Tag Archives: Jon Lovitz

Three Amigos (1986, John Landis)

Three Amigos is beautifully made. Whether it’s the silent era Hollywood scenes at the opening, the silent movie in the movie, or the Western the film quickly becomes… it all looks fantastic. Landis even brings in the singing cowboy genre–the scene with the animals accompanying the song is wonderful. The locations desire some credit, but it’s primarily Landis and cinematographer Ronald W. Browne. Amigos‘s style goes a long way towards its success.

The film frequently has stretches without a laugh, at times even deviating to ominous and disturbing. The excellent performances make up for the lazy pace.

Oddly, co-writer, executive producer and top-billed actor Steve Martin is not one of them. Martin is good, but he’s in the middle of a trio of numbskulls. Chevy Chase has more to do as the idiot of the bunch and Martin Short gives the best performance of the three as the secretly intelligent one.

But the best performances in the film are from Alfonso Arau and Tony Plana. Arau is the bad guy and Plana’s his head stooge. From his first frame, Arau is likable. He and Plana get better writing than the three leads, if only because they’re morons. The most successful moments for Martin, Chase and Short tend to be gags.

Joe Mantegna shows up for a hilarious small part, as does Fred Asparagus. Kai Wulff is good as the scary German aviator.

Amigos isn’t great, but it’s pretty darn good. Though Elmer Bernstein’s score is tiresome.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by John Landis; written by Steve Martin, Lorne Michaels and Randy Newman; director of photography, Ronald W. Browne; edited by Malcolm Campbell; music by Elmer Bernstein; production designer, Richard Tom Sawyer; produced by George Folsey Jr. and Michaels; released by Orion Pictures.

Starring Steve Martin (Lucky Day), Chevy Chase (Dusty Bottoms), Martin Short (Ned Nederlander), Alfonso Arau (El Guapo), Tony Plana (Jefe), Patrice Martinez (Carmen), Philip Gordon (Rodrigo), Kai Wulff (German), Fred Asparagus (Bartender), Jon Lovitz (Morty), Phil Hartman (Sam) and Joe Mantegna (Harry Flugleman).


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The Wedding Singer (1998, Frank Coraci)

I actually kind of like The Wedding Singer; it’s blandly inoffensive, has a solid 1980s soundtrack and kind of plays like how “Everybody Hates Chris” would have played if it had sucked instead of being the best sitcom since “Arrested Development.” On that subject, the problem with The Wedding Singer is it makes easy eighties jokes instead of reverential ones.

Anyway, it’s easily the worst directed film I’ve seen since… I’m trying to think, maybe She’s All That, which I saw a long, long time ago. Because Frank Coraci isn’t even a lousy director like Simon West is a bad director or whoever, he’s a bad director who seems to think he’s shooting for a lousy sitcom, something like that Kirk Cameron show the WB launched with.

Oddly, on the Kirk Cameron note, The Wedding Singer‘s “politics” are somewhat interesting. It’s very pro-marriage, and anti-materialistic, mocking yuppies at every opportunity.

I’ve only seen Drew Barrymore in one movie since The Wedding Singer came out (I saw it in the theater)–Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, oh, wait, I saw Ever After on DVD–but I wasn’t expecting her performance in this one to be so terrible. It’s completely incompetent. It’s like she’s reading audition lines for a Clorox commercial. Not a Snuggle commercial because the bear’s a better actor than her in this one.

Sandler’s bad too, since he seems to be doing an accent.

Allen Covert and Christine Taylor are both good. Steve Buscemi’s cameo is amazing.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Frank Coraci; written by Tim Herlihy; director of photography, Tim Suhrstedt; edited by Tom Lewis; music by Teddy Castellucci; production designer, Perry Andelin Blake; produced by Robert Simonds and Jack Giarraputo; released by New Line Cinema.

Starring Adam Sandler (Robbie), Drew Barrymore (Julia), Christine Taylor (Holly), Allen Covert (Sammy), Matthew Glave (Glenn), Ellen Albertini Dow (Rosie), Angela Featherstone (Linda), Alexis Arquette (George) with Steve Buscemi (Dave Veltri) and Jon Lovitz (Jimmie Moore).


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Last Resort (1986, Zane Buzby)

Last Resort is not a bad movie in any traditional way. It’s incompetent to the degree I don’t understand–nor can I imagine–how Charles Grodin ended up starring in it. Julie Corman–Roger’s wife–produced the film and, maybe, her attention to detail is why it looks like the film shot in Southern California for most of its scenes (it’s set on a tropical island). The water shots, however, appear to have been shot a public beach somewhere. While I’m far from an expert on judging film stock from bad DVD transfers… it looks like Last Resort shot on video (maybe better than half-inch, maybe not) and then got transferred over to film. It looks identical to an episode of “WKRP”–no knocks to the mighty ‘KRP, but it is a famous shot-on-video example. It’s Charles Grodin… maybe he made some bad investments or needed a new house, but I can’t imagine they were paying much….

