What Dreams May Come (1998)

What-Dreams-2

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Beautiful and imaginative.

After Robin Williams’ passing, there was one movie that I’ve more or less been avoiding because it brings it a little close to home…and it was just too soon. What Dreams May Come is a very well-known Williams film, and because it revolves around his character’s death…I thought it was a little chilling to the core to even consider watching – but now that I have…I’m really glad, because this is a truly beautiful film that took quite a bit of imagination to pull off.

It’s about a man named Chris Nielson who, a few years ago, lost both his kids to a grisly car accident. The loss caused so much grief to both himself and his wife, and it even brought them to the brink of divorce, but they pulled through. However, a freak accident claimed Chris’s life as well, leaving his wife to be a widow. In Heaven, Chris still felt his wife’s presence, as he lived in the magic of her paintings, which he always loved – but when she commits suicide, Chris must risk his safe and luxurious new home to find his wife in the impossible trap that is Hell.

Just the idea alone – that this is Robin Williams exploring the afterlife – chills me to the core. I know I shouldn’t really consider that for the review, but it really does now. It’s been a while since I actually watched this, so I couldn’t remember if it was a dark or light film – and I feared dark. It’s not though, it’s a mixture of both with a preference for light. In all honesty, it’s absolutely beautiful and imaginative. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I loved every second of it – in terms of visuals – and that’s a rarity for a 1998 film. The set designs sometimes were clearly just backdrops or green screened, but the cinematography was ingenious and captured what the film was ultimately going for.

However, I wasn’t the biggest fan on how the film defined suicide, that victims of suicide just go to Hell. Especially after the irony of Williams’ own passing – I don’t want to even think that Robin was immediately shot to Hell because he took his own life. I have my own beliefs on suicide, but I won’t get into it – just know that the description here kind of peeved me. Now, I understand why they did it that way – to progress the plot, I just wish it was a little different…like purgatory? I’m not sure. That being said, the way the film visually painted Heaven and Hell as two complete opposites was absolutely brilliant. Heaven is filled with smiles, and a world of visions that anyone can paint, while Hell is a desolate place where dreams are forgotten. It’s amazing actually, the thought process the visionary director must have went through to create this world.

In all actuality, this is a wonderful, beautiful film that does a really good job depicting love, loss, and even the subconscious. There have been films done like this in the past, but I’m not sure how many were so creative and honest with how everything was depicted. I was impressed. I just hope that somewhere out in the vast, mysterious unknown, Robin is painting his visions with a huge smile on his face.

The Good:

There’s no question about it. What Dreams May Come is beautiful in every aspect – from story, to acting, to writing, to visuals – this film has it all. It somehow captures both Heaven and Hell in the perfect light, without insulting anyone’s own vision.

The Bad:

I said it in my review – the depiction of suicide in this film, while it makes sense for the plot, really upsets me. They locked in the accuracy of feelings so well in this film, and how Heaven or Hell might actually feel – but the whole suicide thing really annoyed me.

Patch Adams (1998)

Patch-Adams

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Laughter = Best Medicine.

In my quest to find the best Robin Williams film since his recent passing, I think I may have found a prime candidate. The thing that’s really interesting about Patch Adams is that it stars two celebrities of recent passing – Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and watching it back again shows not only their impressive ability to act, but it also showcases something that’s almost haunting…then again, that’s probably just my subconscious speaking. As a film, Patch Adams has everything you could ask for in terms of Robin Williams, which brings me to the conclusion that this is definitely one of Williams best works.

This film centers on the true story of Dr. Hunter (Patch) Adams, played by comedic legend Robin Williams. After a failed…suicide attempt…Patch finds his calling in life – to help people through smiles and lightened spirits. His basic idea of being a doctor isn’t only to delay death, but to improve the quality of life. He does this through making patients smile, which is threatening to “professional” doctors that are trying to do their job. The more he tries to listen to patients and make them laugh, the more his colleagues begin to believe he doesn’t take medicine seriously, and instead is making a mockery of their established principles.

