Tag Archives: Sigourney Weaver

Deal of the Century (1983)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Making money selling weapons.

Eddie (Chevy Chase) is a American arms dealer selling weapons to both the rebels and military dictator of a small South American country. While there he meets Harold (Wallace Shawn) who works for a large contractor known as Luckup. Their weaponry is much more sophisticated and cutting edge so after Harold kills himself Eddie takes over the deal and successfully wins a big contract, but upon returning to the states he finds that the deal fell through, which forces him to return to the small country along with Harold’s widow Catherine (Sigourney Weaver) and his partner Ray  (Gregory Hines) to see if they can make another pitch.

The film is based on the novel of the same name by Bernard Edelman and makes some really good satirical points about how the arms race being driven more by corporate greed, which only helps to create wars instead of preventing them. Unfortunately the film’s tone is too muddled and goes haphazardly from lighthearted fare to dark humor while throwing in graphic violence that is jarring. There’s also a surprising number of scenes where the three main characters don’t appear in it at all.

Chase can be appealing if given the right material but his cynical smart-ass sense of humor doesn’t exactly make him lovable. Here his character is so consumed with making a deal that he becomes no different than the bad guys and someone the viewer doesn’t connect with or care for. The only positive thing about his character is that he gets shot in the foot early on and then unlike most other movies where the healing power gets sped up he instead spends the rest of the film in a cast, which is more realistic. The scene where he gets shot in the foot a second time and blood spews out of the cast until Sigourney stops it up with a cork is the film’s best moment.

Hines on the other hand is quite likable and his convergence to Christianity is funny and should’ve been played-up more. The scene where he gets into a confrontation with a Latino couple after a car accident is amusing, but having him suddenly go rogue at the end makes little sense and is kind of stupid.

Weaver, who doesn’t have any significant presence until almost 45 minutes in, is wasted and there’s no way that anyone as beautiful as her would marry a chump like Wallace Shawn, which makes the casting here quite nebulous. Vince Edwards, famous for starring in the 60’s medical drama ‘Ben Casey’, gets a surprisingly large role as a Luckup executive and I can only guess that this was because of his longtime friendship with director William Friedkin as otherwise by the 80’s he was way past his and largely forgotten.

There are some humorous bits here and there, but overall the pacing is poor and quite jumbled. Friedkin, better known for his dark dramas and horror films, looks way out of his league and when compared to other Hollywood comedies this thing lacks finesse. The special effects are also really tacky, which ultimately sends this to a schlock level and becomes an embarrassment to all those who were involved.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: November 4, 1983

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

Rated PG

Director: William Friedkin

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: DVD, YouTube

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

Ghostbusters (1984)

ghostbusters 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 9 out of 10

4-Word Review: Who ya gonna call?

Due to this film’s recent reboot set for official release tomorrow I thought it would be great to look back at the one that started it all. I haven’t seen the remake and have no plans to, so this review will concentrate solely on the original. However, if you have seen both feel free to leave a comment comparing the two and telling us which one you liked better.

The story here centers on Peter (Bill Murray), Ray (Dan Aykroyd) and Egon (Harold Ramis) who are three parapsychologists who lose their jobs at Columbia University and decide to open up their own paranormal extermination service out of an old, abandoned firehouse. At first business is slow, but it quickly picks up once they capture a particularly pesky ghost known as slimmer from a ritzy Manhattan hotel. Soon they find themselves the center of demand and media attention. Dana (Sigourney Weaver) is a cellist who finds her apartment to be haunted and the womanizing Peter becomes smitten with her and is quick to come to her aid only for her to end up becoming possessed by the demon. The three then must use all of their abilities and weapons to try and stop it as well as the plethora of other ghouls who were mistakenly released into New York’s atmosphere when an aggressive EPA agent (William Atherton) forced them to shut down their ghost containment system.

I saw this film when it was first released and found it to be hilarious, but was worried that after all these years it might not come off as well, but to my surprise it hasn’t aged at all and is still quite fresh and inventive. Usually even in the best of comedies there will be jokes that fall flat, but here every one of them hits-the-bullseye and I enjoyed how the creative script see-saws the humor from the subtle to the over-the-top. The plot is imaginative, but manages to create and stick to its own logic that is consistently clever and amusing, but never silly.

The special effects are also impressive. Usually in comical films the ghosts or monsters are made to be benign and goofy, but here they are frightening, which again helps keep the story from ever getting one-dimensional.

Murray’s glib and detached persona is at a peak level and his throwaway lines, which were almost all improvised, are gems. Aykroyd and Ramis, who wrote the script, wisely step back and give Murray full control to steal the spotlight, which he does effortlessly.

