By Rob Tucker
In 2017 the Iowa Legislature changed Iowa's Workers’ Compensation laws. One of the significant changes was the classification of a shoulder as a "scheduled" body part instead of “body-as-a-whole”.
If that elicits a “huh?” and a blank stare on your part, I don’t blame you, but bear with me because it was a meaningful change.
(Click here for an earlier article with a more in-depth explanation of the 2017 changes.)
If a body part is scheduled, it means it’s on a list with a maximum amount of compensation that can be awarded in the event of an on-the-job injury to that particular body part . . . whereas body-as-a-whole injuries aren’t subject to a pre-set limit.
The problem was that the legislature didn’t specifically define “shoulder." At first glance it might seem obvious what a shoulder is, but it’s more complicated than that.
In one of the first shoulder cases evaluated by the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commission interpreting the new statute (Chavez v. MS Technology, LLC), my daughter Erin Tucker argued that the legislature’s ambiguity in drafting the new statute meant that rotator cuff injuries should not be limited because they do not fall within the general and previously-understood definition of shoulder: the joint between the arm and the trunk of the body.
The Deputy Workers’ Compensation Commissioner agreed and held that the injured worker was not limited to the scheduled amount of benefits because her injury was to her body as a whole, and only an injury to the shoulder joint itself would be governed by the scheduled, and much more limited, amount of benefits.
It was the first case deciding this issue in favor of the injured worker.
As expected, the insurance company appealed this finding. The Iowa Association of Business and Industry filed a brief in support of the insurance company’s position.
On September 30, 2020 the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner, Joseph Cortese, reversed the lower judge’s decision and concluded that the injury was, in fact, a “shoulder” injury, limiting the worker to far less benefits; subsequent cases have gone the same way.
This issue is expected to come before the Iowa Supreme Court in the near future. In the meantime, it's an area of contention that your attorney needs to be thoroughly familiar with. The reality is that shoulder injuries are currently awarded fewer benefits than before the law change, but carefully-crafted arguments taking into account the new law’s ambiguities can result in maximizing the amount injured workers recover.
By Kelly Sargent
Well, we did it again; we made national news for awful weather. In Ankeny, where Rob, Erin and I live, we had a blizzard that dumped 8 inches of snow on us October 19, and just eight miles north of us Polk City got 9.2 inches.
ABC, The Washington Post, Forbes, Fox News and others all covered it.
My husband Paul, who is a bit of a weather geek, knew that colder weather was expected, so he hurried to get the grass mowed, the leaves picked up and the gutters cleaned while it was still reasonably comfortable to work outside. But nobody expected snow, for goodness sake . . . and so much of it!
Although the official start of winter isn’t until December 21, given what we’ve already experienced, perhaps we should share this list of cold-weather-driving and driving-in-snow tips from AAA with you now, just in case. With coronavirus, a derecho and an mid-October blizzard, apparently we need to be prepared for anything.
Cold Weather Driving Tips
Tips for Driving in the Snow
By Erin Tucker
My goodness, the number of coronavirus cases keeps going up and up! We don’t want you to end up a statistic, so take every precaution you can. According to the CDC, the three basics remain: wear a mask, stay six feet apart when you're with anyone but your live-in family and wash your hands thoroughly and often.
Speaking of precautions, sometimes no matter how careful you are, injurious things happen that aren’t your fault. Because that’s true, in spite of the pandemic, we’re still helping people receive just compensation who have been hurt or unfairly treated.
We’ve successfully resolved on-the-job injury cases such as
And bad faith insurance cases such as
We're here to help you through good times and bad . . . coronavirus or not.
By Kelly Sargent
Having left a $4 billion path of destruction in Iowa alone, the storm on August 10 was one for the books. Like many of you, nobody here at Tucker Law had heard of a derecho . . . that is until we were almost blown away by one.
Although we're hoping you escaped damage, some of you may still be in the process of trying to find a tree service, roofer or contractor to help you put things to rights.
Here are a few tips and red flags from Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller to keep in mind when you consider hiring someone to do the work.
Be wary of storm chasers.
