Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, or: The Last Hapsburg Returns

This month is brought to you by a return of Blog Free or Die Hard because we do what we want.  Also we don’t want to watch anyone slowly die of cancer this month.  Christa’s kicking it off with the new Pee-wee Herman film.

(Cons of post-30 Rock Paul Reubens include I can’t think of him without picturing him as the last Hapsburg.)

The Film:

Pee-wee’s Big Holiday

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

Really, you guys.  Really.  Pee-wee Herman returns for a…holiday.  Could be big.

The Uncondensed Version:

Pee-wee has been experiencing strange dreams about an alien inviting him to leave Fairville, but he resists.  Could this mean Pee-wee is subconsciously yearning for adventure outside of his hometown?  Spoiler (already revealed in title):  YES.

However, Pee-wee reads nothing into these dreams as he’s happy, well-liked in the community, and rich in those disgusting root beer candies.   The local librarian really likes him as she always gets him the latest Scuba Cop book (and either the Fairville Library doesn’t believe in spine labels or the librarian actually buys him the new book, which is probably the equivalent of half a day’s pay).  Nothing ever changes in his world, and he’s quite content with this arrangement (TBH, I really relate to this).

That is, until the day things do change.  Specifically, the breakup of his band when all of his bandmates begin to take on more responsibilities and no longer have time for practice.  Pee-wee doesn’t take the news well, and ends up reading alone with a certain level of angst in the diner where he works.

A man working in a diner's kitchen holds a musical instrument.
I mean, musical instruments are a pretty big investment.

Suddenly, a really cool biker strides into the diner—none other than Joe Manganiello (who looked vaguely familiar but, I’ll be honest, I had to Google.  Whatever, I’ve never lied about my primary interests being ice cream and hiding from other people).

Pee-wee and Joe have a rather immediate and intense connection, and I kind of wondered if this was actually the porn parody of Pee-wee a few times.  The two share a passion for those vile root beer barrel candies, which I strongly suspect are made of inorganic matter and earwax.  (I occasionally daydream about living in an earlier time, but then I think about what people considered candy back in the day.)

A man who is conventionally attractive sits at the counter of a diner holds a chodolate milkshake.
Seriously, tell me this isn’t how a porno starts.

Joe inspires Pee-wee to leave Fairville and travel to NYC for Joe’s birthday party in 4 days.  As you might expect, Pee-wee’s trip doesn’t go entirely smoothly, and he encounters trouble almost immediately.

Because this is a journey film, there are a lot of obstacles.  Said obstacles include:

  1. Getting hijacked by 3 women who are thieves/bank robbers/criminals in general.  They steal his car and leave him tied up in a motel room, but not before having a pillow fight with male strippers.

    Three women with '60s inspired hair and makeup look angrily off-screen in a motel room.
    Girl gang.
  2. Meeting a salesman who decides they should make a stop at a snake farm despite Pee-wee’s fear of snakes.
  3. Stumbling upon a kindly farmer whose 9 daughters all want to marry Pee-wee.
  4. Hitching a ride with a group of friends traveling to a hair styling competition and receiving a makeover (I guess this one isn’t so much an obstacle as an interesting thing that happens).

    A man in a gray suit and hair styled to resemble a helicopter speaks to a woman with her own elaborate hairstyle.
    Spoiler:  the makeover involves literal helicopter hair.
  5. Crashing back to Earth in the flying car of a woman who is basically the eccentric millionaire version of Katharine Hepburn.
  6. Almost reenacting Ravenous when a man who lives in a cave rescues him from the wilderness.
  7. Entertaining the Amish with his hobby of blowing up balloons and slowly deflating them (my cat HATED this part of the film)

Throughout the film, Pee-wee imagines how much fun the party will be with Joe, but also begins to doubt that Joe will even notice if Pee-wee fails to make it in time.  I guess that’s pretty relateable, but at the same time not really something I worry about.  And not ENTIRELY because I don’t get invited to parties.

