Tag Archives: Mary Ellen Trainor

The Set of 400: #159 – My Favorite Super-Duper Chocolate Eruption

Today! Because if you don’t bring those kids back I’m going to commit Hare Krishna!

The Goonies (1985)

Directed by Richard Donner (x4)

Starring Sean Astin (x2), Corey Feldman, Jeff Cohen, Jonathan Ke Quan, Josh Brolin, Kerri Green, Martha Plimpton, Anne Ramsey (x3), Joe Pantoliano (x4), Robert Davi (x2), John Matuszak, Mary Ellen Trainor (x5), Lupe Ontiveros, Keith Walker, Steve Antin

The ’80s were the heyday of kids on adventures in the movies, or at least it seemed that way when I was a kid, in the ’80s. Maybe every decade plays this way when you’re young – maybe that’s how they’ve designed it to feel! – but back then it seemed like we couldn’t hunt down kid-centric action peril flicks from much further back than the Carter administration, and so it all felt like a new concept. And the first time I ever remember going to a drive-in movie – at the glorious Circle Drive-In in Dickson City, still in operation as of this writing! – was to see the Ethan Hawke classic Explorers paired with Richard Donner’s rip-roaring, hilarious treasure hunt The Goonies.

Didn’t make the list, but I’ve got pretty fond, vague memories of Explorers, too

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #223 – My Favorite Christmas Debate

Today! Because now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho –

Die Hard (1988)

Directed by John McTiernan

Starring Bruce Willis (x2), Alan Rickman (x3), Bonnie Bedelia (x2), Reginald VelJohnson, William Atherton, Hart Bochner, Paul Gleason, De’voreaux White, Alexander Godunov, James Shigeta, Robert Davi, Grand L. Bush, Rick Ducommun (x2), Mary Ellen Trainor (x4)

I’ve got a couple disparate ideas on the first Die Hard, none of which talk too much about how great the movie is, so let’s get that out of the way right off the bat. It’s an almost perfect action movie. It’s got a great villain, great little twists, great continually escalating stakes, some pretty funny moments, and the dad from Family Matters at his peak. As it became the template for so many action movies over the next few decades, I don’t think I need to recount the plot, or really anything else about this movie. Die Hard is a masterpiece.

But as the ways to adapt this concept into other action movies ran out long ago – Die Hard on a plane! Die Hard in space! – isn’t it about time we come all the way around to “Die Hard in a Die Hard!” Hear me out – taking footage from the original as the backbone, we have De’voreaux White’s limo driving Argyle (now played by, I don’t know, Brandon T. Jackson) dealing with an entirely different locked-in terror crisis in the parking garage, while John McClane sorts out the Nakatomi Plaza terrorists above. I know, this would require some retconning of story elements from Die Hard, but hey, it’s better than the “Let’s ignore all the sequels and make a new first sequel” idea that has become so popular. Maybe there’s a Russian drug running scheme from a van on level 3! Maybe there’s a secret under-underground human trafficking operation! And the limo driver is our only shoot-’em-up hope! Okay, this might be dumb. Or, is Argyle Hard so dumb it might be great??

And obviously the bear comes to life as his sidekick

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #344 – My Favorite 3D Shark

Today! Because he’s in a ’46 Ford, we’re in a DeLorean – he’d rip through us like we were tin foil –

Back to the Future Part II (1989)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis (x2)

Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd (x2), Lea Thompson (x2), Thomas F. Wilson, Elisabeth Shue, James Tolkan, Billy Zane, Charles Fleischer, Casey Siemaszko, Elijah Wood (x2), Flea, Joe Flaherty, Donald Fullilove, Mary Ellen Trainor (x2)

Ah, 1989! A transformative film year for young Joe, not so much due to Back to the Future Part II, but because its release finally prompted me to watch Back to the Future Part I. And, you know, Batman, Indiana Jones 3, Ghostbusters 2, and so on. As I didn’t have the luxury of great distance between the original and the sequel, these two movies fell into that aforementioned issue I had as a kid – where a movie and its sequel sort of blend together. It didn’t help that BttFII straight rehashes the original movie during its second half, so the sheer laziness of this move didn’t much bother me as a ten year old.

And, I mean, they try to make it clever, showing the old scenes from new angles, with all new stakes and complications, but with a decidedly older face on Marty, and a completely different Jennifer. If you watch the first and second movies one after the other – and try to think of it as one movie – I think it actually makes for a cooler experience. If you allow yourself to ruminate on the fact that four years passed and this is what they came up with – not to mention the mind bending time travel convolutions and all that chalkboard explaining of things – you might not think back on II all that fondly.

Whatever you say, Doc!

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #375 – My Favorite Romance Novelist Heroine

Today! Because I have been through every one-horse shithole for a 200 mile radius –

Romancing the Stone (1984)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Starring Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas (x2), Danny DeVito, Holland Taylor, Zack Norman, Mary Ellen Trainor, Manuel Ojeda, Alfonso Arau

Two months before the release of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Fox made a sexy, whimsical attempt to eat Paramount’s lunch with this modern day jungle adventure. Set very much in the vein of the action archaeologist, Douglas’ Jack helps Turner’s romance novelist Joan track down her kidnapped sister in South America, and in the course of it they find treasure, get shot at a bunch, get kinky, get high, and repeatedly get the better of an in-pursuit, opportunist Danny DeVito. It’s a rip roaring yarn that I probably should not have been allowed to watch as often as I did as a child. But like the rest of America, we couldn’t wait for new Indiana Jones adventures, so this had to fit the bill! And it did!

The cast is so solid together that they’d reunite for the direct sequel Jewel of the Nile (also pretty good) and spiritual sequel War of the Roses (come to think of it, also good). And with this, his third film, a great run of Robert Zemeckis movies kicked off, as for the next fifteen years he’d win Oscars and direct gigantic box office hits every two or three years. Hell, even with his uneven sojourn into strictly motion-capture animation in the ’00s, he didn’t really have a disappointing film at the box office until The Walk in 2015. Nice track record! You’re welcome for me not looking too close at Death Becomes Her‘s numbers, or mentioning Allied at all! Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies