Saturday, August 30, 2008

Something’s Rotten in the State of Arizona: To See or Not to See “Hamlet 2” That is the Question

Early in “Hamlet 2” Dana (Brit Steve Coogan) comes home to find his wife Brie (Catherine Keener) hanging out with Gary (David Arquette). They’ve taken on a third roommate because they need the money. Gary doesn’t really do much besides work out apparently and follow the married couple everywhere they go which includes a fertility clinic (which happens to employ one Elizabeth Shue, but more on her later). Gary pretty much gets to do nothing in the handful of scenes he’s in which is a testament to some of Hamlet 2’s occasionally sloppy writing. It’s apparent the screenwriters couldn’t think of anything else funny except for some rather catchy and enjoyable lyrics to their big musical number “Rock Me Sexy Jesus.” What does this have to do with the Shakespeare tragedy? Not much really.

Dana is a former bad actor. He starred in some really bad commercials in one of which he played a herpes patient. The film starts similarly to the opening of Tropic Thunder. It shows us a few faux ads starring the actor within the film. Both films want to be satires, but I think “Tropic Thunder” is more successful and not because it has 34 times the budget of the Sundance favorite “Hamlet 2.” Hamlet 2 feels like a low budget movie, mostly because it is, but I can’t help to think that if director and co-writer Andrew Flemming (director of my 11th favorite movie of all time ‘Threesome’) could have spiced up his film a little if he had some extra dough to go around. Not that money can buy you extra jokes. The film has plenty. I laughed a lot. But there were just sections that either felt forced, boring, or awkwardly paced. Maybe they could have used the extra money to hire a better editor or someone to actually compose some sort of music score. ‘Cause the film feels slow. No music can work for “No Country for Old Men,” not for a slapstick comedy.

Now that I’ve gotten that all out of the way let’s focus on Hamlet 2’s strengths. But first, what’s it all about. Remember I said Dana is a bad actor. He’s so bad, he’s ended up in the drama department of a Tucson, Arizona high school. He writes his own plays based on previously published material. For instance, we get to see a glimpse of his amazingly bad dramatic production of “Erin Brockovich” starring the two theatre brats who star in all the plays. These plays are awful and the school board is making cutbacks, which is always the case in these movies. During a new semester, in which he has a large influx of students taking drama for the first time because it was the only elective left, the drama critic for high school paper insists he put on a play that will be so amazing they won’t be able to cancel drama. So of course he opts to writing an original piece: a sequel to the Shakespearean tragedy “Hamlet.”

Much of "Hamlet 2" has to do with Dana’s wacky, insecure character (who like Hamlet, has some serious daddy issues) attempting to coast through life merrily. Eventually his wife leaves him for Gary the third roommate for no real apparent reason. (Oh, wait I forgot that Dana is "shooting blanks") The movie really gets going once we actually get to see the students perform Hamlet 2, which as far as I can tell, has not much to do with the original and co-stars Jesus (played by Dana) and a special cameo for Hillary fans. But it does feature some hilarious numbers such as "Raped in the Face” and the aforementioned “Rock Me Sexy Jesus” which is so catchy I recommend downloading it from iTunes. The musical which gets attention before its opening starts a firestorm in the conservative town as a mockery of religion because, according to the principle, it features “the devil making out with the President of the United States.” The brilliant Amy Poehler shows up as a first amendment rights attorney named Cricket Feldstein who insists the play go on as scheduled. What began about a bad actor, who is an equally bad teacher, dissolves into a commentary about the role of art in society and freedom of speech. It just takes some time to get to the “Rock Me Sexy Jesus” part.

“Hamlet 2” isn’t really a total wash, because I saved the best for last. Even though she’s not really given much to do, Elizabeth Shue does show up here as herself. Apparently she’s gotten sick of Hollywood (perhaps because Hollywood got sick of her?) and decided to try out nursing instead. Much to Dana’s excitement she offers to speak to his class and answer questions (even though they don’t really know who she is). She even comes to see the premiere of “Hamlet 2” and really enjoys herself.

