Take 3: Amazing Grace and Chuck Review (Atticus and Boo Double Feature Part 2)

As I stated in my review of The Terry Fox Story, I chose to review two movies for the Atticus and Boo Blogathon; one from Gregory Peck’s filmography and one from Robert Duvall’s filmography. Both films were released in the ‘80s and they both have something to do with athletics. In the second part of this double feature, I’ll be writing about the 1987 movie, Amazing Grace and Chuck! This is a movie I had not heard about until this year. However, I found the concept of an athlete giving up their sport because of their views on nuclear weapons interesting. I also thought it would be interesting to see Gregory Peck portray a fictional President. As you may know, I enjoy finding movies that are “hidden gems”. Because Amazing Grace and Chuck is an ‘80s film that has, more often than not, flown under the radar, I took advantage of the opportunity to talk about it on 18 Cinema Lane!

Amazing Grace and Chuck poster created by TriStar Pictures.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Like my review of The Terry Fox Story, I will talk about Gregory Peck’s performance first. I liked seeing his portrayal of the President, even though he was in the film for a short amount of time. The same professionalism Gregory brought to his role in To Kill a Mockingbird could be seen in Amazing Grace and Chuck! Not only that, but he also carried himself in a classy manner. Another stand-out performance came from Joshua Zuehlke! In this movie, he did a good job showing what a child would likely experience when dealing with such a complicated topic. One of his best scenes was when Chuck’s father is telling his son about how their family’s lives have changed because of Chuck’s decision to walk away from baseball. While Joshua doesn’t say anything in this scene, his facial expressions of sadness and concern tell the audience everything they need to know. Over the course of the story, Chuck develops a friendship with a basketball athlete named Amazing Grace. This friendship shows that each cast member had good on-screen chemistry with one another and how good of an actor Alex English was in this movie! What made Amazing Grace a memorable character was Alex’s charisma. With a bright smile and an easy-going demeanor, Alex gave Amazing Grace a great on-screen personality that helped him be likable!

The scenery: A pleasant surprise in Amazing Grace and Chuck was the scenery! Most of the story takes place in Livingston, Montana. According to IMDB, parts of the movie were filmed in Livingston and Bozeman. The natural landscapes of the Treasure State take center stage when scenes take place outdoors. Mountains and hills proudly stand tall in the background. In a sweeping overhead shot, a color scheme of green and yellow with a splash of purple could be found in the foliage below. Before a nuclear weapon was shown on screen for the first time, a field represented the calm before the storm. Parts of this movie was also filmed in Boston, Massachusetts. In this particular location, there was some photogenic areas! One great example is when Lynn Taylor, Amazing Grace’s manager, is sitting on the side of a river. This spot presented a visual contrast to its city roots, promoting tranquility among the hustle and bustle of Boston.

An educational approach: When a real-life, debatable topic is featured in a film, both sides of the issue are presented. It can be interesting to see the various perspectives of any subject. But when a movie’s creative team makes this decision, they assume their audience is already educated on the film’s topic. In Amazing Grace and Chuck, the subject of nuclear weapons was introduced as Chuck and his classmates go on a field trip to see a missile. During the trip, facts were delivered to the children and the audience. However, it never felt like the tour guide was talking down to anyone. What it did instead was address the issue and show why it was important. When Chuck quits baseball, it simply shows someone expressing their beliefs. This presentational style is one that I don’t often see in films of this nature.

The Atticus and Boo Blogathon banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room.

What I didn’t like about the film:

More telling than showing: Throughout the film, characters told one another how bad things were getting. However, the audience never got to see these things happening. In one scene, the President tells Chuck how there was a protest at a soccer game. He also tells Chuck there is an ice cream stand dedicated to him. The events are not shown on screen, so the audience is forced to take the characters’ word for it. If the audience were given the opportunity to see these events, it would have shown the magnitude of Chuck’s choice to quit baseball.

A whole lot of nothing: The story of Amazing Grace and Chuck revolves around two athletes who choose to quit their beloved sports until all nuclear weapons are dismantled. While this overarching conflict does get resolved, it doesn’t happen until the last ten to fifteen minutes of the movie. For the majority of the film, it seems like the characters are waiting for something for happen instead of actually trying to make things happen. The audience can see other athletes who have joined the cause making international calls. But this was one scene in an hour and fifty-four-minute movie. In fact, it feels like more emphasis was placed on Amazing Grace’s attempts to renovate a run-down barn than on the film’s overarching conflict.

Things happening too quickly: There are several times when things happened too quickly in Amazing Grace and Chuck. At one point in the story, Amazing Grace and Chuck are kidnapped by two football athletes. The moment itself happened suddenly with no forewarning or build-up. When it’s revealed these football athletes support Chuck’s cause, it is implied they personally know Amazing Grace. However, it is never explained how these athletes know the basketball star. Because of the lack of explanations, moments appear too quickly in the story with little to no context.

Military plane image created by Brgfx at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by brgfx – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

While watching Amazing Grace and Chuck, I could tell the film’s creative team had their hearts in the right place. At the same time, it seemed like their minds thought the film would make a bigger statement than it did. As I said in the introduction, this is a movie I hadn’t heard of until this year. It also doesn’t help when the characters seem like aren’t doing much to find a resolution to their conflict. Something that worked against this story’s favor was featuring a complicated topic that does not have an easy answer. Watching characters build their way toward a solution can be engaging to see. Throughout the movie, I felt like I was watching two separate movies that were loosely woven together. Chuck’s story and Amazing Grace’s story could have existed in their own universes; one about a child trying to make a difference in the world and the other about a superstar athlete choosing to remind himself of what is really important in life. There are two kinds of films from the past; those that stand the test of time and those that are a product of their time. Amazing Grace and Chuck, in this case, leans more toward the latter.

Overall score: 6 — 6.1 out of 10

What are your thoughts on this double feature? If you have seen Amazing Grace and Chuck or The Terry Fox Story, which film is your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Terry Fox Story Review (Atticus and Boo Double Feature Part 1)

Back in April, I reviewed To Kill a Mockingbird for Silver Screen Classics’ Classic Literature On Film Blogathon. I also read the book earlier this year. When I discovered Rebecca from Taking Up Room was hosting the Atticus and Boo Blogathon, I just had to participate, as it was too good of a coincidence to pass up! Because this blogathon celebrates Gregory Peck and Robert Duvall, I decided to review one film from each of their filmographies. However, I purposefully chose two films that were not only released in the ‘80s, but also had something to do with athletics. For this double feature, I’ll start by reviewing the 1983 movie, The Terry Fox Story. I have to admit I like finding made-for-TV movies from years past. This specific film is an HBO presentation that I watched on Youtube. I will also admit that I knew very little about the true story that inspired the film. So, I was looking forward to being educated on Terry Fox’s story!

