Category Archives: Movies that take place in Chicago

Endless Love (1981)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Romance turns into obsession.

Based on the acclaimed Scott Spencer novel the story focuses on two teens locked in a relationship built around complete infatuation. Jade (Brooke Shields) is only 15 while David (Martin Hewitt) is a high school senior and 17. Jade’s parents (Don Murray, Shirley Knight) are aware that the two teens are having sex, but choose to be ‘open-minded’ and allow it, but when Jade’s grades begin to suffer her father demands that David not see her until the school year is over. David is upset at this ultimatum and decides, through advice from one of his friends (Tom Cruise) to set Jade’s house on fire and then at the last minute come in and ‘save’ them while making him look like a ‘hero’ and get back into their good graces, but things don’t work out as planned.

The film’s biggest detriment is that it chooses to emphasize mood over substance. The teen’s sex sessions are shot with a soft focus lens and gives off too much of a dreamy, fantasy feel. We are never shown how the relationship actually began as the film starts off with the two are already madly in love. It gets mentioned that they were introduced to each other by Jade’s older brother (James Spader) but it would’ve been interesting to have seen this played out as the really good movies ‘show it instead of just tell it’.

Shields has the face of an innocent 15-year-old, but her acting is not up to par and I never got the feeling of any genuine chemistry between the two. Hewitt, in his film debut, doesn’t have the acting chops to carry the movie and gets badly outperformed by Spader who would’ve played the David character far better and could also help explain why Spader has remained in the acting profession while Hewitt since 1993 has been running a home inspection business and no longer acting in movies at all.

The film’s second-half shifts too much focus on David to the point that Jade becomes this mysterious enigma. The father bars David from seeing Jade at their house, but the two could’ve easily have gotten together at school or some other place. If the two were both equally infatuated then they would’ve found a way to see each other, but they don’t, so what does this mean? Was Jade not as in to David as it was thought and what exactly was she doing and thinking during those two years when David was stuck in a mental hospital? None of this gets explained, which becomes the film’s biggest plot hole.

The story relies too heavily on extreme circumstances. For instance David’s friend gives him the idea to set the place on fire by using a stack of old wet newspapers. David then immediately goes to Jade’s home where almost like magic is a stack of old newspapers sitting on the front porch just waiting to be doused in flames. David’s chance meeting with Jade’s father in the middle of New York on a crowded highly traveled sidewalk seemed to pushing the odds as well.

Knight gives a good performance as the mother, but having the lady literally throw herself at David when he gets out of the mental hospital even after he tried to set her family on fire makes her seem crazier than he is. Murray is equally good as the father, but the fact that the guy allows the two to have sex in their house at such a young age makes him unlike most parents. Just about anyone else would’ve seen the red flags far sooner and the fact that he doesn’t until it’s too late makes him seem unusually naïve.

Spencer once stated in an interview how very disappointed he was with this film and how he felt director Franco Zeffirelli missed the whole point of what his novel was about. I agree as Zeffirelli seems driven to turn the whole thing into a modern day Romeo and Juliet while equating unhealthy obsession with love, which it isn’t. This all comes to a glaring clarity with the film’s final shot, which is the most annoying thing about this already annoying movie.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: July 17, 1981

Runtime: 1Hour 55Minutes

Rated R

Director: Franco Zeffirelli

Studio: Universal

Available: DVD, Amazon Video, YouTube

It’s My Turn (1980)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Her relationships don’t last.

Kate’s (Jill Clayburgh) life is in flux. She’s living in Chicago with her boyfriend Homer (Charles Grodin), but feels they are not ‘connecting’ and secretly longing for something more. She travels to New York both for a job interview and to attend her widowed father’s (Steven Hill) wedding. It is there that she meets Ben (Michael Douglas) who is the son of Emma (Beverly Garland) the woman Kate’s father is to marry. Ben is a former professional baseball player with struggles of his own including dealing with an unfaithful wife and a daughter. Kate and Ben hit-it-off during the weekend that she is there and eventually go to bed, but will their new found passion be enough to break them away from their other relationships that they’re still trying to save?

