Monday, May 19, 2014

drunk's more fun

but I'm only on DayQuil.

Still, I find myself reciting lines of dialogue along with the characters and I think I'm running some of these lines a little better than they are.

Have I mentioned that Desson Howe at the Washington Post predicted back in 1993 that Groundhog Day "will never be designated a national film treasure by the Library of Congress"? He liked the movie, called it "pretty good" and said that, watching it,

you'll feel like you've been through too many days yourself. With its zany daily episodes, "Groundhog" gets stuck in a non-progressive repetition. It's also headed for the usual Hollywood Life Lesson, in which Murray's moral winter must thaw.

He also makes some factual errors--and I'm feeling petty as well as sick. For example, he says this:

"Ned, I would love to stand here and talk with you," he tells Tobolowsky at their umpteenth chance meeting. "But I'm not going to."

First, the minor nitpick: is it really a chance meeting after the first time?

Then, the major nitpick: This dialogue happens at their first chance meeting. I'm pretty sure umpteen is a stand in for a far higher number than one.

But, really, the reason I'm sharing Howe's review is because of that prediction. You see, in 2006, the film was selected by the National Film Preservation Board for inclusion in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. But, someone had to be wrong about Groundhog Day. The rest of us needed Howe's wrongness as our baseline to know how right we all were.

I'm not sure if I actually remember the first time I saw the movie. It was probably opening weekend. I have a vague idea that it was at one of two theaters, the Mann 3 theater in Hastings Ranch in Pasadena or the General Cinema at the Santa Anita Fashion Park in Arcadia. Neither of these theaters exists today but we frequented them a lot back then.

The number two at the box office that week (February 12-18) was Sommersby which I'm pretty sure we saw at that Mann 3 theater. But it was in its second week that weekend that Groundhog Day came out. Loaded Weapon I, I'm also pretty sure we saw at that same theater, but it too was in its second week. So, I'm not sure. For the record, I had already seen or would eventually see 9/10 of the top ten movies for that week:

  1. Groundhog Day
  2. Sommersby
  3. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
  4. Aladdin
  5. Loaded Weapon I
  6. Untamed Heart
  7. The Vanishing
  8. Scent of a Woman
  9. A Few Good Men
  10. The Temp

It is The Temp that I don't think I have ever seen. Groundhog Day, Sommersby, Aladdin, Loaded Weapon I, and Scent of a Woman, I definitely saw in the theater. That last one, I know for sure was at the General Cinema at the Santa Anita Fashion Park. I went to that one with a date in January of that year. Aladdin was in its 14th week by this time, so I probably saw it some 14 weeks earlier. Though A Few Good Men was in its 10th week, I wouldn't see it until June, on the flight to (or was it back from?) Hawaii for our senior trip. On that trip we would also all go see the movie Cliffhanger. I had seen it already, but we had few choices in Kaanapali. On that same senior trip, I would jump off a 40-foot waterfall, buy new sandals only to break them in mud the very next day, golf for the first and only (so far) time, and start my shot glass collection which continues to this day.

Another film released on February 12th--Strictly Ballroom (# 18 on the same box office list I used for the list above)--I would end up seeing several times at the Academy Theater in Pasadena. That's a second-run theater and it would be a double feature with Benny & Joon (released April 16th, so I guess that was a couple months after the weekend in question).

I'm reminded of Nick Hornby's book Fever Pitch. It's basically a memoir but each chapter revolves around a specific soccer game because he's always been a big fan. He recounts his life story as a series of vignettes marked by what was going on in the world of British soccer at the time. I could probably do a lot of the same with many of the movies I've seen. Just recently, my son asked me if I had a fake ID when I was a teenager. I told him I didn't need one because I wasn't really into drinking then, and the one thing I was into--movies--well, I told him about one time when I and some friends went to see Stephen King's Sleepwalkers we got our tickets by letting one of the pretty girls in our group flirt with the teenager selling tickets before we asked for ours. My daughter was surprised--and I was offended--that I went out with pretty girls back then.

There are more movies available in my history than unique events worth telling stories about. After seeing Sleepwalkers, for example, the group of us (five guys and 2 girls) went to Rosie's Diner and that was the night we figured out how to get toothpicks to stick in the ceiling (that was a thing). I even managed to get one of those little umbrella toothpicks to stick. But, the day we went ice skating after school and then a few of us went to see Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country--well, that doesn't make for much of a story, even though I probably fell down trying to ice skate more than once.

I remember things like, the first movie I saw at the new United Artists theater in Old Town Pasadena (another theater that no longer exists) was Heartbreak Ridge. Years later I would work at that theater for a few months, eventually quitting (along with a couple fellow ushers) because a new manager turned out to be a jerk who liked to yell at us before realizing we'd already cleaned up the theater he thought we hadn't gotten to yet--seriously, this happened more than once, as if we all didn't have the schedule for the movies either memorized or a copy of the schedule folded up in our pocket.

I remember the time we saw Brewster's Millions and A Nightmare on Elm Street at a drive-in, and we left in the middle of A Nightmare on Elm Street and I did my best to keep watching it from the back seat as we drove away. I remember the time we watched Lethal Weapon in a tiny theater inside the front of the ferry between Ireland and England. I remember when I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark and my mom tried to cover my eyes when that big guy Indiana Jones was fighting with turned around to get his face sliced up by a propeller and her hands were badly placed so, sure enough, I saw that they didn't even show his face get hit anyway, just a splatter of blood on the tail of the plane.

Movies were my thing long before I started this epic journey down Groundhog Day Lane. Movies were always a thing with my family. Movies I've seen more times than probably any other (aside from Groundhog Day, of course) would be Mr. Mom, National Lampoon's Vacation and Trading Places because we had those three copied on the first (I think) of many videotapes full of movies back when we first got a VCR--a top-loading Quasar that had a wired remote control purchased from Price Club in Azusa.

Of course, just having the movie around didn't mean we watched it a lot. I believe our second tape had Places in the Heart, Halloween, and Splash

(Again, I must add, I think, because we're talking about videotapes from the early 1980s. Of course, memory doesn't have to be entirely accurate. It probably can't be. Or maybe I just can't remember all of this accurately because of that time a grenade went off in my helmet.)

and I'm fairly sure I have never actually watched Places in the Heart all the way through because it was too boring for my young mind. Another movie we had on tape early on was Top Secret so I've seen that one a lot of times as well. Same for the already mentioned Raiders of the Lost Ark and Romancing the Stone. These are the movies I can still quote to this day. I don't even remember the last time I watched Romancing the Stone but I still know bit of dialogue like, "They told you I had a car? They're such comedians. They meant my little mule, Pepe" or "Man, the Doobie Brothers broke up! When did that Happen?"

And, speaking of quoting movies--and because I'm curious if my sister still reads this blog occasionally--one time when we were getting out of our car that had a sun roof, my sister Bobbie just says, "Roof, Roof." My response: "Bobbie's barking again, and getting on my nerves again." Change the name and that's from Halloween which we used to watch at least once a year and usually more.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to befriend everyone around me, one day at a time, and watch their favorite movies with them. And share mine with them, too, I suppose.

No comments:

Post a Comment