I’m not always the biggest fan of “true story” films. They either follow a structure I don’t care about in film, or are so loosely based on a true story that it doesn’t matter anyways – and Patch Adams is a film I more or less find an exception with, because Robin Williams fit this role so perfectly. It’s hard to imagine anyone else being Patch Adams, because the mannerisms and affect he had on others lives, let alone the love he felt for others mirrors Robin’s own life. The only real difference is Robin is an actor while Patch is a doctor.

It also poses some really good points that are still valid today. Primarily speaking, the indifference that hospitals can possess when dealing with people in need. They follow rules and procedures so much that some people are turned away for not having health insurance – and those people are often the people that need help the most. This issue has been raised before, and sometimes the main focus of other movies and documentaries, but because this film was about a lot of different things, short and sweet was the way to go. It’s kind of ridiculous to think that Patch Adams would pose a threat to anyone or anything, and the idea that the real man went through all that garbage is ridiculous.

Like any true story, the structure is basically – follow this guy around and experience his life with him. That’s great, but it’s not my preferred film type. I like something where I know where it’s going, where there’s a set plot. Patch Adams follows a more solid plot than most true stories, though. You know what he’s trying to do – he’s trying to be a real doctor while practicing his own methods at the same time. That’s a true story that I can appreciate. Plus, there’s plenty of great messages of hopes and dreams that you can eat right up.

The Good:

Patch Adams is clearly one of Robin Williams’ best films. His portrayal of the real doctor are absolutely perfect, and the messages presented are heartwarming and still important to this day. Another thing I like about this movie is that it’s not really a comedy, it’s a drama about a comedic guy – and the balance is really nice.

The Bad:

I…don’t…really know.

The Random:

Seriously, Rotten Tomatoes? 23%…? You know what movie I consider that bad? The Number 23 and The House and the End of the Street.

The Wedding Singer (1998)

Wedding-Singer

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Where it began…

This film was selected from ‘The 250’

Ah yes, Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, our two love birds. It wasn’t that long ago when they were both on The Tonight Show promoting Blended. Jimmy Fallon had them sing together and it was sweet, and Adam Sandler decides in the moment to sing “Grow Old With You”. Drew Barrymore had absolutely no clue that he was going to do it, and she actually teared up. That should give you an idea of what kind of chemistry these two have, for the last 16 years, no less. It all began with The Wedding Singer, and in my opinion, this is probably the best out of the bunch.

“Dave, you idiot, tell us what it is about!”

I’m glad you asked. The Wedding Singer introduces us to a wedding singer – Robbie Hart. He was left at the altar because his fiancé missed the good ol’ days of his rock-stardom, and the separation left him as a sad, strange little man…and he had my pity. Turns out the wedding waitress (Drew Barrymore) is clearly his perfect match, and she asks him to sing at her wedding. He, of course, proudly says yes.

This is probably the best of the bunch because it has the perfect concoction of romantic chemistry. 50 First Dates had some really great chemistry as well, but the plot kind of forced the guy to start at square one every day…which is funny, but not the best it could be. Blended was again, really good, but it was more about the kids than it was about each other. The Wedding Singer had the best presentation through and through. However, this is where it gets tricky, because the one flaw it had was originality. Watch it, you’ll see…it’s pretty cliché.

I mean, it’s a basic comedic romance. A man and a woman are clearly in love with each other, but for whatever reason aren’t with each other. It creates comedy and tension. We’ve seen it before a thousand times, but I think it works because the entire flow of the film is very, very unique. You love the characters, you love the music, you love the colors and the costumes of the ‘80s…it all fits really nicely. You have movies that really annoy you for going the same route, but this was set apart from the others. It’s unique and memorable, and it is really funny.

This was before the time where people hated Adam Sandler, and it was before he basically became a parody of himself. I found his character in this film to be interesting. He clearly had Adam Sandler’s dialect when yelling, but his character had such a soft-spoken, normal voice when talking that you can hardly even tell it’s him under all that hair. Let’s be honest though, Drew Barrymore was just Drew Barrymore.

