The Un-Titled Movie Podcast With Ron & Craig #16: Beetlejuice

beetlejuice-podcast

On this week’s episode of The Un-Titled Movie Podcast With Ron & Craig, the boys sit down to watch some early Tim Burton insanity with Beetlejuice! It’s Batman versus The Shadow and The World’s Greatest Female Baseball Player with the fate of Mina Harker at stake! We discuss everything from the weird wardrobe choices (even weird for a Tim Burton flick), to how truly strange the plot is (child bride anyone?). It’s our final movie for ScOctober , so join us as we get quirky…so…friggin’…quirky.

Ok folks, so normally I have some kind of semi-interesting rant to throw at y’all so you can kill a few minutes while you’re on the toilet at work, hoping to god that Mark from management doesn’t realize that you’re daily late-morning poop isn’t your “IBS acting up again”. You don’t want him to know that your bowels are anything but irritable; that the only thing about you that acts up is your desire to miss work; that your willingness to sit on a toilet seat that you know for a fact only gets cleaned once a week outweighs your desire to pursue the career that your parents spent their life’s savings sending you to college to prepare for! So yeah…I write stuff sometimes and maybe you read it, and today I’m going to write some stuff that has even less substance than usual. Basically, I have nothing really to say about Beetlejuice that I didn’t already say in our episode about it, so I’m going to ramble about how I think 1980s Tim Burton spent his creative mornings for a few paragraphs. If that doesn’t appeal to you, then stop reading right now, because that’s literally all you’re about to get. Prepare for a face full of whimsy!

He is awoken from a deep sleep by the sound of his living alarm clock, which is made up of four pink flamingos painted black, squawking into the open ends of eight saxophones. He hops off of his hypnosis swirl shaped bed wearing pajamas cut to resemble the exact outfit that Pee Wee Herman always wears and slides his feet into a pair of slippers shaped like triangles, which he of course wears so that the triangles would appear with the points at right angles from his body. He then exits his S-Shaped bedroom and enters directly into a Rube-Goldberg device that functions to brush his teeth and comb his hair. It features, amongst other things, a plunger, a leaf blower, and multiple chipmunks both live and taxidermized. The machine drops him directly in front of his breakfast table, where he immediately, and despite his freshly brushed teeth, drinks a glass of orange juice and begins to eat his meal of half-toasted bread, coffee that he inhales as a mist, and Goozlefowl eggs. A Goozlefowl egg is just a standard chicken egg that his staff paints oblong dots on and tells him they harvested from the deepest jungles of Madagascar.

Now that he’s all full of food and hopped up on caffeine-air, he begins to walk the halls of his home, which is of course shaped like a dandelion. Whilst walking the home and it’s dandelion-garden (which is shaped like a home), he is followed around by Danny Elfman wearing a “One Man Band” suit. He has him on retainer so as to have someone constantly playing the most whimsical freaking music possible whenever he needs inspiration. He dictates his thoughts on his next project in Chinese to a stenographer riding a unicycle. The stenographer of course speaks Chinese…but is deaf in her left ear.

I’m of course making this all up, so no one sue me for having fun. Seriously though, this is what I picture his process to have been. It’s the same now in my mind, except with way more Johnny Depp, which means way more bracelets and wine.

 

The Un-Titled Movie Podcast With Ron & Craig #15: The Frighteners

the frighteners nostalgia movie podcast

On this week’s episode of The Un-Titled Movie Podcast With Ron & Craig, we continue ScOctober: The Reckoning with Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners. We watch one of the most WTF flicks we’ve ever done on the show and lose our minds with anger as we try to understand what the hell we’re watching! It’s a very “You got your jelly in my peanut butter! You got your peanut butter in my jelly!” situation…except instead of delicious sandwich spreads, we’re watching someone try to combine a zany Tim Burton flick with an epic Robert Zemeckis movie, with mass killings and post-mortem sexual assault! It’s a real treat for the eyes and the soul. By “treat’’ I mean “I wanted to hide under the bed and sob whilst angrily punching a Japanese love-pillow with Kickboxer-style glass fists the entire time I was watching it because I found it so confusing and so scattershot in its delivery”. Yeah as you can tell, I really dug this movie! Is it the movie’s fault though? Or was I just mislead by the marketing when I was a kiddo?  The world may never know, and I will never know if I would’ve enjoyed this flick more if I didn’t think that it was a laugh-out-loud horror-comedy that would harken back to the days of Ghostbusters and Back To The Future, only to be shocked and annoyed by the ghost-rape, cult references, and complete lack of anything funny after the first fifteen minutes…did I mention the mass-killing?

Anyhow, the point is that I didn’t really enjoy this movie the first time I saw it and disliked it even more on my most recent viewing, and that might be the marketing’s fault, because you never get another chance to create and fulfill the expectations of a first viewing. This has happened to me before, more than once, with the most ready example being The Way Of The Gun.

