Bad Boys (1995), Bad Boys II (2003)

Bad Boys (1995), Bad Boys II (2003)

Today I wanted to review the first two Bad Boys films before I post a review of Bad Boys For Life tomorrow. They’re shorter reviews so I’ve just included them in the same post.

Bad Boys 1 article

Martin Lawrence and Téa Leoni in Bad Boys. (IMDb)

Bad Boys. Directed by: Michael Bay. Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Téa Leoni. Runtime: 1h 59 min. Released: April 7, 1995.

Two hip detectives, Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence), protect a witness, Julie Mott (Téa Leoni), while investigating a case of stolen heroin from the evidence storage room at their police precinct.

Michael Bay’s debut film, Bad Boys, has some of his signature explosions and action and camera angles, but nothing that’s as extreme as his later films. That’s why the action is still strong and fun in this film. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s chemistry is what makes it memorable as their banter is hilarious and the action’s the icing on the cake. Mike’s confidence works throughout and Marcus’ insecurity is a good balance.

Though, I don’t like the mistaken identity bit here as Julie would only like to tell Mike what she’s seen, and Marcus has to pretend to be Mike so they can protect her. In order to keep protecting her, they have to keep this charade going where Marcus is Mike and Mike is Marcus. It’s a bit that grows tired quickly. The villains also aren’t amazing here, but Smith and Lawrence are so funny it’s enjoyable despite its flaws. Joe Pantoliano as the angry Captain Howard is also great.

Score: 70/100

Bad Boys 2
Will Smith in Bad Boy II. (IMDb)

Bad Boys 2. Directed by: Michael Bay. Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Gabrielle Union. Runtime: 2h 27 min. Released: July 18, 2003.

The first Bad Boys was Michael Bay finding his style, but this film is Bay at his worst. In one scene where Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) investigate a Haitian gang’s house, they are on one side of the wall and the gang is on the other side. Bay shows us this in dizzying style as he takes the camera around the whole room at least six times.

Bay’s obnoxious style makes the film suffer. The story’s another drug bust tale as the Bad Boys investigate the flow of ecstasy in Miami from a Cuban drug cartel. The dynamic of the film is mixed up with the introduction of Marcus’ sister Syd (Gabriel Union), an undercover DEA agent investigating the cartel. She is also Mike’s latest thing, just don’t tell Marcus.

The chemistry’s still strong and the comedy stands out in the film. The villains are still weak, as Johnny Tapia (Jordi Mollà) leads this cartel. For some reason I remember Peter Stormare being the villain, but he’s just a secondary antagonist as Alexei, a Russian mobster who is selling Tapia’s ecstasy through his clubs.

The action is okay but Michael Bay gets in the way. The film’s entertaining but the flaws here – a weak story and too much Bay – makes this only a guilty pleasure. The biggest strike against this is its run-time, as it has zero business being 147 minutes.

That’s too long for this simple story and it’s bloated. If anything would have ended up on the cutting room floor, it would have been the comedy – like when Marcus observes rat’s mating rituals, Mike and Marcus cussing out Marcus’ daughter’s date, Reggie (Dennis Greene) or when Marcus is on ecstasy. If these scenes weren’t here, this would be completely awful.

Score: 60/100

29 Days of Romance, Review #25: Ghost (1990)

29 Days of Romance, Review #25: Ghost (1990)
Ghost poster
IMDb

Directed by: Jerry Zucker. Starring: Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg. Runtime: 2h 7 min. Released: July 13, 1990.

30 years later, Ghost still has some charm. Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) is a successful banker living with artist Molly Jensen (Demi Moore). On the walk home from the theatre one night, they’re mugged and Sam gets killed in the tussle.

They walk down what looks to be the sketchiest, emptiest street in all of New York City, and the way it plays out, it could double as a Batman origins story. Instead, Sam’s a spirit caught in limbo since he has to warn Molly from danger as the mugger, Willie (Rick Aviles), is after her.

