Release Date: June 3rd, 1988 Directed by: George Roy Hill Written by: Jeffrey Boam Based on:Funny Farm by Jay Cronley Music by: Elmer Bernstein Cast: Chevy Chase, Madolyn Smith, Joseph Maher, Jack Gilpin, Brad Sullivan, MacIntyre Dixon, Kevin O’Morrison, Alice Drummond, Mike Starr, Glenn Plummer, Bill Fagerbakke, Kevin Conway
Cornelius Productions, Pan Arts, Warner Bros., 101 Minutes
“Remember, Mrs. Farmer. Whenever you buy a house, whatever’s in the ground belongs to you – whether it’s gold or oil… or Claude Musselman.” – Sheriff Ledbetter
Funny Farm is probably the least zany of Chevy Chase’s ’80s comedies but that doesn’t mean that it’s not entertaining and that it doesn’t maximize the talent of its often times zany star.
Chase, his antics and this kind of wholesome story just come across as more laid back and subtle than his other pictures of the era. This movie kind of slows Chase down and presents him in a way that I’d assume is a lot closer to his real self.
The story is simple and it sees a married couple move to the country in Vermont to work on the things they’re writing. They feel like the slow, country life will help them focus more on their work and each other without innumerable distractions.
There are a lot of good gags regarding a city couple being fishes out of water in a small town and while this taps into overused tropes, none of it feels lazy or redundant. I think that has to do with how well Chase and his onscreen wife Madolyn Smith handle the material. Additionally, they had natural chemistry and their personalities meshed well together.
The movie is populated with a lot of familiar character actors and most of the townsfolk are really entertaining and fun to watch.
Outside of the townsfolk, though, I really liked the bits with the movers, played by Mike Starr and Glenn Plummer, two actors I’ve enjoyed for decades now. I understand from a plot standpoint why they only appear in the first act but it would’ve been cool to see more of them.
Funny Farm is a pretty chill Chevy Chase experience. He’s charming and amusing while Madolyn Smith compliments him quite well. I liked the two of them in this and it’s just a simple movie with a simple message that lets you escape into it for a little while.
Also known as: 2010 (original title), 2010: Odyssey Two (original script title) Release Date: December 7th, 1984 Directed by: Peter Hyams Written by: Peter Hyams Based on:2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke Music by: David Shire Cast: Roy Scheider, John Lithgow, Helen Mirren, Bob Balaban, Keir Dullea, Douglas Rain (voice), Madolyn Smith, Dana Elcar, Elya Baskin
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 116 Minutes
“[message relayed from monolith] All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landing there. Use them together. Use them in peace.” – HAL-9000
Since I did 2001: A Space Odyssey as my 2001st film review, I figured that I’d also revisit 2010: The Year We Make Contact for my 2010th. Both are great films: the first being an absolute masterpiece and this one being one of the best science fiction films of its decade, as well as one of my favorite of all-time.
Unfortunately, 2010 gets compared to 2001, which really isn’t fair, as there was no way that this movie was going to live up to the hype that a 2001 sequel would’ve gotten, even back in the early ’80s. As its own film, though, it’s exceptional even if it wasn’t necessary.
Now there were four Odyssey books written by Arthur C. Clarke, two at the time of this film’s release, so I don’t see why further movies couldn’t have been made, as the story already existed and for fans of the novels, this was probably something they wanted to see. Hell, I’m still hoping that someone eventually adapts 2061: Odyssey Three and 3001: The Final Odyssey. Tom Hanks was going to do them about twenty years ago and there were rumors that Syfy was going to take a crack at it as well but neither of those really materialized.
From what I remember from the novel, this is a pretty good adaptation that takes some liberties but tells the gist of the story. It also changes the location of the monolith from being near Saturn to being near Jupiter for some reason. But I also kind of see this as existing in its own continuity, as it’s really hard to envision what could’ve even come after the 2001 movie despite this story trying to follow it up. As far as it being a movie sequel to the first book, as it is written, it works. The Kubrick 2001 film was much more mystical and fantastical than the book and it left a lot open for interpretation where the novel was more clear cut and explained things better.
Like the books, this film tries to define the strange things that are happening within the plot, unlike it’s cinematic predecessor. In fact, this film starts with an opening recap of the first movie with actual explanations of plot details to try and ground the story and set certain events in stone. I actually really like that, as it immediately shows that this movie is indeed different in its style and how it is going to present its fantastical journey.
Additionally, I really liked the casting of Roy Scheider as Heywood Floyd, as he felt like a better version of the character than what we got in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001. Granted, he was more of a minor character in the first film and we needed someone with more presence and gravitas, as he becomes the main character in this story.
Scheider was a great choice, though, as he had just come off of the first two Jaws movies and was one of the top actors of his era. He had a certain panache and a good level of manliness but also came across as a smart guy that would think before reacting and usually had a clear head and felt like a natural leader.
The rest of the cast is also good with Helen Mirren, John Lithgow, Bob Balaban, the return of Keir Dullea as Bowman and the rest of the Russian crew. I especially liked Elya Baskin as Brailovsky, as his chemistry with Lithgow’s Curnow was superb. Some of you may know Baskin from his role as Peter Parker’s landlord in Spider-Man 2 and 3.
I also love that the story is anti-Cold War, as it forces the Americans and Russian astronauts and scientists to work together, despite their countries being on the cusp of war. In fact, the countries do go to war while the crew is on their mission and what they may return home to is a somber, dark cloud over the rest of the story. Late into the story, the crews are forced to separate by the orders of their feuding governments but in spite of this, the two crews still end up working together to complete the mission and attempt to solve the universe’s greatest mystery.
Some people have said that the ending was underwhelming but I don’t think that’s true at all. It kind of felt like the ending to a really good classic Star Trek episode where the crew must solve a cosmic mystery. The reward for doing so is actually quite profound, as it forever changes the solar system and man’s place in it.
The movie also has incredible special effects and I especially liked how well they did in recreating the Discovery. It really pulls you back into the iconic ship and it just adds an extra level of legitimacy to this film, marrying it to the original one, aesthetically. Having the same voice for HAL-9000 was also a nice touch, as the character wouldn’t have been the same with someone else doing the performance.
Ultimately, this isn’t on the level of 2001: A Space Odyssey but what is in the science fiction genre? As it’s own motion picture, it’s cool, imaginative and it expands upon the greater work before it while also entertaining and boasting some solid acting performances across the board.
Rating: 9/10 Pairs well with: its predecessor, as well as the Odyssey series of books by Arthur C. Clarke.
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