drama, movie, movie review, sports

November 4th, 2018 Movie – Rudy

rudy

“Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!” Do you know how sick I got of hearing that chant over the years. Ever since this movie came out, that chant would start up sometimes at sporting events, and later anytime there was any sort of an underdog situation. The chant pretty much became a meme, even before memes were a thing. That is one of the reasons that I never saw this movie, the other being that I honestly didn’t really care about it. However, Vudu thinks that I should give this movie a shot so let’s go ahead and have our feel good moment as I watch today’s movie, Rudy.

The plot: Young Daniel Eugene “Rudy” Ruettiger is growing up in Joilet, Il and tells his family that he plans on playing football for Notre Dame when he graduates high school but his family and friends tease him about it due to his small stature. As Rudy finishes his senior year in high school, he tries to get on the bus for students wanting to attend Notre Dame but his teacher stops him and tells him he doesn’t have the grades for it. 4 years later, Rudy has taken a job at the steel mill where his dad, Daniel, his brother, Frank, and his best friend, Pete, all work. Pete gives Rudy a Notre Dame jacket for his 22nd birthday and Rudy thanks him for being the only person that believed in his dream. Rudy has $1000 saved up to get into Notre Dame but his girlfriend Sherry wants him to use it for a down payment on a house. That night, as Rudy and Pete are in a bar with the other workers, Frank teases Rudy about his constant dreaming and Pete tells him that if he had half of Rudy’s heart, he would have been a better football player, causing a fight to break out between them. The next day, an accident occurs at the mill and Pete is killed in an explosion. At the funeral, Rudy tells Sherry that he has to go to South Bend, or else he will never leave and she tells him that he will have to go alone. As Rudy waits for the bus, Daniel shows up and tries to talk him out of it, telling him of their families history, but when he tries to tell him to be more like Frank, Rudy tells him that he isn’t Frank and gets on the bus. When he arrives at Notre Dame, he asks the security guard to see someone about enrolling and the guard has him meet with Father Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh thinks Rudy is there to become a priest but when Rudy explains that he wants to go to school there but his grades aren’t high enough, Cavanaugh tells him that he will help him get into Holy Cross College, the nearby junior college, for one semester and if he is able to keep his grades up, he may be able to transfer. Later, Rudy sneaks onto the football field but is confronted by Fortune, the groundskeeper, tells him he shouldn’t be there and when Rudy he plans on playing there, Fortune tells him to talk to the coach. Rudy goes to see Coach Ara Parseghian and tells him of his desire to play for the team but Parseghian dismisses him, thinking that he won’t see him again. Rudy begins attending his classes at Holy Cross and meets D-Bob, a graduate student at Notre Dame who is a teaching assistant at Holy Cross. D-Bob tells Rudy that he can help him with his studies and get his grades up, as he is a tutor, in exchange for Rudy’s help in meeting some of the girls on the campus and Rudy agrees. Later, Rudy goes back to the stadium and talks with Fortune about working for him, offering to do it for free, and Fortune refuses at first but when Rudy tells him that he just wants to be a part of the university, Fortune agrees to hire him at minimum wage. As time passes, D-Bob has Rudy tested and it is discovered that he dyslexia, which is why he did so bad in school. Rudy starts doing exercises and gets an A in a literature exam, which he happily shares with Fortune. As they get ready for work, Rudy notices the cot in Fortune’s office and he unlocks the window so he can sneak in and sleep on it, as he is homeless, but Fortune notices him and chooses not to say anything. Rudy continues to attend classes and do anything he can to get close to and be a part of the team. One night, Rudy finds a blanket and a key to the office on the cot and he thanks Fortune for them the next day but Fortune denies knowing anything about it. After finishing his first semester at college, Rudy applies for a transfer to Notre Dame but is rejected. Despite the rejection, Rudy goes home for the Christmas holiday and shows his dad his report card, and tells him that he didn’t get in this year but he will next year. Frank scoffs at his continued dreams and when their brother John shows up with Sherry, Frank tauntingly tells John to wish Rudy a Merry Christmas. John and Sherry both try to explain things to Rudy but he gets upset and leaves, heading back to South Bend. As the semesters pass, Rudy is rejected each time and he starts to feel discouraged that he will never make it into Notre Dame but on his last semester of transfer eligibility, he receives a letter saying that he has been accepted to Notre Dame. Rudy goes home and shows his father the acceptance letter, who is happy for him and announces it to everyone at the steel mill. Rudy heads back to South Bend and tries out for the team as a walk on, but the assistant coach warns all of the players that there are 95 scholarship athletes but only 60 students will be on the field so at least 35 of them will be watching from the stands. Rudy goes through the drills and he impresses the coaches enough with his drive and heart to make it onto the team. Rudy goes to see Fortune and thanks him for his help the past few years and reminds him of his promise to watch his first game if Rudy dresses out for the game and Fortune says that he will be there if it happens. As Rudy practices with the team, some of the other players criticize him for his trying too hard and tell him to dial it down but Rudy refuses to do it. When he makes a visit home, his father and John both congratulate him on making the team but Frank mocks him by saying they never see him when they watch the games on TV, a dig at Rudy just being on the practice squad. Rudy goes to see Parseghian about being able to dress out for one of the games and Parseghian agrees to let Rudy dress out during his senior year. Rudy is excited and calls his dad to let him know but as the Spring semester starts, Parseghian quits and former Green Bay Packers coach Dan Devine becomes the new head coach. D-Bob leaves town and tells Rudy that he will fly back to watch him when he dresses out and tells him not to lose hope but as the weeks go by and Rudy doesn’t see his name on the list, he begins to feel more and more dejected. At the next to last home game approaches and Rudy finds his name on the list, Rudy decides to quit the team. Fortune sees him in the stadium instead of on the practice field and when Rudy tells him that he quit, Fortune chastises him for the decision. Fortune then reveals that he never watched a game from the stands but he did watch from the bench when he was a player but he quit the team because he felt he wasn’t getting enough playing time due to his skin color, and tells Rudy not to make the same regretful choice he did. Rudy returns to the practice field, prompting his teammates to begin applauding him, much to Devine’s confusion. Later, most of the starting players tell Devine that the want Rudy to dress out in their place, laying their jerseys down on his desk in a show of Solidarity for Rudy. Devine relents and when Rudy is told the news that he will be dressing out for the game against Georgia Tech, he calls Frank and begs him to bring the family to the stadium to watch him be on the team. On game day, the team captain has Rudy lead them out of the tunnel and Rudy’s family, as well as D-Bob and his wife, cheer when they see Rudy, while Fortune smile as he watches from inside the tunnel. The game commences and as Notre Dame seems poised for victory, Devine refuses to put Rudy in the game. The players on the sideline start chanting Rudy’s name, which is picked up by the fans in the stands. With less than a minute to play, Devine orders the offence to go into victory formation but O’Hara, the tailback, refuses to do that and convinces the quarterback that they need to score quickly so Rudy has a chance to get on the field. Notre Dame scores and Rudy is sent out onto the field as part of the kick off team. With 7 seconds left to play, Rudy is left on the field for the last play and ends up sacking the quarterback. Rudy is carried off the field on his team’s shoulders and a post credits writing reveals that nobody has been carried off the field on their teammates shoulders since (though it has happened since the move came out). Rudy graduated from Notre Dame in 1976 and his younger brothers all ended up going to college and graduating.

