Friday, May 3, 2019

Worth Mentioning - Anyone Can Change the World

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

Teenage shenanigans, an awesome soundtrack, martial arts, and a long-awaited reunion.


Like Tom McLoughlin's Date with an Angel, Thom Eberhardt's The Night Before (which Eberhardt wrote with Gregory Scherick) is an '80s comedy whose existence had passed me by entirely until my sister-in-law brought it up in the mid-'90s... and as with Date with an Angel, I was able to catch it on cable soon after she had referenced it.

Keanu Reeves was steadily working his way up when he landed the lead role in this film, being cast to play Winston Connelly, a young man who experiences one of the worst prom nights ever. It's not on the level of Prom Night or Carrie, but it's pretty bad. It starts with a stroke of good luck - the popular Tara Mitchell (Lori Loughlin of The New Kids) has asked him to go to the school dance with her. Sure, she has only agreed to go out with him because she lost a bet, but it gives him a chance to prove himself to her.

Instead of showing Tara the time of her life, Winston gets them lost on the wrong side of the tracks, where his dad's car is stolen by David Sherrill from The Wraith and they get mixed up with thieves, human traffickers, and a pimp named Tito (Trinidad Silva), who everyone in the neighborhood is deeply afraid of. Worst of all, Winston and Tara get separated, and before Winston can try to track Tara down he has to piece his memory of the night back together because a bartender slipped a mind-altering substance into his drink.

Thanks to Winston's memory troubles and the fact that most of the story is told through the flashbacks that hit him, The Night Before is a bit awkwardly paced and cut together, which drags down its effectiveness somewhat. There are amusing scenarios, though, and Reeves makes Winston a likeable protagonist who's fun to follow through this messed up situation. It's easy to see why the film quickly faded into obscurity, because there's really nothing in it to make it stand out and stick in your mind, but it's pleasant enough to sit through for the 87 minutes it's going on.


I put on director Steven Sawalich's Music Within thinking it might have something to do with music, be the story of a music teacher or something. I realized that would be too on-the-nose very early on, when a school teacher, one who's not a music teacher, discusses the Oliver Wendell Holmes quote "Most people go to their graves with their music inside them." So this isn't about music at all, which makes the choice of title questionable, even if that is a good quote.

Written by Bret McKinney, Mark Andrew Olsen, and Kelly Kennemer, Music Within is a biopic about a real person named Richard Pimentel, played by the always great and frequently underused Ron Livingston. If you didn't know this was a biopic, you'd probably figure it out pretty quick, because rarely would a fictional story include so many details that don't amount to all that much down the line. It's interesting to hear that Richard's mother (Rebecca De Mornay) was driven mad by a multitude of miscarriages and even put him in an orphanage for two years when he was a child, but that's not the sort of thing that's likely to have been included in a fictional story without the mother being a more prominent character throughout.

A major turn of events comes when Richard enlists to fight in the Vietnam War and returns home with severe tinnitus. Trying to carry on by going to college, he finds that the only person he can understand through the ringing in his ears is a classmate with cerebral palsy, Art Honeyman (Michael Sheen). And he happens to be the only person who understands Art. His experience dealing with his war injury and befriending a disabled person will take him down a path of helping other disabled veterans and having a hand in creating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Along the way to nobility, he also strikes up a romance with Christine (Melissa George), a young woman who is in an open relationship.

While it sometimes feels like it's meandering a bit, Music Within actually tells its story quite quickly, wrapping up in just 93 minutes. It held my attention, carried by the screen presence of Livingston and an impressive supporting performance from Sheen. The film was also driven forward by a great soundtrack that includes songs by Dean Martin, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, James Brown, Deep Purple, The Isley Brothers, Donovan, Steppenwolf, Jefferson Airplane, Stealers Wheel, The Hombres, Black Sabbath, The Youngbloods, America, Three Dog Night, Elton John, The Doobie Brothers, and more. There are so many needledrop songs packed in here, maybe I was wrong - it actually is about music! If you like the classics, it's an incredible film to listen to. Which you might not expect from a movie about a man with such bad tinnitus.


