Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: #23


One thing I didn't know was that this movie was the inspiration for one my favourite 90's rom-coms, You've Got Mail (1998). This film was ultimately based on Parfumerie, a 1937 Hungarian play written by Miklós László.

Although it's in black and white and more about romance than anything, the spirit of Christmas still rings through in the end.

If you've ever seen You've Got Mail you probably know the important parts of the plot but there are quite a few differences between the two films. The story begins in Budapest, Hungary (although very few of the actors even attempt an accent) and it follows the employees of a shop owned by Mr. Matuschek and their relationships. Mr. Matuschek's right hand man is Alfred Kralik and the store owner holds him in high regard. One day a young woman, Klara Novak, comes into the shop looking for a job and so begins a rather insidious relationship between Novak and Kralik. Meanwhile we learn that Kralik has been corresponding with a mystery woman as a pen pal and quickly becomes infatuated with her only from her letters. We also see that Miss Novak is the exact same situation but neither realize who their secret pen pal really is. This starts a complex dance around and towards each other, culminating in a rather obvious ending, just in time for the holidays. 

Also something to note, while there are many differences in the settings and subplots in the two films, the coffee shop scene in You've Got Mail (you know the one I'm talking about) is copied almost line for line from the same scene in The Shop Around the Corner. Even Tom Hanks' banter with Dave Chapelle's character in the scene is pretty spot on.

Cast
  • Jimmy Stewart as Alfred Kralik
    • Jimmy Stewart is one of my favourite actors of the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema. You can relate to him because his characters are always just Average Joe's. You'll see another Jimmy Stewart classic later in the list and I'm sure some of you can guess which one it is.
  • Margaret Sullivan as Klara Novak
    • I haven't seen much with Sullivan, but she was a fairly popular leading lady in the late 30's and 40's. She's no Lauren Bacall or Ingrid Bergman, but she was quite charming in the role. 
  • Frank Morgan as Hugo Matuschek
    • Morgan's Matuschek is so hard not to love because he's kind-hearted and a little innocent. Morgan also played The Wizard of Oz in.....The Wizard of Oz (1939).
  • Joseph Schildkraut as Ferencz Vadas
    • You can tell his character is a jerk right from the opening scene.
  • Felix Bressart as Pirovitch
    • Kralik's best friend at the shop and always wants to avoid confrontation at all costs. He's probably my favourite character.
  • William Tracy as Pepi Katona
    • Pepi brings some welcome comic relief and although he does not have a prestigious job at the store, he is definitely essential to it.

As far as romantic comedies go I'm quite partial to the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan pairing but Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan give them a run for their money. I really liked this movie because all the characters complement each other really well and form a cohesive storyline, whereas in You've Got Mail a lot of the film's characters are easily forgettable and don't bring a lot to the table.
This movie reminds us that love may be closer than you think and you can always find some form of love around the holidays.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: #24

#24: Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (TV 1970)

Another TV special! By no means do these specials mean less to me as do some other feature length movies (we'll see by the top 10 or so that that statement is pretty much a lie) but I thought about them at about the same time so naturally they'll come back to back.

This is the origin story of everyone's favourite jolly old fat guy, Kris Kringle. Not much else to it, there are obstacles to overcome and honest-to-goodness Christmas spirit wins out in the end.

This Romeo Muller written special has a little more star power than the previous year's Frosty.

Kris Kringle is voiced by Mickey Rooney, the Winter Warlock is voiced by Keenan Wynn, the hilariously named Burgermeister Meisterburger is voiced by Paul Frees, and this fantastic story is narrated (and in some parts sung) by none other than Fred Astaire.

Now some of these names you may not recognize but you may have seen some of their characters.
At 48 minutes it takes a little longer to get going compared to it's 25 minute Frosty counterpart but it's still short and sweet and the fact that it's claymation is awesome.

