Talking about comic books, TV shows, movies, sports, and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What I Watched On My Summer Vacation

Mrs. Teebore and I spent a week up north at my father-in-law's cabin this summer and, well, we watched a lot of movies (and TV-on-DVD). Hey, there's only so much jet-skiing, swimming, antiquing and game-playing a couple can do before turning to movies, especially with only two local TV channels (though I did get to watch Jeopardy a few afternoons). So here's what we watched to fill that time:

Major League-Whilst watching a few minutes of this on TV one day, my wife commented that she had never seen it. So I made sure to bring it along on our vacation, as it had also been awhile since I'd seen it in one sitting (as opposed to on TV, edited and chopped up by commercials). It was a pleasure to once again hear Dorn drop the f-bomb when pumping up Vaughn during the last game, instead of whatever lame "family-friendly" dialogue the censors edit in. Mrs. Teebore seemed to enjoy the movie as well, particularly the slightly pre-fame Charlie Sheen's turn as "Wild Thing" Vaughn.

Also, apparently the DVD version I picked up at 1/2 Price Books for $5 was a directors cut of the film or something, because it had scenes I'd never seen before. Most of them involved fleshing out the relationship between Tom Berenger and Rene Russo, and since I spend most of my time during such scenes in the "cut" version wishing they'd get back to the wacky baseball hijinks already, most of the added scenes in this version were pretty unnecessary.

Lethal Weapon-Another cable TV favorite that the missus had never seen and I hadn't seen uncut in some time. Still a classic of the genre and a lot of fun. Mrs. Teebore particularly enjoyed the work of a pre-reality TV show star Gary Busey.

Like the Major League DVD, this one had some extra scenes added in, again, mostly extraneous. A couple at the beginning reinforced the notion that Gibson's Riggs was living on the edge (the scene at the Christmas tree lot, which on this DVD, is now the third such "Riggs is crazy" scene, did the job just fine on its own). Another added scene showed the morning routine Murtaugh had before getting partnered up with Riggs. It added some dimension to the action towards the film's end when, after escaping from the bad guys, Murtaugh stands at the end of an alley, cracks his neck and quick draws on an approaching car, killing the driver. Thanks to this Directors Cut I now know that was a move he practiced every morning on the gun range.

Stargate-For the last few years, I've been watching a "highlights only" version of Stargate with a group of friends. The wife and I enjoy the show enough that we've expressed interest in going back to watch more of the show (not just the overarching, plot-centric episodes) so for my birthday this year, those friends were kind enough to give me the first two seasons on DVD. Before watching them, though, I wanted to rewatch the movie that started it all.

This was a much more cerebral science fiction movie than the action figures released alongside it would suggest; perhaps this is why the only time I'd seen if before, on video as a kid, I was kind of bored by it. I mean, you stick Kurt Russell in a movie and toss some explosions into the trailer and what else is a 13-year-old supposed to expect? It wasn't until I was introduced to the TV show (which, before friends recommended it, I avoided based on my recollection of the film) that I felt an urge to revisit the film. It holds up much better now, caused, I'm sure, by my famiiarity with what follows it in the TV series and my altered expectations. There really isn't much action to speak of until the last act but it hums along regardless, making the most of its setup (ancient gods were actually aliens) and setting (soldiers trapped on an alien world-how will they get home?) to not really need big action set pieces.

Also, French Stewart plays one of the soldiers, completely straight. I did not know this until rewatching it this summer. Hilarious, but it clearly wasn't meant to be.

This Is Spinal Tap-I'd never seen this before, and sadly, I probably would have enjoyed it more if the funniest bits weren't already so familiar to me. They've become such a part of the pop culture fabric that one can know them without ever having seen the movie. Thus I was already familiar with the best parts.

