Tag Archives: Janet Margolin

Ghostbusters II (1989)

ghostbusters 3

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Called back into action.

It’s been 5 years since our team of Ghostbusters (Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd) saved New York City from impending ghostly doom only to be thanked by getting sued for all the damage they created in the process, which promptly sent them out of business. Now though there are signs of an even worse attack from the supernatural in the form of an ectoplasmic river underneath New York, which is being strengthened by all of the negative energy from the citizens that live there. Can our team of heroes put on their uniforms once more and save the city from yet another ghostly attack while also coming to the aid of Dana (Sigourney Weaver) who finds that an ancient sorcerer (Wilhelm Von Homburg) is trying to possess her newborn child?

The premise pretty much starts the film out on bad footing and it’s never able to recover. The idea that they’d be driven out of business by a barrage of lawsuits didn’t make much sense to me. The ghosts that were terrorizing Dana’s apartment building in the first film were witnessed by thousands of spectators as they stood outside on the ground and watched the three men drive them away, so they should’ve been viewed as heroes and those that tried to sue them would’ve been vilified. Besides it was the mayor (David Margulies) who gave them the permission to do whatever they needed to do to take the ghosts out, so if anyone was to be a target for the lawsuits it would’ve been his office and the city. What is even worse is that after the first 40 minutes the story eventually goes back to the original premise where the team becomes popular again and their services are in-demand, so why couldn’t the film simply started from that point as it makes the entire first act come off like a complete waste of time otherwise.

Although it’s great to see Janet Margolin, who plays a prosecuting attorney, in her last film appearance, the court room scenes are static and not right for this type of genre. The ghosts are not scary or frightening like they were in the first one either and instead come off as cartoonish and boring.

Murray gets pigeonholed in a dull routine where he spends most of the time trying to desperately rekindle his romance with Dana, which isn’t interesting. Ramis and Aykroyd seemed more intent on stealing back some of Murray’s thunder by not having him come along on a few of their missions including a long segment where they discover the evil river underneath the city, which is just not as funny without Murray there.

Weaver pretty much just goes through the motions in a part that really does not allow her much to do. I was also confused as to why she had been a musician in the first film, but in this one she had strangely crossed over into being a painter. Rick Moranis and Annie Potts are equally wasted and forced into a makeshift romance simply because the writers didn’t know what else to do with them.

William Atherton, who was so good at playing the prissy, arrogant heavy in the first film, gets sorely missed. Kurt Fuller tries to take up his slack, but he is not as effective. Former wrestler von Homburg plays the evil sorcerer, but his voice ended up being dubbed by Max von Sydow, which made me wonder why they didn’t just cast him in the villainess role to begin with since he was the far better actor.

Just about all the jokes fall flat and the climactic finish which features an animated Statue of Liberty is really lame. The story is never able to gain any traction or momentum, doesn’t add any new or interesting angle to the theme and should’ve been trashed before it was even made.

My Rating: June 16, 1989

Runtime: 1Hour 48Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Ivan Reitman

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD, Amazon Instant Video

Enter Laughing (1967)

enter laughing

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Acting is his dream.

Loosely based on writer/director Carl Reiner’s experiences as a fledgling actor trying to work his way up into the business circa 1938. The story centers on David Kolowitz (Reni Santoni) who works as an apprentice at a machine repair shop, but dreams of one day making a living as a stage actor. He gets his break when he auditions for a part in a low budget stage production run by an aging, alcoholic actor named Harrison Marlowe (Jose Ferrer). Marlowe is not impressed with David’s acting ability, which is marginal at best, but at the insistence of his daughter Angela (Elaine May), who thinks David is ‘cute’, he decides to give him a try under the condition that David must pay them to perform in it and also must come up with his own costume.

Although this was a big success on Broadway as a film is has not aged well and is quite bland. The story is better suited as an episode for a sitcom and stretching out such a thin one-dimensional plot to an almost two-hour runtime becomes quite boring particularly with its plodding pace and direction. The only time it ever gets even mildly funny is during David’s audition scene, but even this ultimately falls flat particularly with the idea that David would be dumb enough to think that words in a script that are in parenthesis would be part of the dialogue and not a stage direction. You would think someone who has spent his entire life dreaming of being ‘the next Ronald Coleman’, who was a big movie star during the ‘30s, would know how a basic script is constructed and therefore this attempt at humor fails.

