Pop Culture Blind Spot: Teen Wolf (1985)

Welcome back to the spookiest month of pop culture blind spots! (October. The spookiest month is October). I started us off with The Shining, one of the most iconic horror movies of all time, so I don’t feel bad for dialing it way, way back this time and watching Teen Wolf.

What I think Teen Wolf is about: Michael J. Fox plays a teenage basketball player who discovers that he is a werewolf; he has to hide it from his friends and from the requisite 80s movie cute blonde girl; in the end she’s fine with it or maybe is a werewolf herself.

Hulu short description: A teenage boy’s incredible werewolf powers improve the quality of his life in dramatic and hilarious ways.

Look, if the grossest thing we see this whole movie is the sweaty teen face close-up we open on, it will be gross enough.

Michael J. Fox (Scott) goes into his coach’s office, mentions that he is “changing,” coach apologizes for not noticing but says he hasn’t been in the locker room much. A few things:

  1. APOLOGIZES FOR NOT NOTICING BUT HASN’T BEEN IN THE LOCKER ROOM MUCH
  2. I think it’s fine and actually v good if adults don’t notice teens’ puberty stuff
  3. In locker room situations, didn’t you always assume that nobody was really looking at you? Well you were wrong.

Everything is exactly as it should be in ’80s teen movie land: Scott has a Brunette Platonic Friend(TM) and a Blonde Crush. He works at a folksy, cluttered hardware store. The school’s theater director wears a turtleneck and a tweed blazer. Blonde Crush Pamela has a tough-guy boyfriend in double denim.

Honestly this is the whole thing in one photo.

Scott demands a keg at the liquor store, his eyes glowing red which is an early werewolf thing.

The one thing most 2010s depictions of the 80s are lacking: the intensely feathered and permed bangs that are all over the place in this teen party scene.

Peep the young Andy Samberg lookalike.

Does Scott have a mom? Single-parent households were the thing in 80s movies.

Importantly, Scott grows fangs and nasty thick nails before morphing into a full fur-face; more importantly, the green tiled bathroom was out of style for so long that it’s in again. I’d love that bathroom.

Scott is the only person, other than me, who says “jeez Louise” in moments of stress and panic.

There was a D.P. who was REALLY feeling this downward ceiling-shot in the bathroom.

Post-werewolf Dad (Dad’s also a werewolf BTW) looks so much like Jim-Bob Duggar.

Not sure if it’s the sound mix on Hulu or the sound cues in general, but the background music is so jerky and loud, bad and jarring. No shade to the music supervisor: it was the style of the time.

There is some very extra-casual use of f*g and I thank my lucky stars that it is 2017, not 1985. I only hope that 32 years from now, people are horrified by the things we say in movies today, too.

Everyone in the school is very cool about wolf-Scott. (SCOTT WOLF! Would have been a relevant thing to say 15 years ago.) Scott’s dad understands. There is basically zero conflict at this point in the film, except for a vice principal. Come to think of it, Scott’s friend Stiles was significantly nastier when he thought Scott was maybe-gay than when he thought he was definitely-wolf.

Platonic Brunette gives Blonde Crush a t-shirt, which is “too big for me.” Shade.

Season 1 Joey Potter-level sass.

The theater director is now in a cowl-neck with seemingly no shirt underneath, which is itchy and sweaty.

Pam & Scooter hang out backstage, where she is just in a bra and underwear, but it’s 1985 so like, white granny panties and a plain white bra. They hook up. She seems to really, really want him to turn into a wolf, which I mean, if that’s what you’re into it’s fine.

Scott calls his teammate “chubby” and “chubaroo,” and you’d think a wolf-teen would be more cool about other people’s body situations.

Scott thinks he’s hot stuff because he goes to a school dance in wolf mode.

I don’t know if I’m more confused as to why vice principal and Blonde Crush’s boyfriend hate werewolves so much, or why literally everybody else is so nonchalant about werewolves.

The only time I like a sports montage is when the movie description includes the phrase “rag-tag misfits.”

The twinkly, inspirational song that ends the basketball game! Oh my goodness. It’s like the same song that plays at the end of every 1980s to early ’90s teen movie. The entire ending sequence is all b-ball, no wolves, BTW.

That’s the end of it – they win a ball game.