Any movie that has Elizabeth Shue making fun of herself and has irreverent songs with a dancing Jesus is fine in my books. Hamlet 2 is weird and different and it has bad parts and good parts. It’s really a mixed bag. Like a box of chocolates, you really don’t know what you’re gonna get. GRADE: B-

Monday, August 25, 2008

Puttin’ on the Ditz: Anna Faris Barely Saves “The House Bunny” From Eviction

Anna Faris is one of the most talented young comedic actresses working in Hollywood right now. It’s just that she’s almost rarely given the right material to work with. She makes appearances in critical darlings like “Lost in Translation” and even “Brokeback Mountai.” And even stars in critical dumping grounds like “Waiting…,” “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” and the “Scary Movie” franchise. My personal favorite performance of hers is probably of Jessica Simpson wannabe Samantha James in “Just Friends.” That was a movie that was worth sitting through because of Faris’ perfect comic timing and outstanding screen presence. She’s one of those people who can make you laugh with just a silly look such as simple widening of her eyes. She tells jokes with her face.

The only real reasons to even watch Faris’ latest vehicle, “The House Bunny,” is because of her. Just the idea of her portraying a Playboy bunny is funny in itself. Faris is Shelley Darlingson who partying in the Playboy mansion with her “family” and dreams of getting her own spread in the magazine. After her 27th birthday celebration she gets a note from Hugh Hefner informing her that she’s too old to be living in the mansion and must vacate immediately. Before she can say “I know what boys like” Shelley is homeless and depressed. She stumbles upon Greek row at a local university and makes friends with the losers of the Zeta Alpha Zeta (ZAZ for short, and am I the only one who’s thinking the Airplane! trio here?) sorority who put the reek in Greek. The outcast sorority, which is about to have its charter revoked for lack of membership and blonde hotties, is lead by Natalie (Superbad’s Emma Stone). Natalie thinks that Shelley’s provocative lifestyle could be just the thing her sisters need to gain membership and save the sorority. What we get is a handful of sloppily written stereotypical characters (the husky, manly foreign girl who overacts and former ‘American Idol’ runner up Katherine McPhee as the pregnant girl who squeegees her belly during the car washing scene) that don’t even seem like real people who must be transformed into beauties. Think “from geek to chic;” paging Maury Povich.

Most of the laughs revolve around Shelley’s previous lifestyle being a slutty Playboy bunny who walks around daily like she’s about to enter a brothel. Faris carries most of the humor mostly with her physical appearance and some funny sight gags. When she stands over a steaming manhole to pose like Marilyn Monroe, she gets wickedly burned and screams. That was my favorite part of the film’s trailer and its probably the funniest part of the actual film. (Besides the odd way Shelley learns peoples’ names by pronouncing them out loud like little Linda Blair from “The Exorcist.”) In most movies like this we usually don’t care too much about the plot but here I did want to care and I just couldn’t. Sometimes the lines of dialogue and the jokes and the story were just all a little too much to handle and the final product is mostly Grade D when it should be Grade A. (the film’s writers’ previous efforts include “Legally Blonde” and “10 Things I Hate About You,” which were simply and enjoyable diversions). I guess I was expecting a little bit more.

If you’re a fan of Anna Faris I would give this a mild recommendation, but otherwise you’d probably be smart of steer clear of “The House Bunny.” I don’t really regret seeing it, but I almost wish that it offered a better showcase for Faris’ talents. If you want to watch a stupid movie in which Faris will make you laugh, rent “Just Friends” instead. I’m looking forward to a future Anna Faris that will make full benefit to her talents and will widen her audience even more. Until then, I guess we’ll have to settle for “The House Bunny.” GRADE: C+

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Spanish Fly: “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is High on Beautiful Locales, Low on Laughs

