Smokin’!

The Mask was made for Jim Carrey. If you thought he was a living cartoon before, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The Mask is Jim Carrey’s second movie in 1994, but it’s easily his funniest. I would even argue that it’s the best of his career. It’s what made Jim Carrey a main stay in the 90’s. Plus it’s the movie that gave us Cameron Diaz. When she entered the screen you knew she would be a star. Unlike Carrey’s other 1994 movies though, I’ve seen The Mask a lot. I used to watch it over and over again when I was a kid. Now I know every word, joke, dance number, and I can imitate the Mask perfectly. The Mask is about Stanley Ipkiss. A nice guy and hopeless romantic who discovers the titular Mask. A green wooden mask that brings the wearers inner most desires to life. When Stanley puts on the Mask he becomes a love crazy wild man. A living cartoon who does things like spin around like the Tasmanian Devil, pop out his eyes and tongue, quickly change outfits, and pull objects out of thin air. It was all modeled after Tex Avery cartoons. Instead of what The Mask is actually based on. Which is a very violent Dark Horse comic. It was also the first Dark Horse comic movie, but they’re so different that you can’t even compare the two. The movie is so much better and its use of cartoon logic makes it stand out. It’s filled with so many great moments. The first transformation, the Coco Bongo dance, the Oscar moment, “Cuban Pete,” Stanley’s dog Milo becoming the Mask, and even anything outside of the Mask. Making The Mask something I always look forward to watching. “Ssssmokin’!”

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The Mask flashes his cash

Followed by: Son of the Mask

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Brought to You by Head & Shoulders

Evolution is a lot like Ghostbusters. Both are about four people dressed in jumpsuits trying to bust otherworldly entities in a comedic way that somehow involves firefighters. This isn’t a coincidence since both movies are directed by Ivan Reitman. While I didn’t watch it as much as other childhood movies, I still had fond memories of Evolution. It was also one of the first movies I had shipped on Netflix. As it doesn’t come on TV much, because most people have forgotten about it. It’s not perfect, but I still enjoy Evolution today. Instead of ghosts, the threat is an alien organism that evolves into a variety of creatures. Whether it’s parasites, bugs, lizards, amphibians, dinosaurs, primates, or just a giant blob. The only ones who can stop it are a couple of college professors, a wannabe firefighter, and a scientist. Played by Fox Mulder, the other wide-eyed manic black comedian, Stifler, and the movie’s only A-lister Julianne Moore respectively. To this day, I still find Evolution hilarious. It may not be clever, but it makes up for it in dumb humor. Like the infamous “There’s a bug in my suit” scene. Evolution may not be fully evolved, but it’s a good time if you check your brain at the door.

Ira (far left) and his team look up at the final evolution

Old Hollywood

Hail, Caesar! is so far the last movie directed by the Coen Brothers. It’s far from their best effort, but it does still offer their eye for detail. Both in character and setting. It takes place in Hollywood during the early 50’s. After the war, but during the Cold War/ Red Scare era. In other words Communism was an issue. Eddie Mannix was the guy you got to fix any celebrity scandal. He’s the only real life person in the movie. Every celebrity is a fictionalized version of a famous celebrity from that era. The big star of a major production, the singing cowboy who can’t act, America’s sweetheart with skeletons in the closet, the song and dance man, and the foreign actress who got her foot in the door. Each of them played by more A-list stars then I can name. With each of them getting extended screen time. Although my main reason for watching it was to see the new Han Solo actor in something, I’m glad I saw it. Hail, Caesar! captures the look of a bygone Hollywood era flawlessly.