Rudy received mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 74% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though undeniably sentimental and predictable, Rudy succeeds with an uplifting spirit and determination.” In the movie, Rudy is portrayed as having largely gone into the steel industry after graduating high school. In reality, he served four years in the U.S. Navy as a yeoman on a communications ship, which is never mentioned, however the military duffel bag he carries in numerous scenes is stenciled with his name and “U.S.N.”. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $22.8 million off of a $12 million budget.

Ok, I think it is a bit over-hyped but I will admit that this is a good movie. The acting was good, with Sean Astin doing a great job as the title character, with Ned Beatty (Daniel), Charles S. Dutton (Fortune), and Jon Favreau (D-Bob) also doing good jobs in their roles. The story was very well written and even though it didn’t match exactly with the real events, they still managed to convey all of the emotions that Rudy went through in his quest to follow his dream. The drama involved was well done, as you felt Rudy’s constant excitement (which could be a bit sickening at times), as well as his depression and frustration as the setbacks continually pile on him. So it is a good movie and worth watching (but I still would have been fine not watching it).

Rating: 4 out of 5

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October 12th, 2018 Movie – Cinderella Man

cinderella man

Another free movie that I own through the ultraviolet account, though for a while I used to own the actual DVD. See, years ago I would loan out movies to my brothers every now and then. One day, my brother Blake borrowed Saved from me and then ended up getting it stuck in a DVD player that no longer worked. Needless to say, I was not too happy about that but Blake offered to let me have his favorite movie, Cinderella Man, until he got my movie back to me. I accepted his deal, thinking he would try to get my movie back to me as soon as possible but I was wrong because it took several years before I finally got my movie back. So I found it very funny that I ended up with my own copy shortly after he finally got his copy back. Now let’s see if it is any good.

The plot: [was watching the movie but also dealing with some rambunctious nieces so I couldn’t really do the plot review like I normally would so I just copied the one from Wikipedia]

James J. Braddock is an Irish-American boxer from New Jersey, formerly a light heavyweight contender, who is forced to give up boxing after breaking his hand in the ring. This is both a relief and a burden to his wife, Mae. She cannot bring herself to watch the violence of his chosen profession, yet she knows they will not have enough income without his boxing. As the United States enters the Great Depression, Braddock does manual labor as a longshoreman to support his family, even with his injured hand. Unfortunately, he cannot get work every day. Thanks to a last-minute cancellation by another boxer, Braddock’s longtime manager and friend, Joe Gould, offers him a chance to fill in for just one night and earn cash. The fight is against the number-two contender in the world, Corn Griffin. Braddock stuns the boxing experts and fans with a third-round knockout of his formidable opponent. He believes that while his right hand was broken, he became more proficient with his left hand, improving his in-ring ability. Despite Mae’s objections, Braddock takes up Gould’s offer to return to the ring. Mae resents this attempt by Gould to profit from her husband’s dangerous livelihood, until she discovers that Gould and his wife also have been devastated by hard times. With a shot at the heavyweight championship held by Max Baer a possibility, Braddock continues to win. Out of a sense of pride, he uses a portion of his prize money to pay back money to the government given to him while unemployed. When his rags to riches story gets out, the sportswriter Damon Runyon dubs him “The Cinderella Man”, and before long Braddock comes to represent the hopes and aspirations of the American public struggling with the Depression. A title fight against Baer comes his way. Braddock is a 10-to-1 underdog. Mae is terrified because Baer, the champ, is a vicious man who reportedly has killed at least two men in the ring. He is so destructive that the fight’s promoter, James Johnston, forces both Braddock and Gould to watch a film of Baer in action, just so he can maintain later that he warned them what Braddock was up against. Braddock demonstrates no fear. The arrogant Baer attempts to intimidate him, even taunting Mae in public that her man might not survive. When he says this, she becomes so angry that she throws a drink at him. She is unable to attend the fight at the Madison Square Garden Bowl or even to listen to it on the radio. On June 13, 1935, in one of the greatest upsets in boxing history, Braddock defeats the seemingly invincible Baer to become the heavyweight champion of the world. An epilogue reveals that Braddock would lose his title to Joe Louis and later worked on the building of the Verrazano Bridge, owning and operating heavy machinery on the docks where he worked during the Depression, and that he and Mae used his boxing income to buy a house, where they spent the rest of their lives.