The Terry Fox Story poster created by HBO Premiere Films, HBO, and ITC.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I will talk about Robert Duvall’s performance first, as he is one of the reasons why I reviewed this film. In The Terry Fox Story, Robert portrays Bill Vigars, a member of the Cancer Society from Toronto. He doesn’t show up until fifty-nine minutes into the movie, but Robert is given more screen time than he had in To Kill A Mockingbird. With a performance that comes across as natural, Robert made his character feel like a real-life person. One is his best scenes was when Bill gives a pep talk to Terry about ignoring the press. It shows this particular character is trying to look out for Terry’s best interests. Speaking of Terry, Eric Fryer is one of the strongest members in this cast! No matter what scene he appeared in, his performance felt realistic. He displayed the frustrations a patient with cancer might experience, such as when Terry wants to quit his treatments and leave the hospital. There were even times when his character was emotionally guarded, protecting himself from experiencing more pain in his life. Terry stopping people from touching his hair is a good example of this. Despite all the on-screen hardships, Eric brought joy to his role, which helped create happier moments that felt earned. Rika Noda was a part of these happier moments, showing Terry how he can open his heart and allow his personal barriers to be broken down. Portrayed by Rosalind Chao, Rika was an endearing character who, more often than not, brought out the best in Terry. While she gave a good performance individually, Rosalind also had good on-screen chemistry with Eric Fryer. This made me invested in their on-screen relationship and want to see it succeed!

The scenery: Since this movie revolves around Terry’s marathon across Canada, the country’s landscapes serve as photogenic backdrops! When Terry starts his marathon in Newfoundland, he stands on the shores of Cape Spear. With the waves crashing against the rocky shores, this location created a powerful image of a warrior preparing for battle. This waterfront area was also appealing to look at. During his marathon, Terry runs past a city skyline. Behind that skyline was a beautiful sunset. Its pale orange hues illuminated the scene, bringing forth a peaceful picture. A variety of surroundings were featured throughout the marathon. This showed a good representation of the living environments that can be found in an individual country like Canada.

Showing heart-breaking and heart-warming moments: In my review of Nicholas Nickleby, I said one of the strengths of the movie was how there was a balance of despair and joy within the story. The Terry Fox Story had a similar strength, showing both the heart-breaking and heart-warming moments of Terry’s journey. While receiving treatments at the hospital, Terry meets another cancer patient named Bob. Several scenes later, Terry crosses paths with Bob again. This time, the treatments have taken their toll on Bob, making him appear unrecognizable. It was just one example of the ugliness cancer carries, showing the audience a more realistic depiction of the disease. My favorite scene in this film is when Terry’s family and friends are waiting for him to cross the finish line at the seventeen-mile marathon. It was such a heart-warming moment, it made me tear up. This is because it did a good job at displaying what happens when someone believes in another person. It was also a happy occasion that perfectly contrasted the scene’s dark and rainy background!

The Atticus and Boo Blogathon banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A rushed beginning: I’m aware there’s only so much story that can be told in an hour and thirty-six minutes. However, the first thirty-eight minutesof The Terry Fox Story was rushed. Important events that led up to the marathon were shown in short segments. It felt like these moments were bullet points within a timeline. It also seemed like the film’s creative team tried to squeeze as much of Terry’s story into the script as they realistically could. Only focusing on some of the events would have benefitted the overall project, as the movie’s flow would be even and certain parts of the story could be fleshed out more.

Terry’s bad attitude: After watching The Terry Fox Story, I read Terry’s family was not a fan of the film “for depicting him as ill-tempered”. In the movie, I saw the character of Terry giving some of the people around him a bad attitude. Toward the beginning of the marathon, Terry complains to his friend, Doug, over the smallest of things. He even calls his friend hurtful names. In the few moments when this happened, it made me briefly question why I was rooting for this character. I know this creative decision was chosen to show how humans can be flawed and have their bad days. Eventually, Terry learns from his errors and apologizes to Doug. But when a movie presents a character they want me to root for and, for any reason, that character makes me wonder why I’m rooting for them, that is not a good thing.

Unresolved or under-resolved story points: There were a few story points in The Terry Fox Story that were either unresolved or under-resolved. As I mentioned earlier, Bob and Terry shared two scenes together. The second of these two scenes left an unresolved conclusion, as Bob is never seen again for the rest of the film. The story never explains if Bob beat his cancer diagnosis or if he passed away. Before the marathon, Rika and Terry’s relationship was traveling rocky waters. It wasn’t until the one hour and fifteen-minute mark when Rika’s voice-over could be heard, indicating her and Terry’s issues were resolved. While it was nice to receive this resolution, it could have been received a lot sooner in the story.

Canada postage stamp image created by Ibrandify at freepik.com <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/canadian-flag-stamp-template_836872.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/template”>Template vector created by Ibrandify – Freepik.com</a> Image found at freepik.com

My overall impression:

Before watching The Terry Fox Story, I only knew the bare minimum of Terry Fox’s story. Now, I feel like I’ve been educated on one of the most important pieces of Canadian history! While there are flaws within the project, the 1983 film did a good job showcasing the human spirit on film. Heart breaking and warming moments influence how people view their world, with the movie effectively showing that. The story also reminds the audience that humans are not invincible, as they all have their own limits. Terry Fox and his marathon teaches us what we are capable of when we believe in ourselves and others. As the character of Terry said in The Terry Fox Story, “it’s about reaching out to people and having them touch you back”. Another good lesson this film teaches is how, sometimes, our best is more than enough. Terry’s single act of attempting to run across Canada helped start a conversation we’re still having decades later. Awareness for various cancers are being raised year after year and multiple organizations have joined the fight against this horrible disease. Even though there’s still more work to do done, I’d like to think Terry’s dream is closer to coming true.

Overall score: 8.1 out of 10

Have you heard of Terry Fox’s story? Which “based on a true story” movie would you like to see me write about? Let me know in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Here’s the link to the quote I referenced in this review:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Terry_Fox_Story

Take 3: Date with an Angel Review

Teen movies from the ‘80s are September’s theme for Genre Grandeur! Since I knew some of the other participants would talk about more well-known movies from this particular selection, I decided to choose a film that doesn’t always get included in the conversation. On the website, Ranker, there was a list focusing on the greatest teen movies of the ‘80s. A film called Date with an Angel was placed on that list. I have not seen or heard of this title prior to this year. Based on its synopsis, Date with an Angel, shares a similar premise with the film, Splash. While I haven’t seen the 1984 movie in many years, I do remember enjoying it. Because of this, I believed there was a chance I might like Date with an Angel!

