REVIEW: GROUNDHOG DAY

CAST

Bill Murray (Ghostbusters)
Andie MacDowell (Hudson Hawk)
Chris Elliott (Scary Movie 2)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Heroes)
Brian Doyle-Murray (Wayne’s World)
Angela Paton (Dirty Harry)
Rick Ducommun (Die Hard)
Rick Overton (Willow)
Robin Duke (Ruby Gloom)
Marita Geraghty (No Mercy)
Harold Ramis (Stripes)
Willie Garson (Kingpin)
Hynden Walch (Jerry Maguire)
Michael Shannon (Man of Steel)

During his nightly TV weather forecast on February 1, weatherman Phil Connors confidently reassures Pittsburgh viewers that an approaching winter storm will miss western Pennsylvania completely. He then sets off with news producer Rita Hanson and cameraman Larry for Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover the next morning’s Groundhog Day festivities. Phil makes no secret of his contempt for the assignment, the small town, and the “hicks” who live there.On February 2, Phil awakens at his Punxsutawney bed and breakfast to Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe” on the clock radio and the declaration, “It’s Groundhog Day!” He tapes a half-hearted report on Punxsutawney Phil and the town’s festivities. Rita wants to stay and cover some of the other events, but Phil wants to return to Pittsburgh immediately. The blizzard—the one that Phil predicted would miss the area—resolves the issue by blanketing the region in snow, stranding them in Punxsutawney. Phil shuns the celebrations and retires to bed early.Phil wakes to “I Got You Babe” and the same announcement from the radio, and soon discovers the day’s events repeating exactly as before. Thinking it is a bad dream, Phil relives the day and returns to bed, only to discover when he wakes, it is still Groundhog Day. He finds he is trapped in a time loop that no one else is seemingly aware of. Phil realizes there are no consequences for his actions, and spends the first several loops in rambunctious behavior, such as binge drinking, one-night stands, and reckless driving. However, Phil soon becomes depressed being stuck in the loop, leading to him to find ways to commit suicide to end the loop, including electrocuting himself with a toaster in a bathtub, and stealing Punxsutawney Phil and driving off a cliff. Even with his apparent deaths, he still wakes up to “I Got You Babe” on February 2.Phil tries to explain his situation to Rita, for whom he has feelings. To demonstrate his plight to Rita, he points out all the trivial actions of the various townsfolk he has memorized due to being stuck in the loop. Rita takes sympathy and they spend the entirety of one loop together, ending up falling asleep on Phil’s bed that night. However, Phil still wakes up alone at the start of February 2. He decides to use his knowledge of the day’s events to try to better himself and the lives of the townsfolks. Over many loops, he learns how to play the piano, sculpt ice, and speak French. After finding himself unable to prevent the death of a homeless man over several loops, he starts to arrange his actions throughout the day to avert similar accidents and disastrous situations that otherwise would have occurred to the other Punxsutawney residents.Ultimately, on one loop, Phil eagerly attends the Groundhog Day festivities, and gives a very eloquent report that causes all of the other news-stations to turn their cameras to him, amazing Rita. Phil and Rita spend the rest of the day together, with Phil impressing her with his apparent overnight transformation through his contributions to the festivities and helpful nature to the townsfolk. That evening at the town’s Groundhog Day dinner-dance, she “wins” Phil with the high bid at the charity bachelor auction. Phil makes a beautiful snow sculpture of Rita’s face, and tells her that no matter what happens, even if he is doomed to continue awakening alone each morning forever, he wants her to know that he is finally happy, because he loves her. They retire together to Phil’s lodgings.Phil wakes to “I Got You Babe” again, but finds Rita is still in bed with him, and Punxsutawney covered in a fresh blanket of snow; it is February 3 and he has been able to escape the time loop. As they walk out together and marvel at the peaceful, beautiful town, Phil comments to Rita that they should live there—but will rent to start.This is one of the pillars of the cinematic history. It’s perfect in every way, and, obviously can be watched over and over again. Great fun and good feelings for both grown ups and young.

