After Happily Ever After

Disenchanted is a sequel 15 years too late. The 2007 Enchanted was a surprise hit that deserves way more recognition. It subverted the traditional Disney formula long before Frozen. I wouldn’t exactly call it forgotten, but it is strange that it took this long to get a sequel. Regardless of quality I’m still mad that Disney continues to dump films like this on Disney+. Despite the dominance of computer animation, Andalasia is still traditionally animated in a familiar way to the first movie. There’s also a lot more Andalasia than the trailer let on. Disenchanted is all about after happily ever after. Giselle has been happily married to Robert for 10 years in New York, but she longs for a more fairy tale life in a small town called Monroeville. Amy Adams has become a more seasoned actress since Enchanted, but she manages to recapture the pleasantly positive honorary Disney Princess.

Though mostly sticking to TV, Patrick Dempsey returns with a less significant role. Disenchanted is primarily centered around Giselle trying to be a good stepmother to an older Morgan. Original actress Rachel Covey is replaced by Gabriella Baldacchino since they wanted Morgan to be a sarcastic teenager. King Edward and Queen Nancy visit from Andalasia to give Giselle and Robert’s baby daughter Sophia a magic wand. When their new life isn’t as magical as they hoped it would be, Giselle wishes for a fairy tale life. Disenchanted is a mostly clever reverse of Enchanted where this time the modern world is brought into the fairy tale world. Which means everything has a face, everyone sings, and magic exists. Robert’s only role is to find adventure as a brave Prince. Despite his steady work in kids movies, James Marsden is similarly shortchanged as Edward.

Maya Rudolph assumes the role of an overbearing town councilwoman turned eccentric evil Queen Malvina. Yvette Nicole Brown and Jayma Mays play her henchwomen, while Oscar Nunez plays a nervous magic mirror. Alan Tudyk continues to serve Disney as the voice of a magic scroll. Though there are plenty of villains in the movie, Adams is equally good as a wicked stepmother that Giselle slowly transforms into. Pip the chipmunk returns as the narrator and ends up transforming into Giselle’s evil cat. Morgan attempts to reverse the spell with Nancy’s help. Since Idina Menzel’s popularity has skyrocketed since the first movie, she’s given at least 2 songs. Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz return to compose, but there’s a few too many songs in the sequel. The biggest standout is obviously Menzel’s power ballad “Love Power.” Morgan uses Giselle’s memories to save her and the town with it. Disenchanted respects the original, but the magic isn’t what it used to be.

Disenchanted

Giselle competes with Malvina

Preceded by: Enchanted

A Woman to Love

Something’s Gotta Give gives an awful lot. It’s the perfect film for two aging veteran actors. Something’s Gotta Give is another Nancy Meyers movie that my mom recommended for years. She especially loved the beach house. Despite the title, there’s no association with the Marilyn Monroe movie. Something’s Gotta Give is a little ditty ’bout Jack and Diane. Near the end of his career, Jack Nicholson was perfect for a 63 year old man who only dates women under 30. Harry Sanborn owns a hip hop label and does whatever he can to feel young.

Diane Keaton is equally perfect for a 56 year old woman who ended up closed off after a divorce. Erica Barry is a playwright who finds herself in a very unusual situation. Harry’s hot young girlfriend Marin played by Amanda Peet is Erica’s daughter who gives him a heart attack after they fail to make love. Hilarity ensues when Harry ends up needing to recover at Erica’s beach house. Probably the funniest scene is Harry accidentally seeing Erica naked. The PG-13 nude scene goes to show how good Keaton still looked in her old age.

Something’s Gotta Give is all about finding love with someone your own age. It’s refreshing to see older people fall in love and it helps that the characters are played by Oscar winners. Though Keaton was the only one to receive a nomination. Frances McDormand also makes an impression as Erica’s sister who embarasses her. Then there’s Keanu Reeves in a rare romantic comedy role as a much younger doctor who similarly falls for Erica. Sometimes age is just a number, but Something’s Gotta Give proves it’s just as important to act your age.

