Filling the M*A*S*H-Shaped Hole in My Heart

About a month ago, I watched the final episode of M*A*S*H – aka the most emotional television show to ever air. Everyone that’s a generation ahead of me is saying right now: “You think that’s bad? Imagine watching it every week when it was actually on.” Believe me, I’d rather not.

52e626a377ae53e76891d07d8097dc0fA brief background: For those of you saying “Oh, is that the one show…?”, here’s a quick fact check. M*A*S*H follows the lives of [centrally] the surgeons at a mobile army surgical hospital (or, a MASH unit) in the Korean War. The main, main character through the entirety of the show is Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce – his dad gave him the nickname because Last of the Mohicans was his favorite book – who is portrayed by Alan Alda. It ran for eleven seasons, from 1972-1983.

Watching M*A*S*H from beginning to end was a four month endeavor for me. I started it on Netflix while I was home for Christmas break and wanted something to watch at my own pace (the rest of my family has a habit of flying through shows, and I was only catching bits and pieces). I’d seen some episodes here and there, when the reruns were on TVLand and my grandparents were watching them, but I had no real concept of the show’s weight. The only specific episode I could really recall at the time was the one where Hawkeye and Trapper are playing cards in gorilla suits.

The first three seasons were easy, with some more sobering episodes every once in a while, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I lived through watching the last two seasons of House on live TV, after all. Then the show takes a severe turn for “I’m an emotional wreck”. I actually had to take a few weeks off and regain my stability before I could continue.

From that point on, I expected (and received) the worst. But what else can you ask from a show about army doctors in Korea? And yet, I kept watching.

db5cfd43c8fcef31acb80f5b84ba77ebIt’s not just me: the finale of M*A*S*H, called “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen”, was the most watched television broadcast of all time until 2010. It still remains the highest rated. I will say nothing of the final episode, as this is a spoiler-free post, except that I started crying before the opening credits were over and I didn’t really stop at any point during the two hour feature.

So, I’m writing this post to address the question: why was such a tragic show so endearing? Here’s what I came up with.

[insert two days of contemplation here]

Alright, well, I’ve been thinking about it, trying to sort out my thoughts, and I’ve come to a conclusion.

This show has many good qualities (I feel like I’m starting an ACT essay…). The humor is enjoyable, the setting and situation are unique, some episodes make very relevant and thought-provoking (or heartwrenching) statements.

The thing that makes M*A*S*H endearing, though, and the reason that so many millions of people watched it every week, is the characters.

By the end of the show, there are two themes that have been pounded into your forehead: war is hell; and people come together in the midst of hell. The dynamic that exists between the men and women of the MASH 4077 is irreplaceable. You almost wish by the end that they were real people, just so you know that they’d all get to see each other again.

I wish I could insert an audio clip here of the PA voice saying “The following personnel are assigned to the MASH 4077”. I’d like to introduce a few of the more notable characters to you now.

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Colonel Sherman Potter

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Though he’s not the unit’s first Commanding Officer, his stint on the show lasted almost three times what Colonel Henry Blake’s did. And while I did love Henry, Colonel Potter gives the 4077 the father figure that they so desperately need. Even the mischievous Hawkeye and BJ respect and oblige Colonel Potter.

Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan

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I didn’t like Margaret at first. She’s the head nurse at the 4077, and one of three characters (but only two actors – stay tuned) that appears in both the pilot and the finale. She didn’t become an appealing character for quite a few seasons. As the show progresses though, especially toward the very end, she evolves – I think more than any other character. She develops friendships with both Major Winchester (Charles Emerson Winchester, III, to be exact) and Captain BJ Hunnycut that make you smile inside. As for Hawkeye and Hot Lips, I always wanted them to end up together in the end, but their strange yet irreplaceable friendship is enough for me.

Father Francis John Patrick Mulcahy

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First of all, I apologize for including his entire name, but I do so because he makes a point of telling Klinger: “Remember [all of my names] when you’re naming a kid after me.” He was also one of the three characters that was in the pilot and finale, but William Christopher did not appear in the role until the second episode. He was played by someone else in the pilot.

It’s hard to put a single word on what Father Mulcahy is to the unit. He’s there as the chaplain, and his primary purposes are holding religious services, giving last rites, and hearing confessions. However, the purpose that he serves most is more like everyone’s protective older brother. I adore him and I do believe that the sanity of everyone would have not persisted throughout the war if he had not been there.

Sergeant Maxwell Klinger

Alright, we’re into the big three now – my absolute favorites. Klinger is the first.

87994bd6cea46ca9160974a9d7101560Klinger’s character comes about in the third or fourth episode, and was only supposed to appear once or twice. However, he worked so well that he became an instant regular. What worked was the fact that he wore dresses constantly, in an attempt to be sent home on a Section 8 (a psychotic leave). He threw other ploys in here and there to spice things up – my favorite was when he decided he was a gypsy and tried to put spells on everyone – but primarily just wore extravagant women’s attire and acted as though it was the most normal thing in the world.

In the ninth season though, he gets a promotion and, although he still makes references to the dresses and desperately wanting to go home, begins to take his position seriously and becomes the most lovable character on the show. In my opinion, Klinger gets the happiest ending out of everyone, and it makes me unbelievably happy. It’s also fantastic irony that makes the writer in me giggle with joy.

Corporal Walter “Radar” O’Reilly

MV5BMTk1NDY1ODIyNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMTg1NDU2._V1_UY1200_CR88,0,630,1200_AL_If I had to name the character that creates the most emotional turmoil and heartache in the show, it’s Radar O’Reilly. They call him Radar because he has “a habit of knowing things are gonna happen before they happen,” to put it in his words. That means that he always hears the choppers full of wounded about ten seconds before everyone else does, and he hands Colonel Potter the papers he needs to sign before he asks for the papers that he needs to sign.

The reason that Radar causes so much pain [don’t worry, no spoilers, I promise] is because he’s just a kid. Hawkeye and Trapper (the original other half to Hawkeye’s surgical brilliance and conniving ways – he left after the first three seasons and was replaced by BJ) make countless jokes about him being their son.

The biggest reality check in this show, as far as making a statement about war, is that so many of the men that get [got?] drafted are really just kids. Radar drinks grape Nehis, blushes when girls talk to him, and sleeps with a teddy bear. His place in the unit is to know what’s going on at every second of every day, do all of the paperwork, and to give everyone an innocent little brother to keep them thinking of home.

His teddy bear’s place on the show is to make the whole world cry. Twice it does.

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Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce

Oh boy. Here we go.

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The only character that appears in every single episode of all eleven seasons is Hawkeye Pierce. There’s one episode called “Hawkeye”, where he crashes a Jeep and has to treat his own concussion while trying to communicate with a Korean family whose dinner he ends up interrupting – it’s a 23 minute monologue for Alan Alda, really – and he’s the only regular character in it.

You know how they say that you don’t realize how much you love someone or something until they’re gone? That’s how I feel about Hawkeye. It wasn’t until I had finished the show completely that I felt a gigantic, Chief Surgeon-shaped hole in my heart.

I asked almost 1400 words ago, why was M*A*S*H so endearing? The real answer, I’ve decided, is that it wasn’t; Hawkeye Pierce was.

At first he’s the guy that you love to hate. He pulls pranks, he jokes around constantly, he womanizes, and he’s never serious – even when performing surgery. However, you know immediately that he’s brilliant, and that he’s the best damn surgeon in Korea, and that’s why he gets away with it all.

Then every few episodes, something happens that gives him some depth. One of the more well-known is one called “Sometimes You Hear the Bullet” (okay, some spoilers here, but oh well). A childhood friend of Hawkeye’s shows up at the 4077, to say that he’s writing a book about war. Long story short, he comes back to the MASH 4077 a second time on a stretcher, and he doesn’t make it back out again. It’s the first time (one of I think three) you see Hawkeye cry.

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As the show continues, he gets deeper and wider and more complex, and then when it’s over, you’re left with the realization that no one would have survived the war without him.

A war is like when it rains in New York and everybody crowds into doorways, ya know? And they all get chummy together. Perfect strangers. The only difference, of course, is in a war it’s also raining on the other side of the street and the people who are chummy over there are trying to kill the people who are over here who are chums.

-Capt. B.F. Pierce

I’ll be honest, I’m writing this blog post to try and quell the urge to buy the entire series on DVD on Amazon right now. It destroyed me from the inside out, as it did to so many, because that’s what we get for falling in love with a show about war, and with an army surgeon. And yet, I want to watch it again. Every single episode.

I’ve never been to war, I’ve never performed surgery on anyone, and I’ve never been to war-torn Korea. But I’ve experienced death, and heartbreak, and happiness, and love. When Hawkeye loses a patient, or watches the love of his life get onto a chopper and knows she’s not coming back, I can feel those things. That’s what made M*A*S*H endearing, and that’s why it’s one of the most highly regarded television shows to date.

War is hell, but we all have our own hell, and we all have the people in our lives that allow us to get through it. If there’s one thing to take away from this show, it’s that out of the bleakest of days can come the most wonderful people.

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Serendipity: The Happy Accident

serendipitySee, the best part about that title is that it serves a dual purpose. It’s defining the word serendipity, and it’s also describing my decision to watch the movie Serendipity last night. It was a fortunate coincidence – a happy accident.

First, some background: Starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale as Jonathan and Sara, respectively, this movie is a story of destiny. Which is why it caught my attention. I believe the Netflix description was something along the lines of “two people meet and have instant chemistry, but are both in relationships. Years later, they search for each other once again.” And that’s about as well as they could have put it.

kzNGZtYTqAL6Gibc5Cp8Z99W1pWszm6p_640x360_53965891777Specifically, the two meet five days before Christmas, in Bloomingdales, when they both reach for the same (last) pair of gloves, and have to argue over who saw them first. She gets the gloves, but feels bad, so she buys him dessert at a sweet shop called Serendipity, and they talk about the meaning of the word – and how perfectly it describes them coming across one another. But, as Netflix already told us, they’re both seeing other people, and Sara believes that if they’re fated to be together, they’ll have to wait on destiny to bring them back to one another. He protests, so she compromises by insisting that they both send signs out into the universe. He writes his name and number on a five dollar bill, which she uses to pay for a stick of gum at a corner stand, and she puts her name and number into a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera, and says she’ll sell it to a used book store the next morning. They reluctantly part ways, and years pass.

The story starts again with both Jonathan and Sara engaged (not to each other) and only days away from their weddings. Both want to search for the other before they can’t anymore, and the fates begin to align once again. And that’s all I can tell you, because I want you to watch the movie.

Reasons you should watch this movie ASAP: It’s just adorable. I mean, John Cusack alone is adorable, but then add in the whole movie and other characters and love story part and you’ve got a keeper right there.

65a2c808f5419842650702ab01087402I really enjoyed this movie, because – and I may be stating the obvious here, but it’s okay if I sound stupid, it’s my blog – it has a happy ending. Sometimes rom-coms get a lot of flack because they’re formulaic and predicable. But I have to say, as an avid fan of musical theater, and high quality movies with dense or complex plots, a simple happy ending is a nice change. I love my tragic Broadway shows and bittersweet dramas, don’t get me wrong. But, knowing that a movie will end the way you want it to when the movie starts is okay sometimes too. Plus, as far as this particular movie goes, being able to anticipate the ending doesn’t mean you know exactly how it will happen, and that’s the part of this movie that I absolutely adored.

tumblr_lx9epj4agV1qbdajjo1_500The other thing I loved about Serendipity was the…well, the serendipity of the whole plot. I like to believe that the world kind of works the way that they play it out in this movie: yes, we make our own choices and we decide the way that our life goes, but everything will work out the way that it’s supposed to in the end. We get to choose the way we get there, but we’re all headed to the right place and the right person sooner or later. This movie and this story is very hopeful. It’s refreshing to me, because even though I know that movies aren’t real life, the stories that we tell in movies are a reflection of the stories that we live. And telling happy stories means that someone had a happy story to tell.

Since I want you to go watch this movie on your own, I’m not going to say too much more about it. Give me a comment or an email (writingdunn@gmail.com) and tell me how you liked it! I hope you enjoy Serendipity, and I hope that you find some serendipity in your day today.

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We Bought a Zoo (And a Consequent Pool of Tears)

“Mom, did you ever see We Bought a Zoo?”

“No.”

“Well, you’re in luck, because I Bought a Movie.”

we-bought-a-zoo-poster05If in the four years since its release, you’ve been blessed enough to come across a movie called We Bought a Zoo, you know that I’m not lying when I say it was the cutest movie ever made.

First of all, it’s based on a true story. Which immediately makes it that much better. But, the basic story is as follows: Benjamin Mee (portrayed by the ever-adorable Matt Damon) is an adventure-junkie journalist with two kids, whose wife passed away six months prior to the beginning of the story. He’s looking for an escape from the sympathy and the endless memories of Katherine that surround him, so he and his kids – Rosie (7) and Dylan (14) – move to a new town, into a new house. A house which just so happens to be a zoo. Seeking a new adventure, he decides that they should take on the overwhelming responsibility of reopening the zoo, and the rest is cinematic gold.

***If you haven’t seen this movie, don’t read this blog post. Find the nearest Family Video or Wal-Mart and rent/buy this movie, THEN read this blog post. It’s a spoiler-palooza.***

What I want to do today is point out four things about this movie that you might have missed the first time, that will make you want to rewatch the movie and cry even more about it because it’s just so wonderfully made.

  1. “Sometimes, all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage.”

Okay, I know that this part isn’t really a secret. It’s one of the themes of the movie. But I just wanted to reiterate the progression of this line, because it’s pretty cool.

The first time it comes up is when Benjamin and Dylan have a heart to heart after their big fight. Benjamin asks Dylan what happened with Lily, and Dylan says “It’s like you embarrass yourself if you say something, and you embarrass yourself if you don’t.” He laughs like any father would, and then he says: “Sometimes, all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Just literally 20 seconds of, just embarrassing bravery, and I promise you something great will come of it.” And it’s at this point that Benjamin’s entire character starts to come into perspective. But that’s not important right now.

Then Dylan takes 20 seconds, and uses it to go to Lily’s bedroom window in the pouring rain and tell her how he feels. I’d be a lot more excited about their relationship if they weren’t both less than 16 years old, but it’s still cute because Dylan used his father’s advice to make something great happen. And that would have been enough for any movie, to take a line like that and use it twice to make a connection. But this movie took it even further.

288125_075Next, we find out where the philosophy came from: Uncle Duncan. Benjamin’s brother, who is a prevalent character throughout the movie, but serves a somewhat odd purpose. He’s primarily the naysayer in Benjamin’s endeavors, but he is also constantly encouraging Benjamin to make things happen. So when the zoo finally opens, and the brothers have a “We were both right in a way and we found a good compromise and we’re brothers so we love each other” moment, we find out that Duncan gave the line to Benjamin when they were kids. So that’s really cool.

And it’s not even over. Because then at the end of the movie, when Benjamin takes Dylan and Rosie back to Little Dom’s to tell him the story of how he met their mother, he tells them about his 20 seconds. And as the story progresses in slow motion and he recreates it, he’s counting down the seconds. And that’s really really cool.

2. “I just can’t quite get a handle on it.”

tumblr_m27a1mYY9q1qhphz2o1_500This is the thing I picked up on my most recent viewing, the discovery of which prompted me to write this post. I think I’ll work backwards for the sake of effective storytelling.

This phrase, to me personally, is most memorable in the final scene of the movie. On opening day, when Benjamin and Kelly get their moment of romance. Kelly (who seems to constantly be living in her 20 seconds of embarrassing courage) tells him that she got a big crush on him and “just couldn’t get a handle on it.” The goofy phrase is accompanied by a goofy hand motion that kind of reminds me of when people on the highway try to get truckers to blow their horns. Oh and she kisses him.

Now, rewind to the scene after Benjamin has a breakdown over Sparr and leaves, and Kelly makes dinner and puts the kids to bed and waits on the porch until he comes back. When he arrives on the porch, he spills out everything about the way that he feels – mostly about missing Katherine and how he can’t run from her memories. And he ends the monologue with the same phrase, and goofy hand motion. That’s cute, right? She copied him and made it like a cute little inside joke.

Waiter_Ferris_FinalNope. Even better. When Walter Ferris arrives for the first time at Rosemont to do a pre-inspection inspection, just before he takes off walking, he makes a strange comment about how there’s something that’s off about “this place. I just can’t…get a handle on it.” As he twists his hand around in a strange, mock-handle turning way. After he walks out of the shot, Kelly and Benjamin make eye contact and exchange strange looks.

So really, Benjamin takes it from Walter Ferris and THEN Kelly takes it from Benjamin. I just love the continuity.

3. “She loved red kites, and blueberry Poptarts.”

It’s just a little thing that definitely snuck by me the first time I saw the movie.

When Benjamin is pouring his heart out to Kelly about missing Katherine, one of the things he says is that she’s everywhere, including the grocery store. He tells her that he skips certain aisles because they remind him of her, and that she loves red kites and blueberry Poptarts.

Have you ever noticed what everyone at the zoo is flying on opening day, and what all of the gift stands are selling?

Red kites.

A red kite flying against a blue sky.

4. “Why not?”

This one is the killer. It really is. Ready for the tears?

In the fairly early stages of the movie, Kelly asks Benjamin why he bought the zoo. He looks at her for a few minutes, and looks at the ground, and then he ever so slightly shrugs his shoulders, and says, “Why not?” Kelly is exasperated.

At the very end of the movie, to go back to the previously described scene in Little Dom’s, Benjamin is telling the kids about his 20 seconds of courage. It starts with him spotting the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen in his entire life through the window of the restaurant, and ends with him approaching her and asking “Why would an amazing woman like you even talk to someone like me?”

And what does she say?

“Why not?”

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And with that, I would just like to leave you with this: If you ask me why you should go out of your way to watch this incredibly touching and heartwarming movie again, I only have one answer for you: why not?

Why you should stop what you’re doing and go see Jurassic World in 3D

Jurassic_World_posterI took my little sister to see Jurassic World late last night in an effort to not spend another evening sitting on the couch with the puppy and watching one of the same four movies I always watch. And what a fantastic idea it turned out to be.

The original Jurassic Park (1993, starring Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborrough, Sam Neill, Laura Dern) was an enormous success. Its lifetime, worldwide gross comes out to over $1 billion, with $50 million opening weekend (see all the numbers here). When it came out, it became the highest grossing movie of all time, and held the position until Titanic in 1997.

Now, 22 years later (in real time and in the movie’s timeline), Jurassic World is doing proper justice to the original by completely destroying the box office. As I write this at 11:30 am on June 13, 2015, the movie has been in theaters for less than 48 hours. Variety.com posted yesterday at 4:55 that Jurassic World was on track for a $70 million Friday, and estimated to make $162 million all weekend. This would make it the highest grossing June premiere of all time (read the article here). And, for the record, the 20-screen theater in my town was playing the movie on four different screens last night.

Okay, let’s quit with the numbers and talk movie facts. I’m going to prove to you in the next 500 or so words (hahahahahahaha yeah right, I’m going to make an estimate now that I’ll hit 900 at least) why you should cancel any other plans you had this weekend and go and see this movie, and probably in 3D.

This isn’t just dinos gone wrong. Well, it is. But it’s better.

rs_1024x759-140613064427-1024.Chris-Pratt-Jurassic-World-JR-61314A new Jurassic Park movie could have easily taken the remake route. Or, better yet, the “not a remake but actually a sequel with the same plot as the original” route. The latter was my fear. However, that’s not what happened.

