, a black character who reminds you just how different racial attitudes were in the 1940's. Although not meant to be offensive, Horatio runs around the haunted house bug eyed, screaming for help speaking in an exaggerated style closely resembling a caricature of a slave. He's even referred to as "the colored guy" several times - not out of hate, which is just the oddest thing in the world to see. Keeping in context that the culture was completely different back then, this is a fun little movie.

Blondie Plays Cupid (1940) One of the more famous/popular of the Blondie films because it features legendary actor Glenn Ford in one of his earliest performances. In Blondie #7, the Bumsteads decide to vacation in the country for the 4th of July weekend because Blondie doesn't want Dagwood and Baby Dumpling to blow their heads off with firecrackers. After Dagwood gets his hand stuck to a freshly painted chair the family hop aboard a train for the country. It's one crazy mishap after another until Baby Dumpling is at the wheel of a runaway car. Can you imagine the hilarity?! Another fun instalment in this vintage series.


Cindy said...

I love George of the Jungle. One of my favorites!

Spurwing Plover said...

Can remember the cartoon series was funny espeicialy with SHEP the elephant that behaved like a dog APE who was a civilzed and sophisicated gorilla and the TOOKIE TOOKIE BIRD who was a kind of messenger bird the episode where the narrator uses the term BEELINE and TOOKIE TOOKIE is uttering somthing like the swar signs and URSULA his mate he refered to as FELLOW

Flu-Bird said...

Now if they ever remaid THE GIANT CLAW they could use their comuperized special effects to at least have the big birdie flap its wings

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