Mission: Impossible (1996)

Released: May 22, 1996. Directed by: Brian de Palma. Starring: Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Béart. Runtime: 1h 50 min.

Based on the hit TV show from the 1960s, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) tries to clear his name when he’s suspected for disloyalty to the IMF (Impossible Missions Force) after a mission goes wrong and he’s left as the only survivor.

The script’s mediocre as Ethan must deliver the second half of a non-official cover (NOC) list, a list of covert agents in Eastern Europe, to an arms dealer named “Max” to discover the identity of the actual spy. I watched this three days ago and I barely remembered the NOC list. Out of the first three films, Brian de Palma’s direction and style are easily the least forgettable, as well.

The script does have some surprises and the cast helps keep it interesting, especially Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt. He’s charming and great here and “Mission: Impossible” serves as a solid introduction to Ethan.

For the rest of the cast, I’m sure it was surprising when the film came out in 1996 that Emilio Estevez gets killed off in the first 25 minutes. For me, watching this for the first time in 2018, I was just surprised seeing him in this. Jon Voight’s also good as Jim Phelps – the only character from the original TV series.

It’s interesting seeing who Ethan aligns with to try to clear his name, since he can’t exactly get help from the agency. Claire (Emmanuelle Béart) has a decent chemistry with Ethan, but she’s the most forgettable out of the female leads of the first three films. Luther (Ving Rhames) is great and so is Jean Reno as Krieger.

The film itself though only has a few great action scenes, especially the dangling wire scene – which is so tense and the whole sequence is so entertaining – and the train finale is also great.

Throughout the film, Ethan is trying to evade director of the IMF Eugene Kittredge (Henry Czerny). Kittredge wants Ethan to come to them, saying “You find something that’s personally important to him and you squeeze.” The thing is, he doesn’t execute on this line because it doesn’t feel like Ethan has anything to lose. The stakes for this film simply don’t feel high enough, making the non-action scenes dull.

Score: 65/100

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Dumb & Dumber (1994)

Released: December 16, 1994. Directed by: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly. Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Lauren Holly. Runtime: 1 hr., 46 min.

The cult favourite Dumb & Dumber put the Farrelly brothers on the map. It was also part of Jim Carrey’s first breakout year of a trio of films that made sparked his great career, along with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Mask.

For me, it is definitely the definitive road trip film. It’s a buddy comedy about two complete idiots, Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) who travel cross-country to Aspen, Colorado, in pursuit of one of Harry’s limousine passengers, Mary Swanson (Lauren Holly).

She purposely left her briefcase at the airport as ransom payment for her kidnapped husband. It was meant for thugs – Joe Mentalino (Mike Starr) and J.P. Shay (Karen Duffy). When Christmas grabs the briefcase, the goons mistake him for a “professional” or an FBI agent and not just a love-struck buffoon.

Both Lloyd and Harry have lost their jobs. Harry was a pet groomer who recently spent his life savings turning his car into a sheepdog. With no jobs or reason to stay in Rhode Island, Lloyd coerces Harry into a road trip to Aspen to deliver the briefcase to Swanson, who Larry later thinks is named Samsonite – the brand name on the briefcase.

The thugs learn of their intentions and pursue them, but not before they take decapitate Harry’s pet parakeet, Petey. Both Larry and Harry think his head falling off is from old age. The two idiots need some cash for the road after Lloyd was robbed. Lloyd hilariously sells miscellaneous items, including Petey, to a blind adolescent named Billy, who lives in their apartment building.

Billy misconstrues the bird as simply quiet, and it becomes a bit of a sensation on the news and one of the film’s funniest moments. The clever humour about two guys being stupid as they can be won’t be for everyone.

Surely, their sheer stupidity can become frustrating, but it’s the joke. If you like two guys getting in a lot of misunderstandings, you are sure to laugh. If you are one of those people who are continuously frustrated by that one incredibly stupid character on every sitcom, avoid this. The two protagonists are that type of character and their daftness is the ongoing gag.

The plot isn’t the greatest thing in the world, but it’s good enough for a simplistic road trip buddy comedy. And for the film’s tone and the protagonists, it fits very well. It’s funny when just about everyone they meet overestimate them.

Thugs think they must be special agents – and never for a second do people consider them just being the idiots they are. Even Mary mistakes Harry’s stupidity as intentional humour. She also thinks that their orange and sky-blue tuxedos are an ironic joke.

