British Comedy month 4 – Bean

Bean, also known as Bean: The Movie, or Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie, is my favourite memory of seeing a movie in theatres. Why? Because I went with my entire extended family on my mom’s side. Long story short, I have a big extended family on my mom’s side – she was the third of six kids, and most of them have kids of their own. Everyone gets along.

For those who are somehow not aware, Mr. Bean is a British comedy character portrayed by Rowen Atkinson, who may very well be the world’s best physical comedian who is still around today. The original sitcom series first aired on ITV, an independent British TV network, between January 1 of 1990 and December 15 of 1995. Atkinson first came up with the character while studying for his master’s degree at the University of Oxford, and he described the character as “a child in a grown man’s body”. In Atkinson’s words, Mr. Bean solves various problems presented by everyday tasks, and often causes disruption in the process.

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British Comedy month 3 – In Bruges

Normally I’m not a big fan of black comedies. Sure, individual dark jokes can be hilarious, but when that’s the main focus of a comedy, well … I’d rather watch something that’s more light-hearted if I’m in the mood for a laugh. That said, a very well done black comedy, or even one that’s mixed in with drama or a thriller, can still be a good watch. Enter 2008’s In Bruges, released by Spotlight Pictures.

Of the movies I’m looking at this month, In Bruges performed the best in terms of critical acclaim and accolades. It was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards, and won the Best Screenplay equivalent in a number of other ceremonies, including BAFTA, British Independent Film Awards, the Irish Film & Television Awards, and more. It also received multiple nominations, and even a few awards, for acting. It’s listed among the “Top Independent Films” in the National Board of Review Awards in 2008, and even won the Most Original trailer award at the Golden Trailer Awards.

Also, the movie earned $34.5 million on a $15 million budget. That’s not bad for an independent British film.

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British Comedy Month 2 – Monty Python and the Holy Grail

This here is the main reason I’ve wanted to spend a month looking at British Comedies. Yes, Hot Fuzz was another major reason, but Monty Python and the Holy Grail is, well … Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Released in 1975, this movie cost less than 300,000 British pounds to make, yet it earned over 2.3 million. It popularized the British comedy group internationally, when before this, they were mostly only known in the UK.

Even today, nearly 50 years later, it’s often regarded as among the greatest comedy films of all-time. In the 2011 ABC special Best In Film, it ranked Holy Grail as the second best comedy of all-time, behind Airplane!. Total Film’s 2000 list ranked it the 5th best of all-time, while Channel 4’s viewers voted it as the 6th.

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British Comedy month 1 – Hot Fuzz

I’ve been interested in doing a theme month on British comedies for a while. There’s something unique about British comedy compared to North America comedy that I can’t quite explain, but it often feels more intelligently written compared to North American comedies. I’d say that even when it’s intentionally silly like Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Speaking of which, guess which movie I’m planning on looking at next.

Hot Fuzz is the second movie in what’s often referred to as the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. It’s a trilogy of comedies, each being a parody of a distinct genre. The first, Shaun of the Dead, surprised the world with a brilliant zombie apocalypse movie that managed to blend zombie horror, comedy, and romance into one. It does all three of those genres very well. The third one, The World’s End, is a bit harder to properly grasp upon a first viewing, as it’s quite different from the other two. In truth it’s a brilliant cap to the trilogy, somehow tying all three of these movies together that are, on the surface, completely unconnected. But of the three, my favourite is Hot Fuzz.

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Box Office Bomb month 4 – Strange World

This blog post could also double as Disney Animated Movies 61, but I think I’m done with being a completionist in that sense. I enjoy doing these theme months enough that I’m no longer going to look at every single movie released in the runs I’ve done in the past. Also, I have no interest whatsoever in Pixar’s Lightyear movie that released last year. A Buzz Lightyear movie without Tim Allen? They didn’t even consider him, despite how he made that character as entertaining as he is. Count me out.

Strange World is appropriately titled at least. It’s a loosely science fiction adventure film. There are actually a number of big names involved with this project. Jake Gyllenhaal (October Sky, Spider-Man: Far From Home) plays Searcher Clade, a farmer who disappointed his father by not becoming an adventurer. Dennis Quaid (too many big roles to count) plays Jaeger Clade, Searcher’s adventurer father who abandoned his crew years ago when they discovered a glowing plant, as he was more interested in discovering what was on the other side of a seemingly unconquerable mountain. Jaboukie Young-White plays Ethan Clade, Searcher’s son who is overall close with his father, but yearns for adventure beyond the family farm. Lucy Liu (Shanghai Noon) is the leader of an expedition into the “Strange World” in search for a way to save the glowing plants. Karan Soni (the taxi driver in Deadpool 1 and 2, and the upcoming Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse) is the nerdy member of the crew. There are others, but that’s enough.