Eddie Mannix (right) slaps some sense into Baird Whitlock (left)

Isn’t it Delicious

The Seven Year Itch is the movie that features one of the most famous scenes in film history. When Marilyn Monroe’s dress blows in the subway grate. She wore an equally iconic white dress while saying the words “Isn’t it delicious.” Everybody who’s a movie buff knows this scene, though some might not know the title. The Seven Year Itch is a term that refers to married people with wandering eyes after 7 years of marriage. During hot summers (I also saw the movie in the heat), wives left their husbands at home to work while they vacationed with the kids. Giving the men plenty of opportunity to be unfaithful. Something that wasn’t exactly present in movies at the time. Even though most of the action is taking place in lead character Richard Sherman’s crazy imagination. Marilyn Monroe is the original “blonde bombshell” and sex symbol of her time. She’s truly a one of a kind beauty. I even have a personal connection with her since we share a birthday. The Seven Year Itch is her best remembered performance, because it sums up everything about her work. Her character doesn’t even have a name. Although this wasn’t the first movie I saw of her’s. I first saw her in another classic, Some Like it Hot (see that review here). This was just the first time I saw her in color. The Seven Year Itch is hot, hilarious, and a true classic.

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Marilyn Monroe’s dress blows in the subway grate

I’m a Rocket Man

The Rocketeer was Disney’s first crack at a classic comic book superhero. Long before acquiring the rights to Captain America, The Rocketeer was their World War II era nazi punching crimefighter. In fact, director Joe Johnston actually ended up directing Captain America: The First Avenger as well. Not to mention Jennifer Connelly playing her first of two superhero girlfriends. The Rocketeer comic is only as old as the 80’s, but since this was the 90’s, they felt he needed a movie. In the late 30’s stunt pilot Cliff and his engineer friend discover a rocket pack that gangsters are searching for. Unaware that the rocket pack is the invention of Howard Hughes. The genius billionaire playboy philanthropist who was the basis for Tony Stark. Cliff and his friend test out the pack, make a finned helmet, and eventually use the rocket to save someone. While parts of it might not be entirely historically accurate, it does bring the 30’s to life. They got the Hollywood actor’s being spies thing right. With Timothy Dalton playing an Errol Flynn type. Making the movie feel like a classic pulp serial à la Indiana Jones. Even if it is more focused on flying then fighting. This is still a Disney movie. The Rocketeer is just good old fashion fun.

The Rocketeer takes flight

 

Spy Jam

Looney Tunes: Back in Action is the last theatrical movie made that features the Looney Tunes. As well as the last movie made by “Warner Bros. Animation,” because it bombed at the box office. Needless to say it never quite reached the cult status that Space Jam has. Which is a shame, because I feel it’s very underrated. Unlike Space JamLooney Tunes: Back in Action feels like the live action/ animated Looney Tunes movie we should have gotten to begin with. They actually give them the spotlight this time. With meta humor and a respect for the long history of the characters. Like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, cartoon characters are actors in the real world. Daffy Duck is sick of being Bugs Bunny’s sidekick, so he gets fired for demanding a change. Long story short, they become secret agents, travel to Las Vegas, Area 52, Paris, Africa, and even outer space. While trying to prevent the evil chairmen of the Acme Corporation from getting his hands on the “blue monkey.” They also fight Looney Tunes “villains” along the way. Brendon Fraser stars as the human (in a long list of movie’s he’s done with CGI characters) and Timothy Dalton plays his secret agent father. Looney Tunes: Back in Action has a ridiculous premise, but I think it fits the characters well.

Bugs and Daffy fight off Elmer Fudd

I Believe I Can Fly

Space Jam is easily one of the weirdest ideas for a movie ever. How did they even pitch this movie? “Hey, I have an idea for this movie that brings together Michael Jordan, Looney Tunes, and space aliens.” Seriously bizarre, but it’s one of my generations biggest guilty pleasures. I’ve seen it so many times on VHS and even in school once. Even though I’m not much of a basketball fan. Not that I didn’t at least know who Michael Jordan was. Every kid knew him as the best player in basketball. I mostly just came for the Looney Tunes. Since my mom introduced me to them at a young age. Like I said, Space Jam is the weirdest guilty pleasure movie there is. Space Jam centers on a semi fictionalized version of Michael Jordan’s life. As he retired from basketball to become a baseball player. There’s also an alien planet called Moron Mountain with an amusement park searching for a new attraction. Meanwhile Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the rest of the Looney Tunes live in the center of the Earth. Everything comes together when the aliens seek to enslave the Looney Tunes for their amusement park until they use a game of basketball as a challenge against them. The aliens steal the talent of famous players, the Looney Tunes kidnap MJ, and a big wacky game is played. Space Jam is notable for a few things. As Mel Blanc passed away, the Looney Tunes now have a variety of new voice actors. This was also the first appearance of Lola Bunny. A female bunny girlfriend for Bugs who was strangely sexualized. Despite the dumb premise and the fact that MJ obviously can’t act, Space Jam is awesome! It’s absurdly funny, has one of the best soundtracks ever, and made live action/ animated alien basketball movie’s work.

