Imagine the most banal dialogue available in a movie, then plan out a very straight forward dry plot, now cast the two most talented actors of their generation as the stars, and you have this movie. It is not offensive or poorly made, it is just wandering around looking for a reason to exist, and it can’t find one. I did not remember anything about this film thirty years after seeing it except that it featured a “cute meet” based on a mix up of Christmas gift books. That was the most interesting thing that happened in this film.
Just looking at the poster tells you how dull the movie is. There is no tag line, no artwork, nothing creative. They slap a cute picture of the two stars on a black background and add the title. You would not even need photoshop to come up with something this dull. The only reasons anyone has to see the film are the two stars. (Two Stars would be a generous rating if this was a ratings based blog).
The film that eclipsed “Ghostbusters” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” at the box office in 1984, opened in December and starred the man who would be guaranteed box office security for almost twenty years. Eddie Murphy was on the cusp of being the biggest star in the world and this is the film that established that as a fact not a prediction. “48 Hours” and “Trading Places” were just the warm up acts for this bravura comedic gem of improvisation and script.
Taking an action script that was originally meant for Sylvester Stallone and turning it into comedy dynamite was an amazing accomplishment. The success of the movie has to be laid at the feet of the star. Murphy was not yet bored with his roles and clowning through childish premises. Murphy was still fresh, brash and ready to poke some traditions in the eye.
Are you a fan of Merchant/Ivory films? Do you like the idea of naive travelers in exotic lands? Has the existential meaning of life escaped you? If you answered yes to any of these questions this film might be up your alley. You may notice however, that I did not ask if you were a fan of Bill Murray. The reason I skipped that is simple, fans of Bill Murray’s will be disappointed in this movie and wondering where the snark is. Although he co-wrote the screenplay and does add a bit of his sensibility to the character, this is ultimately a misfire because his character is passive, introverted and disillusioned with life, which are all things that Bill Murray characters usually are not.
This is a remake of the same novel that was done by Tyrone Power in 1946. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that film but I suspect it would be a little more meaningful if the “Lost Generation” was part of your audience. A contemporary version of the story might have featured soldiers with PTSD, and their alienation from the country that they served in combat. The good times of the roaring twenties and the fall that accompanied the Great Depression set up a context that most audiences were not able to identify with in 1984.
More than Thirty years later, we are still getting films based on the characters created by James Cameron in this essential 1984 classic. This film is so influential on modern cinema and culture that it is the equivalent of an earthquake. The ground moved and the world took notice. This was a mostly unheralded film at the time. It was done on a relatively low budget, it’s star was not yet the household name that he would become, and it was the first real film directed by future “King of the World” James Cameron. This movie laid the groundwork for Cameron’s later career and creative freedom, but here he had to fight to keep control of the project and to try and get it the promotion that it deserved. It came in behind “Red Dawn” on the box office totals for 1984 and barely edged out “City Heat” to be the number 21 film that year with just over $38 million domestically. Modest financial beginnings but big creative ones.
Beatles fans like me looked forward to a movie featuring two of the fab four in 1984. That is until it actually arrived. This film, written by Paul McCartney himself, showed up D.O.A. on it’s opening weekend, with some of the worst reviews and buzz of the year. It turns out that the film was not as bad as I remembered, but I also recall why I have not seen it again in the thirty years since it came out. Basically, it is a mess. Sometimes there are interesting ideas, like you often found in a music video from the 80s, but an interesting visual cue is not enough to sustain interest in a ninety minute film.
Essentially, “Give My Regards to Broad Street” is a thin justification for stringing together partially realized music videos featuring old Beatles hits, Wings songs from the 70s and some current (1984) ballads. I suspect if you dropped in for a musical sequence or two, and then skipped the rest of the movie, you might enjoy some of what you saw. Sticking it out for the whole run at one sitting will try your patience and it might kill any interest you have in watching a long form music video presentation ever again.
Brian DePalma was once my favorite director. There was something so watchable about every movie he made that I was happy to see them, regardless of quality, and that means something because he made some films that are just weird. “Scarface” has a legion of cult followers but it is somewhat over the top and not my cup of tea, “Raising Cain” goes to the well a couple of times too often, and “Wise Guys” is not memorable at all, and I know I saw it. There are also the real classics “Blow Out”, “Carrie” and “The Untouchables” any of which I would sit down now and watch. I’m about to say something that may be a little blasphemous to many fans, I think “Body Double” is the most well made of his films when it comes to direction. It has story flaws and some acting weaknesses and the plot is stretched a bit here and there, but it has the most genius long takes and lighting choices and music in just about any of his films. It is a visual and directing masterpiece.
This movies camera angles and set decoration and location shots are just about visually perfect. We are going to get a tour of L.A. and the film business in 1984. It is often an ugly collection of people but the world they inhabit is made to look glorious and interesting, even when we are supposed to know that we are looking at a process shot. This movie plays with our minds by tricking us to see things from a cinematic perspective instead of a real world perspective. It is made by someone who knows how to make even the most simple things look interesting on the screen.
Every few years there has to be a film about inspiring teachers. “Goodbye Mr. Chips”, “How Green was My Valley”, “The Blackboard Jungle”, “To Sir with Love” ad infinitum . 30 Years ago this month it was “Teachers”, a Nick Nolte vehicle with a lot of familiar faces in it but not quite the sort of inspiration you found in the old days. The movie could have easily been parodied with a title like “Goodbye Mr. Chips With Tits”.
This is a honest effort to portray the problems in the school system with a sincere desire to call everyone to action. The problem is that it lays it on so thick, you doubt whether it has the smell of truth to it. Everything that happens in the film happened every day in schools across the country. Much of it still happens today. It just does not all happen in the same school in the same week as is played out here. The movie is entertaining enough but it is filled with cliches and events that would spark protests and marches these days, not the kind of casual shrugging of the shoulders that seems to be standard for earlier times.