Stephen Herek

Stephen Herek’s has had an interesting career. Most of his early movies were well-known and widely disliked, or at best tolerated. Most of his recent movies have been straight-to-video. But then he had one masterpiece in the middle of his career that doesn’t belong with any of these movies. I don’t know what to make of that. Did he luck into it? Does he have the talent but is content with doing safe and forgettable movies?

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: A pretty cool movie when I was nine years old, but the humor has little depth now as an adult. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter find a phone booth that travels through time and with the help of George Carlin, get a bunch of historical figures (including Genghis Khan, Abraham Lincoln, and Napoleon) to come back to the future with them to, I don’t know, vouch for their bodaciousness. Yeah, totally bogus.

Grade: D

The Mighty Ducks: Cheesy and ridiculous, but at times charming and funny, The Mighty Ducks is the one movie where nearly every Minnesotan knows somebody who was in it. Emilio Estevez, a workaholic, gets a DUI and as his probation, must coach a rag-tag bunch of kids who play hockey poorly. Similar to The Bad News Bears in that the bad kids become serviceable, and the coach lands a couple of ringers that do most of the work. Not as good as that movie, as there are more caricatures, including the sneeringly evil opposing coach (who, incidentally, starred in the Bad News Bears sequel). Also, the heartfelt moments are too choreographed. Despite this, I enjoy it whenever I come across it.

Grade: C-

Mr. Holland’s Opus: It’s funny to go from a movie that does the dramatic moments so poorly to a movie that is absolutely superb and evoking genuine, non-manipulative tears. Richard Dreyfuss plays a well-liked high school music teacher who struggles on the home front with having a deaf son and on the work front with the reality that the school is going to cut the music program. Nearly every moment of this movie feels real and Dreyfuss puts in possibly the best performance of his career. I’ve seen this several times now and cry like a fool every time.

Grade: A-

Other Stephen Herek Movies You May Have Seen

Critters
Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead
The Three Musketeers
101 Dalmatians
Holy Man
Life or Something Like It
Man of the House
Picture This
Dead Like Me: Life After Death
Into the Blue 2: The Reef
The Cutting Edge: Fire & Ice
The Chaperone

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2 thoughts on “Stephen Herek

  1. I love Excellent Adventure and I need you to suck it. Though, my love of it is strange even to me: the premise is absurd (even given the absurd world they live in), and the acting is mostly quite bad. A look at the rest of his career really drives home how silly it must be, though, since it’s a pretty poor career.

    And…yeah. Mr. Holland’s Opus. Set aside the fact that it was good. What I want to know is: what had he done that made him get asked to do the movie? That is a weeeeeeird move that worked out.

    • I was talking about that with the missus the other day. I wonder if other directors turned it down, or it was a favor from someone he knew. It’s a solid script sure, but it could have easily been ruined by mediocre directing.

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