My Top Ten Christopher Lloyd Movies

Happy Birthday (soon) to Christopher Lloyd, who turns 79 on Sunday.

I like Christopher Lloyd but this wasn’t an easy top ten as he’s not been in a lot of great films that I’ve seen. I like the top six, I LOVE the top two, but I can take or leave the rest. And I barely remember most of numbers 8 through 16.

But let’s do this list anyway! To be in two of the greatest movies EVER is still impressive. And it also gives me a chance to again mention my favorite episode of Amazing Stories (at the end of the post).

Here we go! Here are My Top Ten Christopher Lloyd Movies (counting down to my favorite movie, not ranked by performance):

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

16. Dennis The Menace
15. Piranha 3D
14. Quicksilver Highway
13. The Tale Of Despereaux
12. A Million Ways To Die In The West
11. Clue

Top Ten:

10. Eight Men Out

9. The Addams Family Movies

8. Mr. Mom

7. Who Framed Roger Rabbit

6. Anastasia

5. Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead

4. Back To The Future Part III

3. Back To The Future Part II

2. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

1. Back To The Future

Saw But Don’t Remember:
The Dream Team, Angels In The Outfield, Baby Geniuses

Some I’ve Not Seen:
The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!, Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, Radioland Murders, Man On The Moon, My Favorite Martian, Piranha 3DD, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, I Am Not A Serial Killer, Going In Style

Big Honorable Mention:

Amazing Stories – Go To The Head Of The Class

Remember Amazing Stories?? Oh man, I loved that show. Some of the stories were fantastic while some were a little dodgy. My very favorite one was a fun story starring Mary Stuart Masterson & Scott Coffey as teenagers who decide to get revenge on their evil English teacher, played by Christopher Lloyd. I used to watch this every October. When I was young & had time for that kind of thing… I’ve not watched one horror movie this October. Well, here’s the synopsis from IMDb and an old commercial for the show.

“A teenage horror buff is so smitten with a sexy classmate that he helps her use black magic on their loathsome English teacher, with shocking and bewildering results.”

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Ghostbusters, The Lost Boys & Amazing Stories News

Happy Halloween! I thought I’d share a few tidbits about three (of many!) things I loved in the Eighties: The Lost Boys, Amazing Stories & Ghostbusters.

First up is some fun Ghostbusters artwork. There was an art show in Los Angeles last night called “No Ghost Logos” in which artists paid tribute to the Ghostbusters logo creator, Michael C. Gross. Each artist did their own take on the Ghostbusters logo. You can check some of them out here: GeekTyrant.

Next is an interesting article I read about my all-time favorite vampire movie: The Lost Boys. You can read the article, “How The Lost Boys made vampires sexy way before Buffy or Twilight” here: gamesradar.

Finally, I just read some news that I’m very excited about! I absolutely loved Steven Spielberg’s TV series Amazing Stories and wish it had run much longer than it did. Luckily, it looks like it’s being revived all these years later by Bryan Fuller. Fuller is responsible for shows such as Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, and Hannibal. Well, damn – I’ve not watched any of those shows. Also, Spielberg won’t be involved with this new Amazing Stories series. Hmm. Okay, I’m still excited although I really don’t know what to expect. (You can read the Geek Tyrant article about it HERE).

Amazing Stories was a collection of odd & often supernatural stories each week and while some weren’t great, the good ones were fantastic. The episodes had very big name stars and it looks like pretty much all of them are available to be watched in full on YouTube. Three that I’d recommend are The Mission starring Kevin Costner & Lost Boy Kiefer Sutherland (this is probably the most famous episode – watch it HERE) and a war one called No Day At The Beach starring Charlie Sheen (HERE) and a cute Halloween-y one called Mummy, Daddy (HERE).

Being the age I am, however, my personal favorite was Head Of The Class directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Christopher Lloyd, Mary Stuart Masterson & Scott Coffey (after which the two young stars were also together in a John Hughes favorite of mine: Some Kind Of Wonderful). It’s another one that’s perfect for Halloween! Here’s the IMDB plot synopsis:

In this hour-long episode, a teenage horror buff (Coffey) is so smitten with a sexy classmate (Masterson) that he helps her use black magic on their loathsome English teacher, with shocking and bewildering results.

Here it is. Love it!: 🙂

Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead (1995) Review

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Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead (1995)

Directed by Gary Fleder

Starring: Andy García, Christopher Lloyd, William Forsythe, Bill Nunn, Treat Williams, Jack Warden, Steve Buscemi, Fairuza Balk, Gabrielle Anwar, Christopher Walken, Michael Nicolosi, Bill Cobbs, Marshall Bell, Glenn Plummer

Running time: 115 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Five different criminals face imminent death after botching a job quite badly.

