Tag Archives: Michael Keaton

The Set of 400: #122 – My Favorite Harry Belafonte Musical

Today! Because I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that –

Beetlejuice (1988)

Directed by Tim Burton (x4)

Starring Alec Baldwin (x2), Geena Davis (x2), Michael Keaton (x8), Winona Ryder (x2), Catherine O’Hara (x4), Jeffrey Jones (x3), Sylvia Sidney (x2), Glenn Shadix (x3), Robert Goulet (x3), Dick Cavett, Susan Kellerman, Adelle Lutz, Tony Cox (x3)

What I’m always surprised by when watching Beetlejuice nowadays is how long it takes to get to Beetlejuice himself. Like, it’s nearly an hour into things when he finally shows up, and how much of the movie is he even in? Like twenty minutes? Did the cartoon really warp memories of this movie so much that I think of the film as the Beetle-and-Lydia show, even though they share no happy times together?

One of the oldest ticket stubs I have (I’ve got basically every movie stub since ’87, fools!), Beetlejuice thrilled nine-year-old me to no end. I doubt I knew at the time that this was the director of another young Joe favorite, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, and certainly wasn’t aware that this creative team was deep in pre-production making the transformative movie of my young life – Batman. Allegedly, it was Beetlejuice‘s box office success that got Burton’s Batman greenlit for definite, after years of it bouncing between screenwriters and directors. So thanks, Ghost with the Most!

Our hero!

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The Set of 400: #131 – My Favorite Coughing Endorsement

Today! Because to her dumb country ass, Compton is Hollywood. Closest she’s ever been anyway –

Jackie Brown (1997)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino (x2)

Starring Pam Grier (x2), Samuel L. Jackson (x5), Robert Forster (x2), Robert De Niro (x3), Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton (x7), Chris Tucker (x2), Michael Bowen (x2), Tiny Lister (x2), LisaGay Hamilton, Hattie Winston, Sid Haig

To say I had been looking forward to Jackie Brown is woefully understating the situation in late 1997. It had been three years – three long formative years – since Pulp Fiction came out, and my whole cinematic outlook had gone through aggressive changes. I mean, going from 15 to 18 years old is going to have its own inherent alterations in lifestyle and tastes, but as I’ve said before, most of my film watching preferences were psychically embedded during this period of time. And PF was as close as anything to the heart of this transformation, so Tarantino finally bringing us his third film was a cause for celebration. Hell, it was a landmark event. It was the goddamn moon landing.

Never mind it was the return of national treasure Pam Grier

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The Set of 400: #152 – My Favorite Vending Machine Card Game

Today! Because if you want to get out of here, get rid of that monkey!

Toy Story 3 (2010)

Directed by Lee Unkrich (x2)

Starring Tom Hanks (x4), Tim Allen (x3), Joan Cusack (x3), John Ratzenberger (x4), Wallace Shawn (x3), Ned Beatty (x4), Michael Keaton (x6), Estelle Harris (x2), Don Rickles (x2), Laurie Metcalf (x3), John Morris (x2), Jodi Benson (x2), Blake Clark, Timothy Dalton, Kristen Schaal, Jeff Garlin, Bonnie Hunt, Whoopi Goldberg (x5), R. Lee Ermey (x2), Richard Kind (x3)

One of the most disconcertingly emotional movies ever made, Toy Story 3 manages to be alternatingly hilarious and heart-breaking, and forces you examine issues of loss and abandonment in ways that aren’t typical in mainstream entertainment. Hell, I would say it’s not something even esoteric filmmaking would attempt to inflict on an audience too often. If it weren’t for Buzz’s Spanish mode and hard-bitten, crime noir-ish gags from the telephone, I would say this might be the most insidiously horrifying children’s film ever created.

