Tuesday, January 26, 2010

30 Years Ago: My Favorite Movies of 1980

Ah, the eighties. Here we are well within my wheelhouse. Of course I could come up with ten entries. These ten may or may not be surprising, lets see:

10) Airplane!

When I was 10, I thought nothing would ever be as funny as Airplane! I saw it recently and it still holds up today. Probably due to so many repeat viewings. I will probably say much the same about a lot of movies on this particular list. People my age are famously fond of conversing by quoting its favorite movies and TV shows, and I got my childhood practice saying things like, "I speak jive!" Also interesting to find out recently that its actual a remake of an old movie that the Zuckers bought the rights to, not just a spoof.

9) Dressed To Kill

Ah, Brian De Palma. Few directors divide people like De Palma. To me, I think his best stuff was most definitely his early stuff, from the late seventies to the late eighties. This homage to Hitchcock has Michael Caine as a psychologist, Angie Dickinson as a housewife looking for a good time that meets a bad end, and Nancy Allen as a call girl who witnesses her murder and might be next in line. All the while a cross-dressing killer is stalking them all There are obviously plenty of campy elements in this thing. But what stays with me from Dressed to Kill is that it scared the hell out of me. Scariest, in particular, is a twisted sequence near the very end. It’s a movie that’s not easy to talk about without spoiling surprises. It’s also a movie about which you can say that both its critics and its fans have a point. I also remember discovering the vast world of film criticism even more deeply in college and seeing films from different vantage points I took a course on "Women and Pop Culture" and reading and discussing a whole section/chapter of feminist critics who were furious about the portrayal of women and the transgendered in Dressed To Kill. In more ways than one, it became a part of my film education. You win this round, De Palma!

8) The Fog

John Carpenter, like Brian De Palma, was really hitting his stride in the late 70's/eighties, cranking out some classic genre fare. This was, as we will see, a pretty good time for that sort of thing. (The John Sayles-penned Alligator was in contention for this spot. Seriously, as Jaws rip-offs/Nature Strike Back movies go-its pretty great) The Fog is probably seen as a lesser entry in the Carpenter canon, and I can see that. But it does have some great sequences, a pretty great setting and premise, and even Adrienne Barbeau, who is just awesome here.

7) The Long Good Friday

This was probably my first foray into any sort of English gangster film, besides maybe movies from the 50's or so that may or may not qualify. But this is a doozy. I saw this, of course, after I saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit, I remember at 10 or 11 being blown away first of all by the fact that Bob Hoskins was actually British. Fast forward a few years later and I see Bob Hoskins from Roger Rabbit playing a ball of barely (and sometimes not so barely) suppressed rage as he tries to find out, throughout the course of the day, who is trying to kill him. For some of the best silent acting this side of Michael Kitchen, check out that last scene where he gets caught, and the camera just lingers on him as his fate draws ever closer. Just amazing stuff.

6) Superman II

To be honest, the first two original Superman movies, to me are really good. It has both its fans and detractors and both sort of have a point. But I have to be true to myself here. This was originally filmed by Richard Donner at the same time he was filming the first Superman movie. Much later, of course, I would learn about all the drama and behind the scenes machinations that made the producers, the Salkinds fire Donner and replace him with Richard Lester. Lester might lean too much comedy, since thats the world Lester comes from, but overall this, along with the first have an epic feel. It, of course has ridiculous parts, its a comic book movie about a flying man. And, when you are older you notice how the Lester footage he reshot doesn't quite match up with the Donner footage. (I still haven't seen the Donner cut) and certain parts don't make sense upon reflection (he just GETs his power back? After walking apprently to the North Pole? Best not to dwell on it.) Eh, its a sentimental favorite which works for me. It gets me amped! Also, Terence Stamp as General Zod is just awesome, a great villain.

5) Caddyshack

This is one of three "wacky" comedies on this list. Like the other two, it is endlessly quotable, and was a staple as I was growing up. It earns its spot on this list because I'll still stop and watch it whenever its on.

4) The Blues Brothers

And here's the third one. Much for the same reasons as above. Roger Ebert once said that very few big budget comedies, particular ones with huge car chases and car wrecks, don't usually work. I forget but he really could have been talking about The Blues Brothers. I think he feels like it goes off the rails too much. In this instance it might be nostalgia as much as anything else, but it works for me. John Landis continues upping the ante until the last part of the film where said car chase is drawn out to an absurd degree. It might be both because it is funny, perhaps not as funny as I once thought it was, and somewhat exciting. Also, its interesting because this is essentially a musical too, and the music is really pretty great as well. It shouldn't work, but I think it does.

