Saturday, August 29, 2009

Episode 7: "Drop Dead Gorgeous"

I absolutely love beauty pageants. I'm known to host a party every year for Miss America. So when "Drop Dead Gorgeous" came out, I knew it was a movie for me. "Drop Dead Goregous" is a mocumentary (which I love), I say it's similar to the Christopher Guest movies. This movie has several recognizable folks such as Brittany Murphy, Amy Adams, Kirsten Dunst, and Kirstie Alley. Several times, I have made a comment referencing to this movie and Brian has been clueless. Each time I ask, "Wait, have you seen 'Drop Dead Gorgeous?" He has shown great reluctance during these conversations. I hadn't seen this movie in years, so I was a bit afraid that I only remembered the good parts. Well folks, after watching it again several years later, I have confirmed it, this movie is all that I remembered, hilarious.

There are many funny lines and moments in the movie. I became excited as I watched it, only remembering the funny scenes immediately before they were about to appear. I found myself giggling and maybe grabbing on to Brian's leg to indicate his attention as something hilarious was about to happen. My personal favorite scene includes last year's winner, in a wheel chair, and singing in the pageant as she's rolled around on stage. Oh so funny. AND, I'm proud of myself, Brian laughed out loud, a lot. That's a great accomplishment.

Now that he wasn't tortured during "Drop Dead Gorgeous," maybe I can convince him to watch Miss America and Toddlers and Tiaras with me. Wait, what? No, of course I don't watch that terrible show about baby beauty pageants....

"Toddlers and Tiaras" clip on teeth creep me out,

First of all, there is NOTHING creepier than "Toddlers and Tiaras." Every time it shows up on "The Soup" I get a little creeped out and I think there's got to be a CPS agent out there who doesn't have much to do who could just take ALL of the pageant kids away to a better place.

Anyway, "Drop Dead Gorgeous." I admit this film had two strikes going in: 1.) It's about a pageant. There are plenty of things in this world that I am not personally interested in but understand the appeal. Pageants are not one of them. 2.) Top billing for this film went to Kirstie Alley. I didn't really realize this until the opening credits rolled and the first name across the screen was Alley to which I gave a pained grunt. So even though I came into this movie predisposed to hating it, I shockingly must admit I highly enjoyed "Drop Dead Gorgeous."

I am a huge fan of the mockumentary. "The Office," "Best in Show," whatever, I almost always love them. There's something very straight and simple about the mockumentary that lends itself to genius. "Gorgeous" is no exception. You've got everything you need for a good mockumentary:

1.) An obscure section of the population. This time around it's the pageant girls in the Mount Rose, Minnesota. This is completed by some fantastic accent work by everyone involved except for Denise Richards. She's is to this movie what Kevin Costner is to "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves;
2.) A feud. There has to be a feud. Michael Scott has Toby Flenderson for example. In this case it's the rich girl whose mother runs the pageant versus the nice girl from the trailer park.
3.) Plucky comic relief. Even straight, witty comedy such as this has to have one character that is over the top and makes absolute brilliant statements with every line. This time around it's provided by the GREAT Allison Janney.
4.) An anoerexic former champion on the brink of comedic death;
5.) Amy Adams.

OK the last two don't have to show up every time but I'm not going to lie, it wouldn't hurt.

"Gorgeous" is surprising well written, well acted, and well shot. In a world where talentless toolbags like Stephen Sommers ("GI Joe") are not only allowed but encouraged to continue making films, I'm having a hard time understanding why neither director nor writer have done anything of note in the 10 years since this movie came out. This is a little taste of satirical hilarity that I highly enjoyed. B.

Best character: Loretta, Allison Janney
Genius. Allison Janney is GENIUS.

Best scene: The talent portion of the competition.
One girl demonstrates the various barks that different dog breeds make, Kirsten Dunst has the most unabashedly edited dance numbers of all time, and Denise Richards sings to a stuffed Jesus. Amazing.

Best quote:
Amber: Mom! Mom!
Fireman: Whoa, are you family?
Loretta: No, she's just yelling "Mom, Mom" because she has Tourettes."

