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Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Kid With The Broken Halo (1982)


















Starring:
  • Gary Coleman
  • Robert Guillaume
  • June Allyson
Storyline
Andy LeBeau is a fallen angel of sorts. He keeps messing up and causing trouble in angel training. The archangel, Michael, decides to give him one more shot. His mission: Help out the problems of three cases. First, the Desautel family, who are on the edge of breaking up. Then, the McNulty family, who are workaholics. Finally, Dorothea Powell who is a secluded, grumpy old woman. Andy's guide on earth is Blake, who is none too thrilled to work with Andy.

I just got a copy of this classic Gary Coleman flick which I had heard of but have never seen. "The Kid with the Broken Halo" is by no means a great TV-movie, but it works on a 70's-TV movie level (even though it was made in 1982) that will definitely appeal to adults nowadays looking for a goof.

Gary plays young kid Andy LeBeau, who died at a young age (never explained why) and he isn't quite in Heaven yet, he's stuck in "Midway" where he has to prove himself but keeps on failing. It's never said directly, but it seems he is running out of time and will go to Hell pretty soon unless he proves himself to be a decent guardian angel. He's given three assignments on earth to solve, and has to make good on each one before he earns his angel wings.

Andy works on all three problems at once: a family of four who never spend time with each other; an ex-actress who hasn't come out of her home in many years and shuns everyone; and a former star football player on his last gasp, and the effect it has on his family. Andy not only gets to work on making everyone happy, but he actually intertwines the three cases, making the movie a little clever here and there.

Of course you know the obligatory happy ending is coming, but getting there is actually fun. Gary as Andy really shines and does a good job - no matter how one may feel about him, Coleman had genuine talent as a kid actor, he wasn't just a cute face that lit up the screen. There's really been nobody like him since then. There are many familiar character actors here too, including Kim Fields, best know as being on The Facts of Life and Living Single. She's cute and decent.

The movie does get a bit off the wall here and there due to the story, but that's part of the appeal to me, making it just a bit different. In "Midway" you see a classroom in the clouds full of young children, all smiling and happy, but all having died at way too young an age. The threat of Hell looms, and Blake, Andy's "chaperone" back on earth (played by "Benson"), seems almost uncomfortably uncaring that Andy may be heading that way soon. And for Andy to succeed at his mission, he has to make two football players suffer pain and humiliation with no regard to their feelings. And even the ex-football star's apparent fooling around on his wife is forgotten about quickly. All this sort of elevates this a bit above being a typical kiddie movie although the kids would probably enjoy it.

"Halo" moves along nicely with some decent low-key direction and doesn't hit you over the head with a hammer. Definitely worth a viewing if you can get a copy of this one.

On The Right Track (1981)

















Starring:
  • Gary Coleman
  • Maureen Stapleton
  • Norman Fell
IMDB.com
Lester is a homeless shoeshine boy living in a railway station. He's got this funny knack for picking the winning horses' names out of the paper while shining shoes. When word gets around, though, everyone wants a piece of the action.

I was born in the mid seventies and was fortunate enough to experience Gary Coleman mania first hand. Kids echoed his catch phrases and mannerisms, and I even had a shirt with his grin plastered in the middle. Although he is mostly remembered for Different Strokes and for some of his run-ins with the law I have and always will associate him with the movie On the Right Track. Here he played a young parent-less scamp in New York who lives in a locker at the train station. I will confess that a lot of the details of this film have eluded me over the years but as it was played so many times as a matinée movie on TV (remember how special those were?) a lot of the images are etched in my brain. The fact that a kid your age could survive in the big city alone and could get along seemingly just fine without adults made this the ultimate fantasy movie in my opinion. I would not hesitate to watch this film again or share it with someone young. A very good moral message rings true, there is no profanity or excessive violence, Gary Coleman was memorable and Norman Fell (Three's Company fame) pops up in an all to rare film appearance. All and all a nice time capsule of the period and an enjoyable family film..what I can remember anyway...

Friday, December 20, 2013

Death of a Prophet (1981)
















Starring:



Storyline
After breaking ties with the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X became a man marked for death...and it was just a matter of time before his enemies closed in. Despite death threats and intimidation, Malcolm marched on - continuing to spread the word of equality and brotherhood right up until the moment of his brutal and untimely assassination. Highlighted by newsreel footage and interviews, this is the story of the last twenty-four hours of Malcolm X. Featuring the music of jazz percussionist Max Roach.

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