Take 3: Never a Dull Moment Review

Like I said in my Follow Me, Boys! review, I have several movies on my DVR. Most of these films were recorded last year or over a year ago. Last night, I chose to watch one of these films, which I added to my DVR last June. This film is Never a Dull Moment! Sometime, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will host a marathon called “Treasures from the Disney Vault”. When this event takes place, the network will show a collection of smaller titles and lesser known films from Disney. In one of these marathons, Never a Dull Moment was included in the line-up. While I had never heard of this film prior to the marathon, I have seen two of Dick Van Dyke’s movies. Because one of those films was Mary Poppins, which I have enjoyed, I had a good indication that I might like Never a Dull Moment. Was this the case? Keep reading my review if you want to find out!

Never a Dull Moment poster created by Walt Disney Productions and Buena Vista Distribution. ©Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NeverADullMoment1968.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Before watching Never a Dull Moment, I had seen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins. A consistent component of Dick Van Dyke’s acting abilities I have noticed is the strong adaptability. In one scene, his character, Jack, is acting drunk in an attempt to impersonate a gangster. Moments later, Jack is crying over the loss of a fictional Aunt Gladys. This is a great example of how Dick could effortlessly take on any situation through his performance! At limited moments in the film, a gangster named Florian would appear. This character was portrayed by Tony Bill. What I liked about his performance is how calm and collected his persona came across. Even though Florian was Leo Smooth’s henchman, he presented an idea of a gangster that people have come to recognize in film. While I liked Dorothy Provine’s portrayal of Sally, I want to talk about Joanna Cook Moore’s portrayal of Melanie, as her on-screen presence was shorter. Joanna’s personality was bubbly, which appeared natural for her character. During a scene where Melanie is showing Jack some of her figure skating photos, Joanna seemed to use her performance to light up the room. Her on-screen presence was memorable, despite being featured in only three scenes.

The set design: I was really impressed by the set design in Never a Dull Moment! Since the movie takes place in New York, tall skyscrapers and even the Brooklyn Bridge can be seen. This specific set looked impressive, making the location feel larger than life! Another great example of set design was Leo Smooth’s mansion. My favorite feature of this set was the consistency and fine detailing of the woodwork, especially on the staircase! A local art museum is where the film’s heist is featured. During the climax, various art exhibits are showcased. The Pop Art exhibit was the best one, as the art itself was colorful. It was also large in scale, creating a space that felt grand.

The music: If used well, music can help set a tone for either the whole movie or a particular scene. The music certainly did that for Never a Dull Moment! Whenever Jack was sneaking around Leo’s mansion, smooth jazz music could be heard. This fits the tone of those scenes because it emulates a feeling of curiosity that usually comes from film-noir and mysteries. In a scene involving a spinning piece of art, music from a merry-go-round was playing in the background. Since the art itself is colorful and the scene is meant to be humorous, this musical selection makes sense.

Art tools image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/flar-art-tools-pack_835368.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>.  <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/paint”>Paint vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A drawn-out story: One overarching narrative of Never a Dull Moment revolves around a group of gangsters planning to steal a valuable painting. While an important component of any heist is the preparation stage, this part of the process lasted longer than it should have. Only one scene is dedicated to highlighting the plans for the heist. But the rest of that time was spent focusing on things not related to the heist. One example is Melanie Smooth attempting to relive her glory days as a famous figure skater. Moments like this had nothing to do with the heist and caused the overall story to feel drawn out.

Little sense of urgency: Heist films are usually fast paced, as there is a sense of urgency to carry out the heist. But, in Never a Dull Moment, the amount of urgency within the story was small. For most of the film, Jack hangs out at Leo Smooth’s mansion. This part of the movie was mundane, as little to no excitement was taking place. Even the gangsters’ activities didn’t feel out of the ordinary. A good example is when Leo is painting in his office. While the overall level of excitement picked up when the heist started, the build-up itself was not exciting.

