Movie Stakeout Gets Loved Up

in #filmlast month


During February Movieland detectives Dick Japowski, Joey Arizona and Sam Sleet delved deep into the world of romance, and came up smelling of roses.

The Arizona Love Files
Clueless (1995)
Cher's a privileged and optimistic Beverly Hills teen, and an enthusiastic match maker, although she isn't exactly champion of her own love live.
I end up watching Clueless every couple of years, when it came out I was a few years younger than the characters portrayed on screen, although their lifestyle was alien, it was an aspirational one. That and I had a thing for Alicia Silverstone.
As I've gotten older I've come to appreciate it in an entirely different way, it's a snap shot of a time long gone, a warm hug from my youth, and an easy way to spend 97 minutes.
Also the freeway scene still cracks me up.
Rewatch: 3.5 on the love-o-meter


Dick Japowski All Loved Up
I Think We're Alone Now (2008)
Documentary following Jeff and Kelly who profess their love for 80s pop icon Tiffany.
An interesting look at obsession and how people express love. I for one have never given a samurai sword to a loved one or had multiple news stories written about how passionate I am! Half exploitative and half sympathetic but never dull.
3 out of 5 roses

The Arizona Love Files
Fear (1996)
Nicole is your typical high schooler, feels like an outsider, goes to inappropriate parties. It's at one of these parties she meets David, who appears to be the perfect guy. But beneath the surface lies a violent manipulator, who quickly becomes obsessed.
I remember seeing this reviewed on Moviewatch back in the day, and the big talking point was popstar Marky Mark playing a psychopath. I've not seen or heard anything about it since, but it stuck there in the back of my mind...until one day it popped up on Netflix.
It was not worth the 25 year wait. Mark Wahlberg is pretty good however, able to which between Prince Charming and Max Cady in a heartbeat, and Reese Witherspoon is perfect as the innocent teen. But the film should have been more of a slow burn, you could easily stick another twenty minutes on the runtime, as it is it's rushed and shallow.
There's also a scene where David gives himself a prison tattoo which is meant to be intense but was actually hilarious.
First watch: 2 on the love-o-meter


Dick Japowski All Loved Up
Love and Monsters (2020)
After an asteroid is destroyed by earth's missiles, the fallout rains back down to form giant monsters. Welcome to the monsterpocalypse!
After learning that his old girlfriend is still alive, a young nervous fellow leaves his bunker and travels 80 miles over monster infested lands to find her. Now that is love! Aimed at the teen market this is a great one for eleven year olds and up, with fun monster designs and action scenes and only a little bit of light kissing! And watch out Robert Pattinson, this Dylan O'Brian kid is gunning for your place in my heart!
First watch: 3 out of 5 roses

Getting a Little Lovey with Cinematic Sleuth Sam Sleet, P.I.
Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
An artistic, middle-class high school misfit takes a shot with the rich, popular girl while remaining oblivious to the affections of his tomboy best friend. This is enjoyable '80s comfort food, but also kind of a convoluted mess. It feels like it was cobbled together from a few different versions of the script and there are a few scenes missing. The first thing you might notice is that this is like a gender-flipped revamp of Pretty In Pink, and I was somewhat shocked to learn it was made by the same director and writer only a year later. Mary Stuart Masterson steals the show here as Watts, giving a strong emotional performance that elevates the movie above its material. In closing, the title song never plays in the movie and I have no idea why they called it that.
Second watch: 3 out of 5 hearts scribbled in a trapper keeper

The Wedding Singer.jpg

The Arizona Love Files
The Wedding Singer (1998)
Wedding Singer Robbie Hart believes in love, and he's about to get married. But when his bride leaves him at the altar he becomes angry and cynical, that is until he helps fellow wedding worker Julia plan her own wedding.
While American audiences knew of Adam Sandler through his time on SNL, in the UK we'd only seen him in Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer though made him a household name...and we've been paying for it ever since.
I don't much care for Sandler movies, but I'll always give them a fair shot, and I used to cite The Wedding Singer as one of the few examples of a good Sandler movie...I don't think I can do that anymore. while Sandler doesn't play one of his usual three character types (Angry shouty man/simpleton/cocky loser) his character is pretty bland. You hope Julia doesn't marry her douchebag fiancé but you don't really care if she heads off into the sunset with Robbie.
There were various moments I thought to myself 'I'm sure I found that funny before'.
There's also several jokes aimed at Alexis Arquette's character, who's dressed like Boy George, about their gender identity, which may have been amusing in 1998 but are now quite uncomfortable to sit through.
Rewatch: 2 on the love-o-meter.

