The Golden Child (1986)

Chandler Jarrell portrayed by Golden Globe winner Eddie Murphy (Beverly Hills Cop) is a private investigator. His specialty is finding lost children. At the start of the film, something transpires, which will require Jarrell’s services.

In a temple located in Tibet, a group of Buddhist mystics are observing the supernatural abilities of a small boy known as The Golden Child (J.L. Reate). After he mesmerizes those gathered, by bringing a dead bird back to life, the temple is attacked. Sardo Numspa, played by three time Emmy nominee Charles Dance (Game of Thrones), has the boy kidnapped. He warns his men, as they are transporting him, not to let the Golden Child touch them, because a touch from the boy makes bad men do good things. Numspa’s ultimate goal is to use the child’s power to serve extreme evil.

While watching a local Los Angeles television show, Jarrell’s services are brought to the attention of Kee Nang (Charlotte Lewis). She has been sent in pursuit of the men who took the Golden Child. When Nang approaches Jarrell, she holds nothing back. She is insistent that Jarrell is the chosen one who needs to retrieve the Golden Child from the forces of darkness, in order to save mankind. Murphy’s character, is naturally dismissive upon first hearing such a fantastical story. He feels Nang’s story is full of fabrications and he dismisses it as such, but for reasons I won’t list, in consideration of those of you who might want to see the film, he will soon change his mind.

The movie from that moment forward shifts back and forth between Tibet and Los Angeles. Jarrell is faced with numerous obstacles on the way to attempting to get the boy back for his people. There are plenty of bad guys for him to do battle with. He is also tasked with finding a magic dagger, the importance of which is vital if he wants to thwart those trying to exploit the child. Can Jarrell retrieve the dagger, and rescue the boy from his captivity, therefore making sure good will triumph?

Trivia buffs take note: The film was originally intended to be an adventure film. When Eddie Murphy signed on to star in the movie, parts of the script were rewritten to include a number of comedic moments. Murphy wanted Oscar and BAFTA winner George Miller (Happy Feet) to direct, but the director turned the film down after Murphy kept him waiting at an initial meeting for approximately four hours. Eddie Murphy is a big Star Trek fan, and although, it hurt him to do so, he turned down a part in “Star Trek VI: The Voyage Home” in order to star in “The Golden Child.” Director John Carpenter (Halloween) turned down an opportunity to direct the film. Wrestling fans might recognize Tiger Chung Lee, who had a minor role in the movie. 

“The Golden Child” was directed by Emmy nominee Michael Ritchie (Fletch). The screenplay was written by Dennis Feldman (Species). The film was released on December 12, 1986. Parts action, adventure, comedy, fantasy and mystery, the movie has a runtime of 94 minutes.

“The Golden Child” was the only Eddie Murphy film from back when he was considered to be in his prime, that I hadn’t yet seen. I have heard both good and bad things about the movie; some people really liked it, while others loathed it. For my own take, I felt the special effects look too dated and in certain scenes they did more to detract from what was overall a good story. The other problem I had with the film was that it tried to inject too many genres into it. I think had the movie been kept as an adventure film, with Eddie Murphy playing against type at the time, the film would have performed just as well or better at the box office. The filmmakers and the producers took the safe route with the money invested in the film, and that is certainly understandable, but it would’ve been interesting to see what the film could have been had a creative chance been taken. Murphy is a good actor and very talented in general. I am sure he could have pulled it off playing against type.

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“Wonder Woman 1984”

The film opens on the island of Themyscira, the secret home of the Amazon warriors. Young Diana (Lilly Aspell) is competing in a series of athletic competitions. Given her age and inexperience, she is doing surprisingly well against her older and more skilled competition, at least at the start. Approximately half way through the competition, Diana loses her horse, and to compensate for the loss, she uses a shortcut, to beat her fellow competitors. Dianna is on the cusp of winning, before her Aunt Antiope played by Golden Globe winner Robin Wright (House of Cards), stops her, much to the dismay of a disconcerted Dianna. Antiope, and Diana’s mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), tell her that if she won by cheating she would have achieved nothing. They both let Diana know that her time will come in the future. (As an aside: Actress Lilly Aspell, who plays young Diana, performed all of her own stunts).

Many years into the future, Diana Prince, portrayed by Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), works as an anthropologist for the Smithsonian Institute. No one who works there, or with her, knows that she is also secretly Wonder Woman. One day, Diana, while performing an act of kindness, meets Barbara Minerva. The part of Barbara is played by Oscar nominee Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids). The two become friends, and are brought even close together when Barbara is assigned to work on antiques that were stolen, and that the FBI would like more information on. (As an aside: Gal Godot won the Saturn Award for Best Actress from the Academy of Science Fiction Fantasy and Horror Films, USA, for her role in “Wonder Woman” (2017). The Saturn Awards have been given since 1973.)

