Movie Re-Watch – Sky High

I honestly forgot just how cute, and how much fun this 2005 film is. And I had the movie conflated in my head with Mean Girls, thinking Tina Fey was the gym teacher. Well, she’s not — instead, we have the equally awesome Bruce Campbell as the gym teacher. And in case you forgot, Sky High itself is a floating castle of a high school, specifically for young Superheroes-in-training. And also, sadly, a school for Sidekicks (AKA, “hero support”).

On your first day of school you get slotted as a Hero or Sidekick. And the teens we follow are those whose powers are so bizarre (melting into a puddle of slime) or minor (shape shifting into a guinea pig) that they are siloed as Sidekicks. And the main character – the son of the Earth’s most powerful superheroes – has no powers at all.

Sounds fun? It really is. The “evil plot” is a forgettable MacGuffin, so you can feel free to ignore everything to do with it, and get on with the good times one can imagine if an 80’s John Hughes film was steeped in a tea of Marvel goodness. There’s the smart-ass tormentors of the Sidekicks, the pretty mean girls, the snide cafeteria hijinks, the bad boy with a heart of gold, childhood crushes, school tournaments (Save The Citizen!), and kids who really just wants to fit in. Even if fitting in means he simply glows if he tries really hard — and only if it’s really dark enough.

Things to notice: the soundtrack that takes you way back. Funky posters on the walls, silly jokes and throwaway lines in background scenes, sly school loudspeaker announcements that you barely notice, a self-referential picture on a  pinball machine…it’s all there for the joy of it. Also, you’ve got Principal Linda Carter giving kids detention, shaking her head at the children and saying she’s not Wonder Woman, ya know.

Does the powerless kid get his powers? What do you think? Does the gawky girl get the boy? C’mon. From Steve Stronghold (Kurt Russel at his overbearing man-child best) as The Commander, to Ron Wilson, Bus Driver (who I want to give a hug for making lemonade out of lemons), this is a whole heap of fun and a good message. Sky High is a keeper for the download list, a nice background movie ranking next to The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller, and…yeah, Mean Girls.

Movie Grade: A-

Movie Review – Overboard (2018)

I’m not sure why anyone felt a need to remake *Overboard*. The 1987 original has a sparkling and famous cast, led by Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russel. It was sweet, it was funny, and despite the kind of casual sexism often shown in that era of movies, was a small cult classic. I loved it. I still love it and watch it when I need cheering up. But, remember, as major hits from the past go, this is still minor-league. It would be like remaking *So I Married An Axe Murderer*. Both are cute, fun little romps, perfectly made — but not exactly in the realm of important films of the 80s.

I can see re-doing *Ghostbusters* , a major movie from that time, still on any complete must-see movie list. That remake was gender-flipped, and featured good natured cameos from almost everyone in the original. Which leads me back to *Overboard*.

Someone must have noted when the gender swapped *Ghostbusters* made enough of a splash to justify its existence, and thought the concept would work for other old properties. Cue *Overboard*.

Does it work? Yes and no. With the gender reversals and current climate of correctness, it’s a lot less sexist. It also features a large Latino cast to balance out all the blond girls. The good mom (Kate, by Anna Faris) finds love and  a father to her girls; the selfish alpha male (Leo, by Eugenio Derbezlearns to be warm, caring, and responsible…so the message is nice and the audience walks out happy. There are legitimate laughs along the way, mainly via Leo struggling to learn construction under the benevolent hazing of his co-workers. I smiled a lot. This should all be fresh and new for audiences not raised on the original.

What doesn’t work is how underwhelming this version is. It’s not as charming as it hoped to be, and the cast doesn’t have that ringing chemistry of the first. The family moments feel rushed and unearned. Kate’s “nurse” story lacks the cool cleverness of Kurt Russel’s “Wonders of the World Golf Course” scenario, and the children don’t have enough anything memorable to do. The side-plot with Leo’s rich family is simply dull. That’s way too bad; the antics of the crew on the “Immaculata” were wildly entertaining.

On all these levels, *Overboard 2018* doesn’t come close to adding anything interesting that a remake should. Only the character of Leo is consistently amusing, but with his role doubling for the formidable Ms. Hawn, the actor really doesn’t stand a chance in comparison.

If you’re a huge fan of the 1987 original, you might enjoy this reboot. It’s nowhere near as charming, but has its moments. There are many lines lifted exactly from the first, with expressions and tones carefully rendered the same way (ie: “Sometimes dads leave”). A lot of memorable shots are nicely echoed (as in the quiet, tension-crackling scene of the limousine driving toward Elk Cove ). It’s fun to find these elements honored and recreated.

One thing I would have enjoyed: there should have been cameos from the original cast scattered around, as they did with the aforementioned ghost busting movie. If they didn’t want to be that self-referential, they could have slipped in cameos to the extra scene during the credits. I was mystified by the cameo absence. Evoking exact phrases and scenes from the ’87 version showed that they weren’t hiding their roots. And it would have lent a respectful sense of fun for actors and viewers alike.

Enough about comparisons. I’ll grade this movie a B- on its own merits: it’s likable and fun enough for an easy afternoon at the theater. If you want to see something much more touching, that’s rollicking and straight out funny, with far superior acting, rewatch the original.