Be suspicious of tree removal, cleanup and home repair workers who show up at your door unbidden. They might be storm chasers — individuals who are constantly on the move from one disaster to another. Some of them might be trustworthy, but the problem is they're transient. You're likely to be unable to reach them if the work turns out to be unsatisfactory . . . if their 'fix' needs a fix.
Do your homework before doing your home work.
Research reputable, local businesses before you contact them. Even if it's not a long-established business, a local company will be much more motivated to do what you've hired them to do to protect their reputation because they live here.
Check out whoever you're considering.
Ask for and check local references before you sign a contract give anyone any money. You can check on complaints through Attorney General Miller's office and with the Better Business Bureau and check to see whether whoever it is you're considering has been sued by customers through Iowa Courts Online. You can also check on a contractor’s registration and bonding at the Iowa Division of Labor website. Ask for a copy of the contractor's liability insurance certificate.
Make sure you have verifiable contact information.
Get the company's address, phone number and email. Contractors who don’t provide a local phone number and a local physical address (not a post office box) are probably not local. Check the numbers by calling. It's also not a bad idea to write down the license plate number and vehicle description, or take a picture of the vehicle and plate, and keep the information for your records just in case.
Getting several written estimates.
The cost of work can vary considerably from company to company, so get more than one estimate, Compare and choose the best one for you which may mean taking more than just the price into account, factors such as availability, materials and guarantees.
Get a contract in writing.
Before work begins, get a written contract and don’t forget to read it — detailing the price, payment terms, exact scope of the work, brand and/or specifications of the materials to be used, who is responsible for permits, start and completion dates and remedies if the contractor fails to meet deadlines. For example, the contract could be nullified if the contractor doesn't start on time.
Understand your insurance.
If you’re filing an insurance claim to cover the costs of damages, negotiate the details with your insurance company directly and not through a contractor. Understand what your insurance provider will cover before you sign a contract.
Explore financing options.
It’s usually safer and a better deal to get financing through your local bank or credit union rather than a contractor.
Know your right to cancel.
If you sign a contract somewhere other than the contractor's regular place of business, such as at your home, you have three business days to cancel the contract without penalty.
Avoid paying large sums or the entire job up front.
If you need to make a partial advance payment for materials, make your check out to the supplier and the contractor. Insist on a "mechanic's lien waiver" in case the contractor fails to pay others for materials or labor.
As always, we're just a phone call away. Let us know if we can help.
By Kelly Sargent
I'm an National Public Radio fan; one of the podcasts I listen to on a regular basis is Science Friday. When I popped in my earbuds Friday night, August 21, I was surprised to hear the derecho in Iowa featured and Iowa Public Radio reporter Kate Payne being interviewed about it. Kate describes the ways that victims of the derecho in Iowa, might be suffering more than past hurricane survivors, and having spent time in Florida covering hurricanes, she has a basis for comparison. I've attached a link to the podcast. It's worth a listen.
Dealing with the Aftermath of Iowa's Devastating Derecho
By Kelly Sargent
It felt like a hurricane, but it was on dry land.
Some news sources called it a category 4 inland hurricane, others referred to it as an F3 tornado, but meteorologist and Forbes senior science contributor, Marshall Shepherd, says the correct word is derecho. I’d never heard of it either.
A derecho is a line of intense, widespread, straight-line windstorms that moves across great distances with forces rivaling those of rotating hurricanes and tornadoes.
Whatever you call it, it was destructive. With sustained winds of 70 to 140 miles an hour, it cut a swath 1000 miles long from eastern Nebraska, through Iowa and into parts of Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan.
But the worst of it was right here in Iowa.
It came on so fast! The storm-alert sirens started blowing, but we couldn't figure out why. At that point it still looked like a regular day outside. Boy were we wrong.
It started to rain, but then it started to blow. The power was on and off three times in the space of about a minute at our house, and then it was out permanently. We took ourselves and the furry children to the basement to wait it out. It blew and blew and blew. Later we learned that Ankeny, where we live, had been hit by 100 mile an hour winds.
Erin’s privacy fence was decimated — 4” X 4” posts set in concrete snapped off like match sticks. At Rob’s, a big tree was toppled behind his house, but fortunately did no damage. When we walked outside at our house, it looked like a bomb had dropped.
