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Seven Lessons To Take From Comic-Con 2010

Seven Lessons To Take From Comic-Con 2010 (photo)

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During one of Comic-Con’s most extravagant displays for the “Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World” panel, each of the film’s cast members received their own video introduction (with the notable exception of Chris Evans), pins were given away to every member in the audience and Michael Cera filled in for Evans by walking out in a Captain America costume and repeatedly referring to his newfound muscles.

“Thirteen guests coming out and I’m not sure all of them can match one Lundgren,” said Edgar Wright, still in awe that he would be following up a panel of Sylvester Stallone’s “The Expendables.”

There wasn’t much of substance said — by design, Wright moderated the panel and asked that most of his questions be answered with one word only, but that “Scott Pilgrim” has been largely recognized as “the winner of the Con” is a testament to the fact that for all its smoke and mirrors, the fans who flood into Comic-Con every year appreciate the sizzle above all else while they’re in San Diego and will spend the other 361 days of the year looking for the steak.

Like Wright, who literally led a collection of fans lucky enough to pull pins labeled “1-Up” out of a bag on a Pilgrimage through the streets of downtown San Diego to the premiere of his latest film, here is a walk through the other lessons learned at this year’s Comic-Con.

07292010_CowboysVsAliens.jpg3D may once again be just a passing fad.

The only thing more unpopular than M. Night Shyamalan’s name on the “Devil” trailer at Comic-Con was saying your film would be in 3D, a true shame considering Nicolas Cage’s “Drive Angry 3D” cruised into San Diego with some of the convention’s most entertaining footage and only a half-full Hall H had the opportunity to see it.

Jon Favreau, whose ability to take the temperature of a room is uncanny, was not only able to bring out Harrison Ford in handcuffs an hour after the infamous stabbing (which just turned out to be a coincidental play on a reluctant Ford’s first appearance at the Con), but garnered some of the biggest cheers when giving this explanation of why “Cowboys and Aliens” won’t be in 3D:

“We got the rigs out, we were testing shooting in stereo, it looked really good, but you shoot stereo, you’ve got to shoot on digital video and this is a western, I don’t want to shoot on video, so the only other route would be conversion. But that’s like shooting in black and white and colorizing it. So coming next year, 2D, ‘Cowboys and Aliens.'”

You would’ve thought he had found the cure for cancer or, more realistically, announced who would play the Mandarin in “Iron Man 3,” but Favreau won over fans the old fashioned way, by showing them a fully realized introduction to the sci-fi/western hybrid that saw Daniel Craig stumbling around a dusty frontier town before being arrested and ultimately freed when his carriage is blasted by a spaceship, to which he returned the favor by blasting down with a glowing bracelet. That Favreau had his special effects team at Industrial Light and Magic prepare the clip after only a month of shooting to hit Comic-Con was impressive, but that he could forecast the 3D backlash was equally so. Then again, he knows what it takes to be a crowdpleaser at Comic-Con.

07292010_DontBeAfraidoftheDark.jpgHorror works at Comic-Con, but word may not travel.

Guillermo del Toro was said to be disappointed with the lack of coverage given to his production of “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” which was set up to be overshadowed when a day earlier it was announced he would be producing a new take on Disney’s “Haunted Mansion” and spent much of the “Dark” panel sitting next to first-time director Troy Nixey and taking questions about why he left “The Hobbit” and what he’s working on next (a horror film shooting in May later discovered to be his long-gestating adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness” with the help of James Cameron as a producer).

Of course, this didn’t leave all that much time or the requisite column space for reporters for the actual film at hand, which scared the bejeezus out of the 5000 or so attendees who were in the crowd as a young girl crawled through some sheets to a gruesome discovery and gave del Toro license to exclaim without embarrassment, “I shat my pants!” (Moments later, he would drop my favorite one-liner of the entire Con about “Dark”‘s rating: “It’s like a pirate ship, the more R the better.”)

Similarly impressive was the footage to Matt Reeves’ “Let Me In,” the American remake of Tomas Alfredson’s young vampire tale “Let the Right One In” that has been transported from Sweden to Los Alamos, New Mexico. (Reeves credited “Cloverfield” scribe Drew Goddard with helping find the snowy location since he grew up there and Reeves liked the scenery as much as its place in U.S cultural history.)

The footage of the young stars Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Road”) and Chloe Grace Moretz (“Kick-Ass”) bonding over Now N’Laters and eventually Moretz’s dirty deeds as a vampire, which is too spoilery to get into here (though a description can be found here), looked appropriately atmospheric and creepy. Following in the footsteps of the original, “Let Me In” also appeared to be as high on strong characters as it is on suspense, something Reeves attributed to Steven Spielberg’s suggestion that the child actors keep journals in character.

Both films were a cut above much of what was shown at Comic-Con in evoking pure emotion from the audience, but “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” and “Let Me In” were also the victims of playing a venue that doesn’t necessarily reward subtlety or pedigree. (Hammer Films’ CEO Simon Oakes, who was there with “Let Me In” only got scattered applause when bringing up remakes of “Captain Kronos” and “Seven Golden Vampires.”) Despite that, they were among the most exciting clip packages to be shown in Hall H.



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.