Back in the Before Times when movies were actually a thing you could go to, it was customary for studios to start dropping Oscar bait movies in late fall and continue throughout the holiday season. It’s always fun to look back on which ones never ended up getting the little golden men they were angling for, and for our November episode we look at a recent example, 2013’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty directed by and starring Ben Stiller. Do you remember this? Maybe? There was a vague trailer demanding you feel things while the dulcet tones of Of Monsters and Men played underneath, perhaps reminding you instead of Where the Wild Things Are? Anyway, why did this movie end up sort of fading from public consciousness and not getting the award Paramount believed it justly deserved? What didn’t work about it, and what could have made it work better? That’s what our podcast is about, remember, so we get into that while enjoying TWO drinks. Reflect on the current lack of awards season by joining our conversation, getting drunk, and feeling some early 2010’s brand of forced cinematic hygge.
Author Archives: Why Watch
OOOOOO PRETTY SNARKY, EH? It’s been over a year (or maybe like three months time isn’t real anymore who knows) since the finale of Game of Thrones aired and disappointed nearly everyone with its rushed plotting, shoddy characterizations, and shots of Dany making it look like she has dragon wings. Since then, we’ve all entered into a collective pact to not think about it anymore. Well, we’re smashing that agreement, and all because Leigh kept reading Jaime/Brienne fics while bored during quarantine. That mild event launched a chain reaction that prompted us to devote an entire mini (in name only) episode to the end of Game of Thrones– what went wrong, what went right (I mean maybe something did???) and what could have made it better. Yes, we know people have had these discussions before, but with *gestures to everything* all this happening, we needed something to focus our energy on to stop our brains from melting.
Welcome, boys and GHOULS, to our annual Halloween Spooktacular featuring The Haunting! Yes, this is Jan de Bont’s 1999 CGI-encrusted remake of Shirley Jackson’s classic story of horror and pulsating doors, not the 1961 classic, or the Netflix series based off the same source material, or The House on Haunted Hill, or the remake of The House on Haunted Hill, or The Legend of Hell House. Leigh, Brendan, and Chris curl up with a bloody good cocktail (complete with glass to put over your eye lest you get blood in it) and try to reshape this aimless and incomprehensible attempt at terror into something that might actually be worth watching. Also there’s curly tails, tulip mania, and we anoint America’s new sweethearts. BLEAHHH!!!
Remember that thing that was going around twitter a while ago where people were listing the top five television shows that explained who they were as a person? Remember? Before all this other stuff that happened? Well, we do and so we’re doing it but instead of just saying what the five television shows that define ourselves are, we’re making everyone else guess what they would be. It’s a game! We loves games! And we love seeing how well we actually know each other (oh does it vary). Also we’re preparing ourselves for our impending Halloween spooktacular two weeks from now. It involves a big neat house and a hefty slathering of CGI. Start drinking now.
What do you get when you take Patrick Dempsey, the writers of The Hangover, the director of The Lion King, and a group of esteemed and notable actors and lock them all up together in a bank overnight? Did you guess Flypaper? No? You’ve never even heard of it? Oh. Well, you get Flypaper, a 2011 crime comedy that opened at Sundance and then everyone forgot about entirely. Everyone but Leigh. So naturally, she, Brendan, and Chris decided to watch this sweaty heist flick and see what the deal was. Listen, won’t you, as we discuss what the hell the tone is trying to be, what’s Patrick Dempsey’s assortment of quirks supposed to amount to, and the answer to the question that was on everyone’s lips the summer of 2011- WHO IS VICELLOUS DRUM??? And then we try to fix the movie and drink a cocktail in tribute to the film’s unnamed Swiss miss (RIP Swiss Miss).
No, we didn’t forget how to count, but we ARE going a bit off schedule this week to feature our final episode of Why Don’t We Watch This. This week we talk about Shane Black’s The Nice Guys, a rollicking mystery comedy adventure set in the 1970s if your average film reviewer or podcaster named Chris is to be believed! Turns out when you watch a great movie that gives you great laugh per minute mileage, you don’t always have a lot to talk about! In two weeks we’ll back to semi-normal with our Beauty and the Beast ep, so you’ll be treated to two main episodes in a row, you lucky ducks.