Our behind-us neighbor had a row of seven, tall pine trees along the property line between his backyard, ours and our next door neighbor’s. Three of those trees were snapped in two. Our backyard looked like a bomb had gone off, but we were lucky: our garage, house and vehicles were all undamaged. Unfortunately for our next door neighbor, one of those downed pine trees impaled his garage in four places and took out our power line that traverses his back yard.
Below are four photos of our backyard in the aftermath. Below that are two pictures of our backyard neighbors.
Altogether some 800,000 households were without power across the Midwest, 330,000 were in Iowa, and of those nearly 101,000 were in Des Moines and suburbs, including Ankeny.
Rob was only out of power a day. Erin was without power four days. We were out from Monday until Friday night, five long days and nights, and a power surge fried my laptop and it’s backup drive.
Comparatively, though, we were spared. Cedar Rapids had sustained winds of 140 miles an hour, flipping over large RV homes, blowing semi trucks off the road and onto their sides, and damaging most structures at least to some extent, some severely. In Marion, six miles northeast of Cedar Rapids, 90% of the homes and buildings sustained damage. In Linn County, where both CR and Marion are located, 97% of households lost power, and as of today, August 21, 16,000 people are still without power there.
Ten million acres of corn and soybean were destroyed or damaged. The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported that the preliminary estimate of damage is nearly $4 billion.
We feel for our friends and neighbors. If there’s any way Tucker Law can help, call us or write to us via email.
We’ll be back in a few days with suggestions from Attorney General Tom Miller on how to avoid being scammed by storm chasers . . . sketchy tree removal and home repair contractors who suddenly materialize after disasters.
By Kelly Sargent
You've probably heard on the news that coronavirus cases have risen dramatically around the world. Here in the US the seven-day new case average has tripled since mid-June. As of July 25 almost 4,200,000 Americans have been infected and at least 146,000 have died.
We're all tired of having to wear masks, constantly washing our hands and not being able to go out to restaurants, theaters and social events without fear of getting sick. It's important not to let down your guard now, though. Infections are surging, the disease is still potentially fatal, and many who contract it find they're left with serious, long-term negative health consequences.
Although a recent analysis by the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) found that most patients exhibit one of three symptoms: fever, cough or shortness of breath — coronavirus symptoms are wide-ranging.
To help you remember, here's the list of symptoms we shared with you in April.
Graphic credit: City of Lincoln, Nebraska
The World Health Organization reported that 88% of individuals infected with COVID-19 experienced a fever. But what temperature qualifies as having a fever? The 98.6 degree Fahrenheit benchmark we've grown up memorizing as 'normal' was arrived at in the mid-1800's, and it's been gradually dropping throughout the population ever since. It's now the exception rather than the rule. In fact 75% of us have a normal body temperature lower than that, so it's important to know what 'normal' is for you. Most adults are considered feverish when their temperature hits 100 F. Fever often elevates in the late afternoon or early evening which makes that an ideal time to check.
2. Difficulty breathing
Although shortness of breath isn't usually the first symptom of coronavirus infection, it's an extremely serious one. Medical experts say that it's important to seek medical attention if you can't breathe deeply enough to take in a normal breath or if you experience persistent pain or pressure in your chest.
3. Dry Cough
A persistent cough is another prevalent warning sign, but doctors say that it's not just any cough; it's not a tickle in your throat or the urge to clear your throat. It's a dry cough that feels as though it emanates from deep inside your chest.
4. Chills and body aches
It may be difficult for those with less pronounced symptoms to distinguish coronavirus chills and achy muscles and joints from flu symptoms. One gauge: if your symptoms don't improve after about a week, but get worse instead, it may be a sign that you're dealing with the coronavirus and not the flu.
5. Extreme fatigue
A World Health Organization study found that nearly 40% of COVID-19 patients experienced extreme fatigue. Journalist Chris Cuomo said he was so exhausted that he would he would take what he thought was a 10-minute nap when it had actually been three and half hours.
6. Inability to wake up
The CDC warns that sudden confusion or the inability to wake up to full alertness, especially in conjunction with other critical signs such as bluish lips and fever, has a high probability of being a medical emergency. Call 911.
7. Loss of smell or taste
A recent review of eight studies found that a loss of smell and taste is often one of the earliest signs of COVID-19. A loss of smell in particular may be an indicator of a mild case, but for your sake and that of those you may be exposing, it's important to take this early symptom seriously.
