Friday, July 28, 2017

Stephen King's IT (1990) [PG-13]

Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Writer: Lawrence D. Cohen & Tommy Lee Wallace
Starring: 
Tim Curry as Pennywise the Dancing Clown/IT
Richard Thomas as Bill Denbrough
Jonathan Brandis as Young Bill Denbrough
John Ritter as Ben Hanscom
Brandon Crane as Young Ben Hanscom
Annette O'Toole as Beverly Marsh
Emily Perkins as Young Beverly Marsh
Dennis Christopher as Eddie Kaspbrak
Adam Faraizl as Young Eddie Kaspbrak
Tim Reid as Mike Hanlon
Marlon Taylor as Young Mike Hanlon
Michael Cole as Henry Bowers
Jarred Blancard as Young Henry Bowers
Harry Anderson as Richie Tozier
Seth Green as Young Richie Tozier
Richard Masur as Stanley Uris
Ben Heller as Young Stanley Uris
Gabe Khouth as Victor Criss
Chris Eastman as Belch Huggins

Synopsis: IT terrorized them 30 years ago as kids and now these adults are called back to confront IT again - hopefully once and for all.

Review: If you have never read the book, the film can definitely seem to have a few "missing pieces". I personally have never read the book, but I have read the synopsis on Wikipedia, as well as seen a couple YouTube videos that help fill in some blanks. I don't think I have the stomach to read the novel, quite frankly, so this review is mostly just from the TV series and what I've gathered from reading and hearing about the novel.

If you've ever heard anything about this miniseries before, it's probably that Tim Curry was phenomenal. This cannot be stated enough. Tim Curry is an amazingly talented actor who is largely underrated. He is usually perfect in any role he plays but he's especially superb in this one. The fact that he started with plays, rather than films, really shows in his performance. He captures the look, the feel, the voice, - just every little nuance so perfectly in this character. Whether you are familiar with Curry or not, you probably wouldn't even recognize him as he completely becomes his role. Perfect performance from a phenomenal actor. The "series" also has the perfect amount of "scare" and "suspense", unfolding Pennywise's character in just the right amount of increments all along the way.

Although Tim Curry is far and away the standout performer in this "film", it's not to take away from the great jobs that everyone else does. The kids do a wonderful job and come off completely genuine and compelling. The adults do a wonderful job matching their child-counterparts and keeping the integrity of the characters they play. (Albeit not as inherently charming as the children - but how could they be?)

Part 1 tends to focus more on flashbacks from 30 years ago (featuring more of the kids) and Part 2 tends to focus more on the "present-day" story (30 years later, featuring more of the adults). As a result, many viewers will find part 1 to be a more compelling story than part 2, as the plot naturally lends itself to being more compelling since the cast are mostly kids in part 1. This adds so much more suspense and intrigue - though it should be said that part 2 executes it's adult story pretty well, even though it has a few more faults in the script than part 1 (mainly due to time restraints as the novel itself is over 1,000 pages and the series was originally going to be 8 hrs. instead of just 3 hrs.).

Part 1:
Acting: 20/20
Writing:  38/40
Directing/Editing/Production/Etc:  38/40

Overall:  96/100 A

Review: Watching an adult dressed like a clown going after children already comes with a certain amount of fright, and the "series" did a great job keeping intrigue and suspense - especially if you're a horror fan.

*Spoiler Alert! (Including the Novel)*

Some people might see Tim Curry's performance as being more "comical" but it was this manipulative attitude of Pennywise that made him so frightening. Just like when people really do go after children, they start off mostly coming off as friendly and inviting, turning ugly and nasty when the kid starts to reject them. This was accurate to the premise and character - especially considering the fact that he is "Pennywise the Dancing Clown". Key word being "clown". Everything was a joke to him - particularly your life and death. He was sadistic and entrancing, you could never look away when he's on screen. Furthermore, his makeup and very appearance is frightening enough, let alone the way he holds himself and speaks etc. The fact that he's often only scary in a subtle way - until showing his true "colors" - is part of the brilliance of his character. The way he lures in Georgie is the best example of this (another good one is the little girl in the very beginning).

This movie is a good psychological thriller as IT doesn't just kill but he psychologically tortures you first as he claims they "taste better when [they're] afraid". This is probably disturbingly true. After all, humans have been known to torture animals before killing them because they say it makes the "meat taste better".

This series has some very funny and witty lines ("Get some new material, champ.") and is not burdened by political correctness. Some lines are more fun ("I hate it when you stutter my name Bill, you sound like Elmer Fudd.") and some are more malicious, but many are lines that one wouldn't hear in films and miniseries made today. These lines are done in the proper context and are not done for shock value or the sake of vulgarity etc.

That being said, the way the abusive relationship is played out between adult Beverly and her boyfriend is very much in the style of unbelievable Lifetime movies - particularly the idea that he was beating her with a "belt" and left her alone just because she said she'd "kill him" - which should've infuriated him. Furthermore, the miniseries did not have the abusive character, Tom, follow Beverly out to Derry, Maine, which would've been more accurate to that extreme of a character. It was also a missed opportunity not to show him being killed by IT after following her, which is what did happen in the novel.

The miniseries did a good job with Eddie's character but there was a key chain-of-events that were missing from the novel that should've been included with the miniseries: Since they showed Eddie's mother forbidding Eddie from hanging out with his friends anymore - yet he clearly kept doing it anyways, they should have showed when he confronted his mother about lying to him about his asthma and making the deal to keep taking the "medicine" as long as he still got to see his friends - especially considering they did show the pharmacist telling Eddie about his mother's lies.

Since this novel/miniseries takes place in the late 1950s/early 1960s, it also gives the story more intrigue and symbolism, showing the end of a "golden era"/childhood and innocence. There are also a lot of interesting "sign of the times" scenes and lines. For example, even though the kids were building a dam that they were scorned by the police officer for, he only warned them to stick together if they were ever down there since other children had been killed or gone missing; whereas today the police officer would have told them not to go down there anymore, at all.

The way the "Losers club" comes together is a very entertaining and interesting story, as well as somewhat heartwarming. The way they find each other and help each other through all of the horrible things they are all going through was a touching part of the overall story, especially when they stand up together against the bullies (rock scene). Not only are these kids dealing with the threat of Pennywise, but they are also dealing with their childhoods and innocence coming to an end and dealing with a ton of problems, such as bullying, abusive parents, deceased parents/siblings, etc. When they take on Pennywise at the end, they serve as the "voice of reason" for each other when they are each visited with hallucinations from IT - another sign of the strength they give each other.

