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Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Well, today is Wednesday, and normally I would be doing a WHO AM I WEDNESDAY entry in this space.  However, this week, we'll be taking a look at a movie instead, as my crazy schedule prevented me from doing a proper blog on a movie last Saturday.  I promise, my schedule will be back to normal next week.

Besides, sometimes it's good to switch it up every once in a while.

Okay, so if you have been keeping up with this blog for the last three weeks, you'll know that I'm in the middle of a 10-part movie series in which I review one of the movies featured in this 10-film compilation that I picked up at my workplace for five dollars.  I'm on film #4 this time around, and let's just say that from a critical standpoint, these films didn't do so hot at the box office, or they were completely trashed by film critics. 

So far, I've taken a look at "The Wizard", "A Simple Wish", and "Ghost Dad".  One I still love, one I'm indifferent on, and the last one I used to like twenty some years ago, but can't really stand now. 

I think it's time that I choose a film that was critically acclaimed, don't you?  How about a film that has a 93% Fresh Rating on Rotten Tomatoes?  How about a film that made nine million dollars at the box office?  How about a film that has not one but two films within the film?

Interestingly enough, the name of the film happens to be a term for a type of movie that you might go to in the middle of the afternoon.  In fact, its film title was a part of the old themed movie day that I used to have back when Mondays were the movie discussion day.

You remember?  It was called the Monday Matinee. 

Well, today, we're going to take a look at the 1993 film called "Matinee".  The film - released in January 1993 - stars John Goodman, Cathy Moriarty, Omri Katz, Kellie Martin, Lisa Jakub, Jesse Lee Soffer, and Simon Felton in a film that depicts going to the movies during the scary and uncertain times of the beginnings of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.  The film was directed by Joe Dante (who also directed the two Gremlins films, "The 'Burbs", and "Small Soldiers"), and written by Jerico Stone and Charlie Haas.

What made "Matinee" different from the standard films released during the early 1990s was the film structure.  There was a main plotline, but inside the film, there were movies within the movie.  Two, to be exact.  One was "Mant!", and the other one was "The Shook-Up Shopping Cart". 

Now, I suppose that you're thinking that this structure might seem quite confusing, but it really did blend together beautifully.  The film is also separated into two separate parts, which I'm briefly going to summarize, as if I reveal too much about it, I'm going to be breaking my promise about never revealing a movie ending.

Okay, so as I mentioned, the film takes place in 1962, during the early phases of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and what many people declare was the catalyst behind the commencement of the Cold War, which lasted for nearly three decades.  If anyone was around during that time, they knew that nuclear weaponry was gaining in popularity, and they also knew the total devastation that nuclear weapons could have on the world.   

In Key West, Florida, a boy named Gene (Fenton) and his brother Dennis (Soffer) live on a military base.  Their father is out at sea, and they are completely bored out of their minds over what to do.

But then they hear word that Lawrence Woolsey (Goodman) will be in town exclusively to promote his latest picture - a thrilling horror show that depicts what might happen when atomic radiation turns a man into a half-man, half-ant.  It's a classic masterpiece known as "Mant!" (a brilliant spoof of those B-movies that you often would see on Mystery Science Theatre 3000).  And, naturally, Gene and Dennis want to go and see the film.  Unfortunately, with President Kennedy announcing on television that Soviet missiles have been located in Cuba, it puts the movie premiere in jeopardy, as concerned citizens don't feel that a movie that features atomic radiation is appropriate to air.

Naturally, this sets the stage for the main plot of the movie.  The quest to bring the movie to Key West despite all the protests and the fear that is being brought by the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Oh, and there's also the challenges of first love, the desire to try and find freedom and joy in a world gone mad, and of course, lots of popcorn, goobers, and bonbons.

Seriously, I can't really go into much more than that, but check this film out.  It's certainly a wonderful film, and it showed us all that John Goodman could play other roles than blue-collar worker Dan Conner from "Roseanne".

Now since I can't go into too much plot detail, I'll have to make up for it with trivia.  Ready to hear it?

1 - This film was one of the first American films that Naomi Watts appeared in.  Look for her in the shopping cart movie scene.

2 - Lisa Jakub would go on to make another successful movie in 1993 - "Mrs. Doubtfire".  She would play the eldest daughter of Sally Field and Robin Williams.

3 - Many of the actors who appeared in the fictional "Mant" film were actual actors from 1950's sci-fi movies.  These actors included Robert Cornthwaite, Kevin McCarthy, and William Schallert.

4 - The theatre that was used in the film was a real theatre.  Well, at least it was on the exterior.  The interior was built entirely on a soundstage in Universal Studios Florida.

5 - The seat gimmicks that were used in the movie were actually used by William Castle for screenings of 1959's "The Tingler".

6 - Three schools in Central Florida were combined together to depict Gene's high school in the movie.

7 - Jesse Lee Soffer became a huge star after this movie was released.  He went on to play the role of Will Munson on "As The World Turns", and is currently on the series "Chicago Fire".

8 - You might not be able to tell this because of the film, but Simon Fenton was born in the UK, and has appeared in the UK television series "Grange Hill" and "The Bill" after wrapping up "Matinee".

9 - Jerico Stone lost an arbitration on "Matinee" and received only a shared story credit.  He was so upset, he tried to replace his credit with a four letter word that began with "F".  His request was denied.

10 - John Goodman filmed this movie in between the fourth and fifth seasons of "Roseanne".

All right.  The curtain closes on another "Matinee".  We have another movie discussion coming up this Saturday, and we're going to be taking a look at a film that features a former "Friend"...and a monkey?

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