Joe Dante

A guy I kind of like for his sense of humor mixed with sci-fi/horror genres.

Indifferent The Howling (1981) -- It's hard for someone who doesn't necessarily like "inside joke" movies to like this one.  Most of the apparent fun of the movie comes from spoofing, referencing, and updating old films in the genre (in this case, werewolf movies).  I just see a somewhat funny, but not too scary, wolf movie.  Even recognizing all the jokes (the dozens of "wolf" names, the werewolf movie director names, the cameos, etc.) doesn't make it any better for me.  Maybe it's because I tend to like things for things themselves and am somewhat beyond snickering intelligently at jokes that not many will get.  At any rate, it's okay, but for me doesn't stand up, even as a parody movie. (Phillippe Mora directs the sequel, Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf.)

Indifferent Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) -- Directed with Joe Dante, John Landis, and George Miller.  The last segment was the only good one. Landis's racism statement was dumb, the second segment was Spielberg at his worst, and Dante's was only slightly better than the first two. Miller's gets a "really liked it" while the others get a "did not like it."  Of course, I never much liked the TV series.

Love It Gremlins (1984) -- This was the movie my family took us to the first time I ever stepped foot in a movie theater.  I was nine, which seems a late date to be going to movies for the first time, but there you are.  I was scared before it started, since I was scared of horror movies and avoided them, but once it started it was nothing but fun.  Today I still think the movie holds up.  Even at the age of nine, I admired its take on American pop culture, condemning it while celebrating it at the same time, especially the particular form of commercialism that came about in the 1980s.  Everything was a gizmo (not just the cute mogwai): video games, Barbie cards, useless inventions (the smokeless ashtray, etc.), chairs that took old ladies up the stairs, and of course the television.  This movie was the beginning of my film studies, and one of the first thing I realized about making good movies was that, if you're doing a fantasy, you need to include the one fantastic element (in this case, the gremlins) and then let the world behave as it actually would with that element in it.  Don't make everything incredible just because one thing is.  This movie does it right.  (See below for the sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch.)

Indifferent Explorers (1985) -- The first part of the movie -- Ethan Hawke having dreams about a circuit board that creates a computer that creates a floating orb thing that helps them create a space ship -- is pretty great.  Then come the aliens.  Now, I see what they were trying to do: a critique of the fact that the only things humans are supplying to the universe at large are waves and waves of dumb sit-coms and game shows.  And, occasionally, it even works, but those are only seconds at a time: maybe three times total (usually when Ethan Hawke expresses disappointment in what he's found).  Even if it did work, however, it would have been unnecessary and beyond the original point and tone of the movie, which was more about living your dreams, exploring your curiosity, and escaping your rotten home life (as represented by the three characters).  One day someone should re-do this movie (a remake that's actually necessary, unlike most) and make it an hour and a half of the boys making the spacecraft (probably in some other way than the magic computer grid superball thing, by the way, which opens up limitless potential that can't be contained) and eventually flying off... and then it ends.  No need to show what they find.

Like It Amazon Women on the Moon (1987) -- Directed with John Landis, Carl Gottlieb, Peter Horton, and Robert Weiss.  Somewhat of a sequel to John Landis' The Kentucky Fried Movie, at least in execution, this one (though not as popular) is a little more watchable, maybe just because it's newer.  The segments never run too long, many of them are interconnected, providing more of a unity that the first movie didn't have, and many of the segments are truly funny.

Like It The 'Burbs (1989) -- Even though I don't think this is finally a successful movie, I think it's actually pretty fun and fun to watch, so I don't have too much to say about it, even though the ending sort of makes it suffer.  Everyone in it is funny, and it's one of those pleasant things to watch when it comes on the Superstation on a Saturday afternoon.

Like It Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) -- Where the first one is comedy-horror, this one is just comedy.  The main thing missing from this movie is the heart of the first one, even though it probably extends the social commentary to absurd degrees.  Anyway, I actually think the movie is pretty funny, and one of my favorite jokes is making fun of Phoebe Cates' "daddy down the chimney" story from the first movie. (See above for the predecessor, Gremlins.)

Indifferent Small Soldiers (1998) -- I barely remember this movie.  Some kind of spoofy "cash in on Toy Story" deal.  Kinda like Antz for A Bug's Life.

Copyright (c) Sep 2001- Oct 2007 by Rusty Likes Movies