Tag Archives: Saturday Night Live

Ten for Ten: Old School

What is 10 for 10? On the tenth of every month I take something really cool, underrated, badass, or worth remembering from ten years ago and tell you about it here, a decade past its prime. You may even notice similar posts pop up on the 20th and 30th of each month. Because as a child I was always told to recycle, and they never said that concept doesn’t apply to gimmicks, too. Check out previous Ten for Ten posts from March and February.

“We’re all going streaking!”

“You’re my boy, Blue!”

“He’ll do one!”

“Earmuffs.”

Just a scant ten years ago, those quotes were only glimmers in Will Ferrell, Luke Wilson, and Vince Vaughn’s eyes. A decade later the movie Old School is, itself, becoming old school, but still holds up alongside the R-Rated blockbuster-comedies of today. Hits like The Hangover, Knocked Up, Superbad, Bridesmaids, The 40-Year Old Virgin, etc. all exist because Old School showed that comedies for grown-ups can be funny and (more importantly to Hollywood), profitable.

old school

In addition to giving us a new movie genre, a far superior (and F-word-laden) version of “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, and the legendary “tranq gun” scene, Old School also gave us arguably the most important comedy element of the 2000s: Will Ferrell. In 2003, Will Ferrell was on the uncertain precipice of a comic actor trying to transition from TV to film…so what kept Big Willie Style from succumbing to the same fate of obscurity as his fellow SNL alum Cheri Oteri, Chris Kattan, Tim Meadows and the like? Old School (combined with Elf’s success) gave Ferrell enough street cred to make Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Blades of Glory, Semi-Pro, Step Brothers, and a half dozen other movies that redefined the modern day comedy movie.

When you see Hangover III this summer and complain that it wasn’t funny as the first one (even though it will have just made 300 million dollars at the box office), remember that if it wasn’t for Old School, the only funny movies they’d be making for grown ups would be Grown Ups…and nobody in the mood for a funny movie wants to see an Adam Sandler film (speaking of washed up SNL alum, Grown Ups 2 comes out this July).

So grab some buddies, a case of the cheapest light beer you can get your hands on, pop this ’03 comic masterpiece into your DVD player and get ready to laugh. And bring your green hat.

Play on,
Dustin

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Dustin’s Three to See: December

In an effort to stay slightly more topical than, say, reviewing 33-year-old episodes of Saturday Night Live, I wanted to share the top movies I saw last month — to help out those of you who don’t see 90% of the films that are released like I do. And actually full credit goes to my longtime friend Phil (if you live in Columbus or the surrounding areas, go see his awesome cover band!) who was like “You see a lot of movies…you should put together a top three list every month so people who don’t go to the movies very often know which ones they should see.” And so here we are.

December is a huge month for movies, so coming up with a list of good movies to see this month wasn’t the hard part…the hard part was keeping it to three. However if you were on death row and your last request was to see three movies (instead of something more practical like, say, a hacksaw baked into a cake), these are the three to see. They are in no particular order.

 

Movie 1) — The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The only unexpected thing about Peter Jackson’s Middle-Earth prequel is that they broke the shortest book (J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit) into the most movies (three so far, not counting an animated spinoff I’m pitching about dysentery called “Gollum’s Revenge”). But just because you know what’s coming doesn’t make it any less of an enjoyable ride. Jackson’s visuals have only sharpened since 2003 and brought an even more vibrant Middle Earth to life (just as those poor Kiwis were starting to be known for something other than the LOTR movies). In fact, if you’re re-watching the Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition on BluRay like I am (cue a chorus of “ohhhh THAT’S why he’s single”), you’ll really notice how much the CGI and other effects have improved in Middle Earth over the last ten years since Return of the King came out. This movie feels every bit like it’s only the first third of the story, versus the original trilogy where each installment had its own sense of closure. But to its credit, The Hobbit doesn’t drag, despite the 170-minute run time (every bit of three hours if you include previews). A good movie, with the clichéd “something for everyone” vibe that does, in fact, have something for everyone.

