Russellmania II: A Celebration of the Mighty Kurt Russell
Rockie and Marcelo spent a full day watching Kurt Russell movies at the Alamo Drafthouse for Russellmania II. Now they're here to tell you how that day went down...
Rockie Juarez: So, what is Russellmania? 5 films in 35MM (DCP if there were snags getting the print) selected by Alamo Drafthouse programer Greg MacLennan, all focused on one soul: Kurt Russell. Oh, each film is a mystery too. The trailers that played before each film and the pre-show is jam packed with Kurt material. My favorite clip being his Star Wars audition tape! You are there all damn day, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Kurt has had a wonderful career and any opportunity to showcase that is a special thing. So, Marcelo and I would like to share a few thoughts on what we saw and we’d like to remind you that Kurt Russell is a treasure and we’ve been blessed by his amazing career.
Marcelo Pico: I've lost track of how many marathons I've been to at the Drafthouse. A lot of those 5-mystery-movie marathons I've been to were run by Greg, like Cruise Control (Tom Cruise) and Denzel Watchingthon (Denzel Washington). I missed the first Russellmania back in 2013, so there was no way I was going to miss this one. I had a feeling I was in for something special, and I was right...
Movie #1: Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
RJ: So happy to finally see this big and in 35MM. Big Trouble is way ahead of its time with creative gags and Americanized Wushu. Kurt Russell is absolutely flawless as the bad hero doing more damage than good, but when he does pull through he shines. Total popcorn fun.
MP: Confession time: I have gone my entire life without seeing Big Trouble in its entirety. I've seen bits and parts of it on cable, but I never sat down and watched the whole thing. It was a major blindspot before this night and to my surprise, it was the film that kicked off this marathon. The first Russellmania ended with a screening of Big Trouble so it was a huge surprise that this quintessential Kurt movie screened here. But, sometimes you just gotta play the hits, and I'm grateful that I got to see this movie for the first time in my favorite theatre with such a great crowd. And, yes, this movie is as amazing as everyone has been saying.
Movie #2: Overboard (1987)
RJ: Power couple Goldie Hawn and Kurt star together in this silly, damn near offensive comedy about a man who abducts a woman with amnesia to make her his wife. Seriously, this should piss off everyone, but it is too cute and charming to ignore. It is lighthearted, so sweet, and has a knockout ending that completely salvages a story that could have gone so south.
MP: As I did with a lot of Garry Marshall movies, I saw this for the first time on TBS like 15 years ago. First off, I don't remember it being this funny. So many jokes that I don't should work, completely do. Like Rockie says, the story is pretty problematic. But Goldie and Kurt's charm and chemistry keep it afloat (pun). Again, this was another instance where I was happy to see this with an audience. The film played like gangbusters in a room full of Kurt Russell fans. Some people went crazy when Hector Elizondo appeared onscreen. Loved it.
Movie #3: Backdraft (1991)
RJ: “You go, we go!” Ron Howard directs his butt off in this practically-achieved, stunt masterwork. What makes it so great beyond the amazing FX and stunt work is the gripping character work. They are all wrapped up in a murder mystery and have a lot to bounce off of; Kurt Russell’s performance is so damn captivating that you may cry during the film’s finale. Stellar work all around.
MP: I'm going to be completely honest and say that I had to walk out of the theatre to send some work messages in the middle of this movie. But from what I saw I can say Backdraft is a perfectly fine, yet odd, movie with great action and stellar performances. This was one of those "curveballs" that Greg likes to program into his marathons (he played Ron Howard's Far and Away in the middle of the Tom Cruise marathon). It was a smart move to introduce this movie to people who may not seek it out, because I don't think I would've ever purposefully sought out this one on my own. Proof that Kurt is perfection in anything he's in.
Movie #4: Tango & Cash (1989)
RJ: One of my all-time favorite buddy cop films, mainly because it is a slapstick comedy wearing an action film mask. Kurt crossdresses in this film earning him an Oscar; well, in my mind he deserved a nod and a victory. Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell should come back for a sequel and have an equally silly villain to battle. Box office records would shatter. More action films like this please. I miss them.
MP: Hey look, it's another Kurt blind spot that I gleefully marked off my list! I can't believe I haven't drunk-watched this with my friends before. This film is so silly and so '80s, and to make that perfectly clear you see both leading men's bare buttocks on screen at the same time for one gratuitous shot. I'm with Rockie, I need a sequel. It's travesty that this didn't blow up like the Lethal Weapon movies. Stallone's nerdy one-liners is a perfect pairing with that signature Russell charisma.
Movie #5: The Thing (1982)
RJ: A flat out masterpiece. Not only is the FX work perfect, the plot and story match the perfection. Like Alien before it, you are stuck with the worst monster imaginable and to make matters even worse you cannot trust a soul around you. The sense of dread, even after repeat viewings, will make your breath stop. Overhyped? Hell no. This is a horror classic that makes a great case for remakes and it stands as one of John Carpenter's best films.
MP: This is not only my favorite Carpenter film, it's one of favorite movies of all time. I judge my all-timers by how well they hold up on rewatches. I've seen The Thing countless times now, and I still manage to pull something new each time I see it (I'm still stunned by that Thing-dog's acting). Also, for years I was certain Childs was the Thing at the very end, but now I think it's MacReady, which is proof at how well Carpenter handles the mystery in this horror movie. The Thing's themes are timeless. I mean, MacReady's line, "Nobody trusts anybody now, and we're all very tired," sums up 2017 perfectly. It was an amazing way to end the marathon.