Cinderella Man met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “With grittiness and an evocative sense of time and place, Cinderella Man is a powerful underdog story. And Ron Howard and Russell Crowe prove to be a solid combination.” Rosemarie DeWitt, who plays the neighbor Sara Wilson, is the granddaughter of the real Jimmy Braddock. She is the daughter of his daughter Rosemarie, who is portrayed by Ariel Waller in the film. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $108.5 million off of an $88 million budget, and earned 3 Academy Award nominations.

So, while I don’t mind watching sports movies, I will admit that they are generally not my preferred genre of films. And when it comes to boxing movies, I don’t usually care about them one way or another. That being said, this was a pretty good movie. I thought the acting was pretty good, with Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger doing good jobs in their roles as Jimmy and Mae respectively. I also liked Paul Giamatti (Gould) and thought he did deserve the Oscar nod for his role as Joe Gould, while Craig Bierko (Baer) did a pretty good job as the foil to highlight Braddock’s rise to glory. The story was pretty good, especially since it was based on real events. I thought Ron Howard did a good job in showcasing the hope that people had that their lives can get better; which was something that the average person was truly desperate to cling too during the Great Depression. The drama in the movie had a very real feel to it, which made the story telling even better, while the fight scenes during the boxing matches were well choreographed to add to the mix. A good movie and one that is well worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Flashback Review: June 17th, 2014 Movie – Cannonball Run II

cannonball run 2

Yes, I know I am late with this one. Unfortunately, I had a long day at work yesterday and had started to watch the movie when I was asked to help on a service call that night in exchange for not having to go in today, which I accepted. Anyways, today’s movie is one of the numerous sequels that had come out in the 80’s. I remember seeing Cannonball Run II as a kid, and thinking it was really funny. After rewatching it, I realized that I was mixing parts of The Cannonball Run with this movie in my memory, which was kind of disappointing. Now let’s go through and sort out my memories.

