Tag Archives: Daniel Stern

The Set of 400: #169 – My Favorite Glowing Doorknob

Today! Because I made my family disappear –

Home Alone (1990)

Directed by Chris Columbus

Starring Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci (x2), Daniel Stern (x3), Catherine O’Hara (x3), John Heard (x2), Devin Ratray, Roberts Blossom (x2), John Candy (x7), Gerry Bamman, Larry Hankin (x2), Kieran Culkin, Terrie Snell, Bill Erwin (x2), Billie Bird, Hope Davis, Ken Hudson Campbell, Jim Ortlieb, Ralph Foody, Angela Goethals

Featuring the best comedic child acting performance ever, Home Alone is a very strange Christmas movie, when you step back and look at it. Like, people have this whole “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?” debate, because it is just an action movie set at Christmas, but blow-for-blow, Home Alone is a way more violent movie than Die Hard. I mean, it’s definitely a Christmas movie, without question, far more than Die Hard is, no matter what you think, but if what holds the John McClane epic back is the full-on explosive thrill ride-ness of the whole thing (and that there’s nothing “Christmas-y” about it), then how are we just giving Home Alone a pass?

Here we are as in olden days/Happy golden days of yore

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The Set of 400: #180 – My Favorite Freedonia Shout-Out

Today! Because what if there is no God and you only go around once and that’s it. Well, don’t you wanna be part of the experience?

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Directed by Woody Allen (x5)

Starring Mia Farrow (x4), Michael Caine (x3), Barbara Hershey, Woody Allen (x4), Diane Wiest (x2), Max Von Sydow (x2), Carrie Fisher (x3), Maureen O’Sullivan, Lloyd Nolan, Daniel Stern (x2), Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lewis Black, Julie Kavner (x2), J.T. Walsh (x5), John Turturro (x2), Richard Jenkins (x3), Fred Melamed (x2), Joanna Gleason, Sam Waterston (x2), Tony Roberts (x2)

With one of the best casts ever assembled, Hannah and Her Sisters in a lot of ways is the perfect Woody Allen movie. He made better ones, and he made funnier ones, but this is the rare hybrid between family drama and neurotic comedy, neatly packaged together as one film. Really, there are two plots running alongside each other, knitted together by featuring the extended family of sisters Hannah (Farrow), Holly (Wiest), and Lee (Hershey). Being a Woody Allen film, the B plot is entirely him – as Hannah’s writer ex-husband Mickey, going through a mid-life crisis where he may be dying of a brain tumor (this is the funny half!). The A plot features Hannah’s current husband – Michael Caine’s Elliot – in his escalating disenchantment with their marriage and his lust for sister-in-law Lee. Even this breakdown isn’t entirely fair, as they split time on these stories pretty evenly, plus a good amount of time spent on Wiest’s hilarious Holly, but the Elliot/Lee/Hannah portion does occupy with the emotional center of things.

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The Set of 400: #253 – My Favorite Grocery Store Pickup Line

Today! Because I am the worst case scenario of Thomas Jefferson’s dream –

My Blue Heaven (1990)

Directed by Herbert Ross

Starring Steve Martin (x4), Rick Moranis, Carol Kane, Bill Irwin (x3), Joan Cusack, Melanie Mayron, William Hickey (x2), Daniel Stern, Ed Lauter, Colleen Camp, Deborah Rush, Jesse Bradford, Julie Bovasso, Gordon Currie, Carol Ann Susi, Ellen Albertini Dow (x3)

The third of the three comedies they’d appear in (if you don’t count Rick’s uncredited cameo in L.A. Story), My Blue Heaven makes the most out of teaming Martin and Moranis. Parenthood is more drama than comedy and Little Shop of Horrors only has them together briefly, but My Blue Heaven gives them a pair of conflicting, two-ish dimensional characters and let’s them run. Martin’s witness protected gangster Vinnie needs to stay out of trouble until the trial, and Moranis’s FBI agent Barney Coopersmith is tasked with handling him, to great comic effect.

While Moranis seems obviously suited for the nerdy G-man role, Martin as a slick Italian gangster doesn’t immediately sound right. In fact, Martin originally was supposed to play Barney, but after someone (Schwarzenegger? That can’t be right) dropped out, he switched roles and they brought in Moranis. Genius move! Both are playing extreme stereotyped versions of these parts – they weren’t aiming for a gritty mob film with comedic touches, it’s a wall-to-wall comedy – and their interplay, as well as their romantic entanglements, provide for a solidly underrated gem all around. Continue reading

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