I have Vasoline on my teeth to make my smile brighter,

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Episode 6: "The Blues Brothers"

Having been born 3 years after the release of this film, "The Blues Brothers" is one of those movies that finds itself on what I like to call the "My Dad Was Right List." You know those things, whether it be movies, music, books, or whatever that your dad makes you be a party to and you think it sucks. And then one day you're not 9 anymore and suddenly these things make sense. I'm sure I enjoyed parts of "Blues Brothers" as a kid because how could I not but the humor didn't really register. At some point I guess I watched it on my own and immediately recognized the genius of this film.

I feel like if I was in my early 20s in 1980, "Blues Brothers" would have been "Anchorman" for me and my friends. There are so many absolutely BRILLIANT quotes that I don't think I would have been able to stop myself from using them in daily conversations the way I do with "Anchorman." The part of the blog where I pick my favorite quote from each film will actually be difficult this time around because there are so many great lines. I think I'm a pretty funny guy until I watch a movie like "Blues Brothers" and just marvel over how someone came up with these lines and these ideas.

The thing about "Blues Brothers," though, is its simplicity. I'm a big fan of witty dialogue and hidden jokes-within-jokes like you find on "Arrested Development" or "30 Rock." But the problem with witty humor is if it isn't done correctly it comes off as stale and labored. Therefore it's often not funny, it's just witty for the sake of being witty. With "Blues Brothers" you have a ton of jokes and funny moments that are straight and to the point. There is no wasted word or movement. I think the makers of the film just get that it's funny that the Blues Brothers sneak around in sync to the tune of the song being played inside. Or when a cop just shouts, "Son of a (gun)" and shoots his gun after crashing his car. Or how in EVERY SINGLE car chase the cop cars follow the Bluesmobile no matter what destruction will result from such a move. The physical comedy and the simple joke are big players in "Blues Brothers" and it works so incredibly well.

You do have to suspend reality to really appreciate this movie, however. There are THOUSANDS of things that happen that are impossibilities. But just go with it. These guys are on a mission from God! So why wouldn't there be a whip on the wall when the band is singing the theme song from "Rawhide?" Why wouldn't Ray Charles be able to "see" a kid trying to steal a guitar? Why wouldn't Carrie Fisher be able to get her hands on and subsequently fire an RPG into a building? "Blues Brothers" is a comedic masterpiece that I think just gets better the more times you watch it. A+.

Best character: Carrie Fisher, Mystery Woman
I love the straight delivery Fisher goes with for this character. She's angry and out of control but she's also very deliberate and efficient. Why shoot someone with one bullet when you can just as easily use an M-70 flame thrower to blow up a propane tank?

Best scene: The first gig
There's a lot of great shots in this film and gosh I love the car chase through the mall! But for me, the scene where the Blues Brothers Band plays at the redneck bar is perfect. I love the way in which Belushi delivers his lines, I love the whip, I love how the number of bottles being thrown doesn't change from when the crowd is angry to when they're excited, and I love the guy crying at the end of "Stand By Your Man."

Best line:
There are oh so many to choose from.

Elwood: What kind of music do you usually have here?
Bar lady: Oh we got both kinds: country AND western!

I hate Illinois Nazis,

"The Blues Brothers" through Lindsey's eyes:

I totally should have seen this movie years ago. I had seen clips of it and it's been on while I was in the room, but never have I sat down to watch the whole thing. This is totally my kind of movie. I liked it, but I didn't laugh near as much as the audience I was viewing with. Well, let me correct myself, I wasn't laughing near as much as the boys I was viewing with.

I loved the music references, it was so fantastical. I was really excited when the opening credits labeled a "choreographer" that contributed to the film. I had no idea there was dancing. For those familiar with the movie, didn't seem to care so much about those things, they put their focus on the Car Humor.

Apparently, there is this whole type of humor that I've never acknowledged before, Car Humor. Car Humor occurs when a film entertains the crowd by car crashes, dumps, and flight. I scanned the room during the Car Humor scenes and it was the guys crying with laughter. A couple girls chuckled here and there, but I guess we aren't wired to appreciate Car Humor like guys.

I didn't laugh out loud too much in this movie, but I believe I will the more I watch it. I think it's going to be like Monty Python for me. I didn't truly laugh out loud often during my first viewing, if I did, it was to look cool. The more I watched it, the more I appreciated the humor. Now, I don't think I will ever quite get Car Humor, but I'm willing to give it another try. Great movie, definitely recommend it.