The supporting cast is equally great. I never considered Weaver particularly suited for a role as a love interest, but her sharp, caustic manner works as a nice contrast to Murray’s smart-ass presence. She also becomes quite sexy during the scenes when she turns into a demon. Rick Moranis as her nerdy neighbor is hilarious and has some of the funniest moments in the film particularly the scene he has at a party he throws in his apartment and the way he introduces each guest as they arrive.

Ray Parker Jr.’s theme song is the icing-on-the-cake in a film where amazingly everything clicks perfectly. Why the studio heads felt there was a need to revamp this franchise is a mystery. I realize they are running out of ideas and feel the urge to retool what has been successfully done before in order to appeal to the ‘new generation’ of filmgoers, but this is one classic that should’ve been left alone.

ghostbusters 1

My Rating: 9 out of 10

Released: June 8, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 45Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Ivan Reitman

Studio: Columbia Pictures

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

The Ice Storm (1997)

the ice storm 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review: Sex in the 70’s.

The sexual escapades between the various members of two neighboring households in the 1970’s are examined as well as the unexpected results.

This is definitely one of director Ang Lee’s best efforts to date. Some of his other films have been overrated and a bit protracted and yet here everything clicks perfectly. It is great to see Sigourney Weaver in an unusual role and sporting a unique hairstyle. The quirky interplay between both the adults and teenagers is interesting and revealing. It is nice to have a period piece and in this case the 70’s, that doesn’t feel the need to drown the viewer with heavy and unnecessary period detail. The use of the ice storm as a dramatic motif is well done and Joan Allen’s performance as the betrayed wife is especially strong. The ‘key party’ scene is amusing and the overall themes that this film conveys are universal and easily relatable.

On the negative end it seems like the filmmakers have never experienced an actual ice storm because if they had it would have been done differently. The main issue is that the moisture should come down in the form of ice pellets or sleet, not like actual rain that just forms into ice once it hits the ground. Also, when one has to drive after an ice storm, which I have done many times, it is important and necessary to scrap off the ice from not only the front window, but the side windows and the rear one as well. Kevin Kline’s character drives his car the next day while only having scraped the ice off the front window. Not only is this completely impractical, but it would also make it a very serious driving hazard. The conclusion, which is intended to be powerful, seems a bit aloof and doesn’t have the impact that it should and would have worked better had we been able to see all the character’s reactions.

Overall this is a movie that comes through on its vision and is a good independent film for the sophisticated viewer.

My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: May 12, 1997

Runtime: 1Hour 52Minutes

Rated R

Director: Ang Lee

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray (The Criterion Collection), Amazon Instant Video

Working Girl (1988)

working girl

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: She’s moving on up.

Tess (Melanie Griffith) is a 30-year-old secretary working at an acquisition and investment firm on Wall Street and looking to move her way up. She comes up with an investment strategy for one of the company’s clients and passes the idea off to her boss Katherine (Sigourney Weaver) who says she’ll run the idea by some of her superiors. A few days later Katherine tells Tess that her idea was not well received and then Katherine goes on a skiing trip and breaks her leg. In her absence Tess looks after Katherine’s house and finds a memo on Katherine’s home computer were she tries to make Tess’s investment idea seem like her own. Tess decides to get her revenge by pretending to have more authority than she does and going directly to the client with her idea. In the process she meets fellow executive Jack (Harrison Ford) who helps her with her ploy while also starting up a romance with her.

The movie starts out well creating a believable office atmosphere that nicely balances the humor that keeps everything on a realistic believable level. Too many times office comedies have characterizations that are too broad, which thankfully is not the case here. The romance between Jack and Tess is not forced and the sparkle they share seems real and does not bog down the story like in certain films, but instead helps compel it.

Unfortunately the second half falls too much into the same old formula. The climatic showdown is protracted and contrived. Certain twists are thrown in that instead of making the story more interesting helps only to make it less believable. The wrap-up is too neat and tidy as well as having a Frank Capraesque quality that get poured on too strong ultimately making this film despite its good start fluffy and superficial.

Griffith does well in the lead. She plays a character that is relatable and likable although I did feel that she becomes discouraged a little too easily. I also didn’t like the way that she goes back to her boyfriend Mick (Alec Baldwin) even after she caught him cheating on her, which to me seemed to make her weak. Although the film features a plethora of women with the puffy 80’s hairstyle (for some reason you will probably see more of that hairstyle here than in just about any other 80’s movie) I felt it looked great on her. The scene where she is walking down the street after she has it cut short and wave put in it makes her look almost exactly like her mother Tippi Hedren in The Birds.

Ford is again impressive while he takes a role that tests his acting range and on-screen persona. Instead of being the dominating self-assured character that he usually is he instead is more pensive and subdued while letting the women around dominate the proceedings. He is also quite amusing. The scene where he warns Tess about his potentially messy apartment is funny as is the part where he puts on a new dress shirt while still in his office. However, his best moment comes with the amusing way he gets himself out of a jam when he is caught going to the bathroom while inside the stall of a ladies restroom.