To some extent the film has a fresh feel by portraying the budding romance in less of a mechanical way with dialogue and situations that flow more naturally. The scene where Kate and Ben compete with each other by playing all sorts of different video and table games inside a recreational room is fun as is the old timers baseball game that they attend, which features many real-life baseball legends including Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Whitey Ford to name just a few. I’ll also give kudos to Daniel Stern playing a long haired nerdy student who proceeds to disrupt Kate’s algebra class that she is teaching with a lot of redundant questions.

Unfortunately the film doesn’t take enough advantage of its unique storyline. Grown children of a bride and groom to be usually don’t fall in love while attending a wedding event for their parents and the film should’ve focused solely on this scenario including what their parent’s reaction would be to it once they found out. Both Kate and Ben should’ve also been shown calling home to their mates during their time in the Big Apple, which would’ve heightened the drama as we would’ve seen how emotionally conflicted they were to their old relationships despite their new found feelings for each other.

Douglas is a bit miscast as he doesn’t have the necessary upper body muscular build of an athlete. He also looks too young to be a part of the old timer’s game as he was only 32 at the time and many athletes are still playing professionally at that age. The other participants were clearly in their 40’s and 50’s, which means most likely Ben would’ve never have been invited to take part in the event as he hadn’t been away from the game for enough years.

Spoiler Alert!

The biggest downfall though is with the ending that proceeds to leave everything in limbo. Not only does Kate break-up with Homer, but her budding relationship with Ben never comes to fruition. Sitting through a movie just to watch the main character end up right back at square-one is both frustrating and pointless. There needed to be more of a conclusion to her romantic fate. If she learned to become a lifelong single and enjoy it then great, or she found someone else that’s great too, but at least offer some finality instead of just leaving all wide open, which makes the viewer feel like they’ve been treated to only half of a movie.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: October 24, 1980

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

Rated R

Director: Claudia Weil

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: DVD, Amazon Video

Weird Science (1985)

weird science

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Geeks create hot babe.

Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) are two geeky high school buddies who can’t seem to make it with the girls, so they try to concoct one using Wyatt’s computer. The result is the creation of the voluptuous Lisa (Kelly LeBrock) who is not only super smart, but has a really bitchin’ bod as well. Soon the two boys become quite popular and even host a wild part at Wyatt’s house while his parent are away, but things eventually get out of control and the two learn a valuable lesson that being ‘cool’ isn’t everything.

Director John Hughes purportedly wrote the film’s script in a matter of  2 days and it shows as the logic is nonsensical and so poorly thought that it seems almost done on a grade school level. Normally I’d have written the whole thing as a mess, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that to an adolescent this really could make sense as it fits in perfectly with the dreamy, fantasy filled concept most boys at that age have and that is where it succeeds.

The dialogue is sharp and the gags quite clever particularly the send-up to 2001: A Space Odyssey. The barrage of weirdness creates a certain rhythm that hooks you and keeps you captivated almost like a drug trip until you simply turn off your brain and enjoy the ride for what it is.

Hall is especially dynamic particularly the part where he gets drunk and starts speaking in an accent. LeBrock makes for a terrific contrast to the boys and manages to hold-her-own while Bill Paxton scores as Wyatt’s obnoxious older brother.

Smith was the only one that I didn’t care for. His face is certainly photogenic and could be considered a heartthrob to any teen girl, but his voice is quite nasally to the point that I felt it was annoying. He also lacks Hall’s comic panache although some viewers may be impressed at how good he looks in women’s underwear.

There are some really funny scenes here with Hall’s introduction of Lisa to his parents (Britt Leach, Barbara Lang) and the nuclear missile that goes straight through Wyatt’s home being the two best, but the film ends up being straddled with a wrap-up that is too tidy and the need to preach generic ‘life lessons’ that ultimately gives it a formulaic and limited feel.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: August 2, 1985

Runtime: 1Hour 34Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: John Hughes

Studio: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

vacation

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Going on a trip.

Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) decides to drive his family of four from Chicago to California in order to visit the world famous amusement park of Wally World. Sure they could’ve flown, but he feels that getting there is ‘half the fun’, so they pack up their station wagon while losing their luggage along the way, running out of money, getting stranded in the desert and forced to take along the crabby Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca) who makes everyone miserable.

