Flirting with Disaster (1996): An Attempt to Explore How to Make Relationships Work

Flirting with Disaster

    “Flirting with Disaster” is not my kind of comedy. I liked a lot of the ideas it had, and the acting was good…but the execution of the plot and humor just didn’t do it for me. Knowing humor is a subjective thing I could see people loving this movie though. It reminded me of a another Ben Stiller Comedy “Meet the Parents” which for me was in a similar vein in humor and characters. Which was okay, but for me not a great comedy.

     “Flirting with Disaster” was directed and written by David O. Russell and produced by Dean Silvers.

     The premise is that Mel (Ben Stiller) and his wife Nancy (Patricia Arquette) are deciding what to name their newborn son but Mel won’t let them decide on a name until he meets his biological parents, since he was adopted. The adoption agent Tina (Tea Leoni) is there to help and ends up sending them all over the place as the initial information on birth parents was wrong as Nancy and Mel’s relationship falls apart. From here the story unfolds.

The Pros: Ben Stiller – I usually put the character name for the pro but the character didn’t full fully realized. Ben Stiller did great with what he was given, but his character fully embracing every person who he thought were his parents felt unrealistic to the point that it ruined what comedic moments it tried to create. Stiller did great with what he was given, which wasn’t much.

Alan Alda – Played Mel’s hippy biological father Richard and was one of the better performances too. You may know him from “M.A.S.H.” and he does a good job here, just isn’t given much to do. From his conflict with his biological son, to escaping to Mexico when his son accidentally gives LSD to a Federal Agent. He was a lot of fun and carried all the scenes he was in. He’s got a lot of charisma.

Patricia Arquette – Plays the wife Nancy who stands up for herself when Ted is trying to get together with Tina. She hooks up briefly with a bisexual Federal Agent who is having problems in his relationship with his husband the other Federal Agent and is the most open minded and closest to good we have in any of the characters as she is primarily focused on taking care of the kid and in the end standing up for how much of a jerk Mel is. Patricia played this perfectly with going between the very soft spoken person going along with anything Mel wants to standing up for herself. Her part in almost having an affair was very poorly written though.

Okay: The Supporting Cast – The rest of the actors I didn’t name cause their performances didn’t really stand out.  They were good as far as the script let them be good. Which is a shame as relationship drama is a fascinating subject to explore, especially in regards to marriage and divorce.

Okay/Con: Cinematography – At times this looks like a found footage film, which clashes with the times it doesn’t and actually looks good. Sadly most looks like it was filmed like a family movie which hurts as it doesn’t give us any shots that elevate tension or the script. It’s standard fair.

The Cons: The Writing – Is terrible. All the cliches are there (Tina is going through a divorce and is the temptresses, Mel is the neurotic husband orphan whose obsession drives away his wife, Nancy is the soft spoken wife who eventually stands up for herself, the FBI agents are the young man wanting an escape and his husband and partner who is obsessed with duty who needs drugs to relax, Mel’s biological parents are hippies and his other folks are other stereotypes…from the Dixie Republican, to the Anti-Semitic Trucker, etc.). These cliches don’t get beyond the cliches and that really hurts the script. This is a huge con for me as the writing is the thing I pay the most attention to in the movie and how it is expressed through the characters. Because the script failed on writing, it failed on the characters.

Direction – It was hard to for me to be invested in the characters in their struggles because of the writing (some of the jokes were pretty flat for me) and direction didn’t help. It felt like many of the side characters were phoning it in and nothing was done to elevate the poor script.

    This was a film that had an interesting idea that it could have done a lot more with. The problem was I think length (only 92 minutes long) and I’ll say it again, for me the script was terrible. I didn’t get why some of the characters did the things they did since no one was listening to anyone, which didn’t feel like it fit. Obliviousness on the characters part was the problem most of the time which lead to miscommunication. Would I recommend this film? If you like Ben Stiller comedies, you’ll probably like this one. But I’ve never been the biggest fan so it just didn’t do it for me.

Final Score: 6 / 10. Above average drama comedy with a poor script.

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The Doctors’ First Adventures – Worst to Best

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We end the 12 Days of Doctors Series with rating the Doctors’ First Adventures, Worst to Best. This was a fun thing to do, though when “Doctor Who” was bad it was pretty obvious. I’ll post my original reviews under the summary as well as have some contrasting in the summary on why they are rated where they are. “Doctor Who” is one of my favorite shows and it is great looking back again and seeing how each actor approached the role. So without further ado, lets look back on the episodes from worst to best:

12th Place

Twin Dilemma

The 6th Doctor – “The Twin Dilemma”

This episode is pretty insulting on a lot of levels (The 6th Doctor’s physical abuse of his companion) and there is not really anything good to say about it beyond the fact that it sucks less later on. The villain is also one of the stupidist bad guys in “Doctor Who” and believe me, that is saying something. He doesn’t ever feel threatening and is a complete joke, also we have two Wonder Boy/Wesley Crusher type characters we’re supposed to sympathize with, and who can’t act. Yep…this episode is one of the worst of the worst in “Doctor Who.”

1 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/12-days-of-doctors-the-6th-doctor-season-21-episode-7-the-twin-dilemma-everyone-is-terrible-or-boring/

11th Place

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The 8th Doctor – “Doctor Who the Movie”

So, after the show was off the air, they tried to bring it back with a movie. “Doctor Who the Movie.” It is pretty bad, pretty much the only redeeming qualities of this film are Paul McGann as the 8th Doctor and Sylvester McCoy appearing before he gets killed as the 7th Doctor. The Master is the bad kind of hammy and none of the Doctor’s companions are worth mentioning in this, beyond the fact that they are terrible people. This is a tragedy too given that Paul McGann owns this role and really deserved a series as the Eighth Doctor.

5 / 10. Was a bad action movie elevated by Paul McGann and Sylvester McCoy.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/12-days-of-doctors-the-8th-doctor-doctor-who-the-movie-paul-mcgann-should-have-got-a-series/

10th Place

An Unearthly Child 13

The 1st Doctor – “An Unearthly Child”

Things didn’t start out well for this series, they started out okay, but not great. The “Doctor Who” Pilot begins with two teachers talking their student Susan until they meet her strange Grandfather who kidnaps them because he doesn’t want to be revealed to Earth. He is great as the gruff Professor type but the teachers and Susan aren’t very good and the Doctor played by William Hartnell isn’t given enough to do. This should have been a longer episode.

6 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/the-1st-doctor-an-unearthly-child-season-1-episode-1-12-days-of-doctors/

9th Place

Robot 4

The 4th Doctor – “The Robot”

Tom Baker is a fantastic Doctor, and Sarah Jane Smith is a great companion…it is a shame the episode they appear in together for the first time doesn’t get to use their talents fully. The episode tries to be a morality play with The Robot of the title but the organization that wants to kill everyone is not fleshed out really well and in the process, the Robot they created isn’t either. There are a lot of good ideas here, they just aren’t fully realized. Seeing the Brigadier in action along with Harry is another plus though.

7.4 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/12-days-of-doctors-the-4th-doctor-the-robot-an-attempt-to-explore-the-formation-of-morality-through-a-robot-season-12-episode-1/

8th Place

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The 10th Doctor – “The Christmas Invasion”

David Tennant was my first Doctor and the one who got me into my love of “Doctor Who” as a whole, both the new and the classic. His episode is good but it has a major problem. The companions are useless and the Doctor is a super hero who must save them and the world. I hate this…part of what makes “Doctor Who” so great is the fact that the Doctor needs his companions, if they aren’t used, it would be better if they never appeared in the episode at all. I still recommend this episode though, even with this big problem.

7.8 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/12-days-of-doctors-the-10th-doctor-series-2-episode-1-the-christmas-invasion-the-doctor-as-a-super-hero/

7th Place

Castrovalva

The 5th Doctor – “Castrovalva”

This is an episode where the biggest issues are too many companions (Mostly Adric) and the fact that the Doctor is out of it for most of it. The Master is great though with his two plots to try and destroy the Doctor, especially in how his creations are actually interesting compelling beings who are related to the world that is the title. Nyssa and Tegan are great companions too. Could do without Adric though, even though he isn’t as bad as he is in later episodes. Kids who can fly the TARDIS and know everything don’t lend themselves well to good stories…

8.5 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/08/08/12-days-of-doctors-the-5th-doctor-castrovalva-the-manipulations-of-the-master-season-19-episode-1/

6th Place

Dr Who: Spearhead From Space

The 3rd Doctor – “The Spearhead From Space”

This episode for me, had the same score has “Castrovalva.” What makes it better slightly and why it rated higher on this list is the lack of Adric and a slightly more coherent plot. In this episode we see the Doctor with UNIT face off against the Autons sent by the Nesetene Consciousness to take over the world. It is here we see him with the Brig and Liz having to invent things to stop the Nestene and to investigate to find out that the Nestene is behind all the issues in the first place. It is a lot of fun and well worth a watch. Jon Pertwee is amazing.

8.5 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/12-days-of-doctors-the-3rd-doctor-the-spearhead-from-space-the-beginning-of-an-exile-season-7-episode-1/

5th Place

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The 9th Doctor – “Rose”

Christopher Eccleston is fantastic and Rose is a great companion on her first outing. She works with the Doctor and we get to see a great Doctor and companion dynamic. This is also the first Post-Time War Doctor, and it shows. Eccleston does the PTSD Doctor so well that you can see how driven he is to save lives. He gives the Nestene Consciousness a chance and he has some great strategies for trying to stop the Auton invasion from the Nestene. Also Rose is a great character and very worthy of the companion role. She embraces the adventure, even with having a life and reasons to stay. I highly recommend this episode.

9 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/12-days-of-doctors-the-9th-doctor-series-1-episode-1-rose-the-consequences-of-the-time-war/

4th Place

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The 7th Doctor – “Time and the Rani”

This was an episode that nearly made the Top 3. There is only one factor that keeps it from being there, and that is the consequences the Rani forcing a regeneration into the 7th aren’t fully explored. It is a great episode, and one of my all time favorite “Doctor Who” episodes…both because of the Rani played by Kate O’Mara and Sylvester McCoy owning the role as the more wizard like Doctor (and the costume designs and alien civilizations are fantastic). Her plan is pretty cool and it takes a lot to defeat her in the episode. The thing that doesn’t really help it though is the fact that Mel isn’t all that memorable as companion. She is okay and has personality but isn’t as memorable as some of the ones before. Still a favorite that I very much recommend.

9.2 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/12-days-of-doctors-the-7th-doctor-season-24-episode-1-time-and-the-rani-the-rani-is-awesome/

3rd Place

Deep Breath

The 12th Doctor – “Deep Breath”

This is the episode I just saw today, and it is amazing. It makes the top 3 for a few reasons. The biggest being Clara is finally a human being and an interesting companion (we see her trials as a teacher and trials with the Doctor), the Paternoster Gang (Vastra, Strax and Jenny) are great and we get to see more of their dynamic and how they grow with Clara and the Doctor, the villain of The Half-Face Man and Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor. There is a lot to love, the only issue is how everyone keeps bringing up Clara and having a romantic partner. How many times does she have to say she wasn’t and isn’t interested? Can’t that be respected and why was that written in? Besides that, great story and one of the Top 3 First Adventures of the Doctors.

9.3 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/08/24/12-days-of-doctors-the-12th-doctor-series-8-episode-1-deep-breath-finding-the-doctor/

2nd Place

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The 2nd Doctor – “The Power of the Daleks”

This is one of my favorite episodes for a reason, and it’s one that you can only watch via audio, pictures and what little film remains…it is worth it though. In the link I post you can see some of the recreations that fans did. This episode is great because it shows the Daleks manipulating humans against each other and only arriving when they’ve pretty much won anyway…Polly and Ben each help the Doctor in their own ways and the Patrick Troughton is a great Loki like Doctor. He is the trickster who manages to manipulate his way in a position to help by playing the buffoon. This is one of the best “Doctor Who” episodes and one of the best Dalek Episodes as well. This episode really establishes why they are so dangerous. I highly recommend watching the footage and audio of the full episode to really get apprecation for this Doctor, the Daleks, Polly and Ben and this story.

9.5 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/the-2nd-doctor-the-power-of-the-daleks-season-4-episode-3-the-daleks-manipulation-12-days-of-doctors/

1st Place

Doctor and Amy

The 11th Doctor – “The Eleventh Hour”

This is the episode that is the best of the First Adventures. The reasons for this are it establishes the Doctor as a Time Lord and time traveler (visiting Amy as a child and an adult and not being aware of the time change) a great baddie who plays with your mind (Prisoner Zero in the corner of your eye…the boogey man of childhood) and continuity (when facing the Atraxi they can the Doctor and find all his past numbered incarnations in their data bank as defenders of the Earth). It is wonderful and Rory and Amy are great companions. The Doctor isn’t a super hero and actually needs their help since it is only together they win. For people new to “Doctor Who” this is generally the episode I recommend. It is also visually amazing. This Doctor, is pretty cool.

10 / 10

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/12-days-of-doctors-the-11th-doctor-series-5-episode-1-the-eleventh-hour-the-time-traveler/

“Doctor Who” both Classic and New is an amazing series and many of these episodes capture the good that this show can bring…whether it is wrestling with morality, showing us the good in ourselves or just being fun it is a series that I believe will remain timeless. I look forward to reviewing more “Doctor Who” episodes later on, but until than it was fantastic and I can’t wait to see what the new Series 8 brings to this very rich universe.

12 Days of Doctors – The 7th Doctor – Season 24, Episode 1 – “Time and the Rani” – The Rani is Awesome

time_and_the_rani

“Time and the Rani” is the next episode on the 12 Days of Doctors and the count up to 12th’s first Adventure. This episode is the 7th Doctor’s first adventure and our introduction to Sylvester McCoy. The episode is the first episode in Season 24.

“Time and the Rani” was directed by Andrew Morgan and written by Jane and Pip Baker…and they all do an awesome job! This isn’t the best story, but it is one of the best of the pilots, it is very entertaining to say the least. I’ll get into more details in the assessment.

The story begins with the Doctor’s TARDIS being attacked by the Rani’s TARDIS, which forces him to regenerate. The Rani than pretends to be the Doctor’s companion Mel and to manipulate him to achieve her goals. He is unaware of her identity because of her disguise and Mel is unaware of the Doctor’s regeneration because she was knocked out during the attack as well. From here the story unfolds as the Rani’s plans are set in motion and the politics between her minions the Tetraps and the colonized Lakertyans who are her willing and unwilling slaves.

Tetrap

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Alien Civilizations – The Aliens are awesome! The Lektrayan’s design is reptalian with long golden hair and they have a society ruled by a single ruler and his elite. There are also the Rani’s Tetraps who look like giant humanoid bats who have eyes on three sides. They are similar to orcs in that their goals are only for themselves and their species as seen by what happens to the Rani later.

The Rani – The Rani is a fantastic villain and is awesome! Her end goal is to create a universe that is logical by using the Brain (created from geniuses around the world and universe, she wants the Doctor’s mind in it too to solve the equation of how to make the Time Manipulator faster) on the Lektrayan Home World to create a Time Manipulator to shape time anywhere in the Universe. It is perfect, brilliant and so in character. In the end it is her lack of empathy that destroys her, in that her minions turn on her when they learn she intends to let them be destroyed on the planet and when the leader of the Lektrayan’s who has been a collaborator realizes what is at stake he makes the sacrifice to stop the rocket that would turn his planet into the Time Manipulator. Kate O’Mara is fantastic, and I hope the Rani returns in the newest series at some point. She is one of the best and most interesting of the Doctor’s enemies.

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Mel – Mel is a great companion. She is spunky and doesn’t put up with crap from the Doctor…I can see why she leaves later. The 7th Doctor is detached and you see he functions like a chess master, even in this episode. Everyone is a tool, even if he treats said tools with respect. Mel is the counter to that, she is blunt and honest. Kind of like Donna was to the 10th Doctor.

The 7th Doctor / The Seventh Doctor – Sylvester McCoy is brilliant. His Doctor is like a wizard, both in his manipulation and in his strange turns of phrases. Such phrases like “Tom, Dick and Harriet.” etc. He is also empathetic too, even in his distance. I think he probably became the chess master because of the Rani manipulating him right when he had first regenerated. She did a number on him and him being so easily manipulated in the first two parts made her plan almost succeed, that probably gave this Doctor trust issues. I really like McCoy and his Doctor is a pleasure to watch. He is quite worthy of the title and a much needed change from Colin Baker and the 6th.

I would highly recommend this episode. Once again, a favorite episode, largely because of the Rani, the Doctor, Mel and the Tetraps and Lektrayans…an interesting species and villain really help to elevate any science fiction story. This story also really captures the sense of adventure and the characters feel human, you can empathize with them, and the ones you can’t are fascinating in their own right, both as a species and in the Rani’s case as a fantastic antagonist. This episode was worth it just to see her plan unfold.

My final score for this episode is 9.2 / 10.

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