The plot: One year after losing the Cannonball Run, Sheik Abdul ben Falafel is chastised by his father for bringing shame to their family, as they are known for having the fastest of everything. The king orders him to go back to America and win the Cannonball Run this year but when the Sheik says there isn’t a Cannonball Run this year, the king tells him to just buy one. In America, Jill Rivers and Marcie Thatcher are still racing along the highways in a Lamborghini, this time it starts off as white but after dodging a couple of cops, they have a construction crew spray off the white paint to reveal the car is actually red and continue heading on the highway towards the start of the Cannonball. Meanwhile, J.J. McClure and Victor Prinzim are working as stuntmen and Victor is set to act as a human bomb, with J.J. convincing him that everything will be fine but if he is scared, he can always have “Him” do the stunt. J.J. walks off but as he hears the newscaster talking about how famous Victor will be for pulling off the stunt, he decides to take Victor’s place, only to find Victor has changed into Captain Chaos. After convincing Captain Chaos to let him do the stunt, J.J. goes through with it but the bomb drops early and skips across the parking lot, through a Winnebago and a jet, before finally crashing through the target, the net, and into the hay behind them. Victor rushes over with the paramedics and as J.J. exits the bomb, Victor says they can do that 10 times a day and be billionaires quickly, then starts ripping up the Sheik’s invitation to the Cannonball but J.J. chastises him for the idea. As some of the other former Cannonballers head out to California to start the race, Morris Fenderbaum owes $30,000 to Don Don, the son of Mafia Kingpin Don Canneloni. Don Don’s men head to the hotel and confront Fenderbaum and JAmie King about the money and Fenderbaum tells them that they are in the Cannonball Run and the prize is $1 million. As the mobsters question who would sponsor such a race, the Sheik walks in and sees Fenderbaum and Jamie and greets them. Fenderbaum tries to point out the men with guns but the Sheik sees the men’s shoes and gives them a pile of cash, telling them to buy a shoe store to get some better shoes. Meanwhile, Don Don is visited by Hymie Kaplan, another gangster who is friends with Don Canneloni. Hymie is there to collect the money that Don Don owes him, which totals over $9 million, but Don Don doesn’t have that much money on him so Hymie tells him he has until tomorrow to get the money. As the race is getting ready to start, Mel and his cousin Tony head to their Uncle Cal’s auto dealership to get a car. He tells them that he will let them use his promotional limousine so long as they take his orangutan with them, which acts as the limo’s driver. Meanwhile, J.J. and Victor are at a diner talking about what they would do with the prize money when they are approached by Betty and Veronica, two women who are dressed as nuns as part of “The Sound Of Music” show that they are part of but have grown tired of working the small time and decided to try and latch onto them, thinking they are rich. Victor believes the ladies are really nuns and agrees to let them sit with them and they talk briefly before Betty and Veronica leave. At the race’s starting line, J.J. and Victor show up dressed as an Army General and Private respectively, driving a souped up car from a military motor pool. They are approached by Betty and Veronica, who ask them for a lift to New York and Victor convinces J.J. to let them come. As they head to the car, they run into Fenderbaum and Jamie, who are dressed as cops, and after taunting J.J. and Victor, they tell the nuns that their disguise won’t work, as they tried it last year as priests, but J.J. tells them that they are real nuns. The Sheik gives a speech and then starts the race and Victor, changing into Captain Chaos, tells J.J. he will get him the win, then tells Betty to sit up front with him and let Veronica sit with J.J. in the back. As the race commences, Don Don tells his men to kidnap the Shiek so they can use him to get the money he owes Hymie and they attempt to kidnap him during the race, first using a car with pincers to grab onto the Sheik’s bumper and then using a helicopter with a magnet underneath it, but both attempts fail. Meanwhile, J.J. and Victor both find themselves attracted to Veronica and Betty respectively, while both “nuns” have been somewhat flirting with the men, but as Victor asks about their order again, Betty says it has been a long day and they should get some sleep now, pulling up a curtain between the front and back seats. The next day, they are pulled over and the sheriff doesn’t seem to buy the story J.J. and Victor are telling him. When the sheriff’s nephew, Pvt. Homer Lyle, shows up on his 3-day leave, J.J. tell him he is being drafted to drive their car to Connecticut and Lyle agrees. The sheriff wants to call it in but as he heads to his car, Betty and Veronica lean out the window and tell the sheriff that their mission is very important and he believes them. The sheriff offers them an escort to the county line and as they are getting in their cars, J.J. tells him to look out for two men dressed as cops driving a Corvette, telling him that they are Commies, and the sheriff puts the word out, but Fenderbaum and Jamie have a police scanner in their car and realize J.J. is trying to set them up again. They manage to cause the police chasing them to crash, then catch up to J.J.’s car and make them spin out. While Jill and Marcie continue burning out their cars and swindling people out of their sports cars, Mel and Tony take turns driving the car but when the orangutan ends up in the back with Tony and starts acting up, Tony goes up front with Mel, saying it is safer, leaving the orangutan to actually drive the car. Team Mitsubishi, the giant Arnold and his mechanic Jackie, stop at an open fruit/vegetable market, where Jackie proceeds to beat up the bikers that are harassing the owners. When the owners’ daughter invites Jackie to dinner, Jackie starts to accept but Arnold grabs him and says they have a race to finish. Elsewhere, J.J.’s group stop for gas and food and Betty and Veronica take the time to change out of their nun costumes, much to the surprise of J.J., Victor, and Homer. Realizing that they were played, J.J. smirks and tells Veronica to get in the car, where they proceed to start kissing, and a short while later they leave Homer on the side of the road, thanking him for his service. Jill and Marcie’s second car breaks down and when the tow truck operator keeps staring at them instead of the car, they end up taking his tow truck when he tells them the engine in it, and the driver as well. As more hijinks with the Cannonballers occur, Don Don’s men manage to capture the Sheik and take him to the Pinto Ranch. When the Cannonballers find out, Fenderbaum is forced to admit that they owe the Canneloni family money but suggests they go see the King for help. They head back to Las Vegas, where they meet with Frank Sinantra, and after explaining the situation to him, he helps them come up with a way to get into the ranch. J.J., Victor, and Fenderbaum disguise themselves as belly dancers, with Jamie as their agent, and they pass themselves off as a dance act. After the act, as Don Don is giving them contracts, Hymie enters and demands his money. Don Don hands him the $1 million prize money that the Sheik had, then tells Don Don he wants the rest in the morning. J.J., Victor, and Fenderbaum manage to get the money from Hymie and after meeting back with Jamie, they go to find the Sheik, only to find him being pampered by some of the women at the ranch. Hymie’s men capture them but the other Cannonballers crash through the doors and a fight breaks out. When the dust settles, all of Don Don’s and Hymie’s men are beaten but the Sheik tells everyone that he is now partners with Don Don, as he has decided to purchase the Pinto Ranch. When Hymie reminds Don Don about the money he owes him, Don Don speaks with the Sheik, who gives him $18 million. The Sheik then tells everyone that he is doubling the prize money and everyone gets back in their cars to finish the race, with Frank Sinatra deciding to join in. When the race finishes, the Sheik loses again and as his father berates him, he says that it is Doctor Van Helsing’s fault for injecting something in him for his ulcer. When his father says he has one last chance, with another Cannonball set to take place the next day, the Sheik tells his father he can’t lose, as he hired the winner of the race to be his co-driver. He then introduces his father to the winner, which turns out to be the orangutan, who proceeds to kiss the King.

Cannonball Run II met with poor results from the critics, currently holding a 13% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics felt that the movie was uninspired and the laughter felt forced. With the appearance of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Shirley MacLaine, many people feel that it is the last feature film of the Rat Pack, as this was Sinatra’s and Martin’s last film. Cannonball Run II barely made a profit, earning $28 million off of an estimated $20 million budget and when a third movie was announced, Jamie Farr was the only person to reprise his role in it.

Yeh, this was rather disappointing of a sequel. The acting was ok but a lot of the interactions felt a little forced, even with the pairings of Burt Reynolds (J.J.) and Dom DeLuise (Victor) and Dean Martin (Jamie) and Sammy Davis Jr. (Fenderbaum). The story was incredibly weak, both with the premise for the new race and the side plot with Don Don and Hymie. The comedy felt like it was just a rehash of everything from the first movie but all of the timing for the jokes felt off and watered down in some cases. This really is a bad attempt to copy off the success of the first film.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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Flashback Review: June 16th, 2014 Movie – The Cannonball Run

the cannonball run

I feel a little sad watching this movie right now, seeing as how Burt Reynolds has just recently passed away. However, this was actually the first Burt Reynolds movie I remember seeing as a kid so a happy memory kind of balances it out. Anyways, I remember seeing The Cannonball Run as a kid but I didn’t learn until years later that it was actually based on real events. That actually made it more fun for me to watch this movie a few years ago and just as fun to rewatch it today.