I’m one of Woody Allen’s biggest fans and I’m only 25. If you were to ask the average 25 year old to name their favorite Woody Allen movie (let alone a Woody Allen movie) I bet you they’d give you a blank stare. I have seen twenty seven of his films. I’ve seen many more than once. I’ve seen some more times than I can count. I’ve loved many of them and disliked only a few. The general consensus seems to be that “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is one of Woody Allen’s best films in recent years. Okay I’ll give that to him. It is a good film. Did I enjoy it as much as his others? No. It has good acting, gorgeous cityscapes (this time in Spain) and typical Woody Allen dialogue. It’s a film about characters who talk and drink wine and talk and look at art and talk and fall in love and talk and fall out of love. (If this isn’t a direct reflection of my life I don’t know what is.) Okay in all honestly, I can’t really relate with hardly any of the characters that Woody Allen has conjured up in the past 40 years but they are sometimes so fascinating to watch. Except in “Barcelona,” where the plot revolves around relationships, it’s hard not to be mildly bored.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona from the start is sort of an uninteresting story. Two twenty-something American girls, who have opposite views of love and relationships but are very close friends nonetheless, embark on a summer vacation in Spain where they’re staying with one of the girl’s family friends (Patricia Clarkson and Kevin Dunn). One of these girls is Vicky (Rebecca Hall) who is engaged to her boring fiancé who’s back home in New York and has a pessimistic view of love, or rather that she’s destined to be monogamous and stay with “the one” until the end of time. And then there’s Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) who’s the more “loose” and wild of the two. When a handsome, rugged Spanish painter named Juan (Javier Bardem) invites them to spend a weekend together sightseeing Cristina is game and Vicky is hesitant. Granted they both go, but its sort of unpredictable what will happen next.

So after a lot of Woody Allen dialogue about love and relationships and why people are and aren’t meant to be together, both girls end up falling for Juan, at different points but then a curve ball is thrown their way in the form of Juan’s crazy ex-wife Maria (Penelope Cruz in her buzzed about role) who sort of brings the film to life. A film that had previously been about a threesome (think Jules e Jim anyone?) is not transformed into a film about a foursome. (A love square?) By the time Cruz finally appears on screen the movie which had been about pretty people talking and visiting pretty Spanish locations and viewing pretty Spanish art has transformed into the story of a painter and his bitter (and slightly psychotic) ex-wife who doesn’t want any woman, let alone two, in his life. Maria’s still enamored with her ex-husband, even if she did try to kill him, and doesn’t want to “share” him with anyone else. Cruz simply sets the screen on fire. She’s a far cry from her days as Tom Cruise’s lover in “Vanilla Sky” (and real life for that matter) and it’s fun to see her go from speaking Spanish to English and back again and the way she delivers her lines and shifts her eyes is simply great.

“Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is an ode to Barcelona the way that “Manhattan” was an ode to the Big Apple. Woody Allen has made a movie filled with characters who prance around the city, falling in and out of love like a Shakespearean comedy, except besides the beautiful cinematography it isn’t that interesting. Allen has made realistic and fully formed characters but none too appealing. The plot isn’t all that exciting either and the film’s dialogue while at times amusing isn’t really funny. I smiled and chuckled a few times, but if you’re expecting a comedic romp you’ll be disappointed, like me. I thought this, like Match Point, was a return to form. But alas it is just another notch in Allen’s cinematic belt.