8. Digestive issues
In the initial months of the coronavirus pandemic, diarrhea and other digestive symptoms didn't seem to be warning signs. But as the infection has spread yielding more cases and more data, a study revealed milder cases in which the initial symptoms were digestive issues without a fever.
9. Headache, sore throat and congestion
A WHO report also found that almost 14% of the confirmed COVID-19 cases they analyzed suffered headache, sore throat and nasal congestion, symptoms that can be difficult to distinguish from a cold or flu, so consider the totality of how you're feeling.
10. Pink eye
Researchers found that about 1% to 3% of those infected with COVID-19 had conjunctivitis, a highly contagious condition also known as pink eye.
By Rob Tucker
This year, once again I had the pleasure of serving on the Rotary Club of Des Moines college scholarship committee. One winner is chosen from each of Des Moines' six high schools — East, Hoover, Lincoln, North, Roosevelt and Scavo — to receive an $8000 scholarship. If you're doing the math, that's $48,000 in scholarship money.
Teammates Kelly Sargent, Mark Lyons and I have been responsible for selecting the East High winner for at least the last 10 years. School counselors narrow the field to four semi-finalists, and we reviews their applications, transcripts, activities, personal essays and in the last step of the process, interview them to select the winner.
Invariably, it's a rewarding and heartening undertaking to visit with these exceptional young people, but the flip side of that is that they're each and everyone so deserving that it makes our job very difficult.
Normally we would have interviewed the four finalists at East High on a given day, but since classes at all Des Moines public schools were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the interview process was a bit more challenging. Mark persevered, however, contacted our finalists and set up Zoom interviews, and it all went smoothly.
Our three runners-up were Jasmine Dao, Sunya Hardi, and Rachel Puok, who will each receive a $100 gift Target gift card to buy items they might need for college. The winner of the $2000 a year ($8000 total) scholarship is Priscilla Macias.
Priscilla plans to attend Iowa State University to pursue a degree in science. She ranks eighth in her class of 469 at East with a weighted GPA of 4.23. Her school activities include cross country, National Honor Society, Science Bound and Link Crew which gives incoming freshman advice on acclimating to high school. She also serves as class secretary.
Outside of school, Priscilla works 16 to 20 hours a week at HyVee to contribute to the income in her single-parent household. She mentioned in her application that her parents endured a difficult domestic dispute a couple of years ago. When we asked her how she dealt with that, her answer was “I just persevere.”
Good advice for all of us today.
Rotary Club of Des Moines scholarship winners
Top row from left to right: Nicole Marinero Cea (Lincoln), Jessica Cruz Hernandez (Hoover), Ruth Bropleh (North). Second row from left to right: Priscilla Macias (East), Emily Adams (Scavo), Nyana Robinson (Roosevelt)
By Kelly Sargent
Perhaps you've heard of Juneteenth, but like a large swath of the citizenry, you may not know much about it. Here's a primer.
Juneteenth is an unofficial — and in some states an official American holiday observed on June 19. Also called Liberation Day, Black Independence Day, Freedom Day, and Jubilee Day, it commemorates the 1865 adoption of the Emancipation Proclamation in the last remaining state to which President Abraham Lincoln's proclamation and executive order applied.
Although President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 declaring slaves free people, it didn't actually end slavery since it only applied to the 11 states at war with the Union. As the most remote of the Confederate states with only a small presence of Union troops, Texas simply chose to ignore it.
Lincoln recognized that it would require amending the US Constitution to abolish slavery and permanently emancipate the millions of men, women and children enslaved in America, and worked toward that end. In April of 1864 the US Senate passed a proposed Constitutional amendment banning slavery, but it languished in the House of Representatives. Nine months later the House barely passed the amendment with the required two-thirds majority, and the next day, Lincoln approved a joint resolution of Congress submitting it to the state legislatures for ratification.
Meanwhile, in spite of General Robert E. Lee's surrender of his Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, the Civil War wasn't over. Other contingencies of Confederate troops remained active including Colonel Rip Ford in Texas, and the necessary number of states had yet to ratify the 13th Amendment.