First, I need to set the scene (assuming you haven’t already taken my advice and gone to the movie theater). The movie takes place 22 years after the events of Jurassic Park – the other sequels have been “set aside”, according to director Colin Trevorrow, and this is acting as a direct sequel to the 1993 film. John Hammond has passed away, and Isla Nublar has become Jurassic World. This theme park is completely operational (making it the first Jurassic movie to feature a functional park), and draws millions of people to interact with real live dinosaurs. However, the park’s attendance is fading because dinosaurs just aren’t cool anymore. The solution, of course, is to simply create a new one, one that’s bigger and badder and scarier than anything people have ever seen. Any idea where things could go wrong here?

There were three things that put the plot of Jurassic World one step ahead of where I expected it to be:

1. A clear antagonistic motive. It bothers me when it takes half of a movie to figure out who you’re supposed to hate. Conflict is essential, and this movie gives you a clear conflict immediately. Hoskins
(aforementioned character to hate) wants to use the velociraptors that Owen (Chris Pratt) has raised and trained for military purposes. He thinks that because people can train them, they can be turned into killing machines that the enemy can’t possibly beat. He was on screen for a whole two minutes before I turned to my sister and said “I hope he gets eaten by one of the raptors.”

jurassic-world-chris-pratt-hed2. A layered climax. Is that really a phrase people use? I honestly have no idea but it sounds like what I’m trying to describe so, if not, I’m coining it right now.By that, I mean that it wasn’t just a build to a climax and then there was a big fight scene and then that was it. Every time you thought that things couldn’t get worse or more exciting, you learned something new and there was suddenly a whole other sub plot you had to tie into everything, and that’s awesome. It’s so easy to take a movie like this, make the graphics unbelievably cool, and then forget to write a good story. For another example of this, read my review of Godzilla.

3. The love story wasn’t overdone, but it was just enough to keep you thinking about it. A complaint I most often hear from my sister and her friends (they’re all into comic books, so they prefer the origin stories and factual accuracy of a movie over anything added for the sake of a movie) is that the love story is forced. And I can agree with that, despite my affinity for any love story of literally any kind. In this case, however, I believe that it’s a great balance between too much and nonexistent. Plus, I just love Chris Pratt to death and as long as he’s happy, I’m happy.

Holy scary dinosaurs, Batman.

JWSuperBowlTrailer-Raptors1We all know that dinosaurs have a scare factor on their own. They’re big and have lots of teeth and they don’t exist anymore. When it comes around the corner, it’s going to scare you. But, in the same way that the park felt that dinosaurs just weren’t news anymore, and they needed to make one that would scare the pants off of their patrons, Jurassic World needed to take dinos to the next level. I mean seriously, Jurassic Park was so 20 years ago. Everyone knows that dinosaurs are well within the range of today’s effects teams. They made a new Godzilla movie last year for crying out loud. To keep the scare factor, they needed something new.

First of all, there was a new dinosaur. That helped. A genetically modified T-Rex with unknown abilities has tons of potential to scare, because everyone knows what a T-Rex or a velociraptor looks like, but the Indominus Rex (latin for fierce/untamed king) could be absolutely anything.

Then, add in the phenomenal job this film does with visual effects. And I don’t mean the animation of the dinosaurs. I can vividly picture every scene that made me lose my seat, because the camera would pause and then go wildly out of focus, picking something minute in forefront or background of the shot on which to focus. As you were trying to comprehend why a single blade of grass was important, a booming footstep or a dinosaur’s eye would catch you completely off guard. It scared the popcorn out of me and I adored it.

Sentimentality always gets me.

Jurassic WorldThere were enough references to the original movie in this one to make me very happy. My favorite is certainly the significance of both the velociraptors and the T-Rex to the plot, since the two were biggest elements of Jurassic Park. Although, I was disappointed that there was no reference whatsoever to the toilet scene, because that is clearly the best part of the original.

And, no spoilers today since I want you to go see it for yourself, but please believe me when I say that the ending literally made me sit in my seat and keep repeating “That was AWESOME” for the rest of the movie and the duration of the credits.

If you do visit your local movie venue and see Jurassic World, tell me what you thought! Was I right or dead wrong? Either way, let me hear it!

P.S. I am aware that every picture in this post was a picture of Chris Pratt. Sorry, not sorry. I love him.

It’s not actually a Christmas movie, I swear.

Today I would like to pay homage to my #13. By that I mean, my movie list (here) only goes through my top 12 movies. If I had to continue the list, this is the movie that didn’t make the cut. Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, starring the one and only Bing Crosby, is the movie I watch when I can’t find another reason to smile. It never fails.

MV5BMjA0Mzg0OTU0OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNTM4MjY5._V1_SX640_SY720_Brief synopsis: released in 1954, this movie stars Bing Crosby (Bob Wallace) and Danny Kaye (Phil Davis) as army buddies that end up going into show business together and become the great Wallace and Davis. They’re a great success, but they have different visions for the future. Phil wants Bob to find a nice girl and settle down – mostly so that he can have some time to himself. In pursuit of this, Phil finagles his way onto a train bound for Vermont with a reluctant Bob, to follow a set of singing and dancing sisters. The real fun begins when they arrive at their destination – a struggling bed and breakfast in the mountains – and they discover that it’s owned and run by their old army general. They decide that they need to use their show to help him revive his inn, and the rest is history.

2013-09-02 116I get a lot of flack for watching a movie called White Christmas at all times of the year (mostly from my family and friends who have to listen to it once a month or so), so I need to make a case for myself by arguing that it is not simply a Christmas movie. It’s a heartwarming classic that begins and ends on Christmas Eve, and the theme and values are universal and timeless, and here are the reasons why it’s okay to watch White Christmas at any time of the year:

1. There is only one Christmas song, once at the beginning and then again at the very end. True, there’s also a song about snow (which pops up three different times), but it’s not illegal to sing about the weather. If it was, Gene Kelly would have been in a 4whole heap of trouble right about this time, too. The rest of the music is classic Irving Berlin. “Blue Skies” even makes a brief appearance, as does an instrumental version of “Abraham”, from Berlin’s first Bing Crosby hit, Holiday Inn. With Crosby and Kaye in the same movie, there’s a perfect mix of heart-melting serenades and stunning dance numbers.

2. The comedy, though appealing to a more “old-fashioned” sense of humor, is worth watching (in my case, reciting…) again and again (and again and again). My favorite part is in the white-christmasdressing room, when Phil is insisting that Bob finds himself a wife; he admits a few minutes later that his overall vision includes nine children, so that even if he spends five minutes a day with each kid, Phil will have time to “go out and get a massage or something.” Bob argues, “I’ll get around to that one of these days.” Phil looks at him skeptically, and says “My dear partner: when what’s left of you gets around to what’s left to be gotten, what’s left to be gotten won’t be worth getting whatever it is you’e got left.” Bob looks at him with disbelief and replies “When I figure out what that means, I’ll come up with a crushing reply.” Not to mention, they perform the sisters’ signature act in drag to distract the sheriff while the girls make an escape. What else do you need from a movie?

