The Transformers: The Movie (1986)

Bah Weep Gragnah Weep Nini Bong!

The Transformers: The Movie (1986)A friend of mine named LaCharizard was once really excited about requesting movies for me to review, but I never really got around to any of them.  I think what kept me from fulfilling her request for today’s movie is that I was worried about it ruining my nostalgia.  I had been a big fan of this franchise when I was a child and didn’t want watching it in my adulthood to make me realize that it was actually a piece of shit as my ill-fated purchase of Bobby’s World on DVD had.  Should I rather not just allow myself to believe I liked it and never find out if I still would?  No!  Mainly because LaCharizard was alphabetically next on my list and this movie appealed to me more than her other requests … and because she’s named after my favorite Pokémon.  And that’s why I decided to watch The Transformers: The Movie, written by Ron Friedman, directed by Nelson Shin, and including the voices of Peter Cullen, Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Orson Welles, Robert Stack, Frank Welker, Lionel Stander, Chris Latta, Susan Blu, John Moschitta Jr., Scatman Crothers, Casey Kasem, and Corey Burton.

In the far distant futuristic year … 2005 … the giant robot Galactus rip-off named Unicron (Orson Welles) is roaming around the universe eating planets.  The evil transforming robots known as the Decepticons (lead by Megatron [Leonard Nimoy]) leads an ambush on the Autobot city called … Autobot City.  In the fight, Ultra Magnus (Robert Stack) gets off a signal to Autobot leader Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), who arrives to join the fight but is mortally wounded in the fight with Megatron.  After the Decepticon retreat, Optimus passes the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus, telling him that it will show them the light in their darkest hour.  After passing on the Matrix, Optimus passes on himself.  In deep space, Megatron is marooned by his second-in-command Starscream (Chris Latta), but is rescued by Unicron, who fixes him and turns him into Galvatron in exchange for the destruction of the Matrix.  Can the Autobots stop them?  CUE SHITTY 80’S MUSIC!

There!  My childhood is ruined!  Good work, LaCharizard!  I am totally gonna sick LaBlastoise on you!!  In truth, this was not a good movie but I don’t really feel as if my childhood is destroyed.  I think I knew this movie would be cheesy, and I was right.  Keeping my expectations low helped me to just watch this movie for the humor of it.  Not the intentional humor, mind you.  The best joke they could come up with was calling the Decepticons “Decepticreeps.”  Good one, bro.  I would’ve gone with Decepticunts, but then parents might have frowned on my choices.  The story of this movie is pretty dumb, but pretty ballsy as well.  They kill off so many Autobots in this movie, including Optimus Prime!  That takes balls.  I don’t really like it because Hot-Rod seemed like a tool and Rodimus Prime was Hasbro stealing my patented porn name, but it does take balls to kill your main hero early into your movie.  And it took even more balls for them to resist the temptation to slap that “You Got the Touch” over the scene when Optimus died.  Speaking of which…

This movie is the 80’s.  I thought the soundtrack was supplied by Ratt, and every other scene of music was a person using his Casio keyboard as a punching bag.  And what’s worse is that they really seemed to have no regard for the music that they chose to make sense or to sound appropriate for the situation where they were using it.  Look at Stan Bush’s classic song “The Touch,” as later famously covered by Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights.  That song was in this movie!  It was like a joke!  What does that song have to do with Optimus Prime transforming?!  I know the second line is “You got the power!” but what is he touching?  And then they use “Dare to Be Stupid” during a big battle with a robotic Mongol horde in a junkyard.  And they definitely did dare to be stupid, but it has nothing to do with the scene, and doesn’t even sound like appropriate music for a fight scene.  That being said, I do love some Weird Al.  I also feel like the animation of this movie doesn’t really hold up that well.  It’s okay, but even Saturday morning cartoons nowadays look way better than this movie.  And the sound mix of this movie never really seemed right.  First of all, it seems weird for the giant, planet-devouring robot to make chomping sounds when it absorbs a planet.  It should be Om Nom Nom or nothing!  And at other points in this movie, it seemed like they just plum forgot to put sound effects in, like the whole scene when Optimus was giving the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus.  Apparently, opening his chest and pulling a glowing orb out is completely silent.  Who knew?

One of the most impressive things about the cast of this movie is that it was one of the great Orson Welles’ final performances.  So Kudos to him.  The voice cast of the movie did a good job.  The only problem I had was with Frank Welker.  I like Frank Welker a lot, but that Wheelie character was annoying as hell.  Every time he had to speak, he had to rhyme.  And I had to sigh.  But there are plenty of problems with the characters.  First of all, Megatron.  He’s the biggest villain in the Transformers universe, surrounded by robots that turn into jets and diesels and dinosaurs and this guy … turns into a tiny pistol that is 1/10th his size.  …And must be fired by one of his allies.  What could ever be lamer than that?  Oh wait … there’s an Autobot that turns into a microscope.  Okay, you win.  And of course, there are two Transformers that turn into cassette player boom boxes, just in case you forgot this was the 80’s.  Truth be told, I’ve always had a soft spot for Soundwave for some reason, but his transformation is inarguably lame.  Oh, if you did forget that this movie is in the 80’s, the kid in this movie rides a hoverboard.  He probably used to use a pink one like a bojo until he got stuck over a lake, ‘cause those things don’t work on water unless you’ve got power.  Also, the Decepticon Astrotrain turns into a train that looks awfully similar to Doc Brown’s train from Back to the Future 3.  And Astrotrain is stupid.  Not only because his name is stupid, but because the Decepticons were riding inside him fighting about who would take over with Megatron gone and he never thought to suggest the choice between them making him the leader or being jettisoned out of his ass into deep space.

The Transformers: The Movie might still be able to entertain children, but I even doubt that.  The story is pretty simple, but if they have any love for the Transformers going into it, they’ll probably be bummed out by how many of their favorite characters are killed off, only to be replaced by someone that would call himself Rodimus Prime with a straight face.  This movie is also horribly dated by the 80est of 80’s music that has ever 80’sed.  But, thankfully, I did not find that this movie was able to destroy my nostalgic love for the Transformers.  I just regarded it as a goofy movie that was fun to make fun of.  But there’s still not much reason to watch it.  The Transformers: The Movie gets “I’ve got better things to do tonight than die” out of “Did we have to let them detonate three-quarters of the ship?”

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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.”

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