It’s the Roundup: we do it every week. You’ll never be alone with FilmBuffed. Each Friday, the Staff talks about the latest in entertainment and movies, TV, and what it all means to us. This week’s topics: movies we love to hate, and movies we hate to love.
Empire Records: A pretty great terrible movie. A story in four parts.
Nostalgia, by my account, is the third most powerful force behind gravity and electromagnetism. Sure, gravity can pull your iPhone out of your hand and place it unceremoniously into the toilet, and some people have electromagnetism to thank for jolting their static hearts back from the dead, but only nostalgia, as of yet, can take you back in time.
There are good movies, bad movies, movies that are so bad they’re good, and movies completely bereft of any redeeming qualities that they deserve to be burned at the stake. And burned slowly. Nostalgia, however, has the unique ability to bring these awful movies off the pyre and into the realm of the palatable not by convincing us that they are good, but by reminding us of a time when watching them was good. In my experience, there are circumstances in which how we feel about a movie isn’t influenced by what’s on the screen as much as by what’s in front of it. Movies aren’t just cheap entertainment, they’re an event in and of themselves where the process of watching can take precedent over whats being watched. Even terrible movies can play the role of facilitator, icebreaker, or go-between, and take the edge off and ease the watchers into a whole new set of possibilities inaccessible by other means.
For this exercise, imagine yourself at 14, a boy, equal parts white and Filipino, and sitting in a girl’s basement watching a movie. You are familiar with what the combination of girl, movie, and basement can sometimes entail. You are painfully aware of the mere half-foot separating you from her. You can smell her and she smells nice. Can she smell you? Do you smell nice? Along with the close proximity to said girl, you’re terribly conscious of the fact that you’ve never actually quite gotten to the point of having an opportunity to, you know, make out with a girl before. You think about how you’d rather run away and face those consequences then be embarrassed by your probably crappy, though untested, kissing. You consider feigning sudden illness. You contemplate the size of her bathroom window in relation to the size of your body. You review the plausibility of teleportation. In the end though, despite the nerves and anxiety, when the credits role, you leave with a slightly swollen-lipped smile thinking about how Empire Records isn’t as bad as everyone says.
Or at least I remember the soundtrack being pretty good.
Thumbs Down For This Film
Ah yes… ”the ol’ movie I hate that everyone else likes” (okay, okay… so I’m hipster).
The male population may find this to be sacrilegious, but I don’t care, I hate this particular film. And that film is Gladiator.
Admission: I have only seen the film once, but there was enough distaste in my mouth after seeing it that one time I vowed to never watch it again. I can barely watch any Russell Crowe movies (I would only considering seeing his new movie Noah because Emma Watson is in it). Anyways, what is the one thing I remember about the film? This:
A guy decides people’s fates by a thumbs up or thumbs down sign. I can’t get behind this.
True story: I was in my second semester of college in a history class. Somehow Gladiator was brought up and I casually said how the movie sucks a load of potatoes. Another male student stood up, pointed at me and yelled, “YOU TAKE THAT BACK!!!” (Okay…maybe he didn’t stand up, but everything else is true.) Needless to say, I was not a part of popular opinion on the movie.
Sorry, I’m not sorry that I have a large distain for Gladiator. I don’t care that 76% of the critics and 87% of the audience on Rotten Tomatoes liked it. I would like the whole 2 hours and 51 minutes of time I spent watching it back, please.
Here’s the fate Gladiator receives from me:
(Take it away for me, Brian Collins!)
I Will Never Win This Guy…
Meet The Spartans Employee of the Month… Yeah, that one shitty movie with Jessica Simpson and Andy Dick. I like this movie to an unhealthy state. But why?
Costco my friends… Costco! I love seeing movies that take place inside of systems that I have grown to be familiar with. Before I worked at an “old fashioned” burger joint, I would watch Good Burger. When I worked for a couple of summers at a golf course, I would always plug in Caddyshack at my leisure. Recently, I became employed at a very popular chain restaurant; so I watched Waiting…
And now, when places like Bi-Mart, Target, and Fred Meyer are beginning to bow down to their apparent struggle, only one Goliath has stood above the pile of corperate corpses, lifting high the much-desired gauntlet… Costco!
Ok, so maybe it is Sam’s Club the film chose to resemble, but in my opinion, Costco was the model for this film.
Employee of the Month stars Dane Cook, Dax Shepard, and Jessica Simpson. Wow, those are people that nobody likes! For some reason, they all meshed well together in this film. I bought the chemistry, and the competitive nature when the story’s theme of “survival of the timid” becomes oh so apparent.
If anything else, this film gives me the opportunity to chill at Costco, without actually being at my local Costco; and who doesn’t love chilling at Costco!?
No Half Measures: Semi-Pro & Your Full Attention
Camping on the Oregon coast when I was 12, one night I lit my hand on fire. We had some Off! brand bug spray, and it seemed important enough at the time to know whether “inflammable” meant the same thing as “flammable.” The “sane” and the “insane” tell very different stories, after all. And results were shocking.
(Horatio Caine of CSI: Miami fame might say – putting on his sunglasses – that “I got. . . burned.”)
But what’s that got to do with Will Ferrell’s awful good Semi-Pro (2008)? Oh, I’m glad you asked.
I did another flaming dumb shit thing yesterday, at age 24. After some Kiefer Sutherland, I burnt this sugar ant I found on the pillow, right by my arm. It was seriously the eleventh one that night, and we had an exterminator come last week. Trust me: there’s no sugar in my bed. I clicked my Bic®, heard a sizzle, then felt remorse.
And like Handsome Rob‘s Saturdays right around 2 a.m., yours truly went from an A-hole to a pussy before you could say boo. Torturing that insect to death forced me to see the monster in myself. I was mortified, for the first time ever: masochistic. I pleaded with a crispy corpse for forgiveness, then set out one of those foul new green apple Skittles for what I assumed were shis relative-ants.
Shattered to notice my own casual depravity, I craved distraction after that burn moment. Semi-Pro has never let me down. And how could it? It was laughed out of critical circles and right into my heart, via the humerus bone. It had glorious lines like this!
Semi-Pro chronicles the rise of a man known as Moon. He came from a mama (Patti LaBelle, of “Lady Marmalade”) who had so much soul. There in her little finger lied more soul than a full train of black church choirs outbound from the Bible Belt, car by car, stretching toward Yonkers for the literal return of Jesus Christ.
(Editor’s Note: as a team, FilmBuffed felt if Christ did come back, he’d definitely land in the Eastern United States; New York area; not NYC but like, a top-5 most populous city in the state probably.)
Mama left her Jackie too soon. She died but did leave behind for him lyrics to a song – “Love Me, Sexy” – that would catapult him to fame and fortune. Jackie Moon rose like Arizona’s PHX, a musical powerhouse, and parlayed that into a starting PF spot with a semi-professional Michigan basketball team he bought.
They’ve got a decent squad. Discount the fact that their center Vakidis can’t speak English and that their best player misses tipoff sometimes because he can’t get off the clock at his mom’s diner. Clarence “Down Town”/”Funky Stuff”/”Coffee Black” Malone (André 3000) is as indecisive with his nickname as he is a wizard with “the old leather pumpkin.” He scores most of the Tropics’ points. Role players like Twiggy and Scootsie lighten up the locker room – just not as much as Jackie’s own Sun suit and the beautiful Tropics’ cheerleaders.
A proposed ABA merger with the NBA threatens it all. The Tropics have to make 4th place, or they won’t be a team next year because there will be no American Basketball Association to play in. Jackie makes big moves, trading the team’s washing machine for Ed Monix (Woody Harrelson), a veteran point guard that won an NBA Championship once but has gone through the spin cycle one too many times (bad knees). The two reform the team, alternating roles, taking the Tropics from nobody, to loser, to somebody but still loser, to winner; then, hopefully, on to the NBA.
Cameos from Will Arnett, Tim Meadows, Jason Sudeikis, Andy Richter, Veep‘s Matt Walsh (Father Pat!) and so many others make this a wonderful movie to watch and then forget. Go, see for yourself. I love it, and I am just committed to it at this point. I purchased three separate copies on DVD ’cause I somehow kept losing them. This was back when even worthless DVDs were like $20. To recap: I’ve lit my hand on fire and spent (at least) over $50 on Semi-Pro. What’s your claim to World’s No. 1 Idiot? And who’re you callin’ “jive turkey”?
See you next Friday,