Entering the picture is the seemingly successful Maxwell Lord portrayed by Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian). Everything about him is a front or is fake with the exception of the love he has for his son Alistair (Lucian Perez). Lord, at the beginning, is not a bad man. He is someone who has simply run out of time with his investors who want to see his oil rigs begin to make a profit. Despite the upfront flash, Lord is broke and there is only one thing that might save him.

Among the antiques that Barbara is studying is a stone known as the ‘Dreamstone.’ According to legend, whoever possesses the Stone can look deep into its jewels and have their greatest wish come true. Diana and Barbara both wish for things: Diana for her long lost love Steve Trevor, played by Emmy nominee Chris Pine (Star Trek), to come back to her form the great beyond. Barbara, meanwhile, wishes to be exactly like Diana, not even knowing that she is secretly Wonder Woman. Barbara gets more than she bargains for. Oh, she gets Wonder Woman’s strength, speed, and fighting skills, but the problem is, that over time, she begins to turn into a human Cheetah.

As it turns out, Maxwell Lord has made a sizable donation to the Smithsonian and has personally asked for Barbara to show him around. He knows that she is the one working on the ‘Dreamstone.’ While she is otherwise engaged, he takes the Stone from her office and makes his ultimate wish, to actually become the Dreamstone. The power he now has coursing through his body comes with a steep price. Can his wish granting, which in part escalates the nuclear weapons tensions between Russia and the Untied States be stopped? And if Lord can be stopped, what price did the world have to pay prior to it happening?

“Wonder Woman 1984” was directed by Emmy nominee Patty Jenkins (The Killing). In addition to directing, Jenkins co-wrote the screenplay for the film with Emmy nominee Geoff Johns (Stargirl); and Dave Callaham (Zombieland: Double Tap). The screenplay was based off of a story co-written by Jenkins and Johns, which was further based off of characters originally created by William Moulton Marston. The film was released to theaters and for streaming on HBO Max on December 25, 2020. Parts action, adventure and fantasy, the movie has a runtime of 151 minutes.

Trivia buffs take note: The first appearance of Wonder Woman was in the December 1941 issue of All Star Comics # 8. The role of Cheetah was first offered to Oscar winner Emma Stone (La La Land), but she passed on the role. After Stone declined to take the part, Jenkins offered the role to Wiig, who had always been her first choice to play the part. Furthermore, this is the first live action appearance of Cheetah. Prior to that, she had only appeared in animated television shows and films. Jenkins and Johns wrote the character of Max Lord with two fictional characters in mind: Gordon Gekko, who was portrayed by two time Oscar winner Michael Douglas in the 1987 film “Wall Street” was one of the two; the second one that inspired the Max Lord character was the villain, Lex Luthor, played by two time Oscar winner Gene Hackman in the 1978 film “Superman.” This is the second time that Pedro Pascal has been involved in a Wonder Woman project. The first time, however, unlike the current film, it wasn’t a success. In 2011, a pilot episode was produced for NBC television, in the hopes of starting a new Wonder Woman television series. The show, if it had come to fruition, would have starred Adrianne Palicki (The Orville) as Wonder Woman / Diana Prince. Pascal would’ve played the part of a main character named Ed Indelicato. The show was never broadcast. 

This was a fun, popcorn film. I was glad, thanks to HBO Max, that I was able to enjoy it at home. In another few months, if the vaccines are making a dent in the reported cases and life begins to get back to normal, I would love to go see a movie in the theater again. Leaving aside Gadot, who I knew was coming back. I thought Wiig and Pascal did excellent work with their respective roles. The film, given its length was well paced. Furthermore, the film’s music, both that which was composed and the songs from the soundtrack, was spot on when it came to helping to move the film forward. The film was slated to be a summer blockbuster, but, due to Covid, was released on Christmas Day. Given the kind of year 2020 was, I would’ve welcomed it not matter when it was released.

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“Oscar winners Caine and Kingsley shine as Holmes & Watson in Without a Clue.” (1988)

Sherlock Holmes, portrayed by two time Oscar and BAFTA winner Michael Caine (Educating Rita), has just closed another case. He, along with help from his esteemed colleague Dr. Watson, played by Oscar winner Ben Kingsley (Gandhi), have just stopped two thieves from stealing a valuable museum artifact. The duo of Holmes and Watson doesn’t sit well with Inspector Lestrade, a role acted by Grammy winner Jeffrey Jones (Amadeus), who believes police work should be handled by the experts. The real reason he doesn’t want Holmes and Watson involved is because he’s jealous; they solve cases that Lestrade and his men can’t. (As an aside: Golden Globe and Emmy winner Danny DeVito (Taxi), and Oscar winner Sean Connery (The Untouchables) were in contention to play the role of Dr. Watson, before Ben Kingsley was cast).

