Tag Archives: Robin Williams

The Set of 400: #98 – My Favorite Spinach Eating Robot

Today! Because they made us too smart, too quick and too many. We are suffering for the mistakes they made because when the end comes, all that will be left is us –

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

Directed by Steven Spielberg (x6)

Starring Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law (x3), William Hurt, Frances O’Connor, Sam Robards, Jake Thomas, Brendan Gleeson (x2), Robin Williams (x6), Meryl Streep, Chris Rock (x4), Ben Kingsley (x4), Jack Angel, Ken Leung (x2), Clark Gregg (x4), Kevin Sussman, Ashley Scott, Enrico Colantoni (x2), Paula Malcomson (x3), Adrian Grenier, Michael Fishman

Not often mentioned in the same breath as Spielberg’s best, most iconic films, A.I. Artificial Intelligence holds a weird distinction for me, as the hybrid Frankenstein of a movie that it is. When Stanley Kubrick died in 1999, he left unfinished a number of projects, including his proposed epic biography of Napoleon, some (i.e. me) would argue the final edit of Eyes Wide Shut, and his debatably in pre-production sci-fi epic A.I. Now, Kubrick was taking a helluva long time between movies at this point, so “pre-production” is a pretty relative term, but by all indications this was next up, having started and stopped a number of times, including doing some casting and allegedly recording Robin Williams voice role as it exists in the film. Rumors also persist that Kubrick had discussed with Spielberg the possibility of him directing the film instead. So, when Kubrick died, Spielberg was able to pick up and run with what was largely in place already, cranking the whole film out in just over two years.

Oh those Spielberg silhouettes!

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The Set of 400: #109 – My Favorite Loss of Marbles

Today! Because for reasons of good form, I have decided that the so-called Pan will return in three days to commit the arbitrament of the sword. Smee, translate –

Hook (1991)

Directed by Steven Spielberg (x5)

Starring Robin Williams (x5), Dustin Hoffman (x4), Julia Roberts (x3), Maggie Smith (x3), Bob Hoskins (x3), Charlie Korsmo (x2), Amber Scott, Caroline Goodall, Dante Basco, Laurel Cronin, Arthur Malet, Don S. Davis (x2), Gwyneth Paltrow (x4), Phil Collins, David Crosby, Tony Burton (x5), Glenn Close (x2), Raushan Hammond

Back-to-back 1991s! A year so dense with favorites that it has now landed 14 movies on the list, but like 1992 before it (on this list, not chronologically, obviously, smart asses) only sees one film crack the top 100! But Hook sure got close. The first sign that my undying ten-year-old’s love for Batman could be cracked, Hook temporarily unseated the Caped Crusader’s ’89 outing as my favorite film, in lists from the day currently missing, but being avidly sought, in the various attic’d boxes of my youth. As yet, no luck. But man did I love Hook. It’s funny and exciting, with some really cool sequences (all of Pirate Neverland) and iconic images (really the whole London stretch in the first act of the film). So what if it feels four hours long watching it today? For kids, Hook is incredible.

But no, I can’t imagine adults feel the same way. There’s weird stuff in the film that just doesn’t work (ahem, everything related to Tinkerbell – every single thing) and there are goofball scenes that may kind of fit the theme, but really undo some of the characters. Most egregious is the period of the film where Peter’s son Jack is, like, playing baseball with the pirates and forgets his parents and life on Earth and starts dressing like Captain Hook – which happens very, very quickly. And they try to shoe-horn in some explanation – this is just what happens in Neverland! – but it doesn’t happen to the daughter, and they are only in Neverland for like a weekend, even though it feels like forever, due to the excessive run time of the film. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #112 – My Favorite Spitting Camel

Today! Because life is your restaurant/and I’m your maitre’d!

Aladdin (1992)

Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker

Starring Robin Williams (x4), Scott Weinger, Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman, Gilbert Gottfried, Douglas Seale, Frank Welker, Brad Kane, Lea Salonga

1992, am I right? Despite being the most represented year on this list, this is the second to last film from that great period spanning my seventh and eighth grade years. Eighteen movies, and only one is cracking the top 100! That’s crazy. That also explains why, when commenting about the greatest years in movie history, I’ve never even considered including ’92, even though it landed so many films here. I’m curious, when we revisit this whole endeavor in ten years – obviously, for the Set of 1000 – will ’92 have forty movies on that list? Fifty? Don’t worry – you’ll never get a chance to find out! I’m never doing this again.

