Release Date: July 7th, 1988 (New York City premiere) Directed by: Charles Crichton Written by: John Cleese, Charles Crichton Music by: John Du Prez Cast: John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin, Cynthia Cleese, Stephen Fry
Star Partners Limited Partnership, Prominent Features, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 108 Minutes
“You pompous, stuck-up, snot-nosed, English, giant, twerp, scumbag, fuck-face, dickhead, asshole.” – Otto, “How very interesting. You’re a true vulgarian, aren’t you?” – Archie, “You are the vulgarian, you fuck.” – Otto
I remember adults talking about how much they loved this movie when I was nine years-old. I also vaguely remember seeing the John Cleese getting caught naked gag whether from trailers or just seeing it pop up on HBO while flipping the channels.
That’s really all I knew about the movie, though, but people still talk about it fondly, so I figured that I should finally check it out. Plus, I like Cleese, as well as Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Palin and Kevin Kline. Cynthia Cleese and Stephen Fry also pop up in this.
For the most part, this was amusing and I liked that it was essentially a film-noir structured comedy. Curtis essentially plays a femme fatale without the murder and you never really know which guy she’s screwing over and who she may choose in the end… or no one.
Cleese was as likable and hilarious as always and this really felt like somewhat of spiritual successor to probably his most famous character, Basil Fawlty of Fawlty Towers. Although, Cleese’s character here is less of a shithead.
Kline is solid as a total bastard and I especially liked his banter and scenes with Michael Palin.
Overall, this is pretty quick paced, whimsical and entertaining. However, it didn’t captivate me on the level that it has seemed to for other people, especially at the time of this picture’s release. Maybe it worked better in 1988 and for an audience that was older than me then.
Honestly, it reminds me a lot of other comedies of the time featuring a small group of people all trying to fuck each other over. It was kind of a normal comedy trope at the time and with that, I can’t really see this as something wholly original or refreshing, even for its era. While it beat Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to the theater by a few months, it pales in comparison to that by a pretty substantial margin.
Release Date: November 4th, 2001 (Sorcerer’s Stone), November 3rd, 2002 (Chamber of Secrets), May 23rd, 2004 (Prisoner of Azkaban), November 6th, 2005 (Goblet of Fire) Directed by: Chris Columbus (Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets), Alfonso Cuaron (Prisoner of Azkaban), Mike Newell (Goblet of Fire) Written by: Steve Kloves Based on: the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling Music by: John Williams (Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban), Patrick Doyle (Goblet of Fire) Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Robbie Coltrane, Richard Harris, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, John Cleese, Warwick Davis, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Ian Hart, John Hurt, Julie Walters, Tom Felton, Harry Melling, David Bradley, Kenneth Branagh, Jason Issacs, Gary Oldman, Timothy Spall, David Thewlis, Emma Thompson, Robert Pattinson, Brendan Gleeson, David Tennant
1492 Pictures, Heyday Films, Warner Bros., 152 Minutes (Sorcerer’s Stone), 161 Minutes (Chamber of Secrets), 142 Minutes (Prisoner of Azkaban), 157 Minutes (Goblet of Fire)
It’s the twentieth anniversary of this film franchise, so I figured I should show it the respect it deserves for being the cultural phenomenon that it was.
Full disclosure, I’m not a big fan of this franchise like everyone else seems to be. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate what it’s done since the first J.K. Rowling book was published. The fact that it inspired a generation of kids to enthusiastically read is a tremendous feat. Fast-forward just a quarter of a century later and people don’t have the reading comprehension to understand something the size of a tweet but I digress.
My initial issue with this film series is that I thought it was waaay too kiddie. I saw the first one when it came out on DVD and a friend rented it. However, with this film series coming out at the same time as Peter Jackson’s original The Lord of the Rings trilogy, it didn’t do this movie any favors, at least with filmgoers who were too old to have grown up with the Harry Potter novels.
Even though I’ve seen all of these movies except for the last one, and I know that they mature in tone, as the children in the story do, I still have a hard time getting through both The Sorcerer’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets. In fact, I really had to force myself to get through them and stick with this in an effort to review this series, which is probably the last major franchise that I haven’t reviewed yet, other than the Fast &Furious movies.
A lot of people seem to love the hell out of The Prisoner of Azkaban. While the series does shift into darker themes and a more mature story, it still doesn’t quite do it for me. Granted, I loved Gary Oldman in it and it helped move things forward in a more serious way.
