New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol. 35: Moving

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Somehow everything in my life reverts back to Batman, KISS, and Pro Wrestling. In this instance, wrestling motivated me to want to see Moving back in 1988. If not for the pre-release coverage in WWF magazine, I would not have been as remotely interested in seeing the Richard Pryor comedy. Thanks to New Jersey’s “Walking Condominium,” King Kong Bundy’s role in the film, I suddenly became unusually geared up to see it. At that time I was just a kid and it would be a long time before I started obsessively writing little globs of inconsequential New Jersey drivel on the Internet. A private goes through boot camp to advance in the ranks of the Army, while other people let WWF Magazine be the handbook of their life.

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In Moving, Richard Pryor stars as Arlo, an engineer living in New Jersey who loses his job and has to take a new one in Boise, Idaho. There’s one tiny stipulation though, his family has to move with him. Throughout the film, there’s appearances by Rodney Dangerfield, Dana Carvey, and Jay and Silent Bob’s favorite lead singer…Morris Day! Terrorizing Arlo is his neighbor, Frank, played by Randy Quaid, who is a little more sadistic than his trademark role of Cousin Eddie. This time Quaid plays a creep with a brain tumor instead of a metal plate in his head. There’s wacky hijinks galore as Arlo attempts to relocate his family and start his new job.

After noticing that Richard Pryor has starred in 2 films set in New Jersey, it lead me to coin the term Pryor Points. Feel free to use the term to commend an actor, singer, band, writer, etc. who involves themselves in a Jersey related project, for example, “Writer Robert Siegel and director Darren Aronofsky scored major Pryor Points for setting their film, The Wrestler, in New Jersey.” Moving was unabashed about it’s Jersey setting as you can tell by it’s tagline: On the New Jersey Turnpike, no one can hear you scream. I’ll attest to that, but only if you are driving with your windows closed and nobody is in the car with you.

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I’m positive I’ll draw some flack for this, but Moving beats Brewster’s Millions any day. Sure, Moving might be accused of being sillier fare than Brewster’s Millions, but it’s a comedy dammit! Did I mention that motherf-ckin’ King Kong Bundy has a role in the film? It was worth bringing up again because knowing is half the battle, and awareness might save you from being smashed by an unexpected Bundy Avalanche. How could such a big cuddly Hawaiian-shirted teddy bear do such a thing?

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Ohhh…that’s how. 
You know the shit’s gonna hit the fan when Bundy makes his angry face.

 I suppose offering him up a Pupu platter would be a futile maneuver

See how everything relates to wrestling? All it takes is a 445 lb. ginormous badass from Atlantic City to get you to see it my way regardless of the Hawaiian shirt. Wait…what’s that you say? You still aren’t convinced that Moving is better than Brewster’s Millions? What if I throw in a young Stacey Dash, bound and tied in a suburban New Jersey basement? Ding ding, ding! WINNER!
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New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol. 34: Brewster’s Millions

“C’mon, this is Hackensack, New Jersey, no scout comes here you understand that? A train’s going through the outfield right now…” – Spike Nolan, Brewster’s Millions

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It’s only a matter of days before pitchers and catchers will be reporting to spring training. To get you geared up for baseball season, today’s entry features 1985’s Brewster’s Millions starring Richard Pryor. If you are a baseball fan and you haven’t seen this, it’s worth adding to your Netflix queue. The film is actually based on George Barr McCutcheon’s 1902 novel which spawned several movies, but this incarnation is the most well known. In addition to it’s baseball backdrop, New Jersey also plays a  significant role in the film.

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We first see Brewster (Pryor) as the pitcher on the minor league Hackensack Bulls. At first the film is reminiscent of 2000’s The Replacements, and it’s possible that this low rent, rag tag baseball team might get a shot at the big leagues later in the movie. Once the plot is exposed as fairly un-baseball related, the story becomes a bit cockamamy. Brewster stands to inherit $300 million dollars from his deceased great uncle, but only if he’s able to spend $30 million in 30 days. Brewster does everything he can to spend the dough, including running for Mayor of New York City and hiring the New York Yankees to take on the Hackensack Bulls in a 3-inning exhibition game.

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Brewster’s Millions is one of those ’80s films that seems to get lost in the shuffle. The film is mildy humorous, thanks mostly to John Candy as Brewster’s friend, Spike Nolan. Candy was clearly not given the best material to work with but was still amusing as always. As the main character, Monty Brewster, even Pryor’s performance was mediocre at best. The storyline isn’t meant to be hysterical, but one would think that combining the comedic powers of Pryor and Candy on screen would equal gold, but it’s unfortunately not the case. I’m in no way implying that there are no funny parts in this film, but just not as many as I had hoped.

According to IMDB, Jennifer Beals was up for the role of Brewster’s love interest and financial advisor, Angela Drake, but the role ultimately went to Lonette McKee. McKee’s performance was dull and the film could’ve used a female lead with some sort of spark. McKee and Pryor didn’t have much chemistry at all and just the idea of Beals playing the role of Drake is much more enticing. I’m not sure why Beal didn’t get the role, but after reading more about Beals’ career, it seems to be a trend. She passed up the role of Appolonia in Purple Rain, and she was apparently the first choice to play Andie in Pretty in Pink, but lost out to Molly Ringwald.

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Friday the 13th Part III’s Gloria Charles in a Camden Braves Jersey

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Billboards at Pulaski Field: National Bank of Bergen County and Hasbrouck Dairy

Also thanks to IMDB, the exterior shot of Torchy’s Bar is also seen in 1979’s When a Stranger Calls:

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“…he was out drinking ’til 3:30 at a bar in Plainfield last night…”

Brewster’s Millions offers various other mentions of New Jersey, Newark, and the fictional Hackensack Bulls baseball team. Look out for a hysterical cameo by Rick Moranis as Morty King King of the Mimics and Yakov Smirnoff as Vladimir the driver.