I threw all my plans out the window when I got a very cool package in the mail from a cool PR person! As a result, you’ll have to wait to find out more of my favorite 2020 film experiences and instead dive into my all-time favorite body swap stories from TV, animation, movies and comics!
I was pretty excited about Couples Retreat when I first heard about it. The cast is killer. I’m a big fan of Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau and Jason Bateman and putting them all together seems like it would be comedy gold. Plus there’s plenty of eye candy in the ladies (Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell and Kristin Davis). I don’t mean to sound like a total pig, I’m just not familiar with them beyond Watchmen, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and hating Sex in the City. I didn’t know anything about Faizon Love or his partner in the movie.
In the end it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. There were definitely funny parts with each person doing their shtick (Bateman’s the neurotic, Vaughn talks fast and Favreau plays a jerk again). I did like that Vaughn actually comes off as a pretty good guy as opposed to say his character in Old School. But there were a few things that kind of put me out of the movie. It definitely feels like a bunch of friends wanted to make a movie together with beautiful women in an exotic locale.
Another problem comes from the fact that, with the exception for Favreau and Davis, none of the couples seem to be appropriately matched age-wise. Vaughn and Ackerman have been together for eight years and I just barely buy it. Even worse is Bell who may never not look like a high school detective whose show I never watched.
The plot also seems to be a little all over the place. They go to a resort that’s supposed to be a regular resort but then turns out to be a full-on couples place, which everyone but Bateman and Bell are bummed about as they were the ones who came up with the idea in the first place (I thought they were actually playing a trick on the others who seem to have more problems than them). The relationship trouble all flies, but then there’s this whole thing with a party island and everyone going there and a really ripped yoga instructor (that did have me laughing). Anyway, it was a fun enough movie, but didn’t have a quickness that I wanted from it.
Interestingly enough, this documentary following a series of stand-up comics headed up by Vaughn did offer the snappiness I wanted from Couples Retreat. The comics are Ahmed Ahmed, John Caparulo, Bret Ernst and Sebastian Maniscalco and they’re all pretty great. Instead of showing full sets, we get snippets of their acts as they travel through 30 cities. We also get walk-ons from Vaughn, Justin Long, Dwight Yoakam, Favreau and Couples Retreat director (and Ralphie from A Christmas Story) Peter Billingsley.
Aside from showcasing a great group of comedians the movie does a few other things that I really appreciated and bumped it up from being just a great stand-up movie. First off, one of the guys makes a really interesting point about stand-up nowadays: guys headlining tours like they are were getting huge and starring in sitcoms in the 80s and 90s, but now they’re struggling to survive (one of the guys was a waiter leading up to the tour). I also think it’s cool to see how positive Vaughn is throughout the movie. Sure he’s got his quick, biting sense of humor, but he’s also really supportive of the guys after they have a lousy set. It’s also fun to see him geek at different times.
But what really elevates the movie is how it deals with Hurricane Katrina, which hit while they were touring. In fact, they had to change a few venues because of it and donated the proceeds from those shows. They also went to a camp ground acting as a shelter some of the displaced people. I give the director and editor kudos for portraying this honestly, with the guys not really wanting to do it and then going and enjoying the experience. It’s just more honest that way. Good stuff all around.
So, the wife had to work on Saturday. Bummer for her, good for my movie watching. I got to flipping through my DVD binder (hey, gotta conserve space, right?) and I got to the O’s. We were flipping through channels the night before and caught the beginning of Old School, the part where Luke Wilson comes home early and his wife has some people over for a little group sex (can I say that?). The way they edited it to cut out all the boobs was pretty funny. So, that made me want to watch it again. After that I still had a little time so I popped on Office Space.
Back in college I watched Old School a lot. I was actually in a fraternity at the time called Alpha Sigma Phi. Before you start making rash judgments (hey, I made the same ones before I met these guys) this isn’t the kind of fraternity you see on TV in movies (like Old School) or hear about on the news. Anyway, a large group of us went to see Old School when it came out and it quickly worked its way into my life. I had actually forgotten how many of the little things I say come from this flick. (“Good talk, see you out there” “earmuffs” just to name two.)
The other thing that surprised me about Old School is how many guys in it have kind of blown up. The dude who plays Spanish is on Reaper and one of the dudes is on Big Bang Theory (a great show if you haven’t seen it). There’s more, but I’ve forgotten them. It’s been a few days.
I’ve seen most (maybe all) of the Frat Pack movies since this one and I’ve got to say, only Wedding Crashers comes close to Old School. There’s just something about the combination of Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn that lights up the screen with comedy fireworks. Add in director Todd Phillips and you’ve got comedy gold. I’m hoping the oft-rumored sequel goes through.
When it came out, the comedy landscape wasn’t looking too good. We’d weathered the storm of bad teen comedies, bad spoof flicks and studio-churned lameo comedy and Old School was our gift. I’d like to think it paved the way for Judd Apatow and his crew as well, which is awesome cause I can’t freaking wait for Pineapple Express to come out.
So, like I said, after I peeped Old School I moved on to Office Space which is great for anyone whose ever had a job. You can’t watch it without being reminded of SOMEONE you work with. Yeah, you know it’s true, unless you’re the person yourself. Anyway, it’s nice to watch someone break out of the corporate mold and have some fun even if it involves crime. It’s like a funny Wanted (the comic) without all the unnecessary violence and sexual assault.
Office Space is another one of those movies with a slew of catch phrases and tag lines. The first time I saw it I actually came in 15 minutes late and just though he decided to not go to work (instead of the hypnosis thing from the guy who used to be on Whose Line is It Anyway). It was still good even missing the beginning. Oh, I also liked Jen Aniston, even though she’s basically playing the same part she’s been playing since Leprechaun (and on into Friends). And finally, Diedrich Bader, who I just interviewed for ToyFare #135 (he’s the voice of Batman in the upcoming Brave and the Bold, which looks rad) rocks the house as Lawrence the neighbor who’d do two chicks if he was given a million bucks. Go Lawrence.
Well, I think that about wraps up my ramblings on the subjects. Thanks for paying attention.