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Loveable Losers

10 Movies Where Losing Is More Important Than Winning

Catch an all day Rocky movie marathon Saturday, August 20th on IFC.

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For most of us, moral victories, silver linings, and a game well-played are tough concessions when conceding defeat. But thanks to the eponymous palooka in the 1976 Oscar-winner Rocky, we’re reminded that just about anyone — from a plucky underdog to a conniving villain to a stalemated supercomputer — can find victory within a loss.

In honor of IFC’s Rocky movie marathon, cheer on 10 memorable characters who won by losing.

1. The Bad News Bears

Moviegoers in 1976 lauded another film where outmatched protagonists suffer a disappointing loss but still celebrate the hard-fought journey to get there. The always-great Walter Matthau corrals a ragtag group of misfits and miscreants into a wisecracking group of decent ballplayers. And while their 7-6 loss to the Yankees at the end should be devastating for how close they got to winning, the kids triumphantly douse each other with foamy beer and vow to get ’em next year. (Click here to see all airings of The Bad News Bears on IFC.)


2. Inside Out

Responsible for more sniffles and watery eyes than ragweed, Pixar has cornered the market on bittersweet endings. And just when audiences had gotten over the beginning of Up, the studio chainsaws their heartstrings with Inside Out where a young girl named Riley discovers the complexities of emotion via anthropomorphic feelings. Thrust into a new school, misunderstood by her parents, and on the verge of running away, Riley (along with her subconscious fleet) learns that waving a white flag and admitting defeat can still result in comfort, resilience, and growth. (R.I.P. Bing Bong.)


3. WarGames

An out-of-control supercomputer nearly goes thermonuclear in this geeky 1983 classic, and it’s up to whizkid David (Matthew Broderick) to teach the mainframe that nobody really wins a war. And because this is a pre-internet, Reagan-era family film, this is somehow achieved by the computer playing tic-tac-toe with itself. After a quick succession of stalemates and losses, the computer concludes that, in war, the only winning move is not to play and subsequently cancels Armageddon. Here’s hoping the Singularity will be this morally proverbial.


4. Kingpin

Nobody likes to lose, much less a down-and-out bowler whose name is synonymous with screwing everything up. Roy Munson, played perfectly by Woody Harrelson, climbs his way out of drunken obscurity (which isn’t easy with only one hand) to match skills, wits, and combovers with dastardly villain Ernie McCracken, also played perfectly by Bill Murray. Unfortunately, Munson’s all-but-secured win is snatched away by McCracken’s lucky roll, and although Roy is denied the trophy and winnings, he earns a $500,000 endorsement from Trojan thanks to his rubber prosthetic hand.


5. School of Rock

In arguably his best “lovable loser” role, Jack Black plays a substitute teacher conning a group of gifted school kids into helping him win a Battle of the Bands contest. Antics and hijinks ensue, as Black and his merry band of kids rock the venue in front of a thoroughly entertained crowd. But it isn’t until the kids are deemed runners-up by the judges that the audience practically stages an uprising and inspires Black’s character to open a literal rock school.


6. The Matrix Revolutions

The Matrix franchise gets downright biblical in its depiction of “Good vs. Evil” and how the fate of the world depends on the heroes’ win. And without getting too deep into the scrambled mythology (or diminishing returns) of the sequels, virtual messiah Neo sacrifices himself for the good of humanity (sound familiar?) and is assimilated into Agent Smith’s cackling clutches. However, Neo’s death allows the machines to locate the rogue agent, hit F5 on the bug-ridden Matrix, and perhaps create a better world for all the coaxial brains out there.


7. Se7en

When it comes to serial killer movies, nobody murders just for the fun of it. There’s gotta be this whole grand scheme, metaphorically tying each death to a deadly sin or Walt Whitman poem or something. (And who really has the time for that?) At any rate, Kevin Spacey plays a killer with the patience of a saint who orchestrates a series of murders to highlight how nonchalant we’ve become to our own depravity. And for the sake of a poignant completion, his whole plan requires one final sin — his own death — for it to really drive the message home. All it takes is only small game of “What’s in the Box?” for him to succeed.


8. The Dark Knight

There’s no loss more infuriating than the one reluctantly taken for the greater good, as nutty billionaire Bruce Wayne could attest to at the end of The Dark Knight. After he’s broken his no-kill rule with the death of Harvey Dent, Batman takes the blame for Dent’s body count, ensures the criminals Dent convicted stay in jail, and preserves the illusion of Gotham’s noble White Knight — the true hero in their eyes. By losing, Batman becomes the hero that Gotham needs.


9. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

With their liquid-metal foe vanquished and spare Terminator parts thrown into molten lava, our exhausted heroes of James Cameron’s bombastic Terminator 2: Judgment Day surely can call it a day, right? Unfortunately, there’s one last computer chip that can still result in a machine uprising — and it’s in the head of baddie-turned-goodie T-800 played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. For the good of humanity, the Connor’s family cyborg lowers himself into the flaming vat, preventing Cyberdyne from orchestrating armageddon. Subpar sequels, alas, were still in the cards.


