My Favorite Movie Experiences Of 2019 – Quick Hits Part 2

Yesterday I knocked out eight or so quick hits of movies I enjoyed in 2019. I should have mentioned in that first post that I’m talking about movies I watched in that year, not necesarily movies that came out in said year. If that were the case, I probably wouldn’t have much to write about as someone who mainly gets their entertainment from Netflix (digital AND disc, like an O.G.), Amazon Video, the library and Hulu! Let’s get back to it!

Continue reading My Favorite Movie Experiences Of 2019 – Quick Hits Part 2

Drive-In Double Feature: Going The Distance & The Other Guys (2010)

The missus and I have been wanting to head to the Warwick Drive-In all summer, but the pairings of movies have either been uninteresting or we’ve either been out of town on good weekends. See, they’ve got three screens set up and each one shows two movies. We had never been to this drive-in, but we had a great time when we went last night to see Going The Distance and The Other Guys. As an added bonus, I could see the screen showing Expendables and kept peeping the awesome action scenes while listening to Other Guys.

Before getting into my review of Going The Distance, which I dug, doesn’t that not look like Drew Barrymore in the poster to the left? It’s kind of unsettling. Otherwise, I dig the poster.

Anyway, the movie’s about Barrymore and Justin Long a pair that meet in Brooklyn’s Barcade (one of the few hip places I’ve been in the city, though I could barely handle the overabundance of hipsters, go fig), but the problem is that Barrymore is an intern at a NYC paper and will be heading back to California in a few weeks. They don’t plan on making a big deal of their relationship, but find that they really dig each other and give the long distance relationship thing a shot.

Sounds kind of formulaic, right? Yeah, it kind of is. Both Long and Barrymore have sexy friends and coworkers of the opposite sex who make the partner jealous. But, even with all of that, I thought the movie was surprisingly funny. I didn’t realize it was rated R and they really go with it, having the usually disgustingly saccharine Barrymore dropping F bombs and drunkenly telling a huge biker to suck her dick. So, I went in expecting yet another Barrymore romantic comedy with Long’s awkward comedic stylings (which I like for the most part), but with the inclusion of Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day as Long’s friends and Christina Applegate and Jim Gaffigan (who is the only comedian in recent memory to make me laugh so hard I cried) as Barrymore’s sister and brother in law there’s a lot of funny moments going on like when Day, Long’s roommate, starts DJing Barrymore and Long’s first hookup and they’re both okay with it. Those unexpectedly funny moments made me laugh.

The problem with some of those moments and others where they seem to be letting Sydeikis or Applegate riff is that the movie feels about 10 minutes too long which is fair considering it’s 102 minutes. I’m a strong proponent of comedies not exceeding the magic 90-minute marker. Instead of cutting the funny bits, though, I would have just gotten rid of Applegate’s sexy British work friend who winds up disappearing after an awkward moment between the two when Barrymore gets super drunk. All in all, though, I was surprised at how funny the movie was and how much I didn’t mind the tropes of the romantic comedy genre shown by some legitimately funny actors and actresses.

I’m not a huge fan of writer/director Adam McKay’s but I’m getting there. Anchroman befuddled me when I first watched it, but I think that’s because I didn’t know what to expect and definitely wasn’t thinking it would be a life-like cartoon. Talladega Nights and Stepbrothers were pretty good, but didn’t blow me away, however, I really loved the shorts he did with his daughter Pearl “The Landlord” and the like. Plus, he wrote tons of sketches for SNL that I’m sure I loved during his long tenure on the show where he met up with Will Ferrell, the star of all the aforementioned movies and videos.

The Other Guys is about two low-men-on-the-totem-pole cops played by Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg who go after a low level criminal which winds up being a huge deal, referencing many of the financial problems we’ve seen in this country over the past few years. The plot reminds me of a lot of 80s and 90s buddy cop action movies I like, which is fun because they reference that genre by featuring the Rock and Sam Jackson as your action-packed cops.