Date with an Angel poster created by De Laurentiis Entertainment Group. Image found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092834/mediaviewer/rm1734887424

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: While I don’t watch soap operas, I am aware its actors and actresses are required to give a consistent performance in every episode. I was told Michael E. Knight starred on All My Children as Tad Martin. From what I could tell from his performance in Date with an Angel, his soap opera experiences seemed to have paid off! Michael’s portrayal of Jim felt genuine, as the different expressions he showcases appear believable! This is especially the case anytime Jim interacts with the Angel. When he first encounters her after his bachelor party, the shock and awe of the situation can be seen on his face. Very little dialogue is needed to express the feelings in a moment like that one. Speaking of little dialogue, the Angel herself barely has any lines in this movie. Portrayed by Emmanuelle Béart, she was able to use the lack of dialogue to her advantage by relying on facial expressions and body language. In a scene where Jim is determining if the Angel’s wing is healed, she winces and hides her face from him. The consistency of the performance is also what worked in Emmanuelle’s favor. Another actress that did a good job with the acting material she was given was Phoebe Cates! What I liked about her performance was how emotional it was. As the movie progresses, Phoebe’s character, Patty, transforms from a beloved socialite to a woman who let jealousy get the best of her. Similar to Michael and Emmanuelle, Phoebe effectively incorporated facial expressions into her portrayal.

The music: I was really impressed by the soundtrack found in Date with an Angel! One of the best uses of music in this film takes place in a scene where the Angel and Jim find a treehouse in the middle of the forest. When this happens, the song, ‘The Finer Things’ by Steve Winwood, plays in the background, emphasizing how the simpler things in life are, sometimes, the best. There were times when music highlighted the tone of a particular scene. Anytime Jim is with his friends, rock tunes are heard. Meanwhile, piano/music-box music softly plays in the scenes featuring Jim and the Angel. This musical collection definitely added enjoyment to the movie’s audio!

The use of light and fog: Anytime the Angel appears in Date with an Angel, she is highlighted through the use of light and fog. A great example is when the Angel first lands in Jim’s pool. The lights from the pool are the primary source of light in this scene. Fog wraps around the pool area, creating a mysterious oasis with its presence. These creative techniques emphasized how magical and otherworldly the Angel was. In the scenes where the Angel and Jim are in the forest, fog could be seen in the background. Because of its inclusion, it made this location feel secluded, almost like it was Heaven on earth.

String of musical notes image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/pentagram-vector_710290.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Backgroundvector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The Angel is not her own character: In Splash, having a mermaid engage with the human world was a phenomenon. However, Madison was not defined by her mermaid roots. Not only was this character given a name (Madison, in this case), but she was also given her own dialogue. This allowed Madison to play a significant contribution to Splash’s plot. The Angel in Date with an Angel was presented more as a phenomenon than a character. As I mentioned before, the Angel wasn’t given a lot of dialogue. She also didn’t receive a name, being simply referred to as “Angel”. The other characters viewed her as a rarity instead of another individual who happened to appear human. Seeing the Angel not be her own character was disappointing.

Jim’s insignificant composing dreams: Date with an Angel’s synopsis on IMDB reveals that Jim is “an aspiring composer”. Because this particular occupation is not often found in contemporary stories on film, I was curious to see how this would factor into the overall plot. While this detail was brought up on a few occasions, it never served an important part of the story. Music was not used to resolve any conflicts or make any personal discoveries. In retrospect, Jim could have held almost any occupation and it wouldn’t have made a difference.

The cosmetics campaign subplot: One of the subplots in Date with an Angel revolves around Patty’s father trying to salvage a cosmetics advertising campaign. He ultimately decides on finding the Angel so she can be the new face of the campaign. The subplot itself supplies an interesting concept to the overall story. But shortly after this subplot is introduced, it’s quickly dropped from the movie. I found this to be a shame because it could have provided commentary to the plot. One example is how natural beauty is more timeless than the power of any piece of make-up.

I found this angel in my house and I knew it’d be perfect for this review! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

My overall impression:

Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken”. This is a message Date with an Angel needed to hear. While its inevitable for stories to be repeated over time, this movie felt like an imitation of Splash. As I said in the introduction, I haven’t seen Splash in many years. Therefore, I can’t say if it is a better movie than Date with an Angel. What I can say is this imitation didn’t really allow Date with an Angel to be its own movie with its own identity. Looking back on this film, I’m having difficulty understanding why Ranker would put it on their list of ‘80s teen films. I will admit there are elements in the story that would likely be found in an ‘80s teen movie. A group of goofy, scheming friends and a hilarious misunderstanding are two examples. However, Date with an Angel is not an ‘80s teen film by definition, especially since the characters are adults. Maybe this specific premise, where a human crosses paths with an angel, would have worked better in an ‘80s teen movie. If that were the case, it might have had a better chance of being its own story.

Overall score: 6.4 out of 10

Have you seen any teen movies from the ‘80s? If so, which one is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Here is the link to the Ranker list I mentioned in this review (Date with an Angel is listed at number 107): https://www.ranker.com/list/best-80s-teen-movies/ranker-film

Take 3: Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star Review

I am so close to publishing 200 movie reviews! Because of this, I have devoted this week to publishing my 199th and 200th movie reviews. Next week, I will publish a celebratory post to commemorate this accomplishment. Yesterday, I watched Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star. When I posted my review of Perry Mason Returns last month, it ended up becoming more popular than I expected, with the article receiving nine likes! These factors are the reason why I chose to review Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star. For the most part, I have enjoyed this particular series. While some films have been better than others, I haven’t come across an installment that was bad. What works in Perry Mason’s favor is having consistent elements, such as the acting performances. Because these elements have been, more often than not, strong, it has helped the memorability of the series!

While searching the internet for this film’s poster, I took a screenshot of this one, as I love the overall design! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Joe Penny is an actor I’m familiar with because of his performance in Hallmark’s Jane Doe series. What I liked about his portrayal of Robert McCay in Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star is how he was given more opportunities to use emotion! A great example is when Robert is being questioned by Perry Mason at the police station. For most of this scene, the sadness and concern of the situation can be seen on Joe’s face. As the scene progresses, Robert’s anger explodes. Another actor that uses facial expressions well is Jennifer O’Neill! Portraying the murder victim’s wife, Alison Carr, Jennifer used her eyes to enhance the emotions her character was feeling. Her best scene was when Alison and Perry are having a conversation at a law library event. During this conversation, Alison tries to convince Perry that despite everything she has experienced, she is fine. But because her eyes contain so much pain, it appears that Alison is falling apart at the seams. Something I enjoy about the Perry Mason TV movie series is how new, memorable characters have been introduced in each story. Michelle Benti, portrayed by Wendy Crewson, is one of these characters. A photo journalist from New York City, Michelle plays an integral part of the story. She also had a great on-screen personality! Because of these things, it makes me wish Michelle became one of the series’ regulars.

