28 August 2011

Fright Night (1985)

I just finished watching the original 1985 cult classic that is Fright Night. I can see the appeal of it. It is quite an enjoyable and entertaining film. It was written and directed by Tom Holland, who was making his directorial debut. Looking into his filmography, Holland liked the horror genre. He was responsible for Psycho II, Child’s Play, and two Stephen King adaptations, the Langoliers and Thinner.

The plot is very “boy who cried wolf.” Only this time, Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) cries “vampire” with similar results. Jerry (Chris Sarandon) moves in next door to Charley. Charley quickly deduces that the missing people are meeting their doom in his neighbor’s house. Charley goes to the police, but they do not believe him. His own girlfriend Amy (Amanda Peterson) and his best friend Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) do not believe him.

Left with no choice, Charley goes to late night movie host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) for help in how to slay a vampire. Only Vincent himself does not believe in vampires. When it becomes obvious that Charley is not lying, it is too late for some of the cast. With nothing to lose, Peter and Charley go for it all and try to kill Jerry.

Each of the actors put in a solid performance. William Ragsdale makes for a great scared teenager. It was nice to Roddy McDowall not in an ape costume. Chris Sarandon plays a great charismatic vampire. Chris is also the only one to make a cameo in the remake, and what a hilarious cameo it was. Granted, Roddy McDowall passed away back in 1998, but what was Ragsdale doing?

I had the feeling of being late to the party. Fright Night would have been a great addition to my collection back when I first saw the Evil Dead movies back in high school. Fright Night has all the appeal of a cult classic. I think that after I see it a few more times, I will have that feeling. Ronnies is showing it at midnight one weekend in October. I might have to attend. If they were smart, they would do a double-feature. All the visuals are top-notch for 1985 and very reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead. If you weren’t sure what decade Fright Night was made in, Brad Fiedel’s synthesizer score would be a dead giveaway.

The only problem with the original Fright Night is, I, unfortunately, have already seen the remake. I appreciate the original, but the remake takes a broad stroke approach to the plot and really takes it to the next level. Each part of the plot is taken to the max. The original was limited more by its era than by its ambitions. I truly believe that if Tom Holland was to make Fright Night now, it would be very close to the remake.

Yet, in twenty-five years, the remake could only hope to have the following of the original. Too often, the term cult classic is used too early and lightly. The original is well deserving of this tag, but the remake will most likely be forgotten after its dismal box office performance. Maybe I will see you at the midnight show in October.

26 August 2011

05 August 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Review is up at insidestl.com!

The Change-Up

Have you ever wondered what an R-rated version of Freaky Friday might be like? Me neither. Yet, that didn’t stop Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the writers behind The Hangover, from penning a script or David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) from directing that scenario. Nor did it deter Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman from signing on. The result: the fifth R-rated comedy of the summer, The Change-Up.

Body-switching is not a new concept. The Change-Up is just the first time they have gone “R” with it. The story centers on Dave Lockwood (Bateman), a successful lawyer, a happily married (Leslie Mann) father of three and his slacker, pot smoking, porn star wannabe friend Mitch Planko (Reynolds). Each thinks that the other has the easy life. While taking a drunken urination in a public fountain, they wish they had each other’s lives. So, they awake to see that they do.

Everything from here is by the book formulaic. There is nothing new here. The Change-Up offers nothing new or surprising in the way of plot. Both the leads realize how much they miss their own lives, find out stuff about the real them while “disguised” as the other, and come to their senses. What is offered is crude humor at every turn and gratuitous fake nudity on a large scale along with baby poop, a pregnant lady looking to score, more poop jokes, cheesy crude one-liners, and lots and lots of sexual innuendoes.

The supporting cast consists of Academy Award winner Alan Arkin, who had to be looking for a pay day, Olivia Wilde, who was looking to remind us all how attractive she is not chasing stupid aliens, and Gregory Itzin, who just wants you to remember he was President Logan only a few years ago. Each has their moment. Each helps push the lead actor to where they are going, whether they like it or not. Also, Craig Bierko makes a quick cameo as a “lorno,” a “light porno,” director.

Sadly, I will admit that I laughed. Not as much as the manchild next to me, but I did laugh. Reynolds and Bateman played to their strengths in comedic timing and awkward faces. The balance of story and joke telling was heavily skewed to the joke telling. That is why they chose such an easy story to tell. I did not hate this movie as much as I thought I was going to. It did have a few scenes that really worked. Two are my favorites are involve a dance recital and a tattoo parlor.

If you have to see this movie, then go. If you think you want to see this potty-mouthed version of a Disney movie, rent it. If you would rather watch Vice Versa, I don’t blame you. What is Judge Reinhold up these days? Waiting on Beverly Hills Cop IV? The Change-Up is the fifth R-rated comedy to come out this summer, and I think that its box office numbers will reflect the market overload.

Rating: 4/10