Thursday, June 21, 2012

Spring Wrap-up Part One

Nuns on the Run (1990)
I watched this movie with my brother on a whim. Nuns on the Run stars a post-Monty Python Eric Idle and a pre-Hagrid Robbie Coltrane. Idle and Coltrane play criminals trying to get out of a life of crime but in the process have to hide out in a convent while disguised as nuns. As you could've guessed, wacky hijinks ensue!
Nuns on the Run was written and directed by Jonathan Lynn. While Lynn is not a household name, he has directed several well known movies such as Clue, My Cousin Vinny, and The Whole Nine Yards. I actually haven't seen any of those yet but will eventually!
There are some funny ideas here but it doesn't work overall. The pacing isn't great and there are a bunch of filler scenes. It probably would've worked better as a few independent sketches (such as the when Idle and Coltrane are in a packed parking lot trying to decide which car to steal) than a feature length film.
This counts as a nunsploitation movie, right?!

What About Bob?
I've talked about a few Bill Murray movies on this blog in the past so here is another one. Although I had heard good things about this film I hadn't seen it until now. Murray is great as usual but the real star here is Richard Dreyfuss as his reactions to "Bob" make Murray even funnier.
I realized later on that The Cable Guy is similar in that the main character's both have an off-beat obsessive "stalker" who just wants to hang out with them all the time. The relationship between Bob and his therapist is also kinda like that of Dennis the Menace and Mr. Wilson. Except that Dennis would be an adult in this version!
What About Bob? was directed by Frank Oz. Yes, *that* Frank Oz of Sesame Street, Muppets, and Yoda fame. This is the third movie I've seen that Oz has directed. The other two are Death at a Funeral (2007) and The Muppets take Manhattan, both of which I have written about earlier on this blog.

Man on the Moon
I'm not a fan of Jim Carrey though I don't dislike him either. I just generally don't go out of my way to see his movies. However, I'm glad I saw this one as it features a great performance by Jim Carrey as actor and comedian Andy Kaufman. He even won a Golden Globe for this role, although could not get an Oscar nomination. The film received no Oscar nominations which is a bit surprising since it does feel like an Oscar bait type movie.
A biographical film seems tough to make as you must condense a person's life into a mere two hours. It was an even more difficult task in this case as what Andy Kaufman was most famous for (his role as Latka Gravas) was probably the least interesting thing about the man.
I felt that the movie focused too much on Andy Kaufman's cancer and death. Kaufman was diagnosed in late November 1983 and died in May 1984. Obviously this is important, but he wasn't sick that long and died pretty quick. On a similar note we we could've had more about Kaufman's life before he was discovered as a comedian.
There are a few anachronisms such as the movie's depiction of Kaufman's Carnegie Hall show being performed after he was diagnosed with cancer, but it fits in with Kaufman's life as a showman who would blend reality and fantasy together. The opening scene of the movie even features Carrey in character as Kaufman stating that parts of "his" life have been changed!
As a biopic about an off-beat personality I couldn't help but be reminded of Tim Burton's Ed Wood. Although Ed Wood and Andy Kaufman were different in several ways, both were true artists who managed accomplish their visions despite of the obstacles of mainstream TV and film-making.
Many actors and other famous people who knew the real Kaufman such as wrestler Jerry Lawlor, Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels, late night talk show host David Letterman, and the cast of Kaufman's TV show Taxi are in the movie as themselves. Danny DeVito (a cast member of Taxi) plays a large role as George Shapiro, Kaufman's manager, but doesn't play himself. There could've been a fun meta moment along the lines of the "color blind" scene in Ed Wood but I guess they didn't want to confuse the audience too much.

Even though I think of Courtney Love as a musician and not an actress, she did a nice job playing Kaufman's girlfriend. If I didn't know who she was I would've assumed she was an actress not famous for anything else.
R.E.M. performed most of the songs for the Man on the Moon soundtrack and did a great job as usual. Their title track was actually not made for the movie as it was originally released in 1992. R.E.M. are apparently big Andy Kaufman fans. The band did write the song "The Great Beyond" specifically for the film.
The final scene is interesting as tackles the urban legend that Andy Kaufman faked his death and is actually still alive, while also reminding us of the influence Andy Kaufman has had on comedy and pop culture.
I was familiar with Kaufman but honestly didn't know much about him before seeing this movie. After watching Man on the Moon I wanted to know a lot more about him and do research on his life, which is something any good biopic should do for its subjects. Luckily there are plenty of videos of him on YouTube, including the infamous Fridays fight incident.
Man on the Moon was directed by Milos Forman, a two-time Oscar winner. I had only seen one of his movies before, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, which I love. Somehow I haven't seen Amadeus yet, so I need to watch more of his films.
An interesting piece of trivia about this film is that Forman could not decide between Jim Carrey or Ed Norton for the role of Andy Kaufman. Forman let the studio decide and they chose Carrey because they felt he was a more bankable star at the time.
Man on the Moon received mostly positive reviews from movie critics but lost money at box office. It's too bad that the film was a financial failure as its probably part of the reason Forman hasn't done much since.


  1. Ah...WHAT ABOUT BOB? That's one of my family's favorite comedies. It's up there with MY COUSIN VINNIE. Great reviews!

  2. Thanks Nate! I still gotta see My Cousin Vinny one of these days!

  3. Yeah, Man on the Moon was a really good film. Jim Carrey was great choice for Kaufman, really caught his oddball sense of humour and mannerisms while still making him a relatable character. I'd like to see him do more stuff like this.

  4. Hi Jack, thanks for the comment. I'm glad to hear that you also enjoyed Man on the Moon. This is the most dramatic I've ever seen Carrey and I agree that I'd like to see him take more roles like this.