ABC Film Challenge – 80s Movies – T – Trading Places (1983)

Director: John Landis

Writer: Timothy Harris, Herschal Weingrod (Screenplay)

Starring: Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Ralph Bellamy, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Ameche

 

Plot: A snobbish investor and a wily street con artist find their positions reversed as part of a bet by two callous millionaires.


Tagline – Some very funny business.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful, Though Dated

 

Story: Trading Places starts as we meet high flying investor Louis Winthorpe III (Aykroyd) who has made his bosses Randolph (Bellamy) and Mortimer (Ameche) millions of dollars, he is preparing to marry is long term girlfriend, life is good for him until he clashes with Billy Ray Valentine (Murphy) a homeless wise cracker.

When the Duke brothers decide to make a wager, they decide to try and prove they can make Billy Ray as successful as Louis, but also show they can destroy Louis in the progress. We are left to see the two men adapt to their new lives trying to understand just what is happening.

 

Thoughts on Trading Places

 

Characters – Louis Winthorpe III has been living the life of with a silver spoon in his mouth his whole life, protected from any hardship as he rises up the ranks to be considered the very top employee. He is going to get married to the girl he was always going to be with until he must learn to live with nothing after being put in a bet. Billy Ray Valentine is a homeless street wise cracker that gets wrongfully accused of a crime only to be placed into a bet given a life with money, wealth and a job. He adapts to the new life like a fish to water. Randolph and Mortimer are two brothers that have too much money to know what to do with a resort to bets over people’s lives. Ophelia is a hooker that gets used as part of the bet to help ruin Louis’ life, she ends up teaching him about the right way to live with no money.

PerformancesDan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy are both wonderful with their comedy moments they both get to show different stage of their comedy from rich and poor situations. Ralph Bellamy and Dom Ameche are both good as the rich businessmen that work with money over anything else. Jamie Lee Curtis turned heads with her role here which people were not expecting to see.

StoryThe story here follows two rich businessmen that put a bet on that they can switch the lives of a successful businessman with a homeless street hustler. This is shows us just how rich people can have too much money for their own good and their aimless fun can ruin lives. See the swap between the two gives them both a chance to learn a lesson about acting different towards people who have their own stories. There are certain jokes which just don’t work for the modern times because they go into race related that wouldn’t stand up now. For the important message that the two learn is the highlight of the film.

ComedyThe comedy in the film shows how Aykroyd and Murphy were on the top of their game in this decade, we get both sides of their skills to rather than just sticking to a solo character.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in New York, for the 80s this was perfect because of the investment game that was going on at the time and still is.


Scene of the Movie –
Joining forces.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The racial comments wouldn’t work now.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great 80s comedy that hits nearly all the jokes, shows two performers at their best in the comedy world and teaches a good life lesson.

 

Overall: Classic 80s comedy.

Rating

 

 

Bowfinger (1999)

Director: Frank Oz

Writer: Steve Martin (Screenplay)

Starring: Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Heather Graham, Christine Baranski, Jamie Kennedy, Barry Newman, Terence Stamp, Robert Downey Jr

 

Plot: When a desperate movie producer fails to get a major star for his bargain basement film, he decides to shoot the film secretly around him.


Tagline – A desperate plan for a desperate man

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Movie About Making a Movie

 

Story: Bowfinger starts when desperate movie producer Bowfinger (Martin) wants to get a brand-new film off the ground, he tells his crew that hot shot producer Jerry Renfro (Downey Jr) and massive action star Kit Ramsey (Murphy). The reality he hasn’t got them and starts to film the movie without Kit’s knowledge.

Hiring new to the city ambitious want to be actress Daisy (Graham) with his most trusted star Carol (Baranski) the film shot is underway. Can Bowfinger pull this off without anything going wrong.

