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nothingincommonThis movie to me was a prelude to how great Tom Hanks could be as an actor. This movie is also one of my favorite movies ever because no matter how many times I watch it I get so caught up in the film that I can’t focus on anything else, like write a review.  This film got me on a personal level because of the relationship I had with my father and even more so now that my father is gone.  Despite that I still argue that this is one of Hanks best performances he has had and in my list of Top Five Favorite Tom Hanks films this film is in the Top 5.

David Basner, played by Tom Hanks (The Man with One Red Shoe,) is a single, newly promoted executive in a successful Chicago advertising agency.  In an effort to gain a possible partnership in the agency he is trying bring in a new client, an airline, to the agency.  Before he can get started he gets a phone call from his estranged father Max, played by Jackie Gleason (Smokey and the Bandit,) who tells David that his mom, Lorraine, played by Eva Marie Saint (On the Waterfront,) has left him.  David begins to endure the worst time of his life as he tries to understand what happened to his parents, helping the both, dealing with the new client’s daughter Cheryl Ann, played by Sela Ward (Independence Day: Resurgence,) who is an executive with the new client, and leaning on his friend and ex high school girlfriend Donna, played by Bess Armstrong, (Jaws 3-D,) for support.

To me this is the first movie that Tom Hanks shows his ability to be a great dramatic actor.  In his scenes with Jackie Gleason he does a great job of portraying a low level form of dislike for the man as well as a begrudging love.  He also does a great job in showing his frustration with having to try and be a caring son to his separated parents and not have it affect his work, which it definitely does.  But not only is he able to show his dramatic chops in this film but he is able to make the funny scenes in this comedy drama very funny.  I don’t know if it was writing or improvisation but his quick wit was on display when he is sparing with his fellow employees as well as with the owner of the airline.   Hanks also makes this character very likeable.  I enjoy watching him in every scene and I am cheering for him when he sleeps with the airline stewardess as well as Cheryl Ann.  I also want to see him get back together with Donna as well.  And because I am cheering for him I feel his pain as he struggles with accepting the separation of his parents and especially the difficulty in his relationship with his dad.  I believe that this is easily his best performance in the 1980’s which includes the movie Big and is a great indicator of his future success in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

The other actor who was amazing in this film, and mind you I think all were great, was Jackie Gleason.  His portrayal of Max was amazing as he showed a man that is in some ways not a likeable man but in many ways a sympathetic man.  To me his character represented the ending of the single income household from the 40’s and 50’s in that the woman stayed home to raise the kids and the men worked.  That kind of man could still love his wife and family but have affairs and justify it.  He also made sure that he worked hard enough and long enough to make sure his family was never wanting for more.  He also was the kind of man who didn’t complain about illness and wasn’t likely to change either.  All of these traits were clashing with the men of the 1980’s who were a little bit more in touch with their feelings.  This dynamic plays out constantly in this movie with Max and David’s relationship.  Max never tells David he loves him, but David knows he does.  The amazing part of Jackie Gleason’s performance is that by this time in his life he was literally dying.  He was suffering from 4 different forms of cancer and was actually retired when director Garry Marshall asked him to come do this film.  He was able to get Gleason to do it because he told him if he didn’t then his last film would have been Smokey and the Bandit 3 and trust me that is not a good thing.

Eva Marie Saint did a nice job as David’s mother.  She had two great scenes when she tells David that she knew his father was cheating on her during their marriage and that everyone knew it and that she was embarrassed to admit it to him.  This was the catalyst for a bad confrontation between David and Max.  The other scene is when Max is in the hospital and she is there to initially check up on him and it devolves into yet another fight about their relationship and what he didn’t do.  The only thing she did that was annoying to me, and its small but it gets me every time I watch this film, is when she has cleaned her old apartment that she shared with Max and stocked it for him before he gets home from the hospital.  She gives David the keys and tells him she is never coming back.  She then turns and walks towards the door and gives both sides of the room a look and then shakes her head and walks out of the room forever.  The head shake is more of a good buy and good riddance shake and it just bothers me.  I get it, I know why she did it, but it still bothers me.

The entire supporting cast was great as well.  Loved Bess Armstrong as Donna Martin and am somewhat surprised that the only other big movie she was ever in was Jaws 3-D.  That is some kind of miscarriage of justice.  Sela Ward was also great as Cheryl Ann Wayne, the 80’s female power broker and a great counter to David’s borderline childish empowerment in the work force. The other main supporting cast that were noticeable were the airline owner Andrew Woolridge, played by Barry Corbin (Wargames,) the owner of the ad agency Charlie Gargis, played by Hector Elizondo (Pretty Woman,) and Roger the director, played by John  Kapelos (The Breakfast Club.)  Both Roger and Charlie play a part in helping David’s relationship with Max although in different ways.  Roger admits to David that he hasn’t spoken to his dad in years right after David talks about the huge fight he had with Max.  But the best part is when David just had blown up at Mr. Woolridge and was fired by Cheryl Wayne from the account and Charlie comes in to see how David is doing.  David has learned that Max has to go into surgery that he may not survive.  Charlie explains to David about his failings with dealing with his own fathers illness and how in the end Charlie’s father didn’t recognize him.  Both of these events pointed David into first saving his relationship with his dad and then staying with him during and after the surgery.  They were great small moments that lead to great big moments.