One thing I forgot to mention is that Platonic Brunette’s name is Boof. I kept thinking it was a nickname for something that I missed (Lisa, per the internet), but the end credits confirm. Boof.

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Pop Culture Blind Spot: The Shining

To begin with our standard Pop Culture Blind Spot apology/non-apology: yes, The Shining is a classic and no, I haven’t seen it. As a little kid I would challenge myself to watch scary movies, only to find myself haunted by them for months after. [Poltergeist, I’m looking at you.] At some point I questioned why I was doing that to myself and massively slashed back on my horror viewing. As a result, I’ve never seen some cult favorites: like The Shining, or Stephen King’s The Shining if you’re nasty. Between now and Halloween, I plan to dive into some of these spooky favorites – so watch this space.

What I think The Shining about: Jack Nicholson plays a writer who takes his family to a remote, haunted hotel until he snaps because of hotel-ghosts and tries to kill them all. Also, twins.

Netflix short description: A distant father roams an empty, maze-like hotel thick with dread. Something awful awaits in room 237.

First thing I notice: The Shining is shot, preserved, and/or remastered beautifully for a 1980 film. You know how a lot of movies from that era look sort of orange and grainy? In the scene with Jack’s son and wife (Shelly Duvall) it truly feels like I could walk into through the screen and into their apartment. As I said, Poltergeist did some things to my brain. But really, it’s like early 80s time travel, with all these nicely layered set details.

It’s so weird to hear the distinctive Jack Nicholson voice coming out of such a young face.

Jack agrees to the hotel deal and learns another guy who did the same thing went crazy and killed his family with an axe. Cool cool cool cool.

My first reason I don’t really trust Jack is that they have stack and stacks of paperbacks piled around their TV. Get another bookshelf.

Little Danny converses with himself in a mirror, which I hate. Then a flood of blood pours out of elevators, which I also hate. Then you see the scary twins, who I sort of thought would show up way later?

Backstory: Jack drank too much, got angry at Little Danny, and injured his arm 5 months ago. Since then he has stopped drinking… OR HAS HE?! OR WILL HE?! I don’t know, just trying to drum up some horror-appropriate suspense here.

Danny stands the eff up in the backseat of the car, and that is the most 1980 thing I have seen in the first 20 minutes of this film.

Oh, so those twins are just gonna keep showing up, huh.

There’s a hedge maze, but I’m going to stop them because nobody does hedge mazes better than My Dad Wrote A Porno.

Danny befriends Dick Hallorann, a chef who knows far too much and thus is surely a ghost or ghost-whisperer. Also Danny will not shut up about Tony, the ghost who live in his mouth.

The worst part of watching an iconic horror film is that your tension during dramatic moments starts way too early because you know too much. When Danny rides his trike around the hotel, I know from the first second that it’s definitely A Thing.

We watch part of a scene through a mirror, so Jack’s T-shirt writing is backwards. It’s so hard to tell what’s foreshadowing and what’s A Choice, because as a rule when I watch horror movies I assume everything’s foreshadowing.

Jack starts to act like a REAL DICK when Shelley Duvall stops in to say hey, so he’s already full of hotel ghosts.

Oh no, the twins.

To expand: the twins talk like a child Queen Elizabeth, or possibly like that old-time movie accent people used to have. Then Danny’s vision cuts to the girls dismembered.

Wait, shouldn’t Danny be going to school …? He spends 100% of his time riding a tricycle and getting haunted.

That damn mirror is back, along with Jack staring blankly into it before being creepy at his child for a while. Are we double-sure the overall problem isn’t actually that Jack’s a POS?

Oh, Danny has a great sweater:

And Wendy has a great overalls dress:

Danny has a bruised neck and Wendy deduces that a blank-faced Jack did it. Wait, is this whole thing an allegory for abuse?

A tuxedoed bartender shows up at the hotel bar just when Jack needs him most. Again, this dirtbag was supposed to quit drinking months ago. I still can’t decide if all the hotel people are ghost or if ghosts just live there alongside the people.

Shoutout to this film’s rug artist, and all the rug artists inspired by this film:

Jack gets chased by a decaying ghost-woman, which is honestly his comeuppance for being all “hehe, boobs” when he sees her in the bath instead of wondering what she was doing in the hotel.

