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Category Archives: comedy

Movies of 1997 Bracket Game: Austin Powers vs The Fifth Element


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Well, here we are in our second-to-last bout of this bracket game and we’ve got a pretty surprising pairing fighting it out for a spot in the final. As I did previously, I’ll be covering a couple of actors from the flicks in question.
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Movies of 1997 Bracket Game: Liar Liar vs Austin Powers


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One of the challenges of writing for these bracket games is in finding connective tissue between the competing films. Sometimes there’s not much to go on and it’s necessary to scrap any pretense of commonality. But this time I was gifted with a spectacularly thin excuse for a theme based entirely on the location of the presented scenes, the power dynamics which are typically at play there, and how they are undermined.
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Movies of 1997 Bracket Game: Chasing Amy vs The Full Monty


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Today we’ve got a matchup of two…sexy indie comedies…sort of. By the late nineties the role of sex in feature films had gone through some discernible changes. While a little gratuitous nudity and some suggestive situations were key elements in many mainstream films of the eighties, the advent of home video (and then the internet) had made filmmakers and studios begin to think differently. If a horny teenager could get ahold of actual pornography to watch at home, why would the random appearance of naked breasts in what is otherwise a stupid “coming of age” comedy or action thriller be a worthwhile draw? The effects of the AIDS crisis could also continue to be felt, as sex was less often trivialized and exploited, but talked about with a lot more specificity. The growth of the indie movie market in particular helped fill this niche. Audiences of the nineties could pretty easily see something a little sexy in their movies while still ostensibly getting a bit of substance. Many times this was 100% true, but other times there really was just the thinnest veneer of respectability laid over what was only a rental come-on. Whether this was any kind of improvement will be a matter of taste, but in 1999 American Pie certainly proved that there was still a market for the wild teen sex comedy. Personally, I like the idea of there being a little of both.

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Movies of 1997 Bracket Game: Austin Powers vs Grosse Pointe Blank


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Today we’ve got a matchup between two movies that take different tracks toward mining comedy out of characters whose jobs require that they put themselves in violent circumstances. While Mike Myers’ Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery is a wildly over the top Saturday Night Live-style spoof of 60s era fashions and entertainment, Grosse Pointe Blank is a rather dissimilar fish out of water tale that takes its cast and violence a little more seriously. Although the latter film is less obviously a take on a particular era, check out that banner behind Cusack’s noggin. His movie certainly isn’t averse to taking advantage of its audience’s nostalgia. It’s also reasonable to take a look at those two posters above and realize that none of the people there are what could be called movie stars anymore.

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Movies of 1997 Bracket Game: Liar, Liar vs My Best Friend’s Wedding


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Tired of all of the gritty, serious, award-winning movies we’ve been covering so far? Well, today should be the salve to that particular problem. It’s sort of our semi-official big budget mainstream comedy bracket and it features two of the biggest movie stars of the time in Jim Carrey and Julia Roberts. Both easily eclipsed the $100 million mark domestically and around $300 million worldwide. These hits came at particularly good times for both Carrey and Roberts.
Let’s talk about it!
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Building my Movie Posters Puzzle: Pillow Talk


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In late June I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.

Despite its frothy reputation, there’s a reason that Pillow Talk, starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day, was both hugely successful at the box office and the recipient of some awards season love. That reason was rather accurately identified by the Academy when they awarded the film with 1959’s Oscar for Original Screenplay. The admittedly antiquated storyline and plot devices are clever nonetheless, and the dialogue is straight out smart and funny. For example, in response to Hudson’s character thinking her new beau’s intentions are not necessarily honorable, Day retorts “Not all men finish every sentence with a proposition.”
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Building my Movie Posters Puzzle: Dr. Strangelove


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In late June I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.

This third installment in Building My Movie Posters Puzzle sees yet another leap forward on the calendar, this time from 1939 to 1964. I can promise you that this will not be a continuing trend. It is of some mild interest that despite the 25 years of progress between the release of our last entry, The Wizard of Oz, and Dr. Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick and company made the decision to shoot entirely in black and white, whereas Oz is famously presented in both black and white and color. Obviously, for a long time after, filmmakers felt very free to select either approach to filming and displaying their movies. Although color was steadily becoming the preferred format, if you take a look at the top-grossing films of 1964 you will find a few that were released in black and white, including Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Zorba the Greek, The Night of the Iguana, and A Hard Day’s Night. You appeared to need a motivating artistic reason for shooting in black and white, but studios were apparently not yet dead set against it and there was plenty of audience left that didn’t seem to mind (at least one commenter here at LeBlog claims to never watch black and white movies).
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Movies of 1986 Bracket Game!: Little Shop of Horrors vs Blue Velvet


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Here we are in the second round of our 1986 movies bracket and we’ve already given the boot to some well-loved films. As someone who has spent large portions of my life bringing stories to life on stage as an actor I have always been very interested in watching how a specific performer’s work develops for the better or worse over a span of many years. Lebeau’s “What the Hell Happened…” series appeals to me because of this. With quite a few chambers of our guns already empty I’m going to spend this round of the bracket game selecting one actor from each film and discussing some interesting factor in their work since 1986.

