The 'medieval dead' conclusion to Sam Raimi's legendary trilogy is more action/comedy than horror, with heroic amputee Ash (Bruce Campbell) wielding his trusty chainsaw on Sumerian demons back in the year 1300. The special effects are worthy of Ray Harryhausen, and the comedy's in a league of its own. Great fun!
Third time around for Mike Myers' sweaty secret agent send-up, and the scattergun approach means two flat jokes for every live one. Still, he knocks down your resistance through sheer quantity: part Benny Hill, part Peter Sellers (although losing the fat Scotsman would do us all a favour). Beyoncé Knowles is the leg interest; cameos from Tom Cruise to, well, every current Hollywood name.
Unlikely as he is—a white, upper-class rapper who positively revels in his Ivy Leaguery—Paul Barman offers a surprisingly fresh take on hip hop clichés. The absurd sexscapade "Cock Mobster" balances graphic detail with literary conceit ("I think of the pube I got while reading the Rubaiyat"), owing more to Woody Allen than standard rap bravado. But attempts at gravitas ("Anarchist Bookstore", "Talking Time Travel") resonate with all the panache of a student union debate.
John Travolta begins his '80s career slide as Bud Davis, a hick who migrates to Houston, falls for the honky-tonk bar scene, marries city girl Sissy (Debra Winger), loses her to recidivist Wes (Scott Glenn), and enters a mechanical bull-riding rodeo. Compelling supporting performances (especially Winger) and authentic bar footage from-director James Bridges (The Paper Chase) compensate for Travolta's squeaky, misjudged central turn.
This'll be the one Denzel didn't win the Oscar for. His factory-worker Everyman holds up a hospital when the nasty insurance company won't help his dying son. Shades of Dog Day Afternoon, but an astounding cast (Robert Duvall, James Woods, Ray Liotta) can't stop director Nick (son of John) Cassavetes from descending into trite, teary sentimentality.