Dangerous Curves (1988, directed by David Lewis)


Last night, I watched Dangerous Curves.

This was a dumb, dumb film from the late 80s.  Tate Donovan and Grant Heslov star as two college students who lose a Porsche in San Diego and then have to get it back.  Fortunately, the Porsche is the grand prize in a beauty contest so Donovan and Heslov just have to hope that their friend Michelle (Danielle van Zernick) wins.  This should have been fun because it featured a hot car and several hot girls in bikinis but it also featured Tate Donovan and Grant Heslov as our “heroes.”  Donovan plays the uptight college student and comes across like one of the flunkies who helped Ted Kennedy cover-up Chappaquiddick.  Grant Heslov plays the carefree college student who constantly ruins everyone else’s life.  Neither one has the screen presence necessary to make us overlook how stupid their characters are.  On the basis of Dangerous Curves, it’s easy to see why Heslov went into producing and Tate Donovan went into doing character roles in films produced by Grant Heslov.

On the plus side, Robert Stack and Leslie Nielsen are funny in small roles.  And the car is hot and the film features as many bikinis as a typical episode of Miami Vice.  Watching the movie might remind you of the fun you had playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City back in the day.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

Film Review: The Butterfly Effect 2 (dir by John R. Leonetti)


“Hey, everyone!  Let’s remake The Butterfly Effect, just without any of the goofiness that made the first film so enjoyable!”

That would seem to be the logic behind 2006’s The Butterfly Effect 2.  Since the first Butterfly Effect was a minor hit (I saw it in the theaters!), it was inevitable that there would be a sequel.  And since the first Butterfly Effect is currently on Netflix, it’s also inevitable that the sequel would follow it.

Anyway, Butterfly Effect 2 is just like Butterfly Effect except, instead of a guy trying to fix his entire screwed-up childhood, the sequel is about an office worker named Nick (Eric Lively) who has just had a really bad year.  His girlfriend and his two best friends were killed in a traffic accident.  He lost a big promotion at work.  His apartment is a mess and he keeps having these hella icky nosebleeds.  Agck!  Nick, however, discovers that if he stares at an old picture, he can be transported back to the moment that the picture was taken.

Since Nick obviously didn’t see the first movie, he proceeds to start changing the past.  He prevents the deaths of all of his friends but now, in the new timeline, he actually has to work with them and this results in him getting fired.  He then goes back in the past to keep a jerk from getting a promotion but this leads to Nick getting the promotion instead, breaking up with his girlfriend, and becoming an ennui-stricken bachelor.  Apparently, being a wealthy bachelor means doing business with organized crime because Nick soon has people trying to kill him.  Maybe there’s no way to create a perfect present, the film suggests.

And the film might be right but that doesn’t make it any less boring to sit through.  The Butterfly Effect 2 is just never as much fun as the first film.  It lacks the goofy charm of Ashton Kutcher and most of the timeline changes are rather dull.  The sequel never matches the glory of Ashton Kutcher waking up to discover that he’s gone from being a disheveled psych major to being a clean-cut, sweater-wearing frat boy.

The Butterfly Effect 2 was directed by John Leonetti, who would later direct the genuinely creepy Annabelle.  Of course, he also directed the absolutely awful Wolves at the Door.  As for The Butterflyn Effect 2, it’s not creepy but it’s also not awful enough to be memorable.  More than anything, it’s a bland movie.  It’s just kind of there, floating in direct-to-video, Netflix limbo.

Horror on TV: Kolchak: The Night Stalker 1.8 “Bad Medicine” (dir by Alexander Grasshoff)


On tonight’s episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, wealthy women are dying in Chicago and Carl Kolchak is on the case!  It turns out that it’s all connected to priceless jewels and a legendary monster known as the Diabelro, a creature has been cursed to roam the Earth and search for gems.

The Diabelro is played by Richard Kiel, who might be best known for playing Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.

This episode originally aired on November 29th, 1974.

Enjoy!

A Movie A Day #225: Behind The Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Mork & Mindy (2005, directed by Neil Fearnley)


The year is 1978.  A television producer named Garry Marshall (Daniel Roebuck) teaches America how to laugh again by casting Pam Dawber (Erinn Hayes) and a hyperactive stand-up comedian named Robin Williams (Chris Diamantopoulos) in a sitcom about an alien struggling to understand humanity.  Despite constant network interference, the show makes Robin a star but, with stardom, comes all the usual temptations: lust, gluttony, greed, pride, envy, wrath, and John Belushi.

