Tag Archives: 90s

Late to the Kobayashi’s proposal! A review of The Usual Suspects

[Editor’s note: if you have not yet seen The Usual Suspects and the identity of Keyzer Soze has not yet been spoiled for you, please don’t read any further. This movie was ruined for me a few years ago and I would hate to do that to someone else.

Okay, ready?]

Verbal: The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And like that, poof. He’s gone.

Spoilers suck, but sometimes you just can’t help but spoil. I get it. Any time that you’re watching something old(ish) and popular, it’s likely that other people have already seen it. You can’t spend your life try to avoid spoiling plot points for people. I get it. I GET IT.

But sure as hell, when someone tells you that they haven’t seen a movie (or TV show), and you intentionally say something that spoils that movie (or TV show) for them, you are a garbage person.*

*For some reason, this was a frequent occurrence when I told people I was watching The Wire for the first time. “Oh, you love [fill-in-the-blank character]? Don’t get used to them being around for much longer because it really sucks when they die.” THANKS BUDDY.

The Usual Suspects was spoiled in a similar fashion for me and I have to say, knowing the identity of Keyzer Soze killed the buzz for me. When you know the secret ingredient to something, it just isn’t as exciting. As I watched the movie, my brain constantly said to me, “oh well, that’s Keyzer Soze doing this or that,” and I was so distracted that I could barely appreciate the movie.

Usual Suspects was still an entertaining movie. I’m biased as I absolutely adore Kevin Spacey and I’ve had a crush on Gabriel Byrne since accidentally watching Stigmata when I was fifteen (spoiler alert: it is god awful, do not watch). I also loved seeing a mumbling baby Benicio del Toro, so clearly the casting for this film was a big plus for me. The story was intriguing, perhaps a little complicated or hard to follow at times, but typically things became clearer after a while. I’m just a sucker for a twist ending (not some Sixth Sense-crap but more like a Hitchcock type of goodness) and I’m super bitter that I couldn’t experience the climatic-mystery-unraveling-scene at the end of the movie for what it really was. Bummer.

Face palm moment + Favorite part + The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment, all combined into one:

This gif, re: Manti Te’o and Lennay Kakua. I’m sayin’.

I get it.

 Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): 10 out of 10 for the spoiled factor.


Late to the whipped cream bikini! A review of Varsity Blues

Mox: Playing football at West Canaan may have been the opportunity of your lifetime, but I don’t want your life!

Varsity Blues Movie Poster

Varsity Blues

In the late 1990s there was a flood of teen movies making waves in Hollywood (GET IT? FLOOD, WAVES?). This trend appeared to start with Clueless in 1995, and included greats like She’s All That, Bring It On, 10 Things I Hate About You, American Pie, and Never Been Kissed. As a high school student from 1998-2002, I was the perfect target audience for these films. And although I rented most of these movies from Blockbuster rather than seeing them with high school friends, I was a sucker for this crap (except for Clueless, that is NOT crap).

Somehow I managed to miss Varsity Blues. Maybe it was because I didn’t really like football in high school. Maybe it was because I didn’t watch Dawson’s Creek and found James Van Der Beek more creepy than attractive. Maybe it was because I was wary of MTV films (that reminds me, I still haven’t seen Election). Maybe this movie was unappealing as a freak and a theatre kid. Whatever the reason, I went out of my way to avoid the movie.

After incorrectly attributing “I don’t want your life!” to Heathers for years, which is strange because I absolutely adore Heathers, my husband finally talked me into watching Varsity Blues. (Now that I think about it, the quotes “I don’t want your life!” and “I love my dead gay son!” are pretty similar. That’s my excuse.)

What a waste of time.

It was mediocre, boring, somewhat confusing and for half of the movie I was dying for it to end. Like most teen movies (again, except for Clueless), the characters were seriously underdeveloped. There’s the star quarterback who got hurt, the backup quarterback who was smart enough to get into Brown and also happened to be an amazing quarterback, the cheerleading slut, the fat dumb guy who cries a lot and pukes into a washing machine, the very short other guy who is weird, the black guy who deals with racism and also gets hurt, the white girl, the stripper teacher, and the mean, sometimes racist and definitely sketchy coach. But you never learn much about anyone, except a) in Texas football is king and b) this particular Texas city is awful and people want to escape and also c) some parents have their priorities out of whack. Cool. Yawn.

