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“Gulliver’s Travels,” the best adaptation of them all.

“Gulliver’s Travels,” the best adaptation of them all. (photo)

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Since the film writing world has temporarily ground to a halt while everyone who can afford to go is in transit to Cannes, perhaps it would be well to consider some further-off coming attractions available for your hard-earned dollar. Generally speaking, one does not begin marketing December high-concept children’s movies in May, but so it is with “Gulliver’s Travels,” which will give us an updated version with Jack Black (in 3D, duh) come December. By all appearances, what we have here is a kiddie movie redux that sticks solely to Lilliput (tagline: “Everything big is going down”). Call me crazy, but I think there are fat jokes forthcoming (in 3D).

The whole mess has been sufficiently mocked by the impatient souls at The Playlist, correctly pointing out that the poster looks like one of the ridiculous comedies Adam Sandler’s character George Simmons starred in in “Funny People.” Let’s leave that be. It is, however, interesting that people keep trying to adapt clearly unfilmable novels like “Gulliver’s Travels,” despite the many failed precedents. As anyone who took Brit Lit I knows, “Gulliver’s Travels” is a heady, toxic dose of satire that requires a lot of footnotes and context to really dig; the little people are just gravy. But that won’t stop bad people from trying to film it, the same way there’s always someone out there who thinks they’ve figured out the key to “The Odyssey” or “Ulysses” or “The Divine Comedy.”

05102010_danson.jpgThe film industry lusts after novels. Hollywood seems to believe implicitly that the ultimate validation of an important book is their attempt to film it, no matter how wonky the results. This is totally understandable: if you’ve ever read a truly outstanding book and wished there was a movie to prolong the fun, you get the impulse. An outstanding example of this covetous urge is the life and work of Scott Rudin, whose list of films in development practically reads like a roll-call of the highlights of the New York Times Sunday Book Review: “Special Topics in Calamity Physics,” “Oh The Glory of it All,” “The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” and, of course, the collected works of Michael Chabon.

What’s interesting (I guess) about the new “Gulliver’s Travels” movie is that it looks poised to do an end-run around the whole problem of how to translate a well-known (almost brand-name level) book to screen adequately by simply ignoring it, instead treating it as a “Night at the Museum” type set-up. And why not? It’s not like anyone will ever get it right anyway. The urge to film everything is sometimes a blind alley; this decision is almost a “Tristram Shandy”-type solution. Otherwise you just end up with a TV version where Ted Danson looks embarrassed, and he’s a hard man to embarrass.

[Photos: “Gulliver’s Travels,” E1 Entertainment, 1939; “Gulliver’s Travels,” Hallmark Home Entertainment, 1996.]


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.