Category Archives: comedy

Scary Movie October: A review of Shaun of the Dead

“You’ve got red on you.”

A lot of people in this country really like zombies. I get it. They can be kind of funny. They make strange noises. They are really gross looking and while you can totally defeat one or two on your own, they always seem to travel in packs and that spells trouble. Zombies, the world’s favorite type of monster.

A bunch of my friends love and recommended that I watch Shaun of the Dead, but I was hesitant to watch it for a while. After reading the Walking Dead comics, I decided to watch the show and only made it through one season. I was zombied out. It was time to hang my hat and try something else. Between my general dislike of horror comedies and being tired of zombies, I actively avoided Shaun of the Dead.

It turns out, this movie is really amusing. Some of the gore is so hilariously over-the-top; at one point a character’s stomach is ripped out and his head and limbs are torn off but it’s FUNNY. I think maybe it’s the dry British humor that really sat well with me, but I was thoroughly entertained while watching Shaun of the Dead. The movie is a romantic comedy as well, and although I’m not big into romantic comedies, it works well with the horror aspect of the film.

Shaun of the Dead blends together great elements of a horror film and great elements of a comedy and makes some really super enjoyable. I definitely recommend that anyone who has a bit of a sick sense of humor watch this movie. It’ll definitely be in my regular Halloween movie rotation.

RIYL: British people, zombies, Queen, dive bars

Late to the mission from God! A review of Blues Brothers

Prologue by Ryan Stites:

Mrs. Tarantino: “Are you the police?”

Elwood: “No, ma’am. We’re musicians. “

This blog is all about Laura and her quest to right the cinematic wrongs in her life, but let’s talk about me first real quick. The Blues Brothers is probably my favorite movie of all time (Jaws being #1a, thankfully, she’s seen that one). I only bring this up because I wonder how this movie comes across to someone that has never seen it and only knows the movie/characters post-John Belushi. Bless Dan Aykroyd for his work on SNL and writing this movie, but the man has done everything but dig up Belushi’s corpse and have it hock House of Blues merchandise (he also should be deported back to Canada for allowing Jim Belushi to appear as a Blues brother). I’m a little worried that Laura’s frame of reference will be clouded by what has happened since the movie*, but a lot of that is probably my own baggage. The Blues Brothers themselves have aged poorly as a property, but the movie is timeless.

The movie hits a lot of personal wheelhouses; growing up Catholic, a giant SNL dork, Chicago (fun fact no one cares about: Car 55 flying into a truck was filmed in my hometown!), car chases, fantastic music. Hell, even Steven Spielberg is in it. Personal business aside, I think Laura will discover multiple things she missed pop culturally, love that lit-rally everyone is in it and like this movie a lot for similar reasons…maybe not so much the Catholic stuff, but just go with it. If she doesn’t our friendship is probably over.

*A quick note on the sequel that never, never, ever should have happened: If you fast forward to the music numbers, it becomes tolerable. Even then, you feel bad for everyone involved and it is best to pretend it didn’t happen.

On a “WHAT? You haven’t seen _____?!?” scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest level of shock, disappointment and sad) I’m going to assign an 7.5 to this just because there was a period of time between roughly 1993-1997 where this movie was on TBS roughly three times a day and I’m not sure how Laura didn’t at least come across it in passing. Also, it is pretty much a musical and she loves musicals.


LTTM Review:

Elwood: They’re not gonna catch us. We’re on a mission from God.

Soooooo, I never saw The Blues Brothers on SNL. Is that bad? I’m definitely curious to go through and watch some reruns to see how this worked as a sketch.

Blues Brothers movie poster

Blues Brothers (1980)

Like Ryan mentioned this movie is pretty much a musical. But not just any musical! A musical where Aretha Franklin makes an appearance teaching her man a thing or two (unsuccessfully), Ray Charles shoots a gun, James Brown sweats a lot, Chaka Khan is a BACKGROUND singer. [And all of the cameos are not just singers. Twiggy makes a small appearance, Carrie Fisher shows up several times with several different incendiary devices, and Steven Spielberg has an incredible performance as the tax man towards the end of the movie.] It’s the only “musical” that Kevin will ever enjoy, so Blues Brothers gets major kudos for that.

