Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

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Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Doctor Who, anyone?

What do you get when you cross Wayne’s World with Doctor Who? There’s no question to that one – you get Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Just watch the thing, they have the same accents, say the same things, have the same attitude, play the same air guitars, combined with the same-ish sound effects. All the while, they travel through space and time vortexes in a phone booth? Remind you of anything else? It’s all good, though, because Bill & Ted are so loveable, and this adventure is most definitely excellent.

Most of you already know what the story is here, but in case you don’t, it’s obviously about Bill and Ted. Two jamming buddies who are also idiots…now. In the future, they are loved by everyone and practically regarded as Gods. However, they are about to flunk a history exam – which would result in Ted being sent to military school. The future decides to send back a time machine to help set things right. So Bill and Ted decide to travel through history and kidnap huge historical figures for their oral exam.

Yeah, any doofus on the planet can tell where the writers got their inspiration – but it’s interesting to me that they don’t flatly point that out in the film and just chuck it off as a parody. It’s funny enough, but then it occurred to me that back then…that’s not what parodies did. Parodies worked off of an idea, that’s it. So parts of this film feel like a parody, but a really well put-together parody. The idea is so simple, and so over-the-top that it’s practically self-aware. They know it’s over-the-top and stupid, and they thrive off of that fact. This is one of those movies that you watch just because it’s fun.

There are a few things that don’t really translate perfectly nowadays – but they aren’t major distractions. The main one, in my opinion, is the “far out, party on” accents and personalities. Those kind of people are ultimately extinct nowadays, so not a lot of people can connect with them on that level – but at the same time, they are hilarious. A lot of people can’t handle Keanu Reeves saying “woah” too many times, but the way it is done here is priceless simply because the characters are really memorable. I will admit that some of the exclamations throughout the movie are a little repetitive and it starts to feel a tad old, but again – those are fleeting moments.

This is a largely nostalgic film. Those who saw it years ago are likely to lock in the entertainment level and pull it out again when watching it today – and that’s great…but how does it measure up to a modern audience? It’s hard to say, but I think a lot of the written material for the comedy still measures up, because I was catching things left and right that I hadn’t when I was younger – and I was laughing out loud. There’s a lot of over-the-top, random humor in there that I really think you’ll enjoy.

The Good:

No matter how over-the-top, random, and educational this flick is (for a movie about history), Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is quite an epic movie when you think about it. It’s not only about Bill and Ted, but it’s also about all of these well-known historical figures throughout time – and how they perceive our world – and the various time periods. It’s also about their interactions with each other that just seems brilliant. The whole thing together creates a really fantastic cult comedy.

The Bad:

Some of the material here just doesn’t measure up for a modern audience. Some teenager that wants to see what the fuss is all about might call this thing cheesy and really not connect with it. That’s what I fear, because after long, no one will care to watch it anymore, which is really a shame.

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Dead Poets Society (1989)

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Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Captain, my captain.

“Oh captain, my captain”. We’ve been hearing that quite a bit recently, haven’t we? Dead Poets Society is a movie I don’t think I really ever had the pleasure of watching. The only thing I knew about it was that phrase, along with Carpe Diem. Beyond that, I really didn’t know too much about it, and I wanted to figure out why – of all things – people chose the captain phrase when Robin Williams passed. Was it about the movie itself and his performance, or was it more? After watching, it was clear that his role created in impact on these young men’s lives – so much that it expanded. If there was ever a movie that came close to showing the effect he had on people, Dead Poets Society might just give you a glimpse.

The story revolves around an off-beat English instructor, John Keating (Williams), who believes that everyone should have a free choice in life, and to seize the day, in whatever way that meant. Every student in the film was a little different, but Keating just wanted them to follow their passions and have fun – and they met collectively in the woods – as the Dead Poets Society…where they basically just sit around and talk poetry.

To kill the mood for a second or two, I just want to say that this isn’t exactly my type of film. I understand and appreciate the values of what it was going for, but a lot of it felt boring and a little over-the-top for me. My main complaint, unfortunately, had to do with the club itself, the Dead Poets Society. The idea of the club is fine, but it shouldn’t be seen any different than any other extra-curricular activity…because it’s just about poems and poets…that’s it, and it’s treated like a secret society where they are hazing new recruits…or something. Is it because they smoke and curse in this club? Is it because they are outside and not actually in the building? I don’t know, and I certainly don’t understand what the big deal is. Maybe in the late ‘80s it was more crazy and controversial,but it didn’t seem very nuts to me.

