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List of "W" Movies
Wag the Dog (1997) R comedy
This is a brilliant, if a bit tedious, political satire. A political adviser (Robert De Niro) and a film producer (Dustin Hoffman) stage a war to divert the media's attention from the president who recently molested a minor. The premise is daring, and this is a perfect movie for those who enjoy a good political satire. Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Anne Heche, Denis Leary, Willie Nelson, Andrea Martin, Kirstin Dunst, William H. Macy, Craig T. Nelson, Suzie Plakson, John Michael Higgins. Directed by: Barry Levinson.
Wait Until Dark (1967) NR thriller
Audrey Hepburn is in top form in this film. She stars as a blind woman who, unbeknownst to her, is in possession of a doll containing expensive drugs in it. Trios of criminals (led by Alan Arkin) concoct an elaborate con to get the doll from her. However, they greatly underestimate this not-so-helpless lady. This movie has a great set-up and an utterly spine-tingling conclusion. Be sure not to pass this by! Starring: Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Jack Weston, Samantha Jones, Julie Herrod. Directed by: Terrence Young.
Waiting For Guffman (1996) R comedy
Christopher Guest directed this funny mockumentary about a small town that puts on a musical theater production for their 150th anniversary. A goofy guy (Guest) heads the production, but he has a thing or two to learn about casting. This film won’t fail to produce smiles. Starring: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, Bob Balaban, Parker Posey, Lewis Arquette, Brian Doyle Murray, Matt Keeslar, Paul Benedict. Directed by: Christopher Guest.
Waking Life (2001) R drama
A bizarre, animated surreal piece finds an unnamed character traveling through a series of surreal episodes where he gets talked-to by a bunch of philosophical geeks. If lengthy, easy-to-become-lost-in philosophy discussions float your boat, then this film is highly recommended. Others, will undoubtedly get bored, and should probably see Herbie: Fully Loaded. The surreal aspect of the film was done nicely. The animation style of the film keeps changing, which lends it an increased dream-like effect. This is unique. Voices of: Wiley Wiggins, Lorelei Linklater, Trevor Jack Brooks, Glover Gill, Laura Hicks, Ames Asbell, Leigh Mahoney, Sara Nelson, Jeanine Attaway, Eric Grostic. Directed by: Richard Linklater.
Waking Ned Devine (1998) PG comedy
A great cast and an enjoyable script, and this movie is a blast. Ian Bannen and David Kelly star as two old Irish buddies who reside in a small village. Everyone in this town loves playing the lottery and when the title-character wins it, he literally dies with excitement. Lotto tickets must be claimed by the person who bought it, and when that person's dead with no living relatives or heirs, the ticket is not valid. So Kelley pretends that he's Ned Devine. Starring: Ian Bannen, David Kelley, Fionnula Flanagan, Susan Lynch, James Nesbitt, Maura O'Malley, Robert Hickey, Paddy Ward, James Ryland, Fintan McKeown, Matthew Devitt. Directed by: Kirk Jones.
A Walk in the Clouds (1995) PG-13 romance
Keanu Reeves gave an awful performance in this contrived romance as a kindhearted chocolate salesman who pretends to be the husband of a newly pregnant woman (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon). Her wine-making family is run by a staunch traditionalist (Giancarlo Giannini) who doesn’t take to their “secret marriage” too well. The script is dreadful but at least it was filmed nicely. Starring: Keanu Reeves, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Anthony Quinn, Giancarlo Giannini, Angelica Aragon, Evangelina Elizondo, Febronio Covarrubias, Ivory Ocean. Directed by: Alfonso Arau.
Walk the Line (2005) PG-13 drama
This is a thoroughly entertaining biopic about the legendary country musician Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) and his struggles with fame, drugs, his family and his obsession with June Carter (Reese Witherspoon). The film benefits from solid acting by the cast, good direction from James Mangold, and (naturally) great musical sequences. Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Patrick, Dallas Roberts. Directed by: James Mangold.
Walker (1987) R western
A weird art house film that exists in a space somewhere between brilliant and clumsy. I definitely enjoyed it, but this film is strictly reserved for that strange breed of cinephile who appreciate filmmakers who aggressively skirt convention. Billed as a "true story" (which is a lie), the film stars Ed Harris as William Walker, a pre-Civil War military-man who takes over the warring nation of Nicaragua for Cornelius Vanderbilt (Peter Boyle) who aspires to build a canal that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Nothing especially unusual about the story at first. However, the more Walker gets drunk on his power, the more surreal this film gets. Eventually modern objects start showing up on the set, such as Coke bottles, machine guns and helicopters. This all evidently alludes to then-president Ronald Reagan's modern intrusions into the country. Starring: Ed Harris, Richard Masur, Rene Auberjonis, Keith Szarabajka, Sy Richardson, Xander Berkeley, John Diehl, Peter Boyle, Marlee Matlin, Alfonso Arau, Pedro Armendariz Jr., Gerritt Graham, Joe Strummer. Directed by: Alex Cox.
Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) G comedy
This extremely charming and funny film features the movie debut of Wallace, a hare-brained inventor and his dog, Gromit. It is every bit as lovable as the original classic three half-hour stop-motion short cartoons made for the BBC. This adventure involves a giant rabbit that is terrorizing the neighborhood. Claymated to perfection by director Nick Park, the story line is exciting and full of twists, and the script is chock-full of funny jokes. This movie is easily one of the greatest films released in 2005. Voices of: Peter Sallis, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Peter Kay, Nicholas Smith, Liz Smith. Directed by: Nick Park.
The War of the Worlds (2005) PG-13 sci-fi
Tom Cruise stars in this action-packed update of Jules Verne’s science fiction classic. When Cruise, divorced and loser father of two (Dakota Fanning and Justin Chatwin), takes his kids for the weekend, strange things start happening in the city. Aliens (in these elaborate mechanical machines) spring from beneath the ground and start vaporizing everyone they see. Cruise takes his two kids and tries to reach safety. Director Spielberg does an utterly phenomenal job with this film; he captures an apocalypse beautifully. Starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin, Miranda Otto, Tim Robbins, Rick Gonzalez, Yul Vazquez, Lenny Venito, Lisa Ann Walter, Ann Robinson, Gene Barry. Directed by: Steven Spielberg.
WarGames (1983) PG thriller
This is a highly entertaining film about a nerd (Matthew Broderick) who mistakenly hacks into the military's computer, messes around with it and may have accidently triggered World War III. Even though the story is implausible, the actors and director do more than enough to make it suspenceful and quite fun. Starring: Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, John Wood, Ally Sheedy, Barry Corbin, Juanin Clay, Kent Williams, Dennis Lipscomb, Joe Dorsey, Irving Metzman, Michael Ensign. Directed by: John Badham.
The Waterboy (1998) PG-13 comedy
When it's all said and done, this is another incredibly stupid Adam Sandler comedy. However, what makes this film different from other Sandler outings is this one is pretty funny. Sandler is a stuttering Louisiana hillbilly who works for college football teams as the water boy. He takes his job extremely seriously, but the football players keep making fun of him. One day, Sandler releases all this built up anger and turns out to be a good tackler. Henry Winlker as the meek, mentally unstable football coach and Kathy Bates as Sandler's overprotective mother are, perhaps, this film's greatest asset. Starring: Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates, Henry Winkler, Fairuza Balk, Jerry Reed, Lawrence Gillard Jr., Blake Clark, Rob Schneider, Robert Kokol. Directed by: Frank Coraci.
