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 Review: Flight [2012]

Flight [2012]

Flight [2012]
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Genre: Drama
Starring: Denzel Washington, Tamara Tunie, John Goodman, Kelly Reilly, Melissa Leo, Don Cheadle
Running Time: 138 minutes

Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) is an alcoholic and a drug abuser. He sleeps with prostitutes, has a dysfunctional relationship with his ex-wife and son, and parties far more often than he should. He’s also a commercial airlines pilot, and a damn good one at that.

One morning, still drunk after a boozy night with a flight attendant, Whitaker snorts a few lines of cocaine and then heads to the airport, ready to pilot a flight to Atlanta. Despite some concerns from his co-pilot, Whip appears no worse for the wear as he takes control and guides the plane through some rough turbulence during takeoff. Problems arise near the end of the flight when the plane’s hydraulics give out, causing it to take a steep dive in what is certain to be a horrific crash. Only thanks to some quick thinking from Whip, in which he seems to be acting purely on instinct, does the inevitable plane crash manage to happen with minimal casualties. It’s an astonishing feat, and an impressive scene to boot.

Flight [2012]

Whip should be labeled a hero after this, right? After all, he saved nearly a hundred lives due to his swift actions, and most pilots wouldn’t even fathom trying what he did. If only it were that simple.

As they do for every aviation incident, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) performs an investigation of the crash and quickly finds out that Whitaker was under the influence of alcohol and cocaine while flying the plane. Now, instead of being hailed for his heroic efforts, Whip is looking at the very serious charges of intoxicated manslaughter, as well as a huge legal case. Could Whip have acted the way he did if he hadn’t been high/drunk at the time? Would all of those lives have been saved? Ultimately, it’s a moot point.

Flight [2012]

What’s interesting is that after the crash, Whip has all sorts of people trying to help him out, yet he keeps going back to the bottle. At the hospital while recovering from his injuries, he befriends Nicole (Kelly Reilly), a woman recovering from a drug overdose. She stands as something of the opposite of Whip — someone willing to go to AA meetings and attempt to change her life. The airplane’s pilot union, represented by Charlie Anderson (Bruce Greenwood), delivers him an attorney (Don Cheadle) to help drop the criminal charges, including all traces of the toxicology reports. With all this support, why won’t Whitaker get help?

That’s the power of addiction. Director Robert Zemeckis nails this issue with devastating effectiveness, even if he sometimes goes about it in rather obvious ways. A bit more subtlety would have been welcome, especially during one laughably on-the-nose scene where Kelly enters her apartment to shoot heroin as the Red Hot Chili Peppers song “Under the Bridge” plays. Still, Whip’s descent from hero to rock bottom is masterful, undeniably aided by a stellar performance from Denzel Washington. This is Denzel’s best work in years, and he deserves the accolades he has been receiving. It’s also great to see John Goodman step in and deliver much-needed comic relief in a couple scenes as Whip’s longtime hippie friend/dealer, Harling Mays.

When Flight is brought up in conversation, most will mention Denzel’s excellent work, and perhaps the intensity of the airplane crash, but the bottom line is that this is one of the most compelling looks at addiction in recent years.


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.