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This is something completely unrelated but something I just sort of stumbled upon when looking stuff up. Well IMDb seems to have a certain numeric code for each entry into the site and I'm not really sure how it works but it might go by whatever entry they decide to enter in first.

That being said Fred Astaire happens to be coded with the URL: [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000001/] 

I don't know if it's significant, or if Fred Astaire was the very first actor entered into IMDb or not, but it certainly looks cool.

(Okay so I went back and tried to check it out and it seems it's alphabetical but only by certain batches of actors, so from what I can tell Fred was probably part of the first batch of actors entered into the site, so not as cool but kind of fun to think about).

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Anyway, stay tuned for the next 23 movies of the holiday season!

Christmas Movie Countdown: #25

It took a little bit for me to get started on this but I really need to get going if I'm going to get this list done by Christmas.

So by no means is this only my 25th favourite it just happens to be on the bottom of an approximate list.


You should all know this one. It is actually a TV special and first aired in December, 1969. At roughly 25 minutes long it's not much longer than most weekly television episodes, but it still does the trick. I loved watching this special growing up it was nice and concise, and made you feel like going outside and building a snowman. It would also make you feel sad that your snowman didn't come to life and dance around.

This heart-warming TV special follows a group of school children who use a magic top hat, discarded by an over the hill magician (Professor Hinkle), to bring Frosty the Snowman to life. Frosty befriends Karen, a young schoolgirl, and they proceed on an adventure to the North Pole whilst trying to stop the greedy Hinkle from stealing the magic hat.

I could tell you the rest of the story but I'm sure you already know it. If you don't you can probably find the whole thing on YouTube.

The cast won't be particularly interesting since this special aired about 20 years before any of people reading this were born. That being said the woman who voices Karen is June Foray (believe it or not she's still alive, and just about the only one of them who still is). June is a legendary voice actress and you might have heard her most notably as Granny from Looney Tunes, Cindy Lou Who, and both Rocky and Natasha from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

Romeo Muller wrote the screenplay along with screenplays for some other classic TV specials like Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) and Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (1970) both of which are coming up as I countdown the rest of my list.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Steve's Top 25 Christmas Movies

No I'm not going to just put them up all at once in one big list but I'm glad you came for a read (or a quick skim in most cases).

So I usually get pretty excited about Christmas as soon as Thanksgiving is over, so for me it's a little over two months of steadily increasing joy and Christmas spirit. Whether or not you celebrate Christmas or other Winter holidays (I'm not forgetting you Hanukkah or Kwanzaa) the end of December is a great time to be with loved ones.

From now until December 25th (assuming I have enough time) I'll be sharing my favourite Christmas movies and/or TV specials with you guys. I mean it's the best season of the year and great Christmas movies can help to get us in the mood just in time for the holidays. I haven't really decided on what sort of order I'll present them in or if they'll be an order at all but those closer to the top 5 or 10 will be the ones I hold most dear. I'll let you guys know my 25 favourites and maybe we can spread some holiday cheer.

Season's Greetings!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Muppets (2011)

I got the opportunity to go see an advanced screening of The Muppets and I'm finally able to review of a movie that almost no one has seen yet.

I'm definitely a huge fan of The Muppets but I mean who isn't? When Jim Henson created these cheesy, adorable, hilarious weirdos back in the 50's, who knew they would come this far? I have seen a lot of The Muppets over the years in movies like the original three Muppet movies: The Muppet Movie (1979), The Great Muppet Caper (1981), and The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984). As well as their more recent theatrical releases: The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), Muppet Treasure Island (1996), and Muppets from Space (1999). As for the Muppets on television, unfortunately I was a little too young to fully appreciate The Muppet Show (1976-1981) and I didn't really like the 90's incarnation in Muppets Tonight (1996-1998). Of course you can't leave out the gang over at Sesame Street, where the Muppets got their first big break.

