In discussing films, there might be spoilers. Sorry!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Better Off Dead ...

What is a teenage to do when his girlfriend dumps him for his rival, his dad thinks he's lost his mind, the paper boy is after him and the neighbors just got a hot, french exchange student?

You make one of the best off the wall comedies, one that doesn't even make it into the comedy section in later years. Video stores -- when there were still video stores -- filed it under Cult Classic.

John Cusack plays Lane Meyer, a champion level skier who just hasn't figured it out yet.  Until he can conquer the dreaded K12 mountain and win back the love of his lost Beth, he doesn't think that life is worth living anymore.

So ensues a hilarious half hearted attempt to be Better Off Dead.

A major element of this film, that propels it into cult status is the slew of secondary characters that steal the scenes when no one if looking.

*     The father who is trying to figure out what his sons are up to.  All he wants for Christmas is his garage windows fixed and even that is out of his realm of possibly. He does look pretty sure of himself though, when he dons the aardvark suit his wife gave him as a gift.

*     The mother who thinks TV dinners - as well as aardvark suits -- make wonderful Christmas presents and who cooks food that literally crawls off the plate and wanders away.  "It's got raisins in it. You like raisins."

*     The kid brothers who doesn't have a word of dialogue but captures our attention as he picks up trashy women and begins to build a space shuttle out of household appliances.

*     And who could forget the paper boy.  Tough and ready, with his gang of black clad paper boys racing after Lane calling out his "Two dollars.  I want my two dollars."

It's the paperboy who chases Lane down the K12 and into the arms of his true love. Not the fickle Beth who he thought he wanted.  But, Monique,  the french exchange student living across the street. She's got a mean pitching arm, a love of the Dodgers and the best advice Lane gets in the whole movie: "I think you need just a small taste of success and you will find it suits you."

"Gee, I'm real sorry your Mom blew up, Ricky."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame ...

And too prove my point of what a great actor Mr. Cusack is, he received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this last April, 2012.

Billy Bob Thronton, Jack Black, Dan Aykroyd, John's sister Joan, along with family and friends joined the crowd for the unveiling. Some even spoke on John's behalf.

Joan, who has co starred with John in numerous productions  (Say Anything..., Grosse Point Blank, War, Inc, to name a few) led in a presentation speech that spoke of laughs and admiration for her kid brother.

"He's a cross between "It's a Wonderful Life, Dr. Strangelove and It's a Charlie Brown Christmas," she said.

Later that evening, while visiting on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Mr. Cusack said: "My star is right next to the singing cowboy Gene Autry, which is pretty cool, right?"

Friday, October 19, 2012

Introducing John Cusack ....

Poor Matt Damon.  The actual winner of the poll last year to see who came next.  It was never my intentions to skip him again -- he's a great actor and I love his work.  But these last two weekends, when I found myself watching back to back to back John Cusack movies, I knew I might have to change the order of things again.

John Cusack is an amazing actor,  going back to just about that time I started going to the movies regularly.   "I was a teenager when they started making movies about teenagers," he says. Class, Sixteen Candles, The Sure Thing.  I credit talent to go with his luck.

He was Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything ... number 72 on Premier Magazine's 100 Greatest Characters ever created.  He was Lane Meyer in Better Off Dead, a movie so off the beaten track it is now filed under Cult Classics. He had roles in Journey of Natty Gann and Stand by Me. Bullets Over Broadway, Grosse Point Blank, ConAir ... he has been working steady since the early eighties and rarely disappointing.

So I am sorry to Matt Damon.  He will get his time, I am sure.  But for now, I think I want to spend a few months catching up on John Cusack's catalog and seeing what movies are in store for me.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Summing up James McAvoy ...

When people think James McAvoy, I think, in the past, they have tended to think of period pieces: such as Becoming Jane, where costume and background make up a significant aspect of the film. He is excellent in these roles, stepping into the parts like no one else can.

Then we see Wanted, an action movie pure and simple and the fit is just as good.  With the introduction of Professor X in the new X-Man franchise, McAvoy has proven his range. He is a working actor across the board, tackling serious roles that break our heart (Atonement) to playing an animated gnome fighting Shakespearean battles. (Gnomeo and Juliet).

I liked watching Mr. McAvoy's movies.  There wasn't one I didn't enjoy.  There were a couple I didn't watch on the mere fact the previews scared me (Swimming Pool) or the movie looked too intense with more then hints at violence (King of Scotland).  I'm told it's one of his best performances, though and I did miss out.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


To hear Mr. McAvoy talk about playing Wesley, follow this link:


James McAvoy plays Wesley Gibson - neurotic to the point of physical angst. He's got a standing order at a pharmacy for his anxiety pills and has to use a special keyboard for his reoccurring injury due to stress. His girlfriend leaves much to be desired and his best friend could also be his worst enemy.
Enter Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman -- who inform Wesley that his neuroses are not a genetic defect but a genetic blessing. Wesley is a natural born assassin, part of a fraternity of assassins.  They take him in, train him to be like them and set him up to do bad things he never would have done.

This is a very different role for McAvoy.  There are no period costumes, no girl waiting for the slightest bit of affection.  More action hero then ever before, WANTED is a fast paced ride with the minimal of love interest. Where reality is suspended and where bullets in motion can bend to find impossible targets.