Juneteenth, marks the day that Union Army Major General Gordon Granger asserted Union authority and read an official order in Galveston, stating in part: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves."
The first celebration of Juneteenth took place the following year, 1866. What began as local church gatherings evolved into larger community events that spread across Texas and throughout the South. Juneteenth is now celebrated in most major US cities, and 48 of the 50 states recognize it in some way, but only Texas has designated it as a state holiday . . . so far.
Yesterday New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order making it a paid holiday for state workers, and an ongoing campaign to declare Juneteenth a Federal holiday has recently gained renewed momentum.
Happy Juneteenth everyone. Black lives matter.
By Erin Tucker and Kelly Sargent
As of May 20 each state that had imposed a stay-at-home order has begun lifting restrictions on businesses and public spaces. The COVID-19 pandemic is by no means over, though. World-wide, cases top 5 million, and according to the WHO, the last 24 hours was the worst day yet for new infections. In the US at least 17 states have recorded an unmistakable upward trend of average new daily cases.
That's why doctors, epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists continue to recommend social distancing and staying home as much as possible until the rate of infection drops more significantly.
Since we're all spending more time at home than usual, Tucker Law team member and movie buff Kelly Sargent has agreed to share a list of her favorite lesser-known, light-hearted classics to help take your mind off the avalanche of scary news. You may be familiar with some of her selections, but there are also probably at least a few you've never heard of. Several of these movies are free on YouTube, the others are available through rental or subscription services
The Gold Rush 1925 Available on Amazon Prime Video
You might be surprised to discover that a silent movie can be this charming, but The Gold Rush is a true cinema classic: pure gold, if you'll pardon the pun. Charlie Chaplin as the Little Tramp, a character he made famous in a series of movies, heads north to join the Klondike gold rush where he's forced to share a small cabin with another prospector and a fugitive when they're trapped by a blizzard. Finally freed, he meets and falls in love with a beautiful barmaid, but many a missed connection must be overcome before they can be together.
The Gay Divorcee 1934 Available on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, iTunes and YouTube
I recommend any of the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies — Paul and I own all of them — but this one is our favorite. In addition to the iconic duo of Ginger and Fred, it boasts a stellar and hilarious cast including Edward Everett Horton (narrator of Fractured Fairy Tales on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show) and the marvelous Eric Blore. Betty Grable even makes an appearance.
The plot revolves around Mimi Glossup played by Ginger who wants to divorce her absentee husband. However, since it was an era in which couples couldn't file for divorce without cause, Mimi's many-times-married aunt (Alice Brady) cooks up a scheme to create cause by hiring a professional co-respondent with whom Mimi can fake and 'accidentally' get caught in an adulterous relationship.
Fred's character is an American song and dance man who becomes enchanted with Mimi when he briefly meets her on an ocean liner on the way to England and gets tangled in the subterfuge. It all becomes a muddled mess until the butler (Eric Blore) saves the day, but not before many laughs are provided by Erik Rhodes.
Of course there's non-stop dancing and singing; the classic Night and Day, a campy rendition of The Continental — which may be the longest song and dance number in recorded history; you may want to fast-forward part of the way through it — and a goofy number by Betty Grable called Let's K-nock K-nees. You can't watch this and be un-cheered.
Topper 1937 and Topper Returns 1941 Topper available on YouTube; Topper Returns available on Amazon Prime Video
There are three Topper movies: Topper, Topper Takes a Trip and Topper Returns based on the comical supernatural novels of Thorne Smith. All three star Roland Young as repressed banker Cosmo Topper who's persistently haunted by friendly but annoying ghosts. Mrs. Topper is played by Billie Burke, who incidentally appeared as the Good Witch, Glinda in The Wizard of Oz three years before.
The last in the series, Topper Returns, is the one we like best. Gail, played by Joan Blondell, is murdered (it's not gruesome but slightly scary) after being mistaken for her rich friend (Carole Landis) with whom she's staying. Gail's ghost-self enlists Topper's help to find the murderer. Also notable in the cast is Eddie "Rochester" Anderson. If a murder as part of the plot, doesn't sound like a good time, opt for Topper, the first in the series, in which Cosmo is haunted by the mischievous ghost married couple played by Constance Bennett and Cary Grant.