Since Part 1 ends with Stan's committing suicide, the miniseries would've been better served to have played up his "seeing the deadlights" or coming into contact with a "truer form of IT" more. Just adding a couple of lines from him, perhaps saying "I saw IT.. The REAL IT..." with a frightened face would've been a nice small addition to help build more credibility to his committing suicide. His childhood was one of the least harsh ones - by the miniseries or the novel - so the mere idea that he "couldn't face his past" was a little confusing. Even though he was the one who was grabbed out of the circle, that in itself didn't seem to be enough for him to commit suicide either, since he wasn't hurt in that scene by IT at all.

Whoever is to thank for not including the "loss of virginities to Beverly" scene, did us all a favor in the miniseries. There were plenty of allusions to the special bond that the group had without needing to go into such territory - such as Beverly joking about being on a "first date" with the guys and showing "equal" affection to them (aside from her moments with Bill, of course). I see this as an improvement from the novel to the miniseries.

There are so many iconic scenes from this miniseries, particularly including: the shots of Pennywise behind the laundry sheets (in the beginning), when Pennywise appears in the gutter to Georgie, when Pennywise appears in the shower to Eddie - forcing his way through the little hole, the creepy-looking mini-castle connected to the sewers that IT dwells in and probably the most iconic, is when Pennywise came to life in the picture, dancing around until making his way to the front and threatening to drive the Losers Club "crazy and then kill them all".

*End of Spoiler Alert!*


Part 2:
Acting: 20/20
Writing:  35/40
Directing/Editing/Production/Etc:  35/40

Overall:  90/100 A-

Review: Seeing the kids from Part 1 deal with Pennywise as an adult was an interesting premise. Not as interesting as part 1 but still worth the watch as it is done pretty well. Part 1 is definitely much better fleshed out than part 2. Part 2 follows part 1 nicely up until about the last 1/3rd of the "film" where there tends to be more "missing pieces" from the novel etc.

*Spoiler Alert! (Including the Novel)*

It was interesting when Ben went back as an adult to the Barrens and encountered both, how some things never change and how some things change entirely. Just as he had been the "fat boy" being chased by the bullies, he saw a new generation of bullies chasing the new "fat boy". On the other hand, Ben encountered a homeless person in the Barrens; a stark contrast to the "homeless" situation he was in, in the past (his childhood) where his aunt took he and his mother in.

While the vast majority of people are happy not to have seen the "child orgy" scene (myself included), there were some more allusions to this when adult Beverly kisses 3 of the different now-adult Losers club members in a romantic-like manner (Richie, Bill & Ben). Without the context from the book, this just comes off incredibly odd and nonsensical.

Showing Stan encountering the mummy in a house seemed like a last-minute addition to try and add a reason as to why he committed suicide, and it was very unclear when this was supposed to have taken place - presumably before beating IT but even that wasn't made clear.

Just like Part 1, Part 2 also has some funny, witty lines including those of the politically incorrect variety ("Speaking of dads, Bevvie, yours isn't worried about you anymore, he loves your choice in men... Wheezy, how's your sex life? What's your sex life?").

Since the miniseries showed Pennywise influencing Henry Bowler as an adult, it would've been convenient if they had showed Pennywise also influencing him as a child as it would've added more consistency and credibility to that subplot. Without it happening with child-Henry, it seemed to occur out of nowhere with adult-Henry - begging the question "why now?".

Even though they established the "Derry Disease" of the town residents ignoring events involving IT, it still didn't make much sense to just leave Henry's dead body in the hotel room with the police "not really caring". After all, he had just escaped from an asylum and nearly killed Mike.

Eddie's confession about being a "virgin" right before encountering IT's true form was a really weird way to foreshadow his dying and perhaps his homosexuality or something? This scene was a tad confusing and seemingly misplaced and/or unnecessary. Furthermore, the way that Eddie does die was also confusing as we are left to assume he died from the fall of the spider's grasps. The way Eddie died in the book could've been easily incorporated here and made much more sense - as well as been more noble.

Ending IT by showing his "true" form to be a spider was very anticlimactic as the end form needed to be more frightening than Pennywise, not less. This form also didn't match the weird looking hand that IT's hand became at the end of Part 1 when they tried to pull him out of the hole to stop him from escaping (which would've came off more consistent and maybe more creepy than the spider). It would have been better if a "darker" version of Pennywise was the true form (like what his face looked like after getting burned with "battery acid") underneath the "light facade". Either way, the spider was a let-down compared to Pennywise.

In addition, the idea of people in wrapped up in webs, descending after IT had been defeated seemed completely out of nowhere and nonsensical. Why is he keeping bodies wrapped up like that? And why do they mostly seem like adults rather than children, his established preference?

All of that being said, I do think it was the right call not to go into all of the "extraterrestrial" part of IT - including the Turtle and Macroverse etc. - as all of that gets really confusing and in my opinion, takes away from the overall story. I think the miniseries did a great job showing that sometimes, less is more.

Part 2 does have it's own iconic scenes and shots, such as the opening with Pennywise and the 7 graves with 1 of them being "taken", the library scene with Richie and all of the balloons - with those iconic bad jokes since Richie was a comedian and Pennywise is a clown, Ben seeing Pennywise on the side of the road holding balloons as well as the balloon that appears inside of the taxi with him, the old woman who turns into her dead father that Beverly encounters, the fortune cookie scene, Stan's severed head making jokes and threats in the library refrigerator and Pennywise's face appearing in the moon.

The "happy endings" for the characters in the aftermath of finally defeating IT was a nice touch after such a dark thriller. It was done well without being too "over the top" and too Hollywood-ized.

*End of Spoiler Alert!*

Part 1 & 2 Combined:
Acting: 20/20
Writing:  36.5/40
Directing/Editing/Production/Etc:  36.5/40

Overall:  93/100 A

The music overall is done very well, whether being purely suspenseful or adding the corny carnival music into the mix - it never takes away from the scenes, adding to them instead.

Overall this film was very suspenseful with outstanding performances. Above and beyond what would be expected of a "TV mini-series" and a timeless classic.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dave (1993) [PG-13]

Director: Ivan Reitman
Writer: Gary Ross
Starring: 
Kevin Kline as Dave Kovic/President William (Bill) Harrison Mitchell
Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Mitchell
Frank Langella as Bob Alexander
Kevin Dunn as Alan Reed
Ving Rhames as Duane Stevensen
Charles Grodin as Murray Blum
Ben Kingsley as Vice President Gary Nance

Synopsis: While an ordinary man thinks he's doing a one-time, temporary job filling in as a "double/impersonator" for the President, the real President suffers a stroke. As a result, his "filling in" takes on a whole new role.


