In which we play round two of last year’s winter party game, the Hallmark Christmas Movie Generator Game! We’ve got all the same hats and slips of paper, but this time with a NEW category to make our titles even more cumbersome and difficult to find when scanning through a list of vague nonsensical titles on Hulu. Naturally, we also introduce the subject of our 2022 Christmas Spectacular, where we finally dip our toes into the made-for-TV holiday movie cesspool. Truly, it was destined to happen. Unsurprisingly there’s still yet another mulled wine cocktail to accompany it, because why wouldn’t there be.
Author Archives: Why Watch
Journey with us, won’t you, back in time to both medieval times and 1963, a veritable dark ages for the citizens of England and the Walt Disney studios. For this episode, we cover the movie that sits at the center of this Venn diagram, The Sword in the Stone. Is this a charming bit of nostalgic fun, or weak effort built upon an episodic screenplay and boring protagonist? Spoilers, it can be two things. Turn into a fish along with Leigh, Brendan, and Chris as they discuss what led to the disjointed visual style of this movie, the wet sheet that is young Arthur, and what lessons we were supposed to learn by being turned into squirrels (just that fat old horny lady squirrels are funny???). To adequately do justice to this movie, we also make THREE different cocktails, so like us you should get pretty drunk while watching this, perhaps even drunk enough to not notice that three different actors play Wart at various points throughout this film (jk there’s not enough alcohol in the hemisphere to have that slip by unnoticed).
Yes, we’re sorry, we know it’s Halloween but we have no more ideas for Halloween mini episode topics. We’re open to suggestions! Until then, we’re going to do another Pitcher’s Mound mini where we each pitch an updated modern adaptation of a classic piece of literature / drama. That’s right, until Hollywood gets its act together and makes the teen comedy version of Cymbeline that we’ve all been clamoring for, we’ll just have to put our own ideas out into the ether. So please, don’t steal our contemporary high school version of The Great Gatsby. It would just be impolite. Also next up, we tackle the oldest movie we’ve ever covered (and also possibly the shortest) in our return to the Disney animated canon, this time focusing on their middling ’60s output.
For our annual Halloween Spooktacular, we chose a movie so terrifying, so unnatural, so deeply unsettling- oh, wait, no, it’s just Vamps, a 2012 horror (?) comedy (??) movie (???) about vampires, written and directed by Amy Heckerling. Ah, you might think, at least the idea of vampires filtered through Clueless sounds fun! Well, you’d be wrong, because Amy has left her “good movie” period and become firmly lodged in her “I got a lot of grievances to get out” period. Join Leigh, Brendan, and Chris as they discuss what vampires might conceivably be useful for in fiction, who Amy Heckerling has it out for this time, and why the hell the crux of this movie is about a vampire spontaneously deciding she wants to settle down and have a baby. Well, raise a baby, not like “have a baby for dinner” like Lucy in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Remember, the only thing scary here is how trite the whole endeavor is.
Part of the Golden Age of Television™ we now find ourselves inundated with is that so many large conglomerates are now spending absurd amounts of money on streaming-friendly television extensions of their media brands. What does this mean for you, the viewer? Well, it means that right now you’ve got four separate franchises (Marvel, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and Lord of the Rings) currently screaming for space amongst your literal and figurative bandwidth. And much like the alignment of the planets that portends a seismic shift in Disney’s Hercules, all four of them have something launching at about the same time. Join in with Leigh, Brendan, and Chris as they discuss the four shows represented by these terrible mega-corporations and what ones they think are worth your eyeballs glazing over for. Also, we announce our upcoming Halloween Spooktacular movie- truly, the only thing more frightening that the capitalist nightmare we find ourselves trapped in.
When you split up with your husband and are faced with the challenge of starting a new life, do you up and move away? Do you try to find yourself? Do you invite three sweet well-mannered boys into your guest house and use them for child care / tech support / sex? Well, if you’re Reese Witherspoon in the 2017 Hallie Meyers-Shyer romantic (?) comedy Home Again, you sort of half-heartedly do all of the above at various points but don’t really commit to any of them. Pull up a Pottery Barn cushion and join Leigh, Brendan, and Chris as we hang up a bedsheet in the back yard and dig into what exactly makes this movie tick. Is it the Meyers-lite vibes? Is it the lack of focus on any particular moment in the protagonist’s life? Is it that these boys have barely two traits to spread between themselves? In a word, yes. In another word, KITCHENS!
