Monday, November 26, 2018

Facebook Film Foolishness: Coda

We’ve had impact lists, previously mentioned impact lists, Eighties lists, and two groups of weird non-human lists.  For the musical finale, repeats are allowed, since I made so many rules last week, I’ve limited the selection pool.  However, these are much more rankable than merely using chronological order.

We’ll begin with an Honorable Mention for 1991’s Hudson Hawk.   Honestly, I don’t know if this meets the rules, but I feel guilty about not giving it a place on any other list.  It's a dementedly fun romp with references to all kinds of older, far less than main stream films.  Advertising it as the next Die Hard  gave it a much more dismal box office performance than it deserved.

The whole concept of Bruce Willis and Danny Aiello timing their heists by selecting the proper song was inspired, and the two of them belting out “Swing on a Star” early on and “Side by Side” in the climax upped the entertainment levels of this movie considerably.

Another honorable mention goes to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  It's a shame as the “Camelot” number is yet another almost perfect example of an out of nowhere full tilt musical number that has no place in the film.  But between Prince Herbert, Robin’s minstrels and Gregorian chants, there are far too many other musical moments to single that one out.

On to the list proper:

Starting off at number Ten is 1991’s serviceable The Addams Family.  While nowhere near as good (or ooky) as the TV series, the film did have many admirably darkly zany moments.  One of them was Gomez and Fester breaking into the “Mamushka” for no real justification other than the general enthusiasm of the characters.  The Passing Zone, (John Wee and Owen Morse, who filled the role of “those two juggling guys” for many years) stood in for the juggling scene.  Why the more Spanish than ever Gomez as portrayed by Raul Julia was singing a Russian sounding folk song with Fester (Christopher Lloyd) is an unimportant question, swept aside by fantabulous fun.
“Dance the dance of brotherly loooooooove!”

Note: the rest of the pictures probably won’t line up with the quotes, or they may. I’m just grabbing the ones I like in both cases.  So there.

Ninth Place gives me another excuse to talk about the Hudson Brothers’ 1983 Hysterical, because more people need to know about this ridiculous zombie flick.  There are actually two non-sequitur musical moments, (not counting the version of "Venus" abruptly cut off by Casper falling out a window.  Yes, It's that kind of movie.) which makes sense since the Hudson Brothers are primarily known as a musical act.  Or they WERE primarily known as a musical act, I think today they’re primarily known as one of them being Kate Hudson’s Dad.  The big moment is the zombies breaking out into a “Thriller” like Dance of Death (or "Zomboogie") as they chase our heroes (well, my heroes anyway) through the amusement park. 
Speaking of amusement- this movie was released July 30th, the same year the “Thriller” video was released…December 2nd!.  Yes, this goofy film, which I should have mentioned the last time I listed cast members also had a cameo of John Larroquette as tour boat captain Bob X. Cursion making jokes about being high, led the way towards arguably the most famous music video of all time.  The second moment is smaller, but much more fitting with the stars' style, while climbing the lighthouse stairs to escape the monsters, the three brothers are hit by a spot light with no connection to the lighthouse beam featured in the film, and pause their flight to launch into and individualized version of “At the Hop”
“You can even do the hunga munga…maaa maaa ma ma maaa maaaaa….
Maaa maa!”

Mel Brooks needs more representation on these trips down movie memory lane. Here he is in 8th Place.  He’s an accomplished song writer and most of his films have music weaved organically into them: “Springtime for Hitler” in The Producers,   Young Frankenstein’s staged “Puttin on the Ritz,” Madaline Kahn’s turn as the tutonic titwillow   Lili von Shtupp in Blazing Saddles, and even Mel himself at the piano bar in High Anxiety. Heck, Robin Hood, Men in Tights is practically a musical.   However, despite all the scene changes and sketches in History of the World Part I there’s no naturally performed musical number. Instead, completely out of nowhere, is the huge Busby Berkeley extravaganza of “The Inquisition.”  I think that’s the point Mr. Brooks figured out Broadway success was his for the taking.
“The inquisition’s here and it’s here to staaaaaaaaaaaaaay!”

Steve Martin  is another highly musical comedian.  Outside of his banjo expertise, Pennies from Heaven was a straight musical.  He’s been working songs into his films since the start. For example, the sweet rendition of “Tonight You Belong to Me” with him and Bernadette Peters in 1979’s The Jerk.  
Did I just sneak in an extra one?  Yes, yes I did.
Navin- “You know, while you were playing that just now,
I had the craziest fantasy that I could rise up 
and float right down the end of this coronet,
right through here, through these valves,
right along this tube,
and right up against your lips
and give you a kiss.”
Marie- “Why didn’t you?”
Navin- “I didn’t want to get spit on me.”

The real Number Seven goes to Steve, Martin Short and Chevy Chase in The Three Amigos (1986).  Sadly, it’s not for the wonderfully goofy “My Little Buttercup” featuring bartender Fred Asparagus.  That one is staged.  
The lovely rendition of Randy “The Singing Bush” Newman’s “Blue Shadows on the Trail” around the campfire, complete with animal backup singers, is what nets the recognition. It’s also why I say, “Good night, Ned” whenever I see a tortoise.
“Dream of… Some… one…
Boooom boom boom boom, Boooom boom boom boom,
Boooom boom boom boom, BOOOM boo boom boom.”

