A Star is Born (1976)

You may find this post controversial and I’ve made my peace with it.  Some view this film as a classic and some hold it proudly in their Barbra Streisand shrine.  However, I recently viewed this film and felt the need to post about it as there were just way too many elements that couldn’t be ignored.

Fact: this is the THIRD remake of this story (a fourth is slowly rolling around in development. You can read about it here).

Fact: this is the first movie I’ve blogged about on this site that’s both a Oscar and a Golden Globe winner for the song “Evergreen”.

Fact: I have long since made fun of the lyrics to the song “Evergreen” without realizing it was a) from this movie and b) a Barbra Streisand song.  You can’t sing a lyric that compares love to a easy chair and not expect me to mock it.

So we meet John Howard Norman, a big rock star who’s late to everything, drinks a lot and has Gary Busey personally shove cocaine up his nose.

No one in this movie ever calls him just “John”.  Its always “John Howard” or “John Howard Norman”. This may have been because the filmmakers felt that no one would accept a hero named John, leading to theater attendees storming out of the theaters in protest.

Fact: John Howard Norman never sings a whole complete song. He starts songs, then always interrupts and we as an audience have no idea why people even bother going to his shows to begin with.

Here’s what someone should have prepared me for. No one knows how to wear shirts in this movie.  Shirts are really more of a suggestion or an opinion.  So as a result, they’re maybe buttoned or worn halfway or in this case, Kris Kristofferson just forwent the shirt entirely and skipped to the vest.  To each his own, I suppose.

After an evening of kind of singing parts of two songs, he leaves his own show and goes to a club where we’re introduced to Barbra Streisand aka “Esther Hoffman”.

She’s in a singing group that call themselves “The Oreos.”  The less said about this, the better.

So they’re singing, and Barbra is being Barbra.  However, every romance movie needs a “meet cute” and we get with this moment…

“John Howard Norman” (I guess we’ll follow the movie’s instructions to always call him this) gets into a shouting match with some bar customers and Barbra gets ticked and confronts him about it. 

Now, lets put this situation in “real life” shall we?  In movie life, Barbra sings at a club and she hears a drunk guy shouting and getting drunker. She confronts him, he’s charmed by it, chases her down and begs to date her.  She kind of plays coy and allows him to bring a pizza to her house at 7am the next day.

In “real life”, Barbra would have finished her set, gone backstage, complained with the rest of The Oreos (sigh). Had “John Howard Norman” come slurring her way, a bouncer would have steered him to his car and he would have woken up ten hours later not remembering anything.  Roll credits!

But they have breakfast and are super cutesy about eating pizza and him guzzling down a whiskey and a few more beers for breakfast, so he invites her to come to his show.

Another show where he starts a song, mumbles through it, then goes and finds Barbra…

…sings from a vantage point where no one can see him…

…takes a fan’s motorcycle (which begs the question, do people still bring a motorcycle inside arenas? Also, where can I get the “I’m Spoiled Rotten” shirt?)

…and this inevitably happens…

…where you know, everyone’s going to have to file back out and spend three hours in their cars wondering what on earth they just saw.

Meanwhile, “John Howard Norman” gets put in an ambulance, everyone takes off, leaving Barbra stranded at a arena.

In “real life”, Esther Hoffman would have been angry and annoyed, spent hundreds of dollars on an Uber getting back to her house and written an interesting op-ed piece to Rolling Stone on what a tool John Howard Norman is.

Instead, she finds it cute that he stalked her at a studio and follows him home to his house where they make sweet music together…

…and then sweet, sweet love.

So many beer cans in this scene.

Naturally, he brings her into the studio and she sings whole and complete songs, which blows everyone away. He realizes that she is a unicorn and they make glorious creative plans.

He does yet another show, where he starts to sing a song and people are into it, but he stops barely into the first chorus and goes, “Hey guys, you paid to see me, but you’ll be fine letting my girlfriend of two days taking over, right?”

So Barbra comes out in an outfit that makes her look like she’s about to do everyone’s taxes and performs two whole songs.  Turns out the crowd loves it when you come out and do a song that has a beginning, middle and end. They go nuts and officially, “a star is born.”

Roll credits.