The cinematography: There are times when a mystery movie offers visually appealing cinematography to their audience. Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star is one of these films, as I noticed some interesting cinematography while watching the movie! In the scene where Robert is being questioned by Perry, light is pouring into the room through the blinds of the windows. Both the light and shadows reflect off of Robert’s face, highlighting his facial expressions. Toward the beginning of the film, Robert is walking through the city at night. Smoke could be seen at various moments in that scene. This element helped add to the mysterious nature of the story!

Scenes that tricked the audience: Throughout Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, Robert McCay is filming a movie in New York City. This caused a few scenes to be presented in a way that tricked the audience. In the aforementioned beginning scene, Robert finds himself in the city at night. At one point, he is surrounded by two sets of gang members. As the scene goes on, it is revealed that Robert and the gang members are in the middle of shooting a film scene. Later in the film, Robert and one of his co-stars, Kate, are seen having a conversation with each other. At first, it seems like they are gaining a mutual understanding of the murder case. But, like the previously mentioned scene, this moment is also revealed to be a part of Robert’s movie.

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.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Characters with wasted potential: While each character in Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star gets their moment to shine, there are a few characters that could have had a greater significance in the story. The gang members from the very first scene serve as a good example. I understand these characters were meant to be extras in Robert’s movie. However, I feel at least one of them could have been given more lines and screen time. Who knows? Maybe they would have become a series regular.

The funeral/memorial dinner: When I reviewed the Murder, She Wrote episode, ‘Hannigan’s Wake’, I mentioned how one funeral visitation felt more like a light-hearted dinner party. There was one scene in this movie that made me feel similar to the aforementioned episode. In Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, the funeral/memorial dinner for the murder victim felt more like an award ceremony. This is because of two things; the fact that some characters don’t wear black attire and how one of the murder victim’s closest friends incorporated jokes during his speech. As I said in my review of ‘Hannigan’s Wake’, funeral services are unique to the family hosting that gathering. However, the two factors I brought up prevented this scene from displaying strong feelings of sadness and grief.

An unbelievable stunt scene: I am aware how fictional stories make their audience suspend their disbelief to varying degrees. But in Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, there was one scene involving a stunt that didn’t seem believable to me. The stunt itself is not what caused me to feel this way. This was brought on by the stunt coordinator’s decision to allow a civilian, Perry’s colleague Paul, to participate in a stunt without taking precautionary steps beforehand. I understand this particular scene was meant to serve as a comedic moment. But I just can’t believe any stunt coordinator would willingly overlook details like that, especially in a mystery movie that appears grounded in reality.

Magnifying glass image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/magnifying-glass-with-fingerprint-in-flat-style_2034684.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/flat”>Flat vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

As the eighth movie I’ve seen in the Perry Mason TV movie series, I’d say Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star is the best one! Despite its flaws, this film did contain a mystery that was not only intriguing, but also captivating from start to finish! Almost every series features at least one chapter that revolves around show business. When this creative decision is chosen, Hollywood usually serves as that chapter’s backdrop. In Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, a movie was being filmed in New York City. This allows a nice change of scenery and a different perspective to this tried-and-true plot point. While watching the film, I couldn’t help being reminded of the Brandon Lee tragedy. It is due to the murder victim also being killed by a prop weapon in Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star. There’s no denying the major differences between the real-life and fictional situations. But after watching Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, it does make me wonder if there would have been a heightened sense of awareness had someone working on the film or a person who knew a cast or crew member had seen the 1986 movie prior to production on The Crow?

Overall score: 7.8 out of 10

What are your thoughts on the Perry Mason TV movie series? Do you have a favorite mysteries series? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The House of God Review (A Month Without the Code #2)

The theme for August’s Genre Grandeur is “Medical Dramas”. I’m not going to lie, I had to do some research in order to find my entry. This is due to how specific the theme itself is. At first, I was going to review Article 99. But while reading some reviews on IMDB, I saw someone bring up the 1984 film, The House of God. Having never heard of this movie until this week, I read its synopsis on IMDB. After that, I was fortunate to find the movie on Youtube. According to IMDB’s description of The House of God, the film shares similarities with shows like M*A*S*H and St. Elsewhere. In fact, St. Elsewhere is referenced by a character named “The Fatman” in the 1984 title. While I’ve only seen pieces of M*A*S*H, I’ve never seen St. Elsewhere. However, I am familiar with each show’s premise.

The House of God poster created by United Artists. Image found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087429/mediaviewer/rm2187241473.

Things I liked about the film:

The camaraderie between the characters: For a story like The House of God, the camaraderie between the characters is the heart and soul of that project. In the 1984 film, there was camaraderie to be found among the interns! The scene where they go to Dr. Watson’s Pub serves as a perfect example. Within this scene, the audience gets to learn about some of the characters. What the scene also does is showcase each of the characters’ distinct personalities. Because of the actors’ performances and their on-screen chemistry, it gave the impression that these characters got along well with each other. It also provided an interesting component to the movie!

A sense of honesty: In the synopsis for The House of God, it says “this film is closer to the truth than the public wants to know”. While watching the movie, I could tell the creative team wanted to present their story as truthful as possible. The character of “The Fatman” is one example of this honesty. He tells one of the interns that the reason why the doctors approve so many procedures is for the hospital to make money. Later in the film, Roy, one of the interns, questions the practices of Jo, one of the residents. He accuses her of caring more about autopsies than the needs of her patients. I know The House of God is based on a book written a real-life doctor. But I’m glad the film’s creative team chose not to sugar coat or glamorize their version of the medical world.

The informational inclusion of the medical world: Whenever a particular industry is showcased in a piece of media, there is sometimes an opportunity for the audience to learn something new. This is certainly the case for The House of God! One of the topics that “The Fatman” constantly brings up is “gomers”. He tells the interns this is an acronym standing for “get out of my emergency room”. “The Fatman” also explains that “gomers” are older patients who are dealing with a variety of medical situations, but are not high-risk. Dialogue like this is effectively used to educate the audience about the world of medicine. It helps them broaden their horizons and educate themselves in a cinematic way.

Heartbeat image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/medical-logo_763775.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/logo”>Logo vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The House of God’s limited scope: At the beginning of the film, the interns are shown a light-up map of the entire hospital. They are also instructed to follow colorful lines on the floor in order to reach a specific ward. Throughout the movie, however, the only areas of the hospital that are highlighted involve older patients and patients that are dealing with high-risk medical situations. I know there’s only so much story that can be told in an hour and forty-eight minutes. I’m also aware of how people in the medical field have to make rotations among different wards during their training period. But because the hospital’s scope was limited, it felt like a disservice was committed.