Oh, and the Texas accents? Good god.

I swear that’s why the best, or at least the more effective, teen movies are comedies. You don’t need a ton of character development when you’re just laughing about a bunch of asshole teenagers lacking any depth or self-awareness. Are there any good team dramas? I can’t think of any. Oh and horror movies, because then you get to watch the assholes get killed. That probably makes me sound creepy but seriously: Scream, Carrie (or so I hear, won’t watch it), Halloween, A Nightmare of Elm Street and so on. I know I’m not wrong.

Face palm moment: Honestly, what happened to Jon Voight? I thank him for his dedication to the art of film as it led to one of the best worst movies of all time (Anaconda) but seriously bro: you were in Midnight Cowboy. What are you doing with your life?

[Editor’s note: Kevin says that Jon Voight is getting decent reviews for his role in Ray Donovan so okay, there you go.]

Favorite part: I’m still not clear about what was going on with Mox’s brother and the various religions, but it was kind of funny. I think. Maybe.

[Editor’s note: Kevin says it has something to do with MASH.]

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment: The whipped cream bikini scene that so many people reference was a snoozer.

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): Zero out of ten. I know I’m probably just a big grump but I felt like watching this was a waste of time. Anyway, I’m already watching Friday Night Lights and it’s way better.

Late to being your huckleberry! A review of Tombstone

Doc Holliday: Make no mistake, it’s not revenge he’s after. It’s a reckonin’.

Tombstone Movie Poster

Tombstone (1993) 

Dear Diary: Today I learned that the Wild West was wild because everyone was addicted to opiates. Cool.

Kevin claimed that he wanted me to watch Tombstone because it was his “favorite movie” and would be a great introduction to the western film world. Nope. I figured out about 25 minutes in that he wanted me to watch the movie because he’s insanely in love with Dana Delaney. It’s fine, I’ve known this for a while but I do not enjoy being misled.

For my first foray into Westerns (unless you count the 20 minutes I spent watching Butch Cassidy with my mom so she could check out Robert Redford), many people insisted that I begin with this movie. I can understand the reasons why some might think this is a good suggestion as it is a more modern take on a Western (I assume). There are also a million recognizable faces in this movie (JOHN LOCKE!), which always makes for a good time. But I definitely wondered if some of the attributes I noticed about this movie are typical of all Westerns.

I was expecting the silly music that I always saw portrayed in cartoonish versions of Westerns. I was expecting a ton of action, nearing the level of an action movie but with gun fights instead of gun fights AND explosives AND karate AND car chases. I was expecting a standard scene when a dude walks through a swinging door and the camera pans from his shoes to his face, and some piano player is banging out some really intense notes. I just assumed these were typical characterizations of a Western so I feel like I missed out a bit.

Parts of the the movie were slow and even dull at times. When I did some research and found out some of the difficulties behind the production of the movie (actor changes, a screenplay that was way too long, a rush to production), I was not surprised at all. I believer there was some character development and background information cut from the film that would have benefitted the movie (although making it way too long). I did not feel any connection to the Earp brothers at all, I thought Wyatt’s interaction with Josephine felt forced and made a little sense, and besides being on drugs WHY DOES EVERYONE WANT TO KILL EVERYONE ELSE. Sheesh.

I did not expect Val Kilmer to be so amazing in this movie as Doc Holliday– he was by far my favorite part of this movie. I didn’t hate his Southern accent and I loved how sweaty he was in every single scene (indeed, tuberculosis makes you grey and constantly dripping with perspiration). While I felt as though I was watching Kurt Russell or Bill Paxton or Sam Elliott play their characters, by the end of the movie I had forgotten that I was watching Val Kilmer. Also, Doc Holliday seems like the kind of guy you’d want on your side for several reasons: he’s loyal, good with a gun and he likes to party. I want to be his friend badly. Doc Holliday for President.

I know this movie sounds like a negative review, but between the quotability factor, Kilmer’s performance, and the “spot-the-actor” game I played, I actually enjoyed watching the movie. I’m just not sure it should have been my introduction to this genre. I suppose I should watch a few more films before I decide how I really feel about Westerns.

