Tag Archives: Karen Allen

The Set of 400: #62 – My Favorite Dead-End Alley Parade

Today! Because as of this moment, they’re on double secret probation –

National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

Directed by John Landis (x4)

Starring Tim Matheson (x2), Peter Riegert, John Belushi (x3), Tom Hulce (x2), Stephen Furst (x2), Mark Metcalf, John Vernon, Martha Smith, Karen Allen (x4), Bruce McGill, Donald Sutherland (x6), Verna Bloom, Mary Louise Weller, James Daughton, Doug Kenney, James Widdoes, Sarah Holcomb, Otis Day, Kevin Bacon (x5)

I think I liked the idea of Animal House more than the movie for a long time. Figure, I first saw this as a fairly young kid, and – as has been the case with many comedies of that time and before – I saw the severely edited television version almost exclusively for years. So while I loved the early Saturday Night Live from a pretty young age, I didn’t really get the appeal of Animal House. Come on, even edited to death it doesn’t have much resonance with a very young crowd, let’s face it. I was still watching lots of Police Academy and Look Who’s Talking – kid’s comedies masquerading as adult comedies. Animal House can’t possibly connect until you’re at least approaching high school, right?

Nonetheless, one of the first cassette tapes I remember owning was the Animal House soundtrack, which is a bunch of ’50s and ’60s songs plus that wacky “Animal House” theme, and I listened to it constantly. Sam Cooke’s “What a Wonderful World,” Paul and Paula, “Shama Lama Ding Dong” – I don’t know, even as a kid I was into old music, I guess. Why I would’ve gotten it in the first place, though, I can’t say, because again, it’s not like I watched the movie all that much. The same goes for The Blues Brothers – for the longest time, I considered myself a fan, and would’ve said so to my dumb grade school pals, but I didn’t actually see the film that often.

Hell yeah, cassette-heads!

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The Set of 400: #87 – My Favorite Planetarium Date

Today! Because not everybody gets corrupted. You have to have a little faith in people –

Manhattan (1979)

Directed by Woody Allen (x11)

Starring Woody Allen (x8), Diane Keaton (x3), Michael Murphy (x6), Mariel Hemingway (x2), Meryl Streep (x2), Anne Byrne, Michael O’Donoghue, Wallace Shawn (x6), Karen Allen (x3), David Rasche (x3), Mark Linn-Baker (x2), Frances Conroy, Charles Levin, Karen Ludwig

Well, here we are again, folks. The 11th – eleventh! – Woody Allen movie on the list. When I was first putting this thing together, compiling a long list to select from, I didn’t really pay attention to things like how many movies from so-and-so made it, how many movies from what year, etc. That shouldn’t matter when just straight evaluating what your favorites are – but the fact that this is the second-to-last Allen film here at #87 leads me to believe that I probably packed too many of his films in the far reaches of this list. Not only is he far and away the most frequent director as of today, he also is now tied for the most frequent actor, hitting number eight today. And, while I firmly believe this is one of his two or three best movies, it’s also the creepiest, by way of foreshadowing his real life.

This isn’t something that is overly prevalent in Woody’s films as time went on. Sure, there are a lot of films where older men are romantically involved with far younger women, but come on, this is Hollywood! It’s hardly an exclusive problem to this filmmaker. But considering the first round of scandalous issues Woody ran into, this movie stands out as the stark example of his perhaps icky predilections. Mariel Hemingway is, like, really young in this movie – her character is still in high school and all of seventeen, as they are quick to repeat throughout. And it all works for the movie – this isn’t just an indictment of this version of Woody’s writer character – but in retrospect, well, it’s a little glaring.

Sure, she’s seventeen, but she looks fucking twelve

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The Set of 400: #227 – My Favorite Put a Little Love in Your Heart

Today! Because I’m sure Charles Dickens would have wanted to see her nipples –

Scrooged (1988)

Directed by Richard Donner (x2)

Starring Bill Murray (x6), Karen Allen (x2), Bobcat Goldthwait, David Johansen, Carol Kane (x3), Robert Mitchum (x3), John Glover (x4), Michael J. Pollard (x2), Alfre Woodard (x2), John Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray (x2), John Forsythe, Mary Lou Retton, Lee Majors, Buddy Hackett, John Houseman (x2), Jamie Farr, Robert Goulet (x2), Mary Ellen Trainor (x3), Kathy Kinney, Tony Steedman, Anne Ramsey (x2), Joel Murray, Mabel King (x2), Pat McCormick, Bruce Jarchow, Jack McGee, Kate McGregor-Stewart, Wendie Malick

A Christmas Carol isn’t an inherently funny story, and yet there have been many, many attempts to make it so. Most are musicals, and that helps to lighten the mood, but anything attempting an even halfway accurate recounting of the book usually ends up relatively straight. Even the excellent Muppet version devolves into a typical Christmas Carol about halfway through. There has been better success on television, but usually they take the story pretty far afield to find jokes. The terrific British series Black Adder has probably the funniest rendition (it helps if you’re a little familiar with that show to begin with) which turns the whole plot on its head, making Rowan Atkinson’s Scrooge character the nicest man in the world, who is shown how things were for his evil ancestors by Robbie Coltrane’s Marley/Ghosts figure. Mr. Magoo’s is one of the best straightforward musical versions, but it relegates its Magoo-esque humor to the framing scenes.

“Well, bless my ten toes!”

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The Set of 400: #339 – My Favorite Night Game Fireworks

Today! Because Bertram got really into the ’60s, and no one ever saw him again –

The Sandlot (1993)

Directed by David Mickey Evans

Starring Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar, Denis Leary, Karen Allen, Patrick Renna, Art LaFleur, James Earl Jones (x3), Marley Shelton, Arliss Howard, Chauncey Leopardi, Marty York, Brandon Adams, Grant Gelt

Clearly, 20th Century Fox did not know what they had on their hands with The Sandlot. I mean, jeez, look at those taglines! “They’re the best buddies in the entire history of the world”?? Even if it’s meant tongue-in-cheek, it’s not quite tongue-in-cheek enough to be clear. And the other tagline just makes this out to be a sun-dappled nostalgia fest. This is a legitimately hilarious summer vacation fantasia replete with giant monster dog things and the Great Hambino. As endlessly quotable as any kids movie ever made, The Sandlot may have initially been treated as just another disposable calendar filler by the studio, but I would go out on a limb to say it’s a borderline American classic, and one of the three or four best baseball movies ever made. Continue reading

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