Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Olive Films - THE RATINGS GAME and GANG RELATED on Blu-ray ""

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Olive Films - THE RATINGS GAME and GANG RELATED on Blu-ray

THE RATINGS GAME (1984: Danny Devito)
It's crazy to me how long Danny Devito's career has lasted. He's obviously a ridicoulsly talented comic actor, but even so, a lot of his contemporaries from the 1980s have faded into obscurity by now. Devitio is very much in the brash 80s RUTHLESS PEOPLE mode in THE RATINGS GAME, where he plays Vic DeSalvo - a trucking magnate who wants to throw his hat into the ring of TV producing. When he fails to make any headway with the major networks, he sneaks his way into last rated MBC. With a lineup of shows like H.O.T.B.O.D.S. AND LEVAR, WHACKED OUT (about a guy who pretends to be a woman to get in the army), THE DAWN PATROL (about a group of garbage men), THE SENATOR AND STINKY and BEERNUTS - MBC is in a position to be looking for some new programming. Vic DeSalvo manages to get in to see an MBC development executive on his last day, just after he's been unsanctimoniously fired. As revenge, the exec green lights one of DeSalvo's TV show ideas. It's called SITTIN' PRETTY and it's all about two twins who find themselves with in college and with a new roommate (played by Devito). The MBC execs are none to thrilled with the show, so they stick it up against The World Series to bury it. Little do they know that Devito and Perlman have a plan to make it a big hit.
There's a kind of a UHF vibe to some of the TV shows, even though the whole thing is a bit more dramatic while still taking a lot of satirical jabs at show business in general. It's kind of this charming love story between Devito and Rhea Perlman mixed with this spoofy comedy thing. It was apparently the first original movie financed entirely by Showtime Networks (and was shown heavily on The Movie Channel, which they owned) and is of course the directorial debut of Devito in films.
The supporting cast is great and includes the likes of Vincent Schiavelli, Kevin McCarthy, Garrit Graham, and Michael Richards with cameos by Jerry Seinfeld, George Wendt, Jason Hervey, Huntz Hall (in his last film).

THE RATINGS GAME can be purchased on Blu-ray here:

GANG RELATED (1997; Jim Kouf)
This is one of those 90s movies that only stands out to me for a few reasons. First, it came out on VHS when I was working at a video store so I do remember it from back then. The other thing that stood out was that it was a Tupac movie. To me, it just seemed like a gimmicky urban police drama that was meant as a vehicle for Shakur. I never bothered to watch it back then because I made the unwarranted assumption that Tupac was a bad actor and the movie must be bad because of him. Despite my being a big fan of James Belushi, I wrote it off. So this movie was completely lost to me and this Blu-ray was like an archaeological dig. It was a throwback to the time when Tupac was a huge part of the popular culture of the time and he is certainly not as much so today. He has been somewhat immortalized by his untimely demise, but people are not talking about this movie nowadays. What I didn’t expect was that Tupac was actually pretty good here. Belushi is solid too. The duo play some cops who make a major mistake when they murder an undercover DEA agent and then get assigned to solve the crime. The cops have to scramble to find a scapegoat and in doing so, they paint themselves into bit of a corner. As lies have a tendency to do, these lies spiral out of control and the tension continues to amp up. Shakur and Belushi are a good team. Shakur has this ability to make his performance feel real and genuine and Belushi is great as this kind of desperate, but oddly charismatic character. These cops are not all that sympathetic, but the actors pull off a sizeable feat in making you kind of root for them not to get caught. Kudos to Belushi and Shakur for pulling it off and making this film more engaging than I expected.
Supporting cast includes Dennis Quaid, David Paymer, James Earl Jones and Gary Cole.

GANG RELATED can be purchased on Blu-ray here:

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