The livin’ ain’t always easy
Here, for both of you rabid MarkVoger.com users, are my summer movie picks for 2019. Now, ignore them and do something fun outdoors!
‘Independence Day’ (1996)
Will Smith’s ebullience, Jeff Goldblum’s quirkiness and dazzling FX made Roland Emmerich’s “Independence Day” a summer blockbuster. Twenty-three years later, Smith and Goldblum still charm, but the FX are long since outdated.
The film’s most iconic shot — in which the White House is blasted to smithereens — now looks like an old video game.
Plus, this movie about an alien invasion that wipes out major U.S. cities in the lead-up to the Fourth of July is infamous for stretching the credibility factor, even given its far out sci-fi premise.
Some questions raised by the film: How did Smith learn to fly an alien spacecraft? Why does his girlfriend (Vivica A. Fox) work her shift as a go-go dancer during the invasion? For that matter, why is she a go-go dancer? How does Smith magically locate her while flying a helicopter over the vast ruins of Los Angeles? And why is the president (Bill Pullman) permitted to fly an alien-vanquishing mission?
‘Summer Rental’ (1985)
Über-schlub John Candy is a burnt-out air traffic controller and family man forced by his boss to take a vacation in Carl Reiner’s comedy. At first, “Summer Rental” is a mere series of beach house gags: Candy gets horrendously sunburned; Candy stumbles through a crowded beach, spilling the contents of his cooler on random sunbathers; Candy momentarily walks away from his unlocked beach house, which becomes a de facto public restroom for a hundred tourists.
It’s cute, funny … and unsustainable.
But things get interesting when Reiner introduces two “locals.” Richard Crenna plays the privileged town power broker who is guaranteed a choice table at the pricey lobster restaurant, and always wins the annual regatta. Rip Torn plays the scruffy proprietor of an iffy eatery and an equally iffy boat rental company.
Candy runs afoul of vengeful Crenna, befriends Torn and … well, do you see where this is headed?
‘Little Darlings’ (1980)
Usually, it’s the boys in youth comedies who bet on who will be the first to lose their virginity. Ron Maxwell’s “Little Angels” goes there, but with a twist.
Here, the competitors are girls coerced into the contest: uncomfortable-in-her-skin Angel (Kristy McNichol) and aspiring sophisticate Ferris (Tatum O’Neal).
These summer camp rivals are strong-armed by Cinder (Krista Errickson), who tells anyone who will listen that she appears in TV commercials. Angel sets her sights on a long-haired local (Matt Dillon, doing his best Tony Manero), while Ferris targets a dreamy — albeit, adult — Phys-Ed coach (Armand Assante).
“Little Angels” is not without tropes and mildly vulgar humor. There is a food fight; a joyride on a hijacked bus; and the theft of a condom vending machine.
But the film takes a more measured, dramatic approach to the age-old quandary than the likes of “Porky’s” and “American Pie.”
Roy Scheider stars as a cop who leaves the on-the-job stresses of New York City behind for the sleepy island town of Amity, where the vandalization of a picket fence is among the citizenry’s chief complaints.
Put it this way: When a swimmer is killed by a shark, Scheider has to make his own “Beach closed” signs. They’re not in stock, you see.
The slippery mayor (Murray Hamilton), festooned in a snazzy harpoon-print suit, plays down the danger. Amity, after all, depends on tourism dollars.
But two men share Scheider’s fear of more attacks: Richard Dreyfuss as a nerdy oceanographer and Robert Shaw as a salty sea dog — part Captain Ahab, part Pied Piper of Hamelin — who offers to deliver to Amity the head of the shark for 10 grand.
In the summer of ’75, when Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” was in theaters, people still swam in the ocean, but there was some trepidation. Between waves, you’d hear bathers mimic John Williams’ foreboding “Jaws” score: Da-dum. Da-dum.
‘Suddenly Last Summer’ (1959)
Summers past are filled with memories of exotic travel — and shameful secrets — in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s “Suddenly Last Summer,” based on Tennessee Williams’ drama.
Montgomery Clift plays a brilliant surgeon who specializes in lobotomies. He is frustrated by his hospital’s budget woes, until the region’s wealthiest woman (Katharine Hepburn) dangles the promise of a generous honorarium — with one string attached. Hepburn really, really wants her beautiful, troubled niece (Elizabeth Taylor) to undergo a lobotomy.
Why? Hepburn is obsessed with her recently deceased son, Sebastian, who wrote exactly one poem per year, always titled “A Summer Poem.” He’d do this during their mother-son trips to ritzy destinations with sunny beaches and bistros. But last year, a mild stroke prevented Hepburn from making the trip. Taylor filled in as Sebastian’s escort — and he died mysteriously on her watch.
This is no “feel good” summer movie.
‘State Fair’ (1945)
In this Rodgers-and-Hammerstein musical directed by Walter Lang, the Frakes, a simple farm family, have much riding on the upcoming Iowa State Fair. Pa Abel (Charles Winninger) thinks his well-fed pig, Blue Boy, is a shoo-in to take first prize. Ma Melissa (Fay Bainter) covets a prize, too, for her brandy-free (or so she thinks) mincemeat. Daughter Margy (Jeanne Crain, 20 playing 15) longs to do new things, even if it means forsaking her hick-ish fella (Phil Brown).
The roller coaster provides a perfect excuse for Margy to hug perfect stranger Pat (Dana Andrews), a reporter with a predilection for beginning his sentences “In my racket …”
The under-aged farm girl develops an infatuation for the worldly, chain-smoking visitor. It’s weird seeing Andrews in a musical; he’s a lo-o-ong way from his noir classics such as “Fallen Angel” and “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”