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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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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.