Miracle on Morgan's Creek 1944 Available on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, iTunes and YouTube
After an all-night send-off party for the local WW II troops, small-town girl Trudy Kockenlocker, played by the irrepressible and in my opinion, irreplaceable Betty Hutton, wakes up after suffering a blow on the head to discover that she's married, and in the fullness of time — pregnant.
The problem is that Trudy can't remember who she married. She thinks his name might be Ratzkywatzky or something like that. She has a fuzzy memory of both using fake names so the marriage record won't be any help. She can't even bring to mind what he looks like, let alone how to get in touch with him.
Norval Jones, a local boy played by perfectly-cast Eddie Bracken, who's been in love with Trudy for years, steps in to save her good name. A thousand complications ensue along the way, no small number of them supplied by the town constable who also happens to be Trudy's father. He's played by William Demarest, who later owned the role of Uncle Charley in My Three Sons. We think this is one of the all-time funniest movies, and if you don't become a huge Betty Hutton fan before it's over, there's something wrong.
The Inspector General 1949 Available on Amazon Prime Video and Tubi
Starring the multi-talented, amazing Danny Kaye, this is a classic mistaken-identity film that inspired many subsequent movies. After Georgi (Danny Kaye) get fired from a traveling medicine show for telling the truth about the utterly bogus 'medicine' being sold, he wanders into a strange town and is picked up on a vagrancy charge.
The corrupt mayor of the town which has recently found itself under the supervision of the First French Empire, mistakes Georgi for the inspector general whom he and his in-cahoots council believe to be traveling in disguise. Fearing that the inspector will discover that they've been stealing the town's tax money, they keep trying to kill him to no avail. If you've never taken advantage of the opportunity to be entertained by the chameleon that was Danny Kaye, this is a good place to start.
The Producers 1967 The 1967 version available on YouTube; 2005 version Available on Amazon Prime Video, iTunes and YouTube
I'm referring to the 1967 version starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder, not the 2005 remake with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. Either version will make you laugh, but the 1967 version scores a 90% with critics versus 50% for the later one.
Down and out Broadway producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel), has been reduced to romancing rich, older ladies in order to pay the bills. Max sees a ways out of his financial difficulties when his new accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder), mentions that if Max found investors for a production that ended up being a flop, he could legally keep all the rest of the backers' money beyond expenses. The costs would be minimal if the show folded right out of the gate, so Max and Leo put together what they're sure will be the worst play ever made, but of course things don't work out the way they'd planned.
Making Mr. Right 1987 Available on YouTube
John Malkovich plays scientist Jeff Peters who invents a lifelike android. In fact Jeff has made Ulysses an exact physical replica of himself. Endowed by his creator with the ability to learn to mimic and reciprocate human emotions, Jeff's goal is for Ulysses to get so good at relating to people that he can charm the Congressional powers-that-be into funding Jeff's research — something Jeff himself isn't capable of.
The problem is that Jeff can't teach Ulysses to feel because he's a misanthrope devoid of emotion, so he brings in public relations expert Frankie Stone (Ann Magnuson) to give Ulysses lessons. She does such a good job that things get very, very complicated. Laurie Metcalf, who later became famous in the TV sitcom Roseanne, plays a colleague with the hots for Jeff.
Earth Girls are Easy 1988 Available on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, iTunes and YouTube
A musical-comedy-science-fiction movie, Earth Girls Are Easy is based on a 1984 song of the same name by comedian, singer-songwriter Julie Brown. The plot centers on events that transpire when a space ship containing three aliens crashes into valley girl Valerie Gail's swimming pool.
Valerie, played by Gena Davis, Candy Pink played by Julie herself, and the staff at Candy's hair salon try to help aliens Jeff Goldblum, Damon Wayans and Jim Carrey blend in by giving them make-overs. In the process Valerie falls for Jeff's alien self — apparently in real life too since they got married the following year. It's fun to see Jim Carrey in one of his earliest roles.