Something's Gotta Give

Harry and Erica’s pajama party is interrupted

Night Swimming

Something’s Got to Give is the ill-fated final film from Marilyn Monroe. Normally I wouldn’t review an unfinished film, but there’s just enough footage to make a comprehensible short. Something’s Got to Give was doomed from the start. Marilyn Monroe dealt with a never-ending series of problems ranging from health issues, script frustration, prior commitments to President Kennedy, and overall unavailability. Her final shooting day was her birthday (which is also my birthday) June 1st 1962. She was fired by an increasingly frustrated studio and director George Cukor.

Other well known actresses were considered, but Marilyn Monroe is irreplaceable. By the time she was rehired, Monroe tragically passed away leaving Something’s Got to Give forever incomplete. The story was intended to be a remake of the 1940 film My Favorite Wife before it was later reworked as the 1963 film Move Over, Darling with a different cast. Monroe would’ve been Ellen Arden who was stuck on an island and declared dead by her husband Nick who remarries Bianca. Dean Martin was committed enough to perform the title song. Cyd Charisse would’ve been a good foil for Monroe.

Other limited characters include Ellen’s hunky fellow island inhabitant, her 2 children who don’t recognize her, an angry judge, Bianca’s psychiatrist, a hapless shoe salesmen, and an insurance agent who gets an eyeful. The most iconic scene would’ve been Monroe swimming naked in a pool. I know Monroe posed for Playboy, but the surprisingly risque moment would’ve been the first major Hollywood nude scene. It’s a shame Marilyn’s entire fun loving performance was never seen. Something’s Got to Give could’ve been an instant classic.

Somethings Got to Give

Ellen emerges from the pool

P.S. I’ve supplied the full 37 minute restoration underneath.

I Promise to Love You for 50 Years More

Mr. Deeds is not as feel good when it’s a Happy Madison production. Adam Sandler started the early 2000’s with one of the worst movies of his career, Little Nicky. Since the more dramatic Punch-Drunk Love was going overlooked, all eyes were on his next comedy. I only knew about Mr. Deeds because a trailer would constantly play on my Spider-Man VHS tape. I had no idea it was a loose remake of Frank Capra’s Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. Not even an Oscar nominated script translates well to Sandler’s brand of comedy.

There’s blatant Wendy’s product placement, mildly immature jokes, and more goofy characters. Like John Turturro as a weird Spanish butler, Steve Buscemi as the aptly named Crazy Eyes, or the delivery man that Rob Schneider played in Big Daddy. Aside from a reworked version of the money hungry Cedar, the only direct characters from the original are Longfellow Deeds and Babe Bennett. I know Sandler can play nice guys, but I only buy him as the punch happy version of Deeds. Winona Ryder is the latest attractive female co-star who doesn’t have chemistry with the lead.

Babe now tricks Deeds as a visual news reporter and it takes her awhile to feel like a good person. Deeds is still a greeting card writer, but he also works at a pizzeria. His wealthy uncle is given a more undignified death and his fortune is $40,000,000,000 when adjusted for inflation. They just complicate things by making his fortune part of a media conglomerate. So the ending is changed to a shareholders meeting instead of a gripping court trial. Mr. Deeds has some humorous moments, but it can’t compete with a classic.

Mr. Deeds

Deeds unites with Babe

Sudden Fortune

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is the perfect small town Frank Capra picture. I knew I needed to see it since it was the second of three Capra films to win Best Director. After It Happened One Night and before You Can’t Take it with You. Although I watched Mr. Smith Goes to Washington first, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is the original champion of the common man. Longfellow Deeds is just a simple small town greeting card poet who enjoys playing the tuba. He leaves Mandrake Falls, Vermont for New York City when he suddenly inherits a massive $20,000,000 fortune.

I had no idea the term “Cinderella Man” originated from Mr. Deeds Goes to Town or the fitting “pixelated” description that he’s also given. Screen legend Gary Cooper is genuinely ernest as the kind-hearted Mr. Deeds. Unlike most money makers, Longfellow doesn’t need his newfound wealth and treats people around him with respect. Of course that attracts vultures who seek to either take advantage of him or humiliate him. Money hungry attorneys and the newspaper are his biggest obstacle. Lionel Stander stands out as his troubleshooter Mr. Cobb who warms up to Deeds kindness.

