Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)

Rating PG
Length 1h 26
Director Stephen Herek
About High School best mates are on track to fail their History class, sending one of them to Military school and potentially changing the course of the future. That is until they meet a time traveller who offers to help.

The Good

  • The music is awesome. All the way through, the story is complimented with a most excellent rock soundtrack.
  • Considering how dumb our two protagonists are, this film is very clever. However, I never once feel like I’m laughing at them and I most definitely do root for them all the way through.
  • It takes the fish-out-of-water trope and puts it on acid. That scene in the mall is just epic. It’s my favourite part of the movie outside of Bill & Ted freeing all of their historical figures from jail.
  • The very thing that makes this movie, outside of Reeves and Winter, is George Carlin. He doesn’t have much screen time, but boy that man has presence and charm. I truly couldn’t imagine anyone else in the role and you do feel his loss in the third instalment.

The Bad

  • I’ve never liked the Napoleon B-plot. I think it’s more that he’s kind of a dick, but without him I’m aware the story would be very different.
  • Did they really have to ruin that hug with calling each other ‘fag’?!

The Ugly

  • Bill & Ted’s actual musical ability. However, I trust Rufus when he breaks the fourth wall and informs us that they do get better.

Final Thoughts

A favourite of mine for a long time. I can’t imagine that changing any time soon.

Film Review: Shocker (1989)

Rating: 18
Length: 1h 49
Release: 27.10.1989
Dir : Wes Craven
About: A serial killer uses the electricity from the electric chair in which he was executed to return from the dead. Later, he sets out to exact revenge on a football player who turned him in.

The Good

  • The music is my absolute favourite part of this late 80s gorefest. It’s rock and ‘heavy metal’, and feels really ironic. I’m pretty certain that wasn’t the intent, but it certainly works much better here than in Christine (1983).
  • The final act is amazing, rather meta and absolutely bonkers. If anything, I wish everything that came before was more like this. The final act plays out like the love child of Ghost in the Machine and Last Action Hero. It’s this section that really does open the story up to Craven’s original intent: a tv series.
  • Johnathan Parker is our ‘final girl’ in Shocker. It’s a refreshing change of pace to have a male lead in this sort of genre movie and in the role of the ‘final girl’ no less. While some of the choices for this character aren’t perfect, and I’ll look at those below, he still offers something other than what viewers might be used to.
  • Mitch Pileggi playing the mass killer is mind boggling brilliance. Anyone who has seen him in X Files would be forgiven for not recognising the actor, however those familiar with his time on Supernatural will understand upon watching this, why he got the role.

The Bad

  • It’s not a smooth plot and each of the three acts feel like they are directed by three different directors. Between the dodgy audio, lack of subtitles on Amazon Prime and what I would say are questionable editing choices, I really did struggle when it came to following at some points.
    The biggest issue of course being the connection between Pinker and Johnathan. It was something I suspected, and something revealed in the movie. However, it was only upon reading up on the plot after the fact that I’d had it confirmed.
  • The conflict between Johnathan the ‘football star’ and Johnathan the goofball who knocked himself out at practice. I don’t get why he’s so goofy. This guy is meant to be so amazing, that his ‘football status’ is in many news reports throughout the film. That doesn’t mesh with this guy who walks into things and trips up on his own feet.
  • There’s a little too much overlap with Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street in terms of Johnathan having premonition type dreams about the killer. I’d have loved if instead these dreams revealed his past and his connection to Pinker, just to remove itself from deja vu.

The Ugly

  • The comedy element is a little in limbo for me. It’s too much and not enough at the same time. The film holds back, leaving the comedy a little lukewarm and slightly off kilter. While I welcome the comedy, I did want more.
  • Read any blurb on this movie and it boils it down to Pinker being dead and wreaking havoc. That, I must say, is the most enjoyable parts of this movie, however it ignores the fact that it takes almost half the film to get to that point. There’s so much build up and establishment of the character of Jonathan. For me, I’d have opened up at the point of execution and had more of a reveal to Johnathan.

Final Thoughts

It’s flawed, its a bit of a mess, but damn I love it. There are little bits I missed due to the quality, but that’s what a rewatch is for, right?!

Weekend at Bernie’s (1989)

Rating 12

Length 1Hr 37

Release 16.3.1990

About Fun-loving salesmen Richard (Jonathan Silverman) and Larry (Andrew McCarthy) are invited by their boss, Bernie (Terry Kiser), to stay the weekend at his posh beach house. Little do they know that Bernie is the perpetrator of a fraud they’ve uncovered and is arranging to have them killed. When the plan backfires and Bernie is killed instead, the buddies decide not to let a little death spoil their vacation. They pretend Bernie is still alive, leading to hijinks and corpse desecration galore.

