Young Guns II (1990)

I Shall Finish the Game.

Yesterday was bad times for me.  I got myself all set to have some fun reviewing a movie that was generally regarded as a classic western, only to be let down when it did nothing for me.  But there was a sequel to this movie that may fix it for me.  Unfortunately, Rotten Tomatoes claims this movie is even worse than the first movie.  …Damnit.  Well, Chris requested the first one, and I already own the second one, so I’m going to do it anyway.  And that’s how I came to review Young Guns II, written by John Fusco, directed by Geoff Murphy, and starring Emilio Estevez, William Petersen, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Christian Slater, Alan Ruck, Viggo Mortensen, R. D. Call, James Cobern, Balthazar Getty, Ginger Lynn Allen, Scott Wilson, and Tracey Walter.

An old guy named Brushy Bill Roberts tells an attorney that he would like to get the pardon that was promised to him when he was younger, back when he was known as William H. Bonney, or Billy the Kid (Emilio Estevez).  We jump into an hour and a half long flashback that starts with Billy after the dissolution of the Regulators, now working with “Arkansas” Dave Rudabaugh (Christian Slater) and Pat Garrett (William Petersen).  Billy agrees to meet with Governor Lew Wallace (Scott Wilson), and then agrees to testify against the Murphy faction from the first movie to receive a pardon, but soon finds that it was just a trick to arrest him.  While escaping, he finds that his old partners in the Regulators, Doc Scurlock (Kiefer Sutherland) and Jose Chavez y Chavez (Lou Diamond Phillips) were also captured, so he saves them as well.  His gang decides it’s time to head to Mexico to escape their troubles, but without Pat Garrett, who takes a job as Lincoln County Sheriff to hunt down Billy and kill him for $1000.

This movie actually worked out a little bit better for me.  I still wouldn’t call it a great movie, but it was more fun and much more enjoyable than the movie that came before it.  It was more fun this go around, but still a completely confused story.  They still weren’t able to keep on any coherent story.  Billy gets arrested, reunites with his friends, tries to go to Mexico, changes his mind, gets arrested again, escapes again, and the story goes on like this.  What sets this story apart from the first movie is that it was a little more fun to watch.  The action was realized in a better way that made them more exciting.  The emotional scenes were also allowed to have the weight to mean something to us.  What an interesting idea to let emotional scenes have some weight!  This would come mostly from Billy’s growing feelings that his time as an outlaw was coming to an end, his feelings of betrayal from what Pat Garrett was doing, and the loss of some of his friends.  But the new director of this movie knew how to film and cut this so that it would work for the audience.  I was also a fan of the bookending with Billy as an old man telling the story to the attorney, and even more of a fan of the fact that they didn’t overdo it.  The dialogue was also greatly improved for this movie.  The only thing I kept thinking while watching the first movie was that I thought Billy was supposed to say, “I’ll make you famous,” at some point, and it never came.  That’s because it was in this movie.

The performances were relatively unchanged as the actors were relatively unchanged.  Emilio Estevez still played Billy like he really enjoyed his own company, regardless of the relatively low percentage of funny things that were coming out of his mouth.  But that being the character he was going for, I can’t criticize it.  I still liked Lou Diamond Phillips the most because his character was the most awesome.  Dude takes a giant knife through the forearm and doesn’t even flinch!  Kiefer Sutherland replaced his lame moments of lovey-doveyness with being a bit of a complainer.  I had no issues with William Petersen as Pat Garrett, but I did take issue with Christian Slater as “Arkansas” Dave Rudabaugh.  Why would anyone ever let this guy on their team?  He was always acting like he was running the team or doing something horrible to piss off someone on the team, specifically Chavez.  He was a pretty irritating and unnecessary addition to the team.

Young Guns II had similar story problems to its predecessor, but was able to infuse a little more fun and enjoyment into the movie to help me see more of how people might actually like this movie.  I still wouldn’t say that I loved the movie as it seems some people do with the Young Guns movies, but it was okay, and far superior to first movie.  If you’re going to watch one, make it this one.  Young Guns II gets “I’ll make you famous” out of “When troubles come, they come not single spies but in battalions.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Young Guns (1988)

I Sure Would Like to Touch the Gun That’s Gonna Kill Billy the Kid.

Apparently I had been neglecting a request made by Chris from a while back that he recently reminded me of on my fan page.  I get a pretty good amount of requests recently and sometimes they just slip my mind.  If I don’t write them down, I’ll probably never remember them.  So when he reminded me, I felt like I should get to it pretty quickly lest the poor fellow feel forgotten and take his life.  I can’t have that blood on my hands.  The movie he requested was fairly easy to grant too, because I already owned it.  The problem is that I had no recollection of the movie whatsoever.  It’s generally regarded as a classic movie, and always regarded as a Western.  I like classics just fine, but I’m a big fan of Westerns, so it seemed like a good idea anyway.  But how could I not remember anything about a movie that is so popular?  Maybe I can find out as I review Young Guns, written by John Fusco, directed by Christopher Cain, and starring Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, Dermot Mulroney, Casey Siemaszko, Terence Stamp, Jack Palance, Terry O’Quinn, Alice Carter, Patrick Wayne, Brian Keith, Sharon Thomas, and Geoffrey Blake.