The Behind The Camera films, which all dramatized the behind the scenes drama of old television shows, were briefly a big thing in the mid-aughts.  Because they were lousy, they never got good reviews but they did get good ratings from nostalgia-starved baby boomers and gen xers.  I think The Unauthorized Mork & Mindy Story was the last one produced.  It probably would have been better if there had been any sort of drama going on behind-the-scenes of Mork & Mindy but, according to this movie, everyone got along swimmingly.  Williams may get hooked on cocaine but the film squarely puts the blame for that on John Belushi.  The script, which was obviously written with one eye on avoiding getting sued, is sanitized of anything that could have reflected badly on anyone who was still alive when the movie aired.

Stuck with unenviable task of having to play one of the most famous people in the world, Chris Diamantopoulos was not terrible as Robin Williams.  Considering how sanitized the script was, not terrible is probably the best that could be hoped for.  There was not much of a physical resemblance but Diamantopoulos nailed the voice and some of the mannerisms.  Erinn Hayes looks like Pam Dawber but, just as in the actual show, the movie gives her the short end of the stick and focuses on Williams.

For aficionados of bad television, this is mostly memorable for Daniel Roebuck’s absolutely terrible performance as Garry Marshall and a scene in which Williams is heckled in a comedy club but an overweight man who steps out of the shadows and announces that he’s John Belushi!  Roebuck’s performance as Garry Marshall begins and end with his attempt to impersonate Marshall’s familiar voice.  He was much better cast as Jay Leno in The Night Shift.  As for Belushi , since he was not around to sue or otherwise defend himself, the movie goes all out to portray Belushi (who was played by Tyler Labine) as being an almost demonic influence on Williams.   The film’s portrayal of Belushi is even worse and probably more inaccurate than Wired and that’s saying something!

To quote Mork himself: Shazbot!  This movie is full of it.

Cleaning Out The DVR, Again #34: Revenge Porn (dir by Monika Mitchell)


(Lisa is currently in the process of trying to clean out her DVR by watching and reviewing all 40 of the movies that she recorded from the start of March to the end of June.  She’s trying to get it all done by the end of July 11th!  Will she make it!?  Keep visiting the site to find out!)

Revenge Porn

The 34th film on the DVR was Revenge Porn, which I recorded off of Lifetime on June 18th.

Here’s two important things to know about Revenge Porn:

First of all, when it originally aired, I live tweeted it on twitter, along with several other friends.  Needless to say, we used the hashtag #RevengePorn.  Also needless to say, using #RevengePorn as a hashtag ended up getting me a lot of attention from people who weren’t necessarily watching the film.  I picked up a lot of new followers that night.

(Of course, most of them left once I started to tweet about Big Brother.)

Secondly, when it came time to write this review, I wanted to make sure that I had at least one image to go along with it.  So, innocently, I did a google image search on “Revenge Porn.”  That turned out to be a big mistake.  If you want to find pictures from this film, I suggest that you do a search for “Elisabeth Rohm Lifetime movie.”  It’ll be a lot less traumatic.

As for the film itself, it starts out like a more respectable version of Break-Up Nightmare.  The innocent and college-bound Peyton Harris (Tiera Skovbye) is up in her bedroom, taking topless pictures, while her overprotective parents (Elisabeth Rohm and David Lewis) are downstairs.  In fact, the only real difference between the opening of Break-Up Nightmare and Revenge Porn is that Peyton isn’t taking the pictures for a boyfriend.  Instead, she’s considering whether or not to get a boob job.

Otherwise, the first hour of the film plays out pretty much the same as Break-Up Nightmare.  Peyton’s best friend (Jodelle Ferland) is jealous over Peyton’s great future and, in a moment of spite, sends naked pictures of Peyton to everyone at school.  However, things get even worse when Carl Cook (a thoroughly creepy performance fro Levi Meaden) comes across Peyton’s pictures and posts them on his revenge porn website, ExMyEx.  Cook claims that what he’s doing is perfectly legal and that it’s the fault of his victims for taking naked pictures in the first place.  Peyton’s mom decides to try to bring the website down and Carl seeks revenge…

However, after about an hour of this, the film goes totally crazy.  Angered over their attempts to shut him down, Carl starts to harass the Harrises in every over-the-top way imaginable. Since Carl Cook is a hacker (which, in the world of Lifetime films, is the equivalent of being an MCU-style super villain), there is literally nothing that he can’t do.

Send threatening texts to every member of the family?  Carl can do it!

Send and re-send naked pictures of Peyton to everyone on the planet?  Carl can do it!

Cancel everyone’s credit cards and destroy the family’s finances?  Carl can do it!

