Saturday, 31 October 2015

Movies With Not-So-Good Poster Designs Revamped: Billy Crystal & Robin Williams's Fathers' Day

A-list, big budget movies are a huge business; with so much riding on its coat tails and success, marketing & selling a movie is a huge opportunity for creative designers to work their magic. 

The posters, in-theater and cinema displays, and DVD box art are all designed to touch people on the right emotional level. They have to compel, inspire and excite readers and potential audiences in ways that will have them clamoring for the theaters & cinemas, DVDs, digital downloads, or by streaming them at home (Rucker)

Despite relying on online promotion and social media presence through Twitter and Facebook in today's day and age, the poster design is still considered a key & traditional element in the marketing of a film. 

In advertising, movie posters incorporate similar methods which can summarize the movie through visuals, photographic images & words. These include simple-yet striking visuals, use of colours and patterns, art style and the juxtaposition and presentation of the characters (Imagine Nation).

Movie studios invest so much time, creative energy and money into promoting their cultural texts that we tend to hold them to account when movie posters do not accomplish what they set out to do, as their main reason for existing: and that reason being is to successfully convey the movie's message to the audience, and by thus, selling the movie to them. Not just financially by charging for tickets, DVD sales, merchandising but also through the means of visual art and design. 

Not only do posters play a huge role in advertising and promoting a movie, but they serve a purpose by informing the public as to when they will be shown in official screenings and alas, they are extremely important when it comes to its stylistic and visual design elements. Sometimes, the film's essence and success is defined, as well as conveyed in one still image. 

The chosen artistic approach depends on the movie, messages and responses the design team wishes to employ: if these are conveyed well, the poster will be well received; if however, these things are not conveyed well, or the wrong image/s is/are chosen, that message will be lost and the poster would have failed to capture the readers attention. Plus, it is highly unlikely s/he will go and see that movie, based on that poster concept alone - which truth be told is not a good enough excuse to avoid it, but nevertheless, a bad movie poster is still a bad movie poster. 

Let's take a look at, as well as deconstruct the 1997 comedy movie, 'Fathers' Day' starring Robin Williams and Billy Crystal:



*Fathers' Day Poster design #1 - minimalist -style, minus the actors


*Fathers' Day official Poster design #2 featuring Robin Williams and Billy Crystal 

First off, I'll begin by saying that with regards to the concepts and elements of the design, this poster featuring Robin Williams and Billy Crystal on the front doesn't seem to convey what it is trying to say, nor give an idea to the viewer what the movie might be about. The only thing the reader will take from it, is that in terms of what type of movie it is, the first idea that comes to mind is that it is a comedy movie, and that it is a comedy. 

Secondly, though whilst it is good that they have the main portrait shots of the stars on the poster, it is the odd poses that make it look awkward: Robin Williams, especially that makes it look seem so 'off'. Here it - or be it he looks goofy, yet even though it is supposed to signify his character being an oddball, this just doesn't give the impression that Dale is weird. Rather when s/he sees it, they would think 'what is this Robin Williams character?' & 'what's with the crazy stare?'

In the first poster, the tag-line is another branding fail by the creators: I mean 'the reason why some animals eat their young'  may make sense when we talk about a lion or some other animal eating their own cubs/children. But in the sheer context of this movie, it sounds so out-of-place. What is that supposed to mean when we are talking about this movie, exactly? How does this tag-line relate to the plot of the movie of 2 male strangers, who are on the hunt for a teenage boy who could turn out to be their son? It makes no sense. Not to me, anyway. Therefore, in my eyes, it just doesn't work at all. 

The typeface for the movie title is a very odd choice, but it doesn't look too good. Big, bold, with slightly uneven edges with thick and thin sides, yes, but here the font choice makes the title look sloppy. & yet strangely, it gives off a child-like, kiddie, family- friendly vibe as well. 

With regards to the second poster, the one other thing the designers got right was the tagline: 'All she said was ''my son is yours''. Unfortunately, she said it to both of them.'  I actually quite liked that. It's amusing, but this tagline also suggests the dilemma faced by both Dale and Jack; as they try to figure out who is, as well as who isn't the father. 

That being said, I just think that design-wise, overall it is very poor; the importance of movie poster designs are crucial in terms of sending the right message out to the audience and in making them want to go out and see the movie. And here, the designers just never managed to make that message clear and concise. The font employed in the movie title doesn't visually compliment the portrait shots of Robin and Billy. I know the movie received negative reviews (not forgetting it skipped a theatrical release in the UK and went straight-to-video instead), but honestly, had it received a better poster design, it still might have attracted a bigger audience and made more profit at the box office.  

It just doesn't leave much to the imagination. 


