Reviews excerpted from Jack Mantis's Mantis at the Movies.
Most of these previously appeared in my column in 2000, episode RRR is for RRReviews, but there are a couple more here, and I wanted to keep them all on one page that could be updated over time.
Note for those of you who somehow missed watching television in the '80s: Brandon Tartikoff—youngest network president ever, when he became head of NBC in 1980 at the age of 31—used to use the term "high concept" to describe a show that could be summed up in ten words or less. I believe that the high-concept series-summaries, especially for sitcoms, were what popularized the phrase "hilarity ensues," as in "Hilarity ensues when messy guy and neat guy become roommates."
Jack figures that the phrase has been sadly underused since Tartikoff left NBC around 1990, and has set himself the task of rectifying that lack. He doesn't, however, restrict himself to ten words per review.
- Jason and the Huguenots
- Deranged killer falls in with a group of early French Protestants. Hilarity ensues.
- Mr. Washington Goes to Smith
- The first president of the USA disguises himself as a female student in order to attend a women's college in Massachusetts. Hilarity ensues.
- Mulan Rouge
- A young Chinese woman disguised as Ewan MacGregor visits fin de siecle Paris in search of truth, freedom, beauty, and love. Hilarity ensues.
- An elderly engineer discovers that his cell phone has come to life and wants to become "a real little toy." Hilarity ensues.
- Princess Pokemoke
- A human girl raised by incredibly cute cartoon characters must play a collectible card game to decide the fate of humanity. Hilarity ensues.
- Sheepless in Seattle
- Big-screen update of classic children's story, with Meg Ryan as Bo, a rural shepherdess who feels lost in the big city. Hilarity ensues.
- The Spider House Rules
- Spider (Tobey Maguire), the head of a wacky frat house, falls for Buffy Muffett (Charlize Theron), the ditzy but endearing leader of the neighboring (and rival) sorority. When Buffy gets pregnant, hilarity ensues.
- Watership Dune
- A bunch of rabbits find a new home on a desert planet, where they hunt worms and prophesy the future. Hilarity ensues.
- Wilde Wilde West
- Witty gay Victorian playwright becomes an agent for the American government, using gadgets, fisticuffs, and poetry to stop evildoers. Hilarity ensues.
- You've Got Bail
- Tom Hanks stars as a bail bondsman who strikes up an online romance with serial killer and hardened ex-con Meg Ryan. Hilarity ensues.
- Hilarity and Jackie
- Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy takes up a new career as a standup comedienne and cello player. Hilarity, of course, ensues.