That being said, the messages in the film are important, and it is honestly laced everywhere with these messages. Things on the topic of honor, truth, following your dreams and passions, acceptance, loyalty, and most importantly, having fun. It is just an in-depth look at the human personality in general, which is absolutely fine. They did a tremendous job portraying their very diverse characters – but in the end, it’s just coming-of-age, which I don’t care too much for. I know the same doesn’t apply to everyone, which is why my score is more effected by the confusing nature of how the club is viewed than it is about the coming-of-age film structure.

This is one of Robin Williams best films, or at least it is in a lot of people’s minds. To me, because it wasn’t my cup-o-tea, it’s far from my favorite performance of his. Because this was still early, his character had a lot of comical celebrity impersonations…which wasn’t horrible, but it was typical of Williams in his movies, and I thought the film would be more than that. When it came to really getting his students attention, he did a fantastic job. I just wish the movie had more of him than it ultimately did.

The Good:

Above all else, the many messages in this film are dealt with appropriately and in a good light. “Oh Captain, my Captain” will forever be one of the most-memorable one-liners in film, purely because of the message behind it, and the image that will forever be engrained  into our subconscious for all of space and time.

The Bad:

The Dead Poets Society in question – is a club that the students start to talk about poetry and the get the free will to be themselves. Somehow, this should-be extra curricular class is seen as something as malice and bad as a secret society with hazing rituals…or something. I don’t get what all the fuss was about. It was kids talking about poetry…how awful.

The Random:

I like the part where Robert Sean Leonard’s father tells him to quit acting and become a doctor…because he goes on to act as a doctor in House, M.D. Oh…I crack myself up.

Batman (1989)

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Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Dark and campy.

This film was selected from ‘The 250’

I was live-tweeting about Batman so much last night. While it may look like I was actually making fun of the movie, just know I don’t hate it. I actually have mad respect for it; I just decided to have a fun experience with it. Of course, this is the movie that really introduced the world to who Batman is supposed to be. You know, the dark, edgy, gloomy guy in the gloomy city? Sure, we saw Adam West with the Kapow! And Ker-Plops! But the world had no idea who Batman really was unless they read the comics – that’s what this movie did, and to be honest it did an okay job with it.

In the darkest corners of Gotham City, a rumor is being spread around about a Batman. Half man, half bat, who focuses his time on taking out criminals – so bad guys everywhere are really afraid. This is no rumor though, Batman is real, and when a psychotic mob-boss by the name of the Joker shows up, he has a dastardly plan against the people of Gotham…to make them laugh…to death.

I want to say why I have mad respect for this movie. First of all, it’s incredibly iconic, and it does an incredible job at introducing you to a great, great superhero. For 1989, it is pretty gloomy, but we’ve seen gloomier. The plot is very plain, but it is also a very solid man vs. man; hero vs. villain story. It’s got a good amount of vengeance in there, it’s got a subplot for Bruce Wayne…everything that I typically like about a superhero movie was in the movie – exactly where it should be. Jack Nicholson as the joker is very, very cartoony. He’s bouncing around the screen, he’s got goofy toys…whatever. At the same time, he does have an iconic look and laugh. He’s still a maniac, just in a different way.

It really is a very decent superhero flick, but my main issue is that I don’t think it translates all that well with a modern audience – which is very important for Batman. People didn’t know Batman very well in a live-action role in 1989. They know him better than ever now, and this in comparison is a little tame. It does need to be a little gloomier. The Joker, while Nicholson did an iconic job, feels campier than ever now, and the plot…

The plot, like I mentioned…is solid…but incredibly plain. I didn’t really feel the threat of The Joker. His main, maniacle plan, is to make people in a depressing town, die of laughter – and to give them all millions of dollars while they cheer for his existence. I get the fact that people are dying, but this is a gloomy town, at least they’ll be dying happy and rich. To break this down for you – they did an okay job making the town and Batman gloomy, but my God they needed to do the same with the Joker. Instead, he was the comedic relief. Why? Because he’s a clown? No! He’s a demented clown! He shouldn’t actually be funny! Sigh.

