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LOOKBACK AT A SOUNDTRACK:  Napoleon Dynamite (photo)

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Before I take a look back at the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack, let it be known that I am a fan of the film. The high school scenes, especially–everything from the lunchroom banter, the awkwardly dressed students, and the tater-tot-smashing bullies–felt more realistic than any made-for-Hollywood movie you’ll ever see. And even though Napoleon Dynamite (2004) was paced like an art-house flick, it had enough gags, humor, quotable lines, and–most important–heart, to one day become a film with a mass cult following.

Unfortunately, once the film starting getting positive attention; Vote For Pedro shirts, key chains, coffee mugs, and talking action figures made their way to the shelves of Spencer’s gift stores all across the malls of America. If this happened ten years down the line I’d be totally fine with it, but you can’t market a movie as a cult film until it actually becomes a cult film. It’s like taking a bunch of grapes, smashing ’em in a bottle, and calling it wine. Wine becomes great over time; same goes for a cult movie.

The soundtrack for Napoleon Dynamite was compiled in the same manner. Instead of featuring 11 tracks–standard fare for a movie soundtrack–the album also includes 16 instrumental tracks from John Swihart, who scored the film, and 15 additional tracks of movie quotes–that’s 42 flippin’ tracks! For a soundtrack bursting at the seems, it’s a little disappointing that one of the film’s most memorable songs “Music For a Found Harmonium” wasn’t included (although I’m sure licensing fees could have played a part in that).

Back to the composer of the film’s soundtrack, John Swihart. I’m not pointing any fingers–no, actually, I am going to point fingers. Listen to track #19 (of 42) on the album, Money Mark’s “Sometimes You Gotta Make It Alone.” Now listen to Swihart’s original compositions. Sound very familiar, don’t they? Swihart’s songs sound so much like Money Mark’s signature stylings, that following the film’s release, Money Mark said he got countless voice and text messages from friends congratulating him on doing the score for Napoleon Dynamite. Maybe he and Elvis Costello–who had used the alias, Napoleon Dynamite, years earlier–should have filed a joint grievance.

If the soundtrack to Napoleon Dynamite kept true to the sincerity and simplicity of its film we would have been left with 11 tracks–a quality mix of 80’s goodies, electro-pop, and the funk-tastic “Canned Heat” from Jamiroquai. The crowning achievement of the soundtrack though, is re-introducing When In Rome’s “The Promise” to a whole new generation of kids. The only problem is that a mystery track is attached to the end of the song–Kipp’s wedding tune, “Always and Forever”–not ideal when you’re assembling mixtapes or playlists, especially when the humor of the latter song has long since worn out.

Napoleon Dynamite, the film, always felt more Idaho than Hollywood. Too bad the same can’t be said about its soundtrack and the merchandising blitz that followed its first batch of positive reviews.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



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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GIFs via Giphy

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.”


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. 


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.