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DID YOU READ

“Scary,” satire.

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"We need your support."
Via David Germain at the AP, "Scary Movie 4" has a $41 million opening weekend (apparently without screening for the critics, though some, like Ben Wasserstein at Slate, managed to review, and give it a far more thorough reading than it may have deserved, just fine), the first number one opening for the Weinstein Company, and the best Easter weekend debut ever.

And they say independent film is dead.

In honor of this "hilarious" "indie" "spoof," something to think about from William Booth‘s interview with director David Zucker and producer Robert K. Weiss (the team behind the last two "Scary Movie"s and 1980’s "Airplane!")

"Scary Movie" mocks horror films and pop culture. An audience member
who does not enjoy physical comedy involving alien sphincters and Oprah
may choose not to peruse the Zucker-Weiss product. It is spoof, it is
slapstick, it is stupid. And it has made Leslie Nielsen rich and famous
beyond his wildest dreams.

In other supposedly satirical news, Anthony Breznican at USA Today looks over the less-than-flattering portrayals of the Bush White House in both "Scary Movie 4" and this week’s "American Dreamz."

"American Dreamz" is more hopeful than cruel about whether a president can pull out of a second-term slump and renew the public’s faith in him, says writer/director Paul Weitz ("American Pie," "About a Boy").

"I definitely thought certain people from the right would be annoyed with a sendup of the administration, and some from the left would feel I let the president off the hook," Weitz says. "In the end, the president is a fairly sympathetic character in the movie."

Well, we hadn’t really expected razor-edged satire from Weitz (despite "About a Boy" being something of a guilty pleasure for us), but after dismal reviews in both Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, the film’s shaping up to be barely watchable.

Breznican also has a sidebar in which he talks with Dennis Quaid, who plays faux Dubya in the film, and others about the film’s possible (but probably not) controversial aspects. But never truer words than this summation of the film’s soft targets:

John Amato, proprietor of the liberal political blog CrooksAndLiars.com, says "American Dreamz" will catch on only if it’s an entertaining movie, not just because it spoofs a president.

He adds that, for many of the president’s critics, Bush and his policies have become self-parodies.

"Some sort of (movie) satire about Bush doesn’t really engage anybody," Amato says. "We see what goes on every day."

And the Boston Globe‘s Mark Feeney places the film less in the realms of political satire than in the long tradition of films mocking television.

[T]he implication is clear: The movies give us the truth (or at least a truth), while television just sugar-coats or, the lesson of ”Network," panders to maximize profits. ”Network" is in a class by itself: the ”Sunset Boulevard" of movies about television. (Did William Holden suffer from whiplash?) When Peter Finch, as rogue network newsman Howard Beale, bellows ”I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore," you can almost see a thrilled membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences mouthing the words along with him. Take that, TV! Is it any wonder Finch won the best actor Oscar (the only actor ever to win posthumously), and Paddy Chayefsky won for best original screenplay?

Also at the Globe: a slideshow of TV-slamming flicks.

+ ‘Scary Movie’ Sends Weinsteins to the Top (AP)
+ The B-Team (Washington Post)
+ Pardon the potshots, Mr. President (USA Today)
+ The president as parody (USA Today)
+ A movie tradition: mocking television (Boston Globe)

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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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…

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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.

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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-Craft

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?”

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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).

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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.

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