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Blank Check: Disney Brings Us Every Kid’s Dream, With Some Weirdness I LRM’s Retro-Specs

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Blank Check: Disney Brings Us Every Kid’s Dream, With Some Weirdness I LRM’s Retro-Specs

The concept of kids being in charge and being able to navigate life is not a new concept. Goonies, Lost Boys, IT, and Home Alone are just a few that span different genres. Movies like these make us 80s and 90s kids ponder if we could do the same. I mean who didn’t think they could make traps for possible intruders to succumb to? There’s a fun 90s classic that combines Home Alone with Richie Rich (but no Macaulay Culkin). Another 90s flick that made us wonder “what if?” is 1994’s Blank Check!

What Would You Do?

Here’s the thing, even as adults many of us question what it would be like if we hit the jackpot. Blank Check covers just that. Although it’s not the lottery and is actually fraud and theft, but it’s stealing from bad guys, so it’s okay, right? For Disney it is at the time. Although while the film is great, many feel it did not age well and may not even hold up by today’s standards. More on that later.

Blank Check stars Brian Bonsall as 12-year-old Preston Waters who is the youngest sibling in his family. Of course he is picked on by his older siblings. His aloof parents are played by James Rebhorn and Jayne Atkinson. Ric Ducommun is Henry the limo driver while Karen Duffy plays undercover cop, Shay Stanley. Other notable actors playing antagonists are corrupt banker Biderman (Michael Lerner), Quigley (Miguel Ferrer), and my favorite, Juice (Tone Loc). 

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Preston is the somewhat forgotten kid archetype. While riding his bike Quigley and Juice are in the process of working with Biderman to pretty much launder stolen money. When they are leaving the bank, Quigley accidentally backs into Preston’s bike. A pissed off Quigley starts to write a check, but realizes the police are near and he doesn’t want to bring attention on them. He gives the kid a blank check and leaves.

In typical 90s fashion, Preston is a computer wiz. He takes the check and bids on a mansion in the neighborhood as…Mr. Macintosh. He pays with the blank check by filling it out for a cool million dollars. So we are in the first 30 minutes or so and we have theft, money laundering, fraud, and somewhat of identity theft. Nice work, Disney.

Of course Preston goes on to accessorize the mansion with all a kid could dream of. He tries to live in both worlds as he “works” for Mr. Macintosh. Why would a millionaire have a 12-year-old working for them? Anyways. The villains come after him to get their money back while Shay and the police are investigating Mr. Macintosh.

Preston takes the villains through his house of tricks ala Home Alone, Shay kisses Preston (30 year old cop kissing a 12-year-old on a date…), Quigley states that he is Mr. Macintosh in order to get the money (that is no longer there) and he and the Juice and Biderman are then arrested and all ends well. Wild.

 

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Capitalizing on Home Alone

Home Alone hits in 1990 and Home Alone 2 in 1992. The success of the franchise made others look for the “kid vs. villains” scenario. While Blank Check’s tricks and traps are not as unique as Kevin McCallister’s, they still showcase how far Preston’s $1 million goes in the 90s. My favorites are the go-kart course, the huge, multiple TV wall with the gaming chair suspended from the ceiling, and water slide that goes from the office into the pool. For the film’s flaws it did hit with what a 12-year-old could possibly dream of at the time.

Again, the way of taking down the villains is not as strong as other similar. Preston chases one villain with the go-kart. He makes another chase him going down the water slide. And of course, the batting cage where Juice gets hit in the junk. Overall, the film capitalized on what works in the 90s and has a classic following because of it.

The Weird

Watching the film in the 90s was great. While some films age well, Home Alone, Goonies, etc., Blank Check may not when viewing today. Outlets have commented on just how creepy some of the film is. This 90s Disney film has: money laundering, theft, embezzlement, fraud, identity theft, murder plot (the bad guys want to kill Preston for taking the money), the 30-year-old banker/FBI Agent kissing a 12-year-old on the lips and saying they will go on a date in six years…

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So Karen Duffy’s flirting with Brian Bonsall may be defended with “acting”. Alright, sure. However, Duffy did actually have to kiss Bonsall…on the lips…Now THAT is tough to justify even if it is “acting”. Yikes.

While many 90s films may be over-the-top, Blank Check seems to take the cake. Not even really walking the line, but drastically crossing it and passing it off as no big deal. A stark contrast to many of Disney‘s morals developing films. Still, Blank Check has quite the following and is a 90s gem to watch. But how in the hell did we miss all of that?

 

Still Around

If this column jogs your memory about Blank Check, it’s still around to check out. Head on over to Disney+ and there it is. Give it another look. See how different your view of it may be. Although, you may want to hold off if the kids are around. It still has the nostalgia factor for me, although some parts are definitely cringe-worthy. 

ALSO SEE: Pro Stars: Join Our Favorite 90s Athletes As They Save The World! I LRM’s RetroSpecs

Do you remember Blank Check? Have you seen it recently? Do you still consider it a 90s classic, or does it now blow your mind? Leave your thoughts in the usual spot, and thanks for reading!

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Sources: CBR, Thrillist, Disney Fandom

 

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

Hitting the three-quarter-century mark usually means a retirement home, a nursing facility, or if you’re lucky to be blessed with relatively good health and savings to match, living in a gated community in Arizona or Florida.

For Sylvester Stallone, however, it means something else entirely: starring in the first superhero-centered film of his decades-long career in the much-delayed Samaritan. Unfortunately for Stallone and the audience on the other side of the screen, the derivative, turgid, forgettable results won’t get mentioned in a career retrospective, let alone among the ever-expanding list of must-see entries in a genre already well past its peak.

For Stallone, however, it’s better late than never when it involves the superhero genre. Maybe in getting a taste of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with his walk-on role in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel several years ago, Stallone thought anything Marvel can do, I can do even better (or just as good in the nebulous definition of the word).

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The property Stallone and his team found for him, Samaritan, a little-known graphic novel released by a small, almost negligible, publisher, certainly takes advantage of Stallone’s brute-force physicality and his often underrated talent for near-monosyllabic brooding (e.g., the Rambo series), but too often gives him to little do or say as the lone super-powered survivor, the so-called “Samaritan” of the title, of a lifelong rivalry with his brother, “Nemesis.” Two brothers entered a fire-ravaged building and while both were presumed dead, one brother did survive (Stallone’s Joe Smith, a garbageman by day, an appliance repairman by night).

In the Granite City of screenwriter Bragi F. Schut (Escape Room, Season of the Witch), the United States, and presumably the rest of the world, teeters on economic and political collapse, with a recession spiraling into a depression, steady gigs difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, and the city’s neighborhoods rocked by crime and violence. No one’s safe, not even 13-year-old Sam (Javon Walker), Joe’s neighbor.

When he’s not dodging bullies connected to a gang, he’s falling under the undue influence of Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), a low-rent gang leader with an outsized ego and the conviction that he and only he can take on Nemesis’s mantle and along with that mantle, a hammer “forged in hate,” to orchestrate a Bane-like plan to plunge the city into chaos and become a wealthy power-broker in the process.

Schut’s woefully underwritten script takes a clumsy, haphazard approach to world-building, relying on a two-minute animated sequence to open Samaritan while a naive, worshipful Sam narrates Samaritan and Nemesis’s supposedly tragic, Cain and Abel-inspired backstory. Schut and director Julius Avery (Overlord) clumsily attempt to contrast Sam’s childish belief in messiah-like, superheroic saviors stepping in to save humanity from itself and its own worst excesses, but following that path leads to authoritarianism and fascism (ideas better, more thoroughly explored in Watchmen and The Boys).

While Sam continues to think otherwise, Stallone’s superhero, 25 years past his last, fatal encounter with his presumably deceased brother, obviously believes superheroes are the problem and not the solution (a somewhat reasonable position), but as Samaritan tracks Joe and Sam’s friendship, Sam giving Joe the son he never had, Joe giving Sam the father he lost to street violence well before the film’s opening scene, it gets closer and closer to embracing, if not outright endorsing Sam’s power fantasies, right through a literally and figuratively explosive ending. Might, as always, wins regardless of how righteous or justified the underlying action.

It’s what superhero audiences want, apparently, and what Samaritan uncritically delivers via a woefully under-rendered finale involving not just unconvincing CGI fire effects, but a videogame cut-scene quality Stallone in a late-film flashback sequence that’s meant to be subversively revelatory, but will instead lead to unintentional laughter for anyone who’s managed to sit the entirety of Samaritan’s one-hour and 40-minute running time.

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Samaritan is now streaming worldwide on Prime Video.

Samaritan

Cast
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton
  • Pilou Asbæk

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Matt Shakman Is In Talks To Direct ‘Fantastic Four’

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According to a new report, Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the upcoming MCU project, Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios has been very hush-hush regarding Fantastic Four to the point where no official announcements have been made other than the film’s release date. No casting news or literally anything other than rumors has been released regarding the project. We know that Fantastic Four is slated for release on November 8th, 2024, and will be a part of Marvel’s Phase 6. There are also rumors that the cast of the new Fantastic Four will be announced at the D23 Expo on September 9th.

Fantastic Four is still over two years from release, and we assume we will hear more news about the project in the coming months. However, the idea of the Fantastic Four has already been introduced into the MCU. John Krasinski played Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The cameo was a huge deal for fans who have been waiting a long time for the Fantastic Four to enter the MCU. When Disney acquired Twenty Century Fox in 2019 we assumed that the Fox Marvel characters would eventually make their way into the MCU. It’s been 3 years and we already have had an X-Men and Fantastic Four cameo – even if they were from another universe.

Deadline is reporting that Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct Fantastic Four. Shakman served as the director for Wandavision and has had an extensive career. He directed two episodes of Game of Thrones and an episode of The Boys, and he had a long stint on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is nothing official yet, but Deadline’s sources say that Shakman is currently in talks for the job and things are headed in the right direction.

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To be honest, I was a bit more excited when Jon Watts was set to direct. I’m sure Shakman is a good director, but Watts proved he could handle a tentpole superhero film with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Wandavision was good, but Watts’ style would have been perfect for Fantastic Four. The film is probably one of the most anticipated films in Marvel’s upcoming slate films and they need to find the best person they can to direct. Is that Matt Shakman? It could be, but whoever takes the job must realize that Marvel has a lot riding on this movie. The other Fantastic Four films were awful and fans deserve better. Hopefully, Marvel knocks it out of the park as they usually do. You can see for yourself when Fantastic Four hits theaters on November 8th, 2024.

Film Synopsis: One of Marvel’s most iconic families makes it to the big screen: the Fantastic Four.

Source: Deadline

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Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase Star in ‘Zombie Town’ Mystery Teen Romancer (Exclusive)

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Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase have entered Zombie Town, a mystery teen romancer based on author R.L. Stine’s book of the same name.

The indie, now shooting in Ontario, also stars Henry Czerny and co-teen leads Marlon Kazadi and Madi Monroe. The ensemble cast includes Scott Thompson and Bruce McCulloch of the Canadian comedy show Kids in the Hall.

Canadian animator Peter Lepeniotis will direct Zombie Town. Stine’s kid’s book sees a quiet town upended when 12-year-old Mike and his friend, Karen, see a horror movie called Zombie Town and unexpectedly see the title characters leap off the screen and chase them through the theater.

Zombie Town will premiere in U.S. theaters before streaming on Hulu and then ABC Australia in 2023.

“We are delighted to bring the pages of R.L. Stine’s Zombie Town to the screen and equally thrilled to be working with such an exceptional cast and crew on this production. A three-time Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award winner with book sales of over $500 million, R.L. Stine has a phenomenal track record of crafting stories that engage and entertain audiences,” John Gillespie, Trimuse Entertainment founder and executive producer, said in a statement.

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Executive producers are Trimuse Entertainment, Toonz Media Group, Lookout Entertainment, Viva Pictures and Sons of Anarchy actor Kim Coates.  

Paco Alvarez and Mark Holdom of Trimuse negotiated the deal to acquire the rights to Stine’s Zombie Town book.

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