Tag: Comedy

August 7, 2006 / / Film Notes

Written by Jessica Wilton

USA, 1985. 114 min. Amblin Entertainment/ Warners Bros. Pictures. Cast: Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen, Corey Feldman, Kerri Green, Martha Plimpton, Jonathan Ke Quan, Joe Pantoliano; Cinematography: Nick McLean; Editing: Michael Kahn, Steven Spielberg; Written by: Steven Spielberg, Chris Columbus; Directed by: Richard Donner

To truly appreciate The Goonies, you must imagine yourself transported back to 1985. Pediatric asthma was on the rise, shoulder pads were in, and pirhana-like business execs were poised to devour whatever survived of the sixties and seventies. The collective anxiety of Americans was overwhelming—we were afraid of terrorists, Russians, and stockbrokers. We were nervous about computers and robots. AIDS had just been identified, and Reagan reelected. It was a nerve-wracking time in a prosperous nation, a time when we needed Stephen Spielberg. He knew just what was needed to soothe our collective angst: pirate treasure, booby traps, ethnic jokes, and three stooges gags.

July 21, 2006 / / Film Notes

USA, 1987. 85 min. De Laurentiis Entertainment Group/ Renaissance Pictures. Cast: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie DePaiva, Ted Raimi, Denise Bixler; Music: Joseph LoDuca; Cinematography: Peter Deming; Edited by: Kaye Davis; Produced by: Robert Tapert & Bruce Campbell; Written by: Sam Raimi & Scott Spiegel; Directed by: Sam Raimi

The Evil Dead was a film that beat the odds. It was helmed by a nineteen year-old working on his first feature, starred a bunch of unknown and largely untested kids, and financed mainly by Michigan dentists who believed in the young director and his friends when they pitched their movie. It was years after principal photography ended that The Evil Dead was finally completed and given theatrical distribution. It took still more time for this flick about five kids getting possessed by demons and most disgustingly destroyed while staying at an isolated cabin in the woods to gain popularity (and notoriety) on the video rental market. Word-of-mouth finally spread about this weird piece of work – a torrent of blood and gore made up of wild camera angles, arch surrealism, and oftentimes unintended humor.

June 26, 2006 / / Film Notes

US, 2005. Rated R. 102 min. Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan, Corbin Bensen; Music: Scott Hardkiss, John Ottman, Lior Rosner; Cinematography: Michael Barrett; Written by Brett Halliday and Shane Black; Directed by Shane Black.

Shane Black, the writer and director of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, was the original Hollywood screenwriting fairy tale. At the age of 24, in 1985, he sold his first screenplay for a quarter of a million dollars and in the process invented a certain kind of action film that defined Hollywood in the late 80s and early 90s.

June 23, 2006 / / Film Notes

Written by Kris Tronerud

USA, 1933. 70 min. Paramount. Cast: Groucho, Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo Max, with Margaret Dumont and Louis Calhern; Music: Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby; Cinematography: Henry Sharp; Produced by: Herman J. Mankiewicz; Written by: Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby; Directed by: Leo McCarey

In Woody Allen’s Hannah and her Sisters, Mickey (Allen), contemplating suicide, wanders into a repertory theater showing Duck Soup, and concludes that if life is good enough to produce the Marx Brothers, then it must be worth living. An entire generation of baby boomer moviegoers would not consider that an exaggeration, but the film now regarded as one of the best film comedies of all time had to wait 35 years to be considered as such.