"I'll just get my gear."

Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Stern’

City Slickers

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

June 7, 1991. Despite the notable release of another odd Spike Lee movie, this week was won by more middle-of-the-road culture. It was the week that the original run of Twin Peaks ended. The #1 and #2 songs on the Billboard charts were “More Than Words” by Extreme and “I Wanna Sex U Up” by Color Me Badd. And the #1 movie was a nice normal comedy about wisecracking Billy Crystal birthing a cow to cope with the boredom of middle aged, middle class existence.

Like JUNGLE FEVER, CITY SLICKERS is about some lives upended and rearranged after a married man has an affair with a subordinate at his workplace. In this case the dude is Phil Berquist (Daniel Stern, C.H.U.D., FRANKENWEENIE), a wet blanket grocery store manager who is very unhappily married to a mean bully (Karla Tamburrelli, “Stewardess [Northeast Plane],” DIE HARD 2) until panicked young clerk Nancy (Yeardley Smith, then in her third season as the voice of Lisa Simpson) finds him outside of work to tell him she thinks she’s pregnant.

“Why is she telling you this?”

The scene goes down at the 39th birthday party of Mitch Robbins (43 year old Billy Crystal, ANIMALYMPICS) and inspires Phil to unleash twelve years of suppressed fury at his wife in front of the Robbins family and all their friends. If this was reality he’d for sure be the bad guy here, but we’ve already been primed to hate how this horrible wife talks to him and feel victory in him telling her off. (read the rest of this shit…)

Frankenweenie

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

Frankenweenie is a 26-minute long black-and-white Disney live action short that was not quite, as far as I can tell, a Summer of 1985 release. It was made in 1984, planned to play with a re-release of THE JUNGLE BOOK that summer, then production was delayed, moving it to PINOCCHIO in December, but when it received a PG rating they couldn’t play it with a G-rated movie, so it got shelved until playing with only the U.K. release of BABY: THE SECRET OF THE LOST LEGEND. I couldn’t find proof of a date, but if it was the same as the U.S. then it was in March of ’85.

But I decided it was an important backstory to fill in, because it keeps coming up. It was one of the projects then-25-year-old Disney artist Tim Burton switched to after the company didn’t use any of his designs for THE BLACK CAULDRON. It was the short they considered releasing with MY SCIENCE PROJECT. And it was what brought Burton to the attention of Paul Reubens to direct a classic Summer of 1985 movie we’ll be discussing tomorrow.

It’s a simple story. Barret Oliver (D.A.R.Y.L.) plays Victor Frankenstein, a normal suburban kid who enjoys making Super-8 monster movies with his dog Sparky. But one day while playing fetch, Sparky is run over by a car – off screen, in a beautifully crafted sequence of visual storytelling that ends with a baseball rolling to the curb and Victor rising to his feet in shock. (read the rest of this shit…)

C.H.U.D.

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

tn_chudI’ve never had HBO or Showtime, including in the ’80s, so I only know C.H.U.D. as a reference. But we still have a video store here in Seattle and I was looking at the box one day and these glowing-eyed cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers looked pretty cool so I figured it was time I learned what all this is about.

If you never saw it either I’ll tell you what I have learned. It’s about a rash of disappearances among “undergrounders,” the homeless who find shelter in the underground tunnels of New York City, like in that documentary DARK DAYS. (This would be cooler if it had a DJ Shadow score, but the one it has by David A. Hughes is pretty good.) The authorities don’t really care until it starts happening to people who live at surface level in a higher class. There’s a nicely shot title sequence with a cool keyboard theme playing as a monster arm reaches out of a steaming manhole to snatch a woman out walking her little dog. It’s a powerfully simple opening that really sets the scene for a fun, energetic movie that doesn’t quite materialize. (read the rest of this shit…)