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My Opinion:

Okay…. I think it was almost a year ago that I watched this movie so I guess I’ve put off reviewing it for long enough. It’s a favorite of a fellow blogger who shall remain nameless (ERIC!) and he and another blogger who shall remain nameless (MARK!) were always shouting (well, typing) “Boat Drinks!” at each other and I was like “What the hell is that all about?”. I was never in a big hurry to watch the “movie where they shoot people up the butt” but it was on TV one day so I thought “Screw it – let’s see what this Boat Drinks thing is all about”.

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Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead was better than I was expecting based on what it’s most famous for (the butt thing. sorry – I normally avoid spoilers on this blog but, seriously, it’s such a well known fact about this film & probably why I avoided it for so long). I have to say it’s actually a pretty solid crime drama with some really great characters and some very memorable lines & scenes. It seems to get compared to (or accused of ripping off) the previous year’s Pulp Fiction a lot but, in some ways, I think it’s actually a better film (I find Pulp Fiction overrated). I think it’s closer to, although not as good as, Reservoir Dogs. It has the same sort of interesting characters, amusingly witty banter, shady characters, violence, and the always entertaining Steve Buscemi. I suppose it just didn’t have the “style” the Tarantino films have so it didn’t get the same level of attention. Which is sort of a shame because, if you haven’t seen this, you’re missing a fantastic performance from Christopher Lloyd. He was the best thing about the movie for me and the “boat drinks” scene between him & Andy Garcia is the definite highlight of the film. It’s a wonderful scene! I’m happy I saw the movie just for Christopher Lloyd and that one scene.

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There are other good things about the movie, though. Lloyd was my favorite but each character in this group of misfits is entertaining and they all have very different personalities, meaning that everyone who watches this will have a different favorite character. I have to say that Treat Williams as a violent lunatic was a real treat for a change (ha!) and I always enjoy seeing Steve Buscemi in a movie even if he’s playing a similar sort of role as he has in a lot of other films. The two female characters (Fairuza Balk & Gabrielle Anwar) are of course pretty unimportant in this “guy movie” (typical) but I don’t really have too much of a complaint there – they get a bit more screen time than other female characters in similar “movies for dudes”. My only real disappointment, unfortunately, was with Christopher Walken. I like Walken most of the time but, in this, he’s a little too “Christopher Walken”. If you love him, you’ll like him in this as he’s being his usual, crazy sort of character but it almost felt like he was bored in this one. I don’t know… I think it’s one way in which Pulp Fiction has this movie beat – Walken was more interesting with a watch up his ass.

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Summary:

I think that Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead, although not my usual sort of movie, is a very good film within its violent crime genre. I think it actually deserves more praise & recognition than it seems to have gotten. This is probably down to it coming out after both Reservoir Dogs & Pulp Fiction and being accused of being a Tarantino rip-off. It’s not as good as a Tarantino movie but it’s also much better than a lot of the other films that could be accused of ripping him off. I suppose it could be argued that there would be no Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead if there was no Reservoir Dogs but I don’t think that matters – plenty of films are similar and it’s still a good movie in its own right. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re a fan of this genre. I’ll also make a bold statement here & say that I actually enjoyed this movie more than another similar film that also came out in 1995 – The Usual Suspects. The ending of that one is of course great but, overall, I liked this one more.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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**Speaking of one of those bloggers who likes this movie, I participated in Eric’s popular Shitfest celebration of horribly bad movies over at Isaacs Picture Conclusions. You can view my entry, a review of the annoying Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus, HERE. 🙂

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Dennis (1993) Guest Review

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aka Dennis The Menace

This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Rob of Movie Rob. Yes, Rob again! I’m a terrible host. I’ve only reviewed four Hughes films so far. You’re making me look bad, Rob! 😉 I’ll try to do another four reviews before this finishes. Now let’s see what Rob thought of Dennis. 🙂

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“I brought my own pillow so I won’t get my spit all over yours.” – Dennis

Number of Times Seen – 2 (Early 90’s and 11 Mar 2014)

Brief Synopsis – A six year old boy terrorizes his neighbor Mr. Wilson and his prized flowers. Based on the comic strip of the same name

My Take on it – As a kid, I use to really enjoy the Dennis the Menace comic strip and books. He would really wreak havoc on Mr. Wilson in so many humorous ways that it was always a pleasure to read.

This movie attempts to re-create and re-imagine that fun and it is widely unsuccessful in doing so.

The kid chosen to play Dennis, Mason Gamble doesn’t look enough like the comic character who is a bit chubbier and larger than the young actor and his antics here just aren’t very funny.
Walther Matthau is usually great in everything he does, but he unfortunately doesn’t have much to work with here since all his character does is yell, scream and have unsuspecting follies happen to him by the well-meaning Dennis. He is wasted in the role of Mr. Wilson.