We say hello to our movie for next month and bid farewell to our Sweet and Sour Summer of Teen Angst with the inevitable conclusion that actually, we could do it way better than the pros. We’ve each come prepared with a pitch or two of our own for the next big YA franchise for some second-rate director to snatch up and butcher into a mid-budget movie, and the buzz words are flying. Upstairs/Downstairs in space? Black powder fantasy with dragons and tech? Twin Peaks Americana meets fairy tale? The Goodreads commenters will have a field day with this!
Shakespeare gets a modern makeover complete with low-slung cargo shorts and asymmetrically-cut tops in this teen take on Twelfth Night, 2006’s She’s the Man. In a category brimming with Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Easy A, is there room for yet another similarly updated YA comedy? The answer, of course, is not really, especially if ends up being as dull and dated as this one. Leigh, Brendan, and Chris cover the weird gender role ideas, Amanda Bynes’s straight-out-of-The–Amanda–Show performance, and the general pitfalls of trying to do a modern take on classic lit. We also conclude our Sweet and Sour Summer of Teen Angst with one final lemony cocktail, and a promise that we’ll probably move back to more adult fare next time. Well, comparatively speaking.
At long last, our horrible secret comes out- it turns out we thought some of the movies we suggested for this podcast were actually good and just used this whole thing as an excuse to force a discussion about a “bad” movie we secretly liked. We air our dirty laundry to each other and confess our deepest truths about movies like The Girl from Monday and Tomorrowland and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. As part of our sinful confession, we also reveal our next and final Sweet and Sour Summer of Teen Angst movie and cocktail, so hold on to your gendered clothing for this next episode.
Our Sweet and Sour Summer of YA Angst marches on like a june bug in a Southern pride parade with 2013’s Beautiful Creatures, a country-fried slice of supernatural teen drama stuffed with a bunch of heavy-hitting actors in turn stuffed with all the scenery they devoured. What might otherwise be a pretty rote YA adaptation becomes considerably more interesting by making the brave choices to swap the expected gender roles and also not really explain anything very well. Come sit a spell on the veranda with Leigh, Brendan, and Chris as they discuss the vague and confusing world of the Casters, a YA story that seems to remove all agency for its female protagonist, and the weird details from the source material were apparently lost in translation. And also there’s yet another lemonade cocktail that’s so sweet and boozy, you’ll think your dining room table has begun to rotate rapidly while two other people rotate outside you in the other direction. Stop it! Lena, stop it. Stop it, Lena! Lena!
As part of our process of determining movies for our Sweet and Sour Summer of YA Angst, we went through several lists of movies based on young adult novels that never quite took off or flopped miserably. Naturally, we ended up watching multiple potential candidates and came across several movies that we found fascinating in some way but didn’t merit a full discussion. Maybe they were actually good! Maybe they just sucked so much that no one wanted to talk about them! Anyway, on that note, please enjoy our discussion of three YA novels that were not the hits the studio may have hoped they were- 2014’s Vampire Academy, 2016’s Fallen, and and 2018’s Every Day. Which one of these was the secretly good one? Hint: it’s the one we spend the most time talking about! Also our summer of teen angst continues unabated with our next piece of country-fried cinematic supernatural nonsense (and yet another lemonade cocktail to accompany it).
