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Watch Elijah Wood fight Dominic Monaghan at Fantastic Debates 2011

Watch Elijah Wood fight Dominic Monaghan at Fantastic Debates 2011 (photo)

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I’ve had some pretty heated arguments over movies at film festivals, but that’s nothing compared to Fantastic Fest‘s Fantastic Debates, where filmmakers, critics, and fans aren’t just encouraged to argue, they’re encouraged to fight. Now, if you’ve never been to a film festival, spent time around filmmakers and critics, let me explain something. These people are, with very few exceptions, the most unathletic human beings on the planet. They — and I should say we, since I’m equally guilty — spend all day every day watching movies. Our muscles have atrophied from lack of use, our bellies have bloated from too much popcorn and soda. Getting these folks in the boxing ring to settle their differences is always a hilarious, awkward spectacle.

There was one guy in fighting shape at this year’s Fantastic Debates: James Quinn McDonagh, not only an athlete but an undefeated bare knuckle boxer. McDonagh is the star of the entertaining documentary “Knuckle,” which chronicles more than a decade in the lives of feuding Irish Traveller clans. In the film, which sponsored this year’s debates, we see him beat men to bloody pulp with his bare hands. And I’m not exaggerating for dramatic effect: when his fights are over his opponents are lumpy puddles of broken flesh. You’d have to be insane to get into the ring with this guy.

Alamo Drafthouse and Fantastic Fest founder Tim League is apparently insane. Showing impressively reckless disregard for his own physical well-being just weeks after his wife gave birth to twins, League challenged McDonagh to a debate and fight to prove once and for all who is tougher: a Texan or an Irishman. League’s debate strategy was to argue that a theoretical Texan was tougher than a theoretical Irishman, since nobody was going to buy that he was badder man than McDonagh. “Everybody in Europe with a little bit of fight in their belly left and came to the United States before the American Revolution, leaving behind the week and the feeble in places like Ireland.” League argued. In response, McDonagh acknowledged the futility of arguing against Texas in Texas, but he did chide League for “beating up a woman” last year at the Fantastic Debates, when he challenged actress Michelle Rodriguez.

But the real highlight of this year’s card was an epic bust-up between two former co-stars: Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan of “The Lord of the Rings” fame going toe-to-hairy-toe to settle the matter of whether World of Warcraft is a complete waste of time. Call it: The Beatdown in Hobbiton.

This one wasn’t even close; Monaghan really did throw old Frodo a beatdown. In the debate portion of the evening, he outed himself a serious WoW nerd, sharing stories of dungeoning as an undead warlock and being seduced by a woman who was really a guy named Dave. When they put on the gloves, Monaghan pummeled his buddy with some serious shots to the face and body, even cutting Wood below the eye. Reportedly Monaghan’s trainers had to tell him to ease up a little, but I guess some long simmering animosity over that precious ring finally exploded in the squared circle.

Here’s a highlight reel of the evening produced by Erik Horn and Gates Bradley.

It was a pretty spectacular event. In fact, it’s the only event I’ve attended here at Fantastic Fest that hasn’t sparked any arguments of its own.

What other famous co-stars would you want to see fight? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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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.
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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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