Bad Boys for Life
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Now this is a prime example of one of those movies I saw in the videoshop, back when I was a kid, and simply wanted to watch it because of A. the amusing looking poster, and B. it starred Richard Pryor. That's all it took back then, something to catch your eye on the top shelve. You had no idea if it would be any good but without the internet, movie magazines, or any TV shows about current movies, you took the chance (parents willing).
The plot is simple. As the title of the movie indicates, the plot surrounds a move. Arlo Pear (Richard Pryor) has just lost his job as a transportation engineer based in New Jersey. After some time he manages to snag a job with another engineering company in Boise, Idaho. Obviously this would require his family to up sticks and move across the country. At first, naturally, his family isn't happy, but they soon agree. As you might have guessed the whole process becomes one disaster after another involving a shady moving company, their new home, their new neighbours, and the guy Arlo hires to drive his sexy Saab across the country to their new destination.
This is your typical 80's [i]National Lampoon's[/i] type affair, so much so you have expect to see a Chevy Chase cameo. The whole thing is very cliched and very predictable to be honest. Take a look at the various characters, Randy Quaid's characters for instance. Without even typing any further I'll bet you'd know exactly what type of character Quaid plays, and you'd be right. In the New Jersey setting he plays a crazy shell-shocked Vietnam veteran who is impossible to live next door to. In the Idaho setting he plays the twin of this character who is also a crazy (mostly anti-social) person who is impossible to live next door to. So yeah, Quaid kinda does his usual thing which wasn't that far off his Cousin Eddie character from the [i]National Lampoon's[/i] franchise.
The moving company is (of course) represented as a bunch of criminal types that, for some reason, Arlo is unable to get rid of. Arlo turns them away on first impressions but when he goes to another company the same guys turn up! Anyone with sense would just keep looking but Arlo goes with them. The movers themselves are obviously completely over the top with their dodgy appearances and behaviour, King Kong Bundy being one of the most outrageous. Then you have the innocent and apparently squeaky clean Brad (Dana Carvey) who Arlo hires to drive his precious Saab across the country. Naturally he turns out to have a personality disorder and wrecks the car. It's all pretty straight forward stuff.
Everything here is ramped up to ridiculous degrees for obvious comedic effect. So much so that it kinda seems a little too daft to be honest. This is why movies like 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' are so good because they are funny and very relatable. Most could probably recall a time when something similar did happen on a journey, or when you met an odd person as in the film. But this movie goes too far, it gets too stupid. Randy Quaid's characters are amusing and probably the most realistic if you are very unfortunate, but the whole dodgy moving company and Dana Carvey character are beyond silly really.
Add to that the various daft occurrences that befall Arlo besides these characters. The fact they buy this lovely house off an elderly couple only to find the place completely stripped of everything, right down to the actual stairs and doors, is amusing but insane. They even take the swimming pool leaving a big hole. Then you have this pretty lame (unwarranted) action sequence with Arlo chasing the moving vehicle on the highway which is so obviously done at a slow speed with obvious stunt doubles. Again it's another silly moment that is unrelatable and looks silly and fake. And then right at the end Arlo manages to turn his new crazy neighbour around from his unsociable ways purely by scaring him with his large dog? Eh?? A bit of a convenient wrap for that entire saga. Apparently Quaid's crazy twin character suddenly has newfound respect for Arlo...because he used his big dog on him?
Anyway the movie is clearly not supposed to be taken seriously and obviously a deliberately goofy affair. It's a comedy vehicle for Pryor to flex his comedic muscles. Unfortunately this could have been so much better in my opinion. The idea is there but the execution is just sloppy and dumb. Sure it's funny watching Arlo snap and get tough with everyone, but at the same time it's just silly because it's not really very realisitc (again I must refer back to that John Hughes classic). Granted the movie did succeed in making me feel uncomfortable and somewhat nervous as I watched Arlo's life crumble, so there's that. But overall I really feel this would have been better if it were more grounded with less lunacy. Great original poster though, really draws you in.