 

Thoughts on Bowfinger

 

Characters – Bowfinger is the movie producer that has been searching for a hit for years. He will lie to his crew and film around the celebrity star of the film, he always has an answer for anything that gets thrown in his way. Kit Ramsey is the mega star, he is searching for his big memorable hit, part of the Mindheads (blatant piss take of Scientology) where he is also paranoid about people talking to him, he spends the whole film trying to escape the actors from Bowfinger’s movie not knowing he is being filmed. Jiff is a look alike that comes into help the film fill in parts where Kit is needed. Daisy is the ambitious actress fresh to the Hollywood, she takes the role in the film and works her way through the crew to get a larger part through the movie. The rest of the cast shows the members of the crew that each give us the part of the film making process.

PerformancesSteve Martin in the leading role is good in this role, he doesn’t fall into his normal comedy routine but gets the laughs needed. Eddie Murphy is good in his roles, we do believe his paranoid filled character which clearly is a bit of a piss take on Tom Cruise and he never goes over the top. Heather Graham gets to have a lot of fun poking fun at the ‘will do anything for a role’ actresses that have been in Hollywood. The whole cast are good through the film too.

StoryThe story focuses on the idea that a producer will secretly film around a big name actor to get a film made. This does show how a small crew can come together to try and get a movie made, we only need to look at early stories from indie film makers and shortcuts by big name directors in the past to understand this process. Throwing the idea that the big star Kit is part of a cult like religion which only plays into his paranoia in the film helps create everything. if you want to look back in history you could easily be making comparison to Plan 9 for style of working and loyalty to the crew. This might go over the top with certain elements which is fine it adds the comedy and ends up giving us a story which shows how commitment can build a film.

ComedyThe comedy in the film comes from a mix of trying to make the film happen, stereotypes for Hollywood and the paranoia Kit shows.

SettingsThe film is set in Hollywood, it shows us how the operations can be done with limited budgets even if things aren’t done the most legal ways.


Scene of the Movie –
Final sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Mindheads are too much on the noise.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good comedy that will get laughs, it has a good cast and will show how the movie making process works.

 

Overall: Enjoyable throughout.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – D – Dreamgirls (2006)

Director: Bill Condon

Writer: Bill Condon (Screenplay) Tom Eyen (Book)

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Beyonce, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose

 

Plot: A trio of black female soul singers cross over to the pop charts in the early 1960s, facing their own personal struggles along the way.


Tagline – One Dream Will Change Everything

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Magical Musical

 

Story: Dreamgirls starts as we meet the three soul singers from Detroit Deena Jones (Beyonce), Effie White (Hudson) and Lorrell Robinson (Rose), the Dreams, they are trying to make a name for themselves and catch the attention of Curtis Taylor Jr (Foxx) who arranges them to be back up singers for James ‘Thunder’ Early.

When Curtis sees the girls future alone, but with Deena taking the lead of the trio it doesn’t set well with Effie and with the act breaking barriers across the world it builds the tension between the band before eventually seeing Effie leaving the act as Deena becoming the international star and Effie must face the consequences of giving up her own chance of stardom.

 

Thoughts on Dreamgirls

 

Characters – Curtis Taylor Jr gave up his car dealership to turn the Dreams into stars, he knows how to challenge the market to get the goes famous, taking a shine to Deena he sees her being the front of the trio which causes the tension within the trio, he delivers on his promises even if things don’t come off as clean as they should. Deena is one of the trio, she gets the most attention because she is the most attractive and while taking over the leading role in the trio where her stardom divides the friendship. James ‘Thunder’ Early is the artist that the Dreams start as backup, he watches the Dreams go onto be bigger stars than he had ever been because of the lack of support. Effie White is the best singer in the trio, she is the first to oppose being just a backup singer, wanting to take her position to the next level, which only sees he removed from the band.

PerformancesJamie Foxx was at the top of his career here and it shows because he is great, the biggest surprises come from the rest of the main cast, Eddie Murphy, well this is easily his best performance in the last 30 years and shows everyone just what he is capable off. Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson are both fantastic in their roles as the completely understand how difficult the music industry can be for anyone.