In the frenzy of the show, Barbra proposes to “John Howard Norman”. JHN gives her a very solid reason why this is a terrible decision. Namely that he’s an awful person who’s life is a total mess. Never mind, she knows what she wants and thats that.

The movie clearly has very little to do between now and JHN’s inevitable death (spoiler alert) so it does that thing that only bad movies do…there’s a montage. And it has everything that a ’70s love montage needs…

 Picture perfect moments in the middle of nowhere. This is always followed by sex in the most uncomfortable setting imaginable.

Being silly in the middle of nowhere.  This movie was made by Warner Bros who also holds the rights to Superman which I guess makes this scene okay.

Wearing Indian blankets as if that counts as clothes.  (Fact: It does not)

Enjoying your ’70s house with more rugs.

Maybe one of you fakes your death?

And at the end of a long day of holding each other and staring into each other’s eyes, you recline on pillows that vaguely look like Swastikas.

At some point, you have to come back to reality.  After all, Esther is a big star now (sure, its been a week maybe) and JHN is dealing with the fact that his career is over. Now this movie gets it into gear.

People are really digging her. She’s up for a Grammy! She shows up to her shows! She finishes songs! She wears shirts!

Speaking of which, she wins a Grammy for Best Female Vocal. She insists JHN go up with her, despite the fact that he almost didn’t make it and that he’s super trashed.  No, no, no, she drags him up there where he slurs something about art, all while Tony Orlando and Rita Coolidge seem horrified.

And, this movie dares to wave its codependency flag again, when Esther goes to calm down in the bathroom and is followed by JHN.

He makes another really good case for why this marriage isn’t going to work out, but she won’t have it.

This movie is begging for the opening credits to Intervention to come on at any moment.  I would have fully welcomed it.

During a photo shoot, he tells her that she’ll have to tour on her own.  She’s horrified.

He doesn’t show up for things when she needs him to, but instead of processing the links between addiction and unhealthy relationships, she puts on more drapey clothes and wonders why as she literally stares at empty glass vessels that used to hold alcohol.

While she’s gone however, a sexy journalist breaks into their home and begs for an interview with Esther.  She’ll do anything.


And he obliges.

Of course they’re caught.  The journalist gets huffy and walks out, while Esther thinks things over and has this reaction to the whole situation…

Frankly, at this point, I won’t blame his addiction, I’ll just blame the ’70s. Neither of them are clearly ever going to learn anything at this point.

So the universe takes over. He gets up early, drinks a lot of beer and has a fatal accident.

And Esther gives the performance of a lifetime where she cries and hopes he’s looking down on her.  I’d cry too, but then I remembered he was a reckless and selfish alcoholic who possessed really bad judgement.  The good news is that she got a career out of it and the rest of The Oreos had to find another white lady to lead them.


Should you care to delve deeper into this, you can watch this movie on Amazon, HBO GO or in physical disc form from Netflix.

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Who else had the desire to see this today? Just me then?

Given the absolute magic that was Xanadu and The Apple its understandable the appeal to create fantastical ’80s musicals meshing fashion and sound, cartoon humor with knowing winks to the audience. So some filmmakers in Australia decided to try their hand at something everyone in the 80s was begging for – a big splashy rendition of the Pirates of Penzance.

The obvious observation out of the gate is giving this film the award for laziest title ever.  We couldn’t name it Pirates of Penzance?  How did that producers meeting go?

Producer 1: Its called Pirates of Penzance and its a musical. People like both of those things, right?

Producer 2: People won’t know what they’re getting! We need to give it a more hip, more contemporary title! We’re calling it The Pirate Movie until we think of something else.”

At this point in my blog I give a quick recap of the plot. To this one, I say, if you have to ask, then this movie just isn’t for you.  You walk in blind and let it dress your brain up in ruffles.

How much sense does this movie make? Absolutely none. None at all.

I had to link the 80s-tastic opening credits. Somewhere Gilbert and Sullivan are shaking their heads and saying, “Don’t put our names on this.”


The film doesn’t try for seriousness, in fact it tries for lightheartedness in the way that surgeons try to save patients lives after near fatal car accidents.   Basically, if you’re not making a goofy face on frame, then you’re not doing your job…

“Okay, we wanted this scene to show you’ve got muscles, but how will the audience know we’re being funny?”

