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Back to School 1986

To help his discouraged son get through college, a funloving and obnoxious rich businessman decides to enter the school as a student himself...

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Imdb rating: 6.5

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Fun fun movie-watching this week :-)

* The Good Girl: Well when this first came out I didn't want to see it and I didn't want to see it very much this time either but the lure of a movie night with my friends drew me in and I confess I'm glad. This is a surprisingly funny movie, I actually laughed out loud. Jennifer Aniston did a really good job in the role, making us laugh even as our hearts break for the roads her character chooses.

* Hatari:Yet another great John Wayne movie that is loads of fun. This movie's only goal is to leisurely chronicle one season in the lives of adventurers who capture animals for the zoo and circus trade. I completely dug the interlocking love interests as well as the relaxed good-natured mood of the movie. The chemistry of the ensemble cast is bewitching, particularly watching John Wayne fall reluctantly in love in a movie yet again.

*Orchestra Wives: One of the quirkier aspects of my childhood was my love of the music of the Big Band era. My favorite was Glenn Miller's orchestra and many a night I went to sleep on their notes dreaming of dancing with some handsome blade. As a wee one infatuated with the era I learned that Glenn Miller and his entire band appeared in two movies Orchestra Wives and Sun Valley Serenade. Being an aspiring movie geek I made it a goal to see both of them only I could not find either! You might imagine my joy when 10+ years after the forming of my goal I finally got to see one but I must confess that though it was fun to finally see it, it is not what I would call a particularly good movie. The characters are one-dimensional stereotypes and neither Glenn Miller or his band members can act anywhere near as well as they can jam. Also, there was a disappointing lack of Glenn Miller music in the film. They didn't play any signature songs! Oh sure, there were tantalizing snippets but did they play an entire song? No! Basically the best part of this movie for me was the fact that I finally got to see it and for that dream and that dream alone do I refrain from giving this movie a rotten tomato.

*Back to School: I had fun watching this movie and I enjoyed seeing Rodney Dangerfield in action. It was funny. Not especially realistic but eh who cares.
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RODNEY DANGERFIELD AT HIS BEST IN HIS FUNNIEST FILM. SOME VERY VERY FUNNY SCENES, THE WRITING IS AMUSING. DANGERFIELD IS THE MOVIE, THE SCENES WITH HIM ARE THE BEST IN THE MOVIE. LIGHTHEARTED FUN
Back to School: 7/10

(***):

Funny film that I was surprised got a PG-13 since it has female nudity. Dangerfield is always great!

Back to School
FAIR WARNING: '80's icon about to get SMUSHED!

You know, I never did like Back To School.

It's a Rodney Dangerfield "classic" in which he plays Thornton Mellon, a regular guy who waxed rich (probably ala Monty Capuletti in Easy Money (James Signorelli, 1983) but never finished college, and so decides to go back to prove to his completely uncharismatic son (Keith Gordon) that it can be done. Even though he's a mental midget and all of the stodgy adults hate him, he's rich, and they covet his money, so they pretty much let him do whatever he wants and everybody laughs about it. For some strange reason, he's a famous champion diver who disappeared years ago, a fact that only his son's diving coach seems to know, but that Thorton feels the urge to hide somehow. What makes even less sense is that his son is on the diving team but doesn't apply himself as a diver, apparently so he can be bullied by another diver (William Zabka). Confused? Try this on for size: In addition, Sally Kellerman's Dr(!) Diane Turner overlooks his boorish ways and has a thing for him, and Robert Downey Jr. is in this movie for some reason. Of course, like most of the nerds of the eighties, he's the outcast and yet most interesting person in the film, with almost no dialogue. (I imagine he was performing for his nose at this point in his career, so maybe he can be forgiven). But that's okay, I guess, because if there's any humor at all in this movie, it's supposed to come from Dangerfield's dialogue, except that this is Dangerfield as filtered through an awful Hollywood script, not the hilarious self-deprecating schlub I know from his standup. There's a diving competition at the end, as well as a push for Mellon to get his degree, (or pass Freshman year or something, I forget already) and my main memory of this film, even in the '80's, was that I knew that film had, at that time, hit a nadir.

Look, bottom line, Back To School is not funny. I /never/ thought it was funny. I always felt it was popular due to '80's nostalgia. In fact, one of the more surreal moments of my life was when I was asked to actually teach my High School film class about film, and when my teacher threw it out to the students (my age) to pick the films we would watch, they began to chant, Back To School! Back To School! I made them watch Do The Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989) instead and I still think they laughed a lot more than they would have.

The only thing this movie has going for it is Dangerfield, but again, it's not really Dangerfield, it's a version of him. Listening to a recording of "Rapping Rodney" and you will laugh a lot more. Here, he's trying to play nice. But the secret to Rodney Dangerfield's act is that regardless of what he said, we as an audience knew that he /was/ nice. He was the epitome of the "loveable loser," the guy who really beat up on himself, but was goofy looking and made you laugh as a result. Rodney reinvented and used that well in Natural Born Killers (Oliver Stone, 1994) for drama, showing his range and breadth of talent. He died far too soon, and to me, it sucks that a generation will actually remember him just from crap like this. Kids, you want to know the greatness of Rodney Dangerfield, find a video or DVD of his stand-up. This bland, watered-down, PG-13 imitation is an embarrassment to everybody involved.

Back to School (1986)

This is a movie I always found funny strictly because of Rodney Dangerfield. The script is average to bad but it's Rodney Dangerfield's one-liners that likely weren't scripted that make the movie watchable.
not as "Laugh Out Loud" funny as Caddyshack, but a classic comedy that is often (unfairly) compared to Billy Madison

8.7
A cheesy 80's movie that should be taken like so: a Rodney Dangerfield one-liner marathon. Simple as that.