The Way We Were (1973) PG romance
Schmaltzy, but I sure love it. This is one of the gold standards for romantic films. Part of the reason is I didn't know how this was going to turn out. Usually you can tell within the first 10 minutes with these movies. I also think the lack of obvious chemistry between Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford is a feature, not a bug. Some people complain about that. They aren't supposed to be too good for each other. They are a little bit right for each other, a little bit wrong. They decide to give it a try -- good for them. I also find the script smart, full of interesting quips and observations, particularly from Streisand, whose performance is consistently passionate and on-point. She's an outspoken FDR supporter and was a communist in college. He's a talented writer. She thinks he should write respectable novels. He wants to cash out and go to Hollywood. I will say my attention waned a bit in the second half when the focus started to shift to the Hollywood Blacklist. This story does meander quite a bit, but for the most part, I find this film terribly engaging. Starring: Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, Bradford Dillman, Lois Chiles, Patrick O'Neal, Viveca Lindfors, Allyn Ann McLerie. Directed by: Sydney Pollack.
Wayne's World (1992) PG-13 comedy
Mike Myers stars as Wayne, a teenager from Arora, Ill. who has his own cable access show. His unseparable buddy, Garth (Dana Carvey), is a shy weirdo. When an arcade company shows interest in picking up the show on a major network, they jump at the chance (because, you know, they'll start getting paid. But at what cost? This is unquestionably Mike Myers best film. The jokes are not only clever, but they produce more bellylaughs than the entire Austin Powers saga put together. Starring: Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Rob Lowe, Tia Carrere, Brian Doyle-Murray, Lara Flynn Boyle, Kurt Fuller, Colleen Camp, Donna Dixon, Meat Loaf, Alice Cooper. Directed by: Penelope Spheeris.
Wayne's World 2 (1993) PG-13 comedy
Mike Myers and Dana Carvey return in this lesser sequel. Here, Wayne receives a vision from Jim Morrison who tells him to stage a mammoth rock and roll concert event. A few of the scenes had me rolling (most notably the part involving Charlton Heston and the Graduate parody), but by and large, this doesn’t have nearly as many laughs as its predecessor. If you enjoyed the original, though, you should give it a whirl. Starring: Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Christopher Walken, Tia Carrere, Ralph Brown, Kim Basinger, Chris Farley, James Hong, Larry Sellers, Ed O'Neill, Olivia D’Abo, Kevin Pollak, Drew Barrymore, Michael A. Nickles, Tim Meadows, Aerosmith, Rip Taylor, Charlton Heston. Directed by: Stephen Surjik.
We Don't Live Here Anymore (2004) R drama
Two crappy couples (Mark Ruffalo and Laura Dern--Peter Krause and Naomi Watts) engage in affairs with each other. One of the affairs is out in the open and the other (between Watts and Ruffalo) is done in secrecy. It’s an interesting character study with a juicy plot. Despite the talent involved, the acting was rather weak. Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Laura Dern, Peter Krause, Naomi Watts, Sam Charles, Haili Page, Jennifer Bishop, Jennifer Mawhinney, Amber Rothwell, Meg Roe. Directed by: John Curran.
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) R horror
A psychological horror film. A woman named Eva (Tilda Swindon) didn't truly want to be a mother, always fancying herself a world traveler. Perhaps her reluctancy was justified, as her firstborn comes out behaving like Damien from The Omen. Except crueler and less supernatural. The film opens when he is a teenager and in prison. Clearly he had done something awful. She gets back to her house to see her front porch sopped with red paint. She spends much of the film trying to wash it off as she recollects events that brought her to that moment. The pacing of this film is slow, the focus drearily on her depression. Part of it is she knows Kevin is the manifestation of her worst tendencies. Her husband (John C. Reilly) always oblivious to any serious trouble with him. Even though he wears diapers until he is six, and he trashes his mother's office. Their second born, a daughter, is more like the father, sweet and overly trusting. Eva doesn't know how, but Kevin is responsible for permanently blinding his sister in one eye. This is really a tragic, heartbreaking film, even if the pacing could have stood a little punching up. Starring: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller, Jasper Newell, Ashley Gerasimovich, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Alex Manette. Directed by: Lynne Ramsay.
The Weatherman (2005) R comedy
This is a quirky film about a Chicago-area TV weather man (Nicolas Cage) who knows that he's miserable, but he has no idea what to do about it. The script provides many hearty laughs, but its attempts to be insightful doesn't produced the desired results. Nevertheless, this is a memorable film, and it is *very* funny. Cage, as always, is fantastic in the lead role and so is Hope Davis, who plays his frustrated ex-wife. Starring: Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine, Hope Davis, Michael Rispoli, Gil Bellows, Gemme De la Pena, Nicholas Hoult. Directed by: Gore Verbinski.
Wedding Crashers (2005) R comedy
Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn star in this silly comedy as a pair of juvenile adults who enjoy attending strangers’ weddings and scoring babes and free food. That all stops, however, when Wilson falls in love. … But, unfortunately, she’s engaged. This film provides a few funny moments (notably the football scene), but not enough to elevate this above the norm of these neo-Rat Pack comedies. Starring: Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Christopher Walken, Rachel McAdams, Isla Fisher, Jane Seymour, Ellen Albertini Dow, Keir O’Donnell, Bradley Cooper, Ron Canada, Henry Gibson, Dwight Yoakam, Rebecca De Mornay, David Conrad, Will Farrell. Directed by: David Dobkin.
The Wedding Date (2005) PG-13 comedy
The two leads in this romantic comedy might make a comely pair, but unfortunately they're trapped in a wretched little story. Debra Messing stars as Kat, typical upper middle-class protagonist, who is still reeling over being unceremoniously dumped by her ex Jeffrey (Jeremy Sheffield). Lacking anyone to accompany her to her sister Amy's (Amy Adams) London wedding, she hires a high-class male prostitute for $6,000. His name is Nick (Dermont Mulroney). Kat isn't interested in him sexually, or so she says -- she just wants her family to think she's emotionally recovered from that nasty break-up. Oh, and one small detail: her ex also happens to be the best man at the wedding. She wouldn't mind if he got a wee bit jealous over having snagged a man-hunk. Unless you're a gerbil, you already know how this film is going to end. But a bigger problem with this film is the characters. They any kind of personality. Nick behaves more like a bored business executive than a male prostitute, which squanders the most enticing part of this premise. Instead he is wise, but that shallow way, like all he does is quote those sentimental Hallmark cards with the cursive font. Kat at one time even calls him the Yoda of escorts. That's probably the film's funniest joke. A sordid plot development occurring in the third act is a mite unusual for this type of film, but it only comes off tacked on and doesn't get resolved. Of course the intended audience for this artless film are romantic comedy enthusiasts who want to live vicariously through the protagonist. Just that there's literally thousands of films out there more entertaining than this. Starring: Debra Messing, Dermot Mulroney, Amy Adams, Jeremy Sheffield, Dack Davenport, Sarah Parish. Directed by: Clare Kilner.
