Thursday, July 16, 2009

Underrated Movies

Every summer, Hollywood trots out new films. Usually these movies are based off of existing franchises (Transformers 2, G.I. Joe, Ice Age 3, Harry Potter), reboots of franchises (Star Trek), sophomoric comedies (The Hangover) or they’re tear jerkers that I’d rather be strangled with a game worn Hedo Turkoglu jersey than watch (My Sister’s Keeper). All the films I named in this paragraph came out this year. In this movie review, you won’t be hearing reviews of films that came out this year, just a quick synopsis, and my opinion, plus a little video clip of it that tells the story.

Now, I’m into movies, a lot. Some movies I like are the ones everyone likes. Some movies I hate are the ones everyone seems to like. (I’ll spell the titles backwards, cinatit, koobeton eht, thgiliwt, can’t figure it out? Then you don’t know me, for if you did, you’d know exactly what movies I’m talking about!) And some movies, the four I’m writing about, seem to be the type of movies that, if I meet someone else who likes them, I feel like I have a kinship with them, that we belong in some sort of special club, that only we belong to. I’m trying to get more people into the club with these flicks, so here they are.

Flight of the Navigator (1986)

Of all the great 80’s flicks, this one seems to fall through the cracks. I can’t think of why honestly. It mixed all of the great elements of science fiction, comedy, drama, and was great for the whole family.

The story is about 12 year old David Scott Freeman. David is a typical kid growing up in Miami in 1978, yet doesn’t seem to have a single Cuban-American friend, nor is there a single Cuban in the movie. (Because Cubans are only good for one thing, selling cocaine, as witnessed in Scarface.) On the 4th of July, David is sent out to pick up his eight year old brother from a friend’s house. (Because in 1978 Miami, it was safe for an eight year old and a 12 year old to walk by themselves at 9pm, oh wait, it wasn’t, as you’ll see in my Cocaine Cowboys review later on in the blog!) However on the way there, David slips and falls into a ravine and passes out. He wakes up what seems like a couple minutes later, heads back home and notices that his parents aren’t there, someone else moved in.

David is then picked up by the police, where he finds out that it’s no longer 1978, its 1986, and he had been declared legally dead for quite some time. The cops wonder why he hasn’t aged one bit, as he’s still 12 years old like he was when he first went missing. He’s brought back to his parents’ new house, where they’re relieved that he’s alive. (I’d wonder if someone was playing some cruel practical joke on me and probably tell the cops to fuck off, but that’s just me and I’m different, and this is a Disney Movie.) After that he’s taken to a hospital, where they conduct a series of tests on him. After finding nothing wrong, he’s released back home. However at the same time, NASA is investigating a flying saucer that crashed into some power lines nearby. Because of the coincidence between the two, David is taken into NASA’s custody for what’s supposed to be 48 hours. While there he starts hearing weird commands, then he’s tested by NASA officials who find out that he was abducted by this spaceship and was gone for 2.2 solar hours (which apparently is the equivalent of 8 years), meets a young intern (played by a very sexy looking Sarah Jessica Parker…and that will be the last time you’ll ever hear the words “sexy” and “Sarah Jessica Parker” in the same sentence in one of my blogs, I guarantee that!) and tells her of her plans on trying to escape.

He escapes in this robot that serves food to everyone staying at NASA and goes straight to the spaceship, which had been commanding him to come to it. Meanwhile SJP escapes to tell his family of what happened. After getting on the spaceship, David is informed that he is the Navigator, and that they need the information that the spaceship (Called Max and voiced by Pee-Wee Herman, aka Paul Reubens). After his brain is scanned, they go home, Max becomes a bit more human life after getting more than the information he needed from David’s head. When David gets home, he realizes that he needs to go back to his own time. Max informs David that this could be dangerous, and the reason why he wasn’t taken back into his own time is because Max was unsure if David could handle time travel. Now since this is a Disney movie, I’m sure you can figure out how this ended.

I LOVED this movie as a kid. For a long time I thought it was the only movie made in Miami (because obviously I wasn’t old enough to see Scarface at the time) and loved watching a movie set in my hometown, plus, it’s about a 12 year old that flies a spaceship, how cool is that? As an adult, I ended up enjoying the movie because of the inside jokes, including one that many people who live in Florida know all too well (should we take I-95 or the Turnpike?) The movie also has a great soundtrack, which I could best describe as “Miami Vice Jr.”. This movie cheered me up as a little kid, and more recently cheered me up now. I found it on sale at Wal-Mart, had to buy it! Have seen it about 30 times since then. It is a solid flick all around.
Now, one thing that scares me: Disney’s remaking the flick. Please don’t mess with the elements that make this film work. Please don’t replace the original score with a soundtrack featuring Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and the Jonas Brothers. I don’t ask for much Disney, but please, do this for me, don’t turn off the audience that’s excited to see this flick. I want to see the remake, I want to give it a fair shake, but if Miley has anything to do with it, even if it’s as Sarah Jessica Parker’s character (really the only character she could play) then, I’m not interested, nor is anyone that grew up with the film that doesn’t have kids.

