Monthly Archives: January 2012

Late to peeing on the rug! A review of The Big Lebowski

Prologue by Leslie Watkins:

The Dude: “All the dude ever wanted was his rug back. It really tied the room together.”

Leslie dressed as The Dude

I was on the phone with my mom, explaining that I had just figured out that Beau Bridges was Jeff Bridges‘s brother after seeing Beau on an episode of “Brothers and Sisters.” Her response (after being completely appalled) was, “You just love Jeff Bridges because of that hair movie he did.” Damn straight. Well… the hair movie and also Stick It (do yourself a favor and watch it [Editor’s note: I don’t necessarily endorse this line of thought]).

Jeff Bridges as the Dude is what I imagine/hope he is like in real life, although I have heard that he actually prefers Black Russians instead of the “Caucasians” he drinks in the movie. Bowling with Bridges will always be a fantasy of mine, as well as the name of a band that I hope to start in the near future.

I first saw The Big Lebowski in 8th grade after my friend Pat had dressed up as The Dude for Halloween, and this movie signifies the kind of filmmaking that I love. In re-watching it, I thought about how the specificity of each character’s personality and their dialogue made this movie what it is. The fact that the Dude loves his rug, he drinks white Russians, he loves bowling and In-N-Out burger– that makes The Dude The Dude. His wonderfully complicated relationship with Walter (John Goodman), where he constantly says “I love you Walter, but shut the f*ck up,” explores the limits to which he can be pushed, and yet never actually hit rock bottom. John Turturro as Jesus, the terrifyingly good bowler/pedophile and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Brandt, the loyal slave to the Big Lebowski, are honorable mentions.

The movie is almost modeled after the hero in that it’s confused and has no real direction but is just affected by outside sources. I love the fact that The Dude continually refers to the case as a tough one that has “a lot of ins and outs, a lot of ups and downs.” He even expands upon that by saying that he “keeps himself on a strict drug regiment in order to deal with it.” I feel like we as the viewer might need to do the same. The Coen brothers are masters of their craft, creating ridiculous circumstances, outlandish yet believable characters, and hilarious dialogue.  In the end, this movie teaches us to do what the dude does and just abide.

There is no excuse that my big sister hasn’t seen this movie. NO EXCUSE. Much like Beau Bridges, she is the older sibling respected by the community and will follow in his footsteps of disappearing if she doesn’t remedy this soon.

[Editor’s note: Seriously, my sister is notorious for her love of Jeff Bridges. In fact, here’s a mediocre picture of her receiving a portrait of The Dude for her 21st birthday:

For those of you who don’t know my sister and can’t tell by her face, this was probably one of the greatest moments of her life. And yes, I love her even if I’m pretty sure she just threatened to kill me.]


LTTM review:

I’ve been excited about seeing The Big Lebowski for a while. Though I haven’t seen every Coen Brothers movie, I’m a big fan of the movies I’ve managed to watch (Fargo, especially). With the way my sister and Kevin have talked about this movie, you could say it was “highly anticipated” and that would still be an understatement. Seriously, Check out Kevin’s set-up of the DVD cover:

Yes. There were candles.

Ridiculous.

Of all the silly things in this movie, the craziest has to be the notion that Tara Reid is worth $1 million. This is just not the case. Have you seen her lately? That would have been a terrible investment for Mr. Lebowski, and The Dude should have had the foresight to see that this was all a sham after running into her painting her toenails. But that would make for a crappy movie, now wouldn’t it?

What is not crazy about this movie? The Dude wearing Jelly shoes. They are comfortable as hell and my six-year-old self would have approved. He also probably enjoyed the smell—they make your feet sweat like crazy and by the time I started to go through puberty, my parents made me stop wearing them. Of course, the Jellies I wore were infused with glitter but I can understand if he didn’t want to go there.

I got a bit distracted while watching The Big Lebowski because of all of the recognizable faces and my need to immediately IMDB (it’s a verb now, like Google) to figure out where I had seen them before. These faces include:

  1. Jacob from Lost
  2. One of Madonna’s boyfriends (and Lourdes’s dad)
  3. Remus Lupin from Harry Potter
  4. Flea
  5. The wood chipper guy from Fargo (yeah, I know, he’s been in a lot of things)

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed John Goodman’s performance. I have only seen him in his SNL Linda Tripp sketch, Coyote Ugly (I know), The Flinestones (I KNOW), and, more recently, The Artist. I didn’t know what to expect from him in a larger (and speaking) role, but Walter Sobchak is incredible. I get just as angry and competitive about bowling. I jump to conclusions. I reference Vietnam every chance I get. I refuse to roll on the Shabbos. I carry around a small dog. We’re basically the same person.

