Posts Tagged ‘Marc Shaiman’

A FEW GOOD MEN – Marc Shaiman

November 23, 2022 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

I have always viewed A Few Good Men as one of the best legal drama-thrillers of the 1990s. It’s a richly detailed, wonderfully written, dazzlingly acted exposé of a part of the US military, based on the acclaimed stage play by Aaron Sorkin, directed by Rob Reiner. The film stars Tom Cruise at the height of his movie star fame, playing Daniel Kaffee, a military lawyer in the US Navy, whose reputation for juvenile antics and easy plea bargaining has made him something of a joke among his peers. Things change for Kaffee when he is hired to defend two Marines accused of killing a fellow soldier on the base at Guantanamo Bay. Kaffee’s appointment angers his reluctant co-counsel, Joanne Galloway (Demi Moore), who thinks that there is more to the case than meets the eye, and is concerned that Kaffee’s blasé approach will derail the defense. As they dig more deeply into the circumstances surrounding the marine’s death, they find themselves at loggerheads with Nathan Jessup (a phenomenal Jack Nicholson), the colonel in charge of the Guantanamo unit, a feared and respected career soldier with unorthodox methods of maintaining discipline. Read more…


November 11, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

They’re creepy and their kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re all together ooky, the Addams family.

A big-screen reboot of the classic 1960s TV sitcom, which itself was based on a popular newspaper cartoon by Charles Addams, The Addams Family is a comedy with a twist. Led by patriarch Gomez Addams and his aristocratic wife Morticia, the Addamses are a macabre group who demonstrate some supernatural abilities, but nevertheless live a comparatively normal life in suburban America with their children Wednesday and Pugsley, their manservant Lurch, and a disembodied hand named Thing which acts as the family pet. The film picks up the story many years after the TV show ended, and follows the family as it tries to re-connect with Gomez’s long-lost brother Fester, who has unexpectedly reappeared in their lives after being missing for a long time. However, unbeknownst to the Addamses, ‘Fester’ is actually a conman working with a loan shark, who wants the family fortune. The plot is really just an excuse for the cast to engage in a series of deliciously dark and ghoulishly comedic set-pieces, near-the-knuckle jokes, and verbal witticisms. The cast is led wonderfully by the late Raul Julia as the flamboyant Gomez, Anjelica Huston as the sultry Morticia, and Christopher Lloyd as Fester, and features a breakthrough performance from the then 11-year-old Christina Ricci as the proto-goth kid Wednesday. It was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, and was mostly a critical and commercial success, eventually receiving an Oscar nomination for costume design. Read more…

CITY SLICKERS – Marc Shaiman

June 17, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

City Slickers is a hilarious fish-out-of-water comedy directed by Ron Underwood, written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel. The film stars Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, and Bruno Kirby as Mitch, Phil, and Ed, three friends who constantly seek out new and increasingly dangerous ‘weekend experiences’ as a distraction from their boring jobs, unsatisfactory marriages, and impending midlife crises. After a trip to Spain to take part in the ‘running of the bulls’ turns into a disaster, the trio attempt something closer to home: a two-week cattle drive vacation, riding horses and being “dude cowboys” across the American west. After meeting up with the other members of the group and heading out into the big country, the trio quickly find themselves very much out of their depth, raising the ire and disdain of the grizzled trail boss Curly (Jack Palance). However, an unexpected tragedy forces the three of them to put aside their fears and neuroses and work together to save themselves, the cattle, and their fellow ‘city slickers’. The film co-starred Patricia Wettig, Helen Slater, and Noble Willingham, and was a popular success both with critics and audiences, culminating in an unexpected Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Palance at the age of 73 – who celebrated by doing one-armed push-ups on the Academy stage! Read more…

MISERY – Marc Shaiman

November 25, 2020 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the most talked-about movies of 1990 was Misery, a thriller directed by Rob Reiner, based on the 1987 novel of the same name by Stephen King. It’s a tale of psychological horror, obsession, and violence, and was one of the first films to address ‘celebrity stalker’ culture. James Caan stars as Paul Sheldon, an author famous for his series of romance books featuring the lead character Misery Chastain. One day Paul crashes his car in a snowstorm just outside a small Colorado town; seriously injured, he is rescued by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), a former nurse who lives nearby. As Paul recuperates it quickly becomes apparent that Annie – who describes herself as Paul’s ‘number one fan’ – is quite deranged, and plans on keeping him prisoner in her home so that he can write more Misery novels… by any means necessary. The most talked-about moment in the film is, of course, the scene where Annie breaks both Paul’s ankles with a sledgehammer to keep him from escaping, which still retains its visceral power today; Bates went on to win the Oscar for Best Actress for her career-making performance. Read more…


