October 31, 2019 · 1:12 pm
Today! Because if it hadn’t been for my flawless footwork, I’d be standing here a dead man today –
Without a Clue (1988)
Directed by Thom Eberhardt
Starring Michael Caine, Ben Kingsley (x3), Jeffrey Jones (x2), Paul Freeman, Lysette Anthony (x2), Nigel Davenport, Peter Cook (x2), Pat Keen, Matthew Sim, George Sweeney, Harold Innocent
The best Sherlock Holmes comedy ever made, Without a Clue operates under the idea that Ben Kingsley’s Watson is the true mastermind detective, having hired an actor to portray his literary creation, worried that his criminal hunting pastime might be frowned upon by his medical superiors. Michael Caine’s Reginald Kincaid is a womanizing drunk who only barely manages to keep it together enough to don the deerstalker and parrot Watson’s information back to Scotland Yard and the adoring public. The story begins with them years into this deception, their relationship fraying badly from Kincaid’s lackadaisical character upkeep and Watson’s frustration with hiding his genius.
Kingsley is better known and regarded for his dramas, but his comedy work is routinely excellent, including another role on this list, as the supposed Mandarin in #265 Iron Man 3. Opposite Caine doing his best egomaniac boob actor, they sell this premise, even as it leaps into high-stakes Holmesian mystery, battling their legendary adversary Moriarty (a very effective Paul Freeman). Terrifically funny supporting turns come from Jeffrey Jones’ clueless Lestrade, Nigel Davenport’s Lord Smithwick, and the always great Beyond the Fringe alum Peter Cook.
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April 22, 2019 · 1:08 pm
Today! Because you’ve got to be a fucking Rembrandt to put on makeup –
Directed by Blake Edwards
Starring Ellen Barkin, Jimmy Smits, JoBeth Williams, Lorraine Bracco (x2), Tony Roberts, Perry King, Lysette Anthony, Catherine Keener, Bruce Payne, Jim J. Bullock, Tea Leoni, Michael Badalucco, Victoria Mahoney, Basil Hoffman
Not to be confused with the Bateman/Aniston film of the same name plus a The, Switch was another cable staple of mine from the early ’90s, and man, the characters largely do not hold up. It’s a bunch of ’80s chauvinist dudes and vengeful, bitchy women thrown into a light-hearted Blake Edwards romp. It’s as 1991 as a movie can feel. Oh hey, and our second jaunt through ’91 in three days! I told you it’d get some love!
So while a lot of the antics are dated and borderline offense in retrospect, the reason this movie retains a spot on this big list is wholly Ellen Barkin’s tremendous performance, as the murdered jerk Steve reincarnated (that’s not really the right word – transmogrified, I guess?) as a woman, in order to find any women who liked him, and thus get into heaven. Don’t worry about the plot, it wildly doesn’t try to make sense. And while it does pay some quick service to how hard it is to be a woman in this asshole-prism of a man’s world, this is mostly an excuse for dude-trapped-in-a-hot-woman’s-body hijinks, of which there are many. The early promise of Barkin’s career never totally panned out – even though she’s had a fairly solid run in movies and TV, by and large – but I’d have to say this is her best overall performance. And it carries this film through its awkward twists and turns and bar fights. Continue reading →
Filed under Movies
Tagged as Blake Edwards, Bruce Payne, Catherine Keener, Ellen Barkin, Favorite Movies Ever, Jim J. Bullock, Jimmy Smits, JoBeth Williams, Lorraine Bracco, Lysette Anthony, Perry King, Switch, Tea Leoni, Tony Roberts