In 1938 Charles Addams created a cartoon family that would become his legacy. The Addams family was a satirical inversion of your typical American family of the time. The all American family was seen a certain way and this was Addams twisted view on the matter. Addams macabre little family of ghouls, misfits, and monsters has since gone on to become a staple of American pop culture alongside the similarly themed Munster Family with cartoons, TV series, and movies. This 2019 animated movie is apparently a reboot of the classic 1991 movie.
The plot is unfortunately you're average affair which has been played out many many many times before (including the 1993 film 'Addams Family Values' and the basis for the entire 1992 animated series). The Addams move into their new home (I'll get to that) and go about their daily strange lives. All the while Gomez and Morticia are keeping Pugsley and Wednesday unaware of the small local town nearby. Their reason is they know they will come across as weird outcasts to the 'normies' and they don't want Pugsley or Wednesday to deal with it.
As expected Wednesday does eventually discover the outside world and wants to explore it after meeting another local girl her own age. As expected Morticia is firmly against this but struggles to keep Wednesday from exploring. Meanwhile in the town there is an obsessive reality TV host who is wanting to turn the local town into the perfect community; as expected the Addams are getting the way of her vision. Her solution? Get rid of the Addams family.
So firstly as already mentioned, at the start of this movie we see Gomez and Morticia before they are married. We also see how they get the mansion and how they meet Lurch. None of this satisfied me in the slightest. Allow me to elaborate. Firstly where does Morticia live at the very start? It appears as though she's living in the sewers? Eh?? Where is this located? It kinda looks like a period set village. Secondly, after the newlyweds are run out of whatever town they live in, they reach an abandoned loony bin. This asylum becomes their new home, the Addams mansion. I hated this! Surely in Addams lore the mansion has been the family home for generations of Addams before Gomez and Morticia, right? But here they just stumble upon it and basically take it? Does this mean the Addams family are swatting in this abandoned asylum? I mean, they haven't bought it, surely it belongs to the state (?).
This leads me to the introduction of Lurch. Gomez hits Lurch with his car just before they find the abandoned asylum. Turns out Lurch is an ex-patient of the asylum and is somehow just wondering around in the wild. So how did Lurch get into this situation? What happened to the asylum? Why wasn't Lurch switched to another asylum with the other patients? (I'm guessing that's what happened). This also leads me to query Lurch's mental state seeing as he's a patient. He isn't working for the Addams by choice per se, it happened by accident and mentally he's not stable. So with the proper help, he could get well again and this could mean he wouldn't want to be a butler for the Addams. So if you wanna be technical and picky, this plotline basically has a mentally sick person being abused for the Addams gain, almost slavery. They should have just stuck to the original storyline.
Indeed the opening of the movie does lend itself to many questions as I've mentioned. I really didn't like how they handled it because I was left yearning to know more about the origins of the family. Where does Gomez hale from? What was Morticia doing in the sewers? What about the other Addams family members etc...Ripe for a prequel. Alas I really don't like the way they went with the origins for the mansion and Lurch. Also the fact they wanted to live somewhere dangerous and away from people who don't understand them, so they chose New Jersey. Yeah I know its a joke but obviously there are far better, more isolated places they could have gone.
I do like how the characters now resemble the original comic strips from Charles Addams from back in 1938. Neat touch although not entirely necessary to be truthful. As the two 90's movies proved the characters can be highly successful not looking exactly the same. I say this because I've never been a fan of the original look for Gomez. I loved how Morticia seemed to be portrayed as a bit of a gothic slut at the start of the movie with her black knee-high boots, black mini skirt, and black tight-fitting corset. Nice to see the Addams pet octopus (now named Socrates) make an appearance. Oscar Isaac did a great job with Gomez's voice and actually sounded like the late Raul Julia (unsure if that was intentional). But I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Uncle Fester. Must admit I didn't like some of the designs for other Addams family members.
I had been looking forward to this movie ever since I heard about it (I'm a huge Addams fan). And whilst I'm not totally disappointed, this wasn't quite as good as I was hoping for. Visually its gorgeous no doubt. I love how the mansion looks both exterior and interior (would have liked to see more of that really. Mores secret passages etc...) Would have liked to see more of the Addams estate too, the grounds around the house.