A dull first half: With a title like Never a Dull Moment, you’d think the movie as a whole would be intriguing and action-packed. However, that is not the case for this film. I found the first half of the movie to be dull. This is the result of the story being drawn out and a small amount of urgency. Even though a part of the overall narrative focuses on a heist, this aspect of the story seemed to be an afterthought within the film’s first half. The heist itself took place in the second half of the movie. But this doesn’t make up for the weak nature of the previous segment.

New York City skyline with letters image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-york-skyline-typographic-silhouette_719554.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

As of late June to early July 2020, I have reviewed four live-action Disney films from the ‘60s. Three out of four of these movies have been ok or “middle of the road”. Never a Dull Moment was one of them. I will say this is a better heist movie than Logan Lucky. However, it wasn’t as exciting as I had expected it to be. The film is titled Never a Dull Moment, but the first half of the story is just that: dull. It also doesn’t help that there was a small amount of urgency. But the movie did contain elements that I did like. Some of them includes the acting and the set design. As weird as it sounds, Never a Dull Moment doesn’t feel like a Disney movie. It’s understandable for a studio to try new things and think outside the box. Never a Dull Moment, however, seems like belongs to a different studio. Like my Follow Me, Boys! review, I can’t fully recommend this movie, but I’m not going to dissuade anyone from watching it either.

Overall score: 6.2 out of 10

Have you seen any of Dick Van Dyke’s films? Which live-action Disney film from the ‘60s do you like or dislike? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Follow Me, Boys! Review + 205 Follower Thank You

Two days ago, 18 Cinema Lane received 205 followers! I want to thank all of my followers for making this accomplishment a reality! Currently, there are several movies on my DVR. In fact, some of these films were recorded over a year ago. So, I decided to choose one of these movies for this review. As the title reads, this movie is Follow Me, Boys!, which had sat on my DVR since early 2018. Every film studio has their hidden gems. While it’s impossible to watch every one of these projects, I try my best to talk about them on this blog. Follow Me, Boys! is a movie I had never heard of prior to recording it. However, there have been some enjoyable live-action Disney films from around the release of Follow Me, Boys!, such as The Moon-Spinners and Mary Poppins. Did I enjoy this film as much as the two aforementioned pictures? Follow me through this review as we’re about to find out!

In case you’re wondering, this is a screenshot of the film’s poster I took from my television. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: While watching this film, there were some performances that I was pleasantly surprised to see. One of them came from Lillian Gish. Last year, I reviewed one of her movies, which was The Whales of August. A similarity between Lillian’s role in that movie and Follow Me, Boys! is how pleasant it was to watch! Even though she was only in the film for a limited amount of time, I liked the moments when her character, Hetty Seibert, showed up on screen! What helped Lillian’s performance was her on-screen personality and the on-screen chemistry she had with her co-stars. I was also surprised to see Kurt Russell’s performance in this film, even though, prior to watching Follow Me, Boys!, I was aware that Kurt had starred in several Disney productions. The one aspect that stood out to me was the emotional strength Kurt carried through his portrayal of Whitey. This especially helped during the more dramatic moments of the story, such as when Whitey was dealing with his father. Kurt’s performance worked in his favor for not only this film, but also for his career long time.

The historical accuracy: The story of Follow Me, Boys! spans a total of twenty years, from 1930 to 1950. During the movie, I noted how good the historical accuracy looked! One aspect of this that serves as proof is the vehicles that are used. Toward to the beginning of the film, Hetty can be seen driving a car that looks like a Ford Model T. Because it’s 1930 at this point in the story, it would make sense for this kind of vehicle to be shown. At the end of the movie, when the story takes place in 1950, Lem and Vida are riding in a Plymouth automobile. These vehicles also helped show the transition between these time periods. It’s details like this one that show how much the creative team cared about the delivery of their project.

The camaraderie among the Boy Scout troop: Because this story spans a long period of time, the members of the film’s Boy Scout troop come and go. However, a consistent element was the troop’s camaraderie. While watching the troop’s evolution, the boys appeared to get along with one another and enjoy each other’s company. More often than not, the troop’s members work together during activities. They also promote the ideas of friendship, teamwork, and respect. The actors delivered the believability through their performances, which helped increase this group’s likeability.