Movie Grade: B-

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Where the Cast from the Original Overboard is Now

When I saw the original Overboard in 1987, I was delighted with its wit and charm. It had a lightness, a sense of playful adventure, and a sweetly romantic conclusion. It made me laugh. It made me happy. Although the plot was implausible — and vaguely sexist even for the 80s — I was willing to overlook that in favor of the likability factor. There was an adorable chemistry between real-life, then-couple Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russel.

Hawn did an especially bang-up job playing three distinct periods of character growth (her rich, petulant brat persona was an especial treat). Russel’s character also grew (from overgrown man-child to almost-responsible adult), but Hawn owned this film.

The three children almost stole the show themselves. That can be a real trick. Kid roles can torpedo an otherwise good story by being too cutesy, whiny, or obnoxiously precocious.  Here, the director made sure everything worked. For a small and implausible movie like this, that’s kind of rare. Call it a minor cult classic. 

I still play Overboard whenever I need a little pick me up, placing it into a small category of flicks I can replay over and over as the years go by. It’s a great “background movie” too. So, light and inconsequential as it is, it’s a personal favorite. When I realized a new Overboard was in the works, I was nervous. Reboots do that to me. Understanding it’s a gender-flipped version helped a little. (It worked for Ghostbusters, which may not have been great, but was light on its feet and was worlds better than Ghostbusters 2.) The new Overboard might not come close to bettering the original, but it could at least it might not suck. “Not Awful” has become an acceptable new category in this age of remakes, reboots, sequels, prequels, sagas, and long-term franchise building.

The new actors for the new Overboard seem cute enough – although I’m curious why Kate Hudson (Hawn’s real-life and look-alike actress daughter) didn’t take up her mother’s role. We’ll see if the new guys have any chemistry, and if the story has enough grounding to stand up in today’s era.

In the meantime, what exactly did happen with the original cast?

Wikepedia’s 1987 Overboard entry lists the actors’ names, but apparently the kiddos didn’t go on to do much after this: only Jared Rushton, as Charlie Proffit (one of the twins), saw enough action to fill a filmography list.

Besides Hawk and Russel — who are STILL headlining major roles (as early as 2017’s Snatched and Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2),  mainly the late, award-winning Roddy McDowall, and still-acting Edward Herrmann, Katherine Helmond, and popular character-actor Michael G. Hagerty continue to make a “splash” (pardon the pun). Here’s a You Tube video detailing where the original cast sailed off to (sorry again):

 

Movie Review – Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2

There are two reviews here; Dan’s and Jill’s, enjoy!

Dan says:

The first GotG is, I think, the very best of the Marvel movies. While GotGv2 isn’t quite as good, it certainly didn’t disappoint.

The theme of the story (father/son reunion) isn’t anything new, but writer/director James Gunn weaves a thread into the story that makes it uniquely his own.

In a larger context, I think this is why Marvel has been so successful: the movies have plenty of action and spectacle, but are ultimately about relationships and sacrifice. (Note to DC: this is how you do it.)

The humor of GotGv2 is abundant, although I don’t think it has quite as many memorable lines as the original.

Jill says:

To start with — I am a worshiper of the original GotG. It is not only my favorite Marvel movie, but my favorite superhero movie, and one of my all-time favorite EVER films. I can’t count how many times I watched Guardians, danced along to Peter’s mix tape, and laughed myself silly at pretty much anything Rocket did. I want to soar through space with these guys on the Milano. Three years I’ve waited to see this team of strangely competent wackos return. I saw the opening day 3D RPX Guardians double feature, and handily won a trivia prize during the intermission. I’m listening to Awesome Mix, Vol 1, right now. Clearly, I’m not a casual fan.

So here’s the thing about the sequel: the main plot is the sticking point of the film. I honestly found the Kurt Russel scenes a bit tedious (though certainly very pretty). Without spoiling anything, boo on the big reveal. And blah to the Sovereign. Even Taserface didn’t do much for me – didn’t we see him in Pirates of the Caribbean 2? (Good through-joke on his ‘outlaw’ name, though. Ha!) There’s a reason why everything in the trailers are about the team and not the plot – the storyline is merely meh. I missed Rhomann Dey, and all the pink people and The Collector, wanted another prison sequence, and even wondered where dumb old Thanos had gotten himself to.

What I really wanted were more ensemble moments with the Guardians. Those moments shined. I was over the moon to have more Yondu and Nebula. Bring it on! I look forward to seeing Baby Groot grow up. I was pleasantly surprised that little Groot, though still deadly, was not just a small version of his old self. This tree is definitely now an infant, and the group understands this. There were some very sweet, intimate little moments with our ‘family’ and their baby.

My feeling is that this film will grow on me. It does deepen one or two of the characters’ back stories, even if it doesn’t further anything. Or, well, much…without giving away a very sad thing.

James Gunn reports he is helming this as a trilogy; perhaps this will be the quiet one of the three. It was a smaller story – which normally I appreciate – but in this tale, I wanted more connection to the larger MCU tale. I know I need to have a re-watch or three, and I probably sound a little petulant. The movie is good! I just have a high bar set. GotGv2 will assuredly grow on me. And now I am listening to Awesome Mix Vol 2…not AS fun as the first, but I can feel it growing on me already.

Movie Grade: A-