Limited amount of character development: While I liked the camaraderie among the characters, I never felt like I truly got to know them. That’s because the character development was limited. During the movie, the audience learns a little bit about some of the interns and the people working alongside them. But, in my opinion, more was desired in this department. In The House of God, there was a doctor named Dr. Alfred Pinkus. The only information about this character that the movie provides is he’s from New Zealand and he’s the resident heart consultant of the hospital. Because he is only in the film for a few scenes, the audience isn’t given the opportunity to learn more about him.

No overarching conflict: When I read the synopsis for The House of God, I thought the story was about a group of interns who oppose a lead doctor at the hospital they work at. This caused me to expect a narrative that features underdogs fighting against the leaders in their medical world. Instead, I got a story that didn’t have an overarching conflict. Sure, there were smaller scenarios within the movie that did get resolved. But this made the overall story feel more mundane than interesting. It also makes the synopsis on IMDB sound misleading.

A Month Without the Code Blogathon banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/07/27/announcing-amonthwithoutthecode2020/.

My overall impression:

When I was searching the internet for medical dramas, suggestions for television shows were included as results. One of the most well-known is St. Elsewhere, which was referenced in The House of God. When I look back on this film, I honestly think the story would have benefited as a TV show rather than a movie. There was so much going on The House of God, but not enough time to explore it to the fullest extent. One of these areas is the character development, where some of the characters received a small amount. But the stronger components should not be ignored. The camaraderie among the interns was one of the most interesting parts of this story. It was brought to the audience through the acting performances and on-screen chemistry. This is not one of the worst films I’ve seen this year, but I can think of medical dramas that are better than this one. Despite The House of God being rated R, it could be “breenable”. However, these are the things that would need to be changed:

  • Throughout the film, there was language used that is not Breen Code friendly. This ranges from swearing to sexual references. More appropriate word choices would need to be chosen before production starts.
  • In one scene, Roy, one of the interns, and a nurse passionately kiss. This scene also heavily implies that they are about to have sex. During the screen-writing process, that particular scene would need to be rewritten to fit Breen Code standards.
  • Another scene in this film heavily implied a male and female intern was about to have sex during an autopsy check. These characters took their shirts/smocks off right before passionately kissing. This is another scene that would need to be rewritten to fit Breen Code standards.
  • One scene shows one of the interns using the bathroom. Because this scene doesn’t serve the plot and is not Breen code appropriate, this scene would be removed.
  • One of the interns ends up committing suicide. Instead of showing the act, it could be implied through Breen Code appropriate dialogue.
  • One of the patients at the hospital is shown bleeding. The amount of blood shown on screen would have to be reduced.

Overall score: 6 out of 10

Have you seen The House of God? Do you like watching medical dramas on television? Tell me your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Little House: Bless All the Dear Children Review

This movie review was written before July 12th

Last year, I participated in Drew’s Movie Reviews’ Christmas in July Blogathon for the first time. My submission was about the Hallmark film, Christmas Camp. Unfortunately, the film was not as good as I had hoped it would be. For this year’s Christmas in July Blogathon, I already had my film selected before the event was officially announced. But this time, I decided to step away from Hallmark and expand my cinematic horizons. Recently, UP Network aired Little House: Bless All the Dear Children. Since I hadn’t seen this movie before, but had seen the show on multiple occasions, I chose this film for the Blogathon! Little House on the Prairie is a show that my family has enjoyed watching. In fact, I’ve talked about my favorite episode, “The Wild Boy” Part 1 and 2, in the editorial, “Bucky Barnes and Matthew Rogers: Paralleling Stories of Disability”. After the show ended in March of 1983, the creative team behind Little House on the Prairie created three films to tie up loose ends and give beloved characters a proper send-off. Little House: Bless All the Dear Children was the last of these three to be released.

I tried to find a more Christmas-y poster for this movie, but was unsuccessful in my search. So, as the next best thing, I took a screenshot of the film’s poster from my television. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Throughout the show’s lifespan, Little House on the Prairie was blessed to receive a strong starring cast. Even as actors came and went, the quality in acting never faltered. Most of the main actors from the show also appear in Little House: Bless All the Dear Children. Because of this, the consistency in the acting quality was maintained. The regular actors from the show appeared comfortable in their roles. It was also nice to see familiar faces and fan favorites. While I enjoyed watching the performances from the main cast, there were two performances from newcomers of the show that I found to be the most memorable. The first one came from Patricia Pearcy. In the movie, she portrayed Elsa, a mother who is mourning the loss of her baby. What I liked about her performance was the emotional range that was found. Toward the beginning of the film, Elsa learns about the fate of her child. This ends up being one of the most powerful scenes, as Patricia brings the emotional weight a moment like that requires. The second performance was Joel Graves’. He portrayed Samuel, a young orphan from Mankato. Anytime he was on screen, Joel had a sweet personality, which gave his character a likable persona. Samuel brought so much joy to the story, as he was an adorable and kind-hearted child.

The messages and themes: Within their nine seasons, Little House on the Prairie has incorporated important messages and themes into their episodes. These messages and themes have come in various forms, from exploring the horrors of child abuse in “The Wild Boy” Part 1 and 2 to showcasing the value of human life in “Times Are Changing” Part 1 and 2. Little House: Bless All the Dear Children also contains messages and themes that not only fit in the context of the series, but also in the context of Christmas. When Mr. Edwards asks Mr. Montague if he’d like any Christmas presents, Mr. Montague declines this offer, as he feels that Christmas has become materialistic. The idea of the commercialization of Christmas is just as relevant today as it was in 1984, the year this film was released. It also reminds the audience of the holiday’s original purpose.

The humor: Even though there are moments on the show where serious situations take place, Little House on the Prairie also contains moments of joy and laughter. The humor on this program is both wholesome and well-written. It is not only consistent on the show, but it also finds a place in Little House: Bless All the Dear Children. During the Christmas season, Nancy is responsible for finding the perfect Christmas tree for her family. She eventually locates one in the front yard of her family’s property. The hilarious part of this situation is that Nancy chooses the tallest tree she can find, causing the tree to crash through a window into her family’s living room! This moment reminded me of when Stephanie, from Full House, crashed a car through her family’s kitchen because she thought the “R” on the car’s control pad meant “radio” instead of “reverse”.

Christmas in July Blogathon 2020 banner created by Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews. Image found at https://drewreviewmovies.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/announcing-the-christmas-in-july-blogathon-2020/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Christmas spirit’s inconsistency: In most Christmas films, the spirit of Christmas can be felt throughout the story. In fact, there are times when it radiates off the screen. With Little House: Bless All the Dear Children, however, the Christmas spirit doesn’t feel consistent in the overall story. Some parts of the movie contained a strong sense of this spirit, like the narrative involving Jason trying to spread Christmas cheer. But Christmas spirit felt like an after-thought in the majority of the main plot, where Mr. Edwards, Almanzo, and Laura search for Rose. This made the narrative seem like it could have taken place in any time of year without making much of a difference.