The film is loaded with laugh-out-loud gags particularly at the beginning. I enjoyed the snapshots of touristy places that get shown over the opening credits as they look exactly like homemade pics stripped directly from somebody’s family album. Clark’s attempts to recreate their proposed trip on the computer only to have his animated station wagon eaten up by a Pacman-like monster is hilarious and imaginative. The scene showing him trying to get back into his old car after its been crushed, or falling asleep at the wheel and driving haphazardly off the road only to end up miraculously at a hotel are also quite good.

The screenplay was written by John Hughes and based on a story he wrote for the September 1979 issue of National Lampoon’s magazine. The plot nicely tackles all the problems that can occur on a typical family outing. Everything from having to visit boring in-laws to squabbling kids in the backseat get comically examined and most likely will remind everyone of their own family trips that started out fun, but turned into a nightmare.

I enjoyed seeing comic legends Eddie Bracken and Imogene Coca cast in supporting roles as well as other recognizable stars popping up for brief bits. This is also the best casting of Rusty and Audrey and watching the kids being the sensible ones while the Dad is more child-like is fun. However, their lack of appreciation for the song ‘Mockingbird’, which Chase and Beverly D’Angelo do an admirable rendition of, is outrageous even for teens and should’ve been enough to have them thrown into Lake Michigan immediately!

The script though begins to go off its hinges with the running joke involving supermodel Christie Brinkley. She plays a hot babe who seems for some strange reason to be attracted to middle-age schmuck Clark. The script was originally written to have this as Rusty’s sexual fantasy, which might’ve worked better, but as it is here it makes no sense.  The character drives so fast in her sporty red convertible that she should remain miles ahead of them and yet she is constantly repassing them almost like she’s a stalker and the odds that she would’ve coincidently been staying at the same hotel as them, out of the thousands that are out there, are astronomically slim. It all might’ve been saved, at least for the male viewers, had she gone nude, which was the original intent, but she refused. In either case it’s a boring bit that is not funny, or believable, or for that matter even sexy.

Spoiler Alert!

I also found the ending to be a letdown. The original one had Clark purchasing a BB gun and using it to invade the home owned by Wally (Eddie Bracken) after they find that his amusement park has been temporarily shut down and then forcing him and his associates to sing some songs before the SWAT team closes in. However, this ending rated poorly with test audiences so it was changed to where Clark and the family invade the park itself and force a security guard, amusingly played by John Candy, to take them on the rides while threatening him with the same type of BB gun.

Personally I disliked both endings because they are over-the-top and make little sense. There is no way that an amusement park would completely shut down for 2-weeks to make repairs especially in the middle of summer, which it is at the height of tourist season and risks too much of a loss of revenue. Certain individual rides may get shut down from time-to-time, but not the whole place. There is also never any explanation as to who is running the rides from the ground that the Griswolds and the security guard go on. Some may argue that it might be done by the black security guard, which is played by actor Frank McRae, but this is never explicitly shown or implied, so it therefore cannot be automatically assumed.

It also takes away too much from the film’s overall theme, which was making fun of less than ideal situations that occur on a lot of family vacations. Yes they do get exaggerated for comical purposes, but there was still a grain of truth to it while the ending instead borders on the surreal.

A better version would’ve been to have the family go to the park and have it open for business as expected, but then get caught up in a lot of crowds, long lines, overly priced rides and roller coasters that made them physically sick, which it did to the cast in real-life anyways.

End of Spoiler Alert!

Despite some of the script’s weaknesses this is still the funniest installment to the Griswold adventures and far better than its 4 sequels or the 2015 reboot. I also enjoyed the on-location shooting as well as the music by Lindsey Buckingham. His song ‘Holiday Road’, which gets played during the film’s opening, has become the mainstay to the franchise even though I found ‘Dancing Across the U.S.A’ that gets played over the closing credits to be better.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: July 29, 1983

Runtime: 1Hour 38Minutes

Rated R

Director: Harold Ramis

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube

The Busy Body (1967)

busy body

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Find the dead body.

George Norton (Sid Caesar) is a nebbish mama’s boy who, for whatever reason, gets taken in by Charley (Robert Ryan) a Chicago mob boss. Charley even gives George a seat on his board of governors. When a fellow crime boss (Bill Dana) gets killed in a freak accident it is George who selects a blue suit for the corpse to wear at the funeral. Unfortunately that blue suit was lined with a million dollars and Charley demands that George dig up the body and retrieve the money, but when he does he finds that the body is gone and thus begins a long, winding, ‘madcap’ search for the missing body and money.

