#314- Grease

Quick recap: A movie made in the 70s, set in the 50s about a bunch of 18 year olds played by 30 year olds. And there is a lot of singing.

wrong grease, but best Simpsons episode

Fun (?) fact: Because everything has to be a conspiracy now, someone from Tumblr theorized that Sandy had a near drowning experience on the beach at the beginning of the movie and the resulting scenes are all hallucinations, ending with the ascent into the sky.

My thoughts: Look, I don’t HATE Grease. Hate is such a strong word. And you could even say I mildly enjoyed it this time, compared to when I watch it in high school (strange, I know). But it definitely didn’t endear itself to me by any stretch of the imagination and I’ll be perfectly satisfied if I never have to watch it again.

When I watched Grease the first time, I originally disliked it because everyone else loved it, kind of like my feelings toward Amelie. Not that I’m all that well versed on musicals, mind you, but Grease is still beginner level to me. This time around, I couldn’t really find anything that stood out as the reason to dislike the movie, except for Olivia Newton-John. My money was on hating John Travolta, but he grew on me, and I daresay I even liked him by the end. But Sandy? Nope. She was too goody-goody, but even worse, she played it up so the audience would think she was just sweet. That doesn’t work when you are already 30, though. Olivia Newton-John and her character were just trying to hard and it annoyed me. The other characters annoyed me as well, except maybe Frenchie, whom I was rather fond of.

The music was catchy enough, but I was surprised that it didn’t stick in my head the next day. I’m the kind of person who gets songs stuck in my head often. Hell, I wake up every morning with the Double Mint jingle running through my head so you’d think Summer Nights would get in there at some point, but no. I really did enjoy the numbers as well as the dancing but for whatever reason, it just didn’t do anything for me. As mentioned before, everything just annoyed me. It was like everyone really wanted to capture the ‘real’ high school experience in the least real way possible. I can say I’ve evolved to no longer outright disliking the movie, but it will forever be a ‘meh’ in my book.

Final review: 3/5

Up next: the Ice Storm

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#313- Meet Me in St. Louis

Quick recap: The Smith family encounters many ups and downs leading up to the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1903. A better title for the film could’ve been, If You Love St.Louis so Much, Why Don’t you Marry it?

a special ‘thanks’ to Judy Garland for getting this song stuck in my head for a week straight

Fun (?) fact: The mother of Margaret O’Brien (who played Tootie) wanted her child to get paid more, but the studio refused. Instead, they randomly chose a lighting guy’s daughter to fill the roll, going so far as to dress her and give her lines. The studio eventually backed down and O’Brien took her roll back over. The lighting guy then dropped a light during one of Tootie’s scenes, just narrowly missing her. He was later committed to an institution. Hollywood didn’t play around back then.

let me tell you, though, this kid was amazing

My thoughts: I love a good musical, and Meet Me in St. Louis didn’t disappoint. There were infectious songs, beautiful costumes, romance and an absolutely terrifying Halloween scene that gave me nightmares, so what else could I ask for?

So, first off, the entire cast was fabulous, especially Margaret O’Brien (as mentioned earlier) and Judy Garland as Esther Smith. I have heard her voice over and over in the Wizard of Oz but never really appreciated its depth until this movie. Side note: I had no idea this was considered a Christmas film. Garland singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas was damn depressing, which is just about what I expect all my holiday movies to be, so I’m on board. Anyway, I loved everything about Garland except for her eyebrows, which really weirded me out. But I also feel guilty about that knowing how much she went through with her looks. And maybe that was the style at the time? They were a little much, but didn’t detract from the overall tone.

Oh, honey. No.

And then there is that crazy Halloween scene, which just comes out of NOWHERE. The scene begins with Rose helping the little girls, Tootie and Agnes with their costume and I’m thinking it’s just going to be another cute peek into this family’s life. But then the girls go outside to join their friends, who have started a freaking BONFIRE in the street. What are they burning?Why are they burning things? Girls are dressed as boys and boys are dressed up as girls and it’s madness. There’s apparently some game going on where the older kids pretend to kill the neighbors by throwing flour in their faces and screaming, ‘I hate you!’. And the thing is, Agnes and Tootie already had a conversation with their mother about the flour so it’s a known thing. The rest of the movie is your typical romance and family fare, but this scene was downright creepy and I’d like to not think about Halloween before, let’s say, 1950.

The hell?

Final review: 5/5. I was originally going for a 4 but when you get a song stuck in your head for a week, it does things to you.

Up next: Grease

#312- Titanic

Quick recap: So, there’s this ship, ok? And everyone says it will never sink, which is exactly the sort of thing you should say when you want the ship to sink. Which it does. And there’s also a love story thrown in for good measure.