The plot: Two girls, Jill Rivers and Marcie Thatcher, are speeding down the highway in a black Lamborghini Countach, taunting a highway patrol officer that is trying to catch them before they cross the state lines. Meanwhile, J.J. McClure and his friend Victor Prinzim are discussing the upcoming Cannonball Run as J.J. works on getting their car ready. When Victor mentions “Him”. J.J. hits his head on the car’s trunk, then tells Victor he doesn’t want to see “Him”, or even talk about “Him”. Later, as they are test driving the car, they come across a police road block and swerve to avoid it but end up crashing their car. As the cops go to check on the drivers, Victor, wearing a cape and mask, emerges from the car and tells the cop that he is Captain Chaos and J.J. is his companion Kato. Later, J.J. and Victor are trying to come up with a new idea for a car to drive when they get into a boating accident and as they are being driven to the hospital in an ambulance, they realize that they can get away with speeding if they are in an ambulance. Elsewhere, Morris Fenderbaum is going to place a bet on himself winning the Cannonball Run and as the bookie laughs at him, Morris points out his driver, former Formula One racer Jamie Blake. Other competitors entering the Cannonball Run are Jill and Marcie, the two girls driving the Lamborghini, Seymour Goldfarb Jr., heir to the Goldfarb Girdles fortune who has begun to identify himself as actor Roger Moore from the James Bond films, Jackie Chan and Micheal Hui, two Japanese racers who are driving a high tech car filled with computerized controls, a Middle-Eastern Shiekh who wants to race against the infidels of America, and Terry and Mel, two good ol’ boys who want to race. Terry and Mel inadvertently crash their car into a pool while trying to avoid a police car and as they are re-tuning their engine, they inadvertently ruin an environmental meeting that Arthur J. Foyt is speaking at. Vowing to stop the Cannonballers from having their race, Foyt is talking with Pamela Glover, a photographer who was at the meeting because she loves trees, when two more Cannonballers, Mad Dog and Batman, crash into the front lobby and knock him out but J.J. and Victor arrive, disguised as Ambulance drivers, show up and revive him. Later, Foyt and Pamela are at the hotel bar when he realizes that most of the people there are Cannonballers and goes to make plans to stop them. Meanwhile, J.J. and Victor are discussing how to get a doctor and a patient to ride in the ambulance with them to complete their disguise. When they notice Jill and Marcie sitting at a table, they approach them about being their patient but are surprised to learn that they are Cannonballers as well. As J.J. turns away, he notices Pamela and goes to talk to her but as they are talking, he is interrupted by Victor and Pamela leaves the table. The next night, the Cannonballers are told the rules of the race, receiving a time card that they punch as they leave the hotel and must punch in at the finish line. Whoever has the fastest time wins the race. As the Cannonballers are all leaving, J.J. asks Victor where the doctor is and when Victor tells him that the doctor got sick, J.J. sends him out to get one. Meanwhile, Foyt and Pamela are watching the cars leave and trying to get all of their license plates but after Mad Dog drives through the woods as a short cut, he decides to try and stop the race now. Victor tells J.J. he has found a doctor but when J.J. opens the door, he is shocked at the appearance of Doctor Nikolas Van Helsing but is upset that they don’t have a patient. However, a little ways down the road, the see Pamela and Foyt in need of assistance and when they pull over, they grab Pamela but drive off before Foyt can get in the ambulance. As they make their way down the road, Pamela is upset about being kidnapped but Van Helsing gives her some laughing gas just as they are pulled over by police. J.J. tells the police that they are taking the Senator’s wife to UCLA Medical Center, and Van Helsing explains that her condition prevents her from flying and that they can’t even go to Denver because it is too high. As all of the Cannonballers make their way to L.A., they all use various means to try and get out of getting busted by the cops; such as Jill and Marcie using their sex appeal to get the cops to not write them tickets while Jackie and Michael turn off their headlights and use infrared to drive at night and not be seen. J.J. and Victor are still driving when Jamie and Morris, disguised as priests, pull up next to them and offer to bless them and their occupants. J.J. knows they are fakes but Victor falls for their trick and pulls over and as Jamie goes to bless them, especially Pamela, Morris lets the air out of one of their tires. J.J. and Victor fix the tire and get back on the road and as they stop for gas further down the road, J.J. sees Jamie and Morris coming and he alerts a nearby cop that they are disguised as priests and had flashed their patient earlier, causing them to be held up. Foyt is continuing his quest to stop the Cannonballers and has a roadblock set up to grab them but J.J. uses the CB in the ambulance to radio a flatbed truck in front of them and they are able to get past the roadblock under the truck and as they do so, Victor works on their transmission while J.J. and Pamela talk and get closer to each other. The race continues, with the Cannonballers encountering the police more and more, until they are stopped by road construction in the California desert. J.J., Victor, Pamela, Van Helsing, Jamie, Morris, Jill, Marcie, Mad Dog, Batman, Jackie, Michael, Seymour (with his latest girl) are waiting for the road to open up when Brad and Shakey Finch, disguised as a honeymoon couple on a motorcycle, pull up. Suddenly, a biker gang shows up and starts harassing Brad and Shakey and when Victor, dressed as Captain Chaos, rushes out and starts fighting the bikers, the other Cannonballers join in the fray. As the fighting continues, the construction crew lets Jamie know that the road is open and all of the Cannonballers race back to their cars. Victor had taken off his mask when he got back in the ambulance and as the ambulance falls behind the other cars, J.J. chastises him for it but Victor dons the Captain Chaos garb again and begins easily passing the other racers. When they reach the pier, Everyone starts racing to the clock and J.J. hands Captain Chaos their card, then tackles the other racers, leaving Captain Chaos and Marcie as the only runners. Captain Chaos is in the lead and about to win but when he hears a woman scream that her baby is drowning, he hesitates briefly before dashing off to rescue the baby, which turned out to be her dog. Marcie wins the race and as J.J. and approaches Captain Chaos, he chastises Victor and says that he cost them the race. He then rips off the mask and cape and tells Victor that he never wants to see Captain Chaos again but Victor says he doesn’t care, quickly donning a new cape and mask and says that he wanted to be Captain U.S.A. anyways, causing J.J. and the others to start laughing. As the Cannonballers celebrate, Foyt arrives and starts berating them for what they did on the highway. Seymour offers him a cigar and tells him to use the lighter in his car, as it is rigged as a button for an ejector seat but when nothing happens, Seymour tries it himself and ends up being launched into the bay.

