Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Where's your Christmas spirit?

Jingle All the Way (1996)
Oddly enough, I have fond memories of this and still enjoyed it upon rewatch.  It's goofy, over the top, unevenly acted, completely reprehensible, but also quite a lot of fun.  On this one, I can just toss the plot out the window, lay aside the horrible role models, and just enjoy the pure Ahnold goodness.

I've become a parent since I first watched this, and just remembered it as being goofy and a fun film.  I'd even been wondering ahead of time if this is one I'm getting close to being able to share with my 7 & 8 year old kids.  No sir.  Not even remotely close.  I must say that the CommonSenseMedia review is spot-on and this movie is largely about a completely delinquent father trying to buy his son's love with a present.  That said, while I won't have the kids watching it anytime soon, I still enjoy it for the Ahnold Cheese.

Arnold gives a pretty rocky performance in this one and doesn't appear to have really been into the character.  I can hardly blame him if he wasn't, but he does at least have a lot of fun with it and that's mainly what I'm looking for in this type of movie.  Quite an impressive amount of "Aaauuuaaaggghhhh" going on for a comedy and I love that they fit in an action sequence involving the Santa Underground Mafia to give him the obligatory fight sequence.  His expressions are excellent and some of the glares at Phil and Sinbad are really fun.

I've apparently not watched this since 1999 as I had one of those "holy crap!" moments when I realized why I have such bad memories of Arnold's kid in this.  Lo and behold, it's f-ing Jake Lloyd!  Ugh, ugh, and ugh.  So if I ever needed any further proof of just how off the deep end George was when he cast this kid, I don't have to look any further than the completely irritating performance he put in here.  Good news is that now his performance in Episode 1 doesn't seem nearly as bad by comparison.

Ahnold Quotient - 8
For a comedy with Arnold keeping his shirt on, there's a substantial amount of Ahnold running through this one.  All the fun and/or goofy expressions are here, there's some good physical acting, and plenty of one-liners. 

Rewatchability - Rarely
It's fun to watch, and I'm happy to watch it once every couple of Christmases, but it's not a particularly well-crafted movie.  I'd be a little skittish to recommend this to anyone other than a die hard Arnold fan, and I'd certainly not suggest it to anyone under age 13. 

Up next is the biggie.  The wall I'm not sure I can overcome...  Batman & Robin.  Pretty much the movie I picture when I think "what the hell happend to Arnold in his later films?" so may have to imbibe in some adult beverages to get through that sucker.  And if I manage that, I get rewarded with having to watch End of Days.  Sheesh.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Awwww damn, did that hurt?

Eraser (1996)
I remember this as a largely forgettable vanilla action suspense movie.  Haven't seen it since the theater, although I did buy the DVD right after I got my first player back in 1998 and it's stayed unwrapped until now.  Interested to see if I missed out on the fun the first time around or if it really was that bland.

As it turns out, yes and no.  There are quite a few good set pieces here, some reasonably good action, and Arnold's quite good.  But then there's James Caan, whom I usually like very much, playing a completely ugh character in a completely predictable plot.  Predictable plots are hardly a rarity in an Arnold movie, but we usually have much more Ahnold to offset that and keep it fun.  I actually like his character in this, he's nicely noble and I applaud never establishing a romantic connection with Vanessa.  Pretty surprising actually.  I like romances as much as anyone, but we don't have to go there just because two people share a good chunk of screentime.

Aligators.  Really?  After Vanessa's been a bad-ass and shot a dude in the leg just for pretending to be Arnold's friend and after Arnold's come to her rescue and shot the hell out of the place, we have to rescue them from the zoo with CGI aligators?  I'm good with using your last bullets to blast out the glass, that would have been a good distraction even without the aligators and I could even handle an aligator taking a bite out of one of the guys, but they had to kill all of them?  While Arnold and Vanessa sit there and watch rather than just get the hell out of there?  It's not like the scene ruined the movie or anything, but it seriously broke the immersion for me and it takes a while to settle back in after that.

