Archives for posts with tag: Bruce McGill

Many years after “National Lampoon’s Animal House” first came out, a friend of mine re-watched it and said it seemed “slower” than he remembered it. Unlike the gag-on-gag-til-you-gag comedies of more recent generations, this film has a plot, and plot exposition, and relationshippy subplots, and there are several physical comedy scenes featuring John Belushi with almost no dialogue. And the shocking-for-1978 nudity and language is common now. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t aged well. Despite some non-PC asides, the big punchlines are still brilliant examples of comedic craftsmanship. Worthless and weak? This film changed comedy and, in some ways, college.

At a time when every controversial issue seems to get boiled down to a false choice of good versus evil, it is rare to see someone – anyone – take the effort to show the true complexity of the human condition. “Best of Enemies” (2019) goes back nearly 50 years to tell the story of school desegregation in Durham, N.C., through the eyes of a black community activist (Taraji P. Henson) and a Klan chief (Sam Rockwell). There’s no question they are adversaries, but the activist is not portrayed as a saintly martyr and the Klansman is humanized by his personal struggles.

If you skip your daughter’s cello recital to do big-time lawyer stuff, some CIA-trained psychopath is going to kill half of Philadelphia. That is the main lesson to be learned from “Law Abiding Citizen”(2009), in which Jamie Foxx is the big-time lawyer and Gerard Butler is the CIA-trained psychopath. I might be oversimplifying. I was too caught up in all the big, sloppy revenge Butler was taking on an American legal system that promotes expediency over justice (I am a long-time fan of big, sloppy revenge). If the sloppiness makes you feel guilty, the ending will bail you out.