Podzilla 1985

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

One More Good Laugh





It's funny how you can be scrolling through Facebook and then BAM, you're smacked in the face with something that you need to confirm, even though you know it is probably true.

On Monday, Robin Williams died at the age of 63.

It's sad, and a little strange to think that he will only exist on film now. He'll never really be gone, since we can always watch the movies and TV shows again, but it will never really be the same. I'll always feel a little sad even with the laughs, because everything now will just be memories. To be honest, this is one of the Hollywood deaths that I've always dreaded. I grew up laughing at his banter and antics, and I always knew if he was a part of something I'd get a good laugh.

Robin Williams was one of the greats, and there isn't anyone who can fill his shoes.

But I don't want to dwell on the sadness. His family wants him to be remembered for his work and the laughter that he spread to the world. So I'd like to take a little trip down memory lane with a few of my personal favorites from his filmography.


Mork and Mindy 

I can't remember if Mork and Mindy was my introduction to this great comedian or not. I just remember watching the reruns with my mom. I didn't understand a good chunk of the jokes back then, but I was just a little kid. I wasn't supposed to get them. I probably found his quirky actions more amusing than anything.

I remember liking his reports to Orson at the end of each episode on what he'd learned from the people of Earth. Naturally as a kid that "Nanu Nanu" greeting was something you'd never forget. The rest of the show I'll admit is pretty hazy to me, though keep in mind I watched this in my early grade school days. After all the show actually ended a year before I was even born.


Faerie Tale Theater 

Another show I loved as a kid was Faerie Tale Theater. One of my uncles use to watch my cousins and I a lot in our pre-school days. He use to tape the episodes for us so we could watch them whenever we wanted. Admittedly, I probably borrowed the tapes from Grandma's house more than my cousins did. A few years ago she was getting rid of all those old VHS tapes and I made a point to get them.

Then, with the advent of streaming technology, the entire series was put on Netflix.

Go figure.

I still really enjoy these stories, and Robin Williams starred in one. He was none other than the titular character in The Frog Prince. This particular story wasn't one we had a copy of, but our local library did, and I borrowed it from there every once and a while.

Robin's frog costume always kind of freaked me out, and at the time I liked the Jim Henson version of the story better. You can't go wrong with Kermit. Thinking on it now, Henson's version was from the 70's and this was early 80's so maybe Prince Robin was a bit inspired by Robin the Frog.

Awakenings

It might surprise a lot of people, but this was my favorite of his dramas. Robin Williams plays a doctor who is experimenting with new drugs in order to wake up catatonic victims of an encephalitis epidemic that broke out many years ago.

I found this movie on Starz back in high school. I watched it once and thought it was very touching. Watching the relationships between the patients and staff change as they wake up from their sleep gives you a feeling a hope. Yet the entire film is a roller coaster of emotions from joy to frustration, excitement, and sorrow.

William's character goes from being disturbed by his long term sleeping patients, to a determined and dedicated man trying to find a cure for their state. Once his trial patient indeed wakes up there is a huge change as he connects with the man who's been asleep since his early teens.

It makes me cry every time I watch it, and yet if I find it on TV I will stop and watch it every time. If you have never seen this one, I highly recommend it.

You might want to keep a tissue handy though.

Hook 

Ah, Peter Pan. Everyone knows this tale. But did we know what happened when he grew up? Not until after we watched Hook.

I remember getting the McDonald's toys in my Happy Meals long before getting to see the movie.  I might even still have that pink and blue haired wind-up mermaid. I had to wait until it came out on video the next year, because I didn't really get to go to the theater that much for movies. I mostly went to Disney animated films once a year.

This is another one of those movies that get's played around the holidays every year. And every year I find myself staying on the channel to watch when I come across it. Yes, it's strange to think of Peter Pan as an adult, but I think Robin Williams was a good choice for the role.

I love watching him go from the uptight executive who's terrified to fly, to the free spirited Pan we all know and remember. Granted, his kids and even the Lost Boys can be a bit annoying at times, but it's a fun story about reuniting with family and accepting everyone for who they are.

I really hated the pixie hair cut on Julia Roberts though.

Aladdin

It boggles my mind that this came out after Hook, because I would have sworn it was the other way around.

I saw Aladdin in theaters when it first came out and I loved it. I loved the music, the story, the characters, and most of all Genie. I had the soundtrack on tape that I begged my mom to order from one of our monthly school book orders, and it lived in my Walkman for a good month after I got it.

Getting the VHS was also a highly waited for event.

Yep. VHS.

I still love this movie, and it's widely regarded as one of Disney's best. I even appreciate it more now than I did as a child. I understand the pop culture references that flew over my head before, and I have a deep respect for traditional hand drawn animation. During college I was lucky enough to meet one of the animators who not only worked on Aladdin, but he animated Genie specifically. I was so jealous as he told the story of when he met Robin Williams during production.

Forget being jealous of his skills, he got to meet the man behind the voice.

Genie is another instance where Williams could just go nuts, and the animators had a hay day with it. I was so upset that he didn't reprise his role for the sequel, and I still to this day don't care for it at all. Yet, the third film is actually pretty good, and...oh wait, he came back for that one. No wonder I liked it!

I remember watching the making of Aladdin TV special before the film released in theaters. It's very safe to say that my love of the actual process of animation began with this film. I was fascinated with the character design and story process, and I loved getting to see the actors in the recording booths bringing those characters to life long before they were even placed on paper.

You can see a short clip from it below, with Robin and a few of the other voice actors.



There are many other films of his that have entertained me and millions of others, but these are by far my favorites. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He made us want to give a damn about the rest of humanity. Robin Williams was a comedic genius with a huge heart, and he will be greatly missed.

Rest in peace, Robin.
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