An Englishman in Lincoln County, New Mexico by the name of John Tunstall (Terence Stamp) rescues a young man named William H. Bonney (Emilio Estevez) who was being chased by some men in the employ of Tunstall’s competitor, Lawrence Murphy (Jack Palance).  Tunstall takes him back to work on his ranch alongside other such lawless young men like Doc Scurlock (Kiefer Sutherland), Jose Chavez y Chavez (Lou Diamond Phillips), Richard M. “Dick” Brewer (Charlie Sheen), “Dirty” Steve Stephens (Dermot Mulroney), and Charlie Bowdre (Casey Siemaszko).  After a while, the conflict between Tunstall and Murphy comes to a head when Murphy sends his men to gun down Tunstall in cold blood.  Billy and the Regulators, as they start to call themselves, get themselves deputized to get warrants against the men who shot Tunstall, but Billy decides he’d rather just kill them instead of arresting them.  This practice soon makes them outlaws, and their exploits as outlaws soon earns Bonney the moniker of “Billy the Kid”.

I imagine this is going to hurt the feelings of some of the dedicated fans of this movie, but I have no idea what anyone likes about this thing.  I felt the need to double check with Rotten Tomatoes just to find out if I was crazy or not.  The critics agree with me, the fans agree with themselves.  I can’t say that there was anything in this movie that interested me in the slightest.  The story is a typical western, as best I can tell.  Someone shoots someone, other people don’t like it, and they go on a rampage for revenge.  But there was nothing in that rampage that was remotely interesting to me.  The story was scattered as they often seemed to lose focus on their goal in the movie.  One could assume that their goal was to kill Murphy, but they spent the bulk of the movie doing everything in their power to avoid actually taking care of that issue until it was forced on them in the last scenes of the movie.  That’s when it seemed Billy remembered what he was trying to do.  It wasn’t even an exciting climax to the movie.  They tried to infuse it with some emotional impact by having some of the main characters die, but poor writing and worse direction removed all impact from their deaths.  Being so distracted from their goals wouldn’t be an issue if what they did in the meantime was interesting, but it wasn’t.  It was usually just hiding from or killing random dudes associated with Murphy, or wasting time hanging out in a random town or doing peyote.  The peyote scene was a vaguely amusing bit of distraction, but I was probably more amused by the stupidity of leaving your weapons loaded when you decide to trip on balls on peyote.  But the real stupidity can be found in some of the dialogue.  The best example is something that the Asian girl (who was the star of another long bit of distraction from anything interesting) said to Doc.  In reference to him bringing her flowers that she turned down, she later says, “I keep the flowers in a little room inside my heart, and you visit me frequently there.”  Fer reals, bitch?  I know English is supposed to be your second language, but I think you just uttered the dumbest sentence I’ve ever watched come out of someone’s mouth.

The performances in the movie were not to blame for its boringness.  They all did admirable jobs, but had no control over the story or the direction.  Emilio Estevez usually came off as not taking any situation seriously, and that worked on my nerves on occasion, but as best I can tell that’s what Billy the Kid was like.  Kiefer Sutherland was usually a good character, but any time that he was interacting with Alice Carter was not.  He would recite poetry and usually seemed desperate.  I think I’d say I liked Lou Diamond Phillips’ character the best.  He was not usually the forefront of the characters, but was usually pretty badass when he was up front.

It’s probably not a popular sentiment about a pretty popular movie, but I have no idea why anyone remembers this movie.  It might have been a little bit cooler at the time, but watching it for the first time today I found it terribly boring, poorly written, and directed even worse.  The performances were all fine, but they couldn’t save the movie for me.  I was just bored all the way through.  Apparently, many others see something that I don’t, so I don’t know that I’d say you shouldn’t watch this movie, but I certainly don’t recommend it.  We’ll see if Young Guns 2 does anything for me tomorrow.  For today, Young Guns gets “Charley, if you don’t stand up and start whooping ass, you ain’t never gonna see her again” out of “It ain’t easy having pals.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Breakfast Club (1985)

In High School, I Was Ally Sheedy

Today’s movie was requested a pretty long time ago but, when Ashley requested it, she also said that she would bring me the movie so I could review it.  I waited and waited until I eventually gave up and put it on my Netflix queue, but low enough that I could still remove it if she ever remembered to bring it in.  She didn’t.  So it finally surprised me when it arrived via Netflix and, once I had decided against writing the review and making her wait for it for another couple of months, I decided to sit down and review the movie.  I had seen this movie before, but I don’t recall it making much of an impact on me.  It made plenty of impact on so many other people in the world, but did not with me on my first viewing.  Let’s see if I’ve changed my mind as I review the Breakfast Club, written and directed by John Hughes, and starring Anthony Michael Hall, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Paul Gleason, and John Kapelos.

