directed by: James L. Brooks
Oscars: Best Picture – 1983; Best Actress – Shirley MacLaine; Best Supporting Actor – Jack Nicholson; Best Director – James L. Brooks; Best Adapted Screenplay – James L. Brooks;
Jumping a bit forward in time with this one. Also, the last couple movies have been simple so I thought I’d tackle something a bit more prominent/complex. I’m almost a bit ashamed to be reviewing something so recent… as 1983. Upon first glance, I was amazed that I had never seen this movie with the what I was assuming a powerhouse cast. John Lithgow, Danny DeVito, Jeff Daniels, Jack Nicholson. I was pumped. And then I started watching and was like yeah yeah, some random chick, yeah, yeah, Shirley MacLaine, c’mon get to the good guys. Then, slowly I started to realize the entire movie was about these two. In fact, I would argue that Danny DeVito isn’t really in this movie. He’s barely introduced as a suitor to the widow-character Shirley MacLaine (mother of the brunette, husband dies early on). In fact in one scene later on, he’s (maybe?) in the background of the shot by the pool, never acknowledged, just … there. He then disappears for inordinate amounts of time, and shows up at the wake at the end… for some reason. Let’s see, Shirley MacLaine, ech, can’t stand her (She also hits kids, has no principles, is hypocritical, etc…) . And the daughter/wife was pretty unbearable too. So without them, the movie hangs solely on the shoulders of Jeff Daniels and Jack Nicholson. Lithgow plays an adulterous banker that sleeps with the brunette/daughter/wife. Even he isn’t that great in this. So disappointing. Back to Daniels and Nicholson. Daniels plays the struggling professor husband who gets shit on the entire movie. I was convinced until more than halfway through (the movie runs just over 2 hours) that this was an exercise in an irrational estrogen-driven hate fest on men. Honestly, it’s just MacLaine and daughter being princesses the entire time. But then we find out that Daniels has been sleeping with a student? (much better looking/stabler than the brunette/wife/daughter). So it gives the hate fest at least one solid soap box to preach from. And then (spoiler alert!, yes this is the first alert! even though I’ve ruined plenty of movies before this), she (MacLaine or the daughter/brunette/wife, I can’t remember) gets cancer and dies. No, I’m just kidding about not remembering. It’s fairly obvious. Jack Nicholson is pretty good doing Nicholson, this time as a skeezy drunk former astronaut, and picks up his Best Supporting Actor nod. I hardly laughed (only with Nicholson in the scene), didn’t cry, didn’t care that much, and definitely didn’t come to terms with any endearment.
Underrated Actors: Lisa Hart Carroll as Patsy , the brunette/wife/daughter ‘s more attractive & stabler best friend; Huckleberry Fox for having a great name and being the cute middle child son. And just looked this up, Jeff Daniels not getting a nomination for Best Actor/Supporting Actor? Definitely underrated for having to put up with the two women.