As said the plot is a bit deary and unoriginal leading to screentime with 'regular characters' which, for me, were the boring parts because I just wanted to see the Addams getting up to spooky hijinks. Yes it's for kids but not overtly so, there are some nice tiny touches here and there that will make older folks smile. The small 'IT' gag was appreciated. A quick exorcist visual reference and a clever and quite adult-themed visual gag surrounding Thing being online was amusing. So yeah its solid but I hated what they did with Lurch and the mansion origins, can't get past that. Oh and the rap song over the end credits is nowhere near as good as MC Hammer's 'Addams Groove'.
Or 'Supernatural Beast City' as it's known in Japan was another creation by Hideyuki Kikuchi (of [i]Vampire Hunter D[/i] fame). This anime is based on Kikuchi's six novel series called 'Black Guard'. Funnily enough this anime movie was also directed by 'Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust' director Yoshiaki Kawajiri and animated by Japanese animation studio Madhouse. The team works, if it ain't broke don't fix it.
So what's it all about? Well I kinda think of this as an early adult version of 'Men In Black' (possibly a strong influence of said movie). Basically towards the end of the 20th-century humans coexist with another dimension that is inhabited by supernatural demons called 'Black World'. This other dimension is only known to the select few, it's a top-secret kept from the general public and is policed by a secret organisation of special agents (on both sides) called Black Watch.
The two worlds coexist via a peace treaty which is due to be renewed between the two sides. Unfortunately a militant group of demon radicals from Black World want to stop the treaty for their own nefarious purposes. So on the human side, agent Renzaburõ Taki, and on the demon side, agent Makie, are both assigned to protect the treaty signatory in Tokyo.
Now to say this movie has a sexual element combined with an element of body horror would be an understatement. This was one of the first anime movies I remember seeing as a young teen purely for one thing, the first sex scene between the protagonist and a Black World radical in human form. Sounds normal, allow me to explain. For starters this sex scene is pretty in-depth all things considered, certainly an eye-opener for newbies to the genre. Anywho the real shocker comes from the girl who transforms into a spider-like humanoid with spider-like limbs (no hands) and a tooth laden vagina...yup. But wait, I'm not done. Not only that, but she walks on all fours like some kind of quadrupedal posessed horror movie nightmare and she shoots webbing out from said tooth laden vagina...yeah. She then proceeds to try and bite off Taki's junk with her vagina (for fecks sake!).
So there's that character. Throughout the movie there are various other Black World demons we come across which also serve up some rather gruesome visuals. Two radicals again attack Taki at the airport. One appears to have tentacles growing from his torso. He gets his head shot off which then proceeds to grow smaller tentacles and walk on its own in a spider-like fashion. Yes I too immediately thought of 'John Carpenter's The Thing'. The other radical seemed to have a huge tooth laden maw in his chest. Later on we see the treaty signatory almost absorbed into another female radical body in yet another sex sequence. Another female radical with mind control powers and a huge vagina-like opening in her chest (talk about subtext!). And the main antagonist of the story turns out to be your typical tentacle sprouting demon with a rock-like humanoid skin which he/it eventually sheds to reveal a more terrifying toothy monster.
Remember when I mentioned a sexual element? Yep well get ready because there is also two (yes two) full-blown animated rape sequences in here too. Firstly Makie is captured by a huge slimy snake-like slug demon which coils around her (she's also naked), and then proceeds to literally f*ck her mouth with its rather phallic-looking tongue...ahem! Then later on poor old Makie is captured, restrained and strung up by the wrists, and then thoroughly gang-raped by two Black World radicals. It does tend to come across as if the character of Makie is more of a fetish implement than anything. I know about the Japanese and their love of tentacles, schoolgirl uniforms and whatnot.