Oh Jesus Christ, that porch

Seriously, how do you navigate little ones through this movie? Is it possible to just separate the nightmare of Lotso’s life from all the Woody and Buzz adventures? I get that the ending is geared toward making adults cry – none of that can be anything kids will really understand – but what about the psychologically torturous aspects of this story? I would only imagine there are a million unanswerable questions raised through the middle section of this movie, straight through to Lotso’s end – which is no walk in the park either. And maybe that’s truly the genius of this film, and this whole series. We can examine the people and things we’ve lost – the parts of our lives that were left behind somewhere, by choice or just forgotten – without it killing us. Toy Story 3 sure as hell tries to rip you apart along the way, but in the end it’s okay. Like our heroes, we made it. Even if we narrowly escaped the landfill incinerator in the process.

Oh my God, that incinerator

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The Set of 400: #172 – My Favorite Tussle

Today! Because this is the dumbest fucking shakedown in the history of shakedowns –

Out of Sight (1998)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh (x2)

Starring George Clooney (x3), Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames (x3), Don Cheadle (x3), Albert Brooks (x4), Dennis Farina, Nancy Allen (x2), Michael Keaton (x5), Steve Zahn, Catherine Keener (x3), Luis Guzman (x4), Connie Sawyer, James Black, Viola Davis, Paul Calderon, Samuel L. Jackson (x4), Isaiah Washington, Keith Loneker

All of the sleek cool on display in #249 Ocean’s Eleven is directly attributable to Soderbergh’s work on Out of Sight – one of the great unacknowledged sequels of all time. There is again a heist at the center of the film, but it unfolds in a completely different way. Where Ocean’s is pretty straightforward, with only some narrative somersaults at the end to heighten the impact of the caper itself, Out of Sight flips in and out of the linear tale, explaining the characters prior interactions in prison (virtually all the guys were in prison at some point), and how and why this grand Detroit house robbery came about.

The cast is first rate across the board, but none more so than Jennifer Lopez as Marshal Karen Sisco, kidnapped while Clooney’s Jack breaks out of jail, plunging them both in the trunk of the getaway car, where the hot, sweaty romance begins to blossom. Ridiculous, right? But it totally works, in that marvelous Elmore Leonard way. I want to emphasize how good Lopez is here, because I don’t think she will ever really get the credit she deserves as an actress. As time went by, she did more and more romantic comedies and middling TV shows, but her career’s start – with Selena and Out of Sight and…Anaconda – signaled her as a major talent, capable of a lot more than she’s done. Sure, her music career always came first, and those Affleck films sure didn’t help things, but I always hoped she’d get back to some great character work. Not too late, JLo!

No reason to get blue about it!

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The Set of 400: #185 – My Favorite Boot Hat

Today! Because so much for rule #1 –

Multiplicity (1996)

Directed by Harold Ramis

Starring Michael Keaton (x4), Andie MacDowell (x3), Harris Yulin, Eugene Levy (x2), Richard Masur, Brian Doyle-Murray (x3), John de Lancie, Ann Cusack, Julie Bowen, Robin Duke, Robert Ridgely (x3), Glenn Shadix (x2)

While it still might be a better idea for a movie than how it actually turned out, Multiplicity is nonetheless a very funny, solidly entertaining film. After a lengthy sojourn into superhero costumery and relatively effective dramas, Michael Keaton got back to his all out comedic roots portraying Doug Kinney (named for legendary National Lampoon writer Doug Kenney) and his clones. It’s a pan-and-scan nightmare of a film, so find it in widescreen or get ready for the whiplash! They want you to see all the clones, it’s understandable, but man, the camera sliding all over the goddamn place.

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The Set of 400: #205 – My Favorite Microwaved Spray Paint

Today! Because mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it –

Batman Returns (1992)

Directed by Tim Burton (x3)

Starring Michael Keaton (x3), Michelle Pfeiffer, Danny DeVito (x4), Christopher Walken, Michael Gough (x2), Michael Murphy (x4), Pat Hingle (x2), Vincent Schiavelli (x4), Andrew Bryniarski, Jan Hooks (x2), Steve Witting, Paul Reubens (x3), Cristi Conaway

A superhero outing aggressively not holding up, Batman Returns was basically my favorite movie when I was 12 years old. I’d been waiting three years for the next Bat-adventure, and where this manner of suspense might raise expectations far higher than a film could reach nowadays, back then it just functioned as a way to excuse a lot of their choices. We finally had another Keaton/Burton Bat-flick! And it had the Penguin! And Catwoman! And…Christopher Walken in a ridiculous wig!