There are other villains here, too, but to discuss them would be a spoiler even after 30 years. I’m always that jerk who goes, “No, no, no, spoilers!” when someone talks about a film I haven’t seen, so I won’t spoil it. I’ll just say the character’s cliché in motivation. The film reveals the mastermind behind the murder at the one-hour mark, which is smart because the character’s involvement in Sam’s death is predictable 20 minutes in.

The film’s overtly cheesy in parts, especially when Sam the ghost punches at people and it obviously won’t do anything. The writing is also clever in how he’s able to interact with the living, notably when he scares a cat so an intruder flees.

Some of the visuals don’t look amazing nowadays, like when Sam tries to pass through objects, but the visuals are passable for a film made in 1990. There’s one creepy visual that’s a standout and those are the shadow figures that come to take away the spirits that are going to Hell. It’s cheesy in a way but the moans – which are baby cries slowed down and played backwards – are nightmare fuel. If I were a kid and I saw this movie, those cries would stick with me for awhile.

I wasn’t expecting a movie like Ghost to legitimately be creepy in parts, given that it’s that one pottery movie, but it has some creepy moments and delivers on most of its thrills. Some of the scares come from Maurice Jarre’s score, as well.

Bruce Joel Rubin’s screenplay is schmaltzy and predictable, but it’s solid. It’s a competent murder mystery, even though Sam just stumbles into solving his own murder very quickly. I like the way Rubin deals with other ghosts, though.

Ghost article
Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost. (IMDb)

Sam learns how to use his power from a Subway Ghost (Vincent Schiavelli) so he can interact with the real world. The first appearance of the Subway Ghost is one of the creepiest moments of the film when Schiavelli charges at the screen. It’s an intriguing scene, though I would like to know more about this Subway Ghost. For instance, does he eat fresh? (I’ll show myself out.) Sam does start to have more fun when he learns to control his power, though, as there’s humour and horror in his haunting of Carl (Tony Goldwyn) and others.

As for the romance, Swayze and Moore are solid. Their chemistry is strong and the pottery scene to The Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” is still sexy and iconic. The romance is felt throughout, even if it’s underwhelming when they’re both alive – besides that pottery scene.

Ghost, Demi Moore
Demi Moore in Ghost. (IMDb)

Swayze is great in this role and Demi Moore is good. Demi’s a great crier and portrays the grief well, but I don’t think she has a lot to do. She has some great dramatic moments but gets the most to do at the beginning and at the end.

Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg are the best parts about this film. In her Oscar-winning performance, Goldberg plays Oda Mae Brown, a psychic who communicates with the dead. It’s all a parlor trick, but when Sam walks in, she can hear him and that’s how they warn Molly.

In these scenes, the romance is still felt because Sam’s love is in the room with Molly. These scenes are where Moore shines. They convince Molly in intriguing ways to make her believe it’s really Sam in the room, and the scene where the penny goes up the door is one of the film’s coolest moments. Within the romance, the whole “ditto” bit is built smartly throughout and makes for tear-jerking moments.

Sam and Oda Mae have an amazing dynamic, as well. She talks to the air and he follows her, it’s hilarious and their scenes work well. Whenever Whoopi’s on-screen, the film’s magical and brilliant. The film’s underwhelming without her and frankly boring at times. She’s brought back in the third act, though, and it’s all fine again. The film balances romance, creepiness and thrills well, even if it does tend to get melodramatic. I think Ghost works despite all this because of its 1990’s charm. It also works because of Whoopi Goldberg, and she’s the reason this won me over.

Score: 70/100

29 Days of Romance, Review #21: Notting Hill (1999)

29 Days of Romance, Review #21: Notting Hill (1999)
Notting Hill poster
IMDb

Directed by: Roger Mitchell. Starring: Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts, Rhys Ifans.  Runtime: 2h, 4 min. Released: May 28, 1999.

Man, I totally love Notting Hill. Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) is the biggest movie star in the world and visits Notting Hill, a small district in West London, where she walks into a travel bookshop owned by William Thacker (Hugh Grant).These two characters are from very different world and the film handles that in intriguing ways.

It’s a romance about love being put off until the timing is right. Anna is an interesting character in how she handles her overwhelming fame, jokingly insecure that people will eventually figure out she can’t act. Roberts plays the persona perfectly, as she tries to be a normal person but she’s unable to be because her face is truly everywhere.

