Tag Archives: Anne Ramsey

Say Yes (1986)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Marrying for the money.

Luke (Art Hindle) is set to receive a very large inheritance from his recently deceased grandfather (Jonathan Winters) who was the owner and founder of a prosperous toy company. The problem is that the will stipulates that he must marry within 24 hours, or the money will go to his father (Logan Ramsey) instead. Luke isn’t even dating anyone and so he must immediately go looking for a virtual stranger who’s willing to marry him on-the-spot simply for the profit. He finds that person in the form of Annie (Lissa Layng) who is a country girl visiting the big city and who Luke finds to be more down-to-earth than his other past girlfriends who now want to marry him simply so they can get their lecherous hands on his newfound fortune, but as they move ahead with their impromptu wedding his father tries everything in his means to put a stop to it.

Writer/director Larry Yust rose to some prominence in the film scene with his controversial film short The Lottery, which was based on the Shirley Jackson short story about a small town who stones one member of their community each year after their name gets randomly picked from a lottery. He followed it up with the Blaxploitation favorite Trick Baby and after that the offbeat horror flick Homebodies. While none of these films were masterpieces they still showed flair and creative potential, so why he would end up helming this dud, which is his last film to date, is a mystery, but the humor in this thing is excessively lame and the storyline utterly ridiculous.

Hindle makes for a very transparent and bland lead, but my real qualm came from his costar Layng who is a complete turn off in every way. I really hated her rural sounding accent and her phone conversation with her mother, who has even more of one, gets particularly annoying. Why Luke would choose her at random and become so very attached to her so quickly when a horde of other woman are chasing after him is never made clear and doesn’t make much sense.

Winters is the only good thing about this otherwise forgettable flick and it’s a shame he wasn’t made the star, but his ad-libs actually manages to elicit a few chuckles and what he does with his tongue at one point is rather obscene looking. I also enjoyed Logan Ramsey as his son even though in real-life he was four year older than Winters.

A slightly surreal segment where they go into a factory where workers are conditioned to crack open eggs in unison, which eventually leads to an egg throwing fight is the film’s one-and-only highpoint and even this isn’t much. I also got a kick out of the scenes with Anne Ramsey playing the part of a street preacher who tries to marry the couple first on the back of a speeding junk truck and then later while the three are floating in water with lifejackets on.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: June 12, 1986

Runtime: 1Hour 29Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Larry Yust

Studio: Cinetel Films

Available: VHS

Another Chance (1989)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Jaded playboy seeks redemption.

John Ripley (Bruce Greenwood) enjoys trying to bed every attractive woman that comes along. He even has his dog Rocky trained to bite on their purses and lead them over to him wherever he may be sitting. He is a big star on the daytime soaps and uses this position to take advantage of every young, nubile starlet willing to go to have sex with an established actor if it can in some way help boost their career. Then he meets the beautiful Jackie (Vanessa Angel) and starts to have strong feelings for her, but she catches him with another woman and it’s all over. He tries to win her back, but in the process loses his job and home. While working a part-time gig at a look-a-like show he gets into an ugly confrontation with a psychotic man resembling Humphrey Bogart (Robert Sacchi) who pulls out a gun and shoots him on the spot. John then finds out that he has been banished to hell, but pleads for one more shot at redemption, which he is given, but only if he can win back Jackie’s heart.

The film, which was written and directed by B-actor Jesse Vint, certainly has a crazy wide open storyline that seems to want to mix in the mindset of today’s modern world with that of spiritual one, which doesn’t work at all. Initially I thought the heaven and hell thing was thrown in simply as a plot device, but the more it continued the more I became convinced that this movie was intended to be religious one even though it gets enveloped inside the jaded world of modern day Hollywood, which just makes it all the more loopy.

In more competent hands this might’ve worked as an interesting curio, but the script needed to be better focused and the editing much tighter. The narrative is too heavy-handed to take seriously and everything gets photographed in a flat sort of way making the whole thing seem on par to a TV-movie instead of a theatrical one.

Greenwood gives an engaging performance and helps make a potentially unlikable character more tolerable. Angel is good too and it’s too bad she couldn’t have been in more scenes. The supporting female cast is overall quite attractive, but they’re all made to dress and act like bimbos. Anne Ramsey is on-hand for a brief bit as John’s crabby landlady and Allan Rich has a supporting role as a sleazy agent, but overall the one thing I liked most about the movie was Rocky the dog and that’s about it.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: May 5, 1989

Runtime: 1Hour 38Minutes

Rated R

Director: Jesse Vint

Studio: Moviestore Entertainment

Available: VHS

Throw Momma from the Train (1987)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review: Two guys trade murders.

Larry (Billy Crystal) is a creative writing teacher who’s bitter about his ex-wife (Kate Mulgrew) stealing his story idea and using it to write a successful novel that has made her rich and famous while he wallows in the realm of writer’s block. Owen (Danny DeVito) is a writing student taking one of Larry’s classes who is stuck living with his miserable mother (Anne Ramsey) who he’d like to see dead. After watching the movie Strangers on a Train he comes up with what he thinks is a brilliant solution. He’ll murder Larry’s ex-wife while Larry in turn will murder his Momma. Owen does his part, but Larry is reluctant to pull his end of the ‘deal’.

DeVito gets a lot of accolades for his acting, but in many ways I think he is an even better director and doesn’t get enough credit for it. This movie was way ahead-of-its-time and ushers in many interesting juxtapositions and edits that we take for granted now, but was considered quite novel back then. I loved the close-up of Owen’s Hawaiian shirt with palm trees and then a jet plane formatted over it, which is used to cut to the next scene as well as the scene showing Larry’s students sitting in class and then the camera panning over in one take to Larry sleeping on the sofa in his apartment. The segments with a camera spinning around the characters is good and gives it a very Hitchcock feel especially the one with Larry lying on the floor as the camera rotates above him, but the best directorial touch is when Owen goes bowling while imagining that the pins are his mother.

Ramsey’s performance as the ultimate mother from hell is another selling point and one that has made this a cult classic. The fact that the woman was dying of cancer at the time and was in severe pain during the entire time that the movie was being filmed makes it all the more impressive. My only complaint is that it would’ve been nice had there been at least one moment where her character revealed a softer side and made her seem at least slightly human. I also felt that her eventual demise was quite unimaginative especially for a film that was otherwise very creative.

DeVito scores as well in his performance of the nebbish grown son in a character that could’ve easily been unlikable had it not been perfectly balanced, which he does marvelously. Crystal is excellent as a sort of sane everyman stuck in a very insane situation. His best part comes when he paces his house endlessly while trying desperately to come up with the opening sentence of his novel, which I found to be one of the funniest moments in the movie and something every struggling writer can relate to.

The wrap-up is a bit too good natured and works against the story’s otherwise dark comical roots, but it still gets a few points for showing Owen’s children’s pop-up book that he made, which illustrates the film’s scenario.

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My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: December 11, 1987

Runtime: 1Hour 28Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: Danny DeVito

Studio: Orion Pictures

Available: DVD, Blu-ray

The Goonies (1985)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Kids hunt for treasure

Mikey’s (Sean Astin) parents are risking having their house foreclosed, which will force them to move out of the region and Mikey will then lose touch with all of his friends. In an effort to save the home he and his four friends find a treasure map in the attic and they decide to follow it. On the way they bump into the infamous Fratelli family who compete with the boys for the treasure as well as threatening to kill them.

The concept is great and full of the type of grand adventure any 10-year-old boy dreams about. The action is generally entertaining and moves at a rapid-fire pace, which at times borders on becoming dizzying. However, the whole thing becomes increasingly more fabricated and fairy tale-like and inserting some subtly and restrained would have helped create a better balance.

The comedy is actually quite funny most of the way and I really enjoyed the opening car chase and wished that it had been strung out a little bit more. It does though become a bit too slick for its own good. Any peril the characters find themselves in immediately gets resolved in some cutesy way and thus there is never any type of real tension.

The special effects are not on par with what you might expect from a Steven Spielberg production. The big boulders that come crashing down around them look very much like the ceramic creations that they are. The bats that fly out at them also look unrealistic, but I will give credit for the pirate ship. There are also all sorts of gadgets and booby traps that the kids run into that was supposedly built in 1632 by the pirates, but I found it hard to believe after 300 plus years that stuff would still be functioning.

The young cast is okay, but it is asking too much that these kids carry the picture and it would have been better had some veteran actor been cast as an adult who goes along with them in order to give the thing a little more stature. Astin though gives a good effort in the lead and at certain angles looks exactly like his famous mother Patty Duke although I could have done without his strained ‘our time’ speech. Corey Feldman is also quite engaging especially at the beginning when he translates things for Mikey’s Spanish speaking maid (Lupe Ontiveros).

I wasn’t so crazy about Jeff Cohen who plays the fat kid named Chunk as there are just too many fat stereotypes with the character. The jokes involving his propensity for food are clichéd and tiring although his puke story does earn him a few points.

I thought it was good that actresses Martha Plimpton and Kerri Green join the boys later on by playing older teenage girls. Green’s character may be a bit too much on the prissy side and the fact that she could have romance on her mind as they are trapped in a dark and dangerous cave seemed almost absurd, but Plimpton is solid.

Anne Ramsey is terrific as the villainous mother of the two bad guys (Robert Davi, Joe Pantoliano). In many ways I thought she was more engaging here than in her most famous role in Throw Momma from the Train.

The film is a bit too good natured and at times becomes like a live-action kiddie cartoon. I also thought Cyndi Lauper was a terrible choice for the soundtrack, but despite all that I still found it to be fun and perfect non-think escapism.

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My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: June 7, 1985

Runtime: 1Hour 54Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Richard Donner

Studio: Warner Brothers

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