DID YOU READ

What Guys Talk About When They Talk About Girls

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Movies about men hanging out shootin’ the shit have a pretty lurid reputation. In those besides, say, “My Dinner With André,” images that spring to mind are road trips, beer bongs, masturbation jokes, togas, carnal encounters with baked goods. And if we’re lucky, a heart-to-heart that reveals that these loud-mouthed louts with nothing but sex on the brain might actually be human deep down inside. For me, besides belly laughs (and smug satisfaction at being confirmed the more civilized sex), the interest in guy flicks lies in the insight they offer into the way men talk to each other, especially about women.

In most broad comedies about high school or college-aged guys, such gems as “Porky’s” and “American Pie,” the main goal in life seems to be getting laid, although occasionally an added impetus spices things up, like trying to satisfy the munchies (“Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle”), get into Princeton (“Risky Business”), or pass history class (“Bill & Ted’s Big Adventure”) — all, of course, in addition to doing one’s damndest to get laid. In “American Pie,” the über-guys-trying-to-get-laid movie, the quest dominates most conversations among the attractive, horny males in the cast, allowing for dialogue like this:

“What exactly does third base feel like?”

“Like warm apple pie…”

“McDonald’s or homemade?”

Many guy flicks transcend their base premise with realistic, witty dialogue (“Clerks”), funny, high concept plot machinations (“Harold & Kumar,” “Bill & Ted”) or overall comic genius (“Animal House”). And the best of them manage to bury sweetness and humanity beneath the filth. While Hollywood woos the delish 18-25-year-old dude demographic with absurdity and dick jokes, independent filmmakers who make chatty guy flicks tend to have some deeper purpose in mind — more “American Graffiti” than “Losin’ It.” Often the fictional men whose lives we invade are older and their goals are shifting from losing their virginity — or banging as many cheerleaders as possible — to growing up and potentially sleeping with one woman for the rest of their lives, a shift that can trigger anxiety, stubborn bursts of commitment-phobia and a lot of drama. Hence the attraction for directors of a certain age who still want to make movies about themselves and their homies.

“If you want to talk, you always have the guys at the diner. You don’t need a girl if you want to talk,” says Eddie (Steve Guttenberg) in Barry Levinson’s “Diner” (1982), a film about a group of 20-somethings in 1959 Baltimore resisting adulthood with all their might. Eddie is a man prepared to call off his wedding if his fiancée fails a prenuptial football trivia quiz he has devised for her, clearly an excuse. Marriage is a symbol of growing up and having to say good-bye to a carefree youth spent hanging out with the guys at the diner.

In Ed Burns’ “The Groomsmen” (now in theaters), the director plays Paulie, a Long Island reporter on the verge of marrying his pregnant girlfriend (Brittany Murphy) who is wrestling with his fear of taking this leap. Gathering for the big event are Paulie’s brother Jim (Donal Logue), who is having marital problems of his own, happily married bartender and father of two, Des (Matthew Lillard), secretly gay T.C. (John Leguizamo) and Mike (Jay Mohr), who still lives at home, obsesses about his ex and gets all the funniest lines. Like “The Brothers McMullan,” which launched Burns’ directing and acting career in 1995, the film features scene after scene of the guys engaging in such manly activities as softball, fishing and boozing it up, all the while giving each other advice about sex and love, although now more mature topics like fatherhood and infertility are integrated into the discussion.

Even the guys from indie sensation “Clerks” are growing up — or at least trying to. On July 21, the audience that fell in love with such dialogue as “My girlfriend’s sucked 37 dicks.” “In a row?” excitedly welcomes Kevin Smith’s “Clerks II,” which the writer-director has described as being “about when that lazy 20-something malaise lasts into your 30s.” I haven’t seen the film yet, but reportedly Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) are still working behind the counter, now at a monster fast-food joint, although Dante is engaged — but still spending his days having conversations (classified as “obscene” by one critic) with the guys and making the moves on his hot boss (Rosario Dawson).

Occasionally, real insight into the concerns of real men can be found between the obscenities. Doug Liman’s “Swingers” (1996), for example, which was written by Jon Favreau who also plays Mike, focuses on Mike and his friends acting suave and drinking cocktails and strategizing hilariously about how to get girls, or “babies,” into bed. But under the Machiavellian rule-making lies the story of a man devastated by a breakup and friends that genuinely care.

“I could, like, forget about her and then when she comes back make like I just pretended to forget about her,” Mike says.

“Right, although probably more likely the opposite,” says his friend Rob (Ron Livingston). “I mean, at first you’re going to pretend to forget about her. You’ll not call her, I don’t know, whatever… but then eventually you really will forget about her.”

“Well, what if she comes back first?” Mike asks.

“See, that’s the thing,” Rob says, “is somehow they know not to come back until you really forget.”

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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.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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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.

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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.

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Forget Public Wifi

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

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Inter-not

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.

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Self Defense

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

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