Tag Archives: Daniel Stern

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

Get Crazy (1983)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Save the Saturn Theater.

Stagehand Neil (Daniel Stern) who works for concert promoter Max Wolfe (Allen Garfield) has his hands full trying to put together a New Year’s Eve bash to welcome in 1983. First he must deal with a persnickety fire marshal (Robert Picardo), an arrogant rock star (Malcolm McDowell) and raucous, stoned fans who will stop at nothing to get into the event even if they haven’t paid. He also must try to stop Colin Beverly (Ed Begley Jr.) who wants to blow up the theater and replace it with a high rise business building. They’ve even planted a bomb in the place that is set to go off when the clock strikes midnight unless Neil can somehow get to it first.

The film is directed by Allan Arkush who also did the cult hit Rock ‘N’ Roll High School and it has similar cartoonish, slam-bang paced gags as well as featuring some of the same actors including Paul Bartel who appears here as a Dr. wearing a blood splattered white coat and Mary Woronov. It also makes a playful reference to that film by having one of the characters (Stacey Nelkin) wearing a Ramones T-shirt. I ended up preferring this movie to that one as the humor has more of a satirical edge.

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It’s all loosely based on Arkush’s experiences working at the Fillmore East Rock Palace between the years of 1968 to 1971. He initially wanted to make it more of a realistic, subtle comedy, but was only able to get it funded when he agreed to turn into an Airplane-like formula, but it still succeeds anyway. In fact one of the things I really liked about this film is it gives the viewer despite its exaggerated nature a good composite of what things are like for someone who would work at one of these places and the audience seems genuinely raucous and very much like what you would find at a wild rock party of that era.

Stern is likable in the lead and Miles Chapin is engaging as his would-be nemesis. Begley is a bit boring as the villain in a type of role that doesn’t take advantage of his talents, but singer Lou Reed as a songwriter going through a creative bloc who uses bits of random conversations that he hears as ‘inspiration’ for his lyrics is quite funny. The true scene stealer though is McDowell who sings two knock-out songs that are better than the ones done by the rock bands.

Although it was made and takes place during the 80’s  it still seems much more like a 70’s movie especially with the free-basing drug use, which had become out-of-style during the ‘just say no’ decade as well as unprotected sex between strangers. However, McDowell’s conversation with his talking penis while inside a dingy bathroom more than makes up for any of the film’s other shortcomings. I also got a kick out of the poster of him that features giant roaming eyes and a moving tongue.

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My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: August 5, 1983

Runtime: 1Hour 32Minutes

Rated R

Director: Allan Arkush

Studio: Embassy Pictures

Available: VHS