There are plot inconsistencies. Why does Lloyd pack mittens and think there are Rockies when at first he thinks Aspen is in California and calls it a warm climate?

But their misadventures along the way make it largely worth it. I, for one, was hooked by the first gag. Limousine driver Lloyd crawls back to the passenger seat of his limo to hit on a beautiful woman. He asks her if she is from Jersey and she says she is from Austria. He then tries to impress her with an Australian accent, which just perfectly captures his stupidity early on.

Score8/10

The Rugrats Movie (1998)

Rugrats movieReleased: November 20, 1998. Directed by: Igor Kovalyov, Norton Virgien. Starring: Elizabeth Daily, Christine Cavanaugh, Kath Soucie. Runtime: 79 min.

Tommy faces responsiblity when Dil, his new baby brother is born. As with all newborns, the child becomes a bane to Tommy and the rest of his gang. Even Phil and Lil don’t like them. So they decide to return Dil to where he came from, the hospital. But they get lost along the way, REALLY lost, and get into even more trouble with a circus. Can they find their way home and can Tommy and Dil just get along? And to top things off, Angelica goes out to find them and has little luck.

This is the movie event of 1998 for anyone who likes snot jokes. Everyone else: Keep your distance. It’s not so bad, but I don’t really like it. There’s little for older folks to enjoy; it opens with a homage to Indiana Jones, but that’s mostly it.

David Spade voices a bit role. That’s enjoyable. Tommy feels neglected because of all his parents’ attention is on Dil. It’s a bit poignant and real. The music numbers are lame. I forget them already. The movie is just forgettable, silly and boring, and I don’t remember chuckling all that much.

Score50/100

Happy Gilmore (1996)

Happy GilmoreReleased: February 16, 1996. Directed by: Dennis Dugan. Starring: Adam Sandler, Christopher McDonald, Julie Bowen. Runtime: 92 min.

“Happy Gilmore” is a silly sports comedy, which is its purpose; but God is it funny. Sandler plays the titular Happy Gilmore, a hockey-player-turned-golf-player because he has a wicked slap shot, but he can’t exactly skate so well. He takes his hockey skills and places them on the golf course, even if he has a hard time tapping the ball in sometimes. To help him with that is a love interest, Virginia Venet (Julie Bowen), and a former golf pro, Chubbs (Carl Weathers) to teach him how to improve on his game.

Happy’s motivation to join the golf tour is his grandmother, who hasn’t paid her taxes in years. Due to that, she loses her home – and in order to get it back, he’ll need some money.

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Fights with Bob Barker and other golfing patrons, distracting patrons yelling “Jackass!”, the villain, Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald), and endless product placement for Subway certainly makes this a satisfying and memorable Sandler movie. Oh, and then there is Ben Stiller’s turn as a crazed worker at the retirement home Gilmore’s grandmother stays at.

“Happy Gilmore” is a sweet, if entirely predictable sports comedy, and one of my favourite golf movies, even if it’s not in the same league as “Caddyshack.” It is still both Adam Sandler’s and director Dennis Dugan’s strongest comedies. I find myself laughing at this every time, no matter how many times I watch it.

There are solid chuckles throughout, and truly hilarious scenes. People will, of course, like it a lot more if they enjoy Sandler’s brand of comedy. This character gets very angry, which makes the title ironic. He’s a nice guy who means well, even if he’s generic to a fault. He is one of Sandler’s best characters. Wouldn’t it have been awesome if Sandler’s “Anger Management” movie was a sequel to this?

Score83/100

Shakes the Clown (1991)

Shakes the ClownReleased: March 13, 1992. Directed by: Bobcat Goldthwait. Starring: Bobcat Goldthwait, Julie Brown, Blake Clark. Runtime: 87 min. 

Dark comedies are a difficult kind-of comedy to master. The Coen brothers have mastered the craft, as has Tarantino, and many other respected filmmakers. This is the attempt at a black comedy by an apparently funny guy named Bobcat Goldthwait, and I haven’t seen a movie prior to this that feels more like an Amateur Redneck Hour. You’ll also see no evidence of good comedy here.

The movie follows Shakes the Clown (Goldthwait) who lives in a town called Palukaville, where it seems that everyone is either a clown, a groupie for the clowns, or someone who gets jobs for the clowns. And there’s cops and mimes, too. Anyway, Shakes is a clown who is also a chronic alcoholic. He is threatened with unemployment if he cannot get his act together. Then, it gets really dark and someone frames Shakes for a murder.