Before I forget to mention – one of the most interesting aspects to this movie is that this isn’t an origin story. For the world’s first real look at the Dark Knight, that was a really brave move. His past is mentioned in the movie, but way further down the line. Instead, we are introduced to Batman as the world is…as a rumor; a mystery – which was the right way to go. You actually don’t see Bruce Wayne until 20 minutes into the film. Yeah.

The Good:

This review has it’s ups and downs about the movie – but in the end – it is a very decent introduction to the Dark Knight. It has a solid hero vs. villain plot with a decent subplot for the secret identity. Jack Nicholson as the Joker is still a pretty iconic face as well as his maniacle laugh.

The Bad:

As iconic as the Joker was, they treated him as comedic relief instead of a demented psychopath that should be the scariest part of the movie. He is the bad guy – which in general means he is supposed to make an already gloomy city worse – not give them money, prance around on screen, and ultimately make them…kinda love him. If they just made him as gloomy as everything else, it could have been something that translates amazingly well.

Memorable Quote:

Batman: [to Joker] Hey. You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight? [punches him]

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

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Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Better all round.

Buddy cop action films are a tricky bunch. They all have a common theme, and so it’s really difficult to rank them because sometimes they all just seem like the same thing rehashed a thousand times. That was my honest opinion about the first Lethal Weapon film, which I still hold firm, but there was something special about Lethal Weapon 2 that just feels right. When I think of this series, a lot of what actually happens in the movie is what my mind instinctively shoots to. So in short, that’s why I like this movie more than the first…but let’s break it down.

One year later, Riggs and Murtaugh are clearly still working together and high in pursuit of a man with a ton of gold in his trunk. Well, because Murtaugh was the main man on the case, these South African diplomats send a team of criminals to his house to threaten him and his family, so the next day…he is reasonably taken off of the case. His and Riggs new case involves protecting a federal witness, which they take as offensive. Looks like they were really still on the case, because the thing this witness witnessed….had to do with the South Africans. Turns out, these South African diplomats are wagging their diplomatic immunity in Riggs and Murtaugh’s face. Basically saying, we’re going to pillage and plunder all we want and you can’t do a darn thing to stop us.

The plot of this film is so much better than the first one. They made South Africans look cool before District 9 took over the popularity. I’ve always been interested in the idea of diplomatic immunity and what that means for foreign crime. It has been used as a plot device in other forms of media, but it’s a more untouched idea with plenty of space for creativity and originality. Plus, you gotta love that funky accent the South Africans have. You know how easily this writers of this film could have chosen Russians, Chinese, or other diplomats? So easy, but everyone else has already done it, and it’s still being done today. South Africans? That’s awesome!

Another aspect of this franchise that I remember well is Rigg’s wacky personality and dislocating shoulder. He’s crazy, and I love it. I love the fact that they were able to take his craziness from the first film, develop it a bit more, and made it make sense for the sequel. His craziness in the original film had a lot to do with his suicidal tendencies. This time around, it had a closer resemblance to say, the eccentric attitude that of Tony Stark in Iron Man. Everything else was purely just…memorable in general. The shoulder dislocation is a part of what makes Riggs unique and when people think about shoulders dislocating…at least half probably think of Mel Gibson first.

The toilet bomb scenario is a hilarious scene and incredibly memorable as well. The Mythbusters even tested this very scene to understand the reality of what would happen in the same circumstance. Also, the romance between Riggs and Rika is a bit too James Bond-y, but at the same time…it was incredibly important for Riggs’ growth in moving on since his own wife’s passing, and her role is rather significant in the long run.

So this is all fine and dandy, but how is it bad? I wouldn’t say its any bad for specific reasons, but I could easily see people looking past the film because it doesn’t really create a long-lasting effect. However, it is a lot of fun for when you are watching it. So there’s that.

The Good:
Mel Gibson and Danny Glover definitely play their strengths here once more, and their chemistry is off the charts once they are able to feel more comfortable in their roles. Their messages of anti-racism, teamwork, and friendship are impressive and admirable. The action is really great and the jokes are fresh. All around, it’s a fantastic movie to get lost in.

The Bad:
Not too much is really bad here…it’s just not the most epic film in the world. You could easily forget all of the good the movie actually offers, which is a shame.

Memorable Quote:
[after shooting 2 criminals with a nail gun]

Roger Murtaugh: Nailed you both!