My revamped Fathers' Day movie poster design for the UK & US market by Waiching


About my concept: at first, I was thinking of getting rid of the tie theme and connotation as I thought it never made much sense to begin with, and that it wouldn't have made much sense to other people. Yet on second thoughts, after doing a search on Google on Father's Day and the tie, it seems that there is a correlation between the tie and the father's day occasion itself, so I changed my mind and decided to keep the tie theme. But the main aim for me, what with this movie and that the plot and story is relatively unknown, was that I wanted to focus on the main words and emphasize them a bit, to make it clear and succinct to the audience. 

I will now go into detail about each element of the poster design and explain my decisions and reasons behind each one of them:

1) ''If you enjoyed Mork and Mindy and Mrs Doubtfire....'' >> I thought I would add my comment on the movie as a quote & a reason for people to watch it. Also, when s/he reads it, and if they have heard of or seen either or both of Mork and Mindy and/or Mrs Doubtfire, they can see or make a correlation to, as well as some of the resemblances that those movies share in common. One being they are all different forms of comedies, despite that they are all set in different universes (Mork and Mindy more-so as it is set in both late 70s and early 80s ) & have different settings, plots and themes. Mork and Mindy, Mrs Doubtfire >> Robin Williams >> Fathers' Day. Plus, almost everyone - or be it anyone who was alive and around during the 1970s and/or 1990s, in particular - has heard of Mrs Doubtfire and Mork & Mindy, because they are two of his most popular and well-known projects he has starred and appeared in. 

2) listing the names of movies they have appeared in >> a) it gives the audience an idea of what type of movie they expect it to be (even though the trailer failed (& tried to do this)) and b) I didn't list their works for the sake of Robin and Billy starring in them: I chose works that were huge hits for them and for which, people can easily link back to, identify and make comparisons with, as they are virtually similar & they are all comedies. So when s/he reads them, especially fans of Robin's and Billy's comedy movies, they'd go 'ooh, I'd take a look at Fathers' Day'

3) movie tagline >> 'one insane writer, one sane lawyer': without giving too much of the plot, it states the occupation of the two main characters. As well as this, 'Insane' refers to the character of Dale (played by Robin Williams) who is mentally unstable and 'Sane' refers to the character of Jack (Billy Crystal), who is mentally stable. 

4) 'So who's the daddy?' >> usually uttered as a slang expression in the form of a rhetorical question, 'who's the daddy?' boastfully claims one's dominance over the other person/s. Here, we have 'who's the daddy?' but in this poster, it is used in a way to question who the real father is between Dale and Jack. 

5) stuffed teddy bear with missing eye >> this worn out, stuffed teddy bear signifies childhood and two things: a) the son Scott, who has run away from home and b) the theme of happiness. It may signify the protagonist, Dale: the sweet, gentle, kindhearted individual, who is also mentally and emotionally troubled. 

6) Fathers' Day logo title >> I wasn't keen on the font choice for the original movie title, and so I went for big and bold, but keeping it simple and legible. The font I used for the 'Fathers' Day' title for my poster is called 'Grilled Cheese'. But also as it's a comedy movie, this is a style that has fun undertones to it & to denote the film's wackiness. I also added an image of a tie to signify fatherhood and being a dad. 

7) 'From the director of Ghostbusters and Animal House...' >> the original design lacked any real details & reasons as to why people should go out and see this movie, buy the DVD. By stating the director's previously most successful works of the past, this would've further boosted the promotion of Fathers' Day. Ghostbusters and Animal House are two of Ivan Reitman's most well-known popular hit movies and having just the names of Robin Williams and Billy Crystal alone, just isn't enough. 

8) Billing Block/movie and cast & crew credits at the bottom 

9) USA and UK movie classification ratings at bottom left hand corner

10) Warner Bros. Pictures text and logo at bottom right hand corner >> Instead of using an image of the Warner Bros Pictures logo from Google search, I used a dingbat titled 'Warner Logo Font Nine', which has a Warner Bros. logo/symbol and is generated by using the capital letter 'W'. 

11) Colour scheme >> mainly Dark Blue, White and Black. I simply reversed the colours from the original poster around. Couldn't be bothered to add a background colour to the poster, so I left it White.   

12) Using an alternative promotional image of Robin Williams and Billy Crystal >> I liked this one much better than the official and original promotional image that was used for the DVD cover and poster, so I thought I'd use this one instead. 