Baldwin is perfect as the no-good boyfriend. He looks downright boyish here almost like he is barely out of puberty. He also gets the film’s best line, which occurs when Tess walks in on him in bed with a naked woman on top of him and he states “This is not what it looks like.”

The only performance that I did have a problem with was Joan Cusack as Tess’s friend Cyn. Her Brooklyn accent is much too heavy and her puffy hairstyle looks larger than her entire head. Her eye shadow gives her almost a clown-like appearance and whether she was intended for comic-relief or not nothing she says is funny.

Carly Simon scores with her rousing theme ‘Let the River Run’, which won the Academy Award. The aerial shot of the Statue of Liberty that is shown at the beginning as well as the Manhatten skyline captured during the closing credits ties in nicely with Carly’s vocals.

Spoiler Alert!

The twist which comes during the second half where it is found that Jack is secretly seeing Katherine as his girlfriend was too much of a coincidence that did not make the story more interesting. There is clearly no chemistry between Katherine and Jack in their scene together and it is the one spot in the film where things get overblown. It also makes Weaver’s character needlessly campy and deluded. Having Tess accidently drop her day planner literally at Katherine’s feet, which is where she finds out about Tess’s involvement with Jack is way, way, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too convenient and a serious sign of weak and uninspired writing on behalf of screenwriter Kevin Wade.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: December 21, 1988

Runtime: 1Hour 53Minutes

Rated R

Director: Mike Nichols

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Eyewitness (1981)

eyewitness

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Janitor loves news reporter.

Daryl (William Hurt) is a nighttime janitor at a large Manhattan office building. He spends his otherwise lonely existence obsessing over a local news reporter Tony Sokolow (Sigourney Weaver) and records every news broadcast she is in and watches them each night when he gets home. Then a murder occurs in his office building and Tony covers it for her program. Daryl tries to use his inside knowledge to get closer to Tony, but is reluctant to tell her all the information he knows since he fears that it was his friend Aldo (James Woods) who committed the crime.

Hurt, who usually plays the intellectual type, does well here in the low-key role. Weaver is also excellent doing what she does best which is playing a tenacious no-nonsense woman who can take care of herself. My favorite part with her is when she is accosted by a couple of men with guns, but doesn’t scream, keeps her composure, and manages to get away.

The romantic angle is the film’s strong point. Tony’s on-camera interview with Daryl when she tries to get more information out of him, but he instead gushes about his undying love for her is funny. It is refreshing that when Daryl tells Tony about how he obsesses over her she doesn’t freak out and consider him a stalker, but instead is charmed by it. The two use each other for their own purposes, but the viewer is giving the impression that these are genuinely nice people who just have very contrasting personalities and approaches, which is what makes the budding relationship interesting. However, having them go to bed together and confirm their affections for each other seemed anti-climactic as it was more intriguing wondering if Tony really was starting to have feelings for Daryl, or just using him to get information and the film should have stayed at this level until the very end.

The mystery portion gets lost in the shuffle. The film is slow with very little tension. There are a few good action moments, but there needed to be more. The scene where Daryl almost gets crushed in a trash compactor had definite potential, but needed to be played-out longer. The part where he and Tony are attacked by a dog is very intense, but the climatic sequence where Daryl is chased by the killer through some horse stalls is certainly slick and well-shot, but it comes too late and I had already become bored and detached with it. The identity of the killer was a definite surprise, but it is also a bit preposterous and a little too convenient in the way it somehow manages to tie all the characters into it especially Tony.

Director Peter Yates does some excellent on-location shooting of New York City especially with the crowded streets and neighborhoods as well as Central Park, but the musical score is sparse and lacking. There is a pleasing jazzy score near the beginning that has a nice easy going beat to it, but then outside of a few tense moments there is nothing. This creates a film that is too quiet. Adding an urgent score could’ve helped make it more compelling, or at the very least given it more energy and personality.

There are a lot of familiar faces in supporting roles, but the majority of them are wasted. Morgan Freeman and Steven Hill as the police investigators who banter endlessly
with each other are dull and useless. Kenneth McMillan as Daryl’s handicapped father is dynamic, but pointless to the story as a whole. Christopher Plummer is always reliable, but he has done better. James Woods is good because he is a master at playing unhinged characters and I liked the casting of Irene Worth as Tony’s mother simply because she looked almost exactly like what Sigourney would end up looking when she reaches that age. This is also a great chance to see Pamela Reed in an early role as Daryl’s fiancée.

The film ends up biting off more than it can chew and the idea of mixing a cutesy romance with a murder mystery doesn’t gel and leaves a sterile effect in both areas.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: February 13, 1981

Runtime: 1Hour 43Minutes

Rated R

Director: Peter Yates

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: VHS, DVD, Netflix streaming