War of the Roses

     War of the Roses – “Oliver, my father used to say that a man can never outdo a woman when it comes to love and revenge.”  What a deliciously, evil black comedy by Danny DeVito based on the novel by Warren Adler.  A lesser known hit from the late 80’s brings Michael Douglas, whose acting usually leaves me unimpressed, and Kathleen Turner into war with each other as they go through a divorce.  Some great acting and some twisted scenes keep you wondering…what’s next?  And, some great philosophical one liners that every man should pay attention too is delivered by Danny DeVito.  Rated 81% at Rotten Tomatoes and 4.5 stars at Amazon.com, this movie’s a steal.

Plot – Gavin (Danny DeVito) is a divorce attorney with an unnamed client in his office (yes, that’s Dan Castellaneta..aka Homer Simpson).  Before proceeding to filing for divorce, he tells him the story of the Rose’s.  As Gavin begins, we see Oliver Rose (Michael Douglas) at an art auction where he meets Barbara (Kathleen Turner).  After a romantic afternoon, they end up spending the night together.  They get married, have kids, and their lives take off.  They get richer and finally get a house that Kathleen has been after for years.  As Oliver works and tries to impress his bosses as a top lawyer, Barbare builds their home.  But, once completed, Barbara loses happiness in her life and grows contempt.  When Oliver is rushed to the hospital for a suspected heart attack (which is really a hiatal hernia), he writes a personal note to her.  However, she doesn’t show to pick him up and he’s upset.  Finally, she tells him he she doesn’t love him anymore and wants a divorce.  Oliver is floored.  In their divorce negotiation, Barbara wants the house because of her efforts.  But, she showed Oliver’s “dying note” and it is used against him, he vows she will never get it.  The war is on and they go to amazing efforts to spite each other.  Gavin, who had been helping Oliver, now suggests he let her have it and get it over with.  Oliver fires him and takes matters into his own hands.  The war hilariously escalates to a pinnacle of bitterness, but once real harm is possible, things back down a bit….But, that doesn’t mean the war is over…..

Commentary –  This film is one of my personal favorites.  I can’t say this is the best film ever, but the creativity of evilness is just something I enjoy.  DeVito is excellent as the friend lawyer that is much wiser as he tells the Rose’s story.  Michael Douglas does a great job as the victim as well as throwing some bitter attacks as well.  Kathleen Turner brilliantly plays on your sympathies and then unleashes her supremely evil attacks on her husband.  Maybe watching Michael Douglas suffer is what I enjoy most.  Frankly, this movie will make you wonder what your husband or wife is planning to do to you.  But, you’ll also be laughing at how they bring them about.  There are a couple of questionable scenes that might be too much for young children, but they are brief.  It’s a “black comedy”.  The more evil they are to each other, the more humorous the film gets.

Trivia – The first assembled cut of the film was 3 hours and 4 minutes before cutting it down to 1 hour and 56 minutes.  Cher was also considered for the role of Barbara Rose.  Frankly, Turner and Douglas had an uncanny chemistry on film from working together on other films.  In the final scene (which I won’t spoil), our favorite actors were in a rather compromising position…So, DeVito pretended to break for lunch leaving them in their precarious situation.  You can only imagine how they felt.

*** Just click the images to check out “War of the Roses” at Amazon.com ***


The Lion King

     The Lion King – “SHE’S GONNA EAT ME!!!”  In 1994, Disney unleashed one of its best animated classics of all time.  This movie is, without a doubt, a top 5 animated movie on anyone’s list.  The animation is visually stunning.  The story is compelling.  The music is moving and impactful.  And, the mixture of child & adult themes make this an enjoyable film for all ages.  You get a solid mixture of childishness that will keep the kids happy and there is plenty of romance, dramatic tension, and suspense sequences to keep adults engaged.  Rated 89% at Rotten Tomatoes (rating reduced due to opinions of dvd complaints) and 4.5 stars at Amazon.com, this is a real winner.  Considering that Disney releases their classics for only a limited time, don’t miss the opportunity to add this to your collection now while still available.

Plot – The film opens with Mufasa and Sarabi welcoming their new son Simba.  Mufasa’s younger bother, Scar, doesn’t show and Mufasa visits him questioning his judgment.  Scar, who is desperate to be king, expresses his treachery with veiled threats, but Mufasa maintains order.  Mufasa begins raising Simba and explaining how to be king.  Simba is naive and mischevous with his lioness best friend Nala.  Scar gets into Simba’s ear and leads him into trouble.  Scar conspires with the hyenas to get rid of Mufasa & Simba, which is the only way he can be king.  The trap is set.   However, Simba survives.  Scar advises him to run, but then sends the hyenas to kill him.  Simba escapes and joins a meerkat named Timon and a warthog named Pumbaa who teach him a different way of carefree living and avoiding responsibility.  Simba keeps his status a secret.  Years pass and, while Pumbaa is tracking food, a lioness is after him….Simba races to the rescue and it’s Nala.  She informs what Scar has done to their home with the hyenas.  Another friend of Mufasa, the wise Rafiki (a mandril monkey) tracks him down and shows him the way.  Simba rushes home.  Rafiki informs Nala, Timon, & Pumbaa that he is returning and the rush to help him.  Arriving back, they see how horrible it is.  Simba challenges Scar, who is backed by the hyenas.  Scar tries to charge Simba with Mufasa’s death and eerily gets Simba into a similar position when Scar reveals his treachery.  Simba recovers and forces him to confess and the epic battle begins between Simba and Scar while the lionesses charge the hyenas.  Order is now restored and Simba takes his place as the lion king with Nala by his side.

Commentary – As stated, this is one of the best animated movies of all time.  Although, kid friendly, there are many adult themes to keep adults involved…particularly if you are a fan of animation.  There are veiled references to dark time periods in world history regarding of Scars attempt to become king and the depths of treachery he is willing to go to.  Children will not get the reference, but any adults who understand history will.  Disney will not let this film be on the market for much longer, so if you haven’t obtained a copy…get it now.  This is a film for your library and one you will enjoy watching time & again.

Trivia – Controversy surrounded the film as aspects were virtually identical to the Japanese anime show “Kimba, The White Lion”.  Disney officially claimed the similarities as coincidental.  Yoshihiru Shimizu rejected urges to sue Disney due to their company being small & weak and Disney having top lawyers and it wouldn’t be worth the expense.  There are rumors that Tezuka Productions were paid to not challenge Disney, but this is not confirmed.  Additionally, hyena biologists were upset with the portrayal of hyenas in the film and one actually sued Disney for “defamation of character” for the animals.

*** Just click the images to check out “The Lion King” at Amazon.com ***