Still, it's a funny movie, with the same kind of droll humor and wry antics one comes to expect from the creator of Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show. Definitely something I'd come back around to seeing again, and at least now I can say I've seen it.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan-An old favorite the missus had never seen and I hadn't watched in awhile (she's more of a Next Generation gal). I was curious if it held up to my recollection, and it did. Like Stargate, it was less action-y than I remembered, which makes sense for a Star Trek movie. Instead of phaser fights and space battles (though there are some) this is a measured look at growing old, the regrets that go along with that, and the strength of friendship. It's also a great examination of obsession, drawing parallels to Moby Dick in the same way the Next Generation crew's finest film (First Contact) will do.

Of course, it also features the Kobayashi Maru, the screen debut of Kirstie Alley, and lengthy scenes in which Shatner and a prosethetic-chest-sporting Ricardo Montalban chew up the scenery and spit it at each other, so it's got that going for it as well. And I have to admit, everytime I watch Kirk's euology for Spock I get a little teared up. "Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... human."

The seesaw battle over which original series Trek film is my favorite (this or Undiscovered Country) goes on...

Grease 2-After watching Khan, I figured it was only fair to give my wife her due and watch a movie she had been yearning for me to watch, one of her favorites. It wasn't that bad, I suppose, certainly no worse than the first one, and maybe just a little bit better. The music is fairly derivative and the girl who wanted to go to beauty school in the first movie is back at the high school, for some reason, but it does feature a very young Michelle Pfeiffer and a guy who masquerades as a mysterious motorcyclist, not unlike the Voltron-esque Dark Rider that the Marvel mutant cyclists of Team America form. Yeah, it's as bad as it sounds, but Mrs. Teebore is right: I'd still rather watch this than the first Grease movie.

Thoroughly Modern Millie-A friend of mine gave me this movie for Christmas last year, after I requested some old classics. Sitting down to watch it, we were expecting something in the predictable-but-not-without-its-charms 60s musical genre, something not unlike My Fair Lady or the King and I. Instead we watched one of the most awesomely batshit insane movies ever.

Seriously, you know you're in for something awesomely insane when within the first five minutes of the film you're already treated to a dance-powered elevator. The plot of the film basically involves Mary Poppins trying to:

A. Find a husband
B. Bust up a slavery ring coordinated by her landlady in which single young women are sold to the Chinese.

In that order.

Along the way, there's aerial dog fights, the scaling of buildings, car chases, a young Mr. Myagi, Mary Tyler Moore, several jokes involving knockout gas, and a climatic final battle involving trampolines.

It's like the Adam West Batman movie of 60s musicals.

Noises Off!-After that insanity, it was all comedies for us the rest of the way. We had a bit of a Michael Caine night. I've seen the stage version of Noises Off! but never the film. I was curious how well the third act, which takes place silently and entirely "backstage" of the play the characters are performing, would work on screen. If anything, it worked a little bit better, affording us more opportunities to see the expressions on the actor's faces.

It was also a bit bittersweet, seeing as how the movie starred both Christopher Reeve and John Ritter, but having seen little of either actor beyond their more well known roles (Superman and the Problem Child mean, Three's Company, respectively) it was fun to see them doing something a little different.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels-Like This Is Spinal Tap, I'd seen bits and pieces of this movie on TV, comedic restrospectives and Scene It trivia questions, but I'd never seen it from start to finish, and even though I thought I already knew the whole story, it turns out I didn't. I've always had an affinity for Steve Martin, but I usually think of Michael Caine as more of a serious actor than a comedic one; between this, Noises Off and Jaws 4 I've come to see he can be wicked funny as well. Another film I'll probably dust off every few months for a good laugh.


  1. I liked Stargate when I saw it in the theater despite a lack of I think that means I was a more mature, intellectual teenager than you were.

  2. No chance to watch BULL DURHAM, huh?

  3. I was planning on bringing it along, but when things got packed it was missed...probably because I have it sitting apart from my disorganized mess of DVDs...


Comment. Please. Love it? Hate it? Are mildly indifferent to it? Let us know!