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

The extra ½ PPH is mostly because librarians get some representation in this without shushing anyone.  This is a reasonably sweet film, but it’s a bit mild for my tastes.  It’s possible I’ve overdone it with the bad horror movies (actually it’s not).

Is Christa inviting this one to the party or will she cry if she wants to?  Does that question even make sense?  Find the answer to at least one of those questions here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Tootsie, or: Feminist February Is Now

Last film of accidental smoking month and, as it turns out, my memory is even worse than I realized.  There is ONE instance of smoking in this film even though it’s 1982.  I thought everyone smoked in 1982.

Though our film this week makes little sense with our inadvertent theme of the month, it does transition us nicely into Feminist February.  After this review, Christa and my sister have seen Tootsie, so I can now say with conviction that I have contributed to the betterment of their lives.

The Film:

Tootsie

Where to Watch:

You’re on your own with this one.  (No, you can’t borrow my copy.)

The Premise:

American classic about Dustin Hoffman impersonating a woman to get acting gigs.  Frequently watched by Liz Lemon.

The Uncondensed Version:

As noted, Dustin Hoffman plays Michael Dorsey, struggling actor whose main (and possibly only) source of income is providing coaching for other actors.

Michael fails to get acting jobs because he’s never quite right for the part—but also because he has a terrible reputation for being difficult to work with.  His goal is to make enough money to be his own boss and put on Bill Murray’s play, who happens to be his roomie and bff.

Both dudes are reasonably sleazy, and Michael is a huge douche to his friend, Sandy.  Michael helps Sandy prepare for a role on the soap Southwest General, but ultimately steals the role as the incredibly cleverly named Dorothy Michaels.

a man comforts a crying woman on a darkened street
“What’s wrong?”  Besides you being a complete asshole?

The super sketchy director immediately says Dorothy’s not right for the role, but her sass impresses a female producer(?), who asks Dorothy to come back and audition.  Dorothy/Michael is definitely interested in costar Jessica Lange, who is sweet but in extreme need of some confidence.

After landing the role, Dorothy has some shopping to do, and it’s quite impressive (if a tad unrealistic) how quickly Michael masters the art of applying makeup.  However, he’s just about to make the major dick move of sleeping with Sandy if only to distract her from the fact that he was trying on her clothes.

a man helps fit a wig to another man's head
A true bff will always help adjust your wig.

Everything seems to be going well until there’s a rewrite of one of Dorothy’s scenes in which she’ll be kissing the creepy older actor (who plays a doctor).  She tries to discuss the scene with the fucking awful director, but he absolutely will not listen, calls all of the women “honey” or “baby,” tries to speak for Jessica, and makes creepy jokes about her being on her knees.  UGH.  At the very last moment, Dorothy hits the doctor on the head with a clipboard, after which the director insists that Dorothy discuss any changes she’d like to make with him beforehand.  And then the doctor kisses her anyway—what a sleaze.

Suddenly Michael finds himself worrying about things he never had to worry about when he was a male actor.  As a female actor, Dorothy has to worry about if she looks pretty enough, whether it will make a bad impression if a man answers her phone, and if she has anything appropriate to wear.  It’s almost like there are a slew of problems women have that men rarely—if ever—have to think about.

a woman walking along a busy sidewalk reaches up to adjust her hair
Did I just lose an earring?

On the other hand, Michael is still a bit of a dick as he lies to Sandy about being sick to avoid her and stands her up for dinner with Jessica Lange.

As it turns out, Jessica has a baby, a really terrible romantic relationship with the director, and quite possibly a drinking problem.  Oh, and a father with a keen interest in Dorothy’s life and career.

an older man and two women stand in a wooded area with a toddler
One big happy family?

Meanwhile, Dorothy is becoming a media sensation because of the sass she brings to her improvised lines.