Cancel Peyton’s college scholarships?  Carl can do it!

Issue a warrant for Peyton’s father arrest?  Carl can do it!

Eventually, the Harrises even find themselves being chased by a drone, which Carl is apparently controlling from his super villain lair!

When it comes to movies about creepy hackers and naked pictures, Break-Up Nightmare is definitely the one to go with.  But Revenge Porn has its own strengths.  Both Rohm and Skovbye give good performances and, seriously, as played by Levin Meaden, Carl Cook is one of the most loathsome villains to ever appear in a Lifetime movie.

If you’re a fan of the Lifetime way of telling cinematic morality tales, Revenge Porn is one to keep an eye out for.  Hopefully, Lifetime will be do a Revenge Porn/Break-Up Nightmare double feature at some point in the future.

Hallmark Review: A Christmas Detour (2015, dir. Ron Oliver)


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I see nothing wrong there.

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Or there.

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Or there either. Nothing wrong at all.

I think I said the last time I reviewed a movie that had a plot based on rules for finding the perfect man that I would rather have hernia surgery again capped off with a catheter put in me again. While this does have Candace Cameron Bure in it, it’s still way better than Just The Way You Are. I guess this movie falls in between that one and Dater’s Handbook.

I finally got to it, Michelle! I certainly won’t be able to tear into this film the way she did, but I may have seen some of the same things.

Hmm…have no idea why that came to mind.

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The movie begins as Paige Summerlind (Candace Cameron Bure) is arriving at LAX to fly out to New York to be with her fiancee. But first we find out that Paige writes for Radiant Bride magazine.

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I was so convinced that shot was from Before You Say ‘I Do’, but looking at promo pics and the film itself turned up no results. I’m sorry.

Anyways, you see those hands? Those belong to a very smart lady. You see, Paige spotted her magazine being held by this lady, and immediately tried to push it on her. She even gave her the money to pay for the magazine.

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The lady put the magazine back and pocketed the money. I love her!

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Now we are introduced to Frank (David Lewis) and Maxine (Sarah Strange). You know it never fails. No matter how many screenshots I take throughout the movie, I will always end up with the worst possible shot, but it will be the one I need. Oh, and on this film, I took 2,738 screenshots.

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Next we are introduced to Dylan played by Paul Greene who I’ve seen play a nurse, event planner, and now a bartender. Well, he might own the bar. I’m not sure. He looks as jazzed to see A Christmas Melody as he is flying home to New York after a four year absence. According to his friend, “the statute of limitations for licking the wounds of a broken heart expired a long time ago.” So he’s off to LAX.

Now Paige makes a bit of a scene at the check-in counter. She thought she was going to have an aisle seat, but she’s going to get stuck with a window seat. Also, she can only bring two things aboard the plane. She checks one of her bags because she must bring her “vision board” onto the plane with her.

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So her dream wedding is the current cover of her magazine, and there’s her boyfriend Jack played by…

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who is preparing for his role as the wrong guy named Reed in Appetite For Love.

We now cut to Doctor Zhivago 3D…

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before cutting inside to meet Jack, then it’s back to the plane all these people are on.

Jack and Paige have to sit next to each other cause Hallmark. He nearly doubles over laughing about her magazine. She defends her “100 proven ways to find your perfect mate.”

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Sometimes you do get the right screenshot. I would now put the screenshot of the ridiculous looking eye mask they put her in for the following shots, but let’s move on.

Of course a storm front forces the plane to set down in Buffalo, New York. Now they wait outside for a shuttle.

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I’m pretty sure what they did here was tint it blue and CGI in foreground snow. The shuttle takes them to the Buffalo Airport Hotel, which from the exterior made me think of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining (1980). They end up with adjoining rooms again because Hallmark.

Now dialog that left me scratching my head happens. I’ll just say I nearly looked like this when I heard it.

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After that, we cut back to house to see that this shot was probably done by a different person.

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I think you know how it plays out for Paige and Dylan at this point. They spend more time together. Paige keeps calling Jack. We get another shot of a different house.

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They kiss under a sign that says Mistletoe Junction. They wind up at the O Tannenbaum Inn. We see that they simply expanded the black region in the middle of the cellphone screen to cutoff the provider, which in turn cutoff Decline and Accept under those buttons.

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She ends up running away from Dylan to Jack. She finds out she doesn’t want to marry Jack. Dylan reunites with his family. They end up together. Blah, blah, blah. Nothing you haven’t seen before, and nothing interesting either.

