Category Archives: Reviews

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Hocus Pocus & the All-New Sequel by A.W. Jantha By Goth Girl Reads

Goth Girl Reads
BOOK REVIEW: Hocus Pocus & the All-New Sequel by A.W. Jantha
By Goth Girl Reads
October 8, 2018

Hocus Pocus & the All-New Sequel

Let’s get one thing straight; I wasn’t expecting to LOVE this book, (as I’m sure anyone who’s a huge Halloween and/or Hocus Pocus fan would); I figured it would be extremely corny and completely unnecessary, but at least slightly entertaining, which is why I read it. This book was both surprisingly better, but also overtly cringy at some parts. In the end, they all balanced out and came down to a basic (imo) rating of two stars.

The book begins as an almost exact, word-for-word copy of the movie; in fact, the actual ‘sequel’ of the story doesn’t begin until page 203! After reading about fifty pages, I got bored and skipped ahead to this; I love Hocus Pocus, but I’m not about to read a two-hundred page copy of the movie when I would much rather watch Bette Midler being fantastic on-screen. It’s pretty apparent that ‘A.W. Jantha’ is some sort of ghost-writer pen name for at least 2-3 different authors who collaborated on this book. Read More

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

VanCity Buzz: Bette Midler brings the razzle dazzle to Rogers Arena (PHOTOS, REVIEW)

VanCity Buzz
Bette Midler brings the razzle dazzle to Rogers Arena (PHOTOS, REVIEW)
BY ROB FELLER
8:00 AM PDT, WED JUNE 03, 2015 Read More

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Movie Scene Outrageous Fortune Review

The Movie Scene

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Worst enemies become best friends, yes “Outrageous Fortune” is a buddy movie, but a buddy movie which when it was released in the 80s had a USP. That USP was that the buddies were two women, which may not sound such a huge USP but most buddy movies prior to “Outrageous Fortune” had always been about two men. But whilst it had this slightly different angle “Outrageous Fortune” is actually a very straightforward buddy movie with two women who don’t get on, hitting the road together where they have to help each other out whilst avoiding bad guys and solving a mystery. And to be honest it is a shame as for the first 20 minutes “Outrageous Fortune” is fun especially with Bette Midler and Shelley Long working well together as opposites who don’t get on but after that it becomes routine and at times a little dull

Having spent years training to become an actress Lauren (Shelley Long – The Money Pit) doesn’t get along with Sandy (Bette Midler – Then She Found Me) who has made her name in a few dodgy movies but they find themselves in the same acting class. What they don’t know is that they are also sharing the same lover Michael Sanders (Peter Coyote – E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial) that is until he fakes his own death and tries to disappear. Now having learnt that they were both seeing the same guy, Lauren and Sandy find themselves working together to try and track him down, travelling across America hot on his trail. But they are not the only ones interested in Michael and find themselves in danger as they close in on him.

Ignoring the fact that “Outrageous Fortune” is about two women for the moment and for the most the storyline follows the path of many a buddy movie. We initially get the set up of Lauren and Sandy not get along which is made worse when they discover that they’ve both been seeing the same man. And then it falls into that formula territory as despite their initial dislike of each other end up having to join forces as they blag their away across country trying to discover the truth about the man they loved as they learn he faked his death. To make it more routine there are Russians and CIA involved who are trailing them to get to the man they are trailing. That probably sounds a little more complex that in it is because frankly “Outrageous Fortune” is plain sailing and similar to many other 80s buddy movies.

But the thing which makes “Outrageous Fortune” different is that it is two women who are the buddies which don’t get on and it is because of this that it actually ends up quite entertaining. Now the characters they play may not be that well defined but Bette Midler and Shelley Long deliver fun performances. Midler is wonderfully brash as Sandy, fast talking her way in and out of trouble with many a great one liner whilst Shelley Long has that element of being up her self as Lauren as she takes herself too seriously. They work surprisingly well together and whilst the comic timing may not always work the sparky banter does provide plenty of amusement especially as half the time it looks like Midler and Wrong were in battle to out do each other.

But beyond Midler and Long there are few performances which make anywhere close to an impression. Peter Coyote as the love rat seems to be going through the motions as does Anthony Heald and Robert Prosky. And whilst George Carlin is funny as Frank Madras the reservation resident they meet it’s not really that memorable.

