Now that Christmas is behind us and we gear up for the New Year’s Eve celebration, I thought I would put forth a film suggestion for the holiday. For those of you who were thinking I was going to put forth New Year’s Evil, I’m sorry to disappoint. I have decided to go with a comedy instead of a horror film, Get Crazy.
The set up is very simple, the owner of a a small theater that books concerts is throwing a New Years bash that is being sabotaged by his nephew so he will be forced to sell his thirty year lease to a real estate mogul who wants to tear the theater down. The sabotage attempts are constantly thwarted by the current stage manager and the returning former stage manager who fight with each other constantly.
The highlight of the film are the music acts, Bill Henderson is a BB King styled blues master, Lee Ving is a punk rock wild man and Malcolm McDowell is a Mick Jagger inspired rock and roll superstar. The big joke is that all three of them play wildly varied renditions of Hoochie Koochie Man during their act.
Along for the ride are Howard Kaylan as the leader of a stoned out psychadelic sixties band that was contracted to perform in 1969 and just now finally arrived, they are giving the show closer Aud Lang Syn. And Lou Reed Plays a reclusive superstar who agrees to perform as a favor for the promoter, who told him he was dying, only gets lost on the way to the theater.
At the end of the film a bomb is disposed of by being dumped in the villain’s limo, McDowell who had been bored with his life finds a new manager to put the fun back in rock (his talking penis ?!?), the nerdy stage hand gets a hot girlfriend, the cool stage hand joins the blues band, the weasely nephew accidentaly gets stoned and rides off with the sixties band, the competing stage managers realize they are in love and decide to get married, and Lou Reed finally shows up after the concert is over and performs a song for his bigget fan, the current stage managers teenage sister, while the credits roll.
For my last suggestion this season I’m changing gears and highlighting an episode of one of my favorite TV shows, A Nero Wolfe Mystery. While author Rex Stout’s series always had great, mind twisting mysteries, the real reason to read, and watch the show, is the relationship between the eccentric detective and his streetwise assistant Archie Goodwin. The humor and affection between the two characters as they bicker with each other and the intense loyalty to each other (and butler, cook, housekeeper Fritz) against all outsiders is the real reason for the longevity of the series. Great plots come and go, but great character’s live forever.
Christmas Party, not only has a great plot, it also demonstrates the complicated relationship the two share. Archie plays a prank on Wolfe, showing him a marriage license and saying he is getting married. The license is actually for a friend trying to push her boyfriend into a proposal. Archie goes to a Christmas party thrown by the boyfriend, who ends up getting poisoned and the main suspect is a Santa Claus bartender who disappeared.
When Archie finally gets home after the police are through with him, he discovers that the Santa had been Wolfe, wanting to get a look at this horrible female who had snared his assistant and may even, heaven forbid, move into Wolfe’s house. Wanting to keep the embarassment of Wolfe being the Santa from their police nemesis, Inspector Cramer, the crack detectives start to investigate the murder on their own.
Things are complicated when the victim’s other girlfriend shows up saying she knows Wolfe was the Santa wanted by the police and will tell them unless he pins the murder on Archie’s friend. Under pressure and angry, Wolfe puts his genius on overtime, gathers all the suspects together and unravels the mystery, handing the murderer over to Cramer with evidence to convict with enough time left over to get everyone out before Fritz calls him for dinner. Money and friendship are all good, but food is the real motivation for this genius.
Nothing says Christmas like snow, lighting Christmas trees and Batman. Okay maybe not that last one, but But Batman Returns does have all three of these things. Tmm Burtan’s follow up to his blockbuster Batman ups the ante in the sequel with more gadgets, vehicles and villains. The movie has three, count ‘em three villains.
It’s Christmas time in Gotham City and Batman (Michael Keaton) has his hands full with the emergence of the deformed Penguin (Danny DeVito), leader of a criminal gang of circus performers, who is also running for mayor under his real name. Things are complicated when the disturbed Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) teams with Penguin to frame Batman for murder. And it turns out the real villain is an evil millionaire businessman (Christopher Walkin at his eccentric performing, scene stealing best) who is orchestrating all this so that he can push through plans for a new power plant that will suck up Gotham’s power and he can then sell it back at a premium price and get richer.
Everything comes to a head with a falling out between all three parties, leading to fights, explosions and the foiling of the Penguin’s real plan all long to kidnap all the first born children of Gotham and then his back up plan to blow up the city with an army of penguins armed with rocket launchers. When the smoke clears only the Dark Knight remains standing, and his alterego is spending Christmas alone. But wait who was the black pleather wearing female he just saw out of the corner of his eye, could it be…..? No it must have been his imagination.