Sources:



The 5 Elements of A Great Movie Poster Design - Imagine Nation Photography 

Friday, 23 October 2015

Battle of The Robin Williams Movie Comedy Characters: Why Mrs Doubtfire's Daniel Hillard Was No Saint & My Love For Fathers' Day's Dale Putley

When I was younger and watched Mrs Doubtfire on video, I was pretty much in Daniel Hillard's corner and rallying around him against a barrage of assaults launched by his 'difficult' (ex -) wife, Miranda, who wanted to divorce him (and had succeeded in her endeavours). But in viewing Mrs Doubtfire in my mid-20s to today, there were a few things that bugged me about this movie and of Daniel's behaviour and attitude: both in disguise as the Scottish nanny and as himself. As for Fathers' Day, it was never officially released in cinemas in the UK back in 1997 when it came out in the US. But based on the trailer and poster that I saw for it a few years ago on the internet, I thought it would be too daft and stupid for me to care about it. That, and that I would take a disliking to Dale Putley. Well, I was clearly mistaken. It wasn't until years later I saw Fathers' Day for the first time and that I really enjoyed the movie and of Robin Williams' protagonist, Dale.

I know movies -unless they are based on a true story-, aren't real, and both Mrs Doubtfire and Fathers' Day are comedy movies with very silly farcical elements, moments and scenes, but by looking at & approaching it from a different angle, I came up with this post, because there are clearly a lot of people who are fans of Mrs Doubtfire and of Robin Williams as Daniel, and yet there are not a lot of people who are fans of the Dale Putley character in Fathers' Day, because most of them would not have seen or heard of this movie. & those who haven't and are a fan of Robin Williams, I suggest you take a look at it. 

So here are all of my explanations and reasoning's as to why I feel Daniel was mostly in the wrong when a lot of people were defending and supporting him in Mrs Doubtfire, whilst they were also ignoring and/or mocking, loathing Dale in Fathers' Day


  

      Daniel Hillard                  Dale Putley              


**notes: this post may contain spoilers**

A bit about Robin Williams's character Daniel in Mrs Doubtfire: Daniel Hillard is a (difficult) actor and husband who separates acrimoniously from his wife, Miranda (Sally Field) & receives a court order gag, meaning he can only see his kids a few days a week. As a result and unknowingly to Miranda, he dresses up as a woman and finds work by becoming a nanny so he can look after and take care of the kids. 

A bit about Robin Williams's character Dale in Fathers' Day: Two strangers in married lawyer, Jack Lawrence (Billy Crystal) and an unsuccessful writer, Dale Putley each had a brief relationship with a woman named Colette Rashad, 17 years ago. He (along with Jack) has been told by Colette that he might be the real father to their son, Scott, who has run away from home. In teaming up with each other, they have to find out where he is and to uncover the truth. Dale is a suicidal and zany writer with a very kind heart. 


<< (Dishonest) Daniel verses (Dearest) Dale <<

Daniel doesn't apply for another acting or voice job -



       

Daniel has 3 kids to support, yet during the first 15 mins of the film, he quits his job over some tiny minor disagreement. I understand it's because the cartoon show was promoting smoking- and I speak as a non-smoker, but here, it is one of the few instances where Daniel gets it right, that he had a valid point. Hence, there are kids who watch cartoons & who might get the wrong ideas and they assume lighting up a cigarette at their age, is a good idea. 

And yet Miranda (who was just as much in the wrong as Daniel himself, but for other reasons) starts b****ing and complaining and throws a temper tantrum when she finds out he is fired, as well as throwing a birthday party for their son in their own house, without her permission. But the movie doesn't try to explain why Daniel can't get another job in his field, especially as he has worked in the industry for years and so, he should have built up a considerable amount of references/referees for his resume. Instead, he ends up working as a shipping clerk in a TV production company, as well as a fake nanny.

Whereas in the movie, Tootsie, Michael Dorsey dresses up as a woman named Dorothy and lands a role on a TV show, because he can't find acting work as a male actor, here in Mrs Doubtfire, Daniel dresses up as a woman as part of the job as a housekeeper/nanny, and yet like Michael, Daniel is also an actor. And so the question is, if Michael can find work in his field and whilst dressed in drag, why couldn't Daniel do the same? Well, actually, he does in the end when Mrs Doubtfire gets a slot on a kids TV show (& yet this happens right towards the end of the movie, and too little too late). Just like her counterpart, Dorothy in Tootsie.  

It is argued that Daniel takes advantage of so many people - 




His brother, his brother's boyfriend, the social worker, his boss. His ex-wife, her boyfriend and the kids. When one looks at it this way, this is in many respects true. He turns to the kids & brother, just so he can keep it a secret & that he can reap his own benefits and rewards, in his quest to spend more quality time with his children. Even if this is to his own, as well as Miranda's detriment. 

Daniel becomes mad towards Miranda for having him have supervised visits with the kids, once a week 




First of all, I think this ruling is harsh on Daniel and Miranda acted like a complete c** towards Daniel and treating him like dirt; but at the same time there is no excusing his oddball behaviour and acts of deception by dressing up as a woman and trying to get a job as a nanny, so he can spend more time with the kids. Sorry mate, but you can't always have your cake and eat it. As the expression goes. Ok, so Daniel becomes angry and upset towards her, but he is just as much at fault as his ex-wife is. 