Maybe its just this movie was made in a different time, but there was some weirdly sexual scenes included that were played up for laughs.  The ’80s synth music just made it more upsetting.
 The scenes start out innocently enough…

But what you’re missing is the weird grunty sex noises Kristy McNichol makes while Pirate John Tesh flexes his muscles.

This scene also got the Ick Medal…

(shifts uncomfortably, looks down at phone….)

“We’ve got a big goofy song and dance number going on…but the audience might not understand its funny. Get me a silly face!”

This is our villain. He’s hilarious. At least according to the director who kept making him do these faces. Espescially during song and dance numbers.

Maybe you’re asking yourself, “So much dignity left at the door. How low could they go?”

Oh, they went low. Low, like the bottom of the sea.


Kristy McNichol sings a song called “Pumpin’ and Blowin…”

…while the guy from Blue Lagoon did a weird awkward dance with animated fish.

No one asked for this, but they gave it to us anyway.

(shifts uncomfortably in my chair, stares at phone)

“Chris, this scene is funny and all but you know what would take it to the next level? Make that funny face!”

I guess an important part of the plot is that our hero can’t go out on his own and be independent from the Pirates of Penzance because he was born on a leap year and is therefore only 5 years old. I’ve filed this story twist away in THINGS TO NEVER USE IN A SCRIPT.

There’s a lot of music that is used in this. Some of it is from the original opera, some of it from a songwriter based in LA that had a “lost weekend*” style writing session when coming up with these songs.

*This infers that there’s a songwriter who did a lot of illegal substances in hopes of touching the mind of God while creating these songs. This is never the way to do it.

During this 90 minute music video, there was a music video that had this romantic montage…

…with scenes that couldn’t have possibly happened, because there was no time in this film’s timeline. Perhaps I am a stickler for the rules of space and time.

“Kristy, you clearly understand the hilarious undertones of hiding out in a knight costume are all dependent on your goofy face. You’ll have to teach Chris…”

Have you discovered your movie is funny, but could be funnier? Gather together the largest group of Keystone Cops possible and watch things really take off.

This is not photoshop. During a swordfight, our hero picks up a lightsaber and waved it around. Clearly our movie was not expecting people to sit this far into it.

The big finale was a high school production of Pirates of Penzance set in one of the chaperone’s yard.

People are playing along, but you can tell everyone who went to Julliard in this lineup is regretting everything espescially not going to that networking meeting where all those Broadway producers showed up.

But none of this matters. You know why?

Because it was all a dream.


Happy endings all around.

And well done to the casting directors who picked the love interests to look like fraternal twins.
(uncomfortably shifts, stares at phone when realizes the implications of that reality).


CONSIDER: Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time (1991)

I couldn’t help it. The Beastmaster offered up such treasure, that I went back to the well to see what happened next.

He gets a rude awakening from 1991 – or as the soundtrack would suggest, quite possible 1985 when a spoiled daughter of a California senator crashes into his alternate reality and then vice versa.

Oh, it gets real, people. Super real.

 The main villain this go around is The Beastmaster’s brother himself. A man with a 90s bass player’s ponytail and a Lady Gaga look that was way ahead of its time.

He’s also got a little sidekick with him – she’s a witch and enjoys wrapping herself in drapery.

Her big selling point for employment with him (she’s aiming for queen, but he’s considering other candidates) is that she’s discovered a portal into 1990sish Los Angeles.

You just put your hand in front of it and its like you’re touching a green screen.

As sort of an added bonus, she casually mentions that 1990s L.A. has things like detonators and he should get one. He’s totally onboard without actually knowing what one is and that’s what kicks our story off.

You’ll be happy to know our Beastmaster is back and holds a face that looks like he’s trying to do simple math.

Enter our heroine. Spoiled LA girl (which one isn’t, amirite?) and she gets transported to another dimension while saying witty things like, “Where’s the car club when you need it?” “How close am I to the beach?” She’s a treasure.

They meet and it tries so hard for hilarity, which sadly is not this movie’s only point of failure.

Through events that really and truly don’t matter, the action gets relocated in 90sish L.A. and our girl is forced to take the villains shopping.

Feel free to read that sentence over and over. Its not going to make more sense.

She takes them shopping and Beastmaster’s brother is talked into trying on a suit by a fake French accented salesman.

At some point the discussion of virgins came up. It was really uncomfortable.

I’ve never been involved in a criminal investigation here in Los Angeles, but I’d like to think that when one happens, the head detective looks around at the damage, hears about a possibly homicidal maniac, shrugs and goes, “I’ll write up some paperwork for Monday.”

Dar’s brother has a neat trick that’s not in anyway ripped off from Spock that involves mind melding.  He simply transfers any knowledge someone might have by forcing his fingers deep into someone’s face.

So its totally different and if you say otherwise, well, you’re just a hater.

With this completely original technique that has never been seen before in a movie or tv series, Dar’s brother learns that there’s a bomb hidden at a military facility somewhere in the larger Los Angeles area.

 We’re then given a visual treat of watching Dar learn what rock and roll is (editors correction: bad rock and roll is) and how to say the word “asshole”. And then he eats most of a deli tray. I’m choosing not to show that part.

Look at these two – they know more than you ever will.

So our villains disguise themselves as ineffective military personnel and steal a detonator from even more ineffective military personnel.  Which just led me to wonder what we’re actually doing with all that military spending every year, and why really bad movies have this as a thematic element.

It was a little like a sitcom in training:

“Honey, where’s my fake mustache for our military encampment heist?”

“I thought that was your mom’s!”

End scene. (didn’t actually happen, but this movie makes you daydream about things you’d rather be seeing)

Which leads us to the final scene…

Because Dar doesn’t know how to do anything on his own, he forces animals to once again, do all of his dirty work, which is them telling him that his brother is hiding out at the L.A. Zoo. 

And then a laser light show starts, so naturally this music video battle without the music begins.

Powers are quite the match up as Dar commands his killer ferrets to once again kill for him. Its been two movies now and The Beastmaster really has lived up to his name but failed on all fronts as a action hero.

Speaking of which…

It comes time for goodbyes (time portals aren’t always hanging around hoping people will jump through them after all) when there’s a really awkward exchange where a spunky Cali teen asks out grizzled and moist Beastmaster on a date for the next time he’s in town.

He gently turns her down but gives her the best consolation prize of them all…

She’s keeping the ferrets, which honestly, is so much better than learning what a relationship with the Beastmaster would hold…

(Spoiler alert: Telling you what you think and ordering you to do all of his dirty work.)

THE LIAM NEESON EDITION – The Other Man (2008)




This week, Liam Neeson returns to our screens and our hearts to shout at people, wave guns and solve seemingly impossible mysteries.  Given his track record of high level excitement (Taken, anyone? That time he trained Batman, then almost destroyed Gotham? He released the Kraken!), I figured there had to be some other unknown gem of octane in the many folds of Netflix.

Liam once took down a Mexican cartel for pulling out daisies from his front lawn.

Here’s the plot quoted from iMDb:

“In this taut thriller, a software engineer Peter (Liam Neeson) and the shoe designer Lisa are successful in their careers and have been happily married for twenty-five years. When Lisa is gone, Peter finds a message in her cellular and decides to snoop her e-mails and discovers in a secret folder named Love that she had a lover, Ralph. Peter travels to Milano and stalks Ralph; he finds that the man plays chess in a bar”

A taut thriller involving shoe design, international travel and games of chess? Batten down the hatches ’cause its Neeson Season!


We open with a fashion show. This movie is going to be like Sudden Death…but with fashion.

You can tell, Liam’s a caring family man and will take this whole place apart if anything gets threatened. Just a matter of time for this story to actually begin….




…we have Liam doing some light housecleaning…




…we see him hold on to Laura Linney….

…and we see him checking email.

You can’t accuse this movie of not being action packed. If your actions are limited to frittering away an afternoon. Which Liam does a lot in this movie. I’m sure the movie told me what he does for a living, I just never saw it.

Liam writes an email letting his wife’s paramour know that she’s no longer at this email address. Liam does not know that emails are not like houses. You simply do not move away and let someone else move in to it.
Its pretty disappointing to learn that he doesn’t know how email works.
Skip ahead to the story where he goes to Milan to confront the man his wife, Laura Linney is cheating on with.  Let the chase and heartpounding action begin!

I’ve never been to Milan, but I’ve heard its a big city. Liam goes from Somewhere, UK to Milan in a day and automatically finds Antonio Banderas crossing the street.

