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Whoa Is Me

5 Movies From The Wachowskis That Are Too Rotten to Miss

Catch The Matrix Revolutions tonight at 8P during IFC's Rotten Fridays.

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The Wachowskis hold a unique place in Hollywood history thanks to The Matrix. Unfortunately, the rest of their filmography is another matter. While The Matrix is an undisputed classic (and their crime thriller Bound is highly underrated), they’ve never again approached such heights of storytelling. Instead, the rest of their filmography is a mishmash of overly ambitious failures and style before substance. Still, we can’t deny that even their failures have some downright entertaining moments. As IFC and Rotten Tomatoes team up to celebrate movies that are “too rotten to miss,” we thought we’d look back at five Wachowski movies that are eminently watchable in their lousiness.

5. Cloud Atlas

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Warner Bros. Pictures

Cloud Atlas is probably the Wachowskis’ most ambitious movie to date, and also one of their best. Unfortunately, being one of their best doesn’t mean it’s very good. Based on the acclaimed novel by British author David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas tells the story of various characters’ interweaving roles in a narrative that spans the past, the present and the future. If that sounds vague and confusing, it’s because it is. While the book was a huge success based on digging deep into these characters’ realities, the movie takes a more superficial and often obvious approach. What’s left is a head scratcher full of Tom Hanks playing dress up. As with much of the Wachowksis’ work, there are a lot of interesting ideas buried in this movie, but they tend to collapse under the weight of all the gimmicks and miscues the filmmakers can’t seem to avoid.


4. Speed Racer

Speed Racer
Warner Bros. Pictures

The creators of The Matrix take on a beloved cult cartoon? What could go wrong? Well, judging by the $19 million this $120 million fiasco earned in its opening weekend, a lot. Less a movie than an assault on the senses, Speed Racer was supposed to be the Wachowskis’ comeback after their Matrix saga came off the rails. Things likes performance, character and plot are beside the point here. This is all about explosive CGI. Colors whizzing by. Streaks of light having sex with a rainbow on acid. It’s an overwhelming experience, but not necessarily a bad one. You feel swept away to a magical world of Day-Glo racecar drivers fighting for their shot. And then it keeps going. And going. And going. That wonder turns into a headache. That awe into an urge to vomit. It never lets up, or bothers to craft a story and characters interesting enough to make you want to keep the puke down long enough to see how it ends. The Wachowskis seem to have made exactly the movie they were going for here, but their instincts betray them yet again, leaving us with a sugar high hangover.


3. The Matrix Reloaded

Matrix Rave
Warner Bros. Pictures

Fans showed up in droves for The Matrix Reloaded, ready to pop the red pill and see where it took them. Unfortunately, the answer was no place they wanted to go. Instead, the rabbit hole led to a convoluted sequel that dropped the clear storyline of the first film for a impenetrable mess of self-indulgent world building and empty motivations. A diehard fan under extreme interrogation couldn’t coherently describe what this movie was about. There’s some albino twins and a guy who’s also a key? In the end, this was science fiction navel gazing at its worst. The Wachowskis got lost in the world they created, and forgot to ground the film in story, character and sanity. Plus, that rave scene is pretty ridiculous.


2. The Matrix Revolutions

Matrix Revolutions
Warner Bros. Pictures

When the first Matrix film was released in 1999, it was sold with the tagline “What is the Matrix?” By the time the head scratching sequels came and went, no one seemed to know or care anymore. If we’re being honest, do any of us even remember this movie? We went into Reloaded with sky-high expectation and were met with a thundering middle finger. This movie was a denouement of apathy, a $150 million shrug of the shoulders. When filmmakers feel the need to create complex mythology to explain a recast part, you know you’re probably in a bit of trouble. By the time the trilogy limps actors to the finish line, with the wizened Oracle basically admitting she has no idea what just happened, the audience found themselves repeating Keanu Reeves’ iconic catchphrase, “Whoa.” (Or more likely, “Whaaa??”) It’s the rotten nadir of the Matrix franchise, complete with some choice dazed Keanu-isms and endless scenes of characters spouting wisdom that seems to be gleaned from a Magic Eightball.


1. Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Ascending
Warner Bros. Pictures

At a certain point, you can’t blame the Wachowskis alone for their incomprehensibly bad movies. You have to start questioning the men in suits who hand them hundreds of millions of dollars to make them. Whoever read the dense story of a mysterious queen of bees rescued by a buff dog/elf with hover rollerblades, and thought, now this one is going to be a hit, needs to rethink their line of work. This movie is so bad, it’s virtually become shorthand for movies that suck. There are too many issues to mention. Channing Tatum plays a half albino with dog DNA and a leather fetish, and looks ashamed the whole time. Eddie Redmayne puts on an overacting clinic that very nearly cost him his Oscar. Somehow, nearly every scene in this movie introduces a new plot that goes nowhere. It’s as if the Wachowskis threw everything AND the kitchen sink into their script, and then made the kitchen sink a part dog bounty hunter with floating space shoes! This is the type of movie that doesn’t just end careers, it ends studios. It’s also gradually picking up a cult following as a seriously “WTF” movie that is too rotten to miss.

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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.