Finally...a comedy from Brian's list,

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Episode 5: "Into the Wild"

This time around we take a break from "Movies That Everyone in America Has Seen Except Lindsey" and move to "Into the Wild," a film that a lot of people have unfortunately missed out on. My first real contact with this story came sometime during high school when the book this film is based on was on a list from which I had to choose one to write a report about. I passed on "Into the Wild" and if memory serves I instead picked "Dune" which I later scrapped for a repeat reading of "Brave New World" because...well, because "Dune" is awful, awful reading when you're up against a deadline. Anyway, "Into the Wild" remained on the fringe of my mind grape (thank you, Tracy Jordan) until sometime in 2007. I finally picked up a copy of the book and read it in about 2 days. When I got a chance to watch the film version I found it no less captivating than it had been in print and thus, it makes the list.

"Into the Wild" is the true-life story of a trust fund kid who is so adamantly against materialism and the safety of structure that he decides to go off the grid, so to speak. He burns his ID and all the cash on him and essentially becomes a transient for the rest of his life. The story follows his travels from California to South Dakota to Nevada to the Gulf of Mexico and ultimately into the tundra of Alaska. Along the way he comes across a number of interesting and, in some way of their own, fellow transient people who impact him and in turn are impacted by him. It is that true kind of mix of adventure, idiocy, bravery, and heartbreak that couldn't be made up. What I love the most about this film (and the BRILLIANT book it is based on) is the difference in opinion people have about this kid. He's either a complete idiot or a hero and there's really no gray area.

I'm honestly not sure that the majority of the women out there can truly GET this movie (or the book). There is something instictively male in this movie that trumps "Die Hard" or any other blow-em-up-shoot-em-up film. That spirit within man, that little voice that says, "You know what would be better than filling out a spreadsheet today? Killing a moose," shines through so brightly in "Into the Wild." It's a voice that 99% of the guys out there have heard at one time (or hear all the time) and we seem to just GET why this kid did the things he did. An idiot or a hero, it doesn't really matter, the point is he DID it and we understand why.

There's just a lot of significance to "Into the Wild." There's some interesting commentary on community and what that really means and there is a lot to be gleaned here about what lengths someone will go to compensate for the lack of familial support. It is a BEAUTIFULLY shot film and regardless of whether you "get it" or not, it's an incredible movie that has been seriously overlooked. A+.

BEST CHARACTER: Ron Franz, Hal Holbrook
I loved the Vince Vaughn character here, too, but Holbrook was absolutely perfect in the role of the surrogate grandfather. Had he not been going up against Javier Bardem's Anton Chigurh ("No Country For Old Men") I think he would have won and deserved the Best Supporting Oscar he was nominated for.

BEST SCENE: Chris departs for Alaska
I dare you to watch this scene without getting teary-eyed and understanding exactly what I'm talking about concerning how good Holbrook was in this. I am not kidding when I say this scene, when you see it for the first time, can rip you apart. In fact, check out what Bardem had to say about it in '07.

The best line is actually inappropriate so...
"When you forgive, you love. And when you love, God's light shines through you."

"Happiness only real when shared,"

"Into the Wild" through Lindsey's eyes:

As Brian said, people would either view this kid as crazy or incredible. I personally think, there IS a little gray area. I don't consider him crazy, but I think throughout his journey, he was led to instability. I have a bit of a different view on this, because of someone so close in my life, that I really see in this character. I look at the main character and I feel like I know him. I don't think I could ever truly understand those desires of a male to have that freedom, but I can at least recognize it. I don't think a male is crazy to set off on a journey that leads him to many different places in the world. From what I've witnessed, I think the male can't think about anything else until he takes those journeys. Eventually, I hope the journey takes a rest and maybe mini-journeys can just occur throughout life, so that he can be closer to those who love him.

Maybe some men have this desire in their heart more than others. I look at couples where the woman wants her husband "wrapped around her finger" and just destroys his manhood, which is absolutely disgusting. I see parents that are so overprotective with their children that they can't let them go, so they can explore the ways of their heart. This movie is a perfect example of those feelings. Everyone has felt bound by something or someone at a point in their life. Their way to freedom may not be a wilderness trek to Alaska, but may be fulfilled by stepping away from family or starting a new job. If you can sort through the "this guy is crazy" feeling, I think everyone can relate in some way to this feeling of desired freedom. I would definitely recommend this movie, especially to guys. I have no desire to watch this movie ever again, but I appreciate it.

