The Great Race Review

It’s been a while since I saw a film that was nearly 3 hours. Out of all the films I wouldn’t have guessed that a comedy like this would be one that would have such a long run time. It just would have struck me as a bit unlikely. Still, it does accomplish a lot in the time that it has. It probably could have trimmed some of the scenes a bit to be honest but at the very least it won’t be a film that you forget anytime soon. The Great Race really did feel like a huge ordeal that went past a whole country.

The film starts with introducing us to the contrast between Leslie and Professor Fate. Leslie is one of those guys who is a complete star and succeeds in everything he does. Everyone throws themselves at the guy and he is able to escape from a balloon in mid-air while tied up. He’s an ace driver and is talented at all he does. Then you have Fate who is incompetent at everything he attempts and everything turns out badly for him. No matter what he tries, Leslie is always one step ahead of him. It’s at the point where even if he isn’t outright mocking Fate, the villain takes it personally. When he finds out that Leslie has decided to have a race from New York to Paris, Fate knows he has to join. If he is able to defeat Leslie here in front of the whole world then he will have finally gotten his revenge. Can he really pull this off though?

Yes, the race does actually last for the duration of the movie. This is due in large part to the fact that nobody can possibly go this whole distance without breaks though. They stop at many different towns along the way ranging from Kingdom revolt to a small town where they want to show off their hospitality. Leslie is always ready to waste some time since he’s sure that Fate is no threat and Fate always ends up stopping as well. After all, he can’t win due to Leslie lowering his guard. He wants to defeat the guy fair and square.

There is one other big player in the film and that is Maggie. She is very vocal about being the first female reporter ever. She forces the head of the paper to let her into the race and to cover it that way. You have to give her this, she is definitely very confident in her abilities. She is willing to challenge anyone on anything to prove that she can hold her own. Of course, challenging Leslie isn’t the best bet since this guy is already more advanced than most characters. She was a fencing champion for example but so was he so that didn’t go well. He’s just too skilled.

We get a lot of good back and forth between the characters though. Maggie tends to lose out on these exchanges but she does put up a good effort each time which is the important thing. Then finally we have Fate who gets wrecked by everyone throughout the movie. He’s usually the punch line for each joke so as you can imagine things don’t go particularly well for him. He is a genius to an extent as he can build just about anything but always finds a way to mess it up. His character arc can be rather tragic but then you remember he’s a villain so you can go back to chuckling at him. He does help give the film a lot of energy though because he is a big part of what makes the film fun.

Of course, it all depends on how much you enjoy this humor style. It’s a very retro style with the heavy emphasis on slapstick and physical gags as characters get blown up and beaten left and right. We even get a wild west type bar fight where the characters are knocking each other around. This part definitely felt like a parody of the usual kind of fight with how over the top it was. The characters were literally tearing the place down as they fell through windows or into the stairs. It’s an extended fight that definitely worked really well. There’s also a big pie fight that happened later on but nothing can beat the fisticuffs.

There is even a sword fight later on or I guess it may be more effective to say a fencing battle. Part of the fun in having such a long run time is that you can take time to do all sorts of things. Now, if one plot had to be shortened though, I would have reduced the length of screen time for the King in the plot where he switched places with Fate. I have to be honest, the King wasn’t that amusing. His whole gimmick is using his crazy laugh over and over again but he doesn’t have much personality beyond that. You’ll feel like rolling your eyes at the guy by the end.

The movie is at its best when it’s straight up acting like a parody. Fate infiltrating Leslie’s board of directors meeting was pretty hype since his disguise almost held up. Using a race to finally end the various car rivalries was nice as well. Fate’s plans all blowing up in his face was always amusing as well. Perhaps it could have been repetitive if the same gag as used over and over but it was always a different thing that stopped him. This is one area where the Beach films could learn a thing or two as the motor gangs there could be very repetitive. It shows what a good difference in writing ability can achieve.