Five students at Shermer High School are brought together on a Saturday for detention, run by assistant principal Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason).  The students are familiar with each other, but far from friendly as they all come from different, but easily classified social cliques.  There’s the brain, Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall), the athlete, Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez), the basket case, Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy), the princess, Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald), and the criminal, John Bender (Judd Nelson).  They are told not to speak, not to move, not to sleep, and that their time should be best spent writing an essay about who they think they are.  Vernon then goes to his office across the hall where he’ll be able to hear if they mess with the bulls.  Their day is spent in various ways that lead to all of the students getting to know each other a little bit better, and find out that they have more in common than they would’ve thought.

I feel vaguely conflicted on my thoughts on this movie.  It’s definitely a good movie, and arguably one of the best of all the high school movies, but I just don’t find it that interesting.  I guess I just remember high school enough to remember that there are clear social classes that don’t intersect very much, so none of that comes as a surprise to me.  The movie is amusing, but never really reaches funny for me.  That’s the issue with this movie to me: nothing really happens that’s all that interesting, but the movie is really well-written.  On one hand, it’s a deep and insightful look at the social structure and psychology of high school students.  On the other hand, it’s five kids sitting around a library chit-chatting for 2 hours.  At first, all the characters seem to fit very snuggly into their stereotype.  This came to a head when they started eating lunch because all of the food they chose for them was so stereotypical.  The princess had sushi, the athlete was carb-loading, the basket case put Captain Crunch and Pixie Sticks between bread, the brain had peanut butter and jelly with the crusts cut off, and the criminal had the brain’s lunch.  If the movie had remained this way all the way through, no one would’ve thought anything about it.  But, as they say in the speech that ends the movie, the students come to find that they have a lot of things in common and some pretty dramatic stories are told in the meantime.  The criminal’s recreation of a day in his household was pretty tragic, and the athlete’s story about taping a kid’s butt together starts off funny, but starts getting very tragic as he reveals what he had been thinking about that would happen to the kid as a result of it.  The princess reveals that she’s being used by her parents to get back at each other, the brain reveals that he was considering suicide because he got an F, and the basket case doesn’t have friends and came to detention voluntarily.  John Hughes was clearly a master of the genre and had a deep insight to the way high school students acted and thought, and that’s what really sets the movie apart.  Otherwise there are a few cute moments, but no real laughs and nothing much going for it.  The insight is the real reason to watch the movie.  That and the song.  Ironically, I think no one would remember the Simple Minds song “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” were it not for this movie.  Even before I had seen this movie, my arm would automatically raise into the air in a fist-pumping motion whenever I heard the song.  Thankfully I’ve seen the movie now, so I at least know why it’s happening.  I still feel like I should see a doctor about it.

I think that anyone watching this movie starts to figure out which one of these groups they fit into in high school.  I was no different.  The only thing different about it is that I’m posting it on the internet for the world to see.  It makes me somewhat sad to admit it, but I was either the brain or the basket case.  I had a parent that stressed the importance of grades above almost all else, but I never really felt it was important enough and never really got the grades or the anxiety about grades to be full brain.  My sister would’ve been pretty brain.  I remember her crying over a C, which I would’ve said, “Good enough for me!”  But I did have a very limited number of friends, never really talked to people that often, and spent most of my time in class drawing.  So I’m definitely leaning a lot more towards the basket case category.  I definitely wouldn’t have had much in common with the other three.  I was in track once, but generally had very little to do with sports.  I was far from a bully or a criminal.  I kept to myself, never really broke laws and rules, and definitely didn’t bully people.  I only recall getting detention once or twice, and usually just for being a dumbass with one of my friends in class.  I’ve never felt I was much of a princess either, and not just because of my genitals.  But we were more middle class and definitely not rich, and I also wasn’t very popular.  So yeah, in high school I was Ally Sheedy.

The performances were all very good in the movie.  They all exemplified the character they were trying to very well, and then even went a little bit deeper.  Ally Sheedy was the stand out for me.  Sure, Molly Ringwald is super cute, but I found myself more attracted to Sheedy.  She was cute and wacky and I dug that more.  Judd Nelson was mostly unlikeable through the entire movie and didn’t really become vulnerable and accessible more than about twice in the movie, and didn’t become likeable until the end.  Emilio Estevez impressed me when he gave the whole speech about taping the kids butt together because of his emotional reaction to it.  I also thought his little “high dance” was funny because it looked so similar to Kevin Bacon’s angry dance in Footloose.

I found the Breakfast Club to be an interesting movie because of the insight it showed, but not extremely interesting beyond that.  It’s not really meant for someone in my current age range, though.  I’m sure I would’ve been much more into it in high school when I could’ve identified stronger with the whole “parents just don’t get it, man” side of the movie.  It’s still a very well written and insightful movie, but part of me still feels like I’m just watching five kids sitting around a library.  I still feel that this movie is one everyone should see at least once in their lives.  I just don’t think I’m going to feel the need to buy it.  The Breakfast Club gets “Each of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal” out of “Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.