And yes, I was very sad when Donny died. Nihilists are quite scary. I’m on record as wanting to be cremated and dumped in the ocean (seriously), so I appreciated their tribute to him (even if most of his ashes ended up on The Dude).

I’m going to get murdered for this, but here goes…

The problem with a cult classic like The Big Lebowski is that the people who love the movie REALLY love the movie. Watching this movie reminds me of how I felt when watching Princess Bride. For years and years, the movie had been hyped up and quoted non-stop. When I finally watched it, I felt nothing. I still don’t get that movie.

I enjoyed The Big Lebowski much, much more than Princess Bride, but I still felt a little disappointed when the movie ended. I suspect that it needs multiple viewings to achieve the feeling that Kevin and Leslie have towards it and I’m willing to give the movie that chance. But I was a little sad that I wasn’t blown away. My expectations were way, way too high. My bad.

(Please don’t kill me.)

You do have to admit, though, that rug did really tie the room together.

Face palm moment:
The most neglected genre in my viewing history happens to be the Western. Therefore, Sam Elliott is only known for having a small cameo in Up in the Air and being that one beef guy.  To my knowledge he’s never done anything else of note.

Favorite part:
Gutterballs,” the infamous dream sequence, would have to be my favorite part, and also explains some of the seriously awful (copycat, as it turns out) dance moves that I’ve seen throughout the years. I also happen to really love Kenny Rogers, so the song for the sequence is a huge plus. I maintain that the Vertigo dream sequence is the best in any movie ever, but I’ll be the first to admit to you that I’m biased. Regardless, it’s brilliant.

The introduction of Jesus Quintana to a weird Spanish version of Hotel California was pretty swell too.

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment: 

I’ve heard several references to the Vietnam quotes, as well as several quotes from the bowling scenes (“you mark that frame an eight and you’re entering a world of pain”).

Also, honestly, thought Jesus Quintana was from Kingpin:

Eight-year-olds, dude?

And finally:

The Dude: Jesus, man, can you change the station?
Cab Driver: F*ck you man! You don’t like my f*cking music, get your own f*cking cab!
The Dude: I’ve had a…
Cab Driver: I pull over and kick your as* out, man!
The Dude: – had a rough night, and I hate the f*cking Eagles, man.

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): I’ll definitely give it a ten out of ten, and I plan to watch a few more times. Also, is Logjammin’ available on DVD? Just curious.

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Late to the stuffed beaver! A review of Naked Gun

Jane: I’ve heard police work is dangerous.
Frank: It is. That’s why I carry a big gun.
Jane: Aren’t you afraid it might go off accidentally?
Frank: I used to have that problem.
Jane: What did you do about it?
Frank: I just think about baseball.

English: Actor Leslie Nielsen 1982 in a first ...

I have a little sister named Leslie. As the older sister it’s in my job description to find exciting ways to torture my sibling and make her life as miserable as possible. Being aware of Leslie Nielsen‘s existence was a huge help to me growing up as he was the best example I had to prove to my sister that she had a uni-gender name and thus a lesser human being (is ambigendrous a word? I want it to be…). I tip my hat to him for, you know, existing. It’s just too bad that I waited so long to see his movies (I first saw Airplane! early last year) because I think he is incredibly funny.

Naked Gun is a spoof movie based on the short-lived television series Police Squad! and, as someone who obsessed over Dragnet as a little kid, I can definitely appreciate the satire. Since Police Squad! is available on Netflix (DVDs only), I definitely plan to check it out.

To enjoy this movie, you definitely have to have a goofy sense of humor. I could see a lot of people I know rolling their eyes at any mention of “Papshmir.” The jokes are very silly and quick, firing in rapid succession, and I found myself laughing at everything. Even the subtle humor like Queen Elizabeth passing hot dogs down a line of people at the baseball game cracked me up. Leslie Nielsen has the same impeccable comedic timing as he did in Airplane! and it was a nice surprise to find out that he sings the National Anthem a little better than Carl Lewis. And I was amazed to find out that Priscilla Presley wasn’t horrible in the movie. While she doesn’t deliver a ton of funny lines, I thought her interactions with Leslie were good and she was actually able to finish the movie without cracking (which is something I couldn’t do).

Face palm moment:
It’s really weird to see OJ Simpson doing anything besides trying on gloves. He doesn’t have a big part in this movie but I felt a little squeamish the few times I had to watch him in the hospital or at the baseball game.

Favorite part:
Although I laughed throughout most of the movie, there are three things that stand out– the scene where Drebin breaks in to Ludwig’s office and everything goes wrong, the villain’s death scene with the USC marching band (“my father went the same way”), and this little interaction:

Frank: It’s the same old story. Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, girl finds boy, boy forgets girl, boy remembers girl, girl dies in a tragic blimp accident over the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Jane: Goodyear?
Frank: No, the worst.