Thacker offers an escape into an everyday normalcy she craves, where there are no flashing cameras everywhere. When the flashing cameras find their way into William’s world, she’s frustrated the worlds collide because it could hurt her image.

It’s a conflict that rings true because of her character and writer Richard Curtis builds these characters well. This is a great romance that is at its best when Roberts and Grant share the screen, though they’re often apart throughout. Their chemistry is so strong and I prefer a film like this over another film I reviewed this month, Pretty Woman, because I like both Anna and William here as characters. I don’t like Richard Gere’s character in Pretty Woman that much and I think William Thacker feels authentic here.

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Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts in Notting Hill. (IMDb)

Notting Hill is also much more about Thacker’s world and existence in Notting Hill, where Anna comes in as a glorified, and at first surreal, guest. Anna Scott is this huge movie star and it takes some getting used to for the characters in this much smaller world, and that’s played for comedy, especially when she accompanies William to his sister’s birthday dinner. While at this dinner, Bernie (Hugh Bonneville) doesn’t realize he’s talking to Anna Scott and learns this when they all gossip while she’s gone to the bathroom.

These supporting players help make this film great and the dinner party is one of the best scenes here. The best moment of this scene here is when the worst cook in the world, Max (Tim McInnerny) has cooked them something. Bella (Gina McKee), Max’s wife, asks, “What do you think of the guinea-fowl?” Anna replies, “I’m a vegetarian.” When Max asks how she likes it, she says, “Best guinea-fowl I’ve ever tasted.” Bella looks at Anna like she’s different, and that she could be different for William, too, and be the one to make him happy.

It’s an endearing moment that also shows Anna’s humanity: A big star like that could demand anything, but she does not. She wants to be just another person and the film goes to great lengths that we see that, but not in a convoluted way. The film’s enchanting as it plays Ronan Keating’s “When You Say Nothing At All” (recorded specifically for the film) and Anna just smiles, basks in the moment, content to enjoy herself and not be the centre of attention.

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Julia Roberts in Notting Hill. (IMDb)

By the time she gets to the famous line, “I’m just a girl… standing in front of a boy… asking him to love her,” we know she wants the life of an everyday person, but this just hits it home. With a scene like this and how charming she is throughout; it also just proves that I’ll fall in love with Julia Roberts all over again every time I watch this. Mind you, Hugh Grant makes this just as great, and I adore this pairing. I’ve only seen this film once, but I can see myself re-watching it often.

By the way, the best supporting star here isn’t even at that dinner and that’s Rhys Ifans as William’s flatmate Spike. He’s a complete dimwit but Ifans plays him perfectly and he is one of the funniest aspects about the film.

The film in general is wonderfully directed by Roger Mitchell, and Richard Curtis’ screenplay is brilliant. After this and Love Actually, he’s one of my favourite writers. He’s also the writer of 2013’s About Time, which is one of my favourite films of the 2010’s. His writing shines even when it’s simple, as there is always charm. The comedy and romance in Notting Hill is just so well-written, making it one of my favourite films from my 29 Days of Romance so far.

Score: 90/100

29 Days of Romance, Review #18: Jerry Maguire (1996)

29 Days of Romance, Review #18: Jerry Maguire (1996)

 

Jerry Maguire poster
IMDb

Directed by: Cameron Crowe. Starring: Tom Cruise, Renée Zellweger, Cuba Gooding Jr. Runtime: 2h 19 min. Released: December 13, 1996.

The titular Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) is a sports agent on top of the world, working for a huge sports agency called Sports Management International (SMI). When one of his clients sustains his fourth concussion, Jerry only cares about getting him back out there so he can make more money. It’s an industry that puts the business first – not the interest of the players.

He has a moral epiphany and writes a mission statement that calls for less clients and less profit so the client can be cared for. Since this industry is all about the money, he’s fired and colleague Bob Sugar (Jay Mohr) poaches all but one of Maguire’s clients, leaving Jerry with only Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.). With that, Jerry starting his own company and bringing his former secretary, Dorothy Boyd (Renée Zellweger) along for the ride.

