Category Archives: Movies

I will brook no insolence

These are my boys:

Draco and Company

Do not attempt to overpower them, as they are quite sinister. You will do exactly as they tell you. Any defiance and you’ll find yourself turned into a toad with your arse in flames. And nobody wants that. Except maybe these boys.

I smell Best Supporting Actor nominations! Anyone? Anyone?

Go see this

wet hot american summer

Despite my film major upbringing, I have no pretensions towards movie criticdom. However, an issue must be addressed. I read some reviews online of the film Wet Hot American Summer, released in early August of this year, which claimed that the movie was “unfunny” and its jokes were “lame”. Also, it is “ineptly made”.

Let me tell you, not as any sort of cultural commentator or social critic, but as an average, intelligent human being who doesn’t laugh at things that aren’t funny: they are wrong. VERY wrong. Job-risking wrong. Wet Hot American Summer is easily the funniest film I’ve seen in a long time, and one of the most meticulously crafted. The critics don’t seem to get the joke.

The movie, made by folks from MTV’s The State (which I have never seen), is ostensibly a parody of early ’80s summer camp movies such as Meatballs. But that’s not quite what it is. “Parody” nowadays takes various scenes from popular movies, replaces the actors with “funny” equivalents, and adds a “funny” twist to make the scene “funny”. Sometimes, what is “funny” is actually funny, but check out this list: Spaceballs. Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Scary Movie. Repossessed. Loaded Weapon 1. Hot Shots!. Well, I liked Hot Shots!. But these movies are all examples of what the American “parody” movie has become.

I left Airplane! off the list because it’s a different animal. I can’t quite explain what the difference is, but I think it has something to do with the idea that Airplane! is actually a serious movie, not conventionally a comedy at all, but the dramatic situations are completely stretched to the point of absurdity – which is what makes them funny. The “gags” in the movie (the inflating automatic pilot, the romantic flashback stuff) are actually where the movie is weaker, and the stronger moments are the ones that are completely deadpan, yet make absolutely no sense (the young boy offering the young girl coffee, pretty much every scene Leslie Nielsen is in).

Wet Hot American Summer is anomalous in kind of the same way. It’s not a deconstruction of a summer camp movie, it is a summer camp movie. A hilarious, ridiculous, absurd one. It’s what a summer camp movie would have been if such movies were smart. And it’s made beautifully, right down to the trashy, grainy cinematography and the bad continuity, all clearly very intentional and thought-out.

One review I read spoke of David Hyde Pierce (whose scenes of pure awkwardness with Janeane Garofalo are just priceless), “who, in his work as Niles on Frasier, does some of the most talented farce acting any actor has accomplished in the last few years”. Sure, I love him on Frasier. But he’s played that character forever. The reviewer then goes on to say David Hyde Pierce is given nothing to work with. I disagree. Hearing David Hyde Pierce say, in a moment of frustration, “Fuck my cock!” is alone worth the price of admission. It’s difficult to say which actor gives the funniest performance – Paul Rudd is great, Michael Ian Black has some great scenes, and of course Michael Showalter as the sympathetic hero – but I think I’d have to give the edge to Christopher Meloni, of all people – the lead on Law & Order: SVU but here a crazy, bearded Vietnam-vet cook who steals every scene he’s in.

Again, I’m not a movie critic. I don’t want to be a movie critic. It doesn’t matter how I explain it. Wet Hot American Summer was damn funny. Go see it.

Go to the movie’s official site for more info!

Lucas and Ted’s Excellent Trip to See Dude, Where’s My Car?


On the evening of December 28, 2000, two Chicago residents got a little more than they bargained for when they caught the new film Dude, Where’s My Car? at the local cineplex: they got laughs.

The local mega-cineplex: the newly built Regal Hollywood 20.
Hackett poses in front of the movie poster in eager anticipation. [Photo by Ted Whalen]
Hackett plunks down eight bucks and change for the honor of seeing this cinematic masterpiece. [Photo by Ted Whalen]
The movie begins!

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Ted Whalen, 26, who works as a freelance internet millionaire in the Windy City. “It was actually funny at times.”

Lucas Hackett, a 29-year-old professional dancer and motorcycle enthusiast, agreed. “Some of the bits were hilarious. At one point I laughed my head off.”

Added Hackett, “Not literally.”

Dude, starring “Kelso” from That 70’s Show and “Stifler” from American Pie, has received wide critical praise for its broad but cutting social satire. Also appearing, in a career defining role, is Hal Sparks, recently of E!’s Talk Soup. Fans of Showtime’s new series Queer as Folk know that Sparks can act, but there has already been Oscar talk for his poignant supporting role as one of the many eccentric characters standing between Kelso and his car. Other stars include the annoying young girl from ABC’s The Practice, Kristy “Buffy Before Sarah Michelle Gellar” Swanson, and a bevy of assorted sexy ladies and their breasts.

Despite their enjoyment of the movie, Whalen and Hackett voiced some reservations about the plot.

“It was convoluted,” Whalen said. “It was unrelenting in its complexity. They really made you work hard to fit all the pieces together.”

“It certainly deserves to be viewed more than once,” stated Hackett. “The filmmakers put so much into this movie that it’s really impossible to get it all the first time out.”

This is the first movie for both.


Bored here in Beavercreek, Ohio – home of the Battling Beavers – I went to go see a movie tonight at the new cineplex over by the not-quite-as-new-but-still-somewhat-new-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things mall. As I approached the door to the theater, it was fully my intention to see “Dude, Where’s My Car?” However, I chickened out, because I didn’t think I would be able to deadpan “Yes, one for ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’ please,” with the precise comic delivery that line requires. So I said “maybe later” to Kelso and Stiffler, and I bought a ticket for “Cast Away.” Everyone’s amazed at how much weight Tom Hanks lost in the making of the movie. I was amazed at what a tub of lard he was at the beginning of the film. I bet he packed on the pounds before shooting the early scenes just to make the later loss more dramatic-like. Helen Hunt was annoying. Why was she cast? There are dozens of actresses who could have done more with that role. I liked her on “Mad About You” as much as anyone, but she seems to be stuck in character from that show. Well, I suppose it won her an Oscar.

Suddenly I’m reimagining “Cast Away” as a “Mad About You” TV-movie reunion, aired during sweeps, featuring Paul Reiser getting washed up on the island, instead of Tom Hanks. Now, THAT’s a funny picture. Dramatic, not so much.

I promise I will not mention Kelso in my next entry. Unless I have a really good reason.