Early on in the film, it is revealed that Holmes doesn’t solve any of the cases, but rather he relays on Dr. Watson’s intellect. Holmes, as it turns out, was a former actor named Reginald Kincaid whose career was floundering. Watson took him in, trained him, and allowed Kincaid to be the physical embodiment of Sherlock Holmes. He needed someone the public could see and interact with, not just the character of a detective he wrote about in The Strand Magazine, in which Watson’s stories about Holmes are published.

After one too many arguments, however, Watson kicks Holmes out of their shared residence. This pleases Mrs. Hudson (Pat Keen), the landlady, who has a dislike for Holmes. When Greenhough (Peter Cook), Watson’s publisher at The Strand finds out what happened, he insists that Watson get Holmes back. Even though Watson is hesitant to do so, complicating matters is that the British government, represented by Lord Smithwick (Nigel Davenport), has an urgent mission for Holmes. If Holmes doesn’t accept and solve the case quickly, the whole of England’s economy could be ruined. (As an aside: Actress Pat Keen, in addition to this film, appeared in the role of Mrs. Hudson in four episodes of the television series “Baker Street Boys”).

While Watson and Holmes reconcile for the case, they are faced with a deadly enemy from their past, Professor James Moriarty. The role of Moriarty is played by Paul Freeman, who is known the world over for having portrayed the character of Belloq in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The Key to stopping Moriarty and saving the economy is finding kidnapped banker Peter Giles (John Werner). While Holmes and Watson are protecting Gile’s daughter Leslie (Lysette Anthony), time is running out to save her father. Once Moriarty had achieved his end, he would most likely kill Giles. Can Holmes and Watson formulate a plan in time to save Leslie’s father, as well as the whole of England’s financial welfare?

“Without a Clue” was directed by Emmy winner Thom Eberhardt (Ratz). The screenplay was written by three time Emmy nominee Gary Murphy (Malcolm in the Middle) and Larry Strawther (Night Court). The film, which is parts comedy, crime, and mystery, has a runtime of 107 minutes. The music for the movie was composed by four time Oscar winner Henry Mancini (Victor Victoria). The film premiered on October 20, 1988 in Hollywood, California. The proceeds from the premier event went to the Kira Foundation, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and money to find a cure for pediatric brain tumors. Furthermore, the foundation’s other goal is to bring some happiness into the lives of children who are fighting cancer.

I had never seen this film before. For that matter, until I read someone’s post, in which they were writing about their favorite Sherlock Holmes films, to my recollection, I had never even heard about the movie. I enjoyed watching it from start to finish. The comedy was well timed. The pacing didn’t allow for anything to drag. On the whole, the cast was uniformly excellent in their roles. Caine and Kingsley had great on screen chemistry. My only disappointment was that the two lead actors didn’t make a few sequels portraying the Holmes and Watson characters. If you’re are a fan of the lead actors, or the characters of Holmes and Watson, and don’t mind seeing those characters in a comedic setting, this is a film you will most likely enjoy.

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“Saturday the 14th” (1981)

John Hyatt, portrayed by Golden Globe winner Richard Benjamin (The Sunshine Boys), has just inherited a house from his late uncle’s estate. The reading of the will by John’s uncle’s attorney (Stacey Keach Sr) doesn’t sit well with those assembled. Aunt Lucille, played by Emmy nominee Rosemary DeCamp (The Bob Cummings Show), is especially taken aback by the house not having been left to her. Perhaps she shouldn’t be upset, because as the attorney reads further into the will, he states that there is a curse on the house, and immediately drops dead.

Forgoing any belief in curses, John moves his family into their new house. The other members of the Hyatt family consist of: Mary, his wife, a role acted by Emmy nominee Paula Prentiss (He & She); the Hyatt’s teenage daughter, Debbie played by Kari Michaelsen (Gimmie a Break); and their young son Billy (Kevin Brando). After moving into the house, odd things begin to occur, especially when Billy, being inquisitive, opens a book called “The Book of Evil.” With each page of the book that Billy turns, he releases a monster from its confinement. The book serves as a prison for the monsters. (As an aside: In addition to playing a married couple in the film, Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss have been married in real life since October 26, 1961). 

The book, is being sought after by other interested parties. Waldemar, portrayed by Golden Globe and two time Emmy winner Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent), is a vampire who is several hundred years old. He and his wife Yolanda (Nancy Lee Andrews), also a vampire, are desperate to get their hands on the book. Attempting to thwart the vampires, in his own desire to retrieve the book first, is the vampire’s greatest rival Van Helsing (Severn Darden). The vampires and Van Helsing are both insistent that the fate of the world rests in the hands of whoever controls the book. The delineation between the good guys and the bad, might not be as cut and dry as a viewer thinks.