Jack temporarily redeems himself by not being the person who choked Danny, then un-redeems himself by saying Danny did it himself. Also maybe I’m projecting, but it feels a lot like Danny has undiagnosed epilepsy that his parents should deal with.

There’s a ghost ’20s party going on in the house and Jack invites himself. You know what? Usually in horror movies I get annoyed with the people who go straight into clear peril, but I’d invite myself to a ghastly Gatsby party too.

[I do realize that Jack’s non-reaction to this scenario means his brain’s broke and we shouldn’t be holding him accountable for being a dirtbag, but isn’t it possible that Jack’s haunted/possessed AND a dirtbag?]

Anyone else find the blindingly red bathroom almost as creepy as the fact that Jack’s hanging out there with Mr. Grady, a deceased man who obliterated his family?

Danny starts using the funny creaky voice my littlest niece and I like to talk to each other in, and I can’t stop laughing. It’s supposed to be scary, I guess.

Dick Halloran hangs out in an airplane that, in true ’70s fashion, has seats that are about 3 feet wide.

There’s a lot of snow, and maybe this is just me being from a super-snowy city, but we’ve seen their stocked pantry and know the family doesn’t have anywhere to go (ahem, school). So I feel like it shouldn’t be a big deal?

I just googled Danny Lloyd (Danny) and found out they filmed the whole movie without him ever realizing it was a horror film. I love that so much! Stanley Kubric, ladies and gents. Legend for a reason.

We’ve now ticked off the following classic scenes: twins, redrum and All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It’s been fun seeing them come up, but nothing has really shaken me yet because I knew more about this movie than I realized.

Shout-out to Jack Nicholson: the scene after Jack finds Wendy reading the manuscript is some of the best creepy-movie, sinister acting I’ve seen, ever. There’s no gore or jump scares or anything, yet it’s the most harrowing moment of the whole thing.

Danny says redrum (AKA murder backwards) near that mirror. Good work, Stephen King’s The Shining. I like your foreshadowing.

Mhmm, so everything from when Jack gets an ax through the end is edge-of-your-seat chilling. I love how the first maybe 2/3 of the movie are only slightly spooky, only to get full-scale terrifying at the end.

Did I or did I not see Mr. Grady doing it with a furry?? Why is this not a thing anyone has brought up when I’ve heard them talk about The Shining?

Dick Halloran, RIP, you were my favorite one of all these shit people.

When Wendy finds the ballroom full of spiderweb skeleton-people, I can’t help it – I start grinning. It’s not funny, I’m just so delighted by the Psycho/Miss Havisham-ness of it all. In this moment I understand how people who are braver than me get a kick out of horror movies.

I love frozen popsicle eyeroll Jack so much. More than I’ve loved Jack this whole movie.

The ending – where you see the photo of the ballroom from July 4th 1921 and Jack’s there in an old-school tuxedo? That right there has to be the best ending of a horror movie I’ve ever seen.

BTW, almost all pics in this post link to great related posts about people who are clearly a lot more savvy than I am re: this movie.

 

I made it! That wasn’t so bad, but I have a feeling horror movies where most of the scenes aren’t a part of our cultural shorthand already will spook me out way more.

 

Pop Culture Blind Spot: Dirty Dancing

Warm up those hips and grab a watermelon because it’s time for another installment of Pop Culture Blind Spot!  And today we’re heading back to family summer camp and celebrating Dirty Dancing, which was released on this day exactly 30 years ago. Even after three decades, the movie still holds up. Let’s dive right in and revisit one of the greatest movies that defined a generation.

Statements of note from the trailer:

“The heat is in the music. The music sets you dancing. The dancing sets her free.”

“She thought it would be just another summer vacation, but it turns out to be the time of her life.”

“What they learn from each other feels too good to be wrong.”

My knowledge of this movie: Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey do a lot of dancing. Kenny Ortega of High School Musical fame choreographed it. Kelly Bishop aka Emily Gilmore is also in it, but I always manage to forget this fact.

The reason I had never seen Dirty Dancing is from a lack of not wanting to see it. By nature, it should be a movie I love – romance, impressive dance sequences, drama, comedy. I just never got around to watching it. Thank God for Netflix, amirite, ladies? So here we are, almost 28 years to the day it was released on August 21st, 1987, and I’m sharing my thoughts with you on it for the very first time. Here goes nothing.

