favorite movies: The Princess Bride (1987)

I saw The Princess Bride this afternoon in the theater. I think my family discovered this movie on HBO back in the late 80s as I have a vague memory of a BETA tape with a hand-written “Princess Bride” sticker on the side of it, so this was my first time seeing it on the big screen.

It’s still good. It is just a FUN movie, through and through. Yeah, these are not Oscar award winning performances or effects or anything but it’s just 100% FUN.

Oh, and did I mention quotable? My mom will refer to a love interest in a movie as the character’s “to blave” and who can resist saying “mae-widge” any time a wedding scene appears? It’s inconceivable! And you know you’re among fellow geeks when you can start Inigo’s rhyming game and have someone else in the room do Fezzik’s lines.

I remember that the torture scene freaked me out as a kid. When Humperdink pushed the lever up to 50, I would cover my ears and close my eyes. It was only for a moment, but something about that moment really bothered me.

This is also one of the few situations where the movie might be better than the book, or at least on par with, probably because William Goldman wrote both the novel and the script. It’s worth picking up the book though so you can understand all of Inigo’s and Fezzik’s lines.

And, like Last Unicorn, I feel like the story manages to find this happy balance of all the fairy tale stories you love as a child with the snark and cynicism of adulthood, which is why it is still so watchable almost 30 years later. We are both the Grandson, hanging on every word, wanting to know how the story will end, and the Grandfather, knowing how it must all end, how it might not be fair but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a happy ending. And that we all enjoy “kissing books” every now and then.

Do you have a favorite Princess Bride quote that you use all the time? Or a memory of seeing the movie for the first time (or the fifth)?

movie thoughts: This Is the End (2013)


Stupid, gross, crude, immature…and hilarious.

Seriously, if you’ve seen anything with these guys in it, you know that the most of the jokes will have punchlines involving drugs or sex. No one should come to this moving looking for anything remotely intellectual. Instead, put this movie on when you want to have a few drinks and then laugh your ass off (because if you’re too sober, you’ll just feel like a horrible person for laughing at some of these jokes LOL). Nothing is sacred. You have been warned.

In the end, it’s all about how much these bros love each other. I laughed a lot – it was endearing to see these guys poke fun at themselves. And that finale? Try not to get spoiled. It’s brilliant.

(side note but I feel like someone out there somewhere must be writing a paper on all of these all-male thirty-something friendship movies that seem to only be able to exist in this world of raunchy comedy (because once you’re old , you get Last Vegas). To that psychology/anthropology/American Studies grad student out there writing up this paper as a senior thesis, I salute you!)

movie thoughts: My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend (2013)


This is not really a movie. It’s also not really stand-up. It is a recording of Mike Birbiglia’s one-man play, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend.

It’s not hilarious. But it’s not depressing. Though at times it is sad. It is serious comedy.

For 70 minutes, Mike Birbiglia takes you through a small portion of his life, telling you, in his amiable and witty way, about his love life, or lack there of, from middle school up until now. While describing a day at he carnival with the girl he had a crush on in his teens, the audience groans, knowing what is coming, Mike says in his soft voice, “I know – I’m in the future too.” That sums up the whole show – Birbiglia stands on stage, telling us a list of youthful mistakes, the romantic missteps of a young adult, and his fumbling as an adult.

You will find some overlap with material covered in this play and Birbiglia’s autobiographical movie “Sleepwalk with Me”. But where that was a motion picture with actors and edits, “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” is meant to feel more raw, more exposed, since it is just Mike on stage, alone. And it works.

I sorta loved this play, the same reason you love sitting around with friends and after a few drinks you start to talk about traumatizing life events – you feel a bond knowing that we’ve all been there in some way. The pain of growing up, of learning to be yourself…yeah, it’s that kind of show.

movie thoughts: Warm Bodies (2013)

Warm Bodies poster

Warm Bodies is a classic example of preview audiences dropping the ball. What ends up being an okay movie could have been great with just a few tweaks and I feel like a few notes from preview audiences and some quick recording sessions could have brought this up to cult classic level.

The plot is a great change of pace from your typical Walking Dead stories – R is a zombie, shambling around day in, day out, wondering what has become of his life…er, afterlife? Then one day he bumps into Julie (and by “bumps” I mean him and his zombie friends attack her and her human friends). But R is attracted to Julie and he finds his undead life as new meaning when he saves her from being eaten. And this one small act changes everything.

The problem is that the movie starts of really strong – While R meanders around the airport and grunts at his fellow zombies, his very articulate voice over narrates what life has become for him. From the start, you have to laugh as R describes his daily routine and you realize that this zombies life is relatively similar to yours. He just needs purpose.

