James Sanford

Film Critic

James Sanford has been reviewing films since he was hired by the Grand Rapids Press at the age of 16. Since then, he's written for many publications and websites, including WMUK. He's current a staff reporter at the Battle Creek Enquirer. Sanford has also appeared om stage at the API, New Vic, and Whole Art theaters in Kalamazoo. He was a member of the Crawlspace Eviction comedy troupe for six years and starred and co-wrote the feature film "Comic Evangelists," which was showcased at the American Film Instutute's 2006 festival in Hollywood. He's also the author of two memoirs: The Sum of My Parts and Au Naturel: A Summer on Martha’s Vineyard".

Ways To Connect

For almost as long as there have been teenagers, there have been teen idols. In the 1940s, you had Frank Sinatra making the bobbysoxers swoon. In the 1950s, it was Elvis and Ricky Nelson and Pat Boone and Fabian. When I was a kid, my classmates were crazy about John Travolta and Shaun Cassidy -- and some of them even believed the hype about the Bay City Rollers being the new Beatles.

In 2154, the setting of director Neill Blomkamp's science-fiction story Elysium, the gap between the haves and the have-nots has grown so wide that the two sides are literally not even on the same planet anymore.

Did your parents ever give you the old line about how “high school is the best time of your life?” Maybe if you were a Homecoming Queen or a football star or you spent your senior year partying in Paris that might be true. But for most of us, that’s the kind of sappy sentiment that could only be dispensed by people who never really experienced adolescence. 

I’ve got to make a confession. When I was 10, 11, 12, my friends and I spent many a Saturday afternoon sitting through matinee shows of such classics like Yongary, Monster from the Deep or Godzilla versus the Smog Monster We could never get enough, even though the special effects were often laughably tacky, the plots were painfully predictable and the dialogue was unspeakably awful. 

You’d expect to see Melissa McCarthy in a raucous comedy like The Heat, which opens Friday. Even Sandra Bullock’s name above the title is no great surprise. But who would expect the cast to include Joey McIntyre, best known as the youngest of the new Kids on the Block?

Pages