Jerry Maguire turns out to be an inspirational story about standing up for what you believe in, even if that means jeopardizing your entire career. It’s great watching Jerry go from someone cynical to someone that opens up throughout the film. His fear of being alone is also something that’s well-developed throughout.

Helping make him a better person is Dorothy, a single mom to Ray (Jonathan Lipnicki in his feature debut) and the chemistry in this trio is really charming. Zellweger is fantastic in her role, as is Cruise, and the acting is one of the strongest aspects of Jerry Maguire in a film chock-full of them. By the way, the romantic chemistry here is steamy, especially in one scene on a porch.

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Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Maguire. (IMDb)

Cuba Gooding Jr. is phenomenal, too, in his Oscar-winning role as Tidwell, a hot-headed wide receiver who just wants to get paid as he repeatedly says the film’s most famous line, “Show me the money!” He plays the persona of cocky NFL wide receiver well while being hilarious and consistently engaging.

I don’t find him cocky to a point of obnoxiousness because he always has a point, and he’s trying to get his money because he’s a great player. He has an attitude problem, and he’s hungry for attention throughout the film because he doesn’t feel like he ever gets his due. He also wants his money because of the reality that he’s getting older and he only has so many years left to nab a big contract so he can set he and his family up for life. Regina King is also a highlight as his wife, Marcee. There’s a point where he seems to get injured, and the tension in this scene is palpable and frankly scary because you root for Ray.

The chemistry is great between Cruise and Zellweger – and her joy is really endearing and heartwarming throughout – but the friendship between Jerry and Ray is something special to watch. It’s an honest, great friendship and we see that something this personal isn’t commonplace in the agent-to-client dynamic.

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Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire. (IMDb)

The relationship is like this because Ray is Jerry’s last client and that’s what makes him fight so hard, but the fight is realistic and passionate, desperate even, and it grows into an authentic friendship bigger than being shown the money. I also love the sports side of this film and learning more about the agency side of sports, and how it ticks, is fascinating to me.

The other shining aspect of this film is Cameron Crowe’s flawless direction and amazing writing. The scenes are consistently interesting and the pacing is strong. The only time he ever gets in his own way is during the big romantic drama moment and in Jerry’s big plea, there’s a dramatic zoom and he says, “We live in a cynical, cynical world.” That took me out of the moment slightly because it just didn’t seem to fit within the monologue, but it didn’t take me out of it too much because I knew this was the big moment where Dorothy says, “You had me at ‘hello.’”

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Renée Zellweger in Jerry Maguire. (IMDb)

It’s an iconic scene and the writing really is great when there are two of the best movie quotes in this. I just loved this film and I’m glad I finally watched it. Tom Cruise is great as Maguire, and the supporting cast is just stellar, Bonnie Hunt included as Dorothy’s sister. I really thought Renée Zellweger was the heart of this film. Jonathan Lipnicki is also adorable as her son, and just about everything he says is funny. I’ll leave you with this: Did you know the human head weights eight pounds?

Score: 100/100

 

29 Days of Romance, Review #14: Pretty Woman (1990)

29 Days of Romance, Review #14: Pretty Woman (1990)

 

Pretty Woman poster
IMDb

Directed by: Garry Marshall. Starring: Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Jason Alexander.  Runtime: 1h 59 min. Released: March 23, 1990.

Another day, another first time viewing of a classic. This time it’s Pretty Woman, the film that catapulted Julia Roberts into stardom. Here, she plays Vivian, a prostitute who is hired by a businessman, Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) to accompany him for the week to social events and they end up falling in love.

In story, I think what’s most interesting about Pretty Woman is how elegantly it handles the class issue and how everyone sticks up their noses at Vivian because she’s a prostitute and because of the way she dresses. It’s not a film about transforming her into a pretty woman (which, let’s be real, she is from the start) but increasing her confidence about herself and the way she’s viewed.