Dick Japowski All Loved Up
The Puffy Chair (2005)
A couple's relationship is put to the test when they go on a road trip to pick up the puffy chair.
This was my introduction to The Duplass brothers and the whole mumblecore movement and is still probably my favourite. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you will squirm uncomfortably in your seat at familiar conversations. This may be more of a post Valentine's watch?
4 out of 5 hearts

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Dick Japowski All Loved Up
Man Up (2015)
Lake Bell stars as Nancy, a young lady who has to many bad dates to care any more. While at the train station she is mistaken by Simon Pegg's Jack as her blind date. She is instantly interested in his bumbling charm and goes along with pretending she is the date. Sounds like a recipe for a rom-com!
Set over the course of a day and night out in London you will go from charmed to frustrated to annoyed and then you'll settle somewhere in pleasentville!
First watch: 2.5 out of 5 hearts

The Arizona Love Files
Shooting Fish (1997)
A pair of conmen, who both grew up as orphans, pull every get rich quick scheme they can imagine to buy the (stately) home of their dreams. For a particularly big score they hire a typist, and this is where things start to get complicated.
It's funny how your brain works, I owned this on VHS back in the day, and although I've seen it several times the last time was probably twenty years ago. My memory of it is very different from the actual movie I just watched. There's a con they pull involving loft insulation which I remember being at the start of film, and it actually happens somewhere in the middle. I also remember there being much more of a love triangle element. This barely happens.
It was fun to revisit, but it's not aged well.
Rewatch: 2.5 on the love-o-meter


Dick Japowski All Loved Up
Mannequin (1987)
Andrew McCarthy falls in love with a mannequin and that's before he knows the mannequin is alive and manne-Kim Catrall!
A prime example of why some things are best left in the past. My younger self would have argued for this 5 star masterpiece all day long, as it was bizarrely on TV a lot. It gave me an unhealthy love for mannequins, one which no real girl would ever be able to live up to! Leave this one in the eighties where it was acceptable!
Rewatched on video, the most romantic of formats.
1.5 out of 5 roses

The Arizona Love Files
Rules Don't Apply (2016)
An all but married man is hired as a driver for famed filmmaker/philanthropist/eccentric Howard Hughes at the same time a devout Christian is signed as Hughes' latest starlet in waiting.
Warren Beatty hadn't started watching in a film in 15 years, hadn't directed bone in 18, he'd been brewing this one for almost 40, with all that time you'd have thought he could have made something more interesting. If it was a straight biopic you could understand, but it's a loosely based story. It's also marketed as this star-crossed lovers romance, but it seems more like a sidenote.
Hughes was clearly a pretty interesting fella, might finally get round to watching The Aviator.
First watch: 2.5 on the love-o-meter

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The Arizona Love Files
Knocked Up (2007)
After getting promoted a TV presenter goes out to celebrate and hooks up, but a one night stand turns into a lifelong commitment when she winds-up pregnant. But while Ben's a nice guy, and wants to do the right thing, he's also a deadbeat stoner with equally deadbeat friends.
I expected more of a love/hate comedy, two opposites coming together at the end for the greater good. It's more of a mismatched romance without the usual rom-com obstacles. It definitely didn't need to be as long as it was, personally I could have done with less of Ben's stoner mates.
First watch: 3 on the love-o-meter

The Arizona Love Files
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Farcical comedy starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, with some brilliant routines...and a leopard.
As far as the love angle goes it's pretty flat, Hepburn says she really quite likes Grant, although not to his face, pretty early on. Grant however doesn't act the least bit interested until his fiancée gives him the elbow for acting like a lunatic, then all of a sudden Hepburn's the love of his life.
The sound quality was also terrible, which you'd expect if you'd watched it in the darkest depths of YouTube, but this was on BBC iPlayer.
First watch: 3 on the love-o-meter

