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!
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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.
In our latest minisode game premise, Leigh combs through the dregs of forgotten early cinema for movie names that seem just implausible enough and combines them with a list of her own fictional titles, then forces Brendan and Chris to wrack their brains in an attempt to determine which ones are real and which ones are fake. Games are fun and they don’t require all of us to do preparation for an episode (just Leigh), so we hope you like this frivolous bit of nonsense (and that you still like things similar to it when we try to do it again at some point). Also we try a really bizarre flavor of ice cream from a local ice cream parlor because why not and we introduce our upcoming 2021 Halloween Spooktacular movie! It sounds pretty crummy! Get spooked!
It’s September, which means it’s back to school season, which means that we get to drink our way through a really crappy movie about high schoolers! In our latest episode, Leigh, Brendan, and Chris watch sad sack misfit Freddie Highmore mope his through his senior year of high school in 2011’s The Art of Getting By. That is to say, he would be moping his way through it if he hadn’t neglected to do pretty much any of his school work for the whole year, having I guess not realized that this might somehow negatively affect him or something, whatever. Also there’s a whole lot of emotions and Emma Roberts shows up to teach Freddie Highmore that if a blank slate of a girl loves you, I guess it fixes your depression or something. We discuss our own teen angst, the horrible horrible characters, and we throw together a cocktail at the last minute in a manner befitting Freddie’s insufferable baby slacker character. Can any amount of alcohol and creative fixes actually improve this movie? Listen and find out!
As the Summer of Weddings closes, we decide to put some fresh eyes on some of the depictions of adulthood from movies and TV we watched and loved as kids versus how we feel about them today (surprise, we hate them!). Mostly, it’s a great excuse for Leigh to force Brendan and Chris to watch the truly cringeworthy film Dream for an Insomniac. Perhaps it should have been obvious to 12-year-old Leigh, but any movie that sets you on a beret phase is probably not a movie you should be sourcing any aspirational ideas of adulthood from.
Quick! What would you do if you were secretly in love with your horrible best friend’s fiancee for years and never told him, but then he told you he was also in love with you for years and never told you, but he seems to have no real interest in figuring out what he wants to do and his wedding is quickly approaching and also Jim Halpert keeps yelling at you? If your answer was “dither for weeks while indulging in flashbacks and refusing to make any of your own choices,” then congratulations, you’re as well-equipped as the idiots in this movie are. Join Leigh, Brendan, and Chris as we conclude our Summer of Weddings with 2011’s Something Borrowed, starring Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin, John Krasinski, and a JCPenney Sunday morning men’s shirt ad that was struck by lightning and achieved some minimal level of self-awareness. It’s a meandering and belabored romcom crawling with a bunch of rich white dummies who are incapable of making even the slightest decisions and a plot so unintentionally ill-conceived that at no point will you ever be sure what trope it’s attempting to indulge in. It’s a sunny piece of crap, to be sure, but a fascinatingly inept one ripe for discussion and improvement! Dream of your own doomed wedding as we discuss the stupid stupid characters and the various ways this plot could go whilst throwing down frozen margaritas to end our Summer of Margs. PUSH IT!
In which we take nonromcom movies we already watched for this podcast and romcomify them, so there are romcoms where we had naught but noncoms to begin with. Rom!
Our Summer of Weddings and Margs swaggers onward with a rom (?) com (??) that’s somehow so shitty it nearly circles back around to having something to say about masculinity and relationships (ALMOST). Listen in with Leigh, Brendan, and Chris as they watch and discuss 2008’s My Best Friend’s Girl starring Dane Cook, Kate Hudson, Jason Biggs, Alec Baldwin and a bunch of other poor bastards. Think back on our nation’s brief early-2000s love affair with the comedic stylings of Dane Cook as we cover the woefully unfunny jokes, a plot that somehow unintentionally makes everyone awful, and direction so lacking in nearly any sense of style that the movie seems to have burst forth fully-formed from the nostril of a coke-addled producer. Also, there’s the most basic-ass margarita you could ever imagine, one only fitting for a movie that can’t even muster the energy to be mediocre. On behalf on the city of Boston, we’re very sorry we allowed this movie to be shot here.
Our Summer of Weddings and Margaritas rolls on relentlessly like some fire-breathing atomic bridezilla, but for this episode we take a breather to focus on the subject of subtext in movies and how it relates to the viewer’s interpretation of the film and how a fandom can then take that and run manically with it all over fanfiction.net. As the movie Luca provides the starting point for this discussion, please be aware there are obviously spoilers for that movie (but really if you haven’t watched it yet, you should just do it, it’s very cute). Unsurprisingly, a lot of this ties into queer readings of ostensibly not-queer movies and the thrills and/or perils of shipping characters. In contrast to Luca, our next full-length episode’s movie is a real piece of crap, and we’ve got a suitably basic drink to accompany it (please be sure to take notes when we describe with painstaking clarity the many complex and varied steps necessary to create this craft cocktail).
