Search This Blog

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Ghost Dad

This is week number three of a special ten-part series of "SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES". 

From now until September 27, we'll be doing a spotlight on one of the ten movies featured in this 10-pack of family favourites that I picked up at my workplace two weeks ago.  And, well...needless to say, some of the movies are such that I really loved them and still love them today (as was the case with the first movie that I looked at in "The Wizard).  Some of the movies were critical bombs, but I still could find something nice to say about the film (as was the case with last week's "A Simple Wish".)

But now we're into week three.  And this was a film that I absolutely enjoyed as a nine-year-old boy, but now looking back on it, I can't stand today.  The entire film was a complete farce, it had over the top acting, a ridiculous plot, and was easily considered to be the worst movie of 1990.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is that at the age of nine, I had horrible taste in movies.

But, again...I was a kid back then.  Tastes change and grow more mature as we get older.  As a kid, I may have liked Cheez-Whiz right out of the jar, but now I've gravitated towards finely aged cheddar.  I may have been content with eating lettuce leaves right off the head as a kid, but now I like to have it as part of a salad.  And, as a kid, I may have satisfied my dessert cravings with Ah Caramel snack cakes...and now...

...oh, what the hell.  I STILL like Ah Caramel cakes.

But as I was saying, the third movie that I reviewed for today's blog is such that I really liked it as a kid, but am not too fond of it today.  But, I suppose that's the risk that you take when you buy ten movies at once.  There has to be at least one or two that you don't really care for.

I think the only reason why I was a fan of this movie in the first place as a kid was because of the fact that Bill Cosby was the star of the show.  And, when I was younger, Bill Cosby was a big part of my childhood.

I used to watch "The Cosby Show" all the time when I was kid.  I also watched reruns of "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" whenever they came on.  I even remember his little segments on "Captain Kangaroo" where he hosted the "Picture Pages" segment with the marker that always made the funny noises.  I also remember wanting a marker like that, not realizing that it was just a plain ordinary black marker with a paper face and a sound guy in the background provided the funny sounds.  What can I say?  I had a wacky imagination back then.

So, yes, Bill Cosby being the star of this film was a huge factor behind my wanting to go and see it.  

Now, I wonder what it was that I ever saw in "Ghost Dad".

The film, surprisingly directed by Sidney Poitier (Yes, the same Sidney Poitier that starred in "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner"), was released on June 29, 1990, and was savaged by the critics.  Roger Ebert famously gave the film only a half a star out of four.  I'm guessing his thumb was permanently locked on the down position when he was giving his review.

Oh, and Rotten Tomatoes?  A 7% approval rating.  Ouch.

Now, just judging by the title, you can pretty much guess what the premise of the movie is.  It's about a dad who somehow becomes a ghost.  But the way this film depicts the afterlife is quite...strange.  Not as strange as "Beetlejuice", but strange.

And I don't mean that as an insult to "Beetlejuice" either.  As far as I'm concerned, "Beetlejuice" imagined the afterlife just perfectly.

As the movie "Ghost Dad" begins, we're introduced to Elliot Hopper (Cosby).  And to be fair, the film starts off quite innocently enough.  Elliot is one of those men who feels that working, working, working will lead to rewards, rewards, rewards.  Seriously, we've all seen people who claim to be so-called workaholics.  I'll admit that I myself get bored really easily unless I have something that I can do, so I can certainly sympathize with the whole workaholic angle. 

Elliot, on the other hand, takes it to the extreme.  He is always at the office, and very rarely spends time at home with his children Diane (Kimberly Russell), Danny (Salim Grant), and Amanda (Brooke Fontaine).  But things are finally going Elliot's way.  He has the chance to make the biggest business deal ever at his company.  If he succeeds in closing the deal, it will mean a huge promotion, and a company car.  The deal is expected to go through on Thursday of that week, if all goes well.

It's just too bad that Elliot decided to take the wrong transportation just days before the deal.

Because Elliot promised his eldest daughter that she could have his car when he received his new one, he is forced to take a taxi to work.  And the driver of the taxi, Curtis Burch (Raynor Scheine) is a Satanist who obviously should have never been given a driver's license in the first place.  Desperate to stop the taxi, Elliot makes up some story about him being Satan, and this startles Burch so much that he drives off a bridge and crashes into the river below.

Now, at first, it appears as though Elliot has survived the accident, as he escapes from the car unhurt.  But Elliot quickly realizes that something isn't quite right when he accidentally gets in the path of a bus and the bus drives right through him.

So, this basically confirms the whole "Ghost Dad" title here.  Somehow, Elliot's spirit exited his body, and he is free to roam the Earth as a spirit.  But what happened to his body?  And, what happened to the insane taxi driver on top of that?

But those are questions that Elliot is not concerned with.  He just wants to get home to his children.  Problem is that because he is a ghost, he can't really communicate with them.  Sure, his kids can see him in a dark room, but they can't hear him.  It's like trying to watch a movie on television with the mute button jammed on the remote control.

To add to the confusion, when Elliot tries to tell them what has happened, he is whisked away to London by Sir Edith (Ian Bannen) who confirms that he is, in fact, a ghost. 

But wait.  Plot twist.  The reason why Elliot hasn't crossed over yet is because in the words of Sir Edith - they screwed up.  So, now Elliot's crossing over session has been rescheduled to Thursday.

Hmmm...interesting how the date just happens to be the exact same day as Elliot's big deal being closed.  I wonder if this movie will have our phantom parent discovering what the real meaning of life is.  I wonder if he'll have a chance to explain things to his kids and his love interest Joan (Denise Nichols).  And, I wonder if he'll actually learn anything from this if in fact there is a way to bring him back to the living.

Oh, wait.  I've said too much.

Sigh...let's just go on with the trivia.

1 - This was Sidney Poitier's final film as a director.  Can't imagine why this would be the case.

2 - Sidney Poitier's daughter makes a cameo in this film as a nurse.

3 - John Badham was supposed to be the original director for the movie, with Steve Martin playing the role of Elliot.  I bet both men are probably breathing a sigh of relief not taking this project on.

4 - Kim Basinger turned down a role in the film, claiming that the script was horrible.  Smart woman.

5 - Although Raven-Symone was too young to be cast as youngest daughter Amanda, Cosby was so impressed by her audition that he had a part created for her on "The Cosby Show" - Olivia Kendall.

6 - Scenes were shot during the spring and summer of 1989.

7 - Believe it or not, a novel was made of this film about a month after it's June 1990 debut.

And, well...that's it.

Let's see...I should probably pick a better movie for the fourth week.  Ah,'s one that has a 93% approval rating...and it'll make you never look at a matinee quite the same way again...

No comments:

Post a Comment