There are many ideas to advance this plot, but the film-makers do not feel as if they run with those ideas. However, the unlikable characters make it very hard for the movie to be engaging. Shakes is a terrible person, but I guess that’s the point. Kathy Griffin and Julie Brown are the two main girls in this, and Brown has a terribly annoying voice.

Adam Sandler is one of the supporting characters. He doesn’t get many laughs. His character is afraid of women. There are many jokes related to bodily functions here, that show up within the first two minutes; but in Sandler’s own movies, he has the courtesy to wait more than two minutes to throw those at the audience.

This movie is like a pie in the face: unpleasant. It reminds me why I hate clowns. The clown world they live in is different, and I guess that’s the point of the movie; to be a different experience. But I’d also like it to be enjoyable. It gives viewers an insane portrait of Tom Kenny, the man who voices SpongeBob Squarepants.

I did chuckle about four times, but that’s not enough. You’ll have to decide whether or not you hate mimes or clowns more. Most are drunks, either way. This movie does get some points for an appearance from Robin Williams, and a lot of mimes get beaten up. Woo-hoo. It’s still a bland, stupid movie.

Score38/100

The Wedding Singer (1998)

The Wedding SingerReleased: February 13, 1998. Directed by: Frank Coraci. Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Christine Taylor. Runtime: 95 min.

Apparently, more mediocre comedians should release their movies on the unlucky Friday the 13th, when they’re down on their luck. Maybe they’ll have a decent hit on their hands. That’s the truth with Sandler’s “The Wedding Singer,” an entertaining and predictable romp from beginning to end.

The story follows wedding singer Robbie Hart who enters a deep depression after he’s dumped at the alter by his bitch of a girlfriend Linda (Angela Featherstone). Then he meets the stunning waitress Julia (Drew Barrymore). She is about to be married to a total idiot Glen Gulia (Matthew Glave), who is so dumb, he doesn’t see what’s funny about the fact that Julia will know be Julia Gulia. Robbie thinks she deserves more, and, well, you know the rest.

This movie teaches that the only person you should plan a wedding with is the person you’re getting married to, otherwise, you’ll probably fall in love with the person you’re planning it with. It’s a traditional romantic comedy, with Sandler’s antics and a lot of angry and/or depressed singing.

The characters are funny. That’s mostly Robbie Hart and the nympho best friend of Julia, Holly (Christine Taylor). Allen Covert’s pretty good, too. There are some characters that are both creepy and funny. That’s most notably George (Alexis Arquette), the back-up wedding singer who only sings “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” It’s funny because the crowd turns on him every time.

These performers aren’t phoning in performances – you’re probably going to root for Robbie and Julia the whole way through. No one deserves to be married to a jerk right?

The movie’s really just a predictable ’80s styled movie. It’s entertaining, sometimes hilarious and always chuckle-worthy. Even though you’ll be rooting for Julia and Robbie, they don’t pass the Character Name Test; since Sandler’s characters seem to be all the same. You’ll forget half of the characters’ names within minutes. This is a movie where I’d rather refer to the characters by the person who’s portraying them. Even though Sandler has big hair in this movie, it doesn’t mean this character will be distinctive or stand out in any way.

Score75/100

Airheads (1994)

AirheadsRelease Date: August 5, 1994Director: Michael LehmannStars: Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, Adam SandlerRuntime: 92 min.

Three band members hoping for a big break head to a radio station to play their demo tape and wind up holding everyone hostage with plastic guns when the head DJ refuses to play them.

“Airheads” is a different heist film, but a stupid one. It’s a satire, but it’s never exactly clear what it’s trying to mock, to the viewers or the filmmakers. It says that one shouldn’t sell out in the music business. But the plot is silly, and something like this won’t turn out well for anyone. Adam Sandler will make you chuckle a few times, but none of this will have you on the floor laughing. It’s nice to see Joe Mantegna and Judd Nelson, even if they’re in small roles. Chris Farley is criminally underused as a police officer. This is about the same quality as the Adam Sandler movies of today. It isn’t particularly smart, or entertaining. It’ll make you smile once or twice, but the plot is better suited for an episode on a sitcom. Everyone in this movie has been in funnier things, and the premise truly grows tired early on.

Score38/100