This movie also adds in a criminal passing thru town played by Christopher Lloyd who attempts to cause mischief but is foiled time and again by Dennis’ mischief. I like Lloyd more in his fun roles like in Taxi or Back to the Future (1985) and he seems quite miscast here as the villain.

John Hughes attempts to make this movie and its lead character a younger, more mischievous Kevin McCallister but fails in doing so.

I’ve said this before and I’ll probably say it many more times but Hughes later movies attempted unsuccessfully to “borrow” elements from his earlier successes and suffer because of it. Just because an idea worked in a certain movie, doesn’t mean it can be transplanted into another one and be guaranteed to work.

This is one of those cases where it didn’t…

This is actually a movie I wish I hadn’t seen, because it ruined some of the pleasant memories I had of the character when I was growing up.

Bottom Line – Terrible attempt at re-imagining Dennis the Menace. Waste of time.

Rating – Razzie Worthy

Mr. Mom (1983) Guest Review

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This guest review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Josh of JJames Reviews. Thanks for this, Josh! Let’s see what he thought of Mr. Mom. 🙂

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Mr. Mom (1983)

Directed By: Stan Dragoti

Written By: John Hughes

Starring:
Michael Keaton
Teri Garr
Martin Mall
Ann Jillian
Jeffrey Tambor
Carolyn Seymour

Running Time: 92 minutes

Plot Synopsis:

Jack Butler (Michael Keaton) loses his job. When his wife, Caroline (Teri Garr) finds work before he does, Jack stays home with their three children. Both Jack and Caroline must grapple with personal identity crises as they adapt to their new responsibilities.

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My Opinion

Humor is Mr. Mom’s greatest strength. Even after thirty-plus years, it is funny enough to maintain attention, not least because it features many quotable lines: “220, 221, whatever it takes;” “Well, you should take pride with some of that fat, porky;” “You can give me two. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing;” and more. Writer John Hughes and Director Stan Dragoti deliver laugh out loud moments with such frequency that Mr. Mom never lags, never becomes less than entertaining.

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Humor is not the film’s only strength. In Jack and Caroline, Hughes and Dragoti develop two relatively complex lead characters. Both are believable and generate concern, facts that mean we can root for them and be happy when they finally start to adapt. Their stories are not dramatic masterpiece material, of course, but they are soulful enough to give this comedy weight.

Minor characters, like Joan (Ann Jillian), Ron (Martin Mull) and Jinx (Jeffrey Tambor) have only one note, but Mr. Mom does not suffer for their lack of development. Why? Because the minor characters’ purpose is to fuel humor, not to drive drama, and they are all very funny.

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As impressively, Hughes and Dragoti mark passage of time seamlessly and quickly, without ever resorting to cheap narrative tricks or lengthy exposition. They do not overwhelm their film with plot-filling montages, instead trusting skillful editing, simple dialogue and visual cues to fill in temporal gaps. Consider how we learn Caroline has found a job, or how we see Jack’s struggle to adjust to his new lifestyle.

Mr. Mom’s performances are also very good. Michael Keaton is enchanting in this comedic role, using exaggerated gestures and facial expressions to deliver punch lines convincingly. Martin Mull is just as good as a sleazy boss with inappropriate intent toward to his female subordinate, and Teri Garr plays the comedy straight man well, providing just enough stabilization to support Keaton’s attention grabbing efforts.

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Yet, this film is not perfect. Chief amongst its flaws is that it has not aged well. Set aside the 1980s fashion, hairstyle and decorations. Consider instead the way Mr. Mom panders to sexist stereotypes. Men do not know how to shop the supermarket; women are scorned by executive work forces; housewives watch soap operas and mostly ignore their children; and so forth. In 1983, Mr. Mom’s hyperbole no doubt effectively questioned society’s perceptions of gender roles, but in 2014, it isn’t so effective. If only because the modern world sees many men take active roles in households and childcare, just as many women now work in professional settings. We can still make more progress, of course, but today’s society looks different than 1983’s, a fact that makes Mr. Mom dated. Indeed, some of the film’s stereotypes are now borderline offensive.

Additionally, Jack and Caroline’s children are under featured, explanations of their presence, activity and care ignored, leaving us to wonder exactly what is happening with or to them.

The movie’s predictability is an even bigger issue. The moment Jack starts staying home, we know what is going to happen, both in terms of plot and character growth. Nothing in this movie surprises us. To be sure, Mr. Mom is funny enough that it doesn’t crumble under the weight of such conventionality, but a less predictable path would have served it well all the same.

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Yet, through humor, fun performances and interesting characters, Mr. Mom still overcomes most of its flaws. It remains an entertaining comedy. Yes, it has limited thematic application for modern viewers, but it is fun all the same.

Conclusion

Despite some flaws, John Hughes’ screenplay vitalizes this comedy. The actors also help keep it lively.

My Rating: 7.5/10