Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Yippee-ki-yay, mother******!

Since it's Christmas, I thought it only right to commemorate the season by watching one of the most revered Christmas movies of all time. No, not "A Christmas Story". I'm talking, of course, about "Die Hard".

"Die Hard" is one of those movies that I always thought I had seen. I love action movies- I'm not sure how I missed this one. It never occurred to me that even though I could quote from it, that might have been just by osmosis. But when I really thought about it, I couldn't even tell you what the storyline to the movie was. I just knew the names John McClane, Hans Gruber, and a few memorable quotes.

I went into Die Hard with high expectations. I mean, there have been so many sequels, how could the original possibly be anything less than amazing? I was right - it was FUN! I mean, realistically, the story would likely never play out the way it did. But throughout the whole movie I was on the edge of my seat - it was quite a ride.

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Bruce Willis. My mom loved him when I was a kid - we watched Moonlighting together when it was on TV and I've always thought him to be a great actor and a good guy (and easy on the eyes especially when he was younger; that helps). He's been in so many great roles, but "Die Hard" is obviously the film he is most well known for (though I have definitely been partial to his work on "That 70's Show" up to this point). To watch him in this movie as the wise-cracking tough guy was pretty cool. He was alone in many of the scenes, and even with the walkie-talkie as his only support, he still held his own. The action sequences were great - not as dated as I expected them to be. I definitely have a soft spot for old-style action where it's not all completely CGI.

I thought the whole message of family was nice as well- here is this guy just trying to put his family back together and having a hard time doing it, and it takes him literally saving his wife's life in order to make her see what a great guy he is. As a woman, sometimes we are forced to choose work over family. We don't always make the right choice - luckily for Holly she figured it out just in the nick of time. I also liked that the kids played a really minor role in the film - they were there and they moved the story along but for the most part it wasn't really about them. As a matter of fact, I'm sitting here trying to remember if there was 1 child or 2, and I can't remember. That's not a bad thing.

The thing that I found the most funny was the attitude of the cops (outside of John McClane and Al, or Carl Winslow, of course). You see this so often in movies in this time - the cops are automatically the arrogant, self-absorbed blowhards. They know everything (even when they don't), they don't need anyone's help (even when they do) and their decisions are the right ones (even when they aren't). But they always see the error of their ways in the end. This made me laugh.

As usual I'm not going to dig deep into the plot, because as usual I'm pretty much the only person who hasn't seen this movie. But it was a great way to end my Christmas Day and I'm really glad to have seen it. I'll probably watch the rest in the series at some point, but I have a feeling this was the pinnacle.

5 of 5 stars.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Excuse Me While I Whip This Out...

The next chapter in this saga is Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles." I was really confident about this one. "Spaceballs" is one of my favorite movies and my sense of humor can be really depraved at times, so Mel Brooks' style of humor is right up my alley.

It started off like a punch in the stomach - the racist humor began right off the bat (when I saw Richard Pryor's name in the credits I knew I was in for it). I'm not one to shy away from a dirty or uncouth joke, so I wasn't worried.

It's a western, but it's not a western like I would normally expect. The movie was absolutely hysterical. It's been a long time since I was so completely satisfied by a comedy - there are so few "good" comedies being made in this day and age. People are too PC nowadays; it's refreshing to see a movie that doesn't take itself so seriously and really pushes the envelope.

All the characters are great - Gene Wilder shines as the jailed (and then mysteriously not jailed) Waco Kid (I met him...it was one of the best moments of my life) and Mel Brooks delivers his classic womanizing cameo. Madeline Kahn's ridiculous accent- priceless. The whole cast was hysterical - they had great comedic timing.

My favorite part of the whole film was the last 15 minutes or so. It was also my favorite part of Spaceballs. When the film is taken out of the film and just kinda dropped into "real life" - that is amazing to me. In Spaceballs it was when they watched the VHS of the film on the ship and promoted all the movie merchandise. In Blazing Saddles it was when they literally drove off the set and you saw that it was all a soundstage. There is a fight on screen that makes its way to the commissary in the studio, and the characters drive out of the movie, down the street, and to a movie theater where they go see "Blazing Saddles." Watching them watch themselves on screen is crazy, and awesome.

I am really excited to watch "Young Frankenstein" now for this project- a lot of people tell me it's their favorite of his films. I was really, really impressed by this one - it'll be hard to top.

5 of 5 stars.