“Saturday the 14th” was directed by Howard R. Cohen (Time Trackers). Additionally, Cohen wrote the screenplay based off of a story written by Jeff Begun (The Double). The film was released in the United States on October 30, 1981. While comedy is the dominant genre the filmmakers utilized throughout the 75 minute movie, it is also officially considered parts fantasy, horror, and Sci-Fi. The film was followed by an utterly abysmal sequel “Saturday the 14th Strikes Back,” which was released on August 5, 1988. (As an aside: “Saturday the 14th” was hurriedly produced because around the same time United Artists were about to release a film called “Thursday the 12th,” which was also a horror comedy; it’s name was later changed to Pandemonium (1982).

“Saturday the 14th” is not meant to be taken seriously in any way. The humor and sight gags are silly, but fit with the overall tone of the film. The acting really can’t be judged because the plot is preposterous. There is no explanation as to how the world’s greatest assemblage of monsters got contained inside of a book that holds them prisoner; quite frankly it doesn’t need to be explained, to do so, would change the type of film that it is. For those of you who like horror film parody, vintage camp, or are fans of actor Jeffrey Tambor, and who’d like to see him in one of his earliest film roles, then this is a movie that you should enjoy. For the rest of you that might want to give this film a shot, it is currently available to be streamed on Amazon Prime.

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“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”

The Griswold family consists of: the father, Clark, portrayed by two time Emmy winner Chevy Chase (Spies Like Us); the mother, Ellen, played by Golden Globe nominee Beverly D’ Angelo (Coal Miner’s Daughter); the daughter, Audrey, a role acted by Oscar nominee Juliette Lewis (Cape Fear); and the son, Rusty, who is played by Golden Globe nominee Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory). At the start of the film the Griswolds are driving to pick up a Christmas tree. They are not headed to a lot to purchase the tree. Clark Griswold is the type of man, who believes in tradition. He’s taking his family into the woods, where they will find a tree to chop down. The only problem they encounter, after walking though the snow in freezing cold weather, is that Clark forgot to bring an axe. This is only the start of the problems the hapless, albeit well meaning, Clark encounters throughout the film.

The Griswolds arrive back home and set up the tree, just in time for the first of their guests to arrive. The Griswold’s house is going to be a crowded one: Clark’s parents, Clark, Sr. (John Randolph), and his mother Nora played by BAFTA and Golden Globe winner Diane Ladd (Alice Doesn’t Love Here Anymore) are staying for the holidays. Furthermore, Ellen’s parents, her father, Art, portrayed by two time Emmy winner E.G. Marshall (The Defenders), and mother, Francis, a role acted by five time Emmy winner Doris Roberts (Everybody Loves Raymond) are also visiting. If that were not enough, Cousin Eddie, played by Golden Globe winner Randy Quaid (LBJ: The Early Years), his wife Catherine (Miriam Flynn), and their two children Rocky (Cody Burger) and Ruby Sue (Ellen Latzen), show up uninvited. In the spirit of the holiday season they are not turned away.

Clark, for the most part, is happy to have the family with him. Even though his mind is on other things, he’s still attempting to play a gracious host, who attempts to give everyone a nice Christmas. The thing Clark’s mind is on, is the Christmas bonus check he is waiting to receive from his boss, Mr. Shirley, portrayed by three time Emmy nominee, prolific character actor, Brian Doyle-Murray. Clark has, unbeknownst to his family, put a down payment on a new swimming pool. Getting the money, will be easier said than done, and in typical Clark Griswold fashion, there are a lot of zany moments that take place before the film reaches its conclusion.

Trivia buffs take note: The film marked the final appearance of Mae Questel, who played the role of Bethany in the film. Questel’s career began in 1930, when she voiced the character of Betty Boop. During the film Clark and Eddie drink from Wally World mugs, a clear reference to the first film in the franchise. This is the only one of the ‘Vacation’ movies not to feature the song “Holiday Road” by Lindsey Buckingham, who is best known as one of the vocalists and lead guitarist for the Grammy award winning band “Fleetwood Mac.” In addition to Chevy Chase, three other “Saturday Night Live” alumni have roles in the film: Golden Globe winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld); Randy Quaid; and Brian Doyle-Murray. BAFTA winner Chris Columbus (The Help) was originally going to direct the film, but he and Chevy Chase didn’t get along, so he dropped out before filming began.

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” was directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik (Benny & Joon). The screenplay was written by John Hughes (Planes, Trains & Automobiles). The screenplay was based on a short story Hughes wrote called “Christmas 59” which was published in the December 1980 issue of National Lampoon magazine. The film premiered in Australia on November 30, 1989. The comedy has a runtime of 97 minutes. The third in the series, “Christmas Vacation” was preceded by “Vacation” in 1983 and “European Vacation” in 1985, and was then followed by “Vegas Vacation” in 1997.