The Cannonball Run was panned by more recent critics, currently holding a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of them felt that the movie felt like nothing more than Burt Reynolds hanging out with some of his pals and cracking inside jokes with each other. Director Hal Needham and writer Brock Yates were actual competitors in the real Cannonball Race, which Yates had created, and the ambulance used in the film was their actual car from the last race. It had been kept in storage for several years and after the movie, it was given to a church charity to auction off. The movie was a box office success, earning $72.1 million off of an $18 million budget and would spawn 1 official sequel and 1 unofficial sequel.

Yet another time where I have to disagree with the critics because I thought that this was a pretty funny movie. The acting was good, with Burt Reynolds (J.J.) and Dom DeLuise (Victor) making for a great comedy team, as did Dean Martin (Jamie) and Sammy Davis Jr. (Morris), while all of the other actors were pretty good as well. I personally thought that Roger Moore’s character of Seymour acting like Roger Moore as James Bond was really funny, especially all of the subtle nods to James Bond that were in the movie, such as the Aston Martin that he is driving as well as the rotating cast of girls he has in the car with him. The main plot of the movie was honestly a little boring, with the idea of a coast to coast race being a little too straight forward. Adding the various bits of comedy to it definitely made it more entertaining in my opinion. The comedy in the movie kind of went the gauntlet of styles. Most of it was play on words while they also had situational, like Jill and Marcie showing cleavage to get out of speeding tickets until they get pulled over by a female officer, and slap stick, which Dom Deluise usually got the brunt of. One of those classic 80’s comedies that sometimes gets overlooked but is worth watching if you get the chance.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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action, comedy, movie, movie review, sports

January 21st, 2018 Movie – Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby

talladega nights

There are always going to be those movies that people will talk about or quote. Sometimes they are more dramatic or serious movies but usually, they tend to be comedies. That is definitely the case with today’s movie, as I know several people that like to quote various lines from this movie. My first introduction to this movie was not in theaters, but at a friends house after it came out on DVD, and was told to come watch it during a group movie night because it’s funnier with our friend Chris laughing at it (and I will admit his laugh is funny in it’s own right). Anyways, I enjoyed the movie and decided to pick up my own copy on DVD so let’s have some laughs with today’s movie, Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby.

