DID YOU READ

Five reboots that worked, in honor of “The Amazing Spider-Man” on Blu-ray

Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man

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The “reboot” has become the new go-to term for Hollywood to use when they decide to remake a film that’s either not really that old or they want audiences to believe they’re taking a fresh take on the material. Sometimes it’s true. Sometimes it’s spin. Either way, movie fans have seen a whole slew of reboots in recent years as the number of wholly original films coming out of the dream factory gets smaller every year.

Perhaps this year’s most high-profile reboot is Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man, a “fresh take” on the character and the films Sam Raimi established as canon only a few years back. While it’s certainly debatable that The Amazing Spider-Man actually “worked” as a reboot, it’s undeniable that the film includes some stunning visuals, a fantastic bit of chemistry between leads Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, and a bend on Spidey’s origin that audiences hadn’t seen before. It also boasts a pretty astonishing Blu-ray (in stores now) with an exhaustive documentary crafted by Charles de Lauzirika. It’s a must-buy for any fan of the webslinger.

Feel free to argue yourself into oblivion about how well Webb’s film actually holds up but, if anything, it gives us the chance to delve into five reboots that did work. It’s like déjà vu all over again.


“Dawn of the Dead” (2004)

George A. Romero fans (myself included) are rabidly protective of the man’s work, and for good reason: he’s the Godfather of the modern zombie film. If it weren’t for Romero’s 1968 classic “Night of the Living Dead” you probably wouldn’t be seeing the type of popularity that zombies are enjoying now. Things like “The Walking Dead” probably wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for Romero’s work.

So fans were skeptical at best when they heard that Zack Snyder was planning to remake one of the master’s most loved films: “Dawn of the Dead.” Not only that, but he planned to employ fast-moving zombies. What? Yes, that’s right. Snyder’s zombies are quick little buggers hell-bent on eating brains and tearing flesh. It was a major change that hardcore zombie fans had a very hard time coming to grips with. Yet, despite all the misgivings and nervous Romero ‘shippers out there, Snyder’s 2004 “Dawn of the Dead” actually works. It’s certainly not the original, and it’s a wholly new take on the film’s zombies-in-a-mall concept where the social satire doesn’t quite hit as strongly as Romero’s take, but it’s a hell of an entertaining film and still stands up as one of the best zombie flicks of the last decade. Packed with a quality cast, tightly directed, and jammed with plenty of winks to Romero’s original, “Dawn of the Dead” is one reboot for which I’m happy to be a fan.


“21 Jump Street” (2012)

Nobody, and I mean nobody, except for the folks making 2012’s “21 Jump Street” thought this reboot was going to work. And I don’t blame them. The odds were certainly stacked against the film. The original TV series that it’s based on really wasn’t very good (aside from giving the world a glimpse into the mind of a very young Johnny Depp), the casting seemed off (who knew Channing Tatum could pull off comedy, right?), and concept itself seemed to be reaching. The final product, however, is completely badass and hilarious. Fans began to have hope when that first poster came out with the hilarious tagline (which I won’t repeat here) and early trailers backed up their suspicions that “21 Jump Street” just might have a chance at working. And work it does. The team of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum is way funnier than anyone expected, the fresh take on the concept is surprisingly adept, and the clever cameos and inside jokes turn “21 Jump Street” into one of the year’s best comedies and one that I’ll watch again on Blu-ray plenty of times. Who knew?


“The Fly” (1986)

When the master of flesh-based horror, David Cronenberg, decided to remake the 1958 Vincent Price-starring film of the same name he not only made the decision to reboot the original concept, but he actually took the film’s basic premise of a scientist merging with a housefly and blew it up in only the way Cronenberg knows how. The results are not only better than the original film, but they’re also astonishingly original, completely horrific, and totally Cronenberg. “The Fly” is often regarded as the director’s best film, but even that might be selling it short. Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis both deliver career-best performances, the effects are just as effective two decades after the film’s release, and the subtext of “The Fly” holds up extremely well. If you’re looking for the definition of a true “reboot” look no further than Cronenberg’s film. Not only is it absolutely creeptastic, but it’s also smart, well made, and wholly original. Oh, and it’s also often pretty damn gross.


“Disturbia” (2007)

Now’s the time when all the Shia LaBeouf haters will take out their pitchforks and come running after me. Go ahead, folks. Bring it because I still watch “Disturbia” to this day and I still get a hell of a kick out of it every time. Based on Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film “Rear Window,” D.J. Caruso’s 2007 film might not be a true, full-on “reboot,” but it definitely has enough elements of the original film to call it one. There’s a guy (in this case LaBeouf) holed up inside his house and he can’t stop staring out the window watching life happen outside. Then he sees what he believes to be a murder occurring. From there, “Disturbia” strays quite a bit from Hitchcock’s film, but it’s the same basic premise with similar results. The film is clearly no “Rear Window” but it is a damn fine film with some truly suspenseful moments and excellent performances from Shia LaBeouf and Sarah Roemer. “Disturbia” is one of those films that, if it pops up on TV, it’s nearly impossible to turn it off. That alone, in my opinion, is enough to call it a reboot that works.


“The Thing” (1982)

John Carpenter’s 1982 classic “The Thing” just might be the greatest reboot of all time. Based on the 1951 Howard Hawks-Christian Nyby film “The Thing from Another World” (and possibly more so John W. Campbell Jr.’s novella “Who Goes There?”), Carpenter’s film is an ice-cold slice of paranoid perfection. Similar to what Cronenberg does with “The Fly,” Carpenter takes the original premise and blows it up to create a wholly new film in the director’s signature style. Starring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, Donald Moffat, and Charles Hallahan, “The Thing” is exactly what you’d expect it to be… until it isn’t. It’s a film that will have you questioning who you trust and why, who your friends and enemies really are, and just what might lurk under the surface of every conversation, action, and moment of solidarity. It’s also, arguably, Carpenter’s greatest film and that’s saying a whole lot. If you’ve only seen the 2011 prequel version of “The Thing” get your butt over to Amazon now and pick up the excellent Blu-ray version of Carpenter’s film. You won’t regret it. Trust me.

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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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