James Helsby

LRE #19: Oscar

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Little Red Envelope

In my mailbox this week:

Release Year: 1991
Staring: Sylvester Stallone, Chazz Palminteri, Marisa Tomei

Hot off the heals of 1990’s Rocky V, Sylvester Stallone decided to start branching into other genre’s of film. No longer wanting to be pigeon-holed as an Action Hero, Oscar was his first attempt at a slapstick Comedy. Directed by John Landis, Oscar didn’t hurt my willpower as much as I thought it would

You see, I put up a huge fight to watch this film. It actually sat on top of our TV for 2 weeks before I finally had no more excuses, and my wife could make me watch it. I decided to bring my laptop to the room, just in case I needed to make an excuse to avoid watching it. I loath Marisa Tomei in most things, she isn’t bad per-say, but I never really thought she was all that attractive, or that good of an actress.

Oscar revolves around the character of Snaps Provolone (Sylvester Stallone), who promises his father (Kirk Douglas) on his fathers deathbed, that he will right his ways. You see, Snaps is a depression era gangster, but a promise is a promise; albeit a difficult one to follow. Snaps soon comes to find that his own accountant has been impressively embezzling from Snaps, by skimming a little off the top. The accountant confides in Snaps that he is using the money to save to propose to the girl he loves. Snaps daughter.

Snaps daughter, distraught over the resistance Snaps posses to the engagement, concocts a brilliant plan. Fake a pregnancy. Snaps yields, and the  wedding is allowed. But wait, it gets better….

Snaps door bell soon rings, and an attractive young woman walks in. The woman, confesses a secret to snaps. ‘I lied to my boyfriend. I told him I was your daughter…..” and so the comedy begins.

John Landis has a certain way with film scripts. While watching this film, it had a feel that was really close to “Clue,” so close that I had to pull up the laptop and look. No, Landis didn’t direct Clue, but he did direct Spies Like Us, Three Amigos, and National Lampoon’s Animal House. I recognized the style right away; and started to be able to sit back and actually watch the movie.

It wasn’t bad. I wouldn’t say that at this point in his career (retrospectively, of course) Stallone should quite the action flick and focus on comedy, but he wasn’t horrible in the roll. Pulling off the tough-yet-lovable character of Snaps Provolone, it seems more like the part was written for him, than him acting to the part.  You could believe that he was an Italian gangster, living in New York, because that is who Stallone always seems to be. I think his most out-there part, was in Tango and Cash, when we were supposed to believe he was the sophisticated on of the group.

Oscar was a fun movie. It wasn’t the best of the late-80’s comedies, but it was still fun. There was a paradigm shift in comedy between the 80’s and 90’s that seemed to focus more on the physical portion of the comedy, and less on the situational portions. But Oscar was still closed to an 80’s comedy than a 90’s comedy(even though it was from 1991). Would I recommend it? Sure. Would I watch it again? Sure. Would I buy it? Probably not. It wasn’t THAT good.

How painful was it: Once you get past the initial few minutes, it wasn’t painful at all.
Rating: 6/10. John Landis made a good showing with Oscar. It wasn’t as good as Spies Like Us, but it was funnier than I thought it would be. I mean, Stallone? In a Comedy? Bonus points for Tim Curry and JOEY Travolta.

The Wife’s Retort: Shut up. You loved it, and you know it.

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