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Movie Planner: Ralph Macchio talks lasting appeal of 'Karate Kid' before Tampa screening


Fans of The Karate Kid — the real one, not Hilary Swank or Jaden Smith — get their crane kicks Saturday when Ralph Macchio comes to town.

Macchio became a teen heartthrob in 1984 playing Daniel LaRusso, a bullied kid fighting back. He'll visit Tampa Theatre for a 7:30 p.m. screening of The Karate Kid, followed by a Q&A session. Tickets are $46.50.

One topic certain to be raised is Macchio's late co-star Noriyuki "Pat" Morita, who played sensei Mr. Miyagi and died in 2005 at age 73.

"I always call it soulful magic, what happened with him and I through these characters and this film," Macchio, 54, said by telephone. "It was just sort of a magical soulfulness about him and I together that obviously touched people. He was very generous, and he knew he was playing the role of his lifetime. I miss him. My gosh, what would these events be like if we did them together?"

Saturday's appearance is Macchio's first in a theatrical format after dabbling in the Karate Kid Q&A routine at a film festival and pop culture convention.

"Fans love it," Macchio said. "They go back in time, they know this movie inside and out. It's like watching Rocky Horror Picture Show. They shout out the lines, some people dress up as the characters. More than anything, I get a lot back from them, and they hopefully have something to take away from me."

Mostly it's fun memories, although Macchio jokes they're divided by gender.

"I always say that (men) like the Cobra Kai bad guys because there's nothing better than a good villain," he said. "Then you get the women who, back in the day when I was in teen magazines and such, they might've had the pictures up on the wall. They're reliving their 12-year-old fan girl thrill."

That's the part that Macchio's children, Julia, 23, and 20-year-old Daniel (-san, get it?), find hardest to swallow. Who wants to think of Dad as a pinup fantasy?

"At this age they just say ooh, that's gross, you're 50-something," Macchio said. "I mean, they get it because they see it with their own generation."

He recalled the day when Daniel was first impressed.

"My son was about 4 or 5 years old when he found all this stuff my mom used to keep in a big box," Macchio said. "He came into the room with People magazine, Tiger Beat, I'm on the covers, all this stuff. And he goes to his older sister and says: 'Dad was huge, and we missed the whole thing!'

"To him it was like Justin Bieber meets, I don't know. Who's the hottest guy on the planet right now? One Direction meets Bieber. To them it's like another life. And to me it's like another life, as well."


The Boss

Melissa McCarthy appears to have scratched her semidramatic itch for the moment, going back to the loose-cannon style fans love. McCarthy returns Friday with The Boss (R) as a brassy industrialist sent to prison for insider trading. Upon parole, she attempts to re-brand herself as America's sweetheart but people she stepped on aren't buying. Kristen Bell co-stars as her overworked damage-control expert. The Boss wasn't screened in time for Weekend. A review will be published at

Hardcore Henry

This week's mad experiment is Hardcore Henry (R), shot entirely from the first-person perspective of a vengeful gunman. So, yeah, it's essentially a video game without control pads. Sharlto Copley and Tim Roth are the most familiar faces getting in the title character's Go-Pro line of sight.


Dropping in at the last minute is Jeff Nichols' elusive sci-fi thriller Midnight Special (PG-13), starring Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton as guardians of a boy with supernatural abilities. To read the grade B+ review, click here.

in theaters: our Top 5

Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:

1 Everybody Wants Some!!: Richard Linklater's "spiritual sequel" to Dazed and Confused.

2 Demolition: No more interesting actor working today than Jake Gyllenhaal.

3 Midnight Special: Three-quarters great, the rest merely gripping.

4 Eye in the Sky: Antiterrorism military officer (Helen Mirren) conducts drone warfare.

5 10 Cloverfield Lane: Can John Goodman earn his first Oscar nod for a genre flick? Hope so.


(dates subject to change)

April 15: The Jungle Book; Barbershop: The Next Cut; Criminal

April 22: The Huntsman: Winter's War; Miles Ahead; Born in China

April 29: Keanu; Mother's Day; Ratchet & Clank; Same Kind of Different As Me

May 6: Captain America: Civil War

Movie Planner: Ralph Macchio talks lasting appeal of 'Karate Kid' before Tampa screening 04/06/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 6, 2016 12:27pm]
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