As a great rock and roll band once said: “What a drag it is getting old.”
This coming March, i will hit a life milestone I’m not too pleased to reach. That’s because on March 8 of this year, I will turn the big 4-0. Getting to my forties means I’ll have to stop playing with my action figures, but I will not, under any circumstances, give up watching re-runs of “G.I.Joe” and “Batman: The Animated Series.”
But as I near the beginning of middle age, I’ve decided to write a bunch of Top 10 lists of stuff that’s mattered to me over the course of my life. These lists will likely cover all kinds of different things, and I may add more as I inch closer to my birthday. For now though, I leave you with the first if these lists, which is my Top 10 Movies Only I Seem to like:
I think 2001’s “Driven” is often dismissed because the film stars Sylvester Stallone, and it was directed by Renny Harlin. I’ve also heard other complain about the film’s use of CGI, and there are one of two scene where I share this complaint. But I still like the movie because it gave me what I’d call a behind the scenes look at a sport that I enjoy.
Although I’ve watched Indy racing since I was a kid, I had never given a second thought to how much pressure the drivers are in. How each one deals with the dangers of the sport in a different way, and even how their loved ones are affected. So kudos to “Driven” for making me look at Indy racing in an entirely new way.
9. The Distinguished Gentleman
I will freely admit that 1992’s “The Distinguished Gentleman” is not Eddie Murphy’s best film. Heck, it’s probably not even in his top 5 best movies now that I think about it. But, I have a special place for “The Distinguished Gentleman,” for a couple of reasons.
For one thing, as a young teenager, it was “The Distinguished Gentleman” that taught me how the House of Representatives worked. This is something I should have learned in school I suppose, but all my teachers were so damn boring, I often drifted off or started daydreaming.
So it took an Eddie Murphy movie, to teach me about ways of congress and lobbyists. And even though “The Distinguished Gentleman” is fictional, it also made me aware of how sleazy some politicians may be, and the lengths they will go to keeping their cushy positions in Washington.
Okay, I know some people reading this are asking how could I possibly like a movie like “Troy,” and the answer is very simple: this movie has an incredible ensemble cast. What other movie out there can say it features Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean, Diane Kruger, Brian Cox and Peter O’Toole?
Yes, as far as period pieces go, “Troy” is not the best film ever made. I get that the movie has some script issues too, and it could have been better in a slew of areas. But the battles are epic, realistic, and loud. When the armies first land on the beaches of Troy, is still one of my favorite sequences in the film. The location where they shot most of the film is stunning to look at, and so are the indoor sets.
But when all is said and done, t all comes down to that cast which is just amazing. Their performances are what draws me in every time BBC America airs this movie, which is actually a lot more than you’d expect.
7. Born in East L.A.
1987’s long forgotten “Born in East L.A.” is the story about a Mexican-American auto mechanic from East Los Angeles who is mistaken for an undocumented immigrant and deported to Mexico. That probably doesn’t sound like the makings of a good movie, let alone a comedy. But under the guidance of writer/director and star, Cheech Marin, it kind of works.
When I met my best friend Laneit in seventh grade, we immediately clicked because of our love of comic books. But it turned out we also shared a fondness for a silly movie called “Born in East L.A.” For the next several years we made sure to watch this movie at least twice a year. Laneit even went out of his way to find me a vhs copy during his short time working at a Bradlee’s store.
From what I can remember, Laneit didn’t charge me for the vhs tape when he gave it to me at school one morning. This may, or may not be related to why Bradlee’s kicked him to the curb a few days later. Then again, it may all be a coincidence, who knows?
6. Fools Rush In
The number of romantic comedies that I’ve watched more than once is maybe 6-8, if that. There aren’t a lot of them, so for one rom com to make this list is a big deal for me.
“Fools Rush In” is a 1997 film starring Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek. The story revolves around Alex Whitman (Matthew Perry), a designer from New York City who is sent to Las Vegas to supervise the construction of a nightclub. While enjoying a night on the town, Alex meets Isabel Fuentes (Salma Hayek), a free-spirited Mexican-American photographer. Alex and Isabel end up spending the night together; however, their immediate attraction doesn’t last in the cold light of day, and they don’t see each other for months, until Isabel shows up to inform Alex they are expecting a baby.
