Home Alone – Nostalgiathon [guest post]

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When a family leaves their eight year old Home Alone, he proves to himself and his family that he “didn’t burn down the joint” and that he’s capable of being man of the house.

In Winnetka, Illinois, it’s the night before the McCallister family flies to France for Christmas to visit extended family. The house is filled with the excitement of Christmas and preparing three families under one roof for a transatlantic flight. A burglar posing as one of Chicago’s finest (Joe Pesci) is doing checks for home safety during the holidays, to which the the patriarch Peter McCallister (John Heard) assures him that they’ve taken the proper precautions. When one of the youngest, Kevin (Macaulay Culkin), begins acting out of sorts his mother (Catherine O’hara) sends him to an attic bedroom without dinner.

Due to a power outage, the McCallister family oversleeps and must rush out of the house to catch their flight. They inadvertently leave Kevin home alone and he’s left thinking he made his family disappear. While alone, he spends his time eating junk food, grocery shopping, cutting down a Christmas tree, and overcoming his fear of the basement. During this time, the house is being monitored by the “Wet Bandits” played by Harry Lime (Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern) as they pick the perfect night to rob the house. Kevin catches on to their plans and creates a boobytrap-filled house to buy time while he calls the police.

Home Alone easily my number one Christmas and Nostalgiathon movie pick. As Andy can tell you, I can recite the entire movie along with the sound effects [ed. note – it’s true, she can]. In fact, my plot description was four paragraphs before he whittled it down to the necessary details. As a kid, I thought Kevin was the coolest and I was never allowed to be left home alone when I was 8. I was also really jealous that he got to set up all the Christmas decorations by himself because that was one of my favorite things to do. My brother and I watched Home Alone year-round and quizzed each other on different parts of the dialog. I even had the Home Alone board game. I have so many wonderful memories surrounding this movie.

As an adult, I feel the movie has done well over time in spite of the changes in technology that would have probably rendered it impossible. From the cool pranks, the Chicago setting, and awesome cast (namely, John Candy) Home Alone literally has everything I could possibly want in a movie.

My childhood dream came true this past summer when I got to see the actual McCallister house, eat a piece of “Little Nero’s” pizza, and answer Home Alone trivia questions as part of a scavenger hunt. For me, the Christmas season is not complete without at least one viewing of Home Alone yet I often quote the movie throughout the year.

I give it 5 “Buzz, your girlfriend…woof” out of 5.

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Nostalgiathon – Update 2

Nostalgiathon 2012 banner

Hello again, everyone!

I wanted to take a minute to plug Nostalgiathon to showcase some of the new entries since my last update over a month ago! If you want to participate, don’t worry – it’s easy and there is no deadline even though 2012 is winding down doesn’t mean Nostalgiathon is stopping. You can find out more details in the original post located HERE or HERE on Cinema Schminema. Please don’t be shy!

If I missed your entry for whatever reason, I apologize, please let me know ASAP and I will add it!

Here are the awesomely amazing entries so far:

Andy Watches Movies – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Written In Blood – HOW HORROR MOVIES SHAPED MY WARPED MIND (or something, something whatever)

Before I Forget – The Neverending Story

Silver Screenings – Our Gang

The Motion Pictures – Childhood Favorites Revisited: The Mummy

Terry Malloy’s Pigeon Coop – Ghostbusters II

Vic’s Movie Den – Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Rincewind – Police Quest and My Sierra Love

That Dutch Filmlover – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze

Committed To Celluloid – Ri¢hie Ri¢h

Cinematic – The Mask

Rogue the Girl – The Goonies

The IPC – Night of the Creeps

Natalie Stendall – Labyrinth

CinEnema – The Lion King

Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights – Krull

Screen Appeals – The Parent Trap

Morgan on Media – Follow That Bird

M for Marvelous – Speed

Cinema Schminema – The Man in the Moon

Andy Watches Movies – Mallrats

Before I Forget – Popped in…Souled Out

Cinema Schminema – The Monster Squad

The Motion Pictures – Clueless

Cinemaniac – Tis the season to be jolly

Victor’s Movie Reviews – Pete’s Dragon

Andy Watches Movies – The Phantom Tollbooth

Rogue The Girl – Real Genius

Head in a Vice – Home Alone

Head in a Vice – Elf

Rachel via Andy Watches Movies – Home Alone

Before I Forget – The Snowman

The Phantom Tollbooth (11/21/12) – Nostalgiathon

The Phantom Tollbooth

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Movie Two Hundred Sixty Seven

A bored young boy takes a wild journey though The Phantom Tollbooth.

Milo (Butch Patrick) comes home from school one day and is bored. While on the phone with a friend, he hears something in the other room and upon investigation, discovers a large package that holds a tollbooth. After Milo passes through the tollbooth in a tiny car, he is turned into a cartoon and travels to a strange new world called the Kingdom of Wisdom. Milo, along with his faithful traveling companions the Humbug and Tock the watchdog, a dog with a watch in his side, travel through Dictionopolis and Digitopolis and meet a host of interesting characters including the Awful Dynne, the Dodecahedron, the Whether Man, the Lethargians, and The Mathemagician.

Many of you may be more familiar with The Phantom Tollbooth in book form. I’m not sure if I saw the film first or read the book first, but I do know that I used to love both. In fact, I think I’ve read The Phantom Tollbooth three or four times. It’s the type of book that makes learning interesting even though you don’t necessarily learn much. The wordplay is delightful, though. The movie version, directed by Chuck Jones, is not quite as good as the book even though it tries desperately. Still, it’s the perfect entry for me for Nostalgiathon! Many of my childhood favorites come from Chuck Jones and that is really saying something since I watched so many cartoons and movies as a kid. I’m sure I will have more Chuck Jones movies for Nostalgiathon soon.

I have long been a fan of Chuck Jones animation style and The Phantom Tollbooth is no exception. What ends up hurting the film is the pacing. While Milo is traveling he is constantly running into new characters and visiting new places but there isn’t much to it beyond that. The different scenes almost don’t connect to each other and while they are fairly interesting, they run together by the end. Oh, the kid that plays Milo is kind of irritating and they added songs too. Still, love that Chuck Jones animation…

While The Phantom Tollbooth is one of my favorite childhood books, the movie is not on the same level. It was barely even given a release on DVD. In fact, I had to special order it from Warner Brothers’ vault just to get it and it’s totally barebones. Because of this, it’s hard to recommend The Phantom Tollbooth but I still have a good time watching it. I would almost recommend the book over the movie, but I’m including a link to the movie if you’re curious.

I give it 3 Milo and Tocks out of 5.

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Mallrats (11/10/12) – Nostalgiathon

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Movie Two Hundred Fifty Seven

In Mallrats, after being dumped by both of their girlfriends, two friends head to the mall.

TS Quint (Jeremy London) and his girlfriend, Brandi Svenning (Claire Forlani) are about to head to Universal Studios where TS plans to propose when Jaws pops out of the water. Instead, Brandi has agreed to be on her father’s game show, “Truth or Date”, and breaks up with TS. Meanwhile, Brodie (Jason Lee) gets dumped by his girlfriend, Rene (Shannen Doherty) for being too juvenile. The two friends meet up and Brodie decides they should go to the mall for solace. At the mall, they discover that “Truth or Date” will be filming there later and they ask Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) to ruin the stage in an effort to win Brandi back.

Throughout my freshman and sophomore years of high school, Mallrats was practically on a repeating loop so I have decided it was perfect to cover for Nostalgiathon. The dialogue was reenacted countless times and entire scenes could be staged at the drop of a hat. Mallrats had everything a teenager could ask for – comedy, action, romance, magic-eye posters, sex, comic books, NHL All Star Hockey, etc. Mallrats not only delivers on all those fronts but everything Jason Lee says in the film is pretty much Oscar-worthy… OK maybe that’s going too far.

In high school I was only on the cusp of being a movie nerd but I did notice some Mallrats deficiencies. Even though nearly every line feels like it was written down and spoken, if that makes sense. Kevin Smith is a talented writer and comes up with great dialogue, but in Mallrats, it feels very scripted. Also, Jeremy London bugs the hell out of me, he always has. Even though Smith is lauded as a great director, his work lately has not been so hot and I think he has a talent, but his direction in Mallrats is nothing spectacular. Still, Smith knows his audience for Mallrats and delivers on all the dick jokes you could want.

Mallrats is easily my favorite Kevin Smith movie and it probably always will be. It hasn’t aged particularly well, it has a very mid-90s vibe to it. Plus, who remembers chubby Ben Affleck these days? I likely won’t be watching Mallrats again anytime soon, but it was nice to be able to watch it and still be able to mime the dialogue in my head as the movie played out.

I give it 4 “it’s not a schooner, it’s a sailboat”s out of 5.

If you’d like to participate in Nostalgiathon, feel free! More details can be found here.

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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (10/25/12) – Nostalgiathon

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

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Movie Two Hundred Forty

A sailor, a professor, and his assistant climb aboard the Nautilus for adventure as they travel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

A mysterious sea monster is attacking ships in the Pacific Ocean and is halting sea trade. Professor Pierre Arronax (Paul Lukas) and his assistant, Conseil (Peter Lorre) are commissioned by the U.S. government to travel and look for evidence of the monster. After having no luck on the sea, the ship is attacked by the monster and the professor and Conseil are thrown overboard along with cocky crewmember Ned Land (Kirk Douglas). After being adrift in the ocean, the men arrive upon a strange metal submersible and realizing that it is the monster they have been looking for climb aboard looking for answers. They look outside a large porthole window and see the crew of the vessel diving in large suits. The crew comes back aboard the Nautilus and their captain, Nemo (James Mason), takes the three men as captives. As Nemo reveals his intentions, the crew of the Nautilus travel the treacherous seas as Ned plots his escape.

Since this is the kickoff for Nostalgiathon, I will start by explaining why 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is my perfect choice. As a kid, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was one of my favorite movies but also the movie I found the most terrifying thing ever. The giant squid that attacks the Nautilus near the end of the film made young Andy have nightmares for weeks and still effects me today. Also, the Shedd Aquarium here in Chicago had a lifesize model of a giant squid on the ceiling in one of their exhibits that would make me cry every time we went there. But even though I was terrified, I was also incredibly intrigued by the creature.

To young me, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea WAS the giant squid attacking; the rest of the movie was filler for that scene. As an adult, the rest of the film is actually incredibly smart and mature considering this is a Disney film. Ned Land acts as most the film’s comic relief since he sings songs and acts crazy, and there is also a seal that seems tossed onscreen to appease kids, but the actual plot and Nemo’s motivations are quite adult. Even though I had watched this film many times as a kid, other than a few spotty things here and there, the only thing that was still burned in my brain was the giant squid attack and I’ll be honest…I still got chills from that scene as a 30 year old. Though no nightmares this time around, I’ve matured!

As mentioned, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a Disney film, the first sci-fi film from the studio. When Jules Verne wrote 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, submarines did not exist, which blows my mind. This was science fiction that turned non-fiction. The style of the film is also largely credited with popularity for the steampunk movement since the design of Nautilus is incredibly unique, even today.

As a kid, Kirk Douglas’ over the top sailor, Ned Land, always made me chuckle and he was the only character I really remember anything about. Now, Mason’s and Lorre’s performances stick out just as much, though they are a little more subtle. Mason as Nemo has such a dark hidden rage and Lorre is just a loveable assistant but gives a great performance.

Since I was lucky enough to see 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on the big screen this time, the giant squid was still huge and scary and amazing. It is still the highlight of the film for me, but now I am able to fully understand what is happening in the film. I think it has aged quite well both as a film and as a piece of nostalgia

I give it 4 (what else?) giant squid attacks out of 5.

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Nostalgiathon Blogathon – Introduction

Nostalgiathon 2012 bannerThis has been a few months in the making but the wrapper is finally ready to be pulled off of…

NOSTALGIATHON 2012

In what originated as a flippant remark between Misty of Cinema Schminema and me, Nostalgiathon is finally here.

Allow me to explain!

The purpose of Nostalgiathon is to relive things from your childhood through the eyes of an adult. Since Andy Watches Movies and Cinema Schminema are both movie-focused blogs, we will be covering movies, but books, TV shows, whatever else are all fair game if you’d like to participate.

“How do I participate?” you may be wondering…It’s easy!

  • If you want to write a post for Nostalgiathon, just put the words “Nostalgiathon” in the title of the post and write a little bit about your feelings of the source material as a kid and how it holds up now
  • Use the following badge within the post https://andywatchesmovies.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/nostalgiathon1.jpg
  • Link back to this post here on Andy Watches Movies (or the corresponding post on Cinema Schminema once she gets her power back)
  • Send Misty (cinemaschminema@gmail.com) or me (andy@andywatchesmovies.com) an email to make sure that we compile your post on our sites
  • [Update] There is no end date for Nostalgiathon posts, so feel free to participate!

I’ll have my first post for Nostalgiathon 2012 up soon to kick things off. [Update – First post is live!] I hope you all participate!

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Updates and blogathon announcement

So, you may remember that Justin from Today I Watched A Movie were in a competition for page views and I won! I had my best month ever and made it past 5,000 views for the month so I’m totally stoked. Thanks everyone that has visited and if you’ve visited more than once I may be in love with you. For his defeat, Justin has to watch a turd of a movie of my choosing, so stay tuned to his site for that and/or follow us both on Twitter (@watchesmovies and @todayiwatched) for our hijinx.

The other piece of news I wanted to share is that I’ve officially passed the 200 movie mark, I still have two more reviews to write, but that means I’ve got only 100 movies left for my goal in 2012. I think I can safely hit the 300 mark, so we’ll see how far I can go!

Lastly, a bit of a teaser for a blogathon that Misty from Cinema Scminema and I will be hosting sometime in the next month or so. The theme for the blogathon, you may be wondering? Nostalgia.

So, yesterday, I asked “what movie defines your childhood?” and that was leading people into thinking about things that would make them nostalgic. We all have movies from growing up that we love; The Goonies, Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Ferris Bueller, Karate Kid, etc. These movies are movies that many of us grew up watching and likely still have great memories of the movies as kids as well as adults. We want to focus on that nostalgic factor to films, but also films from your childhood that may not have been super popular or that you had a weird attachment to as a kid.

More details of Nostalgiathon will be forthcoming, so stay tuned, but start brainstorming now.