For me, it was The Goblet of Fire where the series really started to make me care about it on a deeper level. However, it doesn’t really kick in until the tournament starts and a still very young Harry finds himself in a competition where he could actually die.
The fact that the stakes were very high and his own mortality was on the line lets you know that everything moving forward now was going to be more serious. Where everything before this was mostly full of over-the-top wholesomeness and irritating whimsy, you now knew that these kids were going to be forced to grow up before they should have to.
Additionally, at the end of The Goblet of Fire, Voldemort, in his true form, finally appears. With that, a teen a few years older than Harry and now a friend of his, is killed by the franchise’s big villain. Harry barely escapes with the body of his friend and when he does, the entire school of young wizards are punched in the gut over what just happened and what kind of danger this poses to the world. It’s a terribly sad and gut-wrenching end to this picture.
Sadly, it takes the final act of the fourth film to actually make me want to watch the rest of them. While I love fantasy stories and magic, this just isn’t something that was made for me or my generation. However, I think that they’re all pretty good movies for the audience they were intended for. Had I been born a decade later, it’s possible that Harry Potter could be my favorite franchise like it is for so many people.
I am going into the second half of this film series with a lot of enthusiasm, though. I definitely think it’ll resonate with me more and I like that I don’t remember much about them, as I never saw the conclusion and haven’t seen the other three for probably a decade.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – Rating: 6.5/10
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Rating: 6.75/10
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Rating: 7.5/10
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Rating: 8.75/10
Also known as: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished (working title), The Very Excellent Mr. Crocodile Dundee, Mr. Dundee (alternative titles) Release Date: July 17th, 2020 (Australia, New Zealand – Internet) Directed by: Dean Murphy Written by: Robert Mond, Dean Murphy Music by: John Foreman Cast: Paul Hogan, Rachael Carpani, Jacob Elordi, Chevy Chase, John Cleese, Olivia Newton-John, Reginald VelJohnson, Wayne Knight, Paul Fenech, Shane Jacobson, Kerry Armstrong, Charlotte Stent, Luke Hemsworth, Jim Jefferies, Costas Mandylor, Nancy O’Dell
“He’s back, whether he likes it or not.” – tagline
I grew up loving Paul Hogan, which is honestly why I even watched this in the first place. I certainly wasn’t lured in by the trailer or the 4.9 out of 10 on IMDb. But Hogan is a hell of a cool guy and I wanted to give this a shot because I immensely enjoy Crocodile Dundee I and II.
Needless to say, I thought that this was better than a 4.9 but not by a large margin. I enjoyed it, mostly, but it isn’t something that I’ll probably ever watch again. It was certainly better than the mostly terrible Crocodile Dundee III but a hair beneath Hogan’s Almost An Angel.
That being said, it’s nice spending time with Hogan again, as well as some of the other people he brought into this movie like Reginald VelJohnson, John Cleese, Wayne Knight, Chevy Chase and Olivia Newton-John. It’s also chock full of cameos from a lot of Australian celebrities and other friends of Hogan’s.
The plot sees Hogan playing himself and I guess it’s a lot like an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where the actor playing himself constantly screws up in every situation. For the most part, though, Hogan means well and not to offend but he either doesn’t fully understand the situation he’s in or someone else is a complete asshole but Hogan is blamed for it – like when the nun gets knocked out, which was due to Hogan protecting himself from an object thrown by a raging imbecile.
Most of the gags are still amusing, even if you see them coming from a mile away.
I thought that was is just a charming and lighthearted picture because of Paul Hogan. But honestly, there’s not much reason to watch it more than once and you should already have a love for its star.
Original Run: September 19th, 1975 – October 25th, 1979 Created by: John Cleese, Connie Booth Directed by: John Howard Davies, Bob Spiers Written by: John Cleese, Connie Booth Music by: Dennis Wilson Cast: John Cleese, Prunella Scales, Andrew Sachs, Connie Booth, Ballard Berkeley, Brian Hall, Renee Roberts, Gilly Flower
BBC, 12 Episodes, 30-35 Minutes (per episode)
Fawlty Towers really is one of the all-time greatest British sitcoms. So much so, I’d hear people talk about it in the States for years until I finally saw it around the year 2000 or so, in my early twenties.