Illustrated image of Boy Scout troop created by Macrovector at freepik.com. Banner vector created by macrovector – www.freepik.com. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The run-time: A film’s run-time can make or break that production. If a movie feels too long or short, it could affect the movie-viewing experience. This element definitely impacted my perspective of this film. I watched Follow Me, Boys! on television and the run-time was listed at 2 hours and 33 minutes. On IMDB, the movie has a run-time of 2 hours and 11 minutes. This story did not warrant a run-time this long, with situations being placed in the film for the sake of satisfying this run-time. The movie would have been more enjoyable if it was an hour and thirty or forty minutes long. That way, the overall story wouldn’t feel drawn out.

Little to no adversity: One of the over-arching narratives of Follow Me, Boys! is the formation and existence of a local Boy Scout troop. Despite how much of the story revolves around this group, they don’t experience many obstacles. When the troop does experience a conflict, it becomes quickly and easily resolved. This is different from a story like Troop Beverly Hills, where the troop faced several obstacles that last longer than a few minutes. Because of this choice, it seemed like situations in Follow Me, Boys! happened way too conveniently in the Boy Scout troop’s favor.

Situations happening too quickly: Despite the film being over two hours, some situations in this movie happened too quickly. A perfect example is Lem and Vida’s relationship, with no smooth transitions during each stage. In one scene, Lem and Vida are having their first major argument. A few minutes later, they are seen getting married. I know the film was supposed to show time progressing. However, the poor transitions caused some parts of the story to feel rushed.

Law school textbooks image created by Peter Skadberg at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/Peter Skadberg.”

My overall impression:

The way I feel about Follow Me, Boys! is the same way I feel about Summer Magic: it’s just ok. This film did have its merits and it felt like the creative team had their hearts in the right place. But the project does have a big flaw that I cannot overlook. The run-time of Follow Me, Boys! is too long, making the movie feel like it’s dragging its feet through the mud. This was the root of other flaws within the movie, like situations happening too quickly and scenario placements that only serve to satisfy the run-time. I had to, occasionally, pause the film just to check how much time was left. While I can’t fully recommend this movie, I’m not going to dissuade anyone from watching it either.

Overall score: 6.3 out of 10

Have you seen Follow Me, Boys! Are there any Disney films from the ‘60s you’d like me to review? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: From Up on Poppy Hill Review + 200 Follower Thank You

Well, the day has finally come. 18 Cinema Lane just received 200 followers! Before I continue this post, I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who helped my blog reach this milestone! I still can’t believe that, within these two years, I’ve made it this far as a blogger. For this review, I thought it would be a good idea to select a film that was requested by one of my readers. Last year, Ospreyshire, from the blog Iridium Eye Reviews, recommended the Studio Ghibli film, From Up on Poppy Hill. I chose this film to write about because I haven’t reviewed an animated movie since February. This is actually the second Studio Ghibli production I’ve discussed on 18 Cinema Lane. Last January, I reviewed Howl’s Moving Castle for the 90 Years of Jean Simmons Blogathon. While I enjoyed the movie, I found it to be weaker than the previous Studio Ghibli projects I’ve seen. Now that From Up on Poppy Hill is the fifth film from the studio I have watched, it’s time to determine how this movie holds up to other films from Studio Ghibli!

Howl’s Moving Castle poster created by Studio Ghibli, Toho, and The Walt Disney Company. © Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Image found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1798188/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0.

Things I liked about the film:

The animation: Over the years, Studio Ghibli has gained a reputation with their signature animation style. The 2-D presentation of each story has stood apart from the 3-D computerized technique most film studios adopted in the 21st century. One of the hallmarks of a Studio Ghibli film is the colorful palettes that are used in each production. From Up on Poppy Hill boasts bright colors throughout the story, creating spaces that appear inviting. The scenes were bright enough to be visually appealing, but not too much to the point of over-saturation. Even when a scene used darker colors, there was still a pop of color included. One example is on a rainy day, when the protagonist, Umi, is carrying a red umbrella. The movements of the characters, vehicles, and boats were smooth, which made them easy to visually follow. Characters were also expressive when it came to dealing with a variety of situations. Similar to Howl’s Moving Castle, From Up on Poppy Hill looked like priceless art!