The Wedding Singer (1998) PG-13 romantic comedy
Adam Sander plays a wedding singer in the 1980s who badly wants to get married. However, because he is a wedding singer, his fiancee is worried that he won't turn out to be an adequate breadwinner, so she skips out on wedding day. This depresses Sandler to incredible ends. Meanwhile, Drew Barrymore waits to get married to a rich, egotistical snob while unwittingly becomes attached to the depressed Sandler. This is a sweet film, but it's only marginally funny and it's to syrupy by the end. Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Christine Taylor, Allen Convert, Angela Featherstone, Matthew Glave, Alexis Arquette, Frank Sivero, Christine Pickles, Ellen Albertini Dow, Jodi Thelen. Directed by: Frank Coraci.
Weird Science (1985) PG-13 comedy
John Hughes had an amusing premise and the beginning of this film is quite funny, but it gets far too corny by the end. A couple of dorks (Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith) program a subserviant supermodel-like babe (Kelly LeBrock) from their computer. There are enough good laughs to make this worthwhile, but only faithful Hughes fans won't feel disappointed in the end. Starring: Anthony Michael Hall, Kelly LeBrock, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Bill Paxton, Suzanne Snyder, Julie Aronson, Robert Downey, Jr., Robert Rusler, Anne Bernadette Coyle, Michael Cramer, Phillip Borsos. Directed by: John Hughes.
Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995) R comedy
This is a completely fascinating (and harshly realistic) film about a girl who doesn’t fit in. Heather Matarazzo stars as a sixth-grader who is dangerously humiliated and abused by her classmates. And, unfortunately for her, there is absolutely nothing she can do about it -- she’s at odds with all her authority figures including her teachers, principal and family. This is an utterly frightening film, but it’s heartwarming and funny. This won't be something you forget. Starring: Heather Matarazzo, Victoria Davis, Christina Brucato, Christina Vidal, Siri Howard, Brendon Sexton III, Telly Pontidis. Directed by: Todd Solondz.
We're Back: A Dinosaur's Story (1993) G animated
While not having a good plot nor very good songs, this film is an animated downer! The only remote possibility of redemption is merely within the minds' of children who love dinosaurs. I can't say that John Goodman, while spirited, doesn't display much voice talent here. The animation quality is fine, but stick with the more acclaimed stuff. Voices of: John Goodman, Charles Fleischer, Felicity Kendal, Rhea Perlman, Martin Short, Walter Cronkite, Julia Child, Kenneth Mars, Jay Leno. Directed by: Dick Zondag, Ralph Zondag, Phil Nibbelink and Simon Wells.
We're No Angels (1989) PG-13 comedy
This ho-hum comedy stars Robert De Niro and Sean Penn as partners in crime who manage to escape from prison and be mistaken as a pair of famous priests. Their ignorance in priesthood is the one-joke premise, and the only true appeal of the film comes from the two leads. Starring: Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Demi Moore, Hoyt Axton, Bruno Kirby, Ray McAnally, James Russo, Wallace Shawn, Jay Brazeau, Elizabeth Lawrence, John Reily. Directed by: Neil Jordan.
West Side Story (1961) NR musical
Adapted from the Broadway hit, this is a great musical! Natalie Wood stars as Maria, a Puerto Rican girl, whose brother is a member of a violent street gang called the Sharks. However, when she falls in love with a former member of the Sharks' rival gang, the Jets', they have to keep their romance dead quiet. The songs are exquisite and the acting is exceptional. Starring: Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, George Chakiris, Rita Moreno, Russ Tamblyn, Tucker Smith, David Winters, Tony Mordente, Simon Oakland, John Astin. Directed by: Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins.
West Side Story (2021) PG-13 musical
Bold to remake a film that's almost universally considered a masterpiece. But if anyone could do it, it'd be Steven Spielberg. Much of its success was simply sticking to good sense as not to mess a whole lot with the source material. The biggest change being a tastefully expanded role for Rita Moreno, whose character now sings the musical's climactic number "Somewhere." Spielberg also ends up righting a few of the wrongs from the 1961 version, including casting an actual Latinx actor as Maria (Rachel Zegler), who utterly mesmerizes in the role. Also unlike Natalie Wood, she actually sings for herself. The song and dance routines throughout are handled about as brilliantly as they could be. They are like the 1961 choreography but still different enough to give fans something new to look at. The visuals are handled stunningly -- the cinematography pops and the crumbling inner city set designs are wonderful to look at. Even on the small screen. The tragic story arc continues to reverberate strongly. (It's still based heavily on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.) Myself, being so familiar with the 1961 film and knowing its songs well enough to be able to quasi-confidently butcher them, I found watching this to be an exhilarating experience. Starring: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Rita Moreno, Brian d'Arcy James, Corey Stoll, Josh Andres, iris menas, Ana Isabelle, Andrea Burns. Directed by: Steven Spielberg.
Wet Hot American Summer (2001) R comedy
This spoof of sex comedies of the early '80s is beyond goofy and the ultra-self-aware style of humor isn't for everyone. Just a warning. It's the last day of summer in 1981 at Camp Firewood, leaving limited time for the counselors to hook up. Also, a couple of drama teachers prepare to put on the greatest talent show the camp has ever seen. Other than the bizarre humor (a highlight of the random insanity being a Vietnam Vet cook getting sage advice from a can of talking vegetables), the film is notable for its ensemble cast--many of whom weren't well-known at the time of release. Starring: Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Michael Showalter, Marguerite Moreau, Paul Rudd, Zak Orth, Christopher Meloni, A.D. Miles, Molly Shannon, Gideon Jacobs, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper. Directed by: David Wain.
What About Bob? (1991) PG comedy
Bill Murray stars as a lovable crazy man, the title character, who has more neurotic problems than he can count. When his psychologist Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss), an ego-ridden celebrity, announces that he is going on vacation for six weeks, Bob can't take it. He finds out, through mischievious means, where he lives, and he pays him a visit to his summer home. The Marvin family is so taken with Bob that they warmly invite him into their homes as guests, but Leo is abhorred with this and he tries very hard to get rid of him. This movie suffers from unfortunately run-of-the-mill direction from Frank Oz, but the script is hilarious and both Murray and Dreyfuss give some of the better performances of their career. I've unquestionably seen this film more than 50 times, and I make no excuse for it. Starring: Bill Murray, Richard Dreyfuss, Julie Hagerty, Charlie Korsmo, Kathryn Erbe, Tom Aldredge, Susal Willis, Roger Bowen, Fran Brill, Brian Reddy, Stuart Rudin, Cortez Nance Jr., Barbara Andres, Lori Tan Chinn, Doris Belack, Melinda Mullins. Directed by: Frank Oz.
What Women Want (2000) PG-13 romantic comedy
This thing ain't bad at all. Mel Gibson stars as an advertising executive with the reputation of being a coarse womanizer. However, one night while he's cross-dressing, he discovers that he can actually hear what women are thinking. This film is enjoyable with a good cast, a fun plot and a few hearty laughs. Gibson shines even though he is out of his element. Starring: Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt, Marisa Tomei, Alan Alda, Ashley Johnson, Mark Feuerstein, Lauren Holly, Delta Burke, Valerie Perrine, Judy Greer, Sarah Paulson, Ana Gasteyer, Lisa Edelstein, Loretta Devine. Directed by: Neil Jordan.
Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? (1999) R comedy
This is an enjoyable quirky British film about a late '70s teen (Michael Legge) with identity problems as he switches from loving disco to loving punk in mid-film mostly in pursuit of a girl (Laura Fraser). Meanwhile, his father (Tom Courtenay) rediscovers his telekinetic powers. It's basically a throwaway film but it has high entertainment value. Stephen Fry's performance as the professor (who delivers a hilariously frank sex ed talk to his youngest daughter) is not to be missed! Starring: Tom Courtenay, Michael Legge, Laura Fraser, Stephen Fry, Lulu, David Thewlis, Rosemary Leach, Amanda Root. Directed by: Peter Hewitt.
What’s Cooking? (2000) PG-13 comedy/drama
This is a shoddy film, and well suited for the Lifetime Network. What’s Cooking is a pretentious look into the domestic struggles of four families of different ethnic groups on Thanskgiving. For the most part, the acting is wooden, the character development is poor and the story is as cliched as a dark and stormy night. Groan. Starring: Alfre Woodard, Dennis Haysbert, Ann Weldon, Mercedes Ruehl, Victor Rivers, Kyra Sedgwick, Julianna Margulies, Joan Chen, Kristy Wu, Will Yun Lee, Estelle Harris. Directed by: Gurinder Chadha.
What's New Pussycat (1965) NR comedy
It's whacked, but this is quite an entertaining film and an early product of Woody Allen's wit. The plot is odd; a handsome playboy, Peter O'Toole, goes to Peter Sellers (a psychiatrist), with an unusual romantic problem: He is being chased by countless gorgeous women when he only wants to be faithful to one. In the meantime, the psychiatrist, who happens to be crazier than anybody, scurries throughout the movie wondering why he isn't getting any of the beautiful women. This is a great choice if you just want to watch something nuttier than a village idiot snacking on almonds under a chestnut tree. Starring: Peter Sellers, Peter O'Toole, Romy Schneider, Capucine, Paula Prentiss, Woody Allen, Ursula Andress. Directed by: Clive Donner.
What's Up Doc? (1971) G comedy
An old fashioned screwball comedy that caused me to laugh out loud dozens of times. Its only sin being that it came out 50 years too late for it to star Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. Nonetheless, Ryan O'Neal and Barbra Streisand are decent consolations. O'Neal stars as Dr. Howard Bannister, a stuffy musicologist who's traveling in San Francisco for a conference with his highly strung fiance Eunice (Madeline Kahn). Streisand is Judy, a misfit who spots Dr. Bannister and takes an immrfisyr liking to him. The feeling isn't mutual (at first, of course), but no matter what he does, he's not able to shake her. She even goes so far as to impersonate Eunice at a dinner, and her magnetic personality wins over several of his important colleagues. In the meantime, there is a mix-up at the hotel that involves four identical plaid suitcases. While some of this perhaps gets a bit little too over-the-top for my tastes, this is nonetheless a terrifically fun comedy. And even a decent romance. Starring: Ryan O'Neil, Barbra Streisand, Kenneth Mars, Austin Pendleton, Madeline Kahn, Sorrell Booke, Michael Murphy, Liam Dunn, John Hillerman, M. Emmet Walsh. Directed by: Peter Bogdanovitch.
What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966) NR comedy
The idea behind this film is clever, but the result didn't turn out to be terribly funny. Woody Allen took a 1965 Japanese James Bond clone and dubbed in completely new dialogue. He also incorporated a different story -- this being about the search for a top secret egg salad recipe. While I'd venture a guess to say this "recut" is more entertaining than the original, most of the rapid-fire one-liners here don't land at all. Many of them simply hinge on the novelty-factor of voice actors making characters on the screen say silly things or a character being renamed as "Wing Fat." (Not to mention some racist jokes that will make modern audiences cringe.) There are still a few laughs here, but not enough to make this worthwhile to anyone who isn't an Allen completist. Or a fan of the rock band The Lovin' Spoonful. (Without Allen's blessing, the studio padded out what would have been a 60-minute film with clips of the band playing some of their hits. Nice footage, but these scenes make no sense whatsoever in the context of the film.) Starring: Woody Allen, Tatsuya Mihashi, Mie Hama, Akiko Wakabayashi, Tadao Nakamaru. Directed by: Woody Allen.
When Tomorrow Comes (1939) NR comedy
Charles Boyer is a piano player who strikes an instant love connection with a waitress (Irene Dunne) he meets at a diner. He follows her to a union rally where she makes an impassioned plea for her fellow members to strike. And they do. In the meantime, just for fun, he has the idea to take her sailing. But mother nature gets in the way and brings forth a hurricane, stranding them along a washed out road. They find a local church to take shelter. While I wouldn't call this a fastinating romantic comedy, it's sweet and pleasant, and it contains a few unique plot elements and settings. It does a particularly fine job building tension in the final third--roughly where many films of this kind tend to fizzle out. All in all, while the film doesn't aim to be anything greater than a simple love story, it makes for an enjoyable, relaxing watch. Starring: Irene Dunne, Charles Boyer, Barbara O'Neil, Onslow Stevens, Nydia Westman, Nella Walker, Fritz Feld. Directed by: John M. Stahl.
Where Eagles Dare (1969) PG war
This is a Mission: Impossible of sorts. Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood star as Allied spies during WWII on a mission to let an American general out of a German base. It's full of exciting action, explosions, gunfire and whatnot making this the perfect movie for action-loving moviegoers. But just like a good Mission: Impossible movie, the plot is difficult to follow. Starring: Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, Mary Ure, Michael Hordern, Patrick Wymark, Robert Beatty, Anton Diffring, Donald Houston, William Squire, Brook Williams, Victor Beaumont. Directed by: Brian G. Hutton.
Where the Money Is (2000) PG-13 comedy
Paul Newman plays an elderly bank robber who fakes a serious stroke to stay out of the slammer. Then, a determined nurse (Linda Fiorentino) uncovers his disguise. But instead of turning him in, she decides that she doesn't have enough excitement in her life, so she plans a bank robbery. This is an enjoyable light-heated caper comedy if the script still needed work. Starring: Paul Newman, Linda Fiorentino, Dermot Mulroney, Susan Barnes, Anne Pitoniak, Bruce MacVite, Irma St. Paul, Michael Perron. Directed by: Marek Kanievska.
Where the Spies Are (1965) NR spy
This well-made spy film stars David Niven as a doctor who is drawn into the spy business, and he goes out on his first mission. This is an obvious James Bond clone, but it is done differently and, surprisingly, with a bit more class. Starring: David Niven, Franeoise Dorleac, John Le Mesurier, Cyril Cusack, Eric Pohlmann, Reginald Beckwith. Directed by: Val Guest.
Whisper of the Heart (1995) G animation
This is an utterly enchanting anime film about a young girl who is nearing graduation, and she needs a bit of direction in her life. On her way home, she follows a cat to an antique shop. It's no surprise that this script was written by Hiyao Miyazaki even though this is by no means as adventurous as any of the films he directed. This is a rewarding film to be cherished. Voices of: David Gallagher, Brittany Snow, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Cary Elwes. Directed by: Yoshifumi Kondo.
White Chicks (2004) PG-13 comedy
This comedy starts out aggressively unfunny, and then it just grows dull. Marlan and Shawn Wayans star as FBI agents who are given the unenviable task of "babysitting" two highly strung socialites who are targets of a kidnapping plot. But when the socialites get superficial wounds and decide to bow out of a high-profile social event, the FBI agents decide to attend in their place -- disguised as them. Of course the joke being that these are two black men disguised as white women. And they don't look so much like women as drag versions of that villain from Raiders of the Lost Ark -- right at the end of that film before his face starts to melt off. How they not only fool the characters in this film that they are women, but they are famous women it's anybody's guess. (Mine is: Botched plastic surgeries are a common thing?) There's nothing especially wrong with the premise. It has an absurdist quality, and it's nearly impossible to look away from the screen like it's nearly impossible to look away from a car wreck. However, the jokes, which center around race-centric comedy, hits almost exclusively dead-notes. And then the one normal subplot, involving one of them having a falling-out with his wife, is far too generic to be interesting. Starring: Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans, James King, Frankie Faision, Lochlyn Munro, John Heard, Busy Philipps, Frankie R. Faison, Terry Crews, Brittany Daniel. Directed by: Keenen Ivory Wayans.