Acting: 20/20

Writing:  31/40
Directing/Editing/Production/Etc:  38/40

Overall:  89/100 B+

Review: When it comes to pure talent in acting, this film has a great cast. All of the actors in this film are great character actors and they all give the professional performances you would expect.

Kevin Kline is so good with nuance in all of his films and this one is no different. I don't mean it as any insult when I say that, I think he's an underrated actor who always delivers perfect performances. Sigourney Weaver delivers a solid performance as usual, as do Kevin Dunn and Ben Kingsley. Frank Langella does an upstanding job, as does Charles Grodin - both of them shining despite not being the main stars of the film. Ving Rhames also shines in his roll, as well as exhibiting his natural charisma.

The script is a very endearing one, with a message reminding us that the government is really supposed to be "we the people", and how it's our job to stop corruption from occurring in Washington DC.

Spoiler Alert! 

Even though the film is endearing with a happy ending, the ending is not believable. The idea that Dave could ever run for office and date Ellen at the same time was illogical as it would clearly freak people out to see the ex-First Lady with a man who looks just like her deceased husband.

The Presidential couple in this film greatly resemble the Presidential couple at the time, Bill and Hillary Clinton. Except Sigourney Weaver's character is more of what people thought Hillary Clinton was like, rather than what we now know her to actually be like - thereby making Sigourney Weaver's character far more sympathetic than the woman her character is loosely based on.

End of Spoiler Alert!

As endearing as this film is, it's also very entertaining and exciting, keeping you wondering how things are going to end up playing out. The way things do play out are pretty clever and worth the "suspense". It seems to be a little more "drama" than "comedy", though it definitely has it's funny moments and the overall script is somewhat of a "dark comedy" (considering the plot with the stroke).

Overall this film was intriguing and clever, with outstanding and compelling performances. An optimistic perspective on fixing modern politics.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Idiocracy (2006) [R]

Director: Mike Judge
Writer: Etan Cohen & Mike Judge
Starring: 
Luke Wilson as Cpl. "Average Joe" Bauers/"Not Sure"
Maya Rudolph as Rita
Dax Shepard as Frito Pendejo
Terry Crews as President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho
Justin Long as Dr. Lexus

Synopsis: When a top-secret military human hibernation experiment goes wrong, an "average" man and woman in the year 2005 awake 500 years later, and find themselves in the opposite of the "Jetsonian"-like future that most of us envision.


Acting:  15/20
Writing:  30/40
Directing/Editing/Production/Etc:  28/40

Overall:  73/100 C

Review: In a way, this film is like 2 stories going on at once: the basic plot of the script that anyone can follow and a social commentary meant to make us reflect on whether or not we are making the right choices as a society.

The acting is done pretty well - though it's not that hard to play people with low IQs. That being said, Justin Long as the doctor and first real introduction to just how dumb this future population really is, does a pretty great job capturing the subtle nuances that can be found in such dumb people. For example he says, "Why come you don't...." instead of "How come you don't..." or just "Why don't..."

The real high-points of this film come from the witty jokes and remarks made in the film, especially in context to the overall plot of the film ("Oh, yeah, baby. I can wait so good.... Baby I can wait two days."). The film has about as much intellectual humor as it does juvenile, basic humor. This both adds and takes away from the film at the same time. If you're really not into that kind of juvenile humor, it can start to become redundant and off-putting.

Spoiler Alert! 

The way this film explains how "idiocracy" takes place, with dumb people having too many kids and smarter people not having enough or any kids was very logical. Unfortunately, too many people have kids - and often too many - that really shouldn't. While this hasn't really turned our society into an anti-intellectual dystopia, it certainly has made it's mark as shown in the modern film, Nerve, which is also a social commentary piece.


Basically, this film shows a lot of problems that we already see today, taken to an extreme.

  • People eating and drinking like crap. (Fast-food restaurants being the main culprit.)
  • People being very technology-dependent and lazy. (Particularly with the TV.)
  • People destroying the English language. (Lots of acronyms, lack of nuance and variety, etc.)
  • People being more angry, vulgar, violent, impulsive, sensitive and emotional. (Easily offended and quicker to punish than question or try to understand.)
  • People wearing clothes that are walking advertisements. ("Brand"-obsessed; materialistic.)
  • People not thinking for themselves and believing what they're told, primarily by corporations etc. (Taking advertisements at their word rather than doing any research whatsoever themselves.)
  • Over-sexualized nature of everything/"Sex Sells" environment. (Women in the media dressing more provocative and depending more on their sex appeal than other traits.)

All of that being said, even though the film does make some great points, the plot is pretty inconsistent. As degenerated as it showed the population to be, it was truly a wonder they could keep any kind of power or plumbing going - especially considering "average Joe"/"Not Sure" was the smartest person "in the World".

End of Spoiler Alert!

Since the movie is trying to make a point by showing just how anti-intellectual society could get and how incredibly off-putting it would be, the film can be a little too successful in being off-putting. The overall message of the film makes it worth watching but it definitely could've been made in a much "smoother" manner. The way the film is edited and put together, you almost feel like you lost a couple IQ points just watching this film. It certainly makes it point about why people today should make an effort to read a little more and watch less TV etc.

Overall this film was a good social commentary that had some worthy highs as well as some off-putting lows in sending it's message.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

When A Stranger Calls (2006) [PG-13]

Director: Simon West
Writer: Jake Wade Wall
Starring: 
Camilla Belle as Jill Johnson
Tommy Flanagan as The Stranger

Synopsis: The legendary scary story about the babysitter who gets a call to "check on the children", comes to the screen yet again in this remake of the original film.

There are two ways this film can be rated: on it's own or compared to the original. Whether you have seen the original version of this film (1979) or not, makes a big difference on the way you see this version of the film. For that reason, I will rank the film in both ways:

(1.) On It's Own (If you had never seen the original):

Acting:  16/20
Writing:  30/40
Directing/Editing/Production/Etc:  34/40

Overall:  80/100 B-

Review: Almost the entire film revolves around the babysitter, which means Camilla Belle takes the brunt of the acting in this movie. She's not a bad actress nor an outstanding one and did a pretty solid job. She was pretty believable in her role but she didn't do anything special with it. The most important thing I can say about her performance is that while it didn't add anything special to the film, it also didn't take any value or integrity away from it.

