Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
Animator Ralph Bakshi used to be the ultimate cinematic acquired taste. While cool, crazy and unconventional cartoons are the order of our day now — from kids' fare like Adventure Time to whatever Adult Swim's got going on — back in the late '70s and early '80s, the mainstream just had no idea what to make of them. Bakshi was most famously responsible for bringing R. Crumb’s Fritz the Cat to life, as well as the psychedelic sci-fi epic Wizards, but what made him the most far-out guy working in these types of movies was his ability to make the most honest, autobiographical flicks surreal and lysergic, including the Blaxploitationer Streetfight, the rock opera American Pop, and this latest Warner Archive release, Hey Good Lookin', his ode to the dangerously unsentimental '50s. Greaser Vinnie is the leader of the Brooklyn Stompers and all he wants to do is make it with his statuesque girl Roz. But when his manic pal Crazy goes off the rails against a rival gang, all hell breaks loose, with a rainbow of colors just dripping off the screen. Hey Good Lookin’ is a lost classic that, hey, is a good movie.
Some films that are considered the worst movies ever made, like, say, Ishtar or Showgirls, are allowed to be reevaluated over time. And while it still might be considered a joke in certain unknowing circles, it’s allowed to resume its place among the pantheon of “misunderstood cult films." Some movies, however, truly are terrible and no matter how much the director may cry out otherwise, will always be thought of as, well, an unwatchable pile of crap. And that brings us to North, the movie that, for the most part, ruined Rob Reiner's career. This movie is bad. And not “fun” bad either. More like "What were they thinking?" bad. More like “How many more minutes is this thing?” bad. More like “I want to shoot myself” bad. In what was surely supposed to be some sort of idiotic fable, Elijah Wood is North, a perfect child who is neglected by his parents. After successfully divorcing himself from them, he goes on a cross-country search for new ones, finding one brutal stereotype after another, with no rhyme or reason — or, even worse, laughs. I recommend this because it should be seen, if only as a way to measure bad films for yourself in the future.
It’s weird to think that there was a time when men were so afraid of women taking their place that they’d harass and threaten them just because they wanted equal pay, equal breaks, and equal extracurricular recreation time — especially when it came down to playing on a company football team. Based on the true story of the legendary ladies who took on this system in my old hometown, The Oklahoma City Dolls is a 1981 made-for-TV movie about the brave group of women who challenged the patriarchy, started a football team and helped move the women’s-rights movement a little bit forward, at least in Oklahoma. Of course, this being a TV movie, there’s lots of wacky casting — including Waylon Jennings as lead Doll Susan Blakely's boyfriend — and a plea for tolerance that’s immediately backtracked on in favor of a happy ending. Still, it’s utterly charming, downright fun and a grand remembrance for how made-for-TV movies used to be just as good as the theatrical ones.