April Fool’s Day (1986)

Released: March 28, 1986. Directed by: Fred Walton. Starring: Amy Steel, Deborah Foreman, Ken Olandt. Runtime: 1h 29min.

April Fool’s Day is a 1980’s slasher only notable for its ability to put a spin on a basic story.

Muffy (Deborah Foreman) has invited eight of her college friends to a weekend getaway on April Fool’s weekend to her family island. These people are kind-of weird in the first place to make April Fool’s Day a weekend celebration.

There are nine main characters for the getaway and that’s a lot of characters when the usual getaway vacation slasher has five or six characters so it doesn’t get crowded.

Kit (Amy Steel) is the main blonde goody-two-shoes character who wants to go to convent school and is dating Rob (Ken Olandt). Chaz (Clayton Rohner) carries around a camera a lot to videotape things for some reason and he’s with the blonde Nikki (Deborah Goodrich).

Skip (Griffin O’Neal) is simply characterized as Muffy’s cousin. Harvey (Jay Baker) is super preppy and wants to be called Hal but no one ever calls him that. There’s so much characterization to go around to everyone that a bookworm named Nan (Leah Pinsent) feels like a useless character, and the majority of them feel one-dimensional.

The comic relief comes from Thomas F. Wilson (Biff in the Back to the Future trilogy) who plays Arch, and he has some of the funniest moments as the ladies man. He’s the only actor I recognized in this. He and Deborah Foreman give the most memorable performances as Arch and Muffy, respectively.

The acting when they’re asked to be scared – mostly just Amy Steel and Ken Olandt – is bad, and Olandt’s screaming is almost annoying as the crickets that are constantly chirping. The general chemistry of the whole cast is good, and Chaz and Arch have some of the funniest moments together.

The comedy is better done than the horror itself – because it’s never actually scary, even as far as slasher films go. The setup at the beginning is good and some of the April Fool’s pranks are childish but most of them are funny.

When the killing begins, the fun stops because all of the kills actually suck because they show the bare minimum of the kills, removing a lot of the violence and it makes it really disappointing to me as a horror fan. Half of the kills literally happen off-screen and when someone wound up dead I wondered if I had missed something.

In that way it definitely sets itself apart from other slashers but it’s one of the reasons it’s not a good movie for horror fans, and a lot of it isn’t entertaining. When they don’t show the bit of what makes a horror movie successful – the kills – it feels a lot like when someone tells a story that ends with “you just had to be there.”

It’s a competent mystery because the story is developed somewhat well and there’s characters that just start acting strange.

It gears up to an interesting ending that filled in plot holes and some of the film’s major faults, and made it feel like an exercise in making an ending first and then just thinking up everything else in between. It makes it feel all a bit pointless.

It also would have been great if it were scary. April Fool’s Day is unique in the way that the comedy of the beginning is the best part even though it’s not billed as a comedy, and everything goes downhill when the killing comes, because that’s supposed to be the fun part of horror.

Score: 40/100

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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – A film review by Daniel Prinn – A great John Hughes teen comedy

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Release Date: June 11, 1986

Director: John Hughes

Stars: Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara

Runtime: 103 min

Tagline: While the rest of us were just thinking about it…Ferris borrowed a Ferrari and did it…all in a day.

 

 How many of you guys felt you really needed a day off from school, or work, this week? Ferris is just one of those people.

Ferris Bueller is a wise-talking high school senior, who the student body thinks is just this one “righteous dude.” Bueller’s a guy who really knows the value of a day off. After making his parents believe he was sick, Bueller gathers his constantly nervous friend, Cameron (Alan Ruck); and his younger girlfriend, Sloane (Mia Sara) for a day out on the downtown Chicago area, whilst ditching school. With the access to a ricked red Ferrari that belongs to Cameron’s father, they have the whole day ahead of them, despite the situations and comedic antics they get themselves into. All the while, both Principal Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) and Ferris’ sister, Jeanie (Jennifer Grey) are both determined to catch Ferris for ditching class and to expose him for the not-so-sick boy everyone thinks he is.

John Hughes penned this great script in just six days; but it can’t get any better. The elements of comedy and some drama are blended very well, and it has many great scenes.

The characters are great here and there are some great scenes of characters finding their place in the world, having changes of heart and learning how to take a stand.

The characters are all easily relatable (and well-cast), despite some of them having some annoying aspects to them. Jeanie in specific, but she’s just having a hard time because she feels like an outcast and all of the attention is always on Ferris; so she’s easily excusable because everyone may feel overlooked from time to time. Ferris is relatable because everyone tends to have a rebellious side to them, and he just really knows how to have a good time. Cameron for me is quite relatable because I also tend to be constantly nervous and worrying, and Cam is one of the funniest characters in the flick, and is played very well by Alan Ruck. Sloane and Rooney are probably the least relatable, but they are quite funny and are good characters. I only wish Rooney’s secretary, Grace, was in the film more – she was absolutely hilarious.

The flaws of the film are limited because there’s an even share of laughs and some drama, and it is all quite well-paced. The only flaw I can think of is sometimes it gets really ridiculous, and the [Ferris’] parents are just so stupid. Also, the antagonists here are quite a few, but don’t make the film completely crowded – Rooney’s the obvious one, Jeanie’s cries for attention and need to bust her brother (that’s so Candice on Phineas and Ferb), and the danger of Ferris and co. running into his parents, but what’s a film without a little danger and risk? Cameron’s skepticism and nerves often can be annoying, but he’s good to provoke more conflict that way.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off stars Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jeffrey Jones, Jennifer Grey, Cindy Pickett, Lyman Ward, Edie McClurg, with Ben Stein (“Bueller… Bueller… Bueller…”) and Charlie Sheen.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off offers a memorable story and many memorable characters, scenes, musical numbers, and a great feel-good experience that you want to experience over and over. John Hughes is the only one who can create such great chemistry between this ensemble. There’s big laughs to be had and messages to be cherished, F.B.D.O. is Hughes entertainment at a fantastic peak. It’s really just a must-see for anyone, a great and entertaining [Hughes] teen comedy.

 90/100