Forty-eight years after The Dick Van Dyke Show ended its five season run, CBS decided to put together a tribute to the show hosted by their then-current sitcom superstar Ray Romano, but when The Dick Van Dyke Show creator Carl Reiner was approached about the idea, he decided to take the special in a different direction than the average tribute of this sort. Instead of a retrospective that would just be a series of clips from the show, Reiner decided to write a new episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show that would catch up with the surviving characters nearly fifty years after the ending of the 158th and final episode. The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited because the long-awaited 159th episode.

On the original show, Dick Van Dyke's character Rob Petrie wrote for a TV variety show hosted by a man named Alan Brady, played in his few appearances in the series by Reiner. It's Brady who sets the events of Revisited in motion, seeking out of Rob and fellow writer Sally Rogers (Rose Marie) in hopes that they can collaborate on a eulogy. Brady's own eulogy. He has seen how good they were at delivering heartfelt eulogies at the memorials for Mel Cooley, Buddy Sorrell, and Jerry Helper - characters from the show's original run who were played by actors who passed away over the decades since the series ended - and he wants something like that at his funeral. He's not the most pleasant person, though, so he has to oversee the writing of it himself.

Rob and his wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) no longer live in their nice little house from the show, having moved to a large place in Manhattan either "over 30 years ago" or "over 20 years ago" (both options are given within a span of 20 seconds in the episode), with Laura now running a dance studio out of their home and Rob spending his time dabbling in computer animation, as Dick Van Dyke does in real life. They're still in contact with Sally, who is married to Herman Glimscher (Bill Idelson), who was her boyfriend on the show. She complained about him a lot and looked around for other guys back then, but apparently they've been making their relationship work somehow for a long, long time. Laura is also still close friends with Millie Helper (Ann Morgan Guilbert), and Rob's brother Stacey (Jerry Van Dyke) is also in town during this story.

So all these characters gather together almost a half century after The Dick Van Dyke Show wrapped up, and while Revisited does have some laughs, the real fun of it is just seeing all of these actors in the same room again, and getting to hear what the characters have been up to since the '60s. Once they all sit down and start reminiscing, a lot of clips from the series do start getting mixed in there, but I'm very glad Reiner wrote a story around those clips so we could see Rob, Laura, and their friends again in 2004.


Final Impact is not the movie I was expecting it to be when I put on a movie with that title and cover art featuring a sleazy-looking, shirtless Lorenzo Lamas. I was expecting a goofy action flick, but actually got a serious attempt at making a low budget Rocky type of sports drama.

Directed by Joseph Merhi and Stephen Smoke from a script written by Smoke, Final Impact stars Lamas as Nick Taylor, a guy who is just as sleazy as he appears to be on the cover art. Nick is a disgraced kickboxing champion turned club owner who sees a shot at redemption, or at least revenge, when Danny Davis (Michael Worth), the light heavyweight champion of Ohio, comes walking into his club seeking a trainer.

I was surprised to see who was playing Danny, as before this I knew Worth solely from his appearances on the B-Movie Cast podcast. I knew he was in the film business, but didn't realize he had been a cinematic ass-kicker. Nick sees Danny as someone who might be able to take on current champion Jake Gerrard (Jeff Langton), the man who took his title, put him on crutches for six months, and stole his wife Roxy (Mimi Lesseos) three years earlier. Nick shouldn't be so upset about losing Roxy at this point, since he's now dating Maggie, a woman who doesn't love easily "but when I do it means something" and is played by Kathleen Kinmont (Halloween 4, Phoenix the Warrior, Bride of Re-Animator, Hardbodies), who was Lamas's real-life wife at the time. But his pride has been wounded.

Nick takes Danny under his wing, and after an extended training montage the kid is ready to hit the road and take on the world - and its champion. This paves the way for the film to feature a whole lot of fight scenes, as well as a whole lot of drama, since things do not go as initially planned. There's relationship drama between Nick and Maggie as she tries to talk sense to him while he focuses on revenge, there are mistakes and betrayals, and there's heartbreak of other kinds. This goes in some unexpected directions.

Overall, I was surprised by just how good and interesting Final Impact was. Fitting for a movie that stars a B-Movie Cast guest, it's a solid B-movie entry in the sports drama genre.

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