7.0 Splash (1984)
7.0 Cocoon (1985)
6.9 Ransom (1996)
6.7 The Dilemma
6.5 A Beautiful Mind
6.4 In the Heart of the Sea
6.2 Hillbilly Elegy
6.0 Cinderella Man
5.5 Angels & Demons
5.1 How The Grinch Stole Christmas
5.0 The Missing
4.0 The Da Vinci Code
3.8 Solo - A Star Wars Story
Ron Howard (USA, 1954), formerly a famous child actor on television series,
debuted as a filmmaker with
Grand Theft Auto (1977),
Shift (1982) and especially the romantic comedy
Years later, the child is a busy young man at the market, and his brother is a funny guy who still browses under women's skirts. One day, after a confrontation with a paranoid scientist, Alan falls in the ocean and is about to drown when a gorgeous girl saves him. She doesn't say a word, just kisses him and then dives back into the ocean. Once she's in the water, she assumes the tail of a mermaid and scares a sub who sees her. She lives in an underwater house. But she decides to come to land and meet with humans. Unfortunately, she is naked and creates a commotion. She gets arrested and Alan is called by the police to identify her. She doesn't talk but she keeps kissing him.
Madison (her acquired name) has only six days.
During the day he leaves her alone and she starts exploring the world. She goes shopping and she is fascinated by tv. Alan finds her in a department store. She has learned English from watching the tv sets of the department store. He makes the mistake of asking her her name: the reply breaks the glasses of all the tv sets. Alone at home again, she indulges in a bath, but, when Alan returns, she must hide the tail.
Alan tells her that as a child he fell in the water and never learned to swim because of the shock.
Alan still thinks that his friend is a foreigner. The paranoid scientist who saw her in the water knows that she is a mermaid but can't prove it. He is walking around the city like a madman, carrying buckets full of water that he throws at women hoping that this would reveal their tail.
Alan is totally in love with her and asks her to marry him. First, she flatly refuses, then she accepts. They have dinner at a business reception where the president gives a speech. The crazy man has spotted Madison and is ready to hit when the president's bodyguard carry him away, fearing a terrorist attempt. But he is still outside when she walks outside and sprays her with water from a hydrant. The tail immediately grows. A crowd of reporter surrounds her and Alan does not protect her. She is carried away by the police.
They take Alan to a lab and drop him into a tank of water to find out whether he also is a mermaid. Alan is desperate. It is his brother to show him that true love knows no obstacles. The two brothers force the crazy man to help them free the mermaid. Chased by the American army, they manage to reach the ocean.
When they are about to part, Madison reveals that Alan the child saw her underwater. He can join her into the ocean again, but he will never be able to come back. The soldiers are closing in and there is no time for discussion. Madison jumps in the ocean and waves goodbye. Alan dives after her and just one kiss is enough to turn him into a mermaid. The evil subs of the army have surrounded them but Alan and Madison easily get rid of them and then swim away.
Gung Ho (1986)
Far and Away (1992), adapted from a theatrical play, is set at the end of the 19th century and tells the story of an Irish farmer and his landlord's daughter who migrate to America and move west.
The Paper (1994)
Apollo 13 (1995) is a docudrama.
Ransom (1996) is a thriller that focuses on an unusual hero, the father of a kidnapped child, determined to stand up for what is right and not necessarily for his boy's life. It is also a duel of sorts between two very rational and determined minds (the criminal and the victim), between idealized forms of evil and good, both of whom have some control over the fate of the other.
The mastermind of the kidnapping is actually a clever and reputable police detective, Jimmy, also Maris' boyfriend. He is also a ferocious cynical mind, ready to kill the boy once ransom is paid. The boy is blindfolded but hears Jimmy's voice. However, the kidnapping is indeed related to Tom's dirty business. The cop knows that Tom paid his way out of that trouble, and therefore assumes that Tom will pay again. And the fact that Tom is dishonest relieves the cop of any sense of guilt.
Tom initially agrees to deliver the ransom, while the police follows him to try and arrest the criminals. The delivery fails because Tom does not trust the man sent to pick up the money: no boy no money. The man tries to run away, is chased by the police helicopter and eventually shot dead. Tom gets upset that the police killed the only person who could have taken them to the hideout.
