Arnold Schwarzenegger has returned in The Last Stand, a sort-of amped up, extra-violent version of Unstoppable. It’s not perfect, and starts off kind of slow, but once the film gets going it becomes the mindless fun you’d expect.
When filmmaker Nora Ephron brings together an all-star cast led by Steve Martin, you expect something terrific. Mixed Nuts was Ephron’s follow-up to her smash success Sleepless in Seattle, and when it was released by TriStar Pictures on December 21, 1994, she was greeted with some of the most visceral reviews of her career, and experienced a spectacular failure that would briefly scare her career.
An adaptation of the successful (but obscure to American audiences) 1982 French farce Le Pere Noel Est Une Ordure (loosely translated: Santa Claus is a Bastard), Mixed Nuts retained very little of what made the French farce so dark and uncompromising. At the same time, Ephron tailored the film to something more along her style and managed to give the characters of the piece some hope and love through a cynical story. Right here, it’s easy to see why the film failed at the box office: The film wanted to be hopeful and dark at the same time, and a comedy can’t quite succeed when they’re trying to counter-balance that. It is a weird holiday film made for those who are looking for something a little different than films like A Christmas Story or National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Seth MacFarlane is one strange person – and I’m not just saying that because of what Ted is about. I point it out because as a one-time fan of Family Guy, I now find the show more annoying than ever. To make matters worse, only American Dad shows any remaining sign of life (The Cleveland Show was never worth my time). So with the announcement of his first film (and him returning to essentially the Peter Griffin voice), I once again looked on skeptically thinking that he might not be able to pull it off. That was until I noticed Mark Wahlberg was cast as the star. My trepidation against the movie finally started subsiding.
Ted‘s plotline might be slight, but it’s how the film handles it that makes it such a memorable fantasy. In 1985, young John Bennett from Boston has no friends and is the odd kid out. For Christmas, he receives a teddy bear and soon wishes for the bear to be real. The next morning, the bear comes to life. Even his parents are in shock (“You’re like the baby Jesus,” his mother exclaims), and before he realizes it, Ted is a nationwide celebrity, even appearing on Johnny Carson. As the fame dies down, Ted does his best to try and live a normal life, even if it is with John (Wahlberg, now grown up), but how is it normal when he is doing drugs and countless other unspeakable things?
The last hope to save mankind has failed and there are exactly three weeks left before the world will be destroyed by an 70-mile wide asteroid named Matilda. Dodge Peterson (Steve Carell) just wants to keep living his normal life, but how can he when his wife Linda (a blink-or-miss cameo from Nancy Carell, Steve’s real-life wife) literally jumps ship as soon as the news comes in? He tries to act like everything is normal, but even that’s impossible, and an attempted suicide only ends up pairing him with a cute dog to accompany his final days.
Truly one of the more unloved inclusions of Flickchart are short films. So unloved, that many people refuse to include them on their lists. It’s not too hard to see why, as they often aren’t that extraordinary and can be much harder to remember in the long-term. With significantly less content, they are often much tougher to rank against features, and many people will debate on whether they should actually be considered movies or not. Despite having my own problems with trying to rank them properly, I include them in my list, mostly for vain reasons. Read the rest of this entry »