In any case on to our feature presentation. The journey begins by following two brothers Walter and Gary, and Gary's longtime girlfriend Mary as they travel to Los Angeles on vacation. They soon find themselves in need to save the old Muppet Theater and Muppets Studio from destruction at the hands of wealthy oil tycoon Tex Richman. The three Muppet fans venture off to reunite the whole Muppet gang to put on the show one more time. 

That's my short abstract about the movie, I didn't want to give too much away, you'll just have to go see it.


THE MUPPETS:
Steve Whitmore as Kermit / Beaker / Statler / Rizzo
Dave Goelz as Gonzo / Dr. Bunsen Honeydew / Zoot / Beauregard / Waldorf
(Steve and Dave are the only two Muppeteers to have appeared in all 7 theatrically released Muppet movies)
Bill Barretta as Swedish Chef / Rowlf / Dr. Teeth / Pepe the Prawn / Bobo
David Rudman as Janice / Scooter
Eric Jacobson as Miss Piggy / Animal / Fozzie Bear / Sam the Eagle
Matt Vogel as Floyd Pepper / Crazy Harry / Camilla / Sweetums / 80's Robot
and Peter Linz as Walter, Gary's Muppet brother

Walter is the newest Muppet and is Gary's brother. He is the Muppets' biggest fan because they are the only ones he can relate to. Basically all the main Muppets (excluding those from Sesame Street) are present and accounted for, although I did notice a lack of Robin the Frog (Kermit's nephew). That being said, I think if Robin had any part at all it would have interfered with the dynamic of the characters and the plot of the movie. I'm sure there are other main ones missing but I wasn't paying that much attention.

NON-MUPPETS:
Jason Segel as Gary
Amy Adams as Mary
Chris Cooper as Tex Richman
Rashida Jones as Veronica (CDE Executive)

There are also tons of cameos (and this may not be the full list and it may not be in order of appearance, I'm basically going from memory):


I'm probably missing a few but I'm sure you'll catch them when you go see the movie. There is a longer list of celebrity cameos on the Wikipedia page but I'm pretty sure about half of them don't appear at all so that can't be trusted.  

Overall the cast is phenomenal and does justice to the classics of the film series.


Although he doesn't appear on screen, Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords was the Music Supervisor for the film as well as writer of several new songs.

The movie features old classics from previous Muppet films, covers of some great hits, as well as brand new originals like "Life's a Happy Song", the film's opening performance. It didn't play in the film itself but the new version of the Muppet Show Theme Song was done by OK Go. Some people didn't like it because it differs rather drastically in some senses from the original theme but I liked it. If they wanted to rehash the same old song they wouldn't have asked OK Go to make a new one. If you haven't seen it you should take a look.


All in all this movie was amazing, I couldn't have imagined anyone other than Jason Segel (along with Nicholas Stoller) writing this movie. It was clever and fun, and I found it appealed just as much to adults as it did to kids. For me it can't hold a candle to the original Muppet Movie or my personal favourite A Muppet Family Christmas (if you have ever seen this movie you'd probably know why) but I'm a fan of the classics. Still it was very well made, it tastefully revived old songs and old gags and it was probably one of the best movies I've seen this year. It officially releases in theaters on November 23, so I suggest you save the date and buy a ticket, you won't regret it.

P.S. I'm not sure if it'll be the same but when I went there wasn't anything after the end credits....just letting you know.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Movie of the Day - Hard Candy

I watched Hard Candy (2005) a little bit after Juno came out, when I was interested in seeing what Ellen Page had done in the past.

This movie is a psychological thriller and it is absolutely creepy, terrifying and by the end it of it all it definitely makes you think.

In this film, 14 year-old Hayley Stark (Page) has been talking to and flirting with Jeff Kohlver, a thirty-something photographer (and pedophile...I mean we can just assume that from the start), for a few weeks on the internet. Normally this is a terrible idea for young teen and what's worse, she agrees to meet him. After their initial meeting at a coffee shop, this naive girl suggests going back to his place to spend some more time together. This is where things get intense and where we learn she isn't quite as innocent as she appears. 

