Archives for posts with tag: Phil Hartman

Improv comic Paul Reubens spent several years honing a character called Pee Wee Herman, a man-child in a too-tight glen plaid suit. He appeared on Letterman, developed a cult following and was eventually able to parlay the character into a feature-length film that has also become a cult classic. “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” (1985) is an oddball comedy in which Pee Wee engages in elaborate acts of whimsy that eventually pirouette toward punchlines. The jokes are esoteric but the talent behind the scenes (Tim Burton, Danny Elfman, Phil Hartman) somehow keeps you caring about one dude’s search for his bicycle.

Bill Murray has appeared in a lot of movies, but he’s only directed one. Co-directed, I should say. I presume the lackluster result of his (and Howard Franklin’s) leadership in “Quick Change” (1990) convinced Mr. Murray to get back on the other side of the camera and stay there. A broad comedy about a bank robbery and ensuing getaway (spoiler alert: hijinks ensue) totally fails despite an impressive cast (Geena Davis, Phil Hartman, Jason Robards, Kurtwood Smith). Randy Quaid is awful. I’ve never given much thought to which of Mr. Murray’s movies is the worst. Now I’ll never have to.

People who only know Whoopi Goldberg as the old black lady that runs her mouth on talk shows are missing out on the fact that she was once a pretty good actress. A prime example is how she rescues the dopey “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and turns it into a halfway decent, escapist romantic comedy. A great example of making chicken salad out of chicken poop (or as Whoopi would say, motherfucking chicken poop). The plot involves spies, lonely women and a 1986 version of instant messaging that will make you feel really old if you remember computers with green screens.