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DID YOU READ

In Defense of “Drive Angry”

In Defense of “Drive Angry” (photo)

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Like a movie about a firefighter killing terrorists right after 9/11, or a movie called “Looters” right after the 1992 Los Angeles riots, “Drive Angry” was a victim of bad timing. Sold primarily as a 3D movie right as audiences began to tire of 3D (“SHOT IN 3D!” the trailers probably shouldn’t have boasted), on the backend of a wave of cruddy Nicolas Cage movies, it basically had no chance at the box office. And with just over $10 million in domestic receipts in the box office, less than half of Cage’s January release “Season of the Witch,” that’s exactly what it got.

I understand why people stayed away, but I’m here to tell you, “Drive Angry” is well worth a Friday night rental. It’s a saucy little exploitation picture, with a feisty, well-cast Cage as a man possessed. Remember when Nicolas Cage was the guy who played the awkward everyman nerd in action movies? And he sometimes needed Sean Connery to show him how to kick ass? Yeah, those days are long gone. Now a murdering, muscle car driving avenger from hell is about as close to an everyman as he gets. And we love him for it! Who cares if he’s 47 and slightly jowly? Who cares if his hair looks like it’s made from the stuff they sweep off the floor of the American Girl Doll Hair Salon? The man is having so much fun in this movie it’s infectious.

Cage plays John Milton, a dead man who escapes from Hell on a mission of revenge; that Cage’s character shares a name with the author of “Paradise Lost” and likes to shoot people while he’s having (fully clothed) intercourse with a barmaid, gives you a good indication of the movie’s intelligence level and temperament. Milton’s pursued by the always dependable “that guy” William Fichtner, in the leading role of a lifetime of supporting turns as The Accountant, a relentless agent of the underworld sent to return Milton to his rightful place in eternal damnation. I won’t spoil just what Milton is doing back on planet Earth, but it involves Billy Burke’s Jonah King, a religious leader who must be a bad guy because a)he walks around with a cane made out of a dead girl’s femur and b)he has a soul patch. I don’t know which one’s worse.

“Drive Angry”‘s plot has more holes than the grill of Milton’s Chevrolet Chevelle. Honestly? Who cares. The film is ludicrous and proud. Milton’s sidekick is the fetching Amber Heard, whose impossibly luxurious mane of flaxen hair maintains its shine and bounce in even the fiercest of gunfights. His nemesis casually tosses off lines like “It’d be bloody easy for me to shoot you in the throat and watch you gurgle while I eat my morning grapefruit.” And since it was shot in 3D there’s all sorts of shrapnel and bullets and spittle flying at the camera lens, even though most people will watch this movie at home in 2D (there is a 3D Blu-ray, if your home theater is equipped to handle such a thing).

I actually like the movie with 2D 3D effects. They remind me of all the schlocky formerly 3D exploitation pictures I used to watch on VHS as a kid. Releasing a 3D film in 2D strips it bare of any artistic pretense — these are carnival rides, plain and simple, and some of the attractions aren’t even working right now, so just stay in your seats until your car comes to a full and a complete stop. It also lends them a literal in-your-face attitude. A little aggressiveness is never a bad thing in an action movie.

With its gritty driving sequences, vindictive demons, and hellfire-spewing guns, “Drive Angry” is a way more satisfying adaptation of the “Ghost Rider” comic book than the “Ghost Rider” movie that Nicolas Cage was also the star of. In that case, he was required to tamp down a little bit of that Cage craziness we know and love to try to fit our notions of a super-hero. As Milton, he has noble intentions, but he’s also a bloodthirsty killer out for revenge. And without spoiling too much, that gives him license to do stuff like drink beer out of a dead guy’s skull. If that’s not your idea of a good night at home with a rented movie and some popcorn, then we have nothing left to discuss. Good night and drive safely (and angry).

“Drive Angry” is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, and 3D Blu-ray. Do you think the film got a bum rap too? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter!

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SO EXCITED!!!

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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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.”

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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. 

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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.

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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.