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Box Office Bomb month 3 – Waterworld

This post is later than I would like because my thermostat failed over the weekend … right in the middle of a heat wave. Well, it’s fixed now – turns out it was just a blown fuse on my furnace’s circuit board, which mean the thermostat wasn’t getting any power. As such, I’m not going to get deep into the making of this movie like I usually do.

Waterworld, released in 1995, is an interesting Box Office Bomb case. The production was too ambitious for its own good, and with a number of cost overruns and production setbacks, it ended up costing Universal somewhere between $172 and $175 million. That made it the most expensive movie in history at the time, dwarfing the previous most expensive movie (True Lies at $100 million). Since movies tend to need at least double their budget back to earn a profit, and often more, the $264 it earned in theaters wasn’t enough.

That said, Waterworld has since made its money back through home video sales and other classic screenings.

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Box Office Bomb month 2 – John Carter

Not all box office bombs are bad movies. Some are actually quite good, and were just either too ambitious for their own good, or suffered from terrible marketing. Some, like Blade Runner, were misunderstood masterpieces that have since become very profitable. Some just released at a bad time, sandwiched between two box-office juggernauts. Some are at least decent, but suffered a bloated budget, and were arguably released far too late for their own good. This week’s review focuses on the decent movie with a bloated budget that should have been released decades earlier.

John Carter, released in 2012, currently holds the record for the most total money lost by a single movie, at least as far as my research could tell. With a total cost of over $264 million, it’s also up there with the most expensive movies ever made. Match that with a sizeable advertising budget, the movie earned a total of $284 million, and lost Disney $200 million. Disney also released the movie that lost the second most amount of money, The Lone Ranger, and that released one year later. Good thing the MCU movies were doing so well at the time.

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Box Office Bomb month 1 – Oogieloves

This movie is actually the main inspiration behind me wanting to do a theme month on box office bombs. Everything about this movie, from its very conception, to tossing in a number of well-known celebrities, to the insane budget, begs exactly one question – why?

Introducing The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure, or Oogieloves for short. This movie was produced by Kenn Viselman, who was a producing partner for the Teletubbies show. Basically, he was in charge of the American distribution of the show, and also worked as a marketing executive for Thomas & Friends. He originally wanted to make a movie based on the Teletubbies, but pitching it led to disputes with the show’s creator, Anne Wood. Instead, he went ahead with his own original property, loosely based on another show for little kids, My Bedbugs.

The goal was to make an “interactive” movie experience.

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Bad Movies 9 – Howard the Duck

This blog post is late for several reasons. One, the first movie I watched didn’t turn out to be as hilariously bad as I hoped. It was just … boring. Two, even the second movie I watched wasn’t quite hilariously bad, hence why I’m just calling this post “Bad movies 9”. That said, this one does have its hilariously bad moments, enough that it’s at least worth talking about. Also, it’s got some big names behind it, including George Lucas, Lea Thompson (Marty’s mom in Back to the Future), Jeffery Jones (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Hunt for Red October), and starring Chip Zien’s voice as the title character. I’m talking about the 1986 Howard the Duck movie.

The other movie I watched was the 1984 Red Sonja movie. Honestly the most interesting thing about that movie was how the director kind of betrayed Arnold Schwarzenegger by giving him a much bigger role than what they agreed on.  He’s refused to work with the director since. Well, that and it was Bridgette Nielson’s first major role.

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Hilariously Bad Movies 8 – Manos: The Hands of Fate

Sorry for this post being a few days later than normal. I had a busy weekend.

Even in the realm of bad movies, there are very few that can easily be compared to Manos: The Hands of Fate. Very few people involved with this movie are known for anything else. Writer/director/producer Harold P. Warren made a bet with Academy Award Winning writer, Stirling Dale Sillphant (he won it for “In the Heat of the Night”) at a coffee shop. Warren claimed that it wasn’t difficult to make a horror film, and bet that he could make one on his own. After placing the bet, he wrote the basic script outline on a napkin, in that same restaurant. That’s right, this movie only exists because of a bet.

Warren financed the film entirely on his own, with a $19,000 budget. Even for the mid-60s, that’s a tiny budget by any standards. He hired a group of actors from a local theater, many of which he’d worked with before, and a few others from a modeling industry. Instead of paying them direct wages, he instead promised the cast and crew a profit share. The movie was mostly shot at a ranch owned by a lawyer, who worked in the same building as Warren. All of the equipment was rented instead of bought. The camera in particular was an old model 16mm Bell & Howell that had to be wound by hand, and could only shoot up to 32 seconds of footage per take. This led to editing difficulties. Also, because all of the equipment was rented, production was rushed.

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