The humor: An element I’ve noticed within Studio Ghibli’s films is their use of humor. Though From Up on Poppy Hill is a more contemporary story from other Studio Ghibli productions, the humor still fit within the world of that particular film. In one scene, one of the members of the Archeology Club tells another club member that they need to find a way to show how cool their club can be. The fellow club member simply replies with “we can’t”. Toward the beginning of the film, Shun, one of the main characters, falls into a pool of water after performing a stunt while attempting to encourage his classmates to save a local clubhouse. When Umi tries to help Shun out of the pool, their fellow classmates cheer them on as soon as she touches his hand. A great aspect of this movie’s humor is how there was enough to maintain the film’s lighted-hearted tone. At the same time, it didn’t diminish the dramatic moments that momentarily appeared in the story.

The music: While watching this film, the musical selections in From Up on Poppy Hill stood out to me. This is because they fit the tone of their given scene so perfectly! Throughout the story, Umi rises signal flags in order to help her father return home. During these scenes, dramatic piano music would play in the background. For more lighted-hearted scenes, up-beat music could be heard. One example is the movie’s very first scene, which shows Umi preparing for a typical day. Because this film took place in the early to mid-‘60s, the music sounded like it came directly from that time period. When Umi and Shun are in a hurry to reach an important destination, the instrumental tune sounded like it belonged in a program like Hawaii Five-O. All of the music in From Up on Poppy Hill effectively brought a sense of emotion to every moment within the story!

Sailing on the sea image created by Michele L at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/Michele L.”

What I didn’t like about the film:

Lack of backstory for the Latin Society’s clubhouse: One of the overarching themes of From Up on Poppy Hill is honoring the past. This is one of the arguments Shun provides in his efforts to save the Latin Society’s clubhouse. There are times when this theme was incorporated into the story well. But, when it comes to the clubhouse, the history of the facility is never revealed. The only thing closest to a backstory that is given was when one of the club members says the previous residents were as messy as the current club members. This creative choice makes the club’s arguments appear weaker than necessary.

Minimal character development for some of the characters: In any film, character development is an important component. This can help the audience connect with a movie’s characters and get invested in their journey. From Up on Poppy Hill gives the majority of character development to Umi and Shun. Parental figures in Umi and Shun’s life, such as Umi’s grandmother, receive some character development. The rest of the characters receive minimal character development, making it difficult to truly get to know them. One example is Sora, Umi’s sister. While watching this film, I became familiar with her as the story progressed. However, when it comes to learning more about Sora, there was more to be desired.

Drawn out scenes: There were a few scenes in From Up on Poppy Hill that were drawn out longer than they needed to be. A perfect example is when Shun’s father is sharing information about his son’s past. I liked learning more about Shun’s backstory. But it was paired with moments of silent pauses that were a little too long. Had these pauses been shorter, this scene might have helped the film shave off some of the run-time.

Skyline of Yokohama, Japan image created by Lifeforstock at freepik.com. Travel photo created by lifeforstock – www.freepik.com. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

When I saw From Up on Poppy Hill, there were mentions of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The 1964 Olympics was included in the discussion, not the now postponed 2020 Olympics like I originally thought. The fact this event would be mentioned at all was very interesting. The Olympics are steeped in history, spanning many decades and involving many international parties. As I mentioned in my review, one of the overarching themes of this movie is honoring the past. In the story, history is presented in many forms. Some are embodied as large-scale events, like the Olympics. Others are formed in the relationships we share. From Up on Poppy Hill intelligently and creatively shows its audience how important history is in our lives and our world. As a movie blogger, I recognize how history has made or broken the world of film. But this entry from Studio Ghibli’s collection handles the idea of history with relatability and respect. People from any part of the world can understand the messages presented and maybe take away a small piece of the story and apply it to their own lives. From Up on Poppy Hill is one of the studio’s stronger projects that I am grateful to have seen. A huge thanks goes to Ospreyshire for bringing this film to my attention.

Overall score: 8.3 out of 10

Have you seen Studio Ghibli’s films? Which movie would you like to see me review next? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen