Messing with Memories: ‘Meatballs’

 

Meatballs
Original release: 1979
Starring: Bill Murray, directed by Ivan Reitman
Remake release: 2011 (rumored)
Remake director: John Whitesell (Calendar Girl, Malibu’s Most Wanted)

The original: Before being sullied by a slew of non-sequitir sequels and off-shoots (extra-terrestrials, Sally Kellerman as a porn star, Corey Feldman), Meatballs was a quaint, moderately amusing camp comedy that helped kickstart the cinematic career of Bill Murray.

The proposed remake: Ivan Reitman, the original’s director, in apparently helping to produce a remake, which has been rumored since 2007. The director linked to be latest? John Whitesell, whose credits include Big Momma’s House 2 , Deck The Halls and who can forget his memorable television work in the four-part cliffhanger known as Blossom in Paris?

One of the rumored writers to be attached is Sean Anders, who directed the marginally entertaining Sex Drive.

No cast has been attached, and with the director’s resume, one can only only imagine someone like Dane Cook as the lead (only a guess, there are no rumors to support this). Expect it in 2011 at the very earliest, but with no real public announcements, casting or crew news right now ,classify this one as “cloudy…with a chance of ‘Meatballs.'”

Sources: Flixter, Digital Spy, Moviehole,

‘Caddyshack’ with Cindy Morgan

posterFilm:
Caddyshack (1980)
Rated: R
Directed by:
Harold Ramis
Written by:
Bryan Doyle-Murray &
Harold Ramis Starring:
Chevy Chase as Ty Webb
Ted Knight as Judge Smails
Rodney Dangerfield as Al Czervik
Bill Murray as Carl Speckler
Michael O'Keefe as Danny Noonan
Cindy Morgan as Lacy Underall
Sarah Holcolmb as Maggie
Scott Colomby as Tony D'Annunzio
The Gopher as Himself

By Pete Hayes

rodneywang

Rodney and his Wang...no offense

Pre-screening memories: My dad was a huge Rodney Dangerfield fan. I remember listening to his records as a little youngster and also enjoying the humor, which balanced observational humor with just the right amount of silliness, which pretty much sums up my sense of humor today.

But while Dangerfield was perhaps the bait, I loved (and continue to love) Caddyshack for the fact that it was a veritable spectrum of comedic styles, each playing to their own strengths. Bill Murray plays the loveable slob he perfected in his days on Saturday Night Live. Chevy Chase was the quip-spouting motormouth he had later honed in the movies. And Ted Knight was the easily agitated time bomb that wrestled (to no avail) to keep a calm exterior.

bill pumping

Bill Murray, who's got that going for him

And, of course, there were the countless one-liners that emerged which were (and still are) repeated every time I strap on the spike and slide out my driver on the course. It is impossible to visit a golf course today without at least one or two scenes or sayings entering my head. I love sports movies, but rarely has one been so completely dominant in my head every time I play the game.

cindy chevy improv

Cindy and Chevy, in a completely improvised scene

New memories: Through the years, I think I have tended to favor one comedian or another from time to time, depending on what stage of life I was in (earlier it was Rodney, later it was Chevy, and perhaps in another few decades it will be Ted), but I lost respect for the others. And I would be remiss if I did not mention our guest for this podcast, Ms. Lacey Underall herself.  Seldom has an entrance into a film been so memorable. Through the years, I may gravitate toward certain comedic stylings, my appreciation for her has remained steadfast. Her addition to the proceedings can not be underestimated, as she provided the perfect balance of sensuality to the silliness.

Caddyshack is rightfully deserved of its inclusion in lists of top comedies of all time, and I can watch dozens of comedies each year, but I am sure it will always remain one of mine.

Download Natsukashi’s ‘Caddyshack’ podcast

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Our featured guest: Cindy Morgan

cindychevy

Photo courtesy Cindy Morgan

Lacy may not have had all the zingers in Caddyshack, but make no mistake, even though Caddyshack was filled with top-tier comedians, all eyes were on her the moment she sauntered across the green of ???? Country Club.

It was quite an entrance for the former radio girl from Chicago, but she managed to make her mark at this boys club, including standing her ground with one Chevy Chase. It was a daunting task, but one in which helped cement her into iconic status. On film, she went on to create another legendary character, that of Yori in the cult classic Tron.

Currently, Cindy is putting the finishing touches of a coffe table book of her time spent on the set of Caddyshack, which should be released in 2010. Here, she shares some of those memories, including her famous dive into the pool, her mad golfing skills and her tangle with producers which led to her being left off or downgraded on almost all the promotional material of the film.

