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A Killer in the Family (1983)
Spader (as usual) is the sole reason to see an otherwise mundane movie
This thing is certainly no masterpiece but worth a look to see a young James Spader give a truly sympathetic performance. Mitchum is a true legend but here he is just walking through. However, Spader (as always) gives it his all. His character was trying to make something of himself and was just looking out for his brothers. He is disgusted by his father and effortlessly matches him wit for wit, throwing in some verbal zingers - I just wish his character physically outsmarted him as well. I don't want to spoil the ending but have to say his fate was cruel and unfair.
This was on tv all the time? Really? I never see it. I had to track down a bootleg from a collector - quality is OK but it sure would be nice to have this thing commercially released on video and dvd. It's a must for Spader fans - it's his best early pre-stardom performance.
I Spy (2002)
yes, it IS underrated, folks
OK, I Spy is a completely formulaic buddy movie. There is not a single new situation in it.
BUT IT HAS OWEN WILSON, FOR GOD'S SAKE! A BIG non-formulaic element.This is not my libido talking. Owen Wilson is a genuinely funny and refreshingly unique star. He has a heck of a lot to contribute to a movie. This is the Oscar-nominated screenwriter who co-wrote the critically acclaimed and highly original films "Bottle Rocket," "Rushmore," and "The Royal Tenenbaums" with his buddy Wes Anderson.
In "I Spy" he is the lovable, droopy-lipped "doofus" who is not quite as dumb as he looks. He steals small sleek spy gadgets because his are gigantic and look like they come out of a "1972 Radio Shack" catalogue. Imagine James Bond going around with gadgets the size of water balloons! He has the hots for a fellow spy and is obsessed with going on a stakeout with her. He immediately puts it to his bosses that this new mission is a "classic stakeout scenario, right?" He won't let it go. Next is a SPOILER: Even when he realizes she is the bad guy he won't admit it. Murphy points out that she kept stabbing him in the thigh while trying to get some information. Wilson rubs it and says, "It doesn't hurt that bad....." Wilson is constantly and effortlessly knocking balls out of the park with his ad-libs.
I assume most people are avoiding this movie because of Eddie Murphy. It is understandable. This guy hasn't given a rat's behind about pleasing an audience since 1988 (unless you count "Nutty Professor"). He's even admitted it in interviews - ah, he doesn't care. He's made his money so he'll go on wasting our time.
Having said that, I have to admit Murphy is the best he has been in years. Yeah, a little too fast talking about nothing at times and if I had a dime for every time he says "I'm Kelly Robinson" I could probably do all my Xmas shopping. But that is the character - arrogant and pampered. There are instances of the old Eddie at times.
Oh, and is Malcolm McDowell in this movie? I saw Malcolm McDowell's face and I heard him open his mouth at times, but I'm still trying to reach a verdict on that. What a shame this once brilliant actor is forced to play these cardboard villain types.
But back to Wilson. I'm sorry that he didn't get top billing because it is he who makes I Spy worth watching. Without him, yes, it's crap. Studios need to face facts that Eddie Murphy is now box-office poison and can bring down or set back rising careers of stars. I just hope he hasn't set back too far the career of the guy who humbly took on the second banana role in this movie - we NEED Owen Wilson.
And I don't know where these bad reviews from audience members are coming from. I saw the movie twice because of Wilson and both times the audience loved it - because of his lines and expressions and, yes, even because of Murphy's few moments of old brilliance. There were almost non-stop laughs throughout the whole show. The Sexual Healing and "sewer" scenes had people bending over and kicking the seats in hysterics.
"I Spy" is not a masterpiece but it is not brainless. If you really watch it via the performance of Owen Wilson and drop all preconceived notions about Eddie Murphy you get a rather enjoyable viewing experience. When pictures headlining people like Vin Diesel are topping the box-office charts, it's a pity this one will sink into oblivion.
The High Country (1981)
sweet and funny love story
Before there was Continental Divide, there was The High Country. Both the underrated Timothy Bottoms and Linda Purl are exceptional as a convict and a "handicapped" girl who flee from civilization to the mountains. I'm a sucker for movies that focus on just the two people falling in love - and it is even better when they are isolated. A truly touching love story. Not at all sentimental. No Aunt Jemima or Mrs. Butterworth's here, Ladies and Gents.
A Shining Season (1979)
Touching - Timothy Bottoms is outstanding
This is how you take a sappy "tv movie of the week" story and make it truly heartbreaking, touching, and funny. Totally unorthodox and extremely well-made true story about John Baker the runner/little girls' track coach who is dying of cancer but refuses to let the pain beat him down until the very end. Why the underrated Bottoms got no award for this outstanding performance is beyond me. I was exhausted just watching him. The kids are great. No sentiment here, man. If a tv movie about a disease can be hip, this is the one.
Aunt Jemima laid on really thick but Bottoms is adorable
Very sugary. I think I got diabetes after viewing this flick. But the leads - Marilyn Hassett and especially the underrated Timothy Bottoms - make the film worth watching. It is a tender story about a real rarity -genuine love. I just wish another director made it. Obviously Jill Kinmont is to be admired and she deserved a better film treatment. Cut out the dreamy music, sharpen up the dialogue, show some "Born on the Fourth of July" realism - for example, there should have been at least one hardcore scene that showed Bottoms really proving he could take care of her - not just a beach scene where he struggles to get her wheelchair out of the sand as the tide comes in.