That Thing You Do! (1996)

Director: Tom Hanks

Writer: Tom Hanks (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tom Everett Scott, Liv Tyler, Steve Zahn, Johnathon Schaech, Ethan Embry, Charlize Theron

 

Plot: A local Pennsylvania band scores a one hit wonder in 1964 and rides the star-making machinery as long as they can, with lots of help from its manager.


Tagline – In every life there comes a time when that dream you dream becomes that thing you do.

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict:

 

Story: That Thing You Do! Starts in a small town in Pennsylvania in 1964, where four young men Jimmy (Schaech), Guy (Scott), Lenny (Zahn) and the Bass Player (Embry) are trying to make a nae for themselves and when they win a talent contest, the band known as ‘The One-Ders’ grab the attention of the state.

When Mr White (Hanks) discovers the band, he rebrands them ‘The Wonders’ and soon their hit ‘That Thing You Do!’ rises up the charts becoming an overnight sensation.

 

Thoughts on That Thing You Do!

 

Characters – Mr White is the music manager who takes over control of ‘The Wonders’ he knows how to make them bigger than they are and shows them how to go from small crowds to the main attraction to national success, however he makes sure he keeps them doing the song that made them popular over trying to make them do anything new. Jimmy is the lead singer of the band and along with his girlfriend has always tried to make the band their own style, always trying to find a clever snappy name for them. Guy is bought in last minute to become the drummer and soon becomes the man of mystery in the band, the one that pushes them to up the tempo of the band sound. Faye is Jimmy’s girlfriend that has supported the band from day one, she will follow them on tour.

PerformancesTom Hanks is a busy man on this film taking writing and directing too, he is great as the manager trying to make the band the next big thing, he shows he knows this side of the business with the character too. Johnathon Schaech, Tom Everett Scott, Steve Zahn and Ethan Embry as the band are good they have great chemistry together. Liv Tyler is good with her role slowly turning into the background roll in the film.

StoryThe story follows a young band that rise from small-town band to national success with their one hit wonder song that is filled with good feeling. We see how the band can be led down one the path that is best for their quick success over being shown about lasting success in a cut throat 60s music industry, where everyone wanted to become the next Beetles. The story is shown in a pace which shows the band just loving the success that is coming their direction while they have their own issues which must be put aside to keep the band together and we see how they must learn to handle success.

Comedy/MusicThe comedy in the film comes from the supporting cast where Lenny get the laughs with his enthusiasm about the band. The music is mostly the same song being played, but it isn’t one that gets annoying though.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show the small humble beginnings the band has to just how big they becomes with each location becoming bigger to mirror their success.


Scene of the Movie –
That Thing You Do! The song.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The Bass Player not actually having a name.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good example of how bands can have one song which makes them massive only to see them struggle when it comes to trying to make a name for themselves in a new booming industry.

 

Overall: Hanks is just as great behind the camera as he is on front of it.

Rating

 

 

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Brassed Off (1996)

Director: Mark Herman

Writer: Mark Herman (Screenplay)

Starring: Pete Postlethwaite, Tara Fitzgerald, Ewan McGregor, Stephen Tompkinson, Jim Carter, Philip Jackson, Peter Martin

 

Plot: The coal mine in a northern English village may be closing, which would also mean the end of the miners’ brass band.


Tagline – Fed up with the system. Ticked off at the establishment. And mad about… each other.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Delightful Comedy Drama

 

Story: Brassed Off starts as we head to the small Yorkshire coal mining village, Danny (Postlethwaite) conducts a brass band for the locals which is designed to keep spirits high even with the economic changes in the village. Danny is leading his band into the semi-final, with his son Phil (Tompkinson) and granddaughter of band hero Gloria (Fitzgerald) back in town, the bad is given new life.

With the threat that the mining pit might be closing, the town is filled with tension and the band is pushed to their limits, Danny does everything he can to keep the band together even while battling his own illness, to show that coming together can bring hope to a struggling town.

 

Thoughts on Brassed Off

 

Characters – Danny is the conductor of the band, he has kept the band going for years now and has always used it to keep the community together. He wants to one day play at the Royal Albert Hall, with this potentially being his last chance because of an illness he is battling. Gloria returns to her hometown working for the management that is looking at the closure of the mine, she joins the band because of her grandfather’s legacy and soon finds herself being shafted because of her role in the potential closure of the mine. Andy is the youngest member of the mining team and band, he grow up with Gloria and gets caught in the middle of the two sides. Phil is the son of Danny, he suffered the most during the last strike and now he must do everything he can to keep his family together when his past starts to catch up with him.

PerformancesPete Postlethwaite is fantastic in this leading role, he was always great in these type of roles, where he can be calm while hiding something from everyone. Tara Fitzgerald and Ewan McGregor are both good in their roles, while it is Stephen Tompkinson is the real surprise package with his well-rounded character.

