Tuesday, 22 December 2009

One Crazy Summer (1986)

Tagline: "They're out of school, out on Nantucket, and out of their minds. With this crowd, anything can happen!"
Cusack plays: 'Hoops' McCann - who leaves behind Generic, New York to spend the summer on Nantucket and work on his entry for a scholarship to Design School.

From the same director as Better off Dead - 'Savage' Steve Holland and containing some similar quirks, such as animations and bizarro moments. Lets just say I'm not in any kind of rush to watch this again. Ever. I'm not big on 'wacky' comedies. This film sees the first time JC appears with fairly frequent co-star Jeremy Piven, and Demi Moore sings. Not too much else of note I'm afraid. Lots of crazy plans ensue to beat the bad guys and save Demi's dead grandads house from developers.

The trailer might actually be funnier than the film:

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Stand by Me (1986)

Tagline: For some, it's the last real taste of innocence, and the first real taste of life. But for everyone, it's the time that memories are made of.
Cusack plays: Denny Lachance, deceased older brother of central character Gordy.

This is Cusack's second film for director Rob Reiner (after The Sure Thing), although he appears in only a couple of flashback scenes as the dead big brother who Gordy feels he will never live up to, and was kinder to him than his parents. The film is a 80's classic with brilliant central peformances from the four young actors in the central roles. Its always sad to watch the River Pheoenix scenes, such a talent. Four kids (with baggage eg a crazy father, fatness, from a family of criminals) travel to find the dead body of a local boy in the woods. They contend with their issues and nasty bully Keifer Sutherland along the way.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Journey of Natty Gann (1985)

Tagline: Her name is Natty Gann. Two thousand miles of danger separate her from her father. Only love, hope and courage can help her find him.
Cusack plays: Depression era drifter Harry
Did you know? Jed the wolf dog is also in White Fang and The Thing.

Taking a break from the 1980s teen flicks to do a turn in a Disney adventure which follows Natalie 'Natty' Gann as she travels across the country from Chicago to be reunited with her father who has taken a job logging in Washington state. Its 1935, times are hard, but Natty has a handy wolf-dog to help her along the way, and Cusack for part of the journey. He doesn't have a big part, mostly jumping on and off trains, but he's rather attractive and makes an impression. I assumed Natty was about 12 and he about 18 or 19 so it came as a surprise when there was a romantic undertone and a brief kiss - I guess she was perhaps a little older.

The wolf is clearly the star of the film, he gets all the good close ups and is listed first in the credits. Well it does save her from a possible rapist.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Better off Dead (1985)

Tagline: "You've blown up your neighbor's mom. Your seven-year-old brother has better luck with women than you do. Your girlfriend has a new boyfriend. Relax, you're never..."
or "Insanity doesn't run in the family, it gallops"
Cusack plays: Lane Myer, teen recently dumped by adored girlfriend Beth for the star of the Ski team he desires to join.

Apparantly he hates this film, and I suppose I can see why - it is kind of weird and probably not the best use of his talents.

Surreal at times - a class thrilled by maths problems, a pair of dancing animated burgers singing Van Halen and a mother who dresses up as a reindeer and has a strange line in cooking. But its sort of funny too - but definitely should not be watched under the influence - that way is just kind of trippy. The title refers to the 'comedic' and half arsed suicide attempts Lane makes or accidentally makes throughout the film to heal his pain at being ditched.

The climax of the film is a marginally thriliing ski race with his love rival Roy Stalin. Alas this will not be the last Cusack film to feature a ski race (just wait until we get to True Colours...)

I liked his little brother - genious with both technology and the ladies, and the persistent paper boy pursuing his "two dollars!".

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The Sure Thing (1985)



Tagline: A sure thing comes once in a lifetime... but the real thing lasts forever.
Cusack plays: Walter 'Gib' Gibson, college student heading across the country to hook up with a stunning 'Sure Thing' (Nicolette Sheridan aka Edie from Desperate Housewives oiling herself up in her first film role)
Did you know? One of the Executive Producers of this film was Henry Winkler, yeah the Fonz!

Cusack's first leading role and very enjoyable it is too. Its the Christmas holidays and Gib is fed up not meeting girls at his East Coast college. Luckily his friend from school Anthony Edwards (Goose! Dr Greene!) is in California and tells his about a 'sure thing' who will definitely do the deed with him. To get there he has to travel across country with square Alison from his English class (Daphne Zuniga -Brooke's mum in One Tree Hill). You can guess what happens....

I enjoyed this film, Cusack gets to show off his acting chops, and it provides the first of a number of occassions where he gets all wet in the rain. I particularly enjoyed a scene where he pretends to be a crazy hitchhiker to rescue Alison from a dodgy driver. This is also the first film where Cusack appears alongside friend Tim Robbins, and I noticed Steve Pink (writer and producer of future Cusack films such as High Fidelity) is listed as 'football player'. Robbins is hilarious as his show tune singing first ride - "this is the dawning of the age of Aquarius...". Also giving them a ride is Mr Heckles from Friends.

here comes the spoilery 1980s style trailer and the funny psycho scene:

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Grandview U.S.A (1984)


Tagline: Where dreams have a funny way of coming true.
Cusack plays: Johnny Maine, friend of high school senior Tim Pearson
Family Connections: Joan has a blink and miss it role as a student in class

So this wasn't a film I was familiar with so there was curiosity factor coming into play here. Cusack is only in about 3 very brief scenes although does don a fetching 1980s blue tux for the prom and does some shirtless sunbathing.

The plot of the film is that Michelle 'Mike' Cody (Jamie Lee Curtis) runs a demolition derby which she is trying to keep open. Shes friends with Ernie 'Slam' Webster - Patrick Swayze (RIP) and he has some feelings for her, as well as dealing with a cheating slutty wife. C Thomas Howell is high school senior and wannabe oceanographer Tim who also takes a shine to older woman Mike.

Its ok. The main fun is to be had in two rather random music video style dream sequences where Tim sees Mike all sexy, and everyone dances about.

Trailer (including part of said dream sequence) below....

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Sixteen Candles (1984)


Tagline: It's the time of your life that may last a lifetime.
Cusack plays: Bryce, geek friend of "the geek/Ted" Anthony Michael Hall. Spends much of the film with a flashlight on his head.
Family Connections: Joan steals several scenes as Geek Girl with her funky jumpers and neck/back brace.
Did you know? : The cake used at the end of the film was made of Cardboard.

Sixteen Candles is one of those classic John Hughes 198os movies. Everyone forgets Samantha Baker's (Molly Ringwald) 16th birthday due to her sisters impending (and hilarious) wedding the following day. She's in love with the good looking (but bit wooden) Jake Ryan, while fending off the attentions of endearing geek Anthony Michael Hall.

This isn't one of my absolute favourite 1980s teen flicks but its good fun and has an awesome soundtrack (Wham, Altered Images, Kajagoogoo, Paul Young, Spandau Ballet, Billy Idol). Not too much happens but there is a big party where silly things happen. In that respect it reminds me a little of 1998's Can't Hardly Wait, and silliness at parties are a general staple of teen flicks.

Cusack is only in a few scenes as a geek sidekick, but he's likeable and awfully cute. Overall an enjoyable watch which left me wondering just what happened to Michael Schoeffling who played Jake, as he gave up acting in 1991. (After playing the object of Winona Ryder's affections in Mermaids.) IMDb claims he now makes furniture for a living.

Trailer below with all the highlights (1980s trailers are kind of strange...)

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Class (1983)

Tagline: The good news is, Jonathan's having his first affair. The bad news is, she's his roommate's mother!
Cusack plays: Roscoe Maibaum - student at Vernon Academy
Family Connections: Bit parts for sister Joan and father Dick.


So its the debut. Mr Cusack's first appearance comes as he nearly gets squashed by new student Andrew McCarthy's trunk on the stairs. His opening line? "Great, douchebag. Another year, another idiot".

This film was also Brat-packer Andrew McCarthy's first listed film appearance, and one of Rob Lowe's first few. Its quite enjoyable standard teen flick fare, as Andrew's Jonathan's accidentally gets it on with Prep School roommate Rob Lowe's mum. Cusack pops up throughout as another student at the school, usually smoking, and in one scene wearing a weirdish nightshirt. All his moments can be viewed in this clip (with the nightshirt at the 5.25 mark). The bit where he eats his cigarette is pretty endearing.

And heres the trailer:

What? and Why?

John Cusack is probably my favourite actor - but yet there a good number of his films that I haven't got around to watching yet. So the challenge is to watch all of his movies, using the listings from imdb, begining way back in 1983. This is the year he made his first film appearance, and the year I was busy being a foetus/baby.

At the off I will say that it was a toss up between this and watching my way through the seven series of the West Wing again. But I've gone for the Cusack Challenge.

I'm not setting myself a time limit, and I have no idea if I'll track them all down (some kind of obscure ones in there) but to watch at least 80% of them would be great (that's a comfortable A in academic terms!) So its a fairly undemanding challenge, with flexible 'rules'. I'm totally selling it, I can tell.

There will be plenty I've seen many times before (Hello! High Fidelity) and some I really wasn't planning on watching again (ah Must Love Dogs, there you are). Also a good few I've never seen before. So, lets begin....