80′s & 90′s Movie Challenge Part Deux: Saving Private Ryan, Top Gun 3D, Hellraiser, Wallstreet, and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

 

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What a week. I have been squeezing in these old movies around Community, Archer, and Oscar prep but honestly, I’m really enjoying them. There isn’t much in common with all the movies this time around, other than the fact that I’d been highly anticipating a viewing. These are all movies that I’ve been slowly kicking myself for not seeing exponentially harder ever since I started calling myself a movie buff. In the back of my head I knew I needed to watch them, but at the same time I felt like I already knew them so well because of the referential pop culture that now consumes modern entertainment. At a certain point it almost became a refusal to see these movies and have an experience where I’m just filling in the blanks of what I knew. However, today I gladly report that each of these movies still found a way to surprise me and I find that very impressive after 20 and 30 years.

Saving Private Ryan I watched a couple of weeks ago. It’s interesting to see Tom Hanks in a character you haven’t seen him play. He’s such a recognizable actor, you already feel like you know all of his characters. I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen Tom Hanks kill a man, though. Scratch that, he threw a critic out of a window in Cloud Atlas. But the evil characters he played in Cloud Atlas were like cartoony evil, the doctor with his evil ruse and the over the top gangster author. Saving Private Ryan is the first time I’ve seen T.Hanks really kill a guy in the real world. It was interesting, and I thought his character was definitely the most interesting in the whole film. The turn when you found out what he did for a living was just fascinating. Awesome movie, and I guess it’s right that I just saw it because Spielberg is probably going to run away with best director tonight at the Oscars. More on those tomorrow though…
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And what else is there to say about the opening scene where they were storming the beach that hasn’t already been said? In a few years when this movie makes it around to the IMAX theaters I am going to have to go. I can only imagine how visceral, unrelenting, and in your face that shit would be in a theater.
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Speaking of movies making it back around to IMAX, that is exactly where I went to see Top Gun for the first time. And oh, what an experience it was. I truly feel as if I’ve never really heard the song Highway to the Danger Zone until I saw this movie. Like, I’d heard it, but I’d never heard it until now. My eyes are open, they are bulging out of my skull like Maverick and Iceman were bulging out of their volleyball suits.

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SCORE!                                                                     I’m gonna fuck that guy.

But seriously, I really enjoyed this movie. You know what really surprised me about this movie? Like the aspect that took it from enjoyable fast paced movie to an interesting film. It was the point where the movie stopped being about a man and his ego but being about a man trying to crawl out of depression. That’s right, it’s the moment Goose died. I was in awe, I couldn’t believe they killed Goose after spending three scenes introducing us to his family. I literally said, audibly, in the theater, Oh my God…” when he cracked his head. I can only imagine how I must have looked being the only person over 10 in the audience that was seeing it for the first time, but it really took me by surprise. I had this movie pinned down as a shallow but fun movie about a group of men trying really hard not to be gay. It really surprised me when it took this turn, the first half of the movie was just about Maverick and his ego wasn’t as much of a problem because he was so good, and I assumed the plotline with his father was just there to give him motivation to be a dick in the sky, but the last half of the movie turned into him having to overcome all these issues he had. He had to learn to keep his ego in check, he had to learn to not blame himself, he had to learn about his father, and after all that it didn’t matter that he didn’t win Top Gun. It’s barely mentioned. And only after he solves all these problems he is able to FIGHT THE COMMIES IN THE ASS! He can be my wingman any time.

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You can be my wingman too, LiteraryBoner.

Also, I’d be really interested if someone brought me a percentage of how much of the film had either Danger Zone or Take My Breath Away playing in the background. I’m betting a solid third, but I also suck at math. Anyone?

