CPD Classics: My Neighbor Totoro (1988) Review

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My Neighbor Totoro (1988) (or My NeighboUr Totoro if you’re in England)
Tonari no Totoro
Japanese:
となりのトトロ

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 165 as of 01/01/2013

Directed & Written by Hayao Miyazaki

Starring Voice Actors:
Chika Sakamoto
Noriko Hidaka
Hitoshi Takagi

(English Dub Voice Cast: Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Tim Daly)

Running time: 86 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When two girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother, they have adventures with the wonderous forest spirits who live nearby.

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My Opinion:

Version Watched: Japanese with English subtitles & English dubbed version

It seems that My Neighbor Totoro is possibly the most loved of all the Studio Ghibli films. I know I certainly love it, which is why I’ve tagged this one as a CPD Classic. It’s certainly the one I hear mentioned the most and seems to be the one that has been seen by the most people (well, either Totoro or Spirited Away). Like the other Ghibli stuff I’ve reviewed so far in the IMDB Top 250, this keeps going up & has moved 34 places from 165 to 131 since I started the IMDB Project. For me (and I’m guessing most), that’s down to the actual character of Totoro. That big, cuddly, weird, um… thing! I know I have several Totoro items (a bag, a pillow, a keychain). What I wouldn’t give for a stuffed Totoro like Bonnie has in Toy Story 3!

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This is one of the “kid friendly” Studio Ghibli movies. You’re perfectly safe watching this (or Kiki’s Delivery Service or Ponyo) with your kid(s). I admit that I tend to like a movie even more when I get to see it through a child’s eyes and I’ve been able to see how much Totoro makes a 5-year-old smile & giggle. I know Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind is more “me” but nothing can really beat seeing something make a kid happy.

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I feel like I’ve said every Ghibli movie is “odd” in all my reviews so far but I know that puts some people off while it makes others possibly want to watch them even more. I suppose I’d say that Totoro is somewhere in the middle in terms of weirdness. I mean, there’s a catbus. Which is awesome! But, you know… Weird. There’s also the black soot “dust bunnies” (called Susuwatari – yeah, I had to look that up). Oh, and adorable mini Totoros!

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I love the innocence & wonder of My Neighbor Totoro. The two sisters and their relationships with each other and with the “forest spirits” are so sweet. But it doesn’t ever go overboard & get all saccharine like some Disney movies do (as much as I like those). Of course, there’s that crazy theory that Totoro is actually the God Of Death but I think that’s totally ridiculous. I prefer to believe (as Studio Ghibli insists) that these two adorable sisters who are so full of life are truly alive & well. I blame M Night Shyamalan for this stupid theory cropping up about all kinds of different movies!

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Oh, and I also really like the film’s score and cute end credits. Oh! And… if anyone has read any of my other Ghibli reviews so far, I often moan about the English dubbed versions. I’ll ALWAYS prefer the subtitled versions but I’m happy to say that the dubbed version isn’t at all bad on My Neighbor Totoro. I’m talking about the Disney dub – I’ve not seen its first dubbed version which was apparently distributed by, er… Troma Films?! lol. My Avenger Totoro – Toxic God Of Death?

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Summary:

Obviously, like a lot of people, I love My Neighbor Totoro. The story is quite straightforward & simple compared to a lot of the other Studio Ghibli films which can be quite complex and confusing. It still has that magical Ghibli feel, however, with all the weird & wonderful creatures (seriously… a catbus!). I’ll also always love that so many Ghibli films star girls as the central characters & it’s refreshing that they’re not all dopey princesses or wannabe princesses as is often the case when we get female leading roles in animated Western movies. But, most of all, I love the character of Tororo and that’s what has made this film such a huge success.

My Rating: 9.5/10

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Here’s my Totoro bag I tweeted a photo of while waiting at the bus stop one day. 😉

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CPD Classics: The Stepford Children (1987) Review

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The Stepford Children (1987)

Directed by Alan J Levi

Starring:
Barbara Eden
Don Murray
Randall Batinkoff
Tammy Lauren
Richard Anderson

Running time: 96 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
The Stepford Children is one of three made-for-TV sequels to the 1975 film The Stepford Wives. In this sequel, Steven and Laura Harding & their teenage children David and Mary have just moved to Stepford. Steven joins the town’s mysterious “Men’s Association” and Laura and her children soon begin to realize that something isn’t quite right in all-too-perfect Stepford.

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My Opinion:

You know how, when you’re young, you watch something and become really fond of it and still like it years later even though you know it’s not “good”? This TV movie is probably my biggest guilty pleasure. None of you would like it & I’m not recommending it. I’m just going to talk about it because I LOVED THIS THING when I was about 13 and watched the videotape I’d recorded it onto over and over until finally tracking down a VHS copy years later in the UK where I believe it actually had a limited cinema release. The VHS tape had that dodgy cover at the very top of this post. Hilarious! No one in the movie looks anything like that. Here’s an old ad I found for it & it’s much more accurate:

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The girl in this ad is Tammy Lauren and she was one of several actresses I was obsessed with as a teen (I discussed this recently when I talked of my love for Catherine Mary Stewart in my Night Of The Comet review HERE. Oh – and I’d like to add that Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney, the other girl in that film, both retweeted me & now follow me on Twitter. Freaking awesome!!!). 😉

I loved Tammy Lauren in The Stepford Children – she had her own style and a cool attitude and didn’t always follow the rules so of course didn’t fit in when her family moved to Stepford, where all the wives and children were a little too “perfect”. I always wondered why she wasn’t in more stuff beyond TV other than Wishmaster (she was also in another great TV movie called I Saw What You Did – maybe I’ll review that next October! I’m sure you all can’t wait for that…). Look at her hair! Oh how I remember my Aqua Net days…

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Anyway – does everyone know what The Stepford Wives is about? I’m not talking about that awful remake with Nicole Kidman! I mean the 1975 film that’s a bit of a cult classic. You know – this thing:

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Well, I saw The Stepford Children with no knowledge of The Stepford Wives so it probably helped my enjoyment a bit as I wasn’t 100% sure what was up with the strange women & children of Stepford. I just really liked the two teens (Tammy Lauren & her brother, played by Randall Batinkoff). Oh, and I just looked Randall Batinkoff up at IMDB HERE – he’s turned into a hottie! Anyway… Where was I? God this review sucks. Basically, I liked this movie because of these two plus the boy’s girlfriend, who was the only other teen living in Stepford who appeared to be “normal”. Their dad joins the “Men’s Association” after they move to Stepford and they (and their mom – played by I Dream Of Jeannie’s Barbara Eden) start to become suspicious of this organization and the odd behavior of the Stepford residents. It’s all very predictable & silly and the ending, which kind of freaked me out at the time, will honestly just make you laugh if you somehow manage to watch this now. Here’s a spoiler-y glimpse:

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Yeah… I know… A little dodgy. How about this?

