FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Frank Capra |||
Frank Capra

It goes without saying that Capra is one of the greatest and most beloved directors of all time, especially renowned for his madcap romantic comedies. He is one of the few directors who ever managed to balance whimsy with meaningfulness without loosing the ability to entertain.

Only Frank Capra, with his light hand and good sense of allowing the actors to be their roles, could carry off this tale of a naive average American used by an unscrupulous politician through a nationwide goodwill drive. No one was ever better at having strong yet vulnerable women not only aid, but often come to the rescue, of the leading man.

Frank Capra's final film is a hilarious translation of a Damon Runyon tale set in 1930s New York, as gangster Glenn Ford repays street peddler Bette Davis for her "good luck" apples by passing her off as a well-to-do society lady for her visiting daughter (Ann-Margret in her film debut). This excellent and thoroughly enjoyable remake of his own 1933 "Lady for a Day" is a beautiful swan song to a master storyteller. Widescreen!

In this black comedy about two sweet old ladies whose basement holds a murderously funny secret, Capra utilizes star Cary Grant to his zany, patented “double take” best. Capra’s brilliance in comic casting is demonstrated with such reliable character actors as Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre and Jack Carson who manage to play their parts to the hilt without chewing up the scenery.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed

By BrianOrndorf

March 24th, 2004

"Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed" picks up exactly where the original "Doo" film left off in 2002: as a brutal cinematic experience that is disrespectful to the source material, contains needless drug references and endless flatulence jokes, and is a generally unpleasant experience all around. Save for Linda Cardellini's winning portrayal of Velma, there's no reason for anyone to step back in the "Doo" for another adventure.


The opening of the new Coolsville Museum of Ghosts has brought out its main donors: the gang of Mystery, Inc. As Fred (Freddie Prinze, Jr., driving the ascot joke into the ground), Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Velma (Cardellini, the only thing worthwhile in these films), Shaggy (Matthew Lillard, unforgivable), and bumbling canine Scooby-Doo make their way around the artifacts from their previous cases, a new, mysterious threat crashes the party and announces his intentions to destroy the town with a new outbreak of ghosts. With a cantankerous local (Peter Boyle), the museum curator (Seth Green), and a nosy, continually slanderous news reporter (Alicia Silverstone) as the main suspects, the gang set out to gather clues and help prevent a tidal wave of trouble when the ghosts start taking over their beloved town.

While there was an ocean of ideas and performances to hate about 2002’s detestable “Scooby-Doo,” one of my biggest complaints was that the film was taking a cartoon, turning it into a live-action feature film, then proceeding to make a cartoon of it again, complete with Toontown-appropriate sound effects. Where’s the sense in that? “Scooby-Doo 2” picks up exactly where the last film left off: at the bottom of the family film creativity barrel. But “Doo 2” actually accomplishes the unthinkable, and is perceptively worse than its predecessor.

There’s not much substance to the new “Doo” adventure. With the characters already established, along with Scooby’s crappy CG look (with Scoobs looking NOTHING like his cartoon incarnation) found in the first film, returning writer James Gunn (the current “Dawn of the Dead”) and director Raja Gosnell show a great deal more confidence in terms of exploring the Coolsville world a little more intricately this time around. “Doo 2” is less of a sequel and more of a fully realized Gunn and Gosnell “Doo” adventure, where the original film was constantly unsure whether its bizarre aesthetic would translate to mass audiences.

With that newfound confidence comes belief that the undemanding comedy bits that destroyed the fun factor of the first, and admittedly profitable, “Doo” are the true selling points of the franchise. Forget that the beloved cartoon never stooped low to entertain kids. The PG rated “Doo 2” is steeped in smashed testicle gags, vomiting, another alcoholism-inducing round of endless flatulence humor (guess how the fire-breathing ghost is dispatched?), and two very unfortunate and unnecessary drug references that make me just flat-out angry at James Gunn for including such needless subtext.

“Mommy, why is Shaggy sucking on a whip-cream can?” That’s right, parents, get ready to explain whippets to your children.

“Doo 2” is reliably low-ball in every aspect of production (who does this serve?), including unattractive set design, dreadful special effects (again, why does Scooby look nothing like his cartoon counterpart?), and just piles on the volume and random ghosts when true inventiveness has been depleted. The two “Doo” films are aimed at children, but it’s a weak argument to dismiss them in such a fashion. These are vile productions that tarnish the image of the original Hannah-Barbera cartoons, as well as lower the bar for tastelessness in family entertainment. Not even a Scooby Snack could fix this crud.

My rating: D-