At least, that’s how I took it – but it’s also just called that because of the song. It’s kind-of great watching the dress montage for the first time when “Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison plays. When they played the chords for it but didn’t actually play the lyrics the first time I was grumpy for a minute until they actually went into it.

As for Roberts’ performance itself, it’s amazing. Vivian is just someone you root for. She’s so likable, playful and down-to-Earth and she is just plainly herself. What you see is what you get. The way she’s able to win over characters around her like the hotel manager Barney Thompson (a wonderful Hector Elizondo) feels authentic and effortless. Roberts is so charming in this great role and it’s no wonder this made her a star and brought her a second Oscar nomination.

Her chemistry with Richard Gere is also strong – and there are some steamy scenes – and since I wanted to see Vivian happy, I rooted for Edward to do the right thing. I just didn’t really care about his side of the story all that much, which really becomes the core story because truthfully there is not that much going on in Vivian’s life, but it’s interesting learning about her backstory and how she went into prostitution. Anyway, Edward’s a big corporate bully trying to take over a company owned by James Morse (Ralph Bellamy), which he will sell for much more money.

I just cared about the romance and Vivian, and that’s where the film was strong and very funny. Their chemistry grew throughout and I did like Edward towards the end of the film. One great part about their romance is that Vivian has a rule about no kissing on the lips, so when there is kissing, all bets are off and it becomes even more charming.

Pretty Woman article
Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. (IMDb)

I liked Edward towards the end of the film when his arc was complete – fully wanting to take down companies to growing a heart – but the character’s boring throughout. I like Gere in Primal Fear, but I just didn’t think he left much of an impression here. It could be the point near the beginning since he’s a corporate jackass, but when I looked at his eyes, they seemed cold. There’s just nothing there – like he sold his soul for the best parking spot. His girlfriend dumps over the phone near the beginning of the film and that doesn’t affect him in the slightest. I get it, he’s stoic, but it’s not likable.

I just didn’t care for the character until the end where he seemed like a real human being. To be fair, he feels authentic when he’s with Vivian and Gere plays the boring character well because his calm demeanor matches well with Roberts’ bubbly personality. I do think Roberts brings enough charm for the two of them, too.

At least Edward has more bite to him as a character than his lawyer sidekick Phillip Stuckey (Jason Alexander), and you just know he’s bad news when he has a name like Stuckey. He’s a weasel and a creep who feels like an amalgamation of everyone who treats her like a prostitute and not like a human. He’s not a good person and he’s cliched to a point where he makes the dress saleswomen – who shooed Vivian away near the beginning of the film – look like her best friends. Most of the material in J.F. Lawton’s screenplay is very solid, but Stuckey is the one thing that feels very unrealistic in how he progresses from unfunny sidekick lawyer to total scumbag. That arc comes out of left field and is only present for conflict between Vivian and Edward. Though, for Alexander, he’s talented and I’m glad he’s mainly known as George Costanza and not Phillip Stuckey. Thank heavens for Seinfeld.

Score: 75/100

 

 

Halloweentown (1998)

Halloweentown (1998)
Halloweentown Poster
IMDb

Halloweentown. Directed by: Duwayne Dunham. Starring: Debbie Reynolds, Kimberly J. Brown, Judith Hoag. Runtime: 1h 24 min. Released: October 17, 1998.

Truly, Halloweentown is the classic Disney Channel Original Movie. It was the fourth to premiere on the network as a DCOM, but it feels like the one that started it all. I’d watch it every Halloween when I was a kid. Watching it now, I don’t know why I stopped that tradition.

The story’s simple. On her 13th Halloween, Marnie Cromwell (Kimberly J. Brown) learns from her grandmother Aggie Cromwell (Debbie Reynolds) that she’s a witch. Well, Aggie wants to tell her she’s a witch but Marnie’s mom, Gwen (Judith Hoag), wants her to live a normal human life.

Marnie really finds out she’s a witch by eavesdropping. In teen rebellion, Marnie and her brother Dylan (Joey Zimmerman) stow away on a flying bus when Aggie goes home to the titular Halloweentown. Their little sister Sophie (Emily Roeske) also tags along, unbeknownst to them. There, they help their grandmother against a dark force that’s threatening Halloweentown.