Things get complicated when Dorothy’s contract is extended from 2 weeks to a year, and Jessica Lange’s father decides to ask Dorothy a very significant question. Michael/Dorothy is developing feelings for Jessica Lange, but he is STILL stringing Sandy along and making really lame excuses for not telling her the truth.  Not cool.

What I love about this film is Michael’s slowly dawning realization of the way he enforces a double standard for men and women, as well as how awful and misogynistic his excuses are regarding his treatment of women.  Fuck the patriarchy.

The Rating:

5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I love this film.  If you ever ask me about Tootsie and I say, “Eh, it’s not that great,” you’ll know I’ve been bodysnatched.  I want to give this film a standing ovation every time Dorothy goes off on the director about calling her “tootsie.”  Also Bill Murray is in this.

There’s a reason this is a classic, and it’s fucked how relevant a lot of this shit is for women in the workplace and their daily lives.

Minor beefs with this movie include the title (a major point of this film was NOT to call women “honey,” “tootsie,” etc, and the name of the fucking movie is Tootsie?!??!  Is it reclaiming the word tootsie???), offhand remarks about rape, the occasional gay joke that has not aged well, and “It Might Be You” getting stuck in my head every goddamn time.

Something’s telling me there might be a review (all of my life)…here on Christa’s blog.

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Foxy Merkins, or: Are You a Women’s Studies Major?

Another week, another big gay film review!

My pick for this week is The Foxy Merkins as it’s Madeline Olnek’s latest (director of Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same, still one of my favorite films I’ve reviewed, and hands down winner of best title on this blog. Probably also best film title, period).

See what Christa thinks of The Foxy Merkins here!

The Film:

The Foxy Merkins

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

Lesbian hooker Jo becomes a mentor to Margaret, who is practically the Kenneth of lesbian prostitutes. Way more 30 Rock references in that summary than I intended.

The Uncondensed Version:

The events of our film unfold in New York City as we follow Margaret, a down on her luck former women’s studies major. Since she can’t find any other work, Margaret has become a lesbian prostitute; however, she’s quite terrible at getting women to pick her up.

It doesn’t take long before Jo, a seasoned pro, takes Margaret under her wing. This is both a blessing and a curse as Margaret could use some help, but Jo is not the expert she believes herself to be. Jo comes from a wealthy family and lives in the bathroom of the Port Authority as an act of rebellion. She gives Margaret advice about going up to women and touching them (which, shockingly, doesn’t go over well) and tells her she is the kind of lesbian other women don’t want to be seen with. Jo is a bit of a frenemy, honestly.

A woman wearing a shirt with no pants faces another woman in a public restroom
New meaning to the shirt dress.

Case in point: Margaret gets tickets to see the digitally remastered Lassie in theaters (seriously), and Jo gives her pointers on picking up a woman who’s giving her the eye. The end result is the woman crawling on the floor and eating Margaret’s popcorn. Literally. Not a euphemism, you guys.

Meanwhile, there is a bit of an ongoing subplot involving finding Margaret’s mom. When Margaret and Jo look for her in a graveyard, they encounter a man in a trench coat selling merkins (editor’s note: a merkin is a wig for, uh, down there. Maybe you already knew that, but I didn’t. Or if I did I repressed it LIKE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO). So anyway…it’s all coming together, and our title makes sense now.

Two women talk to a man in a cemetery who is opening his trench coat to reveal merchandise for sale
THIS SCENE, GUYS. PLEASE AT LEAST WATCH THIS SCENE.

Margaret and Jo go back to their usual spot to find clients, standing outside of Talbots. In terms of getting picked up, Margaret is still not having a ton of luck—one woman was interested until she realized the 70% off sign was for Talbots, not her. This seems to turn around a bit when a wealthy woman approaches Margaret, asking her to meet her at a particular hotel within the hour. As it turns out, this woman’s fetish is being busted by the police, so she hires men to come to the room and arrest Margaret. Poor Margaret doesn’t realize all of this is a setup until Jo tells her. Understandably, she feels a bit betrayed.