White Hunter, Black Heart (1990) PG drama
Clint Eastwood plays American film director John Ford while he's filming The African Queen. But he'd rather go elephant hunting. It's a fictional account, and Eastwood is kind of refreshing playing against his typecast, but this film only comes off as mediocre. This is a perfectly good time-passer, however. Starring: Clint Eastwood, Jeff Fahey, Charlotte Cornwell, Norman Lumsden, George Dzundza, Edward Tudor Pole, Roddy Maude-Roxby, Richard Warwick. Directed by: Clint Eastwood.
White Oleander (2002) PG-13 drama
This is a pretentious film, but it is kept from becoming groan inducing by excellent performances by a top-rate cast. It's about a girl (Alison Lohman) whose mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) is sent to prison for murder. She doesn’t have much luck retaining her multiple foster parents, and she struggles to find her own identity. The story, from a cheap-o Oprah Book Club novel, sucks, but the cast overcame it. Starring: Alison Lohman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robin Wright Penn, Renee Zellweger, Billy Connolly, Svetlana Efremova, Patrick Fugit, Cole Hauser, Noah Wyle, Amy Aquino, John Billingsley, Kali Rocha. Directed by: Peter Kosminsky.
White Squall (1996) PG-13 drama
Certainly, this was a film that needed to be made, but the script was lacking. Jeff Bridges stars as the captain of the ill-fated Albatross, a boat that also functions as a prep school. Director Ridley Scott dearly wanted to make this film moving, but he was only going through the motions. This film is merely passable entertainment. Starring: Jeff Bridges, Caroline Goodall, John Savage, Scott Wolf, Jeremy Sisto, Ryan Phillippe, Balthazar Getty, Emily Chittell, Nynne Christiansen, Anja Clausen, Jordan Scott, Charlotte Anderson, Camilla Overbye Roos. Directed by: Ridley Scott.
Who Am I? (1998) PG-13 martial arts
Jackie Chan stars in this mild martial-arts flick as a CIA-like agent with amnesia. He goes through the movie trying to figure out who he is (hence the title) and why strange men are chasing after him. The mediocre script and the martial arts are not as wonderful as other Chan outings, but the fans should enjoy this nonetheless. Starring: Jackie Chan, Michelle Ferre, Mirai Yamamoto, Ron Smerczak, Ed Nelson, Tom Pompert, Yannick Mbali, Washington Sixolo. Directed by: Benny Chan and Jackie Chan.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) PG comedy
This technically marvelous blend of cartoons and live action follows the exploits of Roger Rabbit, cartoon star, who learns that his cartoon wife is fooling around with a cartoon producer. The Rabbit hysterically disappears one night in a highly enraged mood. The morning after, Acme's death has been reported who died because he fell victim to a falling piano. Washed up private detective Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) becomes mixed up in this fiasco when the accused rabbit comes to his office saying that he didn't do it. Valiant reluctantly decides to help this rabbit by investigating into his subject but finds a villainous plot that will wipe all toons off the planet instead. This movie is highly entertaining and clever. Starring: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy, Stubby Kaye. Voices of: Charles Fleischer, Lou Hirsh, Mel Blanc, Mae Questel, Tony Anselmo. Directed by: Robert Zemekis.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) NR drama
Stunning, even in the opening sequences when Martha (Elizabeth Taylor) demands her husband George (Richard Burton) tell her which Bette Davis film the phrase "What a dump!" comes from. He has no idea, but she insists he must know. It's 2 a.m. and they are inebriated -- having just come back from a party. He's a professor in history, and she's the daughter of the university president. Martha is vulgar and does anything she can think of to provoke George, who is cold-hearted and passive aggressive. George is ready for bed, but Martha reveals that she invited two younger people over for drinks, which he can hardly believe. They are Nick (George Segal) and his wife Honey (Sandy Dennis). George and Martha do not tone down their bickering for the guests, who are at first uncomfortable, but with a few stiff drinks, they become participants. The film's critical moment occurs when Martha talks about her son, which provokes intense ire from George. Ergo, the great mystery -- Why should this upset George? This drama is as brilliantly written as it is performed -- I intently hang onto every word of dialogue just as much as I'm on the edge-of-my seat with the greatest thrillers. It's not uncommon to run across films that entertain, which this does remarkably despite the limited cast and settings. But this film goes well beyond that and causes me to reevaluate certain characteristics of the human psyche. Indeed, chalk this up as one of cinema's finest masterpieces. Starring: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis.Directed by: Mike Nichols
Who's Harry Crumb? (1989) PG comedy
This is a stupid comedy about an inept private detective (John Candy) who investigates a kidnapping while not really knowing what to do. Apparently, the producers and the director were shooting for a Pink Panther clone, but it sucks. This was a considerable waste of the cast. Starring: John Candy, Jeffrey Jones, Annie Potts, Tim Thomerson, Barry Corbin, Shawnee Smith, Valri Bromfield, Doug Steckler, Renee Coleman, Wesley Mann, Tamsin Kelsey. Directed by: Paul Flaherty.
The Whole Nine Yards (1999) R comedy
Matthew Perry stars as a dentist who discovers that an infamous hit man (Bruce Willis) just moved next door. Perry's slutty wife, who wants to knock off Perry for the million-dollar insurance policy, blackmails him to go to Chicago to rat on Willis to the bad guys. After that, Perry gets stuck between a dirty mafia war. Perry is a hoot in this film. Starring: Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Roseanna Arquette, Michael Clarke Duncan, Natasha Henstridge, Amanda Peet, Kevin Pollack, Harland Williams, Carmen Ferlan, Serge Chrisianssens, Renee Madeliaine Le Guerrier, Jean-Guy Bouchard, Howard Bilerman. Directed by: Jonathan Lynn.
Wicker Park (2004) PG-13 romance/drama
This is a movie that is interesting only in the way the story unfolds. The story itself might not be too fascinating … it just takes us until the very end before we’re totally aware of what went on. Even though this film might be plagued with mediocre dialogue, so-so acting, and general implausibility, it’ll keep you glued. For that, I can do nothing else but mildly recommend it. Starring: Josh Hartnett, Matthew Lillard, Diane Kruger, Rose Byrne, Jessica Pare. Directed by: Paul McGuigan.
The Wild (2006) PG animated
Disney combines elements of Madagascar (to the point of plagiarism) with Finding Nemo and The Lion King to make quite a horrible concoction. This film is about a young zoo lion who hasn't found his roar. Frustrated, he goes on a ship and heads for the wild. His father, who is known to spin yarn about his adventures in the wild, runs after him with the company of a snake, squirrel and a giraffe. The visual work is amazing, but the script is so unbelievably poor that this could be the worst CGI movie to date. If Walt Disney weren’t dead, he'd want to be. Voices of: Kiefer Sutherland, Jim Belushi, Eddie Izzard, Janeane Garofalo, William Shatner, Richard Kind, Greg Cipes, Joshua Keaton, Jack DeSena. Directed by: Steve "Spaz" Williams.