Let’s start off by saying this: I dig the hell out of The Way Of The Gun. It’s written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, Mission Impossible: Fallout, and you know, winning a friggin’ Academy Award), it’s got some sweet Benicio Del Toro action, James Caan, Taye Diggs, Juliette Lewis, and is the only reason I began to realize that Ryan Phillipe is talented. It’s also a damned poem of a movie that features cool dialogue, great music, and is all slick and tone and mood. It’s like a lesson in cool, I heart it. However, I didn’t at first, and that’s why my friends and I walked out of the theatre the first time I tried to watch it. Yeah that’s right, I walked out of a movie; something I’d never done before and I haven’t done since. I saw Master Of Disguise and The Last Jedi in the theatre and got all the way through; I was that serious, and it’s all the marketing’s fault.

I remember it like it was yesterday, the trailers that were blasted all over MTV in the weeks before its release. They featured rock music (Incubus, when I liked Incubus…like way more than anyone should like Incubus), comedy beats (Ryan Phillipe jumping into the empty fountain and getting hurt), and a ton of action. Plus, it’s a movie called The Way of The Gun, it had to be an action-comedy! It was going to be huge! I bought tickets in advance! I made my friends all come with me because it looked like literally the best thing ever!

We got the theatre and I was shocked at how empty it was. It was the old Bayside Quad on Bell Boulevard in Queens (New York), and I had expected such a small theater to be packed to the gills with people waiting to enjoy the next 48hrs, Midnight Run, or Beverly Hills Cop; the second coming of Point Break or Die Hard. Nevertheless, I munched some popcorn and waited to have my life changed.

Thirty minutes later I was walking to the car, having left an empty theater because my friends and I hadn’t signed up for this “slow burn” crap. I didn’t know what I was seeing because I was so ill-prepared for the film I was being shown. How could I appreciate something so nuanced and deliberate when I was being told I was going to watch a shoot-em-up with laugh out loud moments? I didn’t watch the movie all the way through until a couple of years later, and didn’t really fully appreciate it until a couple of years and a few re-watches after that. It was a tragedy of cinematic enjoyment, and it’s one of my strongest memories of advertising setting me up for failure…at least when it comes to movies; the toy companies were running this gambit on me for years when I was a kid; so much so that they created laws against certain types of false advertising to protect my generation from being swindled.

There’s been plenty of other instances where movie marketing tricked me into watching something for the wrong reasons. Anyone remember Find Me Guilty? It was marketed as a comedy about a whacky mobster who (*record scratch*) defends himself in court! There was going to be My Cousin Vinny style courtroom hijinks, Italian stereotypes, and a boat load of cliché jokes about pasta and meatballs and grandma’s sauce. Even the box for the DVD had Vin Diesel shrugging his shoulders at the viewer while a bunch of Mafiasos in loud suits made funny faces in the background. I rented it ready to enjoy two hours of goofy lasagna jokes, but what I got was a serious courtroom drama! I hated it! It’s got some solid reviews on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, so it’s probably not bad for what it is, but it was a terrible comedy and that’s what I signed up for. This was a legit flick with big stars too, not some Asylum Production called The Quick And The Angry about race cars, it was directed by the guy who made friggin’ Serpico! I expect some honesty in the marketing!

Unfortunately, even as trailers have become something you look up on YouTube after reading a blog post about a movie you hears about on a website a year before, video stores have ceased to exist, and DVD covers only exist in Walmarts and Amazon fulfillment centers, the trend of lying to the audience through film marketing continues. Whether it’s the thumbnail on Netflix pretending that Bruce Willis is in more than five minutes of some cop-flick that actually stars a lesser-known Wahlberg, or a trailer showing the only funny parts of Steve Carrell movie that’s actually super-depressing (I’m making these examples up, but I’m sure there’s some accidental accuracy in them), the marketing departments for most film releases could care less about giving us an accurate depiction of what movie we are getting ourselves into. Some would say that you can’t blame them because it’s their job to show us only the best from what they’re promoting. Others would say that I’m a moron who expects trailers that say “This movie sucks and you shouldn’t watch it because it’s not going to give you what you’re looking for”. I say screw all of that. If a movie sucks and someone pays you to show that it doesn’t, show me a trailer with only the good parts, sure, but show me a trailer that’s at least honest about what genre of film we’re watching. If you can only afford to have John Malkovich on set for two days, put his name on the poster, but at least put “And Featuring” before his name so I know that he’s not running the show. You don’t have to judge the quality of the movie for me, I can do that for myself, just don’t lie to me! Don’t give me false expectations, and maybe I won’t hate your movie when it doesn’t reach those expectations. Most people decide on what to watch from a check on Rotten Tomatoes, so it’s not doing you any favors to have  bunch of negative reviews floating around because you promised comedy but delivered tragedy.