Tommy’s rating: 4 spaceships.

The Last American Virgin

This film follows three high school boys trying to get laid: Gary, the sensitive guy, Rick, the player, and Gary, the funny fat kid. Most of the movie, they’re searching for one thing and one thing only, and gets them into different mix ups. In one scene they lure the girls over by promising cocaine, but it’s really Sweet and Low, yet the girls don’t notice. Later on, they end up hooking up with a true cougar, before her husband shows up. And in one scene, they each have their turn with a prostitute, who ends up giving them crabs. However, a love triangle ensues. Gary is in love with Karen, but Karen is in love with Rick. Karen ends up getting with Rick. Rick takes Karen’s virginity, but later on the two get into a fight and break up. Karen turns to Gary and tells him that she’s pregnant. Being the nice guy, Gary ends up using all of his money to get an abortion for Karen, and he takes care of her while she’s recovering. The two feel a connection while together. Gary then buys Karen a locket for her birthday with whatever money was left from the cash he used for her abortion. In the end, as Gary shows up to give Karen her birthday present, he finds out that she got back with Rick, and he leaves to the song Just Once by James Ingram, probably one of the top 10 most depressing songs ever, but fitting for the end of this movie.

Now, this movie has spoken to me in so many ways, but after seeing it about 50-60 times, I started to notice that: Gary was as much to blame as Karen.
Karma was what messed Gary up; he tried to woo Karen the wrong way. Their first encounter was when he went to her house and flattened her bicycle tire. Um, STALKER? See, everyone gets on Karen for what she did to Gary, and I was in the pro-Gary camp for a long time, like most people who saw this movie, I kind of just brushed off the whole “get Karen’s address then flatten her bike tire to give her an excuse to need a ride” ploy. But, that set Gary back. The truth is he used a dishonorable way to get Gary, so he was going to be treated that way. Another thing that I noticed, the blond chick with the glasses was all into him! Why not just accept her see where it goes? Besides, guy code dictates that if your buddy dates someone, she’s off-limits at all times! It still sucks what happened to him, and yes, Karen was wrong for what she did, but, Gary should’ve just been a man from the beginning. Had the writers had Gary come up to Karen and talk to her like a man, then all of this happen, then I’d feel some sympathy for him, other than that though, I always enjoy this movie, and maybe I’m just nitpicking it because I’ve seen it more times than should be allowed.

Tommy’s Rating: 3 Condoms and a Crabs medication


Mel Brook’s most underrated classic. There are three types of people in this world, those who like Spaceballs, those who’ve never seen it, and people who don’t have a soul. It’s a Star Wars/Star Trek/Battlestar Galactica spoof. That’s the best way I could describe it. Rick Moranis and John Candy (in just about every great 80’s comedy, either one or the other was in it, this one had both!) along with a robotic Joan Rivers (no different from the real Joan Rivers) and Bill Pullman as Captain Lone Star. Oh and how could I forget, Pizza The Hutt played by the late, great Dom Deluise. I’d explain more, but, you just have to see this flick, it defies a description.

Tommy’s Rating: 3.5 Dark Helmets

Cocaine Cowboys

The real life Miami Vice/Scarface rolled into once. It’s a documentary culled from news clips, with interviews with former drug dealers, former drug runners, news reporters, lawyers, and police officers. It talks about the drug culture in Miami in the late 70’s and early 80’s, a time when shootouts occurred in busy shopping malls like it was nothing. One quote from Al Sunshine, featured in the documentary and as a reporter on CBS4 in Miami was “if there were only 1 or 2 we didn’t bother covering it, if there were 3 to 5, then it was a story.
Hearing this made me grateful that I grew up in Miami when I did, and also made me understand why my grandparents to this day are so scared of us going out, why marijuana laws are so stringent (even though cocaine was what really caused problems), and why cops in Miami were/can be so crooked. I got a better understanding of the city I grew up in and love, and also learned that, as bad as cocaine was, it built our city, for better or worse, it built our city.

Tommy’s Ratings: 4 lines of coke and 3 joints

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