I can go on and on but its safe to say that I am a big fan of the film.  I am sure my love of the film blinds me from some of the negatives but I don’t care.  For me this film also hits home with the relationship I had with my father both the good and the bad times during my life.  I can say without a doubt that I wish I could have been there in the end but I can also say that I was glad that I had a great relationship with in the end and in that aspect have no regrets.  Which I think is the point of this story as well.

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independence day 2So after a 20 year wait we finally get the sequel to the 1997 motion picture giant that was Independence Day. The original film has grown on me as I have gotten older and more tolerable of certain things.  Both movies are Roland Emmerich films and usually his disaster films are not my favorite with the first Independence Day being probably my favorite of his disaster films.  As I was looking up the cast as the sequel approached I was shocked to see that there is no Will Smith in the movie to save the world.  However we do have Jeff Goldblum so I am no longer worried and am quite sure we will be victorious in the end.  Now my only question is will the movie be as victorious as the first one?

Its been 20 years since the first alien attack and not only is the United Earth Defense Force ready to defend, they are ready to kick ass, or so they think.    Before the celebration an alien probe enters around the orbit of the moon but it has none of the same features as the first alien.  Even though the some in the government, including David Levinson, played once again by Jeff Goldblum (Mortdecai,) ask that they wait to determine the origin of the probe, the defense attack it and destroy the probe. During the celebration of the anniversary of the victory of the first attack a new space ship shows up and it is much larger than the original ship and lands over the entire Atlantic Ocean.  It starts a drill that Levinson believes is designed to reach the core of the Earth.  The Defense Force has to find a way to destroy the ship or at least stop the drill or the planet will be destroyed.

The best parts of the film for me was basically my since of nostalgia.  I loved seeing Goldblum reprised his role as Levinson, who is now the head scientist of the Defense Force, and Bill Pullman (Independence Day,) who plays former President Whitmore.  I loved him much more in this film then I did in the original, and in this one he plays a man that is afflicted from being in direct contact with the aliens 20 years earlier.  Another one who is also afflicted is the old scientist in charge of the old Area 51 Dr. Okun, played by  Brent Spiner (Independence Day,) who has been in a coma since he was attacked 20 years ago.  Even Levinson’s father Julius, played by Judd Hirsch (Independence Day,) is in the film reprising his roll as the most Jewish parent since the mom of South Park character Kyle Broslofski.

However the movie did nothing to really advance any of their characters from the original film.  All of the character development is left to the next generation of fighters, which includes Jake Morrison, played by Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games,) who lost his parents in the original attack and joined the Defense Force who is also somewhat of a loose cannon, Dylan Hiller, played by Jessie T. Usher (When The Game Stands Tall,) who is the adopted son of the hero of the last war Steven Hiller, played by Will Smith in the first film, who is killed in a test flight, and Patricia Whitmore, played by Maika Monroe (It Follows,) who is the daughter of former President Whitmore who left the Defense Force to take care of him.  I have now spent as much time on the backstory as the writers did in the movie.  In fact this entire film seems rushed as if they had 18 months to come up with a story and not 20 years.

Another issue is that with a few pieces and they are important, the story is almost a carbon copy of the original movie.  Aliens come and land, we attack first, which is different, but we still get our ass kicked, the same, the aliens head to Area 51, we set up a trap, it works, sort of , and after a close call, we win.  Just like in the original movie.  So much like people complaining about the new Star Wars movie, we waited 20 years to see the old story told anew with a few changes.  I also felt nothing for any of the deaths in this film which would include the new President Lanford, played by Sela Ward (Gone Girl,) and Hiller’s mother, once again played by Vivica A. Fox (Independence Day.)  I did feel a little bad about her death but only because of the nostalgia of seeing her in the first film.  There is another death that made me feel a little sad but I won’t spoil that for you.

The biggest thing that was missed from this movie that made the other movie fun was the humor that was mostly provided by Will Smith.  I have no idea why Will Smith decided not to do this film or if he wasn’t even asked, but he needed to be in it.  The humor replacements Charlie Miller who is Morrison’s co-pilot, played by Travis Tope (The Town that Dreaded Sundown,) and the governments accounting person, who I don’t remember his name, were both very poor substitutes, especially the guy whose name  I don’t know.  Judd Hirsch played the same roll that provided some humor, same as last movie, and Brent Spiner was the same and did the same, but not nearly enough to make up for the huge absence that was Will Smith.

The special effects are awesome and are better than the first although I am not sure if the Earth would even survive the landing of a ship the size greater than the Atlantic Ocean but I suspend disbelief on that.  The aliens look much better than the first time too.

Just like the first movie, I will probably own this because it is fun and we are going to get sequels.  The one thing that is better than the first movie is that I am the only one on the planet who hated President Whitmore’s speech.  He gives a much better one the second time around but to a much smaller group.  It’s not the worst movie this year, but its nothing special.

 

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