I have plenty of other gripes to make about trailers, but I will save those for another day. For now, just remember that you’re probably better off going into a movie having only read the logline and knowing if you enjoy the work of the people involved. Try it sometime, you can’t be let down if you don’t really have expectations. End Rant.

 

BONUS Random Train of Thought:

“The Lesser Known Wahlbergs” sounds like the name of a band that would sing the track from the trailer for a movie starring Rachel Leigh Cook and Giovanni Ribisi as teenagers who work in a supermarket and have a quirky romance during a summer power outage that traps them in the store.

I just remembered whilst writing this that in Gone In 60 Seconds there’s a character named ”Freb”. Chi McBride is also in that flick, hence the train of thought.  So yeah, Freb…welcome to the early 2000s.

Also, whenever I think of the name ”McBride” I think of Marty’s boss mispronouncing his name in Back To The Future 2 and Sab Shimono trying to say “McBride Trail” in The Big Hit

We will be covering The Big Hit someday. Screw you, I love that movie.

Finally, Sab Shimono was in Gung-Ho¸and I’ve heard people say that said movie is racist. While it’s not the most culturally sensitive thing ever created, I have to argue and always will say that it’s not at all racist against its Japanese characters. Instead, at least through my current lens (30 years after the fact), I see it as more of a comment on how crappy Americans can be at allowing outsiders to assimilate into their culture. Anyhow, I dig that movie, and the final message is that we can all learn from each other, if it takes an exaggerated group of Japanese men soaking in a lake and George Wendt being an ugly American to get there…so be it.

The Un-Titled Movie Podcast With Ron & Craig #13: Bloodsport (With A Bonus Blog!)

nostalgia movie podcast

On this week’s episode, we talk about the 1988 martial arts classic Bloodsport. This is the movie that started it all for mixed martial arts, Van Damme, and for our very own Craig! The amount of kicks our beloved co-host took to the face in tribute to this flick is astounding! So on this episode we find out how this flick came together, how Van Damme got his start, and how weirdly obsessed the boys are with a movie that features Ogre from Revenge Of The Nerds almost getting killed by friggin’ Bolo!  Also this week we try to give you a little more bang for your buck, so scroll down for a little side rant about why we need more Bloodsport in or lives!

Did you scroll? I hope so, because I have a point to make!

So, as I was sitting down to post this show, I was thinking about what else I could possibly want to say in my companion blog. After all, I rambled on like a jag-goon for most of the episode. Then I saw a commercial for the latest thing from the people behind the The Purge franchise and got hit with an important realization: the world needs more Bloodsport. Now I have no problem with The Purge  existing, I’m sure that it’s fine content for its target audience; it’s just that I’m not that audience, and there’s a lot of people like me out there who are tired of everything being so damned dark. Just…so…dark. So nihilistic. So ugly. I get it, the world is a bad place and we need to confront the blah blah blah blah I WANT TO CHEER FOR SOMETHING! I know that the world can suck, my family split up when I was a kid and my father was sick and then dead before my nineteenth birthday. I’ve experienced pain, loss, rejection, being poor, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and most other garbage feelings one can have. I’m not bragging by any means, nor am I trying to get emo street cred; everyone’s pain is theirs and no one’s is greater or less than. I’m just saying that I don’t want to lose faith in humanity every time I put on the damn television. So I want more Bloodsport. Why? Because I’m not too old for cartoons, but most cartoons are too young for me.

In our upcoming episode about The Monster Squad, we get into the idea of making grown-up movies for kids, and how great and timeless they can be. Well we need to also appreciate the flip-side of this: kids movies for adults. Bloodsport is a friggin’ cartoon for adults; where the hero is perfect, the sidekick is loyal, the bad guy is evil, and there’s really no in between. The good guy gets the girl, overcomes the odds to win, and his friend that he’s avenging turns out to be just fine. I like to even think that the bad guy serves some time for the murder he committed and then lives a reformed and happy life doing youth outreach. Maybe his “young boy” (it’s a Japanese pro-wrestling term for a young wrestler in training, put your keyboards down) is his son and they bond, or maybe it’s his damned lover and they open a gym together; I don’t care who they are to each other, so long as everyone is friggin’ happy in the end and Stan Bush plays over the credits. I want to smile at my movies, or at least know that there’s a steady stream of movies out there ready to make me smile!

So yeah, I want there to be more Bloodsport in this world, and don’t tell me that it’s violent and bad for me. I was raised by a retired marine, a speech therapist, the race track, and action movies; I turned out fine. Not only that, but I’m moral as all hell because I don’t want to let fictional Frank Dux or Major McCoy down. Maybe Red Weddings and Conjuring’s and Jigsaws are bad for people on a deeper level, but who cares, it entertains people, let em’ have it. It just doesn’t entertain me, I want to have heroes. I want my sports bloody, my forces delta-ed, my dragons entered or last, and my Vans to be Dammed. The world needs rain, but the world needs football too. End Rant.