3) The Shining

The old criticism might be true: that Jack Nicholson shows his hand early on, that he looked crazy from the beginning so his eventual descent into madness is not surprising. How much that bothers you may or may not detract from how much you enjoy this. To me I think it is one of the top five scariest movies of all time. Its so creepy. Kubrick creates an atmosphere of relentless foreboding and isolation. This combines with a phenomenal score to create a truly strange and scary movie.

2) Raging Bull

Speaking of innovation, this movie is not only brutal but kind of oddly beautiful to look at. Scorsese obviously likes focusing on severely flawed human beings, and you might not find someone who fits that description better than De Niro's Jake LaMotta. From the black and white cinematography to the way the fights were staged, it is just amazing. I know it's an old argument that doesn't need to be rehashed, but it was most definitely robbed at the Oscars. Without a doubt one of the best of the eighties.

1) The Empire Strikes Back

Wow, I can't believe this is 30 years old. Time marches on. Anyhow, I know how this makes me look, like a big ol' dork, but I can't help it. Soooooo good. The absolute best Star Wars movie, even with the cliffhanger. Has also one of the best twist or surprise scenes ever. I mean, I guess you have to be invested in it for that to be true-but to me it is. In fact I have been known to watch (30 year old spoiler ahead!) the scene where Vader reveals he is Luke's father more than once when watching this. In fact, one of my earliest memories was going to see this with my Mom, my brother and sister. Just awesome.

From the Roku: A Boy and His Dog (1976)

Strange double feature last night. I have to admit that I put this on just to kill some time. What I was rewarded with was a deeply weird movie, set in the arid, radioactive wastelands of Phoenix (or Tucson) in the year 2024. It apparently comes from a 1969 prize-winning book by Harlan Ellison. What I found interesting was Don Johnson was in it, costarring with a telepathic dog, I liked the alternate history timeline that apparently Ellison created, and the idea of a society living underground that tries to recreate some sort of 1950's homogeny is an interesting idea. Why that underground society wear's clown/mime makeup is anyone's guess. Being the 70's it is defnitely sort of creepy, and definitely strange. There's no reason given for why the dog is telepathic, at least none that I could find. Its an interesting curio. But the misogyny is really offputting. Part of the dog's job is not only help Don Johnson find food but also find women. Women to rape. Ellison himself says the message wasn't what he meant to put out, but it seems pretty implicit.

So yeah, an interesting enough trifle, maybe to catch by accident on a Sunday afternoon and go, "Hey Don Johnson and a talking dog!" But thats really about it.

Truth in advertising, really the poster, this time, tells you an awful lot about what you need to know about this one:

Monday, January 25, 2010

From the Roku: The Vanishing (1988)

This movie is most famous for its gut punch of an ending. And for good reason. The movie as a whole is nice little mystery/thriller/psychological examination-not only of a sociopath, but also an examination of obsession. In a sense, the narrative is odd, but all the loose ends are tied up, one way or the other, in the end. Its really simple too: a man's girlfriend disappears without a trace at a rest stop on a trip through France. The movie leaves both the viewer and main character Rex in the dark over what happened to his girlfriend. Although, he meets the man who took her, he is still unsure whether she is dead or alive. When Rex agrees to take a sleeping pill in order to find out what really happened, he awakens to have all his questions answered. Man...that ending. Darkly affecting and cruelly ironic. Amazing.

Jack Goes Boating poster

Today is the first day I have heard of this movie. I just premiered at Sundance this week. All I know is it stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Ryan as two people who find each other in New York City while the couple that set them up, face problems in their marriage. Its getting some good buzz, and I am happy to see Amy Ryan getting work which might be interesting. It'll stay on my radar. That being said, this isn't a review, I just happened upon the poster for it and thought I would share it because I like it, and for whatever reason it has sort of mesmerized me today. This is a bit out of my purview, but here it is, enjoy:

Saturday, January 23, 2010


In honor of going down to New Jersey to be the godparents to my nephew, here's one of if not THE greatest baptism scene ever:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

D.C. Cab (1983)

"It's tough to be a man. It's tougher to be a cabbie."

The 80's were nuts.

In "D.C. Cab," the biggest star is Mr. T, after playing Clubber Lang in "Rocky 3" and before his role as B.A. Baracus in "The A-Team." He was one of the biggest badasses at that time, and yet he wore feathered earrings and tight, Day-Glo pink sweatpants throughout most of the movie. Then you have an amazing roundup of D –list actors: Max Gail from Barney Miller, Adam Baldwin from "Full Metal Jacket," Charlie Barnett from Miami Vice, Gloria Gifford from Vice Versa, Marsha Warfield from Night Court, Whitman Mayo from Sanford & Son, Paul Rodriguez, The Barbarian Brothers, and the biggest surprise yet, a young Bill Maher! Gary Busey also stars, coked out of his gourd and, as usual, unbearable.

Directed by Hollywood's biggest hack Joel Schumacher, "D.C. Cab" combines a few plots that were popular at the time: the raucous misfits versus the straight laced richies (the snobs vs. the slobs, if you will) and race relations. Somehow this movie ends with a kidnapping and a parade thrown for D.C. Cab. Also laughable is how HUGE Irene Cara was back then, as she made a cameo.

It was a strange time. This is definitely a movie I would appreciate more had I watched it a ton growing up like Tina did. As an adult, it's hard to watch these kinds of movies because there's no nostalgia for me, but in the end it's fun to watch.

I am sure everyone has had worse $6.99 impulse buys from a pharmacy checkout line.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

40 Years Ago: My Favorite Movies of 1970

I was told recently that I need to work on my grammar here. Its true. I don't really edit either. I'll try and work on it.

1970 seems like a pretty strange year. Frankly, at first sight a weak year. In that I either haven't seen a lot of movies from that year yet, that I probably should like Le Cercle Rouge or The Conformist. Or there are ones that I either don't like such as Love Story or admire but don't really click with me, such as Five Easy Pieces. Even two of the ones on this list might be more sentimental than anything else. And, again, like 1960, there aren't ten of them. Strange years, but even finding six for this year, whatever the reason might be, is difficult. This is how it stands right at this moment:

6) Beneath The Planet Of The Apes

When thinking about it, of course, the entire Planet of the Apes series is crazy. This might be the craziest entry. Usually with sequels, when they try to do the same basic storyline, ANOTHER astronaut finds his way to the Planet Of The Apes on a rescue mission...somehow. So you'd think that it would just be a carbon copy of the original. But oh no, this one somehow finds Brent going underground, literally, and dealing not just with the Apes, of course, but also mutated humans living under the ground who worship an atom bomb. Yeah, this not only is a sentimental favorite, definitely, but also earns its spots by being nuts, and also for having an ending that...well, its actually pretty wild in its audacity.

5) Two Mules For Sister Sara

Another sentimental favorite, but I like the way this is handled as a slightly more comedic addition to the Man With No Name mythos. Its nice if somewhat awkwardly paced. It even has a score by Ennio Morricone. It shot and set in Mexico, it often looks amazing, mainly due to Mexican cinematographer Gabriƫl Figueroa, whose camera seems in love with the arid terrain.

4) Patton

This is obviously, George C. Scott's film because without him in the lead, I doubt it would have worked half as well. He totally makes it. Its a compelling portrait of an insane military genius, after his campaigns in North Africa, and into Germany and the fall of the Third Reich. His faults and insubordinate nature eventually catch up to him leading him to be relieved as occupation commander of Germany. Amazing stuff.

3) M*A*S*H

I guess like any famous director, people are really divided on Robert Altman. Some people feel he's a genius. Other people feel he is less than genius. I have to admit that I fall somewhere in the middle, I think. But I do find this pretty funny. Although its odd, I probably watched the TV show for years before seeing the movie and I have to admit I had to get used to all these different people playing roles like Hawkeye and what not. At least Radar was still the same. Anyway, it is episodic, almost to the point that each little part is actually more of a vignette than an actual scene that is stitched into a whole. Even that was different. This was Altman's commentary on Vietnam through the war in Korea, juxtaposing the doctors hijinks with gory surgical room scenes. It works better than I think it has the right to.