I think one thing that does stand out to me is the fact that no one is ever around in this movie. Tokyo is often empty. Narita airport was empty. Every battle never seems to raise any alarm from anyone or alert any police no matter where it takes place. One action sequence takes place inside a long tunnel for cars yet there are no other cars to be seen, no other humans, no traffic nothing. I know its a minor silly gripe but it did stand to me. The same can be said about the often seen 'frozen face' thing with anime movies. By that I mean the fact that you get loads (and I mean loads) of close-up shots of characters faces that are almost frozen, no movement.
I should also point out another often seen trope in anime movies, and that's the wise old man character. In many anime movies I've seen there is often an aged wise old man character (sometimes a bad guy) who is usually very small, sometimes fat but usually skinny, ugly, troll-like almost, and usually the comedic relief. Often these characters also tend to look more cartoony in appearance than the other main characters. In 'Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust' there was the Dungeon Master-like character who led the Barbarois. In 'Ninja Scroll' there was the character of Dakuan. And here in 'Wicked City' there is the treaty signatory Giuseppe Mayart. A Yoda-like character who, like Dakuan from 'Ninja Scroll', harbours secret powers and skills.
Anyway whilst the overall plot is very simple I did find the ending somewhat baffling. Taki and Makie both face off against Shadow the villain but are finding it tough going. Even the wise old Mayart is having trouble. But low and behold Makie is able to land the final blow because...she is pregnant? Yep by this point Makie is expecting a (half-human) child with Taki and that has increased her powers (remember she is a demon from the Black World). Not sure why but there you go. Apparently this was the crafty plan all along by both parties of Black Watch and all overseen by undercover Black World agent Mayart. Taki and Makie are perfect for each other. To create the perfect half-human half-demon...person...who will ensure everlasting peace between the two dimensions, somehow. So I guess its a John Connor scenario?
This is definitely one of the more surreal anime movies I've seen, but it wasn't unpleasant (apart from the spider-woman). If anything the movie draws you in with morbid curiosity to see what crops up next. The sexual undercurrent throughout is both disturbing and again engaging I can't deny. Watching a huge wet slimy slippery snake-like creature have its wicked way with the highly attractive female lead is something you can't look away from even though you know it's not supposed to be good (I think, can't tell with these anime/manga franchises as we all know the original lure way back was the animated sex and violence).
Again the animation is top banana. Slick and smooth as butter with, I think, the odd touch of CGI? Yes the story is cliched, the main characters aren't too original, and many of the Black World demons are, by today's standards, a bit derivative (obviously so in some cases). But the sheer explicitness of the movie is admittedly a draw. This is one of those animes that does live up to the adult rating hype that you might recall from back in the day. Oh and yes it does have yet another one of those crappy Japanese songs over the end credits that sounds like a karaoke recording.
Again I'm harking back to my teenage years in the 90's. Back then I had a passing interest in manga/anime which had slowly begun to rear its stylish head in the UK. Typically the slow progression was mainly down to its limited availability and in the UK that meant one place only, [i]Forbidden Planet[/i] (and various independent comic stores). This would lead to the occasional discovery of certain anime movies which piqued my interest mainly down to the franchise in question or the often sexy looking box art (and by sexy I mean awesomely good...or sometimes actually kinky).
So me being a bit of a goth and having a love of all things vampiric (amongst other notable classic ghouls), 'Vampire Hunter D' really struck a chord with me. On the one hand, whilst I was intrigued I did find the look of the movie (going by the limited pictures on the case) to be a little off for my liking. Sure it was vampires and big creepy castles etc...but it obviously had that distinct Japanese vibe to it which kinda looked a bit odd. Even to this day it's still a strange combination to see a classic Universal monster mixed into the world of anime. This was also one reason (aside from it being solid) why the movie did so well as it was one of the first, if not the first, anime to cross science-fiction with classic gothic elements.
So what's it's about? Well its quite simple really. Set in a post-nuclear holocaust world, the year of 12,090 AD, A young attractive girl named Doris (Doris?) is attacked and bitten by a very old and powerful vampire named Count Magnus. A bit later Doris comes across a lone mysterious stranger called D who happens to be a dhampir (half human half vampire). She asks him for help in killing Count Magnus in order to prevent herself from turning into a vampire. What follows is your typical action-based adventure with D basically taking the vampire down and rescuing Doris who inevitably gets kidnapped by the Count.
