Tag Archives: Candice Azzara

Fatso (1980)

fatso

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: He can’t stop eating.

When her cousin dies at the age of 39 from being overweight Antoinette (Anne Bancroft) puts pressure on her brother Dom (Dom DeLuise) to work on losing some weight of his own. Dom tries but his lifelong obsession with food cannot be curbed. He ties a chain around the cupboards in his kitchen so he can’t get at the food inside and then has his brother Frankie (Ron Carey) hide the key. He even joins a club called the Chubby Checkers who are on-call at all hours to come to his home and counsel him should his willpower falter and yet it does no good until he meets Lydi (Candice Azzara) and her love for him helps him find strength.

This was Bancroft’s one-and-only foray behind the camera and unfortunately it’s a jumbled misguided mess that seems like a comedy at some points only to quickly turnover into a hard wrought drama the next. I enjoyed the recreation of the extended Italian family living in the New York, which was right on-target particularly the way they lean on each other in times of need while also vigorously fighting amongst themselves at other points. I also appreciated how religion is shown playing an important part in their lives particularly the crosses and pictures of Christ seen in almost every room even the bathroom. I’m not a religious person myself, but the film still helps the viewer understand and appreciate how spirituality can play a vital role to those whose lives seem empty and challenging otherwise.

The comical moments, or at least when they manage to randomly pop-up, aren’t bad either with the scene involving the two brothers attacking each other at different times while using the same knife being the best. DeLuise gives an excellent and highly underrated performance. The scene where he reads greeting cards out loud while constantly breaking into sobs is hilarious as is his first awkward meeting with Lydia. Unfortunately Dom became much more rotund later in his life and by comparison seems almost thin here.

The film gives the viewer a nice, sensitive portal to how tough fighting the urge to eat must be for those who are fat and manages to nicely expose the human side of the issue without ever mocking them. Bancroft does her emotional drama bit, from which she is best known for, quite well, but I felt the material really didn’t call for it and it becomes almost over-the-top. The pacing is also off and the story is never compelling despite the earnest efforts of its cast. It all would’ve played out better had it stuck firmly to the comical angle and the fact that it doesn’t really hurts it.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: February 1, 1980

Runtime: 1Hour 33Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Anne Bancroft

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: DVD (Out-of-Print/Anchor Bay)

Ea$y Money (1983)

easy money

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Breaking his bad habits.

Monty Capuletti (Rodney Dangerfield) is a married man with two teenage daughters who is trying desperately to make ends meet while working as a child photographer. His oldest daughter Allison (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is set to get married to a man named Julio (Taylor Negron) that Monty does not approve of. Attending the wedding is Monty’s rich, but hateful mother-in-law (Geraldine Fitzgerald) who promptly dies on her way back home. At the reading of her will she stipulates that she will give her entire fortune to Monty, but only if he gives up all of bad habits, which includes his drinking, gambling and drug use. Monty isn’t sure he can do it, but his eager family members try to coach him into trying.

This was Rodney’s first starring vehicle after his breakout success in Caddyshack, but the script doesn’t take advantage of his comic ability. The opening sequence in which the viewer gets an understanding of the character’s personality visually by having the camera pan through his cluttered work area is great and probably the best part of the whole movie, but trying to confine his edgy persona into the sterile role of a suburban dad isn’t effective. His wife, played by Candice Azzara, is much too young and good looking a woman and would typically be way out of his league. His daughters are also too attractive and he was already in his 60’s at the time, which made him much better suited for a grandfatherly role. A much funnier plot would’ve had him stuck with his adult daughters still living at home because they were too ugly to find suitors and his desperate attempts to con someone into marrying them just so he could get rid of them and be able to enjoy  his ‘golden years’ in peace.

The script is limp and doesn’t get going with its main premise until the second half with the first part dealing with the daughter’s on-again, off-again relationship with her new husband that goes nowhere and seems added in solely to pad the running time. The idea of Monty having to give up his bad habits is poorly thought out as well as there is no third party coming in to observe that he sticks with it, or hidden cameras placed somewhere to monitor him. It leaves everything up to his family members to ‘keep him on track’ even though they could’ve lied and covered up for him and his ability to cheat at any time was wide open.

The film also does not take enough advantage of the jokes that it does have. One scene has him, in a bout of frustration, swearing at a fat kid that is not behaving, but the camera never cuts back to the parent’s shocked expression, which would’ve been the best part. Another segment has Julio and his friend trying to sneak into Rodney’s house late at night in an attempt to win back Allison, but in the process they snap off the power lines connected to the home and knock out the electricity yet the film never gets the response of the rest of the household when this occurs and instead quickly cuts away and never comes back to it making it seem almost like it never happened. Last, but not least is a scene where Rodney gets an exercise bike for Christmas and tries it out only for him to go crashing into the Christmas tree and hitting his head against the window and yet no one jumps up to see if he is alright even though I would think that would be the most natural response for someone, especially family members, to do.

There is also a scene involving drunk driving, which I found interesting only because 5 years later the movie License to Drive also had a similar scene, but in that one it was somehow considered more controversial and labeled in bad taste even though the scene here I thought was worse because it was done by the main characters, or in this case Joe Pesci who plays Rodney’s best friend.

The segment where Rodney gets shot in the buttocks and forced to hang in midair at the hospital while his injuries are allowed to heal is quite funny as is the scene involving male runway models showing off Rodney’s latest ‘regular guy’ fashions, but outside of these two segments the film falls flat in a script that never gains any traction and is wildly unfocused. Billy Joel of all people sings the film’s title tune in a song that is catchy, but I’ve never heard played on the radio even though all the rest of his tunes seemingly are.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: August 19, 1983

Runtime: 1Hour 35Minutes

Rated R

Director: James Signorelli

Studio: Orion Pictures

Available: DVD, Blu-ray

Doin’ Time on Planet Earth (1988)

doin time on planet earth 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Weird people don’t belong

Ryan (Nicholas Strouse) is a teenager who has always been ridiculed as being ‘weird’, but finds that he may actually be an offspring to aliens from another planet. This may be the case with all the other weird people too. He and his fellow ‘weirdos’ must now band together and return to the planet that their forefathers came. Charles and Edna (Adam West and Candice Azzara) are the two that are heading the mission.

This is definitely an original idea that is on the most part handled well. The humor is certainly quirky and on the whole not bad. The problem is the fact that it is treated too lightly like it is nothing more than a harmless joke. A deeper, darker underlying theme might have given it more stature and not made it seem so silly and forgettable. It also places too much emphasis on the kids high school life, which makes it seem at times like just another redundant ‘jock vs. geeks’ thing. There is also has too much of that 80’s look, which gets annoying.

Technically it could have used a bigger budget. The quirky humor gets you through it, but the sets are poor and the special effects tacky. The editing is choppy and the color schemes ugly.

The lead himself is the blandest ‘weird’ person you will ever see. He really doesn’t seem that strange at all. The weirdest trait he has is that he has booby trapped his bedroom so anyone that doesn’t knock gets caught in a net. This seems more like a trait of someone who is immature than weird. He is also way to clean cut. A weird person should have a little more of an eccentric style or look. It also doesn’t help matters that the actor who plays him is quite poor and never went on to play anything else.

The presence of West and Azzara help a lot. Azzara’s outrageous beehive hairdos and fingernails alone make it fun. West seems to act like this is nothing more than some campy walk through, but it is still nice to see him doing something more than just a token appearance. Martha Scott is the real surprise as she really seems to get into being a bitchy, snobby mother-in-law.

If your expectations are moderate and you are just in the mood for something that’s just a little bit different than this might fit the bill. There are a few good chuckles and a higher than usual quotient of movie references.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: September 14, 1988

Runtime: 1Hour 25Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Charles Matthau

Studio: Cannon Film Distributors

Available: VHS