Noted horror director/producer William Castle decided late in his career to give comedy a stab and this is the result. The beginning is mildly amusing, but the humor gets terribly strained and a 100 minute runtime is just too long for such trite material. Everything gets suppressed into silliness with an overplayed music score that has too much of a playful quality to it making the whole thing thoroughly ingrained on the kiddie level from start-to-finish.

Dom DeLuise has an amusing bit as a mortician that would really rather be a hairdresser and Kay Medford is quite funny as George’s doting mother, but the rest of the supporting cast is wasted, which includes Richard Pryor, in his film debut, playing in a role that does not take advantage of his comic skill. Caesar is just not leading man material and his vaudeville-like shtick is quite passé and predictable. His co-star Ryan is far funnier and without having to try half as hard.

The plot goes off on wild tangents until it becomes impossible to follow and quite pointless. The whole production is horribly dated and will not appeal to kids or adults. In fact the film’s intended audience has long ago passed away making this thing a silly relic of its time and nothing more.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: March 12, 1967

Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes

Not Rated

Director: William Castle

Studio: Paramount

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Black Devil Doll From Hell (1984)

black devil doll 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 0 out of 10

4-Word Review: She fucks a doll.

Helen Black (Shirley L. Jones) is a devoutly religious woman living alone and spending most of her time going to church while also believing sex should only be within the bounds of marriage. One day she visits an antique store and spots a puppet that catches her fancy. She decides to buy it despite vague warnings by the store clerk that it possesses strange powers. When she brings it home it suddenly comes alive, ties her up and begins having sex with her, which she finds that she actually enjoys. When the doll disappears she decides to throw away her religion and become the neighborhood slut instead by picking up strange men wherever she can find them and bringing them back home for raunchy action.

This movie could best be described as the low budget, soft core porn version of Trilogy of Terror and while the story has some outrageously voyeuristic elements the production quality is so poor that it never allows the viewer to get into it. The whole thing is shot on a grainy VHS tape giving it a very amateurish look from the get-go. Certain scenes are out-of-focus and director Chester Novell Turner seems to have no understanding of editing as the camera pans wildly when simply cutting to a certain shot would’ve made more sense. There is a lot of extraneous footage as well including watching Jones walking down the sidewalk that seems to go on endlessly and an overplayed thumping music score that becomes headache inducing.

Just about all the action takes place in Helen’s cramped, rundown home, which has no visual appeal whatsoever. The sex scenes are gross and all the nudity comes from star Jones who is not exactly model quality or someone you’d want to see naked.

The only interesting aspect is the doll itself especially with its vulgar dialogue, but unfortunately he’s not in it enough. The effects used to create him are botched as it is clear when it gets shown from behind that it is not a puppet at all, but a small child, or in this case the director’s nephew.

Sitting through this is an arduous challenge. IMDb lists the runtime as 1Hour and 10Minutes, but the version I saw went almost a full 90 minutes. Some may find a few cheap laughs at the beginning due to its technical ineptness, but watching it all the way through becomes torturous and makes having sex with a puppet, or even killed by one seem enjoyable by comparison.

My Rating: 0 out of 10

Released: August 5, 1984 (straight-to-video)

Runtime: 1Hour 27Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Chester Novell Turner

Not Rated

Available: DVD

Mickey One (1965)

mickey one 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Comic hides his identity.

Warren Beatty plays a successful night club comic who’s living the good life until he falls into disfavor with the mob. He decides to go on the run by burning his social security card and getting a new one with a Russian name on it that is so hard to pronounce that everyone just calls him Mickey One. After spending time on the streets of Chicago he finally gets himself another gig at a club run by Ed Castle (Hurd Hatfield), but the better things get for Mickey the more paranoid he becomes convinced that he is being watched and followed at every turn and unable to relax for even a second.

This film marks the first pairing of Beatty and director Arthur Penn and their next project, Bonnie and Clyde, was a great success, but the results here are only so-so. The idea of trying to replicate the artsy French New Wave films of the late ‘50s and early 60s is intriguing, but poor pacing and a lack of consistent style hurts it. An early scene taking place inside an automobile junkyard has just the right combination of crisp editing and camerawork to give it an enticing visual quality, but then the film veers off into too many talky segments. It manages to recover at the end by giving the viewer a strong sense of the paranoia that the main character is feeling, but wide shifts in the film’s dramatic tone hurts it overall making this more of an interesting curio than a classic.