First of all, the settings are great. I hadn’t seen this film for… a while. The last time I watched this was at least before 2012. Anyway, the sets in this are great and revisiting Halloweentown is such a cool thing. The way they dress up the real town of St. Helens, Oregon, really makes it become Halloweentown. It’s believable they’re in another world where everyday is Halloween.

The monsters here also look pretty good. I know none of them are real, but it’s about convincing the audience, mostly kids, watching that they could be real. There are a couple costumes that look bizarre, like half-human, half-dog people in an aerobics class. There’s also a brief glimpse at a Cyclops character. It’s literally just a person with a papier-mâché head on with an eye painted on it. It’s great for the laugh, and all the Halloweentown characters look really good besides them. One notable one is a skeleton, Benny the Cab Driver. He’s just animatronic, but he looks good and he’s still funny.

The Mayor, Kalabar (Robin Thomas), is one of the more interesting human characters. He’s also trying to make sense of what dark force is threatening Halloweentown. Citizens become evil, like how monsters were perceived in the “Dark Times,” and then they disappear altogether. When we find out what’s doing this, it’s a shadowy figure who looks like a mix between a goblin and a scarecrow looking-thing.

By the way, the made-up history of why Halloweentown was made and why these monsters were essentially exiled to another world is interesting and well-written by Paul Bernbaum, Jon Cooksey and Ali Marie Matheson. Aggie explains that in the Dark Times, humans and monsters lived together but hated each other, as the humans tried to destroy the monsters and the monsters tried to make the humans’ lives miserable in response. Thus, they made Halloweentown. Aggie also explains that Halloween became a thing because the humans copied their traditions, and as she puts it, “Mortal see, mortal do.” Watching as a kid, that made-up history is so believable and really cool. Now, I’m an adult (well, arguable) and that history’s still cool to me, and the themes of classism is really interesting. The way that history works into the main conflict is also very smooth.

Halloweentown article
IMDB

Speaking so much of Aggie, Debbie Reynolds is great as the character. She’s a legendary actress, but I really know her best as Agatha Cromwell. And revisiting this now, it’s nice to see that pretty much all of the acting is surprisingly good for a TV movie, and it’s so nice to see that the actors are actually passionate about this, especially Reynolds. Kimberly J. Brown is always great as Marnie, too. She’s the most excited one of the kids learning that she’s a witch because she’s always been interested in the occult and now it makes sense why. As much as this is just a Halloween story, it’s a coming-of-age story for Marnie.

Dylan and Sophie are good characters, too. It’s Marnie’s show, but Sophie’s there for the cuteness factor and Dylan has a few good moments, too. The story line is well-structured and moves at a quick pace. I usually have problems with these Disney Channel Original Movie endings, but this feels more eventful than most of them. The budgets just don’t allow for a big climactic battle with big effects.

Most of the effects look pretty good, actually, like Aggie floating down from the bus looking like a Halloween Mary Poppins, and the magic in general looks fine. Flying buses, on the other hand, don’t look as good but that’s expected for a TV movie. The make-up for the monsters look good. As for any horror here, there’s more of a focus on the comedy but the main villain looks pretty creepy. Also what’s happening to the characters when they disappear is eerie.

Amazingly, I don’t have a lot wrong with this and I’m trying not to be biased with all my nostalgic love for this film. There are some cheesy moments, and I think a character named Luke (Phillip Van Dyke) is the cheesiest thing about this. Also the main sub-plot of Marnie’s mom, Gwen really wanting her kids to be humans is murky. She’s caught between two worlds because she married a human, so the kids are half-human, half-witch/warlock, so in that way it’s a bit interesting. But the motivation for shoving it down their throats that they have to be human isn’t clear.

I think it just lends to a message of kids being able to make their own choices. Marnie puts it well. “If you want to give up your roots, that’s fine. I don’t and it’s not right for you to try and make me.”

Other than that, I honestly think it’s the best TV movie I’ve seen. The production value is great, the actors don’t phone it in, and everyone looks like they’re giving it their all. I just loved this as a kid and I think it’s really cool to know that I love this nearly as much watching as a 24-year-old. It’s time for me to start watching this every Halloween again.