Aside from all this it has to be said that “Outrageous Fortune” has some surprisingly good action sequences. The death scene as Michael disappears into a flower shop and then it explodes is surprisingly good as is a scene which sees Lauren using her ballet skills to avoid being captured by a pursuer. In what is really just a comedy these action moments stand out as do a couple of darker moments of humour such as the morgue scene where Sandy and Lauren realise it’s not Michael they are looking at because the dead body’s penis is too small.

What this all boils down to is that “Outrageous Fortune” is a fun movie, it has some nice one liners and imaginative scenes but get beyond the fact that this is a buddy movie with women and it is all very routine. It’s almost a case that you are not really interested in the storyline, who is a good guy and who is a bad guy and just enjoy the comedy of Bette Midler and Shelley Long being the chalk n cheese friends.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

BetteBack January 30, 1987: Outrageous Fortune Washington Post Review

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
January 30, 1987

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Outrageous Fortune” marks a motion picture milestone — for the first time in action adventuring, the lead breaks a fingernail. It stops her for a moment, like a flesh wound, but she goes on to scrabble up the mesa in time to get her man.

While other heroines tag along with Indiana and Croc, “Fortune” smiles on the precedent-setting teamwork of comediennes Bette Midler and Shelley Long, the first female buddies ever to match wits with the CIA and the KGB and the no-good lout who done ’em wrong. They make a colossally madcap mismatch — natural adversaries who become best pals as they pursue their two-timing lover (Peter Coyote) from Manhattan to New Mexico. High-speed hijinks in high heels ensue.

The chase begins in Harlem (they’ve promised a glowering cabbie $200 just to take them there), where a worried Long notices there are no white people on the streets. “There’s one . . . oops, they got him,” taunts Midler.

The pratfalls become even more death-defying when biological cycles make one of our heroines real cranky. PMS Rambo is unleashed, and the battle of the sexes intensifies. Westward ho, the women track down the wily Coyote in a whorehouse, recognizing his lusty love calls through the door. Their illusions shattered and their friendship forged, they soon figure a way to avenge themselves — preferably by pulling his face off.

“Fortune” is every bit as rude and wonderful as “Ruthless People,” the second of Midler’s three dirty, ditzy comedies for Disney. The Divine Ms. M works a variation on her tough tootsie as a tacky, sharp-tongued starlet whose last movie was “Ninja Vixens.” She revamps Sophie Tucker’s delivery and revs Mae West’s languor up to Mach speed. All that plus the Midler wiggle — like Jell-O in a pantyhose mold. Lewd and low-down, she’s a natural counterpoint to Long’s perfect parody of Ivy League snootiness, a goofy expansion of the Diane character that endeared her to “Cheers” fans.

The pair become instant enemies as students of the reknowned Russian acting coach Stanislav Korzenowski (Robert Prosky). They form a temporary truce to track down Coyote when they find they’ve been man-ipulated by the completely captivating undercover Casanova. Before this spy story is done, the heroines will have come a long way, baby: Bonding, they learn, is better without a Bond.

But debuting screenwriter Leslie Dixon is no propagandist. She’s a screwball feminist, penning her rough-and-rowdy girl talk in familiar patterns inspired by her role models Preston Sturges and Billy Wilder. And veteran Arthur Hiller, who directed Peter Falk and Alan Arkin in “The In-Laws” and Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder in “Silver Streak,” proves equally adept at managing a female odd couple.

BetteBack January 22, 1987: Shelley Long On Leaving Cheers And Outrageous Fortune
25 Quotes on Wealth From Powerful Women
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It’s no joke! Joan Rivers left a $150 million fortune – and it’s all going to daughter Melissa… and her dogs, who were better than a husband ‘because they didn’t leave the toilet seat up’

Cher — Unending, Immortal — She Is Not Stepping Aside Read More

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

BetteBack DECEMBER 31, 1986: Outrageous Fortune Variety Review

Variety Staff
DECEMBER 31, 1986 | 11:00PM PT

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Outrageous Fortune is well crafted, old-fashioned entertainment that takes some conventional elements, shines them up and repackages them as something new and contemporary. It’s a traditional male buddy film that has substituted women and the main plot device is that the two heroines are sleeping with the same man. Bette Midler and Shelley Long collide even before their affections do in an acting class given by the eminent Russian director Stanislov Korenowski (Robert Prosky). Long is a wealthy, spoiled dilettante while Midler last starred in Ninja Vixens. When the audience learns they’re sharing the same man (Peter Coyote) before they do, it’s a delicious moment complete with one image-shattering sight gag.