Wild at Heart (1990) R comedy
Over-the-top violence, sex and weirdness headlines this comedy starring Nicolas Cage as a paroled inmate who rekindles his relationship with his loving girlfriend (Laura Dern). The actors are all great in their roles, and the film does contain a few very good laughs. Lynch fans will surely be delighted, but for others, this is a tough pill to swallow. This is rather hard to sit through at times. Starring: Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern, Diane Ladd, Willem Dafoe, Isabella Rossellini, Harry Dean Stanton, Crispin Glover, Grace Zabriskie, J.E. Freeman, Calvin Lockhart, David Patrick Kelly. Directed by: David Lynch.
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (2005) G documentary
This documentary focuses on a man who befriended a flock of parrots in San Francisco. These parrots mostly consist of escaped or abandon pets, but they can still thrive well in the area. Since the parrots are not natives, this man becomes not only their friends but a kind of scientist since the academic community ignores their existence. It's a good watch. Directed by: Judy Irving.
Wild Wild West (1999) PG-13 comedy
The retro-futuristic set designs are often inventive, but that doesn't save this film from an almost nonexistent narrative. At least the casting choices are fine -- Will Smith is Jim West, a roguish Army Captain, and Kevin Kline is Artemus Gordon, a nearly-mad scientist. (West is too much in the good graces of government to be all-out rogue, and Gordon isn't all-out mad because he invents too many things that work.) They are on the hunt for Dr. Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh) who they think is responsible for decapitating some of the country's finest scientists. Branagh may be the only decent thing about this film, playing a campy villain who is missing the lower half of his body. At least that's memorable. But that's small consolation for an otherwise deeply disappointing film -- coming just as Smith was at the peak of his charisma and Kline being such a reliably wonderful actor. It's all a big mess -- millions invested in big sets, special effects, and stylish costumes -- but no reason to care about what they're showing me. The characters spend lots of time fiddling with nifty gizmos but there's absolutely nothing invested developing their character. The supposed comedy is also entirely devoid of laughs or anything whatsoever to connect with an audience. It's all in the end just an expensive assault on my senses. Starring: Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, Salma Hayek, Ted Levine, M. Emmet Walsh, Frederique Van Der Wal, Musetta Vander, Bai Ling, Sofia Eng. Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) PG fantasy
This is a wonderfully imaginative tale about a world-famous candy maker, Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder), putting a golden ticket in five of his candy bars. Whoever is lucky enough to receive a golden ticket gets to tour his never-before-seen-by-the-public factory. Charlie, an extremely poor but good-natured boy, had fate on his side and landed one of these tickets. This is classic family entertainment, and Wilder is classic as Wonka. Starring: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Michael Bollner, Ursula Reit, Denise Nickerson, Leonard Stone, Julie Dawn Cole, Roy Kinnear, Paris Themmen, Dodo Denney. Directed by: Mel Stuart.
Wimbeldon (2004) PG-13 comedy
The plot, script and characters are paper thin, but this is a winning and engaging romantic comedy about a nearly retired tennis player (Paul Bettany) unexpectedly rising to superstar status thanks to inspiration from a budding new champ (Kirstin Dunst). Unfortunately, his return-to-form comes at the expense of distracting Dunst from playing to her potential. It's pleasant and worth a look to romantic comedy fans. Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Paul Bettany, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Jon Favreau, Sam Neill, Austin Nichols. Directed by: Richard Loncraine.
The Wind and the Lion (1975) PG adventure
There's plenty to like about this adventure/war film, but it comes up considerably short of being a profound experience. I enjoy watching it though, particularly as I would say I'm into heavily embellished historical non-fiction with dashes of politics thrown in. Not that I can blame this movie for how it turned out -- this is tricky material, reminiscent of Lawrence of Arabia in its depiction of a flawed hero. Lawrence of Arabia itself was a minor miracle, so this film still coming off entertaining and competent is also pretty impressive. Lawrence of course was working on behalf of the British Empire, and the "hero" of this film is considered a terrorist by that same contingency. Sean Connery plays Raisuli, leader of a group of Moroccan insurrectionists who U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (Brian Keith) unceremoniously dubs the last of the Barbary pirates. Raisuli opposes the sultanship of the European-supported Abdelaziz. He kidnaps an American widow Eden Pedecaris (Candice Bergen) and her children and demands an outrageous ransom in hopes of starting a civil war. Had the film focused more deeply on the relationship between Raisuli and Pedecaris, this could have been a deeply engaging character drama, as these two characters have plenty to learn from one another. Instead lots of time is spent on the battle scenes, which are nicely staged but are too long and starts to get tedious. Nonetheless, the performances are excellent, even though Connery as a Sharif is obviously politically incorrect casting. Starring: Sean Connery, Candice Bergen, Brian Keith, John Huston, Geoffrey Lewis, Steve Kanally. Directed by: John Millus.
Wings of the Dove (1997) R drama
This is a highly literate but very boring film that stars Helena Bonham Carter as an envious woman who is desperate to achieve wealth. It was a respectable cinematic undertaking, but the result is dully plotted and forgettable. Adapted from a Henry James novel. Starring: Helena Bonham Carter, Linus Roache, Allison Elliott, Elizabeth McGovern, Charlotte Rampling, Alex Jennings, Michael Gambon. Directed by: Iain Softley.
Winter Passing (2004) R drama
This is a fairly engaging drama about a struggling and depressed actress (Zooey Deschanel) who mulls over selling love letters from her deceased mother (a celebrated novelist) to a publishing company. They're at the home of her father (Ed Harris), another celebrated novelist, who is in ill health. The script might be too contrived at times and the pacing is too slow, but this is mildly recommendable to indie-flick fans. Starring: Ed Harris, Zooey Dreschanel, Will Ferrell, Amelia Warner, Amy Madigan, Dallas Roberts, Robert Beitzel, Deirdre O'Connell, Rachel Dratch. Directed by: Adam Rapp.
The Witches of Eastwick (1987) R comedy
The premise is amazing. Three women (Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer and Cher) living in Rhode Island lead unfulfilled lives. Mainly because their husbands left them -- whether they got divorced, were abandoned, or died. These women are also unaware that they are witches, and they inadvertently conjure a man they believe would fulfill their every carnal desire. It comes in the form of Jack Nicholson. (Not who I would have guessed, but let's roll with it.) It's never stated as such, but Nicholson's character is pretty obviously Beelzebub himself. While this film is certainly more sophisticated than the majority of fantasy films out there about witches, it bugs me that these women show little effort in making the connection that they're the source the paranormal events that seemed to suddenly start occurring in town. At best, they're just vaguely aware of it. At one point there's a tennis match, and the ball seems to defy gravity -- cartoonishly zipping around any which way. Wouldn't that cause you stop for a bit and ask "What the heck was up with that?" Anyway, the magic itself isn't really the point of this fairy tale. It's about unlocking one's self-worth and independence. And even more than that, the prime reason to watch this is Jack Nicholson, who really lets loose (which is saying something), often seen red-faced and writing uncontrollably. Veronica Cartwright is also dementedly intense as a "godly" woman who tries desperately to convince her neighbors that there are witches among them. Starring: Jack Nicholson, Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon, Veronica Cartwright, Richard Jenkins, Keith Jochim, Harriet Medin, James T. Boyle. Directed by: George Miller.