Too many narratives: Little House: Bless All the Dear Children featured a total of six narratives. I understand that an end-of-series movie is meant to tie up story-related loose ends. But because of the screen-writer’s decision to squeeze as many sub-plots into the film as possible, it caused some of the narratives to feel under-developed or there for the sake of being there. A good example is Mr. Montague’s narrative, where it revolved around his views on Christmas. While it wasn’t a bad idea for a sub-plot, it didn’t really lead anywhere. Another example is Nancy’s narrative, where she is put in charge of picking out the Oleson family Christmas tree. Like Mr. Montague’s sub-plot, it didn’t lead anywhere. It also didn’t do any favors for Nancy’s character development or serve the overall story. If anything, it seems like she received her own narrative because she had appeared on the show for two seasons.

A quick and easy resolution: The main conflict in Little House: Bless All the Dear Children has been featured on the show before. In the season four episode, “My Ellen”, Laura gets kidnapped by her grieving neighbor shortly after their daughter passes away. Personally, I think the situation was dealt with better in that episode than in this Christmas movie. During her escape in the aforementioned episode, Laura leads her neighbor to their daughter’s grave to help them face their grief and realize the reality of the situation. In Little House: Bless All the Dear Children, Elsa’s grief and the seriousness of Rose’s kidnapping are glossed over when the conflict is resolved. I know that whenever a conflict arises on Little House on the Prairie, it is dealt with in a wholesome way. But it seemed like the situation was handled as easily and quickly as possible just to move on to the next narrative. I was also surprised that Laura didn’t disclose her kidnapping in relation to her daughter’s predicament. Had she brought up this past experience, it would have promoted the show’s continuity and helped Elsa face her grief.

Adorable Christmas card image created by Rawpixel.com at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/christmas-greeting-card-vector_2824854.htm’>Designed by Rawpixel.com</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/christmas”>Christmas vector created by Rawpixel.com – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Little House on the Prairie is a show that has stood the test of time. Its wholesome programming, relatable messages, and memorable characters have won over the hearts of fans for decades. Little House: Bless All the Dear Children is an example of why people have fallen in love with this show. The consistency in acting and the lessons instilled on the audience help keep the tone of the show intact. Even though the movie had its strengths, I feel this particular story would have benefitted as a two-part episode. Smaller narratives, like Mr. Montague’s perspective on Christmas, could have been taken care of in one episode. The story of Rose’s kidnapping would have been the overarching narrative of both episodes. This choice would have also given the creative team more time to explore Elsa’s grief and reach a satisfying resolution to the episodes’ main conflict. Little House: Bless All the Dear Children is a fine and enjoyable film. Personally, I would have loved to see Matthew Rogers perform “O Holy Night” in sign language during Christmas Mass. But I guess we can’t always get what we want.

Now we’ve come to the part of this review where I select a guest for Drew’s Christmas Party. This year, I have selected Anjanette Abayari. I first became aware of her existence when I watched the music video for the Timmy T. song “One More Try”. I haven’t seen her other acting work and I don’t know much about her. But, based on what I read, it seems like she has experienced some serious situations in her life. The reason why I chose Anjanette for Drew’s Christmas Party is so she can, hopefully, receive more recognition than she may be currently receiving!

Overall score: 7.4 out of 10

Have you watched Little House on the Prairie? If so, what is your favorite episode? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Boy Who Could Fly Review (PB & J Double Feature Part 2)

Welcome to the second part of my PB & J Double Feature! This review may contain spoilers and here are the links to the double feature’s introduction and the first part:

My PB & J Double Feature’s Introduction

Take 3: The Last Full Measure Review (PB & J Double Feature Part 1)

The Boy Who Could Fly poster created by Lorimar Motion Pictures and 20th Century Fox. Image found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090768/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0.

1. What is the purpose of Girl Scout fun patches? What is the significance of the PB & J patch that you talked about in the introduction?

I already explained this in my review for The Last Full Measure, so you can read that post if you want to learn more about Girl Scout fun patches and the PB & J patch.

2. How did you come across The Boy Who Could Fly?

I came across the poster for The Boy Who Could Fly while visiting Pinterest. After making this discovery, I read the film’s synopsis. I was curious to see how the subject of Autism would be discussed in a movie set in and released during the ‘80s. The possible meaning behind the title is also what sparked my interest.

3. You elaborated in the introduction how a PB & J sandwich represents a collection of ideas. Can any of these ideas be found in The Boy Who Could Fly?

One of these ideas that can be found in The Boy Who Could Fly relates to building connections. In this film, the audience learns that Mrs. Sherman, Milly and Eric’s teacher, has become one of Eric’s biggest advocates. It was her decision to place him in her class so he can interact with the other students. She also reveals to Milly that she protested against sending Eric to an institution so he could live in an environment that was familiar to him. Because of Mrs. Sherman’s encouragement and after she volunteered to be his gym class partner, Milly chooses to stay by Eric’s side and be his friend. Even when she experiences frustration and considers throwing in the towel, Milly perseveres in helping Eric be the best version of himself that he can be. It’s because of these connections that Eric is able to grow as a person and inspire the people around him.

As I mentioned in answer number one, the PB & J patch is earned by making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. This activity is usually performed when feeding people in need. Volunteers who choose to serve others in this fashion build connections with other volunteers, as well as with the organizers of this activity. These connections help build a community of life-minded individuals who share a common goal. They may even form connections with the people they are serving.

4. Are there other patches you can think of that would complement The Boy Who Could Fly?

A patch related to Autism seems like an appropriate choice. It could be earned in a variety of ways, from participating in an Autism Walk to meeting members of a local Autism council. One of the major themes in The Boy Who Could Fly is believing in yourself. There is one patch from Mad About Fun Patches that would perfectly fit with this theme. On the website, there is a Dumbo themed patch that says “Believe You Can Fly & Soar”. In The Boy Who Could Fly, Milly reads a Dumbo picture book to Eric. She does this to help Eric communicate and connect with others by using a topic he loves: flight.

5. Is there anything about The Boy Who Could Fly that you liked or didn’t like?

I was surprised by how well this movie aged, especially when it comes to the subject of Autism. While there is language in the film that wouldn’t be used today, the way Eric is treated and viewed by the other characters is positive. A great example is the formation of Milly and Eric’s friendship. The movie presents the possibility of people with Autism successfully creating and maintaining meaningful relationships. This helps dispel stereotypes that could leave a negative impact for those on the Spectrum. While watching The Boy Who Could Fly, I noticed how the audio of the actors was on the quieter side. I had to turn up the volume on my television just to hear what the characters were saying.

