Mystic River (2003) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Khalid of The Blazing Reel. Thanks for the review, Khalid! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Mystic River, IMDB rank 239 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

Very few people in Hollywood have had a career quite like that of Clint Eastwood. In a career that’s spanned over forty years, ol’ Clint has done it all; he’s starred in some of the greatest movies to come out during this time-period, played some of the most memorable on-screen characters, heck, the guy is basically the poster boy for badassery. He’s also one of the few actors who’ve made even better directors. But of all the Unforgivens and Million Dollar Babies, there’s one film that’s for me, stands out as the crowning achievement on his truly stellar career. That film is of course Mystic River.

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When the daughter of ex-con Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn) is murdered, two of his childhood friends from the neighborhood are involved. Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins), a blue-collar worker, was the last person to see her alive, while Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon), a homicide detective, is heading up the case. As Sean proceeds with his investigation, Jimmy conducts one of his own through neighborhood contacts, soon Jimmy and Sean both start to suspect their old pal, Dave, who lives a quiet life with his wife Celeste (Marcia Gay Harden) but harbors some disturbing secrets.

Dark, ominous and brooding to a fault, Mystic River is quite simply one of the greatest dramas to ever hit the screen. It’s a film that got unfairly swept under the rug when out came out twelve years ago mainly because of the buzz surrounding its two Oscar competitors, Return of the King and Lost in Translation. But while they were both great films, it’s Mystic River that stands out as the most emotionally resonant of the three.

Benefitting from some truly magnificent work by Clint Eastwood, screenwriter Brian Helgeland and an ensemble cast, firing on all cylinders, Mystic River had my attention from the very first scene and proceeded to engage me even more. Brian Helgeland ‘s brilliant script, adapted from the book by Dennis Lehane never loses focus of a story that may seem pretty conventional on paper, rather keeps surprising us with twists and turns that enhance the drama only more.

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And you can’t ask for a better display of acting than the one you get from this film and Sean Penn and Tim Robbins, both of whom seem to lose themselves in their roles, carry the movie with their mesmerising, Oscar winning performances. Many people were shocked when Penn beat out Bill Murray at the Oscars that year but while it’s debatable which performance of the two was better, no one can say that his performance wasn’t worthy of merit because as Jimmy Markum, Penn gives a complex, riveting and groundbreaking performance and despite that Tim Robbins -who’s equally brilliant, if not more- is able to steal so many scenes from him in his haunting turn as Dave Boyle.

Not to forget, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne and Marcia Gay Harden who provide great support as well. But ultimately though, it’s the film’s powerful emotional core that makes it such an unforgettable experience and the reason why I keep revisiting after all these years. The film has a very unique moral conscience and an exceedingly dense plot that sets it apart from most dramas and its stark depiction of tragedy and loss is perhaps one of the most compelling ones ever put on film.

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She’s Having A Baby (1988) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Rhetologue’s Movie Logs. Thank you for being a part of this blogathon! Let’s see what he thought of She’s Having A Baby. 🙂

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Love and marriage. It goes together like a horse and carriage but also has Kevin Bacon freaking out in John Hughes much maligned surrealist romantic comedy.

EHarmony. Match.com. OKCupid. What do they all have in common? Well, they’re all websites that have millions scrambling to find ‘the one’. Yet what is it about the actual settling down, past the overly extravagant dates, butterflies and passion filled coitus that has some men freaking out? This is what the late John Hughes explores in his 1988 dramatic comedy She’s Having a Baby. First of all, how hilarious is it that the title completely puts the ball in her court? Even before you get into the story you are completely aware of what starving artist Jake Briggs (Kevin Bacon) thinks about the baby growing inside wife Kristy (Elizabeth McGovern).

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She’s Having a Baby charts the early years of their relationship and is truly told from the perspective of Jake as he contends with settling down, building a home and becoming a father. As much as (some) men like women, Hughes presents the young men in his movie as seeing them as crazy people. Hughes paints Jake’s love interest as a wide eyed, irrational, succubus out to ensnare the innocent young Jake and drain him of his independence and virility. To this degree ‘She’ is nearly inconsequential, yet is Jake’s only real antagonist, as Hughes seems to believe that the target audience (i.e. other men) will understand the basis of his conceit completely. The seed of such a perspective of trepidation is planted by a young and mullet-rocking Alec Baldwin as mirror Davis, a dim witted Lothario still looking for love yet happy to defy its conventions. Baldwin has been playing this character for years and it never gets old, recently making good of the ageing lothario character in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine.
The conflicting perspectives are handled with biting candour in Hughes’ monologues as bile flies from all involved, including Jake’s in-laws eager for him to stop playing artist, get a real job and pump out some grandkids. Kevin Bacon’s big innocent eyes and anxiously fatalistic monologues are the anchors to this passive tale as he wanders through his own life, a supposed victim of an inevitability. Yet Hughes marries Jake’s latent misogyny with his devotion, volatile self-esteem, emotional flexibility and belief in love. This was a very mature role for the Footloose star, yet is testimony to a great career of never being typecast. Few actors can say that they have had such a diverse career and that the range has been of such a high standard. Here Bacon delivers the quiet anxiety that is foundation to his concerns.

