Here is one of the best … and admittedly, most bizarre … couplings of the mainstream and the underground. This is the lovely ballad composed for Rob Reiner’s classic 1987 film “The Princess Bride,” written and soulfully sung by punk legend Willy DeVille of the band Mink DeVille. The song was later nominated for an Oscar and seeing Willy on stage crooning this in front of a billion plus viewers during the Academy Awards in 1988 was a very cool kick in the head indeed.
One of my favorite bits from “This is Spinal Tap,” this is Paul Shaffer as the unctuous and inept Polymer Records promotions man Artie Fufkin. What’s great about this scene is that Fufkin won’t allow the band the dignity of being angry with him after a screw-up. He literally throws his own dignity on the mat and stomps on it himself.
By the way, this is something I’ve been dying to do for years when offering an insincere apology, but don’t have the balls to do it, lest anyone literally take me up on my offer … or not know what the hell I’m referencing.
Now back to “Sneakin’ in the Movies” … By the winter of 1985, I had had unparallelled success buying tickets to R-rated films before the age of 17 in my very conservative home town, probably due to my height. So, when me and some friends of mine wanted to see “Porky’s Revenge” on opening weekend, we thought we had a lock on achieving this goal … (OK, I hear you sneering out there … like you were sipping espresso at the local art house discussing a revival of “L’Avventura” when you were 15 … kiss my Antonioni!) …
However, when I went to buy the tickets, I heard words I had never heard before at a box-office: “May I see some ID?” I fumbled out the lame “Oh, I think I left it at home” and bought 3 tickets to a PG-13 film called “The Sure Thing” instead. Since my friends and I were bound and determined to see “Porky’s Revenge,” we simply walked into the theater showing “Porky’s Revenge” and sat down. Unfortunately for us, several other people our age had the same idea, because the film sold out and there were about 50 patrons who bought tickets who couldn’t find a seat. The usher sized up what was happening real fast and announced “We know there are people here that shouldn’t be here. I’m going to come back in 3 minutes and start checking ticket stubs.” We took that as our cue to check out “The Sure Thing.”
Now, “The Sure Thing” was not a completely unknown choice. I knew Rob Reiner (director of “This is Spinal Tap”) had directed it and it had gotten some good notices by critics, so I figured it couldn’t be that bad. Granted, the premise is rom-com hell to the nth degree (wacky-nutty he-man tries to impress a beautiful but uptight woman), but I remember the film got a lot of praise at the time because it was a teen sex comedy with heart … unusual at the time (this was 14-years before “American Pie”). Anyway, I wound up liking it a lot, thought it was funny as hell, and loved John Cusack’s character Walter Gibson.
Riding a wave of nostalgia recently, I watched it again … and well … I’m sorry to say this movie has not aged well … at all. Don’t get me wrong. I really like Cusack as an actor, like many of Rob Reiner’s films, and still have a little crush on Daphne Zuniga, the lead actress. But Cusack’s character in this film is a complete tool. Maybe that contradictory “wacky-nutty-he-man” thing was mildly sexy to women 30 years ago, but I can’t imagine any woman giving this d-bag a fifth look these days. If you disagree, then I think you’re confusing your memory with other Cusack characters (i.e. “Say Anything”) who were a lot more charming … mainly because they didn’t try so hard. This film is so annoying that even Katherine Heigl wouldn’t act in it. Sometimes, memories and nostalgia are not what they’re cracked up to be.