Friday, April 17, 2009

Quarter Back: April 1984 - but first, an announcement

For a few months, I've given thought to making this blog more specialized. Basically, there's no theme to it, no real focus - and so I tend to sporadically hit on a baker's dozen of topics. Chances are good I'd be more prolific if I reigned it in, if I chose one subject and stayed the course. Of course, then there's the question of What?


NFL football?


All Die Hard, all the time?

Politics is the first thing to scratch off. I hate politics, because I hate politicians. People always say "hate is a strong word," but in fact hate is a weak word here. HATE. So if I went there all the time, my forehead veins would pop all over this lovely computer. And I don't want that.

If I went "all Die Hard," then I'd miss dedicating 5,o00 words to the 23rd anniversary of Over the Top, only 10 short months away. So why not just do movies? They're really my first love anyway, and I'd never run out of silly theories and stupid observations to share. Why not just do that?

Because I wouldn't be able to talk about the Atlanta Falcons. And I will talk about the Atlanta Falcons.

So, basically, I'd like to welcome you to the all-new and hopefully improved Martians Attacking Indianapolis, your go-to source for dubious, puerile insight about movies and NFL football. I'd like to think I'm one of a kind.

Let's start by introducing a new monthly feature: Quarter Back, which will look at movies that arrived in theaters 25 years previous (a quarter of a century, get it?). Each time I'll highlight one film, either rewatching it or taking it in for the first time, and give short recaps/reviews of the rest of that month's releases. First up: April 1984.

In early '84, I was eight years old - basically, only attending movies with my parents. My theater-going was generally limited to PG-ish stuff they could tolerate - the oeuvres of Spielberg and Lucas, the occasional "dinosaurs still exist!" flick, and stuff my parents incorrectly assumed was kid-friendly because it was set in outer space.

Featured Movie

Release date: April 13, 1984
Actors: Timothy Hutton, John Lone, Lindsay Crouse
Director: Fred Schepisi (Roxanne, The Russia House)
Box office: $7.3 million (#94 in 1984)
Had I seen it before?: No

On the surface, the PG-rated Iceman should have been on my parents' to-see list. It features a potentially fascinating premise - a group of scientists finds a Neaderthal man frozen in a Polar icecap, and manages to bring him back to life. While a predictibly uncaring group wants to do an immediate dissection, one young anthropologist (Hutton, still grasping to leading man status) connects with the 40,000-year-old man. Sort of. I guess.

The first 20 minutes are legitmately excellent - the thawing of the ice, the first glimpse of the frozen man within, the ever-so-slight changing of skin color to reflect life. And the acting throughout is top-notch - from Lone's work as the titular character (which could have easily turned into a "Saturday Night Live"-style parody), to supporting turns from then-unknowns Danny Glover and David Strathairn.

The film falters, I think, because it came out so close after E.T.-mania. It seems to position itself as "the story of a boy and his iceman," with a few too many treacly scenes of Hutton staring wistfully at his new friend - one who would be just as likely to give him a high five than bludgeon his brains in with a rock. If they were going to stray away from science and go in another direction, I'd rather see another snowbound horror flick like The Thing instead of Mac & Me On Ice. Grade: C+

Other films 25 years old this month (movies I've seen are in bold):

Champions - John Hurt rides horses. That information courtesy of IMDB, because I couldn't have even told you that much.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter - Corey Feldman makes his mark on the Friday franchise. I actually remember liking this one a bit when I was a kid, but my only lasting image is of Feldman with a shaved head. Am I remembering that correctly?

Hard to Hold - Rick Springfield tries to break out of the music and soap opera worlds, but instead cements his legacy of singing "Jessie's Girl" over and over at county fairs.

Moscow on the Hudson - At this point, Robin Williams was still trying to pull away from Mork, making semi-serious R-rated fare like this and The World According to Garp. This was moderately well received, but he'd struggle to find his footing - his superstar-making turn in Good Morning, Vietnam was still three years away.

Phar Lap - Tom Burlinson rides horses. You may not know Burlinson, but my sister grew up worshipping his work in the Man From Snowy River movies. She probably still stalks him, to tell the truth.

Swing Shift - Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell work together for the first time - in a comedy about wartime factories. Can't imagine why this wasn't more successful. The only Hawn/Russell movies I see involve big yachts, redneck kids, and Pee-Wee Herman jokes.

Up the Creek - Mad Magazine followed National Lampoon into the movie business, and tried to mimic the antics of Animal House and Porky's by, well, casting people who were in Animal House (Tim Matheson, Stephen Furst) and Porky's (Dan Monahan). It almost got there, only falling short of Animal House's gross by $108 million.

Where the Boys Are '84 - Another '80s movie promising bad jokes and tits. Notable for - absolutely nothing. Except tits.


Stanicek said...

NOW I remember why I hated April 1984 so much.

Jamie Massey said...

Pharlap. A classic. And if you want to see Tom Burlinson, you can hire him today! He is now a Frank Sinatra impersonator. I want him to sing at my wedding.

Riley said...

Phar Lap. Good movie. It was one of those damn nature movies that Dad FORCED me to watch during his weekends because I refused to go outside.