As much as Miranda did him wrong, Daniel was flawed as a person, like she was -

Of the lesser of the so-called 'two evils' though, I'd still side with Daniel, rather than Miranda. Just. Nonetheless, I wasn't a huge fan of either character. There are not a lot of movies that I have seen with 2 protagonists that I find as equally self- loathe-able and of whom come across as uptight, as Miranda and Daniel Hillard. 

Instead of moving on and finding someone else, Daniel becomes jealous of Miranda's relationship with Stuart -

He should've been dating and seeing other people and finding his ideal partner, instead of obsessing over his ex-wife and wondering what she has been up to and with whom. 

Dale's humour derives from his manic depression condition, whereas Daniel's humour comes from his immaturity as an adult & being a bad husband

Please hear me out on this: this is not about making fun of people with mental health problems.
 I am literately referring to the Fathers' Day movie itself: both in the context and subtext of the movie and the fictional events surrounding it. Indeed, the suicide references are, of course understandably unsettling (& particularly with Robin Williams, who died from suicide in 2014) and these are not things that I find amusing. There is nothing remotely funny about killing oneself. We are laughing with and along with Dale, - not at him or his condition. We are also supposed to laugh with Daniel, not at him. 

Yet in Mrs Doubtfire, Daniel's behaviour, on the other hand, was mostly juvenile and petty (let's not forget, he is also a parent to 3 children -, & some would add he should be setting an example); & thus, at times he is seen making inappropriate & unflattering comments, particularly behind other people's backs. Making sniping remarks at others.  



And yet the sad thing is, there are some people who would side with and feel sorry for Daniel (what with the popularity of the movie, Mrs Doubtfire), more-so than someone like Dale who is a manic depressive, & whose actions and outbursts can be construed as being erratic and would warrant incessant criticism and shaming, as a result of his medical condition. Not forgetting these people being labelled as 'wacko'. 

That's what bothers me the most.





This is a sign of crazy behaviour by dressing up as a woman in drag and conning and trying to deceive a social worker. 


Meanwhile below, this is a sign of behaviour that isn't (necessarily) crazy, rather one that he/she deserves sympathy & needs help .






Therefore, the point here is that the humour and comedy in Mrs Doubtfire predominately stems from and by Daniel Hillard's immature and rude behaviour, whereas in Fathers' Day, a lot of the humour and comedy is centred around Dale's misfortunes and bad things happening to him, due to his mental health condition. So now, you tell me that as amusing as it is and looks, who are we to sympathise with the most?  For me, no doubt it has to be Dale. 


Daniel was more of an idiot than Dale was - 

And this is coming from someone who dislikes his estranged wife, Miranda, who was frankly much worse and much more nastier.  






In Mrs Doubtfire, Daniel - whilst still intoxicated after all that excessive alcohol he'd been consuming at the restaurant, tried to kill and poison Stuart & all whilst dressed as Mrs Doubtfire by adding hot cayenne pepper in Stuart's Jambalaya, - whereas in contrast, Dale doesn't and didn't go out of his way to hurt anyone in Fathers' Day. He didn't wind up Scott, Jack's Wife, or Jack. And even when he did make fun of Jack, it was either as a joke, or to set him straight on certain things. It was never intentional or meant to hurt him or anyone else's feelings. 

He was arguably much more sensible. If we take away him committing suicide, Dale always tried to do the right thing by any means necessary (and I say tried - as he and Jack later got into a fight with the drug dealers and they ended up headbutting them!) and under the given circumstances. & when he didn't or when things went wrong, he'd end up breaking down in tears. The poor thing. 

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Daniel though: just a few more examples from Daniel in Mrs Doubtfire that illustrate this very point include throwing fruit at Stu's head after he muttered to his friend that 'the guy's a loser' (Stu referring to Daniel as a 'loser' to his friend, was totally uncalled for however), vandalizing Stu's Mercedes by tearing off the hood badge, the food poisoning scene and the fact that Daniel's actions by spying on his kids & estranged wife in disguise, can be perceived as a form of stalking. Though it didn't help matters that the movie tried to set Daniel up as some kind of moron. But because this is a comedy, it appears that Daniel was and is able to get away with most of the things that he did and for as long as he did. That is until he got caught out in the end and was later referred by the judge for psychological counselling




Dale's comedy moments in Fathers' Day were arguably more humorous than that of Daniel's/Mrs Doubtfire 

This will stir the pot that's for sure, but after viewing Mrs Doubtfire countless times, the jokes, slapstick, humour as amusing as some of it is, it is like once you've seen it all, you've seen it all. That is it. I found the scene where Dale gets his penis scalded by hot coffee and running into the bathroom & jumping into a bathtub of water, to be much more funnier than say, Mrs Doubtfire's fake breasts set alight by the stove. 







