This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


List: The Five Greatest Pratfalls of 2008

Posted by on

12302008_walle3.jpgBy R. Emmet Sweeney

A pratfall can be a work of art, a study in disruptive motion, a klutz’s ballet. This choreography of humiliation is perhaps the least garlanded act in contemporary film, as no Oscars will ever be won for kicks to the groin or tumbles down the stairs, regardless of their originality. Only in retrospect have the golden slapstick silents gained credibility and the brilliant purveyors of today’s guffaws are suffering the same critical fate (although the hurt, it must be said, is not felt in their checkbooks). So here is my list of the top five pratfalls of 2008, some of the strongest and strangest feats from an otherwise lackluster year. Some are from masters of the form (Will Ferrell, Anna Faris), while others seamlessly blend the side-splitting spill into their respective and respectable narratives (Robert Downey Jr., Mathieu Amalric, Pixar). All show a clumsy physical grace (as do their stuntmen), a healthy respect for their audience and a blissful embrace of the stupid. (Click on the images below to see them full size.)

12302008_walle.jpg1. “WALL-E”
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Pratfall: Handholding Gone Wrong

“WALL-E” is packed with brilliantly conceived falls, but my favorite is perhaps the smallest, and its bittersweet tragedy is worthy of Chaplin. It occurs after our trash-compacting tramp’s beloved Eve begins hibernating, and he tries everything in his power to wake her up. After surviving lightning strikes and shopping cart attacks, he’s determined to get romantic with the fembot, conscious or not. He leashes her with Christmas lights and rows her through a river of sludge to a prime sunset viewing spot. With visions of “Hello Dolly”‘s handholding climax in his CPU, he pries open her arm slot and grabs for dear life. Then her arm snaps back, pinning his hand inside her body’s shell. As he tries to pull himself out, he tumbles off the bench and crashes into a neighboring garbage can. It’s a quick, painfully funny gag that effortlessly encapsulates WALL-E’s innocent, desperate loneliness.

12302008_stepbrothers.jpg2. “Step Brothers”
Directed by Adam McKay
Pratfall: Christmas Eve Sleepwalking

Sure to be the bane of sober-minded critics for decades to come, the works of Adam McKay and Will Ferrell are unabashed odes to anarchy that have consistently been dismissed for their immaturity and childishness. “Step Brothers” literalizes this complaint, presenting Ferrell and John C. Reilly as man-children joined by their parents’ remarriage, and it’s by far their most surreal and senseless (in the best sense) work. In one of the film’s many improvised sequences, these already regressive brothers are shown sleepwalking on Christmas Eve, shouting gibberish and piling presents in their parents’ bedroom, before finally hoisting the tree and shoving it onto the bed. By this point, their increasingly aggrieved father, played with manic glee by Richard Jenkins, vows to wake them up out of their hysteria. Bad move. The two sons turn barbaric, screaming and clawing at their father until they aggressively toss him down the stairs. André Breton would approve.

12302008_christmastale.jpg3. “A Christmas Tale”
Directed by Arnaud Desplechin
Pratfall: Henri’s Curbside Face-plant

Mathieu Amalric creates a strange kind of alchemy with director Arnaud Desplechin, turning despicable characters into adorable eccentrics — a coup achieved in “Kings & Queen” and now “A Christmas Tale.” Amalric’s Henri Vuillard is a loudmouth drunk who’s been banished from his family by an uptight sister. At his lowest ebb, walking tipsily down an abandoned sidewalk and softly muttering to himself, he pauses at the edge of the curb, staring into his own private abyss. He slowly tips forward, until, in a long shot, he falls face first into the pavement, his back ramrod straight all the way down. He later learns to unload his bile with a smile on his face, like the rest of the Vuillards, but this wonderfully depressing acrobatic feat is an apt representation of the psychological hole he’s fallen into and can’t escape, but which he later cleverly redecorates.

12302008_housebunny.jpg4. “The House Bunny”
Directed by Fred Wolf
Pratfall: Header in Outdoor Café

In an attempt to look smart for her nice guy crush, Anna Faris’ ex-Playboy Bunny hits the books, dresses conservatively and dons Coke bottle glasses that bug her eyes out to Tex Avery proportions. Working off notecards, she dishes on nuclear proliferation before knocking tea onto her date’s lap. A little woozy from her non-prescription specs, she gets up for napkins but then takes a header over the nearest table and smacks her crown again while standing up, unexpectedly finding a thick rope of gum affixed to her head in the process. As she races shamefacedly away after apologizing for “all that gravity,” the gum snaps as the chew flails to the ground. It’s another fearless, hilarious performance from Faris, whose breathy, wide-eyed and aging ingénue provokes pity, fear and admiration, usually at the same time.

12302008_ironman.jpg5. “Iron Man”
Directed by Jon Favreau
Pratfall: Iron Man Armor Mishaps

Jon Favreau, emerging as an ace director-for-hire, wisely gave Robert Downey Jr. plenty of latitude to riff on his signature snarky motormouth persona in “Iron Man,” providing an oasis of comic invention in this otherwise rote superhero saga. The peak of this improvisation is a well-crafted, slow-burning series of pratfalls as Downey’s Tony Stark is testing his new and improved Iron Man armor. After instructing his robot-arm buddy to watch for a flameout, Stark’s first attempt at flight rockets him into the ceiling and then to the floor — and his robotic fire marshal is quick on the extinguisher trigger. After threatening his mechanical assistant with the prospect of community college, Stark’s second attempt is moderately successful aside from some light charring of his vintage car collection. With the final trial, he speeds outdoors in full regalia, a triumphant moment and a cue to expect an action extravaganza to begin. But upon returning home, he crash-lands in his spacious abode, destroying three floors, a grand piano, and a luxury car in his lab. And in the final humiliation, he’s pathetically blasted with the fire extinguisher by his downtrodden mechanical pal. With a tight structure (the callback of the cars and extinguisher), canny timing, and sneaky misdirection in the final section, the sequence could stand on its own as a slapstick sci-fi comedy short.

[Photos: “WALL-E,” Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 2008; “Step Brothers,” Columbia Pictures, 2008; “A Christmas Tale,” IFC Films, 2008; “The House Bunny,” Columbia Pictures, 2008; “Iron Man,” Paramount Pictures, 2008]

Watch More

A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

Watch More

WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

Posted by on

Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

Watch More

Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy

Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.


IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.



IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on and the IFC app.

Watch More