I sort of felt like someone who has never seen a Woody Allen movie because they’ve never wanted to see a Woody Allen movie. Allen is an acquired taste that I have more than definitely have acquired. I love almost all of his movies that I’ve seen. And I must say that of his recent ones, I didn’t nearly enjoy this one as much as “Match Point,” “Scoop” and “Cassandra’s Dream.” But then again, I didn’t really enjoy “Manhattan,” so if you’re a disgruntled old school Woody Allen fan maybe you’ll get something out of “Vicky Cristina Barcelona" and maybe I'll enjoy it more on a second viewing, but for me I’d rather watch Woody Allen solve a murder with Diane Keaton any day of the week. GRADE: B-

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Apocalypse Wow: Movie Fans Rejoice, “Tropic Thunder” is a Subversively Funny Satire

"Tropic Thunder" is a movie for movie lovers. It mocks Hollywood while at the same time still paying homage to why we go to movies in the first place. We want to see things like good acting and explosions and even fart jokes once in a while. Tropic Thunder skewers everything from the “serious” actor who feels he needs to play the role of a mentally challenged person just to be respected. And we have those actors who play various roles in one movie, usually hidden by pounds of grotesque “fat person” make-up. And then there are those method actors who are willing to go far to “immerse” themselves in a character that they will undergo an entire medical procedure to play a certain role.

In fact, the very best character in “Tropic Thunder” is the one played by Robert Downey Jr. (who is simply having the best year ever, having stared in May’s super hit “Iron Man”). Downey Jr. plays an Australian actor named Kirk Lazarus who surgically dyes his skin so that he can play an African American solider in the movie within a movie called “Tropic Thunder” (Oh and he has five Oscars by the way). He is joined by fading action star Tugg Speedman (director Ben Stiller) who is represented by his agent Rick Peck (played surprisingly well by Matthew McConaughey). Also starring in this Vietnam War drama is comedic actor Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) who is the star of the popular "Fatties" franchise of films in which he plays all the members of a large, obese family who all seem to have serious bowel control problems. Oh and like most people in Hollywood he’s addicted to heroine.

During the making of “Tropic Thunder” the director Damien Cockburn played by Steve Coogan decides to shoot guerrilla style in the jungle. He has set up multiple cameras and his pyrotechnician Cody (Danny McBride) has set up all the cool explosions. What they don’t know is that there are some seriously real drug lords hiding out in the jungle who mistake these actors for real DEA agents. And since we know that actors are as dumb as nails, these guys think they’re actually shooting the movie. What follows is almost two hours of nearly full throttle laughter and enjoyment all while totally satirizing the filmmaking industry.

Robert Downey Jr.’s character is amazing because as a method actor he plainly stays in character. So we have Downey Jr. playing an actor who is constantly playing a role. And this guy who is obviously white seems to have no problem with the fact that he’s obviously in blackface the entire time and thinks of himself as a black man. It may seem offensive and perhaps some will find it so, but it’s so politically incorrect it's impossible not to find the humor in it. The film (who Stiller co-wrote with actor Justin Theroux and Etan Cohen) is just making fun of actors who are willing to go so far to become a character or willing to play a mentally challenged person to gain acting credibility. Since the Speedman character’s acting profile is waning, he makes a movie called “Simple Jack” in which he plays a mentally challenged person. He never got nominated for the role (and the film was a flop) because Lazarus insists that he went “full retard.” Movies like "Forrest Gump" and "Rain Man" brought Oscar gold to their stars because they didn’t go over the top while playing a mentally challenged person. The audience was still able to “identify” and “connect” with them.

“Tropic Thunder” is completely silly in the way that most of Stiller’s movies are, but it’s a lot smarter than you would think. Real movie fans will get a kick out of the little film references here and there. And audiences will really get a kick out of seeing a nearly unrecognizable Tom Cruise play a foul-mouthed studio executive (And look out for other great cameo appearances as well). Talk about a waning star trying to get back his former glory. "Tropic Thunder" is an exercise in Hollywood mockery done right and done down right hysterically. GRADE: A-

Note: Be sure to get to the theater early because you don’t want to miss the absolutely hysterical opening faux trailers. They are simply worth the price of admission all by themselves.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Generation Text: “American Teen” is a Fascinating Probe into the Lives of America’s Youth

We all remember who we were in high school. Everyone sort of fit into a standard clique. Who were you? I was in the marching band. Most of my friends consisted of people in the band because we were pretty much always together throughout the year. Although marching band screams “dork” I feel like I was always just a step ahead of that label. I wouldn’t say I was necessarily “popular” although many people knew me. Perhaps they were just making fun of me behind my back, but I think most people knew I existed. I had lots of friends. I always had someone to walk to class with and to each lunch with. In fact, high school was one the most enjoyable periods in my life. That is until I went to college of course.

