Watching underrated movies 1
Joe Dante is one of those directors who has never quite satisfied me, but once or twice has filled me with sheer joy for whole minutes at a time - and if I am not going to be happy for a whole movie, I appreciate being a bit happy for some of it. 'Small Soldiers' is a film which has lots of sappiness and some huge plot holes - but it also has mutant barbies voiced by SM Geller and Christina Ricci, and its evil soldier toys are voiced by Tommy Lee Jones and Bruce Dern and various of the Dirty Dozen. That is not intertextuality - but it is at least a sort of respect. (The good, alien toys are Frank Langella, not a bad Dracula in his day, and Spinal Tap, gawd bless them.)
TLJ gets to do a parody of the in front of the flag speech in Patten that has just about every cliche in it from every war film you ever saw. 'Small Soldiers' needs to be shown in the present patriotic mood simply because it has a sense both of the ludicrousness and the horror of war.
I also love the bit when the toy commandos are firing flaming spit balls into the house and the hero's Mom backhands them out with her tennis racket, eventually scoring the flame thrower. One of the reasons why Joe Dante is so great is that he never forgets to let Moms be cool as well. And I love Kristin Dunst mowing down toy soldiers with a lawn mower even if I suspect that Dante swiped it from Brain Dead.
It is also a great movie for the game.
The game is something my friend Abigail and I worked out on bus journeys to amuse ourselves and annoy others. One person names a movie, the next person names a movie that has someone in common with the first movie, the next person names a movie which has someone in common with the second movie which is not the person that the second movie had with the first. You never name the persons - except when challenging - and you score from successful challenges and lose from unsuccessful ones.
Any movie which has Ernie Borgnine and Sara Michelle Gellar and the guy who plays the Doctor in Voyager - Picardo - is exactly the sort of film that helps one play the game...