Some Links to get you more into the truth behind Bloodsport:

Senzo Tanaka was a real guy?

History Vs. Hollywood: Bloodsport

A great write-up from Uproxx on the controversy behind the movie

 

Part 3: In Which I Sequelize All By Myself

independence-day-fan-sequel

Consider this a companion piece to our recent Independence Day episode.

Okay folks, Independence Day: Resurgence wasn’t good, I know this. Somewhat unfortunately, it wasn’t even bad; it just was. I’m not the type to appreciate movies that are “so bad they’re good”, it’s just not my style. I appreciate cheesy cinema more than almost anyone (think Bloodsport), but I generally don’t get down with watching something just to laugh at how bad it is (think No Retreat, No Surrender); I usually need to truly enjoy something to watch it enough times to find comedy in it.  Sure, I will do it once in a while for the sake of the show, and sometimes it happens by accident (listen to our Captain Ron episode if you want to experience this), but I rarely sit down and watch something notoriously bad just to get some giggles out of it afterwards. There’s just too much notoriously good stuff out there that I haven’t found the time to watch. With that said, I fully understand how people love to get together and watch crappy flicks and joke about them after; it makes for some great podcasting too. It’s become its own form of entertainment, with theatres regularly playing flicks like The Room and Manos: Hands of Fate to packed audiences full of schlock lovers. However, my longwinded explanation leads us back to my original point: The Independence Day sequel isn’t the kind of movie that will ever get this treatment, nor will idiots like me do podcast episodes about it like we recently did for the original. It merely exists, and that stinks, because the first one was such a blockbuster, and has become a basic cable staple to the point that the next couple of generations will most likely have fond memories of it. It deserved better, and right now, in a hastily thrown together paragraph or two of explanation, I’m going to give you better. I’m going to prove, without even trying that hard, that ID4 could’ve had a much better sequel. A sequel that is true to the characters. That doesn’t base any major script decisions on Will Smith being busy making another movie and instead waits until he’s available because it’s already been twenty years since the first one and one more won’t hurt…or at least one with a name that doesn’t make it sound like one of my country’s proudest holidays is having a herpes flare-up.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you: Independence Day:ID4:20, a movie in which Will Smith, Cheech Marin, Method Man, Harold, Kumar, and Trey Anastasio of Phish team-up to battle The Predator and the aliens from Mars Attacks using only the power of weed smoke and bong water! I’m just kidding, but at least mine had a catchy title. Anyhow, let’s try to make something that sucks at least a little less than the real movie. Let me present to y’all a little synopsis for the very simply titled Independence Day 2.

ID2, as I will call it, begins in much the same way that the real sequel does. Humanity has spent the last twenty some odd years benefitting from the technology left behind by the Alien invaders. We now have moon bases, interplanetary travel, hover…stuff, the works. Much like after real life disasters, the world enjoyed a period of peace directly after the initial battle, but now finds itself dealing with typical global-political issues and mounting tensions. Still, a U.N. space coalition exists and is making moves towards Mars exploration and all sorts of neat space things. Integral to this “space force” (yes, I watch the news, I get it) are Dr. David Levinson and Steven Hiller, WHO IS STILL ALIVE DAMMIT! At the film’s beginning, the two of them and a cadre of tropes and stereotypes have been dispatched to Mars to research some kind of macguffiny signal. At the same time, former President Thomas Whitmore, who secretly and not in a weird crazy-old-man way suffers from headaches and visions because of his alien interactions in the first film, is on a good-will tour of some other country. Joining him on this tour are his former aide-turned-some-other-type-of-aide Constance; who is still married to and in love with David, (because why the hell would we ever need a new and extremely forced love story in a sequel!? It’s a dumb trope) and former Air Force pilot and current Secret Service Agent Dylan Hiller. Seeing as how it’s Fourth of July weekend, which is now a worldwide holiday, Constance and Dylan, per the former President’s approval, have invited family members Jasmine and Julius (his mom and her father in-law, played by Vivica Fox and Judd Hirsch) along for the ride. Both lonely because their favorite people are on mission to mars. Not joining them is Patricia Whitmore (played by Mae effin’ Whitman!), who also served in the Air Force before taking on a career as a journalist. She’s currently attached to a group of African warlords who are trying to rebuild their community after spending years in a ground war with the alien invaders following the events of the first movie (one of the few good ideas from the actual sequel). She’s currently in a tiff with her father over their continued disagreements about how he handled things as a leader post-ID4. Phew, got to take a breath after making all this magic.

mae whitman independence day
Apparently there aren’t any images of her dressed as an Air Force pilot floating around. The internet is dead to me.

