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The Goonies  


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You may be surprised to discover that the director of the Lethal Weapon movies and scary horror flick The Omen, Richard Donner, also produced and directed this classic children's adventure (which, by the way, was written by Donner's screen-wizard friend Steven Spielberg). Then again you may not. The Goonies, like Donner's other movies, is the same story of good versus evil. It has its share of bad guys (the Fratelli brothers and their villainous mother), reluctant-hero good guys (the Walsh bothers and their gang of friends), and lots of corny one-liners. Like in an old-fashioned Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew plot, the Goonies need to solve a problem: a corrupt corporate developer has bought out their neighborhood and plans to flatten all their homes. Luckily, the beloved gang stumbles on a treasure map. In the hopes of finding the treasure to buy back their houses, the Goonies embark on their quest through underground passages, aboard pirate ships, and behind waterfalls. This swashbuckling and rollicking ride was also a great breeding ground for a couple of child actors who went on to enjoy numerous successes in adulthood: Sean Astin (Rudy, Encino Man) and Martha Plimpton (Pecker, 200 Cigarettes). --Samantha Allen Storey
-from Amazon.com website


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Toy Soldiers  


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Toy Soldiers is a slick dose of high-concept absurdity, and lots of fun if you don't think about it afterward. Adapted from a novel by William P. Kennedy, it's got the swift momentum that's a specialty of screenwriter David Koepp, whose later credits include Jurassic Park and Spider-Man. Matching Koepp's narrative energy is director and cowriter Daniel Petrie Jr., who wrote Beverly Hills Cop, and whose big-screen career stalled after this crowd-pleasing debut. The hokey plot involves a class of prep-school misfits (led by Sean Astin and Wil Wheaton) who use their rebellious ingenuity to foil Colombian terrorists who've taken over their school. The lead villain (Andrew Divoff) demands the return of his extradited drug-lord father (one of the prep students is the residing judge's son), and the inevitable showdown provides a heady mix of nonsense, graphic violence, and military muscle. It shouldn't work but it does, especially if you've got a tolerance for Die Hard clones that barely pass inspection. --Jeff Shannon
-from Amazon.com website


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The Final Hit  


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Rudy  


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This 1993 film by David Anspaugh (Hoosiers) is slowly building a reputation as a minor highlight of '90s movies. Based on a true story, Rudy stars Sean Astin as Rudy Ruettiger, a blue-collar kid whose father (Ned Beatty) worships Notre Dame football but who would never dare to dream that any of his sons could be a part of the team. The film is entirely about Ruettiger's ceaseless if sometimes wavering commitment toward that goal, despite tremendous obstacles in physical stature, education requirements, the dismissiveness of coaches, poverty, his father's envy, and endless delays of one kind or another. This is the sort of film that looks back on a life and says the battle was its own reward, not the glory. Astin is very moving as a boy who becomes a man and watches his world change, often in unexpected ways, through painful determination. Great support from Beatty, Lili Taylor as a hometown girl, and Robert Prosky and Charles S. Dutton as two valuable mentors. --Tom Keogh
-from Amazon.com website


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The War of the Roses  


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Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito reunited for a third time to fabulous effect in this dark, disturbing comedy of martial trauma and revenge, which couldn't be more different from their sunnier outings in Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile. Douglas and Turner, in career-best performances, are the materialistic, consumer-driven Roses of the title (Oliver and Barbara) whose seemingly perfect marriage has soured beyond repair; their only point of contact, aside from their two college-bound kids, is their meticulously maintained dream house, which Douglas bought and Turner decorated to perfection. When Turner gets a taste of financial independence, she asks Douglas for divorce--all she wants is the house and everything in it (aside from his clothes and shaving kit). He laughs at her and she punches him in the face. Things only get worse from there, as nasty divorce proceedings (with DeVito as Douglas's lawyer) give way to insults, threats, ruined dinner parties, and pet abuse. And through it all, the Roses begin destroying their beloved home and its contents, just to spite each other. DeVito, who also directed, takes Michael Leeson's blacker-than-black screenplay and gives it a hyperstylized spin, complete with skewed camera angles and wonderfully expressionistic cinematography (by Stephen Burum) as Douglas and Turner barricade themselves in their house, both refusing to give an inch. Shocking for a mainstream studio picture, with its unsympathetic protagonists, escalating bitterness, and disturbing finale, Roses is a poisonously funny valentine to both marriage and '80s materialism, tempered only by its framing device as a cautionary tale. Definitely not a date movie. --Mark Englehart
-from Amazon.com website


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Courage Under Fire  


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A year after a devastating friendly fire incident during the Gulf War, Lt. Colonel Nathaniel Serling (Denzel Washington) is in a Washington, D.C., desk job assigned the rudimentary task of overseeing a Medal of Honor candidate who died in the war. However, the case and soldier in question are a political hot potato--Captain Karen Walden (Meg Ryan) is America's first female soldier to be killed in combat. Serling soon finds discrepancies in the case of a downed Medevac helicopter in the rocky Kuwait territory. What unfolds in flashback are several versions of Walden's tactics ( la Kurosawa's Rashomon) to rescue the soldiers and survive the downing. As with Glory, Director Edward Zwick's cast of unknown and famous faces always comes off as the real article. Walden's crew is especially convincing. Matt Damon as the medic comes off as the giddy scaredy-cat when telling his story to Washington. In battle he's a flawed, humorous soldier. The most surprising work in the movie is done by Lou Diamond Phillips (as the group's gunman), whose career had been headed to straight-to-video oblivion. Then there's Ryan. She has done well with dramatic work in the past (When a Man Loves a Woman, Flesh and Bone) but has never been able to escape the romantic-comedy image. With dyed hair, a light accent, and the dramatics of the situation, Ryan finally has an enduring dramatic film. Even though she has half of Washington's screen time, her brave and ultimately haunting performance makes Courage something special, right down to its curious but rewarding final scene. --Doug Thomas
-from Amazon.com website


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