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3. I’ve never watched this movie and felt sad afterwards. It’s so, so heartwarming. Spoiler alert, I’m about to ruin the ending, but I want to explain why this is my #1 go-to movie for any bad day. As I said in my synopsis, Wallace and Davis bring their stage whitechristmas-04show to the Columbia Inn in hopes of driving business in for their retired army general. In the process of this, Bob discovers that the general has also been denied returning to active duty, and although he won’t admit it, he’s heartbroken. He and Phil devise a plot to bring as many of the men from their division as possible for opening night of the show (consequently, Christmas Eve) to surprise him, “to let him know that he’s not forgotten.” Oh, and I forgot to mention, the reason that the Inn is in such a hard place is a lack of snow. Well, I’m sure you’re shocked, they really do get enough men to the Inn to pull it off, and then as they’re about to finish up the evening’s show and perform the closing number (you’ll be even more shocked when I tell you what it is), one of white_christmas_1954_detailthe men taps the general on the shoulder. The general follows the officer to the lobby, where they open the doors to the most beautiful blanket of powder you’ve ever seen in your life. At the same time, Bob and Phil are making the same discovery backstage. In case you didn’t guess, the closing number is White Christmas. It’s all just so wonderful, especially to me, a girl that adores full-circle movie plots, Christmas, cheesy love stories, and snow.

So, with all of that being said, I’d simply like to conclude, there’s never a wrong time of the year to say:

May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white.

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The honorable mentions series: Episode 1

I have my top 12, it’s true, and as of today they haven’t changed much. But even if a movie isn’t one of my 12 favorite movies of all time, it can still be one of those films that just sticks, or there’s just something about it. I’d like to call these the Honorable Mentions, and I want to acknowledge a few at a time here and there, because all good movies deserve a shout-out.

In the first installment of the Honorable Mentions series, I want to bring two movies to light: Clueless (1995), and Good Will Hunting (1997). They’re certainly not similar in any way, shape, or form, but I love them both dearly and I’d like to tell you why, as briefly as is possible for me.

Clueless

clueless-poster-artwork-alicia-silverstone-stacey-dash-brittany-murphyI think that there are two reasons that this movie is one of my favorites to watch when I just want to curl up on the couch and relax:

1. I adore the way that this movie almost ridicules itself as it goes along. Cher is a classically blonde, popular, completely clueless (heh, see what they did there?) main character. But, instead of coming into play as the bully or the antagonist, she’s the main character. And it’s obvious to the audience immediately just how clueless she is – she thinks she’s going to lose her virginity to a gay guy. And I don’t know about anyone else, but I figured out he was gay about three minutes into his character’s entrance. But she becomes less clueless as the movie goes on, and I don’t know, I just like the way that they took a character that would have usually been disliked, made her the main character, and developed her to the point where she wasn’t an undesirable character anymore. She’s still a little ditzy and clueless, but lovably so.

f2b5d386949c0e3a8d37a87d2a8ae5bd2. Paul Rudd. I love Anchorman as much as the next person (oh, that reminds me – I haven’t done a post about Anchorman yet), but the younger, more dashing, more nerdy Paul Rudd is my favorite. Especially in this movie, because he’s just the cutest. He’s smart, he’s handsome, and he’s the protective male figure that cares about her and slowly falls in love with her because he can’t help it. And the first kiss is probably honestly my favorite movie kiss in the history of ever, and I’m not even sure why, but it gives me butterflies every time. Paul Rudd is the reason I love this movie.

I do believe in arguing effectively, and to do so, I have to concede that even if I like a movie, it has to have flaws. So I will be the first to admit that the largest flaw in this movie is that fact that Josh and Cher are technically half-siblings. But as far as I can tell, since Josh calls Cher’s dad by his first name, Josh is the step-son of Cher’s dad, and this makes them not biologically related, and that’s okay. It’s still a little weird though, I will say. But it doesn’t make me love the movie any less.

Good Will Hunting

1997-good-will-hunting-poster1I’m sure it will be much easier to argue my case here, since instead of a weird 90s movie, it’s a critically-acclaimed, award winning, classic 90s movie. And I simply want everyone to know that I agree with the millions who love this movie, and here’s why:

1. You have to know by now that I’m a sucker for the romantic. So it’s no surprise to anyone here that my favorite part about this movie is “I have to go see about a girl.” I love the original story about the baseball game, when Shawn tells it, and Will is just blown away by the fact that he gave up World Series tickets to talk to some girl he’d never met. And I love that the movie ends with it, because it’s romantic and because it’s my other favorite movie thing: full-circle plot wrap-up. I adore when the ending is a tie-in to something that happened earlier in the movie, or something along those lines. It just makes me feel good inside.

2. Surprisingly enough, I actually really enjoy the character of the professor. Not because I like the way he treats Will or the way that he treats Shawn, but I have respect for the way that his character changes in the end. You see a lot of pent-up bitterness in him throughout the movie that he takes out on Will and Shawn, and in the end he just sort of lets it go, and I respect that. I think his character is very well-developed and turns out alright in the end.

giphy3. Although I just said above that my favorite part of the movie is “I have to go see about a girl”, I have a habit of claiming multiple favorites, so forgive me when I say that my favorite line in the movie is “Do you like apples?” That line just cracks me up every time.

And to be fair to Clueless, I owe you a dislike about Good Will Hunting now. I suppose if I have to pick something, it would be…

…I was working on this about a month ago, and I was really making good progress, and I never finished it because I never came up with a thing I didn’t like. This is honestly a fantastic movie, and who doesn’t love baby Matt Damon? If I’m going to be really nit-picky, and also contradict myself a bit, I’d say that it bugs me that the professor seems to be a bit of a creep. But it also seems to be a part of his character, so I can’t even complain too much. I’m not saying it’s flawless, but it’s pretty close.

Tune in next time for some more honorable mentions!

The Independent Movie Adventure

Last night, a friend and I decided to embark on a journey through the independent movie section on Netflix. We were both looking for a quirky watch and we ended up with three of them. As luck would have it, they turned out to be a perfect range of the spectrum (speaking only in terms of ending, based on personal preference) – one terrific, one tolerable, and one terrible. I would now like to share with you three movies that you have never heard of, but should watch sometime soon.

1. Liberal Arts (2012)

STILL-2Why we chose to watch this movie: it stars Josh Radnor, otherwise known as Ted from How I Met Your Mother, and it takes place at a small liberal arts college (title makes sense, huh?). As I attend one of those, I was anxious to see how many stereotypes they could toss in the mix and how many of these were accurate.