Unfortunately, instead of just letting this by R’s story, the screenwriter then takes us over to meet Julie and her friends, who are far less hilarious. In fact, every moment that R is not doing his narration is pretty forgettable. All the great lines come from his internal monologue and about halfway through, after R and Julie leave the airport and try to venture back to the city, we lose it entirely and the film just drags like…well like a zombie!

It was a cute movie and fun to watch once, but I doubt I would pick it up again. It might get a following among zombie fans (it’s the perfect Valentine movie for Walking Dead fans), but it’s not consistently funny enough for me to want to see it again. And all they had to do was add a few more voice overs and they would have been golden…

3 stars

tv shows I did not expect to like: Archer

Archer on FX

Not knowing anything about ‘Archer’ (the description on Netflix leaves something to be desired), I assumed it was just another spy show, a James Bond clone. I’m not even sure I knew it was animated, but I had no idea it was a comedy.

A friend had me watch the first episode, and it was funny enough, but I set it aside to watching some other things. Thank goodness it was still on streaming a few months later. I decided to give it another try after reading people raving about the fourth season.

I can’t quite pinpoint why I love this rude, crude, and sometimes downright vile show. I think the fact that, even at it’s strangest moments, ‘Archer’ (the series, not the man) has it’s heart in the right place. I love all the characters, love the running gags (which span SEASONS), but I think the thing that has endeared it to my little geek heart the most are the super-random references that Archer (the man) will make to comic books, sci-fi and fantasy shows. He’s this badass who mocks everyone slightly nerdy, yet he clearly has this other layer that has read tons of X-Men comics and watched Stargate.

The show is vulgar and I’m never sure who I should tell about it because of that. The humor is twisted and it catches me off guard, actually making me laugh out loud.

And I didn’t even mention the fantastic cast. You’ll recognize a lot of them on sight, even if you don’t know there names. And SO MANY GUEST STARS.

If you’re a fan of ‘Venture Brothers’, this is something you should be watching. If you’re a fan of over-the-top comedies that manage to mix high brow and low brow humor into a single one-liner, you should watch this. But don’t say I didn’t warn you!

tv thoughts: Zombieland (2013 Amazon Pilot)

Watched most of the Zombieland pilot tonight and I was sorta disappointed. I feel like they have already made several missteps. We started to watch and Tim said “Wait, are they the same characters from the movie?” and I was like “yes”…and then it became clear that this was a bad idea. They would have been better off starting with a new set of survivors. Trying to convince me that these 4 people are Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin…well you can’t. Because the guy they cast as Talahassee lacks the swagger, the kid they cast as Columbus looks way too young, the girl they cast as Wichita can’t pull of the sarcastic jibes the way Stone can and Little Rock is…well I guess she’s fine but she’s no Breslin.

It’s frustrating because the opening sequence was great and they had a chance to introduce NEW characters living in the same world as our Movie Heroes and avoid this entire problem…but no **sigh** How could they not know that we would be comparing the two??

Anyway, wasn’t impressed. Which is too bad because I had been really excited about the prospect of the series since the movie was originally shopped around AS the series but zombies weren’t cool then.

movie thoughts: Pitch Perfect (2012)

Pitch Perfect poster  Oh, this movie.  It is flawed on so many levels but the amount of fun you have during the musical numbers and when Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins are improving in the announcer booth makes you forgive everything and then some.

Pitch Perfect reminds me of both Whip It and Zoolander.

Let me explain:

I feel like the ridiculousness factor is turned way up, just like Zoolander, which makes this movie tolerable during the parts when they are not singing.  Because Anna Kendrick is awesome and Rebel Wilson is hilarious (and Skylar Astin is Zachary Levi Adorable), you just keep watching even though you know the ending to the movie already.  But, as Jesse tells Beca in the movie, even if you know what ending is coming, it doesn’t mean you should stop watching!  Because if you stop watching, you will miss out on the most awesome acapella song mash-up ever at the very end.  Yes, it’s cheesy, but cheese is delicious!

Like Whip It, I’m pretty sure this movie takes the elements in the book to a new level.  I mean, as a fan of films and comic books, I feel like I spent a lot of time explaining to people why format can really make a difference.  I have requested a copy of the book so I can read it, but I have a feeling HEARING these groups perform, even though the groups are silly little “gangs” of singers in the movie, hearing the music and seeing a show is far more powerful than just reading about it.

The movie itself is not anything too amazing, but the music and the humor and the actors willing to go all out make is super fun to watch and you will be humming the songs for days to follow.