I don't want to say any more because it might ruin the viewing experience for you, even if you can already guess the gist of what's going to happen.

This movie was rather low-budget at just under $1-million but when the two main characters are the only ones in the film it definitely helps. Hard Candy only has around 10 minutes of music in its entirety, which helps add to the tense mood throughout the film.
Now the film's two stars Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson (who plays Jeff, our creepy neighborhood pedophile) seem to work well on-screen together; exuding some sort of, I wouldn't say chemistry exactly, but something about the pair seems to work. Wilson plays his part well, he makes the audience want to see him get what he deserves. Page plays the innocent role well, she just has that kind of appearance and personality and not only will she look like a teenager forever, she was just 17 when she made this film. Page sports a pixie-ish haircut which honestly makes her look so much younger and a little bit weird but in this role it works out. Also there is a short cameo by Sandra Oh, who agreed to the role because she wanted to work with her fellow Canadian actress.

I am pretty desensitized to movies and television these days (a byproduct of growing up with 90's entertainment) but this film still gives me the creeps whenever I watch it. It's not a movie to buck up your mood, but it has a strong message and will make you think a little. If you're interested go check out the movie or test maybe just test the waters with the trailer.  
 



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Upcoming Movies in 2012 - Part 2 (Superhero Edition)

Upcoming Movies in 2012 - Part 2 
(Superhero Edition)

It took me a while to get into the mood to sit down and write this but here it is.  I was going to just make two parts but I figured I could split it up a little bit by categorizing the next few movies since they are all superhero films.

Again no particular order.

The Avengers - Release Date: May 4, 2012

I love the fact that this movie is being made, an ensemble cast for a superhero movie is just so good. I am a little disappointed that Ed Norton isn't coming back as Bruce Banner but we'll see how Mark Ruffalo does. A lot of the supporting cast from any of the Iron Man (2), Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger films appear but we don't really see much from The Incredible Hulk side of things. Actually now that I look at it a little closer, I don't think there is anyone from that movie, since Ed Norton isn't in it. 

Of course we still have the main stars: Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America (it seems unfair cause he got to be the Human Torch too but I guess the latter doesn't really count), Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), and Tom Hiddleston as Loki. There are a lot of other people involved but most of them were in the other films so I'm sure you can remember. Note: Cobie Smulders or Robin Scherbatsky from How I Met Your Mother has the role of Maria Hill.



From what I've seen in the trailers it looks like it'll be pretty awesome to the standards of the good Marvel films, disregarding some of the trash that's come before it like Daredevil, the 2003 Hulk film, Spiderman 3, I could go on but it would be depressing.  

Also, if there are any Marvel comics fans who remember the Marvel vs. DC series, I propose that would make a ridiculously epic film. If you don't know it, check it out.


The Dark Knight Rises - Release Date: July 20, 2012



Not really a lot is known about the plot of this film but it will feature the villain Bane played by Tom Hardy. Christian Bale returns as the Dark Knight along with Michael Caine as his faithful butler Alfred, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and Gary Oldman as Commissioner James Gordon. Joining the cast is Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake.

Directed by Christopher Nolan who did the previous two Batman films seems to like working with a lot of the same actors with Cotillard, Gordon-Levitt, Hardy and Caine all appearing in his 2010 masterpiece Inception.