Yep, this was the chase of the movie – a casual mosey across the street.


And then the two rivals meet and battle it out over chess….
The rest of the movie is a game of chess. Strap in, and forget the airplane. Because THIS is the non stop action you were looking for.
And flashbacks. Lots of flashbacks.
Like, remember the time she made this face at you when you were telling her an anecdote of what you did with your day?

This might have been your first clue that she was moving on to someone else.

Someone who enjoys tranquil boat rides for example.

And that time Liam Neeson read a  explicit email from Antonio to his wife…to his daughter. Because this is how fathers and daughters bond?

Frankly, why isn’t Antonio Banderas the action hero in this? He at least goes outside.

They like taking creepy pictures together.

Remember that time when you just whispered vague emotional promises to each other and it was kind of dull? That’s how I remembered it anyway.

Needless to say, the chess game doesn’t go well. Antonio wins and in the first bit of action after about an hour, Liam throws the board on the floor in a fit of rage.

And then they take a walk together.

Because this is what men do? Seriously, I’m asking.

After some more heartpounding chit chat, Liam sets off to go home, but his daughter has followed him here.

See that face? That’s his “I’m going to get $%# done” face. Which is usually followed by action of some sort…

Nope. Just moves directly into his exhausted “Emotional processing” face.

In the end, people were let go, people moved on, and Liam found a new bravery in moving on to a different part of the house to check emails and sort laundry. And Laura Linney moved on from this:

Which has to be by far, the creepiest picture you could ever take of someone. Liam would never do that to you.

NEVER. Because he will shut that DOWN.











For Your Consideration – ENDLESS LOVE (1981)

Here’s the most memorable moments from this film.  Also before I get into this, this movie did the one thing that no other Hollywood film has done – made me glad I didn’t date in high school.

So basically Brooke Shields and a moon faced guy who’s name I can’t remember are dating.  She’s 15, he’s 17.  She’s studying French, he won’t leave her alone.  So here’s the oddest moments in the film;

1.     Right away, moon face kid has stalked her on her class field trip to the planetarium.  She asks what would happen if she died. He says he’d die too.  I already hate this kid more than anyone I knew in high school. Also I discover his name is David.
2.     David  goes to a dinner party at Brooke Shield’s house. They dress like the cast of Ragtime and clearly shop at Pier 1.  Mom enters the room in a kimono.  

S He seems a little too interested in getting David’s thoughts on it.  I chose to ignore this as willful 80s ignorance.

3.     Their dinner party seems a low key event. Given this was 1981, I expected this family to break out the International Café in a variety of flavors.  Because that’s what I think happened in classy 80s dinner parties.

However, the party soon evolves into this….

…and then Dad gets in the act.  Please note the guy in glasses in the background who looks like he just wandered in the house to smell the seat cushions and wasn’t sure how to leave.
This is where I realize Brooke’s brother is played by James Spader.  Apparently he’s dating a singer with a band. Her name is “Cathy”.  She proceeds to sing “Endless Love”
I’d imagine now that she tries to tell people she was in “Endless Love” and she sang the song. But Diana Ross, she ain’t.

Mooney creepily stares at Brooke during the song.  

Please note the look on Dad’s face.  I’ve seen that look plenty of times on my own Dad’s face.  Usually  it was after I got marinara on the couch or he walked into the room while I was watching something like this movie.
After the party, Brooke tells David to go home.  Here’s his response….

Things were very different  back then.  Had this been my house, he would have had a can of mace and a German Shepherd to deal with.
So comes the big moment…..
And Mom heads downstairs and this is what she sees….
Mom just stares….

I hate this movie so much. I hate everyone in it.  I can’t decide who I hate more.
Mom’s still staring.
Okay, I hate her the most.
After that, David just apparently infiltrates himself into this family’s social activities. Like duck hunting.  Anyway, him and Mom have an awkward conversation about it.  And then this happens.

As promised, they go duck hunting.  James Spader shoots guns and is really good at it.  He has this line for David…
“Just because you’re f*&!@# my sister doesn’t make you part of the family.”
I’m just writing down that if we don’t see James hunting David with a gun by the end of this , then this movie has failed us in every sense possible.
David walks around Brooke’s house naked, proving that David is quite possibly the stupidest human being alive.
Should be noted, that Mom thinks this arrangement is fine. She is truly gunning for David’s title.
Brooke falls asleep in class a lot.  Quite possibly due to the fact that David is always naked and in her room.