She did have a supporting cast but I doubt that any other character (aside from the Stranger/Caller) was in the film for more than 5 minutes total. All of the supporting cast had similar performances, credible and loyal to their roles.

The plot of the script is very accurate to the most common versions of the legend and does a great job turning that "short story" into a full-length movie, without losing any of the suspense. That being said, there wasn't too much creativity in the script, as most of it does come straight from the legend.

The flow and pacing of the film go well with the overall suspense in the movie. The soundtrack was like the acting - appropriate but not outstanding.

Spoiler Alert! 

The beginning is pretty forgettable, as it's only loosely connected to the overall plot and somewhat confusing. This "creative writing" didn't really pay off. By contrast, the ending is very unforgettable however, and leaves the right impression at the end of a horror film.

This film did have an interesting under-current of "female competitiveness", which was pretty interesting and entertaining, such as the babysitter dealing with her "party-girl" friend trying to steal her boyfriend and Mrs. Mandrakis making a comment about her kids compared to the kids that Jill usually babysits for.

End of Spoiler Alert!

Overall this film was a good Hollywood-stylized take on the now-famous "babysitter" urban legend.

(2.) Compared To Original:

Acting:  14/20
Writing:  13/40
Directing/Editing/Production/Etc:  37/40

Overall:  64/100 D

Review: This version makes A LOT of references to the original - from keeping the same character names for the babysitter and parents of the children being babysat, to the babysitter taking ice cream out of the fridge when checking and "securing" the house.

In addition, the woman who plays Mrs. Mandrakis physically resembles Carol Kane, the main detective in this film physically resembles the detective in the original and even the Stranger in this film physically resembles Curt Duncan from the original.

Camilla Belle does a much better acting job than Carol Kane, undoubtedly.

Spoiler Alert! 

Even though Belle does a better job - and has a bigger role - than Kane, she only gives a consistently decent performance. The Stranger is hardly shown in this film and doesn't have much of a performance to give - unlike in the original version.

This version of the film focuses solely on the legend itself, whereas the legend was only the first 20 minutes of the original film. As a result, this version is not nearly as creative and entertaining as the original. There is really something to be said about the originality in the script and the performance of Tony Beckley as Curt Duncan in the original film; These factors make the original a much more timeless-classic than this newer version, especially by comparison.

The writing in this version took no risks, and the result was a more consistent script than the original but less of a long-lasting impression. By comparison to the first 20 minutes of the original film, this version only really improved in the acting department - otherwise it was just a longer version of the same thing with less impact.

Speaking of no risks, this newer version was also a sign of the times. Most sane and decent people do not like to see kids dying but that's exactly what makes this folk legend such a scary and timeless one. Part of the impact of the original film was the fact that the kids were killed by The Stranger. It made his character that much more frightening. In this newer version, they do show a sped-up version of this in the beginning, but it goes by so quickly and with such little background that you almost miss it. It's a quick prelude that didn't build up enough suspense transitioning into the storyline with Camilla Belle. It would've been better to play out the calls with the "first" babysitter, rather than for her to not be able to find them - yet the officers found some kind of mess in the kids' bedroom. So this entire beginning was kind of confusing and not as consistent with the rest of the script.

The Stranger in this version is also a let-down in comparison to the Curt Duncan character in the original. It's understandable that the newer version had a phenomenal performance to contend with, that would likely not be upstaged, but the decision to replace it with a Michael Myers type version instead was a real bummer.

After seeing the original, you even miss the detective's performance as it was such a compelling character.

End of Spoiler Alert!

All of that being said, the newer version is definitely an improvement where you'd expect it to be the most, in the directing/editing/producing departments. This newer film is visually done in a much more stylized, Hollywood manner that has a lot of entertainment value. That being said, it loses some of the "authentic" look that the older version has, which is a shame as the "authentic" look worked better for this kind of scary story and added more of a timeless feel/quality to it.

Overall this newer version really lacks in originality of script, characters and performance compared to the original - yet is still watchable as a tribute to the original legend and film. However, if possible, I'd recommend watching the newer version before watching the original version, so as to enjoy both more. (Otherwise watching the original will very likely ruin the newer one for you by comparison.)

*Link to Original 1979 Version*

Overall Score As Original + Remake Together:
Acting:  15/20
Writing:  21/40
Directing/Editing/Production/Etc:  36/40

Overall:  72/100 C-

Monday, July 24, 2017

When A Stranger Calls (1979) [R]

Director: Fred Walton
Writer: Steve Feke & Fred Walton
Starring: 
Tony Beckley as Curt Duncan
Charles Durning as John Clifford
Carol Kane as Jill Johnson
Colleen Dewhurst as Tracy Fuller

Synopsis: The legendary scary story about the babysitter who gets a call to "check on the children", comes to the screen in this creative adaptation.

Acting:  17/20

Writing:  31/40
Directing/Editing/Production/Etc:  27/40

Overall:  75/100 C

Review: Carol Kane did not really prove why she deserved to be in Hollywood with this performance. There were a couple scenes where she really hit her mark and did a good job, but all of her other scenes were the opposite: very mediocre and unconvincing.  The rest of the cast did a great job though.

Spoiler Alert! 

I'm not quite sure why Carol Kane is billed as the star of the film as she's hardly in it and isn't very good in it. I suppose at the time this film came out, it was a twist that the film would follow the "private detective" and the murderer more than the babysitter and the murderer etc. That being said, she did do a better job playing the mother at the end than she did the babysitter in the beginning - particularly the scene in the restaurant on the phone.

The real star of this film, was Tony Beckley as the psychotic murderer. He genuinely captured an insane man and portrayed him in a way that was much more realistic than the more common Hollywood route of showing people who are insane. The way they showed his descent back into madness after experience "shock-therapy" a total of 38x over 6 years was actually very realistic and compelling. From the writing to the acting to the way it was shot, all of the scenes involving this character were very well-done, particularly where he was being reborn into the "monster" that he had been.

Charles Durning as the officer-turned-private detective/hit-man, also did a great job playing his character. It wasn't outstanding but it was very convincing, the second-best performance in the line-up.

Colleen Dewhurst as the potential victim and/or romantic-interest of Curt Duncan did a decent job as well. Nothing great but still better than Carol Kane's performance in some scenes.

Sort of like the acting, the writing had some extreme highs and extreme lows. The originality and creativity if the writing of this film needs to be commended. I went into this film expecting the entire thing to be about the original Babysitter-Caller legend yet it was only about the first 20 minutes of the film. Taking this route actually made the film even more exciting, as well as bringing it back full-circle to Carol Kane's character as the mother out for a date instead of being the babysitter.