I was glad to see Ferrell not playing his usual manchild character. Sure, he’s cartoony, but this time around he’s more buttoned up, but has a dark side. Meanwhile, Wahlberg plays the caricature of the pent-up cop perfectly. You’ve also got actors like Damon Wayans Jr., Rob Riggle, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan and Eva Mendes doing great, funny work in the movie that makes it a lot of fun to watch. There’s lots of silliness going on here, but I think it’s the most grounded movie that McKay and Ferrell have made, which would probably also make it the most accessible (having Wahlberg and Mendes can’t hurt either). I dug this movie and appreciated that I could watch the action scenes in Expendables and not miss any plot points. Speaking of action scenes, the one in the beginning of Other Guys features the Rock and Sam Jackson in a car chase that gets stuck in a double decker bus. It’s awesome.

Both movies were set in New York, so it was fun looking for the few locales I’m familiar with. The two movies also had some interesting connections for Six Degrees fans: Rob Riggle appears in both as an asshole and both feature The Golf Club at Chelsea Piers, a driving range that overlooks the Hudson River. I’ve never been there and didn’t even know it existed until I saw Long, Sudeikis and Day hitting balls there in the first movie and then a helicopter landing on it in the second. Fun stuff!

The drive-in experience was a lot of fun. We took the missus’ car which has a hatchback and built ourselves a nice little nest in the back. I wasn’t sure how comfortable it would be lying in the back, but it was pretty great and the weather was perfect. The food we bought there wasn’t too bad, but the snacks we brought in were kind of unnecessarily and I wound up with a stomach ache (combining hamburgers, chewie Jolly Ranchers, soda and Kit Kats is not the best idea). Hopefully we can get a few more double features in before the end of the season! Also, I think I might have seen a UFO!

Conan’s Last Episode Of The Tonight Show

I’ll let Jimmy Fallon and The Roots explain how I feel about Conan leaving the air for seven months.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I’m sure like a lot of other people my age who remember Conan from way back when he first took over for Letterman on the late Show like myself, some of you feel kind of bad that you didn’t watch Conan’s Tonight Show more often. Maybe it would have helped. But the reality of the situation is that it doesn’t really matter. The way that TV ratings work is a mess that needs to be updated like whoa. Don’t have a Nielsen box? Then it doesn’t matter what you watch.

Anyway, mini-rant aside, the missus and I sat down to watch Conan’s last episode tonight and he killed it. After the monologue Steve Carrel came out as an NBC employee doing Conan’s exit interview, then Tom Hanks came out, Neil Young played (if you hadn’t told me it was him, I would not have recognized the man until he started singing), then Conan gave an impassioned speech to the audience about how much he’s enjoyed working with NBC (for about 20 years) and how he hates cynicism and then, the show ended with Conan playing “Freebird” on guitar with Will Ferrell singing, The Max Weinberg Seven, Ben Harper, Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top and Beck, who did not seem to know how to play “Freebird” and looked generally confused. Unfortunately he got cut off at the very end and couldn’t give his final goodbye and they didn’t post this clip on Hulu which is a bummer. Anyway, hit the jump for all the clips that did get posted. Continue reading Conan’s Last Episode Of The Tonight Show

Christmas Stories: Elf (2003)

Em took yesterday and today off so we could get ready for Christmas. I really hadn’t realized that Christmas was only a week away. Luckily, we’re pretty well set up. All our presents are coming in from Amazon, most of the decorations are up and we’ve got our tree. We just need to wrap presents, decorate the tree and make the food for when the parents come. While putting lights on the tree today, we turned on Elf, which is one of my two favorite Christmas movies from the last 10 years (the other is Love Actually).

I first saw Elf in college and it really helped me get in the holiday spirit thanks to Will Ferrell’s infectious naivete and joy with all things Christmas. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, it’s got Zooey Deschanel singing my favorite Christmas song of all time “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” so that helped. Christmas time during college was always a bit weird for me, you’re trying to get in the spirit and have a good time with holiday parties and what not, but then you’ve got all these exams looming over you and travel plans back home. One of my favorite parties every year was the post-exam Christmas party. Everyone, even the most intense students, seemed to just cut loose and have a good time at that one.

So, I was really glad when I saw Elf and it got me in the spirit. The story follows Ferrell, as Buddy the elf, but he’s not really an elf. He was an orphan who, as a baby, crawled into Santa’s sack and stowed away to the North Pole. Now, he’s 30 and discovers that he’s not actually an elf and wants to meet his dad James Caan (his mom passed away). So, Buddy heads to New York City and finds his dad married (to Mary Steenburgen) with a kid. Ed Asner plays Santa and Bob Newhart plays Buddy’s adoptive dad Papa Elf. Buddy explores NYC, meets his jerk dad who thinks he’s crazy and becomes part of dad’s family. He also falls for Zooey and they start dating. It’s all very festive and sweet. I know a lot of people are probably sick of Ferrell’s man-child routine (Step Brothers, Old School, Talladega Nights, Semi-Pro, pretty much everything he’s done, really), but it really serves this movie because he’s not playing it with any meanness or irony (like there is in Fred Claus). Buddy really is one of the happiest, nicest people you’ll ever see on screen.