Two women lie under white sheets on the bed they share
Every screencap makes me realize I’ve failed to mention more witty dialogue. To be fair, this film is 85% witty dialogue.

Later, Margaret recognizes the woman as a Republican Congresswoman. Jo reveals she “accidentally secretly” recorded Margaret with the Congresswoman and wants to sell the tape to CNN. This is a major dick move, as Margaret expresses her discomfort with the idea of becoming rich and (in)famous because of a sex tape.

Though the plot is not really the point of the film, I’m going to leave you in suspense about what happens with the sex tape and Margaret’s growing feelings for Jo. There is some excellent dialogue where both plot points are concerned.

The Critique:

Much like Codependent Lesbian Space Alien, this film is driven by message and character over plot. Both films use sort of a documentary style, and a lot of the comedy is based on the awkwardness of the characters and dialogue.

There are a lot of nice comedic touches, like Margaret and Jo always have to compliment the cleanliness and general appeal of their client’s homes. And I HAVE to mention that when Margaret rejects payment in the form of a Talbots gift card, the client tells her, “Every other time I’ve been to a lesbian hooker, they’ve accepted a gift card to Talbots.”

I think Codependent was a bit more successful as it was more bizarre and had more likeable characters. In Codependent, even Zylar, who was a total player and broke one of the other alien’s hearts, was still likeable and funny. However, in Foxy Merkins, Margaret was basically the only decent human being. Jo was funny but also sort of terrible in contrast to how sweet and genuine Margaret was.

Still another solid film from Madeleine Olnek. I did some searching, and apparently girl just got a Guggenheim Fellowship…I hope that means she’s making a shitload of films.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherHalf Pink Panther head 3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I think Codependent Lesbian Space Alien is a bit more quirky and fun to watch, but this is still worth seeing. Make it your mission to watch Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same.

Find Christa’s review here!

In other news, someone searching for “moon nazis are coming” found my blog (Iron Sky was the first film I reviewed for this blog). DREAMS DO COME TRUE.

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Brass Teapot, or: What Is Pain?

Prepare yourself for Extreme Makeover: Jillian & Christa’s Great Blog Collab Edition. This week introduces themes for our bad movie fest! We’ve been striking out with our last couple of films, so we decided to switch things up a bit and watch something besides our usual horror. The next two films will be Sci-Fi/Fantasy, starting with Christa’s pick for this week!  Check out her review here!

The Film:

The Brass Teapot

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

A newlywed couple faces all sorts of ethical dilemmas when they discover a teapot that gives them money for their pain.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

So the beginning of this movie is your basic Intro to Art History: weepy women and serious dudes with ruffs edition. What do all of these images have in common? BRASS FUCKIN’ TEAPOT.

But our story isn’t (entirely) about people glaring in paintings throughout history; it’s about John and Alice (Juno Temple), impoverished newlyweds in smalltown ‘Murica. John works very unhappily as a telemarketer, while Alice struggles unsuccessfully to find a job (TOO REAL).

It becomes apparent pretty quickly that this entire town is a giant high school divided into the popular clique and the loser clique. The only friends Alice and John have are similarly broke nerds whose names I have already forgotten.

Alice and John’s luck suddenly changes, however, when Alice sees THE BRASS TEAPOT at this little antique shop and steals it. She discovers money appears in the teapot whenever she hurts herself. Though John has just gotten fired, it seems all of their financial woes are over as long as both are willing to hurt themselves. Least favorite is having dental work done with no Novocaine. That scene made me realize that is probably one of my phobias.

In complication #1 of many, John takes the teapot on The Antiques Roadshow. I don’t know why—I really don’t.

an appraiser and a young man look at an ornate teapot on the set of the show The Antiques Roadshow
Also the appraiser values this ancient magical teapot at $5,000. HOW.

This brings the teapot to the attention of that Asian guy in movies who always shows up and warns people they’re in danger. In this one his name is Dr. Ling.

