Tag: Christopher Guest

MOVIE REVIEW | The Big Picture (1989)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “The moments of originality are surrounded by too much beige, anonymous blah to make any real difference.  ”

Big 1.jpg
“I don’t know you. I don’t know your work. But I think you are a genius. And I am never wrong about that.”

In 1989, Christopher Guest was the bloke who had co-written and co-starred in one of the biggest surprise hits and greatest movies of all time, This Is Spinal Tap.  In 1989, Kevin Bacon was at the peak of his a career as a bankable leading man.  Even as a kid, I was a Kevin Bacon fan then with Footloose almost playing on a loop in my house.  In the years since, Christopher Guest has become one of my absolute favourite voices in Hollywood.  So how then, in almost 30 years, had I never heard of their collaboration, The Big Picture?

After winning a prize for best short film at his film school graduation, Nick (Bacon) is the hottest new name in Hollywood.  Pursued by agents (including Martin Short with little hints of what would become his Jiminy Glick character as Neil Sussman), and studio executives, including JT Walsh as Allen Habel.  Caught up in the glitz, glamour and ego stroking of the film world, Nick signs on with Allen to make his pet project, a dark, love triangle drama. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Misery Loves Comedy (2015)

Misery Loves Comedy

“You don’t have to be miserable.  But there has to be something wrong with you.”

I’d say most people who recognise Kevin Pollock, recognise him as an actor.  In the 90s, he had an amazing run.  He was in big budget, big prestige movies like Scorsese’s Casino.  He was in massive money makers like Grumpy Old Men.  And he was in one of the quintessential indie-movie-becomes-blockbuster of the 90s, The Usual Suspects.  But before his acting career took off, during his acting career since, and seemingly with no sign of slowing down, he’s always been a stand up comedian.  Which is why he seems like as a good a person as any to make a documentary examining what makes comedians tick, with Misery Loves Comedy.

Through a series of talking heads, Pollock takes us through a kind of life cycle of his subjects.  Who was the first person they recognised as funny?  When was the first time they realised they were funny?  When did they start using that skill to their advantage?  And eventually, he gets to the title with his final question, do you need to be miserable to be a successful comedian. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Little Shop of Horrors (1986)


I still don’t know why it’s taken me so long to finally watch all of this movie.  When I was a little kid, the names Rick Moranis, John Candy, Steve Martin and Bill Murray were all individually enough to make me excited about a movie.  So the idea of them all together is a mind blower.  After discovering This is Spinal Tap as a teenager, I gave Little Shop of Horrors another go because I heard Christopher Guest had a cameo in it.  I watched his 30 seconds and turned it off.  Now that I have finally finished what I started more than quarter of a century ago, I’ll be buggered if I can figure out why I never made it all the way through before.

Rick Moranis is Seymour, he lives in Skid Row and works for a man named Mushnik in a flower shop, and with the girl of his dreams, Audrey, played by Ellen Green.  Mushnik’s flower shop is about to go bust, so Moranis suggests putting an exotic plant in the front window to draw interest.  It works and soon business is booming.  The plant, named Aurdey II by Moranis, soon begins to wilt, until Moranis discovers it has a taste for blood.  As the plant grows, so does its appetite, until a few drops of blood from Moranis’ finger will no longer do the trick.  The plant needs to feed on something big.  Luckily, Audrey’s abusive boyfriend, a masochistic dentist played by Steve Martin, is just the kind of character an audience wouldn’t mind seeing bite the big one.  Eventually, Moranis realises the plant’s appetite will never be satiated and he has to find a more permanent plan.

Little Shop of Horrors is one of the breeziest, easiest to watch movies I’ve seen in a long time.  Clocking in at 90 minutes is rare for any movie these days.  A musical clocking in at 90 minutes is unheard of.  I think maybe it was the songs that always got in the way when I was younger.  I probably didn’t have the patience for them.  And Little Shop of Horrors has a lot of songs.  I think the song per minute ratio is only just short of this officially being classed as an opera.  But that’s OK, because most of the songs are really fun.  And watching them performed by non-musical professionals makes them even more so. What Rick Moranis and Steve Martin lack in singing talent, they more than make up for in enthusiasm.

As a director, Fran Oz knows how to do big, broad, colourful comedy.  So he really was the best choice for a movie musical about a giant, talking, man eating plant.  Between his direction, the sets, songs and performances from its amazing cast of 80s comedy all stars, Little Shop of Horrors is super infectious.  And I’m almost glad I never got through it until now, because it was really great, finally watching it for the first time after almost 25 years of trying.

Little Shop of Horrors
Directed By – Frank Oz
Written By – Howard Ashman