Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Film Scenes, Film Moments

 I watched two films last week that I really thought I liked as a teenager but that unfortunately haven't held up for me the same way as an adult viewer, Soapdish (1991) and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989). My kids watched with me and said the former was weird but loved the latter. 

Maybe "haven't held up" is the wrong way to describe what I mean. I loved both of these films as a teenager, as in really loved them to the point of obsession, and now, the age I am now I realize that I must have really had a thing for outlandish, ZANY stories. Not smash hit award-winners, but, you know, excessive stories. Fun stories. Stories with memorable moments that I think about 20 years later.

Like this: Sally Field is amazing in everything she does (my kids know her as Maggie, Abby's mother from ER) but I think her physical comedy in Soapdish is brilliant. Hanging off the drain pipe outside the apartment, kicking and flailing her legs on the couch talking to Rose (Whoopie Goldberg), and the GRADE A FREAKOUT on the set when she sees the attempted kiss between her ex (Kevin Kline) and her daughter (Elizabeth Shue). 

They way they just calmly lift her off him! Teri Hatcher's HAIR. Next to the turban situation early on in the film, this was Maggie's best rant. 

Bill and Ted was a different kind of outlandish, I think the budget was probably a lot lower and it was marketed (and scripted) to win over teenagers, not adults, but it's still fun. The special effects are fine for the time, I guess, the settings were basic but effective. Overall both then and now, I loved any of the music that was not performed by Bill or Ted, themselves. The song during Napoleon's time at the waterpark, Beethoven's synthesizer grind at the mall, and my favorite, Robbie Rob's "In Time," which played during their travel to the futuristic place with the blue shadows and the air-guitar strumming citizens. I remember watching this at home when it came out on video and rewinding the scene just so I could hear the song again. I'm reminded of it every time my kids play "Cliffs of Dover" on Guitar Hero, just because both songs give me a similar late 80s fun guitar vibe. 

So even though I wouldn't count either one of these as my favorite films, I feel like these scenes will stay with me forever, being so memorable and personally pleasing in almost a flashbulb memory kind of way. Do others have this? I think come by this pretty easily because I was taught to. Not simply because I was brought up in a family that was always watching and rewatching films but because the only time my father, a very stern, not outgoing or humorous man in any form, allowed his actual personality to show was in regard to film, music, or television. I never saw him cry from sadness, but the first time I saw him laugh himself into tears was during the scene in The Cannonball Run where the motorcycle bursts into the restaurant through the wall, zips by everyone, and busts out the opposite wall. Everyone just stands around confused and Sammy Davis Junior goes, "What in the hell was THAT?" Ditto the reaction and add my mother after the "Flying Shithouse" pigeon kick in Cat's Eye. I think they laughed (and bawled) for a solid half hour after that one. 

My brother always enjoyed the close up shot of the tire on Christine just after Moochie innocently calls out (to whom he thinks is Arnie), "Hey, you ain't mad, are ya?" and the car attacks with a squeal. He also made my best friend rewind the shot of Joan Wilder swinging across the river and landing with a plop on Romancing the Stone a ridiculous number of times. I think we all enjoyed the "Mrs. Peacock was a MAN?" double-slap of Mr. Green in Clue. 

I think if my dad were still alive, he'd really love Lebowski's dumpster collision, although it's hard to say if it would evoke any tears from laughter. Personally I love the rhythmic roof-of-the-car slapping to Creedence that happens just before that, punctuated with Larry Sellers' poorly graded homework sheet to close out the scene.