Tag: Comedy

February 6, 2009 / / Film Notes

By Christina Moreno

(1990) John Waters

Though not the typical tacky filth-fest movie many of us know, Cry-Baby is definitely a John Waters film.  Full of over-the-top parody of teen culture of the 1950’s and a great performance by Johnny Depp’s cheekbones, Cry-Baby has reached the cult status like most Waters’ films.  Some other notable faces in the movie include Ricki Lake, Iggy Pop, and Traci Lords. It’s cheese and camp, which is a trademark of any good Waters movie and should be embraced by anyone who sees them.  For those unfamiliar with John Waters’ work, it may come across as a bad movie, but that’s what John Waters is known for: making bad movies (that are so bad they’re good).  Cry-Baby’s appeal is that it takes the squeaky-clean image of the 1950’s and rolls it around in the mud, but still keeps a nostalgic charm about it.  The ironic thing is, Cry-Baby isn’t that different from more “serious” teen genre flicks of the era, such as Rebel Without A Cause.  Just compare the two together.

January 12, 2009 / / Film Notes

Pillow Talk – 1959- dir. Michael Gordon

Audiences seem to have forgotten how for almost half-a-century, Doris Day dominated not only the movies but radio, the big-band circuit, stage and television. She WAS America in the way John Wayne WAS America. Her freckle-faced goodness and virgin-all-the-way persona mirrored American values and mores and was thus much-loved for decades. By the 1960s and ’70s, her star began to fade, a victim of  the sexual revolution and the unlikely stardom of less conventionally attractive actresses like Barbra Streisand and Liza Minnelli. Today, in her eighties, she lives a reclusive life in Carmel, California, answers only to the name, ‘Clara’ and very seldom engages in conversation about her Hollywood glory days.

December 15, 2008 / / Film Notes

Reviewed by Paula Delaney
Shoot the Piano Player – 1960 – dir. Francois Truffaut

This 1960 French film starring Charles Aznavour tells a story that has the ingredients of romance, drama, and comic tragedy. The main character, Charlie Kohler (Edouard Saroyan) is played by Aznavour in a persona that might remind one of Peter Sellers, due to his expressions of his emotions, or lack thereof. The film is in black and white and the cinematography is representative of foreign films at the time. The music throughout the film evokes a carnival type of atmosphere, and gradually heightens the irony of the plot.

December 11, 2008 / / Film Notes

By Jessic O’Byrne

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – 1984 – Steven Spielberg

It would be easy to pick on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for its outdated and grandiose special effects or its condescending treatment of women, children, minorities, and essentially every other character in the film that is not played by Harrison Ford. It would be equally simple to write the film off as pure, unsubstantiated kitsch filled to the brim with unrealistic depictions of, sex, foreign cultures and academia. To do so, however, would be to stomp on the cavaliering dreams of the millions of little boys (and girls too, myself among them) who grew up in an era when our first glimpses of the outside world were broadcast to us in our cribs via TV and movies and our fictional heroes had to somehow be more grandiose than the already larger-than-life celebrities depicting them. The world has changed a lot since this film was originally released in 1984: we’ve all become a little older, a little fatter, and a little more politically correct. Temple of Doom offers viewers a chance to travel back to a simpler time when we could be satisfied with a tub of popcorn, and orange soda, and an entertaining (if not always fully engaging) adventure story. And so, as responsible stewards of our younger, less cynical (more easily amused) selves, we must throw aside our super PC mantles for a couple of hours in order to bask in the glory of all that is Indiana.

November 14, 2008 / / Film Notes

By Jessica O’Byrne

The Life Aquatic – 2004 – dir. Wes Anderson

Since its first release in 2004, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou has proven itself to be a large draw for commercial moviegoers and indie film fans alike. Its original Christmas Day release unconsciously reflects an epic subtext found in the film that is thankfully downplayed by the always awkward and affably charming (and above all talented) cast. The film, which chronicles the making of a documentary about Steve Zissou’s (Bill Murray) quest to hunt down the “jaguar shark” that killed his best friend, utilizes a variation on the traditional quest pattern to draw viewers in and align them with Zissou’s zany crew. Several subplots run alongside this main storyline, which I will leave you the pleasure of discovering for yourself when you watch the film. The Life Aquatic’s true triumph lies in its ability to portray largely absurd (and, particularly in the case of Zissou, often obtuse) characters that are regardless almost universally relatable. While laws, physical and otherwise, in the film are not always on par with the laws of our own universe, The Life Aquatic nevertheless takes place in a world that most viewers are ready and able to relate to.