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Lol! I don’t care. I love this movie and I know it’s because I was young when I saw it & I just really bought into the characters & story at the time. It’s a fun made-for-TV movie and, for years, I’ve been wanting to see the one they made after this one (The Stepford Husbands). I like the sound of THAT – I’d like to order up the Chris Hemsworth model! Seriously, though – if you have the slightest bit of interest in these films, just watch the original Stepford Wives. The idea of “the perfect wife & family” was a little more relevant to 1975 and is probably partly why none of the later films really worked (especially that godawful remake in 2004 – it was a very old-fashioned concept by then). The Stepford Children is probably about as good as these horrible grainy images look but I still love it anyway. (And, yes – I did rewatch it again recently for this review). 😉

My Rating: 7/10

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CPD Classics: Night Of The Comet (1984) Review

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Night Of The Comet (1984)

Directed by Thom Eberhardt

Starring:
Catherine Mary Stewart
Kelli Maroney
Robert Beltran
Sharon Farrell
Mary Woronov
Geoffrey Lewis
Peter Fox
John Achorn
Michael Bowen

Running time: 95 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A comet wipes out most of life on Earth, leaving two Valley Girls to fight the evil types who survive.

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First of all, I know I promised “Zombie Fridays” through October but I’ve had to change my schedule slightly so may not manage that. I’ll try. Night Of The Comet is KIND OF a zombie movie! Second of all, I should point out that CPD Classics are simply some of my all-time favorite movies or movies I just feel deserve more attention. Not all of them will necessarily be “good” but they’re all special to me (like Hardware!). Night Of The Comet won’t be for everyone but I grew up with it and it’ll always make me think of my early teens and make me feel all nostalgic.

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Why It’s A CPD Classic:

Night Of The Comet is part of the post-apocalyptic genre that I adore. I did a list of My Top Ten Post-Apocalyptic Movies HERE and gave this an honorable mention. I think that’s back when I wanted you all to take me seriously but, if I’m honest, this would be in my Top Ten. This is certainly one of the movies most responsible for my fascination with this genre.

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So, as the above plot synopsis says, a comet wipes out pretty much everyone on Earth besides the two sisters in this film and a small group of scientists who were the only ones smart enough to worry about the comet and took shelter. Oh, and it also turned some people with limited exposure to the comet into “zombies”. See? Zombies! (Don’t go expecting a full-on zombie movie, though – there are only a few of them!)

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There truly aren’t many survivors in this movie and I was always quite fascinated with how desolate it is (think Will Smith in I Am Legend or Cillian Murphy in 28 Days Later). These two girls are left roaming around these silent big city streets and there’s not a soul in sight (except for a couple of those zombies). They first go to this great massively 80’s-looking radio station as they figure there may be survivors there since the station is still on the air. Then, and this is my FAVORITE bit, they realize they can go to THE MALL and take whatever they want since everyone is dead! So we get this great 80’s montage where the sisters, seemingly not too terribly bothered about the planet being wiped out, go on a fun little shopping spree and try on loads of clothes. I LOVE IT. Now, I’ve never been a girly girl but I first saw this when I was 12 or 13 and I think a small part of me wished for a similar scenario in real life so I, too, could go on a post-apocalyptic shopping spree. Is that fucked up?? Lol. Screw that shopping spree in Pretty Woman (where Julia Roberts shows those snobby bitches that she’s not just a slut, she’s a slut with MONEY!). Night Of The Comet has THE best cinematic girly shopping spree.

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Now, onto the characters… The little sister is played by Kelli Maroney and, when I used to watch this all the time, I found her character a little annoying. I actually did re-watch this for the first time in years the other day and liked her much more. She’s just very “young” and she’s meant to be the less mature one who kind of needs to be taken care of by her older sister. It’s quite cute how the only thing she cares about with everyone dead is the fact that she may never have another boyfriend plus I have a soft spot for her as she was also in Fast Times At Ridgemont High and the awesomely bad (but I love it anyway) Chopping Mall.

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Probably the MAIN reason I liked Night Of The Comet so much, however, was because of the older sister (played by the lovely Catherine Mary Stewart). She’s COOL. There are a few (mostly obscure) actresses I wanted to “be” as a young teen. Regulars here will already know how much I loved Elisabeth Shue in Adventures In Babysitting. I also had a thing for Meredith Salenger (most her movies were crap but I wanted to look like her) and Tammy Lauren (a prize to the first person who can name something she’s been in without looking her up! she’s going to be in another review of mine this month). Then there was Catherine Mary Stewart in THIS. First of all, she works at a movie theater which I thought was pretty cool. She’s wearing this dumb uniform at the beginning but manages to look awesome in it. She’s also screwing the projectionist, which is super cool (yeah – I think it would kick ass to make out in that little room while a movie is playing). Hell, it’s what saves her life as she’s not outside when the comet appears!

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Let’s see… She’s also amazing at playing video games (she’s super pissed off that some new initials have emerged in amongst all her high scores on the video game at the movie theater where she works). Oh! And… She’s good at fighting off zombies and is really good with a gun as the girls’ father was in the military or something and taught them both how to shoot (now very convenient for these comet-apocalypse girls!). Finally, she wears the coolest 80’s clothes and is of course totally attractive.

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Summary:

Wow. I hope none of you actually read any of that above – it sounds like I was a massive geek! Well, all kids are geeks at that age, right? This is the first CPD Classic that I actually re-watched before writing my review as I hadn’t seen it in a long time. I already knew it wasn’t that “good” so was expecting it to be horribly dated now. You know what? It’s better than I remember. I can’t say anyone watching this for the first time now is going to love it unless they love 80’s movies (and this is VERY 80’s) but it’s a fun film and has a very “cult classic” feel to it now. There are plenty of 80’s films I still adore even though I will readily admit that they’ve not aged well but I was very surprised to find that, after re-watching Night Of The Comet, it’s actually gone up in my estimation. Worth a watch for lovers of the 80’s, anything post-apocalyptic, zombies, video games, girls dressed as cheerleaders while shooting guns, no thorough plot explanations, and shopping.

