A funny director and screenwriter who's partially responsible for making some of those early SNL guys famous.
The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977) -- Skit movies are hard to do but are -- I think -- noble efforts. This is one of the most well-known and probably best, even though it itself isn't perfect and sometimes not even that great. The skits that work best are the ones where the joke is made and then they go on to the next one. The ones that work less well are when they go on too long, like "A Fistful of Yen," which seems less a parody (there aren't too many jokes) and more of a straight Bruce Lee-style movie. The comedy of this movie was helped out by writers David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams of Airplane and The Naked Gun fame.
National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) -- I don't love this as much as everyone else in the world, but I think it's pretty entertaining and funny. The thing I like best about the movie is summed up with the line "This situation requires that a really stupid and futile gesture be done on somebody's part and we are just the guys to do it." There's a big, evil, rich machine out there and you're not a part of it. There's nothing you can do to stop it, but you can annoy it from time to time. This (mild) subversion gives a little weight to the comedy, which is what's lacking from most of the clones of this movie (in which merely stupid things are done).
The Blues Brothers (1980) -- Even more than Animal House, I associate this one with college. Everyone in my dorm loved it and it always seemed to be playing at the university theater, but more than that it seemed to be a bit of an introduction to some other world. Dan Aykroyd spent a lot of time coming up with the history of these characters, and the idea of a grander mythology shows up on the screen--as if something more is going on than you're looking at. A big movie, a quiet movie, and a right of passage. (See below for the sequel, Blues Brothers 2000.)
Thriller (1983) -- Michael Jackson's big ol' music video that he got Landis to direct because the only movie he ever saw from him was An American Werewolf in London. The effects of that movie are reprised here in the opening werewolf sequence before moving on to a cool (and funny) dancing zombie sequence. This was a big huge deal in 1983, for the relatively-new music videos to be this huge (it was considered more of a short movie than a video, and indeed it was). Successful all around, and a good song.
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.
Trading Places (1983) -- A great little funny movie that keeps being funny after all these years. It's got all the Landis elements too, including my favorite, the statues that stare at characters and judge them.
Three Amigos! (1986) -- This should be funnier. Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, and Martin Short are funny guys. The premise of the movie is an old-school Three Stooges-type idea. And the comedy that does appear is a nice combination of over-the-top and subtle. When the comedy is present, it's great. But in the end, only about 30 minutes of this almost two hour movie is actually funny at all. The rest of it gets too caught up in the plot itself instead of letting the comedy take over. Funny enough to look at, especially for fans of the actors or John Landis, but kind of a let down.
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.
Coming To America (1988) -- A sequel of sorts to Trading Places (in that it seems to occupy the same "world" as that movie), and lots of the same humor. Another good movie that gets you stuck in the room when it's on TV.
Blues Brothers 2000 (1998) -- Though it's exhausting to watch for its length, and though no one else seemed to like it, I thought it was about as good as they could do with a sequel, given the circumstances. I thought most things were handled well, John Goodman was good, and even the kid was pretty cool. (See above for the predecessor, The Blues Brothers.)
Copyright (c) Nov 2001 - Dec 2007 by Rusty Likes Movies