Sunday, October 29, 2006

13 Things You Can't Tell By Looking at Them (Movies)

In the fourth season of Friends, "The One with the Embyos" (a comedy classic) reveals that although Rachel claims her favorite movie is Dangerous Liasons, it's actually Weekend at Bernie's. With that in mind, we thought we'd do a piece on the movie you like that no one would ever guess. Participating in this mini-roundtable are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and, me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills) and Wally of The Daily Jot

Dona: The Summer House. My aunt took me to see this film and it was playing at an independent theater with six screens, a coffee bar and about a dozen other things I wasn't used to at my local cineplex. I remember being so impressed. Then we saw the movie. I thought it was funny. Either it wasn't or the frou-frou crowd frowned on laughing. I was the only one laughing and there were several people hissing "SHHH!" at me throughout the movie. I found Jeanne Moreau enchanting but left with the desire never to visit another independent cinema and didn't for many years after. I was probably in first grade, maybe second, and for years I would get nervous if we even drove past an independent theater. I'm not joking about this. I've never seen the film since but when I was a little kid, it tickled me.

Elaine: I vaguely remember the movie and I believe it was billed as a comedy. I think it says something about the crowd you saw it with that they not only wouldn't laugh but would also hiss at a little child. My pick is Dumb & Dumber. It's an idiot film. It really is. I'm not a fan of Jim Carey films. Either they leave me cold or, like with Liar! Liar!, I'm thinking something like, "Yeah, I loved this film . . . when it was called All of Me and starred Lily Tomlin and Steve Martin." But there are moments in that film that crack me up. When they're singing "Mockingbird." When they do the Pretty Woman shopping spoof. In the last thirty minutes, it's just coasting but that was the most appealing Jim Carey's ever been on the big screen for me.

Jim: Interesting. I'll go with the first Austin Powers. To me that's funny. Each sequel got worse. Elizabeth Hurley was a part of the action and story. Each one after treated the female lead like the new "Bond girl." The only scene in any of the two sequels that made me laugh was in the second one where Dr. Evil and Scott go to father-son group therapy.

Rebecca: The Carrie Fisher scene. And it's Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. I noted mine, at The Common Ills, before I ever started blogging, so some people may be disappointed, but it's Valley of the Dolls. I love that bad movie. I love the bad acting. I love the bad writing. Best-worst scene of all time, my opinion, when Neely and Tony, two Hollywood entertainers, end up in the nut house and sing a duet which leads to the other patients applauding. Sharon Tate looks lovely throughout and I love the hair styles.

Betty: I'll go with the look of a film as well. Back in "the old days," TV stations, cable and broadcast, used to show a lot of movies. I'm tempted to go with something like Godzilla vs. Mothra but the ones I really looked forward to were the sixties movies. Not the good stuff that holds up, but the silly stuff. Like, If It's Tuesday This Must Be Belgium. But my favorite, the one where everyone knew not to disturb me, was What's So Good About Feeling So Bad? It stars Mary Tyler Moore and . . . Help.

C.I.: George Peppard.

Betty: Thank you. There's this bird, a toucan, and he's spreading this disease of 'feel good.' I love the look and the hair styles. And Thelma Ritter's very funny in it. It's a film that I've looked for on DVD and never found. I mean, I see the $6.99 reduced stack of DVDs and I will dig through everyone in there thinking, "It could be here!" If the kids are with me, I'll still do it unless one of them is sick. And I mean sick where they're in pain. We were at the drug store getting medicine for my youngest son's pink eye last month and I saw one of those reduced displays of old movies. I asked, "How you holding up?" He was just excited that he got to play hookie. So I dug through them all. Before anyone panics, my hands were clean, I wasn't spreading pink eye.

Ty: I've never thought about that. I mean, at a drug store, digging through stuff, which I have done, a lot of people coming in there are sick. I'll be more careful in the future. I'm going to go with Outrageous Fortune. This is an "aunt tale" too, like Dona's. My aunt had just broken up with some guy and she was sobbing all day and that thing was playing on TV. We'd all been avoiding her and my grandmother had told her she was making a fool out of herself. She'd been sobbing all day and I mean loud, gut wrenching sobs. I was walking past the living room trying not to make eye contact but she saw me and called me over. She asked if I'd watch TV with her. I'd never seen the movie and don't think I even knew anyone in it at the time. But we watched and she was laughing and I was laughing. At first, I was just laughing because she was laughing. Then I really got into the movie. I told that story to Jim not long after we first became college roommates back in NY and he got me the DVD for my birthday that year. George Carlin cracks me up in that and so does Bette Midler. Shelly Long's a little too prissy but it works in the film. And the airport scene, where Midler and Long are pretending to be foreigners, when the woman says, "That was the biggest load of crap" always makes me laugh.