My Rating: 8/10

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CPD Classics: The Breakfast Club (1985) Review

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The Breakfast Club (1985)

Directed by John Hughes

Written by John Hughes

Starring:
Emilio Estevez
Anthony Michael Hall
Judd Nelson
Molly Ringwald
Ally Sheedy
Paul Gleason
John Kapelos
John Hughes (uncredited – as Mr Johnson)

Running time: 97 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Breakfast Club storyline follows five teenagers, each a member of a different high school clique, who spend a Saturday in detention together and come to realize that they are all more than their respective stereotypes, while facing a villainous principal.

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My Opinion:

I figured I should end this blogathon with my review of my very favorite John Hughes movie: The Breakfast Club. So don’t worry everyone – THIS IS THE FINAL REVIEW OF THE JOHN HUGHES BLOGATHON. (Unless I quickly watch the DVD I just received in the mail). 😉

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As always, I struggle the most when writing about the films that I really love. What is it about The Breakfast Club? Why do so many people of my generation hold this movie so dear? (And some from a whole new generation. Or two. Or three. HOW many generations have there been since I was a teenager?? Man I’m old…). All I know is that we have John Hughes to thank for it. The actors chosen all did a great job and everything but it’s the writing of John Hughes that really spoke to teenagers everywhere. And he’s never been bettered. Why can’t they make teen movies like these anymore?

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For me, I could really relate to The Breakfast Club because it felt EXACTLY like my high school. My high school was also very small, in the Midwest (not far from where the fictional Shermer, Illinois would be), and it was full of cliques. And the thought of a group of teens from these different worlds coming together and finding that they had a lot more in common than they realized was such a lovely thought. Okay – I’m not completely sure how realistic THAT was but it was still great watching the relationships develop between the characters in this movie.

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Most of all, it was seeing that each of these teens had their own problems & fears (even the popular princess & the athlete!). And having five such different characters meant that every teen watching would be able to relate to at least one of them. Me? I was a combination of the basket case, the brain, and a tiny bit of the princess. My boyfriend was the criminal (Totally. He even looked a bit like John Bender). So the one I could relate to the least was the athlete (But this was probably the largest social group in my school. Stupid sports! I sucked at sports. I had no chance of being popular!). Well, I was a cheerleader. Shh – don’t tell anyone that. How freaking embarrassing… Rah rah rah and all that bullshit. Blech!

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Summary:

The Breakfast Club “spoke” to me as a teenager the way it did to countless teens then and even to some of them today. It made me feel like maybe I wasn’t so different after all. We all have the same thoughts and fears and we all just want to belong, whether we admit to it or not. John Hughes knew exactly what was in a teenager’s heart and mind and was able to beautifully capture this in the teen movies that he wrote. This is the most apparent in The Breakfast Club, which is why it’s my favorite John Hughes film and a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 9.5/10

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CPD Classics: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) Review

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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) by ME!

Directed by Jeremiah Chechik

Written by John Hughes

Starring:
Chevy Chase
Beverly D’Angelo
Randy Quaid
Juliette Lewis
Johnny Galecki
John Randolph
Diane Ladd
E.G. Marshall
Doris Roberts
William Hickey
Mae Questel
Miriam Flynn
Nicholas Guest
Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Running time: 97 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
The Griswolds decide to stay home for Christmas. And this “vacation” is the funniest by far.

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My Opinion:

I love Christmas movies. When I was younger and had time, I’d watch loads of them through all of December. It’s A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, etc etc… I don’t have the time for that these days but there are TWO Christmas movies I still try to watch every December without fail: Scrooged and, of course, this.

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I don’t think I need to go into this one too much – I’d be very surprised if anyone has actually not seen it. By far the best of the “Vacation” films, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation may not be It’s A Wonderful Life but is certainly every bit as much an American Christmas Classic. What I’ve always loved about it is that it SO accurately portrays a fairly typical American Christmas with crazy family (although of course exaggerated for comedic effect). I’m not sure if this one is as successful outside of the US – I WILL admit that it’s very “American”. My British hubby has never been able to relate to this one in the same way that I can and, since living in the UK, I’ve seen that Christmas is quite different here. But that’s probably made me love this movie even more – I can put it on each December and get all warm & fuzzy remembering my Christmases as a kid.

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The other thing I’ve always loved about this movie is that it’s actually REALLY EFFING FUNNY!!! Comedy isn’t exactly my favorite movie genre as there are so few that I’ve found funny over the years. But Christmas Vacation is hilarious. The mishaps with the Christmas lights, the crazy old aunt & uncle, the squirrel, the dry turkey, the cat getting fried, Danny Fucking Kaye, “it is a bit nipply out”, the snobby neighbors, the Star-Spangled Banner, Hallelujah! Holy shit! And, of course…. Cousin Eddie. How awesome is Randy Quaid in this movie? “Shitter was full!”. That’s right, James Stewart – I love you and Zuzu’s petals & your “Attaboy, Clarence” and all that but nothing beats “Shitter was full” when it comes to the all-time best Christmas movie quotes.

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Summary:

This movie never fails to cheer me up. I can’t imagine a Christmas going by without me watching it. It’s very American which makes me feel all nostalgic, it’s funny as hell, and it actually has a lot of heart without being annoyingly saccharine like most Christmas movies are. These are the reasons why National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 9/10

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**I could only track down the above poster art to Pinterest HERE. And I looooove this piece of artwork from artist Jude Buffum (site HERE).

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CPD Classics: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) Review

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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) by ME, Cinema Parrot Disco! Finally writing some reviews!

Directed by John Hughes

Written by John Hughes

Starring:
Matthew Broderick
Alan Ruck
Mia Sara
Jeffrey Jones
Jennifer Grey
Lyman Ward
Cindy Pickett
Edie McClurg
Ben Stein
Charlie Sheen
Kristy Swanson

Running time: 102 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows high school senior Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), who decides to skip school and spend the day in downtown Chicago. Accompanied by his girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara) and his best friend Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck), he creatively avoids his school’s Dean of Students Edward Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), his resentful sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey), and his parents.

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My Opinion:

If you’re my age, there’s a 90% chance that you love Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. (Disclaimer: I pulled that statistic out of my ass). Although, personally, this is probably my third favorite Hughes film, I do think it’s his *best* film. The character of Ferris Bueller is possibly his greatest creation (and he created LOTS of memorable characters). Who wouldn’t love to be like Ferris? So carefree & living life to the fullest. As he famously says: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”. For a teen film, that’s actually a pretty deep & meaningful statement said in such a simple way. Everyone knows it’s the way we should ALL be living our lives yet so few of us remember to. I’ll admit right now that I’m a Cameron, not a Ferris. I don’t want to be a Cameron and everyone knows you should NOT be a Cameron. So why are there still so many of us in the world??

