ALeague of Their Own” (1992), based in spirit if not specifics on the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League of the 1940s, is easy to pick apart once you give it some thought. But director Penny Marshall keeps the broad humor and luscious period detail coming at enough of a clip that the flaws don’t hurt it. Ultimately, it’s a bittersweet slice of a time that truly existed and bizarrely – for reasons the film doesn’t address, adding to the poignancy – has never returned: the mainstreaming of women’s baseball.
Apopular Twitter and Facebook game is to describe a classic movie in the most boring way possible. It’s easy to do with “The Breakfast Club” (1985): Five students spend eight hours in the school library. It’s such a boring premise that it seems like an Eighth Amendment violation for this quintet of high schoolers, and cruel and unusual punishment for viewers, too. But in the follow-up to his clunky directorial debut, “Sixteen Candles” (1984), writer-director John Hughes has learned how to make a diamond out of coal.
The last time we saw Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder), in 1993’s “Jason Goes to Hell,” he is dead and buried at the end of a story centered on the notion of killing him for good, using the requisite magical dagger. So when he’s alive and in government custody in the 2008 of “Jason X” (2002), one might assume an explanation is forthcoming. It isn’t, and that will understandably take many people out of this movie from the get-go.
Here’s where it all begins: “Sixteen Candles” (1984) marks the start of John Hughes’ reign as a teen-cinema king and it’s the first of Molly Ringwald’s three Hughes films. I’m in the minority in finding it to be an inauspicious beginning. While Hughes’ directorial debut offers loads of talking points as it establishes tropes and popularizes the genre for a new generation, “Sixteen Candles” is a thin and sometimes even boring movie.
It’s been said that Washington, D.C., is Hollywood for ugly people, but we mostly view politics and celebrity culture as two distinct categories. What’s smart and fun about Amazon Prime’s “The Boys” – which recently released the first three episodes of Season 2, with episodes 4-8 coming out on Fridays – is that it mashes politics and celebrity into one thing via The Seven.
Bulletproof Monk” (2003), based on a comic so obscure that it doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, was overlooked upon its release because it appeared to be a second-rate Chow Yun-Fat picture with a toned-down version of Stifler as his sidekick. It’s overlooked today because there are so many better superhero movies. But there are far worse ones, too.
Writer-director James Cameron shows he can do comedy – and Arnold Schwarzenegger adds another notch to his laugh belt – in “True Lies” (1994). Cameron’s relatively light entry between “Terminator 2” and “Titanic” offers good blockbuster fun, but it’s the fluffiest entry of his golden age and too long (2 hours, 21 minutes) for a film that’s not a sweeping social commentary or historical epic.
Zoom” (2006) is a formulaic superhero movie aimed at young kids, and therefore can be criticized for all the flaws you expect. The conflict, personality types and relationships are simple. But even with that understood, director Peter Hewitt’s film lacks the energy and clever humor that would’ve made it a fun, if light, diversion. Instead, it falls totally flat despite having a lot of talent in front of the camera. For a much better example of a kids superhero flick, check out the previous year’s “Sky High.”
The Great Outdoors” (1988) is the John Hughes movie I most watched as a kid, probably for the random reason that we taped it off of HBO and so it was readily available on a hand-labeled VHS tape. It wasn’t a knock against his other films. But it is an appropriate choice, because kids like quoting movies, and this might be the most quotable of Hughes’ catalog.
Although not as much of a classic as “Vacation” (1983) and “Christmas Vacation” (1989), “Vegas Vacation” (1997) proves that National Lampoon’s series chronicling Griswold family hijinks can be funny and likeable without John Hughes at the keyboard. Screenwriter Elisa Bell and director Stephen Kessler don’t reinvent either this series or the idea of a “Vegas episode,” but they ably showcase the talent and visuals on hand.