I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Village of the Giants (1965)

I was up late last night, flipping through channels, and noticed that the local monster movie show was running this film.  When I was a little girl, the local stations would show this movie a lot, and I would watch it each time.  It's one of those "it's so bad, it's good" deals.  The mid-1960's saw a lot of youth-oriented films, many of which were mixed with other genres.  In this case, it's science fiction.

The plot isn't much, but here it is: a group of bad kids, headed up by a would-be player named Fred (Beau Bridges) roll into a small California town.  Well, more to the point, they crash their car on the border of town during a rainstorm, then get out of the vehicle to dance in the mud.  Their conversation indicates that all they are about is having good times and starting trouble.

Meanwhile, a kid named Genius (a 12-year-old Ron Howard) has created a formula in his basement lab that makes things grow big.  A cat gets into the stuff and grows, then a couple of ducks, and lastly, Genius' dog.  His sister's boyfriend, Mike (Tommy Kirk), sees dollar signs and proposes selling the stuff.  The ducks roam into the local go-go club, but no one thinks this is out of the ordinary.  Fred and his crew overhear Mike talking about the formula.  When trying to slick the information out of Mike and his girlfriend doesn't work, Fred and his gang steal the stuff.  The bad kids get the bright idea to eat the stuff themselves, and take over the town.  Then the fun really jumps off.

Typical of these types of low-budget drive-in movies, musical performances are thrown in to break up the action.  The Beau Brummels, Freddie Cannon, and Mike Clifford do the musical honors.  Plenty of shots of bikini-clad and short-skirt-wearing young women dancing are also featured. 

The main draw of watching this film is seeing young performers, some of whom went on to bigger and better things.  Ron Howard is now an Oscar winning film director.  Beau Bridges has won a few Emmy awards.  Toni Basil had a hit with the song "Mickey" during the 1980's. 

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself (2009)

I haven't seen the play version of this story in awhile, but I believe the theater production is vastly different from the movie version.  Mr. Perry also made changes to his plays "Diary of a Mad Black Woman", "Madea Goes To Jail", "Madea's Family Reunion", and "Why Did I Get Married?" before they went to the screen.

In this version, April (Taraji P. Henson) is a boozy nightclub singer in a dead-end relationship with a married man/sugar daddy (Brian J. White).  Her late sister's kids -- Jennifer (Hope Olaide Wilson), Manny (Kwesi Boakye), and Byron (Frederick Siglar) -- break into Madea's (Tyler Perry) house.  The old woman catches them, and she forces April to take responsibility for them.  All April wants to do is send them packing back to their grandmother.  In addition to her niece and nephews, April opens her house to Sandino (Adam Rodriguez), an immigrant who becomes a handyman at a church run by Pastor Brian (Marvin Winans).  When an unexpected tragedy strikes, the people around April, including family friend Wilma (Gladys Knight) and co-worker Tanya (Mary J. Blige), attempt to get April to take a hard look at her life. 

Madea, along with her pot-smoking brother Joe (also played by Perry), serve as observers who appear from time to time to offer up comic relief.  The other characters are responsible for providing the drama.  This is better than Tyler's last effort, the scatter-shot "Madea Goes To Jail".  However, the plot points are predictable, except for a revelation from April that seems to come out of nowhere during the last act.  The reveal is plausible, but there were no clear hints leading up to it.  Perry continues to rely on the old "all a downtrodden woman needs is a good man" storyline, which is a constant theme throughout his works.

The musical performances are good.  Although I was a little miffed that audience members in the showing I went to applauded Mary J. Blige's singing, but were quiet about Marvin Winans and Gladys Knight's performances. I chalked that up to a younger audience who is more familiar with Ms. Blige's chart-topping hip-hop soul hits than with music legends Mr. Winans (who is a pastor in real life) and Ms. Knight. 

Ms. Henson is an Oscar-nominated actress, for her role in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (2009).  Marvin Winans is part of the gospel-singing Winans family, which includes his siblings, BeBe and CeCe.  This is the first film he's appeared in.  Ms. Knight not only is a Motown singing legend, but she has acting credits including a sitcom "Charlie and Co." (1985-1986).  Mr. White was a detective on the cable series "The Shield" (2003-2008).

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