Tag Archives: Dan Aykroyd

The Set of 400: #242 – My Favorite Music Hall Drunk

Today! Because the tramp can’t talk. The minute he talks, he’s dead –

Chaplin (1992)

Directed by Richard Attenborough

Starring Robert Downey Jr. (x6), Paul Rhys, Geraldine Chaplin, Anthony Hopkins (x4), Kevin Kline (x2), Moira Kelly (x2), Dan Aykroyd (x4), Marisa Tomei (x2), Penelope Ann Miller, John Thaw, Kevin Dunn (x2), Diane Lane, Milla Jovovich (x2), James Woods, Nancy Travis, Matthew Cottle, David Duchovny, John Standing (x3), Maria Pitillo, Deborah Moore

Ah, 1992! Apparently the heyday of my movie watching! The eighth entry from the year of Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign, Chaplin had a good hand in stretching my film interests back into the silent era. Now, as we’ve gone over in this space recently, it’s not like this list is teeming with dialogue-free cinema, however, without Chaplin there’s a good chance that none whatsoever would appear. Charlie Chaplin is a gateway into the entire era for most casual film goers, right? Silent comedy, by and large, looks ridiculous now, but at least it’s accessible. People like broad, physical comedy up to the present day, so silents can still be enjoyable, so long as you put aside your prejudice against this form of moviemaking. Don’t lie! Silents are hard, sometimes! One of the only instances where I fell asleep in a movie theater was catching the 1916 Sherlock Holmes starring William Gillette at the Chicago Film Festival a few years back. I was too tired going in! Plus, while there may have been no spoken words, the theater was still plenty loud from the reverberating snores! Everyone I went with fell asleep too! 100% true story. Sorry, Mr. Gillette!

This dude discovering a gun in his hand could only sustain us for so long!

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The Set of 400: #294 – My Favorite Rolling Ferris Wheel

Today! Because I fought your kind in the Great War, and we kicked the living shit out of you –

1941 (1979)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Starring John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd (x3), Ned Beatty (x2), Christopher Lee (x4), Tim Matheson, Toshiro Mifune (x2), John Candy (x4), Nancy Allen, Lorraine Gary (x2), Warren Oates, Slim Pickens, Robert Stack, Treat Williams, Murray Hamilton (x3), Elisha Cook Jr., Patti LuPone, Eddie Deezen, Perry Lang, Wendie Jo Sperber, Joe Flaherty, David L. Lander, Michael McKean (x3), Don Calfa, Susan Backlinie, Jerry Hardin, Audrey Landers, Dick Miller (x3), Mickey Rourke

For those of you unfamiliar with this movie – can you believe the above cast got together in ’79 and put on an epic war comedy? And under the direction of the king, Steven Spielberg, following his massive success with Jaws and Close Encounters? Doesn’t it make you want to run out and see what this movie could possibly be?? How have you avoided it all these years? Do it!

And for those of you already familiar with this movie, SHUT UP.

I’m not Titanic-level defensive about 1941, but that’s because most people either didn’t see it or don’t remember it enough to argue about it. And look, I know there is a lot wrong with this movie. It only sort of functions as a comedy – it’s like a less funny It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World with explosions and extended choreographed fistfights – and sort of functions as a war movie. But the premise is solid enough and the cast is terrific that, even though it doesn’t totally deliver, it’s still a pretty entertaining movie. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #331 – My Favorite Punchable Child Character

Today! Because he’s got a chip on his shoulder the size of the national debt –

Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

Directed by Joe Dante, John Landis, George Miller, and Steven Spielberg

Starring Dan Aykroyd (x2), Albert Brooks (x2), Vic Morrow, John Larroquette (x2), Steven Williams, Scatman Crothers, Selma Diamond, Bill Quinn, Murray Matheson, Kathleen Quinlan, Dick Miller, John Lithgow, Donna Dixon, Burgess Meredith (x3), Abbe Lane, Bill Mumy, Nancy Cartwright, William Schallert, Patricia Barry, Kevin McCarthy, Jeremy Licht, Priscilla Pointer, Martin Garner, Helen Shaw, Charles Hallahan, Doug McGrath

A wildly uneven movie, which is to be expected considering the basis, the highs in Twilight Zone are pretty damn high, while the lows are only mediocre – this is a wall-to-wall watchable movie, even if on paper it seems like it shouldn’t have worked at all. Bringing in the high profile quartet of directors was certainly a good first step – with the only one I tend to skip being Dante’s “It’s a Good Life.” I don’t know, it’s not an episode I particularly enjoy either, so I’m not blaming the way they execute it, I’m just not a huge fan of that asshole kid. It’s pretty meh.

But the other three – pretty solid. The only original story of the group – the Landis directed “Time Out” is a bit heavy-handed, but effectively lead by Vic Morrow (famously killed on the set of this film, requiring a different ending to be concocted). Spielberg’s “Kick the Can” is schmaltzy, but has always been my favorite segment, with its sadly sentimental senior citizens getting one night to be young again. But clearly they saved the stand-out sequence for the finale, as George Miller’s “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” surpasses the episode it’s based on (the best episode they chose to adapt, too) and gets a dynamite performance from Lithgow as the tortured passenger, seeing a monster on the wing of the plane.

Lithgow is largely not doing well

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The Set of 400: #378 – My Favorite Loopy Conspiracy Theories

Today! Because Ike said, “Hey look, give us your technology, we’ll give you all the cow lips you want” –

Sneakers (1992)

Directed by Phil Alden Robinson

Starring Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Aykroyd, River Phoenix, Ben Kingsley, Mary McDonnell, David Strathairn, Timothy Busfield, Donal Logue, George Hearn, Stephen Tobolowsky, James Earl Jones

All the cast in the world came together for this relatively light heist flick in the early ’90s, with pretty fun results. It’s not a movie you hear bandied about much these days – but judging by its gross, it was fairly popular in the fall of ’92. Redford and Kingsley play friends-turned-rivals battling over this MacGuffin that will decode and hack into everything on the remedial early ’90s internet. Redford’s team of good guys includes very funny turns by Aykroyd, Phoenix, and particuarly Strathairn as the blind sound expert Whistler. To my knowledge, this is also the only big screen pairing of film legends Redford and Poitier, so that’s cool! Is it a bit dated, given that the high-tech wizardry on display in this movie looks like a cheap Nintendo game? Sure. But even at the time this seemed more an excuse to gather up a ton of great actors and go on a good, old fashioned caper than to try to wow the audience with gadgets. The movie doesn’t quite match up to the heavy hitters involved, but it is definitely enhanced by their collective presence. Continue reading

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