No, not that Beauty and the Beast, god forbid! The bad one. The one where all the charm and heart of the original animated classic was replaced with CGI glop and soulless autotune and Stanley Tucci as a harpsichord that shoots keys at people (we didn’t say EVERY change was bad). Leigh, Brendan, and Chris discuss the uncanny valley recreation of your childhood that has no reason to be other than to make over a billion dollars at the box office. Was there a way this movie could have been done well? Well, maybe. Was there ever a reason to do it? Well… no, but we made a drink to go along with it and discussed how we’d do it anyway.
In this continuation of our mini mini-series Why Don’t We Watch This, we discuss Strange Days. No, not the prolonged Kafka-esque fever dream that is 2020, the 1995 Kathryn Bigelow directed cyberpunk neo-noir film starring Ralph Fiennes and Angela Bassett. Heads up, this movie is Intense with a capital I, as in the optical organs you may want to avert, as we did, during some of the more violent and unpleasant scenes. If you are not okay with graphic depictions of physical and sexual violence, this may not be the episode (or movie!) for you. Otherwise, enjoy our humble addition to the many discussions and think pieces of this ever-timely would-be narrative of a systemically racist militarized police force wreaking on L.A. mired in a confusing virtual reality serial killer whodunnit.
It’s been over four months since we all started working from home, and it’s leaving us nostalgic for the things we used to be able to do, like physically touch our loved ones and ride public transportation to our places of work. Accordingly, we decided to put ourselves back in that state of mind by watching Jaume Collet-Serra‘s 2018 thriller The Commuter, starring an especially haggard-looking Liam Neeson as the titular character and Vera Farmiga as the woman who won’t stop trying to talk to him on the train, the most terrifying threat of all. A good premise is let down by some bad execution and lazy plotting, so we all do that thing we do and try to come up with ways this could have been the fun conspiracy movie it so desperately wants to be. Also, we have a COFFEE cocktail! COFFEE!! LIKE A COMMUTER DRINKS!!!
In which we continue our summer of watching things that are good but we haven’t all seen by watching Preston Sturges’s 1941 screwball comedy The Lady Eve, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda and a cartoon snake. Also we use this movie as a jumping off point to talk about our thoughts on screwball comedies (good!) and the weird way Nancy Meyers structures her movies so that you can’t tell where you actually are in the plot (I mean, your mileage may vary!). Also next episode we’ll do a complete 180 and talk about a very big and loud action movie, but for now just listen to us all talk about how much we like a movie whose plot twist is predicated on an action being so outlandish that it circles back around and becomes believable again. Good stuff!
What could be more timely than a comedy where a millennial sacrifices her entire identity to fulfil the mad whims of a wildly wealthy older white couple? Don’t worry! She’s white and kind of well off and doing this voluntarily, so it’s fun!!! Yes, it’s The Nanny Diaries, a film à clef based on the chick lit beach read where recent college graduate Scarlett Johansson for some flimsy reason chooses to be the live-in nanny to Laura Linney and part of Paul Giamatti while being wooed by privileged hunk Chris Evans. Do we really figure out what these reasons are, or why she won’t leave, or if this all is the sort of thing we really want to watch in the present climate? Not really! But we all had a wine spritzer cocktail we made for the occasion and then tried to make this movie into a better version of itself anyway, like the podcast equivalent of so many Donna Murphy guilt trips.
We continue our miniseries of indeterminable length with another movie that we enjoy watching JUST BECAUSE, Carl Reiner’s 1993 sex thriller parody, Fatal Instinct. Also we talk about parody movies in general and why some of them work better than others. And this one doesn’t always even work all the time! But hey, where else can you get Armand Assante and Sean Young screwing recklessly while spinning plates? Also we’re doing a summery chick-lit movie adaptation next, so get ready for that.
