The world is saved and you can thank Christopher R. Mihm's "Danny Johnson!"
Originally posted at http://www.timeshifterspodcast.com/?p=898#more-898
An evil space Queen has set her sights on the planet Earth. Her nefarious plans to take over the world are already in motion. Only the bravery of one young boy can save the Earth and free the sinister Queen's slaves. Can he do it? Can "Danny Johnson Save the World?!"
The 10th entry into the Mihmiverse, a film universe in and of itself created by writer and director Christopher R. Mihm, fits nicely after the events of one of the previous films, "The Giant Spider," where we actually first meet, albeit briefly, the young Danny Johnson.
The holidays are upon the Johnson household and two young children beg their slumbering grandpa Dan to tell them a story to pass the time till dinner. Grandpa, after some coaxing, tells of the time he, his siblings and their friends, saved the world from alien invaders!
The story unfolds and of course Danny is triumphant, but seeing the events and watching Mihm expertly tell an original story while paying homage to the films he so obviously loves, is a tremendous treat! References to the films of the 50's, which is the style Mihm emulates in all his movies, lovingly find their home here, and a line or two from the slightly more recent "Ghostbusters" finds their way into the film as well.
As with many small budget independent movies, a director often has to rely on friends and family for the many parts as well as reach out to what can be a small pool of local actors. Making it even more difficult with "Danny Johnson Saves the World" the cast is, with only the fewest of exceptions, children! Pulling in Mihmiverse mainstays like James Norgard and Michael Kaiser for the few roles that needed full size people, Mihm cast his own son, Elliott, for the role of Danny Johnson. Being a good parent he also found homes for rest of the family too! Smart move dad!
It's always dangerous casting kids in kids roles. (Why do you think most movies and TV shows star 20 something high school students?) Mihm gets pretty lucky. Elliott really appears to put in a ton of effort and it shows. The rest of the kids, whether it was planned or it worked itself out in production, are never given more than they can handle and what they are given they handle incredibly well.
Pulling out all the stops for this one, Mihm not only casts children, he throws in puppets created by Stephanie Mihm (including an adorable little "Steve"), and even a few stop motion animated creatures from animator Norman Yeend! Oh, and no Mihm film would be complete without a monster or robot! Here, Mitch Gonzales's designed mechanized monstrosity may be one of the best Mihmiverse creations yet!
I've not always been fair to all the Mihmiverse films. I watched the first movie, "The Monster of Phantom Lake" and absolutely loved it! I quickly bought the others in the collection, which at the time went up to "Attack of the Moon Zombies," and I found myself a little disappointed with them. I wanted more of what I loved about "Phantom Lake." To me they others were just missing "something."
It wasn't until I watched "House of Ghosts" that I realized I may be the one watching them wrong. I was watching expecting the writer and director to try and duplicate everything about the first one, and that blinded me to the fact that each film was an experiment from a film maker that was not only exploring the craft of movie-making, but exploring his own universe. Each movie, while firmly planted in the Mihmiverse, was it's own "thing." Each paying homage to different films and film makers. Each with their own feel and look. I still have my favorites, but I can no longer say that there are any that I dislike.
On that note, I loved "Danny Johnson Saves the World." This is a movie for kids of all kinds and ages. Whether you grew up with the 50's films or just discovered them thanks to late night re-runs or dear old dad, and even if you never bothered to watch any of them before, this would make a great icebreaker! I bet you might go back and fill the void in your movie watching life you didn't even know existed!
I watched it with my wife and 10 year old son. The wife thought it was "cute," and coming from her, that is high praise! My son spent the rest of the night quoting lines and retelling his favorite parts. I don't think Mr. Mihm could ask for a better response.