I (obviously) watch a lot of movies. And a lot of the time, I end up recommending movies that I know a lot of my readers won’t watch due to their rating. (For you non-Mormons out there, there’s a strong Mormon sentiment against R-rated films. One which I don’t want to get into right now.) In any case, I’ve felt bad that so many of my Must See movies have been R-rated. I’d like to be able to spread the love to all readers. Well, today you’re in luck. (As long as you’re not PG-13 averse, too, that is.) I’ve got two recommendations for you: the first is a flawed film, but fascinating for any groundhogger out there. You’ll see why in a bit. The second is just a flat out fantastic comedy, one which I’d never even heard of before Netflix. (I’ve gotta say it again: those Netflix recommendations are fantastic for me. I’ve found so many great movies that I would have overlooked otherwise.) Anyway–on to the recommendations.
The first is 12:01, a made for TV movie remake of a short film (25 minutes) with the same name. This one clocks in at 92 minutes, BTW. In any case, the main reason I watched the movie was because the makers had filed a lawsuit against Groundhog Day for plagiarism. When I was still writing my groundhog book (a project that is on hiatus right now as I adapt Ichabod), I came across this bit of information and decided I really needed to see the movie to see what the hubbub was. Having seen the movie, I can only give it two and a half stars, tops. So why am I recommending it so highly? Well, first of all, it’s like a sci-fi/spy thriller Groundhog Day. What if Phil fell in love with Rita, only to have her shot dead in front of him later that day? And what if that night, a scientific lab experiment caused time to begin to loop, with all people (except Phil) caught with no memory of it? So not only does Phil need to keep getting Rita to fall in love with him, but he also has to save her life and stop the science experiment, all on the same day.
Really, this film is so close to being excellent. There are some cheesy acting moments (and one unforgivably stupid plot point) and a whole lot of bad soundtrack, but it’s thought provoking and fascinating–especially for Groundhog Day fans. It also had no chance in the world of winning a lawsuit against Groundhog Day. The time loop is about the only element the two films share, and that’s just not copyrightable. Sorry, 12:01. In any case, if you can get your paws on this movie (not sure how obscure it is), then it’s worth a watch. Trust me.
The second movie is Noises Off, a film adaptation of a play by the same name. Basically, it’s the story of the production of a Broadway play, showing the difficulties behind the scenes that the play goes through. It’s going to be a tough one for me to describe, really. IMDB summed it up as, “A travelling theater group find so much action going on behind-the-scenes, they almost ruin the performances.” That’s pretty close. What’s great about it? Well, for starters, the cast and crew. Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve, John Ritter, Peter Bogdanovich–really a great assembly of talent there, all put to scintillating use. Bogdanovich, for those of you who don’t know, also directed What’s Up, Doc?, and he puts that talent for controlled chaos to good use in this movie. It takes it a bit to establish what’s going on–who the characters are, what their conflicts and past issues look like, but once it gets going, this movie is non stop. Yes, it does have some naughty words, and it’s got one cast member in lingerie for practically the whole movie–so I can’t really say it’s exactly a family movie–but it’s one of the best comedies I’ve seen in a long time. Four stars.
So how about it, readers–have any of you seen either of these films? Both of them are available at Orem Public Library’s excellent collection. Or if you live in Maine by me, you can come over and watch Noises Off with me over my Netflix streaming connection. I’d watch it again for sure–it seems like a movie that would only get better with repeat viewings. Anyway–that’s all I have time for today. Enjoy your Monday!