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REVIEW: GREYSTOKE: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, LORD OF THE APES

CAST

Christopher Lambert (Highlander)
Ralph Richardson (Time Bandits)
Ian Holm (Lord of The Rings)
James Fox (Shadow Run)
Andie MacDowell (Groundhog Day)
Glenn Close (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Cheryl Campbell (The Shooting Party)
Ian Charleson (The Sun Also Rises)
Nigel Davenport (Bram Stoker’s Dracula)
Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter)
David Suchet (Poirot)

Image result for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesJohn, Lord Clayton (Paul Geoffrey), the heir to the 6th Earl of Greystoke, and his pregnant wife Alice (Cheryl Campbell) are shipwrecked on the African coast. John builds a home in the trees, and Alice gives birth to a son. Alice later grows ill from malaria and dies. While John is grieving her, the tree house is visited by curious great apes, and he is killed by one of the apes. One female of the group, Kala, who is carrying her dead infant, hears the cries of the infant human in his crib. She adopts the boy and raises him as a member of the Mangani.Image result for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesAt age five, the boy (Danny Potts) is still trying to fit in with his ape family. When a black panther attacks, he learns how to swim to evade it while another ape is killed.At age 12, the boy (Eric Langlois) discovers the tree-house in which he lived as a baby with his mother and father. He finds a wooden block, with pictures of both a boy and a chimpanzee painted on it. He sees himself in a mirror and recognizes the physical differences between himself and the rest of his ape family. He also discovers his father’s hunting knife and how it works. The objects fascinate the boy, and he takes them with him. One day his mother is killed by a native hunting party, and he kills one of their number in revenge.Image result for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesYears later, Belgian explorer Philippe d’Arnot (Ian Holm) is traveling with a band of British adventurers along the river. He is disgusted by their boorish nature and love of ‘blood and sport’. A band of natives attack the party, killing everyone except Philippe, who is injured and conceals himself in the trees. The young man (Christopher Lambert) finds Philippe and nurses him back to health. D’Arnot discovers that the man is a natural mimic and teaches him to speak rudimentary English. D’Arnot deduces that this man is the son of the late Lord John and Lady Alice of Greystoke and calls the man “Jean” (the French version of John). Jean agrees to return to England with his benefactor and reunite with his human family.Image result for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesOn arrival at Greystoke, the family’s country estate in the Lowlands of Scotland, John is welcomed by his grandfather, the 6th Earl of Greystoke (Sir Ralph Richardson), and his ward, a young American woman called Jane (played by Andie MacDowell and voiced by Glenn Close). The Earl still grieves the loss of his son and daughter-in-law years earlier but is very happy to have his grandson home. He displays eccentric behaviour and often confuses John with John’s father.John is treated as a novelty by the local social set, and some of his behaviour is seen as threatening and savage. He befriends a young mentally disabled worker on the estate and in his company relaxes into his natural ape-like behavior. Jane meanwhile teaches John more English, French, and social skills. They become very close and one evening have sex secretly.Image result for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesLord Greystoke enjoys renewed vigour at the return of his grandson and, reminiscing about his childhood game of using a silver tray as a toboggan on a flight of stairs in the grand house, decides to relive the old pastime. He crashes at the foot of the stairs and slowly dies, apparently from a head injury, in the arms of his grandson. At his passing, John displays similar emotion and lack of understanding about death as he did in Africa following the death of Kala.John inherits the title Earl of Greystoke. Jane helps John through his grief, and they become engaged. He is also cheered when his mentor, Philippe, returns. One day he visits the Natural History Museum in London with Jane. During their visit, John is disturbed by the displays of stuffed animals. He discovers many live, caged apes from Africa, including his adoptive father, Kerchak. They recognise each other, and John releases Kerchak and other caged animals. They are pursued by police and museum officials. They reach a woodland park, where Kerchak is fatally shot. John, devastated, yells to the crowd, “He was my father!”Image result for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesUnable to assimilate to the human society that he views as cruel, John decides to return to Africa and reunite with his ape family. Philippe and Jane escort him back to the jungle where Philippe and John first met. John returns to the world he understands. Jane does not join him, but Philippe expresses his hope that perhaps they may someday be reunited.Image result for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesThe performances of the various actors are  superb. Christopher Lambert was perfectly cast as the taciturn, sad eyed Tarzan. He brings gentle steel to the role and he virtual “unknown-ness” at this point in his career was a boon. Ian Holm is likewise excellent as the explorer who finds Tarzan, Phillippe D’Arnot. Ralph Richardson quite possibly steals the show with such a tenderhearted performance as the Earl of Greystoke and fully deserved his posthumous nomination for an Oscar. One final plaudit for the film is the superb costumes and actions of the apes. Obviously if the film were remade today these whole sequences would be film with CGI brilliance, but never the less the most incredible life like suits and the brilliant mimicking of primate actions has stood the test of time fantastically well.