I have a few problems with this movie. I just have to say it'll probably still be pretty good but we all know how Marvel trilogies have fared so far. 
  • Well firstly, I really don't like Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. I mean she is automatically better than Halle Berry in Catwoman (such a terrible idea) but I just can't see her being devious enough for the role. Now I say that Michelle Pfeiffer played the best Catwoman in Batman Returns (1992) but that can obviously be refuted. She was downright nuts and it was fantastic.
  • Secondly, in the comics Bane has been portrayed as a massive man, in peak physical condition but also an intellectual genius. I agree that Hardy could pull off the intellectual component but at 5'10, and after gaining 30 lbs. to be 198 lbs., I really don't think he'll be as frightening as Bane really could be. Who knows though, they could pull a Hagrid and make him enormous on-screen.
Other than that the rest of the cast seems quite strong so maybe overall it'll be good enough for me to overlook a few things but truthfully I don't even think it's possible for it to be better than Heath Ledger's Joker filled The Dark Knight


The Amazing Spiderman - Release Date: July 3, 2012



I realize some people really liked Spiderman 3 but I think most of us can agree that it was a cinematic disaster. Too many villains in one film and the whole emo-Peter Parker thing was just weird.

This reboot of the series goes back to Peter's high school days and from what the trailer shows, is basically a complete rehash of the first Spiderman movie. The good thing is that they are replacing the two major pitfalls in terms of acting of the first three movies, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. Andrew Garfield, coming off a strong performance in The Social Network, is taking over the role of Peter Parker, which personally I think is a good fit. Unfortunately, Mary Jane does not appear in this film at all, instead she is replaced by the blonde bombshell Gwen Stacy who was, arguably Peter's first 'serious' girlfriend (feel free to fight me on that one). Gwen Stacy is played by Emma Stone, who I could have actually seen as playing Mary Jane but I think she's pretty versatile. The rest of the cast is rounded out with Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors, Martin Sheen as Ben Parker, Sally Field as May Parker (aka Aunt May) and Denis Leary as George Stacy. The only problem I have with this cast is Sally Field. She is a great actress and is quite versatile but I really do not see her as Aunt May. Aunt May from the original three films, Rosemary Harris, should have just reprised her role. 

Note: If MJ were to appear in this film my pick for her role would be Mary Elizabeth Winstead. If you've got another choice I'd love to hear it.

This film is directed by Marc Webb who is best known for directing 500 Days of Summer (seems like an odd fit I know but look at The Avengers it's being directed by Joss Whedon director of Buffy and Firefly).

I believe this film has a lot of potential but there are a lot of obstacles to overcome for it to do well. 
  • People have to get over Tobey Maguire not being Spiderman anymore.
  • People have to get over the fact that Mary Jane isn't in the movie.
  • The story has to add something that the first Spiderman movie didn't.
  • I'm sure there are more but I can't think of any right now so.....list over.




So that wraps up the major superhero movies of 2012 (I think there's another Ghost Rider movie coming out but I doubt anyone will watch it). It'll be a busy summer, I know I'm excited for it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Movie of the Day - That Thing You Do!

I saw this movie a long time ago, probably pretty close to when it first came out. I'm not sure what it is but this movie just does it for me. I'm probably not going to write too much about this one but I'd definitely recommend you check it out.

That Thing You Do! is a comedy-drama film writing and directed by Tom Hanks. The story follows a young group of teen sensations from Erie, Pennsylvania in the 60's who have a hit record climbing the charts and are the biggest thing since the Beatles.

This was Hanks' directorial debut into feature film and in my opinion it was a pretty good one at that. This film was a big stepping stone in a lot of young actors' careers.

We also see a lot of references to the Beatles and the Apollo space program throughout the film (Since Hanks played Commander Jim Lovell in the 1995 film Apollo 13). See if you can catch them all.


Cast
Tom Hanks as Mr. White, a representative of Playtone Records.

Tom Everett Scott as Guy "Skitch/Shades" Patterson, the drummer. Immediately got roles in An American Werewolf in Paris and Dead Man on Campus after this film came out. He's been bouncing around the business a lot since then and has had a few stints in a couple of TV series' most recently in the TNT cop series Southland.

Liv Tyler as Faye Dolan, Jimmy's girlfriend. She had already starred in 1995's Empire Records but it definitely solidified her as one of Hollywood's leading ladies.