Another item of note: while living in Chicago I never once had the chance to drive on Lower Wacker. Based on the Blues Brothers and Batman scenes that take place on Lower Wacker, I assume there is a car chase down there every hour during the day.

While I enjoyed this movie a ton, I don’t think it hits anywhere near my top list of movies I’ve ever seen, or even seen as a part of this project. It’s funny and I really had a good time watching it, don’t get me wrong. But I think Ryan’s Chicago homerism might be getting the best of him (Jaws is INFINITELY better, plus there are sharks). This isn’t even my favorite Dan Aykroyd movie (Ghostbusters II) or my favorite John Belushi movie (Animal House). It’s also not my favorite SNL sketch-turned-movie (Wayne’s World or *cough* Coneheads). That said, Angels in the Outfield is one of my favorite movies so I can understand letting weird quirks  and sentimentality get the best of you. [Or maybe it’s a Catholic guilt thing.]

If you love music, if you love car chases, and if you hate Illinois Nazis, I think you’ll really enjoy this movie. If you’re late to every movie like I am, I’d prioritize lower than some of the other movies I’ve watched so far, but I do recommend that everyone watch it.

Face palm moment: 

I can’t get into details but the community computers at my agency all use the same password. After seeing this movie, I realized that the password is a Blues Brothers reference. I’m a dweeb.

Favorite part: 

As a former Chicago resident, I just really liked seeing different aspects of Chicago that I recognized. I got so excited when I saw a Jewel, you have no idea. Related: I am a dweeb.

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

I honestly can’t think of anything in particular that I was really missing from the movie. I’m not sure this movie is quite as quotable as some of the others I’ve seen.

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): Don’t kill me Ryan. It’s not at the top of my list as far as regrettability, simply because there are so many other movies that I had missed out on and prioritized higher. I’ll give it a six or so here. BUT YOU SHOULD STILL WATCH.

Late to seven years down the drain! A review of Animal House

Dean Vernon Wormer: The time has come for someone to put his foot down. And that foot is me.

One of my first memories of college was attending the poster sale at the Kansas Union. The poster sale was  A BIG DEAL. Personally, I attended intending to pick out my Radiohead posters and my Beatles posters and my poster of The Kiss to convey to the ladies in my all-girls dorm that I was way too cool for school (and also a terrifying and boring person to be around). While there, I noticed almost every single dude at the poster sale picking out a variation of this photo:

COLLEGE. DRINKING.

Why were people buying that poster? I have no idea. Drinking is cool, I guess? College is cool? The poster is cool? Cool.

Now I see– Animal House! So Animal House is kind of like all of the good parts of Old School plus American Pie plus PCU? But better? I understand. I wouldn’t say I have anything particularly deep or thoughtful to say about Animal House, but isn’t that the point? It’s funny, it’s gross, it’s really vulgar and there are a lot of boobs. John Belushi’s physical comedy is perfect, he doesn’t need to say a single word to be funny. Aside from a few SNL sketches I’ve seen with him, this is my first true exposure to his genius. I love it.

I highly recommend Animal House if you have a gross, goofy semi-bro like sense of humor. I do; I learned it from my dad. I only hope his fraternity years (Sigma Nu, Auburn University) were nothing like this. If they were, I do not want to know.

Animal House

Animal House (1978)

I do have a few lingering questions following my viewing of Animal House. They are as follows:

  1. Do fraternities REALLY do the paddle spanking thing during fraternity initiation?
  2. Do fraternities really have access to old tests? I guess that makes sense. Now I wish I had joined a fraternity.
  3. Do fraternities really deal with charter issues all that often?
  4. Are toga parties that exciting?
  5. Why is Shout such a great song to dance to?
  6. Wouldn’t you cheat on your boyfriend with Donald Sutherland? I know I would.
  7. Why is Jim Belushi so inferior to John Belushi?
  8. What the hell else we s’posed to do, you moron?