Jess: That's a movie I never saw until the three of us were roommates and it is a funny one. I'm trying to think of one like that for me but I'm really not having any luck. The closest would probably be Throw Momma From The Train. Danny DeVito's really funny in that and Billy Crystal is at times. I can do without the whole date where he and his girlfriend sit in the train. But I'm not thinking of anything else, so I'll go with that. DeVito's really funny.

Cedric: Carwash. It's a dumb movie, it's frequently a static movie. You wait for stuff to happen and most of what does happen appears to be an accident but, in those moments, it cracks me up. When I was a little kid, the theme song would get me excited.

Mike: Song. I'm going with a song too. This is supposed to be one of the really bad movies of all time. My sister recorded this off cable, one of the stations with commercials, and that's how I saw it. At Long Last Love. It's got Burt Reynolds, Cybill Shephard and Madeline Kahn. My sister, my oldest, would put it on and clear out the living room. Everyone would go running, "Ma! Dad! She's watching that movie again!" It actually became like a bonding thing between us because I was the only one who'd watch it with her and I was so young that we really didn't have a lot in common. I should probably check and see if it's available on DVD because she's still got that tape and still watches it.

Wally: Do you ever watch it with her?

Mike: Oh yeah. And she still complains that I'm the only one who will. Even her husband won't watch it with her.

Wally: Okay. Do we want to insert Kat here?

Ava:Let's do that after you go. Kat phoned and we got her input on this feature and another one.

Wally: Mine is The Jerk with Steve Martin. I thought that was the funniest thing when I was growing up. That Caddyshack and National Lampoon's Vacation. Now I watch it and I see all these holes in the story and all these other problems and there are bits that really aren't funny. But I still laugh at the movie. It must crack others up too, that guy in My Chemical Romance looks like Steve Martin in The Jerk.

Kat: Hair. The worst musical of the 70s. Even more so than the disaster that is Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club. That one just took a great album and turned into a lousy film by inventing a story. This one took a successful play and destroyed it. There was no respect for the structure and they felt they could rearrange the order of the songs. By the time Charlotte Rae shows up, you know it's laugh or cry. It's a train wreck that you can't look away from if you watch more than a second so, if you've been spared so far, avoid it at all costs. Even Treat Williams' hair is phoney.

Ava: I'm going with a musical as well but really more of a series of musicals. The Annette & Frankie beach movies. They're laughable. They're bad movies in every sense. But I can watch them and enjoy them. In one Annette sings "A Girl Needs A Boy," counter to Frankie's version, and it's probably her finest moment in the series. You also get Candy dancing around in her fringes and the character Eric von Zipper. Don Rickles shows up in Beach Blanket Bingo -- "that's the name of the, that's the name of the game." I'm embarrassed to say that I can sing along with probably every song in those movies.

Jim: That's everyone but C.I., right? Okay, this actually started because we usually watch a movie, the core six, after we finish the edition. We're all about to fall over and we usually want a comedy which we'll usually fall asleep during. One time, C.I. picked one and we were all kind of shocked. "You like this film?" we asked because it seemed so non-C.I. That's when we started teasing that it was like Rachel saying her favorite film was Dangerous Liasons but really . . . So we'll end with C.I.

C.I.: I think it's due to Bob Hope's work offscreen that shocked everyone so. Bob Hope's the star of the film and I really do love it. It's one of my earliest favorite films and I'm sure I could quote the whole thing by now. The film is My Favorite Brunette and it stars Hope and Dorothy Lamour. Hope's Ronnie Jackson, a baby photographer, whose office is next door to private detective Sam McLoud's, played by Alan Ladd. McLoud's out of town and Hope ends up posing as McLoud when Lamour's Carlotta comes knocking. It's a very funny movie, funny with dialogue, slapstick, throw away bits. On the latter, the movie opens with Hope on death row and he explains to reporters what happened. At the end, I don't think I'm giving anything away, it's a comedy from the forties, the execution is called off. When the excutioner finds out, he's upset. The excutioner is played by Bing Crosby and when Dorothy Lamour sees him, she can't take her eyes off him. Hope has to grab her chin and turn her back towards him. Hope, Crosby and Lamour starred in a series of films and it's a nod to those.

Jess: I really do like that movie. I think my favorite line is when Hope says about Lamour, "Nutty as a fruitcake, and with all that beautiful icing."

C.I.: So there's that and there's also a really strong visual for a forties comedy. It's a film noir spoof and you get that lighting and a great deal more.

Jim: So those are our picks of films you might not guess qualified for favorites. As Mike noted Tuesday, a lot of people are busy these days. For that reason, we've been avoiding a roundtable on books. After the election, we intend to do our next roundtable. One book we're hoping to cover is Cindy Sheehan's Peace Mom.
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