Just to be clear, you should still be voting based the movie, not on the actor.

Now guess who that nurse from Little Shop is!
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Movies of 1986 Bracket Game!: Ruthless People vs Ferris Bueller’s Day Off


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Here we are in the second round of our 1986 movies bracket and we’ve already given the boot to some well-loved films. As someone who has spent large portions of my life bringing stories to life on stage as an actor I have always been very interested in watching how a specific performer’s work develops for the better or worse over a span of many years. Lebeau’s “What the Hell Happened…” series appeals to me because of this. With quite a few chambers of our guns already empty I’m going to spend this round of the bracket game selecting one actor from each film and discussing some interesting factor in their work since 1986.

Let’s have at it!
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Movies of 1986 Bracket Game!: Back to School vs Ferris Bueller’s Day Off


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In a fit of nostalgia for our crappy teen years, we here at LeBlog have decided to run another of our popular bracket games, this time focusing on the best big screen entertainment 1986 had to offer. Oh yeah, and whether we like it or not, that was a full thirty years ago. Since 1986 is the year I got my driver’s license, it’s also the year I started seeing a lot of frivolous movies my parents had no interest in. We’re featuring two such movies today in a continuation of the comedy portion of our bracket. One movie focuses on the hi-jinx of a too-cool-for-school teenager as he and his friends go to great lengths to distance themselves from public education, while the other follows the hi-jinx of a rich old businessman who divorces his cheating wife and enrolls in college with his son, becoming the most popular student on campus at Grand Lakes University. Either way, hi-jinx will ensue.
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Movies of 1986 Bracket Game!: Ruthless People vs Three Amigos!



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We have now moved out of the portion of our bracket that has any pretensions to awards season status. Instead, we’re looking at some of the best 1986 had to offer in yuks. These are, for the most part, simple comedic set-ups populated with charming comedic personalities and sprinkled generously with, you know, jokes. I haven’t made any secret about my lack of enthusiasm for many of the comedy films of recent years, but while 1986 didn’t offer any comedic masterpieces, the four included here sure are solid and plenty funny. Two of them will be advancing into our second round, so pitch in and vote and see if you can sway our other voters in the comments section!
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My Lovely Day of Movies


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After summer months filled with a Disneyland vacation, directing for my developing theatre company, and transitioning into a new job, I finally found a weekend that was not already spoken for in one way or another. So I decided to try to catch up with a couple of the movies that had so far slipped past me this year. Despite seeing the mildly disappointing Avengers sequel, the Pixar smash Inside Out, the fantastically creepy Ex Machina, the lighthearted Marvel world builder Ant-Man, and the Ian McKellan vehicle Mr Holmes (McKellan is wonderful in it, by the way), I was still left feeling way behind overall. As I perused the lists of films that were still playing on the big screen locally I found that getting anywhere close to up to date was going to be a daunting task indeed. Running out and taking in a couple of popcorn flicks on a lazy Saturday was not even going to come close to doing the trick.

What formed in my mind instead was a scheme that would both allow me to “x” out plenty of empty boxes on my movies checklist and make the endeavor into an event in and of itself.
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Review: Inside Out


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I started to read some pretty strong hyperbole about Disney Pixar’s new animated feature Inside Out several months ago when the trailer first made its way around the internet. Phrases like “brand new” and “creative genius” were bandied about in a pretty cavalier manner. I had the great honor of being the wet blanket who responded to these social media posts by leaving a link to an episode of the short-lived ’90s sitcom “Herman’s Head.” Look it up if you think Inside Out is so revolutionary.

I found myself a little annoyed by some of the standard gender norm humor present in the trailer that also reminded me of some of the less inspired television comedies of the Clinton era. Men are always thinking about sports, are never listening, and probably don’t deserve their more emotionally involved wives. Har Har.

I should really learn to ignore Disney’s trailers, I guess, because even though my initial criticisms of the trailer are still valid, the context and overall entertainment value provided by the film as a whole overcome most of my complaints. Inside Out, despite some laziness in spots, turns out to be exactly the kind of laughs and tears family entertainment that most modern parents will welcome with open arms.
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