Face palm moment: 

Favorite part: Hi, Donald Sutherland is in this movie. You get to see his butt. Have a nice day.

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment: Awww, hello Eric Stratton, Rush Chairman. That one goes out to my friend Andy who has diabetes.

This scene as well:

Dean Vernon Wormer: Here are your grade point avarages. Mr. Kroger: two C’s, two D’s and an F. That’s a 1.2. Congratulations, Kroger. You’re at the top of the Delta pledge class. Mr. Dorfman?

Flounder: [drunk] Hello!

Dean Vernon Wormer: 0.2… Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son. Mr. Hoover, president of Delta house? 1.6; four C’s and an F. A fine example you set! Daniel Simpson Day… HAS no grade point average. All courses incomplete. Mr. Blu…

[sees Bluto with a pair of pencils in his nostrils]

Dean Vernon Wormer: Mr. Blutarsky… zero… point… zero.

[Bluto shrugs]

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): 24 out of 10. My GPA was a 0.2 in college; fat, drunk and stupid is an awesome way to go through life.

Late to not crying! A review of A League of Their Own

Rockford Peaches: Batter up, hear that call. The time has come for one and all… to play ball. We’re the members of the All American League. We come from cities near and far. We’ve got Canadians, Irish ones, & Swedes. We’re all for one, we’re one for all, we’re all American. Each girl stands, her head so proudly high. Her motto “Do or Die”. She’s not the one to use or need an alibi. Our chaperones are not too soft; they’re not too tough. Our managers are on the ball. We’ve got a President who really knows his stuff. We’re all for one, we’re one for all, we’re all American.

Once upon a time I had a boss who insisted that I looked like Geena Davis.

That’s really it for any relevant stories about a League of Their Own. I just never watched it. My mom was never interested in sports movies and I swear she hates half of this cast. My dad enjoys sports movies with plot points that he can relate to personally (Field of Dreams and Ray playing baseball with his dad, ooof). For those of you who are thinking, “HOW did you miss this movie, it is always on television,” look: unless it’s a movie that I already love (Ghostbusters II) or am actively curious about (Casino), I don’t like watching movies on television.

Kevin and I had plans to see A League of Their Own at a movie in the park night in Austin, but I decided to skip because I don’t want to spend a minute outside in this heat. I’m a baby. Unfortunately we were reduced to watching this movie on television, and that really affected my enjoyment of the movie. It seemed like the entire picture didn’t fit into the screen so in scenes where it seemed like all of the action was happening in the picture, the camera would show half of the scene and then awkwardly sweep over to the other half. It looked terrible. With the censored swear words and the commercials that broke up dramatic scenes, viewing the movie was a mediocre experience. I liked the movie well enough but I would have had a stronger connection watching the actual movie straight through.

This movie started out with another strike against it: being promoted as a film “from the team that brought you BIG” was not exactly a plus for me. I went in expecting another movie that I just wouldn’t get, so I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it.

The acting was exceptional, and as only my third (or so) experience seeing Tom Hanks in a comedy I’m starting to believe that I like him even more in comedies than I do dramas. I expected this movie to be sappy knowing the little I know about Penny Marshall and it REALLY was, particularly the ending. I believe that this movie could have done without the mushy beginning and end scenes, but that’s just me and I’m a grouch.

This movie missed the mark with me a little considering my lack of emotional connection. I feel feelings; I take pride in my extreme emotional reactions to everything. The only time I felt any sort of emotion was when Betty found out about her husband’s death and even then I wasn’t extremely sad. I also have a little sister and assumed that I’d relate to the competitive nature between sisters [NOTE: I ADORE MY SISTER] but I couldn’t identify at all. I’m not a robot so I really blame the distractions from watching the movie on TV.

This movie is about a really interesting part of baseball history but it’s filmed in a way that anyone, even those who don’t like sports, can enjoy it. I wish I liked it or connected with it more and I plan to give it a second chance, as long as I watch it on DVD next time. The moral of this story: movies on TV are ONLY for movies you have seen before. Or Showgirls (can you say ‘special effect bras?). So it is written, so it shall be done.

Madonna as Mae Mordabito

Face palm moment: So the only Madonna movie I’ve seen was Evita, which I actually loved (granted, I am an annoying musical theatre alum). With her top billing on the posters I expected her to have a much bigger role. I was a little disappointed that she didn’t have that much screen time because I love pre-British accent Madonna. Also, girl, you look fabulous in your brown hair. Dye it back.

Favorite part: The onfield action was really fun to watch. Oh dear, can you imagine doing anything like that in skirts? I remember playing softball and learning to slide, and even with my sliding pads and shorts I thought I was going to die. I can barely handle wearing a skirt in an office. Dang.

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment: Penny Marshall, she’s the woman from those late 90s KMart commercials, right?

(JK, JK, I’ve seen a Laverne and Shirley episode. Get off my back.)

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): 9 out of 10 because it’s one of the movies that freaks everyone out when I admit I haven’t seen it. I really think I need to give it a second shot to say whether or not I really enjoyed it.

[Editor’s Note: Kevin says that when I watch these movies and don’t like them, it’s because I miss the connection. In my opinion, classic/good films are those that you can watch and enjoy at any point. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.]

Late to being stuck in Wichita! A review of Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Neal: Del… Why did you kiss my ear?
Del: Why are you holding my hand?
Neal: [frowns] Where’s your other hand?
Del: Between two pillows…
Neal: Those aren’t pillows!

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

So technically I saw this movie for the first time last year at Thanksgiving. This movie happens to be a Thanksgiving staple for Kevin’s family and I was almost un-invited to the family farm for the holiday when they realized I had never seen it. Unfortunately for me, watching this movie with twenty screaming kids running around meant that I missed out on 75% of the film. I left the movie viewing feeling frustrated and unimpressed.

This year Kevin’s family made me watch it again, and FOR REAL this time. Boy, it’s pretty good. And hey, it’s 25 years old this year which makes it a perfect time to review! Good timing, self!

I’ve always been sort of ambivalent toward John Hughes and his movies. I like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and some of his 90s movies (Beethoven, Home Alones 1 and 2) and –duh– Christmas Vacation. But then, you know, I don’t really love the Molly Ringwald movies which might be more because of my resentment towards constantly being called a Ringwald lookalike (IT MAKES NO SENSE). And the dude made Maid in Manhattan. I mean, seriously, have you seen that? It’s terrifying. But it’s hard to really judge John Hughes when you’ve missed out on all of his John Candy movies (remember how Spaceballs was my first John Candy movie? This is the second).

I get the love for John Candy after watching this movie. He is one funny dude, and his chemistry with Steve Martin (who I have always worshiped and adored after watching this as a little kid) is magical. Planes, Trains and Automobiles has some of the cheese moments that are such classic John Hughes moves, but the heart, the slapstick gags and the perfect comic timing from the two leads completely overshadow the cheese. There are some magical cameos– hello, Kevin Bacon? And the best part is, if you have ever traveled home for the holidays you can absolutely relate to parts of this movie. “Six bucks and my right nut says we’re not landing in Chicago.” Del, I’ve been there and I hear you loud and clear.

Face palm moment:  Even though Dylan Baker (who plays Owen) has starred in no less than one gazillion television shows and movies, I recognized him from a Law and Order: CI episode. What does that say about me? Don’t answer that.

Favorite part: Absolutely the scene in which the car drives in between two semis as it drives the wrong way and John Candy and Steve Martin briefly turn into skeletons.

Also the scene with the rental car lady is a favorite. Why? BECAUSE I LOVE SWEARING.

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment: “Her first baby, came out sideways, she didn’t scream or nothin.” Kevin’s brother posted this quote on his Facebook page last week, and oh by the way his wife is eight months pregnant. I completely freaked out. Thanks, Planes Trains and Automobiles.

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): 10 out of 10 for the quotability factor alone. Consider it now a Thanksgiving tradition. I loved it!