StoryThe story shows us the struggles a mining community in England became the latest victim of the economy change that swept the land, they are held together by a brass band as we see the financial struggles on the outside. This is a good glimpse as the change in culture that went through England and showed that communities can come together for the people suffering most. The environment does however feel similar to the Billy Elliott environment, which I know was later, but is easily more well known. We get the good moments even if a love story does feel thrown in for the sake of it.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy through this film does work and does feel like everyday situational comedy. The romance in the film is the weakest pat of the film as it mostly feels thrown in.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the small mining town in Yorkshire, the heart of mining land that relies on one source of income to keep the community together.


Scene of the Movie –
Hospital performance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The romantic story mostly gets boring.

Final ThoughtsThis is a British film that may have been forgotten through the years, it has great performances and a story which would have affected thousands with the economic side of things.

 

Overall: British brilliance.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Nutty Professor (1996)

Director: Tom Shadyac

Writer: David Sheffield, Barry W Blaustein, Tom Shadyac, Steve Oedekerk (Screenplay) Jerry Lewis, Bill Richmond (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Jada Pinkett Smith, James Coburn, Larry Miller, Dave Chappelle, John Ales

 

Plot: Grossly overweight yet good-hearted professor Sherman Klump takes a special chemical that turns him into the slim but obnoxious Buddy Love.


Tagline – Inside Sherman Klump, a party animal is about to break out.

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Offensive Comedy

 

Story: The Nutty Professor starts as we meet likeable and overweight professor Sherman Klump (Murphy) who has been working on a formula to help people lose weight, he has had results on the test subject and after he is pushed too far he tries it on himself.

With the formula being a complete success and he loses all his weight becoming the obnoxious Buddy Love, the problem comes when Sherman was trying to romance Carla Purty (Pinkett) which becomes complicated with his new identity.

 

Thoughts on The Nutty Professor

 

Characters – Sherman Klump is an overweight professor, he is liked by his students and colleagues with his research searching for a cure for an overweight gene. After being roasted by a comedian he takes the formula to help him lose weight which transforms him into another man, he must balance an honest weight loss over a quick fix. Buddy Love is the thinner version of Sherman, he is obnoxious quick witted and most importantly to Sherman, thin. He starts to take over Sherman’s life with his attitude risking his future. Carla Purty is a new teacher on campus that Sherman takes a shinning to, she ends up torn between the two version of Sherman, one is sweet while the other is what she wants to look at.

PerformancesEddie Murphy gives us a mix of good and bad performances here, anytime he is in the fat shoot he is mostly insulting to watch, when he is Buddy he gets to show off his better side of his comedy skills. Most of the rest he is lazy fart jokes. Jada Pinkett Smith is solid enough in her role though her character isn’t the most difficult to play. James Coburn is good in his supporting role as the benefactor.

StoryThe story here follows an overweight professor that creates a formula which can make him thin only his thinner side is a lot different than the normal man he was. This does have an important message about accepting who you are or working towards improving yourself without a quick fix. The problem is we are to focused on Eddie Murphy trying to bring a host of characters to life that are mostly offensive in the wrong way, the generic fat people are only sweet with different generations being seen differently, the clumpy mistakes being made even though the scientist is brilliant. If we didn’t focus on fart or fat jokes we would have a very good story that really works with the right performers.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy is the film mostly offends because fart, fat jokes just don’t work for a smart audience it feels like most is bottom of the food chain comedy. The romantic angle is here, but doesn’t get touch on enough with most of it getting forgotten after a while.

SettingsWe have a university setting which is fine for a professor, the problems come when we leave here and tend to go in any location that Sherman wouldn’t for an extra attempted laugh.

Special EffectsThe effects for the most part are the best part of the movie, the use of the fat suit helps with the characters even if we don’t like them they don’t look out of place.


Scene of the Movie –
Comedy battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Most of the jokes.

Final ThoughtsThis is n offensive comedy that misses a lot more than it hits, we have the once great Eddie Murphy wasting his time with lazy jokes and is only watchable as the villain of the story.

 

Overall: Lazy humourless comedy.

Rating

 

 

Edward Norton Weekend – Primal Fear (1996)

Director: Gregory Hobilt

Writer: Steve Shagan, Ann Biderman (Screenplay) William Diehl (Novel)

Starring: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, John Mahoney, Alfre Woodard, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, Terry O’Quinn, Andre Braugher

 

Plot: An altar boy is accused of murdering a priest, and the truth is buried several layers deep.


Tagline – Sooner or later a man who wears two faces forgets which one is real.

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Thriller

 

Story: Primal Fear starts when the Archbishop is murdered, all clues point to bloody covered Aaron (Norton) as the murderer, he shy stuttering alter boy. When former district prosecutor Martin Vail (Gere) turned defence lawyer sees this as a spotlight for his new career direction and going against former colleague Janet (Linney) and her boss the district attorney Shaughnessy (Mahoney) the case goes to trial.

When Martin learns that Aaron has a split personality disorder with a much more aggressive Roy doing the dirty work for Aaron and the bigger picture of the motivation behind the murder comes to light.