Quick synopsis: Ted appears in this film as a thirty-five-year-old English major who works in the admissions department at a college in NYC. He doesn’t appear to have much of a life outside of excessive reading and loving (hating) his job. Then, his rigorous daily routine is interrupted by a phone call from an old professor from his alma mater, inviting Jesse – unfortunately for Jesse, I called him Ted for the whole movie – back to the school (which I don’t recall, now that I think about it, as being given a name…) for his retirement party. When he arrives, he is a bit too happy to be returning to the place where he last felt he controlled his life. In the company of the professor, he meets a sophomore name Zibby. It’s short for Elizabeth, and it’s already a perfect indication of how much the character irritates me. They connect, and the remainder of the movie focuses on the confusingly uncomfortable love affair of a thirty-five-year-old and a nineteen-year-old.

Liberal-Arts-2012-movie-quoteWhat made this movie interesting: it was clearly supposed to make a point about, not only the people who graduate from a liberal arts college thinking that those two words put them three steps ahead of the rest of the world, but also the people who believe that life is limitless but never bother to test it. Ted is both of those people in this movie, and his character’s growth from beginning to end is genuinely inspiring and heartening. Also, Zac Efron appears as a hippie (probable stoner) and it was a very satisfying surprise.

How the ending concludes the plot (because I’m mostly comparing these movies by the way that they end – no spoilers, just some ambiguous comments): very, very, very, very, very well. A+. Perfect conclusion and just a wonderfully joyous ending. Please watch this movie because if you’re a dork for love like me you’ll be very gratified.

2. Beginners (2010)

Beginners_PosterWhy we chose to watch this movie: I will watch anything with Ewan McGregor in it, and he’s the star of the show here. In fact, this movie even further confirmed my claim that he is my favorite actor not only for his dashing looks and boyish charm, but his fantastic ability to play a complex character. We decided on it, however, because the plot intrigued us. Observe…

Quick synopsis: my love comes in the form of Oliver Fields in this dramatic and artistic movie that was a bit confusing to watch the first time, but in hindsight was pretty well put together. Present time is telling the story of a lonely Oliver who meets a lonely Anna, and tries to keep the spark from fading like the rest of his relationships. But amid the chunks of plot, we get to see the last few months of his father’s life playing out as well. Oliver’s mother died five years prior to when the movie’s timeline begins, and his father came out as gay six months later. We find out right away that his father has been dead for a few months, but then fill in the blanks along the way.

beginners-movie-photo-19-550x309What made this movie interesting: as with the first selection, this movie was about the characters. Both Oliver and Anna are loners, but the ways that they isolate themselves from the world (and at times, each other), contrast. Oliver finds himself alone in the company of others, while Anna keeps herself physically isolated to avoid the mental isolation. The purpose of the father’s overlapping story, I believe, was that while we saw Oliver struggle with his life and his own self, we saw his father growing in the end of his life, and learning to come out of the isolation.

How the ending concludes the plot: I guess it’s okay. As I have said many times before and will say many times more, I’m a hopeless romantic and I don’t like open-ended stories. I like to know that they had their happily ever after. Not to say that there isn’t one, but it’s a suspended storyline and I personally don’t like that. Overall though, it was a quality movie and it’s certainly worth watching.

3. TiMER (2009)

Timer_filmWhy we chose to watch this movie: It was 12:30 in the morning, and when we read the description, we gasped simultaneously and immediately got comfy for movie number 3. The plot just had so much potential, and it was enough to keep us up for another 2 hours and 10 minutes (1 hr 40 min for the movie, 30 min for discussion).

Quick synopsis: So basically, in this world, there is a thing called a TiMER that someone can have installed on their wrist, which counts down to the day that a person is supposed to meet their soulmate. Then, when they make eye contact with “their one” for the first time, their timer will beep. FASCINATING plot basis, to me as a writer. There are so many possibilities and storylines and ugh it makes me happy. Main character Oona has a blank timer – meaning her soulmate hasn’t gotten one yet – and she’s sure that she needs to find him via process of elimination. Then she meets Mikey, a cute guy who already has a timer, and she’s faced with the idea of enjoying a fling with someone she knows isn’t her one.

timerWhat made this movie interesting: well, the plot. Also no one wore a bra, but that’s beside the point. It was like watching a choose your own adventure – it was an entire universe of possibilities. The concept is obviously not directly relatable, but it did raise some pretty realistic thoughts about relationships. The idea of knowing that there’s only one person in the world that’s your “one”, and everyone else until then is just a temporary distraction is kind of strange. It makes you wonder – would you get a timer? In case you were curious, I wouldn’t. I don’t think that there’s only one possibility, you know?

How the ending concludes the plot: it doesn’t. It sucks. I’m so sorry but this movie has the worst ending ever and it’s just because they had a perfect opportunity to give it a universally satisfying end and they took it and destroyed it. But you might like it. If you hate love. Until then, though, it’s a pretty good movie.

Dun-dun dun-dun dun-dun dun-dun

jaws-movie-posterOkay so, I won’t lie to you. (With a few slight adjustments) I turned this in as a final paper today. The life of a communication arts major isn’t too bad. I was given a list of classics and told to pick one to write an “analysis essay” on, minimum five pages. So I said “Great, I’ll be able to post it on my blog after I turn it in!” And without further ado, please enjoy my analysis of the scare factor of Jaws, and the relevance of Spielberg’s directing choices to audiences today.

When Jaws was released to audiences in the summer of 1975, the theaters were flooded by 67 million Americans, which classified the film as the first ever summer blockbuster – due to production delays, it got pushed off of it’s estimated Christmas of 1974 release, and put in the summer slot as a gamble. Until 1975, movies that were released in June or July were more like sloppy leftovers than main dishes, and then Jaws made a solid $60 million that summer. It didn’t take long for the movie to find its niche in Hollywood history; the theme song is now iconic, the animatronic sharks were revolutionary, and the concept was terrifying.

When I first watched Jaws, I laughed my butt off for a good chunk of the movie (that sentence is not adjusted, I turned in my essay like that). I knew that the tuba meant that the shark was coming, the effects were horribly fake, and I’d seen better acting in my high school’s production of Fiddler on the Roof. However, I did get a bit of a chill when the bloody raft washed up on shore, and my head about hit the ceiling when the water-logged corpse came out of the shipwreck. There are a lot of things about Jaws that are no long relevant or scary to today’s viewers, but certain aspects of the movie are universally frightening and will forever keep the movie in the ranks of classics.