For those of you wondering, I’m going to leave out Russell Case’s family because who cares? I’m also going to leave out Adam Baldwin’s character, even though he’d probably now be a high ranking general in this universe, because he sucks as a person sometimes and Hollywood is never going to cast him in anything this big again. Otherwise, all our main players are set-up for greatness. Is it too neat though? No, it’s not. In a movie like this, we all know that you’re going to bring everyone back together in the end. Often, as we saw in the real-life sequel, these reunions are forced and rely on coincidences so strong that they stretch the bounds of believability further than an alien ship ever could. Instead, I propose that the film take advantage of the fact that these characters established strong bonds in the first movie and have them all together in groups facing the situation from the beginning. Remember, we usually go back for the sequel when we like the characters and want to see their journeys continued, so why make that journey so illogical? In a movie about aliens, the only thing that can truly make any sense is how the characters behave, so why not keep it consistent? So now that our characters are all set up, the rest of the movie is pretty simple.

On July 4th, as our heroes go about their business as dignitaries, explores etc., the familiar space crafts we’ve all come to know and fear drop into earth’s orbit. Earth scrambles to get birds in the air to intercept the threat, but before they can even get out of the atmosphere, a fast attack ship slams into the zone in Africa where all the ground-fighting took place, sets off  an EMP-esque device, and knocks out most of the world’s electricity, communications, and defenses (whatever is convenient to the plot). Earth’s ships literally fall from the sky, providing an iconic trailer image. The weapon is so targeted and so powerful that it even disables a significant amount of the Mars Team’s equipment, stranding them on the red planet…after a super sweet aerial battle with a small contingent of the alien force.

Back on Earth, Team Whitmore somehow (it’s a movie, someone else can fill in the blanks) receives word from Patricia (maybe she’s on the phone with her old friend Dylan when the EMP goes off) that she’s bogged down at ground zero of the new invasion and begins to make their way to her. This trip runs concurrently with the boys being lost on Mars, and with Patricia herself throwing down with the warlords against the alien stronghold that’s been established in Africa. Through some magic of McGuffiness, the folks on earth figure out that the EMP is a signal being broadcast from the invader’s African base to shut down Earth’s forces whilst the aliens move into position to completely eliminate earth’s population and strip us of our resources. Team Whitmore arrives in Africa (maybe they travel on some outdated analogue plane, piloted by some ridiculous character that I’m sure the studio would want to throw in to argue with Julius), gets saved by Patricia (Mae Whitman for the win!), and coordinates a ground assault to take out the signal generator (Jedi anyone?) and hack the alien’s defense systems with an air assault to take out the invading sky fleet. This all begins to come to a head while we find out that Team Mars Space Force Alpha aren’t alone on the red planet. Team Mars Space Force Alpha Five Niner 6000 come across the hidden ruins of some sort of ancient civilization and are immediately ambushed by a small force of invaders; they take refuge in the ruins, are low on ammo (ammo is “the green sh—” from the original) and we leave them for a moment.  Pause to breath in this movie’s awesomeness…Ah, that’s better, now here we go with the climax.

In the flick’s final act, half of our heroes on earth launch an assault on the signal generator alongside the warlord group…hey, at least there’s no ewoks. In my defense, I didn’t think of Jedi when I first came up with this idea, it’s just a really solid way to have two battles go on at once, fight me. Anyhow, the other half of Team Earth (the half with pilot’s licenses) have somehow come across hybrid technology jets (I’m going to say it’s something to effect of “some rich warlord owned them”) and ready themselves to attack the invaders as soon as the power comes back on. We intercut all of this with Team Mars Space Force Mega-Ninja Zords fight to survive the ambushing forces at the ruins. At some point, Team Earth’s ground troops knock out the generator, allowing the flight team to get in the air, but not actually mount any offense. They have to evade attack for a while, but find themselves capable of fighting back when whichever plucky hacker character takes out the shields; this happens at the same time that the ruins on Mars open up and an unseen Martian presence takes out the forces attacking Team Mars Volta Space Fox Force Five. The battle on Earth is now raging in the skies, raging in space, and raging on the ground, as our Air Force attacks theirs, and the ground team defends their position at the signal tower thingy from some sort of drone army. The tide begins to turn against our warriors in the sky, as most of the main fleet runs out of ammo (call backkkkkk) and our main heroes (Hiller and The Whitmore Family Band) are the only hope. Before they can mount any major offense, they are confronted with some sort of super enemy and the Ex-President (Bill Pullman, this is unfortunately not a Point Break crossover) sacrifices himself to save his daughter and pseudo-nephew guy. He dies in this one too, but it’s to successfully protect his daughter and it galvanizes earth’s previously retreating forces to start to make kamikaze runs at the alien forces. Hiller and Lady Whitmore have a quick epic convo and begin to fly directly at the enemy (a la Randy Quaid in the original), ready to perish, when Team Mars Dues Ex Space Force jumps into the atmosphere with a crew of friendly aliens, drops a bunch of one-liners (including “we’re here, and we got plenty of green sh–!” as they force-field re-arm the other ships…or something) and saves the day!  All the bad guys blow up and/or stop working after others blow up. Bing Bang Boom, story over.will-smith-independence-day-sequel

Phew, that was some rambling. Good luck reading it, because I don’t like to edit! Now on with the epilogue!