StoryThe story follows the trio of soul singers who start in just a talent contest to hopefully get a big break, only to find themselves becoming international superstars, but with success comes at a price as the trio go their own ways with one becoming the biggest name in music and the other resorted to performing in clubs. We get to see the harsh reality of the music industry from the four main characters and directions they end up taking. Having a film balance the four characters stories so, well is unusual and a great watch.

MusicalThe song and numbers are all wonderful with plenty of different genre touched on as the sound of the band changes through the years too.

SettingsThe film shows the different worlds these women could be living in, the riot filled streets of Detroit or the fame and celebrity world.


Scene of the Movie –
Final performance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Wondering why Eddie Murphy can’t perform this well more often.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable musical that shines a spotlight on the soul music scene during the 60’s, it has wonderful performance throughout and is a must watch for the fans of the music genre and musical fans in general.

 

Overall: Beautiful movie.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Nutty Professor 2- The Klumps (2000)

Director: Peter Segal

Writer: Barry W Blaustein, David Sheffield, Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz (Screenplay) Steve Oedekerk, Barry W Blaustein, David Sheffield, Jerry Lewis (Story/Characters)

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Janet Jackson, Larry Miller, John Ales

 

Plot: Scientist Sherman Klump’s inventions, his upcoming marriage to his pretty colleague Denise Gaines and his reputation are threatened by his evil clone Buddy Love.


Tagline – Eddie Murphy Is The Klumps

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Just Gets Worse

 

Story: Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps starts as Sherman (Murphy) has continued his work in genetics with new professor Denise (Jackson), what they are working on is ground breaking, the problem Sherman is facing is Buddy Love (Murphy) is trying to come back through Sherman with his attitude at first.

With Sherman arranging to marry Denise, Buddy Love finds a way to come back as a clone determined to destroy Sherman’s work to get his share of the money.

 

Thoughts on Nutty Professor 2 The Klumps

 

Characters – Sherman Klump is still the likeable professor at the university, he means well and is being haunted by his nightmares of becoming Buddy Love again. He is getting married now with the biggest breakthrough in his career, only after trying to extract the gene that Buddy is part of he starts to lose his intelligence. Buddy Love comes to life through a clone, he still wants to take Sherman’s career and he will go out of his way to make sure he remains a big part of he world. Denise is the fiancée to Sherman, a like minded scientist that has been working with him on the latest project. She doesn’t get too much to other than be the love interest.

PerformancesEddie Murphy taking on more roles here, well large moments as the family members which are just boring to watch, in the leading role he is fine much calmer and less fat joke related, even as Buddy he is harder to watch with the added dog switch. Janet Jackson is fine without her character being more than just a love interest with the rest of the actors not getting enough time to shine.

StoryThe story shows us just how Sherman has continued research which sees him wanting to rid his genes of Buddy with disastrous side effects. For the most part this once again tries to do the same storyline about accepting who you are over anything else which Sherman just won’t accept, there is a love angle again which is more serious and the awful amount of focus we must have on the rest of his family because of lack of main story involving Sherman. This is one of those pointless sequels that doesn’t ever have the deepest storylines and in fact it is mostly none existent storyline.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy does cut out moments of the fart jokes, but still doesn’t give us many funny jokes to enjoy. The romance side of the film is slightly more forward with Sherman in the relationship this time around.

SettingsThe film uses the similar settings with none of them being used for any moments in the comedy or romance.

Special EffectsThe effects have also taken a downturn for the worse with the different moments of practical effects or CGI moments.


Scene of the Movie –
Giant hamster.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The dog traits addition.

Final ThoughtsThis is a sequel that is actually even worse than the first film, it shows a lack of comedy and just ends up feeling boring.

 

Overall: Disappoint, boring and humourless.

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