I give a lot of the credit for this goodness to director Jon Favreau. The first 10-20 minutes takes places in the North Pole. There’s just such a great, fantastical consistency to the place. It feels classic and up-to-date at the same time. The difference in size between Buddy and the elves is really well done and outside, you’re treated to several claymation-like characters. Even the snowflakes look big and cut-out and fun. It’s little touches like that that really impressed me about Elf and gave me a lot of hope back when Favreau was announced as the Iron Man director and everyone was freaking out. I actually like this movie so much that it’s not filed away with all the other Christmas DVDs, it’s in the binder with the rest of my pre-moving collection (which quickly filled up once I started working 15 minutes away from a Best Buy). So there you have it, my thoughts on one of my favorite Christmas movies.

Christmas Stories: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is officially my favorite Christmas song. It’s also the one standard that’s been in my life the shortest period of time. Somehow, I have no recollection of this song before hearing Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell sing it in 2003’s Elf. I was instantly hooked and not just because of my (at that time) newfound lady crush Ms. Deshanel. I did a little research (ie typed the song’s title in over at Wikipedia) and found out the song was written by a guy named Frank Loesser back in 1944 to sing with his wife at holiday parties. He eventually sold it to MGM and they used it in a 1949 movie I’ve never heard of called Neptune’s Daughter. Since then tons and tons of people have taken a crack at singing this duet. I did some searching on YouTube and here are a few of my favorite renditions.

Zooey & Will in Elf.

Rainn Wilson & Selma Blair switch gender roles in this Gap video from 2008 that I don’t remember.

Ha, looks like the whole gender switch thing was done first in Neptune’s Daughter in this clip starring Red Skelton & Esther Williams.

Tom Jones & Cerys Matthews. This video is weird, like something out of Twin Peaks.

Lady Antebellum last year on Today. Skip to about 1:25 for the actual song.

This one’s only audio and pictures, but you can’t go wrong with Dean Martin & Martina McBride.

Rudolf Nureyev & Miss Piggy on The Muppet Show (again, switching the parts) in the steam room.

There was also a version on SNL back in ’86 sung by Sigourney Weaver and Buster Poindexter that I’d like to see. Well, I’m off to dinner, have a good one!

Brotherly Love: Step Brothers (2008)

2008-12-19
4:52:25 am

We had a few DVDs waiting for Em and I to watch from Netflix (which is what happens when I put movies we both want to watch on the queue so close to each other). Wanted was one of them and Step Brothers the other.

I wasn’t blow away by this Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly comedy, but it was funny enough to keep me laughing for most of its run time. The story is that the aforementioned man-children come together when their parents (Mary Steenburgen and Richard Jenkins) meet and get married. Will and John don’t get off to a very good start, but eventually do. The plot is kind of similar to that of a romantic comedy, but with a lot more swearing, dirty jokes and fake testicles. Yup, watch out for that.

It’s only been a day since we watched the movie and I can’t really think of too many specific scenes that really made me laugh, but like I said, I laughed most of the time. Will and John have a dynamic that comes off as a lot funnier than their previous collaborations in my opinion. Director Adam McKay who wrote for Saturday Night Live and also directed those awesome web videos starring his daughter Pearl and Will, like The Landlord, which you can check out at the bottom of the page if you haven’t already seen. I do remember that I thought Mary Steenburgen was really funny and yet still retained that gentle mom-ness that I remember from Back to the Future 3 and Elf.

I would recommend watching the theatrical version instead of the director’s cut for the first time, though, if you’re wavering between the two. If you really dig the movie the first time around, maybe give it a shot, but, from what Jim Gibbons, tells me, they kind of go crazy with the improv stuff that goes on for too long. Again, a lot of fun, even if not all that memorable. Now, check out The Landlord:

Showing My "O" Face

2008-07-30
1:27:35 am

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.