As the movie winds down, everyone is united on earth, hugs are had, and we find out…spoiler alert…that the Martians are the same aliens that attacked us, just a peaceful colony of them! They have wormhole technology, the ability to re-arm their ships in mid-air, and they want us to team up with them to take out the remaining evil forces once and for all! Boom! I even ended it with a similar yet slightly less idiotic cliffhanger/sequel lead-in! That’s your movie folks!

alien-independence-day-fan-fiction
Relax bro, you’re a hero now.

Look, I’m sure it’s not perfect; this I know, but I will be damned if anyone can tell me it isn’t at least slightly better than the movie they put in theatres. I know it’s ridiculous, and it has an all-too-convenient plot device in the climax, but every movie like this does, I just think that mine seems more plausible in this film’s universe. That’s what studios don’t realize, we don’t want realism from movies like this, we just want them to play by their own rules. Again, I know it’s not an award winner, but I’m not someone who gets paid to do these things! If my zero-talent ass can slap this together, why couldn’t real writers make something that doesn’t make me want to punch myself in the groin? Anyway, that’s my Independence Day sequel, which I’d actually love to just call Memorial Day, or ID2024 , but that’s for my imaginary marketing department to decide. Nighty night nerds!

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2: Killing Me Smallsly

youre killing me smalls

Ok folks, we made a slight blunder on this week’s episode of the podcast. Some would say we’ve made a huge blunder. Me? I’d have to say that we made a small blunder…a “Smalls” blunder, because in speaking about the amazing movie that is 1993’s The Sandlot, we forgot to mention perhaps the most famous line in the flick. Yeah kids, we got through an entire hour of talking about Benny The Jet, The Beast, and Squints without saying “You’re killing me Smalls!”. I couldn’t believe it myself when I heard it from our review committee, but it’s true. Now I know right now you’re asking, “How could you forget something we all consider nerd gospel you effin’ blasphemers!” and “How the hell do you have a review committee when you’ve only got like 15 listeners?”. Well, in reverse order, the answers are: it’s my wife and dog, and we just forgot…or did we?

Yeah man…we forgot, but maybe we forgot for a reason. Maybe on some subconscious level we didn’t mention it because we find it to be polarizing. By “We” I mean “Me, Craig”, because I know that Ron just forgot because he has a real job and handles all the technical aspects of the show and can’t be expected to always have perfect notes. So yeah, I find that damned quote to be a double-edged word-sword of sorts. When said by someone who I already know and enjoy, I find it to be a cute and inoffensive way to voice frustration. However, when uttered by someone I’ve just met, it makes me want to throw them in hole and cover the hole with leaves in hopes that others will later fall on them and cause them even greater harm; at the same time hoping that said following-fallers have both high BMIs and IBS, to make the situation both more painful and more dysentery-y. Understand? Of course not! I shall explain further.

So let’s say my partner in pod-ing and my brother in life Ron (also known as “Big Ron, The Hammer!”) was trying to teach me how to fix a toilet because I tried to flush a wrapped Big Mac down the poo-hole (we eat healthy in my house, sh*ts contraband!). Imagine that I kept trying to poke the wet-sammy further down the crap-shoot with the wrong end of the plunger, he might utter a playful “You’re killin’ me Smalls! Use the suction end and get that burgy outta there before it’s too wet to eat!”. In this scenario, Ron eats toilet-meats. This is what happens when I’m left in charge of our blog by the way, but I digress.  In this case, his usage was a very nice way to tell me to stop being a moron and learn to use a plunger. I know and love this guy, he had a point to prove without creating tension; no harm, no foul.