REVIEW: MUPPETS FROM SPACE

CAST

Dave Goelz (Inside Out)
Steve Whitmore (The Dark Crystal)
Bill Barretta (Muppets Most Wanted)
Jerry Nelson (Sesame Street)
Brian Henson (Tinseltown)
Kevin Clash (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Frank Oz (Star Wars – Episode V)
Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development)
F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus)
Rob Schneider (The Hot Chick)
Josh Charles (The Good Wife)
Ray Liotta (Killing Them Softly)
David Arquette (Eight Legged Freaks)
Andie MacDowwell (Groundhog Day)
Kathy Griffin (Hall Pass)
Pat Hingle (Batman 1989)
Hulk Hogan (The Ultimate Weapon)
Gary Owens (Roger Ramjet)
Katie Holmes (Batman Begins)
Joshua Jackson (Cruel Intentions)

The Great Gonzo has always been identified as a “whatever”; but, after having disturbing dreams of abandonment and rejection, he begins to realize just how alone he is in the world. One of his nightmares involves his being denied entry onto Noah’s Ark by Noah. The next morning, Gonzo tells Kermit the Frog that he is getting tired of being called a “whatever.” After an alien race appears to be trying to send him a message through bowls of cereal, Gonzo realizes that he may not be so alone after all and climbs to the rooftop to start watching the sky. Using a bolt of lightning, Gonzo communicates with a pair of cosmic fish, revealing to him that he is an alien from outer space.

Unable to convince Kermit and his friends of the aliens’ existence, Gonzo is lured into the clutches of K. Edgar Singer of C.O.V.N.E.T., a government organization disguised as a cement factory. Singer has also taken note of the aliens’ attempts to communicate and thinks that Gonzo is his key to convincing his superiors that aliens do in fact exist. Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat are arrested by C.O.V.N.E.T. Agents and Agent Rentro. Rizzo’s antics cause himself to be flushed down a tube by the Man in Black. Rizzo ends up having to go through C.O.V.N.E.T.’s rat training and medical research held by Dr. Tucker, alongside the other rats like Bubba the Rat, Shakes the Rat, Fast Eddie, Troy, and The Bird Man. After Miss Piggy interrogated Agent Baker, she, Kermit, Fozzie Bear, Pepe the King Prawn, and Animal spring into action to rescue Gonzo and Rizzo from C.O.V.N.E.T., using such inventions as a door in a jar, a rubber duck that sprays invisibility spray, and mind control gas from Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker, which Miss Piggy uses on a gate guard).

A talking sandwich asks Gonzo where the alien ship can land, and Gonzo suggests Cape Doom (a beach), unaware that Agent Rentro is listening. At the military base, the gang arrives to rescue Gonzo and Rizzo. While on their rescue, everyone uses invisible spray but eventually becomes visible when Fozzie washes his hands upon exiting the restroom as Animal is unleashed upon a female guard. Rizzo frees Gonzo from the dissection table while the rats attack Dr. Phil Van Neuter, where Singer and General Luft witness the attack. General Luft leaves declaring that Singer “needs help.” When Singer hears of Gonzo’s escape, he has Agent Rentro prepare the Subatomic Neutro-Destabilizer to use on the aliens and heads to his car. When Agent Rentro tells him that the car is impounded due to the parking tickets that Agent Rentro forgot to take care of, Singer and Agent Rentro end up taking the company car which happens to be a cement truck.

The Muppets go to Cape Doom after rescuing Gonzo and, along with a crowd of alien-happy spectators, await their arrival. The ship comes to Earth and the aliens, who all resemble Gonzo, explain that many years ago they lost him but welcome him back into the fold. Singer shows up and tries to kill the Aliens, but thanks to Agent Rentro (who has disabled his Subatomic Neutro-Destabilizer by taking the part that fires the weapon), he cannot and is laughed at. Gonzo considers going into space with his long-lost family, but chooses not to. While grateful for his family for going through the trouble of locating and visiting him on Earth, he decides not to go with them, as he wants to stay with his fellow Muppet Show castmates. Singer is invited by the aliens to go with them, and leaves as Earth’s ambassador.

As the Muppets watching the stars on the roof, Gonzo tells Kermit he wonders why his family asked him to build a Jacuzzi. Pepe chuckles because he and Rizzo had pretended to be them and asked him to do it.

With “Muppets From Space”! I liked the story and thought Jeffrey Tambor was a hoot as the likeable villain. The other human cameos were hilarious, too. A great Muppet Movie