I want to call special attention to the other plot line running while this is going on. Remember Maxine and Frank? They are the best part of this movie in my opinion. Although, it was a little weird at first. I thought they were just a lovable bickering married couple, but by the time we got to the inn, I realized they were having trouble.

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They weren’t even supposed to be sleeping in the same room. Even when they do, they push themselves to the opposite sides of the bed. However, they eventually come around in the end. There’s nothing fancy or overly dramatic about it. They just acknowledge that neither of them are very happy pretending to be bitter at each other. The charade is over, and they go into a house together holding hands having arrived at their destination plotwise and completing their character arcs.

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So why did we even need the whole Paige and Dylan storyline? I’m not a big fan of Candace Cameron Bure. She’s okay in the Aurora Teagarden movies cause it’s fun to watch her run around like a crazy person in those films. I do kind of like what I’ve seen Paul Greene do so far. However, I’ve seen Hallmark do the mature couple story, and do it well. I’m thinking Lead With Your Heart here. I think David Lewis and Sarah Strange could have carried this film all by themselves as a seemingly lovable bickering couple who are actually in trouble, but discover they seemed lovable because they do still love each other. If they had fleshed that out to a complete film, then I could have enjoyed this a lot more. As it is, don’t bother.

Oh, and Hallmark, please give Ron Oliver a budget next time. This house thing was ridiculous.

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Not to mention the CGI’d in Christmas decorations at the beginning of the film, and other things.

Here’s the songs since they did include them in the credits:

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Lisa Watches The Oscar Winners: The Apartment (dir by Billy Wilder)


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After the Nun’s StoryI continued to experience TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar by watching the 1960 best picture winner, The Apartment.  The Apartment is unique among Oscar winners in that it’s one of the few comedies to win best picture.  (Though, in all honesty, it would probably be more appropriate to call The Apartment a dramedy.)  It was also, until the victory of The Artist, the last completely black-and-white film to win best picture.

(And, as long as we’re sharing trivia, it was also the first best picture winner to feature a character watching a previous best picture winner.  At the start of the film, Jack Lemmon deals with insomnia by watching Grand Hotel.)

The Apartment tells the story of C.C. “Bud” Baxter (Jack Lemmon), an anonymous officer worker who is determined to climb the corporate ladder despite not being very good at his job.  However, Baxter does have one advantage over his co-workers.  He’s single and therefore, his apartment has become the place to go for corporate executives who need a place where they can safely cheat on their wives.  Bud spends his day trying to coordinate who is going to be in his apartment and when.  Meanwhile, he spends his nights exiled from his own home and wandering around New York.  In fact, the only beneficial thing about this arrangement is that all of Bud’s supervisors have been giving him good evaluations in return for using his apartment.  (Well, that and Bud’s neighbor, played by Jack Kruschen, is convinced, based on the thinness of the apartment walls, that Bud must be a great lover.)

When Bud finally does get his promotion, it’s only because the personnel director, Jeff D. Sheldrake (an amazingly sleazy Fred MacMurray), wants to use Bud’s apartment.  Bud celebrates his promotion by finally working up the courage to ask out Fran (Shirley MacClaine), an elevator operator who works in the office.  What Bud doesn’t realize is that Fran is also the woman who Sheldrake wants to bring to the apartment….

Fran is convinced that Sheldrake is going to leave his wife for her.  What she doesn’t realize — and what Fred MacMurray’s performance makes disturbingly clear — is that Jeff Sheldrake is basically just a guy having a midlife crisis.  He’s the type of middle-aged guy that every woman has had to deal with at some point, the guy who pulls up next to you in a red convertible and stares at you from behind his sunglasses, attempting his best to entice you into helping him relive the youth that he never had.  When Fran eventually learns the truth about Sheldrake, it leads both to near tragedy and to Bud having to decide whether he wants to be a decent human being or if he wants to keep climbing the corporate ladder.

When one looks over a chronological list of all of the best picture winners, it’s a bit strange to see The Apartment listed in between Ben-Hur and West Side Story.  As opposed to those two grandly produced and vibrantly colorful films, The Apartment is a rather low-key film, one that devotes far more time to characterization than to spectacle.  And while both Ben-Hur and West Side Story are ultimately very idealistic films, The Apartment is about as cynical as a film can get.  The Apartment may be a comedy but the laughs come from a place of profound sadness.

Because it’s more interested in people than in spectacle, The Apartment holds up better than many past best picture winners.  We’ve all known someone like Bud.  We’ve all had to deal with men like Sheldrake.  And, in one way or another, we all know what it’s like to be someone like Fran.  The Apartment remains a truly poignant and relevant film.