And style-wise, it’s still a pretty cool movie. Between the Christmas setting, the weirder, twistier sets than the first movie, Michelle Pfeiffer’s super dramatic eye makeup, and a marked increase in the Tim Burton-ness of the design, it’s a sequel that takes off in bizarre other directions, while still maintaining the overall gloom and moodiness set in place by the original.

Maybe it’s not so much the make up as all the time spent on that hair!

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The Set of 400: #282 – My Favorite Grapevine

Today! Because you have violated my farging rights –

Johnny Dangerously (1984)

Directed by Amy Heckerling

Starring Michael Keaton (x2), Marilu Henner, Joe Piscopo, Danny DeVito (x3), Maureen Stapleton, Griffin Dunne, Peter Boyle (x2), Ron Carey, Ray Walston (x2), Dick Butkis, Dom DeLuise (x2), Richard Dimitri, Glynnis O’Connor, Alan Hale Jr., Carl Gottlieb (x2), Bob Eubanks, Jack Nance, Chuck Hicks, James Coco, Joe Flaherty (x3), Vincent Schiavelli (x2)

This zany gangster movie parody from the mid-’80s was another heavy rotation film in my house growing up, again for reasons I simply can’t explain. Before I knew him as Beetlejuice or Batman, Michael Keaton was Johnny Kelly, brother of D.A. Tommy Kelly, who morphs into good-natured mob figure Johnny Dangerously, the man whose last name is an adverb. And while the movie may not totally hold up as the years wear on, it still has a ton of great one-liners, and a load of terrifically funny performances, no matter your opinion of Joe Piscopo.

From equally good-natured mob boss Jocko Dundee (Peter Boyle) to psychotic mob hitman Danny Vermin (Piscopo!) to The Pope (Dom DeLuise), yes, the movie is a bit all over the place. Essentially a Mel Brooks style parody of the ’30s mobster/cop brothers film Manhattan Melodrama, Dangerously throws a ton of gags at you, with varying success, but with this many pro comedians on hand, more land than they probably have any business of doing. And yet, amidst all the Marilu Henners (as the lounge singer moll Lil) and Maureen Stapletons (as the Kelly brothers long suffering Ma), the movie is probably best remembered (if it’s remembered?) for the extreme Italian gangster stereotype character of Roman Moronie (played by Richard Dimitri), who hilariously mangles English curse words into “you fargin’ icehole” and “som-a-nom-batches,” and later gets deported to Sweden, despite not being from there.

“Say your prayers, icehole”

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The Set of 400: #393 – My Favorite Mentally Ill Buddy Picture

Today! Because who dares to tow the van of the living Christ?

The Dream Team (1989)

Directed by Howard Zieff

Starring Michael Keaton, Christopher Lloyd, Peter Boyle, Stephen Furst, Lorraine Bracco, Philip Bosco, James Remar, Dennis Boutsikaris, Milo O’Shea

My second favorite Michael Keaton film of 1989! Released two and a half months before Batman, Keaton was coming off the bizarre ’88 double feature of Beetlejuice and Clean and Sober when this insane asylum road trip hit theaters. I’m pretty sure I saw every Keaton movie of the era once the big black bat came into my life, and this weird little comedy has stuck around through time. His exaggerated Randle P. McMurphy bit (and alongside Cuckoo’s Nest alum Lloyd too!) is fine, but the best parts belong to Boyle’s messianic former ad man Jack and Lloyd’s delusional faux doctor Henry. Like a lot of ’80s comedies, they shoe horn in a gritty plot to give the thing a purpose, besides get lost and be crazy on their way to the ballgame – it’s something about corrupt cops – which all gets resolved fine in the end. Just to digress, do you remember the whole thing about there being, like, cocaine in a diaper bag in Three Men and a Baby? And there are shootouts and shit in that movie? Why the hell couldn’t it have just been those assholes taking care of that baby? Continue reading

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