2) Gimme Shelter

The Maysles brothers were the documentary kings in the seventies. This is their document of the Altamont concert, where The Rolling Stones basically wanted to put together their own Woodstock, just a few months after Woodstock,at Altamont Speedway. About 300,000 people came, and the organizers had the brilliant idea to put the Hell's Angels in charge of security around the stage. Armed with pool cues and knives, Angels spent the concert beating up spectators, killing at least one. Its compelling, not only for what happened, but also as the Maysles have the Rolling Stones look at the footage and comment about whats happening. Crazy and compelling.

1) Kelly's Heroes

This may or may not say something about 1970, but this is definitely my favorite movie of the year and I don't see that changing. One of the best entries in the "Men On A Mission" military movie tradition. A nicely comedic take on it too, as Clint Eastwood and Telly Savalas round up a band of misfits to go after some Nazi gold. Its so great, and its mostly because of the interplay of the people involved with the heist. It has a huge cast of, mostly, character actors, I mean they aren't Charles Bronson, but the likes of Gavin MacLeod, Don Rickles, Carroll O' Connor, Harry Dean Stanton, and even the guy that played Uncle Leo on Seinfeld. Its just so offbeat and awesome.

By the way, looking for pictures for the above, I found some cool Kelly's Heroes posters I thought would share:

Monday, January 18, 2010

From the Roku: The Anderson Tapes (1971)

I wonder how much Sean Connery wanted to get away from James Bond by this point? I mean I guess he actually did, but there are few people in movies, for better or for worse, who are so linked to their most famous creations. I can see why he would do something as insane as Zardoz to get even further away from it. I am not quite sure if it worked, in the end, since he would come back to James Bond a couple times but both in subpar efforts, Diamonds Are Forever and, if you want to count it, the non-canon Never Say Never Again. I mean, I have no real idea, but I wonder if he was just like "I can't escape this so I might as well embrace it." I mean there are much worse things, I suppose then being known as the suavest cat on the planet. But back to The Anderson Tapes, he runs into a similar issue if not the exact same one, his Duke Anderson is much more of a hardened criminal, at least in the few jail scenes, a little more of a loose cannon, more prone to bursts of anger...and now that I think about it only Dyan Cannon's character really is head over heels for him, thats for sure. Its interesting, though, coming from a novel by Lawrence Sanders, it would seem to capture an idea that Coppola would perfect in The Conversation, and would ramp up in the paranoid thrillers that came out after the shakeup of Watergate: that we are all being watched either legally or illegally (most of it, as it turns out is illegal...) Its an interesting mix of heist movie where Anderson has to assemble a crew (which is odd because he just seems to do it because he loves to rob so much-right out of prison) - a crew which includes Christopher Walken in one of his earliest screen roles, and Martin Balsam in what might be one of his odder roles. But as he assembles his team, all of whom are being watched by other people for other crimes....So it has this paranoid side, wiretaps and videotape, people being followed, partly a heist movie, and not one that ends well-which perfectly fits into the seventies mileu, where things don't always work out so well. All in all, its really interesting, if not an absolute triumph. Probably minor Sidney Lumet in the end, but it is an interesting mix. I also have to mention the Quincy Jones score, because he adds these little bits of electronica that is supposed to heighten this idea of technology being allowed to invade people's lives, sometimes, in bits it works, in longer takes, like when Connery is casing the apartment building he wants to rob, it becomes a little, shall we say, overbearing. Hey, he tried something different and it didn't quite work.

From the Roku: Our Man In Havana (1959)

Graham Greene gives the Coen Brothers a run for their considerable money in the cynicism department. I kept getting shades of Burn After Reading in a more gentle way while I was watching this. It's interesting because in the very first shot, a shot of a pool overlooking the Havana skyline there is a note saying that this was set in pre-revolutionary Cuba. Basically, Alex Guinness is a vacuum cleaner salesman who gets caught up in local espionage within the British government, and it works not only as a cynical comedy (Guinness basically lies his way through for the money) but also a delicious little mystery in that English style. It was cool to see Burl Ives as an actual human being and not a singing snowman. And Maureen O'Hara is a treat as usual. I am not a expert on Carol Reed, but I can say here, the nighttime shots of Havana as Guinness winds his way through the streets have a certain beautiful Third Man-style about them. Interesting sidenote from IMDB :" Fidel Castro's government gave permission for this film, which presents the fallen regime of Fulgencio Batista, in an unflattering light and also condemns American and British meddling, to shoot on location in Havana, only months after the revolution. It was completed during the brief period in 1959 before Cuba had aligned itself with the Soviet Union." It looked pretty amazing, I have to say.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