Being that I was already a big John Cleese fan, I wanted to give it a watch because of him and because his only other early work that I’d seen had been the Monty Python stuff. And while I’m not into that stuff like a lot of people slightly older than me, I always had a love for Cleese along with Eric Idle.
In my opinion, this is the best John Cleese has ever been in a main role. Being that he wrote the show alongside his then wife, Connie Booth, it was very obviously tailor made for him, accenting his strengths while allowing no faults to show. Granted, I can’t think of a time where Cleese ever showed his faults but maybe I’m a bit biased.
The rest of the cast is enjoyable, as well, though. Even the regular secondary characters in this are pretty perfect and prove with every episode that they can hang with the guy that would become a comedy legend.
Sadly, Cleese and Booth were divorced before the second season was filmed but whatever issues may have arisen in their personal lives, it didn’t effect the quality of the show.
However, it’s also probably why there weren’t more than two seasons, which is still immensely disappointing, as twelve half hour episodes just aren’t enough. But I guess quitting while you’re ahead doesn’t allow for a drop off in quality.
Release Date: March 14th, 1975 (Los Angeles premiere) Directed by: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones Written by: Monty Python Music by: Dewolfe Cast: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
Python (Monty) Pictures, Michael White Productions, National Film Trustee Company, EMI Films, Cinema 5 Distributing, 92 Minutes
“I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough wiper! I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!” – French Soldier
I’ve never been a big Monty Python fan and I know those are fighting words from big Monty Python fans but I don’t care.
It’s not to say that I don’t find some amusement within these movies but once I’ve seen one, it’s hard for me to go back and see them again. But that also applies to most comedy movies for me. Well, except for a few things I am a big fan of like old school Bill Murray movies, the Police Academy franchise (omitting part 7) and a lot of ’80s comedies that I probably only love because nostalgia is a needy whore that must be satisfied every so often.
And that’s the thing with Monty Python movies. I just don’t have the nostalgia for them because they were a decade before my time and I never saw them until I was into my 20s. But also, I’m not a big fan of parody films unless it’s a very small sample of the best of Mel Brooks’ oeuvre.
I do love the cast and a lot of these guys have gone on to be in movies I’ve loved over the years. Especially, John Cleese and Eric Idle. Then there’s also Terry Gilliam, who has gone on to make some solid motion pictures outside of the comedy genre.
I appreciate this movie for being the first real exposure to these talented guys outside of the UK. And it is a funny movie but it’s not something I need to experience, again and again.
From memory, I think that The Life of Brian was the one I liked the most. So I do plan on revisiting that one again soon, simply so I can review it.
Rating: 7.25/10 Pairs well with: other Monty Python films and projects.
Release Date: November 8th, 1999 (Los Angeles premiere) Directed by: Michael Apted Written by: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Bruce Feirstein Based on: the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming Music by: David Arnold Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle, Denise Richards, Robbie Coltrane, John Cleese, Judi Dench, Desmond Llewelyn, Samantha Bond, Goldie
Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 128 Minutes
“Oh, grow up 007!” – Q
For some reason, this left a pretty bad taste in my mouth back in 1999 when I originally saw it. Maybe it felt incredibly redundant with all the James Bond films that had come out by 1999 or maybe the Austin Powers movies did such a good job poking fun at the super spy genre that I couldn’t take it seriously and all the tropes of the style had really been ruined. Whatever the case, I’m glad that I revisited it because I have more appreciation for it than I did back in the day.
Look, Pierce Brosnan was a damn good Bond. Unfortunately, other than GoldenEye, he didn’t have the best material to work with. And honestly, the Bond movies had all been made in a specific style for so long that it was probably pretty hard coming up with new ideas and not just retreading the same territory again and again.
Now this doesn’t have a memorable villain, although I have always liked Robert Carlyle, and this also doesn’t really have a memorable plot. At least, I really didn’t remember much about this other than Denise Richards was supposed to convince us that she was a legit rocket scientist. So since I hadn’t watched this one in so long, seeing it now was like going into it mostly blind. Again, this is better than I remembered.
In this, James Bond must race against time to stop some big international disaster. I mean, that’s really the plot of every Bond movie but the details always differ. Here, we have a beautiful daughter of an oil tycoon that Bond must protect, a villain who doesn’t feel any pain due to a bullet being lodged into his brain and another woman because Bond always needs two. There are nuclear warheads, a nuclear submarine and several locations: Spain, France, Azerbaijan, Turkey and of course the United Kingdom. Robbie Coltrane also returns in this one as his character from GoldenEye.
