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The problem with the Razzies.

The problem with the Razzies. (photo)

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As per tradition, tomorrow’s Oscar nomination announcements were preceded by today’s nominations for the Golden Raspberry Awards, this year celebrating 30 years of recognizing the worst of the worst. At least in theory.

There’s long been something unsatisfying about the Razzies. On one hand, they obviously act as a deflation of the pompous and self-congratulatory qualities of the Oscars. They’re there to forcefully mock bad films, with “bad” carefully undefined. The small, really dreadful films no one’s ever heard of or seen except the people professionally obligated to watch them — say, “How to Seduce Difficult Women,” one of the most laughable things I’ve seen in recent memory — get a pass. Their targets are the movies that’ve been punchlines all year long. No real surprises amongst this year’s nods — you’ll find “Old Dogs” here, and “All About Steve,” and “Land of the Lost” too. With the exception of “Transformers 2,” these are all movies more people hate than have actually seen.

That’s true of a lot of Razzies nominees, which tend to break down into a few categories: lowbrow comedies (“Norbit,” “White Chicks,” “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo”), high-profile debacles with a heavy component of financial failure (“Lady In The Water,” “The Adventures of Pluto Nash,” “Catwoman”), and those rare fiascos almost no one sees before mocking (“Swept Away” with Madonna, Uwe Boll’s “In The Name of the King”).

This doesn’t strike me as an especially courageous way of going about things. The jokes are easy and have been pre-written for months, staple fare for late-night opening monologues. The further back you go in time in Razzie history, the more nominees you find that are pretty beloved: the campy “Road House,” nominated for five Razzies in 1990; or the critically re-appraised likes of “Cruising,” “Heaven’s Gate” and “Ishtar.” (I hope to see “Freddy Got Fingered” get its well-deserve rehabilitation soon.) The others have mostly faded from memory: who can recall, say, 1989’s “Lock Up,” with Sylvester Stallone taking on warden Donald Sutherland? (The Wikipedia summary is a must-read.)

02012010_hottie.jpgIn my ideal world, the Razzies would be run not by smarter-than-average industry people, but by cranks like me convinced the entire awards hierarchy is beyond repair. Ideally, the Razzies would duplicate the more “respectable” nominations of the legitimate awards ceremony. Instead of wasting a 2008 nomination on, say, the instantly forgotten Paris Hilton vehicle “The Hottie and the Nottie,” why not nominate “The Reader” — nominated for Best Picture, infamously mocked within the ceremony itself by host Hugh Jackman? There’s always one undeserving frontrunner every year: why not nominate “Precious” or, I dunno, “Avatar,” if you’re feeling punchy? Why waste that bile on “Land of the Lost”?

Another problem is that a lot of viewers approach bad old movies with a special affection they can’t muster up for actual quality fair. It’s true that movies’ self-evident cheese can wear better than their ostensibly more respectable counterparts. For 1989 I’d certainly rather watch “Lock Up” than real-life Oscar winner “Driving Miss Daisy” (or fellow nominee “Dead Poets Society,” for that matter). And which is the more lasting national punch-line 20 years later? The Razzies’ affection for, uh, razzing of bad films almost misses the point — in the ’80s, it canonized a kind of alternate viewing list for cultural masochists. These days, it just singles out stuff just as excruciating to watch now as 20 years from now. “The Cat In The Hat,” anyone?

[Photos: Razzies trophy, courtesy of John Wilson and The Golden Raspberry Award Foundation; “The Hottie and the Nottie,” Regent Releasing/Summit Entertainment, 2008]



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.


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.