Some Kinda Hot Tub Time Machine

1 04 2010

Recently, I was attacked via Twitter because I loved Hot Tub Time Machine and some kid did not.

Besides using my student film as a reason that this real movie was not good (what’s that, audience? That’s a completely illogical argument? That my own Northwestern University grant film has nothing to do with Hot Tub Time Machine and therefore shouldn’t be referenced? You’re right!) I felt like the reasons given were also unfounded. Everyone is allowed to dislike whatever they want as long as they have a good reason. Don’t like me? Fine. Don’t like me because I’m tall? You’re a dullard.

I am not one to dismiss a grudge, nor am I one to back down from an argument simply because I’ve been belittled, and usually I AM one to throw insults your way that will give you a complex for life – fair warning all present and future friends. However, I’ve taken a moment, collected my thoughts, and would like to take this time to rationally explain why I liked this movie. You are free to disagree with me. But, if you’d like to insult anything else from my own personal body of work – Food Day project from 2nd Grade, playing Glenda the Good Witch in 3rd Grade, any and all collected papers written during high school history class – I ask that you keep those thoughts to yourself. And choke on them. In your sleep.

HOT TUB TIME MACHINE

Basically, the main ish with this line of argument is that I was told that “You can’t do a ‘send-up’ of a comedy.”

Let’s think about that for a second. Dictionary.com says:

Send-up, noun: an entertaining or humorous burlesque or parody; takeoff.

Ok, so send-ups are, by definition, comedic works. Does that mean you cannot do a comedic tribute to a comedic work?

NO. THAT IS COMPLETELY ILLOGICAL.

It’s like saying you can’t do a spin-off of a spin-off. Television has proved us wrong, so very very wrong on that front. Or that you can’t do a play within a play because you’re already doing a play. Shakespeare, among others, hearts plays within plays. Just because two things are in the same genre doesn’t mean one can’t send-up the other. In fact, comedies lend themselves to being sent-up.

Examples: Down with Love is a send-up of romantic comedies from the 50s. Not Another Teen Movie is a send-up of teen comedies. Date Movie is a send-up of romantic comedies. Thus, Hot Tub Time Machine is a send-up of 80s comedies, of both time-travel and non-time-travel persuasions.

Does that mean all send-ups are good? Absolutely not. The point is that arguing that Hot Tube Time Machine cannot possibly be a send-up of Back to the Future because Back to the Future is a comedy is not factually correct. That’s the issue here that has been infuriating me and my cavalcade of film school graduates who all saw this movie and enjoyed it. Was it the best movie I’ve ever seen? No. Would I see it again? Absolutely.

Now, besides not understand what a send-up is, this person’s main argument against the movie is that it’s a rip-off, namely of Back to the Future. I would like to refer your attention to this excellent review by A.O. Scott in the New York Times, who, besides calling “Hot Tub Time Machine” a Critic’s Pick, I think hits the nail on the head as to why this movie is referential, not rip-off-erential. Everyone involved in this film knows that it’s a joke and similar to Back of the Future. The difference between ripping it off and sending it up is that they’re all in on it. Crispin Glover is IN THE MOVIE. John Cusack is IN THE MOVIE. To say that these casting choices are not references to the 80s movies, namely “Back to the Future” and “Any John Cusack Movie Ever”, is shortsighted. A.O. Scott calls John Cusack “an ’80s allusion in his own right”. As a friend put it, they don’t go back to the 80s, they go back to an 80s movie. Why does casting not qualify as referential (and, arguably reverential) and only explicitly quoting from or about “Back to the Future” would?

What’s that? The characters DO actually quote from or about “Back to the Future”? They do. At one point, they reference that their situation is “Some Marty McFly shit.” Rob Corddry’s character goes as far as to say that now that they’re back in the past, they can change their future, “like that shitty Back to the Future movie”. If those are not ridiculously obvious points of reference – in case plot points and casting decisions were too subtle  – then I don’t know what is. It’s not fair to write something off as not-referential because you don’t think the references are funny. They’re still references. Setting it in a ski lodge IS a reference to Better Off Dead. Having Craig Robinson sing Black Eyed Peas twenty years too early IS a reference to Back to the Future. It would be a rip-off if the writers and director weren’t blatantly aware of these shared points or tried to pass them off as their own. Which brings me to my next point:

Borrowing plot details from an original work is also referential, not a rip-off, because – and I cannot stress this enough – the difference is tonal. Craig Robinson breaks the fourth wall during the moment everyone has seen in the trailer, saying “It must be some kinda… hot tub time machine.” He’s looking RIGHT AT US. All he needed to do was wink, and that blind guy in the back who likes watching movies even though he doesn’t really get the “movie” part of it would’ve seen that tonally, this movie is a joke. It’s joking about its present incarnation, it’s joking about its past incarnations, and it’s joking about the future incarnations of time travel films to come. You know what also included a breaking of the fourth wall? Back to the Future – Doc looks right at the audience and says he has to get us back to the future too or something along those lines. Do you see how that is a reference without having to say “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads. We need a HOT TUB.”? Me too.

