Skip’s Quips: Reconnecting With ‘Darby O’Gill and the Little People’

Blog Sketch 082813Sometimes movies that were childhood favorites remain just as good when you see them through an adult’s eyes.

I felt that way while watching the classic, leprechaun-filled Disney fantasy Darby O’Gill and the Little People last night. Boy is this a fun picture, and just as charming as I remembered it, with lovely, lilting dialogue, colorful cinematography and brilliant effects work … including some stellar scares via the depiction of a banshee that used to creep me out big time when I was a kid.

Oh, yes: And you have Albert Sharpe as the title character, plus Sean Connery as a young man. What’s not to like?

I was actually surprised at how well this film stands up today. It really is quite entertaining, and I even relished parts of it. I don’t think it’s a masterpiece, but as a piece of escapist movie-making it’s just fine. Certainly better than many flicks I’ve seen recently.

In truth, I probably shouldn’t have waited so long to revisit it. Maybe it’ll become a personal favorite for me as a grownup; I sure wouldn’t mind seeing it again. Not right away, of course, but give me a few months.

I might just develop the taste for it once more.

Skip’s Quips: Favreau’s ‘Chef’ Fantasy Lingers Long on the Palate

Blog Sketch 082813There’s a lot of good stuff in Jon Favreau’s culinarily driven film Chef, which documents the fall and rise of a famed toque-meister (portrayed by Favreau himself) as he journeys from restaurant to food truck. But realistic it is not.

I enjoyed it … to a certain extent. It’s breezy, amusing, touching at times. The characters are likable. The food looks, well, tasty.

It’s a fantasy, however, and doesn’t ring true on many levels. The protagonist, a divorced dad who connects with his son through food, has this only-in-the-movies relationship with his kid, who is just plain worshipful, agreeing to clean his truck with little complaint and nearly jumping at the chance to “help” his pop as a line cook after school and on weekends. An offer you can’t refuse, right? If I were his child, I’d be asking for overtime.

Then there’s the colleague, deftly played by John Leguizamo, who joins Favreau’s character on his food truck for no pay after leaving his job as a sous chef at a high-end restaurant. Really? This is loyalty going a little far. Plus, the truck is shown as becoming an immediate success, which is also hard to believe. This is a tough business. It’s difficult to make money right away.

So the picture strains credibility at times. It also overstays its welcome; a lot of the final act could’ve ended up on the cutting-room floor. And everything wraps up all too neatly; yes, it’s a feel-good type of flick, but the Dickensian way everything falls in place is just a little too easy. It’s pleasant, yes, Believable, no.

All in all, Chef has too many issues to be called a great film. If you want a fun science-fiction movie about the trials and travails of being a chef, this is a good option. It’s just not what I perceive to be a realistic document of one man’s adventure in the profession.

Setter’s ‘Spectives: Retelling the Story of ‘Dracula Untold’

Setter Drawing for Blog 082613If I never had to watch another vampire movie again, I would be a happy man.

Not that I’m generally forced to watch vampire films. In fact, I generally avoid them, as they’re about monsters that, as a rule, don’t inspire me – unlike, say, snarky, misanthropic, hobbit-hating dragons, which often do.

I have to say something about Dracula Untold, the upcoming fang-o-thon slated to hit theaters next month, however, and that is: Do we really need another movie about these long-lived bloodsuckers? Really? I mean, come on. This is the umpth incarnation of the Dracula story. Why, Hollywood, why?

Vampires, like zombies, are easy subjects. You’ll always find an audience for flicks concerning them, methinks. I just wish horror/fantasy moviemakers would mine less superficial subject matter, though, instead of gravitating toward the same ol’ thing. It’s hard to top the F.W. Murnau Nosferatu when it comes to vampire stories on the big screen, anyway, you know? So why try?

I suspect there will be no reason to tell, again, the story of Dracula Untold and that it will be comparable, in terms of cinematic quality, to a pile of bat guano. That probably won’t stop the hordes of vampire-loving viewers from seeing it. It will, though, serve as sufficiently preventative garlic for me. I’m avoiding it … while lamenting the dearth of good, non-vampire horror films out there.

Dracula Untold? Too many times told, if you ask me.