After a very long week, I looked forward to a solid movie-watching weekend. I didn’t get in as many as I would have liked, but I still managed to see a decent handful. Even without a trip to see Lincoln like I had expected, I squeezed in six films. This is the movie weekend that was.
Revenge of the Creature (1955)
I’ve seen the sequels to the Universal creature features for Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, and even a few sequels to The Mummy. I had not, however, seen any sequels to The Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954). I had always heard they were bad but decided that I would finally find out for myself. It begins with the creature being hunted in the Amazon. He’s captured- knocked into a coma- when his hunters use dynamite to blow up the Black Lagoon. They take the comatose creature to an oceanarium, where he’s chained underwater and turned into a side show. Eventually, he breaks free and winds up in Florida. It wasn’t good but it was fun because (HOLY SHIT!) this movie was Clint Eastwood’s cinematic debut, as a scientist in a lab that features a monkey who paints!
Rating: 2 stars out of 5
The Creature Walks Among Us (1956)
Now in the Everglades, the creature is being stalked by a doctor with warped intentions. He wants to mutate the creature’s genes to make him more similar to man. He’s trying to do this because it will help man survive outer space one day. No, really- that’s what he said. How hybrid fish-men would survive outer space is beyond me. He successfully makes the creature slightly more human, enabling it to live on land and, you know, “walk among us”. But it predictably ends disastrously. There are a couple of hilarious subtexts shoehorned into the film- one about feminism, the other about man’s dual nature- savage and animalistic, or refined and civilized. The film also featured this gem of a line- “I believe the clinical definition is that he’s a disturbed man.” I want to go to the clinic that uses “disturbed” as a technical definition. Basically, it’s the Citizen Kane of man-fish monster movies with feminist subtexts, which is kind of a “skinniest kid at fat camp” type of compliment.
Rating: 2 stars out of 5
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
I was not a fan of The Amazing Spider-Man at all. I could blather on and on about it, or I could just refer you to this article by Film Crit Hulk, which does a great job of summarizing my issues with the film.
Rating: 2 stars out of 5
At one point in Goon, Ross “The Boss” Rhea (Liev Schreiber) tells Doug “The Thug” Glatt (Sean William Scott), “Kid, you got this thing. The stuff. The shit. The fuckin’ grit, you got it.” He might as well have been talking about the movie itself. Goon really hit me (good lord, no pun intended) in a lot of ways. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed it on several levels- comedically, dramatically, and as a sports movie. It is admittedly riddled with sports movie clichés but it even winks at that fact from time to time. At one point, Doug asks his sobbing love interest, “Why are you crying? Did you watch Rudy?” In the middle of the finale of the film, Doug’s friend Pat points out that all of the clichéd elements are there for the finale of a sports movie. And the final score in the dramatic final game is almost an afterthought, which is both refreshing and cracks me up. I’d go so far as to say that Goon is one of the best sports movies made in years.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5; 5 out of 5 as a sports film
The Sin of Harold Diddelbock (1947)
It’s almost impossible to go wrong when you combine Preston Sturges and Harold Lloyd. And while The Sin of Harold Diddelbock wasn’t exactly either comedy icon’s best moment, the film was plenty satisfying, packed with plenty of laughs. Thematically, it fit Sturges’ usual vibe- satire of capitalism, a doddering fool who does well- and it certainly had some All-Star moments. The concept alone is fascinating. The film begins by showing the original footage of the end of Lloyd’s The Freshman (1925), and picks up where it left off. It’s basically a sequel, 20 years into the future, of The Freshman. Lloyd also revisits his most famous scene- the death-defying segment atop a skyscraper in Safety Last. This time, it involves a pet lion. Diddelbock is not the best Sturges film out there, but even average Sturges is better than just about anyone else can do. A fun bar clip follows. I want to go where this bartender works.
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Wag the Dog (1997)
I’m not entirely sure what to do with Wag the Dog. Generally speaking, I find conspiracy theories annoying, and Wag the Dog rolls around in conspiracy theories the way a mutt rolls around in garbage. But my own annoyance obviously doesn’t make it a bad film. I thought it was quite good. Hoffman and Deniro worked great together on screen, and there’s been just enough stuff like this in actual history (Watergate comes to mind) to give it a little teeth.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5