Rushmore (1998)


My Safety’s Harvard

That guy Eric sure does love his pretentious comedies.  Today’s movie was not only requested, but supplied by friend and coworker Eric.  It’s a movie that I feel like I’ve seen before, but remember nothing about whatsoever.  I did find out that I rated it on Rotten Tomatoes as “Not Interested”.  I feel like that statement still holds true.  I’ve just never been into this director or his movies because they seemed to me like artsy fartsy crap that I wouldn’t find funny.  Let’s find out if I was right in my review of Rushmore, written by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson, directed by Wes Anderson, and starring Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Olivia Williams, Mason Gamble, Brian Cox, Sara Tanaka, Stephen McCole, Seymour Cassel, and Luke Wilson.

Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) is a 15-year-old student of Rushmore Academy who excels in extracurricular activities, but fails in grades.  Because of this, he runs afoul of the headmaster, Dr. Guggenheim (Brian Cox), and is threatened with suspension.  Max befriends the father of two other students, Herman Blume (Bill Murray), and falls in a one-sided love with Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams), a widowed first grade teacher.  Max gets expelled for trying to open an aquarium on a baseball field and is forced to go to a public school, where he doesn’t really fit in.  Herman starts dating Ms. Cross behind Max’s back as Max still tries to advance his unrequited love with her.  This eventually ruins Blume’s marriage and his friendship with Max, and the two start a prank war that escalates drastically.  Then some more bullshit happens and the movie ends.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is a bad movie, but I will say that I didn’t care for it.  It’s every bit the artsy fartsy movie that I expected it to be, it doesn’t have much of a cohesive story, and it just wasn’t funny to me.  I don’t think I’ve ever really liked a Wes Anderson movie, and I’ve seen a couple.  I understand a lot of people are really into them, but I’ve never really seen the appeal.  There wasn’t much of a story to this movie, first of all.  It was basically just about a kid that got expelled, but this situation was never really resolved.  He was no less expelled by the end of the movie.  He also fell in love with Olivia Williams, and this never turned into anything.  The same would go for Bill Murray being in love with her.  Max has a revelation at the end and becomes a little less of a douche, and even gets Blume and Cross to talk again, but it’s not resolved.  The movie starts a bunch of side stories and forgets what it was talking about.  It’s like having a conversation with my mom.  Abstract story would be fine if the movie ever made me laugh, but it didn’t.  The only thing that even made me smirk was Bill Murray, and pretty much only in the part where he was drunk and downtrodden in the hospital later in the movie.  But that’s just not enough for me.  By the end of the movie, I didn’t feel like I hated what I had just watched, I just felt like I had no opinion and had just kind of wasted my time.

The performances were mostly excellent in the movie, elevating the movie out of the total “meh” category.  Jason Schwartzman is pretty good at playing a total annoying douche, and he does so in pretty much every movie I’ve ever seen him in.  I found him annoying and irritating, but that’s probably not a negative against him because I feel like that’s what he was going for.  This was at it’s best and almost funniest when he was being a total asshole to Luke Wilson because he felt threatened by him and hurt because Olivia Williams seemed to be dating him.  Bill Murray was a much more subdued Murray than you see in many of his movies that I enjoy, but I still liked him in the movie.  I prefer when he does things that are funny, but I really just want to see him.  Olivia Williams was pretty great in the movie.  Most of the time she was just being good-looking and real, but she had a great scene where she was telling Max about her dead husband that was really emotional and really well acted, but it’s not surprising from her because she’s pretty much excellent in everything I’ve seen.  Brian Cox had a couple of kinda funny moments too.  I liked when Max brought him temporarily out of a coma because he hated Max so much.