And then the rest of the cast is interesting both in placing the movie’s “artistic” movement. It’s from the writers of Revenge of the Nerds, which–I’m fairly sure–shot on film, but the cast isn’t quite as first-rate as Nerds. While it was interesting to see Brenda Bakke again (Bakke disappeared in the mid-1990s, never recognized for her outstanding performance on “American Gothic”), I mostly noticed Mario Van Peebles. Bakke’s barely in it and it is funny to wonder if Clint Eastwood screened Last Resort when considering Van Peebles for Heartbreak Ridge, but Jon Lovitz and Phil Hartman are in it too. Hartman’s got a lousy restrained role, but Lovitz is actually really funny.

When the movie started, the terrible production quality screamed, but it seemed like a really cheap Charles Grodin vehicle. He had some funny lines, some funny Charles Grodin rants, but then they got to the island and the script stopped making any sense at all. It’s an eighty-four minute movie (the last forty move super fast thank goodness) but I was constantly confused. It’s an exceptional example of incoherent storytelling and general terribleness. It’s the kind of thing “USA Up All Night” played when they ran out of money.

But I do think I’ll read Grodin’s autobiography now, because I need to understand this film… how it was made, how someone got a bank to lend someone else money for this film… I’m perplexed. I mean, I couldn’t turn it off–I had to see it to believe it. It’d have been unimaginable otherwise. It’s a unicorn or something.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Zane Buzby; written by Steve Zacharias and Jeff Buhai; directors of photography, Stephen Katz and Alex Nepomniaschy; edited by Gregory Scherick; music by Steve Nelson and Thom Sharp; produced by Julie Corman; released by Concorde.

Starring Charles Grodin (George Lollar), Robin Pearson Rose (Sheila Lollar), John Ashton (Phil Cocoran), Megan Mullally (Jessica Lollar), Christopher Ames (Brad Lollar), Scott Nemes (Bobby Lollar), Mario Van Peebles (Pino), Jon Lovitz (Bartender), Phil Hartman (Jean-Michel), David Mirkin (Walter Ambrose) and Brenda Bakke (Veroneeka).


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Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986, Penny Marshall)

I was just reading–today or yesterday–Ken Levine talk about how there are no “balls-out R-rated” comedies with female leads. (His post is here). Jumpin’ Jack Flash is, obviously, a balls-out R-rated comedy starring a woman. Things have obviously changed in the last twenty years, both in film and television–female stand-ups don’t get TV shows and they don’t become movie stars. I missed Whoopi Goldberg’s career when it happened. My mother didn’t like all her swearing. I did see Ghost however, against my will. Goldberg is definitely a comedy star in Jumpin’ Jack Flash because comedy stars rarely have to act and Goldberg does not act in Jack Flash. She’s appealing enough and occasionally funny, but the film’s so dishonest, it’s hard to see past it. Jumpin’ Jack Flash doesn’t set Goldberg up as a sexual being–as in, a person who has had or ever will have, sex. The same thing happens in most of Denzel Washington’s films between 1989 and 2001, maybe later. These actors are starring with mostly white casts and mostly white “romantic” interests and interracial romance doesn’t play well for most white people. Not if conservatives wanted ABC fined extra for having the Desperate Housewife come on to a black football player. So, while she’s spayed and the racial element is ignored, Goldberg still does an all right job… she’s not responsible for the film’s biggest problems.

The premise of Jumpin’ Jack Flash is a bank worker who communicates with a spy over her computer–this film is from 1986, so just imagine the computers–and gets involved in espionage. They communicate by typing. During the second half of the film, once Goldberg’s heard the spy’s voice, his lines are spoken as they pop up on the computer screen. There’s one great scene when Goldberg isn’t looking at her screen and she still knows he’s typing, because she can hear his voice. Oh… maybe that scene’s not great. It’s a good example, however, of Jumpin’ Jack Flash’s direction. It’s directed by Penny Marshall and I’m using directed in the nicest way possible. Marshall had only had sitcom experience at this point in her… career and it shows. The film lacks any visual interest and, during the most action-orientated scenes, Jumpin’ Jack Flash becomes the antonym for exciting.

So, while Marshall did the film no good, whoever casted it did wonders. John Wood has some great scenes, so does Stephen Collins. The supporting cast features no standout performances, but it’s a laundry list of famous people-to-be: Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Jeroen Krabbé, Jim Belushi, Tracey Ullman and Jamey Sheridan. Very few scenes went by without me recognizing someone. So, however casted it, that person did a good job. Probably the best job in the movie… Because whoever decided to conclude the romance between Goldberg and her (white) spy without a) a kiss or b) hand-holding… Well, that person didn’t do a good job.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Penny Marshall; screenplay by David Franzoni, J.W. Melville, Patricia Irving and Chris Thompson, based on a story by Franzoni; director of photography, Matthew F. Leonetti; edited by Mark Goldblatt; music by Thomas Newman; production designer, Robert F. Boyle; produced by Lawrence Gordon and Joel Silver; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Whoopi Goldberg (Terry Dolittle), Stephen Collins (Marty Phillips), John Wood (Jeremy Talbott), Carol Kane (Cynthia), Annie Potts (Liz Carlson), Peter Michael Goetz (James Page), Roscoe Lee Browne (Archer Lincoln), Sara Botsford (Lady Sarah Billings), Jeroen Krabbé (Mark Van Meter), Vyto Ruginis (Carl), Jonathan Pryce (Jack), Tony Hendra (Hunter), Jon Lovitz (Doug) and Phil Hartman (Fred).