analysis

Excess Baggage vs A Life Less Ordinary

 

Both films were released in 1997.  Both are about a spoiled rich girl, trying to get her father’s attention, who is accidentally kidnapped by a troubled young man. In both cases they fall in love. I wouldn’t really call either films an example of Stockholm Syndrome, even though in both cases the kidnapping “victim”  identifies with the kidnapper, because the kidnappings are  accidental.
It often happens that movies with similar plots are released by different studios in the same year.  What makes a difference is the screenplay, director and cast.

spoilers

A Life Less Ordinary (ALLO for sake of comparison):
Running time: 103 min      Rated: R
Tagline: “A comedy for anyone who’s ever been in danger…of falling in love.”

Robert (Ewan McGregor) loses his job and confronts the company president.  He impulsively takes the boss’s daughter, Celine (Cameron Diaz),  as a hostage. He now finds himself as a kidnapper on the run with Celine.  In the meanwhile, Jackson (Delroy Lindo) and O’Reilly (Holly Hunter),  are two angels on a mission from God to reestablish romance between modern man and woman.

Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: John Hodge
Cast includes: Dan Hedaya, Stanley Tucci, Tony Shaloub, Ian Holm and Timothy Olyphant.

Excess Baggage (EB for sake of comparison):
 Running time: 101 min      Rated: PG-13
Tagline: “You would NOT believe what a girl’s got to do, just to get a little attention”
A spoiled teenager, Emily (Alicia Silverstone), fakes her own kidnapping.  While she is in the trunk of her car, Vincent (Bencio Del Toro), a car thief steals her car and inadvertently becomes a kidnapper. There are sparks between them and they form a special bond. In the meanwhile her father has sent his associate, ” Uncle Ray” (Christopher Walken) to retrieve Emily.

Director: Marco Brambilla
Writer:  Max. D Adams (story & screenplay), Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais.
Cast includes: Harry Connick Jr., Jack Thompson and Nicholas Turturro.

Comparison:

  • EB is more realistic than ALLO, which has the fantasy element of two angels on a mission.
  • ALLO employs Deux ex machina. 
  • ALLO overall has the better cast and acting performances.
  • EB: Alicia  Silverstone  was nominated for a worst actress Razzie. Good performances from Walken and Del Toro.
  • ALLO has a more famous writer and director.
  • ALLO has better overall cinematogrpahy and editing.
  • Both have cool soundtracks.
  • EB is more main stream and did better at the box office.
  • EB was made for a budget of ± $20,000,000  and ALLO for  ± $12,000,000 (source: imdb)
  • ALLO has funnier dialogue.
  • The romantic relationship in ALLO is more volatile.
  • Emily (EB) fakes her own kidnapping to get attention and then gets kidnapped for real… Celine (ALLO) gets kidnapped by mistakes but then decides to exploit the situation (and test how much her father loves her), by making Robert demand a ransom.
  • Both female leads are willful and opinionated and will speak their minds, but Celine (ALLO) is more independent and a stronger character.
  • Both women are American.
  • Robert( ALLO) is just   sweet, but frustrated guy, a bit of a loser,  who is at the wrong time and the wrong place and haplessly becomes a criminal.  Vincent (EB) is a career criminal (who wants out), who is also at the wrong place at the wrong time and gets sucked into s sticky situation.
  • Both male characters are of foreign origin. Vincent is Latino and Robert is British.

I enjoyed both movies, but I slightly favour A Lifeless Ordinary, as it is quirkier and a lot more absurd, albeit a little over the top.  It also briefly features two beautiful Dobermans.

 

Memorable Dialogue:

——————————————————————————————————————————
Emily vs. Celine:

===Excess Baggage===

EMILY:
What… you’re done? You don’t wanna play anymore?

**
EMILY:
Oh, hi Dad, I’m okay but um… Daddy he made me touch his penis.

VINCENT:
[Vincent hangs up the phone] Touch what?

EMILY: Oops.
===A Life Less Ordinary===

CELINE:
“Kidnap For Beginners”, Chapter One. Have you even asked for a ransom yet?
**

CELINE:
If word got around that I had been liberated for half a million dollars, I could never show my face in polite society again. Diamonds have no value except that which is placed upon them.
—————————————————————————————————————————–

Vincent vs. Robert

===Excess Baggage===

VINCENT:
I once stole a Ferrari with a Chihuahua in the back. He made less noise than you do.