One of the reasons I liked “Fools Rush In” then and now, is because it was funny to see the clash of cultures between Alex and Isabel’s family. What made this even funnier, was the fact that I was in a similar situation at the time. But there are some very funny moments in this movie, and the Elvis music just adds to the experience.
5. The Chase
Action comedy “The Chase” tell the tale of Jack Hammond (Charlie Sheen), a wrongly sentenced to life individual who manages to escape prison. At a gas station, he steals a car and takes the driver hostage. She happens to be an heiress named Natalie (Kristy Swanson), and the ensuing police chase becomes a full-blown media event.
Add in a wide sort of characters, like cops (Henry Rollins, Josh Mostel) and the girl’s rich dad (Ray Wise), the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and you got something. During their drive, Jack and Natalie begin to develop a relationship. But the unlikely pair finds that their predicament will be more difficult to escape than they originally thought.
I saw “The Chase” on the big screen on opening night in 1994. It was just a few minutes in, but I was already into the movie. Then came a moment I will never forget. As the speeding car driven by Charlie Sheen swerves to avoid a bus, we get a shot of a billboard on the back of the bus. It was an ad for the Malibu Comic Prime. That’s when this movie had me for good.
4. Made in America
Coming off “sister Act,” I was more than willing to see another Whoopi Goldberg comedy. What I wasn’t expecting was to like “Made in America” as much as I did. Of course the fact that I was the only in the theatre that afternoon probably made me pay even more attention to the film.
Anyways, Whoopi Goldberg stars as Sarah Matthews, a bookstore owner raising her daughter Zora (Nia Long), on her own after her husband’s death many years earlier. As a result of a science class blood test, Zora discovers that the man she thought was her father, wasn’t. Instead Zora finds she was the result of artificial insemination. After stealing the sperm bank’s records, Zora discovers, much to the surprise of Sarah and herself, that thedonor is in fact, Hal Jackson (Ted Danson), a white used-car dealer.
For reasons I still can’t explain, I really enjoy this movie. Not all the jokes are great, but I do laugh at some of the situations the characters find themselves in, like the elephant chase. Don’t ask, just google it. Plus, “Made in America” features a young Will Smith in a small role. I knew him from Fres Prince, but this part was years before he became a superstar. But he stole his scenes, and added a lot to the movie.
3. Mr. Baseball
Jack Elliot (Tom Selleck), is an American baseball star, now considered at the end of his career, who is signed to play for a Japanese team. Cultures clash as Jack fails to take his new home and teammates seriously, but he soon finds his love of the game rejuvenated thanks to a coach and an unexpected relationship.
“Mr. Baseball” is another movie I saw on opening night. I still remember where I saw it, and who I was with. But the main reason this movie remains a favorite, is because it taught me about baseball in Japan. I got to see how different, and how similar, their game is to ours. And Tom Selleck actually has a decent swing.
2. Clerks II
I think it’s safe to say most fans of the View Askewniverse prefer the original black & white “Clerks” to the 2007 sequel. I am not one of those people. Believe it or not, I actually prefer “Clerks II.” This is shocking, I know, but I can’t help it.
“Clerks II” came at a time in my life when I had a lot of tough decisions to make, similar to the dilemma faced by the character of Dante Hicks. And although my situation was different, the story still spoke to me. I too was contemplating a big move to another state, and yes, a girl was involved. Doing so also meant leaving behind my friends, just like Dante. And just like in the movie, my best friend Laneit and I had discussed working together again by opening a comic book store.
So maybe “Clerks II” isn’t as good as some of the other View Askewniverse films, but it came at the right time for me, and helped me make some big life decisions.
1. Kung Pow! Enter the Fist
I saw “Kung Pow! Enter the Fist” three times in theaters, and in two different states. I’ve watched the movie with commentary, and with the original audio track. If I put the dvd in now, I could probably recite the entire movie.
This comedy just speaks to me, for reasons I will never understand. “Kung Pow! Enter the Fist” is silly, over the top, and bizarre. And yet, I love everything about this movie, even the slapstick stuff and CGI cow. And in conclusion: if you got an ass, I’ll kick it.