Now conversely, let’s say that I’ve just met a gentleman named “Skylar” or a lady who goes by…uhhh…well…yeah, “Skylar”. This person is wearing the shirt of a band that I like that they’ve never heard of, has hair that way too effort-fully effortless, and likes to tell you all about how they can eat donuts all the time because “it fits their macros”. At some point during our first meeting, after they’ve told me all about how into Crossfit they were before they “hurt their back”, they hit their fifth Borat quote or other terrible joke and I don’t laugh. Now they repeat the joke, and instead of telling them they aren’t funny, I act as if I just don’t get it. They express their frustration with me not getting said terrible joke by laughing at themselves again and saying…you guessed it, “You’re killing me Smalls!”. Now what I do in this situation is I politely smile whilst internally weeping at the bastardization of one of my childhood’s most iconic lines, pretend that my dead grandma is calling me, and escape further interaction. What I want to do in this situation? Remember that scene in A Clockwork Orange’ where they pried that dude’s eyes open and made him watch horrible videos of stuff I don’t remember because I don’t like that movie because it makes me sad? Yeah that, but instead of whatever Malcolm McDowell had to watch, it would be a collection of home videos of suburban kids rapping at middle-school talent shows. Then I’d commit something in their home that rhymes with “Birder”. Yes, I’d commit Turd-er; fill in the blanks for yourselves as to what that is. Also yes, birder is bird-murder; but that’s neither here nor there.

Are we seeing the difference here folks? Are we understanding my mixed feelings? Like many things in life, Smalls killing someone is a tool to be used sparingly and by the right person in the right situation.  It’s like the damned Infinity Gauntlet, or laxatives, or that freakin’ rap air-horn; in the wrong hands it’s capable of horrible atrocities. So yeah, I have weird issues with the usage of a movie quote and I’m using that to justify a mistake I made on a goofy podcast, but you’re reading it, so I guess we’re all the ones whom Smalls are killing. Yeah… that’s it.

FREE BONUS IDEAS:

  • A beer koozie that says “You’re Chillin’ Me Smalls”
  • A rap album featuring only rhymes about The Sandlot and/or dedications to Biggie called “You’re illin’ Me Smalls”
  • A meme featuring Michael Jackson and the kids from The Sandlot captioned “You’re Thrillin’ Me Smalls”
  • An apron that says “You’re Grillin’ Me Smalls”
  • A porno that I will let you all figure out the name of.
  • A video of the guy who played Ham getting kicked in the crotch and then saying ” You’re Killin’ Me Balls”

You’re welcome folks. 

The Maiden Voyage: On Kurt Russell…Or The Ballad Of Rudy Russo

kurt russell blogI’ve seen a lot of things in my day; probably more than most. In a somewhat Forrest Gump-ian way, I’ve strolled through big events, met famous people, and had some truly strange interactions. In that entire time, I’ve only lost my s— fanboy-style over two things:

-Meeting Buzz Aldrin. Dude was on the moon and/or took part in one the greatest conspiracies in human history. Either way he is worth freaking out about.

-Meeting the guy from “The Last Dragon”. I’m weird, there’s no other explanation.

I’m saving up my third complete loss of nerd-control for the day I meet Kurt Russell. I don’t really have any idea how that’s going to happen, or even if it’s going to happen. I know one thing is for sure though: I’m going to embarrass myself at least a little. I’m not going to hug him, or cry, or anything like that, but I’m going to say something dumb and at least hold a handshake for too long whilst my wife apologizes for me. I really doubt I’m alone on this.

I don’t know what it is about the guy that has made him into such a legend in the minds of people like us (I’m talking to you, other movie-nerd who’s taking the time to read a grown man gush about another grown man he’s never met), but it’s there. Is it the legends of his name being amongst the last words uttered by Walt Disney? Is it the fact that he’s been mutual arm-candy with one of Hollywood’s most gorgeous ladies for damn-near forty years? Is it the fact that he played on The Portland Mavericks, one of baseball’s most insane franchises ever? I don’t know, dude’s got juice though. That’s all without mentioning the fact that one person played Snake Plissken, R.J. McCready, Cash, Wyatt Earp, Herb Brooks, and JACK FRIGGIN’ BURTON; and that man is Kurt Russell. I can’t say which exact factor makes him such a legend even when his career coincided with those of Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Van Damme, Willis, and countless other big-screen heroes. He just…is. He’s the patron-saint of film geekdom, and we all need to be ok with that.

Now that the gushing is done (I can’t actually promise that, this is a work in progress),  let’s truly examine the divine powers of said Saint Russell. He is a man able to transcend the bounds of the script-page, a man who has been able to create one character and have him exist through multiple films. A character whose journey has been hilarious at times, dark at others, and bittersweet in the end. That character is Rudy Russo, and he has done more for this world than you will ever know.

used cars podcast

We first meet Rudy in 1980’s “Used Cars”, where he uses his wits, luck, and savvy to gain the money needed to bribe the right folks to get him into political office. However, he has a change of heart, not a change of character per se, but a change of heart, and decides to instead save the late Luke Fuch’s car dealership from ruin. He ends up with a new respect for what’s truly right, but also can be seen in the film’s closing moments keeping his shiesty car-salesman edge. He get’s the girl too, but these things never last, and soon he finds himself riding the long haul cross country under the name Jack Burton.