The first thought anyone has when they hear the word “jaws” is that oh-so-famous music. There isn’t a movie or TV show that’s been made since 1975 that’s shown someone in a shark-ish situation that doesn’t at least sneak a little bit of Jaws-esque music in there. Some steal it outright. It’s the universal shark-attack song, and a lot of times even gets used to mislead the viewer; if you hear the music, you assume it’s a shark, but it’s actually just a dolphin, or a kid with a fin strapped to his head.

Jaws-1 man in the pond jaws underwater 1975When I was in middle school, my band director (who loved to tell vaguely relevant stories to kill extra time in class) told us about the first time he saw Jaws, when it came out in the theaters – he was in fact one of the 67 million. He described to us a theater full of people, on the edge of their seats, waiting for the infamous shark to appear. With much grandiose, he told us that the second that theme started to play, everyone in the theater whispered “Shark!”, even though they didn’t see the monster for the majority of the movie (a point we will address later). Although he had a habit of exaggerating for a good story, I do believe that what he told us was true to a certain point. The great suspense of this movie is rooted largely in the simple, two-note theme that John Williams concocted to build and build for the entire movie. And, even more effective, the climax of the movie happens when the shark appears without musical introduction of any kind. I believe a sign of Steven Spielberg’s brilliance as a director resides in his use of contrast – by teaching the audience that the shark is always accompanied by the scary theme song, what better way to scary their pants off than by giving them the shark without the theme song?

78b1af77a241dafcccdaf602232a0718This is my favorite thing about Jaws: everything brilliant about the effect of the shark’s absence was a complete cover-up for the fact that the shark didn’t actually work until the end of filming. Steven Spielberg’s pet project – Bruce, as he affectionately was named after Spielberg’s lawyer – was a complete train-wreck. The animatronics worked on land, but the whole ocean thing wasn’t taken into account until they tried to use the shark and it sunk to the ocean floor. It had to be retrieved by a diving team. After they worked the floating part out, they still had to get the jaw to close right, the eyes to stop going crossed and the body to move like an actual living thing. To compensate for a lack of shark, the film crew used water-level shots from the “shark’s perspective”, and some live footage of real sharks. Then in the final “battle” scene, they finally had a working shark. But, as I said before, animatronics are not so revolutionary nowadays. Today we can animate a shark that might as well be on the other side of the aquarium glass, it looks so real (even Sharknado looked better than old Brucey). But at the time, that shark was pretty darn impressive.

01jawsSo what did this disaster of an effects team do for the movie? It made it iconic. What’s more intimidating than a bad guy that you don’t see until the end of the movie? By the time you’ve sat through an hour of knowing that it’s lurking in the ocean below, it doesn’t actually matter how scary it really looks. You just know that you’ve been afraid of it for the last hour and here it is right in front of you with no warning. And throw in the fact that it at least looked like it might have been a real shark – that’s some scary sh** right there (once again, not an adjustment, that’s exactly how I turned in my essay. My professors all hate my sass, I’m sure).

As much as I love poking fun at outdated effects and overused themes, there is one thing about Jaws that is not outdated, and that’s the concept. Sharks are still scary. I myself don’t like to swim in the ocean, because I do fear the highly unlikely phenomenon that my small body will be dragged to the Shark-Weekdepths by a Great White. That, or I’ll brush some seaweed with my foot – two equally frightening fates. But the fact is that a majority of Americans are afraid of sharks. I’m not quite sure where this fairly irrational fear comes from, but it is most definitely irrational. According to data accumulated by the Huffington Post in honor of Shark Week (here’s a thought: how are so many people afraid of sharks but still love Shark Week?), the odds of being attacked by a shark are 1 in 11.5 million. You have a better chance of dying in your own bathtub. But, despite this fact, Spielberg’s film played on the very real fear of being attacked by a shark, and used it to strike fear in the hearts of millions.

The other timeless point in this movie is the way that Spielberg creates suspense. While his lack-of-shark was kind of a happy accident, the other parts of the movie that give you chills and make you jump are completely credited to Spielberg’s genius. As I said earlier in reference to the fact that the climax comes when the shark appears without musical warning, there is as much benefit to taking away something as there is to adding it, as far as movies are concerned. One of the most suspenseful things that Spielberg does in this movie (aside from all of the actual shark stuff) is create silence. Particularly in the scenes when the shark attacks have already happened, a lack of music creates a feeling of unease that can’t really be shaken.

To me, the most unnerving part of the whole film is when the bloody raft washes up on shore (the scene above). This is a psychological move that has Spielberg written all over it. The scene takes place on the beach, with a nervous Chief Brody watching the kids in the water. One boy is apart from the others in the water, and the camera flips to the shark’s perspective to see the raft is his target. Suddenly the playful screams are interrupted by one of fear, and the other kids are frightened and confused by the suddenly blood-red water surrounding them. The scene becomes chaotic as parents rush to collect their kids and get them out of the water. When it seems that everyone is safe on land, one mother is still searching for her son. She calls his name a few times, and then you see the raft, torn to shreds, wash ashore among a red cloud in the water. The music has stopped and all you hear is the sound of the waves on the beach, and the scene fades. I shivered just writing that paragraph.

jaws-head-sceneAnd how could I leave out, my very favorite part of all thrillers: the jump scares (imagine an eye roll in there somewhere). No scary movie would be complete without them, and they never really get old. It doesn’t really matter how many times we’ve seen the movie, my mom and I both drop whatever’s in our hands when that head comes out of the shipwreck. Suspense is great and everything, but sometimes it’s the lack of suspense or buildup that has the greatest impact on a moviegoer’s experience.

I would like to conclude this argument by saying that, despite appearances, I am in no way showing any kind of disrespect to Jaws. I think I made it clear that I have the utmost respect for Steven Spielberg as a director, but I would also like to make it clear that Jaws is a classic for a reason. It’s not always a given that, just because millions of people saw it, it was a good movie – cough cough, Avatar, cough cough – but in this case, the 67 million alone can speak to it’s quality. The real telling factor, however, is that fact that since its release, Jaws has retained a spot on the Billboard highest-grossing movies list. Millions of people will go out to see a bad movie, but millions of people will not continue to watch a bad movie over and over again.

Although the theme has been stretched to its limit and the shark was never really all it was cracked up to be, Jaws is still a relevant thriller movie and deserves its title as a classic.

we-re-gonna-need-a-bigger-boat

The hap- hap- happiest Christmas movie this side of the nuthouse

Every year, my family watches National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation twice. Once on Thanksgiving to start the season, and then again on Christmas Eve to bring it to a close. And in the tradition of my family, ’tis now the appropriate season to pay tribute to its glory. Unfortunately, I was a day late, but this will also serve as a belated birthday post, as the movie turned 25 yesterday! Here are the seven best lines in the movie – I had to limit it to seven to keep from transcribing the entire movie.