In a film that is as over the top as this one it makes sense that not all of the jokes would land though. On the whole I would say this one got more right than it got wrong. It’s just a pleasant film that is fun to follow along with. The movie sets up the dynamic with Leslie and Fate very quickly which is effective since it stays in place for the rest of the film. We also have a subplot with the newspaper agency trying to survive as the Woman’s Rights movement takes over the building. At one point the leader is even taken down and forced to plead insanity as he vanished. Now, none of this is outright stated on how it happens but one moment the leader is there taking names and the next he is at Happy Farms and his wife now owns the company. I was not expecting that so it was a good gag.

With a movie going for as humorous a tone as this you can expect that it would have some fun with the ending. It’s a bold one to be sure but in universe I think everyone would be absolutely livid with the main character. The race is quite important after all so messing with it is definitely not a good idea. We get one last big explosion for the film as well which was pretty neat. The writing was on point and at the end of the day that is crucial for any film.

Overall, The Great Race is a very fun film. We get a lot of great banter between the characters like Maggie and Leslie. I could have done without their romance there as it definitely felt rather rushed though and it also felt like Leslie would try and dodge the debates by pulling the moves on her. I’d have preferred they stayed insulting each other the whole movie as that would have made for even more great dialogue. It’s also ironic that she is the one plan of Fate’s that actually worked rather well but in this case that was not a good thing for him. There are a lot of other events that happen throughout the film as the race has numerous pitstops but you’ll have a good time checking them out as they arrive. This film is very much a relic of its time but one that works in every era.

Overall 7/10

Mutant Turtles 3 Review

It’s time to take a quick look at another TMNT manga adventure. This one is a bit longer than the first title although it looks like all of the chapters were still compiled into one volume. This one is certainly not quite as impressive as the first manga though. It’s definitely got a much stronger comedy base and additionally the art isn’t as good. It’s a reasonable adventure of course, but there isn’t much replay value and it won’t leave much of an impression on you either.

The basic plot is that the turtles are relaxing at home when April storms in. She has found another trinket to give to the turtles even though they are tired of getting this stuff. Unfortunately this new item is a magical scepter and it transports her and the turtles far into ancient history. The turtles must now find the scepter and rescue April so they can return home. It’ll be difficult though as Nobunaga rules the country with an iron fist and there are villains at every turn. Still, the turtles have trained for this so they are ready to leap into action!

Being a comedy isn’t a bad thing per say especially as the turtles are known for this. At the same time, it’s just hard to go into this title after the first one because it is a definite downgrade. The turtles no longer strike fear into the hearts of their opponents. They’re just here to have a good time. The artwork even makes them seem a whole lot younger. That’s more style than anything else, but it’s still not that good. This artwork doesn’t work for fights or anything like that. It feels like the equivalent of a movie tie-in game. There just isn’t quite as much effort put in here as you would see in the average manga. It’s not as if you’d expect a lot for this title though.

One gag that was pretty reasonable is when Leonardo seemingly destroys Nobunaga. It definitely seemed too violent to be real and naturally there is a plot twist to it. It definitely made you rethink a lot of the earlier scenes featuring the legendary Nobunaga. Beyond that I can’t say that any of the gags particularly worked. This style of humor just doesn’t really cut it for me. In general I think it works better once the characters have been established a bit more. With these turtles they try too hard to be funny right from the start.

That is what dooms many comedy titles. When you’re a series with more than one genre you can usually throw comedy in while having some kind of story structure. If you’re just a comedy then you’re probably in trouble. You could make the case that this is a comedy/adventure so it does hit the two genres, but it’s clear that comedy is the most important genre for this one. Art also plays a huge factor in all manga titles, but it is especially key for comedy titles since a lot of gags tend to be visual as well. This one couldn’t get a laugh out of you for anything!