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So Ferris and his girlfriend and his best friend take a day off of school & spend the day doing various things around Chicago. So what? Well, what do YOU do when you decide to fake a sick day? I doubt many of us manage to do half as much as Ferris & co. Hell, I’d probably just mope around the house all day the way Cameron would choose to if Ferris would let him. Ferris lives LIFE and even the simplest things, like going to an art museum, are treated as something fantastic & beautiful. And call me sappy if you want but the museum scene with the magnificent Dream Academy version of The Smiths’ Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want is an absolute classic. It’s beautiful & it’s moving and this is from a film aimed at TEENS.

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That’s what I loved about John Hughes – he treated teenagers as human beings with feelings and deep emotions and BRAINS. Now that I’m far (far… FAR… Oh, so damn far!) from being a teenager, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be one and, as Allison from The Breakfast Club would say, my heart has died (in some ways…). Ferris Bueller’s Day Off gave us teens that, upon first glance, just wanted a “day off of school” but, by the end of the film, we realize that these teens skipping out on a day of school want the same thing all of us want: To find joy in the little things and to simply live each day as though it’s our last (which sounds corny & obvious but I’m not a good writer like Hughes – he said it much better with the “Life moves pretty fast” line). In this movie, it’s a coming-of-age thing as the three of them think about what they’re going to do with their lives outside of high school and you can tell that even Ferris is a little scared. This theme works just as well for any generation and any big life changes we experience: marriage, birth, death… I think this is a big part of the reason why Ferris Bueller’s Day Off remains so well loved even today. The clothing styles may change but the themes are timeless.

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Summary:

Um, that was all almost deep for me! I didn’t even really discuss any specific things from the movie. The characters are very strong as are the actors and there are so many great lines, funny moments, and excellent song choices (as I’ve said before, John Hughes really knew how to choose the right songs for his films). But there’s really no point discussing the specifics anyway – most everyone has seen this film by now or at least knows some of the more famous scenes. I love that it’s John Hughes’ “love letter to Chicago” as well as I grew up not terribly far from there and have had a bit of a “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” day in Chicago (but not fully – yes, this IS something I plan to do someday). The overall theme I discussed above isn’t enough to make a movie – it’s the combination of that plus the characters Hughes created here and his writing and the music and the humor and just… EVERYTHING coming together and being so RIGHT. That’s why Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is loved by so many, including me, and why it’s a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 9/10

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CPD Classics: Sixteen Candles (1984) Review

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Sixteen Candles (1984)

Directed by John Hughes

Written by John Hughes

Starring:
Molly Ringwald
Justin Henry
Michael Schoeffling
Anthony Michael Hall
Gedde Watanabe
Haviland Morris
Paul Dooley
Carlin Glynn
Blanche Baker
Edward Andrews
Billie Bird
John Cusack
Joan Cusack

Running time: 93 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Samantha Baker’s (Molly Ringwald) parents forget her sixteenth birthday. Plus she’s in love with popular Senior Jake Ryan, who doesn’t know she exists. Life is hard at sixteen. In the 1980s. (But not for sixteen-year-olds nowadays – those little shits have it easy!)

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My Opinion:

First of all, I’d again like to thank everyone for all the great guest reviews & all the enthusiasm for the John Hughes Blogathon. I’m glad to see I’m not the only Hughes lover! Now I think it’s time I finally start writing my reviews as well. I’ve only done one favorite so far (Weird Science) & one I’d never seen before (Career Opportunities). Why are the favorites more difficult to write about? Well, I’ll give it a try…

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If I’m honest with myself, Sixteen Candles is my second favorite John Hughes film. I know I put it after Ferris Bueller on this Top Ten I did a while back but, although I think Ferris Bueller is a better film, Sixteen Candles is the one I get a bigger kick out of. And that’s what really matters, right? 🙂

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For those (heathens. lol.) who aren’t very familiar with John Hughes, it probably appears as though Sixteen Candles is a sappy teenage romance along the lines of Pretty In Pink or a teen angst drama like The Breakfast Club. Well, since those kinds of films turn certain people off, I’d tell those people that Sixteen Candles is more along the lines of the zany comedy of Weird Science (with a bit of sappy romance thrown in). So don’t necessarily write this one off if you didn’t like Ferris Bueller or The Breakfast Club. Sixteen Candles is a little risqué, a little un-PC, and a lot funny. Plus it’s full of loads of classic quotables such as “No more yankie my wankie. The Donger need food!” and “I can’t believe I gave my panties to a geek.” and, of course, “I can’t believe my Grandmother actually felt me up.”

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I don’t know what else to say as most people my age who grew up with this one already love it so I think I’m trying to convince a new generation to give it a go. Sure, it’s a bit “80s” but I do think it’s aged slightly better than a lot of teen comedies from that era. And it was a more innocent time and we weren’t all tweeting or posting selfies or eating tampons & poop on YouTube or, I don’t know – doing whatever it is that these crazy kids are doing today. But certain things never go away, I suppose, and there will always be teenage CRUSHES. Which, finally, leads me to…

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JAKE RYAN

*Sigh* Just look at him! Look at that face. Look at those brown puppy dog eyes. And… Guess what? He likes nerdy, unpopular girls! Because, you know – that’s realistic! How perfect can a guy possibly be? Of course, Jake Ryan ruined boyfriends for me as he’s completely unlike REAL teenage boys so I had impossibly high expectations. Looking back on it all now, though, I can see my love for Jake Ryan was a little superficial. There’s not a lot going on personality-wise, to be honest. Nowadays I may be more likely to go for a Farmer Ted. But, hey – Jake Ryan was one HANDSOME guy. What a shame that he completely disappeared from Hollywood. But maybe it’s better that way so I can remember the way he was. He’ll always be my first & biggest Movie Crush.

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Summary:

Sixteen Candles may surprise those who know only of the more “family friendly” Hughes of the later years. You’ve got the iffy comedy of big-boob-loving exchange student Long Duk Dong which may not be socially acceptable to laugh at, oily bohunks, naked boobs, sex quizzes, doped-up brides on their periods, pervy grandmothers, geeks paying to see a pair of girl’s panties, and some big names in some small but funny roles (John & Joan Cusack, Jami Gertz, Brian Doyle-Murray & Zelda “Poltergeist Lady” Rubinstein). It’s not as bonkers as Weird Science but it’s still a little racy and fun. And it’s got the one and only Jake Ryan. *Sigh* It’s hard to say that without adding the sigh. *Sigh* What a dreamboat. These are the reasons why Sixteen Candles is a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 9/10

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CPD Classics: The Wizard Of Oz (1939) Review

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The Wizard Of Oz (1939)

Directed by Victor Fleming

Based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum

Starring:
Judy Garland
Frank Morgan
Ray Bolger
Bert Lahr
Jack Haley
Billie Burke
Margaret Hamilton
Charley Grapewin
Clara Blandick
Pat Walshe
Terry

Running time: 101 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Dorothy. Kansas. Toto. A scarecrow, tin man & lion. Munchkins. Flying monkeys. The Emerald City. Good witches & bad witches. Yellow brick roads. Etc.