Jean Arthur got her big break as spunky reporter Babe Bennett who writes articles that make Deeds look bad. She gets close to Longfellow posing as a damsel in distress before genuinely falling for him. When Deeds decides to give his fortune away to the needy, he’s sent to court for insanity. Which is a perfect statement about the cynical world around him. The final court battle is thoroughly engrossing as Deeds talks about types of idiosyncrasies. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is a feel good lesson in generosity.

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

Babe tries to talk to Longfellow Deeds

Championship Vinyl

High Fidelity is a top 5 hit from the early 2000’s. Record stores were still around at the time, but the original Nick Hornby novel was written in 1995. The only difference was setting the movie in Chicago instead of London. Apparently the music scene is just as good in both locations. Although I can relate to the new setting as a native Chicagoan, High Fidelity wasn’t on my radar until my drum playing half brother recommended it. It does fit the Gen X mentality that he’s a part of. Rob is a slacker who works at his record store Championship Vinyl.

Since John Cusack often plays romanticly troubled loners, he was perfect for the part. Of course his sister Joan Cusack had to be around yelling at him. Rob breaks the fourth wall, creates random “Top 5” lists, and works through a relatable personal crisis. Over the course of the movie, Rob tries to figure out what went wrong with every romantic relationship in his life. From Catherine Zeta-Jones as the alternative Charlie to Lisa Bonet as cool local singer Marie. Only to realize his own attitude towards relationships might be the problem. Any of Rob’s women could be the one, but Rob focuses all of his attention on long-term ex-girlfriend Laura.

The Danish Iben Hjejle is an interesting casting choice since she’s a foreign actress playing a very American character. Though odd, Hjejle makes the part count. Before they eventually get back together, Rob spends most of his time being jealous of her ponytail boyfriend Ray played by Tim Robbins. Much like Empire Records, High Fidelity has an awesome soundtrack. The difference is I’ve actually heard most of these songs. My personal favorite being “Walking on Sunshine.” Todd Louiso plays Rob’s meek coworker Dick, but it’s Jack Black who had his biggest breakout role as the obnoxious Barry. His Tenacious D cred gave him all the music knowledge he needed. High Fidelity is a romantic comedy that rocks.

High Fidelity

Rob and Barry at Championship Vinyl

Gen X

Reality Bites is all about navigating life from the cynical perspective of Generation X. Writer Helen Childress based it on her own personal life experiences and friends. Although the title isn’t supposed to mean “life sucks,” it does capture all the problems that they were facing at the time. Reality Bites is the 90’s equivalent of St. Elmo’s Fire with four twenty-something friends and roommates dealing with life after college. There’s an awesome soundtrack that includes grunge music, reality TV style filmmaking, and fear of the AIDS epidemic.

Reality Bites wasn’t an immediate success, but it did become a cult favorite that launched many careers. Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke increased their appeal while Janeane Garofalo and Steve Zahn had their first major film roles. Lelaina is an aspiring filmmaker who videotapes her friends being themselves. She has a bickering love/hate relationship with her philosophical slacker friend Troy who has a grunge band. Their promiscuous friend Vickie is worried she has AIDS and their celibate friend Sammy comes out as gay.

Several celebrities make appearances since this was the first movie directed by Ben Stiller. He also plays Lelaina’s older yuppie love interest Michael who comes between her and Troy. I can’t personally relate to Generation X or the constant smoking, but being unable to find a job, trying to please your parents, and feeling like your life isn’t progressing like everyone else is pretty universal. Reality Bites has a great understanding of how young adults think.

Reality Bites

Lelaina hangs with Troy

One Word Can Change Everything

Yes Man is Liar Liar if always telling the truth was replaced with always saying “yes.” It seems far-fetched, but the movie is based on a true story. Humorist Danny Wallace wrote Yes Man after deciding to only say “yes” to everything for 6 months. Before Ant-Man, director Peyton Reed had Yes Man. It’s far from groundbreaking, but it was the right kind of comedy for Jim Carrey’s creative slump. Carl is a closed off divorced bank loan officer who says “no” to everything.