As the disgraced knight Bowen says, “Dreams die hard and you hold them in your hands long after they’ve turned to dust.” Similarly, when some of us revisited the 1996 fantasy / CGI test feature Dragonheart, we also found that our memories of a beloved childhood film had also turned to dust. Take away the once-impressive (?) computer-generated costar and you’re left with a pretty trite story bogged down with vague world-building and Dennis Quaid’s Irish (?) accent work. Can Leigh, Brendan, and Chris break down where exactly Dragonheart goes wrong and make it better again by putting half of their own hearts into the script or some similar strained metaphor? Can they drink the spiciest of all margaritas? Can they manage to talk about this movie without the air conditioner on? Listen and find out!
Look, we really enjoy watching a bad movie but sometimes even we have limits. So while everything in the world is going to hell, we thought maybe we should watch a GOOD movie that not all of us have seen. Ergo this exceedingly wordy minisode miniseries, Why Don’t We Watch This. And for our inaugural ep, we got some food and drinks and decided to watch the 1966 Cold War comedy, The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming. For some reason, a comedy about people panicking over impending doom felt weirdly apt. Also, we appreciate how Alan Arkin is a god-damned smokeshow in it and reveal our first fantastical summer movie episode. Listen, won’t you?
Nothing better reflects the state of the world right now than a bunch of ominous and spooky events that have no real relation to each other and keep getting worse and worse, and boy, does The Mothman Prophecies have that in spades! Leigh, Brendan, and Chris try to make sense of the vague supernatural nonsense, piece together what the hell is trying to be accomplished by the weird-for-weird’s-sake direction, and like, what’s Mothman’s deal anyway? Also like who is Indrid Cold? How’s he connected to all this? Why does he get off on impersonating Richard Gere and the non-Denzel Washington coach from Remember the Titans? Also, cocktails, cherries, Animal Crossing, etc. etc.
One way to get through your social distancing quarantine to watch a lot of movies, and another way is to wildly speculate about how these movies could have been changed in some way. That’s our whole thing! This time, we tweak that whole thing a little bit by speculating about what movies would have been like if they had a different director behind them. Join Leigh, Brendan, and Chris as they speculate about what The Death of Stalin, The Country Bears, and Birdman would have looked like with someone possibly more hilarious or possibly better suited overseeing the film. Also we reveal our spooky May movie and an equally spooky cocktail to go along with it. Spooky DELICIOUS, that is (we hope)!
What better way to spend your COVID-19 quarantine than by listening to a podcast about a 1991 Kathleen Turner movie that no one remembers? Join hard-drinking gumshoes Leigh, Brendan, and Chris as they dredge up the celluloid carcass of V.I Warshawski from the Chicago River and conduct a post-mortem to determine what killed the whole endeavor. Could it have been the lack of a compelling mystery, the crux of any ostensible detective story? Perhaps it was the movie’s constant need to trot out “colorful” supporting characters in order to make the world feel developed and lived in? Or maybe the lumbering pace which manages to somehow be both hard to follow and wildly simplistic? Spoiler alert, it was all of the above. A true Murder on the Orient Express ending. And of course, there’s a themed cocktail recipe that’s probably V.I. Warshawski-approved and we work through the five stages of stay-at-home grief for your entertainment.
Truly, there is no easier way to shake up a movie industry mired in the safe and predictable AND enrage a certain sector of the Internet than by swapping the gender of one or more of your film’s characters. It is, literally, the easiest way to increase the representation of women or make male characters mildly less dull- all you have to do is some simple find+replace in Final Draft. So what movies would have benefitted from such a switcheroo? Leigh, Brendan, and Chris rattle off a few such changes they think would improve their respective movies while also preparing to tackle the next full-length episode, one where a hard-drinking tough-as-nails detective is played by… A WOMAN??? Fetch your smelling salts and join in!