In 1986’s “Big Trouble In Little China”, Rudy finds himself caught up in an ages-old battle between the forces of good and evil. His hair may be a little longer, his arms may be a little bigger, and he’s traded a mobile home for a truck full of pigs, but we are looking at the same man. “Mr.Burton” shows the same bravado and cunning that made him a great salesman, and even dons his old car lot digs when he goes undercover at one point. Navigating through the Chinatown underworld, Jack shakes the pillars of heaven, battles demons, thwarts gangs, saves the day, and proves that it’s all in the reflexes when he plunges a knife into the head of the immortal evil that was David Lo Pan. He even gets the girl, which is rare for a sidekick. Yeah, that’s right, Ole Jack Burton was actually right hand to his buddy Wang Chi, but don’t tell him that. Leaving his lady behind, he rides off into the darkness looking for more adventure, and we last see him about to encounter yet another monster from the depths of the unknown. How does this confrontation go? We may never truly know, but I have  feeling that he didn’t come out unscathed, because he’s one eye down the next time we see him.

big trouble in little china podcast

Six years later, we come across Russo again, working as a boatman known only as “Captain Ron” in the 1992 film of the same name. Eye-patched and long haired, he seems to have grown tired of the open road and settled into a life travelling the Caribbean seas as a Captain-for-hire. He’s got fifty percent  less vision, but one hundred percent of his salesman charm, as he apparently goes from boat to boat playing up whatever made-up qualities the current job requires; a lot like he used to do in his days on Fuch’s lot. He hooks up with Martin Short (it was the nineties, character name or not, Martin Short just played “Martin Short”) and the two take Short’s family on an adventure that has way too much nudity for a family film. He leads for most of the film, but takes a back seat in the end to let Short save the day and prove his worth to his family. Perhaps he learned a lesson from Wang Chi about not hogging all the glory. They run afoul of weather, guerillas, and the actual Pirates of the Caribbean, but they survive and Ron Russo goes on to swindle and save another hapless traveling family. Again, we are left with a bit of a cliffhanger, but this time no eyes are lost offscreen…only his soul. When next we meet Russo, he’s a lost his smile, and gained a reputation as one of the baddest outlaws in the world. The only semblance of his old life that remains is the eyepatch when he takes on the mantle of “Snake Plissken”.

escape from new york blog

We meet the man now known as Snake in the year 1997 (1987 on film) in “Escape From New York”. He always had a taste for adventure, he always had a taste for easy money, but his time on the high seas apparently gave him a taste for actual crime, because now he’s a full-fledged outlaw. Those guerillas must’ve gained traction too, because the entire United States is now in ruin, and Snake is amongst its most ruined. A legendary criminal, who also happens to have Special Forces training (They never say exactly how he was trained, it could’ve been the special forces of Chinese magic), Snake is recruited by the government to infiltrate the prison island of Manhattan and rescue the President. Threatened with  exploding arteries, Snake obliges and saves the day, but on his own terms. He does a pretty good job though, because he gets brought back in “Escape From L.A.” (1996) to…do pretty much the exact same thing. His terms or not, he did something right, because in the year, because no matter what the opening crawl says, he’s clearly the same badass in Soldier (1998).

kurt russell podcast

Yeah, I know, he’s got his eye back in this one, and Todd is supposedly born in 1996, but I know my Russo as well as I know my Russell; same guy. The man walking around calling himself “Todd” in 2035 is Captain Rudy “Snake” Burton, and he’s on the ultimate mission of redemption. He finds himself a man without a planet (I think he messed it up pretty bad during his escape from Los Angeles), and a man without a family. After all these years as a loner who couldn’t be held down by a family, The Vitruvian Russell decides to make one last stand against an entire army of super soldiers and saves himself a whole colony of new friends.

In that flick’s closing moments, he and the newly liberated colonists find a new home, thus completing the decades-long journey of a simple used car salesman who just wanted to find him place in the world. He searched in politics, he searched the open roads, he searched the high seas, he searched the Chinatown underworld, and he searched the post-apocalyptic wastelands, but his place in this world was simply…on another world. Yeah, my facts aren’t all straight, I’m not totally sure that Overboard (1987) wasn’t his last-ditch effort to start a family before departing for the Caribbean, and yes…this is all nonsense, but it proves one important point: Ego in Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is his final form! He’s an actual god in that one! Full Circle! What? You thought I’d end this seriously? Come on, we all know that Kurt Russell is a damned national treasure, you don’t need me to tell you that.  Isn’t it more fun to imagine that all of his amazing diverse performances were actually different elements of the same man? Do we even have to imagine that? We don’t, because this man has left his heart and soul on the screen for us for the last forty years, and for that we thank him, and devote long ramblings to his awesomeness. Thanks Kurt, from all of us.

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Note: Big Thanks to Gill from RealWeegieMidget for suggesting that we put this blog together. All the garbage that will follow is your fault 🙂