Nothing says “fun and fizzy tween comedy” like one where a baby Jennifer Garner wishes to be “30, flirty, and thriving” and has her consciousness propelled forward into a multiverse governed by a monkey’s paw where she has achieved all her dreams but has destroyed all that is sweet and pure about herself in the process. That’s right, our retroactively-themed Sweet and Sour Summer of Teen Angst kicks off with 2004’s 13 Going on 30, a 2004 movie nostalgic for 1987 viewed by a bunch of 2022 millennials nostalgic for 2004. Leigh, Brendan, and Chris view a movie considerably better than most of the other ones done on this podcast but still filled with inexplicable and murky moments. What cruel universe would grant a teen girl’s wishes but force her to live in an ironic dark timeline? What the hell is Poise about and how will that at all translate to a spur-of-the-moment reworking of the entire magazine? Why would Jennifer Garner throw a shrimp tale on the floor of the bank lobby where her work party is held? All this will be discussed along with a sweet and lemony summer cocktail (and apologies for the weird audio, we had an air conditioner running because it is simply too hot).
Summer is finally here, and with it the exciting promise of traveling to new locales (or just sitting in front of the air conditioner on your phone watching movies, both are good options)! Using that as a starting point, Leigh, Brendan, and Chris decided to talk about the fictional worlds of films that they’d most like to live in and why. Will Leigh deign to visit Brendan when he moves to Coruscant? Listen and find out! Also we kick off our summer movie and drink theme, and all the sweet and sour vibes it entails.
Journey with us back to the distant year of 2010, a time when Walt Disney Pictures was wildly desperate to launch another multi-million dollar franchise that would convince teenage boys to give them money. Enter The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, an ostensible live-action adaptation of a Fantasia segment that would reteam National Treasure director Jon Turteltaub with National Treasure scenery gnawer Nicolas Cage. Audiences at the time didn’t take to the idea of Nic Cage wearing a flowing wig and leather duster casting magic goop at Alfred Molina, but we sure did! Listen in as Leigh, Brendan, and Chris discuss aspects of a movie they all mostly liked, from the use of magic to the performances to the locale (you know, it’s almost like New York City should be the fourth-billed character in the movie!). Don’t worry, we have some bad stuff to talk about as always along with our fixes AND of course there’s a really great summery cocktail for you to enjoy as you listen to OneRepublic’s “Secrets (Jay Baruchel Tesla Coil Remix).”
For this mini episode of Why Watch, we tackle one of the cultural zeitgeist’s most pressing issues- who are your sweetest bois? Join Leigh, Brendan, and Chris as they discuss their favorite gentle boys of pop culture, those sweet boys who are defined by their willingness to show kindness and help others rather than immediately punch the shit out of someone (look, some of them also do that too but hey, all gentle behavior must have limits). Also our next full-length episode’s subject is brought up along with an accompanying cocktail that will hopefully sort of look like electricity or Tesla coils or magic, I don’t know, there’s options here!
Our reigning queen of The-Consistently-Great-Thing-in-the-Bad-Movies-We-Watch, Michelle Pfeiffer, once again drifts into the focus of our podcast as the lead of a romcom (!) co-starring Paul Rudd (!!) and directed by Amy Heckerling (!!!) that was buried in the direct-to-DVD pipeline (!V). That’s right, on this episode we’ll be discussing the 2007 scattershot May-August romantic comedy I Could Never Be Your Woman, a movie that you’ve probably never heard of and for good reason. Join Leigh, Brendan, and Chris as we discuss the weird power imbalance, the shitty gender dynamics, and a heaping helping of Hollywood satire that was dated by the time Amy Heckerling typed it into Final Draft. And this time, we got TWO variations on a themed cocktail to make this whole awkward affair go down a little easier. Trust us, when you see Tracy Ullman monologuing as Mother Nature about how women don’t want to have babies anymore, you’ll understand the real reason we needed two drinks.
Sorry in advance about the dodgy audio quality, you can blame it on us trying to record from the penthouse of a hotel in Lake Tahoe if that helps make it thematically appropriate. And it should, because for this episode we’re tackling Joe Carnahan’s 2006 gangster / assassin free-for-all Smokin’ Aces, starring Ryan Reynolds, Jeremy Piven, Ray Liotta, Chris Pine, Ben Affleck, Alicia Keys, and a whole bunch of other talent crammed in like so many murderers into an elevator. A simple and workable premise is smothered in characters, technique, and subplots, but how could this all have been executed (ha ha) better? Join Leigh, Brendan, and Chris as they discuss and attempt to fix this hyper piece of early 2000s action nonsense, and as they enjoy perhaps the best cocktail they have ever made for this podcast. Yes, it’s just that good.
