Mary Kay Place

Captain Ron (1992, Thom E. Eberhardt)

For an innocuous Touchstone family comedy, Captain Ron isn’t bad. Like most Touchstone movies, it lacks any real personality–Daryn Okada’s photography, for example, should be full of lush Caribbean visuals but it isn’t. Part of the blame goes to director Eberhardt, who doesn’t know how to open up his shots, and Okada’s no help. Ron feels too artificially controlled.

The movie still has some very amusing moments and it’s well-acted by the principals. More accurately, the adult principals. Martin Short inherits a boat and brings along wife Mary Kay Place and kids Benjamin Salisbury and Meadow Sisto. Salisbury is annoying, Sisto’s bad.

Place easily gives the film’s best performance, while Russell manages to be charming with the illusion of edginess. That Touchstone touch. Short’s wrong for his role as a neurotic control freak; his best scenes are when Eberhardt’s stuck using him as a physical comedian. Short’s good enough to sell the non-physical stuff, but he’s in the way of his own movie. Eberhardt and co-screenwriter John Dwyer don’t have a particularly good script and their character arcs are even worse.

Those writing problems aside, Eberhardt has five principal cast members and barely any significant supporting cast and he paces the scenes exceedingly well. His problem’s his weak composition. The short set-up–a walking, exposition-filled argument between Short and Place–still feels natural and complete, even though it’s manipulative.

William F. Matthews’s production design is better than Ron deserves. Nicholas Pike’s music is worse.



Directed by Thom E. Eberhardt; screenplay by John Dwyer and Eberhardt, based on a story by Dwyer; director of photography, Daryn Okada; edited by Tina Hirsch; music by Nicholas Pike; production designer, William F. Matthews; produced by David Permut and Paige Simpson; released by Touchstone Pictures.

Starring Kurt Russell (Captain Ron), Martin Short (Martin Harvey), Mary Kay Place (Katherine Harvey), Benjamin Salisbury (Benjamin Harvey), Meadow Sisto (Caroline Harvey), Sunshine Logroño (General Armando), Jorge Luis Ramos (The General’s Translator), J.A. Preston (Magistrate), Tanya Soler (Angeline), Raúl Estela (Roscoe), Jainardo Batista (Mamba), Dan Butler (Zachery) and Tom McGowan (Bill).

A New Life (1988, Alan Alda)

Alda opens A New Life likes it’s going to juxtapose he and Ann-Margret’s lives immediately follow their divorce. For a while, it does. Alda’s got Hal Linden as a sidekick, Ann-Margret’s got Mary Kay Place. It’s all very even. She’s going back to school, he’s trying to figure out how to date. The beginning might even emphasize Ann-Margret more, as Alda’s attempts at dating are more for comic effect… but it quickly changes.

Once Ann-Margret gets established with John Shea, her portion of the film becomes a lot less even. Sure, Alda’s just introduced Veronica Hamel as his love interest, but their relationship comes to dominate the running time.

The problem—besides it being somewhat unfair—is Alda’s spending the wrong amount of time on each story. His character’s arc needs its own movie and if it doesn’t have its own movie, it needs less. Ann-Margret’s arc would have been perfectly fine with her as the primary protagonist.

I mean, Linden even gets second billing, which makes absolutely no sense if one’s looking at A New Life conceptually.

The acting is good. Shea has one of the film’s more difficult roles, which he seems to realize but no one else does, which leads to some problematic scenes, but he’s still good. Alda and Hamel are excellent. Linden’s hilarious, almost unbelievably so. Ann-Margret does well in the role as scripted, but she and it could have been a lot better.

Still, it’s a genial diversion.



Written and directed by Alan Alda; director of photography, Kelvin Pike; edited by William Reynolds; music by Michael Jay and Joseph Turrin; production designer, Barbara Dunphy; produced by Martin Bregman; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring Alan Alda (Steve Giardino), Hal Linden (Mel Arons), Ann-Margret (Jackie Giardino), Veronica Hamel (Kay Hutton), John Shea (Doc), Mary Kay Place (Donna), Beatrice Alda (Judy), David Eisner (Billy) and Victoria Snow (Audrey).

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