What We Do in the Shadows (2014, Jermaine Clement, Taika Waititi)

Categories: 2014 and Movies.

This is an amusing parody of reality TV disguised as a vampire comedy. It’s pretty slight, however: the plot is basically an extended reality TV episode about what happens when the house gets a new member or two, rather than anything more compelling. But there are enough gags – and the now patented New Zealand style of humour these guys have been spreading around the world for a number of years now – that you mostly are not bothered by the absolute slightness of everything about the film (or its noticeably tiny budget). Read More

Black Dynamite (2009, Scott Sanders)

Categories: 2009 and Movies.

I haven’t seen any blaxploitation in some time but, from what I remember, this is a spot on parody. And, like every great parody, it takes itself seriously enough of the time that the film and characters feel committed to the genre even as they tear it apart. There are some really solid jokes here, about the genre itself, about African-American culture, about filmmaking in general, and even some “lower” stuff (of the kind you might find in a “spoof”). Though the film probably works better if you are a fan of the genre, it still works quite well even Read More

Big Man Japan (2007, Hitoshi Matsumoto)

Categories: 2007 and Movies.

This mockumentary has an ingenious conceit – the everyday life of a superhero. It combines a satire of Japanese monster movies with a satire of reality TV/slice of life documentaries. This is a ridiculously silly movie – which gets sillier at the end, something I’ve always admired – but its points are still worth taking, even if the film is extremely silly as it attacks easy targets. Something else. 8/10 Read More

Danger 5 (2012, 2015)

Categories: 2012, 2015, and TV.

I can find no news of a third season of Danger 5 so I will review it here. If another season comes along then by all means I will watch it. Danger 5 is a delightfully deliriously absurd take on those old puppet adventure shows, only it’s live action. It’s set in a permanent WWII, where, every week, the gang have to try to stop the Nazis and kill Hitler, before teaching us how all to make a cocktail. The show may take on easy targets, but it’s the sheer volume of those targets – and their insanely absurd interaction Read More

Balls of Fury (2007, Robert Ben Garant)

Categories: 2007 and Movies.

This is a pretty unfunny comedy that seems to exist solely because the writers thought that Christopher Walken not even attempting to play a Chinese man would be funny. I generally enjoy Reno 911 (though not as much as some people) but I feel like it’s borderline impossible to tell this was made by the same people. The gags here are mostly easy and obvious, and the script doesn’t always fully commit. Most of the humour – beyond the ostensibly humourous premise of an Enter the Dragon ping pong tournament – could have been in any movie. In fact, many Read More

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978, John De Bello)

Categories: 1978 and Movies.

I watched this movie multiple times in my tweens and teens but didn’t really remember it (except, maybe, the final charge). Then, a number of years I watched the sequel – I don’t remember whether or not I had seen it before. I loved the sequel. I don’t know that I would today, but for whatever reason, I loved it that particular day. Without re-watching the sequel, I do feel like it’s probably the better movie. But that being said: this is an unbelievably stupid and great movie, that is just such a mess but so happy that it is. Read More

Angel (2007, Francois Ozon)

Categories: 2007 and Movies.

This is a well-executed period melodrama that doubles both as a morality tale that money, indeed, cannot buy happiness nor can superficial fame, and as a parody of oh so many British period melodramas. It’s such a subtle parody that one can easily forget it’s a parody (and, judging by the reviews, a lot of people missed it) and there are really only a couple moments in the film where it’s nature as parody is fully revealed: on their honeymoon (seriously folks, how can any of you take that honeymoon seriously?) and when Angel yells out some terrible romance novel Read More

Machete Kills (2013, Robert Rodriguez)

Categories: 2013 and Movies.

The first Machete was an attempt to combine a satire of America’s immigration system with a parody / celebration of “grindhouse” style action films of the ’70s and ’80s. I liked it a lot more than most people, but I don’t appear to have written a review. I gave it a 7 which, in retrospect, feels generous. And so I’m torn, because I feel like I enjoyed this sequel more than the original, though I feel like I can’t rate it as high as a 7, for reasons which I will try to detail below. The sequel feels to me Read More

The Art of the Steal (2013, Jonathan Sobol)

Categories: 2013 and Movies.

