Tag: John Landis

MOVIE REVIEW | Mr Warmth: The Don Rickles Project (2007)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I loved Mr Wonderful: The Don Rickles Project as a study of a man who I already found fascinating, I also loved it as a history lesson on a period of show biz that just doesn’t exist anymore.”

Warmth 1
“This about Don Rickles? I’m outta here.”

In the 50s, Don Rickles starred alongside legends Clarke Gable and Burt Lancaster in the submarine classic, Run Silent, Run Deep. In the 70s, Don Rickles starred alongside legends Clint Eastwood and Donald Sutherland in Kelly’s Heroes.  In the 90s, Don Rickles starred alongside legend Robert De Niro, while being directed by legend Martin Scorsese in Casino.  But despite these decades acting in A grade movies alongside A grade talent, Don Rickles has dedicated his life to acting, he’s dedicated half a century to the art of insult comedy.  Half a century commemorated in Mr Warmth: The Don Rickles Project.

A nightclub comedian who has basically used the same act for decades, Don Rickles should be the epitome of hack.  But when generations of comedians, from Billy Crystal, to Sarah Silverman, wax lyrical about the man and the legend it’s obvious that he’s more than just his jokes.  An insult comic who deals in making fun of race via the broadest and most dated cliches, Rickles’ act shouldn’t work in the modern world.  But as this documentary tells us over and over again, he somehow gets away with it. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***DUD SEQUEL WEEK*** Blues Brothers 2000 (1998)

Blues Brothers 2000
How do you make a sequel almost 20 years, later to an absolute classic?  How do you do it when one half of your key duo is dead?  I don’t know the answers to those questions, and after watching Blues Brothers 2000, it’s clear that Dan Aykroyd and John Landis didn’t know either.

The movie opens with a Blues Brother getting out of prison, there’s an ex-police car involved, and a visit the no-bullshit nun who raised him.  This is the start of Blues Brothers 2000.  It’s almost exactly the same as the opening to the original Blues Brothers.  The only difference, this time it’s Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd) getting out of jail, not Jake.  It’s not Jake, because Jake is dead.  There’s a quick stretching of a very long bow to team up the remaining brother a precocious little shit of a kid named Buster (J Evan Bonifant) and a Jake Blues analogue named Mighty Mack McTeer, played by John Goodman.

From here, it’s a beat by beat retelling of the original story with vastly diminishing returns.  Elwood decides to get the band back together, tracking them down one by one, through a series of adventures and musical cameos from people like Aretha Franklin, James Brown, BB King. Bob Diddley, Eric Clapton, Paul Schaffer, Isaac Hayes and Wilson Pickett.

The original has white power Nazis, the sequel has white power red necks.  The original has Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy abandoning his wife and their diner, the sequel has Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy abandoning his wife and their car dealership.  The original has John Candy’s tenacious cop who won’t stop in his pursuit of the band, the sequel as Joe Morton, a tenacious cop who won’t stop in his pursuit of the band.  The original has the mix up at Bob’s Country Bunker where they have to pretend to be a county band, the sequel has a mix up at a county fair where then need to pretend to be a bluegrass ba…  Well, I think you get the point.

I guess what I’m saying is, if the only problem you had with the original was that it was little bit too good, and you’re looking for a watered down, cheap, lazy imitation, the sequel is just what you’re after.

It’s amazing that Aykroyd could invent this character, make a movie using this character that has become a classic, then seemingly have no idea who this character is when it came time to write and act in the sequel.  In the first movie, Jake and Elwood’s dialogue was generally kept monosyllabic and deadpan, especially Elwood, who only came alive when on stage.  In Blues Brothers 2000, he’s spouting monologues every second scene and doing them in a crazy, over the top Chicago accent that the Aykroyd of the 80s would have made fun of.

John Goodman’s a great actor, he’s often an hilarious actor.  He’s a better than decent singer.  But when it comes to playing a Blues Brother, he’s just not John Belushi.  Belushi could move in a way his size would never let on, he had an energy and attitude to him that Goodman just doesn’t deliver.

I love Dan Aykroyd.  He did enough awesome things for comedy in the 70s and 80s that I don’t care how many shit bombs he’s connected to, I’ll always consider him a legend.  But sometimes he thinks a little too big for his own good and needs a collaborator to reign him in.  There is a story about his first draft of the Ghostbusters screenplay in which Mr Stay Puft appears in the first act and the rest of the movie gets even crazier from there.  The first Blues Brothers had a subplot cut out about the car having magical powers.  Some of it is in the DVD version I have of the movie and it’s so out of place.  So while people like Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and John Belushi helped counter his worst instincts in those classic, it appears there was no on the set of Blues Brothers 2000 to ever say, “Hey Danny, do you really think we need some voodoo zombies in this thing?”

At least some of the songs and car stunts are good.

Blues Brothers 2000
Directed By – John Landis
Written By – Dan Aykroyd, John Landis

MOVIE REVIEW | ***DUD SEQUEL WEEK*** Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)

Beverly Hills
What happened to Eddie Murphy?  He ruled the 80s.  Watch any best of Saturday Night Live compilations from that period and all the stand out sketches will be chock full of Eddie.   Look for the most successful stand up comedy specials of the day and you’ll find Raw and Delirious.  And despite the odd comment about aids being transmittable by kissing gay man, most of the jokes still hold up.  Think about your favourite comedies from the 80s.  If your short list doesn’t include titles like Trading Places, 48 Hours, Coming to America and Beverly Hills Cop, than I say good day to you, sir.  But all good things come to an end, and soon after that golden decade of hair metal, acid wash and a black Michal Jackson shuffled off, so did Eddie Murphy’s charisma and sense of humor.

After an iconic start to the series in 1984 and an OK follow up in 1987, the Beverly Hills Cop franchise made the character of Axel Foley an action comedy icon.  They made the total killer synth-tastic character’s theme, Axel F even more so.  When movies like The Golden Child and Harlem Nights started to pop up, it was obvious Murphy’s ego was on the rise.  Then came Beverly Hills Cop III, the action comedy that forgot to include any hint of comedy.

Axel Foley is the original wise cracking cop who plays by his on rules.   And his Detroit station Chief is the original screaming cop boss who’s had it up to here with Foley’s cowboy antics, but really respects it deep down. Well, he dies, and there’s a paper thin reason for his murder to take Axel back to Beverly Hills for an increasingly improbable third time.

Back in LA, he reunites with Judge Reinhold’s Billy, the fresh faced rookie from the earlier films.  In a great example of one thing I love in haldf assed sequels, the absence of his partner Taggart, an integral character in the first two outings, is explained in one lazy, throw away line of dialogue.

The murder of his boss leads Axel to an amusement park based on Disneyland and to the old man who runs the place, based on Walt Disney.  How does a murder in Detroit lead to this place? I have no idea, I’d long since stop paying attention when some character got the thankless job of hauling out that clunky and awkward mountain of exposition.

Beverly Hills Cop III is not a good comedy.  It’s not even a good B grade actioner.  The violence is so full on and the body count so high, Murphy’s default setting of smartass makes him seem psychopathic.  No one should be able to joke after doing and seeing the horrible things he does and sees in this movie.  If Axe Foley is still on the Detroit PD, you know he’s killed a few innocent people over the years, just so he could watch the light go out their eyes.

Beverly Hills Cop III
Directed By – John Landis
Written By – Danilo Bach, Daniel Petrie Jr