#TBT Film Rec: Brewsters Millions

In honor of tonight’s ridiculous double header 7-person then 10-person Republican debate, a quick reminder to put Richard Pryor’s Brewster’s Millions on your film bucket list.  The film combines minor league baseball, electoral politics, venture capitalism, and class-divide comedy.

It’s not high cinema.  And (okay, okay), it’s not Eddie Murphy in Trading Places.  But as a charming trip back to the 80s stand-up star-driven comedies, it delivers while also supplying one of my favorite election time admonitions, “Vote None of the Above!” Continue reading #TBT Film Rec: Brewsters Millions

#TBT Film Rec: Pump Up the Volume

Since Christian Slater has been on my mind and my television this week (see yesterday’s post on USA’s Mr. Robot), I decided to feature him in this week’s throwback film rec.  Many Slater films rushed to mind as candidates, like the early Tarantino screenplay True Romance (1993) or the satire that made Mean Girls (2004) thinkable, Heathers (1988)In the end, I’m going one tick more obscure to 1990’s Pump up the Volume.

Pump Up the Volume was never a huge hit but was well reviewed is still held dear by many.  It comes toward the end of what I’d call the “meaningful-film-for-and-about-teenagers” cycle that includes all of Molly Ringwald’s oeuvre, and, say, the first few tastes of Patrick Dempsey (then the big-nosed, good guy, not McDreamy), Winonna Ryder, and, yes, Christian Slater.

Slater’s Mark is the loner kid at his suburban Phoenix high school.  At night, however, he transforms from the glasses wearing shy guy, to the shirtless, smoking, and swearing underground DJ known as “Hard Harry.”   Continue reading #TBT Film Rec: Pump Up the Volume

#TBT Film Rec: 42nd Street

The joyous, almost buoyant Depression-era musical maintainsChorus girls of 42nd Street its charm with rapid-fire wit, sometimes jarringly frank innuendo, and a generous dose of aesthetically and industrially significant Hollywood history.

In 42nd Street (1933), newbie “hoofer” Peggy (Ruby Keeler)–that’s 30s speak for tap-dancer, got me?–breaks her way into the chorus line of a Broadway production.  In between grueling rehearsals, she learns the varieties of backstage romance from the well-intentioned to the gold-digging with a few others in-between. Her character’s story as a young gal adapting to life in the Big City is paralleled by a plot concerning threats to the financial future of the show and the secret affair of its female star.  These plots converge when Peggy becomes a last minute replacement for the lead and must push herself to discover what she’s made of.

As a “backstage musical” 42nd Street‘s musical numbers occur within the confines of putting on a show rather than the any-minute-now-someone-might-break-into-song type that many non-musical theater types find off-putting.  It’s also a Warner Brother’s picture, the studio whose brand was films for “the working man” and also included the original cycle of Hollywood gangster pictures.  (Yes: this explains how Jimmy Cagney of Public Enemy (1931) was also famous for his tap dancing a la Footlight Parade (1933): WB had him under contract for the bulk of his career.) Continue reading #TBT Film Rec: 42nd Street