 

Thoughts on Primal Fear

 

Characters – Martin Vail is the lawyer, he once was one of the biggest prosecutors in the city but has turned his back on that career to become a defence lawyer. He sees this case as the one that will give him his big break as a defence lawyer doing this case for free. He has a strong trusted team, he is made out to be a womaniser, though we never see him hit on anyone, only that he once had a fling with Janet in the past. Janet is the prosecutor that is taking the case, she is the one taking over Martin’s role and with a previous relationship with him. She knows this will be a career maker for her and is enjoying going head to head with her former mentor. Shaughnessy is the District Attorney that wants the death penalty and will not let Janet forget this. Aaron is the shy alter boy that is accused of murder but with him being found covered in blood even if you can’t see him doing this murder, Roy is the aggressive personality next to Aaron that knows the truth and seems to be the release of everything Aaron holds in. Shoat is the judge trying to control the case in what lawyers are trying to pull for their wins. Molly is psychologist that is studying Aaron trying to figure out what his mindset learning about Roy.

PerformancesRichard Gere is fantastic in the leading role, you see here how he shows the desperate he is to win this case. Laura Linney is strong in her role which must go against Richard Gere. Edward Norton gives one of the best debut roles of any actor in the history of film, he is disturbed when needed and calm when Aaron and crazed when Roy. The supporting cast are great too without taking the spotlight of the rest of the cast.

StoryThe story follows the trial of a disturbed young man accused of murdering an archbishop. While the court case unfolds like you would expect with twists coming from every corner and evidence coming to light through nearly every witness. As a fan of courtroom dramas this plays into everything I enjoy and I love watching crimes get solved in a courtroom. The story is very well paced and even being over 2 hours long doesn’t feel like you are giving the film this much time.

Crime/MysteryThe crime focuses on the murder and what gave the killer motivation, the mystery plays into the motivation too and just how the shy timid altar boy could have committed the murder.

SettingsThe film uses the courtroom for most of the scenes, we have the location involved in the crime too which shows how the lawyers are operating on both sides of the case.


Scene of the Movie –
The final twist.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would say the side case Martin worked on being touched on through the main case gets slightly annoying.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best courtroom dramas of all time, with a crime which does balance the line between what would be considered a bigger crime and performances that could be considered the career best for members of the cast.

 

Overall: Courtroom delight.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Animation – J – James and the Giant Peach (1996)

Director: Henry Selick

Writer: Karey Kirkpatrick, Jonathan Roberts, Steve Bloom (Screenplay) Roald Dahl (Book)

Starring: Paul Terry, Joanna Lumley (Voice Talents) Simon Callow, Richard Dreyfuss, Jane Leeves, Susan Sarandon

 

Plot: An orphan, who lives with his two cruel aunts, befriends anthropomorphic bugs who live inside a giant peach, and they embark on a journey to New York City.


Tagline – Adventures this big don’t grow on trees.

Runtime: 1 Hour 19 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Magical Family Adventure

 

 

Story: James and the Giant Peach starts young boy James is left orphaned after his parents are killed, he is forced to live with his cruel aunts Spiker (Lumley) and Sponge (Margolyes) who treat him like a slave. When a mysterious old man gives him a bag with magic in he unleashes them by accident to great a giant peach.

The peach becomes a side show for the Aunts leaving James to clean up, until he finds a passage which takes hi into the peach which is know being lived in by a serial bugs Grasshopper, Centipede, Ladybird, Spider and Earthworm. The unlikely group head off on an adventure which takes them across the Atlantic to New York City.

 

 

Thoughts on James and the Giant Peach

 

Characters – James is an orphan from a loved family forced to live with evil aunts, he just wants to be a kid and isn’t being allowed to go out and play. His adventure takes him across the Atlantic Ocean to the place he was always due to go with his family New York city. Like a lot of the Roald Dahl books he creates an orphan that is being ill-treated looking for an escape. The different bugs each offer up different parent like advice for James, just what is needed for James in his time of need.

PerformancesPaul Terry is the real James and he is good for a child actor as are the Aunts, most of this film focuses on the voice work which shows the talent of the cast selected.

StoryThe story shows follows one boy and his adventure with bugs to escape the horrible life he has been trapped living. The story enters full levels of fantasy which is great to see, there is no covering up elements of the story, it all happened and everyone sees this. It does feel like it should be the imagination of a traumatised orphan and it should end up being this for the generic following.

Adventure/FamilyThe adventure James goes on is everything a lonely boy would imagine going on. This is a family film because everyone can get a laugh of different moments in the film.

SettingsMost of the film takes place in and on the peach, we see the family dynamic on board the peach, this is the only one of its type even if you can see elements of ‘Up’ in this setting.

AnimationThe animation shown here showed us what we were getting from the director, a unique look at stop-motion.


Scene of the Movie –
Rhino in the sky.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It can be dark at times.

Final ThoughtsThis is a magical family adventure from the childhood author Roald Dahl that wrote wonderful books, which changed many lives, this is one that people sometimes forget.

 

Overall: Magical and wonderful movie.

Rating