Matinee (1993)
"We want Mant, we want Mant!"
8 January 2017
All or most of director Joe Dante's films can be considered fun popcorn movies, something that is for both the kids and the adults, for genre fans and for fans of film in general. Dante gained recognition with the huge hit Gremlins, which Steven Spielberg produced. But in 1993, Dante decided to make a rather personal film, a pseudo-biography of filmmaker and 'shock-expert,' William Castle, renamed in the film 'Matinee' as Lawrence Woolsey (played with the perfect amount of schlock by John Goodman). John Goodman has never bettered his performance from this movie. Best thing about this story is Goodman's b&w movie, Mant! It's loaded with bad puns like, (Bill's wife:) "Oh, why can't they see Bill as a man and just put the insect aside?" Bill, who's been transformed into a giant ant panics and says, "Insecticide??!!??" Goodman uses two minor fright film actors to stir up trouble (and publicity) in town by bad mouthing Mant.

Although a point can be made that "Matinee" is just a kid's movie, it's also for us older folks who can remember being a youngster in 1962, the music, culture and movies that enriched our lives but also events like the Missile Crisis, which so vividly reminded us in the words of John Kennedy, "that we are all mortal." Dante is not stupid, so he just does not pay a tribute to the old time gone, but to the old time spirit. That of dreamers, sometimes even naif, like John Goodman's characters. That of a certain cinema that still relied on simple effects and a straightforward way to engage people. That of an audience that still believed in what they saw on the big screen. As usual, Dante's movie manage to be instant-classic, innovative but with an eye looking back to the tradition and a pure independent and movie-fan spirit.

Overall rating: 9 out of 10.
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