I suppose that having such a different setting is a reasonable gamble on the franchise’s part to spice things up. It’s just one of the worst locales they could have picked though. It would have been immensely more satisfying to see the turtles hang out in the city and fight the Shredder. The classic enemies are where it’s at, especially compared to fighting old guys from history who actually do exist. I would say that the manga should have showed off what was happening in the human world a little bit more, but at the same time the scenes we do get there are pretty painful so maybe this is actually for the best.

Nobunaga is a reasonable villain even if he is a bit generic. I’m not sure what the manga was going for in the end with how his character acts though. Was his fighting spirit completely broken or was he never all that brave to begin with? He’s basically begging for his life at the end and has no dignity left. Then we have a secret final boss of sorts as another villain decides to make his move, but he’s even less intimidating than Nobunaga. There’s definitely no reason why the turtles should bother worrying about him.

Overall, Mutant Turtles 3 is definitely a turtles manga that you’ll only want to check out if you are a really hardcore TMNT fan. There really isn’t any other reason to read it and you may as well just watch the movie if you’re curious about the plot. There are some decent ideas here like the mecha turtle and I also did enjoy Nobunaga’s top two lieutenants who were actually pretty tough. It just isn’t nearly as interesting and creative as it could have been because the art isn’t very good and the writing is definitely sub par. That’s a bad combination if I’ve ever seen one. I still wouldn’t call the manga bad, but it’s just not very interesting.

Overall 5/10

Abbott and Costello Go To Mars Review

The next film to discuss is an Abbott and Costello film. It has certainly been a while since I reviewed the last one and this movie features aliens in it so how could it not be good? Unfortunately it is one of the weaker installments. Still a good film but one that definitely suffers from a weak climax. The whole time you can’t help but think that they should have stuck to Earth.

The film starts with Orville swinging a plane around. I suppose he is either a volunteer teacher with the orphanage or more likely, he is just a kid at heart and always comes over to play during recess. It is unfortunate for him though because the kids are all a lot smarter than he is and they love rubbing this fact in his face. This leads to Orville accidentally throwing the plane through a window. The cops manage to show up but Orville outruns them to a corporate office where he impersonates a distinguished rocket expert for as long as he can. This just doesn’t fly and right he real one tries to beat him up. They fight a while but then Orville jumps in the space ship and blasts away with the custodian. One thing’s for sure, he’s not on Earth anymore…right?

One thing that is always risky for a film is to use up the best scene early on but that’s exactly what this one did. The fight between Orville and the expert was really solid as the sound effect for each slap was as good as it gets. You felt the power and weight of each blow to the point where the final one actually knocked Orville through a wall. If that’s not power then I don’t know what is. I have to say that I was rooting for the old guy so I’m glad that he took the win.

A good chunk of the film is the two characters (A guy named Lester ends up coming along) running around and panicking at everything. They don’t really understand what a mask is but in their defense the masks seemed to be rather high quality. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the film’s budget went to them. Rather than pull off a bunch of quick jokes this film opts to just play a few of them for as long as possible. This isn’t really a sound strategy since if you don’t like the joke then the scene will last forever and even if you do like it you may find the joke starts to get repetitive. It’s definitely a rather tough balance but for the most part this series usually gets it right. This one was just a little less interesting.

It was still pretty good when the heroes were running away on Earth. It went off the deep end once they got to Venus. The planet is apparently an Amazonian paradise that has eradicated all of the men. Naturally Orville is able to charm them into letting him stay somehow. The whole plot is just sad as the characters convince him to cheat in order to convince the Queen to bring back the ban against men. While concocting such a plan is probably a good idea, they should have had a different strategy. Pretty much every scene on Venus was brutal and as you might expect the romance was terrible.

Then we have the random subplot where two crooks decide to impersonate the main characters until they can imprison them and head to space. Clearly these guys are rather fearless since they aren’t afraid of being blasted into dust for their arrogance. They don’t really add anything to the film though. It seems that the movie was trying to play them off as dark versions of the main characters but they just felt really redundant from the start.