Daniel was stuck-up, moody and whining towards people most of the time (like seriously, how much more excessive whining can one take from him), whereas Dale's sudden outbursts & reactions are, understandable and medical - related - 

Being 12 years of age at the time in 1993, I stood up for Daniel and laughed at his antics. These days, I find it difficult sympathising with someone like Daniel over his behaviour, whereas with Dale, especially given his condition, I do sympathise with him a lot. As I used to be depressed myself, so I can relate to his worries. 


I know Daniel is hurt about not being able to see the kids as much as wants to, and of Stu being a part of Miranda and the kids lives, but c'mon, dressing up as a woman just to see his kids more often, is borderline insane in real life. When this movie came out in 1993,  I completely sided with Daniel over Miranda, 110%. Nowadays, it is like 30% (Miranda), 60% (Daniel). And the more I became fed up of his constant whining; I was like 'stop'. 

After Chris and Lydia find out their father is Mrs Doubtfire, Daniel explains to them he felt forced to dress up in drag, because he 'loves them' - 

I really don't know what to make of this, other than this reasoning sounds bonkers. Because it is. I know that people do all kinds of crazy things for love, not to mention crazy things for love of their children. But man....




Dale was more screwed up emotionally, psychologically than Daniel - yet he still had a kind heart and didn't come across as being selfish & moody 

Dale had his emotional & psychological issues for sure, but he was much more caring, understanding, sweet and lovable, in my opinion.



Dale always had good intentions: his heart was always in the right place when it mattered, that it was always about other people, he was also worried for others, such as with Scott and in making sure that they were okay, even though he has his own flaws & problems. These are some of the reasons of why I loved him, - whereas Daniel, though at most he was okay, just came across as being a bit snarky, of an oddball, and as mentioned childish, and it was mostly about his needs. Yes, he loves his kids - but that doesn't take away from his immature antics. 


Whereas Daniel was the deadpan snarker (a character prone to being bitter and making bitter, sarcastic remarks), Dale was the so-called lovable loser.  










Final Verdict:

Partly as a result of the depiction of Daniel, Mrs Doubtfire is a bit of a misfire on the part of the writers. That movie was messed up when they tried to make Daniel look even more stupid & act and behave crazy-yet immaturely. So whilst Daniel Hillard was a bit of a crazy idiot & Dale in Fathers' Day was also delirious and had a few more screws loose, the main difference between himself and Dan the man, is that Dale was more sympathetic, kinder & came off to me as more likeable, and as of whom had a much bigger heart. Those qualities of his won me over, despite of his suicidal tendencies. In contrast to the Mrs Doubtfire character, his crazy and off-the-wall reactions and behavioural issues are not down to immaturity and acting like a 5-yr-old,- but because Dale is a manic depressive sufferer. 


(above: My reaction when someone says they prefer Daniel from 'Mrs Doubtfire' more than Dale from 'Fathers' Day' )

Daniel, who doesn't have manic depression (& yet of whom I'd prefer over Miranda), was still immature, irresponsible & too much of a jerkass in my eyes. 

So out of the two D's in Dale and Daniel, Dale wins my vote.

       



 

Saturday, 17 October 2015

31 Of My Favourite Obscure, Underrated & Under Appreciated '80s Movies

A follow-up to my favourite obscure, underrated, overlooked movies of the 1990s, I thought I would do one for the 1980s as well. 

Last updated: May 30, 2017

*Movie info from Amazon


My Lucky Stars (1985) - before he became well known outside of Asia for the Rush Hour movies - which to be quite frank pale into comparison to his native offerings, such as Police Story -, Jackie Chan appeared in this kung fu comedy caper about a cop, who along with his partner, are sent to Japan to infiltrate a criminal and his gang. However, the real star of this movie is Sammo Hung, who shines throughout. The comedy is very humorous - although it is likened to say, Benny Hill, and it is really silly. Especially when the guys take it in turns to kidnap and tie up a female cop. I'm not going to say anymore, but that scene was very amusing and so typical of Hong Kong comedy during the 1980s. It's such a shame the Hong Kong movie industry faded into obscurity right after that decade - not only do I miss these types of action comedies, but also the frequent use of spoken Chinese Cantonese. Given that most Chinese movies these days solely rely on Mandarin as the main dialect. One could argue the humour and comedy may not be to their taste, but the fight sequences are really well executed & plus I'd add they are of a higher quality to that of 'Rush Hour 1, 2 & 3'. My Lucky Stars is well worth a look, especially if you are interested in Jackie Chan's earlier work. 
  