I hadn’t seen “Christmas Vacation” in a number of years. I decided to rewatch it, because I was looking for something that was both funny and Christmas themed. If you’ve seen one of or all of the various iterations of  the Grinch, and have had your fill of the romantic themed comedies that take place during Christmas, this should make for a fun rewatch or first time viewing.

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“Maid to Order” (1987)

Jessie Montgomery, portrayed by Ally Sheedy (St. Elmo’s Fire), is a wealthy, young adult, whose only goal in life, seemingly,  is to spend her father’s money while partying. Charles, played by Emmy winner Tom Skerritt (Picket Fences), is distraught with Jessie’s lack of direction and her self-entitled attitude. After spending an enormous amount of money at a nightclub, the previous evening, the next night, when Jessie asks Charles for money, he refuses. Jessie, never one to miss the chance to go out, asks to borrow $50 from Mr. Montgomery’s driver, Woodrow (Teddy Wilson), knowing full well, that once her father finds out, he will pay Woodrow back.

Disgusted by her behavior, Charles looks up at the stars and says aloud that he wished he never had a daughter, which is the catalyst for the remainder of the film. The next day, neither her father, nor the members of the household staff remember her. After security is called, she reluctantly leaves. No matter where Jessie goes, no one, who she knew prior to her father making his wish, remembers her.

Wandering the streets, hungry and without money, she has no clue as to how to even attempt to get herself back on her feet. Stella Winston, a role acted by Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Beverly D’Angelo (Coal Miner’s Daughter), appears to her. As it turns out, Stella is Jessie’s fairy god mother. Stella lets Jessie know, that if she ever wants things to go back to the way they were, she has to prove herself. The first step, is for Jessie to get a job.

Jessie gets a job from an employment agency as a maid. She is assigned to work for rock ‘n’ roll promoter Stan Starkey (Dick Shawn) and his wife Georgette. The role of Mrs. Starkey is played by BAFTA winner Valerie Perrine (Lenny). As Jessie begins to work, she realizes that money is not merely given to someone, but earned. Along the way she makes friends with other members of the staff, whose problems don’t revolve around what party or latest hot spot they’re going to go to for the evening. One of the staff members who befriends Jessie is Audrey. The character is played by gospel singer and Grammy winner Merry Clayton (Twenty Feet from Stardom). (As an aside: Clayton, who sings a song during the film, did back-up vocals for a number of famous artists during the 1960s and 1970s. Clayton is perhaps most famous for singing a duet with Mick Jagger on The Rolling Stones song Gimme Shelter).

“Maid to Order” was directed by Amy Holden James (The Resident). James co-wrote the screenplay with Perry and Randy Howze (Chances Are). The film premiered in Beverly Hills on July 17, 1987. Parts comedy and fantasy, the movie has a runtime of 93 minutes.

The film was good, but, in my opinion, not as good as it could’ve been. I’ve always liked Ally Sheedy as an actress, and she did her best with what she was given to work with. The script, however, was a bit bland in parts and that brought down the overall film. I still enjoyed it, and if you like stories that play up the Cinderella theme, albeit this time instead of going from rags to riches, going from riches to rags and perhaps back again, you might enjoy this, at least for one time viewing.

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“Beverly Hills Cop”

After a wild opening scene featuring a truck full of stolen cigarettes being pursued through the streets of Detroit by a dozen police vehicles, the film settles down into its main plot. Detective Axel Foley, portrayed by Emmy and Golden Globe winner Eddie Murphy (Dreamgirls), comes back to his apartment thinking someone has broken into his place. As it turns out, the person inside is no intruder, but is one of his oldest friends, Mikey Tandino (James Russo). Even though Axel is a cop, Mikey is attempting to illicit his help, in order to sell stolen German bearer bonds. After spending time catching up, playing pool, and drinking beers, the two return to Axel’s apartment. Axel is attacked and Mikey is killed by Zack played by six time Emmy nominee Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul). After Axel regains consciousness, he asks his boss, Inspector Todd (Gilbert R. Hill), to allow him to use vacation time. Axel has a lead on who might have wanted to have Mikey killed and he is headed to California to investigate the crime. 

Axel winds up in Beverly Hills, seeking out Mikey’s former employer, Victor Maitland played by Steven Berkoff (Octopussy). Axel, to say the least, is not warmly received. After confronting Maitland, he is arrested. The two men assigned to his case are Detective Billy Rosewood, a role acted by Emmy nominee Judge Reinhold (Seinfeld), and Sergeant Taggart (John Ashton). Lieutenant Bogomil, played by prolific character actor Ronny Cox, has Foley released and warns him to stay out of police business in Beverly Hills. This will not be Axel’s first run in with those particular members of law enforcement. 