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Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny play basketball

42

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a movie I’m still trying to figure out. I’ve been putting off this review for a long time, because I’m still unsure of how it’s supposed to make me feel. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is based on a British series of books. Which in turn is named after a fictional book also titled The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. A universal guide book to all things in the universe. The book series is probably popular in its home country, but I’ve never read it. The movie’s humor didn’t exactly click with me. Half the time I wasn’t sure if they were trying to be funny or not. As far as the plot goes, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is about last surviving man Arthur Dent. As the Earth was demolished by aliens called Vogans. Something about making room for some kind of space expressway. Everything else just felt more like a bunch of ideas mashed together. Like intelligent singing dolphins. There’s also a starship called the Heart of Gold that uses an “improbability drive.” A depressed robot called Marvin the Paranoid Android. A gun that makes you see things from a person’s perspective called a “Point-of-view gun.” As well as a supercomputer named Deep Thought that reveals the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything. Which is “42.” The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is just not my cup of tea.

Marvin the Paranoid Android and the crew

P.S. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is also the first movie to be released exclusively on DVD (without a VHS release).

Only in the Movies

It’s hard to believe Hugo is a Martin Scorsese movie. As it doesn’t have an R rating, gangsters, drugs, or profanity. Can this really be the same guy who directed The Wolf of Wall Street just 2 years later? It is, even if it isn’t Scorsese’s first time doing something less adult. Hugo is just his first children’s movie that he directed. It has a PG rating, child actors, and is shot in 3D. You may think such a deviation wouldn’t work, but only the best directors can pull it off. Which is why Hugo received 11 Oscar nominations including Best Picture. It ended up winning 5. Most notably Best Visual Effects. Even if the movie doesn’t seem effects heavy, there’s actually a lot that you won’t even realize is an effect. When I first discovered Hugo I wasn’t sure what it was about. All I could gather was that it was about an orphan who lives in a train station clock tower. Who apparently befriends a girl, tries to evade an inspector, and is trying to activate a robot of some sort. I didn’t exactly know what all these seemingly random pieces were supposed to mean. Until I saw the movie. Among other things, I was surprised to learn that Hugo was actually about the history and love of cinema. Wasn’t expecting that. It’s what makes Hugo such a delightfully charming movie.

Hugo hangs from the clock tower

What’s in the Box?!

SE7EN is a deeply disturbing movie about the sinful nature of the world. It details the difficult task two detectives have in searching for a serial killer. One who uses the seven deadly sins (gluttony, greed, sloth, lust, pride, envy, and wrath) as a motif. SE7EN is one of very few movies my parents said never to watch. I held off as long as I could, but being a film critic makes that a bit difficult. It comes with the job. Speaking of jobs, Detective Mills and Detective Somerset have a horrifying job. Part of the reason I don’t watch CSI homicide shows is because there are just too many dead bodies in them. It’s what makes SE7EN so tough to watch. Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt play polar opposites, but both of them deliver realistic performances. Although Brad Pitt’s final acting scene is questionable. Since the villain is a serial killer, it unfortunately feels like someone like this could exist. Even if some of his methods might seem impossible. Kevin Spacey gives an unsettlingly creepy performance as the John Doe. The most well known scene involving the box is at the end and it’s also the most disturbing. SE7EN was David Fincher’s first good movie, but not one I’ll ever see again.

“What’s in the box?!”