This is one of the first R-rated movies I snuck into. I was 15, and looked kind of old for my age, so no hassles--just a lot of worrying about my parents catching me, because they were strict, and household-law violations often resulted in the confiscation of media equipment (television, stereo, etc.). If my parents had known my 15-year-old ass saw Rebecca De Mornay naked on the big screen, I would've missed out on hearing the new Van Halen record on my boombox.
Anybody who tries to tell you Tom Cruise can't act should start here, where he is total greatness as young entrepreneur Joel Goodsen. Joel, left to his own devices when his parents leave on vacation, uses his home as a brothel for one night, with help from Lana (De Mornay), a hot hooker. It features that iconic moment of Cruise dancing to Bob Seger in his underwear, the submersion of a nice Porsche in Lake Michigan, and Guido the Killer Pimp.
The film came out a year after the adolescent-sex-comedy trash that was Porky's, and proved that a movie on that subject could have style and substance. (Although I must admit that seeing high school seniors having sex with hookers was quite shocking. I was a sophomore and had only made out once; I was under the impression that all hookers had atomic venereal diseases down there. This film made having sex with hookers a total party, and I didn't see one condom.)
There's no telling what really happened to first-time director Paul Brickman after this. He made a huge splash with it, didn't direct again until Men Don't Leave (another good film) in 1990, and hasn't directed since. Strange.
Special Features: Brickman is all over the special features, so we know he's still alive. There's a Blu-Ray-exclusive video commentary with Cruise, Brickman and producer Jon Avnet (the terrible director who did this year's 88 Minutes and Righteous Kill). Seriously: How is Avnet getting so much work while Brickman has disappeared? You'll also find an alternate ending, a 25th-anniversary retrospective, and some interesting footage of De Mornay and Cruise in a screen test. (One of Cruise's teeth is blacked out, because he was making Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders at the time.)
I had a good ol' time watching this one on Blu-Ray. I'm discovering that CGI-heavy superhero movies might look good on the big screen, but they look positively phenomenal on a hi-def widescreen. Shit, I even enjoyed watching the mediocre Spider-Man 3 in high definition.
Robert Downey Jr. is having a great year, and his performance as Tony Stark, billionaire weapons manufacturer-turned-Iron Man, has a lot of nuance for a comic-book movie. But that seems to be the trend nowadays, doesn't it? Tobey Maguire, Christian Bale and now Downey have brought true dimension to their portrayals of costume-wearing vigilantes; it's a great trend.
What Downey brings to the superhero role better than anybody is a terrific sense of humor. Stark is as funny as he is heroic, and it gives the film some edge. It helps that the cast surrounding Downey is stellar, from Jeff Bridges as evil business tycoon Obadiah Stane to Gwyneth Paltrow as Stark's sweet assistant, Pepper Potts. Everybody in this movie is damn good.
Director Jon Favreau propelled himself toward the A list with this one. From employing the masterful creature effects of Stan Winston Studios to hiring the excellent cinematographer Matthew Libatique (who shot The Fountain and Inside Man), Favreau showed he was very much in control of the blockbuster movie. His services have been retained for the sequel, and that's a very good thing.
Special Features: The movie scored points for being true to the history of the Iron Man character, and the DVD does the same. Disc 1 contains the movie and a documentary called The Invincible Iron Man, where past Iron Man writers and artists discuss the origins of the character. You'll also find deleted and extended scenes. Disc 2 includes a seven-part documentary on the making of the movie, a separate section on the film's special effects, Downey screen tests and more. The only thing keeping this from getting the highest rating is the absence of a director's commentary.
While George Clooney is a fine director, his third feature attempt, this uneven look at the beginning of professional football, is his weakest. Maybe it's the casting of Renée Zellweger; I really can't stand her right now. Maybe it's the fact that this feels like his attempt to make a Coen brothers movie. The film fails to garner laughs, and it feels a tad empty. It's not bad, but a little on the tired side.
Special Features: This is actually pretty good on the supplemental-features front, with a Clooney commentary, deleted scenes, a making-of doc and hilarious footage of Clooney pulling a fast one on his cast.