This anime is based on a 1983 Japanese novel by Hideyuki Kikuchi and it does seemingly require you to read that book first. Why? Well the movie doesn't really explain anything. For example, it is not really explained what happened to Earth and how the nuclear holocaust occurred. This naturally leads to the question of how vampires arose, where did they come from? Are they a mutation of some kind? Turns out that these vampires are also incredibly skilled in science and technology (as well as the obligatory supernatural powers) which led to them ruling over humans so easily for so long. But how did all that happen? Apparently this science and technology (along with supernatural powers) helped the vampires fill this world with mutants, monsters, and of course the undead. But none of that is really delved into. Vampires have also essentially brainwashed humans over the decades into believing that the classic weapons that can be used against vampires, such as crosses, are ineffective. Again things like this are not delved into in the movie.
The same can be said about the protagonist D. We know he is a dhampir (interesting and curious use of Balkan folklore). A half-breed, a daywalker so to speak, but that is all. We aren't given any background information on D. Visually he is tall, slim, elegant, handsome with long flowing hair, dapper looking, seemingly a westerner (as are all anime characters often), and he is armed with a lovely long narrow sword. Oh and his horse is...a cyborg?? He is the archetype of the classic Hollywood lone cowboy who rides into town to clean up the place. In this case the town is a small old fashioned Eastern European styled village. But on top of that D has another unexplained oddity, his left hand seems to be possessed by a demon or symbiote of some kind. This is represented by a demonic-looking face in the palm of his hand that seems to have powers unto itself. In other words his hand can do things like vacuum up things into its mouth (D's palm). But presumably these things aren't going into D's body, or arm, they must be going into some other realm or dimension within the demon/symbiote.
So the plot is full of wild west tropes and cliches, it's essentially a western with vampires. Not a problem but it has to be pointed out, this isn't an original concept. That aside the main plus points obviously revolve around the animation which as you may expect with anime is top notch. Whilst it may not be as good as current anime it's still bloody (no pun intended) good and really gets you in the mood. A scene where vampires and their werewolf minions can be heard approaching the village from a distance is really brilliantly creepy. The generally dark misty ethereal visuals alongside classic gothic visuals are brilliantly conveyed, but admittedly at times typical Japanese anime styles and choices in designs do sit a tad uncomfortably alongside them. The vampire's castle interior isn't quite what I would have expected frankly.
Again being anime there will be blood and gore, hardly unprecedented levels to be honest but there are some great scenes. One scene where D loses his possessed hand and it takes on a life of its own to save D actually reminded me of Sam Riami's iconic horror franchise [i]The Evil Dead[/i]. One thing I liked about the gore in this is that it actually felt warranted, for obvious reasons. It didn't feel gratuitous or over the top. That being said there are still some scenes of typical anime nudity which, when I was younger I thought was awesome, now I'm older feels kinda unnecessary. I should also point out that, in typical anime fashion, the soundtrack and score are also pretty dire. Most of it is ugly synthesized stuff that feels completely out of place set against the classically styled visuals. And at the end you get one of those typically horrible Japanese songs which sounds like a cheap tacky karaoke recording.
So yeah, overall this is definitely a very slick package. I mean what more could you want? An ice-cool half-vampire hunting protagonist in the realms of Neo before Neo was even a thing. Gorgeous animation and overall visuals. A solid English voiceover cast (dunno who they are though). And a curious yet fully engaging blend of ideas and themes. Sure it's cliched as hell and basically a western with a fantasy spin, but it works well and most probably helped spawn many other familiar franchises.
[Being British and having grown up in the UK (except in 1987 where I lived with my parents in the US for that year) I don't really have any experience with Mr. Rogers and his long-running show. I know of Mr. Rogers, I have heard of Mr. Rogers, but I never grew up with Mr. Rogers so I am unable to deliver any real childhood memories. Even when living in the US for that one year I never recall watching his show (as far as I can remember).
