Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Quarter Back: November 1984

Quarter Back is a monthly feature looking back at the movies of 25 years ago. One movie will be watched for the first time, one will be revisited.

Wait, the calendar still says November, right?

As stated above, I choose two movies to feature every month - one I've seen, one I haven't. I enjoy the selection process, because certain titles always jump out; something I've always wanted to see, something I haven't thought about in years.

Most of the time.

Ladies and gentlemen, November 1984 was not a great month at the movies. Sure, a horror franchise for the ages was born (no, not Silent Night, Deadly Night), but as you'll see below, the selection was sparse. And so two Netflix DVDs sat on my TV for weeks, until I practically willed myself to watch them.

That's why the November entry is showing up on December 2nd. Because watching these two movies were blog homework, and I hate homework.

Featured Movies

No Small Affair
Seen it before?: No.
Release date: November 9, 1984
Actors: Jon Cryer, Demi Moore, Tim Robbins
Director: Jerry Schatzberg (The Panic In Needle Park, Street Smart)
Box office: $5.0 million (#111 in 1984)

No Small Affair was a teen film trying to be all things to all people, wedging itself between two early '80s genre types: "profane titty comedy" (Porky's, Private School) and "thoughtful mediation on being a teenager, but also with titties" (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Risky Business). And as usual, when you try to do two things with equal grace, you end up failing at both.

Jon Cryer plays a thoroughly unlikable kid who takes pictures of boats, trash cans, sidewalks, or whatever dumbass thing to express his inner angst. Think Wes Bentley's American Beauty character, but uglier and thus more prone to ridicule. On one of his photo-taking excursions, he accidentally snaps a picture of wayward musician Demi Moore and falls in lust. Then it's a wacky stalkerish adventure to find the mystery girl and, I don't know, act awkward around her or something.

Spoiler alert: They end up having sex in the single most unconvincing "these two people would have sex" scene in movie history. And all we get is Demi's side boob. Mid-eighties, and just side boob. This movie sucked. Grade: D

Missing in Action
Seen it before?: At some point, but it's blending together with the sequels.
Release date: November 16, 1984
Actors: Chuck Norris, M. Emmet Walsh
Director: Joseph Zito (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Invasion U.S.A.)
Box office: $22.8 million (#46 in 1984)

This column has finally taught me something.

In the back of my mind, I'd always assumed Missing In Action was a ripoff of Rambo: First Blood Part II. Muscle-bound vets go back to 'Nam and free their brothers-in-arms. However, this Chuck Norris film showed up in November '84, while Stallone's wasn't released until May '85. Well, how about that. (However, this doesn't change that Missing In Action's poster clearly apes First Blood's - I mean, they're holding THE EXACT SAME GUN).

Anyway, yeah, so that's the story. Norris is Colonel James Braddock, home after a 10-year stint as a Vietnam prisoner of war. After an hour of talky, boring scenes, he heads back into the jungle to bring his boys home. Or something. I don't know, I already forgot - but don't blame me, I watched the movie last night.

Looking over Norris's iMDB profile, I'm surprised I've never seen one of his movies, other than this, or maybe its first sequel. Even as a kid, I wasn't a fan of cheap-o action flicks where a guy would take on 100 armed dudes and never get shot (Commando is an exception to this rule). It rang stupid then, it rings stupid now - and Missing in Action is very, very stupid.

A weird bit of trivia: this was actually filmed AFTER 1985's Missing in Action 2: The Beginning. However, the producers realized Missing in Action was the superior film, so they released it first and made the other one a prequel. So yes, knowing this is the "better" film means I won't be revisiting this series again any time soon. Grade: D

Other films 25 years old this month:

Falling in Love - When I was a kid, I remember looking at certain movies and thinking, "What kind of person would want to see that?" Agnes of God. A Passage to India. Two of a Kind. This Robert De Niro/Meryl Streep romance was on that short list, and I swear, 25 years later I still can't see the draw. And as it's probably the least remembered film of their respective careers, I can't imagine it being any good.

Just the Way You Are - Kristy McNichol, in what would be her last lead role, plays a handicapped girl who finds love on the ski slopes. So yeah, add this to the "what kind of person would want to see that" list.

The Killing Fields - This true story about a New York Times journalist in Cambodia was almost my "never seen it" selection for the month, but I wasn't crazy about watching a heavy 2.5-hour drama. Turns out it would have been less depressing than No Small Affair.

A Nightmare on Elm Street - It's truly bizarre that movies from my childhood are already being remade. A brand new Nightmare - not a sequel, but a redo of the original - hits theaters on 4/10/10. At least they're not remaking Falling in Love with Dane Cook and Drew Barrymore.

Night of the Comet - Saw this a number of times back in the day, and remember liking it - two high school girls survive when 99.999% of the human race is wiped out by Halley's Comet (seriously). They have to battle cannibal zombies and evil scientists, in-between trips to the now-barren mall. I'm afraid to revisit this one, in case it's not as 100% awesome as I remember.

Oh God, You Devil! - George Burns stars in this third and final Oh God! film (until next year's Wilford Brimley-starring remake, which would rule if I hadn't made it up). In this one, Burns plays - get this - God and the Devil. What will those crazy Hollywood folk come up with next?

Razorback - Never heard of this one. According to imdb: "A wild, vicious pig terrorizes the Australian outback." Notable, I guess, as the feature debut of director Russell Mulcahy, who would go on to helm such classics as Highlander, Highlander II: The Quickening and The Shadow.

Silent Night, Deadly Night - A department store Santa goes on an axe-wielding murder spree. You know, maybe I was too hard on November '84. And would the original title - Slay Ride - have been even better?

Supergirl - Ah, the curse of heightened expectations. The poster (which inexplicably reverses the Statue of Liberty) promises this to be her "first" adventure - which, I guess, is technically true but not what they were intending. In fact, Helen Slater's turn in the red cape would be her one-and-only outing, and helped kill the already decaying '80s Superman franchise. This, however, was not as bad as the worst movie ever made.

Quarter Back: October 1984
Quarter Back: September 1984
Quarter Back: August 1984
Quarter Back: July 1984
Quarter Back: June 1984
Quarter Back: May 1984
Quarter Back: April 1984

1 comment:

DAve said...

If you're interested in Razorback, check out "Not Quite Hollywood" on Netflix's instant watch. It's a documentary on the 70's-80's "Ozploitation" films. There's several clips from Razorback in there, and also boobs. Lots and lots of boobs.