None of the characters are smart of course which is the whole point of the series but you still can’t help but feel bad for the inventor of the rocket. He waited his whole life for such a chance only to have the main character steal it away. That’s just cruel and especially when you consider how much money it would have cost to build another one in those days. That’s probably the end for his career.

I also feel that I have to point out the stock footage that is used in this film. You wouldn’t really expect such a thing out of a big name title like the Abbott and Costello series right? The scene where the rocket enters the Lincoln Tunnel happens twice and maybe the film was pretty proud of that special effect but you never want to play a scene twice like that. (With a few exceptions I suppose)

Overall, This was probably the weakest in the Abbott and Costello films. The whole second half felt unorganized and rather pointless. The first half was good but it just didn’t last long enough. What we did see back on Earth just makes the whole film more tragic since you see all of the potential that it once had. If you are a big fan of the series then I would recommend checking it out. If you have not seen any films in this series then it probably isn’t a good idea to start with this one as it won’t necessarily give you the right idea if the series. It just doesn’t have that usual charm you would expect from this series.

Overall 6/10

Home Alone 3 Review

It’s been a while since I got to see a Home Alone film so it’s nice to revisit this film. It’s definitely an enjoyable film although it goes for enough poorly written cliches to keep it down a star. This film gets a lot of other things right though, like having a serious tone in the beginning that slowly transitions the villains into comic relief to the point where you’ll barely remember the times when they were tough.

The film starts off with a very somber beginning. The villains infiltrate an installation and grab a computer chip. They are to bring it to a buyer for a lot of money since the chip makes missiles undetectable by radar. The government who possesses this technology would have a great advantage in war. The problem is that one of the villains swaps bags with an elderly lady by mistake and she happens to be the next door neighbor to Alex, the local genius. Alex quickly figures out that he cannot let the chip get into the wrong hands so he will have to make some traps to keep the crooks out. Can he do this or is this a task that is too much for a little kid?

I do like the fact that Alex figures out who the villains are almost instantly and also figures out what they’re after. It feels like most main characters take forever to put the pieces together. Since he is supposed to be a genius, it makes sense that he would be so smart. Unfortunately, I can’t say that he is a very likable character. He gets his laughs through iffy activities and his “genius” seems to be wasted on contraptions that actually take longer than doing everything by hand. He can be pretty brutal and fearless even when at gunpoint so at least Alex is braver than most people. Calling the cops on the robbers was a smart move even if it didn’t pan out. Alex made a lot of the right calls and there was never any doubt that he would defeat the robbers here since they are not all that smart when compared to a normal person.

There are four villains. They get the best theme in the entire film during their entrance. It’s a very hardcore theme that shows how lethal they are. That’s where the buck stops for them though as they are quickly foiled by a kid multiple times and get hit by so many objects that they should be dead several times over. I guess they’ve got luck on their side, but that’s about it. They manage to insult each other quite a lot despite getting humiliated earlier. The cycle continues to the point where none of the members can move without pain and difficulty. From the 4 crooks, the best one is probably the guy who is always grinning. We had the “emotionless” villain, the “tough” villainess, the “I’m not that smart” guy, and the “I’m bored” villain. They all blend together after a while though and it’s not as if any of them do all that well. Their boss surprisingly doesn’t get any closure, but I suppose we can assume that the FBI put him in his place.

One issue that the film deals with is the writing. It is definitely not good and causes the film to go a little too overboard with how extreme the characters are. For example, the Dad forgets his shorts before heading to a very important business meeting. So…he wouldn’t notice that he left the house without his pants? The police, while they rush out with their guns to check on the kid’s call, act rather oddly for a bit. One officer’s conversation with the Mom to tell Alex not to call again was strange as he would just stare blankly and go on long winded speeches about how important the police are. Then the Mom started talking about a police toy she got Alex when trying to show how serious he is… The siblings are naturally very annoying as well. The brother has a lot of dicey stuff in his room and likes picking on Alex. Ditto for the sister on the teasing.