Not everyone is unfriendly to Axel, Jenny (Lisa Eilbacher), is a friend of his from high school. Axel goes to see her at her job at an upscale art gallery. Jenny was also friends with Mikey and is the person who got him his job working for Maitland, who owns the art gallery. Jenny winds up being an ally to Axel as he investigates who killed Mikey and the reasons why. What Axel will discover, as his investigation unfolds, will go beyond just his friend’s death.

Trivia buffs take note: The movie was originally written for three time Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner Sylvester Stallone (Creed). Stallone ultimately passed on the film. He later used some of what was written for him in the original screenplay for the the movie “Cobra,” (1986). “Beverly Hills Cop” was the first film to ever be released to over 2,000 theaters in the United States. The film marked the debut of four time Emmy nominee Damon Wayans (In Living Color). The American Film Institute recognized the movie as one of the 100 funniest American films of all time. The film was the first of seven Eddie Murphy movies in a row to open at number 1 at the box office: 1. Beverly Hills Cop (1984). 2. The Golden Child (1986). 3. Beverly Hills Cop II (1987). 4. Coming to America (1988). 5. Harlem Nights (1989). 6. Another 48 Hrs (1990). 7. Boomerang (1992). Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Paul Reiser (Mad About You), in his second film role, has a small part at the beginning of the movie as a police detective. 

“Beverly Hills Cop” was directed by Oscar nominee Martin Brest (Scent of a Woman). The screenplay was written by Daniel Petrie Jr. based on a story he co-wrote with Danilo Bach (April Fool’s Day). Petrie Jr. and Bach received Oscar nominations for their work on the film. Parts action, comedy, and drama, the movie has a runtime of 105 minutes. The film premiered on December 1, 1984 in Los Angeles. The budget was an estimated $14,000,000. The movie was so successful that it surpassed the budget during its opening weekend. The approximate gross of the movie is a bit over $316,000,000. The film was followed by two sequels “Beverly Hills Cop II” (1987) and “Beverly Hills Cop III” (1994). As of the writing of this post, “Beverly Hills Cop IV” is in production and will star Eddie Murphy. The film, according to Murphy, will be the last in the franchise, but not much else is known about it at this time. 

From start to finish, I thoroughly enjoyed rewatching this film. I have seen it a number of times, but it had been a few years since I last watched it. Eddie Murphy has perfect comedic timing and can easily transition between the comedy and when a scene contains action. The rest of the actors were well cast in their respective roles. If you’ve never seen this 1980s gem, or haven’t seen it in a long time and are looking for a temporary respite from 2020, now is the perfect time to watch. 

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“The Goonies”

In the film “The Goonies” a group of young friends residing in Astoria, Oregon are spending their last weekend together. Come Monday morning all of the property in the area in which they live, known as the ‘goon docks,’ will be foreclosed on by Mr. Perkins (Curtis Hanson). The friends are: the ever optimistic Mikey Walsh portrayed by Oscar nominee Sean Astin (Stranger Things); Chunk (Jeff Cohen), who is prone to wild exaggeration; the constantly talking Mouth played by Corey Feldman (The Lost Boys) and Data (Ke Huy Quan), who creates gadgets that never work exactly as they’re supposed to. 

A short while into the film Mrs. Walsh (Mary Ellen Trainor) has arrived home with Rosalita, a woman who is going to help her pack up the house for the move. The two ladies go out to run some errands and Mrs. Walsh leaves Mikey’s older brother Brand in charge. The role of Brand is acted by Oscar nominee Josh Brolin (Milk). Mr. Walsh (Keith Walker) is the curator of the town’s museum, and he has items in the attic that are not currently on display. The friends decide to go into the attic, and, while up there, they come across a map that supposedly leads to a considerable pirate’s treasure. Mikey relates the story to his friends that his father told him about the treasure. Before Brand knows what’s happening, the friends have tied him up and go off in search of the legend of the Pirate’s gold. (As an aside: The part of Rosalita, albeit a small one, was played by Emmy nominee Lupe Ontiveros (As Good As It Gets). 

Unbeknownst to the friends, a criminal family, the Fratellis, are on the loose. Francis portrayed by Emmy winner Joe Pantoliano (The Sopranos), and Mama played by Oscar nominee Anne Ramsey (Throw Momma from the Train), have just helped break Jake (Robert Davi) out of jail. There is a fourth member of the family, Sloth, whose face is severely deformed. He has incredible strength and the family keeps him chained up, more for their own protection than anything else. The character is played by the late professional football player, John Matuszak, who won two Super Bowl championships while playing for The Raiders. 