Santoni, in his first major film role, is terrific and despite being of Hispanic heritage, which Reiner is not, still manages to resemble Carl quite well during Reiner’s younger years. However, the character is too painfully naïve and dumb as he clumsily walks himself into messy situations long after the viewer, or anyone else with some common sense, would clearly see the obvious red flags.

Janet Margolin is beautiful playing David’s girlfriend Wanda and her presence gets an ‘A’ simply for her attractive face alone, but the romantic scenes do nothing but bog this already slow moving film down even further. Also, having David be so oblivious to her insecurities about him working with an attractive leading lady onstage makes him seem insensitive and not funny as intended.

Elaine May is good and so is Jack Gilford as David’s boss at the repair shop. It’s also fun seeing Carl’s real-life son, Rob Reiner, who later became famous for playing Mike Stivic on ‘All in the Family, making his film debut as a nerdy, would-be actor, but overall the film is dated and contrived.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: February 25, 1967

Runtime: 1Hour 52Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Carl Reiner

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: VHS

Your Three Minutes Are Up (1973)

your three minutes are up 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Road trip goes bad.

Charlie (Beau Bridges) is unhappy with his life. He is stuck in a dull job and engaged to Betty (Janet Margolin) who is constantly nagging him. He longs for a more carefree existence that is friend Mike (Ron Liebman) enjoys. Mike does not work a job and spends most of his time trying to cheat what he feels is a cold and impersonal system, but also has to deal with constant calls from bill collectors and the stress of trying to make ends meet with very little money. The two decide on a whim to take a little road trip, but during the course of their journey things begin to unravel as both men realize there are limits to everything and once you cross it you must pay the consequences.

The film like the characters spans the entire critical spectrum. The script, which was written by James Dixon who appears as the character Howard is incisive and taps into something every individual on the planet must deal with, which is learning how to balance individuals desires with societal demands. Other films have lightly touched on it, but few delve into it quite this deeply. I especially enjoyed the Charlie character who starts out as an obedient schmuck that gets ordered around by everyone, but also harbors a pent up anger that comes out slowly until it finally erupts into volcanic proportions that shocks even him.

Unfortunately the direction by Douglas Schwartz is dull and unimaginative. The budget was clearly low, which gives the movie a cheap TV-Movie look and feel. The framing and camera work is uninspired and could have used more close-ups, tighter editing and better lighting. The film also contains four generic sounding songs all sung by Mark Lindsey the former lead singer from Paul Revere and the Raiders that lack distinction and give the movie a dated quality.

I also didn’t care for the Margolin character. She is a beautiful woman physically, but the character is too much of a one-dimensional nag. Why she would continue to call Charlie and beg him to come back when he clearly lied to her while also openly telling her that she annoyed him didn’t make much sense. The scene where she walks in on him in bed with two naked women and instead of just ending the relationship immediately she stays and tries to ‘reason’ with him, which came off as pathetic and unrealistic.

This also marks the film debut of Nedra Volz a late bloomer into acting who at age 65 started a two decade career playing old lady roles in various TV-shows and movies. She can be briefly spotted at the 31-minute mark playing an old lady sitting on a bench at a bus stop and accepting a free newspaper only to become shocked and embarrassed at its provocative headline.

nedra volz

June Fairchild who appears as a woman who stuffs her face with food at a fancy restaurant thinking that she is being treated to dinner only to end up getting stiffed with the bill ironically had her real-life paralleling the lead character’s quandary in the movie. She was in a string of films during the 70’s, but when the offers dried up she became a homeless alcoholic living on skid row and the subject of a February, 2001 article in The Los Angeles Times. Friends came to her rescue and she managed to get back on her feet and now judging by some recent pics is looking happy and still quite attractive.

june fairchild 1

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: August 7, 1973

Runtime: 1Hour 27Minutes

Rated R

Director: Douglas N. Schwartz

Studio: Cinerama Releasing Corporation

Available: YouTube