Without Limits (1998) PG-13 drama
This sports drama chronicles the rise and fall of track star Steve Prefontaine (Billy Crudup). The film begins with his acceptance to the University of Oregon, his bonding with his coach (Donald Sutherland), his victory at the NCAA champions (despite being horribly injured) and the 1972 Munich Olympics. Believable melodramatics makes this film engaging. Crudup is excellent in his role. Starring: Billy Crudup, Donald Sutherland, Monica Potter, Jeremy Sisto, Matthew Lillard, Billy Burke, Dean Norris, Gabriel Olds, Judith Ivey. Directed by: Robert Towne.
Witness for the Prosecution (1957) NR mystery
Agatha Christie’s acclaimed stageplay is brought to the big screen by Billy Wilder who lends the film its edge of intrigue. This is an excellent film that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. Moreso, the acting by the entire cast is top-notch. This is a true mystery classic. Starring: Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester, John Wiliams, Henry Daniell, Ian Wolfe, Thorin Thatcher, Norma Varden. Directed by: Billy Wilder.
The Wizard of Oz (1939) NR fantasy
This 1939 classic gained immense popularity and still stands its ground strong. Adapted from the classic book from Frank Baum, this is an exceptional fantasy about a farm girl (Judy Garland) from Kansas who finds herself transported to the magical but slightly evil land of Oz. Will she ever make it back to Kansas? Starring: Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Frank Morgan, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charley Grapewin, Clara Blandwick. Directed by: Victor Fleming.
The Woman in the Window (2021) R thriller
Anna (Amy Adams) is an agoraphobic alcoholic who also takes a plethora of anti-psychotic medication. She had also taken lately to spying on her neighbors, taking particular interest in a new family that moved next door -- the Russells, who consist of a couple and a 15-year-old boy. She meets the lady of the house, Jane (Julianne Moore), and they strike a quick kinship. But pretty soon, Anna looks out her window to see Jane being stabbed to death. She reports this to the police, but they don't believe her, simply on account of Jane being alive and well. Except, the woman they are calling Jane (Jennifer Jason Leigh) isn't the same person Anna had been talking to all this time. Even though this movie borrows elements from other, much better films, this nonetheless turns out to be an effective psychological thriller. The story keeps me on my toes, trying to guess which parts are real and why the behavior of certain characters seem to change suddenly. Adams perhaps could have played her character a little darker -- her sweet disposition didn't ring very true to me. I was also let down by the ending. But all in all, count this as a decent schlocky thriller for an evening in. Starring: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, Fred Hechinger, Wyatt Russell, Brian Tyree Henry, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Julianne Moore. Directed by: Joe Wright.
Woman of the Year (1942) NR romance
I rarely sense heat in romance films. At least quite like the way I feel it when Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy are out to dinner small talking in a secluded booth. They are talking slower and slower, silencing themselves into almost a whisper, their faces getting closer and closer. If that isn't the most intense romantic scene ever caught on celluloid, then I don't know what is -- they don't even kiss. Part of their secret is they aren't acting, having actually fallen in love on the set. This is their first of nine films together, and it's quite the start. It's kept consistently entertaining thanks in a big part to dialogue that abounds with funny little lines. (Except for a scene that makes me cringe where Tracy describes a man's turban as a towel.) Hepburn embodies a remarkably strong woman in Tess Harding, a politics columnist at a New York City newspaper. During a radio interview, she comments that baseball ought to be suspended indefinitely during the war effort, which gets the goat of the newspaper's sports columnist, Sam Craig (Tracy). He makes her the subject of his next article, even though he never met her, and she responds in kind. The editor, not wanting further exchanges, calls them together to kiss and make up. And they do -- literally. Sam invites Tess to a baseball game, where he tries to explain the sport to her. Tess invites Sam to her parties where he has to endure her speaking to guests in their native tongue -- she knows so many languages it's probably easier to count the languages she doesn't know. While this is a fantastic film, the ending is a disappointment, seemingly betraying everything the film was building up towards. Turns out the studio forced a different conclusion so as to not offend the sensibilities of the era's men and their everyday housewives. Starring: Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Fay Bainter, Reginald Owen, Minor Watson, William Bendix, Gladys Blake, Dan Tobin, Roscoe Karns. Directed by: George Stevens.
Women in Love (1969) R drama
This plot-heavy Ken Russell film is his most celebrated and, thanks to a nude male wrestling scene, highly controversial upon release. Russell's weird and distinct style is evident throughout this highly memorable effort. Glenda Jackson deservedly won an Academy Award for her earthly performance as a carefree artist. This is a good movie although the pacing is a bit rocky. Starring: Alan Bates, Oliver Reed, Glenda Jackson, Jennie Linden, Eleanor Bron, Alan Webb, Vladek Sheybal, Catherine Willmer. Directed by: Ken Russell.
Wonder Boys (2000) R comedy
Michael Douglas gives a pretty good performance as a famed writer-in-a-rut who undergoes a series of adventures with a gifted and remarkably eccentric budding novelist (Tobey Maguire). The story is wonderfully quirky and director Curtis Hanson does a marvelous job developing the characters. Starring: Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Frances McDormand, Robert Downey, Jr., Katie Holmes, Richard Thomas, Rip Torn, Philip Bosco, Jane Adams, Richard Knox. Directed by: Curtis Hanson.
Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) PG-13 action
I usually prefer superhero films that take breaks every once in a while from non-stop action so that it can focus on ample character and story development. However in this case, the breaks are so dull and long-winded and the character development is so middling that I'm mentally checked out by the time the inevitable action scenes come around. The story begins 70 years after the events of the first film. Diana (Gal Gadot) is secretly schlepping around saving days as Wonder Woman. Her day job, however, is with the Smithsonian. Her colleague is nebbish gemologist Barbara (Kristen Wiig) who is so enamored with the way Diana carries herself that she secretly wishes to become her. That wish inadvertently comes true when she makes it while holding a rock known as the Dreamstone. Diana also makes an inadvertent wish of her own for her long-gone old beau Steve (Chris Pine) to come back to her. In addition to the ho-hum story, the other huge problem with the film is the lack of interesting villains. They're just two people who already had hearts of golds who didn't need Wonder Woman to set them straight as much as getting a gentle reminder of how to be a good citizen from an episode of Mister Roger's Neighborhood. Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen. Directed by: Patty Jenkins.
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962) G fantasy
This film is a misfire, especially to anyone hoping for an equivalently inspired retread of the 1958 film Tom Thumb (Russ Tamblyn even reprises that role here). This nonetheless certainly has worthwhile elements to it. The film opens as the Grimm Brothers (Laurence Harvey, Karlheinz Bohm) are sitting side by side at desks writing in the grand palace of an unnamed Duke. They were hired to chronicle the Duke's history, but they were caught goofing off -- transcribing local fairy tales instead. Fairy tales don't pay the bills, or at least not so far. Yet, they have the insatiable appetite to collect them. One brother even gives all his bread money to a woman in exchange for a fascinating tale she knows about a character named Rumpelstiltskin. The Brothers' real-life struggles are the glue that holds together the film as fantasy sequences -- their stories -- are played out on screen. My complaint about this "glue" is just that it's so dreadfully flat sometimes. Two of the fantasy sequences aren't terribly spectacular, either. We get the "Dancing Princess" and "The Cobbler and the Elves," which are fine but nothing remarkable. I would even note that the songs in "The Cobbler and the Elves" are quite substandard, unfortunately. I do love the stop-motion animation, at least. There's one part of the film I do love tremendously, however, a sequence called "The Singing Bone" that stars Terry-Thomas and Buddy Hackett. They are in top comic form. Terry-Thomas is a cowardly knight who travels to a cave where he plans to kill a dragon. But he makes his squire (Hackett) do much of the dirty and dangerous work. Their whole skit made me laugh like I was six years old again, especially when Terry Thomas was knelt over and the dragon stared at his butt for a bit and licked its lips. A delectable meal. And that stop-motion dragon, bedazzled in jewels, looks phenomenal. This film is definitely reserved for genre mega-fans, but I at least had some fun with it. Starring: Laurence Harvey, Karlheinz Bohm, Claire Bloom, Walter Slezak, Barbara Eden, Yvette Mimieux, Russ Tamblyn, Jim Backus, Beulah Bondi, Terry-Thomas, Buddy Hackett. Directed by: Henry Levin, George Pal.