Paper airplane image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/paper-plane-in-cartoon-style_766478.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/paper”>Paper vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

6. Did you develop any thoughts and/or questions while watching this film?

A thought I developed during my viewing of The Boy Who Could Fly is how some moments felt ahead of their time. In answer number four, I mentioned how Milly uses Eric’s favorite subject to help him communicate and connect with other people. I read a story several years ago about a woman whose autistic son loved bees, so she based his entire homeschool curricular around that subject. She did this in order to help him enjoy his lessons. The idea of helping someone with Autism based on their personal preferences and accommodations is a practice commonly known today than it might have been in the mid to late ‘80s. After suffering a minor concussion and experiencing a life-like dream, Milly has a conversation with a psychologist from the hospital. The interaction itself normalizes the use of therapy, with the psychologist hearing Milly’s side of the story without any judgement or criticism. Seeking therapy for those with mental health related situations is encouraged and accepted today that it could have been four decades ago.

7. As stated in answer number one, fun patches are earned by either completing an activity or reaching a goal. What goal or activity could correlate with this movie?

Similar to The Last Full Measure, most scouts would not be able to see The Boy Who Could Fly. This is due to language and a scene involving minors consuming alcohol. But, like The Last Full Measure, troops can participate in activities that relate to the movie. As I mentioned in answer number four, a Dumbo themed patch would correlate perfectly with The Boy Who Could Fly. Younger scouts can watch Dumbo and discuss the importance of self-esteem. Meanwhile, older scouts can learn about different forms of flight and discovering how their unique talents can play a vital role in their community.

8. Fun patches are about learning new skills or lessons. Are there any lessons one can learn from this film?

Like I said in answer number four, a major theme in The Boy Who Could Fly is believing in yourself. There are several occasions where characters are facing difficult situations in their lives. Instead of giving up, they persevere and discover a resolution to their conflict. In scouting, troops can face many obstacles. It could be as simple as last-minute changes to pre-set plans. Challenges may be bigger, causing troop leaders to search for an answer in a longer period of time. Despite this happening, it’s important for troop members to learn how to believe in themselves, especially since this lesson is a valuable one in preparation for the real world.

9. Sometimes, patches are created to tie in with a popular movie or IP (intellectual property). If given the opportunity to create a new patch, how would a patch for this movie look? What activity or goal would need to be met?

Because Eric likes creating paper planes, a patch that looks like a paper plane would definitely be a good choice. Maybe a quote from the movie could be featured on the patch. As for the activity, it would have something to do with flight. Making paper planes is a good place to start. Inviting a pilot to a meeting or talking about air travel are also good suggestions.

10. After watching this film, is there anything you can take away from your movie viewing experience?

The Boy Who Could Fly is, so far, the best movie I’ve seen this year! The messages and themes within this story are just as relevant today as they were back in the ‘80s. While I wasn’t expecting Eric to literally fly, it was a creative choice that worked in this narrative. The movie was an emotional rollercoaster and I was invested from start to finish. I’m grateful to have stumbled across this film on Pinterest.

Image of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches created by Katinka Kober at freeimages.com. Photo by Katinka Kober from FreeImages

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Great Mouse Detective Review

I will admit that before I signed up for the Suave Swordsman: Basil Rathbone Blogathon, I wasn’t familiar with Basil as an actor. However, I didn’t let this stop me from participating! While looking through his filmography, I discovered Basil had a role in the 1986 film, The Great Mouse Detective. Because I hadn’t seen this movie before and because I knew I’d likely be one of the few people to discuss an animated film, I selected The Great Mouse Detective as my submission! If you’ve visited my blog before, you’d see that mysteries have a consistent presence on the site. I have set aside time to talk about the films from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Some episodes of Murder, She Wrote has been reviewed. I even participated in the Murder, She Wrote Cookalong! Despite the abundance of mystery related content on 18 Cinema Lane, The Great Mouse Detective is only the second animated mystery movie to be featured on my blog. However, at least this review will bring something new to the table!

The Great Mouse Detective poster created by Buena Vista Distribution, Silver Screen Partners II, Walt Disney Feature Animation, and Walt Disney Pictures. ©Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Image found at https://movies.disney.com/the-great-mouse-detective.

Things I liked about the film:

The animation: Animated films from Disney’s library usually contain quality visuals and art styles. The Great Mouse Detective continues this pattern of animation excellence! Throughout the film, the backgrounds were presented in softer frames with lighter colors, while close-up images were given sharper lines and brighter colors. One example is when Basil, Olivia, and Dr. David are exploring a toy store. The contrasts within the animation made it easier to focus on the characters and their involvement in the story. This art design reminded me of films such as The Aristocats, 101 Dalmatians, and Lady and the Tramp. Similar to what I said in my From Up on Poppy Hill review, all of the characters were expressive! Their facial expressions and body language were fluid when reacting to different scenarios. A perfect example is when Olivia and Dr. David meet Basil. The Great Mouse Detective’s claim to fame is how it was the first project from Disney to feature computer-generated animation. This creative choice is seen in the climax, when Basil and Ratigan fight in the Big Ben Tower. While it might not seem like a big deal now, this scene was ahead of its time in the mid to late ‘80s. The scene itself has aged well, while also containing gravitas and depth. It reminded me of the bells from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The use of shadows: The Great Mouse Detective has a primarily darker tone. To emphasize this aspect of the story, shadows were used in various scenes. Toward the beginning of the film, Hiram Flaversham, Olivia’s father, and Fidget, Ratigan’s henchman, are fighting at Hiram’s toy store. In this scene, shadows of the fight are projected over Olivia’s hiding place. Because Hiram and Fidget are not shown on screen, their shadows helped bring an element of suspense and mystery. The shadows also left me wondering what would happen next.

The humor: Despite the film’s darker tone, there were some light-hearted moments that prevented the movie from being too dark. Some of these moments even contained humor. One scene involved Basil ruining a group of pillows in an attempt to solve a mystery. What made this scene funny was the reaction of Basil’s maid over the mess. Another funny moment was when Ratigan called his cat “honey bunny”. What I like about these hilarious scenes is how well written they were. It also helps that there weren’t too many of them, as it would have made the overall picture seem too silly.

Sketch of London image created by Archjoe at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/hand-drawn-houses-of-parliament_1133950.htm’>Designed by Archjoe</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Archjoe – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The musical numbers: A large number of Disney’s animated films are musicals, with their musical numbers feeling like they belong in that production. Because musicals have become a staple in Disney’s animated filmography, it allows their audience to know what to expect. But The Great Mouse Detective was not a musical movie, especially compared to pictures like Oliver & Company or any of the Disney Renaissance films. The Great Mouse Detective also had a primarily darker tone, with some light-hearted moments. These aspects made the musical numbers seem out of place. The two most notable musical scenes were “Let Me Be Good to You” and “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind”, which had entertainment value. While “Let Me Be Good to You” had some reason for its existence, “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind” was randomly placed in the film. It was a light-hearted and upbeat song that came right after a darker scene, featuring Basil explaining the wrong-doings of Professor Ratigan. “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind” was a combination of “Gaston” from Beauty and the Beast and “Mine, Mine, Mine” from Pocahontas. However, what makes “Gaston” and “Mine, Mine, Mine” work is how they fit within their respective productions.

