Random Thoughts 14

I’m pretty much completely off the Letterman bandwagon. I’d already begun to sour on him over the past few years because of his increasingly bitter and jaded schtick (and it has to be bad for me to be turned off because I do bitter and jaded pretty well myself) as well as his turn toward the hard left. Then the whole Sarah Palin incident happened and that was a real head scratcher. Now news of Dave’s numerous trysts with female staffers and the ensuing extortion stemming from those infidelities is being treated as one big joke. I am far from a prude, but it’s all just too much. I watch my late night shows to laugh and be entertained, not to be taken on a reality roller coaster ride.

Baseball’s final four…..New York Yankees, LA Angels, Philadelphia Phillies, LA Dodgers. What a God awful end of the season. I have absolutely zero interest in any of these teams. I won’t watch a single inning of any of the last three series. Will someone PLEASE buy the Pittsburgh Pirates and make them relevant again?!?!?

Congratulations to the city of Rio de Janeiro for procuring the 2016 Olympics. Unfortunately Rio’s victory comes at the expense of Chicago. I guess the committee decided that the athletes couldn’t compete effectively while wearing bullet proof vests.

I am hearing that the winter of 2009-10 will be the worst in 60 years, one that “you’ll tell your grandkids about”. I really hope that doesn’t prove to be true.

Apparently a reboot of the Vacation movie franchise is in the works, this time with Rusty Griswold as the bumbling patriarch of his own family. Now I LOVE the original Vacation and, because of my deep affection for Christmas films, absolutely adore Christmas Vacation. European Vacation and Vegas Vacation…..ehhh, not so much. If this next sequel actually occurs I really hope it is good and worthy of its heritage, but that will only happen if a few things occur. First of all, Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo must appear as Clark & Ellen Griswold, even if it is only a token cameo. Secondly, the original Rusty, Anthony Michael Hall, must must must be signed to star. There have been four different Rustys, but the original was the best and really the only one who most would buy as a father. And finally…and this is more of a generality…the writing must be funny and original. Amusing references and homages to the other movies in the series are fine, but it won’t work if it’s just Rusty repeating the same gags that his father did two decades ago.

Farewell Saturn…the car, not the planet.

Sooooooo…..according to out of touch Hollywood elitists director Roman Polanski should be let off the hook for raping a 13 year old girl because he has been rich enough to elude the police for 30 years and because he happened to direct some decent films. Yep, that makes perfect sense. Idiots.

RIP Captain Lou Albano, one of the most memorable pro wrestling personalities of all time.

The pre-emptive ouster of Rush Limbaugh as a perspective NFL owner is more than unfortunate…it’s racially motivated. The media and the powers-that-be in the NFL are more willing to listen to twits like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who have proven to be divisive and fraudulent, than a man who has 20 million listeners every week (equal to the most popular shows on television). The NFL is chock full of thugs who’ve done everything from drive drunk to possess firearms to beat their wives, yet somehow Rush isn’t good enough to be a minority (pardon the pun) owner?? That’s such a load of PC hogwash. Assclowns like Al Davis, Jerry Jones, and Daniel Snyder are allowed to own teams yet Rush is deemed inappropriate?? Unbelievable.

100 Favorite Movies…..66-70

70 The Glen Miller Story

I’m a big fan of Jimmy Stewart and I love big band & jazz music, so this movie provides an irresistible combo. Stewart is quite the Miller doppelganger, which I assume is a prime reason he was cast in the film. June Allyson provides perky support as Miller’s wife, and a pre-MASH Harry Morgan plays Miller’s best buddy. The story follows Glen Miller from his struggling musician days through his rise to fame to his untimely demise in a presumed plane crash during World War II. I decided to watch this movie years ago simply because I had become a fan of Stewart and wanted to see as many of his films as possible. But the movie made me a Glenn Miller fan and I continue to enjoy his music immensely.

 

69 The Shrek Trilogy

I have to admit…I didn’t see any Shrek films until all three were already out and available on video, so I’m fairly new to the Shrek universe. I didn’t bother with them at first because I assumed they were kiddie films. However, I decided to watch one on television a few years back and have since seen all three. I was both right and wrong in my original assessment. They are undoubtedly geared toward an demographic far younger than I, but on the other hand sometimes it’s okay to temporarily feel like a kid again. For anyone unfamiliar (which I assume would only be folks who, like me, are both single and childless because anyone with children is surely familiar with Shrek), this animated trilogy follows the adventures of a surly but loveable ogre, his talking donkey sidekick, and the ogre’s lady love. There are a host of other characters. Lending their considerable voice talents to the three films are an all star team of folks such as Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow, Justin Timberlake, John Cleese, Rupert Everett, and many more. Most of the visual humor and jokes in the series parody well known fairy tales, which is a huge part of the charm for me…I love parodies and who doesn’t appreciate childhood fairy tales. The animation is computer generated, which far exceeds the animation most of us grew up with. These movies need to be viewed in high definition to really get the full effect.