The documentary “American Teen” (which sort of bills itself as a real life “Breakfast Club”) follows a few students throughout their senior year of high school in Warsaw, Indiana. Each student sort of fits into that standard high school social group we all know so well. We get Colin the sports jock. And Megan the popular princess. And Jake the geeky outcast. There’s Mitch the handsome stud. And Hannah the rebellious girl who’s not really popular but who’s not really a dork either. Director Nanette Burstein’s cameras capture the kids’ lives and edits it down to 100 minutes of absorbing drama. The film never feels manipulative or manipulated for that matter. Everything seems genuine from Megan’s breakdown when she gets her college acceptance letter to when Hannah’s boyfriend breaks up with her after two solid years of courtship. The whole thing sort of plays out like a Saturday afternoon marathon of MTV’s “The Hills” except with teenage personalities actually worth following around with cameras 24/7.

On the surface all five kids are your typical high school walking and talking clichés. But as the film progresses we learn that each kid has idiosyncrasies that differ from the formula we’ve all either experienced ourselves or from countless Hollywood films. For instance, we learn the Queen Bee/Popular bitch (Megan) has an emotional family past in which we see this girl as a human being worth sympathizing. The popular heartthrob/basketball player (Mitch) sees the rebellious loser outcast (Hannah) during a battle of the bands competition and realizes he just may have feelings for her. If there’s anything to gripe about it’s that Mitch doesn’t seem to be as fully integrated into the film as much as the other kids. Perhaps he wasn’t as interesting a subject as Burstein initially thought?

The film may not feel as important as, say, something like “Bowling for Columbine.” In fact I could see some negative critics saying it’s just a long episode of “The Real World” where the film punctures innocent kids’ lives who are just camera hogs (And by the way, yeah teenagers are teenagers after all and they drink, have sexual relations and make really stupid decisions, but you have to give props to the filmmakers for not downplaying it or interfering with any of it. The kids feel comfortable with the cameras present and you can sense that their actions are authentic. They are actual people with aspirations). I’m not sure I know what the director is really trying to “say.” Perhaps not anything. She presents us with her subjects and we’re supposed to gleam from it whatever we can (Like maybe you shouldn’t throw chili on the dorky kid in middle school). To me it felt more like a serious nostalgia trip. Many fun and emotional times came flooding back to me because all the standard high school moments are portrayed such as trying to get into college, winning the big game, prom and that final exclamation point known as graduation.

To me “American Teen” feels important because it’s something I can relate to and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel emotionally connected to at least all of the kids at some point. High school wasn’t too long ago for me and it was still an important step in my life. It’s significant to most people. Some people want to forget it and some want to cherish it. Whichever way you feel “American Teen” is worth taking that trip down memory lane. GRADE: A-

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Thank You For Smoking: James Franco and Seth Rogen Hit a High Note with “Pineapple Express”

While I don’t usually like making direct comparisons to other movies that is just going to be inevitable with Pineapple Express, the latest from uber-producer Judd Apatow. “Superbad” is better than “Pineapple Express.” “Knocked Up” is better than “Pineapple Express.” “The 40 Year Old Virgin” is better than “Pineapple Express.” And “Forgetting Sarah Marshal” is better than Pineapple Express. However, 5th place when it comes to these types of movies isn’t really half bad. And I’m not saying “Pineapple Express” isn’t funny because it is. But I didn’t quite think it was as consistently funny as its predecessors mostly because the film chooses to be as much an action movie as it is a stoner/buddy comedy. Think “Lethal Weapon” meets “Dude, Where’s My Car?” but better.

Writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have an unnatural gift. They have some strange ability to make characters who would be annoying and obnoxious in other movies but perfectly lovable and enjoyable in the right script. These are characters who don’t really have any purpose or goals and who spend 97% of their day doing drugs and yet we want to watch them on their fascinating journey. After all, most of the reason why any of the stuff that happens in Pineapple Express is funny is because the main heroes are always as high as a kite. These guys smoke enough grass to make Cheech & Chong jealous. And this isn’t just a simple “smoke weed and get the muchies” type of stoner comedy like “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” or the I-only-watched it-because-Anna-Faris-was-in-it stoner comedy “Smiley Face.” There is actually a lot going on here even though the plot is simple and there’s always something interesting happening. I think the places where the film gets bogged down is when it can’t decide if it wants to be just a silly comedy or an action movie. And I thought the ending went on a little too long, but I wouldn’t call it a bad ending.

Dale Denton (Rogen, charming and goofy as ever) is a process server. He gives people subpoenas to appear in court and such and his job sometimes requires “disguises” to make it easier to approach people. It may not be the most fancy job, but he makes a living. However, he smokes a lot of pot. Saul Silver (James Franco, a seriously funny standout performance) is a pot dealer. In fact he is Dale’s pot dealer. They are somewhat friends mostly because of their business. Saul introduces Dale to a special weed batch known as ‘pineapple express’ of which he’s the only dealer who has it. Late one night while on the job, Dale is in the wrong place at the wrong time and witnesses a murder by Ted Jones (Gary Cole) and a female cop played by Rosie Perez. Yes I said Rosie Perez. Ted and the cop see the witness but can’t identify him, but notice that the joint left by Dale was in fact a pineapple express joint. Dale runs to Saul’s place and tells him what happens and they immediately get the heck out of there because Saul is the only dealer known to carry the pineapple express. Silly chases scenes ensue. (My favorite part being when Franco attempts to kick out the front windshield of the car he’s driving, which results in his rubbery-looking foot getting stuck in the window)

The movie’s strengths rely mostly in the chemistry between Rogen and Franco. Even though they make dumb choices on many occasions: Um lets see, they are being chased by a killer, so let’s just smoke up! Of course that’s the appeal to this movie, because it wouldn’t nearly be as funny if they weren’t stoned most of the time. Danny McBride is also great as Saul’s dealer who like any good action star can survive bullets to the gut and explosions. The movie really shines in its little details such as the brilliant production design. Check out all the really silly things hanging out in the background. Like why is that painting of Santa Claus hanging out on Saul’s living room wall? And just the fact that Saul has a t-shirt with a shark swallowing a cat speaks greatly of the film’s master costume designers.

I was sort of surprised at the level of violence in the movie although I’m not saying its really a negative, but sometimes I felt that the movie was trying to be a serious gangster film rather than a buddy film. There are some stretches where there aren’t any laughs and that wouldn’t really be a problem if there was more of an interesting plot. I mean for the most case things move along swiftly and its sort of unpredictable what will happen (like in the scene where Dale and Saul get caught selling pot to the young kids during recess).

Director David Gordon Green who is known for his more independent offerings (such as the Jaime Bell drama “Undertow”) seems like an odd director choice, but he sort of follows the footsteps of previous Apatow productions. Like Greg Mottola of “Superbad” and Nicholas Stoller of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” this movie will be a breakout for a filmmaker who has miles of great movie work ahead of him. I wouldn’t mind seeing Rogen and Franco work together again, even if it means having to watch “Freaks and Geeks” on DVD. GRADE: B+

Saturday, August 02, 2008

If the Shue Fits: 10 Things I Love About "Adventures in Babysitting"

In honor of Elizabeth Shue's upcoming role as Elizabeth Shue in "Hamlet 2" I have decided to write about my second favorite movie of all time.