The oversharing of the mystery: When I talked about The Mystery Cruise in my list of the Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time, I shared how I didn’t like the film’s mystery being revealed after the mystery was introduced. The Great Mouse Detective makes a similar mistake with their mystery narrative. Within the first half of the movie, the details of Hiram Flaversham’s kidnapping are shown in a series of scenes that share a timeline with the events surrounding Basil. These scenes show the whodunit, howtheydunit, and whytheydunit of the mystery. Because these pieces of information are revealed early in the movie, the audience knows more than the characters in the story. This prevents them from solving or experiencing the mystery alongside the characters.

The subplot of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee: One of the subplots in The Great Mouse Detective revolved around the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. This wasn’t a bad idea, but it was very under-utilized. In fact, I forgot this event was taking place within the story until the film’s climax arrived. Because the premise of this movie was basic and straight-forward, this subplot felt like it was there for the sake of being there. If the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee had been removed from the film, it wouldn’t make a huge difference.

The Suave Swordsman: Basil Rathbone Blogathon banner created by Pale Writer from Pale Writer. Image found at https://palewriter2.home.blog/2020/02/01/announcing-the-suave-swordsman-basil-rathbone-blogathon/.

My overall impression:

Two years ago, I reviewed Oliver & Company. In that review, I said the movie was the pioneer for what a Disney animated film could and should be at the time of its release. The Great Mouse Detective gave me a similar feeling. Within this film, there were elements that laid the foundation for animated Disney films that came after it. The climax at the Big Ben Tower is one example, with the scenes utilizing computers to bring them to life. Also, in my Oliver & Company review, I said the movie was fine and that there were animated Disney films that are stronger than it. The Great Mouse Detective made me feel this way as well. While watching this film, there were scenes that reminded me of scenes from other Disney projects that were executed better. Some scenes in The Great Mouse Detective felt rushed, making me wonder if Disney was trying to meet a deadline or wanted to take advantage of a busy box office year. Even with everything I just said, this film is worth bringing up in the conversation of animated films. It may get overshadowed, but I think it serves as an important part of animation history.

Overall score: 7 out of 10

Have you seen The Great Mouse Detective? What are some of your favorite mystery films? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Without a Trace Review + 35 Follower Thank You

Because I received 35 followers on 18 Cinema Lane earlier this week, it’s time for me to review a film that turned 35 years old in 2018! While looking at my options for which film to watch, I came across a film from 1983 called Without a Trace. After reading the movie’s synopsis, I became intrigued by the mystery aspect of the film. As a fan of the mystery movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, I do enjoy a story that is intriguing and engaging. My interest for Without a Trace grew when I discovered that it was loosely based on a true story. I was curious about how this real-life event would influence the film. Keep reading to see how I feel about Without a Trace!

Without a Trace poster
Without a Trace poster created by 20th Century Fox. Image found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Without_a_Trace.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: The whole cast in this movie was good! Kate Nelligan’s portrayal of Susan Selky was definitely one of the highlights of this film! Her performance was so emotional and versatile, that it felt like her character’s emotions were being transferred from her own personal feelings to the audience, allowing viewers to worry about Alex’s fate alongside Susan. I also thought that Kathleen Widdoes’ portrayal of the psychic, Ms. Hauser, was captivating and memorable. Kathleen’s acting talents were so versatile, it had the power to keep viewers engaged in the events happening on-screen.

 

The story: The basic premise of Without a Trace is figuring out what happened to Alex Selky. This story is treated like a mystery, where anyone could be a suspect and every possibility is explored. The way this narrative is written allows the audience members to solve the mystery alongside the characters. Because there are few scenes that feature Alex, it encourages viewers to ask “whodunit” and keeps them engaged as the story unfolds.

 

Comparisons and differences between the early ‘80s and today: Because this movie was released in 1983, I knew there was going to be some differences between the depicted world in the film and the world outside the film today. However, I was surprised by how many of the film’s topics were those that are still being brought up 35 years later. In a scene where Alex’s parents and Detective Al Menetti are being interviewed by several journalists, one journalist asks Al if Alex, a 6 year old child, was too young to be walking to school all by himself. As I watched this film for the first time in 2018, I found myself asking this exact same question. It was also interesting to see and hear how things appeared differently in the early ‘80s compared to today. In one scene, Jocelyn, Susan’s friend, asks Susan why the police aren’t using computers to solve missing persons cases. Because computers have a larger presence in society now than they did 35 years ago, I would have assumed that most crimes are solved with the use of computers. But, it stood out to me how the screenwriters were thinking that far ahead into the future at how some situations, such as those found in Without a Trace, could be improved upon.

21-150-01
Magnifying fingerprints image created by Balintseby at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/glass”>Glass vector created by Balintseby – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/fingerprint-investigation_789253.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Lack of suspense: When I first read the synopsis for Without a Trace, I was expecting a mystery story with suspense and intrigue throughout the film. While this movie did have intrigue, there was very little suspense that was found. There was such a lack of suspense that it made the characters appear like they didn’t have a sense of urgency. This is not a good thing, especially when a film’s plot revolves around a kidnapping.

 

The run-time: Without a Trace is a 2-hour long film. This caused the movie to contain scenes that felt like were included just for the sake of satisfying this run-time. This run-time also made the movie feel longer than it was probably intended. Personally, I think that Without a Trace’s run-time should have been an hour and 25 to 30 minutes. This way, it would allow the story to be more suspenseful and keep the intrigue going throughout the film.

 

The pace: Without a Trace’s pace was slow. This pace made some scenes drag on longer than they might have been intended. It was also the result of a longer run-time, where these scenes were possibly drawn out to fill Without a Trace’s 2 hour long time-frame.

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My overall impression:

Without a Trace is an ok film. Yes, this movie did have its flaws. However, I could tell that the effort, from the movie’s creative team, to make a compelling and thought-provoking film was there, even if that effort was not as strong as I would have hoped. When looking back on this film, I still can’t get over how some things have stayed the same. Trends change, popularity rises and falls, and style evolves. But certain subjects and messages are the things that remain everlasting. As I mentioned earlier, I knew there were going to be differences between the world of the ‘80s that appeared on my tv screen and the real world of 2018 that I’m living in today. Despite these differences, it’s the similarities that left a lasting and the biggest impression on me as I share this film with all my readers and followers. Thank you, once again, for making this review possible. 18 Cinema Lane would not be the same without you.

 

Overall score: 6.5 out of 10

 

Have you seen Without a Trace? What’s your favorite mystery story? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen