Saturday, March 12, 2016

Forgotten Movies of Greatness: Men Don't Leave (But Also Risky Business)

"The dream is always the same."--Joel Goodson, Risky Business
Men Don't Leave, 1991
I wanted to include Paul Brickman's second film as director, 1991's Men Don't Leave, as a forgotten movie of greatness. I remember being really moved by Jessica Lange and a solid supporting cast, and with the movie overall. I was always a bit surprised that Lange didn't receive a bit of year end recognition (of the runners up type) from a critics group here or there.

The movie made sense in the same way thirtysomething made sense around the same time (white middle class angst, no waiting).

I'm pleased to see the movie has some esteem (its Rotten Tomatoes score is 81%, indicating generally favorable) and, 25 years later, it's obvious that casting director David Rubin assembled a great group of performers including Kathy Bates, Joan Cusack, Chris O'Donnell, Arliss Howard and Charlie Korsmo (who left acting in the late 90s and went on to study physics at MIT, then law at Yale and is now a law professor at Case Western Reserve, an unusually respectable adult life for a child star).

"Every now and then, say 'What the fuck.' 'What the fuck' gives you freedom. Freedom brings opportunity, opportunity makes your future..."--Miles Dalby, Risky Business, 1983
Risky Business, 1983
And as I started to pull together some of the details on MDL, I realized that Risky Business, Brickman's first film as director, has become somewhat forgotten in its own right. Porky's, Footloose, Revenge of the Nerds, a handful of John Hughes movies, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and The Karate Kid seem to monopolize 80s teen movie nostalgia.

But Risky Business is so much better than those other movies (with the possible exception of The Breakfast Club and Fast Times). Its Rotten Tomatoes score is 96%, the same score of Best Picture winner Spotlight! But do you ever see it playing on some random Saturday afternoon on Comedy Central or LOGO? No, because maybe Tommy Boy or She's All That hasn't been on a 4000th time.

It lacks the emotional resonance of Men Don't Leave but its packed with style and humor and, as 2011's Drive demonstrates, it made a mark on its era's future filmmakers.

Back in 1983 I compared it with The Graduate, suggesting it was my generation's movie to address post-graduation angst and orthodoxy. It wasn't a great comparison although I'll stand by that with the caveat that it's a bit weak. It's Gen X's The Graduate had The Graduate been a Lifetime Original Movie. And this is the first time I realized how wonderfully horrible Tom Cruise's character's name was. Goodson... Joel Goodson. You see, he was a son who was also good. So in a sense he was a good son. (SEE ALSO: Will Truman of Will & Grace; Will Freeman of About a Boy)

This is likely to be the best known movie I pick for a post like this. (Unless it's not.) I am exhausted, let's pick this up later...

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