No, no, not that one! The 2008 remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic where an alien shows up and warns us all to knock it off with all the
nuclear warfare global warming. Except in this one the alien Klaatu doesn’t really warn us so much as he just… scowls and runs arounds. Klaatu is certainly portrayed by Keanu Reeves, who adds another notch next to “emotionless cypher who looks really great in a suit” on his checklist of performances. Also Jennifer Connelly and Jaden Smith are here too. Join Leigh, Brendan, and Chris as we get day drunk and discuss how this misbegotten remake got off on the wrong foot almost immediately and then offer some suggestions for how this could have possibly turned out slightly less dull than it did- more like Klaatu BOREada Nikto, amirite?
What better way to celebrate the final days of February the Month of Love than by discussing a rom-com that finally pairs up Fran Drescher and Timothy Dalton, the Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks of February 1997? That’s right, at long last someone is giving The Beautician and the Beast the attention it shrilly demands. After all, what could be more romantic than traveling to a small formerly-USSR country, falling in love with their oppressive leader, and doing it all in garish stilettos and midriff-bearing tops? Anyways, join Leigh, Brendan, and Chris for this detailed deconstruction of a movie that was somehow against all odd released in theaters, and be sure to listen two weeks from now when we cover a sci-fi movie with a couple that has just as uncomfortable chemistry.
Hold on to your monocles, dear listeners, because this 2008 rom-com is about to flip your preconceived notions of what a bridal party can be like so many mini kilts during the Highland games! Just imagine this- what if maid of honor… but a MAN? If that concept just split your sides, then suture them back up again because you’re most assuredly the target audience for this bland and conventional piece of cinematic fluff. Leigh, Brendan, and Chris enjoy a very Scotchy cocktail while covering the movie’s bad takes on men and women as a whole, once of the flimsiest preludes to a marriage in modern movie history, and a plot less substantial than mist on the moors of Scotland. All this and dating sim discussions too? It surely is a Valentine’s Day episode!
THE WHY WATCH CREW SPEAK! One month after Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker premiered to a resounding critical “Oof,” Leigh, Brendan, and Chris finally do what every other podcast did like two weeks ago and gather together to try to make sense of whatever the hell that movie was supposed to be. Spoiler alert: it’s not great! There’s a lot of J.J. Abrams nonsense to sift through here, like the nebulous time-wasting questing and what the hell the Emperor is doing here alive and why won’t the spaceship battles take place in space??? Also next up is our annual Month of Love February Rom-Com so at the very least you’ll have a movie that tries to earn its kiss at the ending this time.
Dans notre dernier épisode de Why Did We Watch This, nous tournons notre regard critique vers la France et leur film Le Pacte des Loups de 2001, qui présente de nombreux acteurs français et une monstruosité générée par ordinateur recouverte d’une armure de cuir. Et apparemment, ce n’est pas un film de loup-garou! Quel titre trompeur! Rejoignez Leigh, Brendan et Chris alors qu’ils sirotent du vin chaud (très bien!) tout en discutant du rythme bizarre, de la parodie qui est la perte de Mani et d’un dispositif de cadrage vraiment étrange qui pourrait servir à souligner les thèmes du film mais décide de ne pas vraiment. Ne vous inquiétez pas non plus, cet épisode est en Anglais. Nous ne sommes pas capables de faire fonctionner ce bit sans l’aide de Google Translate.
As always at this time of the year, we are tired and have a bunch of other stuff to worry about, like shopping for presents and the distressingly low box office intake of Cats. So, we present for you all our annual year in review where we talk about our favorite and least favorite movies and drinks. Also since we forgot to mention in the actual episode, we’re kicking off 2020 with Brotherhood of the Wolf. Oops. Well, happy new year to you all regardless.