The fact that the film went so much into the character of the psychotic killer and followed his descent into madness - along with the ex-cop trying to hunt him along the way - was very riveting.

Unfortunately, there were a few plot holes that really took away from the quality and consistency of this film. The idea that Curt Duncan was able to find the babysitter at the end of the film - as well as wanting to, almost out of nowhere instead of having that desire the entire time - was not very credible. Jill Johnson was supposed to be married with kids now, so she presumably changed her name so how could Duncan have known what that name would be to be able to find her? The edit to this didn't explain anything about how he found her which is a shame because it could've easily been done. For example: Durning was already going after Duncan and knew he was loose. It would be reasonable for Duncan to start stalking Durning, since he knows he is trying to kill him and Duncan's already a stalker. If Durning got into contact with Jill Johnson to see if she had been contacted at all by Duncan, it could've been the perfect way for Duncan to have found Jill, through following Durning.

Furthermore, the fact that Duncan didn't try to stalk and kill Durning after he knew that Durning was after him, was illogical as well. It's odd that he just ran away from Durning and randomly decided to go back after Jill Johnson. In addition, the fact that Duncan went after Jill and her husband before her kids was also inconsistent with his character. I think a more accurate and even more frightening ending would've been if Jill Johnson had come back completely full-circle to find her kids slaughtered by Duncan with the babysitter running out - just as she had before.

End of Spoiler Alert!

The film did a great job of keeping the suspense building and creating a very suspenseful atmosphere with the right pace, etc. However, there were some scenes that were very characteristic of B-movies. A fight scene where fists obviously weren't making contact and blood randomly appears out of nowhere with inconsistent injuries, along with a shooting scene that doesn't match up when taking in the angles and positions into account, were some classic production mistakes. The music had some great moments of adding to the film but there were also some moments that it wasn't so great and took away from the scenes just a bit. 

Overall this film was very suspenseful and original - despite being based on a common urban legend. It's not one of the best films ever done but it's definitely still worth a watch, especially if you're a horror or movie fan in general.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Nerve (2016) [PG-13]

Director: Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman
Writer: Jessica Sharzer
Starring: 
Emma Roberts as Venus "Vee" Delmonico
Dave Franco as Ian/Sam
Miles Heizer as Tommy
Emily Meade as Sydney
Machine Gun Kelly/Colson Baker as Ty
Brian Marc as J.P.
Juliette Lewis as Nancy

Synopsis: When a high school girl starts to feel like her future is crumbling, she turns to the newest social media trend: An online dare-game called "Nerve". Will it give her what's been missing in her life or will it take away what little she has left?

Acting:  18/20

Writing:  38/40
Directing/Editing/Production/Etc:  36/40

Overall:  92/100 A-

Although this film is very much done in a high school-style, the cast does a better job than your average high school play actors. Every single cast member delivers a solid performance in this film and does justice to their characters - which were consistent and believable.

Though his role is more of a side character than leading character, Miles Heizer does an outstanding job with his performance. Talented actors will shine whether they are in the spotlight or not and Heizer definitely shines in this film. He really gives himself over to the character and captures a lot of nuance for an unknown actor.

This film delivers an excellent social commentary about social media and the youth today. Not only does this show in the overall plot, but the film is also rich with symbolism and subtle references.

Review: Spoiler Alert! 

The symbolism and negative foreshadowing in regards to the Nerve game was executed brilliantly:

  • First introduction to the game is a video that is very reminiscent of "brain-washing" videos. This symbolizes the inherent malicious nature of the game.
  • After the introductory video for the game plays, it ends by repeating "Watcher or Player? Watcher or Player?" in an assertive manner, showing the inherent peer-pressure nature of social media.
  • A recurring theme we see in the game, primarily for the first dare, is the willingness to embarrass and/or debase oneself. (Sydney = Mooning the Audience; Venus = Kissing a Stranger; etc.) This was very symbolic of how people have become so obsessed with wealth and fame today, that they will do anything to get it - including losing their dignity (the first thing to go when one becomes greedy and superficial).
  • Just like any other social media app out there right now, the game is able to download your personal information - which the game then uses to customize your dares, just like Pandora uses your picks to customize your music "stations".
  • The constant watching and commentary from watchers was a great allusion to the fact that too many young people today care too much about what other people think. They are living more for other people and what other people want, rather than being unique and more independent.
  • The game seems to be an emotional outlet for people; Just like social media itself.
  • Venus' decision to play the game "because it's not like her" is very symbolic of all of the people who go online because they don't really like themselves and/or their own lives - hence they often use social media to escape and sometimes, pretend to be someone else.
  • The way Tommy responded to recording Venus's first dare, saying "Jeez. Why do I feel embarrassed?" was a remarkable way of showing how both "viewers" and "players" are negatively affected by the game - as both are still participating in it. This is symbolic of how people can be negatively effected by social media even if they are just looking at other people's pages etc. and not as proactively posting things themselves.
  • The game led people into the city where there are more users, people, action, possibilities and trouble for the "players" as well as more "watchers". This was very symbolic of how people naturally coalesce and how this can sometimes be used against them. This was also symbolic of nothing drawing the crowd more, than the crowd itself. (Bandwagon Effect.)
  • Even though Venus and Ian had instant, natural chemistry between them; The game came first and dictated their choices more than themselves. This was symbolic of how young people today focus more on the "status" of their relationships, rather than the more genuine and substantial elements to it.
  • The game choosing a tattoo as one of the dares, was very symbolic of how some choices you make involving social media can have long-term impacting consequences; As well as how whenever you post something online, it stays there (in the internet) forever.
  • As players, Venus and Ian didn't realize that their phones were automatically recording and streaming them live; Just as most people are not aware that their modernized phones and laptops etc. can do the exact same thing. (See Snowden film.)
  • As Sydney was doing the "ladder-height" dare, the opinions being shouted around her varied all along the spectrum; Just as social media gives a voice to opinions from all along the spectrum. (Her real friends all wanted her not to go through with the dare, because they actually cared more about her life than the game and her "status".) 
  • When Sydney was on the ladder, she kept being told she has to "walk" across the ladder, which was awful advice as that makes it more dangerous not less, just as strangers online can give you similar awful advice (especially when they don't personally know you or are just saying what you want to hear).
  • The fact that Venus had ignored her mom throughout the film until "it was too late" and she had already broken the rules of the game, was very symbolic of all of the kids online who venture into trouble and never say anything about it to their parents until "it's too late" and the damage has already been done. (Also a great argument for why parents should regulate their children's social media "lives" more.)
  • In order for anyone to win "1st place" they had to be willing to give their lives (ladder dare, laying on the train tracks dare, hanging from the construction crane dare, etc.) - this was foreshadowing to the "final round".
  • The "prisoner" concept was very clever because it had the proper information for blackmail (believable) and it made sense that the game would want to use a "default player" to get things started and "lead the way for others to follow" to ensure the game continues after each "round" is over (logical).
  • The message on the Ferry Terminal, as well as other aspects of the film, were very reminiscent of the movie The Game. In fact, this film seemed to be a modern take on that film in some ways.
  • The final round was very symbolic of the Roman Colosseum - a structured, group-oriented setting to hurt others for sport and entertainment; Just like the online world offers a structured, group-oriented setting to hurt others for sport and entertainment.
  • The speech that Venus gave in the final round had a lot of allusions to the great film, Network, especially the way she exposed the reality of the situation.
  • When the crowd rejected Venus' speech and chose anarchy instead, this was a great allusion to the book and film, Lord of the Flies.
  • In order for the scheme in the finale to actually work, it was imperative that Ian's character not know the truth - because they needed to sell this performance as authentically as possible. Some directors use this tactic in their films and they withhold information about the script from their actors because they believe this will result in a more genuine delivery.
  • The scheme that Venus and Ty were able to pull off was brilliant because it forced the watchers to learn "perception vs. reality". They all said they wanted to see her get shot and killed. Yet when it happened and the veil was lifted, and the time came for them to stand by their actions, they all scurried away and withdrew from the game. They didn't want to continue once they could see the potential consequences for their actions; they didn't want to continue once the facade was down.
  • Just like many of the things on social media, the little act that Venus and Ty put on, along with the bullet and blood, were all "fake" - just an act. 