Beatty is okay, but he tends to be a bit too detached and his attempts at stand-up comedy are unfunny despite the many shots of audience members laughing. Hatfield is terrific in support and his presence significantly helps. Franchot Tone is also quite good in a part that features no lines of dialogue.

The film does have some unique and memorable moments. Tone’s strange art exhibit that he names the Yes Machine that he constructs on the ice rink of the Marina Towers is engaging particularly when he sets it on fire only to have it put out and ruined by the Chicago fire department. The best moment though is when Beatty tries to do a stand-up routine in an empty and darkened room with only a bright spotlight shining on him and a mysterious, unseen man sitting behind it, which has the perfect blend of mood and style and a scene I wished had been extended.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: September 27, 1965

Runtime: 1Hour 32Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Arthur Penn

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: DVD-R, Amazon Instant Video

Club Paradise (1986)

club paradise

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Life on the beach.

When firemen Jack Moniker (Robin Williams) is able to collect a large insurance settlement after being injured while on the job he decides to retire and move to Jamaica. There he meets Ernest (Jimmy Cliff) who owns a rundown resort and has gotten far behind on his taxes and now being harassed by the Island’s Prime Minister (Adolph Caesar) for payment. Jack decides to help his friend by fixing up the place until it becomes a snazzy destination that attracts people from all over. Soon a bunch of tourists, many of them on the eccentric side, are flocking to stay there, but Jack finds it hard to keep up with their demands while also battling Voit (Brian Doyle-Murray) a competing resort owner who feels Jack is infringing on his territory.

The film starts out pleasing enough. Cliff’s reggae songs are great and the island scenery, which was shot on-location in Port Antonio, Jamaica is soothing to the eye and spirit. Unfortunately the laughs are sporadic and the plotline minimal. Part of the problem is that it doesn’t stay focused on the Jack character. The story jumps completely past him buying the resort and rebuilding it and instead goes directly to the eccentric guests and their cartoonish behavior and dilemmas. The script is more like a patchwork of goofy skit-like ideas than a movie and the cast is made up almost entirely from the stars of the first couple of seasons of SCTV.

Williams is much more subdued here, which is nice to a degree as sometimes he can get a bit too hyper, but he is also not as funny. Peter O’Toole is good when he’s seen, but his screen time is so limited I was surprised that he even took the part as it’s a slap-in-the-face role for an actor of his stature.

The supporting cast is too hammy. Eugene Levy and Rick Moranis are mildly amusing as two clueless dweebs trying desperately to hit on some of the hot chicks, but when their story thread deviates to Moranis going on a surfboard that takes him on a 16 hour ride out to sea, it gets stupid. Andrea Martin comes off best and has a few enjoyable moments including most notably her battle with an overpowering shower.

Even a comedy needs some character development and this film, which boasts having 6 writers to its screenplay, has none. Too much emphasis is put on throwing in any type of joke or humor that it can much of which is on  a childish, preadolescent level that will bore and annoy most adults.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: July 11, 1986

Runtime: 1Hour 36Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: Harold Ramis

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube

Goldstein (1964)

goldstein2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Prophet emerges from lake.

An old man (Lou Gilbert) emerges from Lake Michigan and wanders the streets of Chicago making friends and enemies along the way. His aurora captures the imagination of a local artist (Tom Earhart) and he seeks the old man out for advice and inspiration, but then loses sight of him and spends the rest of the movie trying to chase him down, but becoming more lost in the process.

This film’s biggest claim to fame is that it is the directorial debut of Philip Kaufman who along with co-director Benjamin Manaster penned this tale that is supposedly a loose, modern-day interpretation of the prophet Elijah. The film has an engaging cinema verite style that is enough to hold some interest, but story wise it is vague and confusing. Too much is thrown in that seems to having nothing to do with the central character or theme. Much of it was clearly ad-libbed, which creates a certain freshness, but also allows it to go even more on a tangent that it ultimately cannot recover from.