Thanks, Cindy, for letting us shoulder your bags for a little while here at Natsukashi.

‘Brewster’s Millions’ with writer Herschel Weingrod

brewsters_millionsposter

Title: Brewster’s Millions (1985)
Rated: PG
Directed by: Walter Hill
Written by: Herschel Weingrod and Timothy Harris (screenplay)
                         George Barr McCutcheon (novel)
Starring:  Richard Pryor as Montgomery Brewster
                    John Candy as Spike Nolan
Tagline: You don’t have to be crazy to blow 30 million in 30 days. But it helps.

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By El-Ron

Pre-screening memories: There’s a bit that Eddie Murphy does in his film ‘Raw,‘ in which he recounts the times he crept into his basement to listen to old Richard Pryor albums. It was a scenario that was often duplicated in my own household.

When not under the watchful eye of my grandmother, I used to revel in Pryor’s profane musings. Of course, when it came to seeing him on the big screen, there was absolutely no way in hell my grandmother would allow me into one of his R-rated films, such as Stir Crazy, Bustin’ Loose or Some Kind of Hero.

My prayers of seeing him in the theater were answered in 1985, when he appeared alongside John Candy in the comedy Brewster’s Millions. It was not the same man I remember spewing obscenities into my impressionable eardrums late at night, but, to me, he was every bit as funny. It was also an opportunity to see my hero on the big screen and not just hear him on a scratchy recording.

It was a film that brought laughter to both my grandmother and me. From Pryor’s wild ramblings to John Candy’s exuberance, I will always remember just how light and good-natured the film seemed to be.

New memories: One of the best parts about revisiting this film is that I got a chance to watch this again with the same woman with whom I watched this more than 20 years ago — my grandmom. Did we find it as funny with this much distance? I guess you’ll just have to listen to the podcast to find out…

________________________________________________________________

Episode XLVI: Brewster’s Millions with writer Herschel Weingrod

Listen to the podcast by dowloading the link above, or click the player below…

___________________________________________________________________

herschel3Our featured guest: Writer Herschel Weingrod has penned and produced some of the most memorable films of the 80s and 90s: Trading Places, Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Falling Down, and the featured film of this podcast, Brewster’s Millions.

That means, his words have been spoken by Eddie Murphy, Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, Danny DeVito, Bugs Bunny, John Candy, Rick Moranis, Michael Douglas and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not too shabby.

The Wisconsin native has spend more than a quarter century in the business and had many a fond memory of Brewster’s and its star Richard Pryor. He also operates the site Scriptmaven.com, for all of you aspiring filmmakers out there. Through this site, he helps evaluate and lends his expertise to those who seek to submit a screenplay.

A big thanks to Herschel for lending us his expertise to us for our little podcast!

Essay: ‘Moving Violations’

Moving Violations
Rated
: PG-13
Starring: John Murray as Dana Cannon
               Jennifer Tilly as Amy Hopkins
               James Keach as Deputy Halik
               Wendie Jo Sperber as Joan Pudillo
               Dedee Pfeiffer as Cissy

Directed by: Neal Isreal

Written by: Pat Proft and Neal Isreal

Tagline: “A crash course in traffic school from the creators of ‘Police Academy.’
By Rob Rector
Perhaps it was one of nepotisms finest cinematic moments (yes, this includes the little-seen 1993 direct-to-video brethern-of-movie-star classic Death Ring, whose cover featured the names SWAYZE, NORRIS and McQUEEN in large all caps — only to be preceded by the 7-point revealing the names Don, Mike and Chad, respectively). The film ‘Moving Violations’ featured no fewer than four sibs to the stars. John Murray, little brother of Bill, Jennifer Tilly, lil’ sis of Meg, James Keach, young bro of Stacy and Dedee Pfeiffer, the younger sister of Michelle, were all accounted for in the cast of this quickly produced little slice of quintessential 80s-ness that followed the prototypical format of ragtag losers (traffic offenders) taking on strict authoritarians (traffic cops) in a film that was created by a team that was no stranger to the format, as they produced both ‘Bachelor Party’ and ‘Police Academy.’
Pre-screening memories: To ease the transition, they even gave John the occupation of a groundskeeper, perhaps one of Murray’s most iconic roles ( OK, so technically, he was a landscaper, but isn’t that just splitting hairs?).
Memories of this film were based solely on Murray’s character, Dana Cannon. I remember often pilfering witty rejoinders from the character and trying to emulate his easygoing, sarcastic demeanor in the face of authority (funny how that rarely seems as charming in real life…). You see, it was much easier to lift lines from lesser-known films and pass them off as your own, than, say something more universally known as “Ghostbusters,” where the response would most likely be, “Ha ha, very funny, Dr. Venkman.” But I imagined myself looking suave with a cock-eyed grin when getting yelled at and having the perfect retort to diffuse a situation and win the adoration of many as a result. Only now does it occur to me that there are very few historical instances of wise-cracking landscapers who’ve reached national prominence.
There really was little else to recall of the film. The only other supporting characters who had any discernable impact on me since those multiple screenings more than two decades ago were a fellow traffic offender who saw one too many horror films (my hero!) and that chubby gal from ‘Bosom Buddies’ who held the key to Buffy and Hildegard’s true identity — Wendie Jo Sperber.
So, I am once again ready to take a possible wrong turn down Memory Lane and revisit this little speed bump of a film that had remained part of my consciousness, Moving Violations.’