Johnathon Schaech as Jimmy Mattingly, the lead singer and song-writer. Didn't get many big roles after this film but has had some pretty solid work that I'm sure he can't complain about.

Steve Zahn as Lenny Haise, the guitarist. Granted he's been in a lot of 'stupid' movies since but at least this film really got his foot into the door of show-business.

Ethan Embry as T. B. Player. This character is great because he doesn't even have a real name. He's simply referred to as 'The Bass Player' throughout the entire movie. Although he isn't quite as successful as some of the other big names in this film, he would later star in the 1998 teen romantic-comedy Can't Hardly Wait

Charlize Theron as Tina, Guy's old girlfriend in Erie, PA. It wasn't a big role but it was one of her first feature film roles. She would later get her break and star in movies like Disney's Mighty Joe Young in 1998.

Obba Babatunde as Lamarr, the hotel owner and concierge.Another under-appreciated actor but he does well with what he's given.

Giovanni Ribisi as Chad, original band member before he broke his arm.

Chris Ellis as Phil Horace, the band's first manager.


There are a few nice cameos in this movie from the likes of Peter Scolari, Bryan Cranston, Kevin Pollak, Clint Howard (Ron Howard's younger and uglier brother) and from his wife Rita Wilson, and his kids Colin and Elizabeth Hanks.


A lot of good music if you're into 60's pop, and if you're not well...that's unfortunate. The title song actually got nominated for an Oscar. In any case a solid movie and it's a nice watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon such as this one.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Movie of the Day - Armageddon

Today's movie is one of my favourite movie of the 90's and it's a great example of the failure of Hollywood physics.

Armageddon (1998)

An asteroid is headed towards Earth and the only thing that can save us is Bruce Willis and his merry band of oil drillers. NASA`s brilliant plan is to nuke the rock from the inside, blowing it apart enough for the leftover pieces to clear the Earth, saving humankind once again.

As farfetched and ludicrous as this movie was it`s still enjoyable due to a good mix of humour, Michael Bay CG-effect induced seizures, and a surprising bit of seriousness.

Directed by Michael Bay which is no surprise.

So this movie has a pretty impressive cast and they all seem to pull their weight relatively well. Yes, even Ben Affleck. This movie got a lot of terrible reviews and got nominated for seven Razzies (kind of like the Oscars but for the worst of the worst). I really don't care it's still one of my favourite movies.

Before I go into any real detail about the cast, since there are so many of them I'll just say a few general things. Billy Bob Thornton actually played a role I liked which really surprised me because he seems like a terrible person in real life. Owen Wilson's character did not have nearly enough screen time, although with the general tone of the movie it might have worked out. Ben Affleck although not doing a great job was decent enough such that I didn't stop the movie. It pains me to remember that he's already won an Oscar, albeit for screenwriting and not acting.

So without further ado here is the cast, the actors that have any sizable character in the movie.

Bruce Willis as Harry Stamper. It wasn't that bad a performance, although it's no John McClane. He actually won the Razzie for Worst Actor that year but that doesn't really tarnish his reputation in my eyes.

Ben Affleck as A.J. Frost, one of Harry's crew and Grace's love interest.

Liv Tyler as Grace Stamper, Harry's daughter and pretty much the only explored female character in the movie.
Billy Bob Thornton as Dan Truman, some dude at NASA. Too lazy to actually figure out what his official position was. 

Steve Buscemi as Rockhound

Will Patton as Charles "Chick" Chappel 

William Fichtner as Colonel Willie Sharp. 

Michael Clarke Duncan as J. Otis "Bear" Kurleenbear.

Owen Wilson as Oscar Choice who had no real purpose in the movie which is terribly unfortunate.

Peter Stormare as Lev Andropov

Keith David as General Kimsey

Chris Ellis as NASA flight director Clark. I think an under-appreciated actor, he never gets any substantial roles but he plays his roles well.

Jason Isaacs as Dr. Ronald Quincy, or informally referred to as "pretty much the smartest man on the planet". You may not recognize him but he played Lucius Malfoy throughout the Harry Potter series. 

Just to note, the whole concept of blowing apart an asteroid the size of Texas with a single nuclear warhead is simply idiotic. Think of it this way, if you were to do the same thing in Texas it wouldn't blow the state in two. I was sitting in on a seminar a few years ago where some visiting professor was taking a look at the physics in Hollywood movies. I believe he said that Armageddon was one of the worst in terms of realism second to only The Core (an even more ridiculous movie). He made some rough calculations and he told us something along the lines of, if the nuclear warhead was 10 000 times the strength of the one dropped on Hiroshima and all the energy was used to push apart the two pieces of rock not even for breaking it in two, the two pieces would travel apart at a rate of 2 cm/s. I realize completely trusting these "rough" calculations can be extremely misleading but if he's anywhere close this could never be any realistically viable solution. I would just accept it and live the last couple days to the fullest. 

I found the soundtrack to this movie pretty awesome. I think it's the only CD I ever really listened to (I wasn't really into much music until P2P file sharing got started). The song "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith has an interesting honour that only three other songs share. It was nominated for both an Academy Award for Best Original Song as well as a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song. It won neither which is both good and bad. 

This movie really emphasizes a willing suspension of disbelief. If you can do that and enjoy gratuitous amounts of explosions than this is the movie for you! Seriously though, just watch it when you're folding laundry or some other tedious menial task because it requires no thinking what-so-ever.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Movie of the Day - An American Tail

So I thought I would give up trying to write about new movies since it's pretty much a lost cause due to cheapness.

I'm just going to write about the movies I happen to watch on a day-to-day basis and that I'd recommend to you.

Today's movie is An American Tail (1986)

This movie is and always will be a classic for me.

In 1885, Fievel Mousekewitz and his family are moving to the America, from their homeland of Russia, to seek a country without cats (or so says Papa Mousekewitz). Fievel loses his way and is separated from his family but this loveable mouse and his friends save the day and they all live happily ever after...and all that crap.

Anyhow, it made a pretty big splash at the box office taking in $84 million which, at that day and age for an animated non-Disney movie, was pretty good. 

Not really many big names as far as actors go but there are a few veterans of the game who produce some pretty memorable supporting roles.

An American Tail was directed by Don Bluth who started at The Walt Disney Company but left in 1979 to form his own studio. While Don was at Disney he worked on such movies as Sleeping Beauty, The Sword in the Stone, and Robin Hood (one of my all-time favourite Disney movies). He then left in 1979 to form Sullivan Bluth Studios with Morris Sullivan. He went on to direct a lot of big name non-Disney animated features like The Secret of NIMH, The Land Before Time, All Dogs Go to Heaven, Thumbelina and Anastasia.

Fievel Mousekewitz - The main character who is always getting into trouble. At first I really thought he was voiced by a woman which I would say is pretty common in animation. In fact he was played by Michael Glasser who unfortunately hasn't done a whole lot since the American Tail series.

Henri - A French pigeon who befriends Fievel while overseeing the construction of the Statue of Liberty. Henri belts out a quick little number and we know he can sing because he's voiced by Christopher Plummer. If you don't remember who he is, rewatch The Sound of Music and I'm sure you'd pick him out.

Tiger - A friendly and vegetarian cat who seems to love mice but puts on a facade amongst the other cats. Tiger was played by the late, great and lovable Dom DeLuise.

Sadly, the other cast members are relatively unknown so I won't bother mentioning them.


The reason I decided to watch this movie was because it was referenced by two different sitcom episodes I watched yesterday.

The first was from the episode Environmental Science from the first season of Community.

The second was from this week's episode of New Girl, Zooey Deschanel's new sitcom which seems decently promising.

So if you want a happy trip down nostalgia lane give this movie a watch again.