I apologize for the delay. I had intended to publish this immediately on the heels of Part 1, but sometimes life gets busy. I’m sure y’all can relate. Anyway, we conclude the Sweet 16 round today and will likely take a little break before resuming the competition. Not only has The Lord been telling me to get some other, more meaningful stuff written, but football season is on the horizon as well. Thankfully I rarely seem to be wanting for content. Enjoy.
National Lampoon’s Vacation
Director: Harold Ramis
Box Office: $61 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 93% Fresh
Quotes: “Now, I owe it to myself to tell you that if you’re taking the whole tribe cross-country this is your automobile…the Wagon Queen Family Truckster. You think you hate it now, but wait ’til you drive it.”
“Why aren’t we flying? Because getting there is half the fun. You know that.”
“Excuse me. Could you please tell how to get back on the expressway?” “Man, who do I look like, Christopher Columbo?”
“I’m going steady, and I French kiss.” “So, everybody does that.” “Yeah, but Daddy says I’m the best at it.”
“We can’t leave her on the patio!” “Would you rather I slipped her in the night deposit box at the funeral home?”
“Roy, could you imagine if you had driven all the way to Florida and it was closed?” “Closed? Uh, they don’t close Florida.”
Miscellaneous: Notable cameos are made by John Candy and model Christie Brinkley. The script was based on a story called Vacation ’58, which was written by John Hughes and published in the September 1979 edition of National Lampoon magazine. Disneyland turned down the opportunity to be the Griswold’s destination, so Walley World was written as a fictional substitute. The original ending of the film had the Griswolds going to Roy Walley’s house and holding him hostage. It turns out that the Ferrari Girl is Walley’s daughter and she gets Clark off the hook with the police. On the plane ride home Clark realizes they’re on the wrong flight and hijacks the airplane. Test audiences didn’t respond well so the ending was changed.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Director: Leonard Nimoy
Awards: nominated for 11 Saturn Awards, Oscar nominations for Cinematography, Sound, Sound Effects Editing, & Original Score
Box Office: $133 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 85% Fresh
Quotes: “You mean the profanity? That’s simply the way they talk here. Nobody pays any attention to you unless you swear every other word. You’ll find it in all the literature of the period.”
“Computer! Computer? Hello, computer.” “Just use the keyboard.” “Keyboard. How quaint.”
“Don’t tell me! You’re from outer space.” “No, I’m from Iowa. I only work in outer space.”
“My God man, drilling holes in his head is not the answer! The artery must be repaired! Now, put away your butcher’s knives and let me save this patient before it’s too late!”
“Everybody remember where we parked.”
“My God, man. Do you want an acute case on your hands? This woman has immediate postprandial, upper-abdominal distention. Now, out of the way! Get out of the way!” “What did you say she has?” “Cramps.”
“Dialysis? What is this, the Dark Ages?”
Miscellaneous: The transparent aluminum that Scotty utilizes became reality in 2009 thanks to the physics department at Oxford University. The film was dedicated to the crew of the space shuttle Challenger, which had exploded just 10 months earlier. This was the highest grossing of the six movies featuring the cast of the original series.
The Verdict: Vacation. After eliminating Wrath of Khan earlier in this round I cannot in good conscience allow The Voyage Home to advance further. The same logic applies…Trekkies love it, but it is a limited target audience. Vacation is much more accessible to the masses. Chevy Chase’s career has been hit & miss at best, but he hit a home run with this one, as well as the 1989 sequel Christmas Vacation.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Director: John Hughes
Awards: highly regarded on several lists of best comedies and best high school films, Broderick was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor in Comedy/Musical
Box Office: $70 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 81% Fresh
Quotes: “How could I possibly be expected to handle school on a day like this?”
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
“Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?”
Miscellaneous: A spinoff/prequel TV series (with Jennifer Aniston taking over the Jennifer Grey role) aired during the 1990-91 season, but it just couldn’t measure up. The famous parade scene supposedly takes place at Chicago’s Von Steuben Day Parade, which celebrates Baron Friedrich von Steuben, a Prussian military officer who came to America and aided George Washington during the American Revolution. The German-centric event is generally held in September. However the film is supposed to be set in late spring near the end of the school year. Oops.
Director: Paul Brickman (Bad News Bears Breaking Training)
Box Office: $64 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 96% Fresh
Quotes: “Every now and then, say ‘What the heck.’ ‘What the heck’ gives you freedom. Freedom brings opportunity, opportunity makes your future.”