**
VINCENT:
I’ve known this girl for two days, are you tellin’ me I care more about her than you? You son of a bitch! You should’ve sold her when she was born for cash value Mr. Business Man!


===A Life Less Ordinary===

ROBERT:
Right you asshole, I’ve got your daughter here, and I’m gonna send her back in pieces if… OH! I’m sorry, madam. No, I haven’t got your daughter here, I’ve got someone else’s. No, we’re not married. Yes, I’ve read the same thing, it’s very hard to find suitable young men these days. Well, I’m sure your daughter’s very nice, in principle I’ve got no objection to meeting her…
[Celine hangs up the phone]

——————————————————————————————————————————

Relationships: 

===Excess Baggage:===

VINCENT:
How stupid do you think I am, huh?

EMILY:
How stupid is there?
**

VINCENT:
I got a Twinkie in the car. It’s all yours, if you want it. Just make this call for me.
**
VINCENT:
Let’s see… we’ve got rum, tequila and rum… Rum and tequila. What would you like?

EMILY:
You don’t have to be drunk to kiss me.

VINCENT:
Well… I’m not drunk.
===A Life Less Ordinary===

ROBERT:
Why are you such a pain to be with?

CELINE:
Because you tied me to a chair all night.
**

CELINE
Despite your crummy poem, I came to see you and all you could do was humiliate me and turn me away. I thought you were decent, but it turns out you’re just a lying, cheating bastard like all the rest.
**
CELINE:
What’s wrong?

ROBERT:
What’s wrong, you crazy bitch, is I thought you were gonna shoot me! THAT’S what’s wrong!

—————————————————————————————————————————

©lowercase v  2017 

 

movie reviews

Excess Baggage (1997)

Running time: 101 min      Rated: PG-13

Excess Baggage was released 20 years ago…

excess baggage

To get her father’s attention, a spoiled rich teenager, Emily (Alicia Silverstone), fakes her own kidnapping.  While she is hiding out in the trunk of her car, Vincent (Bencio Del Toro), a car thief steals her car and inadvertently becomes a kidnapper. There are sparks between them and they form a bond as they spend more time together.  In the meanwhile her father has sent his associate,  “Uncle Ray” (Christopher Walken) to retrieve Emily.

I saw this movies as a teenager. I definitely wanted to have Alicia Silverstone’s outfit, which I thought was very cool.  The soundtrack is enjoyable and features the song “All Mixed Up” by Red House Painters . Benicio Del Toro gives a very sweet performance as Vincent. Alica Silverstone is very cute and was extremely popular at the time of this film, due to her movie Clueless (1996).

The whole poor little rich girl thing is a bit of cliché. Excess Baggage is not exactly a cinematic classic, but it is  very entertaining and a easy watch.

Director: Marco Brambilla
Writer:  Max. D Adams (story & screenplay), Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais.
Cast also includes:  Harry Connick Jr., Jack Thompson, Nicholas Turturro.

*A film with a similar premise, A Life Less Ordinary was released also released in 1997. Look out for my review and my comparison of the two films.

©lowercase v   2017

 

movie reviews

A Life Less Ordinary (1997)

Running time: 103 min       Rated: R

A Life Less Ordinary was released 20 years ago…

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Robert (Ewan McGregor), a cleaner and aspiring romance novelist, loses his job.  He confronts the company president and in the process takes the boss’s daughter, Celine (Cameron Diaz) as a hostage. He now finds himself as a kidnapper on the run with Celine. There are sparks between them and as they spend more time together, the possibility of romance. In the mean time, two angels, Jackson (Delroy Lindo) and O’Reilly (Holly Hunter) are stuck on earth with the mission to romantically united a man and a woman.

A Life Less Ordinary was directed by acclaimed British director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) and written by frequent collaborator John Hodge (Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, The Beach).

The subplot of the top angels adds a fantasy element to the otherwise gritty movie.  The subplot makes the movie more quirky, but it could probably stand without it. The dialogue is witty and the cast is on point.  The film is technically well made and edited. I like the score and the soundtrack . I would not say this is a case of Stockholm Syndrome, because the kidnapping is accidental. Overall, I enjoyed this movie and it is one of my favourites.

Also starring: Dan Hedaya, Stanley Tucci, Tony Shaloub, Ian Holm, Timothy Olyphant.

 

*A film with a similar premise, Excess Baggage was released also released in 1997. Look out for my review and my comparison of the two films.

©lowercase v   2017

 

 

movie reviews

Veronica Mars – Movie (2014)

vmars movie
Background:
The movie is based on a eponymous TV series – Veronica Mars, created by Rob Thomas (not the lead singer from Matchbox Twenty).  The show ran for 3 seasons  (2004 – 2007) and is set in the fictional town of Neptune, California.

During the first two seasons, Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) is a high school student who works as an assistant to her PI dad (Enrico Colantoni).  She also acts as private investigator for her fellow students and gets in all sorts of sticky situations. In season 3, Veronica is in college and living away from home. The series deals with several social issues and has a dark, quirky sense of humour.  The sound track also features some awesome music.

In order to make the movie, the producers and actors acquired funds through crowd funding. Those who contributed were allowed to be extras in the movie.

I wanted to go support the movie in theater, but it wasn’t showing over here. I got it later, on DVD.  The DVD featurette about the making of the movie and the Kickstarter campaign as a bonus material.

The Veronica Mars Movie:
Tagline: She thought she was out. 

The movie opens with a voice over (a common device in the show) and a quick recap of the series.  This works well enough in the context of a PI movie and introduces the characters and some of the references to those not so familiar with the show.

Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell)  is a college graduate, interviewing at prestigious law firms.  She learns that a classmate from high school was murdered and that her high school sweetheart, Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) is the prime suspect. She returns to her home town of Neptune to help Logan with his case…  and is in town just in time for her 10-year high school reunion.

The role of Carrie Bishop was played by Leighton Meester , but in the movie the role was taken over by  Andrea Estella (lead singer of Twin Sister).   Although ailry central to the plot of the movie, Carrie was a minor character in the show.

In the TV show the Mars family had a pittbull, named Backup, who is absent from the movie (presumably the dog had already passed on given the time period).

The  Veronica Mars movie recalls the spirit,  witty dialogue and characters from the TV series. It is cool to see how everyone has grow… and also how some characters have stay exactly the same.   there are several references to the show and “inside jokes”  (this might go over the heads of those not familiar with the show).  The Logan vs Piz (romantic) rivalry from season 3 is back.

It was fun to watch the movie, being a fan of the show.  It did not disappoint, but if you are/were a binge watcher of the show, it leaves you wanting more.

Rating: PG-13
Running time:  103 mins
Director: Rob Thomas

Writers: Rob Thomas & Diane Ruggiero
Cast includes: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Krysten Ritter, Ryan Hanson, Percy Dags III, Francis Capra, Chris Lowell,  Tina Majorino and Enrico Colantoni.

There are several well know actors in minor roles and cameo appearance.
Full cast and crew on imdb.

©lowercase v   2017 

movie reviews

The Doberman Gang (1972)

dobe gang72

Rating: PG

This film received the first “No Animals Were Harmed” end credit ever issued to a movie by American Humane Society (the oversight organization responsible for monitoring animal actors during productions).

Story:
After a botched bank robbery, Eddie (Byron Mabe), a frustrated crook, realizes that human error was the cause of his gang’s failure. One night he happens to see some Dobermans chasing intruders off a property. He starts thinking of how he could use people’s fear of these dogs to rob banks. Along with his ex-waitress girlfriend (Julie Parrish) he gets his old gang back together. They hire a dog-trainer Barney (Hal Reed) to train six Dobermans to rob a bank for them.

These dobermans were extremely well-trained animals. It made me sad that such brilliant dogs were being exploited by a A-hole like Eddie. Never mind the money, the Dobies stole my heart. There is also a sweet bulldog named J Edgar Hoover.

My thoughts:
Nothing extraordinary in editing or cinematography, but nothing I could absolutely fault either. (Though I wasn’t watching this from a critics point of view).
The soundtrack/score is a bit cheesy, although the theme song is kinda catchy. The exposition felt a bit slow, since the dobermans only arrive after about 26 minutes. There are a feel holes in Eddie’s plan.

This is a fun movie.  Dobie-lovers might also get annoyed by some of the breed stereotypes. The doberman is a beautiful and extremely intelligent dog, that can also be an agent of destruction in the wrong hands.

 

 

©lowercase v