The Sandbox: License to Infuriate

The Sandbox: License to Infuriate (photo)

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Savage mutant Wolverine races up a mountainside path and is confronted by a horde of armed soldiers. He slays them with brutal, bloody efficiency, slashing and stabbing with his adamantium claws before being surprise-attacked by a helicopter. Without hesitation, he jumps off a cliff and onto the gunship’s cockpit, narrowly avoiding the spinning rotator blades, to smash the glass window and dispatch the pilot, and then leaps back to land as the airborne vehicle plummets to its destruction. It’s the type of breakneck-intense sequence that Wolverine was born to undertake, a thrilling rush of death-defying acrobatics and animalistic physicality that gets everything right about the character’s extrasensory abilities. And, as anyone who’s suffered through the summer’s first big-budget dud, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” must realize, this scene doesn’t exist in the film. It’s actually an opening passage from the movie’s tie-in video game, which — while not amounting to more than a simplistic, button-mashing hack-and-slasher — manages to do what eludes so many of its disreputable genre brethren. It trumps the cinematic material it’s based upon.

It’s hard to understate how uncommon an occurrence this is. Games based on (and released to coincide with) event films have a track record only slightly more impressive than those of National Socialism and New Coke. From the dawn of the console era, would-be blockbusters have tapped the gaming medium for synergistic money-making opportunities, releasing titles that dovetail with big-screen counterparts to further stoke interest in their properties. Giving gamers the chance to play out the big screen spectacles they’ve been pining to see is a no-brainer, and one that consistently proves lucrative — year in and year out, movie tie-in games have been profitable, to the point where Activision and Acclaim have made a cottage industry out of such products.

But that financial success has to be chalked up to the strength of a particular film’s brand — the games themselves are, in spite of a few rarities, slipshod junk. If the name alone is going to move units at retail, why bother crafting functional gameplay, or putting serious effort into graphics, or designing novel and unique puzzles? The corporate strategy is clear: borrow ideas from some hit game series, take a few key elements from the movie in question and mash them all together with slapdash hastiness in order to get the title on store shelves by film’s theatrical debut.

06022009_Batman.jpgAs a kid, I learned early on to avoid these games. With a few exceptions — 1990’s Sega Genesis adaptation of Tim Burton’s “Batman” was a reasonably good beat-’em-up side-scroller — movie tie-ins were made to be suffered through. In the summer before high school, I became Marty McFly with Nintendo’s “Back to the Future,” only to realize that my memories of the film weren’t accurate: the story wasn’t about traveling back in time to keep my parents together, it was about navigating streets filled with hula-hooping girls and then going to the soda shop to throw milkshakes at people. With, I might add, insane difficulty. Undeterred, however, I pressed forward in my quest for an entertaining cinematic experience.


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.