REVIEW: Stripes [1981]

“Excuse me, stewardess. Is there a movie on this flight?” Considering it’s become such a major staple of Bill Murray‘s career, it’s crazy to think Stripes began as a prospective Cheech and Chong vehicle. Written by screenwriters Len Blum and Daniel Goldberg based on an idea from director Ivan Reitman, it may have gone in that direction if the studio was willing to give the pot-smoking duo creative control. Hardly keen on relinquishing so much power, they decided instead to pitch Harold Ramis on tweaking things so he and Murray…

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REVIEW: The Great Outdoors [1988]

“Let go of the rope” Most would probably call it lesser John Hughes—he wrote and produced with Howard Deutch taking the director’s chair—but The Great Outdoors will always hold a special place in my heart. If you asked me who John Candy was in 1990 I’d probably have said, “the guy from The Great Outdoors” even though Uncle Buck had been released and deservedly held as the better work. There was something about the comedy brought forth from nature that appealed to me as a kid who had never been…

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REVIEW: National Lampoon’s Vacation [1983]

“Nothing worthwhile is easy. You know that.” You can’t blame the magazine for thinking movie-making was going to be easy after the success of National Lampoon’s Animal House. But does anyone really remember its two follow-ups National Lampoon’s Movie Madness and National Lampoon’s Class Reunion? I didn’t think so. Something about the latter must have hit someone’s funny bone, though, because screenwriter John Hughes—a writer for the periodical—would get another shot. This time it was in the form of a somewhat established property the producers knew could be successful as…

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REVIEW: Canadian Bacon [1995]

“We have ways of making you pronounce the letter ‘o’” Can you fathom a world where Michael Moore didn’t make documentaries? How would the liberal slant be passed on from generation to generation without his exploitation of poor Americans caught inside scripted “exposés” of corrupt governments and every Constitutional Right besides the one giving him freedom to make a living? Yes, I know I’m being hyperbolic—although also pretty much spot-on—but such a world was a possibility had his second film Canadian Bacon been a success. Fresh off the acclaim garnered…

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REVIEW: Identity Thief [2013]

“Foxhole! The safe word is Foxhole!” The words “from the director of Horrible Bosses” instilled little hope for me sitting down to Seth Gordon‘s newest work Identity Thief. Screenwriter Craig Mazan‘s name—he of too many asinine spoofs—only made matters worse. No, this road comedy’s saving grace would have to be co-star Melissa McCarthy and the level of hysterics she has unfailingly brought since breaking out in Bridesmaids. The fact her role of Diana was rewritten specifically for her after original intentions called for a man shows how high her star…

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REVIEW: Armed and Dangerous [1986]

“I got my Christmas goose early” If a band like Atlantic Starr is singing your movie’s theme song, it’s a pretty easy guess you’re from the 1980s. To most this tag is a detriment but others wear it like a badge of honor. Armed and Dangerous is one such film, letting the likes of John Candy and Eugene Levy run with its simple comedic plot as director Mark L. Lester hones his action expertise in order to destroy a bunch of cars with a renegade sixteen-wheeler, rocket fuel, and guided…

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REVIEW: Ghostbusters [1984]

“Back off man. I’m a scientist.” With all the recent talk about a third installment/reboot of the franchise, it’s not hard to forget how timeless the original Ghostbusters actually is. Rumors swirl and Bill Murray’s soundbytes mislead almost monthly now, but all you need to revisit the comical science fiction stylings of a paranormal-infused New York City is to pop open your DVD case and let the magic crescendo through Ray Parker Jr.’s classic theme. It’s even easier when Sony decides to re-release the film in select cities across the…

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REVIEW: Due Date [2010]

“What are you, a girl or something?” In a coincidental stroke of fate, following my own cross country trip from Buffalo to Denver amidst a constant barrage of quotes from Planes, Trains & Automobiles on behalf of my co-pilot cousin, I arrived back home on the east coast in time for a screening of Todd Phillips’s follow-up to The Hangover, Due Date. Trying its best to recreate the magic of Steve Martin and John Candy’s memorable Thanksgiving jaunt, this new film pits a father-to-be against the clock and the mileage…

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REVIEW: Planes, Trains & Automobiles [1987]

“Like your job; love your wife” Being the first John Hughes film I have seen since the writer/director’s passing, I feel that I need to speak about the man’s oeuvre along with the movie itself. I think many could make the argument that Planes, Trains & Automobiles is his best work. He wrote a lot of scripts, even into the years before his death, but as far as the ones he directed, you won’t get one that resonates on an adult level quite like this. The Breakfast Club will always…

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REVIEW: My Father the Hero [1994]

“Thank Heaven for little girls” Steve Miner’s film My Father the Hero, a remake of French film Mon père, ce héros that came out just three years earlier, is definitely a film that shows its age. It exudes mid-90s aesthetic from its music, clothing, and overacting, but surprisingly still becomes a gem of a film almost two decades later. The only reason I can say that is because of the wonderful performance from Gérard Depardieu. In a role that asks him to play the fool at every turn, even to…

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