It is also worth mentioning that this was the last film to feature Desmond Llewelyn as Q. Llewelyn had the role as far back as 1963’s From Russia With Love. With 17 Bond movies under his belt and having served five different James Bond incarnations, Llewelyn was in more of these pictures than anyone else. Sadly, he died just after this film’s release but not without passing the torch to John Cleese, who unfortunately, only got to be in one more Bond film after this.
The World Is Not Enough holds up pretty well when compared to the other films within the long history of the classic pre-Daniel Craig era of James Bond. I thought that Sophie Marceau was really good and not to be that guy but man, Denise Richards was absolutely friggin’ gorgeous. When we first see her, she is dressed like Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider video game series. Frankly, I would’ve rather had her over Angelina Jolie in the Tomb Raider movies. Denise Richards looked more the part.
Where I once had a hole in my heart after disliking this movie, that hole has now been filled, 18 years later. It’s nowhere near as bad as its sequel Die Another Day and although it’s not as good as GoldenEye, it still satisfies and Brosnan just works as the ’90s version of James Bond.
Release Date: November 20th, 2002 (UK) Directed by: Lee Tamahori Written by: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade Based on: the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming Music by: David Arnold Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Rosamund Pike, John Cleese, Judi Dench, Samantha Bond
Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 133 Minutes
“I have been known to keep my tip up.” – James Bond
Die Another Day is the film I consider to be the worst James Bond picture of all-time. While I felt like it played better than I remembered, having revisited it for the first time since its release a decade and a half ago, it still takes the cake, as far as bad Bond movies go.
While Pierce Brosnan was a damn good Bond, his movies are borderline abysmal, minus Goldeneye, his debut.
The Brosnan films came out in a time when motion pictures were getting more serious and less campy. Unfortunately, these play almost like parodies of the very playful and sometimes hokey films of the Roger Moore era. It also didn’t help that the Austin Powers franchise came along and sort of dumped these movies on their head. All of this is why the character of Bond went away for four years after this film and came back revamped and more serious with the start of the Daniel Craig era.
Like every other movie from the Brosnan era, this was a marketing machine, made to sell a bunch of shit that was featured in the picture. Unfortunately, regardless of how much money you have in your bank account, you can’t buy an invisible Aston Martin. And the fact that that is a thing in this movie, should tell you how ridiculous this flick is, even for James Bond standards. This is the movie that really jumped the shark with its use of gadgetry.
The film is also mired by the inclusion of Halle Berry as the character Jinx, which was done in an effort to create a spin-off franchise for her. That franchise never saw the light of day because she truly sucked in this film and despite trying to sell her as a female bad ass, for the most part, she was just another Bond damsel in distress. Ultimately, she was unconvincing regardless of how cool and tough they tried to make her seem. I don’t necessarily blame Berry for this though, as the character was poorly written and the director seemed to be dialing it in.
The stunts were a mixed bad of good and god awful. The CGI effects were friggin’ atrocious, even for the time. Just look at the scene where Bond is kite surfing a giant wave and try not to cringe.
Also, the film’s plot is just a bit of a rehash of Goldeneye. It’s story doesn’t justify its existence and the pens behind this tale really should have given us something better than another killer satellite story.
There are a few small positives, however.
The first is the opening sequence in North Korea. It was really well done and felt like a classic Bond sequence. Of course, everything goes completely downhill after the credits.
Also, I really liked Rosamund Pike as Miranda Frost. I thought she was a better than decent Bond girl and much more interesting than Berry’s Jinx.
Lastly, the film features Pierce Brosnan, the man who is usually the biggest highlight of any film that he is in.
The last big gripe however is in regards to the villain. He’s a North Korean general’s bratty kid who gets plastic surgery to look like a smarmy elitist white dude. The whole thing is just stupid. Although, the henchman with the diamond face was cool and had a classic Bond villain vibe to him.
Die Another Day is a film that shelved the franchise and caused it to be rebooted and reinvented. It is awful in just about every way. There are literally two dozen Bond movies that are better than this pile of crap.
So does it deserved to be ran through the Cinespiria Shitometer? Of course it does! And the results speak for themselves! What we have here is a “Type 7 Stool: Watery, no solid pieces. Entirely Liquid.”
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