We return with the third leg of our “guess what’s real and what’s made up” game, this time focusing on that finest of all American art forms, musical theater! Well, some would certainly argue that, at least. Join Brendan as he quizzes Leigh and Chris with a list of musical titles as they determine which ones are actually professionally-mounted musicals and which ones are titles that Brendan thought sounded vaguely plausible. I mean, can you tell what “Flahooley” is? Who can, right? Also we plan out our next movie and a suitably smoky cocktail to accompany it.
Mentally transport yourself back to the distant, far-flung year of 2010. Somehow Star Wars hadn’t returned, we were all still trying to figure out what would come of all these Marvel movies, and Disney was trying to figure out how to make blockbusters that teenagers would see. Enter Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, a desaturated tri-dimensional sequel to a movie that doesn’t exist. Audiences desperate for 3-D immersion turned it into one of the most improbably successful movies of all time, and Futterwacken fever swept clubs all over the world. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very good then, and it’s somehow less good now. Leigh, Brendan, and Chris return to this relic of a time gone by to try and determine why precisely this movie doesn’t work (spoilers, it’s mostly the story) and how to make sense of a movie based on a book that famously refuses to make sense. Naturally, we have a tea party of our own to accompany our discussion along with a tea-based cocktail to prevent any of us from having to watch this thing totally sober. Callooh! Callay!
MORE GAMES! The people (by which we mean we) demanded it, and so we delivered. We go now to round two of our guessing game in which Leigh and Brendan try to determine what woman-featured thriller movies Chris has made up versus which ones are actual films. Also as always we announce next episode’s movie, one of the ugliest and crappiest big-budget movies ever to be committed to some hard drive in California, and the very thematically-appropriate tea-based cocktail that will accompany it (and hopefully numb the pain).
Another Valentine’s Day is upon us, and like a shiftless sitcom husband stopping at a gas station for a last minute card, we also turn our thoughts to a lazy half-assed attempt at showing romance. This year’s Valentine’s Day romcom is 2003’s Alex & Emma, one of Rob Reiner’s many many middling unsuccessful movies following his dizzying highs in the 80s and early 90s. This shameless rip-off of Paris When It Sizzles stars Luke Wilson as a crummy writer prone to gambling away his advances and Kate Hudson as the stenographer who improbably agrees to transcribe his novel, while also playing four other women in the fictional fantasy world they create together. Leigh, Brendan, and Chris take a look into what happened to Reiner, what in the hell Luke Wilson’s novel could actually be, and how works of fiction within works of fiction become more and more underwhelming the greater you focus on them in the plot. We also finish our winter cocktail triad with a frothy snowy spritzer, so get drunk like we did and get ready to continue our dive into middling romcoms.
Have you ever encountered something so directly suited to your desires, something so attuned to your tastes, something that you can’t possibly imagine anyone else responding to as passionately as you? If so, you’ve got some ego, buddy! But still, we’re going to discuss this sort of thing anyway. Join Leigh, Brendan, and Chris as we talk about some specific forms of media that feels tailor-made to our own preferences. As usual, there’s a lot of tangents and we talk about our impending Valentine’s Day rom-com phantasmagoria (with the customary winter spritzer cocktail as well).
A new year, a new start! And what better way to celebrate the endless possibilities of a new year than to watch a movie that does very little new with a story that’s been around for many centuries? That’s right, we’re finally doing the weird companions movie to Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur and His Lads of the Round Table, 2018’s Robin Hood starring Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, and several Irish people. Don your hood and puffy Primark jacket and listen in as Leigh, Brendan, and Chris sift through a bunch of washed out colors and tired plot points to find what works here. Some vague concepts? Weird futuristic costumes straight out of Coruscant? The idea that the Crusades are the same thing as any modern war in the Middle East complete with archers using their bows like SWAT teams use assault rifles? Also we complete our winter cocktail trifecta with a lovely spiced sangria that makes the movie’s 114 minute runtime feel more like a lean 112 minutes.
