Tag Archives: Chevy Chase

Seems Like Old Times (1980, Jay Sandrich)

Seems Like Old Times is an enthusiastic homage to the screwball comedy. Most of the action takes place at Goldie Hawn’s house, where she’s trying to hide fugitive ex-husband Chevy Chase from current husband–and district attorney–Charles Grodin. She’s a public defender who takes in all of her clients, giving them jobs so they can provide comic relief in their interactions with Grodin and his straight-laced pals.

It’s not a successful homage to the screwball comedy, unfortunately. Neil Simon’s script doesn’t have the rapid fire dialogue. He lets Chase sleepwalk through the film. Chase has some charm and he’s got some decent moments, but he’s barely in the film. Old Times goes more on Hawn not having chemistry with Grodin than it does on rebuilding chemistry between Chase and Hawn. Maybe because the problem isn’t her marriage, but him being on the lamb. And barely in the movie.

But even if Simon’s script were full of rapid fire dialogue to give it that screwball comedy feel–outside the absurd yet domestic antics–director Sandrich wouldn’t know what to do with it. Because Simon occasionally goes have a phenomenal scene, usually involving Harold Gould’s judge. Gould’s doing a mild Groucho and it works beautifully. But Sandrich doesn’t direct his cast towards energy, quite the opposite. Grodin walks away with the middle half of the film just because he’s actually being active. Hawn’s reduced to sitting around and waiting for something to happen to her.

And even if Sandrich directed it all perfectly, Michael A. Stevenson wouldn’t cut it together well. He holds takes too long, holds reactions shots too long. Seems Like Old Times is too slow. Having a fast moving Marvin Hamlisch score only does so much, especially since it’s not a particularly good score. It’s got good moments, but overall, it leaves a lot to be desired.

The acting is all solid, some better than others. Hawn’s best when she’s not with Chase as Simon reduces her to the straight man while tranquilizing Chase to the point no one’s running the scene. She’s still Goldie Hawn, after all; she’s adorable. Chase’s funny. Grodin’s funny. Robert Guillaume’s funny. George Grizzard’s pretty good in a small part. Gould’s great. T.K. Carter’s kind of great; he’d be better if Simon gave him all strong material instead of occasionally falling back on young black kid with white folks humor.

Seems Like Old Times should be a lot better. But it’s still got some solid laughs, a lot of smiles and a reasonable amount of charm.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Jay Sandrich; written by Neil Simon; director of photography, David M. Walsh; edited by Michael A. Stevenson; music by Marvin Hamlisch; production designer, Gene Callahan; produced by Ray Stark; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Goldie Hawn (Glenda Parks), Charles Grodin (Ira Parks), Chevy Chase (Nicholas Gardenia), Robert Guillaume (Fred), Harold Gould (Judge John Channing), Yvonne Wilder (Aurora), T.K. Carter (Chester), Judd Omen (Dex), Marc Alaimo (B.G.) and George Grizzard (Governor).


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Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992, John Carpenter)

Memoirs of an Invisible Man is pointless. Most of its problems stem from the film’s lack of focus–in some ways, given Chevy Chase is a stockbroker and leads a life of extreme comfort, it ought to be an examination of eighties yuppies. Only a few years late. Except it’s obvious director Carpenter doesn’t want to do that story; he’s less engaged in those scenes than any of the others.

Carpenter does surprisingly well with the romantic comedy angle. The sequence where Chase meets Daryl Hannah is beautifully shot.

The film’s also not about Chase being disconnected from the world before he becomes invisible–that aspect comes up in some terrible dialogue, very poorly presented by Sam Neill. Neill plays the film’s villain, a ruthless CIA operative who has a gang of poorly defined sidekicks and an asinine boss (Stephen Tobolowsky). If it weren’t for Tobolowsky’s terrible performance, Neill would give the worst one in the film.

A lot of Memoirs relies on Chase’s charm and, in some ways, he does deliver. Not often enough and not with enough quantity, however. The script’s really bad when it comes to defining his character; the first act is a particularly mess, then though Rosalind Chao is excellent as his secretary for two minutes.

Michael McKean plays his friend. He’s ineffectual, but not bad.

Another big problem is the narration. Memoirs is desperate for Fletch appeal; it doesn’t have it.

It moves quickly, the special effects are great, but it’s a stinker otherwise.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by John Carpenter; screenplay by Robert Collector, Dana Olsen and William Goldman, based on the novel by H.F. Saint; director of photography, William A. Fraker; edited by Marion Rothman; music by Shirley Walker; production designer, Laurence G. Paull; produced by Bruce Bodner and Dan Kolsrud; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Chevy Chase (Nick Halloway), Daryl Hannah (Alice Monroe), Sam Neill (David Jenkins), Stephen Tobolowsky (Warren Singleton), Michael McKean (George Talbot), Gregory Paul Martin (Richard), Patricia Heaton (Ellen), Rosalind Chao (Cathy DiTolla), Jay Gerber (Roger Whitman) and Jim Norton (Dr. Bernard Wachs).


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THIS FILM IS ALSO DISCUSSED IN SUM UP | JOHN CARPENTER, PART 4: THE MUNDANE YEARS.