Of course, they come to Alex’s defense in the end. It’s supposed to be heart warming, but it’s just cheesy and not in a good way. Also, I don’t think the chief of the FBI should be intimidated by little kids when he’s got other officers with him. It was another “hype” scene that just makes you shake your head. Also, Alex mentioned that the neighbor’s dog was kidnapped, but the police didn’t care. Furthermore, shouldn’t the owner have been looking for him? Lets put this into perspective. The villains moved into Alex’s neighborhood, they live across the block. They kidnapped the dog who lived next to the main character’s house and then walk around with him during the day as their cover. Did the owner of the dog move to Hawaii or something? It’s sad to think that he is looking for his dog, but doesn’t notice him passing by every day. I guess the owner didn’t put up any wanted posters either.

The film also hints that Alex’s mean next door neighbor will play a big role in the end or at least have some kind of role. Instead, she’s just kidnapped and learns to like Alex since he saved her from getting frostbite. I didn’t even disagree with her entirely in the opening since Alex was late and he should have shoveled her lawn on time. There was also a parrot who helped out quite a bit. Unfortunately, most of the words that the parrot knew were pretty iffy. The film went for a lot of that kind of humor and it just wasn’t needed. Give us some well written humor instead!

Writing wasn’t the film’s strong suit so it’s lucky that it was following a tried and true formula. Seeing the traps take out the villains was neat. Naturally, most of the traps aren’t all that believable and aren’t played seriously. It’d be a little more grim than funny if the villains actually reacted to all of the pain believably since they take some real mean hits. Lets just say that the kid was not taking any prisoners. I probably would be using the big guns myself if international terrorists were going to arrive at my doorstep though.

Overall, Home Alone 3 is fun, but it’s definitely another film that is really holding itself back. The tone helps to make the film enjoyable and some of the silly moments were handled well. It just could have been a lot better if they dialed down some of the iffy parts like the parrot and the bad writing that was all around. Most of the characters weren’t all that likable. I liked the parents and the Chief of the FBI, but the other characters needed some work. The villains were good enough for their role though. It would have been fun if they could have kept some of the serious music for a little longer though. They do get a lot of not very subtle musical notes though. Whenever a villain shows up, the music either stops for a second or we just get a very loud sound effect for a second. Don’t look at this film through a logical lens, but then again…why would you? It’s a comedy through and through. Most comedies tend to be fun on the surface while not being good movies like Pixels. Luckily, this one was not nearly as extreme so the score is still positive, but another iffy moment or two and it very easily could have dropped to a 5. It’ll be interesting to see how the 4th film fares. Hopefully it’ll be the best one yet!

Overall 6/10

Hold That Ghost Review

It’s always good to see a comedy tackle the classic horror tropes since the characters can really go about destroying them in a systematic fashion. As this is the month of October, expect a lot of scary or “scary” films coming up. Hold That Ghost is a classic film that has certainly aged well even if it reuses some gags quite a few times to really get the message across. You would never guess that this came out all the way back in the 1940’s!

Chuck and Ferdie find out that they have inheireted a hotel/mansion from a gang member who they nearly followed to the grave. The criminal didn’t trust anyone so he gave them his inheiratence since they were nearby. That’s simply how his will worked. A shady character takes the heroes to the place, but then the car drives off, leaving the heroes stranded. For reasons unknown, the driver brought along a few suspicious characters including two ladies and a scientist. It turns out that the place may not be as normal as it may appear though. A mysterious ghost starts to go after Ferdie. Of course, as Ferdie is the comic relief character, nobody takes him seriously.

Now, in order for you to like this film, you’ll need to be fine with slapstick comedy as there is quite a lot of that going around here. This is a Costello film after all so it can be incredibly exaggerated at times with his actions and lack of intelligence. In a sense, you can say that the Costello films are sort of like the Adam Sandler films and how they could have been back in the 40’s since most of the terrible dialogue and writing from the modern era wouldn’t have arrived yet. I’m actually okay with this kind of comedy as I’ve actually grown used to it through Knuckles in Sonic Boom and have come to appreciate the subtle burns that these characters get. They may get pushed around a lot, but they fire back when necessary as well.