I really feel completely uninspired by this movie, and thus the extra short review.  I didn’t hate the movie; it had a couple of cute parts, a couple of great performances, but no real story to speak of and it just came off as a little pretentious and unfunny to me.  On the other hand, I’ve heard of a lot of people liking it and Wes Anderson’s other movies, so I don’t know if I can even say I don’t recommend you see it.  And I’m sure all of those people would say something like “You just don’t get it, man!” and write me off as too uncultured to understand the appeal of a not funny comedy where nothing really happens.  But, for the rest of you … I don’t know … check it out?  … maybe?  Rushmore gets “Yeah, I was in the shit” out of “Are you fond of that mustache?”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

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Ghostbusters II (1989)


Death is But a Door.  Time is But a Window.  I’ll Be Back.

Because I cannot watch Ghostbusters without finishing the series, I watched Ghostbusters II today.  This is a movie that has taken a bit of a beating, which is even more noticeable as it follows it’s amazing predecessor.  But was this a bad movie, or just a movie that suffers from being in the shadow of Ghostbusters?  Let’s find out!  Ghostbusters II was again written by Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd, again directed by Ivan Reitman, and mostly again starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Henry and William Deutschendorf, Wilhelm von Homburg, Peter MacNicol, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, Harris Yulin, Kurt Fuller, David Margulies, Cheech Marin, Walter Flanagan, Ben Stein, Brian Doyle-Murray, and Bobby Brown.

The Ghostbusters are back, and better than ever!  Oh wait, no they’re not.  They’ve actually fallen on hard times in the 5 years since the first movie.  Turns out, the mayor (David Margulies) stiffed them on that little job that saved the city/world in the first movie and they’ve mostly lost the respect of the people of New York, all of whom seem to have forgotten how they’re alive because of the Ghostbusters.  Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) make ends meet by performing at kid’s birthday parties, Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) hosts a TV show about the paranormal, and Egon Spengler does tests involving making kids sad.  One day, Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) stops by to visit Egon because the stroller of her baby, Oscar (Henry and William Deutschendorf), went crazy, weaved through traffic, and stopped abruptly in front of the museum she works at.  She asks Ray and Egon to investigate, but asks that they not tell Venkman because they had broken up after the first movie, leading her temporarily into the arms of Oscar’s father.  Venkman tortures Ray into spilling the beans, and three of the Ghostbusters are reunited.  Their investigation leads them to dig a hole into the middle of a busy street, where they find a strange pink ooze.  Then they get arrested.  This ooze, and a certain painting of interest, lead the Ghostbusters to have to save the world yet again.

I will flat out defend this movie as still being a great comedy.  I think what hurts this movie is that it will forever be in the shadow of a far superior movie.  Ghostbusters was so gundamned good that it would inevitably lead someone to go into this movie with high expectations that it couldn’t possibly meet.  And, since it did not manage to either surpass or even match Ghostbusters, I think people assumed they hated it more than they should have.  It’s still very funny and easily as quotable.  I know I’ve busted out lines from this movie at random times for comedic effect.  Some of my favorites are “He is Vigo!  You are like the buzzing of flies to him!”, “I have all NEW cheap moves”, “Carpathian Kitten Loss”, and “Do. Re.  Egon!”  I really don’t understand people hating on this movie so much.  I understand the first one set that high bar, but you couldn’t have not laughed in this movie.  It’s still very humorous and the story is at least nearly as good as the first one.  A very minor step down from the first movie.  Also, I wasn’t a fan of the whole “people should be nice to each other or ooze will form under your city” message.  And the dialogue is just as clever.  It does take a step up graphically.  One can assume the great success of the first movie netted them a good amount extra money for the sequel, so you would expect the graphics to step up.