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As he looks out from behind Hughes’ iconic frames, character and inspiration collide and we are given insight into the writer’s thoughts and convictions with comedic exaggeration. Hughes does a great job of taking theatrical motifs such as moving sets and clashing alternate realities to visually represent Jake’s anguish. We are used to seeing such an approach in movies and sitcoms like Scrubs but here they are delivered with the rough and poor execution of burgeoning innovation. The same can be said for the story, which barrels together as a mess of great ideas, falling over one another without particular form or grace yet bursting with ingenuity. These motifs assist Hughes in conjuring a dream-like quality to She’s Having a Baby, with situations and conversations culminating in Jake’s worldview or providing him suspended time to make moralistic decisions. This surrealist tone has our hero almost unable to believe anything in his life is really happening. For a film to solely generate the mind-set of its protagonist in this way is quite an achievement and has this movie hold a particular novelty.

As Jake flirts with infidelity and finds solace only when the proverbial crapola nearly hits the fan, this is far from a romantic tale…and that’s awesome. In a world of overly saccharine Rom-coms, leading to predictable conclusions with people characterised as overly successful or simplistic failures, it’s nice to watch a story that surrounds people with some rough edges. Sure, those rough edges are of a successful lawyer and a guy walking ass backwards into a job in advertising but it’s as close to the everyman as you can get. This was always Hughes’ gift (or famed indulgence), to paint what can subjectively be called real people, with writers/directors like Judd Apatow firmly living within his legacy.

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Last Words
“We need the eggs”

It’s not a line from Hughes’ much ignored movie but my Last Words are from the end of Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. “We need the eggs” has always seemed to encapsulate the attempt of such narratives that seek to make sense of the relationship between men and women. Hughes’ movie is a charming mess of ideas, concepts, opinions and realities that culminate without any real conclusions…well, except that it would be better if the woman Jake loves didn’t die. That commentary in of itself just made me laugh as I wrote it and that is the fun thing about this movie, it works under an awkward and unashamedly male bias.

Therefore, there are many reasons why She’s Having a Baby wouldn’t be in a John Hughes box set, joining the likes of The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Weird Science. Sure, it has Hughes’ cutesy hallmarks, with fun contrived montages and anxious monologues, but at its core is a hell of a lot more bite and fatalism. This presents a stoic world view, even beating out the likes of The Breakfast Club in its attempts to contend with coming of age as a baptismal story of underlying sobriety. It’s not as melodramatic as Hughes’ other stories, there’s no overt emotions or morals, as at its core is a darkly comic conceit.

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Though all those other John Hughes movies are miles better in construction and delivery, She’s Having a Baby is one of his often ignored tales that provides sparks of novel creativity, a rarely presented true-ish male perspective and the cahones to be honest about a man’s fear of what it feels like when a woman is having a baby.

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Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Eric of The IPC. Again! Thanks for watching these Hughes films although the majority aren’t your type of thing, Eric. Let’s see if he likes Planes, Trains & Automobiles more than The Breakfast Club. 🙂

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PLANES, TRAINS and AUTOMOBILES (1987)

When I signed up to go about this piece I remembered having seen this before and laughed my ass off and “Gobble Gobble” and “Those AREN”T PILLOWS!!!!” and “Her first baby came out sideways HYYYYYYORK!!” (how do you spell someone disgustingly hocking tobacco) and all around pleasant memories. Then I sat down here to write about it and couldn’t come up with Jack Shit four or five times because I usually write about horror movies and boobs and not about classic comedies that everyone loves and then I was eyeballing my email to Table Nine Disco Parrot and it dawned on me. My Subject line read “P, T & A”… “P, T & A”….. dwell on what those initials stand for in the mind of a guy who watches movies like I do. FILTH….

