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“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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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.

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Stan Diego Comic-Con

Stan Against Evil returns November 1st.

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Photo Credit: Erin Resnick, GIFs via Giphy

Another Comic-Con International is in the can, and multiple nerdgasms were had by all – not least of which were about the Stan Against Evil roundtable discussion. Dana, Janet and John dropped a whole lotta information on what’s to come in Season 2 and what it’s like to get covered in buckets of demon goo. Here are the highlights.

Premiere Date!

Season 2 hits the air November 1 and picks up right where things left off. Consider this your chance to seamlessly continue your Halloween binge.

Character Deets!

Most people know that Evie was written especially for Janet, but did you know that Stan is based on Dana Gould’s dad? It’s true. But that’s where the homage ends, because McGinley was taken off the leash to really build a unique character.

Happy Accidents!

Improv is apparently everything, because according to Gould the funniest material happens on the fly. We bet the writers are totally cool with it.

Exposed Roots!

If Stan fans are also into Twin Peaks and Doctor Who, that’s no accident. Both of those cult classic genre benders were front of mind when Stan was being developed.

Trailer Treasure!

Yep. A new trailer dropped. Feast your eyes.

Catch up on Stan Against Evil’s first season on the IFC app before it returns November 1st on IFC.