Year 8, Day 45 - 2/14/16 - Movie #2,246
BEFORE: Valentine's Day is here, and it arrives in the middle of a cold snap so bad, that when I saw the temperature, my first thought was that maybe we'd all suddenly agreed to switch over to the metric system. No such luck. But we're more than halfway through the winter now, at least as the calendar goes, so you just have to sort of hope that the weather will eventually cooperate.
Bill Hader carries over from "Trainwreck", and that was the main impetus for scheduling this one here. I hadn't heard of this film during its release, instead I just recorded it to fill up the DVD with "Trainwreck" on it. I hope that's not a bad sign.
We're nearly halfway through TCM's Oscar programming as well (OK, tomorrow will be halfway) so here's the line-up for Monday, February 15:
Edna May Oliver carries over from "Lydia" to:
"Cimarron" with Stanley Fiends carrying over to:
"Mutiny on the Bounty" (1935) with Franchot Tone carrying over to:
"The Gorgeous Hussy" with Beulah Bondi carrying over to:
"Of Human Hearts" with Charles Coburn carrying over to:
"George Washington Slept Here" with Ann Sheridan carrying over to:
"Kings Row" with Ronald Reagan carrying over to:
"Desperate Journey" with Raymond Massey carrying over to:
"Abe Lincoln in Illinois" with Minor Watson carrying over to:
"Yankee Doodle Dandy" with Walter Huston carrying over to:
"The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" with Tim Holt carrying over to:
"Stagecoach" with John Carradine carrying over to:
"The Adventures of Mark Twain"
Ah, I see the theme. George Washington and Abe Lincoln mentioned in titles, plus Ronald Reagan is a link between two films. TCM got cute and decided to honor Presidents' Day, I'd wager that the other films were chosen to make that connection possible. Anyway, I've seen four of these, since I made sure to watch every version of "Mutiny on the Bounty" made, plus I watched "Abe Lincoln in Illinois", probably on a past Presidents' Day, and the classics "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" and "Stagecoach". So I'm up to 54 seen, 115 unseen, with 4 added to the list.
THE PLOT: When Joel and Molly neet, it's hate at first sight: his big Corporate Candy Company threatens to shut down her quirky indie candy shop. But amazingly (and predictably) they fall in love, until they break up and then must find their way back together.
AFTER: I've paid some attention to which film lands on Valentine's Day, trying to line up the most appropriate romantic film, but it's not always a perfect system. I started out strong in the first few years, with the films "Chocolat", "Say Anything" and the perhaps too-obvious "Valentine's Day". In 2012 it was "The Shop Around the Corner" and in 2013, "The Laws of Attraction", two films about polar opposite couples thrown together by circumstance. In 2014 there was a bit of a mis-step when I watched "Where the Heart Is" - there is a love story there, but it only came after a bunch of other drama. And last year I hit with "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", though I could argue that film was just as much a story about a woman's family as it was about her romance.
When you get down to it, it's all about tone, and now I don't know if I've picked the right film for the holiday, or if I should consider this another mis-step - because this film is to romantic comedies what "Airplane!" was to disaster films, it's not meant to be taken seriously at all. In a way, I'm glad this style of comedy is coming back, there's a new show called "Angie Tribeca" which is done in the style of the "Naked Gun" movies, and I want to support that, but Valentine's Day is too important to mess around with. That said, I can confirm that the romantic comedy genre really, really needed something to poke fun at it. Perhaps I should have realized that the same director also made "Wet Hot American Summer", a take on summer camp movies that similarly was not meant to be taken seriously at all.
In a way, it's a spoof of "When Harry Met Sally", with the framing device of "Forget Paris", but with pokes at other films in the genre as well. Because she runs a candy shop, that could be a nod to "The Shop Around the Corner", but the situation is just as likely to be based on "You've Got Mail", which was the modern equivalent of that classic film.
All of the overused tropes are here, the corporate rivalry, the way they bump into each other on the street, spilling bags of groceries, the ethnically-diverse group of friends that each symbolically represents different views on marriage, the seductive ex-girlfriend who shows up just when the couple starts to have a disagreement, the man she almost marries on the rebound. She even casually mentions where she thinks she might go to find herself if she should ever get cold feet during a wedding ceremony, just in case that information could be useful later in the film.
But it's all done with a wink and a smile, everything's so outrageous that the audience knows that the filmmakers are in on the jokes, and thus I can't really pick it apart and point out the mistakes, because if you do a big enough spoof, there really are no mistakes. (I suppose you could point out that since the story is told in flashback, we're not seeing the "real" story, but a comedic version of the truth, which is a different but less-correct interpretation.) Like in "Wet Hot American Summer", when the camp counselors take a ride into town to pick up a few supplies, and before long they're mugging people in town, buying weed, then shooting up in a drug den, only to somehow recover and return to camp later that same afternoon.
There's never a doubt about how it's going to end, you can probably predict most of the plot just from the way it's structured, but that is sort of the point.
Also starring Amy Poehler (last seen in "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues"), Paul Rudd (last seen in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower"), Ellie Kemper (last seen in "Identity Thief"), Cobie Smulders (last heard in "The Lego Movie"), Ed Helms (last seen in "The Hangover Part III"), Christopher Meloni (last seen in "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For"), Michael Ian Black (last seen in "This Is 40"), Jason Mantzoukas (last seen in "Neighbors"), Max Greenfield, Melanie Lynskey, Kenan Thompson, with cameos from Jack McBrayer (last seen in "The To Do List"), Ken Marino (last seen in "In a World..."), Zak Orth (last seen in "Prime"), Adam Scott (last seen in "The Guilt Trip"), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (last seen in "The Losers"), Michael Shannon (last seen in "Mud"), Norah Jones, John Stamos, Judge Judy Sheindlin, Randall Park (also carrying over from "Trainwreck"), Michaela Watkins (also last seen in "In a World...").
RATING: 5 out of 10 Halloween costumes