The plot: Years ago, Reese Bobby is speeding down the highway while his wife Lucy is going into labor. They pass the hospital because Reese is interested in driving faster and when he stops to turn around, Lucy ends up giving birth to their son, Ricky. 10 years later, Reese shows up at Ricky’s school for career day, making it the first time he has seen Ricky since he was born. After Reese is thrown out of the school, Ricky runs out after him and Reese tells Ricky, “If you aint first, you’re last.” before getting in his car and driving off. In the present day, Ricky Bobby and his best friend Cal Naughton Jr. are working on the pit crew for the Dennit Racing team. While racing in Talladega, the car’s driver leaves the car to use the restroom, claiming they are in last place so it doesn’t matter anyways. Realizing that they will lose their sponsor if they don’t get the car back on the track, the crew chief, Lucius Washington, asks if anyone there wants to drive fast and Ricky volunteers. After getting in the car and driving on the track, Ricky manages to finish in third place, prompting Larry Dennit Sr. to make Ricky Bobby the team’s new driver. With Ricky Bobby becoming Nascar’s hottest new star, the team gets a new sponsor and Ricky convinces Dennit to sponsor a second car, with his friend Cal as the driver. Ricky marries a fan named Carley after she shows him her boobs and they end up having two kids, Walker and Texas Ranger, and live in a large house with Carley’s father Chip. As time passes Larry Dennit Jr ends up taking control of the racing team and has issues with Ricky’s racing style, where he either wins or crashes trying. As Ricky and his friends celebrate their most recent win, they are interrupted by Jean Girard, a French Formula One racer who has just been signed onto the Dennit Racing Team. As Ricky and Girard get into a confrontation, Girard gets Ricky in an armbar and threatens to break his arm unless Ricky says that he loves crepes but even though Cal and his crew make an argument that would allow to save face, Ricky refuses and tells Girard to go ahead and break his arm. The next week at Lowes Motor Speedway, Girard breaks Ricky’s track record during the qualifying, prompting Ricky to tell Lucius to get his car ready to race, despite the fact that his arm is still in a cast. During the race, Ricky manages to catch up to Girard but is unable to pass him. Ricky calls on Cal to help him pass using a drifting/slingshot maneuver but Cal’s engine blows. Ricky eventually wrecks while trying to pass Girard, who wins the race, and as the paramedics tend to him, Ricky starts running around the track in his underwear, thinking he is on fire. At the hospital, Cal and Lucius go to check on Ricky and think he is paralyzed when they see him in a wheelchair but the doctors say he is fine and it is all in his head. As Cal and Lucius try to talks some sense into Ricky, Ricky stabs himself in the leg with a knife to prove he is paralyzed, then screams in pain when he realizes he isn’t. Cal and Lucius want Ricky to take things slow while getting ready to go back on the track but Ricky wan’t to go ahead and get started. However, on his first attempt at driving Ricky only goes 26 miles and hour, and when he gets out of the car, starts acting like he is on fire again and takes his uniform off, prompting Dennit to fire him and have Cal replace him. When Ricky returns home, he finds that Carley, desperate not to become poor, has decided to divorce Ricky and marry Cal, prompting Ricky to end his friendship with Cal. Ricky moves into his mom’s house with his two sons and ends up taking a job as a pizza delivery man but loses his license after hitting a woman’s shopping cart and a police officer so he is forced to use the bus or a bicycle for his deliveries. One day he delivers a pizza to a hotel only to find Reese there, who had ordered the pizza so he could talk to Ricky, but Ricky punches him then walks away. When he talks about the encounter with his mom, Lucy tells Ricky that she told Reese where Ricky was as she knew that he would be able to help Ricky get back into racing. Ricky reluctantly agrees to have Reese help him and Reese proceeds to try to get Ricky to overcome his fear of driving fast, one way involving putting a live cougar in the car and telling Ricky to get in there with it. Meanwhile, Lucy has had enough of Walker and Texas Ranger acting like hooligans and begins trying to reform them. As Reese’s lessons continue, one day he tells Ricky that he placed a kilo of cocaine underneath the car and called the cops, forcing Ricky to choose between driving fast or going to jail. Ricky starts driving with the cops chasing after him and when he realizes that he is going over 100 mph, he starts screaming out in joy as he works to avoid the cops. After getting away from the cops, Ricky goes to remove the cocaine from underneath the car only to learn that it was just Lucky Charms, with a note from Reese asking if it felt good to be going fast again. Ricky gets his license back and keeps the cougar, which he names Karen, and decides that they should have a nice family dinner but Reese causes a scene and gets thrown out of Applebees. When Ricky chases after him and says he started racing and won the races because of him, Reese tells him he was high when he said that and should have picked a better role model to follow. Feeling dejected, Ricky decides to give up racing when he runs into his old assistant Susan, who convinces him to get back into racing as he was meant to drive fast. After she is done talking, Ricky realizes he is attracted to Susan and they end up making out on the table. Ricky gets Lucius and his pit crew back together and shows them the car they have to work with and Lucius says he and the crew will work on getting the engine rebuilt so it can race. Ricky heads over to see Girard to tell him that he is coming for him and Girard wishes him luck, saying he only came to America to race Ricky in the hopes he would beat him so that he could go on to live out his dreams with his husband. The next day, Ricky is shown the new engine, with Lucius telling him that several teams donated some parts, and Susan explains the new paint job on the car, saying that Ricky doesn’t need corporate sponsors as he is out there racing for himself. Before the race starts, Ricky approaches Cal and Carley and apologizes to Cal for not valuing their friendship like he should have, causing Cal to start doubting what he has done. As the race commences, Ricky starts making his way up the pack until he catches up to Girard but he us unable to pass him. Dennit orders Cal to take out Ricky but Cal refuses and instead, gets ahead of Ricky so that he can use the slingshot maneuver to pass Girard. Angered by what Cal did, Dennit orders the driver of the Wonder Bread car to take out Cal, which causes a huge wreck that takes out every car on the field except for Ricky and Girard. Ricky and Girard keep racing and end up crashing into each other during the last lap. After their cars finally stop tumbling, Ricky and Girard get out of their cars and then start running towards the finish line, intent on finishing the race, with Ricky winning the race, but both drivers are disqualified for leaving their cars. Due to being in third place at the time of the crash, Cal is declared the winner and afterwards, he grabs Ricky and they repair their friendship. As Ricky is leaving, Carley approaches him and says she is willing to go back to him but Ricky refuses and says he would rather be with Susan. As Ricky, Susan, Lucy, and the boys leave, they find Reese sitting on his car and when he asks Ricky who he won the race for, Ricky says it wasn’t for him and that he just went out there to drive as he knew his family would love him no matter how he did. Ricky then suggests they go to Applebees so that Reese can get thrown out again and they all get into Reese’s car and head off together.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though it occasionally stalls, Talladega Nights’ mix of satire, clever gags, and excellent ensemble performances put it squarely in the winner’s circle.” Wonder Bread, Old Spice, and Perrier were not charged for the product placement in the movie but Wonder Bread and Old Spice did promote the movie through back-end deals. The movie was a box office success, earning $163 million off of a $72.5 million budget.

Every time I watch this movie, I still hear Chris’ laugh, which makes me laugh even more. This is a very funny movie and definitely something that can make you laugh when you need it. The acting was really good, with Will Ferrell (Ricky) and John C. Reilly (Cal) making for a great comedic duo, but everyone was really good in this movie. The story was pretty good, with some serious moments added to the more ridiculous parts to balance out the movie. The humor was a mixture of various styles, with some more adult or risque than others, but I enjoyed the occasional slapstick that was thrown in. A great comedy and one that is well worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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drama, Hitchcock, movie, movie review, romance, silent movie, sports

May 22nd, 2017 Movie – The Ring (1927)

the ring 1927

Two old school Hitchcock movies in a row. This is a great start to the week. So this is another of his early silent movies that had never heard of before. So this is going to be a little interesting for me because while I enjoy watching sports, I don’t necessarily like watching sports movies. Obviously there are some exceptions to that but in general, sports movies just don’t really hold my interest. So let’s see how this one does as I watch today’s movie, The Ring (1927).