In addition to Brand, while the friends are in pursuit of the treasure, two of Brand’s friends from high school get roped into the adventure: Andy (Kerri Green), who he has a crush on, and her friend Stef played by Emmy winner Martha Plimpton (The Good Wife). The problem for the friends, is the starting off point to go in search of the treasure, is directly underneath the place where the Fratellis are hiding out. Can the friends find the treasure, thwart the Fratellis, and save their houses from being foreclosed on? 

Trivia buffs take note: Sean Astin kept the map the Kids used to search for the treasure. His mother, Oscar winner Patty Duke (The Miracle Worker), thinking it was garbage threw it away. John Matusak’s makeup for the Sloth character, took five hours a day to apply. The film marked Josh Brolin’s screen debut. Emmy and two time Grammy winner Cyndi Lauper (Mad About You), co-wrote the film’s theme song “Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough.” In the two part music video for the song, which is twelve minutes in length, Steven Spielberg has a cameo appearance. Furthermore in the music video: Lauper plays a new “Goonies” recruit; the pop group ‘The Bangles’ play pirates; and professional wrestlers Rowdy Roddy Piper, The Iron Shiek and Nikolai Volkoff appear as villains. Andre the Giant is also in the video and he takes on the role of the hero. The film was added to the National Film Registry in 2017. 

“The Goonies” was directed by Emmy nominee Richard Donner (Superman II). The screenplay was written by BAFTA winner Chris Columbus (The Help), based off of a story by three time Oscar winner Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan). The film was released simultaneously in America and Canada on June 7, 1985. Parts adventure, comedy, and family, the film has a runtime of 114 minutes. 

“The Goonies” is once more a film, like many that I’ve rewatched recently, that I hadn’t seen in a long time.  Even though I remembered the movie in its entirety, I still thoroughly enjoyed watching it again. I have a feeling it’s a film,  like “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “ET,”  “Back to the Future,”The Godfather,” and the original “Star Wars Trilogy,” as well as numerous other films, that I’ll never get tired of rewatching. If you’re looking for some escapist entertainment to pass a few hours, the film will more than likely appeal to you. 

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“Mannequin”

Jonathan Switcher portrayed by Andrew McCarthy (Weekend at Bernie’s) can’t seem to get a break. He has tried his best, but every job he gets, as shown to the viewer in a montage, he winds up being fired from in a relatively short amount of time. His love life is also not going well. After one too many firings and the fact that he drives a motorcycle instead of a car, his girlfriend Roxie (Carole Davis) leaves him. Despite the professional and personal setbacks, Jonathan keeps moving forward. He gets hired by the department store Prince & Company, it is there, where his luck will begin to change.

Prince & Company is owned by Claire Timkin, who is played by Emmy and Golden Globe winner Estelle Getty (The Golden Girls). She has recently taken over running the store from her deceased father. Prince & Company is losing a great deal of business to their department store competition, Illustra. The rival store is run by B.J. Wert (Steve Vinovich). He is a man who doesn’t like to lose. In fact, unbeknownst to Mrs. Timkin, he has placed Prince & Company’s store manager Mr. Richards on his payroll. The role of Richards is acted by three time Emmy winner James Spader (The Blacklist). Wert wants him to sabotage the store from the inside, so when Prince & Company is in financial peril, he can buy them out for a low price.

Richards and Wert are going to have to put their plans on hold, thanks to the most unlikely of sources. Emmy portrayed, by Golden Globe winner Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City), is no ordinary person. In fact, she’s not a person at all, she’s an immortal. One night, while working with his friend and co-worker Hollywood, played by Emmy nominee Meshach Taylor (Designing Women), Emmy reveals herself to Jonathan. When anyone else looks at her, they only see a mannequin. Once she starts to help Jonathan design window displays for Prince & Company, business for the store begins to boom. The store’s new found success doesn’t sit well with Wert and Richards, who will do whatever they can to make sure both Jonathan and Prince & Company fail. Can Jonathan and Emmy save the store? (As an aside: G.W. Bailey (Police Academy) plays the role of Felix in the film. He is a security guard who does whatever Richards tells him to do). 

“Mannequin” was directed by Michael Gottlieb (A Kid in King Arthur’s Court). He also co-wrote the screenplay with Edward Rugoff (Double Take). Additional uncredited written work was done by David Issacs and Ken Levine, both of whom won Emmys for their writing work on “Cheers.” The film premiered on February 13, 1987. Parts comedy, fantasy, and romance, it has a runtime of 90 minutes. Albert Hammond and Diane Warren received Oscar nominations for Best Music, Original Song for writing the featured song for the film “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” performed by Jefferson Starship. “Mannequin” was followed by a sequel “Mannequin: On the Move,” which premiered in South Korea on April 27, 1991. The film starred Kristy Swanson (The Program) and William Ragsdale (Herman’s Head).