Or will I? Don’t forget what a colossal idiot I’ve proved to be so many times in the past

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The Set of 400: #148 – My Favorite Grand Central Station Ballroom Dance

Today! Because I’m hearing horses! Parry will be so pleased –

The Fisher King (1991)

Directed by Terry Gilliam (x2)

Starring Robin Williams (x3), Jeff Bridges, Mercedes Ruehl (x2), Amanda Plummer, Michael Jeter (x2), Harry Shearer (x3), Kathy Najimy (x2), David Hyde Pierce (x2), Tom Waits (x2), Carlos Carrasco, John de Lancie (x2)

Ah, comedies about mental illness! It’s a weird sweet spot to have, but its popping up over (#393 The Dream Team) and over (#193 They Might Be Giants) and over again (#286 Me, Myself and Irene) on this list means that it might be time to face facts – this is weirdly something I’m into. Now, The Fisher King is only sort of a comedy – that much is pretty definitely true. While all the aforementioned movies lean heavier on the laughs (okay, maybe not They Might Be Giants as much), if this one didn’t have Robin Williams at his manic zenith you’d be hard pressed to classify it as even kinda funny. Bridges’ asshole shock jock Jack tumbles mightily when one of his radio show callers goes on a shooting spree, and descends into alcoholic hell. Williams – a victim of this same gunman incident – emerges as a crazed homeless knight named Parry, and they progressively help each other, largely without knowing it, at least until the time comes to retrieve the Holy Grail on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #341 – My Favorite Glinda the Good Witch Impression

Today! Because it’s time to rock it from the Delta to the DMZ –

Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)

Directed by Barry Levinson

Starring Robin Williams (x2), Forest Whitaker (x2), Bruno Kirby, Robert Wuhl, J.T. Walsh, Noble Willingham, Richard Portnow, Juney Smith, Richard Edson, Tung Thanh Tran

Robin Williams had made movies, and some good ones, before 1987, but it all completely changed with Good Morning, Vietnam. It’s as though there was no concrete idea how to harness his stand-up/Mork and Mindy comedy into a feature film, so no one really tried. Popeye has glimmers of it, with the ad-libs, while The World According to Garp showcases Williams serious acting ability. And then everything converged into this wild war comedy, grounded very definitely in reality.

For those of us who grew up with his later comedies, Good Morning, Vietnam can tend to feel like nothing particularly special. This was the Robin we knew from virtually everything that was to follow over the next two decades. The non-sequiturs! That stream-of-consciousness pile of voices and characters! The virtually non-stop jokes! Sure, after decades, that tends to get taken for granted as his particular style, but this was the beginning of that for most cinema audiences, plus it is housed in a very real war picture, while still managing to work, for the most part.

Seriously, every Robin Williams talk show appearance was basically this

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The Set of 400: #365 – My Favorite Octopus Punch

Today! Because this is a fight to the finish. The first man who’s dead loses –

Popeye (1980)

Directed by Robert Altman

Starring Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall, Paul L. Smith, Ray Walston, Paul Dooley, Bill Irwin, Richard Libertini, Donovan Scott, Roberta Maxwell, Allan F. Nicholls, Donald Moffat, Linda Hunt, David Arkin

A pretty roundly savaged film in its day, Popeye almost single-handedly ruined Robert Altman’s career. By the standards of the time, it was kind of a bomb, and it received a bunch of year-end Worst Movie joke nominations and wins. Yikes! And I’ll admit, it’s not a film that totally works – Altman’s style mixed with very child-friendly humor and some pretty cheap looking octopus effects does leave you a little bewildered at the aims of this movie. There are a bunch of Harry Nilsson songs that are silly but okay, but feel kinda jammed in haphazardly all over the place.

But this is a movie I watched to death as a kid, and can still get a lot of enjoyment from – Robin Williams’ sailor man is solidly funny, Paul L. Smith followed up his terrifying role in Midnight Express with a less menacing but equally imposing turn as Bluto, and the supporting group of Pappy, Wimpy, Castor Oyl, et al are solid in their roles. But come on, if there’s any one person to point to for the watch-ability of Popeye it’s Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl. She’s so perfect in the part that it not only gives the movie some much needed heart, it actually creates some genuine authenticity in the goings-on. Authenticity isn’t the right word. Believability? That’s not a word. Reality? It helps to engender an actual reality in the madness of Sweethaven.

Your MVP – Shelley Duvall!

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