Face palm moment: For about 20 minutes I was freaking out over the actress who played Mattie Earp. Her face was incredibly familiar but I could not place it. After a long Google search, I figured it out– she was Laney from the baby shower episode, the party girl turned suburban mom, the ONE who stole Charlotte’s BABY NAME. UGH. I was pretty excited about this turn of events. That, plus John Corbett, tells me that Sex and the City was a Tombstone spinoff. 

Favorite part: The part where Kevin said, “oh man, I’m glad the cowboys didn’t show up to our wedding.” He’s now calling it the original Red Wedding.

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment:

Well Bye Tombstone

Well… Bye.

[NOTE: I mean, what a dick move.]

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): 10/10, there are probably a billion quotes I hear daily that come from this movie. Context is important.

Late to not crying! A review of A League of Their Own

Rockford Peaches: Batter up, hear that call. The time has come for one and all… to play ball. We’re the members of the All American League. We come from cities near and far. We’ve got Canadians, Irish ones, & Swedes. We’re all for one, we’re one for all, we’re all American. Each girl stands, her head so proudly high. Her motto “Do or Die”. She’s not the one to use or need an alibi. Our chaperones are not too soft; they’re not too tough. Our managers are on the ball. We’ve got a President who really knows his stuff. We’re all for one, we’re one for all, we’re all American.

Once upon a time I had a boss who insisted that I looked like Geena Davis.

That’s really it for any relevant stories about a League of Their Own. I just never watched it. My mom was never interested in sports movies and I swear she hates half of this cast. My dad enjoys sports movies with plot points that he can relate to personally (Field of Dreams and Ray playing baseball with his dad, ooof). For those of you who are thinking, “HOW did you miss this movie, it is always on television,” look: unless it’s a movie that I already love (Ghostbusters II) or am actively curious about (Casino), I don’t like watching movies on television.

Kevin and I had plans to see A League of Their Own at a movie in the park night in Austin, but I decided to skip because I don’t want to spend a minute outside in this heat. I’m a baby. Unfortunately we were reduced to watching this movie on television, and that really affected my enjoyment of the movie. It seemed like the entire picture didn’t fit into the screen so in scenes where it seemed like all of the action was happening in the picture, the camera would show half of the scene and then awkwardly sweep over to the other half. It looked terrible. With the censored swear words and the commercials that broke up dramatic scenes, viewing the movie was a mediocre experience. I liked the movie well enough but I would have had a stronger connection watching the actual movie straight through.

This movie started out with another strike against it: being promoted as a film “from the team that brought you BIG” was not exactly a plus for me. I went in expecting another movie that I just wouldn’t get, so I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it.

The acting was exceptional, and as only my third (or so) experience seeing Tom Hanks in a comedy I’m starting to believe that I like him even more in comedies than I do dramas. I expected this movie to be sappy knowing the little I know about Penny Marshall and it REALLY was, particularly the ending. I believe that this movie could have done without the mushy beginning and end scenes, but that’s just me and I’m a grouch.

This movie missed the mark with me a little considering my lack of emotional connection. I feel feelings; I take pride in my extreme emotional reactions to everything. The only time I felt any sort of emotion was when Betty found out about her husband’s death and even then I wasn’t extremely sad. I also have a little sister and assumed that I’d relate to the competitive nature between sisters [NOTE: I ADORE MY SISTER] but I couldn’t identify at all. I’m not a robot so I really blame the distractions from watching the movie on TV.

This movie is about a really interesting part of baseball history but it’s filmed in a way that anyone, even those who don’t like sports, can enjoy it. I wish I liked it or connected with it more and I plan to give it a second chance, as long as I watch it on DVD next time. The moral of this story: movies on TV are ONLY for movies you have seen before. Or Showgirls (can you say ‘special effect bras?). So it is written, so it shall be done.

Madonna as Mae Mordabito

Face palm moment: So the only Madonna movie I’ve seen was Evita, which I actually loved (granted, I am an annoying musical theatre alum). With her top billing on the posters I expected her to have a much bigger role. I was a little disappointed that she didn’t have that much screen time because I love pre-British accent Madonna. Also, girl, you look fabulous in your brown hair. Dye it back.

