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Giving the people what they want — whatever that might be.

Giving the people what they want — whatever that might be. (photo)

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Every year, the Los Angeles Times‘ Patrick gathers an informal teen focus group to go over the summer’s trailers and offer their thoughts.

Goldstein notes that this isn’t precisely scientific — his past samplings, largely made up of private school kids ,were objected to by marketers as “not representative of typical American teenagers.” So this year he got public schoolers from Orange County and ran the tests. (Aside: is Orange County — home of Disneyland, scrupulous political conservatism and the Richard Nixon Memorial Library — really “representative of typical American teenagers”? This sounds like of one of those “only in LA ” ideas to me.)

I don’t really talk much with teenagers on a regular basis, but a 17-year-old who says (re: “Robin Hood”) that Ridley Scott is “one of the few directors who could make an exciting movie just with arrows” is already way ahead of most average adult movie-goers, who tend to be indifferent to keeping track of who made what.

The kids do sound a lot like their private school counter-parts of last year, whose predictions included great excitement about “Terminator: Salvation” (which made $125 million domestically) and were less than excited about “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and “Star Trek.” But what this really seems to prove is that kids who live close to the entertainment capitol of the world are on a whole other page.

05042010_monsters.jpgWhat’s interesting about Goldstein’s article is the fundamental disconnect between the people who write about movies professionally and the audiences they ostensibly understand. For example: at the end of March, when “How To Train Your Dragon”‘s opening weekend disappointed, Steven Zeitchik quickly pumped out a little think piece about how animated movies might be developing a “success-quality gap.”

The evidence: the only “well-reviewed” animated movies that do really well are Pixar films, while “critics’ favorites” like “Coraline” and “Wallace & Gromit” flounder. The final damning instance: “Monsters Vs Aliens” made more money than “Dragon” with weaker reviews — which, unfortunately, after this weekend will no longer be true. The conclusion? “You can create really good animated films but, as a rule, you’ll have more success if your films aren’t that great.”

The math on this is obviously now not checking out, but this is just one blip. Entertainment writers always make generalizations about the viewing public: sometimes it’s that they’re easily manipulated byf advertising, sometimes it’s that quality “actually matters,” and sometimes it’s some variant of the critics-vs.-public theme. But the reality always delivers exceptions, and it’s just about impossible to tell with perfect certainty what a blockbuster-size crowd wants.

05042010_dragon.jpgThis much we know: formulaic, demographic-conflating movies tend to make much more money than other types, which isn’t much of a surprise when most people get their information about movies from advertising and word-of-mouth. But while audiences can easily be led, they can just as easily, with no warning, refuse to show up, something that has little to do with notions of “good” and “bad.” People who cover the film biz don’t understand “the audience” better than anyone else.

[Photos: “Robin Hood,” Universal, 2010; “Monsters Vs Aliens,” Dreamworks, 2009; “How To Train Your Dragon,” Dreamworks, 2010]


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.