To me, when a film is both aware of and embraces its predecessors, it is a lot more fun to watch and does not qualify as a “rip-off.” In 17 Again, there is an entire scene where Tom Lennon and Zac Efron discuss the time travel and body swap mythology from previous works, both comic books and films. That movie works because of it – they don’t need to pretend that there isn’t any other movie that follows the same plot, but rather embrace that there have been many before and include them in the film’s world. There’s no pretense that this is an original story concept, but by incorporating past stories into this version, everyone gets to walk out feeling like they’re in on the joke. And if they’re not in on the joke? Then they feel like they’ve seen an original film. It’s a smart move and adds to the intertextual relationship between films in general. It’s fun for the writers and it’s fun for the audience to see how characters in a fictional world can still reference characters from another fictional world created in the real world. Metatext, y’all.

The main point I’m trying to make is: Hot Tub Time Machine is not a rip-off. It is a referential send-up, as evidenced by the casting choices, dialogue, plot points, and most importantly, the tone. Back to the Future is a straightforward comedy that takes itself fairly seriously, as far as comedies go. Hot Tub Time Machine does not take itself seriously at all and is a film for people who like 80s movies and like to be in on the joke of poking fun of other movies. It was clearly written by people who loved the 80s and it shows.

If it doesn’t appeal to your taste, that’s fine. But I’ll leave you with a thought from A. O. Scott: “If you are a connoisseur of sexual, scatological or just plain stupid humor, you will find your appetite satisfied, even glutted.” AKA, if you have a sense of humor and/or an appreciation for references to pop culture and other films, you’ll enjoy it.

(NOTE: My third biggest problem from this Twittack, was the actual personal attack itself: that since you can’t “send-up” a comedy, my senior year film, which was very much in the same vein as Heathers, was in fact, a rip-off. I’m very proud of my film and very proud of the 50 or 60 people that put hours, weeks, even months of their life into this film with me, so to call it a rip-off is low. It is not a perfect film, it is a student film, but I once again find the difference in tone – Heathers is a great film, and “Slit and Commit” knows that. If anything, it is reverential. Outside of all of that – it’s also not based on Heathers, but similar to Heathers and based on something that happened to me in my own high school experience. So if I’m ripping off anything, I’m ripping off my hometown and my high school. But whatever. I could spend all day defending “Slit and Commit” until you want to slit and commit for realz. Instead, You can watch the trailer and decide for yourself. And then if you still don’t understand what a send-up is, I recommend you invest in some film classes and get back to me when your brain is full of knowledge.)

END RANT.

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On Gay Marriage.

8 01 2010

More like GREAT MARRIAGE.

There are many political issues that I have no trouble seeing the other side of.

Abortion? Got it. Some people think a glob of cells is a person. Some do not.

Death Penalty? Sure. Some people think that death is a worse (better?) punishment than sitting in a cell for the rest of your life. Some do not.

Gun control? Okay, fine. Some people think that letting anyone who wants a gun have a gun is great and not at all problematic. Some do not.

But I have a really tough time wrapping my head around the other side of gay marriage. The closest I can understand is that some people just don’t want gay people to use the word “marriage”, as “marriage”, the word, should signify a church wedding. Which, semantically, I guess so. But they’re just going to call themselves married anyway, so who cares? I don’t envision people going around being like Hi, I’m Sarah and I’m civil-unioned to Edith. This is my civil-unioned life partner, Edith.

The argument I’ve most heard and that I most like is that a gay marriage is in no way going to affect your day. If you don’t know anyone who’s gay now, then you will probably continue to not know anyone who is gay after gay marriage is legal and thus, will have no problem just not knowing anyone who is gay married. If you do know gay people now, you probably heart them and would like to see them able to get the same tax benefits as anyone else you know. You know, like a person.

Having spent good amounts of time with gays, in gay clubs, watching gay people on TV – being gay should just be NBD. Plus, think about all of the great ways gay marriage will affect your life. I’m looking right at you, fellow 20somethings, who are going to have to start going to a lot of weddings (so I hear. Invite me please. I didn’t even throw up at the last wedding I attended!)

1. GAY WEDDING RECEPTIONS. Are you kidding me? This is my dream come true. Lady Gaga abounds. Cocktails. Tasteful decorations. If it’s anything like Boystown in Chicago, a lot of shirts are removed by a lot of people, and sometimes a drag queen will tell you you have great boobs and feel you up. And maybe, just maybe, if it is a cash bar, someone might ask you if you are gay and you can say “I don’t know” and then BAM! Free drinks all night. I’m not saying I know, I’m just saying. I know.

2. GIFTS FROM YOUR GAY MARRIED FRIENDS. Are going to be so much classier and thoughtful than gifts you get from your husband-and-wife crowd. Because in the husband-and-wife crowd, you know the wife is the only one thinking about said gift, and the husband may or may not sign the card. Husband-and-husband and wife-and-wife crowd? Both minds will be in on your gift, and you will get double thoughtfulness. And even if it is a terrible gift, it will be from the double heart, and that’s okay.

