The week’s critic wrangle: Charlie and the Happy Endings Factory.

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"Ha ha ha ha. You're really weird."+ "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory": Was 1971’s "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" a bad movie? We’ve never really comprehended it in terms of quality — watching and rewatching it at an impressionable young age, certain striking scenes hovered in our memory, and it wasn’t until years later that we actually understood them in the context of some narrative. We only bring it up because several critics take Tim Burton‘s remake as an opportunity to knock Mel Stuart‘s version, which we suppose we’d always mentally shelved as an untouchable classic. Oh,
♥Gene Wilder.♥

Anyway, everyone seems to find "Charlie" flawed but nonetheless fairly awesome. Johnny Depp‘s odd, odd Willy Wonka, on the other hand, most dislike or could take or leave. No one fails to mention Michael Jackson as an inspiration, but others come up as well: A. O. Scott calls him "an unholy mash-up of Mr. Rogers and Truman Capote," Matt Zoller Seitz suggests he’s "a socially inept cousin of industrialist Max Shreck in ‘Batman Returns,’" Stephanie Zacharek finds him more like Phil Spector, David Edelstein‘s reminded of Lon Chaney in "The Phantom of the Opera," and Roger Ebert sees a bit of Carol Burnett there.

The other much-discussed issue is screenwriter John August‘s addition of several non-Dahl backstory-providing flashbacks (with Christopher Lee as Wonka’s sugar-hating dentist father with a fondness for elaborate braces and headgear). Ella Taylor finds they "end up flattening the movie," while Ed Park merely finds them "superfluous" (and honestly, isn’t Wonka better as an inexplicable weirdo? who needs background?). No one gives us the reading of the Oompa Loompas as modern metaphor for outsourcing labor that we were longing for, but Matt Zoller Seitz wins the over-interpretation award with this:

Charlie might be Burton circa 1965—a gangly dreamer who emulates his hero by building a scale model of Wonka’s factory from bits of toothpaste tubes. Wonka might be a worst-case version of the director after 10 more years, five more movies and several tax brackets: a hermit visionary who tries to shield himself from every conceivable type of injury.

Gyllenhaal—"doll that knows she is fated to be forgotten" or "greedy scheming bitch"?+ "Happy Endings":  A lesser "The Opposite of Sex," apparently, and everyone’s responses to "Endings" seem predicated on how that felt about Don Roos‘ 1998 directorial debut. Ella Taylor claims that "Roos is good with actors, and ‘Happy Endings’ has some striking performances," something everyone seems to agree on: Tom Arnold and Lisa Kudrow are frequently singled out, while Manohla Dargis and Roger Ebert are particularly fond of Maggie Gyllenhaal‘s performance (La Manohla: "It’s possible that Gyllenhaal will never become a major star, but there isn’t an American actress in movies today who holds the screen with as much deep-seated soul."). Dargis and Taylor enjoy the film the most, while others find it a mixture of "eh" to "bleh." Ben Kenigsberg, Stephanie Zacharek and Michael Koresky take issue with Roos’ coy use of inter- and subtitles, while Armond White takes time off from his mid-year round-up to, unsurprisingly, stomp on the film:

Roos aims at being a West Coast Neil LaBute, except his sophomoric idea of truth is openly tied to a pretense of gay candor…Roos’ chic liberalism is more hateful here than it was in "The Opposite of Sex." Hollywood’s attitude toward sexuality is not improved through insidious teasing. It’s merely a way of force-feeding attitude.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.