Movie Project #15: Who Framed Roger Rabbit [1988]

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit [1988]

Who Framed Roger Rabbit [1988] 
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writers: Gary K. Wolf (novel “Who Censored Roger Rabbit?”), Jeffrey Price & Peter S. Seaman (screenplay)
Country: USA
Genre: Animation/Comedy/Crime
Starring: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy
Running Time: 104 minutes

Who Framed Roger Rabbit brought back a flood of memories for me, which is funny because I wasn’t 100% sure I had even watched the entire film growing up. Yet there I was remembering everything from the opening cartoon sequence to recognizing random moments and bits of dialogue here and there afterward.

An even better surprise was discovering just how well this 80s flick holds up today.

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Movie Project #2: Back to the Future [1985, Zemeckis]

Back to the Future [1985, Zemeckis]

Back to the Future [1985]
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Genre: Adventure/Family/Sci-Fi
Language: English
Country: USA

Out of all of the movies I haven’t seen, I caught the most flack for missing out on Back to the Future. I had seen bits and pieces of it over the years and remembered a few select scenes (such as Marty McFly rocking out at his parents’ prom), but I never actually watched the entire movie in one sitting. Thanks to a dirt cheap Amazon deal, I now have the entire trilogy on Blu-ray. No longer do I have any excuses for missing out on this classic time travel flick.

Going into the movie, I was expecting a light-hearted and fun family feature. This is what I received, but I was pleasantly surprised as to how much I enjoyed it all. Back to the Future is charming, inspirational and entertaining. It’s also a perfect hybrid of comedy, adventure and sci-fi. Throw in a great cast led by Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd — both of whom have impeccable chemistry together — and you have the makings for a classic popcorn blockbuster.

Back to the Future [1985, Zemeckis]

Michael J. Fox stars as Marty McFly, a teenager who is accidentally sent back in time from 1985 to 1955 while driving his friend Doc Brown’s (Lloyd) Delorean (which just so happens to be rigged with a time machine). After the initial shock of being in the 50s wears off, Marty makes some unwanted changes to history and has to go through a series of events to make things right again. During this, he meets his future parents. His mom (Lea Thompson) is a sexpot and keeps making moves at him, which Marty valiantly struggles to fight off. His father (Crispin Glover) is a nerd, a total pushover with no self confidence. Marty’s two main goals are to ensure that his parents fall in love, and also to get back to the future (of course).

The time travel shtick leads to some truly great moments. There are a lot of amusing disparities between the two times, such as the town’s old theater being turned into an adult cinema in 1985, and Marty’s orange vest frequently referred to as a life jacket in 1955. Whereas so many other time travel movies gloss over potentially history-altering moments, every aspect of Back to the Future seems to be important in the grand scheme of things.

Back to the Future [1985, Zemeckis]

Back to the Future is one of those rare movies where everything is perfectly aligned. Director Robert Zemeckis was paired with the perfect script and the right cast, and he was able to put together an all-around wonderful movie. I am grading this as a tentative 9, but I have the feeling that on subsequent viewings I could give this the full monty. Seriously, this is fantastic and now I understand why everyone was harping on me about not seeing it.

9/10

Piranha [2010]

Piranha [2010]

Piranha [2010]
Directors: Alexandre Aja
Genre: Comedy/Horror/Thriller
Language: English
Country: USA

Tits and blood. Blood and tits.

Piranha sells itself largely on being mindless entertainment, with a steady mix of T&A and violence. The story certainly has little thought put into it — prehistoric piranhas are unearthed in Lake Havasu via an earthquake, and they come back to terrorize everyone in the water, including dozens involved in a Girls Gone Wild-esque video shoot. This is a movie that doesn’t need a meaningful story, just a background for the copious amounts of the aforementioned tits and blood.

I went into this movie expecting it to be pretty hilarious while delivering some good ol’ fashioned gore. Unfortunately, there is little in the way of humor, and the gore doesn’t really become a factor until the second half of the movie. The first half is basically softcore porn, with lots of naked women rumaging about. While I’m not one to complain about gratuitous nudity, there just isn’t a whole lot going on during this part, and it is actually a bit of a bore. Things pick up in the second half when the piranhas descend upon the masses at the beach, and there are a number of great cringe-worthy gore effects used during the chaos. The problem is that it just takes too long to get anywhere.

What makes this movie stand out amongst other B-movie trash is its surprisingly impressive cast. Elisabeth Shue has one of the main roles as the town’s sheriff. Jerry O’Connell plays the douche bag porn director, and is more than effective at being annoying. Ving Rhames has a small role as a deputy, and he is responsible for one of the best scenes in the movie (let’s just say he did his part in fighting back against the piranhas). Christopher Lloyd is entertaining as a crazed marine biologist. Somehow even Richard Dreyfuss got roped into this movie, although his early cameo is wasted with a weak CGI scene. Throw in a handful of porn stars and you have the makings for a big-time B-movie.

I wish I had seen Piranha in 3D at a packed theater — that really seems to be the best way to experience this movie. While I enjoy some good camp from time to time, Piranha doesn’t hold up very well on DVD. I can’t help but feel this could have been better with just a little more focus, and less of a decisive split between the two halves of the movie. If you are tempted, give it a shot with plenty of booze and friends on hand; otherwise, I can’t say this is worth your time.

5/10