This photo has nothing to do with the plot.  I was just fascinated by Dad’s odd glasses. Sort of Franklin’s failed invention of the no-focals.

David breaks into Brooke’s house at 230 in the morning to have sex with Brooke, thus completing this guy’s journey to crazy town.

Zefferelli went gangster on the  night sky imagery in this movie.  I understand he made this as sort of a homage to Romeo and Juliet, but it’s a little heavy handed.

David: “I’m going to name a star after you”.

And then I imagined Brooke getting one of those cheesy certificates, where you pay $40 to name a star.

Not that we needed to see it, here’s David’s “O-face”.

Here’s Brooke’s…. it looks like the face I make when I’m falling asleep during “Lord of the Rings”.

So after Dad catches David skulking away at 7 am, David’s getting banned from the house.

Also, Brooke is getting addicted to sleeping pills.  
Instead of David rethinking his life and where he wants to go, he seeks counseling from his peers.
Jeez, like this kid.  I wouldn’t trust this kid with parental relations if my life….  

            Wait a minute….

Tom Cruise is telling David about the time he set fire to his house to make himself look like a hero.  Getting a second opinion would just be stupid at this point.  So he sets fire to the house, gets the family out, promptly admits to doing it and gets sent to a mental ward.

Lesson here is don’t take advice from Tom Cruise.

 So David spends years there, and sees visions of Brooke shields playing with her hair.  It upsets the inmates and his parents who are now getting separated because they’ve never learned love like David has.  If only Dad had set fire to a house, then David would at least have had a sibling.
I just liked this scene of David and a kid named Leonard…

“Get the f___ out of here, Leonard!”
I guarantee Leonard’s story would have been way better.
Mom and Dad bring David home (probably wishing they could have switched him with Leonard). He finds out the stacks of letters he sent Brooke never got to her.  Also, her parents have since divorced and Cougar Mom is now living in New York.   David’s had some time in the hospital to sit down and reflect on who the person he wants to be, so naturally, this visit shouldn’t be awkward at all….
Until this happens….

NO ONE HAS LEARNED A THING. I officially hate this movie and everything and everyone that was involved in making it.
Despite all of this, Mom convinces David to stay the night at her apartment.  He finds Brooke’s address.  She lives in Vermont. He’s got a plan. 
So far, this movie has promised me a Romeo and Juliet ending and James Spader hunting David in the woods with a gun.  Only one of those things will make me happy at this point.
While David is roaming the streets of New York (presumably searching for a touristy hat or getting tickets to see Avenue Q), he spots Brooke’s father and is new girlfriend.  He spots him and automatically jumps into the street to run after him. He gets hit by a cab and David dully stands over the body until the police come. So he leaves the scene of the crime.
Again, David, is the dumbest man alive. And proof that mental health care is woefully lacking.
Speaking of which, guess who shows up at David’s door

I understand that there are some people who have friendly relationships with their exes. However, I’m sure those people don’t laugh about the time their house got burned down or the time they were the cause of their father’s death over a 2008 Merlot.
David and Jade are not one of them and the conversation quickly turns miserable.

I should add that Brooke’s eyebrows are mind blowingly fluffy in this scene.

Despite the fact they’ve made up, James Spader is not willing to accept their love.  He disappointingly gunless in this scene as another reminder that sometimes in life, we don’t get what we want.
I think this is the only time I’ve ever rooted for James Spader. 

Should’ve brought that gun. 
The final scene is Brooke and her mother talking, reflecting on that scene where James Spader’s girlfriend ripped off that Lionel Ritchie song. They’re in the snow and crying and I’m reminded on how much I hate being a woman sometimes. And then I think about how despite Mom is trying to convince Brooke to move on and try anything, you can’t get around the fact that to her the phrase “Try everything” includes “Make moves on your daughter’s ex.”
We leave the movie with David stalking Brooke and then freeze framing on her. It makes no sense and I don’t know why.

So she’s moved on? Kind of makes the “endless” part of the title a moot point.
Here’s where I would have given this movie a thumbs up. A shot of James Spader holding a gun just a few feet from David.