I bet this kid would be great at Oregon Trail,

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Episode 4: "Whatever it Takes"

"Better Off Dead" may be the best movie I have on this list. It sure was hard finding movies to put on this list because Brian has seen just about every movie ever made. It's pretty sad when I couldn't even put "The Jetson's Movie" or "The Parent Trap," because he has already seen them. I've got to start figuring out a way to make watching some of the lame movies fun (for the rest of the crowd). I love watching the movies because of my first love for them when I was a kid/teenager, so I don't require more entertainment.

I hadn't seen "Whatever it Takes" probably since college. I just always remembered the movie for it's moments that made me laugh out loud. I still enjoy some funny parts, but I didn't love the movie as a whole as much as I remembered. The best part of the whole movie is the carnival scene. Watching a little kid get knocked down by a teddy bear 3 times his size brings on the America's Funniest Home Video humor. I don't know how many times I've rewound that one scene. The editing is actually quite horrible during that part, which makes it even better.

"Whatever it Takes" is the classic 90s teenager movie, just above "She's All That" (in my opinion). If you're like me and you enjoy entertainment about high school, then put on your spaghetti strap shirt with mary janes and indulge in this movie. ALSO, it has Shane West in the movie. Who doesn't love "A Walk to Remember?" ;)

"I love you Brian Ryan,"

Lindsey did a pretty good job of describing this "film." It is a very typical, predictable, teen film that falls well short of being funny most of the time. (At least not funny when it's supposed to be; I had a few laughs where I'm sure the director didn't intend for me to laugh.) This one, however, had the distinct misfortune of missing the Teen Movie Boat, as it came out in 2000 which was a year AFTER the big boom on this type of movie had ended. I was aware of "Whatever it Takes" when it originally came out but obviously I never got forced into seeing it like I did with so many other films of this genre.

There are two distinct reasons, in my opinion, why "Whatever" is so much worse than all the other teen movies of its time. First, it has a TERRIBLE soundtrack. Where would "She's All That" or "10 Things I Hate About You" be without, for the time period, a solid soundtrack? A few catchy hits tend to drown out the awful, awful dialogue that pops up so frequently in these movies. Second, there is no legitimate comedic relief. Without Seth Green "Can't Hardly Wait" probably bogs down pretty quickly. In "Whatever it Takes" you've got three or four characters who are all trying to fill the comedic void and unfortunately none of them are, in any way shape or form, legitimately funny.

What I did like about "Whatever" was the game our little crowd played of "who can tell exactly what's about to happen based on the brilliant way in which the director uses foreshadowing." (Note: I used brilliant sarcastically. Stop reading this right now if you didn't catch that.) In the first 10 minutes of the movie we find out that there is a swimming pool under the basketball court at this school and so of course we all begin to guess how this will play out later. Spoiler alert, the court gets opened up during prom! Who knew?! The laughs were many. (Note: this is your second warning about sarcasm. I'm not kidding.)

Other than that, I got two things out of this movie. One, I finally understand a couple of the quotes some friends of mine used a lot in high school (I'm talking to you, Sarah Weaver Wilcoxson). And two, I had time to count the number of DVDs and Blu Rays I have in my collection (255 plus TV seasons). So on the whole, a pretty productive night. Sadly, when I saw Lindsey's list I placed "Whatever it Takes" in the "I might not hate that" category, simply because I had heard of it before. This makes me nervous for the rest of this experience. C-.

There is no best character, line, or scene in this one,

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Episode 3: "Better Off Dead"

"Better Off Dead" is one of those movies that you have to be in a stupid humor mood in order to appreciate. The whole movie is just bit after bit. It goes from one random "funny" scene to the next and they don't really tie together too well. This movie was made back in the day when the California Raisins were cool and starting off a movie with a cartoon was genius. Just about everything that represents cheesy film making of the 80s, was also included in "Better Off Dead" and THAT my friends, is why I love it.