Mon dieu! Le mariage- elle est trop grand! Alors, une question: que se passe-t-il lorsque les parents adoptifs divorcés d’un jeune homme adopté, sa mère biologique conservatrice et plusieurs autres membres de la famille à peine développés assistent tous à son grand mariage? Eh bien, rien de drôle, c’est sûr. Rejoignez Leigh, Brendan et Chris alors qu’ils regardent The Big Wedding en 2013, un remake Américain d’une comédie Française mettant en vedette un casting de pouvoirs dont personne ne connaît l’existence. Écoutez pendant que nous discutons de la prémisse banale, des styles comiques obsolètes et de la capacité miraculeuse du film à faire tourner ses roues pendant 90 minutes car cela complique et simplifie l’intrigue avec une ineptie éblouissante. Et, bien sûr, la première margarita de notre Été des Mariages et des Margaritas ! Vraiment, ce sera une série de mariages pas comme les autres. Ah, si seulement nous avions tous autant ri que les acteurs sur l’affiche.
Two years ago, in the Before Times, we did this sort-of game thing where we prepared lists of movies that at least one person had seen but at least one other person had not. We then used that list to try to describe what we thought the plots of these movies were to see how close our cage impressions were to the real thing. With the long-awaited adaptation of Dune probably coming to theaters this fall (keep getting them vaccines!), we decided to brush this old chestnut off again and do another round. Also, it’s pretty hot out so who wants to plan out an entire discussion topic? Also also, we have a big wedding coming up in our next episode (or so the movie’s title would imply) and a classy margarita recipe to accompany it. So listen in and see if you could do a better job trying to distill multiple seasons of Lost into a brief coherent description!
Please, please, don’t confuse 1994’s I Love Trouble with Nothing But Trouble, though both are equally unpleasant movies (albeit in wildly different ways) and both spend about the same amount of effort on compelling romance. For our nicest episode ever, we watch this aptly-forgotten Charles Shyer / Nancy Meyers romantic (?) crime thriller (??) starring Nick Nolte, Julia Roberts, and a whole lot of intrigue about milk. Join Leigh, Brendan, and Chris as they discuss chemistry and miscasting, the specific reasons as to why having two reporters investigate a company making genetically modified cows was a mistake, and in what world there would be a Gap ad campaign featuring an aging unattractive Chicago columnist. Thankfully, there is no milk to be found in the themed cocktail we mixed up for this movie. Also we spend about four minutes talking about musicals, but hey, it’s a short episode so don’t give us that look.
On this episode of Why Did We Watch This, we welcome back both Michelle Pfeiffer and Catherine Zeta-Jones for their fourth (!) appearance in one of our movies (in so much as you can call it an appearance if they never actually show up on screen, but at least they both actually tried unlike the rest of the cast). That’s right, we’re watching Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, the (mostly) hand-drawn animated flick that was so poorly-received it made Jeffrey Katzenberg decide that DreamWorks should no longer do 2-D animation (and probably somehow indirectly lead to rise of Quibi but that’s for some other podcast to work out). Join the Why Watch crew as Leigh, Brendan, and Chris guzzle down a fruity fizzy cocktail and talk about what this movie was originally supposed to be, the original Sinbad mythos, and why in general this movie is such a dull episodic slog. But, on the bright side, Michelle Pfeiffer as the goddess Eris sure has some swell animation!
Going off of our generation’s love of 1980s nostalgia, it’s a sore spot that we’re not getting the glut of weird-ass original fantasy movies we were getting during that decade. In a world where the majority of fantasy movies that are kind of close to original are live-action remakes of Disney fairy tales, there’s a lot of fantastical crap to wade through. Leigh, Brendan, and Chris all try to think of more recent original fantasy films that managed to do a good job of creating their universes (along with come discussion of sci-fi world-building for good measure). Also we talk about the animated fantasy movie we’ll be covering next along with- you guessed it- another gin cocktail to wash it down.
We can all agree that two people in relationships acting as though they’re having some sort of affair is pretty questionable, but what if the universe itself demands that these half-dimensional wisps of character sketches should be together for some inexplicable reason? Well, then you’d have Serendipity, a charmless 2001 romcom starring John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale, and a lot of other wasted talent. Can these two dopes manage to find each other across time and the continental United States, significant others be damned? Spoiler alert, yes, but Leigh, Brendan, and Chris have a lot of problems with how they go about doing it and a couple of ideas as to how this could have been pulled off more successfully. Also, there’s a purple fruity cocktail, and what says unmemorable early 2000s romcom more than that?
In an effort to do justice to those characters long shunted to the side for various reasons, Leigh, Brendan, and Chris talk about their favorite side characters in movies and TV shows. Who are these champions of protagonist support, so often doing the heavy lifting of keeping the plot interesting or the jokes a-popping? Why are they often so much more interesting than the leads they’re so thanklessly holding up? Why does it not work as well when you try to shove them front and center for their own movie (hello, two inexplicable Pirates of the Caribbean sequels that for some reason focus entirely on Jack Sparrow)? And what will Leigh, Brendan, and Chris be watching and drinking come April? Will it involve John Cusack and luster dust (but probably not together)? Let’s hope so!