The film takes off as a chase picture with the girls following Coyote to New Mexico to demand a decision. They’re not the only ones looking for him. It seems the CIA is hot on his trail as is the KGB. To top things off, it turns out Korenowski is a Russian agent first and a director second.

Even when Leslie Dixon’s script sags and becomes a bit repetitious in the long New Mexico chase section, Midler and Long are never less than fun to watch.

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

BetteBack June 27, 1986: Roger Ebert Reviews Ruthless People

Roger Ebert
June 27, 1986

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It is so hard to play a lovable villain, and Danny DeVito does it so easily. His eyes narrow, his voice deepens, and he speaks with great earnestness and sincerity about his selfish schemes and vile designs.

Ruthless People” opens as DeVito is having lunch with his mistress, and we can see that this is a man filled with passion. In this case, the passion is hatred for his wife and for all that she stands for, and for all that her rich father stands for, and even for all that her poodle stands for.

DeVito is the mainspring of “Ruthless People,” the engine of murderous intensity right at the center. His passion is so palpable that it adds weight to all the other performances in the movie. If we can believe he really wants to kill his wife, then we can believe he would not pay the ransom if she were kidnapped, which is the movie’s comic premise.

It is, indeed, a pleasure to watch his face as he receives the first call from the kidnappers and they threaten to kill his wife if he doesn’t follow every single one of their instructions to the letter.

As he agrees to their stipulations, one after another, a wonderous calm spreads over his face, and the scene builds to a perfect climax.

The wife is played by Bette Midler, who makes her first entrance kicking and screaming inside a burlap bag. She has been kidnapped by Judge Reinhold and Helen Slater, who want to get even with DeVito, a clothing manufacturer who has ripped off their designs. It’s a juicy role for Midler, a first cousin to the airhead housewife she played in “Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” and she milks it for all it’s worth, turning into an exercise freak while being held captive in a basement.

The movie doesn’t depend on just the one inspiration – the husband who doesn’t want to ransom his wife. It has lots of other ideas and characters that fit together like a clockwork mechanism. We have the mistress (Anita Morris) and her boyfriend (Bill Pullman), who is not playing with a full deck. And then there are the police chief (William G. Schilling), who backs himself into an embarrassing situation, and a mad slasher (J.E. Freeman), who picks the wrong victim when he comes after Midler.

The movie is slapstick with a deft character touch here and there. It’s hard to keep all the characters and plot lines alive at once, but “Ruthless People” does it, and at the end I felt grateful for its goofiness.

The discovery in the movie is DeVito. After seeing him on television’s “Taxi” and here and there in character roles, I first began to notice how good he was in “Romancing the Stone.” Then came his great performance in “Wise Guys,” opposite Joe Piscopo, and now this second virtuoso performance in a row.

He is, of course, very short, but there’s a funny thing about his stature: It seems to be a fact of his body, not his mind or personality. In closeups and whenever he speaks, he has so much force that he can easily command his scenes. He never seems to be compensating; he seems to be holding back. Like British actor Bob Hoskins, who also is shorter than most of the people in most of his scenes, he has a way of making the taller people around him seem unsure of what to do with their legs.

DeVito is a great joy to watch in this movie, as the turns of the plot catch him in one dilemma and then another. First he wants the kidnappers to kill his wife. Then, when he is charged with faking her kidnapping, he wants to ransom her. All along, there’s a running gag as he negotiates the ransom price, and Midler has a great moment when she learns that her husband is trying to buy her back – at a discount.

“Ruthless People” is made out of good performances, a script of diabolical ingenuity and a whole lot of silliness.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

BetteBack June 27, 1986: New York Times Reviews Ruthless People

New York Times
Ruthless People (1986)
FILM: ‘RUTHLESS PEOPLE,’ A COMEDY
By VINCENT CANBY
Published: June 27, 1986

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THE most irresistible thing about the characters in ”Ruthless People,” a conspicuously overconsuming, Beverly Hills update of O. Henry’s classic ”Ransom of Red Chief,” is that they all try with such earnestness to live up to their ruthless reputations.