Yes, Madam (1985) - also known as Police Assassins, like most martial arts movies, it has very generic plot and story-line and thus, it mainly shines through the choreographed fight sequences. The English dubbing is beyond awful, and so it is highly recommended that you watch it in Cantonese with the English subtitles on. I mainly watch martial arts movies just to see the good guys kick some ass, more than anything else: Cynthia Roderick and Michelle Yeoh deliver when it matters when it comes to the martial arts fights, - if not for the forgettable script. If you are into martial arts movies, 'Yes Madam' will be for you - for the rest, it's probably worth giving this one a miss.

                                       
Ruthless People (1986) - Sam Stone is a hard-nosed, obnoxious money man, whose wife Barbara is kidnapped by a young couple - and matters are further complicated when the hubby doesn't want his wife back. That, as well as Sam's mistress, wants him dead and is only interested in his money, and you have a recipe of backhanded shenanigans, acts of deceit and over-the-top humor thanks to the Zucker bros. themselves. Clever writing, very humorous scenes and banter with grade-A performances by Bette Midler and Danny Devito as Barbara and Sam, whilst the kidnappers played by Judge Reinhold and Helen Slater are okay at best. Ruthless People is not only one of the best dark comedies to come out of the 1980s, but I also regard it as one of the best comedy movies of all-time. 

Wildcats (1986) - 1986 was an interesting year for Hollywood star couple, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, especially as they both starred in American football -based movies: Kurt in 'The Best of Times' and Goldie with 'Wildcats'. And a year later together in comedy, Overboard. A female coach is hired to turnaround the fortunes of a young, ailing (American) football team, much to the dismay of the players themselves. As Molly McGrath in Wildcats, Goldie turns in what I would say is arguably her best on-screen performance. A feel-good movie with some terrific sporting action, Wildcats is definitely worth recommending if you are into sports, comedy, or just to see Goldie Hawn whip those players into shape. Also featured in this movie are a younger Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes. 

      
Tequila Sunrise (1988) best friends Dale (Mel Gibson) and Nick (Kurt Russell) grow up on opposite sides of the law: Dale is a cocaine dealer, whilst Nick is a cop, who is determined to put him behind bars - should he choose to do one more deal with a Mexican drug baron. Michelle Phieffer is caught in the middle of a love triangle between Dale and Nick. The movie explores the relationship of Dale and Nick and their attraction to the same woman. Despite the negative reception it received, the movie worked because of the casting of Gibson, Phieffer and Russell, and that had it been anyone else, it would have tanked. It's very 80s, but hey, it was made in the 80s! Very suspenseful, some great performances along with some nice twists as well. 

John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China (1986) - Kurt Russell heads this fantasy action- adventure flick set in San Francisco's Chinatown. Big Trouble in Little China has that comic-book feel to it with a touch of John Carpenter's magical sorcery & supernatural hi-jinks. A far cry from Carpenter's previous efforts, 'The Thing' and Escape to New York, Jack Burton (played by Russell) teams up with his Chinese-American friend, Wang to kick butt & rescue their damsel in distresses, who have been held captive by Lo Pan. Jack is the all-American, all-action yet somewhat inept hero-to-be truck driver, trying to prove his worth, with martial arts action, humour and lots of fun. Slated by critics, but still, a movie that tries not to take itself too seriously, 'Big Trouble in Little China' is worth recommending.

Spaceballs (1987) - Star Wars knock-off spoof courtesy of Mel Brooks, the sight of little Rick Moranis wearing a massive helmet as the villain named Lord Dark Helmet certainly raises a chuckle or two. Yes, it looks a little dated, but Spaceballs is still a hoot, easily watchable with a funny script, as well as there are plenty of humourous scenes. It is the Naked Gun/Airplane of Sci-fi movies.

Kiki's Delivery Service (1989) - the animated feature film seems to be dominated by the big three of Manga and Disney and Pixar; therefore, it is nice to see a movie that isn't by these studios, not forgetting an animated movie that is a pure delight from start to finish. Kiki's Delivery Service was virtually unknown to Western audiences back in the '80s, but with interest in Studio Ghibli's work during the last few years peaking, meant this movie was given a second glance by audiences. And it is wonderful: great animation, the art style is fab, the narrative has a feel-good vibe to it and the movie itself is so inviting, warm and endearing.


48 Hours (1982) - forget Axel Foley: Reggie Hammond is the real deal as this movie marks Eddie Murphy's feature film debut. & what a debut movie performance it is - watch for the bar scene featuring Eddie - it's just impressive. Movie tells the tale of a former crook and cop trying to put their differences aside to catch a villain. The contrasts between Reggie's smooth-talking -yet brash and at times, cocky attitude and Jack's hard-assed, rough and tough exterior are very noticeable -yet they work well together in this action- thriller. 
If you're into Lethal Weapon, Tango & Cash and all those other cop movies, then 48 Hrs is worth seeing. 