The symbolism wasn't reserved to the game though. Sydney, the adrenaline-junkie and first Nerve "player" we see in the film, had the words "Teenage Dirtbag" on her phone. She is the one who peer-pressures Venus into playing the game and doesn't ever take accountability for her own actions. When she approached JP "for" Venus, it may have been coming from a good place but it completely blew up in her face when JP was more interested in her than Venus. Instead of acknowledging that she made a big mistake, she tried to blame JP and call him the jerk, even though he was not rude and actually pretty polite about the situation. It wasn't his fault that he wasn't interested in Venus nor that Sydney put him "on the spot" in front of everyone. Also, just like the game, Sydney had no boundaries and cared more about what she wanted than her friends (or in terms of the game, the players). She also had no qualms about whatever the game was asking her to do, as she embraced the game (i.e. farting challenge, obsession with viewers, etc.). She embodied the worst of the modern, social media-obsessed teenagers. After being embarrassed by Venus' "confession", it was typical "teenage dirtbag" and self-destructive behavior for her to hook up with J.P. and purposefully try to hurt Venus - who hadn't known she was being recorded and wasn't trying to hurt Sydney. In fact, Sydney actually did the very kind of things that Venus had just been complaining about - reinforcing herself as a "bad" girl rather than choosing to accept responsibility and make better choices. Even by the end of the film, Sydney was blaming Ian for getting Venus "into this mess in the first place," even though she was far more at fault for Venus getting involved than Ian was. By contrast, Venus accepted responsibility for her own actions and said "I got me into this mess"- which is why she's the one who defeated the game and got her happy ending.

The "cat fight" scene between Venus and Sydney being purely verbal and not physical was very sensational and compelling. It really showed how much power words of truth can have over violence, especially between females. This was a fantastic modernized version of the cliche cat fight - especially with the line, "You're one of those girls that peaks in high school"! (In my opinion, this was far more entertaining than the cliche physical cat fight.)

The fact that Venus' name was "Venus" was a great allusion to the modern self-esteem model going on with young people nowadays. We keep telling young people that they're all going to be "the best". Naming your kid after a Roman God is definitely putting a lot of pressure/expectation of your child to be "greater than average".

The film also does a good job setting up Venus' situation in the beginning and how easily children can become victims of single mothers. While her mother has no malicious intent, Venus still has the burden that most children of single mothers have when they reach adulthood: when the single mom wants the child-now-adult to make sacrifices for the "family", rather than the other way around. As expected, Juliette Lewis does her usually excellent job at playing the bad mom (see Hysterical Blindness film) - trying to force her fantasy about the situation on her daughter, by saying she'll be her "college roommate". (Yikes!)

When Venus meets "Ian" and he is holding her favorite book, it was brilliant the way she immediately apologized after offering such an intellectual discussion about it. This was very symbolic of how many in the social media generation prefer superficiality to substance and how she felt the need to apologize for saying something smart and stimulating - something previous generations didn't experience as they weren't so anti-intellectual.

The character of Tommy as the best friend - with a crush on the lead - was great symbolism of what has happened to a lot of young men today. He was dressed in traditional clothes from a previous era and represented the traditional "voice of reason". He was also the first to be suspicious of the game's intentions, manipulations and capabilities. However, as with many males in the Millennial and younger generations, he had lost a lot of his masculinity. He had traded a lot of masculinity for a more sensitive/passiveness, and unfortunately, it didn't get him the girl - though he did "save the day" and put an end to the game (and he seemed to have a shot with Sydney at the end). Even when he did try to be more assertive and stand up for Venus by speaking for her, it wasn't done right and came off more offensive and "crossing-the-line". He hadn't honed the skills of when to put his foot down and how etc.

Tommy's character was also an interesting contrast to Ian/Sam's. Ian was clearly not as smart as Tommy but he was much more suave and masculine overall. The chemistry between the two - primarily the reactions in Tommy's character to Ian's character - was exceptional. Heizer did such a good job playing the jealous role and delivered his lines with brilliant nuance ("I'm sorry I'm sitting here.") The entire diner scene between these two from beginning to end was hilarious. From the "It's a dare" response to "He thought those were our fries", Heizer really delivered in his performance, primarily when it came to subtlety. This also showed how most women still choose masculinity (Ian) over other qualities in men (Tommy), instinctually (her previous crush JP, was an athlete).

Even though Venus was very interested in Ian, it was ironic that she tried to push her friend Sydney in her place - which probably had something to do with the fact that she just saw that JP would have rather chosen Sydney over herself. This was very symbolic of how many "good" girls today feel inferior to the "bad" girls that are more sexually proactive and confident. It also shows how young girls today know too little about the difference between when a guy is looking for "party girls" and when a guy is looking for a "steady girl".