Bradley Cooper plays his concerned friend Peter who tries to get him out of his comfort zone, but it’s John Michael Higgins as a former colleague who turns Carl’s life around. It’s at a “yes” seminar that Terence Stamp convinces Carl to be a “yes!” man. I wasn’t sure how saying “yes” to everything would be funny, but Carrey knows how to make it hilarious. Carl says “yes” to every pop-up add, every sign-up sheet, and everything else that comes his way. Even an uncomfortable proposition from an old lady. The positive impacts are a promotion from his eccentric boss played by Rhys Darby and using his newly acquired talents to help people.

Carl speaks Korean to a bridal shop employee and talks down a suicide jumper by singing “Jumper” by Third Eye Blind. He also falls in love with the equally outgoing Allison played by Zooey Deschanel. Their spontaneous relationship goes well at first, but there are obvious problems with saying “yes” to everything. Like giving a homeless man all his money, getting in a fight, or agreeing to move in with Allison. The inevitable misunderstanding is predictable, but they do get back on track with a balanced message. Yes Man gets a “yes” from me.

Yes Man

Carl learns to say “yes”

From Gentle to Mental

Me, Myself & Irene gave Jim Carrey an excuse to go crazy. 2000 wasn’t always the best year for comedians who were popular in the 90’s. Me, Myself & Irene is the second collaboration between Carrey and the Farrelly Brothers. Aside from being a road movie set in Rhode Island, Me, Myself & Irene is a bit dumber than Dumb and Dumber. The title refers to a split personality disorder. Carrey plays friendly pushover and state trooper Charlie Baileygates. When his wife leaves him for an intelligent black little person, Charlie lives in denial with his three black children.

All the disrespect and pent up rage causes Hank to come out. I feel like any problem people had with The Cable Guy is much worse in Me, Myself & Irene. Hank is a foul mouthed psychopath and sexual deviant who lets out Charlie’s aggression. Carrey’s manic energy is funny when he’s trying to put down an injured cow, but not so much when he’s attacking children. The Farrelly Brothers’ gross out humor also goes too far with sex toys and less creative poop jokes.

Black jokes are funny to a degree, but the sons constantly saying “motherf***er” gets old after awhile. Anthony Anderson is the only recognizable actor in the trio. Renรฉe Zellweger is the titular Irene who hates Hank, but begins to fall for Charlie. She’s caught up in an overly complicated plot by a criminal ex-boyfriend. Chris Cooper, Robert Forster, and Richard Jenkins give the movie credibility, while narrator Rex Allen Jr. gives it an easygoing feel. Of course it does go off the rails with a physical fight between Charlie and Hank. Me, Myself & Irene can only do so much with two Jim Carrey performances.

Me, Myself & Irene

Charlie, Hank and Irene take the road

Rescuing the Joan

The Jewel of the Nile couldn’t keep the adventure going. Lacking the charm that made Romancing the Stone so enjoyable. Since Robert Zemeckis was busy directing Back to the Future in 1985, Lewis Teague had to take over. The Jewel of the Nile was plagued with problems from the start. Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner were forced to return, and Turner hated the script. Douglas had to do rewrites, footage was lost, crewmembers died, and the new setting was unbearably hot.

The Jewel of the Nile now takes place in the desert. It’s just not the same as the jungle. Jack T. Colton and Joan Wilder are still together on the yacht that he bought at the end of the first movie. Of course they have relationship problems which brings us back to square one. Joan gets kidnapped by an Arab ruler named Omar under the guise of writing his life story. When he turns out to be a terrorist, Jack must rescue her with unlikely help from Ralph.

Aside from Holland Taylor as Joan’s publisher, Danny DeVito is sort of redeemed as the smuggler. It’s in the desert that the titular “Jewel of the Nile” is revealed to be a person. A holy man played by entertainer Avner the Eccentric. Aside from a grounded airplane attack, the sequel doesn’t do much to stand out. The Billy Ocean song “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going” is the best thing to come out of it. Since The Crimson Eagle or Racing the Monsoon were cancelled, The War of the Roses is the closest thing to third installment. The Jewel of the Nile doesn’t shine nearly as bright.

The Jewel of the Nile

Jack and Joan in an African village

Preceded by: Romancing the Stone