The best moments come from the scenes involving Gilbert’s character who surprisingly doesn’t have as much screen time as you’d expect despite being supposedly the central point of the story. The scenes where he comes out of the water and then befriends a homeless man and wheels him down a busy street while holding up traffic is funny I also loved the part where he takes a bath in an apartment and is unable to work the faucet knobs or even know what they are for. His foot chase through a meat plant is nicely captured and edited as is his shadow dancing along the shores of Lake Michigan, but he disappears too quickly and the movie is weak and directionless without him.

This movie also marks the acting debuts of several famous comic character actors including Jack Burns who was part of a comic team with George Carlin for a while and then later with Avery Schrieber before becoming famous as the voice for the crash test dummies. Here he has an amusing bit as an ambivalent desk sergeant. Severn Darden and Anthony Holland are both seen on the screen for the first time playing a sort-of Laurel and Hardy-like traveling abortionists who perform the operation on one woman (Ellen Madison) inside an empty apartment that is quite edgy, explicit and darkly humored for its time period.

The on-location shooting in Chicago is great especially with the way it captures the Marina Towers, which are two residential buildings resembling corncobs that sit in the downtown and had just been completed when filming took place. The flimsy, wide-eyed story though cannot equal its creative execution making this interesting as a curio only.

goldstein 1

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: May 4, 1964

Runtime: 1Hour 25Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Philip Kaufman, Benjamin Manaster

Studio: Altura Films International

Available: DVD

Christmas Vacation (1989)

christmas vacation 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Christmas at the Griswold’s.

It’s the season to be merry and to celebrate Clark (Chevy Chase) gets a tree that is too big for their house and his hopes of installing a backyard pool are dashed when his holiday bonus check doesn’t arrive. Meanwhile their home gets crammed with in-laws including his hillbilly cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) who never ceases to be obnoxious and crude.

I first saw this movie upon its release and didn’t much care for it, but upon second viewing I found it a bit more appealing. The humor isn’t exactly sophisticated or original, but manages to be amiable enough to be entertaining. Some of my favorite moments were just the small things like the way Clark angrily kicks the toy Santa in his front yard when he can’t get his outdoor Christmas lights to work or even the goofy reindeer glasses that Clark and Eddie drink eggnog out of. Clark’s innuendo filled stammering when aroused by a beautiful young saleslady is nothing new, but always funny especially with the way Chase does it. The running dialogue is full of amusing lines and good enough to spring up Quote-a-long film showings of this picture at many chain theaters including the Alamo Drafthouse Theater here in Texas.

Even though it has acquired a fervent cult following and been judged a ‘classic’ by some it still has its fair share of issues. For one thing they had too many in-laws over to fit into that mid-sized house and I wondered where they all slept and showing Rusty their teenage son sleeping in the same bed with his teenage sister seemed to border on the perverse. The film also has a frustrating tendency to not follow through with all of its gags including the part where Clark falls through the floorboards of his attic and into the top bunk bed of son’s bedroom below, which I’m sure would’ve caused a lot of issues, but we’re never shown it. The virtually plotless script by John Hughes, which relies solely on rapid-fire gags becomes a bit derivative and tedious by the final half-hour and is saved only by a funny squirrel attack as well as an S.W.A.T. team ambush. I also felt a bit uncomfortable laughing at a cat getting electrocuted, which the studio was going to cut, but then left in when it proved popular with test audiences

Young Juliette Lewis is cute and my favorite of the rotating Audrey’s. Beverly D’Angelo is the hottest MILF out there and I was a little shocked at the way she seems to grab Chase directly on his crotch during the S.W.A.T scene. I liked the veteran cast that made up the grandparents, but outside a few cryptic lines by E.G. Marshall they are essentially wasted especially Doris Roberts and Diane Ladd who play the two grandmothers and don’t have more than a few lines between them. Quaid is a scene stealer, but he gets a bit crude in spots. It’s fun seeing Mae Questal best known as the voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl in her final film role as a daffy, elderly aunt and I also enjoyed Nicholas Guest and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the Griswold’s neighbors. They are portrayed as being this annoyingly pretentious, trendy yuppie couple, but the truth is I started to sympathize with them as their house continually gets damaged by Clark’s mishaps and I would have ended up being even more outraged and confrontational than they were had I been in their spot.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: December 1, 1989

Runtime: 1Hour 37Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: Jeremiah Chechik

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube