Tag Archives: Dennis Quaid

Jaws 3 (1983)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Killer shark attacks Seaworld.

A new theme park has opened up in Orlando, Florida. This one has been designed by Calvin Bouchard (Louis Gossett Jr.) and will feature underwater tunnels and an aquatic pool with dolphins and whales. However, just before the grand opening a great white shark and its offspring sneak in through the park’s closing gates. It’s now up to Mike Brody (Dennis Quaid) the son of Chief Brody from the first two Jaws movies, and marine biologist Kathryn (Bess Armstrong) to stop the shark from attacking the people as they venture into the water and tunnels.

This sequel was originally conceived as being a spoof and the title of it was going to be Jaws 3, People 0. John Hughes was commissioned to write the screenplay and Joe Dante was slated to direct. It was even going to have the author of the ‘Jaws’ novel, Peter Benchley getting eaten by a shark right at the beginning in his very own backyard pool, but Steven Spielberg became aware of the idea and threatened to pull out of the deal he had with Universal if they went through with it, so it was nixed, which is a shame because even if the humor had been lame it would still have been better than anything you’ll see here.

Like with most sequels there aren’t enough new elements entered into the mix to make what we see interesting. It just replays on the same tired formula including the scene where Quaid frantically warns everyone to get out of the water much like Roy Scheider did in the first one, which comes off as derivative and uninspired. The idea of having the two male characters be the sons of Chief Brody, in an apparent desperate attempt to tie this one in with the first two, is really dumb. The odds that the Brody offspring would continue to get into situations that would involve killer sharks are quite low and the fact that they do makes the family seem like they’re affected by some sort of curse.

The storyline dealing with Brody’s younger brother Sean (John Putch) who comes to visit and his extreme fear of going into the water, due to is childhood trauma of the shark attack years earlier, is stupid too especially since he immediately goes into the water with the coaxing of bikini clad Lea Thompson. If his fear was that severe no woman, no matter how beautiful, would get him to go against it. Why even enter in this plot element if they’re just going to have him get over the problem right away? Why not put it to good use by creating a scene where Quaid is trapped in the water and relying on his younger brother to overcome his fear so he can jump in to save him and thus create tension with the viewer wondering whether he’ll be able to do it or not?

The shark attacks take too long to get going and then when they do they happen too quickly. The 3D effects, like having a severed arm floating towards the viewer, are cheesy and not scary at all. Although with that said, the brief sequence showing a man being eaten by the shark from inside the shark’s mouth is pretty cool and the only reason that I’m giving this film any points at all.

I also found the entire cast, and their benign side-story issues, to be completely boring. The viewer is supposed to have some concern for the welfare for these individuals, but I had none. Simon MacCorkindale is semi-colorful and gets thrown in to act as a potential jerk to the rest, but this doesn’t get played-up enough.

Spoiler Alert!

I had a lot of issues with the climactic sequence too. For one thing it features the cast standing inside an underwater control room watching the shark coming at them through the glass window causing them to simultaneously scream at the same time, but it’s shown in slow-motion making it come off as corny and unintentionally funny. My biggest beef though is that the shark is able to burst through the glass without any problem. I’ve been to underwater aquariums and the glass that is used is of a much thicker variety than ordinary windows in order to withstand the water pressure and yet here the shark shatters it away in seconds like it was the same type of glass used for your living room window.

End of Spoiler Alert!

While a small cult in recent years has taken to this film it was lambasted quite justifiably by the critics upon its initial release with one calling it: “a cheese soaked ocean thriller with no evident reason to exist.” The film’s opening weekend did quite well, but once the bad word-of-mouth got going the box office receipts dropped sharply. Don’t be fooled by seeing Richard Matheson’s name listed on the screenwriting credits either. All he did was supply an outline, which he insisted got heavily revised later on by script doctors. He also labeled the final product, once he finally saw it, as a “waste of time”.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: July 22, 1983

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Joe Alves

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

Caveman (1981)

caveman

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: Caveman starts new tribe.

Caveman Atouk (Ringo Starr) is in-love with Lana (Barbara Bach) who unfortunately is infatuated with Tonda (John Matuszak). Tonda is the big muscular leader of their tribe and when he catches Atouk trying to make a pass at his girl he throws him out. Atouk is then forced to fend for himself. Fortunately he meets up with Lar (Dennis Quaid) and Tala (Shelley Long). Soon more cavepeople join his band of misfits only to have Tonda and his people track them down and challenge them to a fight.

This is yet another film where I’m at a complete loss for what type of intended audience the producers were looking for. There is no nudity, no sexual innuendos, and not enough raunchiness to attract the raucous college crowd. The humor is also too subtle and spread too thin, so it wouldn’t attract the kiddie crowd who prefer slapstick and a faster pace. In the end one is left with what amounts to being one really, really dumb movie that is virtually plotless and stretches out its threadbare concept until it becomes incredibly boring to sit through.

Starr may have been the member of one of the most influential and greatest rock bands of all-time, but as an actor he sucks. Granted the unimaginative script gives him little to go on, but a more creative actor could’ve added some interesting nuances that would’ve made the part more memorable and the movie more enjoyable. Even veteran actors like Jack Gilford, who are almost always funny, come off as flat and transparent here. The only performances that I liked were that of a young Dennis Quaid and Shelley Long, who looks surprisingly cute in her cave-girl getup.

The special effects involving the dinosaurs that were created by Jim Danforth are the film’s one and only saving grace even though it’s painfully clear that the beasts on shown on a separate screen from the one that the actors are in and thus making the moments where they are being ‘chased’ by the animals look quite cheesy. Also, the scene where a giant fly lands on top of Quaid’s face is genuinely funny, but unfortunately amounts to being the only laugh-out-loud moment in the movie.

How this pathetic excuse for a script ever got the green light is hard to fathom especially when so many other good ones get rejected year-after-year and yet it proves once again that Neanderthals are still alive and well even in this day and age and the majority of them work as heads of major Hollywood film studios.

caveman 2

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: April 17, 1981

Runtime: 1Hour 31Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Carl Gottlieb

Studio: United Artists

Available: DVD

Suspect (1987)

suspect 3

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Juror helps solve case.

Kathleen Riley (Cher) is a public defender who suddenly finds herself embroiled in what initially seems like an open-and-shut case. She’s been hired to defend Carl (Liam Neeson) a Vietnam Veteran who through illness is now both deaf and mute and living on the city streets as a homeless vagrant. He was caught near the body of a former file clerk to the justice department whose corpse was found floating near the Potomac River. As the case progresses Kathleen finds an unusual ally in Eddie (Dennis Quaid) who is one of the jurors on the case and who does some investigating of his own only to dig up evidence that points to the murder being connected to a top ranking political figure (Phillip Bosco).

The film starts out well and has all the ingredients of being a crafty court battle wrapped around an intricate mystery, but unlike most other courtroom dramas this one is not based on a novel written by an author with a legal background. Instead the story was penned directly for the screen by Eric Roth, who’s had plenty of success in his own right, but no expertise in legal proceedings, which would explain why this would-be drama ultimately becomes implausible and over-the-top.

The biggest problem I had was trying to understand why a juror would go so out of his way to investigate a case on his own. Nothing about the character’s background revealed a personality trait that would make him want to do this and if anything working as a lobbyist seemed to make him more of an opportunist than a truth seeker. The character was initially reluctant to even fulfill his jury duty requirement, so why does he suddenly make a 180 degree turn and spend his free time going into dangerous areas of the city simply to help solve a case that he has no emotional attachment to whatsoever? The concept makes no sense and is also illegal. The story would’ve been more believable had the character been a young member of Riley’s legal team and in an effort to prove himself went out of his way to find clues that would help solve the case.

The fact that the victim’s car remains impounded in the lot where she last parked it and never towed away even well after she had been murdered seems equally implausible as does the fact that Riley nor the police don’t think to search it until the case is almost over. There is also another scene where Eddie, in an effort to get out of the hotel room after the jury has been sequestered, puts a flame to a fire alarm to make it go off and thus create enough diversion to allow him to leave the building undetected, which he does, but it never shows how he is able to get back into his room undetected, which most likely could prove just as dicey.

Yet despite all these other issues, it is actually the theatrical, Hollywood-like court room showdown at the end that is the most absurd and relies too much on extreme circumstance and coincidence for it to be even remotely believable. Katherine’s foot chase through the darkened corridors of the court building by a shadowy figure is equally out-of-place and better suited for a thriller.

Cher is okay in a role that seemed to be stretching her acting range, but the fact that a juror feeds her all the clues and does almost all the investigative legwork that either her or her legal team should’ve done initially makes her character look lazy, sloppy and incompetent.

John Mahoney is effective as the stern, grim-faced judge and Liam Neeson does well cast in role that has no speaking lines, but his character doesn’t get shown enough and there are long stretches where he isn’t seen and the viewer almost forgets all about him. The segment though where Riley asks him if he committed the murder as he is sitting on the stand and his face goes from pale white to beet red in a matter of seconds is probably the film’s best moment.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: October 23, 1987

Runtime: 2Hours 1Minute

Rated R

Director: Peter Yates

Studio: TriStar Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube