Rob Reiner. Reiner has directed 22 films overall but it is his six films (including his big screen debut after a few tv movies) from This is Spinal Tap in 1984 to A Few Good in 1992 that he will be remembered for. It is all about the filmography here—these are commercial hits, good comedies, and some of the best Hollywood films made during this stretch. There’s no discernible style, and he could shape-shift and do any genre (they were all funny—but he could do a Stephen King thriller to broad comedy to an Aaron Sorkin-penned legal drama).
Best film: When Harry Met Sally. There are a few times when Reiner has tried to go beyond just making a likable, enjoyable film (an admirable enough feat- I’m not knocking it) and transcend into cinema art. Most of those moments are in When Harry Met Sally (and a few in Stand by Me) and there is no denying the achievement- even if Reiner and the film owe a big debt of gratitude to Woody Allen- specifically Annie Hall.
total archiveable films: 6
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 0
top 100 films of the decade: 0
most overrated: There’s a lot here. Reiner has four films in the TSPDT consensus top 1000. Four… that’s more than Sirk (3), Almodovar (3), Jarmusch (3) and Spike Lee (1—ugh). The worst offender is his top-rated film- This is Spinal Tap which lands at #286 of all-time. I think a lot of people list their “favorite” movies and often include a comedy (I like comedies and love to laugh as much as anyone and this is a funny movie) and this falls on the list or when they do their “best of” list they try to be democratic and include a broad comedy (over other, superior, films) as if there are two options: drama and comedy, and thinking “I can at least dedicate one spot on my list to a pure laugh-er and not be overly stuffy.” And I like Spinal Tab- Reiner, yet again, smartly, borrows from Woody’s Zelig (the mockumentary the year before) and the laughs never stop. But #286???…well… that’s rarefied air when it comes to the greatest films of all-time.
most underrated : A Few Good Men
- The film’s strengths reside in Aaron Sorkin’s scotching screenplay (it’s based on his play) and the actors who are more than up for the challenge—especially Jack and Cruise – two of the biggest stars of the second half of the 20th century and yes- two of the best actors during that stretch as well
- there’s an intelligent battle of two versions of masculinity put on here by Cruise and Nicholson
- The film is impossible to imagine without the 4 scenes with Oscar nominee for supporting actor Jack Nicholson—he’s more than scene stealing here- he’s movie-stealing and gets the best lines and knocks them out of park. It’s also extremely ironic and satisfying to see Jack, historically anti-establishment (this is Easy Rider after all), play THE establishment here.
- Cruise is superb as well (there’s a very broad edges in the screenplay that let him down like the “galactically stupid” line/rant)- cocky and intelligent—the supporting cast beyond the two leads is superb—it is an achievement for Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, and JT Walsh amongst others
- Sorkin wasn’t nominated for this somehow—unbelievable
- Shot by Robert Richardson— wonderful opening with the routine of the marines title sequences
- Predictable but entertaining and well executed
gem I want to spotlight : . Stand By Me. It is the nostalgia—but it is more than that- it is the perfectly curated soundtrack and Richard Dreyfuss’ magnificent voice-over—just one of my favorite voice-overs. It is a film I find myself going back to often.
- Borrows from Woody—I’m not sure we have When Harry Met Sally and This is Spinal Tap without Woody Allen
- Reiner was a crowd-pleaser, a box office king, and crossed genres very well- working in legal dramas, romantic comedies, thriller/horror, and fantasy
- Adaptations of the work of Stephen King (Stand By Me, Misery)
- A pretty invisible style- without already knowing- if you had told me he directed any of the films of Ron Howard, City Slickers, or Sleepless in Seattle– I’d have guessed—“sure”
- When Harry Met Sally
- A Few Good Men
- Stand By Me
- The Princess Bride
- This is Spinal Tap
By year and grades
|1984- This is Spinal Tap||R|
|1986- Stand By Me||R/HR|
|1987- The Princess Bride||R|
|1989- When Harry Met Sally||HR|
|1992- A Few Good Men||R/HR|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives
No The American President(1995).Thought it was good.Boasts one of Michael Douglas best performances
@Hashan- close, I’ve seen it 2-3 times. But it is a “no” as far as the archives.
Doesn’t Tony Scott deserve to be in the top 250 directors list?True Romance(1993) is one of the best films of the 1990s.
I think part of why Reiner has become a bit overrated is how lucky he got with his screenwriters. Between William Goldman, Aaron Sorkin, and to a lesser extent the four co-writers in This is Spinal Tap, he worked with some truly talented people. I would argue that these writers put their own mark on these films more than Reiner himself.
@Declan- good point on Sorkin and Goldman- I hadn’t put that together
Upon rewatch, Stand By Me is such an good little film. It improved for me after rewatching.
Which movies have great child performances in your opinion? Stand by Me would be up there in my opinion. The entire ensemble is very impressive.
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