Fun (?) fact: After the Internet collectively decided Jack could have fit on the door at the end of the film, James Cameron went on record saying that no, ‘It’s not a question of room; it’s a question of buoyancy.” That’s when the Mythbusters stepped in and proved that with a little bit of help from the life jackets, both Jack and Rose totally could’ve survived.

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Ah, true love

My thoughts: Titanic came out in when I was in junior high and because I was a Cool Teen, I boycotted watching it. While my friends bought tickets to see the movie again and again in theaters, I scoffed at how easily they fell for a love story. I was especially angry that James Cameron turned a perfectly good disaster story into romance. Yuck. But behind closed doors? That was a different story. I got the VHS tapes as a throwaway gift at Christmas and although I outwardly seethed at such a Teenage gift, inside I was giddy to finally see what all the fuss was about. Secretly I watched the movie several times, pausing at my favorite part, when Rose jumps from the life boat back onto the sinking ship and makes the choice to stay with her love. I never admitted it, but it was this level of love I wanted. It wouldn’t be until Moulin Rouge several years later that I could finally be free and admit I had a soft side.

To the most obvious question, ‘Does Titanic hold up 20 years later?’ It does, mostly. Watching it this time around, I was more aware of the background actors, all supposedly based off of a real passenger. Their various deaths stung more when I watched than I remembered back then. The visuals were just as amazing as they were and I can’t imagine anyone ever being able to do the disaster better justice than Cameron did. As for the central love story, this time I wasn’t as enthralled. Leo and Kate have amazing chemistry and sell their characters so well, but the dialogue was insanely cheesy at times, to the point that I cringed during some scenes. Unhappy Rich Girl and Impish Wanderlust Guy just didn’t have the same impact as it did when I was 13. But really, the plot only grated on me during the first part of the film. The second part, when they’ve hit the iceberg, is near perfect. I mean, except for the death. That was unfortunate. I absolutely loved the scenes where Jack and Rose were trying to find a way out through the freezing water and the lights kept flickering on and off. Those moments alone could’ve made a great horror film.

I was in Walgreens a couple of days ago and that Celine Dion song came on the speakers. My first instinct was to roll my eyes but then flashes of the movie started going through my head and for a brief moment, I felt genuinely sad, as if I had just watched a documentary on two real people on the Titanic. Teenage Me would be so embarrassed that I admitted that just now, but that’s part of growing up, I suppose.

Final review: 5/5

Up next: Meet Me in St. Louis

#311- Good Morning, Vietnam

Quick recap: Based on a real story, Robin Williams plays Adrian Cronauer, an Armed Forces DJ adored by the troops. The higher ups aren’t fans however, and want him gone.

Now you’ve just seen 2/3 of the movie!

Fun (?) fact: Good Morning, Vietnam was filmed in Thailand and if you look closely, you can see several signs written in Thai in the background.

Everyone on Twitter

My thoughts: First of all, rest in peace, Robin Williams.

Now, on to business. War is hell, man. It’s what I say for all war movies and although Good Morning, Vietnam has some comedic moments, the phrase is still apt. Pithy, but apt. This movie has Robin Williams in his most Robin Williams-esque role. I read trivia that he ad libbed all of the scenes of him on the radio and I’m not at all surprised. I grew up with him as the Genie in Aladdin and Mrs. Doubtfire and it was nice to see him at his craziest. I also appreciated that he could turn it on and off because Robin Williams ‘on’ is a little much. Although the real Adrian Cronauer has said that the movie was only ‘about 45% accurate’, it still paints a good picture what went on for men in roles other than soldier. My favorite scene was when Cronauer was in the jeep and his coworker announced to the troops who he was with. Cronauer had given up being on radio because of circumstances I’ll get to in a minute, but seeing how happy he made everyone changed his mind. What struck him though was that this might be their only happiness considering the war zone they were about to enter. Williams never had to say any lines about his epiphany because you could see it etched on his face.

The one thing that bothered me about the movie was that I totally sided with the higher ups in their decision to release Cronauer from his job as DJ. He befriended one of the enemies and although it saved his life, there are reasons why you don’t associate with whomever you please while at war. It doesn’t matter that the kid had a good heart. But I also agree that Cronauer should’ve toned it down for the news releases on air, at least a little bit. At the end of the day, Armed Forces radio serves an important purpose in getting the word out. Really, I’m mostly angry at myself for being an adult and seeing things from a different perspective. Now I’m afraid to watch one of those 80s flicks that takes place at a ski lodge where the stodgy adults want to tear it down and leave the cool teens without a place to snowboard. I think I could totally see the reasoning behind shutting it all down. Help.

Final review: 5/5, but just barely.

Up next: Titanic