Bringing Up Baby.jpg

Dick Japowski all Loved Up
Heartbeeps (1981)
Two robots learn how to love and venture out to where the tall trees grow to make a new life for themselves. A curious misfire that doesn't really fit into any genre comfortably and not a lot happens. You do get a nice John Williams score and Randy Quaid though, so they were nice surprises.
First watch: 2 out of 5 roses

Dick Japowski All Loved Up
Labyrinth (1986)
A story of kidnap, mental torture and unrequited love, it's hard to believe this family friendly Saw movie was considered a flop when it was first released, as it has gone on to become a much loved favourite for many and I'd include this as a desert island disc. It's always fun to watch David Bowie sing and dance with the Muppets and Jennifer Connelly is perfectly cast as the frustrated teenager trying to rescue her baby brother. Perfection.
Rewatch: 5 out of 5 roses


The Arizona Love Files
Aladdin (2019)
Homeless man comes into possession of a magical lamp containing a genie who will vaguely grant the owner three wishes.
Disney continue to remake their entire animated back catalogue, with varying results, and Aladdin seems like one of the most pointless. There are a few tweaks here and there, some extra songs, but largely it's lifted straight from the original, dialogue and all...even copying the same plot holes.
Also Will Smith was the wrong pick for the genie, I mean nobody was going to match Robin Williams, but Smith doesn't even come close.
First watch: 3 on the love-o-meter

Dick Japowski All Loved Up
Muriel's Wedding (1994)
Toni Collette stars as Muriel, who's stuck in a rut and convinces herself that in order to be successful, she must first get married and learns to love herself along the way.
The trailer for this seemed to be on everything we rented, and to this day I quote the line "you're terrible Muriel" in a bad Australian accent more often than I should! I'm glad I finally watched it as it's a charming delight and would recommend if you to have only ever seen the trailer! Besides a plot turn near the end of the second act which I could have done without, "I do" for Muriel's wedding!
First watch: 3.5 out of 5 roses

Muriel's Wedding.jpg

The Arizona Love Files
Upside Down (2012)
What happens when someone sees that scene from Inception, where the city folds over on itself, and thinks 'I can make a whole movie outta that'.
Two planets, each with their own gravitational principles, so close together they're connected by a single corporate building. One planet is affluent, one is poor, and the people should never mix. But love will find a way.
A rich concept which could have been explored more, wrapped around the thinnest of love stories. Jim Sturgess is pretty likeable as the poor inventor looking for his lost love, Kirsten Dunst couldn't be any blander is she was made of vanilla and beige sprinkles.
First watch: 3 on the love-o-meter

The Arizona Love Files
Enough Said (2013)
While attending a party masseuse Eva meets Albert and Marianne. Eva and Albert start dating, and Marianne starts as a client, but quickly becomes a friend. However Eva soon discovers Marianne's ex-husband and Albert are one in the same. Instead of coming clean Eva uses Marianne to find out all of Albert's flaws before she gets in too deep, but ultimately ends up sabotaging the relationship herself.
A brisk 90 minute movie, with an instantly likable lead, the chemistry between Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini is wonderful. I could happily have watched that first date for the 90 minutes.
First watch: 4 on the love-o-meter

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Dick Japowski All Loved Up
Palm Springs (2020)
Weddings are magical days for everyone, including Andy Samberg who is very familiar with one particular special occasion... This movie is an instant classic that rivals the top movie in this mystery genre. You will want to watch this again and again for sure and I did tear up several times. Huge recommend.
First watch: 5 out of 5 roses

The Arizona Love Files
Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)
Laura fakes her own death to escape her abusive husband, but when Martin discovers the truth he'll stop at nothing to get back what's his.
The film doesn't take long to establish Martin as complete dirtbag, but it does it well, starting with what seems like a normal couple, and then peeling the layers away like an onion. The endings pretty satisfying too.
Rewatch: 3 on the love-o-meter

Love in an Elevator with Cinematic Sleuth Sam Sleet, P.I.
Band Aid (2017)
A frustrated thirty-something married couple works out their issues by forming a band and writing songs based on their fights. Zoe Lister-Jones writes, directs and stars in this solid comedy/drama with charming leads, good original music, delightful highs and heavy lows, and a healthy dose of Fred Armisen. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you may or may not hurl.
First watch: 4 out of 5 heart-shaped boxes of chocolate

Have you made goo-goo eyes at any of the movies we've investigated? What movie makes you want to fall in love? Let us know in the comments below.


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