This is a pretty unfunny heist comedy – or perhaps a parody of a heist film, I’m not sure – that really, really, really wants to be Ocean’s 11 or perhaps Ocean’s 12, not 100% sure. There are few films I have seen that are so over-directed. I mean, this film has so many flashbacks, cuts, transitions, and the like I don’t even know how to put it into words. And really, I laughed maybe once every 10 minutes or so (I was trying to keep track). But the lack of laughs isn’t really the problem – it got funnier Read More

Evil Dead: The Musical (2007 Original Cast Recording)

Categories: 2007 and Music.

It’s amazing how tastes change. When I saw this a number of years ago I absolutely loved it. But it took me forever to get my hands on the soundtrack. (I deeply regretted not buying it at the show.) But now I am listening to it in a post-Book of Mormon world and what can I say? I am disappointed. It’s not that it’s bad; it is pretty funny and occasionally clever but it lacks polish and more than a few of the lines go for either fan knowledge or groaners. The music, though referential enough, still reeks of its Read More

Quark (1977)

Categories: 1977 and TV.

I certainly wish I had enjoyed this more than I did. I like the premise and I really appreciate the Star Trek fun-poking, even if that could have been a little more consistent. The problem for me, I think, is that I loved Get Smart as a child / tween but I doubt I could sit through it now. Same goes for this: Buck Henry’s sense of humour is from another time and those of us who have grown up with Python, SCTV, KITH etc have different – and I would say higher – standards. Frankly it’s just not funny Read More

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010, Steve Pink)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

This is a pretty stupid movie, but then it’s called Hot Tub Time Machine, so it should be. It’s a little formulaic and it isn’t anywhere as sharp as it could be in its parodies of ’80s ski movies and time travel movies, but it still has a enough laughs to mostly make you forget about how it could have been a lot better. It oddly takes itself a little too seriously / earnestly at times, but fortunately there’s enough crudeness to make up for that. 6/10 Read More

The Book of Mormon (Original Broadway Cast Recording, 2011) by Matt Stone, Robert Lopez and Trey Parker

Categories: 2011 and Music.

The songs are really great, I really enjoy all aspects of it – though I must say, having seen the touring cast, I was a little thrown off by the voices of the Broadway cast – and I will likely be posting lyrics to facebook every time I listen to it. But some of the layers of the musical are contained in the sets and even more in the brilliant choreography. Both of those things are obviously missing from the soundtrack and it just isn’t the same. This works best as a show. The soundtrack is great fun, but it Read More

The Book of Mormon

Categories: 2013, Music, and Theatre.

Last night I saw the US National Tour version of The Book of Mormon, the musical by the creators of South Park and Avenue Q. I think there was enough going on it that to properly, fully assess it I should see it twice. I say this with good reason as, even though the show is full of stuff that people will dismiss as crude, there are numerous references to other musicals and also the chorus-singing was often so dense you couldn’t discern every part. The plot is pretty straightforward and is, in many ways, like an extended South Park Read More

At Last the 1948 Show (1967)

Categories: 1967 and TV.

This show hasn’t held up that well, so it is mainly of historical interest for anyone seeing the birth of a pretty ridiculous generation in English comedy (Python etc). There are some skits that are simply amazing however, there’s probably only 3-5 in the entire 5 episode run. The rest of them are mostly either ideas that just don’t work that well (Python would do better) or of the kind of stuff that the Goodies later did (and if you like the Goodies, you’d probably like this). It’s definitely worth viewing if you are a fan of any of the Read More

That’s My Bush (2001)

Categories: 2001 and TV.

This is no Brak Show Starring Brak but it’s still a pretty ruthless and relatively subtle satire of sitcom conventions (the last episode is a little more obvious about it). It’s a bit of a one-joke premise and so it is often more “oh that was a clever reference” than laugh-out-loud funny (though there are moments) and unfortunately a few too many of those laughs come from jokes from the sitcom formula (which are just more risque than they otherwise would have been) rather than the satire of the sitcom formula. It makes sense to me that this failed. I Read More

The Brak Show (2001)

Categories: 2001 and TV.