However, they’re not only doggedly mean, deceitful and potentially murderous, they’re also inefficient, fainthearted and totally transparent. Yet they work without respite. If they devoted the same energies to the selling of cookies for the Girl Scouts of America, the G.S.A. could become the World Bank.

When first met, pint-sized Sam Stone (Danny DeVito), the Spandex miniskirt king, is having dinner in an elegant Los Angeles restaurant with Carol (Anita Morris), his tall, beautiful mistress, and planning the murder of his heiress-wife, Barbara (Bette Midler). Sam’s loathing of Barbara knows no bounds. He becomes positively poetic when he talks about her as ”that squeaky, corpulent broad. I even hate the way she licks stamps.”

Sam gets so excited about the murder he’s about to commit that he can’t wait to finish dinner. He rushes home with his bottle of chloroform (he’s going to drug her and toss the overweight body off a cliff), only to find that she’s been kidnapped. One of the delights of this mostly barren movie season is to see the pleasure that creeps over Sam Stone’s face as he listens to the kidnappers’ telephoned instructions.

They demand half a million dollars in ransom and promise that Barbara will be tortured and murdered if the money isn’t paid, as directed, and if the police are called in. Hoping for the worst, Sam immediately brings in the cops and every television reporter in Southern California.

The object of all this attention is as horrible as Sam describes her. Miss Midler’s Barbara Stone enters ”Ruthless People” kicking, clawing and cursing, hidden inside the gunnysack in which she’s been carried off by her kidnappers to their modest, spic-and-span, lower-middle-class hideaway.

The perpetrators are Ken and Sandy Kessler (Judge Reinhold and Helen Slater), a young, mousy, nonviolent couple who’ve been driven to this extreme action as a means of getting revenage on Sam, who stole Sandy’s Spandex miniskirt idea and became a multimillionaire.

I don’t want to oversell ”Ruthless People,” which opens today at the Beekman and other theaters. It’s the kind of movie that sounds a lot funnier than it sometimes plays. It has its arid patches.

It also has a uniformly splendid cast of comic actors – the best to be seen outside of any recent Blake Edwards movie. Its screenplay, by the newcomer Dale Launer, is packed with wonderfully vulgar, tasteless lines that perfectly reflect the sensibilities of Sam and Barbara Stone. (Says Sam at one point, when he should be grieving for his lost wife, ”Let’s face it – she’s not Mother Teresa. Gandhi would have strangled her.”) The direction, which can most accurately be defined as enthusiastic, is by the team of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker, who hit the target with ”Airplane!,” which they also wrote, and then missed with their follow-up, ”Top Secret.” Though ”Ruthless People” has few moments to equal the inspired lunacies of ”Airplane!” it’s a true farce -uniformly, cheerily nasty, without any of the sentimental baggage that freights ”Down and Out in Beverly Hills.”

I can’t say enough good things about Mr. DeVito, who here is never allowed to ”act cute,” which has sabotaged his work in ”Romancing the Stone” and ”Jewel of the Nile,” or about Miss Midler, who starts off looking like a nightmare parody of Pia Zadora and winds up being a svelte if loud-mouthed kitten. ”Do I understand this correctly?” she says on learning that her husband won’t even pay $10,000 for her return. ”I’ve been marked down? I’ve been kidnapped by K-Mart!”

Mr. Reinhold and Miss Slater (”Supergirl”) are almost as funny as the unlikely kidnappers who do their best to cater to the whims of their whimsical ”guest.” Also entering into the spirit of the film are Miss Morris and Bill Pullman, who plays ”the stupidest person on the face of the earth,” the handsome if eccentric-looking young man with whom Miss Morris is two-timing Sam Stone. William J. Schilling appears briefly, but memorably, as a distraught commissioner of the Los Angeles police.

Though unbilled, O. Henry lives on -in a time and a place and a vocabulary that would make him blush.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

BetteBack June 1986: Bette Is Superb In Ruthless People

Radio Times
Ruthless People
June 1986

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Airplane! partners Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker and David Zucker teamed up again for this fun comedy about a pair of bumbling kidnappers – Helen Slater and Judge Reinhold – who snatch wealthy Bette Midler and discover that her husband Danny DeVito doesn’t want her back. The movie twists and turns as a whole host of other people get involved (including Anita Morris as DeVito’s mistress and a young Bill Pullman as her mentally challenged lover). DeVito and Midler are superb in their roles as the greedy philanderer and his screaming, overbearing other half.

PLOT SUMMARY

Black comedy from the Airplane! team, starring Danny DeVito and Bette Midler. Wealthy businessman Sam Stone plans to murder his wife so he can marry his mistress. He thinks his problems are over when his wife is kidnapped by a young couple who threaten to kill her if their ransom demands are not met. But Sam’s life is about to get even more complicated.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

BetteBack June 27, 1986: Bette Midler Is Priceless In Ruthless People

Philadelphia Inquirer
Film: Raunchy Fun In A Farce On Greed
By Desmond Ryan, Inquirer Movie Critic
POSTED: June 27, 1986

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The heiress has just learned from her kidnappers that her husband refuses to pay the ransom, even though they keep desperately reducing the figure. As the truth dawns upon her, Bette Midler takes on an expression that can only be described as sleazy hauteur, and bellows, “Marked down!”

Barbara Stone (Midler), the victim of this K mart kidnapping, is loud and obnoxious. And so is just about everyone else in Ruthless People, a movie that believes all human impulses originate below the belt and one that has a merry time proving it. When a comedy is as foul-mouthed and raunchy as Ruthless People, it helps if it’s also funny. And for most of its frenzied going, Ruthless People is a diverting and very shrewdly cast farce about bottomless greed.

Although it shares some thematic ground with John Huston‘s savage Prizzi’s Honor, Ruthless People does not aspire to the same level of sophistication and subtlety. Everything here is more superficial and aimed at the immediate laugh rather than laughter that surfaces from revelation of character. To that end, the directing triumvirate of Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams and David Zucker – the team behind Airplane!. (1980) – has chosen stars who can get that laugh by their response to a predicament or a sudden change of fortune.

Midler, most recently cast as another rich harpy in Down and Out in Beverly

Hills, has shown that she was born to this kind of role, and she seems to play it instinctively. But as the husband who is delighted to have her taken off his hands because he was planning to kill her anyway, Danny DeVito does his best work yet for the big screen. Perhaps it takes three directors to rein him in, but DeVito is restrained here and it makes a big difference. Too often in the past he has flailed away before the camera like a man under attack by a swarm of invisible bees.

To this welcome control, DeVito has added a really mean streak to his Sam Stone. Mix in the ever-understated acting of Judge Reinhold and character actors who take gleefully to juicy cameos and you have the makings of an undemanding but well-executed entertainment.

There are scorpions who have better relationships than Sam and Barbara Stone. Sam is a clothing tycoon living in a Bel-Air mansion filled with furnishings that are as vulgar as they are uncomfortable. At the outset, he is about to murder Barbara for her money so that he can enjoy his mistress in peace.

Although Ruthless People is strictly an amorality play, the only people with a shred of decency left in them are the kidnappers. Their lives are taken over by Barbara and her unceasing demands and the realization that they are stuck with her.

Readers of Elmore Leonard’s novel Switch will recognize the ingredients, and Dale Launer, a new screenwriter, has resorted to over-plotting in his approach to them. He presumably intends to keep up the tempo to a degree that moves to the next situation and reaction just as the previous one has sunk in. But the pace may have more to do with the three directors, who brought this machine-gun style to Airplane!

In fact, the funniest moments in Ruthless People come from the points where the stars find some room – usually little more than a crevice – to act rather than react. That’s nearly always the case in good comedy. But Ruthless People deals in the easier kind of humor that makes audiences laugh more instead of think harder. On those terms, it’s a winner. Midler may be marked down faster than a sun dress at the end of the summer, but her contribution to Ruthless People is priceless.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

BetteBack June 27, 1986: LA Times Reviews Ruthless People

LA Times
Movie Review : Going Full Bore In ‘Ruthless’
June 27, 1986|MICHAEL WILMINGTON Read More

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