This incredible 80s movie has just about every component that I love about cheesy 80s flicks, except for maybe an impromptu organized dance scene. Wait, I think that does happen, but with hamburgers. It is set in the 80s (check), about high schoolers (check), it involves a nerdy neighbor (check), roller skates are used as a transportation device (check), the main character falls in love with the nerdy girl while chasing after the cool girl (check), awesome one-liners that I'll save for Brian to talk about (check), and John Cusack.

I'm not going to go through step by step like Brian is so skilled at doing, while talking about this movie. It's not my style, Brian is the much better film reviewer. I will just say, if you haven't seen "Better Off Dead," you should. Well, you should, if you like quoting movies. This movie is in my top ten favorite movies to quote. With all the bits, it gives you MANY awesome quotes. Now, my husband can finally understand when I seem to have more of any angry tone as I say "I WANT MY TWO DOLLARS!"

It's a great day when I have a purpose for talking about "TWO DOLLARS,"

When Lindsey picked "Better Off Dead" as her portion of Friday night's double feature, I found myself torn between dread and relief: dread because I couldn't see how this could be a good movie in any way but relieved because...well, you've seen the list she's put together! There are some wretched movies on that list. At least this one has John Cusak in it.

But I'm happy to report I truly enjoyed "BOD." It was insanely jumpy, going from one scene to another that seemingly had nothing to do with each other. But on the whole it was pretty funny. As Lindsey pointed out there were a number of GREAT lines that I will surely add to my Quote Repertoire and I always like a quotable film. John Cusak is at his best in a role that he has essentially played in every movie he's ever been in since this film was released in 1985. (I'm not sure why it doesn't bother me that John Cusak is the exact same character in every single movie he's ever been in. A part of me thinks I should bash on Cusak at every opportunity but I can't bring myself to do it, he's too likeable. Jerk.) And, hey, can you really call it a classic film if it doesn't have a claymation hamburger scene that pops out of nowhere and has no real bearing on the film? I thought it was possible to have a great movie without such a scene before I saw "BOD" but now I'm reconsidering.

Perhaps the best facet of "BOD" is that you think it's just another 80s teen movie, ostensibly about a geek finding love with a foreign exchange student. But no, dear readers, the real focus of this movie is competitive snow skiing! That's right. While some 80s movies might allow the required "Challenge Between the Geek and the Jock" to center around football, basketball, or even karate, "BOD" chooses the ever popular "sport" of competitive skiing. And let me tell you, this is the best competitive snow skiing film I've ever seen (if only by default because, for the life of me, I can't think of another movie that falls into this category). Also, watching "BOD" gave me an excuse to use the "John Cusak is actually both John Cusak and Joan Cusak" joke series I've been working on since I saw a similar bit on Conan. (You would have to be in the room for this series to work but let me tell you, it was pretty amusing.)

Best Chracter: Yee Sook Ree (Yuji Okumoto)
The English speaking part of the Asian brothers that Cusak is always attempting to race. I loved the Howard Costell impression. Brilliant.

Best scene: The fruit throwing scene.
Monique is standing outside her house, throwing oranges or apples or something like that at a street sign. Why is this my favorite scene? Because her throwing motion is AWFUL and there's no chance the object is going further than 3 feet yet she is clearly zinging this fruit at somewhere around 93 miles per hour. This led to the discussion of who has the worst throwing motion: Monique, Tim Robbins in "Bull Durham," or the old pitcher in "Major League?" We all agreed Tim Robbins was the worst.

Best line:
I can't choose one. I just have to list them both.
A.) Lane Meyer (John Cusak): "Gee, I'm real sorry your mom blew up, Ricky."
B.) Black guy, after watching Lane ride by in a dump truck: "Now that's a real shame when folks be throwing away a perfectly good white boy."

A highly enjoyable, classic 80s movie. B.

Someone should write a movie centered around curling,

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Episode 2: "The Untouchables"

"The Untouchables" is an all time classic. It's action packed from the start and you have to imagine it was pretty shocking to 1987 audiences. I mean, it's not like every movie blows up a little girl within the first 5 minutes. What separates "The Untouchables" from a lot of action movies, however, is the pacing. When I was setting up the GFR schedule and attempting to keep too many of the same type of movies from being viewed right in a row (I know, I'm a freak), I put "The Untouchables" in the "slower action movie" category because there aren't really THAT many big action scenes. But I'd forgotten how well the movie flows between action and drama. Director Brian De Palma does such a good job of spacing out the true action sequences while still keeping the intensity alive through the "slower" scenes. It never seems slow or dragged out. In addition, there are at least 3 scenes that, in any other action movie, would be the most memorable of the movie. They just happen to be overshadowed by one of the best scenes in the history of film.

