Mighty Joe Young

I spent much of the day grading homework papers and preparing for a final exam.  I thought back on Christo’s umbrellas back in 1991.  I looked at lists of the favorite films of several directors.  Woody Allen had “Paths of Glory,” and Martin Scorsese had “The River.”  Most of the students seemed to have difficulty with the test.  The atmosphere was quiet because it was so late in finals week that most everyone had left.  After the test was over, I boarded a bus and rushed over to the record store six minutes before closing.  I hurried to the back of the store and got the Kung Fu DVD box set.  I bought a ground beef burrito and headed home to watch “Mighty Joe Young” on DVD.  Bill Paxton and Dina Merrill were in the cast, as was Ray Harryhausen.  The early scene where Paxton is chasing after Joe brought back memories of “Twister.”  Charlize Theron was almost her charming self as Jill, who becomes friends with this gorilla in a situation with shades of Tarzan.  I thought some things in the story didn’t make sense, like taking Joe to the animal conservancy near Los Angeles.  The place was too small for this big animal, and it seemed like an excuse for including scenes of mayhem in an urban setting, rather like “King Kong.”  The behavior of the crowds of extras sure felt fake.  Any human being who sees such a huge gorilla would panic and run like hell away from him.  It looks like new waves of unscared people are passing across the screen.  After an animal goes on the loose like that, the cops would shoot it down quickly, a sad comment on how we’ve come to view the police.  The people at the conservancy, except for the doctor, act like they’ve never dealt with animals before.  Any fool would be careful about feeding an animal.  Holding a fundraiser a few feet away from a massive gorilla who is unsettled in new surroundings was also an idiotic idea.  The special effects probably looked more impressive in 1998 than they look now.  Charlize Theron is thrown into some artificial situations, and so wasn’t too convincing at times.  I doubt that people would be so eager to contribute to a Joe fund after his violent behavior.  In Disney films, animals are elevated to a status above humans.  I thought that Chalize had a rotten hairstyle in this picture.  It made me flash back to Mia Farrow in “Rosemary’s Baby.”  One other thing I notice in movies like this are the signs for fictional businesses that look too new, as if they’ve just been put up for the sake of filming a movie.  If this movie was made for kids, those kids probably found Joe frightening rather than lovable.  They wouldn’t have wanted to play Hide and Seek with a gorilla.  This is a movie that is lightly entertaining, does not hold up to analysis, and feels like a mishmash of several films, like “Gorillas in the Mist” and “King Kong.”  It made me think sadly on the recent death of Bill Paxton.  The villains were vile but forgettable.  I don’t know why Jill didn’t pay closer attention of Joe, as she went to the beach with Paxton.  She didn’t act quickly when she thought there was something wrong with Joe during the fundraiser.  I would say that there are many better movies to watch if you love animals.  The RKO logo at the beginning made me think back to “King Kong.”  Another note is that Peter Firth appeared in “Equus.”  The director, Ron Underwood, also worked on “Tremors” and “City Slickers,” but would also go on to be nominated for a Razzie for “The Adventures of Pluto Nash.”  When I looked at the filming locations, I saw Hawaii, Hollywood Boulevard, Long Beach, UCLA, and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.  The budget supposedly was $90 million against $50 million in ticket sales.  It was too scary for little kids.  It was a remake of a movie from 1948.  Ben Johnson was in that one, and Ray Harryhausen worked on the special effects.  I heard that the Cavaliers won their game in Boston, and thus are coming here to face the Warriors in Game 1.  The A’s had the day off as they were on their way to Yankee Stadium.  My only plan for Memorial Day weekend is to go to the movies and clean up my apartment a bit.  Some of the people who died on May 26 include Jimmie Rodgers (1933), Friz Freleng (1995), Eddie Albert (2005), Sydney Pollack (2008), and Art Linkletter (2010).  Today is a birthday for Lauryn Hill (42), Pam Grier (68), and Stevie Nicks (69).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for May 26, “My Friend Flicka,” starring Roddy McDowell, was released in 1943.  In 1970, the sequel “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” was released.  In 1971, “Support Your Local Gunfighter,” with James Garner, Suzanne Pleshette, and Harry Morgan, was released.  In 1973, the Edgar Winter Group had the Number One single, “Frankenstein.”  In 1974, 650 fans were injured at a David Cassidy concert at White City Stadium in London, with a 14-year-old girl dying from her injuries.  In 2005, Eddie Albert died at age 99 of pneumonia at his home in Pacific Palisades.  In 2010, Art Linkletter died at age 97 at his home in Bel Air.

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