October 21, 2008 / / Film Notes

By Christine Bamberger

My Man Godfrey

NOTE: If you’ve not seen this evening’s movie before, you may wish to enjoy our program note after viewing My Man Godfrey.

Does My Man Godfrey have a happy ending?

Somehow I have trouble believing that Godfrey Parke (William Powell) is going to have the happiness with Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard) that the surrendering Dr. Cary Grant is slated to enjoy with Katharine Hepburn as Bringing Up Baby comes to its rollicking end. Nor do Powell and Lombard seem destined to share the bliss of Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert after their road adventures in It Happened One Night. Poor Godfrey has never indicated much more than patience and politeness toward Irene, while her tantrums and flights of fancy have made her seem less like an alluring woman and more like a child (albeit a sometimes delightful one) with each ensuing scene.

October 20, 2008 / / Film Notes

By Gerry Waggett

Mr. & Mrs. Smith – 1941 – dir. Alfred Hitchcock

The 1941 screwball comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith should not be mistaken as the original version of the 2005 Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt action comedy.  The premise of the 2005 Mr. & Mrs. Smith – a husband and wife hiding from each other their secret careers as paid assassins – actually sounds closer to the sort of film audiences have come to expect from suspense master Alfred Hitchcock.  The big secret in the 1941 Mr. & Mrs. Smith?  The titular couple (played by Robert Montgomery and Carole Lombard) discover that their marriage was never legal.  It’s a twist on the comedy of remarriage genre popular during the 30s and 40s, but not exactly what we think of when we hear the term “Hitchcockian twist.”

August 18, 2008 / / Film Notes

By: KJ Hamilton

Hairspray – 2007 – dir. Adam Shankman

It’s 1962 and Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) is an overweight high school student from Baltimore, Maryland. She rats her hair and knows every dance step thanks to spending her afternoons watching “The Corny Collins Show” with her best friend Penny Pingleton (Amanda Bynes). She’s also madly in love with the show’s star crooner, Link Larkin (Zac Efron); who doesn’t notice her at school mostly because he’s so wrapped up in his own career.  Though her mother Edna (John Travolta) does not approve, Tracy auditions for the show. Initally, she’s rejected because of her weight and her belief in integration. However, Corny accepts her onto the council after Tracy wows him with her dance moves. She soon becomes the most popular dancer/council member. The station manager, Velma VonTussel (Michelle Pfeiffer) is threatened by this, as she goes to great lengths to make sure her daughter Amber (Brittany Snow) is the most visible council member, and to keep the show segregated. However, Tracy shares Corny’s (James Marsden) views on integration: “It’s the new frontier.”

August 16, 2008 / / Film Notes

By: KJ Hamilton

The Muppet Movie – 1979 – dir. James Frawley

The basic plot of the film is absolutely charming. Kermit the Frog leaves the swamp and heads west to Hollywood to try to “make millions of people happy.” He encounters a host of enchanting characters along the way, and discovers that it is possible to make your dreams come true if you work hard enough. Ok, I admit it: I love this film. I have loved it since I was a kid, and it’s one of only five films that I can watch repeatedly and never tire of them. So, I jumped at the chance to write about it. I’ve never before wondered just exactly what I love about this film until right now. There are so many things that make me smile and laugh about this film, but I managed to narrow it down to eight things. Let me tell you, this was not easy at all. Here we go…

July 18, 2008 / / Film Notes


The Breakfast Club – 1985 – dir. John Hughes – Original Theatrical Trailer

Early on in The Breakfast Club, Brian Johnson, one of the students stuck in Saturday detention is asked to describe the activities of the Physics club, of which he is a member. “I guess you could consider it a social situation,” he replies. “I mean, there are other children in that club.” Today, no self-respecting teenager, on-screen or off, would ever refer to himself as a child. In fact, the word ‘children’ has largely fallen from the lexicon, replaced by shorter, snappier words—kids, teens, tweens—that reflect the growing lack of distinction between adults and their progeny. Yet, the characters in The Breakfast Club—the five high schoolers famously archetyped as the brain, the athlete, the basket case, the princess and the criminal—are children. Each one, save Bender (the criminal), is dropped off at Saturday detention by a parent. And despite the promise of social transformation that is at the heart of the film’s appeal, at the end of the film, after all the truth-telling and boundary-breaking and making out—they get right back in the car with their parents.