Tag Archives: Pat Morita

Jimmy the Kid (1982)

jimmy 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: Inept kidnappers bungle crime.

Jimmy (Gary Coleman) is the son of a singing duo (Cleavon Little, Fay Hauser) who feels neglected while his parents are out on the road singing in concerts. Kelp (Walter Olkewicz) is an inept would-be crook who’s finding it a struggle to successfully commit any crime. He then reads a book about kidnapping and convinces his reluctant brother John (Paul Le Mat), John’s girlfriend May (Dee Wallace) and even his own mother Bernice (Ruth Gordon) to get in on it. Their plan is to kidnap Jimmy and hide him out in a secluded cabin in the woods while extorting money from his rich parents for ransom. The problem is that Jimmy is quite intelligent for his age and outsmarts the crooks at every turn, but also forms a bond with them and they to him, so when his father and the private investigator (Don Adams) comes looking for him in order to ‘rescue him’ he resists their attempts.

The film is based on a Donald E. Westlake novel and while many of his books that were turned into movies were quite entertaining this one isn’t. The same story was filmed before in 1976 as Come Ti Rapisco Pupo and although that was no classic either at least was better than this version, which tries too hard to attract the family audience by being about as benign as you can get. Even a kiddie flick, at least the good ones, need some genuine tension and excitement, to keep the interest going. Classic kid’s films like Benji had some stressful moments where it seem like the kids, who had also been kidnapped, where in danger and you worried for their safety, which got the viewer emotionally caught up in it and intrigued enough to keep watching. This film though makes it quite clear from the start that the bad guys are too stupid to pull-it-off and the kid is never in any kind of real trouble, so the interest level is virtually nil. The crooks are also too dumb to be believable making their clueless remarks and pratfalls more eye-rolling than funny.

The supporting cast is filled with ‘zany characters’ that are equally pathetic. I’ll give some credit to Cleavon who goes out on stage with his wife wearing a get-up that looks like he’s apart of a soul duo, but instead sings a country-tinged song that wasn’t half-bad, Pat Morita as the legally blind limo driver though is ridiculous. I think his part was put-in to give the thing some action by showing all sorts of car pile-ups that he causes as he drives, but no sane person would ever get into a car with him and his ability to hold onto a job as a driver and not be arrested for endangering others, would-be non-existent.

Coleman is especially boring and never says or does anything that’s especially funny. Having him be this super smart kid gets played-up too much and is neither fun, nor amusing. He also shows no character arc other than supposedly ‘learning to be a kid’ though we don’t really see this, which in a good movie would be, but instead verbally explained by Coleman. The movie should’ve had a moment where the crooks, despite their dumbness, knew something that the kid, despite his smartness, didn’t because of the fact that they’d been around longer and a little more worldy-wise, which could’ve lent some insightful irony, but the stupid script wasn’t savvy enough to even go there.

The only two good things about the film are Don Adams and Ruth Gordon. For Adams he plays basically just an extension of his more famous Maxwell Smart persona even having him wear the same type of trench coat. While his pratfalls inside the home of Jimmy’s parents where he inadvertently tears-up the place borders on inane, the scenes where he dresses in drag are actually kind of funny. For Gordon you get to see her, at the age of 85, climb-up a telephone pole. While I’d presume they didn’t really make her do it and just filmed it in a way that made it appear like she did, it still ends-up looking authentic and she says some amusing things as she does, but outside of these two brief moments the movie clunks.

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: November 12, 1982

Runtime: 1 Hour 25 Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Gary Nelson

Studio: New World Pictures

Available: VHS

Where Does It Hurt? (1972)

where does it hurt 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Corruption at a hospital.

It’s funny how names like Ed Wood Jr. or Tommy Wiseau get mentioned in just about anyone’s list of bad movie director’s, but Rod Amateau’s never does, but should. Not only did he produce ‘My Mother the Car’ and ‘Supertrain’, which are considered two of the worst TV-series ever to be broadcast, but he also directed the notorious Garbage Pail Kids as well as Son of Hitler and The Statue, which featured a jealous David Niven going around the bathrooms and gay bathhouses of London looking for a man whose penis matches the one that his wife created for a life-sized statue that she says replicates her lovers.

While this film isn’t quite as bad as those it comes close. It stars Peter Sellers who was at a career nadir due to financial mismanagement and willing to take on any low budget job offer he was given. Here he plays the corrupt head of a hospital that uses an array of schemes to bilk patients and insurance companies out of thousands of dollars. Rick Lenz plays a patient who becomes aware of the shenanigans going on and tries to bring Sellers and his staff down, but finds that they seem to have a trick up their proverbial sleeves at every turn.

The film manages to have a few amusing moments, but comes off more like a gag reel than a story. The characters are exaggerated and unlikable. We are supposed to side with Lenz and his predicament, but he so stupidly allows the doctors to take advantage of him at the beginning that it becomes hard to. The whole thing gets sillier by the second until by the end it’s completely inane. It also makes light of some serious issues that were handled better in Paddy Chayefsky’s The Hospital, which came out just 8 months before this one.

To some degree it’s fun seeing Sellers, who was noted for his wide range of dialects, taking a stab at an American accent and he almost pulls it off except for a few moments including the one where he pronounces orifice as AW-ifice.

The supporting cast made up of lesser known talents proves to be game here. Pat Morita, still years away from his breakout role in The Karate Kid, is genuinely amusing as a lab tech with an inferiority complex and at one point even speaks in a British accent. Harold Gould is good as an incompetent Dr. and J. Edward McKinley, best known for his many appearances on ‘Bewitched’ as one of McMahon and Tate’s primary clients, is funny as the Hospital commissioner who relentlessly tries to nab Sellers and eventually after repeated missed opportunities is able to.

In better hands this might’ve had a chance, but the low budget, irritating country music soundtrack and cheap jokes pretty much sink this thing before it even has a chance to get started.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: September 29, 1972

Runtime: 1Hour 28Minutes

Rated R

Director: Rod Amateau

Studio: Cinerama Releasing Corporation

Available: None at this time.