Ferdie tends to take every line directed at him literally, which means that any figure of speech results in an intriguing conversation. Ferdie just never learned most of the things which we would consider to be common sense so he pants like a dog instead when the ghost starts to scare him. It’s not entirely his fault as the main heroine doesn’t see the ghost even though objects are moving right in front of her. You start to feel a little bad for Ferdie since nothing ends up working out well for him. He loses some of your sympathy when he tries to steal the money at the end of the film though. He also lets his “friend” bully him around the place which is certainly not a great move.

As for his friend Chuck, the guy’s not quite as charasmatic although he’s a decently good character. He can go a little far with how he treats Ferdie, but the two seem to still be friends somehow. Chuck does try to help Ferdie find a new room after he is haunted several times, but he just doesn’t believe Ferdie most of the time. The evidence of any haunting is typically gone by the time Chuck arrives. Chuck is the reasonable character after all so he doesn’t believe in ghosts and is always kept out of the loop.

Most of the film is really just about these shenanigans as the ghost messes with everyone and Ferdie is the only one who seems to know about it. Finally, we get a big fight scene at the end as the true identity of the ghost shows up along with some gang members. The Ghost’s reveal was actually a little iffy and I’m still not entirely sure who exactly was the ghost. Whichever member it was certainly wasn’t that brave as Ferdie and the gang were enough to scare him. Still, the battle royale between the heroes and the gang was certainly a whole lot of fun. Each side had to brace themselves and jump into the action! Ferdie got a lot of good hits as you would expect, but the other members didn’t do so bad either.

I hadn’t been expecting the fight so that was a nice touch. The ending was also nice as the main two characters finally got to own their own tavern. The journey was tough, but arriving at the destination was likely very satisfying for the heroes. It was a peaceful ending and I wouldn’t have minded a bit of a twist, but it fit the tone of the movie. The film never dragged and it was an enjoyable title. Nothing out of the ordinary happened and essentially played without any surprises, but this is the kind of film that you can watch and leave feeling chipper.

This is a great example of a film that likely wouldn’t be as good if it was made in the modern days. For one thing, this is a comedy where the dialogue stays classy. A modern version would likely add a lot of swear words and suggestive lines. Some aspects of the film also just age better here like the shoot and run gangsters from the beginning. It’s just retro to see them here whereas in a modern film, it’s a little hard to picture it working smoothly. The camp factor is also just hard to picture in a really modern film although it’s certainly possible.

Hold That Ghost is really like a live action Scooby Doo film. It’s simple and to the point as the heroes try to retake their tavern and maybe earn some money along the way. It the film had kept running for too long, like an extra 30-40 minutes or so, then it likely would have dragged. As it stands, this was my first Abbott and Costello film in quite a while so I’m not tired of their routine yet. I actually hadn’t expected this film to really be a true comedy so it was a pleasant surprise. That’s the loophole for horror movies, just add a comedy angle to the mix and it should help the score dramatically!

Overall, Hold That Ghost was a fun film. Admittedly, the supporting characters could have been better. The radio actress’ scream when not in danger and lack of one during the real spooks was a decent gimmick I suppose. Her rivalry with Ferdie at times was intense I suppose as they fought in a classic splashing contest..unless I’m thinking of the Waitress. They were pretty similar in apearance although different in personality. The Doctor also wasn’t that good. I didn’t mind him at the beginning as he started to brag and did look like Clark Kent, but then his romance plot started and that was game over for him. He lost his charm and his ruthless wit. If you like comedies with a lot of slapstick and quick banter, then this is the film to check out. The Ghost can’t be taken seriously, but he’s not supposed to be. You can sit back and enjoy the show!

Overall 7/10