Snow hides a lot. It’s like the Spanx of weather. And ironically, no amount of snow (and there ain’t much) can hide the problems of Netflix’s 2019 holiday ephemera offering, Let It Snow. Yes, friends, it’s yet another direct-to-streaming Christmas movie, this time a baby Love Actually set in a midwestern town that seems to shut down in a panic upon receiving two inches of snow. Cozy up with a mulled cider cocktail as Leigh, Brendan, and Chris take an in-depth look at every segment of the movie, the differences between the film and the book (and oh are they many), and a character who may have finally usurped the place in our hearts Prom‘s Rolo once held. All this and Joan Cusack covered in tinfoil, too!
At what point is a mini episode no longer a mini episode? Probably at this point. This point, when you have what is ostensibly a “mini” episode that’s longer than some of our actual episodes. In our defense, there’s a lot to cover here! With the Christmas season upon us, Leigh, Brendan, and Chris gather in front of a roaring fire to discuss the glut of direct-to-streaming-service holiday movies available at your fingertips. From the twisting supernatural romantic thriller The Spirit of Christmas to the sack of garbage topped with a festive bow that is Santa Girl to some movie Disney dumped on their new streaming service when it became apparent no one would pay to see it, we run the gamut of these Christmas flicks of questionable quality. Also we talk a lot about Netflix’s attempt to horn in on this racket by use of Vanessa Hudgens and movies where everyone is horny AF for the holidays. Aptly, we also announce the movie we’ll be doing for our impending 50th episode and wouldn’t you know it it’s also a Netflix Christmas movie. WE SIMPLY CANNOT GET ENOUGH OF THE HOLIDAYS.
For this episode, we take you back to the halcyon days of 2014, when it seemed like a novel idea to make a live-action adaptation of a Disney animated movie but a slightly more stale idea to make it like Wicked but Sleeping Beauty. That’s right, we’re talking about Maleficent, Disney’s revisionist fairy tale starring Angelina Jolie’s prosthetic cheekbones and that guy from District 9 who we were all kinda into for a brief period. Leigh, Brendan, and Chris all find out that despite what they initially thought and believed, it’s not that bad of a movie! Well, aside from some of the weird choices made regarding the non-Maleficent parts, and so as usual fixes are offered over a round of Princess Aurora-level sweet cocktails. So you see, the movie is not quite as you remember, and we should know, for we are the ones who are doing this podcast called Why Did We Watch This.
In our latest mini-episode, we we cover the sequel to a movie we’ll be doing for our next full-length episode. It’s like Memento, but instead of your favorite Christopher Nolan trappings it’s got Angelina Jolie and her prosthetic cheekbones. That’s right, we paid money to see Maleficent: Mistress of Evil in theaters, which is more than most of America is doing. Join Leigh, Brendan, and Chris as we discuss a whole secret island full of Maleficents, Michelle Pfeiffer’s underdeveloped and vague motivations, and also how we can pretty much wave away genocide attempts once the person responsible is turned into a goat.
For our Halloween spooktacular this year, we’re not going to be a ghost movie podcast, but a podcast with ghost movies in it. And if that means anything to you, you may be familiar with Crimson Peak, Guillermo del Toro’s 2015 half-written love letter to gothic fiction that Universal Studios would really rather prefer you to think was a horror movie. Leigh, Brendan, and Chris whip up a tea cocktail that is certainly NOT poison and an accompanying tray of high tea terrors while they discuss the movie’s uneven tone, total lack of surprises, and the multiple red flags that Jessica Chastain displays throughout the movie that REALLY should have tipped everyone off much earlier. Also Charlie Hunnam just won’t stop being in del Toro movies for some reason. Happy Halloween!
It’s finally happened. We’ve run out of things to say about scary movies for Halloween. It’s a real kick to the shins, it is! Anyhow, in lieu of that and springing from a tangent about horror films, we all talk about the things in film that make us not want to see a movie with no further information needed. No matter how open minded we try to be about these things, there’s always a genre, director, or actor who will stop us in our tracks and make us cry to the heavens “WILL NOT WATCH!” Also we’re planning a creepy high tea for our October episode spooktacular, so check out our latest mini and get ready to be immersed in a movie that has so much atmosphere the gravity eventually crushes the plot and character into a Gothic singularity.