DID YOU READ

Silly rabbit, soccer movies are for kids.

Silly rabbit, soccer movies are for kids. (photo)

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By the standards of American television, this is one wildly successful World Cup. Overall viewing numbers are more than double those of 2006, and the first four games had more total viewers than the NBA finals.

(To solidify the importance of the whole affair, John Travolta flew down in his Boeing 707 to support Australia, and did an inexplicable little soccer ball dance.)

The popularity might be due to a more confident, viable US team, more global awareness, the fact that it’s in South Africa and people really like “District 9” (hey, stranger things have happened)… But never mind all that! Let’s move on to the truly vexing question the LA Times’ John Horn raised a few days ago: “Why is there no great Hollywood soccer movie?”

The most amusing explanation in the article is offered by veteran studio/production executive Joe Roth, who says “We’re basically a xenophobic country and don’t look at what’s going on in the rest of the world as closely as we should.” Horn claims that the most prominent Hollywood soccer movie is probably 1981’s “Victory,” with Sylvester Stallone and Pele, a few years after the latter’s time with the New York Cosmos made soccer about as popular as it’s ever been for adults in this country.

06162010_ladybugs.jpgBut in Hollywood, soccer flicks have tended to be aimed at kids in a way that’s true of no other type of sports movie, much the way youth soccer is a suburban standard but doesn’t seem to translate into adults following the pro sport.

The real soccer movies are the small, disgraceful ones only remembered by the children who had to grow up watching them. In that context, even “Kicking and Screaming” is too grandiose a film — with its supporting Robert Duvall performance and Mike Ditka cameo, it has a professionalism most kids’ soccer films could only dream of.

It’s slightly more elevated than the two biggest kids’ soccer movies of the ’90s, “Ladybugs” and “The Big Green.” In both those films, ’80s relics on their way down and out (Rodney Dangerfield and Steve Guttenberg, respectively) cross paths with a motley group of kids who need to have their self-esteem restored and wackiness ensues. You can roughly gauge the quality of the filmmaking by a) summoning up the image of Rodney Dangerfield coaching a girls’ soccer team b) watching the trailer for “The Big Green,” goat turd jokes and all:

It’s notable that “The Big Green” relies on a classy British woman to shape up the kids. Americans don’t do that kind of thing, unless (like Dangerfield) they’re forced to for work. In American, adults play basketball, football and maybe hockey on-screen; World Cup fever aside, it’s hard to imagine a Hollywood movie about adults playing soccer happening in the forseeable future, because as a country we seem to still believe it’s only a sport for keeping kids busy during recess and after school.

[Photos: “Victory,” Warner Home Video, 1981; “Ladybugs,” Paramount, 1992]

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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…

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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.

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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-Craft

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?”

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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).

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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.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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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.

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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.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

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.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.