Mark H.'s Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Meatballs
Meatballs (1979)
3 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

I was somewhat surprised to see a 75% rating on RT, and I'm almost certain that was NOT the reception it received from critics in 1979. This movie, if I am not mistaken, was almost universally panned by critics back then. I don't know if people are sentimental about this movie, or if our standards and mindsets have changed. In any event, Meatballs is actually a very sweet film, unfairly criticized as an Animal House-type rip off. It's actually not very vulgar, or sexy, or offensive at all. Perhaps in 1979, people were more easily shocked? Meatballs features Bill Murray in his very first lead roll, and he carries the movie from start to finish. The history of how this movie got made, and how Murray was hardly a lock to play Tripper is worth a Google. Ivan Reitman wanted a shot at directing a teen comedy after he was denied the director's chair on Animal House. He produced it instead, and when given the chance, soon after directed Meatballs. This movie most likely would be long forgotten had Murray passed on it. However, there is just enough goofy camp situations and supporting character development to make this movie worth while. What is most surprising about this movie is how sentimental and sweet it really is. You have to be a fairly cynical person to dislike the harmlessness of this film. It isn't a great film by any means, but it manages to be a little touching, a little funny, and is very easy to watch. This is a good choice for young teenagers who desperately want to see Porky's or Animal House, but aren't old enough for that just yet. A nice effort from a virtual novice (in film) from Murray, the SNL newbie and National Lampoon alum. Worth a spot in the genre's hall of fame. Honorable mention, anyway.

Everybody Wants Some!!
3 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Ah, to be young and good looking, and really young and really good looking. Who said that? Richard Linklater has a near monopoly on the nostalgia of being young. He captured it perfectly in his 1976-era, end of high-school day-in-the-life movie, Dazed and Confused. D and C is not really a cult classic, it's more of a mainstream classic. People loved that movie, especially anyone who was a child or young person in the 1970's. I was 2 in 1976, but I feel like I can TRUST that it felt like Linklater tells us it felt like. He is so comfortable with natural dialogue and finding funny and touching moments in seemingly unimportant scenes. Both of these movies consist of a mishmash of scenes that feel improvised, though I believe Linklater is more deliberate than that. His perception and grasp of what it feels like to experience freedom and independence at the age of 16-22 is astounding. He brings that feeling to the screen and for 2 hours we FEEL like we are back in college for the first semester, with all the excitement and possibility and adventure that holds. I remember that feeling, and I miss it. D and C was better in that it was a bit more meaty, and felt more substantive than Everybody Wants Some!! But this is a fine film too, and who knows, if this movie came first, perhaps this would be the favorite son, and not the other way around. I doubt it, but either way, this is a very good attempt at recapturing that same feeling, by simply turning the calendar pages ahead 4 years to another memorable period in time. I hope he's not done...

Alice Through the Looking Glass
3 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Alice Through the Looking Glass is, surprisingly, a well-made fantasy with a much better story and a tighter script than Alice in Wonderland. I was disappointed with Tim Burton's version of Wonderland, far too much CGI and what is almost totally lost in the computer translation is the magic. When the weirdness and whimsy of these stories take a backseat to a hundred million dollars worth of CGI effects, the result is simply boring. This film is easier to follow, focuses on a story with a problem and a goal, and wasn't any less spectacular in its effects. The result is a movie that feels much less self-aware. The pressure had to be immense on Burton making Wonderland, and this movie feels much less forced, and much more focused. Frankly, although Wonderland made real money despite the so-so reception, I was very surprised to see this movie made as a sequel with Depp, Wasikowska and the original cast. They make better use of them here, and I enjoyed this movie even more the second time I watched it. Simply superior to the first movie.

Lights Out
Lights Out (2016)
11 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Horror movies, in my opinion, usually start off with an uphill battle when it comes to critic reviews. Critics are particularly harsh on horror movies, often because the film relies on jump scares, too much CGI or recycled ideas from prior horror films. Lights Out, in a way, does suffer a bit from those very problems, but it overcomes them by simply doing it better than those films that it borrows from. Mama, a film from Guerrmo Del Toro, is a very similar film, but is far less scary. This movie benefits greatly by its relatively short run time (81 minutes) and feels fast, tight and focused. It also barely gives us time to relax or breathe, as the scares come fast and never let up from the first 5 minutes into the film. The dim, dreary locations (mostly Maria Bello's house) are spooky and envelope us in tense atmosphere even when nothing is happening. You want to open a window or turn on several lights in every room, especially the basement. This movie has been described as a thrill ride, deliberately fast-paced, with lots of action and few chances to relax. The movie takes place over a period of just a few nights and days, and every night something creepy or worse happens. It reminded me of Poltergeist, not because the films are similar, but because every night you feel like something bad is going to happen, and it usually does. This movie isn't very unique or especially novel or new, but it simply does better what other movies like it have tried to do. I really enjoyed it in a dark, crowed theater, so I paid to see it twice in consecutive nights.

Indian Summer
Indian Summer (1993)
13 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

I love movies about summer camp. I don't know what it is, but when I was a kid, I was too homesick and terrified to actually enjoy the experience of summer camp. Now, looking back, or watching movies like Indian Summer, or even Meatballs and Little Darlings, I realize how special the experience of summer camp can be for kids with the courage and maturity to appreciate it. What is great about Indian Summer is, these 30-somethings get to return to their beloved camp as adults for one final week of camp before the camp closes for good. As the old saying goes, "youth is wasted on the young," and this movie captures that spirit by allowing these former campers one more week to relive some of the best times of their lives. I don't have fond memories of my one summer at camp, perhaps I was too young or immature to relax and enjoy it. I just wanted to survive and get home. Watching this movie makes me want to go to camp now, at age 42. In fact, my girlfriend and I are taking the journey to the very lake where this movie was filmed - Tea Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, in about 2 weeks. I can't wait. The location Director, Mike Binder picked to relive his real-life childhood camp experience is Camp Tamakwa, on Tea Lake in Algonquin Park. It's in the heart of Canada's wild, natural, untouched National Park and a perfect place to make a film like this. The casting is decent, although I could do without Kevin Pollak. The acting is fine. The only real problem with this movie, and it's a pretty big problem, is that it feels like one, long, inside joke where everyone is laughing hysterically at each of dozens of memories and most of them feel forced or not entirely believable. The actors are doing their best to express nostalgia, but it only works sometimes. An example of where it works much better is The Big Chill. We learn more about the characters and their respective relationships in that film than we do in this one. This is still a fun movie, more so for those, like me, who love the idea of camp and long for a second chance to go back and experience it. It's why we go camping in the woods as adults and why so many people buy motorhomes and journey into the woods. We all want to be campers again. And, as adults, we are better able to appreciate how special the experience is. And how lucky was Matt Craven? He got to play Hardware in Meatballs in 1979 and then Jamie Ross, 14 years later, in this film AND is engaged to gorgeous Kimberly "Father of the Bride" Williams. Lucky. I will add an addendum to this review next month after we visit the lake where this movie was filmed, and perhaps even visit the actual camp Tamakwa. I just hope it lives up to my expectations. My trip is, after all, inspired in part by this film! The movie was mostly fun for Mike Binder and childhood friend Sam Raimi, who plays Stick, as they revisit their childhood camp Mike attended for 10 straight summers. No wonder he wanted to make this movie! However, it's just another reason why it feels like such an inside joke - an experience we all wish we could have been in on, but most of us weren't.