Sixth Place is Olver Platt as Fitz performing the famous number, “Nyah nyah nyah, nyah nyah nyah, nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah…keys!” after defeating Robby Gillon in the pool match for pink slips that sets the whole plot in motion for 1992’s Diggstown. 

OK, you caught me, that isn’t a musical number. But how could I spend this much time talking about my favorite movies that affected my life without listing Diggstown?

Sixth Place is a sports movie, but from the year 2000.  Depending on my mood, The Replacements can sometimes hold the spot Mystery Men holds on the list and in my constantly movie quoting head.  The spontaneous outbreak of “I Will Survive” in the jail cell is one of the few heartwarming, team bonding moments of giant proportions that doesn't depend on inflicting physical violence on those deserving of it.  Not like that’s a bad thing.
“Go on now, go! walk out the door!”

Better off Dead pops up again in these posts, because I just got the blu ray and now my daughter cracks up if I say, “fronch bread.”  The only worthwhile teen romance film from the period, this 1985 outing was totally weird and unpredictable well before the dancing, Eddie Van Halen guitar playing hamburger showed up.
“Everybody Wants Some!”

Most of these random musical outbursts are silly or weird, but rarely they can be emotional and impressive.  In 2012 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey introduced the world to the “We Will Rock You”/”We Are the Champions” of Middle Earth.  Both songs came directly from the text.
“Blunt the Knives” was fun, and festive, but the power came from Richard Armitage’s performance for Thorin taking point on the “Misty Mountains.”  It’s a good thing Barry Humphries rendition of “”Goblin Town” was only in the expanded edition. While awesome it might have disqualified the film due to volume.
“We must away, ere break of day”

The top three are the purest forms of this random idea: a full blown theatrical musical number with no business being when or where they are in the film.  Number Three is from 1995’s almost too weird to be a cult film, Tank Girl.  Ice Tea playing the leader of Stan Winston designed lethal, special forces, mutant kangaroos is only a small part of the oddness in this battle of Lori Petty and Naomi Watts taking on a corrupt future corporation (headed by Malcom McDowell) in heavily armed vehicles.  Petty, as the title character, has to rescue a young friend from Iggy Pop at a rather unpleasant club run by “The Madame.”  Upon executing said rescue, for no reason other than sheer awesomeness, Tank Girl insists Madame sing, “Let’s Do It.” Naturally, like ya do, the entire club is initially forced, but then seems to enjoy ramping it up to a massive, Broadway style production number.
“Even educated fleas do it!”

If second place didn't have another song in it, it would make number one by miles and miles.  “Hey Panchuko” was a fantastic showcase for Jim Carrey’s dancing abilities in The Mask (1994) but it did take place in a club.  
Its existence maaaaarginally dilutes the complete insanity and over the top wild awesomeness that is a park full of police singing and dancing along with Jim to “Cuban Pete” for absolutely no narrative reason whatsoever.
“Chick chicky boom,
Chick chicky boom,
Chick chicky BOOM!”

It was so close, but First Place goes to a 1990 film that serves as both a sequel and a parody.  Gremlins was a fairly scary film with darkly humorous overtones.  Gremlins 2 the New Batch was climbing the walls nuts.  It was a completely loopy, live action Warner Brothers cartoon that followed the first film while constantly making fun of it.  However, at no point is it a musical…
Until the final act, where the ever awesome Tony Randall as the Brain Gremlin, accompanied by a building full of little monsters sliding the scale of show tune epicness to the absolute peak, belts out a completely unnecessary, yet still somehow perfect rendition of “New York, New York.”
“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere!”

Before we close out this movie marathon, there is one entire franchise that deserves credit in the regard of songs for no reason, I think it's a cultural thing.  Toho’s Kaiju films have music popping up in them all over the place, to the point that its accepted as standard practice for dealing with giant monsters. 

The celebration on Edo island was in the first film.

It’s not a Mothra appearance without singing faeries,
and natives also sang to Kong. 
Then there were the weirder ones, such as Jet Jaguar’s  jumpin’ jam,
the trippy hippie music accompanying the Smog Monster,
and probably the purest example, using a catchy pop song to awake the giant, floppy eared puppy god,King Seesar!

It’s certainly been a fun ride through movie land, thank you all for accompanying me for this "Top Ten" list that somehow expanded an entire order of magnitude to a ten thousand word grand tour through my head.

The best way to end would be to think of one final forgotten film, but it would have to satisfy every category.

It would have to have impacted me when I first saw it and formed a lasting memory:
Say... by scaring the crap out of me in my aunt’s basement in Queens.

It would have to be from the Eighties:
Say... even though it looks like a Sixties Hammer film, so I never would have guessed it came out in 1981.

It would have to be a non blockbuster, non human moment:
Say...a weird little creature anthology film.

And music must be involved: having scenes in a certain Club, perhaps one that catered to Monsters.

Therefore, in closing I’ll simply remind everyone that:

“Shadmocks only whistle.”

"You could still love me"

Later Edit:  Oh no!  I missed a perfect one!  Click here to see what it was.


Saucy Pizza said...

Wow. That's a list I could never put together. Nice. The Smog Monster Chick is HOT!!!

Jeff McGinley said...

Many thanx, I'm honored.

Yes, yes she least she is until her boyfriend starts seeing her with a fish head.

Drugs are bad, kids. M'kay?