Saturday, January 20, 2007


Same movie – very different reviews. You'll notice in the second one we gets raked over the coals for our "blatant plug" for Coke.

From the New York Times

Published: August 16, 1985

Take a healthy helping of ''Raiders of the Lost Ark,'' a dollop of ''The Bridge on the River Kwai,'' a dash of any Tarzan movie, a soupcon of ''Casablanca,'' a whiff of ''The Wizard of Oz'' and a stunt or two from a favorite Saturday serial, stir frenetically, and if you're lucky enough to have snappy dialogue by Ken Levine and David Isaacs, you may end up with as funny a movie as ''Volunteers.''

….There are lots of snappy exchanges. ''I thought you wanted to be my friend,'' Beth admonishes when Lawrence makes a pass. He replies, ''This is what I do with my friends.'' In refusing to pay his son's debts, Lawrence's father (George Plimpton) assures him that some day he will thank Dad for the gift of self-reliance and for the opportunity to learn to use a walker. It is a particular pleasure to report that although Lawrence naturally falls in love with Beth and goes through plenty of trouble to save her from being turned into a drug fiend, she does not make a better man of him.

Although the movie, which opens today at the United Artists Twin and other theaters, begins with film clips of icons of the early 1960's - John F. Kennedy, Pope John XXIII, Marilyn Monroe, Ed Sullivan - the spirit is very much of the 80's. But a little melancholy may blend with the laughter ''Volunteers'' draws at the expense of those earnest days when a President was urging people to ask what they could do for their country.
On the other hand….from VARIETY

Volunteers is a very broad and mostly flat comedy [from a story by Keith Critchlow] about hijinx in the Peace Corps, circa 1962. Toplined Tom Hanks gets in a few good zingers as an upperclass snob doing time in Thailand, but promising premise and opening shortly descend into unduly protracted tedium.

Hanks plays Lawrence Bourne 3d, an arrogant, snide rich boy from Yale who trades places with an earnest Peace Corps designate when his gambling debts land him in danger at home. Once ensconced in a remote village, contentious couple Hanks and cohort Rita Wilson and ultra do-gooder John Candy set out to build a bridge across a river. Kidnapped and brainwashed by the commies, the gung-ho Candy disappears for a long stretch.

With Candy absent most of the time, Hanks' one-note, if sometimes clever, attitudinizing wears out its welcome after a while. He also is deprived of anyone effective to play off.

Lensed in Mexico, pic features a muddy, truly ugly look. Also present is the most offensively blatant plug for Coca-Cola yet seen in the new era of Coke-owned entertainment companies.


Murph said...

Geez. Variety reviews still read like that today. Is there a school they force all their "journos" to go to... or is the writing a product of the first commercial computer released by NASA, The FilmReviewer 6GX?

Anonymous said...

Variety reviews weren't signed in those days?



Anonymous said...

Looking at that vidgrab of Hanks, I just realized what it was that made him not believable as a future oscar-winner - clothing was never fitting Hanks the actor, it's like he was always a kid, given off-the-rack things from wardrobe intended for a "real" adult actor, and nothing ever fitted really.

He finally grew into the roles later, when they treated him seriously (F.Gump) with LOTS of costume/makeup changes.

Graham Powell said...

They left out my favorite line of dialog, as Tom Hanks is rescuing Rita Wilson: "I had visions of you stripped naked and chained to a wall! Imagine my disappointment."

xoxoalk said...

Man I miss John Candy.

Anonymous said...

Even 20+ years later, I still occasionally recall and chuckle over two scenes/lines from Volunteers. One, where Hanks boards the plane and everyone is singing a church camp song (was it Michael row the boat ashore? or If I had a hammer? whatever), and he says "So this is hell." The other, when he says, "It's not that I can't help these people, it's just that I don't want to" -- a perfect inversion of the well-known cop-out.