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Then I took a second to think about whether or not I should take that angle on such a wholesome, pure and chaste movie and then I remembered that scene depicted above and later, this exchange:

Del: You play with your balls a lot.
Neal: I do NOT play with my balls.
Del: Larry Bird doesn’t do as much ball-handling in one night as you do in an hour!
Neal: Are you trying to start a fight?
Del: No. I’m simply stating a fact. That’s all. You fidget with your nuts a lot.
Neal: You know what’d make me happy?
Del: Another couple of balls, and an extra set of fingers?

If no one’s ever seen this and glances at that picture of John Candy mounting Steve Martin, seeing both men with serene and passionate warmth on their faces, I am going to contend that most people will think the two are engaging in a loving and lengthy “Husband Style” intercourse session. I mean, just LOOK how content they look. AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH. “I love you, Poo-Pie,” coos Candy, kissing Martin’s ear. “Let’s consecrate this union….” utters Martin. “The time is now…. NOW is the time….”

FILTH!!!

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Or how about this scene??? Martin comes home from the gym while his lover, Candy, is out cleaning their estate’s Olympic sized swimming pool. He slips into the bathroom to wash the sweat out of his stinking armpits and notices something strange on the floor. It’s his lover’s lover’s underwear!!! Candy has been having a man on the side!!! He’s enraged!!! He’s pissed!!! How can this be??? Theirs was Love Eternal!!!! He envisions the two men exhausting themselves for hours on end while he slaves away at the office. In disgust, he throws the soiled underpants into the toilet and heads to the kitchen for the butcher knife….

FILTH AND SMUT!!!!!

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Trust me – you DO NOT want to know what’s going on under the blanket those two are sharing!!! Well – you might… depending on your taste and… um… er…. interests.

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Martin: Has it been long enough?? Can you go again??
Candy: *shrugs* Should be….. maybe another ten minutes….

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BUSTED!!! Public Exposure!!!!!!

FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH FILTH

Wait…. what the fuck have I done here???

SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME

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Screw everything I just wrote. This movie is really fucking hilarious and one of my all time favorite comedies!!

She’s Having A Baby (1988) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Rob of MovieRob. This is his THIRD review after Home Alone and then Flubber, posted earlier today. Thanks again for all these reviews, Rob! Now let’s see if he liked She’s Having A Baby (more than Flubber, I hope!). 🙂

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“College is like high school with ashtrays.” – Jefferson “Jake” Edward Briggs

Number of Times Seen – at least 5 times (cable in the 80’s and 6 Mar 2014)

Brief Synopsis – The story of young love, and the ups and downs in a relationship from marriage until that first child is born.

My Take on it – John Hughes is known to most as the king of teen movies from the 80’s, but he also was able to give us memorable movies that don’t quite fit into that niche.

This movie is one of his great movies that doesn’t fit the teen genre, but still can affect us emotionally.

The story revolves around the early years of a marriage of characters who could have fit into his teen genre, so in essence, we get a glimpse of how Hughes pictured the future lives of his loveable teen characters.

Kevin Bacon and Elisabeth McGovern are both excellent here as we see the ups and downs of the first few years of a marriage. The viewer can connect with these characters really well and we constantly root for them to succeed in everything they do; whether it be making a living, being happy with the extended family or how and when to start their own family.

These themes are all touched upon here and instead of the usual Hughes few days timeline, this movie takes place over the period of a few years which shows the slow and emotional development of the characters in their new lives as husband and wife and makes us also invest a lot in their lives.

Hughes had a knack for taking serious matters and dabbling a bit of humor into those situations making the scenes and situations more enjoyable for us to watch.

I think that when I saw this one as a kid, I wasn’t able to fully comprehend and appreciate all the nuances of married life, but as an adult, those themes stand out as being some of the best ones in this film.

This is enjoyable from a kids perspective, but more so from an adult one.

The credits scene here is hilarious and features many many cameos by former Hughes stars (some even in character).

Bottom Line -This is one of the rare Hughes movies that can be more appreciated as an adult than as a teen. Done exceptionally well by Hughes. Recommended!

