Monday, February 15, 2016

Amos and Andrew Review by guest reviewer Jesse Bartel of Dead Air Horror and Genre!

(Chad's Note: My cohost on DeadAir: Horror and Genre Podcast, Mr. Jesse Bartel is the world's biggest Nic Cage fan. I just can't imagine anyone better suited to review a Nic Cage movie than him. I'll turn it over to him...)

As we all know, I love me some Nic Cage. I know, I know, that’s the case for everyone but I really love Nic Cage. Like, I have an obsession with him that goes beyond internet-irony. For starters, I own every one of his films in one format or another. My goal is to get each film, depending on release, on VHS, DVD, and Blu Ray. I will get there some day and I’ll cover one side of out apartment wall with nothing but Nic Cage no matter what my girlfriend says I can or can’t do.

I also wrote a research paper in Grad School on Nic Cage and how every film before LEAVING LAS VEGAS was a deliberate attempt by Cage to build the style that he would need to nab that Oscar. Just google my name and Nic Cage, it will probably come up. You might learn a thing or two!
I only preface this blu ray review with my declaration of obsession in order for you, reader, to understand how biased I am when it comes to Nic Cage movies. I like them all, even the bad ones, and boy, are there bad ones. So when I say that AMOS AND ANDREW is not a great movie, you can totally take my word on that. It’s not terrible mind you and it’s certainly one of those perfect background movies where you don’t actually watch it. The problem of the film is the content and there were good intentions there, initially but it unwinds quickly.

AMOS AND ANDREW is the title of the 1993 buddy-comedy film which stars Nicolas Cage as Amos Odell and Samuel L. Jackson as Andrew Sterling.

The film starts with Andrew Sterling moving into his new New England home which he has recently purchased after the success of his latest Broadway play. Phil (Michael Lerner) and Judy Gillman (Margaret Colin) are out for a walk when they see Sterling moving inside his own house. They assume he is robbing the place and they promptly call the police. The chief of police (Dabney Coleman) and his officers (including BRAD DOURIF) show up to catch the intruder. After realizing it was a mix up but having already shot at Sterling, the chief sends in local criminal, Amos Odell, to take Sterling hostage. All of this is being done so the chief and the town do not look racist for shooting at a black man for the basic fact that he’s black. The snowball effect continues from there.
The cool thing about AMOS AND ANDREW is that there is great material to work with and the setup is engaging. The thing comes off as an elaborate SNL skit that probably would’ve worked better as a skit than a 95 min feature film. For a film that is supposed to be satire and tackle noteworthy material, the viewer will find themselves not laughing and checking their phones (which is what I’ve done with every viewing I’ve had with this phone). Of course, I stay for Cage who is truly the glue that holds this movie together purely with his Cage-ness. Scenes would not work if it wasn’t for his particular style and bad-boy persona he dons for the character of Amos.

The best part of the film for me is the first 15-20 mins. Each time I’ve rewatched this, I have said to myself, “Maybe this isn’t so bad. Maybe I remembered it incorrectly.” But once the material thinks it’s really taking off, it script begins to dig itself a hole. The problem, of course, is the treatment of the material which instead of being satire ends up making racism or casual racism in communities more of a joke. It comes off as, “Isn’t it funny how black people and white people are so different? *puts hands on hips*) I mean the movie starts with a white dog peeing on a lawn jockey. GOOD JOB, GUYS. REALLY.

It’s a forgettable comedy and there are moments where you see the cleverness pop up but I find myself straining to always remember what exactly happened. It’s an interesting case of early 90s comedies and serves as an oddity for both the industry and Cage’s career. This was at the time when Cage was 2 years away from winning his Oscar and filled the gap with several forgettable roles. HONEYMOON IN VEGAS and TRAPPED IN PARADISE were 2 other comedies that came and went just like AMOS AND ANDREW.

As for the actual blu ray from OliveFilms? It looks really nice and certainly a step up from the DVD. The cover art is pretty terrible and resembles the DVD menu art. I thought the original cover art for the DVD was fine but this looks like a photoshopped nightmare. And no, there are no special features on the disc. No language settings. No trailer. Nothing. Nada. Just Chapters and Play.

Seeing how it will cost you close to $20 as it is to buy a new copy of the DVD, you might as well pick up the blu ray. For the same price you get a better looking version of the film. If you already own the DVD, well, I can’t suggest double-dipping just for the clearer picture. Unless you’re like me and need every Cage film in every format. The sickness grows!

-Jesse Bartel

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