*Warning: I don’t usually use language, but it was impossible to pay proper tribute to this movie without it.

7. “If I woke up tomorrow morning with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am right now.”

originalClark’s reaction to Eddie (and family) showing up unannounced – Catherine says “Eddie wanted it to be a surprise”, to which Eddie adds: “You surprised, Clark?!” I love this line because it’s so well delivered by Chevy Chase, and anyone who’s ever had family stay with them for the holidays can sympathize with this feeling.

6. “You serious, Clark?”

1be0a4620eaa532c7c785516fe4349a1The perfect representation of Cousin Eddie. At the Christmas Eve dinner table, Clark tells the kids – who don’t believe in Santa because Eddie and Catherine couldn’t afford Christmas presents in years past – that the news reported that Santa was spotted nearby. The rest of the family excitedly oohs and ahhs, and the kids’ eyes double in size. And then Eddie, full of innocence and skepticism, says “You serious, Clark?”

5. “Fixed the newel-post!”

Newel post 14If I walk into a living room full of my family and say “Want to watch Christmas Vacation?”, at least three people will yell this line. It is not only iconic, but also comedic gold. After Uncle Lewis burns down the tree that was dried up because Cousin Eddie’s dog drank all of the water (took me an admittedly long time to make that connection, btw), Clark decides to get a new tree. So he cuts down the one in his neighbor’s front yard. If that wasn’t enough of a sign that he’s about to lose his marbles, he swears to Ellen that he’s fine – as he reaches for his chainsaw on the bathroom counter – and on the way down the stairs, catches his hand on the wobbly post. Already in a problem-solving mood, he revs the chainsaw and removes the knob. “Fixed the newel-post!”

4. “Well that’s my name!”

This is only one line to represent one of the best overall exchanges in the movie. Clark is Christmas shopping at the mall with Rusty, and comes across a very attractive women selling lingerie. A bit tongue-tied by her beauty, what follows is a ridiculous slew of innuendos that come to a perfect climax with:

“‘Tis the season to be merry.”

“Well that’s my name!”

“…no shit.”

3. “If that cat had nine lives, it sure used ’em all.”

Christmas-Vacation-Fried-CatHonestly, my favorite part of the entire movie. Aunt Bethany’s cat – whom she wrapped up as a Christmas present – unplugs the lights on the tree and chews on them underneath the living room chair. When Clark discovers that they have come unplugged, he joyously fixes the problem. And then, not the first strand, but the SECOND strand of lights leads to the cat. I lose it every single time when you hear the cat screech and the power in the whole house flickers.

2. “Merry Christmas! Shitter was full!”

shitter_full_cousin_eddieOh Eddie. The best part about this scene is that it’s prefaced with Clark gazing out the window. Ellen asks him what he’s looking at, and he says wistfully: “Oh, the silent majesty of a winter’s morn. The clean, cool chill of the holiday air. An asshole in his bathrobe, emptying a chemical toilet into my sewer.” Then we see just that: Eddie, in his bathrobe, draining his recreational vehicle’s toilet (Because “that there is an R.V.”) into the storm sewer. When Todd, the uptight neighbor, comes out of his house for a morning job, he’s met with the sight (and smell), and Eddie’s cheery greeting drives him back into his house.

1. “Hallelujah. Holy shit. Where’s the Tylenol?”

What a perfect way to end a perfect rant. When Clark learns that instead of a Christmas bonus, he’s been enrolled in the Jelly of the Month club (in Eddie’s words, it’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year), he launches into a long, long list of things he’d like to call his boss, Frank Shirley. When he finishes his tirade, he takes what breath he has left and utters those last three phrases as a perfect punctuation mark.

The five things you forgot about “Grease”

grease-01

I realized that there seems to be a lot of misconception surrounding this John Travolta classic: people seem to like it.

My posts have so far been all positive. I end my streak now with this all-in-good-fun criticism of Grease. Because, no matter how much you love Danny Zucko’s hips, you cannot tell me that there are no flaws in this movie. I would like to present a few of them, in order of least to most utterly ridiculous. Here are the five things you don’t remember (or maybe just tried to block out) about Grease.

The Moral

19-Distressing-Life-Lessons-From-GreaseMy biggest beef with this movie is the fact that, in the end, you find out that Danny has earned a varsity letter in track, which is a sign that he has been trying to change himself and become the kind of person Sandy would want to date, and he even wears it to the carnival. This is a huge step in the right direction, because it shows that he’s willing to let his friends see that he’s doing things that aren’t necessarily “cool”. And then Sandy shows up in leather, and it’s all gone. He throws away the varsity jacket (literally and figuratively), because if she’s willing to change for him, screw changing for her!

“Beauty School Dropout”

This scene actually happened.

And there is almost literally no reason for it. Not to mention, all of the backup dancers are the Pink Ladies. So it’s not even like they got some extras for this scene, they just threw the costumes onto the actresses that were already on set and then hired Frankie Avalon to sing to Frenchie about how unsuccessful she’s going to be in life. Come to think of it, the whole message of this movie isn’t all too encouraging: you shouldn’t pursue your dreams because they don’t make sense, and to get people to like you, you have to be willing to change yourself entirely and forget that whole being a virgin thing.

The Words to “Greased Lightning”

My posts are completely PG, but this point is going to take some profanity to make. Do you remember the words to “Greased Lighting”? They’re really something. I mean, it’s the most iconic song in the movie, and it’s an iconic scene. Those hips – mm. I’d like to bring some lines from this iconic song to your attention:

Greased_Lightning-You know that ain’t no shit/ We’ll be gettin’ lots of tit/ In Greased Lightning

-Go Greased Lightning/ You are supreme/ The chicks will cream/ for Greased Lightning

-You know that I ain’t braggin’/ She’s a real pussy wagon/ Greased Lightning

I remember loving this movie when I was little – we watched it at the rehearsal for my 2nd grade talent show. And it wasn’t until I was 16 that I realized what this song was about. Oh, and can I also mention the fact that Danny is sexually riding a chrome engine that just descends from the ceiling?

The Timeline

grease_5236I have yet to understand how the timeline is supposed to make sense in this movie. We barely make it a month into school, and then all of the sudden it’s the end of the year and it’s like no one has talked to anyone else since the race.I mean seriously, does it make any sense that the ladies don’t know if Rizzo is actually pregnant, the guys don’t know that Danny has been running track, and Danny doesn’t know that Sandy went completely hot?

The Very End

I would like to know if anyone remembers how the movie ends. Not the song that most people can’t quite sing but still try. No, the part where Danny and Sandy get into Danny’s car (in the middle of the carnival), drive through the crowd of people, and then lift off and fly away. Yeah, they fly away.

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