By Adam Lippe

wisdom1When Emilio Estevez turned 24 years old, directly after the success of St. Elmo’s Fire, The Breakfast Club, Repo Man, The Outsiders and writing the screenplay for the S.E. Hinton adaptation That Was Then… This Is Now, he convinced Fox to let him write, direct, and star in his own film, under the aegis of his mentor Robert Wise (West Side Story, The Sound of Music, The Haunting, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Andromeda Strain).

The result was Wisdom, a fantastically stupid and naive Robin Hood for the ’80s. In this film, Estevez, a convicted felon for a misjudged joyride on the last night of high school, can’t find real work and decides to rob banks along with his girlfriend, Demi Moore, after seeing a news story on TV about farmers struggling to pay their mortgages to said financial institutions. Not that he’s going to steal money. Rather, he will steal the paperwork and burn it up so they can get the fresh start that he was never offered (never mind that the bank would have backups of the mortgages in a computer, not just a solitary paper copy).

Of course Estevez becomes a cult hero, embraced by the public and chased by the FBI, turned into a story of mythic proportions. And the ending. Well, that is for you to discover. Let’s just say it’s as astounding and clever as the rest of the movie, perfectly fitting in with the life lessons that a young millionaire actor could espouse upon the viewer.

Wisdom was never given the credit it should have been. There’s hardly a more moronic film to come out of the decade, and yet people only remember comparatively brilliant works like Ishtar and Howard the Duck as disasters. Wisdom is like watching a wide-eyed infant believing he has come across the meaning of everything and he has 110 minutes to let you in on the secrets, not aware that he has no idea what he’s talking about. In other words, this movie is a must-see.

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By Adam Lippe

Whenever there’s a genre parody or ode to a specific era of films, such as Black Dynamite’s mocking of Blaxploitation films or Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, the second half of Grindhouse, the danger is that the film might fall into the trap of either being condescending without any particular insight, or so faithful that it becomes the very flawed thing it is emulating.

Black Dynamite has nothing new to say about Blaxploitation films, it just does a decent job of copying what an inept [...]

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Featured Quote (written by me)

On Cold Fish:

Though the 16 year old me described the 1994 weepie Angie, starring Geena Davis as a Brooklyn mother raising her new baby alone, as “maudlin and melodramatic,” Roger Ebert, during his TV review, referring to the multitude of soap-operaish problems piling up on the titular character, suggested that it was only in Hollywood where Angie would get a happy ending. “If they made this movie in France, Angie would have shot herself.”

Well Cold Fish was made in Japan, where Angie would have shot herself and that would have been the happy ending.