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My Opinion:

I figured it’s a good time to do this one as a CPD Classic because 1. I believe they’re doing something special for this at the Oscars this Sunday and 2. It’s another review I can add to my IMDB Top 250 Challenge HERE. Oh, and 3. I love the movie.

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It’s hard to know what to say about a classic like The Wizard Of Oz when, I assume, most everyone has seen it. I grew up with The Wizard Of Oz and for years I thought the best movies in the whole wide world were The Wizard Of Oz and the Star Wars movies. I’ve of course “grown out” of The Wizard Of Oz a little bit now (unlike Star Wars!) but I’ll always be very fond of this childhood classic.

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I’ve not read any L Frank Baum so know only the movie. The way the film turned to bright technicolor when Dorothy opened the door to Munchkinland made me SO happy every time I watched it. Now, this was in the old days so I only got to see it once a year when they’d show it on TV. It was such a big event when it was time for the annual showing of The Wizard Of Oz! I remember one year holding a tape recorder up to the TV to record as much of the movie as I could. A tape recorder! Do the young bloggers even know what I’m talking about?! Man I’m showing my age. But I listened to that tape over and over again and I’m pretty sure I can still recite every line from my very favorite part of the film (Munchkinland, of course!).

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Then of course there are the songs. I’m sure everyone will agree that Somewhere Over The Rainbow is one of the biggest film classics of all-time. I personally liked all the Munchkinland songs the most & lines such as the coroner’s “She’s not only merely dead, she’s really most sincerely dead”. Ha! I thought that was so funny as a kid. Oh! And the Lollipop Guild! Those guys were AWESOME!

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I do wonder what kids these days think of this film. I grew up with it and never really gave it much thought but it IS pretty mental! And I found some bits VERY scary (mainly the talking apple trees, the wicked witch of course, and those horrible flying monkeys! they still creep me out). But, hey – I watched it from a young age and turned out okay. Right? RIGHT?! ANSWER ME, PEOPLE!!!! Well, it’s good for kids to be a “little” scared sometimes, right? I think we shelter them too much these days.

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I have no idea where this review is going. I just feel a little silly talking about a film that’s so well known. It’s a classic. It’s VERY iconic. Those ruby slippers on that yellow brick road, Dorothy’s dress, The Emerald City, the three friends she meets along the way, the munchkins and Glinda the good witch, the Wicked Witch of the West and the creepy way her sister’s feet curl up under Dorothy’s house, the way it does match up REALLY well with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon album (try it – it’s trippy!). I don’t know what to say other than it truly is a classic. They don’t make ’em like this anymore! That’s why The Wizard Of Oz is a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 9/10

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By the way: Stay away from Oz The Great And Powerful. Ugh.

CPD Classics: WALL-E (2008) Review

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WALL-E (2008)

Directed by Andrew Stanton

Starring (mostly voice) actors:
Ben Burtt
Elissa Knight
Jeff Garlin
Fred Willard
John Ratzenberger
Kathy Najimy
Sigourney Weaver
MacInTalk

Music by Thomas Newman

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Pixar Animation Studios

Running time: 98 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The story follows a robot named WALL-E, who is designed to clean up a waste-covered Earth far in the future. He falls in love with another robot named EVE, who also has a programmed task, and follows her into outer space on an adventure that changes the destiny of both his kind and humanity.

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My Opinion:

This will probably be about the most recent CPD Classic as films need to stand the test of time a bit first. However, I do admit that there are occasionally “instant classics”. To me, WALL-E was indeed an instant classic.

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I get super excited about every single Pixar movie that comes out (I LOVE Pixar!) but WALL-E was the one I was the most eager to see as, from clips released before the film, WALL-E looked so completely adorable & loveable plus the film sounded like a very interesting (and brave) concept. And sci-fi! Yes! I even went into London to see it as early as possible because I could NOT wait. And, boy, was it worth the journey!

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The entire beginning of WALL-E, before he leaves Earth, is an absolute masterpiece. Complete & total perfection. Sometimes I put the DVD in just to watch the beginning again. And again. From the second the Hello Dolly music starts to when we’re zoomed down to Earth & see WALL-E continuing to do his job on this desolate planet – Oh my god – There’s a big smile on my face just writing about it. Then the very grown-up Thomas Newman score kicks in and it’s quite dark and almost eerie and you know you’re in for a very different kind of kids’ film. Then, bloody hell – there’s no talking! For AGES. And it’s brilliant! Leave it up to Pixar to get away with that. The beginning of WALL-E is just so… I dunno. Epic! Cinematic! (It’s times like these I wish I was a proper writer!). Like in the old days where they made these sweeping epic dramas like Gone With The Wind & shit. The beginning of WALL-E is easily up there with things like that and I don’t think it gets the credit it deserves, probably because it’s an animated film. And sci-fi. The start of WALL-E, in my opinion, blows away every movie of the past ten years. Probably even 20. Maybe even 30!

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WALL-E, as a character, can’t get any better. Completely loveable and adorable. I never thought I could love another little robot as much as R2-D2! How can these two little robots that don’t even talk (much) have way more personality & character than most human beings? I love WALL-E’s childlike innocence – it’s so genuine & pure and makes you wish that every human could have that same curiosity and thirst for knowledge & experience & love. Love! Because WALL-E is a love story and, I don’t care what anyone thinks, is probably my all-time favorite cinematic love story (it’s close between this and Carl & Ellie in Up. Woohoo Pixar!). I found WALL-E & EVE’s romance more genuine & believable than any in those girly romantic comedy type movies that mostly get on my nerves. I get annoyed with people who moan that WALL-E is some preachy movie about the environment and how fat & lazy & wasteful we all are. Really? Um, no. That’s just the backdrop for a unique love story & a story about appreciating the little things in life. Argh! These people are missing the whole point!! (Sorry. I get passionate about WALL-E because I’ve had a lot of people tell me they do NOT understand my love for it.) 😉

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Unfortunately, (and I hate to say anything at all negative about this movie) once WALL-E leaves Earth, the rest of the film just doesn’t live up to the beginning. But it would be very hard to match the brilliance of the start so I can’t complain too much. I really really want to love the rest of the movie as much but it goes downhill with the appearance of the humans, who aren’t that likeable (mainly because they’re not very developed but, obviously, the movie is focusing on developing the personalities of WALL-E & EVE). There are still wonderful scenes (the space dance with Thomas Newman’s beautiful “Define Dancing”) and anything involving the other robots (especially cute little clean-freak M-O).