3. GAY WEDDING ANNIVERSARY PARTIES. Pretty much the same as #1. You know these folks are going to actually appreciate being married since they are ridiculously having to fight for that right, so duh. Yearly anniversary parties. No questions asked.

4. DIVORCE RATES DOWN. At least for a while. I figure that once gay marriage is legal, there will be an influx of marriages across the nation. And they can’t all get divorced at the same time. And I assume couples that have been together for years and years already will probably not get divorced. So, with a ton of extra marriages one year and then even the same yearly amount of divorces that we have now, all of a sudden, divorce rate drops from like, 50% to more like 45% and America can stop looking like such marriage idiots to the rest of the world. Will probably stay low too until gay people realize that marriage is not all it’s cracked up to be in 5 or 10 years, and then we will continue to look like marriage idiots again.

5. CASH MONEY BLING BLING. Correct me if I’m wrong, but we are in mondo debt right now. And people intending to get married have to pay for a marriage license from some sort of governmental body, no? This is like turning down free money. Why be cash chuckers when we can just increase the amount of people eligible to pay for things? Blah blah blah economics.

Just let my friends get married. Geez.

Corollary, whether or not I get married before gay marriage is legal (probably not, let’s be real), I am definitely having a Gay Marriage themed wedding. Reception at Hydrate because it’s open until 4 am like any respectable establishment should be (please, LA bars, take note. No one wants to go home at 1:30 AM.)

Double corollary, this outrage all stems from my own home state of New Jersey nixing a gay marriage bill. And you know what kills me? Is that a bunch of Democrats – alleged Democrats – abstained from the vote. If it had lost by even more because everyone voted, fine, that’s politics. But to have such an important vote and not even vote on it? You’re a jerk. And now Chris Christie is taking over and has already promised to veto any bill on gay marriage. The man so nice they named him twice. Insert your own girth joke here.

And during the same season that we were given “Jersey Shore.” The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away I suppose.





Lady Gaga can read your thoughts

24 11 2009

…like, months before you have them.

Friends, I stand mistaken. Rather – I stand with some proof that most people would take as proof, but I’m going to take as evidence I can spin to still fit my conspiratorial theories. Mere days after first hypothesizing that perhaps Lady Gaga and Marilyn Manson were the same person, I came across a remix of “Love Game” by Mr. Manson himself. Hypothetically, obvs.

Granted, this is not the official video, but worst case scenario, Gaga and Manson at least shook hands in the making of this song.

Also, this picture exists of them together:

Not incontrovertible, let's be real.

This all apparently happened in June-ish. To be fair, I don’t think anyone was really aware of how much Gaga was going to blow up in June. I mean, she was on Gossip Girl last week, guys. Girl’s gone wild!

So, for all intents and purposes, Lady Gaga and Marilyn Manson are probably not the same person. Unless…

1. One of the above people is a stunt double. I hear that’s huge in the music biz.

2. That is not Marilyn Manson, but Pete Wentz.

3. That is not Lady Gaga, but Amy Winehouse.

4. Identical twins.

5. String theory.

BAM.





Is Lady Gaga actually Marilyn Manson?

17 11 2009

An ill-researched comparison.

I have been introduced to the Lady Gaga “Bad Romance” video and my first instinct was, as it is with most things Gaga related – this is TERRIFYING.

And then I felt something deeper, something… familiar in weirdo dinosaur dance moves and big huge eyeballs (even more familiar than those weird shoe ads in Cosmo that have been big eye terrifying for years).

I realized it was the same feeling I used to get watching Marilyn Manson videos – the intrigue, the “I can’t tear my eyes away because if I do, Marilyn Manson may or may not jump through my TV and tear my eyes away for me.” The WTF moment before I knew what WTF moments were.

Observe (if you dare):

Now, not the greatest comparison, but I am too scared to look for anything else Marilyn Manson related right now – it’s dark out. But, my preliminary instincts are that Lady Gaga IS Marilyn Manson.

1. Has anyone seen Marilyn Manson recently? More importantly, has anyone ever seen Lady Gaga and Marilyn Manson in the same place? Any TV sitcom enthusiast worth their weight in laugh tracks will tell you that two people who are actually the same person can’t be in the same room at the same time! It’s SCIENCE.

2. It is not easy to duplicate that glow in the dark tan – believe me, us nearbinos stick together, and it takes some real work to not go outside ever and still have the kind of exposure experienced by Manson in the 90s and Gaga in the now’s.

3. These videos are vaguely similar. Maybe not perfect duplicates, but don’t you think your musical stylings/visual instincts would change a little bit over the course of 10 – 15 years? The catchy drum beat, the kabillion costume changes, the running motif of metal in or around the mouth. It’s all there.

4. Look at that bone structure! Marilyn Manson used to heart dressing up in lady parts, and Lady Gaga is developing a strong interest in both flames and catsuits. Coincidence? Doubt it.

Q.E.D.

Lady Gaga = Marilyn Manson