Jimmy calls again and sets up another meeting. Tom does not trust the police anymore and demands to be left alone. On the way to deliver the money Tom changes his mind: he tells Jimmy to watch the tv news, calls a tv station and asks to go on the air. Tom tells the whole nation that he is offering the ransom money not to the kidnapper but to anyone who can help capture the kidnappers. Basically, he turned the tables on Jimmy: now it's Jimmy who has to fear for his life. It's a gamble, and Kate goes hysterical at the thought that they are playing with her son's life. However, Tom is rationally convinced that he has just increased the chances of saving his son's life. When Jimmy scares and pressures Kate, Tom decides to double the reward. Jimmy calls and tells Tom that he is ready to kill the boy. Tom finds enough mental calm to tell him that his life will be worth nothing if he kills the boy. Jimmy loses his temper and shoots. Then he hangs up. Tom and Kate don't know if that means that the boy is dead. Jimmy is not that stupid: he wants the money. This has now become a duel of brains between Jimmy and Tom. Jimmy realizes that he cannot outwit Tom... unless he gets the reward himself, in which case he would have outsmarted Tom twice. So he kills his partners and, wearing again his real-life persona as a cop, calls for help, pretending to have found where the kidnappers are holding the boy. Maris tries to kill him but he kills Maris. Just then the cops storm the place and find him wounded, surrounded by dead bodies. The scene confirms his story: that he accidentally stumbled on the kidnappers, risked his life to stop them and saved the boy. The only witness left is the boy, but he has never seen the face of his kidnapper, only heard his voice. Tom gladly accepts to pay the reward to the heroic Jimmy, now a nation-wide celebrity, a reward which is going to be twice what Jimmy had asked as ransom. Once released from the hospital for his wound, Jimmy walks to Tom's mansion to cash the reward. Just when Tom is signing the cheque, Tom notices that his boy is peeing in his pants. Something is scaring the child, and Tom guesses that it must be Jimmy's voice. Realizing that something is very wrong, Tom gives Jimmy the cheque but is ready to call the police. Jimmy, in turn, realizes that Tom is suspecting something and pulls out a gun. Now for the first time Tom knows that he is facing the monster he has been fighting all along. Jimmy demands that Tom takes him to the bank and personally cash the money for him. While in the car, Tom calls a friend to have his private plane ready and manages to hint that he is in trouble. At the bank Jimmy is welcomed as a hero, but, as he leaves with the money, the cops receive the order to arrest him. Jimmy tries to shoot his way out but Tom eventually captures him. Tom is pointing the gun at him. The cops surround them and tell Tom to drop the gun. Tom hesitates. Jimmy tries to pull out another hidden revolver, and Tom shoots him dead. Now Tom can finally throw the gun away.
EDtv (1999) is a remake of the Canadian film Louis 19, King of the Airwaves (1994).
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) is a children's movie.
A Beautiful Mind (2001) is the melodramatic biography of a Nobel prize winner. The film is too long for what it has to say, full of stereotypes and rarely engaging. The emotional level is kept at a minimum and the personal dilemmas are hardly analyzed.
The doctor calls his wife and tells her that John has developed schizophrenia. The disease has probably been going on since his college years. He is paranoid about the secret services and dreams up fantasizes about a room-mate called Charles. None of that is true. When his wife visits him, he tells her what he believes: that the Russians kidnapped him and are planning a major attack against the USA. She tries to explain that the conspiracy is only in his mind. In vain.
One year later John is back with his wife and his son, and seems to have left his schizophrenia behind. His wife helps him return to a normal life, but he is not a husband anymore: his sexual life has been affected by the medicines. John realizes the pain this causes to his wife and stops taking the medicines. His mind is still a living calculator and one day begins to see patterns again in a newspaper. The man who recruited him appears again. He is taken to a secret laboratory and asked to work again on the same secret assignment... and his wife finds a room plastered with newspaper and magazine pages like he used to do when he was schizophreniac. His wife gets on the phone to call for help. All the ghosts of his hidden life appear and ask him to stop his wife, to kill her if necessary. They appear like real beings to him. John is about to listen to them, when he realizes that one of them is Charles' daughter, still a child: she never grew up, she can't be real.
John is healed inasmuch as he now believes that something is wrong with his mind, that those characters are fictitious, but he is not truly healed because he keeps seeing them. The psychiatrist begs tells him that it will get worse. John is even welcome back to Princeton, but he has to fight his ghosts, often in public. Now that he knows they are not real, it is even worse, because he argues with them aloud, while people stare at him. Eventually, his mind finds the strength to say goodbye to them. He regains his reputation as a mathematical genius and, eventually, the respect of his students. He has learned to live with his ghosts: he still sees them and hears them... the old room-mate, his daughter, the secret agent... and just ignores them.
He goes on to win the Nobel prize. At the ceremony he thanks his wife for her love.
The Missing (2003) is a western.
Cinderella Man (2005) is another biopic, as are Frost/Nixon (2008) and Rush (2013).
the Robert Langdon film series
The Da Vinci Code (2006), Angels & Demons (2009) and Inferno (2016) are adaptations of Dan Brown's novels.
The Dilemma (2011)
In the Heart of the Sea (2015)
Hillbilly Elegy (2020)