The Good

The set up is perfect, the execution brings about many a hilarious situation that you wouldn’t believe the protagonists could find themselves in. How you can develop a narrative around a dead body and it not become tasteless, is baffling. Part of that I think is to do with Terry Kiser and his rather comical ‘death’ face.

Andrew McCarthy is the lazy, opportunistic Larry and it’s quite possibly my favourite role of his. He provides a lot of the comedy and is flawless with his Bernie interactions.

It’s pure 80s gold; from the house and decor to the outfits and it’s the side of the holiday destination we never got to see in Jaws. If only Secret Cinema would do an immersive experience of this and your warm up to the movie would be to hope from one house part to another, I would be so happy.

The Bad

  • The soundtrack is a little lacking. By which I mean there’s one great song that’s recycled throughout. This needed one or two more songs in the mix.

The Ugly

  • Jonathan is too cringe worthy as a character. He’s too uptight and too much of a shmuck. I hate that he gets the girl at the end because he’s done nothing to win her over. I’ve never really hated him before, but today while watching it I really struggled with even tolerating him.

Final Thought

This could be, and might very well be, a rather flawed movie. However, I will never care. This isn’t even a guilty pleasure, there’s no guilt to be had about loving this movie.

Christmas Film Advent- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

“Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas.”

Length: 1 hr 37
The Griswold family’s plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster.

Making Way for Christmas Vacation

Have you ever hated a film? No, not hate; loath. Yes, okay I guess that’s a given. Everyone has a film they’ve watched that they’ve not liked. How about a film you’ve hated with a passion without watching more than a few clips?! Yep, that’s me and this film. It borders on irrational, so hear me out before you judge.
1. Chevy Chase scared the crap out of me. I called him being part of Operation Yewtree before that was even a thing. I couldn’t explain why I thought he was sleaze, but I couldn’t shake it.
2. My dad stopped me from watching Johnathan Creek one Christmas because he wanted to watch Vacation. My argument that he had it on video wasn’t enough and when I decided I’d record the permed detective’s Christmas special it was decided we’d watch one of the films we’d bought instead. Me, being a teenager and a stubborn Capricorn laid the blame at the film’s door and my hatred for the film i’d never seen built further.
3. My brother knows how to push my buttons. He finds a weakness and exploits it. Thing is, its quite fun. So knowing my hatred of this film and knowing I had declared I’d never watch a single second of it, he conceived a rather funny Christmas tradition.
It was rather subtle at first. A dvd of the film which I gifted to a friend when they’d said they were in the mood to watch it early the following Christmas. A sigh of relief was had until (and I should have seen this coming), I unwrapped another copy come Christmas morning.
The following year, I hadn’t bothered to check the shelves and it turned out he’d pulled it off there and gifted it to me, again. I thought I’d learned my lesson for the following Christmas; DVD in hand, I scanned the shelves. Not that it matters; it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Two years ago, I opened the dvd with indifference. I’m guessing its what triggered my brother to change his tactics. I spent my birthday with him that year. Upon sitting down to open my presents I had what I can only describe as a learned response to seeing a wrapped dvd among everything else. Good on him, his indigence at my suspicion was nothing short of Oscar worthy.  There is was ‘Christmas Vacation 2″. 

So, I think it took my brother by surprise last year when I had offered to go see the film in the Prince Charles if they had a screening while he was over. Alas, they didn’t so we had to settle for me digging out one of the many copies I own on DVD.

The Nice List

  • Chevy isn’t the creeper I always thought him to be; on screen at least. I’m so done making comments on actor’s in that respect because over the past few years it has seemed that no one is clear or free from accusations. Clark Griswold is a rather likable character who has reasonable wants for the Christmas holiday. He’s actually what makes the movie and its his Christmas spirit that will have me watching it somewhat sporadically over the coming years.
  • It is funny. I can’t deny it, I do kick myself a little at leaving it so long to watch it. That said, I think the humour would have gone over my head on the most part when I was younger, so in one respect I was watching it at the right time.
  • You don’t need to see the other Vacation movies. While perhaps you might be more attached to the characters, you don’t lose anything by seeing it as a stand alone.

The Naughty List

  • It’s not really a movie. It feels more like an extended episode of Saturday Night Live; sketches stitched together a little too loosely. It feels a little clunky, a little dry and in need of a script redraft to give it more of a plot.

Final Thoughts

The film is okay, but the banter I had with my brother was much more fun.