The only down side to "The Untouchables" is that it kind of makes me want to go back in time, stop the Hollywood clock in 1987 and change the future for the film's biggest stars. This is Kevin Costner's breakout role, the first time he headlined a movie that did anything. He's excellent as the hero Eliot Ness and I'd like to warn him about things to come, like the fact that he'll go from one of the industry's most bankable stars to the guy who spent 180 million dollars on "Waterworld" and one of 5 Elvis impersonators in "3000 Miles to Graceland" (shutter). Like Costner, this is Garcia's first big role and probably the best of his career (with the exception of "The Godfather III"). I'd like to grab him and say, "Hey Andy, you know how you're a great actor and all? How 'bout you do something, anything meaningful in the next 15 years?" Just check out his IMDB page, it's insane what his "Talent to Good Film Ratio" is.

Sean Connery gives us what is unquestionably his best performance in the role that won him his only Oscar. "Untouchables" makes you really regret the way his forced retirement of sorts has come about. I'd like to tell him about "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" and beg him not to let his career end on THAT. It's also great to see De Niro in a role that isn't a washed up cop. It's not his fault, really, that he's been relegated to insignificant films for the last 13 years, I'd just like to ask him to not take so many of them so that he can preserve legacy. He could have stopped acting after "Sleepers" in 1996 and the only thing the movie world would have missed out on would have been "Meet the Parents," which of course spawned "Meet the Fockers" which of course made lots of people commit suicide. (Sorry Jason.) It's tough to watch "The Untouchables" and its stars and know where they all are now.

Best Character: Jim Malone (Sean Connery)
No question about this despite great performances all around.

Best Scene: The train depot shoot out
Again, no question about this. There are several INCREDIBLE moments in this film but the train depot sequence is mind-blowing-good.

Best Line: Malone to Ness: "You wanna know how to get to Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way." This line probably won Connery an Oscar so it has to taken precedence over some other tremendous lines.

Best action-gangster movie of all time. A+
- Brian

"The Untouchables" through Lindsey's eyes:

I had never heard of "The Untouchables." Seriously, never. We started the movie and I had no idea who would even be in this movie. It's not like Brian could just say, "you know, the one with Kevin Costner." It did not ring a bell at all.

So we watched it and it immediately got my attention when a cute little girl BLOWS UP! Then later we have this whole dramatic scene with the baby in the carriage. My question is, what does the writer have against babies and kids? Did we really need TWO dramatic scenes with the wee ones? Yes, yes we did, because it got my attention. As I said in the previous post, I will measure these movies by my attention level. I actually could follow along ok. I didn't pull out sudoku, so that's a good sign, right?

I thought I was doing really well with my attention until the very end. I finally listened to some of the many comments that my friends were making with "Connery" thrown around. I thought for a few minutes, "Why in the world are they saying 'Connery'? It's not like Sean Connery is in this movie or something." I listened more to the comments, then I caught on. Sean Connery WAS in this movie. He wasn't in any scenes at the time that I connected the dots. I thought, "Oh, THAT one guy must have been Sean Connery. I like him, he was good." I whispered to my dear husband about this discovery and I think at that moment he may have REALLY regretted marrying me. That's right folks, I watched a whole movie with Sean Connery, THE most recognizable actor in the world, and I had no clue. Also, my husband loves me enough to not announce the ridiculousness in front of all our friends. It's pretty embarrassing and ridiculous, so you can now laugh in the privacy of your own home and maybe laugh at me the next time you see me. I have enough self-confidence, I can handle it.

All in all, "The Untouchables" is higher on this list than "Tombstone." As much as I want to be a true Texan, maybe I just don't love westerns and their accents, I just can't understand them. I can understand the speech of a kid that can't say his /r/, but I can't seem to handle the accents of the cowboys.

I'll take "SWords" for $400,