I was a little sceptical coming into this because I never liked Brak when he appeared in other Williams Street shows. I found him annoying and a distraction. But I was wrong. As Space Ghost destroys talk show conventions (and pretty much everything else) and as Aqua Teen destroys so many TV drama conventions, so does Brak, only Brak takes on the sitcom. It is equally effective as the other two shows, and as funny (it might be more consistently funny than Space Ghost, if not quite as ruthless). Another awesome cartoon. 9/10 Read More

Reno 911! (2003)

Categories: 2003 and TV.

This is an entertaining show, but it is rather hit and miss. It is a one note concept and, because of that and because of the fact that it is improvised, some episodes are hilarious and some are  not funny at all (somewhat surprisingly the Pilot is perhaps the weakest of the entire season). I can’t really imagine watching the other seasons at this point, unless I knew something was going to change, as it really does seem to depend on whether they were able to luck into a good idea during the process. The ones where it is just Read More

Aqua Teen Hunger Force (2000)

Categories: 2000 and TV.

Though not quite as convention-destroying as Space Ghost, ATHF is still pretty balls-out convention destroying. From the opening cartoon gambit of “Dr. Weird is up to something again” to the lack of coherent plots, the random appearances of so many recurring characters, and the complete disregard of episode-to-episode continuity, I suspect it would be hard to ever watch a straight cartoon again (well, most straight cartoons). And it’s funny, though not always consistently: some episodes are definitely way funnier than others. But I must admire the point. 8/10 Read More

The Other Guys (2010, Adam McKay)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

This is a surprisingly clever comedy that managed to surprise me in a number of ways, while also making me laugh a ton (it couldn’t have hurt that I was dead tired and therefore in a very silly mood). Ferrell is actually almost a real character, which is a nice surprise. And Wahlberg sort of plays off his reputation as someone without a sense of humour. So hooray for characters! But the real strength is as parody: this is the best action movie / cop movie parody since Hot Fuzz. In some ways it might actually be better because it Read More

Greg the Bunny (2002)

Categories: 2002 and TV.

This is pretty much the TV version of Meet the Feebles. And because it was made for American network television, it was inherently restricted from the beginning. That being said, the show is pretty off-the-wall for a sitcom, manages some really funny moments and manages to at least somewhat critique the whole nature of TV (in a limited way). It’s pretty evident that even within the only season they were struggling for plots that fit the characters (Junction Jack’s mall buddy obsession makes no sense whatsoever) so it’s probably good for all of us that this got canceled before it Read More

The Greatest Deconstruction of Television cliche on TV ever?

Categories: TV.

Space Ghost Coast to Coast destroys the TV cliche of a “Part 2” TV cliffhanger-resolution episode: This is episode 30, featuring members of Metallica. “Continuing from the previous episode, Moltar is on the run and suspense dominates this episode. Space Ghost is forced to recruit Tansut as his fill-in director, who causes problems before bringing out the guests.” – Description from Wikipedia Read More

The Larry Sanders Show

Categories: 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, and TV.

Having recently (re)watched The Larry Sanders Show: I think The Larry Sanders Show is one of the great American television programs and one of the great comedy programs of all time. Though it was certainly not the first TV show to parody TV, nor was it the first show to be about talk shows, it was the first laugh-track-less American comedy I know of (setting the stage for the numerous laugh-track-less comedies we have now) and it was about as dark and outrageous as anything then on television. The acting is so good that you sort of forget it’s a Read More

Trey Parker

Categories: 2004, 2005, Movies, and TV.

Watching the end of Team America with my rooomate I can’t help but think what a genius Trey Parker is. It seems to get better and better each time I watch it (or, as in this case, a small part of it): I notice things I’ve never seen before and the overall brilliance of the thing makes more and more of an impression. I’m gonna change my IMDB rating. It’s a shame that some people don’t recognize his abilities principally due to “taste” issues. Anyway, he (with Matt Stone’s help of course) has made some absolutely amazing stuff and it’s Read More

We care a lot…

Categories: Music.

Just had to mention…”Do They Know it’s Christmas?” or whatever the hell it’s called is the worst song ever!!! The hypocrisy of it is just maddening. I bet the line Bono sings “Well thank God it’s them instead of you” could only have been sung by him because no one else is that self-righteous. I’m not usually a pre-Mike Patton FMN fan but their parody / attack of “Do They Know it’s Christmas?” and other celebrity aid songs, “We Care a Lot,” is worth listening to. As much as their old lead singer (Chuck Mosley I think) wasn’t very good, Read More