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Yeah – I just mentioned Thomas Newman again just like in my review for The Shawshank Redemption. Is it a coincidence that he’s scored some of my all-time favorite films? I think not! He’s brilliant and I love the WALL-E score, although much of it is very different from other scores he’s done. It’s very quirky but I think it fits the film perfectly. Because, I admit, it’s a quirky film and I know it’s not for everyone. But I adore it and the beginning is a true masterpiece that I honestly don’t think I’ll see another film come even close to topping in my lifetime. That’s why WALL-E is a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 9.5/10

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CPD Classics: The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Review

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The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Directed by Frank Darabont

Based on Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King

Starring:
Tim Robbins
Morgan Freeman
Bob Gunton
William Sadler
Clancy Brown
Gil Bellows
Mark Rolston
James Whitmore
Jeffrey DeMunn

Music by Thomas Newman

Running time: 142 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Andy Dufresne is a banker sent to Shawshank State Prison after being convicted of murdering his wife and her lover. While there, be becomes friends with fellow inmate Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding. Through years of hardship, Andy maintains his innocence and never gives up hope.

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Why It’s A CPD Classic:

First off, I’ll point out that this is in the IMDB Top 250 so I figured it would be a good one to do today to help kick off all the guest IMDB Top 250 reviews that I’ll start posting next week (More about that after the review). And what a place to start! The Shawshank Redemption takes the number one spot, having been voted as the best movie of all-time by IMDB users. So why is that….?

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I’m a Shawshank lover. Yep – I’m one of those mainstream masses who is perfectly happy to see Shawshank at number one above the likes of The Godfather and Citizen Kane. Yep – it’s a “feel good” movie. Yep – it may sometimes try a little too hard to be a “feel good” movie. You know what? I don’t care. Because this movie DOES make me feel good! And there’s nothing wrong with that. And most importantly, to me, it has these amazing feel good moments yet it doesn’t feel contrived. Most of us film lovers can see right through that. If Shawshank was guilty of that, it wouldn’t have stayed in the number one spot for all these years. It tells a pretty straight forward story in a straight forward way. I suppose thanks can go to Stephen King for that, my very favorite author and whose adapted works will be featuring more than just this once in my CPD Classics series.

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But clearly the combination of Stephen King & Frank Darabont just WORKS. The Green Mile is also absolutely fantastic and I think The Mist is a great underrated film. Oh, and I have to mention a third very important element: Thomas Newman. I ADORE so many Thomas Newman scores. He’s amazing & doesn’t quite seem to get the credit he deserves. Now isn’t the time to go into him, though, as I think I should devote an entire post to him someday.

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I don’t know if I need to go into any detail with this review. I would assume that most everyone has seen this movie by now and, if not, I think it’s extremely well known what happens in it anyway. I love this film and I’m clearly not alone in feeling this way, although I rarely see it mentioned amongst bloggers here so I’d love to know everyone’s thoughts on this one in the comments below. Is it too mainstream for the blogging crowd? Too obvious & “feel good”? Am I now going to be considered uncool and you’ll all run me out of (WordPress) town?

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I think there are a lot of things that make The Shawshank Redemption such a widely loved film and the movie just gets so many things “right” that they all combine to give us something spectacular: Feel good moments like the beer & opera scenes (which never fail to move me no matter how many times I watch this movie). Andy & Red’s friendship. The lesser characters such as Brooks & Heywood (and the heartbreakingly beautiful “Brooks Was Here” theme from Thomas Newman). Seeing the posters on the wall change, showing the passage of time. Alexandre Dumbass. The pet bird. Rita Hayworth. And, of course, the overall message of hope.

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More than anything, though, I think it’s Stephen King’s story and Darabont’s ability to give us scenes of pure beauty in a movie based someplace as awful as a prison, along with Thomas Newman’s amazing score plus superb narration from the always lovely-to-listen-to voice of Morgan Freeman which may all be most to thank for making The Shawshank Redemption as near to perfection as I think any film could ever really get. That’s why The Shawshank Redemption is a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 10/10

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(That’s the first 10 I’ve given on my site)

IMDB Top 250 Guest Reviews: Thanks once again to all who signed up to help me finish my IMDB Top 250 Challenge by doing guest reviews. I’m still amazed by the huge response and can’t believe I’ve already received some reviews! So I’ll be starting to post them next week (I’ll e-mail you to let you know when yours will be posted). There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone else would like to join in! You can find a list with the remaining movies HERE.

JOHN HUGHES BLOGATHON: Also, a quick reminder that March is when I’ll be having the John Hughes blogathon (so the Top 250 thing will go on hold for a month). I’ve had several reviews so far – thank you everyone! I’d like to receive the rest by the end of this month at the latest so that I can get them all scheduled & let you know when yours will be posted. Reviews can be e-mailed to tableninemutant at hotmail dot com. AND – I’d be happy for anyone to still join!!! You can do any film you want. See more details HERE. 🙂

CPD Classics: Hardware (1990) Review

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Hardware (1990)

Directed by Richard Stanley

Starring:
Dylan McDermott
Stacey Travis
John Lynch
Iggy Pop
Carl McCoy
William Hootkins
Mark Northover
Paul McKenzie
Lemmy

Running time: 94 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Hardware is a British-American post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film. Inspired by a short story in 2000 AD, the film depicts the rampage of a self-repairing robot in a post-apocalyptic slum.

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Why It’s A CPD Classic:

This movie is all kinds of awesome. Why isn’t it more well known? First of all, it’s a “post-apocalyptic science fiction horror”. How cool is that? I love sci-fi, I’m not huge on horror but love it when it’s GOOD (like this is) and, for whatever reason, I’ve always been a sucker for that whole post-apocalyptic thing (you can see my list of My Top Ten Apocalyptic Movies HERE).

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I will say this is quite low budget and feels more like a very early 80s film than a 1990 one. That’s a good thing anyway as the 90s sucked & had a terrible look to everything (watch a re-run of Friends – it’s not aging well!). Really, Hardware is a low budget Terminator but, again, that’s another movie that was all kinds of awesome so that’s fine by me.

