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"Oscar" (1991) discussion

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#1 of 7 OFFLINE   Seth Paxton

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Posted June 15 2003 - 03:43 PM

I just watched this again today and the only reference to the film I could find was my own back in the "Stallone - good or bad actor" thread.

Anyway, I always laugh my ass off at this film and find the effort in both writing and acting to be on par with stuff like Hepburn and Grant flicks, etc., or at least in the same genre and well-made.

And yet the film is blasted at IMDb, and of the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes the only positive one comes from our own little Scotty Wienberg.

So WTF is going on? This doesn't feel like a guilty pleasure to me (hey, that describes Xanadu or Flash), these feel much more like earned laughs and good writing.

I have not seen the original French film, but note that it dates from '67 so it makes sense that the writing does have a throwback style to it (not sure when the original play was written, but it must be before '67 - I found a listing for a 1959 presentation at least).

Is the film really just not good to most people? Is there anyone else that finds the film funny (besides Scott and I)? I think the comedic writing and acting is very sharp, am I alone?

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#2 of 7 OFFLINE   John^Lal


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Posted June 15 2003 - 04:47 PM

I love Oscar. i didn't think it was a guilty pleasure movie. I remember seeing this on a Christmas vacation up in the Sierras with my whole family and we all laughed our heads off. I have since seen it a couple times and i love it how its satrical comedy plays out about the mafia.
oh well, i never knew about an "original" so i can't say anything about that. Stallone and Douglas are good enough for me
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#3 of 7 OFFLINE   Alex Spindler

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Posted June 15 2003 - 04:56 PM

Boy, a movie only Seth and Scott like? It must be especially refined in its crapiness. Posted Image

I can enjoy Oscar for a number of reasons. I like screwball/confusion comedies like this and I always love the impending train wreck as the various threads head towards each other. The dialog is pretty fun, and it was nice to see some actors in these types of roles (especially Curry, Tomei, and Ornellia Muti). However, Stallone doesn't really help the film. I always thought it would have played a lot better with a different actor in his role. Moreso than any other film, I got the impression that he was really out of his element.

#4 of 7 OFFLINE   Scott Weinberg

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Posted June 15 2003 - 09:39 PM

Interesting story:

I read this thread and begin penning a reply. That reply becomes a bit lengthy so I turn it into an actual review for Oscar.

The bad news?

That tomato I had up for this movie is no more. Look what you did Seth! Posted Image

Long story short? My memories of the film were fairly charitable. But I bought the DVD for 7 bucks and watched it just a few days ago. Sorry to say my opinion of the movie sorta sunk...


Believe it or not...I went to college. And one of the coolest things about college is this: movie studios used to run a lot of test screenings for the coeds. Temple University had four or five of these screenings a semester, usually on Friday afternoons. Talk about incentive to skip class! (As if I needed MORE.) So back in '91 they ran Oscar for us, and I distinctly remember enjoying it and also being surprised by that fact. So now it's over ten years later and a recent DVD release has allowed me to revisit with this forgotten (and periodically derided) little farce.

I slid the disc into my player and sent my face on cringe. What was I thinking back then? Urggh is this a broad and belabored and strained little sitcom. I've always been a huge fan of "several actors bumping into each other" movies, hence my admiration for flicks like Clue and Noises Off! and Scavenger Hunt. (Sue me.) But Oscar only occasionally flirts with the breathless lunacy of well-conceived farce - and there are huge, painful gaps in between the few worthwhile gags.

The plot sees Angelo Provolone (it's funny cuz it's a cheese) as a 1930's mob boss who (thanks to a goofy deathbed promise) must now go completely legit. All of the action (and there's quite a bit) takes place in one afternoon, as easily a dozen frantic characters parade through Provolone's estate. There's a devious suitor for Angelo's daughter, a prim and proper professor, a priest, a few tailors, several lowlifes and henchmen, irritated spouses, disillusioned servants, pissed-off policemen, etc., etc.

Although I don't dig Oscar nearly as much as I used to, I still think it's light years better than the other "comedies" that Sly has headlined. Then again I'm comparing it so dreck like Rhinestone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot! and the sorta-comedy Avenging Angelo, so we're not exactly talking high praise here.

Oscar is probably worth seeing for the performances of Tim Curry (he earns the only real OUT LOUD "haha" laughs in the movie), Peter Riegert (clearly having a ball in pseudo-Three Stooges mode), Kurtwood Smith (not doing much of anything, but Kurt's always cool), Bill Atherton (doing his patented smarmy asshole schtick) and the truly inspired work of Martin Ferrero and Harry Shearer as tailors mistaken for hit-men.

The bulk of the problem lies in Stallone himself; he simply seems WAY too self-aware - plus the flick is directed rather languidly by Landis. The movie absolutely screams "stage adaptation" and the actors seem to know they're in a 'madcap farce', while Landis apparently doesn't.

Have Jonathan Lynn (My Cousin Vinny, Greedy, Clue) direct this movie and I bet I'd love it.

One noteworthy aspect that may make the movie fun for film freaks is the astonishingly large cast.

You got Sly Stallone trying hard and Kirk Douglas in a silly-yet-fun cameo; you got a young (and frankly awful) Marisa Tomei channeling Betty Boop and the ever-sultry Ornella Muti (who clearly should avoid comedy); there's Chazz Palminteri just before he got real big (and then real small again) and Don Ameche added just for some 'real-movie' credibility; the flick looks like a "who's-who" of hard-working character actors: Art LeFleur, Mark Metcalf, Atherton, Ferrero, Ken Howard, Richard Romanus, Joey Travolta...and I swear I even saw Lilly Munster herself.

So yeah: there's some fun to be had. On the whole I'd say it's a very clumsy comedy with a handful of really inspired moments. It deserves the relative obscurity it's mired in, though in no way does Oscar deserve the derision usually reserved for Stallone's other comedic efforts.

Odd that the director behind stuff like Animal House and The Blues Brothers would deliver such a stale piece of slapstick. Certainly worthy of a 'curiosity value' visit on cable TV late one night, but not much more.

#5 of 7 OFFLINE   Seth Paxton

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Posted June 16 2003 - 09:08 AM

Well, I'm running even. Lost one fan, found another. Posted Image (actually Alex sounds like he's mostly on the positive side too)

I can agree that Stallone is the weakest part, but I'm comfortable with the "stage production" style for films like this. I'm not praising Landis, mind you, but simply saying that to me this is very much like a camera put in front of a (to me) great stage production.

One of my favorite lines, of which there are many, is Martin Ferrero saying "Feel that. That's nice." It just sounds funny to me and I use it as a reference a lot even though I'm the only one in on the joke.

I also enjoy the facial acting in the film. There are so many actors in the film that can really sell the comedic reaction (like Chazz, Riegert, Amechi, Ferrero, Shearer, and especially Tim Curry).

I will agree that Sly is no Cary Grant, but I always thought the typecasting helped him tremendously in this film. I have to disagree with you on Tomei, I like her effort in the film.

The premise is a good one to me, the idea of a criminal trying to go straight yet keeping his same gang around him in new roles.

#6 of 7 OFFLINE   Michael Martin

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Posted June 18 2003 - 04:20 AM

Any movie with Ornella Muti in it can't be all bad! Posted Image

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#7 of 7 OFFLINE   John^Lal


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Posted June 18 2003 - 06:42 PM

i haven't seen this movie in a while, and when watching it i always took it for what it was worth. so personally i didn't think anything was wrong with having Stallone as the boss, in fact i couldn't imagine that movie with some actor who would be a perfect fit for it because i don't think everything was supposed to be perfect. it wasn't supposed to be a heavy film in any way shape or form. oh well, maybe i just need to watch this movie again so i can justify people's criticism about the movie. all i know is it has always been everything i wanted it to be.
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