Weekly Whack: Feff-nomenon
August 4, 1996

Well I didn't want to have to do this again so soon, but it looks like I have to. Every so often I write a Whack where I review some of the movies out in the theater. Last time I did this was about two months ago when I looked at the movies that kicked off the summer season, and if you remember, I mentioned that the best thing about this year's summer season of movies was that there weren't any new Robin Williams movies. Well I was wrong. Just the other day I turned on the TV and saw a commercial for, gasp, a new Robin Williams movie. So I figured this week would be a good week to dedicate the Whack to taking a look at that movie, and the other movies highlighting the second-half of what has turned out to be quite a memorable summer of movies.

Jack- Well there's no use wasting time before we get to this one. So what kind of role is Robin Williams playing now? Is it Peter Pan? Or a cartoon genie? Or possibly another guy dressed in drag? Actually this one has them all beat. In `Jack,' Williams plays a ten-year-old boy who is aging four times as fast as normal, and thus is trapped in a forty-year-old man's body. I wonder how long it took the movie execs to cast Williams in this role. "OK people, we're looking for someone who looks like he's forty, but acts like he's ten. Harrison Ford..... no, Denzel Washington..... no, John Travolta..... maybe. Hey! What about that Mork guy!?!" Basically, the role was pretty much written for nobody else except Robin Williams. And this is sad, because I remember a day when Robin Williams used to play serious roles such as in `Dead Poets Society,' `Awakenings,' and `Popeye.' There is no denying that he was brilliant in these roles, and that's what separates him from other comic actors and actresses like Jim Carrey and Whoopi Goldberg, because unlike them, he can actually act. He's just has to start picking his scripts better.

Independence Day- This was one of the two movies that I actually got out to see this summer. And the only reason I went to see it was because my friend Steve had a free pass for two to the movies, and since he was too pathetic to find a date, I got to go see a free movie. Also, with all the hype this movie got, I thought it was one of those movies that you had to see. Sure it had it's charm, but I doubt it would crack my list of the top fifty movies of all time. I always liked Will Smith, and Randy Quaid was a sheer genius in this movie, but it still wasn't all that it was hyped up to be. It was an all-around good movie, but not great. It kept changing from being an action movie, to a comedy, to a romance-drama, and then back to an action movie. But anyhow, I definitely think I got my money's worth.

Kingpin- This was, sadly, the other movie I went to see this summer, and I actually had to pay to go see this one. The movie was about forty-five minutes shorter than `Independence Day,' but it felt about two hours longer. I knew Woody Harrelson wasn't the best of actors, but I was clinging on the hope that Randy Quaid and Bill Murray could carry this movie. Unfortunately they couldn't deliver. As mentioned, Randy Quaid was great in `Independence Day,' but he fell short in this movie. And Bill Murray, the genius behind such classics as `Stripes,' `Caddyshack,' `Ghostbusters,' `What About Bob?,' and `Groundhog Day,' was hardly himself in this flub. And sadly, this may mark the beginning of a decline in Murray's career, for before Kingpin, there was a coming attraction for his next movie, and it co-stars an African elephant. And judging by the commercials, I thought Chris Elliot was supposed to be in this movie, but actually Chris Berman had more speaking lines.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame- Just what we were waiting for, a Disney animated adaptation of this Victor Hugo classic. What's next- a cartoon version of Dostoyevsky's `Crime and Punishment,' starring the voice of Dom DeLuise? And they changed around the entire book to give it a happy ending for the kids. You can't do that, that book is a timeless classic. Who does Disney think they are? It's like having a `Moby Dick' where Ahab reunites the whale with his long lost mother who was held in captivity for so many years. Or how bout a version of `The Catcher in the Rye' where Holden goes back to school and becomes an orthodontist? Why don't they just redo the `New Testament,' and have Jesus escape crucifixion and hunt down the one-arm man who killed his wife? It's crazy if you ask me, but then again, that's Disney for you.

Well I still have a bunch a movies I still want to cover, so I think I will now revert to rapid-fire mode.

Phenomenon- No this isn't a movie about the amazing comeback of John Travolta's career, it's a movie about an average guy with above-average powers. Maybe I spoke to soon about John Travolta's comeback.

Kazaam- Shaq would have been better off spending the time he did making this movie practicing his foul shots.

Harriet the Spy- The first feature length Nickelodeon movie, exactly what I was waiting for.

Matilda- Danny DeVito AND Rhea Perlman, who could ask for anything more?

Joe's Apartment- The three minute MTV short grossed me out, an entire movie may give me the dry heaves.

Multiplicity- As the saying goes, the only thing better than a movie starring Michael Keaton, is a movie starring four Michael Keatons.

The Nutty Professor- The hell with Eddie Murphy, I want flubber!

Supercop- Jackie Chan, enough said.

Well I think I said enough for one week, so to conclude for this Whack, Robin Williams should stop playing over-sized children, and go back to teaching English at prep-schools; there was never a good movie that co-starred an African elephant; and even Rhea Perlman has a better foul-shooting percentage than Shaq.

Now for this week's special feature, the top ten books that Disney should make into a cartoon movie for children:

10. Ulysses (James Joyce)
9. Paradise Lost (John Milton)
8. The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
7. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
6. Native Son (Richard Wright)
5. A Farewell to Arms (Ernest Hemingway)
4. Bleak House (Charles Dickens)
3. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
2. Death of a Salesman (Arthur Miller)
1. Walden (Henry David Thoreau)