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As it says above, this is inspired by a short story in 2000 AD, which I know absolutely nothing whatsoever about. According to Wikipedia, that’s a British science-fiction comic most noted for its Judge Dredd stories. I did know this was based on some sort of comic book and it very much has the look & feel of that. Certain images in the film seem to be right out of a comic book (I mean that in a good way). When I try to figure out just what it is that I love about Hardware, I think it’s a combination of the overall look & style, the quirky (though extremely underdeveloped) characters, and the fact that it has one of the coolest soundtracks ever. Oh, and Iggy Pop & Lemmy from Motörhead are in it.

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One other great thing is that Hardware has a strong female character. Dylan McDermott feels like the lead but, by the end, it’s just as much Stacey Travis. I’m surprised she didn’t have a bigger career (although she’s still around & has had lots of roles, mainly in TV). I mean, she’s a blow torch wielding metal sculptor in this. She’s cute & she’s cool. Come to think of it, she should have been on my recent list of Girl Crushes.

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I haven’t said much about the plot but, basically, Dylan McDermott is her sexy post-apocalyptic soldier boyfriend who brings her home these robot pieces he bought off a nomad to give her as a Christmas present as he knows she loves that kind of thing for her metal sculpting art (not knowing it’s a killing machine that’s part of a secret government project). I actually found their relationship very sweet and they have a super sexy shower scene that is very high on my list of My Top Ten Shower & Bath Scenes In Movies. (Yes, I’m mentioning that list yet again as it’s my most viewed thing on this blog BY FAR. That post gets views every single day!). And the f*^king amazing The Order Of Death by Public Image Ltd (I love John Lydon) plays over the scene & fits in SO perfectly, making it one of my all-time favorite uses of a song in a movie. Screw it – I posted the YouTube clip of it before in my shower scene list and I’ll post it again at the end of this review. This song really defines this film for me and gives you a good feel for the vibe of the whole movie – I can’t hear it without immediately picturing the film.

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This review is getting a bit long so I’m not doing well on keeping these CPD Classic reviews short. This movie is cool. It looks cool. The story is cool. The characters are cool. The music is cool. There’s biblical shit going on with the name of the robot (M.A.R.K.-13) & McDermott’s character (Moses). And, holy hell – I’ve not even mentioned the pervy peeping tom neighbor who is one of the creepiest characters in a movie EVER (they all walk the wibbly wobbly walk… *shudder*). Why has no one I know seen this? Why does it have such a low IMDB rating? Why isn’t this a bigger cult classic? Well, I may be alone (along with Mista Mutant) but I think this is a great film, especially for its genre. That’s why Hardware is a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 8/10

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CPD Classics: Adventures In Babysitting (1987) Review

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Adventures In Babysitting (1987) (aka A Night On The Town in some territories. That title is even worse!)

Directed by Chris Columbus

Starring:
Elisabeth Shue
Maia Brewton
Keith Coogan
Anthony Rapp
Penelope Ann Miller
Bradley Whitford
Calvin Levels
Vincent Phillip D’Onofrio
George Newbern
John Ford Noonan
John Davis Chandler
Ron Canada
Albert Collins as himself
Lolita Davidovich
Clark Johnson
Kirsten Kieferle

Running time: 102 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Chris Parker’s (Elisabeth Shue) boyfriend cancels their anniversary meal plans so Chris decides to take a job babysitting the Andersons’ 8-year-old daughter Sara (and 15-year-old son Brad, who has a huge crush on Chris so sticks around as well). Chris gets a call from her friend Brenda to say she’s run away from home & is now stuck in the big city (Chicago) with no money & needs Chris to come get her. With Sara, Brad, and Brad’s obnoxious friend Daryl in tow, Chris leaves the suburbs & heads into the city. A night of hilarious high jinks & mishaps ensues! Don’t f*^k with the babysitter…

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Why It’s A CPD Classic:

This movie came out when I was in my early teens and, my god, I loved this thing! I think a big part of the reason why I liked it so much was that I could really relate to Elisabeth Shue’s character Chris. I had a similar babysitting job one summer where the boy wasn’t much younger than me but couldn’t be trusted to look after the younger sister so the parents had me “babysit”. I also had to deal with the boy’s annoying friends (although none were as obnoxious as Anthony Rapp’s Daryl). Oh, and I think the boy had a crush on me, too, just like Keith Coogan’s Brad had on Chris. I was too young to drive, though, so we had no crazy adventures in Chicago. I shouldn’t admit this but… (You know I will! Lol). Okay – I think I wanted to BE Elisabeth Shue in this. We had similar hair, I thought she was really pretty & her personality in this was a lot like mine, and (this is the sad part) I totally got a coat very similar to her “dead grandpa’s” coat that she wears all through this & topped it off with a colorful scarf just like hers. (Should I have kept that to myself?) 😉

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As for the film, I think it’s actually very funny & even a little bit on the naughty side for a movie with the word “babysitting” in the title. It’s probably aimed more at mid to late teens and I think the title may have put those that age off it as it does sound like more of a “family” film than a teen movie because of it. I know this film so well that I’m having trouble on what to write for those who may know nothing about it. Let’s see….

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You already know I loved the character of Chris. I’m from a very small town & I thought it was funny how they took these kids from the suburbs & put them in the big mean city where, naturally, they come across gunfights & car thieves & men with hooks for hands & blues singing & subway gangs & toe stabbings & hookers & spiking Tab with Drano & Thor. Of course! And the whole time this is going on, we’re shown Brenda thinking SHE’S having the worst night of her life stuck at the bus station with a crazy homeless man demanding she get out of his house (a phone booth), someone stealing her glasses, and a run-in with a rat.

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The Anderson kids are good. Sara is quite smart & feisty for an 8-year-old and Brad’s crush on Chris is sweet. His friend Daryl is a typical, horny, annoying 15-year-old boy. You’ll probably hate him but he does have some great funny lines. The car thief who befriends them is totally loveable, there are lots of quotable lines I still say to this day, the “Babysitting Blues” scene is a CLASSIC (I don’t care what you say! It’s funny & the song is so catchy!), and the sweet babysitter from the suburbs taking on two rival gangs on the subway gives us one of my all-time favorite scenes & quotes in a movie.

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Then we also get some fabulous songs: Real Wild Child by Iggy Pop being my favorite. Also 25 Miles by Edwin Starr and a very fun opening scene where Chris dances around to Then He Kissed Me, setting her character up as a sweet, suburban 17-year-old girl from 1987 (nowadays she’d be twerking up against that bedpost). I know this movie won’t be for everyone and a teenager today may just find it silly but I was the right age for it and I’ll always love it. That’s why Adventures In Babysitting is (yet another late 80’s/early 90’s!) CPD Classic.