The plot: A man and his friend are walking along the grounds of a fair when they approach a tent where the barker is challenging members of the crowd to compete in a boxing match with the athletes. As the barker is promoting the talents of “One Round” Jack Sanders, the man becomes infatuated with the ticket girl, Mabel, and begins flirting with her. When Jack notices this, he challenges the man to be one of the fighters and the man agrees. Inside the tent, Jack easily defeats his first two opponents and then proceeds to fight the man, but the man is more of a challenge than Jack expected. When the fight last longer than one round, Mabel, who was watching the fight through a flap in the tent, informs the barker and he begins selling more tickets for people to watch it. The man eventually beats Jack and he leaves with his friend but as he starts flirting with Mabel again, she is upset because Jack and her were going to get married but Jack might have lost his job after he lost. The man’s friend hands her a card, revealing his name to be James Ware and that the man is the World Heavyweight Champion boxer Bob Corby, whom he manages. James and Bob approach Jack later that night as Mabel tends to his wounds and James offers Jack a job in becoming Bob’s sparring partner providing he win a trial fight. As they are talking, Bob continues flirting with Mabel and she leads him outside the tent, as some people were staring at them. Outside, they walk behind a trailer and Bob gives her a bracelet that he bought from the prize money as a gift. Mabel give his a quick peck as thanks but Bob kisses her again and she allows it but then reluctantly breaks it off when she notices Jack and James looking for them. As they are saying their goodbyes, Mabel does her best to keep the bracelet covered up, though Bob sees this and sneakily tries to get her to reveal it to Jack. After they leave, Mabel goes to the fortune teller’s tent and asks to have her fortune read but Jack shows up and believes the fortune is about him. The next day, Jack is washing his face in the pond behind his trailer and Mabel goes to talk to him when the bracelet falls off her arm and into the pond. When Jack retrieves it, he questions her about it and she admits that Bob bought it for her because he didn’t want to take their money. Later that day, Mabel receives a telegram from Jack stating that he won his fight and he would meet her at the church the next day so they can get married. Jack and Mabel get married, though Mabel appears a little reluctant to do so and at the reception, Bob, who had attended the wedding, jokes about wishing Mabel was the prize in their fight. Jack says he will fight any man to defend his wife’s honor and an exhibition match is arranged, which Bob ends up winning. Jack notices Mabel flirting and gets upset but his trainer has him take out his frustrations on the punching bag. Later, Jack tells James he wants to challenge Bob for the championship but James says that he is too far down on the list of contenders and will need to work his way up. Jack begins winning his fights and at a party at James’ house, James informs Jack that if he wins his next fight, he will be the #1 contender for Bob’s title. Jack worries about leaving Mabel alone while he goes to the fight, as he fears she is having an affair with Bob, but James says that he was doing this for her and to trust that she will be there for him. Jack wins his fight and afterwards, sees the barker and some of his friends from the fair were there to watch the fight. As the talk about the upcoming fight with Bob, Jack invites them back to his house to celebrate his win and surprise Mabel. When they get there, they find that Mabel is out and Jack pours some champagne, saying she should be back soon and they will drink when she gets there. As it gets late and Mabel still doesn’t show, their friends say their goodbyes and leave while Jack waits up for Mabel to return. Looking out the window, Jack sees Mabel getting out of Bob’s car and when she enters the apartment, they end up getting into an argument over her affections towards Bob. Jack then heads to the club to confront Bob over his spending so much time with Mabel and when Bob tries to punch him, Jack blocks it and knocks Bob down, then tells James that Bob can try and get revenge in the ring. When Jack returns home, he finds that Mabel is gone, having left a note saying she is staying with people that know how to treat her. On the night of the big fight, Jack’s trainer and the barker notice Mabel heading into Bob’s dressing room and they decide not to tell Jack that she is there. As the fight is about to start, Jack keeps looking out into the crowd to see if he can catch sight of Mabel but he doesn’t see her. As the fight commences, Jack notices Mabel sitting in the front row in Bob’s corner and it distracts him to where Bob is able to get the upper hand. As the fight continues, Mabel begins to get worried about Jack and starts making her way over tho his side of the ring. During the rest period before the final round, Mabel manages to reach Jack’s corner and tells him she is there in his corner and when he sees her there, he gets a second wind and manages to knock out Bob, winning the championship. As Jack celebrates his win, Mabel apologizes to him and he accepts and as they hug, she sees Bob watching them in the corner and takes off the bracelet he gave her and leaves it on the ground, which Bob’s trainer returns to him after the fight.

The Ring (1927) received high praise from the critics, holding a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics all seem to feel like this was one of Hitchcock’s best silent films, praising all of the visual nuances and symbols used to tell a compelling story. Out of all of the movies that Hitchcock made over the years, this is the only original screenplay that Hitchcock wrote himself, having collaborated with other writers for all of his other films. The movie was a success during it’s initial release but when it received a more general release, it was considered a failure.

I have to admit, this was a pretty good movie. The acting was good, with Carl Brisson (Jack), Lillian Hall-Davis (Mabel), and Ian Hunter (Bob) doing good jobs in their roles, though I also liked Gordon Harker, who made for some funny comedic breaks as Jack’s trainer. The story was very good, with the main three actors showing a lot of emotions to help showcase the drama of the situation. To be honest, some aspects of the story and fight, primarily the whole underdog aspect, kind of feel a little similar to Rocky and makes me wonder of this might have influenced Stallone a little when he wrote that movie. The fights and camera angles during them did look a little off at times and didn’t seem as clear as the rest of the movie but that could have been intentional. Regardless, this is a great movie in it’s own right and definitely worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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