I also liked how the film showed that Venus and Ian were abundantly awkward at first whenever they were in person, showing why a lot of young people today just choose social media instead of more personal forms of communication (since they have the option).

"White people problems" was a great little nuanced commentary of how sometimes racism comes from non-White people to White people. When the black man heard Lewis saying "someone's sending me money?" and responded with "white people problems" without any context to the situation, it showed how he immediately assumed that it must have been a racial thing and that there could be no negatives associated with it. In reality, just minutes later the film was showing how Venus, a white girl, experienced prejudice from both a white man and woman about not being able to afford the expensive clothing in the store when she was asking for the dress - and she really couldn't afford it! (Not to mention that the money was tied to this sinister game that could cost you your life.)

There was also some allusions to the "power of anonymity", which were also executed brilliantly:
  • Since Venus and Ian didn't know their phones were recording their conversation, it allowed the unfiltered truth to come out (about Sydney having a "revolving door of guys" and how Venus thought "it's sad, really" because she's the one who's really "insecure".
  • By the finals round, the "Watchers" were wearing masks and bandanas to cover their identity - very similar to the modern emotional fascists aka ANTIFA.
  • Venus' speech exposed the "watchers" as being responsible in their own ways for participating, despite the fact that they wore these masks to make them brave and feel like they weren't responsible.

This movie did indulge in some classic Hollywood liberties (though it did provide some balance when showing all of the "fails" which outnumbered these following successes):

  • The entire bike scene where the couple did not get hurt or crash, even with Ian being blindfolded and getting up to 60mph was completely unbelievable - including the ending of that scene.
  • The entire ladder-height scene (with both girls) was very unbelievable, primarily when Venus was able to walk across - even if she is petite size.
  • Ty living through the train scene was very unbelievable.

Juliette Lewis' quote near the end, "you guys are the dumbest, smartest kids I ever met" was a great statement about the youth today. In some ways, they are very smart and have a ton of knowledge and education at the tip of their fingertips, which gives them a lot of potential; On the other hand, they make a lot of bad decisions and too often act impulsively, self-centeredly and carelessly (not thinking of potential long-term outcomes).

Ending the film by having Venus texting/emailing Sam "No more phones... I'd rather just see you" and getting confirmation to meet up before signing offline, was probably the best possible way to end the film.

End of Spoiler Alert!

This film had a surprising amount of witty quips that were very funny and always delivered perfectly.

The movie's lowest point is honestly it's soundtrack. Yikes! Most of the music was pretty awful and corny in the worst way. That being said, I do think there was a point to it, as the music was obviously lacking in artistic feel and talent; just like Millennials and younger so far have been lacking in artistic feel and talent (as a Generation compared to previous ones). With all of the other symbolism and allusions going on in this film, I don't think it's far-fetched to think the music was decided on, along the same lines.

Overall this film was a phenomenal social commentary on the social media generation. A surprisingly thought-provoking teen film with compelling performances.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Flatliners (1990) [R]

Director: Joel Schumacher
Writer: Peter Filardi
Starring: 
Kiefer Sutherland as Nelson Wright
Kevin Bacon as Dave Labraccio
Julia Roberts as Rachel Manus
William Baldwin as Joe Hurley
Oliver Platt as Randy Steckle

Synopsis: A group of medical students decide to find the answer to "what happens when you die" by experiencing it themselves - with the confidence that they can bring each other back to life before it's too late.


Acting: 15/20

Writing:  37/40
Directing/Editing/Production/Etc:  38/40

Overall:  90/100 A-

Review: As I'm sure anyone could guess just by looking at the cast list, Julia Roberts was the weakest part of this film - acting and casting-wise. Not only is it tough to see her playing a medical student for the obvious reasons, she also only delivers a decent performance. Kiefer Sutherland and Kevin Bacon, on the other hand, really showcase their talents and give very compelling performances. I'd even say this is probably one of Bacon's best roles. Oliver Platt proved himself to be a good side-character actor, as per usual, and William Baldwin was decent to mediocre (yet still better than Roberts).

The premise was very interesting here and it was one of the earliest films to show Generation X's ambition and desire to "upstage those [freaking] Baby Boomers!" It was also very true to the nihilism that embodied Generation X: These group of students were willing to die - and essentially "kill" each other - to reach their goals. Generation X grew up in a tough time, when the crime rate was high and they were often left to fend for themselves (known as the "latchkey children"). There had been a bit of a depression, a raise in oil prices and a constant flow of divorce. All of these negative things contributed to the nihilistic attitudes that are very symbolic of Generation X.

The film had a lot of religious undertones but is still interesting enough for atheist viewers to enjoy. In fact, Kevin Bacon's character is an atheist, and like everyone else's character in the film, he has his own reasons for wanting to partake in this "experiment" - adding some depth and perspective to the film.

Spoiler Alert! 
I think the answers that they came up with, primarily of reliving the memories and imagery that had "impacted" the characters the most, was actually pretty compelling and entertaining. It was interesting how they portrayed death as "lulling" and "inviting" one in. (Could be a scary thought in itself.) The premise of redemption was classic-religious storytelling but done in a tasteful way, nonetheless.

Also, the fact that none of the people who "died and came back" suffered any kind of brain problems as a result, was very unbelievable. They only only slightly alluded to the phenomenon of the potential to come back with "benefits" (which judging by the trailer, the sequel does plan to get more into).
End of Spoiler Alert!

The suspense was gripping throughout most of the film, from the "experiment" procedures to the after-math following each one. The imagery of the hospital in the beginning looked more like an old church dungeon than an actual hospital - providing some interesting imagery, but taking away from the scenery at the same time. Throughout the film, there was a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle visual imagery of "faces watching", (as part of the religious symbolism) that looked pretty cool if you caught it.

Overall this film was suspenseful, presented some interesting thoughts and ideas, and provided some commendable performances. Definitely a good watch for a "scary movie" or "darker subject" kind of night.

Friday, July 21, 2017

You Get Me (2017) [TV-MA]

Director: Brent Bonacorso
Writer: Ben Epstein
Starring: 
Bella Thorne as Holly Viola
Taylor John Smith as Tyler Hanson
Halston Sage as Alison Hewitt
Nash Grier as Gil
Anna Akana as Lydia
Brigid Brannagh as Corinne

Synopsis: When a young male in high school finds out his girlfriend - who has been withholding sex from him - used to be a slut, they break up and he finally finds a release and comfort elsewhere. Unfortunately, the young woman he finds solace in, is looking for more than just a one-night stand.