Miscellaneous: Sales of Wayfarer sunglasses rose 2000% after the film’s release. Timothy Hutton, Michael J. Fox, Tom Hanks, John Cusack, & Nicolas Cage were all considered for the role that ultimately went to Cruise. Frank Sinatra & Richard Dreyfus were both up for the role of Guido the pimp.
The Verdict: Ferris Bueller. Critics love Risky Business, and it is a well-written film. However Bueller is equally smart and it is much purer, notably devoid of sex & foul language. Oh sure…ol’ Ferris is a bit of a rascal, but in the grand scheme of life his escapades are mostly harmless, and his advice about taking time to occasionally stop & smell the roses is more profound than what one usually finds in most teen-centric movies.
The Breakfast Club
Director: John Hughes
Awards: 2005 Silver Bucket of Excellence Award at the MTV Movie Awards
Box Office: $52 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 89% Fresh
Quotes: “We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. What do you care? You see us as you want to see us…in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Correct? That’s the way we saw each other at 7:00 this morning. We were brainwashed.”
“Don’t mess with the bull, young man. You’ll get the horns.”
“Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?”
“My God, are we gonna be like our parents?” “It’s unavoidable. It just happens. When you grow up your heart dies.”
“Face it…you’re a neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie.”
Miscellaneous: Originally there was an idea about doing multiple sequels, occurring every ten years, in which the group would get back together. However Hughes had an unstable working relationship with Nelson, and the director also had a falling out with Ringwald when she decided that she wanted to move on from teen roles, thus the follow-ups never happened. Ringwald & Hall were 16 at the time the film was shot…the others were all in their 20’s.
Director: Emile Ardolino
Awards: won an Oscar for Best Original Song (I’ve Had the Time of My Life) & Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo
Box Office: $214 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 72% Fresh
Quotes: “Nobody puts Baby in the corner!”
Miscellaneous: A prequel/remake/reimagining called Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights was made in 2004. I’ve never seen it and have no interest in ever doing so.
The Verdict: The Breakfast Club. This is a surprisingly easy decision. While Dirty Dancing is a cultural benchmark of the 1980’s there is no doubt that The Breakfast Club is a much better film.
When Harry Met Sally
Director: Rob Reiner
Awards: Oscar nomination for Original Screenplay, Golden Globe nominations for Best Musical/Comedy, Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor (Crystal), Best Actress (Ryan)
Box Office: $93 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 89% Fresh
Quotes: “When I buy a new book, I always read the last page first. That way, in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends. That, my friend, is a dark side.”
“Men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way. No man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.”
“There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.” “Which one am I?” “You’re the worst kind…you’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.”
“I’ll have what she’s having.”
“Oh, but ‘baby fish mouth’ is sweeping the nation?”
“I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
Miscellaneous: The infamous quote “I’ll have what she’s having” is delivered by Reiner’s mother Estelle. Harry Connick Jr. is almost as big of a star in the movie as the actors, as he performs the entire soundtrack.
The Blues Brothers
Director: John Landis (Animal House, Trading Places, Coming to America)
Box Office: $115 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 85% Fresh
Quotes: “We’re on a mission from God.”
“Are you the police?” “No, ma’am. We’re musicians.”
“Bring me four fried chickens and a Coke.” “And some dry white toast, please.”
“It’s a hundred and six miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.”
“What kind of music do you usually have here?” “Oh, we got both kinds. We got country AND western.”
Miscellaneous: Over 100 cars were wrecked during filming. The film has a fantastic soundtrack, including songs by Taj Mahal, Steve Winwood, Ray Charles, James Brown, Robert Johnson, Cab Calloway, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, John Lee Hooker, & Elmore James.
The Verdict: The Blues Brothers. This is a tough call. I adore When Harry Met Sally. However, the cultural impact of The Blues Brothers cannot be ignored. It is such a unique film. Harry/Sally is undoubtedly one of the two or three best romantic comedies ever produced, but the fact is that rom-coms are a dime-a-dozen. One’s preferences can be easily swayed by whomever the lead actors are. I loved pre-Botox Meg Ryan, and I am a huge Billy Crystal fan, yet at the end of the day rom-coms all have the same basic structure. It’s a plug & play deal, with different actors going thru similar scenarios. Harry/Sally is particularly well written & performed, but at it cannot completely escape the familiar commonalities of the genre. The Blues Brothers is lightning in a bottle. A sequel was attempted in 1998, but its failure proves my point.