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DID YOU READ

Five reasons “Pirate Radio” flopped.

Five reasons “Pirate Radio” flopped. (photo)

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As you’re doubtless aware, the weekend saw “Precious” making $6.1 million from a measly 174 screens, doing well on its probable journey towards Best Picture; “Fantastic Mr. Fox” did well too, pulling roughly the same per-theater average as “The Darjeeling Limited” in its first weekend, which means Wes Anderson may or may not still be too cool for the mainstream. Less remarked upon was the crash-and-burn failure of “Pirate Radio,” Richard Curtis’ tepidly-awaited follow-up to “Love Actually.”

Considering the latter is a dorm-room staple of deluded pseudo-romantic girls everywhere, why might this be? And no, “bad reviews” is not an acceptable answer — the Metacritic score for “Pirate Radio” is actually slightly higher than that for “Love Actually”. Here are five reasons for the film’s failure, both conceptual and lifted from the terrible trailer:

1. No one cares about Richard Curtis in the US.

Richard Curtis did time on “BlackAdder” and “Mr. Bean.” That means nothing in the US (sadly). He did, however, write the following romcom staples: “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Notting Hill,” both Bridget Jones films, the aforementioned “Love Actually.” HOW HARD IS THAT TO MENTION IN THE TRAILER? Pretty freakin’ hard, apparently: we get a voice-over informing us that this is from “the creator of ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ and ‘Love Actually.'” Two mistakes there: assuming your target audience is old enough to remember “Four Weddings” (doubtful) and using the ever-nebulous “from the creator of” formula, which wary audiences are smart enough to distrust. Just say “From the writer of every romantic comedy you love” early on with a full resume count — not in a perfunctory voice-over over a minute-and-a-half into the trailer, by which points the young romantic girls are all like “Old dudes! Ew!” and have tuned out. Speaking of which:

11162009_pirateradio2.jpg2. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Bill Nighy are not stars.

We love them and all, but: clear enough. So don’t foreground them in your marketing! It’s all about that romcom hook — and no, it doesn’t matter that the movie isn’t actually a romcom. Cut it so it looks upbeat and heartwarming — there’s a whole father-son thing going on — and foreground Curtis’ bio. It’s not hard to sell mush. These are just two of many things wrong with the trailer. Conceptually, though:

3. People are tired of self-congratulatory baby boomers.

Remember when “Taking Woodstock” tanked earlier this year and Ang Lee was all like “I am very confused by the failure of my movie”? Let us note, now and forever, that audiences under fifty — i.e., much of the prime moviegoing public — are sick and tired of hearing about how the baby boomers changed the world, saved rock ‘n roll et al. I know this is a cliché, but that’s because it’s true. So stop making movies about it.

11162009_pirateradio3.jpg4. The soundtrack.

At the end of the trailer come these exciting words: “Soundtrack featuring music by The Who/The Kinks/Cream/The Rolling Stones.” OMG NEW RARITIES? Oh wait, no, you’re inviting me to see the aural equivalent of a classic rock station? Why would anyone want to see that? Are you actually using “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in the trailer?

5. Bonus reason: it already showed on Air Canada.

No, really, it was screened in its original, longer British cut — called “The Boat That Rocked” — in the “avant garde” section. (Lulz, etc.) There goes the precious Canadian business traveler market!

[Photos: “Pirate Radio,” Focus Features, 2009]

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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.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.