50 Years Ago: My Favorite Movies of 1960

Recently I was struck by a couple things: 1) I mentioned this in my previous post, but the need to fill in some of the gaps in my movie knowledge by seeing some classic and more recent foreign films. Most of which happen to be European, but I should see more stuff from Japan besides Kurosawa. But there's nothing wrong with getting stuck on the master. I mean, I'm not a complete philistine in this sense, I have seen some, but some of, particularly the classics have passed me by. Something I am going to work to rectify. What originally made me think of this was, well, basically it had become a new decade and a new year: 2010, of course. Being a round number it made me think: Wow, Psycho turns 50 this year, lets look at my other favorite movies of the year. Then it showed me while I had seen a loved Breathless I had never seen La Dolce Vita, in fact I'm not quite sure I had seen any Fellini, inlcuding 8 1/2. Again, the only the type of thing a movie dork worries about. But since its mainly what the blog is about then I get to worry about it here.

Also, too, this isn't a top ten list, there are only eight movies I could come up with that I could call a favorite. And obviously, Fellini isn't on here. (Wait until I get to 1970-its much worse that year) So I guess this is going to probably end up being somewhat of a series.

My Favorite Movies of 1960 : (in order)

8) The Grass Is Greener

Probably the definition of a trifle, but also a second or third tier Cary Grant comedy. Its just something that has stayed with me ever since I rented from the library many years ago. I have to say, though that the four leads, particularly, Robert Mitchum are pretty perfect. I mean Grant could do this kind of light comedy in his sleep. It involves a rich couple down on their luck, and Mitchum and an eventual love triangle. Its slight and its fun. Worth it to see the split-screen scene which was probably cutting edge at the time it came out.

7) Inherit The Wind

Inherit The Wind is great as a rousing courtroom drama, with some pretty hefty and important ideas. This doesn't take away from it but like with most movies, but terrible as a history lesson. You know sometimes it happens, just take it with a grain of salt and enjoy the ride.

6) Swiss Family Robinson

The sentimental favorite on here. Disney did a great job in the 50's and 60's of making some pretty great adventure films like this or 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea or In Search of the Castaways. But this was one of their better ones. In some ways, its pure wish fulfillment. Sure, you didn't want to get lost on some jungle island: but how great was it when all there was to do was jump off waterfalls, ride animals in races (Ostriches!) make the greatest tree house in creation, then fight pirates where people were falling into tiger traps and down huge the side of huge mountains. Man, it was great. It only holds up today probably because of those memories, but I think it still works in a certain way.

5) Spartacus

The absolute end-all, be-all in gladiator/slave revolt movies. Not only does it have somewhat of a heart, which is odd to say about a Stanley Kubrick movie, I liked how there was not only the slave uprising and rebellion but the backdoor machinations of the senators trying to use and/or hinder the slave revolt for their own political fortunes. Ultimately tragic, but is says so much more about freedom and rebellion than Mel Gibson yelling it ever could. And, of course, the original cut with the homoerotic subtext is the best.

4) Breathless

One of those cases where it is just as good as people says it is. Also one of those cases where you can see where certain directors might have borrowed from Godard (Tarantino is an obviously example-he loves talky European movies). Makes you want to move to Paris and hang out with the people somewhat on the fringes there. Makes you want to get a time machine and go back and absorb the atmosphere of Paris in 1960.

3) The Magnificent Seven

One of the better remakes of a foreign film property, but also sort of jumpstarting that kind-of trend in the 60's of turning Kurosawa movies into westerns. I've said it before and I will say it again, I am sure: if you are going to steal its best to steal from the best. Just like in the original Seven Samurai, a group of gunfighters are hired to protect a small village from a group of killers that have been menacing them. An awesome cast, and a chance for Eli Wallach to test out his Tuco character before Tuco was even a gleam in his or Leone's eye. And I would be remiss in not mentioning the great Elmer Berstein score. (Trivia: John Williams was a part of the orchestra that recorded the score!)