10. The Game

Typically, the moment you step off the edge of a building, you’ve lost whatever game you were playing. That’s what director David Fincher had Michael Douglas and the audience believe at the climax of 1997’s mindscrew The Game. But after nearly two hours of “Is this part of The Game or isn’t it?”, a rooftop plunge into breakaway glass and an inflated cushion prove Douglas didn’t accidentally murder his brother (played by Sean Penn) and the whole live-action roleplaying affair was a means to keep Douglas from killing himself like their workaholic father — despite how close he came to it.

Get pumped for IFC’s Rocky marathon! 

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Holiday Extra Special

Make The Holidays ’80s Again

Enjoy the holiday cheer Wednesday December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Whatever happened to the kind of crazy-yet-cozy holiday specials that blanketed the early winter airwaves of the 1980s? Unceremoniously killed by infectious ’90s jadedness? Slow fade out at the hands of early-onset millennial ennui? Whatever the reason, nixing the tradition was a huge mistake.

A huge mistake that we’re about to fix.

Announcing IFC’s Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special, starring Tony Hale. It’s a celeb-studded extravaganza in the glorious tradition of yesteryear featuring Bridget Everett, Jo Firestone, Nick Thune, Jen Kirkman, house band The Dap-Kings, and many more. And it’s at Joe’s Pub, everyone’s favorite home away from home in the Big Apple.

The yuletide cheer explodes Wednesday December 21 at 10P. But if you were born after 1989 and have no idea what void this spectacular special is going to fill, sample from this vintage selection of holiday hits:

Andy Williams and The NBC Kids Search For Santa

The quintessential holiday special. Get snuggly and turn off your brain. You won’t need it.

A Muppet Family Christmas

The Fraggles. The Muppets. The Sesame Street gang. Fate. The Jim Henson multiverse merges in this warm and fuzzy Holiday gathering.

Julie Andrews: The Sound Of Christmas

To this day a foolproof antidote to holiday cynicism. It’s cheesy, but a good cheese. In this case an Alpine Gruyère.

Star Wars Holiday Special

Okay, busted. This one was released in 1978. Still totally ’80s though. And yes that’s Bea Arthur.

Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special

Pass the eggnog, and make sure it’s loaded. This special is everything you’d expect it to be and much, much more.

Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special premieres Wednesday December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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It Ain't Over Yet

A Guide to Coping with the End of Comedy Bang! Bang!

Watch the final episodes tonight at 11 and 11:30P on IFC.

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After five seasons and 110 halved-hour episodes, Scott Aukerman’s hipster comedy opus, Comedy Bang! Bang!, has come to an end. Fridays at 11 and 11:30P will never be the same. We know it can be hard for fans to adjust after the series finale of their favorite TV show. That’s why we’ve prepared this step-by-step guide to managing your grief.

Step One: Cry it out

It’s just natural. We’re sad too.
Scott crying GIF

Step Two: Read the CB!B! IMDB Trivia Page

The show is over and it feels like you’ve lost a friend. But how well did you really know this friend? Head over to Comedy Bang! Bang!’s IMDB page to find out some things you may not have known…like that it’s “based on a Civil War battle of the same name” or that “Reggie Watts was actually born with the name Theodore Leopold The Third.”

Step Three: Listen to the podcast

One fascinating piece of CB!B! trivia that you might not learn from IMDB is that there’s a podcast that shares the same name as the TV show. It’s even hosted by Scott Aukerman! It’s not exactly like watching the TV show on a Friday night, but that’s only because each episode is released Monday morning. If you close your eyes, the podcast is just like watching the show with your eyes closed!

Step Four: Watch brand new CB!B! clips?!

The best way to cope with the end of Comedy Bang! Bang! is to completely ignore that it’s over — because it’s not. In an unprecedented move, IFC is opening up the bonus CB!B! content vault. There are four brand new, never-before-seen sketches featuring Scott Aukerman, Kid Cudi, and “Weird Al” Yankovic ready for you to view on the IFC App. There’s also one right here, below this paragraph! Watch all four b-b-bonus clips and feel better.

Binge the entire final season, plus exclusive sketches, right now on the IFC app.

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Everybody Sweats Now

The Four-Day Sweatsgiving Weekend On IFC

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This long holiday weekend is your time to gobble gobble gobble and give heartfelt thanks—thanks for the comfort and forgiveness of sweatpants. Because when it comes right down to it, there’s nothing more wholesome and American than stuffing yourself stupid and spending endless hours in front of the TV in your softest of softests.

So get the sweats, grab the remote and join IFC for four perfect days of entertainment.

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It all starts with a 24-hour T-day marathon of Rocky Horror Picture Show, then continues Friday with an all-day binge of Stan Against Evil.

By Saturday, the couch will have molded to your shape. Which is good, because you’ll be nestled in for back-to-back Die Hard and Lethal Weapon.

Finally, come Sunday it’s time to put the sweat back in your sweatpants with The Shining, The Exorcist, The Chronicles of Riddick, Terminator 2, and Blade: Trinity. They totally count as cardio.

As if you need more convincing, here’s Martha Wash and the IFC&C Music Factory to hammer the point home.

The Sweatsgiving Weekend starts Thursday on IFC

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