Sunday, April 30, 2017

Joe Dante, part XIII: Dante Jam


A lot of good jokes, an obvious respect for the legacy of the characters being exploited, and one overwhelmingly great centerpiece sequence more than balance out all the parts that make you groan (even if there are a lot of those, too).

Directed by Joe Dante
Written by Larry Doyle
Joe Alaskey (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and so forth), Brendan Fraser (DJ Drake), Jenna Elfman (Kate), Timothy Dalton (Damien Drake), Heather Locklear (Dusty Tails), Joan Cusack (Mother), and Steve Martin (Chairman of the Acme Corporation's Board of Directors)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Monday, April 17, 2017

Joe Dante, part XII: Real American heroes


Kids love social commentary, right?  Maybe not, but that doesn't mean we can't, while still appreciating Small Soldiers' finer points, like its comedy, its violence, its comedic violence, and (especially) its swerves into bona fide, no-kidding horror.

Directed by Joe Dante
Written by Gavin Scott, Adam Rifkin, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, and Anne Spielberg
With Gregory Smith (Alan Abernathy), Kirsten Dunst (Christy Fimple), Phil Hartman (Phil Fimple), Wendy Schaal (Marion Fimple), Dick Miller (Joe), David Cross (Irwin Wayfair), Jay Mohr (Larry Benson), Robert Picardo (Ralph Quist), Dennis Leary (Gil Mars), Frank Langella (Archer), and Tommy Lee Jones (Chip Hazard)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Joe Dante, part XI: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the mant


Our director tells a story of childish things, and makes the case for why they don't need to be put away.

Directed by Joe Dante
Written by Charles Haas and Jerico Stone
With John Goodman (Lawrence Woolsey), Cathy Moriarty (Ruth Corday), Simon Fenton (Gene Loomis), Omri Katz (Stan), Lisa Jakub (Sandra), Kellie Martin (Sherry), Jesse Lee Soffer (Dennis Loomis), Lucinda Jenney (Anne Loomis), Robert Picardo (Howard, the theater manager), Dick Miller (Herb), John Sayles (Bob), and James Villemaire (Harvey Starkweather)

Spoiler alert: mild

Thursday, April 6, 2017

If I had the chance, I'd ask the world to dance


If every musical of the 1950s winds up turning into a pretentious art film for ten or twenty minutes, what would happen if a musical was simply conceived as a pretentious art film from the start?  That's the experiment Gene Kelly ran when he made Invitation to the Dance, and the results, while mixed, suggest that Kelly's opus deserves a higher profile amongst its brethren musicals than the near-obscurity which, sadly, it actually enjoys.

Directed by, choreographed by, and starring Gene Kelly

Spoiler alert: moderate

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Joe Dante, part VIII: That's not a baby—that's a Mister Potato Head!


An inoffensive, indeed, often-pleasing curio from the deepest parts of the 1980s.

Directed by John Landis, Carl Gottlieb, Peter Hoton, Robert K. Weiss, and Joe Dante
Written by Michael Barrie and Jim Mulholland
With "lots of actors," according to the opening title card, and I imagine you feel like reading a four-line list of performers almost as much as I feel like writing it

Spoiler alert: mild