December 16, 2018 3 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Is there a more beloved screen musical than Mary Poppins? The Walt Disney-produced 1964 classic, based on the series of novels by P. L. Travers, made a star of actress Julie Andrews, entered songs like “Feed the Birds,” “A Spoonful of Sugar,” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” into the enduring cinematic lexicon, and won the hearts of children and adults all around the world. When it was announced that, more than 50 years later, a sequel was in production, it was inevitable that comparisons between it and the original would be made – how could they not be? The potential for disaster was enormous. Thankfully for all concerned, Mary Poppins Returns is a triumph in every respect, an overwhelmingly joyous ‘happiness bomb’ that pays respectful homage to the legendary first film while continuing the story in a thoughtful, respectful, fun, and emotional way. The film is set some thirty years after the first one, in pre-War rather than Edwardian London, and finds the original Banks children Jane and Michael as adults. Michael is a widower with three children of his own, living in his father’s home; however, in the aftermath of his wife’s death, Michael has sunk into a depression, and is in danger of losing the house to the bank. Just as all hope seems lost their magical childhood nanny, Mary Poppins, returns, and with the help of a London lamplighter named Jack, sets about putting things right for the Banks children for a second time. Read more…

LBJ – Marc Shaiman

November 7, 2017 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Lyndon Baines Johnson was the 36th President of the United States. Born in Texas in 1908, he served in the US Navy and worked as a high school teacher before winning election to the House of Representatives in 1937, and then to the Senate in 1948. After a widely-praised career in Washington, Johnson was chosen to be John F. Kennedy’s running mate in 1960, and became Vice President after Kennedy’s victory. He ascended to the presidency in 1963 after JFK was assassinated; as President, he won the 1964 election with ease and instituted a series of sweeping popular social reforms aimed at combating racism, poor healthcare, and poverty, but was simultaneously criticized for his aggressive personality, and for the United States’s controversial involvement in the Vietnam War. Amid the Vietnam controversy Johnson lost the 1968 Democratic primary to his own vice president, Hubert Humphrey, after Robert F. Kennedy was himself assassinated, and when Humphrey lost the general election to Republican Richard Nixon, Johnson retired from politics and returned to his Texas ranch, where he died in 1973. Director Rob Reiner’s movie LBJ tells Johnson’s life story, with Woody Harrelson portraying the man himself, and with Richard Jenkins, Bill Pullman, and Jennifer Jason Leigh in supporting roles. Read more…

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THE BUCKET LIST – Marc Shaiman

December 28, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s been a while since the world had an original score by Marc Shaiman since he went off to write Hairspray and subsequently become the new darling of Broadway, but when Rob Reiner comes calling, Shaiman usually responds – and so we have The Bucket List, the latest cinematic collaboration between the two. The film stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as two old men – both diagnosed with terminal illnesses – who make ‘the bucket list’, outlining the things they want to achieve before they shuffle off the mortal coil and kick the bucket. And so, the film follows their various misadventures as the pair escape from their cancer ward and subsequently tick off all the items on their list by going skydiving, driving stunt cars, traveling the world, and living their lives to the fullest before time runs out on them. Read more…

HAIRSPRAY – Marc Shaiman

July 20, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Marc Shaiman took a break from the film scoring world in the early 2000s to embark on a Broadway career in the company of his lyricist partner Scott Wittman. The result of their collaboration was Hairspray, a charming and effortlessly sunny musical based on the 1988 film by John Waters, about an overweight teenager named Tracy Turnblad who, in 1960s Baltimore, dreams of performing on a popular TV dance show. Huge acclaim and several Tony Awards later, and things have come full-circle with the movie version of Shaiman’s musical, with Shaiman adapting his own music for the screen. With a stellar cast that includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, James Marsden, Queen Latifah, John Travolta in drag, and newcomer Nikki Blonsky as Tracy, the movie version of Hairspray is a camp, nostalgic delight. The whole thing is steeped in late-50s and early-60s rock and roll, a sort of cross between American Bandstand and Grease, and is chock-full of toe-tapping tunes, clever lyrics, great vocal performances, catchy orchestral arrangements, and an overall sense of fun and vitality that just makes it a delight from start to finish. Read more…

TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE – Harry Gregson-Williams, Trey Parker and Marc Shaiman

October 15, 2004 1 comment

teamamericaOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

In this post-9/11 world, where the threat of global terrorism looms overhead, where the fate of the people of Iraq hangs in the balance, and where political correctness in relation to sensitive subjects has reached fever pitch, thank God that Trey Parker and Matt Stone are around to bring everything back into perspective. The irreverent duo, who inject more intelligent humor into a single episode of South Park than most comedies can manage in a decade, have turned their satirical attention to the world of the American action movies and George W. Bush’s foreign policy with Team America: World Police. Read more…

SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT – Marc Shaiman and Trey Parker

July 2, 1999 Leave a comment

southparkOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

For anyone who has been living in a cocoon for the last few years, South Park is an animated TV series created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, set an the isolated Colorado town, and is all about four eight-year-old friends (Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovsky, Eric Cartman and the immortal Kenny McCormick) who, quite simply, wreak havoc in every episode, aided and abetted by recurring characters such as the sex machine school Chef (voiced by Isaac Hayes), Stan’s girlfriend Wendy Testaburger (who gets puked upon whenever Stan talks to her because he’s so nervous), and kooky schoolteachers Mr. Mackey and Mr. Garrison, who wears a puppet on his left hand called “Mr. Hat”. The thing about South Park is the style – the animation is extremely crude and simplistic, but the scripts are ironic, satirical, and surprisingly intelligent, with messages and morals easily identifiable in amongst each episode’s gross-out gags. Read more…