Acting:  17/20

Writing:  36/40
Directing/Editing/Production/Etc:  35/40

Overall:  88/100 B+

Review: This was the first film that I have seen Bella Thorne in, and I must say that she did a phenomenal job playing a sociopathic psycho. Bravo. The writing behind her character was very accurate and insightful and she played the role perfectly. While her cast-mates did not do a bad job, she definitely outshined them.

Speaking of the rest of her cast, what seemed to be a group of unknowns - which was the right casting call - delivered a solid performance but not an outstanding one. They all played their characters well but none of them lost themselves in the role, the way Thorne did.

The script itself was very enthralling (as dealing with a sociopath would be). There were so many tell-tale signs of her character and putting the situation in high school was a great way to add "credibility" to the script. Taylor John Smith did a good job playing your average male teenager who really wouldn't know what to do in such a situation, making a few good calls but mostly some bad ones - all while trying to make the right calls.

This was a great "tale of caution" for young men and young women out there.

Spoiler Alert! 
While the boyfriend was wrong to immediately cheat when he knew he'd want to get back with his girlfriend, it was also wrong of the girlfriend to react the way she did when her boyfriend found out about her past. He had every right to be upset at what he had heard and being drunk, he did overreact.

When the couple had their fight towards the beginning of the film, the girlfriend should never have asked her boyfriend to leave the party knowing he had been drinking. She's supposed to care about him yet she wants to send him away just because he found out something she didn't want him to know and didn't like? That was an extreme reaction, as well as breaking up with him. Of course he was left to think she was sending him away to be with the "ex" and in a large way, she invited Bella Thorne's character into her relationship. If she had not overreacted the way she did and broke up with him etc., he would never have left and fell prey to the predator. And there were also other points made about Ali's taking Tyler for granted and how she hadn't met his family etc. (He was obviously more into her, than she was into him.) Furthermore, Ali's character was more than willing to dish out all of the dirt about her boyfriend to some girl she just met, as well as give her the same amount of trust as she gave her boyfriend, which was clearly out of balance. She definitely made things easier for the Holly/Elizabeth character - at least to the same extent, yet in different ways, than the Tyler character.

In addition, the ending had a very unbelievable sequence that took away from the film's credibility. When Holly/Elizabeth shot Tyler (presumably aiming for Ali), she then turned the gun on Gil. This made no sense and was a bad call. The right call would have been to have her then shoot Ali, as she was ultimately the source of her frustration (as had been properly built up to this point). It would've been more believable to have her try to shoot Ali and Gil be the one to subdue her.

Anyways, the film made a great point about the crazies out there and how we really can't do anything about them - as it stands with the laws now - until they act out on their crazy thoughts/behavior, and whether or not that is the right call.
End of Spoiler Alert!

And by the way, yes, there are female predators out there and this film did a great job of representing them!

And on the flip side, this film also did a great job of representing the young males out there who aren't trying to hurt their female peers and are just victims of a bad situation. We have seen so many films where the young males have some "malicious" intent of "playing" the females involved etc., and not many films where the young male is just a victim who wants to make things right and doesn't know how.

Overall this film provided a very insightful yet entertaining portrayal of what it's like to have a negative encounter with a sociopath. It was very thought-provoking and well worth the watch!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ruthless People (1986) [R]

Director:  Jim Abrahams, David Zucker & Jerry Zucker
Writer:  Dale Launer
Starring: 
Danny DeVito  as Sam Stone
Bette Midler as Barbara Stone
Judge Reinhold as Ken Kessler
Helen Slater as Sandy Kessler
Anita Morris as Carol Dodsworth
Bill Pullman as Earl Mott

Synopsis: A greedy husband who is planning on killing his wife, thinks his prayers are answered when his wife is kidnapped and held for ransom. However, things don't go quite as planned.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruthless_People

Acting:  20/20

Writing:  30/40
Directing/Editing/Production/Etc:  38/40

Overall:  88/100 B+

Review: Danny DeVito and Bette Midler really get a chance to showcase their talents in this film. Whenever either one is on the screen, they immediately grab your attention with the way that they completely give themselves over to these roles.  The delivery of their lines are perfect, and the nuances of facial expression and body language from both actors are exemplary examples of how to take comedy to a higher level.

Judge Reinhold and Helen Slater, as the kidnappers. also perform true to their characters and provide solid performances. In addition, Anita Morris and Bill Pullman add great entertainment values with their own characters. Bill Pullman, particularly, does a phenomenal job with his character.

As far as the comedic part of this script goes, I have to give it an A+. This film is so clever and the jokes never stop hitting the mark. From the abundance of witty lines to the comical situations and the many scenes that intertwine the two, this film is well worth the watch. Some of the jokes were so direct and biting - but hilarious - I doubt they'd be used in a similar comedy in today's time.

That being said, there were some choices in the script that took away from the film.

Spoiler Alert! 
The biggest plot hole was the fact that the kidnappers were able to pull off their intelligent and elaborate scheme at the end of the film, yet had been so easily deceived by DeVito's character which "triggered" the kidnapping in the first place. This took away from the ending of the film.

In addition, the ending scene of Bette Midler's character joining the couple on the beach with the 3 of them "going off into the sunset", after pushing DeVito's character off of the Santa Monica pier, was a very odd choice. Barbara was established as a very nasty character and while it can be said that her husband used her and maybe she gained weight from being so unhappy, she didn't get any nicer at the end of the film; There was no change in heart for her. So it was a bit odd that she lost 20 pounds, took her husband's money and walked off into the sunset without having to pay for her "ruthless" character, as others did in the film, but getting rewarded for it instead. Not sure if it was saying women can/do/should get away with that stuff or what the message there was?

Furthermore, another plot hole was the fact that Anita Morris' character had her picture with Sam published in the newspaper (after the photos were found by the police) yet she wasn't contacted by the police, nor did she make any note of her picture being in the newspaper and even went on to keep "blackmailing" the police chief. This was odd, though the situation and lines used here were hilarious.
End of Spoiler Alert!

The beginning of the film starts with an animation sequence that lasts for about 2:35. It's not exactly the most enticing introduction and in modern times, could be seen as kind of cheesy. Aside from that, the flow and pace of the film were flawless and the editing and production etc. warrant no complaints.

Overall this film is a really great comedy that delivered laughs throughout the entire film. A very fun watch!