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment:

Frank: Nice beaver!
Jane: [producing a stuffed beaver] Thank you. I just had it stuffed.

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10):
Naked Gun might be one of the most quotable movies I’ve seen since Late to the Movies started. Considering the fact that most of my regular movie quote go-tos are from incredible comedies such as It Takes Two and Knotting Hill, I’m most grateful for this movie. 10/10.

Late to Indiana basketball? A review of Hoosiers

Prologue by Kevin Baker:

‘And David put his hand in the bag and took out a stone and slung it. And it struck the Philistine on the head and he fell to the ground.’

Let’s win this game for all the small schools that never had a chance to get here.

There are only a handful of movie scenes that get me every time. The father and son catch at the end of Field of Dreams. At the end of Saving Private Ryan when the main character asks his wife if he’s led a good life. And near the end of Hoosiers, when the preacher says that one fateful line before the little school of Hickory, Indiana with a student enrollment of 64 takes the court against the Goliath South Bend High School in Indianapolis.

Growing up in Kansas, I know what basketball means to ordinary people. It’s as if basketball is a part of their religion and their very existence. It is crazy to think that we sit and cry after KU loses against Syracuse in the national championship or feel depressed when we bow out of the tournament early. It doesn’t make any sense. These feelings are conveyed perfectly in what I regard as the best sports movie of all time.

Perhaps the movie is not as “great” as Rocky and Raging Bull, but Hoosiers really shows why we love sports so much and what they mean to everyone. From drunk Dennis Hopper calling the picket fence, to giving the coach (played expertly by Gene Hackman) who hit a player a second chance, and the young phenom Jimmy using basketball as his escape, Hoosiers represents the epitome of amateur athletics. The little guy with no one coming off the bench can defeat the big schools, much like an NIU can upset a team full of NBA prospects or little Butler University with zero McDonald’s All Americans can make two NCAA finals in a row.

Seeing that she is a big Kansas basketball fan, I’d give Laura the biggest 10 imaginable. There are no excuses for not having seen this movie yet. None!


LTTM Review:

I’m about to get super sappy here for a little while, so hold on to your butts.

As Kevin mentions, I’m a very big sports fan. Chiefs, Royals, Blackhawks, Celtics/Thunder and Alabama/Auburn/KU (don’t ask) football. But if I could follow just one sports team for the rest of my life, it’d be Kansas basketball. My Birmingham born-and-bred father never followed the team until he went to KU for his Masters degree, and after that he became a die-hard Jayhawks fan. My dad worked a lot when I grew up (as most dads do), but he always took the time to take me to sporting events for father/daughter bonding time. As expected, my favorite times we spent together were when he took me to a yearly game at Allen Fieldhouse. We always sat in the rafters, so high that I could barely make out the names on the backs of the jerseys. Kansas always won. There was not a better feeling than leaving the games with a new Kansas basketball program or t-shirt in hand, a sore throat from screaming so loudly, and excitement from watching the best team in college basketball play (hate you Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina).

For real, I love Kansas basketball so much that I just bet $50 worth of cheese that KU would win the Big 12 conference over Mizzou. I’m insane.

That one guy is hot.

This movie was absolutely made for me. I love basketball. I love David versus Goliath stories, particularly when it pertains to the plot of a sports movie. I love anything that shows how and why people are so passionate about something. Isn’t it telling that Dennis Hopper’s character is a serious alcoholic but becomes a savant of sorts when it comes to discussing high school basketball?

[Cheese alert] But beyond being about basketball, Hoosiers is mostly about giving people second chances and the opportunity to excel when everyone else expects for you to fail. This is the type of movie like Field or Dreams or Remember the Titans that many people, not just sports lovers, can relate to in some way. Hoosiers is definitely a feel-good kind of movie, but not in a sickening sort of way (like, say, The Blindside which made me feel like I was being lectured to at times). My mom would even like this. That’s saying something.

Face palm moment: Everyone hates me already so I might as well say it– I honestly thought Hoosiers was about Indiana University. *ducks* Also, my second Gene Hackman movie? First was the Royal Tenenbaums.

Favorite part: I’m a big Dennis Hopper fan (Blue Velvet and Speed are two of my favorite movies) and it was great to see him in this role. Who doesn’t love a basketball-obsessed drunk? My favorite scene was definitely where Gene Hackman asks the ref to throw him out of the game so Dennis Hopper’s character is forced to call plays for the team. Second favorite scene is when everyone’s favorite little shorty Ollie makes both of his free throws.

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment: Kevin touched on it already, but that pre-championship game speech is sort of legendary.

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): Mark it down– watching every October in preparation of college basketball season.