Score: 80/100

Under Wraps (1997)

Under Wraps (1997)
Under Wraps
IMDb

Under Wraps. Released (premiered): October 25, 1997. Directed by: Greg Beeman. Starring: Adam Wylie, Mario Yedidia, Clara Bryant. Runtime: 1h 35 min.

When people think Disney Channel Original Movie, ones like “Halloweentown” or “High School Musical” stand out. But today, I’m reviewing the true original DCOM, “Under Wraps,” the first to premiere on the network as the re-branded Disney Channel Original Movie.

A local museum curator and grump, Mr. Kubat (Ed Lauter), dies and Marshall (Mario Yedida), Gilbert (Adam Wylie) and Amy (Clara Bryant) decide to see what weird stuff the old guy had in his basement. They find more than they bargained for when there’s a mummy named Harold (Bill Fagerbakke, Patrick Star on “Spongebob Squarepants”) chilling in his sarcophagus.

As far as these DCOM Halloween movies go, they’re rarely scary. They just have spooky monsters and usually make for decent Halloween movies. “Under Wraps” is easily the least scary of them all. But that’s not this film’s intention (or usually any of the DCOM Halloween movie intentions). This mummy is just funny and entertaining. There’s some good fish-out-of-water humour and slapstick comedy that made me think of Jim Carrey. The makeup is decent for Harold, too.

Some of the humour’s childish, but again, that’s understandable for a Halloween TV movie made for kids. I’m still a kid at heart so there’s some okay enjoyment to be had here. Certain sub-plots aren’t always interesting. For example: Marshall’s Mom (Corinne Bohrer, and that’s literally the character name) is dating a new guy named Ted (also played by Bill Fagerbakke) and Marshall isn’t coping with it well after his parent’s divorce.

It’s not super interesting while watching but it was probably put in because it would be relatable for any kids watching it that may not be handling divorce well. It handles it fine in that respect and the attempt at developing a character is welcome, as they don’t try with anyone else.

Basically, Marshall likes horror movies; Gilbert’s spooked of his own shadow; and Amy is… Well, she’s not well-developed and she’s there for an eventual schoolyard crush, and her mom (character name simply Amy’s Mom) is selling Kubat’s house so she’s their way into the basement to find Harold.

The friendship with Marshall and Harold is a highlight. The main plot of the film other than just three kids hanging out with a mummy is they have to get him back into his sarcophagus before Halloween ends. If they don’t, he’ll turn to dust and his soul would be lost, as a horror shop owner named Bruce (Ken Hudson Campbell) tells the kids. He’s a horror shop owner but also an exposition fairy.

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Bill Fagerbakke in “Under Wraps.”

The villain and the main conflict is weak and there’s a dumb twist that’s too silly to not talk about. It’s really the stuff you’d see in a TV movie like this, so SPOILER WARNING! Basically, the Kubat guy is still alive. He faked his death because he was going to go to jail for tax evasion. He’s trying to sell the sarcophagus but wants Harold because a real-life mummy is real valuable. Of course, the kids don’t want Harold being sold to one of his shady buyers. They really dress Kubat as a gangster interested in arts and culture when they show he’s the villain. END OF SPOILERS!

The acting’s fine for the kids, and when Marshall fake cries it’s the only bad moment. If they’re doing random hijinks, they’re completely passable. The teleplay by Don Rhyme is fine for what it is, but character development, plot structure and the conflict is shaky at best. The mummy makes up for it by being funny most of the time, and without him being so amusing this would have been a lot worse.

I think the best writing is a movie-within-a-movie called “Warthead IV” that Marshall adores. The monster looks like the Toxic Avenger and there’s some funny, cheesy overacting. But when the monster crashes through a window and puts the Movie Dad (Tom Virtue, Steven Stevens on TV’s “Even Stevens”) near a spinning knife in the garbage disposal is the closest this comes to horror. It’s campy and looks like a fun movie, and I would watch it. It’s one of the better moments of the film.

Score: 60/100