My Rating: 9/10

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CPD Classics: Pump Up The Volume (1990) Review

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Pump Up The Volume (1990)

Directed by Allan Moyle

Starring:
Christian Slater
Samantha Mathis
Mimi Kennedy
Scott Paulin
Cheryl Pollak
Annie Ross
Ahmet Zappa
Billy Morrissette
Seth Green
Robert Schenkkan
Ellen Greene
Andy Romano
Anthony Lucero
Lala Sloatman
James Hampton

Running time: 105 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Christian Slater, known only as Hard Harry to his fans, runs a pirate radio station from his parents’ basement because he’s a teenager and full of ANGST! He’s also cool as hell and smokes a lot, talks dirty, plays awesome music, and likes to wear no shirt.

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Why It’s A CPD Classic:

TAKE COVER, ARIZONA!

I’ve been obsessed with this movie since my mid/late teens. It’s even one of the 8 films I chose to have on a desert island with me for Tyson’s Desert Island Films over at Head In A Vice. I loved it in 1990 and I love it still.

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I was quite shy as a teenager and the thought of anonymously running a pirate radio station from my parents’ basement really appealed to me. Hell – it still does. I want to have a pirate radio station! But I live in England now & we don’t have basements so I guess that’s not going to work out. Plus I’m no longer a teenager and don’t need to be all anti-establishment and “stick it to the man” by exposing my high school’s staff as being a bunch of knobheads. But, even at my age now, I still think this movie is cool as hell. As is Christian Slater as Mark Hunter aka Hard Harry aka Happy Harry Hard-On. And Samantha Mathis is a great strong female character as Nora Diniro aka The Eat Me, Beat Me Lady.

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This is a “smart” teen movie, which I love. I also love that it’s a wee bit naughty. The line I quoted at the beginning about Arizona? Haha! If you’ve not seen this, I won’t spoil that line for you… A lot of the language in this was, I suppose, pushing the boundaries for 1990. It’s not quite up there with Heathers in terms of the material they got away with but I do often think of the two together in my mind (Yes, Heathers is a future CPD Classic too!). Christian Slater’s character is great and I love how shy he is in public and then how cool he is when he’s the anonymous “Hard Harry” and just lets loose. And Samantha Mathis is the wild girl desperate to find out who Hard Harry really is. Honestly – I wanted to be a combination of both these characters in my teens (Okay, I admit it – I still totally want to be them. Anyone in England have a basement I could borrow?).

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I can’t finish this review without mentioning the AWESOME soundtrack. I mean, he runs a pirate radio station so he has to play some music in between bitching about how “everything in America is completely fucked up” so it was important to get the songs in this right. I think they got them VERY right – I love the soundtrack & it fits in so perfectly with the movie’s message & feel. From Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows & If It Be Your Will to less serious songs like Richard Hell’s Love Comes In Spurts (I love that title) and Dad, I’m In Jail by Was Not Was. Even a Descendents song (WeinerSchnitzel)! And the Bad Brains version of Kick Out The Jams! (I’ll shut up now. Just saying – I loooooove the songs in this).

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I love everything about this movie. It’s SO quotable (D-D-D-D-David Deaver!), the music is great, the characters are cool, and Christian Slater has never been so sexy. I’ll always love Pump Up The Volume, which is why it’s a CPD Classic. So be it.

My Rating: 9/10

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CPD Classics: Big (1988) Review

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A note before I start the review:

Since starting this blog, I’ve only reviewed movies I’ve just recently watched instead of attempting to review old favorites of mine. This felt too difficult for me as I’m not always great with words & feel like I won’t do these movies justice. I’ll attempt to do very SHORT reviews (probably on Fridays) where I talk briefly about what I like about some of my favorite films or films I think deserve a bit more recognition than they get (be warned: there will probably be a lot of 80’s movies because of my age). In most cases, I won’t be re-watching them as I know them so well. I’m starting with Big as I did re-watch that recently.

Big (1988)

Directed by Penny Marshall

Starring:
Tom Hanks
David Moscow
Elizabeth Perkins
Robert Loggia
John Heard
Jared Rushton
Jon Lovitz
Mercedes Ruehl

Running time: 104 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
12-year-old Josh Baskin makes a wish to be “big” on an old carnival fortune telling machine after he’s embarrassed in front of a girl he likes when he’s told he’s too short for a ride. To his surprise, he wakes up the next morning as a 30-year-old man.

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Why It’s A CPD Classic:

I was in my early teens when this came out & remember going to it in a group with several relatives as it was such a hugely successful family film at the time. I feel like there are very few “family” films like Big these days. Nowadays it would star an Adam Sandler-type instead of someone like Tom Hanks and the humor would be so dumbed down and immature that only the youngest members in the audience would enjoy it while they’d throw in an occasional “dirty” joke to try to entertain the bored adults. The family would walk away from the film (after it’s predictably sentimental ending) with maybe the kids thinking it was okay but the adults just glad that they got to rest for a couple hours while their kids were entertained.

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Big appeals to everyone between the ages of 8 and 108. I liked it as a (moody) early teen, my mom liked it, my aunt liked it, my grandma liked it. Everyone liked it in 1988, right? It was a nicer time. The film is wholesome without being annoyingly so (I mean, there’s even some PG boobies-in-bra action). Tom Hanks is on top form as a 12-year-old stuck in the body of a 30-year-old and I can’t imagine anyone else nailing that role the way he did. He’s brilliant and totally believable. We don’t get a bunch of stupid high jinks – we get a young boy who at first is very scared then slowly starts to do his best to adjust to his new life as an adult. We never forget that he’s 12, though, even as we see him mature after getting his first job and “girl”friend – Hanks plays the role perfectly from start to finish. And how loveable was he as we watched this “big kid” playing with toys & spending his paychecks on all the stupid things a 12-year-old boy would and getting the pretty but uptight female co-worker to loosen up & jump on his trampoline?? And then there’s the big piano scene! You have to love Hanks & Robert Loggia dancing on the big piano and playing Heart & Soul. If you don’t love that, I want to hear from you in the comments below! That scene is an all-time classic.

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Big is a heartwarming coming-of-age comedy with a character who behaves in a very realistic way to an unrealistic situation. We never forget that we’re watching a 12-year-old boy and the movie doesn’t treat the audience like idiots. It appeals to all ages by telling a simple story in a simple way and having a lot of heart and soul. That’s why it’s a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 8/10

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