Our beloved (?) annual tradition continues! It is the end of the year and we are all very tired, so for the fifth time we look at the year in review. The movies! The drinks! The movies and drinks yet to come! Also we’re doing that Taron Egerton Robin Hood movie next, so maybe consider renting that piece of crap.
What better way to celebrate Christmas than to imagine yourself in a world of dazzling whiteness, inscrutable timelines, and overall excess? That’s right, ’tis the season to enjoy a messy Christmas movie, and this year’s reason for the season is Nancy Meyer’s 2006 vaguely Christmas-y romcom The Holiday. Join Leigh, Brendan, and Chris as we all swap houses, cars, everything, and discuss the two dueling plot lines, the general Nancy aesthetics, and how Jude Law can somehow do a tight 15 as Mr. Napkin Head and still be hot as fuck. How do you form this shapeless, treacly mass of Christmas pudding into something a little tighter (and oh god maybe somehow shorter than 136 minutes)? Well, listen in as we try to do that while getting pretty buzzed on mulled white wine (Nancy would approve).
In which we play a new game for the holidays, much like a gang of jolly penniless friends as a Victorian England Christmas party (except it’s about Hallmark movies which would have undoubtedly perplexed and befuddled the average citizen of that time period). There’s nouns and adjectives and drawing paper from hats and improvising the plots of Hallmark Christmas movies, and truly what more could you want? Also we briefly talk about our annual Christmas traditions (i.e. our upcoming Christmas movie and the mulled wine we will be drinking to accompany it).
Finally, we answer the question that has plagued humanity for like 15 years or so- who watches Watching the Detectives? Also, what is Watching the Detectives and is there a good reason no one has heard of it despite the pretty great cast? To fully dive into these difficult conundrums, we Unite the Five and drag out good friends / returning guests Meghan Coyne and Faith Johnson to dissect this 2007 romantic (?) comedy (??) starring Cillian Murphy, Lucy Liu, and a surprising amount of other funny randos. What makes this movie fail at nearly everything it attempts to do? What separates a screwball comedy heroine homage from a shitty manic pixie dream girl? Were the producers of this movie right to bury it in a New Jersey landfill so that no one would ever know this lame attempt existed? Also, how do you make a themed cocktail for a movie when the internet has mislead you as to what this movie is actually about? Well, you try your best. Now, please join us in listening to us talking about us watching Watching the Detectives.
With Halloween in our rearview mirrors and the evil demonic spirits we brought to our mortal realm after spending the night in that haunted house safely turned to statues when the first rays of dawn touched them, we can focus on the future: movies that we thought would suck but then didn’t! Now that we have created a Horrible New Normal and studios are starting to put bloated expensive crap back in theaters where it belong, Leigh, Brendan, and Chris discuss movies they saw that they fully expected to not be good but somehow were. You can call this the Paddington Principle. Also we start preparing for our next full-length episode, with a few old friends returning for a movie no one has ever heard and a autumnal update of a hardboiled gumshoe standby to drink along with it.
For our annual Halloween Spooktacular episode, we dredge the the cruddy marshes of early-2000s horror films and pull up 2005’s White Noise, a real piece of crap you might be dimly aware of because Michael Keaton was in it. Keaton stars as a widower who believes he can hear his dead wife speaking to him through the static of his phone, prompting him to phone in his performance for the next 70 minutes. Get yourself into a suitably spooky mood (but not too spooky because this isn’t really much of a horror movie despite all evidence to the contrary) and listen to Leigh, Brendan, and Chris moan about the movie’s weird understanding of electronic voice phenomenon, its steadfast commitment to ensuring no character aside from Michael Keaton have an identity or wants, and how it winds up being a pilot for a CBS procedural for about half of the running time. Also we make a white Russian because of course what else would you make for this, and get slowly drunker as we all pitch our own versions of this that are inevitably more suited to being a “horror movie.” Also please don’t listen to the silent parts of this podcast at boosted volumes lest you hear a bunch of grumpy ghosts naming streets near you.