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Geena Davis (#110 of 5)

This Used to Be My Playground A League of Their Own at 25

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This Used to Be My Playground: A League of Their Own at 25
This Used to Be My Playground: A League of Their Own at 25

Light and airy, with only the faintest whiff of pathos or self-importance, A League of Their Own offers a refreshingly buoyant vision of America’s favorite pastime. Unburdened by the grandiose mythologizing of movies like The Natural and Field of Dreams, the film regards baseball with a breezy, wide-eyed innocence that captures the uniquely languid joy of the sport.

Working from a screenplay by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, director Penny Marshall casts the Rockford Peaches—a founding team in the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL)—as a ragtag ensemble filled with stock comic types, including Rosie O’Donnell as a brassy New Yawk broad and Madonna as an incorrigible floozy. The performances tend toward broad caricature, particularly Tom Hanks’s at times gratingly over-the-top turn as the team’s perpetually apoplectic manager, Jimmy Dugan. All shouting, spitting, and drunken ass-grabbing, Jimmy is a cartoonish parody of American masculinity that anticipates Hanks’s similarly out-sized but more delicately modulated voice work in Toy Story a few years later.

Summer of ’90 Quick Change

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Summer of ’90: Quick Change: Kennedy Airport Is the Promised Land

Warner Bros.

Summer of ’90: Quick Change: Kennedy Airport Is the Promised Land

The protagonists of Quick Change are so desperate to leave New York City that they finance their exit with a million-dollar bank heist. The meticulously planned robbery is executed with minimal problems and maximum cleverness. The criminals even outfox a veteran police chief (Jason Robards) and the entire SWAT team waiting outside the bank. With bundles of cash taped to their bodies, mastermind Grimm (Bill Murray), his gal, Phyllis (Geena Davis), and his best buddy, Loomis (Randy Quaid), head toward a new life in Fiji. All they have to do is escape from New York.

Unfortunately for them, this is the pre-Giuliani, pre-Bloomberg New York City; it’s that scrappy animal the President of the United States once told to “drop dead,” and it’s not giving up its denizens without a fight. It will throw an ever-escalating series of After Hours-style mishaps at the potential escapees, roadblocks they could have easily avoided had they been more observant. Quick Change chooses this lack of observation as a theme. In its opening scene, Grimm, dressed as a clown for the robbery, exits the subway in front of a huge advertisement for the old MTA “Train to the Plane” Kennedy Airport subway service. This would seem the easiest route of escape, but it’s never considered. Grimm’s crew will use a car, a cab, a bus, an airport luggage cart, and their tired feet in their suspenseful bid to reach the promised land at JFK.

Summer of ‘88: The Blob

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Summer of ‘88: <em>The Blob</em>
Summer of ‘88: <em>The Blob</em>

“Don’t worry. There’s no sex or anything bad,” a kid tells his mother in the 1988 remake of The Blob before heading out to a midnight showing of the horror film-within-a-horror film Garden Tool Massacre. Mom settles down and the kid and his friend go happily on their way. Eat your heart out, Kirby Dick. Just don’t let the MPAA catch you dry humping it.

The sex-death gag is meta only on a very general level, but it bears mentioning that people sure were afraid of the color pink in the late 1980s. Whether or not you think the lion’s share of credit for that deserves to go to ACT-UP, it’s seems unlikely that it’s coincidence that both Chuck Russell’s tongue-in-cheek remake of the classic 1958 monster movie (and, in this case, “classic” clearly meant “not scary anymore”) as well as the calculated but occasionally charming Ghostbusters II prominently feature giant, spoogy masses of hot-pink goo as their primary sources of menace. In the for-the-masses kiddie sequel, the slime represents the collective negative energy of an entire city’s worth of malcontents, but the good news is that it can be rehabilitated through positive reinforcement and used as a force for good. In The Blob, it’s fast, it’s angry, and it will not negotiate with traditional family values. This is one of the few horror movies that dares to kill a young child. And not just kill the kid, but show him grasping for help as his tiny body dissolves in a morass of pink.

15 Famous Movie Ledges

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15 Famous Movie Ledges
15 Famous Movie Ledges

Hitting theaters this week is Man on a Ledge, a rather unsubtly titled thriller that stars Sam Worthington as a guy whose nowhere-left-to-turn predicament has him doing the old wave-down-at-the-masses bit. This isn’t the first time Worthington has flirted with dizzying precipices (his motion-captured doppelgänger braved the floating mountains of Pandora), and it certainly isn’t the first time Hollywood has tormented acrophobics. Movies have long been living on the edge, ever intent on serving up vicarious vertigo. For proof, here’s a list of 15 memorable movie ledges, from cliffs to rooftops to ominous subway platforms. Safety nets not included.

Genie Was Right

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Genie Was Right
Genie Was Right

The blogosphere being what it is, I’m sure the expiration date on Golden Globes commentary has passed. But since Monday night was a grotesque revelation, I’m going to talk about it anyway.

After being released from press tour coverage, I drove to the home of my pals Margy and Robert and watched the Pacific Coast feed of the Globes, and got there in just in time to watch the last 45 minutes of red carpet coverage on E! Between the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it interviews and the gratuitous iris-shaped split screens and the director’s inability or unwillingness to identify who, exactly, we were looking at, I felt as if I was watching not a live telecast, but a pop physics event: the atomization of celebrity culture.