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What’s up with all those Wes Anderson spoofs?

What’s up with all those Wes Anderson spoofs? (photo)

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Super Bowl Sunday is coming up fast, so Slate has a video called “If Filmmakers Directed The Super Bowl.” Here you can find by-the-numbers appropriations of various filmmakers: football footage intercut with anime and “Kill Bill” font and songs spell “Tarantino.” For Lynch, run the footage backwards. For Wes Anderson, by all means play “This Time Tomorrow” while running a random shot in slo-mo.

It’s odd how many Anderson parodies there are out in the world. This week also saw the arrival of “Wes Anderson Spider-Man.” I also found “Ramsey’s First Grade Journal by Wes Anderson”, “wes anderson’s john mccain ad”[sic]. They’re all the same, with the variable of a voice-over narrator –the slo-mo, the soundtrack choices, the flat line readings.

It’s weird how people gravitate towards the most reductive view of Anderson’s work. Okay, not that weird — this is the internet, where literal-mindedness always reads well. And Anderson does make himself awfully easy to lampoon. But these parodies never feel accurate to me — I can never tell if they’re works of love or hate, and they never seem like convincing simulations of an Anderson film.

A full reckoning with, say, “Rushmore” would include the incredibly awkward scene where Olivia Williams turns on Jason Schwartzman and hisses “hand job” at him while he stumbles. A full reckoning with Anderson’s catalogue in general would include “Bottle Rocket,” a movie that conspicuously avoids parody. Anderson has made six features that are recognizably the product of the same sensibility (and compositional sense) but that, in fact, don’t really repeat themselves. There are a few tics in there (I’ll concede the slo-mo), but less than you’d think. It’s mostly about the shots.

02052010_tenenbaums.jpgI happen to believe “The Royal Tenenbaums” is Anderson’s worst movie — and it’s telling that that’s the one that tends to get parodied the most. You could call it “quirky,” and I’d have to agree. But otherwise, the movies dance around that dreaded term: save for the suicide scene, “Tenenbaums” tends to suffocate and repress all the pain, but the others deal with it in various forms, some more than disruptive than others. But watching those damn YouTube videos, you’d think all Anderson movies were just some dude listing random character adjectives in voice-over while blank, chain-smoking twentysomethings prepared to leave the room in slow motion.

It’s almost like people want to punish Anderson for having a recognizable style — consistency’s apparently a drag. And in general, I’m bothered by the idea that having a distinctive touch actually just boils down to a generic bag of tricks. In that Super Bowl video, everyone who’s getting parodied is easy to pin down because of a few hallmarks (like Werner Herzog’s voice). Instead of dealing with what the filmmakers are actually up to, it’s easier to pretend they’re just style over substance, or to take the cheap shots instead of trying to replicate the equally distinctive but trickier control of, say, P.T. Anderson.

You know what a Wes Anderson commercial looks like? It looks like that American Express commercial, sure, but it also looks like the IKEA commercial below. Now you tell me about how Anderson can be pinned down in 30 seconds or less. Sometimes style just isn’t all the substance on display.

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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