Caddyshack (1980, Harold Ramis)

What’s the funniest thing in Caddyshack? Bill Murray is a good first choice, Rodney Dangerfield, even Ted Knight is hilarious, but Chevy Chase actually wins out. He doesn’t have as many awesome scenes as Murray, but Murray’s got a couple mundane ones. Chase–who opens the movie with lead Michael O’Keefe–is fantastic throughout all of his scenes, even when he’s background.

The busyness in Caddyshack is one of its great strengths. Cindy Morgan’s temptress is a lot funnier when she’s reacting to the main action then when she’s taking the lead in a scene. The script doesn’t seem to know what to do with her and Ramis will cut to her for a reaction shot and she’s got nothing. But when she’s watching Dangerfield go wild, for example, she’s awesome.

Technically, the film’s far from perfect. Ramis’s composition runs hot and dry–it seems like he did a better job directing actors than framing shots. Cinematographer Stevan Larner probably doesn’t help the situation. The film lacks any visual distinctiveness. William C. Carruth’s editing is sometimes weak as well.

Great Johnny Mandel score though.

Other cast standouts include Brian Doyle-Murray, Lois Kibbee and Henry Wilcoxon. Doyle-Murray (one of the writers) has the most to do and he’s fantastic. Oh, and Scott Colomby as O’Keefe’s nemesis. He’s real good.

O’Keefe is so-so as the lead; he’s likable enough, which seems to be all the script asks of him.

Caddyshack is funny stuff. Chase and Murray are both awesome.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Harold Ramis; written by Brian Doyle-Murray, Ramis and Douglas Kenney; director of photography, Stevan Larner; edited by William C. Carruth; music by Johnny Mandel; production designer, Stan Jolley; produced by Kenney; released by Orion Pictures.

Starring Michael O’Keefe (Danny Noonan), Chevy Chase (Ty Webb), Ted Knight (Judge Elihu Smails), Rodney Dangerfield (Al Czervik), Sarah Holcomb (Maggie O’Hooligan), Cindy Morgan (Lacey Underall), Albert Salmi (Mr. Noonan), Scott Colomby (Tony D’Annunzio), Dan Resin (Dr. Beeper), Elaine Aiken (Mrs. Noonan), Henry Wilcoxon (The Bishop), Lois Kibbee (Mrs. Smails), Brian Doyle-Murray (Lou Loomis), Ann Ryerson (Grace), Thomas A. Carlin (Sandy McFiddish), John F. Barmon Jr. (Spaulding Smails), Peter Berkrot (Angie D’Annunzio), Hamilton Mitchell (Motormouth), Scott Powell (Gatsby), Ann Crilley (Suki), Cordis Heard (Wally), Brian McConnachie (Drew Scott) and Bill Murray (Carl Spackler).


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THIS FILM IS ALSO DISCUSSED ON BASP | CADDYSHACK (1980) / CADDYSHACK II (1988).

Fletch Lives (1989, Michael Ritchie)

Fletch Lives is a dreadful motion picture. Typing out its title, I remember–once again–the filmmakers weren’t even creative enough to come up with a good title. There’s no pun in it, no reference to the film’s narrative–no one ever thinks the character has died only to come back in a surprise. Maybe it’s a newspaper headline reference, but I doubt it. Leon Capetanos’s script is exceptionally dumb and there’s no emphasis on the newspaper the character (played by Chevy Chase) works for.

What’s even more infuriating about Lives is the failure of repeat players. If Chase were the only returning member of the first film’s cast and crew, it might make sense. But the same producers and same director return. They just are incompetent this time around. Director Ritchie in particular fails at transplanting Chase to Louisiana from Los Angeles. There’s nothing Ritchie could have done about the costumes being used too much to mask a lack of story, but he could have made the setting work better. Some of it is bad back drops, but not much.

In the lead, Chase has lost his charm. His character’s mean and cheap and somewhat unintelligent. The supporting cast is awful–Hal Holbrook embarrasses himself, love interests Patricia Kalember and Julianne Phillips are atrocious, returning players Richard Libertini and George Wyner stink. The only good supporting performances are Cleavon Little and R. Lee Ermey.

Lives often feels like a bad “Saturday Night Live” sketch of Fletch.

Terrible music too.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Michael Ritchie; screenplay by Leon Capetanos, based on characters created by Gregory McDonald; director of photography, John McPherson; edited by Richard A. Harris; music by Harold Faltermeyer; produced by Alan Greisman and Peter Douglas; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Chevy Chase (Fletch), Hal Holbrook (Hamilton Johnson), Julianne Phillips (Becky Culpepper), R. Lee Ermey (Jimmy Lee Farnsworth), Richard Libertini (Frank Walker), Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb (Ben Dover), Cleavon Little (Calculus Entropy), George Wyner (Marvin Gillet), Patricia Kalember (Amanda Ray Ross), Geoffrey Lewis (KKK Leader), Richard Belzer (Phil) and Phil Hartman (Bly Manager).


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THIS FILM IS ALSO DISCUSSED ON BASP | FLETCH (1985) / FLETCH LIVES (1989).