1) The Opening Dance Number. Anyone who has seen this movie more than once has attempted to reenact Elizabeth Shue’s corny dance to “And Then He Kissed Me” during the movie’s opening titles no matter what gender you are. Or am I the only one? This scene is so overly corny and silly even by ‘80s standards (yet still wonderful) how did anyone watch the dailies with a straight face?

2) “Don’t F*** with the babysitter!” During the gritty elevated train gang fight, this line of dialogue was so shocking for me to hear as a child. Let alone the first F-bomb heard just seconds before by one of the gang’s leaders. The redubbed line aired on the TV version is even better: “Don’t FOOL with the babysitter!” The word ‘babysitter’ instantly became a synonym for terminator.

3) The Smurfit-Stone Building. Why little Sara would choose to go “out the window” is beyond me, but it’s as close to a “Die Hard” action sequence as we can get for a PG-13 rated movie about babysitting misadventures. I love how Sara says “Mom? Dad?” while hanging out the window as if they could hear her. Now I know why she’s wearing that Thor helmet…

4) Playboy mag as McGuffin. I’m not sure what Alfred Hitchcock would think about this plot device, but those scary car thieves, including the creepy child molester-looking guy, who are after Daryl’s (who is rather overly sex-obsessed for a high school freshman wouldn’t you say?) dad’s porno mag is just simply amazing. And to think Disney released this movie. And after Brad throws the magazine out of the car window, you could hear all the prepubescent boys’ hearts stop for a moment.

5) Brenda at the Bus Station. Chris Parker’s best friend’s (and runaway/band member) misadventures at a scary downtown bus station are just as entertaining as what Chris and her charges go through, including picking up a jumbo-sized sewer rat, trying to purchase a hot dog with a check, a run in with a homeless guy who lives in a phone booth and seeing a bald Chinese lady with no pants on.

6) Thor, Mighty God of Thunder. Thor is roller-skating Sara’s favorite superhero. (“He fights the forces of darkness.”) She even wears that ridiculous Thor helmet throughout the entire movie even when hanging off the side of a skyscraper. That is commitment. Vincent D’Onofrio showing up as an auto mechanic who Sara believes to be Thor is priceless.

7) 'Handsome' John Pruitt. The bearded truck driver with a hook for a hand (which he supposedly keeps in the glove compartment) who scares the hell out of the gang but eventually turns out to be the good guy is just too amazing for words. And he beats the crap out of the guy who’s banging his wife. I thought this was a kid’s movie?

8) The Anderson Family. Mr. and Mrs. Anderson are the typical suburban couple. They go off to glorious dinner parties in the city and leave the local teen in charge of their kids. And you can tell they care about their children (“Take care of my baby!”) and even offer smart health advice to Brad (“Will you stop eating chocolate, you’re gonna have zits all over your face.”) but they still have a soft spot because they allow Chris to take Brad and Sara to Häagen-Dazs even thought they never quite make it. Brad and Sara have the classic big brother, little sister relationship. They get on each other’s nerves and make fun of each other but they do love each other.

9) The Babysitting Blues. We’ve learned from the opening sequence that Chris Parker is a faker. She just lip syncs. But can she really sing? She insists she can’t when her and her charges appear on the stage of a groovy blues club in the city. (“No body leaves this place without singing the blues!”) This sequence is amazing and shows the musical theater potential for Adventures in Babysitting as a Broadway show. (No?) of course the suburban white kids win over the Black crowd by song’s end and perhaps even landed a record deal.

10) Michael Myers’ cameo. Those hard core fans will notice that during an early scene in the Anderson house the movie “Halloween” (my fourth favorite film of all time) can be seen playing on the TV in the background. You can even hear John Carpenter’s eerie music. Debra Hill who co-wrote and produced “Halloween” just so happened to be a producer of “Adventures in Babysitting” as well. GRADE: A+

Check out a clip of Shue in "Hamlet 2" here: