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Movie Spotlight

June 21, 1998|Kevin Thomas

If you're not too water-logged by now you may want to check the acclaimed 1979 TV movie SOS Titanic (TBS Sunday at 6 and 11 p.m. ), praised for blending the dramatic elements of the 1953 "Titanic" and the documentary aspects of the 1958 "A Night to Remember." David Janssen and Cloris Leachman star.

Born to Be Wild (ABC Sunday at 7 p.m.) combines an absolutely convincing gorilla via technical wizardry with a trite, predictable comedy-adventure. Both Katie the Gorilla--the creation of special animatronics effects expert Tony Gardner--and young Wil Horneff, who are the 1995 film's endearing stars, and its serious animal-rights theme, deserve much better.

Million Dollar Babies (CBS Sunday at 9 p.m., completed Tuesday at 9 p.m.), a richly told, two-part 1994 biographical TV movie, is the incredible chronicle of the early captive years of the Dionne Quintuplet when an adoring public took scant note of their regimented life in a glorified laboratory. Beau Bridges stars as an affable country doctor dragged out in the middle of the night to deliver the first case of surviving quintuplets in recorded history. The quints were born two months premature in 1934 in a raggedy farmhouse in backwoods Ottawa, Canada. The stunned parents are a poor French Canadian couple, the soon-to-be victimized and embittered Oliva and Elzire Dionne (played with quiet integrity by Canadian actors Roy Dupuis and Celine Bonnier). The insightful movie paints the earthy, loving pair (who already had five kids) as targets of discrimination. Canadian authorities politically branded the parents as incompetents because, as the couple's defense attorney later argues, 'they're impoverished, French and Catholic."

This Is My Life (Lifetime Wednesday at 9 p.m.), director/co-writer Nora Ephron's smart and likable adaptation of Meg Wolitzer's tale of a stand-up comedian and her two daughters--originally called "This Is Your Life"--is a bit too thin and perfunctory when it looks at the pro comedy world, despite best efforts by star Julie Kavner. But this 1992 movie really soars when it concentrates on the daughters: Gaby Hoffman and Samantha Mathis as two mismatched, appealing and convincing siblings left temporarily behind by mom's meteoric success.

Given how close the original shows are to self-parody, the creators of The Brady Bunch Movie (NBC Saturday at 8 p.m.), a 1995 theatrical feature, made a crafty decision. They've transplanted unreasonable facsimiles of the utopian Bradys to today's borderline dystopian Los Angeles and tried to figure out how they'd survive. The results, though hardly epochal, are more successfully silly than non-Brady fans will expect.

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