 

Movie 2) — Django: Unchained
Quentin Tarantino bears the blessing and curse of being mentioned equally alongside each of his movies — versus other directors who enjoy a slightly more anonymous presence and are able to let their movies speak for themselves. That said, QT’s latest work still has a lot to say, and if you can get past the decidedly R-rated Tarantino-style gore and more gratuitous use of the N-word than a Li’l Wayne + Mark Fuhrman mixtape, you’ll find a complex and compelling story, woven full of complex and compelling characters. With the spot-on performances you’d expect from Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx, and tons of support from scene-stealers Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz (the latter just today nominated for Best Supporting Actor…hard to not think of him as a lead, though), this film would be a master class in acting and directing, even without its very solid story and script. But the difference between a very good movie and a great one is what you come away with once the credits have finished rolling, and when you leave Django you won’t be thinking about the exploding limbs or the racial slurs, you’ll be thinking about what the world would look like with a little less hate in it. And that’s a great thing to take away from any experience.

 

Movie 3) — Les Misérables
I know I said earlier that I wasn’t ranking these films in any particular order, but if you see one movie this month (or this year for that matter), it absolutely has to be Tom Hooper’s soon-to-be legendary movie based on Claude-Michel Schönberg’s legendary musical based on Victor Hugo’s legendary novel (as epic as it is lengthy). Hyperbole aside, what makes this story so compelling is that it calls into attention the eternal (and arguably only) struggle of humankind — how to forgive the unforgivable and how to hope in the face of hopelessness. To do what’s right even when it will bring no recognition or personal profit. Why else would a story written over 150 years ago and a musical that’s been running for over three decades still carry such weight in our modern lives? The acting is spectacular, the score and arrangements are deeply engrossing…overall this is an incredibly faithful and powerful adaptation of a property that isn’t easy to convert to the silver screen. The most nitpicky will wonder if the director’s ever heard of any shot besides a closeup, and will decry Russell Crowe’s vocals as subpar, but neither of these things diminish the overall experience or “must-see” status of the film. And if you’re adapting a famous stage musical, why not showcase the one element that you never see when you’re seeing the stage version in person? The closeups of the brilliant acting taking place. And as for Crowe’s vocals, the simple fact of the matter is that they’re not actually that bad…he’s just the least-talented singer in a cast of VERY talented singers. It’s not like watching American Idol auditions, and even Randy wouldn’t be so bold as to call him pitchy (he has a nasally timbre to his voice, to be sure, but he sings in tune). And if it still bothers you that much, just do what Paula did to tolerate bad singing — get hammered drunk until you don’t care. And really, isn’t that what the holidays are all about anyway?

Kidding aside, none of us are so perfect that our lives don’t need some dissection more often than not, and if it takes a major motion picture like Les Misérables to be the caveat that pushes you to choose hope and life and right in the face of this world’s constant negativity and darkness, then so be it.

“To love another person is to see the face of God.” —Victor Hugo

 

So there’s your three to see for December, and don’t fret, I’ll be sure to sort through January’s best for you in time for the start of next month!

Honorable Mentions (from November and December): Wreck-It Ralph, Skyfall, Lincoln, Amour, Promised Land

Play on,
Dustin

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Topical References: A Review of 1980 SNL

I always try to keep these things under 500 words, to make them more accessible to you ADHD kids with your glowsticks and your Kardashian sisters and your pogs to distract you. Out of the 135 posts I have on here, I’ve been successful exactly…zero times. But like I always say, one-hundred-and-thirty-sixth time’s the charm.

Saturday Night Live (or, to use the abbreviation I invented for it, SNL) is starting its 38th season, making it America’s longest-running television show (unless it’s not, I didn’t feel like fact-checking that). If you’re Amish and have never seen the show (yet somehow have a computer, an internet connection and are reading this blog), SNL is a sketch-comedy/musical show whose general premise is to put a celebrity in wacky situations for 90 minutes and hope the supporting cast of funny people around them can make a handful of the sketches bearable. And twice per episode they cut away to the musical guest du jour. Some casts are more successful at this than others, and I could probably crank out a pretty healthy 12,000-word article trying to rank each years’ casts in order from best to worst, but man does that sound like a lot of work. Maybe some other time.

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