 

 

Post-Screening: I honestly wonder if at some point the producers just threw up their arms and said, “You know what? F***k it, let’s just produce a PG-13 Animal House.” I have witnessed many a variation of the iconic film, but have yet to see whole chunks lifted so cavalierly as they had in Moving Violations (and this is from a connoisseur of crap comedy who has viewed such era films as Screwballs, King Frat, Mad Magazine’s Up the Academy, The Hollywood Knights, and the short-lived Animal House spinoff sitcom Delta House).
Shall we put the evidence on Lady Justice’s scales, shall we?

  1. A Dean Wormer-esque authority figure (played by James Keach as a traffic cop) who despises a lowly group of misfits, led by a slovenly good-time Belushi-like guy (played by Murray)
  2. A ” When the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor” rallying cry from said good-time guy.
  3. A incident involving the bedding of a girl who admits she’s underage pre-coitus (though no tissues were used to stuff the bra).
  4. A sexually aggressive female authority figure, though this time its Sally Kellerman as a judge who stands in for Dean Wormer’s cucumber-comparing wife.
  5. A finale that features a downtown parade that erupts into calamity and confusion.
  6. A float being commandeered by our heroes and driven at high rates of speed.
  7. A beauty queen atop of said float in said parade who dutifully stays put and waves to the crowds.
  8. A “where are they now” blurb at the end credits on the fate of our protagonist landscaper.

I’m sure a more trained eye could pick up more, but at this point I felt I had spent way to much time in my CSI-like analysis on it.

Some other items I did glean from the viewing include:

  • A blink-and-you-missed-it cameo from one Don Cheadle as a fast food employee. (His only line was “Can I take your order?” repeated a handful of times.)
  • The film boasted the name of Clara Peller in the opening credits, better known as the “Where’s the Beef?” lady from the 80s Wendy’s commercials. (Are you really sure that’s a hook you want to hang your film on? That’s like saying, “Special appearance by The Noid,” or “Featuring the comedic stylings of the “Dude you got a Dell” guy.)
  • James Keach is actually the more charismatic lead in the film as the psychotic motorcycle cop whose slow seething turns into violent rage. Though by the film’s conclusion he’s reduced to parading around in a dog collar and leather undies — best not to ask.
  • The horror-film afficionado was actually more amusing than I remembered, especially when he was stoked to see one of those gore-soaked “instructional films” titled “Blood Runs Red on the Highway.” I remember being shown such a PSA (similar to this one) in grade school in which a log carrier accidentally unloads its cargo at a high rate of speed through the windshield of an unsuspecting reckless driver. Yes, in grade school. Is it any wonder I turned out worshipping the works of gory effects masters such as Rob Bottin, Rick Baker and Stan Winston?

New Memories: I admit to still getting a few chuckles from this film made on the fly (it was written in a month and shot and released within six). When a girl says, “My ride’s here, it’s my sister…” and a nun pulls up in a Chrystler is classic stuff and what’s not funny about a lowly puppeteer being abused by the same kiddie audience he’s trying to entertain?). And this scene is quite cute:

 

It cannot be forgiven, though, that they cast the go-to guy for stiff-shirt comedy, Mr. Fred Willard, and fail to use him for his true potential. But what truly amazes me is that I ever found John Murray’s performance to be notable for his wit or charm. And I am thankful that I did not follow my admiration of his role to more extreme lengths, as I am pretty sure I’d make a lousy landscaper.

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