2) The Apartment

I was recently having a shitty day at work after coming back from the holidays and I thought about doing a top ten workplace movie list, and I thought of The Apartment. Which, in turn, made me think of how I could easily do a list of my favorite Billy Wilder movies and this one would be right at or near the top of that list as well. Billy Wilder is amazing first off, and this is him at the top of his game. Not only is it a funny and sad look at people trying to connect, but its also a funny and sad look at not only interpersonal relationships, but our relationships with our so-called superiors at work. Absolutely amazing. Not only is the script great, but Wilder makes it looks great, like that indelible image if Jack Lemmon working in that huge office with wall-to-wall desks and the harsh glare of the lights. I'm not doing it justice in my description, obviously, but it is something special.

1) Psycho

One thing we don't get enough of anymore is master directors not only getting into feuds, but having amazing work coming out said feuds. The famous story is that Hitchcock originally wanted to make the movie that became Diabolique but Clouzet beat him to the punch and bought the rights, and made one of the great gut-punch thrillers of all time. This just made Hitchcock want to beat Clouzet at his own game so his answer to him was Psycho which was a whole new gutpunch of its own. I could list a host of reasons that Hitchcock changed the game leading into the 60's with this movie, from showing a woman undressed and with a man who wasn't her husband in the opening scene, to killing off the main character part way through the movie, to even getting the audience to identify briefly with the killer when Norman Bates is trying to get rid of Marion Crane's car and it stops sinking for a second....I could go on. Its almost like Hitchcock put his all into making this movie and for the rest of the sixties the air was slowly let out, besides The Birds and possibly Frenzy there wasn't a lot left in the tank. Sure, the second half perhaps might not be quite as good as the first, and then there is the voiceover of the doctor which some people don't like, but in the grand scheme of things these are minor quibbles. Just an awesome movie.

Monday, January 11, 2010

We live in an Age of Miracles (Two New Years Resolutions)

Sure this isn't finding a way to feed and clothe the world. And disease and war have not been eradicated. But if we even put a little bit of the effort we put towards entertainment towards some of these other myriad problems. We could really do something. (Optimism!) But this isn't that sort of blog. What I am referring to now is the Kindle that was my main Christmas present from my family. Its kind of mindblowing, really. Before I was actually gifted it because, of course, I would never buy one on my own (see also: my first cell phone) I was skeptical to say the least. I am old fashioned in that I like the look and feel of books. But, hey, I like the look and feel of albums and/or CD's too but I have mostly switched to digital as far as music goes. Until we buy that turntable, that is. But that's another story. Anyway, back to the Kindle, my parents also gave me a few dollars to go towards my first five books downloaded. I have downloaded 3 books thus far, and the crazy thing is that one of them is Stephen King's Under The Dome, which is something like 1008 pages long. And its there on this device thats nearly as thin as a piece of paper (sort of). And there is still room for hundreds of more books. Its just crazy. So it has actually helped with one of my resolutions: Read More non-internet materials. (Books specifically) And I have already started to. Very nice. It is sort of like the Roku where everything is not available for it just yet, but there is definitely enough there to keep one busy.

And don't get me started on the Ipod. Like Patton Oswalt says below, its tiny and it will hold every song you have heard or will ever hear. He puts it better:

This is old, but Louis CK talking about how things are awesome yet noone notices:

My other resolution: I'll elaborate more later, but catch up on foreign films I have missed. I mean like classic and recent ones that seemed to have fallen by the wayside for me for whatever reason. But it remains a somewhat substantial hole in my movie "education" if you will, one I'd like to attempt to start filling this year. (Of course, only a movie dork would be concerned with something like this.) We will see how I do.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Tooth Fairy

No I haven't seen this in some special, free sneak preview. Nor would I. But I first saw this poster a week or so ago at a bus stop.

It's only a few weeks into 2010 and already a movie is challenging Sherlock Holmes for stupidest tag line. At the very least Sherlock Holmes ended up being an entertaining movie, I don't hold out the same hope for this, unfortunately.

And, on a sort of related note, The Rock (as I still prefer to refer to him as) needs to get in touch with Jason Statham's agent. He could be as big an action star as Statham is. He is has incredible athleticism and charisma, and should be kicking ass like this (sorry, the only clip I could find was this one with the horrible song added over the top-if nothing else skip to 1:30 for the real money shot, so to speak):

He clotheslined a wall!?

But, then again, I am quite sure he sleeps on a big pile of money every night, so what do I know? Kids movies are probably a real money maker.