DID YOU READ

There’s No Shame In Being One of the Lowest Grossing Wide Releases of 2010

There’s No Shame In Being One of the Lowest Grossing Wide Releases of 2010 (photo)

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Over at Cinematical, Eric D. Snider has compiled a list of the lowest grossing wide releases of 2010. To be eligible, a film had to play on at least one thousand screens nationwide and, y’know, not make much money. The list includes its share of indisputable stinkers, including the heinous “Jonah Hex.” But a bunch of the movies are flops in financial terms only, deserved better than they got at the box office, and are worth your time on DVD now that all but one of them are available. They are:

12292010_splice1.jpg“Splice”
Directed by Vincenzo Natali
$17.0 million gross on 2,450 screens

Seventeen million dollars in nearly 2500 theaters is pretty bad for a summer blockbuster but it’s nothing to sneeze at for a quirky sci-fi indie. And that’s really what “Splice” was; though Warner Brothers released it in June in the middle of Dumb Movie Season, the film, which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival (where it was acquired by Joel Silver and Warner Brothers), was loaded with smarts and packed with metaphors about parenting and filmmaking. To Warner’s credit, they didn’t try to cut the film or any of its weirdness to service a wider audience. To Warner’s discredit, they still sold the film to that wider audience as a straightforward monster movie, a large factor in “Splice”‘s D grade from audience pollsters CinemaScore. From a pure dollars and cents standpoint, I’m sure Warner Brothers considers “Splice” a modest failure. But since “Splice” was, amongst other things, one large metaphor about indie filmmakers struggling against the constraints of a system that values commerce over art, that feels like an appropriate outcome.

12302010_youth2.jpg“Youth In Revolt”
Directed by Miguel Arteta
$15.3 million gross on 1,873 screens

“Youth in Revolt” had at least three misfortunes: a January release date synonymous with garbage, a Michael Cera lead performance at a time when Cera backlash reached an all-time high, and competition from the trendier and more heavily promoted Cera feature “Scott Pilgrim Versus the World” (which, let’s face it, didn’t miss Snider’s list by all that much). All I heard from people familiar with the source material by C. D. Payne said that the movie wasn’t as good as the novel. I haven’t read the novel and I found the movie to be utterly charming, cleverly constructed, and beautifully photographed. And, ironically, while everyone on the Internet and his mother was getting on Michael Cera’s case about giving the same performance over and over, he provides “Youth in Revolt” with not one but two terrific characters: mousy Nick Twisp and his evil double Francois Dillinger. If anyone had seen this movie, it would have restored their faith in this unfairly maligned actor.

12302010_lmi1.jpg“Let Me In”
Directed by Matt Reeves
$12.1 million gross on 2,042 screens

The party line amongst “Let Me In” partisans was that the film it was based on, 2008’s “Let the Right One In,” was too culty and Swedish for a mainstream audience, and had already reached as many people as it ever would. The English language remake by “Cloverfield” director Matt Reeves could bring more people to this story. But as it turns out, if you’re too lazy to read English subtitles, you’re probably not the sort of person who’s interested in a morally murky horror film about the unsettling and unsettlingly heartwarming relationship between a very twisted little boy and a morose little vampire. That doesn’t mean “Let Me In” wasn’t worth watching, though. Everything good about the original was good about the remake, with the added bonus of Michael Giacchino’s incredibly moody score.

12302010_grubes1.jpg“MacGruber”
Directed by Jorma Taccone
$8.5 million gross on 2,551 screens

Snider points out in his piece that “MacGruber” is basically the worst grossing “Saturday Night Live” spinoff film of all time. But after “Blues Brothers” and “Wayne’s World,” “MacGruber” is basically the best “Saturday Night Live” spinoff ever made (damning with faint praise, I know). I would guess it flopped because people had a hard time imagining a good version of the sketch blown up to 90 minutes in length. But director Jorma Taccone and co-writer/star Will Forte thought the same thing and, instead made a dead-on and endearingly goofy sendup of ’80s action movies. Their aim was true but their timing was off; as “The Expendables” massive grosses proved, audiences were in the mood to re-embrace ’80s action movies cliches rather than see them torn to shreds. “MacGruber” was admittedly uneven (in that way, at least, it was very faithful to the original “Saturday Night Live” sketches) but its total inability to connect with moviegoers in a year with so few truly funny comedies is still a bit mystifying. If any flop on this list is guaranteed for cult status in ten years, it’s “MacGruber.”

What do a monster movie, a teen romantic comedy, a vampire remake, and a wacky spoof have in common? All of these movies were amongst the biggest risk takers of 2010. Vincenzo Natali could have made “Splice” less icky and more commercial. Matt Reeves could have softened the core relationship in “Let Me In.” Those sorts of changes would have almost certainly resulted in higher box office numbers but they definitely would have also resulted in less interesting movies. Instead, these directors stuck to their artistic guns and wound up on that list amongst souless calculated products like “Jonah Hex.” What a shame.

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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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