Trivia buffs take note: The role of Jonathan was originally envisioned as an older man, and was written for BAFTA and two time Golden Globe winner Dudley Moore (Micki + Maude). Before filming began, Kim Cattrall spent six weeks posing for a sculptor, who captured her likeness and created six different mannequins, each of whom had a different expression. Several years before filming “Mannequin,” Estelle Getty and Meshach Taylor worked together on the pilot episode of “The Golden Girls,” the episode’s title was “The Engagement.” Furthermore, Taylor had a cameo appearance as the character Hollywood in the music video for “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.”

“Mannequin” was something I had seen a number of times when I was a pre-teen. I can’t even remember the last time I had seen it, prior to watching it recently. When I came across the DVD in my friend’s collection, I asked if I could borrow it. I am glad I did. If you’re looking for something that will give you a break from the problems of the world at the moment, at least for a few hours, this film hopefully will work for you.

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“Miracle” (2004)

Herb Brooks portrayed by Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Kurt Russell (Elvis) is driven to succeed. At the start of the film, it is imparted to the viewer that he has won three NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) men’s hockey championships in 1974, 1976 and 1979. He has accomplished the feat as the head coach of his alma mater, the Minnesota Golden Gophers. What haunts Brooks, is the championship he didn’t win; not because he was out-coached, but because he never had the opportunity to even play. He was the last person cut before the roster was finalized for the 1960 U.S. Olympic Ice Hockey Team. The team went on to win the gold medal at the games, but all Brooks could do was wonder what might have been. The film opens with Brooks getting a potential second chance to re-write his own history, in a matter of speaking.

Walter Bush (Sean McCann) has been given the seemingly thankless job of finding a head coach for the 1980 U.S. Olympic Ice Hockey Team. Why is the job thankless? The reason is the Russian federation team has been so dominant in men’s hockey, that they are considered invincible. As one part of the film highlights, the Russian team is so well trained and coached, and has players of such world class talent, that even the NHL (National Hockey League) All- Stars can’t compete with them. A news broadcast briefly discusses the game the NHL All-Stars lost at Madison Square Garden on February 11, 1979 by a score of 6-0. If the best the NHL has to offer can’t compete with the Russian team, how can a bunch of recent college grads, stand a chance?

While hosting a costume party with his wife, Patti, who is played in the film by Golden Globe winner Patricia Clarkson (Sharp Objects), Brooks gets the call. He has been hired to coach the team. He knows, however, that the people who hired him don’t expect him to win, at least certainly not a gold medal. The governing Olympic hockey commission wants Brooks to coach the team to a point where they’re not embarrassed, that, however, is not good enough for Brooks.

Brooks wastes little time in assembling his staff. For the purposes of the film, his staff consists of his assistant coach Craig Patrick, a role acted by Noah Emmerich (The Americans). In addition, there is the team doctor, portrayed by Emmy nominee Kenneth Walsh (Edison: The Wizard of Light). Furthermore, what is supposed to be a try out lasting several days, is over within the course of several hours. Brooks knows who he wants to look at, for the twenty spots that are open on the team. Three of the twenty players, that are shown throughout the film, among others, are Jim Craig (Eddie Cahill); Mike Eruzione (Patrick O’Brien Dempsey); and Jack O’Callahan (Michael Mantenuto).

The remainder of the film, showcases the grueling workouts Brooks puts the team through, his interesting way of motivating his players, as well as some practice games. The highlight of the movie is the recreation of the game that team USA played against the then, Soviet Union, on February 22, 1980 in Lake Placid, New York at the Lake Placid Olympic Center. (As an aside: The arena was renamed the Herb Brooks Arena).

Trivia buffs take note: “Miracle” is considered one of the most accurate portrayals of true events ever filmed, including the use of the dialogue. The 20 actors who portrayed the U.S. Olympic Ice Hockey Team, were chosen from over 4,000 actors who auditioned to be in the film. The 20 actors, who were eventually chosen, were taken by the film makers more for their hockey skills than their acting talent. Olympic gold medalist, Buzz Schneider is played in the film by his son Billy Schneider. The film marked the first time Kurt Russell has worked for Disney, since he starred in the 1975 film “The World’s Strongest Man.”

Miracle was directed by Gavin O’Connor (The Way Back) and written for the screen by Eric Guggenheim (Magnum P.I.). The film was released in the theaters on February 6, 2004. The movie encompasses the genres of biography, drama, history and sport.

Miracle is a feel good movie. I have seen it before, but it has been a number of years, so I was glad I rewatched it recently, since the world is going through some dark times. The film won’t and didn’t fix any of those problems, but it did what is was meant to do, take my mind off of them for a few hours. Perhaps it can do the same for you. As of the writing of this post “Miracle” is streaming on Netflix.

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