Rating – Globe Worthy

Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987) Guest Review

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This second review of Planes, Trains & Automobiles for the John Hughes Blogathon (you can read the first from Laura at FilmNerdBlog HERE) comes from filmscorehunter of The Cinematic Frontier. Thanks for joining in on this blogathon, filmscorehunter! Let’s find out his opinion on Planes, Trains & Automobiles. 🙂

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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)

John Hughes will always be remembered for the films he wrote, produced, and/or directed in the 1980s. Of the eight films he directed, only four were actually good. The first three are 1984’s Sixteen Candles, 1985’s The Breakfast Club, and 1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The last good film Hughes directed was 1987’s Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. This film differed from the other three; the main characters here were adults whereas the protagonists in the other three films were teenagers. Seeing this film again after so many years, I’m glad to say that it has held up remarkably well. Out of these four films, this one is my favorite John Hughes film.

The film begins with Neal Page, a marketing executive who’s on a business trip to New York City. Once his work is done, he tries to catch a flight back home to Chicago so that he can be with his wife and kids for Thanksgiving. His attempts to catch a cab to LaGuardia Airport are inadvertently thwarted by Del Griffith, a traveling salesman who later ends up on the same flight as Neal. Their flight gets diverted to Wichita due to a blizzard in Chicago, and the duo end up teaming together in their efforts to reach Chicago. Their odyssey eventually involves a train, a bus, and a rental car as they encounter one bizarre situation after another. Neal and Del quarrel for most of their journey, which ultimately yields some surprises as Thanksgiving approaches.

Steve Martin and John Candy shine as Neal and Del. Martin clearly wasn’t afraid to embrace the not-so-sympathetic Neal. The metaphorical journey taken by Neal allows him to see what kind of man he’s become and even allows for some personal growth. Candy brings warmth and a degree of clumsiness to the lovable Del. Candy’s performance manages to subtly hint at the sadness and loneliness of Del while maintaining his optimism. The biggest scene stealer among the supporting cast is Edie McClurg, who plays a rental car agent in the scene that got the film its R-rating (guess how many times the ‘f’ word was said). Her character never loses her cool, and in a way she’s triumphant at the end of her scene.

Hughes had been inspired by a real disaster of a trip he had gone on before (which actually lasted longer than the trip depicted in the film). Hughes had directed films filled with teen angst up until this point; Planes, Trains, and Automobiles marked a refreshing change of pace for Hughes. This film was the first of his directorial efforts to focus mainly on adult protagonists (family has always been an underlying theme in his films). The somewhat juvenile humor of his previous films is also present here, but not in a manner that takes away from the serious issues that are explored. While it would be nice to see the fabled three-hour version of this film someday, we’ll just have to settle for watching the version that was released (which is definitely worth watching, I must say). You simply cannot go wrong with this film.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987) Guest Review

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This guest review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Laura of Film Nerd Blog. Thanks for being a part of this, Lisa! Let’s see what she thinks of Planes, Trains & Automobiles. 🙂

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I’m going to put my cards straight on the table and say it’s really hard not to like Planes, Trains and Automobiles. This classic 80s comedy from the legendary writer-director John Hughes takes us on a journey (do you see what I did, there?), with two very different men, as they do everything they can to get home for Thanksgiving. ​

The two men in question are Neal (Steve Martin), an uptight marketing man, and Del (John Candy) a travelling salesmen, and when their flight fails to reach its destination thanks to bad weather, they must do whatever they can to get home.

Del really isn’t Neal’s kind of person. He’s chatty and jolly and doesn’t really have any concept of personal space or ‘boundaries’ which drives Neal totally crazy. He’s already wound pretty tight and just about everything Del says and does grates on him like nails down a chalkboard. Poor old kind-hearted Del consequently finds himself on the wrong end of Neal’s temper more than once and while we can see that he’s often wounded by Neal’s mean streak, he puts on a smile and continues to be himself.

“You wanna hurt me? Go right ahead if it makes you feel any better. I’m an easy target. Yeah, you’re right, I talk too much. I also listen too much. I could be a cold-hearted cynic like you… but I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings. Well, you think what you want about me; I’m not changing. I like… I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me. ‘Cause I’m the real article. What you see is what you get.”

Del, in response to Neal’s harsh words

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a deeply likeable comedy that also manages to successfully include moments of real, emotionally moving drama. It has Hughes’ stamp all over it with the mis-matched protagonists who, on the surface, have nothing in common, but ultimately find some common ground (remember The Breakfast Club?). And as is the case with each Hughes film I’ve seen, there are a number of iconic and memorable speeches, for example the ‘I like me’ speech, the ‘give me a f’ing automobile’ speech and the ‘you know everything is not an anecdote’ speech. The dialogue just zings.

The casting of Steve Martin and John Candy was a stroke of pure genius, and each plays his part to perfection. If only there’d been a sequel where they couldn’t get home for Christmas…