Archives for category: movie reviews

“Let It Ride” was a happy little diversion that brought back memories. Of 1989 Hialeah, Fla. (used to live there). Of Richard Dreyfuss (God, he’s always so obnoxious, but you sorta don’t mind – his characters evoke a big-screen version of George Costanza). Of Teri Garr (had a little thing for her, which the lingerie scene rekindled). Of Jennifer Tilly (have a big thing for her) serving as a battlefield upon which her dress and breasts wage war. It’s one of those “day in the life” movies. Dreyfuss, a semi-degenerate horse gambler with colorful friends, is having a very good day.

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You know how some of those true crime TV shows do cheesy reenactments? The ones where they film these low-budget scenes with obscure actors who sort of look like the people involved? The ones that make you wish you were watching an actual documentary instead of a docudrama? OK, so take the story of Chuck Wepner, the journeyman boxer who went toe-to-toe with Muhammed Ali and “inspired” Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa character, and turn it into one of those cheesy docudramas. Oh, wait – “The Brawler” (2019) already did. It’s not terrible, it’s just cheesy, but with a cameo by Paulie.

I’m not a big fan of cartoon violence. If you’re going to be violent, shoot the guy in the head, don’t dump him in a garbage can. The cartoon violence in “Crocodile Dundee” was tolerable because the film was somewhat of a novelty. That’s much less the case in “Crocodile Dundee II,” because there’s more garbage and less novelty. Thankfully, the movie shifts from Manhattan back to Australia, where it catches a bit of a second wind, although the drug cartel, damsel-in-distress plot is cliché for 1988. I waited almost 30 years before I ever saw it. So can you.

Ever heard the story about the bisexual baseball player and World War II spy who either bravely confirmed that the Nazis weren’t building an atom bomb or recklessly allowed the Nazis to continue to try to build an atom bomb? Yeah, well, there’s a 2018 movie called “The Catcher Was a Spy” which is “based on a true story,” meaning that only part of that first sentence is true and I don’t know which part. It’s interesting, yet unsatisfying. Honestly, I preferred a New York Times article that I read years ago about the subject of the film, Moe Berg.

According to the credits, “The Fourth Protocol” (1987) is based on a novel by Frederick Forsyth. I never read the book, but the film is so weighed down with Cold War spy movie boilerplate, it’s amazing that Michael Caine didn’t get a hernia starring in it. It’s one of TV star Pierce Brosnan’s first major film roles (he plays a Soviet spy to Caine’s stock British spy). The worst part is that several Soviet characters are played by American actors who use their regular speaking voices. You can’t tell whether they’re actual Soviets, American double agents, or what. Very aggravating.

There aren’t that many unsympathetic cancer sufferers in filmdom, yet Grace Gummer manages that feat as Daniel Radcliffe’s whiny wife in “Beast of Burden,” one of the worst movies of 2018. Radcliffe isn’t much more sympathetic, playing a dishonorably discharged pilot ferrying drugs as part of a DEA double-cross. The poorly edited story plays like an extra-long trailer for a four-hour film that would have been unbearable to sit through. Most of it takes place via radio/cellphone conversation from the pilot’s bumpy cockpit – a good idea wasted. If you want to see a pilot haul contraband, choose “American Made” instead.

When a film series enters the “IV” stage, the sequel usually requires an IV of Ringer’s lactate just to survive to its pitiful end. No so in “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (1986). For non-Trekkies who endured a mediocre TV series and three equally pedestrian film reboots, the payoff here is the one thing “Trek” could always deliver when it wanted to – comedy (remember the Tribbles?). On a save-the-whales mission (there’s always a heavy-handed, moralizing theme), Kirk and the gang are fishes out of water (so to speak) in 1980s San Francisco (Spock’s a far-out dude). Time-warped hijinks ensue.