Murray still brings it.  You can’t keep that man from awesomeness.  He’s still hilarious and charming in a way that makes you believe that this dude could land Sigourney Weaver … twice!  Aykroyd and Ramis give the same quality of performance they gave in the first movie, and I feel no need to retype it.  It was yesterday, for crying out loud.  Ernie Hudson still isn’t in it very much, but he did get a few good moments, like when the ghost train ran through him.  Sigourney is still good here, and the 80’s hair is beginning to calm down.  Annie Potts got hotter, in my opinion, and I don’t need your approval for that.  Psst … call me …  Rick Moranis’ characters little attempt to be the hero didn’t do anything for me, and I might be hating on him because he got to knock the boots with Annie Potts.  Peter MacNicol was a new addition to the movies, and a welcome one.  I felt like he could have been the second funniest character in the movie.  That crazy accent he got from being from the Upper West Side was ridiculous.  Baby Oscar, played by William and Hank Deutschendorf perhaps didn’t need to be credited here, but they were adorable as babies.  Wilhelm von Homburg was a little hit and miss.  Sometimes he was freaky as Vigo the Carpathian, and sometimes he just looked goofy.

So there that is.  Back up off Ghostbusters II’s jock, alright?  Yeah, it’s not as good as Ghostbusters, but neither are a lot of movies you like.  And I’d wager Ghostbusters II is still a contender with any of those movies you may be thinking of because it still has a good story, still has great characters that are performed well, still has clever dialogue, and even has better graphics when compared to the original.  Not AS good, but definitely good.  Ghostbusters II gets “And you don’t want us exposing ourselves!” out of “How many of you people out here are a national monument?  Raise your hand.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

Ghostbusters (1984)


When Someone Asks You if You’re a God, You Say “Yes”

Allow me to pose a query to you.  Assume, for a moment, that you are in the area in which you live.  Suddenly, you notice that something rather peculiar is happening there.  You have only your cell phone with you and 1% left on the battery life; time only to make one call.  Given all of this information that I have given you, to which group of people will your call be most efficient?  Today’s movie!  A lot of my movie reviews happen at the behest of someone else; either through requests or simply my thoughts about which movie could I most make fun of to entertain the people that read these.  Today’s movie was at my own behest.  What caused me to behest myself was a video playing on one of the TV’s at my job.  I was only able to see bits and pieces, and was able to hear none of it.  And since I love this movie, I needed to watch it.  That movie is Ghostbusters, written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, directed by Ivan Reitman, and starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, Slavitza Jovan, William Atherton, David Margulies, Alice Drummond, Steven Tash, Jennifer Runyon, Rhoda Gemignani, and Michael Ensign.

Three parapsychologists are called in when a strange occurrence happens at the New York Public Library.  Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) is already on the scene by the time Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) and Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) arrive.  Venkman immediately begins grilling the spooked librarian (Alice Drummond) to see if she’s just crazy or not.  Relatively assured that she actually may have seen something, the trio go to investigate, quickly finding that there is, indeed, a ghost.  They then run for their lives.  Egon feels that the readings he took could allow them to capture such spirits and this gives Venkman a business idea.  Unfortunately, as Ray points out, they already have jobs…or do they?  Nope, they’ve been fired.  So they go into the ghostbusting business, purchasing a retired firehouse as their base of operations.  At first, the only client they have is a woman named Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), who claims to have seen eggs cook on her counter and a creature in her fridge.  The only thing that really comes out of that is Venkman’s immediate – and unrequited – love for Dana.  Then, their receptionist, Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts), gets the call that the Sedgewick Hotel has a ghost problem.  Capturing this ghost rockets them into stardom, making them so busy that they have to hire a fourth Ghostbuster, Windston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson).  But when the strange occurrences start to elevate for both Dana and her neighbor, Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), the Ghostbusters have to get involved, and may just have to save the world.