Won't You Be My Neighbor (2018) PG-13 documentary
Fred Rogers was not just a hokey children's television show host. He helped millions of children realize their own inner-worth. This documentary chronicles his fascinating career -- from a Presbyterian minister to getting that radical idea that television could be used to help children navigate through their tough early years. His passion for the show and with the development of children was genuine and he even divulged his secret in this documentary: He treated children like people. Through the course of this documentary, we get to hear from those closest to Rogers in life, including his wife Joanne, his sons, and his producers and co-stars of his show. We also hear from Rogers himself through archival interviews. One interesting point brought up was Rogers' stance on LGBTQ+ individuals. While it is acknowledged that he could have done more directly for the community (doing so might have been too radial for the time), this film nonetheless argues that absolutely no one is excluded from his maxim "I like you as you are." Rogers' message was such a powerful one that I even found myself tearing up at times through the course of watching this brilliant documentary. Directed by: Morgan Neville.
The Woodsman (2003) R drama
This is a downer but an effective drama nevertheless. Kevin Bacon gives a solid performance as a convicted child molester who was just given parole. He tries to fit back into society, and he not only has to battle his old habits but a parole officer (Mos Def) who doesn't think he deserved release. His co-workers also discover his sex offender status, which doesn't help his own perceived self-inadequacy. This is a memorable and hard-hitting film, but it's not for all audiences. Starring: Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Eve, Mos Def, David Alan Grier, Benjamin Bratt, Michael Shannon, Hannah Pilkes, Carlos Leon, Gina Philips. Directed by: Nicole Kassell.
Word Wars (2004) NR documentary
This is a fascinating documentary about people who have devoted their lives to compete in a national Scrabble tournament. Most of them are quite poor and their only source of income is the hope of winning the grand prize. You'll be surprised at what it takes to excel at Scrabble! Directed by: Julian Petrillo and Eric Chaikin.
Working Girl (1988) R comedy
This is an entertaining comedy overall, but it's not remarkable by any means. It stars Melanie Griffith as a secretary who gives her boss, Sigourney Weaver, a great business idea. When Weaver breaks her leg skiing, Griffith is asked to take over for a while. However, Griffith soon finds out Weaver was trying to pass this idea as her own. Griffith, steamed, brings this idea to the big boys herself. Along the way, she meets and romances with hot shot Harrison Ford. Starring: Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver, Alec Baldwin, Joan Cusack, Philip Bosco, Nora Dunn, Oliver Platt, James Lally, Kevin Spacey, Robert Easton, Olympia Dukakis. Directed by: Mike Nichols.
The World is Not Enough (1999) PG-13 spy
This James Bond installment is an utter disappointment. Bond (Pierce Brosnan) must track down a highly dangerous dude with a nuclear warhead. He is very difficult to be stopped, however, because he cannot feel pain. Of course, Bond still kicks everyone's backside and gets all the babes. The plot is not followable, and it turns out to be a 007 yawn-fest. This is probably the worst of the Brosnan era. Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Denise Richards, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle, Robbie Coltrane, Judi Dench, John Cleese, Desmond Llewelyn, Samatha Bond, Serena Scott Thomas. Directed by: Michael Apted.
The World of Henry Orient (1964) NR comedy
This was released at the same time Peter Sellers gained immense popularity from The Pink Panther. This is a much lesser known but still notable comedy about a young teenage girl falls in love with an obscure avant-garde pianist, the title character (Peter Sellers). She and her buddy start stalking him. Orient, who often engages in affairs with married women, suspects that the stalkers are spies. This is quite an entertaining film, and it's certainly worth scouting out. Starring: Peter Sellers, Paula Prentiss, Tippy Walket, Merrie Spaeth, Angela Lansbury, Tom Bosley, Phyllis Thaxter, Bibi Osterwald, Peter Duchin, John Fiedler, Al Lewis, Fred Stewart. Directed by: George Roy Hill.
The World’s Fastest Indian (2005) PG-13 drama
Anthony Hopkins is absolutely charming in this film as a New Zealander who was dead determined to race his Indian (a small motorcycle) in the salt flats of Utah. It's based on a true story, but the seemed clunky at times. That doesn't matter, because this is a one-man show for Hopkins, and he nails it. Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Diane Ladd, Paul Rodriguez, Aaron Murphy, Annie White, Chris Bruno, Carlos Lacamara. Directed by: Roger Donaldson.
The World's Greatest Lover (1977) PG comedy
Gene Wilder directs this Mel Brooks style spoof, and he stars as a dreamer who to Hollywood to make become a star during the silent era with his wife (Carol Kane). But she ends up running away with film legend Rudolph Valentino. The rapid-fire jokes are recklessly hit-or-miss, but the jokes that miss are sigh-inducingly lame. Dom DeLuise turns in a funny performance as the frustrated producer. This is an oft-overlooked film that should certainly be seen by anyone claiming to be a die hard Brooks fan. Wilder, after all, was Young Frankenstein. Starring: Gene Wilder, Carol Kane, Dom DeLuise, Fritz Feld, Cousin Beddy, Hannah Dean, Candy Azzara, Carl Ballantine, Matt Collins, Lou Cutell, James Gleason, Ronny Graham. Directed by: Gene Wilder.
The Wrong Man (1956) NR drama
This is the true story of a man (Henry Fonda) who is mistaken as a robber and sent to jail. It's both an interesting and an engaging film done by the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, even though there really isn't much suspense in here. Hitchcock was a man incredibly fascinated with mistaken identities throughout his career, and it really shows here. Starring: Henry Fonda, Vera Miles, Anthony Quayle, Harold J. Stone, Esther Mincotti, Charles Cooper, Nehemiah Persoff, Laurinda Barrett, Norma Connolly, Doreen Lang. Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock.
Wrongfully Accused (1998) PG-13 comedy
This bona fide stink bomb attempts another Naked Gun clone, but it falls totally flat. It makes the most effort to spoof "The Fugitive," but other films such as "Titanic," "North By Northwest," "Casablanca," "Field of Dreams," "Braveheart" and "Mission: Impossible" aren't safe, either. This film has the joke-per-second formula, but it's amazing that it cannot produce a single chuckle. The only way somebody will laugh watching this flick is if they're thinking about something else. Starring: Leslie Nielsen, Kelly LeBrock, Michael York, Richard Crenna, Sandra Bernhard, Gerald Plunkett, Aaron Pearl, Melina McGraw. Directed by: Pat Proft.
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