 

68 The Greatest Show On Earth

Once again my favorite actor Jimmy Stewart is paired with something cool. This time it’s the circus. I think this is one of Stewart’s best performances. It is certainly low key and subtle, as he spends the entire film in clown makeup. The bigger draw for most people, I suppose, would be Charlton Heston in one of his finest performances as well. Heston kind of became a sad parody of himself in the latter part of his career, but this is one of his earlier movies and he shows why he was once one of the top box office attractions in the world. Directed by famed auteur Cecil B. Demille (I’m ready for my close-up…indeed), the story follows the Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Circus as it travels from town to town. We meet several of the performers and become involved in their lives behind the big top, so to speak. That behind the scenes view reveals a lot of romance, intrigue, drama, and tragedy. Basically it’s a soap opera set at the circus. Demille is known for his lavish, over-the-top, extravagant productions, and he doesn’t disappoint with The Greatest Show On Earth. Like so many beloved memories of yesteryear, the circus has almost slipped into being a remnant from a bygone era. Sure they are still around, but they are no longer an event. Even when I was a kid not that long ago it was a big deal when the circus came to town. Nowadays kids are into their video games and computers and iPods and couldn’t possibly care less about the circus. But watch this movie and you will be reminded of just how extraordinary it used to be.

 

67 Ocean’s 13

In 2001 George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Brad Pitt teamed up to remake the 1960 Rat Pack romp Ocean’s 11, about robbing a Vegas casino. The remake was a smashing success and unlike the original spawned sequels. The first movie will be dealt with later in this list. The second movie, Ocean’s 12, was poorly written and quite forgettable. The third movie was Ocean’s 13, and it’s a nice rebound from its disappointing predecessor. This time the gang returns to Las Vegas and they don’t actually rob a casino as much as they…turn the odds in their favor through uniquely nefarious means. The bad guy is played by Al Pacino, which automatically makes this a must see. As with the other Ocean’s films, don’t try to interject logic or make sense out of the proceedings. This is pure popcorn cinema, escapism at its best.

 

66 The Frat Pack Three Pak (Anchorman, The 40 Year Old Virgin, & Wedding Crashers)

Anyone who grew up in the 80’s is familiar with The Brat Pack (Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Andrew McCarthy, Rob Lowe, and a few others). And while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery I would not necessarily call the modern Frat Pack imitators. The only similarity is the name homage, which was itself a takeoff on the 1960’s Rat Pack of Frank Sinatra and his pallies. The Frat Pack is generally thought to be comprised of Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, Owen and Luke Wilson, Steve Carell, Jack Black, Paul Rudd, and Seth Rogen. Some combination of those actors has starred in a host of films together with a wide array of results. Zoolander and Starsky & Hutch…not so good. Old School and Blades of Glory…much better. But for me three Frat Pack films stand head and shoulders above the crowd and have stood up to numerous repeated viewings. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy stars Ferrell with Carell and Rudd in very amusing supporting roles. Vaughn, Stiller, Black, Rogen and Luke Wilson all have brief cameos. Ferrell plays an over-the-top misogynistic 70’s news anchor whose world is turned upside down when he’s forced to share the anchor desk with a woman. Anchorman is among the most quotable movies of the past two decades and is just pointless yet harmless fun. The 40 Year Old Virgin stars Carell as the titular character, with Rogen and Rudd in vital supporting roles that really make this film work. It’s hilarious but sweet, with more quotable dialogue and a few really memorable scenes. I really like Rudd in this film. Wedding Crashers, starring Vaughn and Owen Wilson, is a movie I really like but probably not as much as some people. I don’t think it’s really any better than any other Frat Pack film, which doesn’t mean anything negative it just means my praise seems to not rise to outlandish and undeserved peaks of hyperbole. Will Ferrell makes possibly one of the best cameos of all time, and to say that Rachel McAdams (who I someday intend to make my bride) is quite fetching may be one of the biggest understatements I could conceive. Plus there’s Christopher Walken and that’s just the cherry on top.