Let us cut through the formalities and just get right to the nitty gritty.  I hate this movie.  I hate this movie because of how damned awesome it is.  It has no right to be so great in every way!  It makes the rest of us look bad!!  OM to the G this is a great movie.  I would go so far to say this is one of my favorite movies ever.  Let’s talk story first.  Now, it’s been well documented (by myself) that I love ghost movies.  I love ghost everything, for that matter.  I certainly love these ghosts things more than most people who have never seen, and are skeptical about, ghosts.  Next to ghost movies, another one of my favorite things in movies is comedy.  Either the combination of my loves made Ghostbusters one of my favorite movies, or Ghostbusters made me love good comedies and ghost movies.  Who knows?  The story itself in the movie isn’t that spectacular, it’s the comedy and the performances that bring a good story to great stature.  And the look is amazing too.  I assume there was a certain degree of budgetary concerns to this movie, but everything looks great.  Granted, New York City has a great look to it already.  The stone lions in front of the library, for example.  They were already there, but you would have to use them.  They have a great look for a ghost movie.  Dana and Louis’ apartment was also well done.  If I remember correctly, it was a real apartment in New York that they added a section to the top of digitally because most buildings don’t have Gozer-gateways on the top.  The gargoyle that comes to life looked mostly great, but there were parts where the limits of the time made it stick out.  The ghosts looked pretty good though, like Slimer and the librarian ghost from the beginning.  They’re reminiscent of the ghost style used in Poltergeist.  Worked great there, works great here.

The performances are what really make this movie work for me.  And I would say that it is mostly one performance that stands out and simultaneously made me love that actor forever: Bill Murray.  Every moment he is in this movie, he’s doing something that makes me laugh, even on my 50th viewing.  Love Venkman, love Murray.  The second best performance would have to be the hands that popped out of the recliner to grab Sigourney Weaver, ’cause one of them grabbed himself a whole handful of Sigourney boob.  But both Sigourney and her boobs performed well in this movie.  She mainly acted as the straight-woman to Bill Murray’s craziness, but she did it very real, acted terrified as hands were groping her and she was being pulled into her closet, and shifted gears completely as she was inhabited by Zuul.  She also was still well within hotness in this movie, even with the 80’s perm.  I personally dug more on Annie Potts though.  Something about that nerdy little girl does it for me.  Even with that voice.  Rick Moranis was, perhaps, a bit over the top as his uber nerdy character, but got a nice dose of crazy to him when he was inhabited by Vinz Clortho, the penis to Sigourney’s vagina or, as they called it, the keymaster to her gatekeeper.  I went on a tangent and almost forgot about the rest of the Ghostbusters.  I would say my second favorite Ghostbuster would have to be Harold Ramis as the eccentric, nerdy scientist Egon Spengler.  He was pretty funny and I relate to him because I too collect spores, molds, and fungus.  Dan Aykroyd was the heart of the Ghostbusters, playing Ray as a kind of dopey but sweet guy.  I also like thinking about William Atherton as the douchebag from the EPA that fucks everything up.  I mainly like thinking about him because he could be the nicest guy, but I’d want to punch him in the mouth because of his character in this movie.  Such a douche and he gets the Ghostbusters arrested because HE fucked everything up.

One of my favorite movies, Ghostbusters combines a good story, fantastic performances, hilarious comedy, and a great look to make itself an epic win.  It holds up every bit today as it did back in ’84.  The only thing dated in this movie is the music, but it’s still enjoyable so that’s not a negative.  It’s just clearly 80’s music.  If you haven’t seen this movie, there’s something wrong with you.  If you don’t like it, I don’t like you.  If you don’t own it, I don’t own you!  Oh, that’s wrong.  Either way, go buy this movie already.  It’s amazazing.  Ghostbusters gets “We came, we saw, we kicked it’s ass” out of “Dogs and cats living together … MASS HYSTERIA!”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

Zombieland (2009)


Another request review, comin’ atcha!  Today I picked the non-horrible movie that I think my friend Loni suggested, Zombieland.  This movie has only 7 names in the acting credits, and stars Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard, and a surprise appearance by the great Bill Murray.

