Tag Archives: Robert Zemeckis

The Set of 400: #36 – My Favorite Million Dollar Wound

Today! Because we was always taking long walks, and we was always looking for a guy named Charlie –

Forrest Gump (1994)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis (x5)

Starring Tom Hanks (x7), Robin Wright (x3), Sally Field (x3), Gary Sinese, Mykelti Williamson, Haley Joel Osment (x2), Sam Anderson, Siobhan Fallon (x3), Afemo Omilami, Michael Jace, Richard D’Alessandro, Dick Cavett (x2), Michael Conner Humphreys, Hanna Hall

To be a fan of Forrest Gump in 1994 was decidedly uncool. This was a year of pretty bad ass, cutting edge cinema – what with Speed and Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption and True Lies and that baddest ass shouting match in cinema history, #317 Blue Chips. ’94 had it all for bros and dudes alike. And then you had Forrest Gump. Everyone’s mom loved Forrest Gump. The soundtrack was straight out of 1969. It had a boatload of dopey quotes and silly cameos by Elvis and John Lennon. It boiled down all of American history and southern racism into little bite sized comedic nuggets, and then hurled AIDS into the mix just to find an ending. Dammit, Forrest Gump!

This is the same movie where he tells LBJ he got shot in the buttocks!

However, as the years went by, and the general schmaltziness of this movie dissipated once it no longer had to be directly compared to the other films of ’94, Gump sort of rose above its initial impressions. I mean, it was a massive hit in its day, and it won Best Picture against all odds, fairness, and logic, so it’s not like it needed to find an audience or acceptance or anything, but for the slightly snobby guy element, obsessed with the vanguard of exciting new cinema in the early ’90s, Gump was a sugary throwback epic, even for all its fancy special effects. I enjoyed it well enough the first time around, but ’94 was just too much cinematically for a full embrace of this movie. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #45 – My Favorite Enchantment Under the Sea

Today! Because the way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?

Back to the Future (1985)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis (x4)

Starring Michael J. Fox (x4), Christopher Lloyd (x6), Lea Thompson (x3), Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson (x3), James Tolkan (x5), Claudia Wells, Marc McClure (x4), Wendie Jo Sperber (x2), George DiCenzo (x2), Frances Lee McCain, Casey Siemaszko (x2), Billy Zane (x4), Donald Fullilove (x3), Jason Hervey (x2), Harry Waters Jr.

I mean, come on, you don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Back to the Future, right? Even with the incestuous overtones and the general lack of effects-heavy science-fictioning going on, it’s still one of everyone’s top sci-fi films ever made. It’s a little dated, sure, but it was such a towering staple of the ’80s that it gets a pass for the anachronistic jokes and references. Pepsi Free? Come on! By the time I first saw this movie – as I mentioned before, years after it had come out – I didn’t even know what the hell Pepsi Free was.

Wait a minute, there was a Diet Pepsi Free? Now I really don’t understand what it was

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The Set of 400: #105 – My Favorite Ice Skate Dentristy

Today! Because I would rather take my chance out there on the ocean than to stay here and die on this shithole island, spending the rest of my life talking to a goddamn volleyball!

Cast Away (2000)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis (x3)

Starring Tom Hanks (x6), Helen Hunt, Nick Searcy, Chris Noth, Jenifer Lewis, Lari White

Tom Hanks’ shining hour, and to date his last Academy Award nomination (?!), Cast Away takes the most basic premise in the history of storytelling – stranded on a desert island – and makes it riveting, fascinating, tense business. Also, if you sit in the front few rows of the movie theater during it, the film is also terrifically nauseating. Pro tip! I wasn’t straight up vomiting (that’s only happened once from an in-theater movie, you guys), but I sure missed a bunch of the film on first viewing.

While the vomit honor belongs to this thing. Thanks a lot, Cameron!

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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!

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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

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