Tiger Cage (1988) - A Hong Kong action crime film that has gone unnoticed, this has plenty of action, both in terms of the gun-play and kung fu fight scenes, along with some convincing acting performances to boot.


Tango and Cash (1989) - 2 rival LA cops are framed for murder and are later put behind bars. From there on, they set out to escape from jail, clear their names and pursue the crime lord who set them up in the first place. Entertaining and enjoyable action movie, reminiscent to that of Lethal Weapon with Mel Gibson and Danny Glover; amusing in places, very good action scenes, good one-liners, and the at times humorous banter and verbal exchanges between Sly Stallone and Kurt Russell is one of a kind. 


Turner and Hooch (1989) - between K9 with James Belushi and this movie with Tom Hanks, this canine effort just wins by a small margin. Even though the ending was so incredibly sad, it has a timeless appeal to it that can be enjoyed by everyone. Tom Hanks interactions with the dog are so amusing and cute at the same time. 



Akira (1988) - Back in the days when Anime was still hip and cool and relatively unknown before it blew up worldwide, there were the likes of Akira to contend with. A cultural landmark in Japanese cyberpunk action, this violent animated movie has terrific animation, great art style, end-to-end action and suspense. When we think of the epitome of Anime and Japanese animated movies, the one movie that usually springs to mind is Akira. The comparisons with Blade Runner are evident in the sci-fi action and special effects, and they are something special. A must-see for fans of Anime, it is the best of what Anime has to offer. 


Midnight Run (1988) - from the producer of Beverly Hills Cop comes this action comedy starring Robert De Niro as the bounty hunter and Charles Grodin as the criminal, who end up working together. Interesting mixture of comedy and action and entertaining to boot. 




Punchline (1988) - underrated and often overlooked effort about the world of and life as a stand-up comic with Tom Hanks and Sally Field. It is not technically a comedy per se, but a drama and though it was released in the same year as 'Big', is not as well known as that movie. You can tell in this film through Hanks's performance why his career took off and he went onto bigger things, and yet Sally Field's character - with the exception of Mrs Doubtfire, Soapdish - hadn't, even though her performance was still excellent. With the likes of Big, Dragnet, Punchline and Bosom Buddies to his CV, it is surprising that Tom Hanks doesn't do more comedy-type roles or roles that involve being funny and humorous. Which is something that I miss, because he is so good at it, & not just by being a serious dramatic actor.




Overboard (1987) - from Garry Marshall, who later gave us 'Pretty Woman', Overboard is essentially one of the best rom-coms to come out of this decade. Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell star in this rags-to-riches tale of a pompous, pretentious socialite who falls overboard -hence the title- ends up getting amnesia, and is told by Dean she is his wife and that they have 4 kids! Has some really funny and touching moments throughout and it also has a really positive message about 'money doesn't buy happiness', that & Goldie and Kurt have great on- screen chemistry together.  



Ishtar (1987) - this film carried a lot of negative baggage, which for the most part was uncalled for, as it was trashed by critics. The performances by Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty were really good and as a comedy, it's not too bad; in fact, I do not understand why this movie received so much disdain and really, it is a film that should have amounted to cult status by now. 


Dead Heat (1988) - buddy cop action comedy with a supernatural/horror twist that has become a cult classic, overtime. Witty, fun with a feel that is akin to Big Trouble In Little China, this is a cool B-movie flick


Red Heat (1988) - B- grade Arnie action movie with James Belushi & big Arnie as the two cops, who don't always see eye-to-eye, yet are forced to team up to track down a drug lord. In a way, this is one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's overlooked performances, as he is excellent as a Russian detective who travels to the US to hunt down his nemesis. The interplay by Schwarzenegger and Belushi hits the spot, in addition to the action scenes. 


Running Scared (1986) - fun cop-based film, released at a time when there was a surge of movies starring comedians, other performers turning their attentions to action-comedy roles (i.e Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop). Such as Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines in this effort. The story isn't much to write home about, but the performances, humour and action scenes all make up for it. 


Police Story (1985) my favourite Jackie Chan movie; this film just screams classic Jackie Chan - not the dumbed down version in his Western efforts. The stunts, fight scenes, the moves, it is non-stop stuff with some added comedy and humour. The main highlight is the shopping mall scene towards the end of the movie where Jackie takes on the bad guys all by himself, relying on inanimate objects and props as weapons and taking a beating or two. No, make that a couple, as well as injuring himself in the process with no wires - just pure stunt work. If you have never seen a Jackie Chan movie, start with Police Story and if you have seen almost every Jackie Chan movie, apart from this one, then, by all means, watch Police Story.  


Wheels on Meals (1987) - set in Spain, this is more of a comedy movie first, & martial arts movie second, with plenty of laughs and like with every other Jackie Chan movie has some of the best fight scenes, including one with Jackie squaring off against fellow martial artist, Benny 'The Jet' Urquidez. He also takes a backseat and plays more of a supporting role to Sammo Hung and Yuan Biao, but that in particular is a good thing, because it allows the other two to have more scenes. If you don't mind seeing a less action -orientated Jackie Chan movie, then Wheels on Meals is the movie for that. 


Best of the Best (1989) - American martial arts action drama with Eric Roberts, elder brother of Julia Roberts. The action is good, it's also interesting to see the competitive nature of taekwondo, rather than being a straight up action beat em' up. 



The Survivors (1983) - see here 


The Money Pit (1986) - from Steven Spielberg comes this screwball comedy flick starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long (Cheers) as a couple, and they watch their house fall apart, right in front of their very eyes. Some snappy writing and slapstick fun, if you are into that sort of thing. 



China Girl (1987) - Nitty Gritty take on Romeo and Juliet with an urban flavour by Abel Ferrera, he brings this story to life in ways that other directors wouldn't dare reach that is also one that I find stylish and the most interesting out of all the versions of this famous tragi-story. 



Adventures In Babysitting (1987) - debut from Chris Columbus featuring first early major onscreen performances by a young Elizabeth Shue and Penelope Ann Miller, with Shue's character and 3 other kids she babysits finding themselves in an adventure and on the run from bad guys. Fun throughout and action-packed in places, this comedy is worth taking a spin 

The Jewel of The Nile (1985) - People have said this movie is not as good as Romancing The Stone, which I enjoyed a lot. But I digress; for me, it is just as entertaining and fun as its predecessor. I was satisfied with this effort and it kept me on the edge of my seat at times. & the chemistry between Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner as lovebird adventurers turned couple, dashing hero Jack and damsel- in- distress, Joan, was still good. Danny Devito's character is part-slimy and less irritating compared to the first film. Not devoid of action, some humour, suspense and love moments, The Jewel of the Nile is by all accounts a really good follow-up.


Betrayed (1988) - Betrayed received negative reviews from critics, but that didn't deter me from checking out this film. An edge-of-your-seat thriller, it tells the story of a female FBI agent infiltrating a White supremacist group as she attempts to find out who killed a radio talk show host, whilst posing undercover as a farm worker. At the same time, her loyalties are put to the test when she falls in love with a farmer, who turns out to be a member of a Neo-Nazi terrorist group. Powerful and gripping movie around the issues of racism that is difficult to watch sometimes, just when the first half is about the love story developing between Gary and Katy, supplemented with excellent performances & direction, especially by the 2 leads, Debra Winger and Tom Berenger, the film just hits you with surprises that come out of nowhere. The scene where the little girl mentions the 'N' word was equally disturbing, the sheer deep-seated ugliness of racism influencing the younger minds, rears its ugly head. 


Stripped to Kill (1987) - I'm not usually one for soft-core porn based movies, but after reading the plot of this thriller, I really had to give this one a watch. At least this one was watchable and went far beyond having only the sexual aspect of it to generate interest. A female detective is forced to go undercover to suss out the culprit responsible for a spate of killings: all of whom are strippers. & she does this by posing as a stripper in a seedy joint. What I'd thought would be an utter monstrosity, it was to my surprise I discovered that Stripped to Kill had some decent acting performances & dialogue, as well as an intriguing plotline and narrative that had improved as the film went on. The music is awful though, so cringing. It is very hammy & cheesy at times, the last 30 mins were so ludicrous and over-the-top - and yet it was also entertaining and not lacking in fight scenes. So bad, yet also watchable at times, Stripped to Kill will appeal to guys in particular who like to get their kicks from seeing lap-dancers and stuff like that. This movie shares the same spotlight with Fear City. Not bad for a Z-list erotic thriller. 


Fear City (1985) - This one is in the same league as Stripped to Kill - well almost. A serial killer is on the loose targeting female strippers one by one. Apart from that one plotline in this movie, the cop doesn't go undercover as a stripper. An ex-boxer runs a strip joint whilst still harbouring feelings for his on- again, off -again girlfriend, who later becomes a target. The performances are good but what makes this movie appealing to me is that both Tom Berenger's and Melanie Griffith's characters are flawed individuals. The production looks slick - yet because of its lurid nature, 20th Century Fox declined to release it officially in theaters in America. Overall, it is a good thriller slasher movie with some suspense, but for the lack of characterisation of the villain, which comes across as being underdeveloped. 

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