DID YOU READ

“The Nutcracker in 3D”‘s Intriguingly Disastrous Reviews

“The Nutcracker in 3D”‘s Intriguingly Disastrous Reviews (photo)

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As someone with a morbid fascination with bad movies, I’d pinned all my hopes for a holiday film disaster on “Burlesque,” Christina Aguilera’s rumpy ode to the joys of PG-13 gyrations. But that industrial video for the corset industry inspirational story about dance has gotten only middling reviews, and currently stands at 33% on Rotten Tomatoes, not the sort of notices you need for a future cult classic. But it looks like I might have backed the wrong horse, as Andrey Konchalovskiy’s incredibly loose adaptation of “The Nutcracker” has garnered the most toxic (and yet oddly intoxicating) reviews of any movie this year.

Currently sitting at 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, “The Nutcracker in 3D” sounds like one of those holy grail bad movies that combines crass commercialism (the film, shot in 2007, was post-converted to 3D for release) and hopelessly misguided passion (the director has been trying to make this version of “The Nutcracker” for twenty years). And what distinguishes this version of “The Nutcracker?” Well, it apparently ditches most of the dancing, adds lyrics to the classic Tchaikovsky music, and even tosses in some dark Holocaust metaphors for good measure. As Peter Martin from Twitch eloquently puts it, that’s “both nutty and cracked.” Here’s a sampling of the reviews, starting with David Edelstein’s from New York:

“Is this movie a tax shelter? Is there some “The Producers”-like scheme to open and close in a week and make off with the unused three-quarters of the budget? Amid the laborious CGI chases in muzzy 3-D, I glanced at my 8-year-old daughter, who put her hand on my arm and said, “It’s okay, Daddy. I’m not mad at you for taking me to this.”

Christy Lemire, Associated Press (who also compared the movie to “The Producers”):

“Uncle Albert shows up with some toys, including a wooden nutcracker shaped like a boy, whom he has nicknamed NC. Uncle Albert is meant to be Albert Einstein, and Nathan Lane plays him as a jaunty, heavily accented buffoon who frequently looks into the camera to make inane observations. He also sings a song to the kids about the Theory of Relativity which is painful in its literal-mindedness. This is just one example of the clunky lyrics Tim Rice (“Evita,” “Jesus Christ Superstar”) has contributed, which distract from the purity and grace of the music. During “Waltz of the Flowers,” the Snow Fairy sings to Mary: “Is each day a new beginning? Do you have a fight worth winning?”

J. Hoberman, The Village Voice:

“The evil rodents who take over the city in a bit of 9/11-evoking terror are nothing less than Ratzis–they even operate an extermination camp for children’s toys, complete with crematoria. Konchalovsky not only anticipated “Toy Story 3″‘s dump truck to hell sequence, he exceeded it. In one fantastic bit of business, Turturro (or his avatar) dances an exultant flamenco amid toys heaped in the street like bundles of confiscated clothing. The wildest thing about this movie is its faith that what kids (and parents) really want for Christmas is a “Nutcracker” version of the Final Solution.”

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times:

“Only one thing could have made this film worse, and they haven’t neglected it. That would be to present it in 3-D. They have. The movie was filmed in Hungary in 2007, and perhaps those studio execs screening it sensed a certain lack of enthusiasm. Maybe they thought that by retroactively “adapting” it to 3-D, it would play better. No luck. I’ve seen bad retro 3-D, but I’ve never seen 3-D as bad as this. The film is so dim and dingy, you almost wonder if the smoke from those burning toys is drifting between you and the screen.”

And on and on. Reviews this epically bad only come along once in a very long while. As A.O. Scott wrote in The New York Times last weekend in a piece about why we go to the movies (to not be bored, basically), “Very few movies are so bad that they ruin the experience of moviegoing.” For a film that bad to sneak past all the various gatekeepers of the movie business requires a degree of either bad judgment or mass delusion that’s nearly impossible, almost as impossible as a movie emerging from that same system as a masterpiece. That’s what makes “Nutcracker” my must-see bad movie this holiday weekend. Sorry Christina.

The trailer for “The Nutcracker in 3D.” Give it credit: it doesn’t try to hide the weirdness.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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