The reason you’ll watch this isn’t just for this reason or that, it’s because you want something funny to watch with really great chemistry. You might also want to watch something special or something with a phenomenal soundtrack. Whatever the reason, the heart or the shoes, you’ll give this film a hundred and two views.

The Good:

The Wedding Singer is where it’s at in terms of romantic chemistry between Sandler and Barrymore. Their interactions with each other, the soundtrack, and the comedy is enough to overlook…

The Bad:

Which, of course, is a really simple and cliché story with absolutely nothing unpredictable.

The “trilogy”

  1. The Wedding Singer

American History X (1998)

American-History-X

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Horrific, but incredible.

This film was selected from ‘The 250’

There are so many movies about racism and civil rights that it’s almost shocking. It’s a category all on it’s own, because for such a horrific period in our history, everyone just seemed to be horrible people. For whatever reason. Each decade was and is a little different than the last, but as we grow as people, it’s important not to forget where we came from. That means remembering the bad parts as well. It’s one thing to read about in a history book or documentary, it’s another thing completely when you take an unfiltered look into the reality of the circumstances themselves. American History X is a film with an original story that really dives into our history in a bold way.

The “American History X” in question is actually a research paper given to Danny Vinyard (Edward Furlong) about his brother, Derek (Edward Norton) who was just released from prison for killing two black men trying to steal his car. Derek was a skinhead racist before going to prison, and whatever happened during the three years he was behind bars transformed him into, well, a reasonable young man who only cares about looking after Danny, and stopping him from becoming a monster like he once was. Danny has until the next day to learn from his brother and finish American History X…and as we have learned – a lot can happen in just one day.

That actually surprised me. I’ve seen this movie probably twice before, and it never occurred to me that the movie in all actuality takes place in only a single day. It just seems like more because it is littered with flashbacks all over the place, explaining Derek’s entire life story (pretty much). I always thought it was a nice contrast between the color and the black and white shots. There is so many different ways you can interpret the decision to go that route. Were the black and white scenes just because they took place in the past, or is it on a deeper level? Before he was incarcarated, Derek saw the world of blacks and whites in black and white. Then after his rebirth, so to speak, he saw things more clearly…in color.

Anyways, this is one of the most incredible films in American history….x. I’ve never seen a movie take such an honest look at the inhumanity of racism. I mean, this does such a great job at showing how contagious hatred can be, and how impressionable young people are in our world, especially when we’re stupid around them. But beyond that, it doesn’t fear getting its hands dirty by making this one of the most vile and violent films around. With my background in Criminal Justice, I know the preferred goal of incarceration is rehabilitation, and I know how incredibly rare that actually is. His transformation, and what he went through to get to that point is brave and believable.

Oh yeah, how did I forget about the acting? Edward Norton is one of my favorite actors in terms of drama. The man has serious, serious skills. I know in real life he’s apparently a pain in the neck, but he has real talent, and I believe this is one of his best, if not very best performance. The talent doesn’t end there. The entire cast, if you haven’t seen this movie, will blow you away. Edward Furlong in his other great role included. Before I finish this review, I also want to nod to an impressive musical score , a beautiful eye for photography, and an incredibly intelligent talent in editing together an out-of-order story brilliantly. Great work all around!

The Good:

This is definitely a great movie. As far as taking an in-depth look at racism and the contagious effects of hatred and ignorance, this film takes the cake. Not only that, but just the way it was made on a technical level is pure brilliance. That shouldn’t be ignored.

The Bad:

This isn’t for everyone. It is out of order, just to keep the audience guessing – but not everyone will really be able to follow the jumps in time. Also, whenever I run into movies with excessive language. You know – every other word is an F bomb type of deal, I feel the need to mention it here, because not everyone is willing to watch a movie like that.

Memorable Quote:

Bob Sweeney: Has anything you’ve done made your life better?