DID YOU READ

Tom Cruise’s celebrity rehab, by way of the MTV Movie Awards.

Tom Cruise’s celebrity rehab, by way of the MTV Movie Awards. (photo)

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Normally, celebrity rehab is reserved for MTV’s sister network VH1. In the case of Tom Cruise, it’s taken on a literal meaning in a series of ads for this year’s MTV Movie Awards. You’ve probably already seen Cruise resurrect his stocky, foul-mouthed “Tropic Thunder” studio chief Les Grossman to berate his younger self in “Risky Business” or the male stars of “Twilight.”

And though it seems a bit behind the times for MTV to resurrect a character from a two-year old movie, it’s all part of an intricately calculated effort to make you forget the events three years prior on Cruise’s infamous “Mission: Impossible III” press tour while he’s out talking up “Knight and Day,” his summer action comedy with Cameron Diaz.

Unlike his last film, “Valkyrie,” which was a tough sell of swastikas and self-importance even without the added weight of being Cruise’s first post-media meltdown starring vehicle, “Knight and Day” is the type of slick popcorn flick that will rely on Cruise’s devilish grin and charm to sell tickets. In recent weeks, he’s been pulling out all the stops — he’s on the cover of Esquire, he hopped onstage at a Black Eyed Peas concert in London to push the film’s theme song, and allowed himself to be kicked in the chest by Cameron Diaz in a studio-sanctioned viral video from the set. (This PR goodwill tour is so comprehensive you have to wonder if wife Katie Holmes’s well-received turns in “The Extra Man” and “The Romantics” were somehow part of the master plan.)

Still, the MTV Movie Awards has long been a centerpiece in Cruise’s press campaigns, so much so that it was his appearance in Ben Stiller’s “Mission: Improbable” spoof back in 2000 that likely paved the way for his comeback:

Stiller, who was SNL’s go-to Cruise impersonator for “Celebrity Jeopardy,” christened himself “Tom Crooze,” the actor’s stunt double, and mugged his way through a faux press kit video for “Mission: Impossible 2” where he chortled alongside Cruise and made director John Woo wince. The irony is it turned out to be a high point for both men — following the spoof, Cruise and Stiller would enjoy the career bests of “M:I:II” and “Meet the Parents,” respectively, but of course, as Cruise would become known for couch-jumping and an ill-fated attempt to revive United Artists, while Stiller was embraced by families who could take their children to see “Night at the Museum” and teens who would endlessly quote “Zoolander.”

Realizing this seesaw in perception, Stiller gave Cruise an opportunity to deliver punchlines rather than be one in “Tropic Thunder.” He’s also attaching himself to the still-unmade “The Hardy Men,” in which he and Cruise would play bickering, grown-up versions of the crime-solving Hardy Boys. And now Cruise is returning the favor to MTV, reprising his role as the belligerent Grossman and hanging out with Taylor Lautner in a bid to stay relevant, which says as much about the state of the network is as it does the actors involved.

As Vadim Rizov wrote when this year’s nominations were announced for categories like as “Best Scared as SH*T Performance” and “Biggest Badass Star,” the MTV Movie Awards are one of the more frivolous ceremonies out there, but let it not be said that it hasn’t changed the course of careers. Hugh Grant had Jay Leno’s couch, Chris Klein had Funny or Die and Tom Cruise has the MTV Movie Awards.

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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.