I have always put Mr. Rogers in the same kind of category as [i]Sesame Street[/i] or [i]Blue Peter[/i] here in the UK. One of those long-running legendary shows for children that has amassed epic levels of respect, praise, awards, and memories for so many of all backgrounds (although the UK shows haven't run as long as the US ones). Some of the very few television programs that will live on forever (in their respective countries) having truly made a difference in so many people's lives. That's how I tend to look at it anyway.
I guess the first thing that surprised me was the fact that Rogers was in fact the same Mr. Rogers you saw on TV. It almost seemed too good to be true that the kind, pragmatic, casual yet well-dressed person you saw TV was the same person off TV. Behind the curtain Rogers was indeed still the same man who cared for educating and listening to children in a sensible way whilst upholding his strong religious Christian beliefs...and not in a creepy way. Mind you I say that but I can't deny that watching this biopic did make me question the man at times. He came across as so sensitive and in-tune with kids that doubts couldn't help but form in my mind. Not to mention all the odd little quirks and rituals he had.
Another thing that surprised me was the content Rogers would confront children with. There was me thinking his show was a kind of long-running early variety show with different acts, cartoons, and guests. Turns out Rogers dealt with serious issues. He didn't shy away from talking to the kids about such things like death, divorce, love, depression etc...Sure he did so with the aid of various puppets, songs, and some guests all within a little imaginary model neighborhood, but he still spoke about these subjects. Rogers was able to connect with kids at a very personal level by seeing them as people, simple really. Yes kids aren't adults but they aren't completely stupid, they still understand things, they still feel and obviously have emotions. Rogers had a gift and was able to tap into that, he could communicate with kids about serious matters.
But it wasn't just kids, Rogers did the same for adults apparently too. Maybe not as much and maybe with not as much success but he still did his best. We see that he actually worked with prison inmates at one point. There was also a time when he met a fully grown gorilla and engaged in some pretty amazing sign-language conversations. He subtly taught kids about race, equality, and tolerance in a segment where he simply paddled in a kids pool with one of his regular show guests (who was African American). And he would address (now historical) disasters with kids so they understood what was happening simply because Rogers believed kids needed to learn the truth and not be shielded. The fact that not telling the actual truth can be actually more scary for kids. Gotta hand it to the guy, he had balls.
I think one of the hardest segments to watch in this film was seeing Rogers struggle to address the 9/11 attacks in New York. Clearly he knew he had to talk about it, you can hear others saying so in the film. But the sight of Rogers genuinely trying to find the words to try and deal with such a horrific disaster was heartbreaking. It was as if he was beaten at that moment, there was nothing he could say to soothe the pain.
All that aside I did find this biopic slightly slow at times I can't deny. There is a lot of archive footage (obviously) showcasing Rogers back in the day as he talks about his goals and beliefs. There is a lot of archive footage (obviously) of the show from when it first started, through the decades from black and white to colour, and all the various elements within. We see various guests, the puppets, the model neighborhood, behind the scenes, the sets, the crew, Rogers wife etc...Very much in the same vein as any solid extra you'd get on a new Bluray release. Whilst this is all interesting for the most part, not [b]all[/b] of it is totally engaging. Gotta be truthful here. Especially from a visual perspective, the later shows in colour are far more engaging than the admittedly slow and dull looking black and white era shows. There's nothing quite as iconic as watching Rogers stroll on set and proceed to change into his trademark sneakers and red cardigan...in colour. Retro (and modern) US TV has a distinct look about it that I can't really explain. It always seemed much more colourful, as if it had been shot in Technicolor from the 1950's.
So in conclusion, this is a film where you will most probably choke up at some point. It's hard to pinpoint where and why to be honest, unless you are a lifelong adult fan reliving your childhood memories. But this biopic is so warm, heartfelt, and full of positivity that at times it just makes you cry, it's practically inevitable. In the end, I think what I find the most ironic and sad is that in this current day and age a man like Mr. Rogers would probably find himself under attack (from certain groups) for his race, his gender, his close work with children, and his religion. Twitter would probably horrify him. Mr. Rogers would not work in this present day, and that's the saddest truth of all.