Tuesday, August 19, 2014

1990: The Worst

Quite the eclectic selection of crappy movies this year.  Nothing as bad as some other years, but it's more a matter of quantity this time out.

Really dull, formulaic supernatural horror flick about a cop (Lou Diamond Phillips) who catches a killer and then has to contend with him after he has been executed.  The cast just goes through the motions and it's generally a really bad sign when the notion of the movie has been done better the previous year in The Horror Show and Shocker.  And for the record, neither of those movies is very good.

I'm generally all for a meat and potatoes action movie with Charlie Sheen, Michael Biehn and Bill Paxton going after some terrorists but Navy SEALS drops the ball by having the Sheen character be an unlikable, irresponsible racist jerk which makes rooting for him more than a little difficult.  Not helping matters is the less than enthralling action which just boils down to shooting and not much else.  It wants to be a bug dumb, fun summer action movie but it forgets to pout in the fun part.  Not having a really strong villain doesn't help matter much either and the Arab bashing is also a turn-off.

For some reason, there seemed to be an inordinate number of really bad comedies released this year.  Now granted, in any given year you can find a ton of bad comedies but in 1990 they seemed to be somewhat worse than usual as well as somewhat more plentiful.  Maybe it's just that I ended up seeing a good number of them but still!

To begin, three comedies starring Kirstie Alley.   Funny on Cheers?  Yes.  In these three movies?  No, not even a little.  I think I might have smirked once but that could have just been a suppressed burp.  I try to have good manners.

Now admittedly, this is the best of the three but that doesn't mean a hell of a lot.  John Larroquette and Alley play a married couple trying to enjoy a quite weekend when they are beset by some obnoxious relatives who proceed to take over their house completely.  The comedy is tired, sitcom level stuff and in general the energy level seems to be very low.  Even the finale where Larroquette and Alley take their house back fails to make much of an impression.  And this is the best of the three, folks.

And this is probably the worst.  The first film was pleasant enough but the second film is just intolerably unfunny with a new addition to the family voiced by Roseanne Barr, another baby voiced by Damon Wayans and Mel Brooks as the voice of a toilet monster.  I'd say that John Travolta hit his low point with this one, but it got even worse for him with some very obscure titles and a third Look Who's Talking film that fate has generously seen fit to not let me lay my eyes on.

And this is simply bad in a mundane way with Alley playing a married woman who sleeps with her husband's long lost brother who dies the morning after which leads to a bunch of "wacky " mishaps that are about as entertaining as watching paint dry.  The entire film is just one long Idiot Plot that is just shockingly dull.

One of the reasons Gene Wilder retired, this is an unfunny bore about infertility, loneliness, hopes and dreams dashed into the ground and ruined marriages.  Yeah, I know.  Wilder plays a man who falls in love with a woman and marries her only to find they can't have kids.  Depressing twist after depressing twist follows and the end result is the sort of movie that really, really makes you long for the uplifting, life affirming, feel-good energy of Cannibal Holocaust.

From bad comedies, we go to bad buddy films.

First off is this really lame vehicle for Dan Aykroyd that has him starring as a mentally unstable young cop (to the point where he freaks out and starts doing cartoon character voices and pretty much every other pop culture figure Aykroyd can do) teamed with grouchy veteran officer Gene Hackman as they try to stop a bunch of porn barons who have a long lost Nazi sex tape.  Yeah, that's about the level of movie we have to deal with.  Blending comedy and violence uneasily, director Bob Clark fumbles things rather badly as we have to not only contend with Aykroyd's constant mugging and Dom DeLuise, we also get scenes of surprisingly bloody violence.  Having Danny try to be a menacing badass at the end when he saves Hackman from a killer also doesn't work.  I love Aykroyd to death but he's about as believable as a tough guy as Verne Troyer is as an NBA center and this film is a piece of crap.

Even worse is this thoroughly unpleasant flick that stars Denzel Washington as a likable, sleazy lawyer who is gunned down and comes back as a ghost when his heart is transplanted into a cop played by Bob Hoskins... who is a drunken bigoted jerk who had a grudge against Washington and has just suffered a heart attack.  Hoskins plays a real scumbag here, and given what a good actor he is, it comes off well and that's the main thing that shoots the film down along with the tonal changes that send the film veering from gritty cop drama to wacky comedy and back.  It is more than possible to have an unlikable hero in your movie and have it work, but Hoskins is such an unlikable little shit that you sort of hope he fails.  Washington goes through the motions (and apparently fired his agent after making this) and the whole film just stinks.

And to wrap things up, two sequels to classic movies that ended up being major disappointments.

This is one that could have been so much better!  Taking a cue from the first film, Robocop 2 tries for the same outlandishly satirical edge but only succeeds in being unpleasant and mean spirited as director Irvin Kershner doesn't seem to get the humor of the first film.  The 12 year old villain is a real turnoff and the plot itself gets gratingly dumb as city officials try to deal with a police strike while our hero is reprogrammed with a butt load of PC nonsense in order to lessen his efficiency.  The only bright spots are Tom Noonan as the main villain and some nice stop motion f/x from Phil Tippet at the end.  Overall, this is one hell of a letdown.  I find that apart from the comedies, most of the really bad films from this year were letdowns as opposed to monster flops.

 And finally, the film that signaled the end of Eddie Murphy's reign as box office king.  Along with 1989's Harlem Nights (which was bad in its own right), Another 48 Hrs. did fine at the box office but met with critical damnation.  In the case of this film, it merely recycles the first film wholesale (a problem many sequels this year have, including one on the top ten that we'll get to later) with the exception of a twist at the end that is both hilarious and desperate.

Murphy and Nick Nolte are back and now, Murphy is coming off the end of his prison sentence from the first film only to find that a criminal mastermind known as "The Iceman" has hired a bunch of bikers (including the brother of the first film's villain) to kill him. The film hits more or less the same beats as the first with Nolte and Murphy not getting along, then gradually warming up to each other.  The only dfiference is the aforementioned twist.  It turns out the mysterious Iceman is none other than fellow officer Ben Kehoe (Brion James) who was in the first film too.  Now on the one hand, it sort of works in that it makes you look at the first film a little more closely buy on the other hand, it also comes across as a case of using "Brion James as the surprise villain since by this point in his career he was playing mostly villains.  Another 48 Hrs. is a tired movie full of actors who don't seem like they really want to be there and noisy action.

Coming soon: The Guilty Pleasures of 1990

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.