Zombieland is the story of a guy known to us only as Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), a neurotic guy trying to survive in a world overrun with zombies, a task he accomplishes by making and following a set of rules.  He’s trying to get back to his parents in Columbus, Ohio when he comes across a guy we only know as Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a man trying to survive in a world overrun with zombies, a task he accomplishes by being a total, zombie-killing badass.  Tallahassee is trying to survive, but more than that, he’s trying to find a Twinkie.  Tallahassee and Columbus team up and, on a raid of a supermarket to find said Twinkie, they meet two sisters, and the younger one has been bitten.  Tallahassee agrees to shoot her to put her out of her misery, but then her older sister says that she’ll do it.  Tallahassee gives the gun to her, just to have her turn it on Tallahassee and Columbus, robbing the two of their weapons and car.  Turns out these two, Witchita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), are two girls trying to survive, a task they accomplish by conning people and leaving them to rot.  So they drive off and leave Tallahassee and Columbus to rot.  Tallahassee and Columbus soon stumble across an abandoned, but working, replacement vehicle with a backseat full of abandoned, but working, shit-ton of weapons.  Back on the road, they find their car with “HELP” written on the side.  Fearing another con, Tallahassee goes to check out the car alone.  When he calls Columbus to bring their new wheels down, he does, bringing Little Rock with him.  They’ve been conned again!  But this time, Witchita and and Little Rock don’t leave them to rot, and take them along.  Turns out Witchita and Little Rock are going to an amusement park in California they have heard is zombie-free, and Tallahassee and Columbus go along because Tallahassee has nothing better to do, and Columbus wants him some Emma Stone.  Who could blame him?

I don’t know that I would say this movie is universally awesome, but it may be the winner of the “Movie Made for Robert” award.  You can find that out right from the get-go, while the opening scene is the credits rolling over brutal zombie killings with “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Metallica playing.  Later, when some Van Halen is playing, and later still, when Bill Murray shows up, you may be pretty sure that someone loved me so much they wanted to give me the gift of this movie.  And what a gift it was!

There’s a lot of great to this movie.  It’s very funny and full of gruesome zombie deaths.  I’m also a big fan of the on screen messages that pop up.  As Columbus’ rules pop up on screen, they can be interacted with and movie to some comic effect.  Also, I’m totally with Tallahassee at some point in this movie when he finds a Hostess truck but, much to his chagrin, it’s full of Snowballs.  I’m with you; Snowballs suck.  I’d actually prefer a truck of Cupcakes, but I’d take Twinkie’s too.

All of the very small cast was great.  Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin pissed me off for about the first half of the movie, but that was what they were supposed to do.  I wanted one of them to get punched in the mouth the second time they went to carjack Woody and Jesse.  I just realized that their names were the cowboys in Toy Story, the guy and the girl.  Just thought you should follow my thought process there.  The two girls are very self centered, which annoyed me but, when I think about it, that’s how you have to be in the zombie apocalypse.  The more people you get attached to, the more likely you are to meet a gruesome death.  Jesse plays a similar part to every roll I’ve ever seen the man in, but he plays it well.  And Woody Harrelson is a bona fide badass throughout the entire movie, but has a really touching moment when we realize that the puppy he’s been talking about losing since early in the movie was actually his son.  Also, watching him at the amusement park in the end of the movie is the most fun killing zombies, and the most fun watching zombies die, that has been captured on film to this day.

I had to really think about any negatives I could give to this movie, and the only one I had was at the very end.  That moment is when Columbus realizes he has to be a hero – deliberately going against one of his rules – in order to save Witchita and Little Rock from a zombie clown (having mentioned earlier in the movie that he fears clowns more than zombies).  The problem with this scene is that it’s a climax that’s very anticlimactic.  It should have been a battle that Columbus barely survives, but instead he sweeps the clown’s legs with a “Test Your Might” hammer, and then smashes his head with it.  It took all of 8 seconds.  Not enough of a negative to throw off my affection for the movie by a long shot, but a bit anticlimactic.

So, this movie is awesome.  You should own it.  Go do so.  I give it “Thanks for my movie, guys” out of 14.

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others.  It may help me get better.