Favorite part: The onfield action was really fun to watch. Oh dear, can you imagine doing anything like that in skirts? I remember playing softball and learning to slide, and even with my sliding pads and shorts I thought I was going to die. I can barely handle wearing a skirt in an office. Dang.

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment: Penny Marshall, she’s the woman from those late 90s KMart commercials, right?

(JK, JK, I’ve seen a Laverne and Shirley episode. Get off my back.)

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): 9 out of 10 because it’s one of the movies that freaks everyone out when I admit I haven’t seen it. I really think I need to give it a second shot to say whether or not I really enjoyed it.

[Editor’s Note: Kevin says that when I watch these movies and don’t like them, it’s because I miss the connection. In my opinion, classic/good films are those that you can watch and enjoy at any point. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.]

Late to the fake memories! A review of Total Recall

[Editor’s note: Hi there. If you haven’t noticed I’ve been gone a while. See, I moved to Texas and took a job that keeps me quite busy. Then I got married. Now that I’m a crusty old woman with more time on her hands, I’m relaunching this blog that I truly love and plan to contribute to regularly. I appreciate your patience. Thank you for reading Late to the Movies!]

Douglas Quaid: If I am not me, then who the hell am I?

This one time my husband and I went bowling with my good friend Annie and her buddy Jimmy. We showed up a little late, so Annie and Jimmy entered nicknames into the scoring system ahead of time.  Jimmy’s bowling nickname was Quaid, and this excited my husband– so much so, that he launched into a barrage of really annoying and irrelevant (to me) quotes that were clearly from some classic movie I had never seen. Everyone at Ward Parkway Lanes laughed and skipped and held hands and bonded over their love for this incredible and life-changing movie and I, once again, was left to weep and ponder my existence.

The movie? Total Recall.

I’ve never been much of an action movie fan (except for Speed, the best movie in the entire world) so I’ve missed out on most Schwarzenegger movies. Except for Junior and Twins. Somewhere I got this idea in my head that Schwarzenegger was an awesome actor. I saw Terminator a year ago and he was terrible in that, but you know. He plays a robot or whatever. Robots can’t act.

Yeah, so. Neither can Arnold. But you know what? It’s fine.

Seriously though: Arnold running around, dodging bullets,  in a turban? Incredible puppet faces? Arnold sticking a weird gun up his nose to remove the bug? Arnold throwing punches while wearing a dress? Hank from Breaking Bad as a mutant? The quote, “Baby, you make me wish I had three hands?” A genius mutant baby that lives on his brother’s stomach?  I’m pretty sure Total Recall is actually a comedy, you guys.

The plot is innovative (thanks Philip K Dick) and compelling enough keep you paying attention throughout the entire movie. The special effects, well, I’m sure they were super incredible at the time but they are completely dated and ridiculous now. There’s so much claymation in this movie [OKAY, OKAY, PUPPETS]; I cannot even begin to count the number of times someone’s eye bulged out of their heads. Did you notice that right before people die on Mars, they resemble Rodney Dangerfield? Interesting. Fortunately, I believe the goofy effects and awful acting happen to make Total Recall a very entertaining movie. I may not like action movies but I do like science fiction quite a bit, and this movie has enough of the campy special effects and silly one-liners that I could actually appreciate the people who adore this movie. I’ll definitely watch it again.

What in the honest hell.

Face palm moment: There was a scene where Richter claims he can’t hear his instructions because of Sun SpotsOh, KCTV…. I hate you.

Also, “clever girl.” JURASSIC PARK, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? You stole your best line? Turrible. But also brilliant.

Favorite part: Is Sharon Stone the best bad girl ever? I adore her in Casino and she was great in this. I haven’t seen Basic Instinct but I clearly need to do so. She makes me want to be a better bad girl.

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment: “Baby, you make me wish I had three hands.”

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): 10. Although I have never seen Blade Runner (I. KNOW), I tend to like film adaptations of Philip K Dick stories: Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly and even The Adjustment Bureau…kind of. This was no exception. Total Recall is a little goofy and a little bad, but I liked it quite a bit.

(Seriously, I know I need to see Blade Runner. I will. I promise.)