NICKELODEON (1976)

There's a scene in Peter Bogdanovich's tribute to early film-making when Ryan O'Neal, a goofy lawyer turned goofy director, has no idea what movie he's in the process of making: no plot, no real characters... which is ironic since director Bogdanovich might have felt the same way while making NICKELODEON... Or perhaps not... if the man who gave us brilliant classics like TARGETS and especially THE LAST PICTURE SHOW combined silent comedy slapstick with a romantic triangle with true Hollywood history in such a clumsy, uninteresting fashion... and Burt Reynolds has absolutely no chemistry as novice actor to O'Neal's novice director...

Ultimately, Bogdanovich blamed the studio for this catastrophe that basically ended his A-list career; but it's the IDEA that's flawed beyond the horribly uneven execution, not knowing which path to take in celebrating the first Hollywood independents war on the big studios (and vice versa), that, unlike PAPER MOON, is a road to absolutely nowhere... An irony because if anyone were to do a historic Hollywood piece it would be the man who began as a critic and wound up an overnight auteur sensation, but, perhaps Bogdanovich was simply too close to the material... Simply put, in doing a parody of old movie style he didn't center enough on the making of old movies. Grade: D

EASY MONEY (1983)

Hands down the best scene of EASY MONEY has Rodney Dangerfield insulting a fat kid and his family... where he seems like characters from superior flanking films CADDYSHACK and BACK TO SCHOOL, spouting quick barbs that roll right off the iconic comic's tongue, which rarely happens here since Rodney's stuck in a movie with a limited and constricting plot-line: he has to quit all his vices, from gambling to smoking pot to drinking to overeating, to become as rich as his previous characters in those aforementioned classics...

But there aren't that many effective one-liners (Joe Pesci laughs so hard at a few decent ones, he steals the audience's laughter)... and witty insults are what cinematic Dangerfield is all about... Meanwhile, the b-story involving daughter Jennifer Jason Leigh avoiding sex with new husband Taylor Negron is not only horribly unfunny, but their scenes drag far too long... Getting in the way of a comedy that's more entertaining than funny... not a bad thing, but it's far from top-shelf Dangerfield, smoking pot and drinking beer more like a crude fan than what he himself can effectively (and hilariously) channel onto the big screen. Grade: C+

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