The Man Who Knew Too Little 1997 Available on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, iTunes and YouTube
This is the most mainstream of the movies listed, the one you're most likely to have seen, but I can't resist including it because it's just so funny. It's one Paul and I can watch again and again and never become inured. Bill Murray stars as Wallace Ritchie who hails from Des Moines! as the quintessential, naively-ignorant American traveling abroad for the first time. In London to celebrate his brother James' (played by Peter Gallagher) birthday, he inadvertently gets in the middle of a Soviet espionage plot to detonate a bomb at a British and Russian state dinner. Along the way Wallace falls in love of course. It's the perfect laugh-out-loud sendup of the spy movie genre.
Waking Ned Divine 1998 Available on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, iTunes and YouTube
When someone in the tiny village of Tulaigh Mhór, population, 52, wins the Irish lottery, best mates Jackie O'Shea and Michael O'Sullivan devise a scheme to figure out who the winner might be, intent upon currying favor with the newly-minted, multi-million-pound neighbor and getting a slice of the pie. After concluding through a process of elimination that the lucky person must be Ned Devine, they pay him a visit and find him dead from the shock of having won. Since Ned is the only one who can claim the prize, Jackie and Michael hatch a plan for Michael to impersonate Ned, but not before the whole town wants in. If you've never seen an old-ish naked guy riding around on a scooter, now's your chance.
Saving Grace 2000 Available on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, iTunes and YouTube
The marvelous Brenda Blethyn stars as Grace Trevethen whose late husband jumped out of a plane without a parachute. She finds herself left with their manor home on the Cornish Coast but no life insurance proceeds and a crushing load of debt her husband had been secretly amassing.
With creditors after her and foreclosure imminent, she's faced with the prospect of losing everything. When Grace, who is liked by everyone and happens to have a green thumb, is asked by a friend to tend a few sickly plants, she discovers she's actually nurturing marijuana — and learns how much they're worth! A few clippings plus her ability to scale up seem like the solution to all her pressing money problems. Eventually the whole town inadvertently comes under the influence including a pair of delightful LOL-LOLs (laugh-out-loud little-old-lades) who have some "lovely lovely" for sale. The film also stars Martin Clunes of Doc Martin fame and stand-up comedian and former talk show host Craig Ferguson in early roles.
Elvis Has Left the Building 2004 Available on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, iTunes and YouTube
Although Elvis Has Left the Building didn't garner much attention at the time, we swear by this little-seen, laugh-out-loud farce with its sparkling cast, enough so that we bought the DVD.
Harmony Jones, played by Kim Bassinger, is a top-selling Pink Lady cosmetic saleswoman whose life was forever touched when at seven years old she met the King. Although Harmony has been extremely successful in her career, what she really wants is to meet a nice man to marry and settle down.
In the process of making back-to-back appearances at Pink Lady events near Las Vegas, Harmony encounters a series of Elvis impersonators in hotels and on the road because there's an Elvis impersonator convention taking place in Las Vegas. A string of unlikely but fatal accidents befalls first one Elvis impersonator who happens to be her vicinity and then another and another and another.
Harmony becomes convinced that she's somehow karmically killing them, so when she meets Miles who seems to be the man she's been hoping for — played by John Corbett of Northern Exposure and My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame — but whom she mistakenly believes is an Elvis impersonator, she tries hard to ditch him in order to spare his life. Kim is never not 100% believable, Annie Potts who's always spot on, plays her best friend Shirl, Denise Richards, Sean Astin, Angie Dickinson also makes appearances, and Tom Hanks has a 20-second cameo as 'mail box' Elvis.
House Bunny 2008 Available on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, iTunes and YouTube
Playboy Bunny Shelley Darlingson, played to perfection by Anna Faris, has lived a life of luxury at Hugh Hefner's mansion. Disaster strikes when Shelley turns 27 and is deemed too old to be a Bunny. Kicked out into the real world, she wanders onto a college campus and becomes the housemother at a failing sorority made up of geeky, awkward girls who view her as the answer to all their problems. If anyone can teach them how to attract boys, surely a Playboy Bunny can.
Anna's rendition of Shelley feels like an extension of the classic, archetypal, blonde, comedic leading lady with flawless timing à la Carole Lombard, Betty Hutton and Ginger Rogers who've been, I think, an under-appreciated mainstay of cinema since the first moving picture flickered on screen. Emma Stone and Tom Hanks' son Colin also have starring roles.
This Blog is made available by the publisher for educational and entertainment purposes only, as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.