Also, as a side note, Kenneth from 30 Rock is Alice’s brother-in-law. To be honest, Jack McBrayer deserved a bigger role in this movie, but I will inevitably say that about every movie. True to type, Kenneth grins a lot and works for a nonprofit saving tree snails.

a man and woman sit at a table, with the man passing a bowl of salad to his left
Kenneth!

Another complication: the lady who owned the antique shop dies, and her grandsons come looking for the teapot, which she saved from the Nazis. So yeah, there’s a scene where Hasidic Jews beat up John and make threats over A TEAPOT.

John and Alice conduct some serious research at the library (libraries in popular culture!). This involves, of course, a librarian shushing them (I have never shushed anyone in my life). All of this stereotype-busting aside, I’m really upset Alice TEARS A PAGE OUT OF A LIBRARY BOOK. AND it’s because she doesn’t want John to access information about the teapot’s unsavory effects, which is CENSORSHIP. In the library world, this is the equivalent of being a genocidal maniac. Shame on you, Alice. SHAME.

a woman wearing glasses shushes people in a library
QUIET, THIS IS A LIBRARY…is a thing librarians are no longer allowed to say.

So anyway, since she’s now rich and successful, Alice gets her popular girl makeover and throws popular girl parties she invites Alexis Bledel to.

Dr. Ling crashes their party to warn Alice and John about the teapot’s dangers, but obviously they ignore him.

The situation escalates when the two realize they can make money just by watching people get hurt. Another way to achieve the same result is to become an insurance sales agent, or perhaps that’s overly cynical (it’s not). Additionally, hurting each other emotionally is a valid option. Next step = hurting other people emotionally/airing their dirty laundry.

A man and woman walk down a suburban street. The woman is carrying a teapot.
Apparently sudden wealth turns you into a yuppie hipster.

Alice is becoming increasingly obsessed with the teapot and wants to go for one big score, which will involve killing a drug dealer or pedophile. John says it’s me or the teapot, essentially, and later throws himself from the second floor of their house with the teapot. Immediately after Alice promises to get rid of the teapot, someone breaks in and takes it.

Should I tell you about the ending? I’m going to tell you about the ending, if only so I can bitch about it.

The creepy landlord, Arnie, is the one who took the teapot, and Alice and John have to retrieve it as they’ve basically given Sauron the ring.

John attempts to fight Arnie with a rolling pin; however, the Hasidic Jews come in demanding the teapot. When Arnie refuses, they shoot him and his girlfriend but LEAVE THE TEAPOT SITTING THERE. PLOT HOLES.

Alice (who is suddenly pregnant) and John give the teapot to Dr. Ling and leave town.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we basically get the Titanic ending for the teapot in that it is thrown into the ocean, never to be seen again.

The Critique:

Biggest problems with this movie were the number of plot holes, the attitude towards nerds (plus in general the bland, stereotyped characters), and the ending. I will spare you my complaints about the plot holes, but just know that I’m not going to let it go that the grandsons committed double homicide for the teapot AND THEN JUST LEFT IT. THAT DOESN’T MAKE ANY FUCKING SENSE.

On stereotyping, especially of the nerd variety, John kept referencing LOTR and Alice kept teasing him for being a nerd as a result. Is that really a nerd thing to do? If you ask me, that is a HUMAN thing to do because seriously, those movies are fun to watch, and if you say otherwise I think you’re lying to yourself.

Also, EVERYONE kept saying the teapot would turn on them and unleash its terror, but that never actually happened. Alice stole a fucking cursed object and nothing bad really happened to her or John??? Someone could’ve at least lost a pinky.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 3/5

I considered a lower score because I’m still hung up on how much I hated the ending.

I’m starting to sound like the Duke in Moulin Rouge, but I don’t care. I can live with that.  LET ZIDLER KEEP HIS FAIRYTALE ENDING.

gif of a man with a moustache saying "I don't like this ending"

…but I like to read Christa’s thoughts on her blog!  (I think you can say your blog is endorsed by a duke now, Christa.)