Arnold's quite good in this, he straddles the bad-assery with the kindness and protectiveness toward Vanessa with aplomb.  Some excellent "Aaauuuaaaggghhhh" moments in there, particularly the parachuting sequence, and some very fun action at the end.  He's still looking pretty fit and there really isn't much cheesiness in this, he plays it pretty straight up with good style.  But aside from the "Aaauuuaaaggghhhh" bits, it's not an Arnold movie that you find sinking into your brain or running around quoting to your friends afterward.

Highlight of the movie for me was the ending action sequence, but not because of the constant shit blowing up, because the guys playing the union dock workers were just incredible.  Some excellent lines with "Commie bastards!" "They're not communists anymore, Tony.  They're a federation of independent liberated states" being my favorite.  Good stuff and a clever way to toss in some support for Arnold without it getting weird. 

All in all, it's a decent suspense movie with some nice action sequences tacked in and plenty of good moments.  Unfortunately, it's still every bit as forgettable as the first time.

Ahnold Quotient - 7
I might actually put that lower if not for the ample amount of "Aaauuuuaaaggghhhh" and shit blowing up.  He's very cool and heroic, just too confined in the role to really let his inner Ahnold fly.

Rewatchability - Eh
Another one that I wouldn't refuse if it was suggested, but wouldn't go out of my way to watch.  I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys Arnold or action movies, but not as a must watch.  Don't know that I would have any need to watch it on my own again, there are simply better Arnold and better action movies to watch instead.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Does my body disgust you?

Junior (1994)
After a whirlwind 3 weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas prep, and (most importantly) F1 racing, it's time to get back to Arnold.  I guess Last Action Hero had the additional side effect of curbing my interest in watching other Arnold movies for a little bit there.  Yet another knock against it.  Moving onward, we come to another Arnold movie that I've never seen before.  No idea why I took a pass on this one, aside from the obvious oddity of it, since Arnold's comedies are amongst my favorites.  Perhaps this one just seemed a little to heavy handed, but let's see what Reitman was up to with this one...

It's a pretty mixed bag of a film and I found myself wanting to enjoy it more than I actually did.  There are some really clever moments, a very sweet tone overall, and some pretty good one-liners, but the story just doesn't ever really click.  I managed to largely sidestep the plausibility angle on this one and just go with the flow.  If the movie says a man can get pregnant, then I'll concede that to be the case and by and large, they're pretty self-consistent on the subject.  The place where I run into trouble is that I just didn't wind up caring as much as I likely should.  They do a great job with the setup, and there were certainly plenty of sweet moments designed to get you rooting for Arnold to keep his baby, but there's also something stand-offish about the execution.  A lot of that might be chalked up to Devito.  Yet another movie where I didn't really care much for him and he doesn't really bring much unique to this.  Twins at least used their physical and character differences as a fun contrast, but here he's just another doctor and you could have put anyone in that role.

All those issues aside, Arnold is again quite good in a sweet and comedic role.  His character has a reasonably believable transformation from straight-laced scientist to hormonal pregnant person and he does a great job moving toward that with incremental changes in behavior.  He again makes a great romantic lead and the bits between Arnold and Emma are all excellent and some pretty decent chemistry.  The loneliness angle and subsequent love story were the bits that I best connected with and I'd have enjoyed having a little more of that.  He brought in some very fun moments like his outburst and subsequent chat with the other mothers in the fertility clinic waiting room, and I'll remember quite a few of those fondly for some time to come.  All in all, I'd have to say that Reitman did a great job in his Arnold trilogy of bringing out a side of Arnold that no one had really seen before, and I hope they still get a chance to get back together and take one more crack at it.

Special nod to Emma for getting involved in this one.  I've always liked her, and this outing is no exception.  She lends a touch of class and some great comedic timing, and starring with Arnold is a heck of a great 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon connection.

Ahnold Quotient - 5
By design, there's not a lot of Ahnold to be had in this one, which is perhaps where my problem lies.  He gets to raise his voice a few times, and we get quite a bit of subtle acting and sweetness out of him, but aside from occasionally remarking on his size, they don't really play that up. 

Rewatchability - Perhaps
This may very well be one of those movies that gets better upon rewatch, and I'd certainly be up for doing so again.  There wasn't anything that really bugged me about the movie, it just overall fell flat.  I can see going back to this one a couple of times to see if my opinion improves, but it's not one I'd feel confident recommending to anyone.