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Hellraiser is an interesting case for me. The thing I love about watching movies that have stood the test of time is that you can find movies you like in genres you  don’t generally vibe with. So, for those of you who don’t know, I hate horror. I just don’t get it. My detestation of horror films come from a few things. One of which is that when I was young my sister was older and her and my dad loved horror films, so they would watch all these scary movies and I was the youngest just did not dig on it. Not sure why, maybe because they were fucking scary. For fuck’s sake, I saw Stephen King’s It when I was five! The only horror movie I really liked growing up was Scream, and although I didn’t know it I think I was attracted to the whole meta movie aspect of it. Another reason I hate horror films is because of what they’ve become. Horror films have gone so far into indulgent gross-out gore and jump scares that no movies are genuinely frightening anymore. They just gross you out and make you scream. It’s a masochistic pleasure to me, like spicy food.
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Did someone say masochistic pleasure?
That said, I really liked Hellraiser. It was interesting and didn’t follow the dynamic of there being a bad monster and a good guy. It was not like that at all, it was more complicated than that, which I loved. You got to watch a woman fall into the depths of murderous insanity, a housewife reduced to a sexual pet by forbidden love, a zombie come back to life through killing, ans a neat little story about the husband and his daughter. There were lots of characters, all wanted different things, all knew different things, and the Hellraiser villain wasn’t introduced or explained until halfway through. And I liked that, there was enough going on without him. And as much of a detestable asshole as Frank was, I thought he was such a neat character for a movie like this. He’s like this pathetic manipulative zombie, it was a role I hadn’t seen before. Really enjoyed this movie.

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Wallstreet was OK. I’m just gonna lead with that. I liked it a lot but it wasn’t mind bottling. I would assume it’s one of those movies that has been played out, referenced, and payed homage to so many times that nothing surprised me in it, which is no fault of its own of course. However, in the end the only thing that really surprised me about this movie was that all these people wanted Daryl Hannah so bad. Nothing against her, I thought she was great in the Kill Bill movies, but maybe I just have a negative bias towards women with broad shoulders, but she was seriously off putting. It was weird how Charlie Sheen’s character was handed a platter with the world on it and he looks at this pretentious decorator who has the build of a Denver Bronco as the pinnacle of beauty. Gekko too.

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Daaahhh… Nobody wants to play with mee….

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Actually, there were a couple of things about this movie I did like. I really liked Michael Douglas’ character. I can really see how this movie started his typecasting into cold, precise businessmen. That scene where Charlie Sheen meets him for the first time, brings him the cigars, was really cool to me. Gekko was like a machine, he spoke fast and to the point, he was intimidating, he was constantly active. It was like he had finely tuned his body to be able to work all the time, like he was nothing but a well put together vehicle for his mind. Really a fascinating character. Not really fascinating in that he was greedy and stabbed Sheen in the back, more like it was interesting what he considered important. His fetish for art was a really interesting character trait for him.

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Speaking of female leads being treated disproportional to how hot they are, what was up with Pee Wee not getting down with Dottie? She was a hottie for sure. I felt so bad for her. Other than that I really enjoyed Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.

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She is so gosh darned pretty, Pee Wee! And she calls you Pee Pee! HOW FUCKING CUTE IS THAT! KISS HER FACE. But no. He’s a loner. A rebel.

This movie probably has the widest appeal I’ve ever seen. Kids would love it, but there’s so much witty and somewhat adult humor I could picture only the grumpiest of grumps disliking it. There were memorable characters, it was a good road trip film, and it had a great ending. It’s funny watching a movie and realizing that another movie you love was practically based off of it. There were so many similarities between Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and a movie I watched so much as a kid I know every line, which is Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. In fact, in reflection I thought it was an interesting commentary on how the youth have changed. I watched Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back a lot around the ages of 13-15, which is interesting that that’s the kind of comedy that has evolved from movies like Pee Wee’s Big Adventure for the young adults of my young adult age.

And before you argue, the similarities are definitely there. Both movies are road trip movies starring an immature protagonist (or protagonists), both meet a lot of interesting characters on the way (which is more of an attribute of road trip movies…), both are about movies being made about the movie, both have scenes involving a chase on a movie studio lot and they even use similar tactics to get the protagonists out, the parallels stack high on this one.

But in the end, I loved Pee Wee as much as I loved Jay and Bob when I was a kid. How someone could not enjoy watching Paul Reubens have that much fun is beyond me. Half of the movie was just watching him react to everyday things like he was in the world for the first time, and I think it’s that childlike wonder that held this movie together, made people love this movie. Because deep down, all any of us want is to be able to revert to our childlike states where everything was new and joy was easy to come by, and I think that’s what this movie reminds us of. Brilliant.

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Exhibit A.
Also, Hollywood, this one is free. MAKE THIS MOVIE!  pee-wees-big-adventure-1

 

-C

2 thoughts on “80′s & 90′s Movie Challenge Part Deux: Saving Private Ryan, Top Gun 3D, Hellraiser, Wallstreet, and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

  1. So it appears that I’ve done good for you so far. Jason LOVED Pee Wee as a kid. Did you ever see his TV show? I know it’s before your time, but maybe you’ve seen it in syndication?

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