2:20 This movie takes place in 1963? Definitely did not know that. I thought it was just another 80s movie.

2:44 I remember that Kelly Bishop is in this movie. I know, I know. She’s a Tony Award winning actress of stage and screen, but to me she will forever and always be Emily Gilmore. And to quote the Gilmore Guys podcast, Bishop is Queen.

2:57 I knew there was greenery and cabin-looking structures in this movie, but I was not aware it takes place at a sleepaway camp for families. Does anyone go to this kind of camp anymore? Do these even exist?

3:24 The cars lining up to Kellerman’s camp legit looks like moving in day for freshman at my college.

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3:54 Is Newman from Seinfeld in this? [the answer is yes]

5:00 MAMA KELLY BISHOP IS SERVING IN THIS DANCE SCENE, DESPITE THE FACT THEY’RE SMUSHED TOGETHER LIKE A BUNCH OF SARDINES.

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7:20 I get Patrick Swayze now.

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7:55 “You just put your pickle on everybody’s plate, college boy, and leave the hard stuff to me.” – Johnny Castle, an employee at a Jewish family camp, definitely NOT a porn star.

9:00 Baby is set up with some doofus who is the camp owner’s grandson, a dude named Neil who is going to Cornell for Hotel Management. Meanwhile, Baby’s got her eyes on going to Mount Holyoke to study the economics of underdeveloped countries and then enter the Peace Corps. Obviously well matched.

10:30 Johnny Castle and the blonde dance instructor Penny take center stage at this dance Baby and Neil are at, clearly auditioning for whatever the version of Dancing with the Stars was in 1963. However, they get cockblocked by the owner Max who wants them to dance with the guests instead.

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13:37 After being forced to appear in a magic show and awarded a chicken for participation, Baby wanders into the staff quarters, which is a big no no. What a rebel.

14:30 Baby runs into a guy holding three huge watermelons, but they really just look like three prop pickles. There is no way he could carry three of those on his own. Come on.

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15:00 Baby enters the secret staff dance party where the literal Dirty Dancing is going down. Basically this type of dancing is grinding on top of your partner with no room for the holy spirit at all. Which I guess doesn’t matter for the employees of this Jewish camp.

17:00 This soundtrack is amazing, by the way. I’m a sucker for 60s/Motown era music. Still blown away that this takes place in 1963.

20:00 Johnny teaching Baby how to roll her hips is the most awkward. It’s like she’s about to drop a deuce right on the dance floor. (GOD HELP ME I NEVER WANT TO SAY DROP A DEUCE AGAIN)

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21:00 For some reason, an activity for the women at this camp is to try on wigs. What else is available at this camp – How To Cook A Proper Roast For Your Man or Top Tips For Cleaning Your Curlers?

25:00 Penny is pregnant. I was not aware there was a pregnancy twist in this film. Despite attempting to help a devastated Penny, she tells her to GTFO. And apparently the father of this baby is the asshole misogynistic server in the restaurant.

30:00 To remedy this, Baby asks her doctor dad Jerry Orbach for $300 to do a “non illegal” activity – aka she’s going to pay for Penny’s abortion??? This is a lot of money for someone she just met a day ago. Is she trying to prove something or is she just a good person? Or trying to prove she’s a good person?

33:42 Baby agrees to take Penny’s place in a dance competition since she’ll be recovering from her aforementioned abortion – is there really no one else qualified to take Penny’s place? A sub dance instructor at the camp, perhaps? Baby can barely roll her hips around, as we learned earlier. She’s worse than Julia Stiles learning hip-hop in Save The Last Dance.

37:00 Jennifer Grey is incredibly skinny. Penny is even skinnier. And the two skinny waists have a weird threesome with Johnny as they teach her how to dance. Uncomfy moment #3 – it’s the same feeling I get while watching ballroom trios on So You Think You Can Dance or Dancing With The Stars.

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38:00 The closeups on the gyrating hips – not for me. Uncomfy moment #4.

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I know I keep on bringing up Dancing With the Stars, but this B plot about Baby learning how to learn competitive-level dance is totally a parallel to DWTS. The fact that you have to pick up a foreign skill quickly then perform it under the (hungry) eyes of judges is just like in this movie. Which probably explains how she won season 11 of DWTS.

40:00 Johnny accidentally locks the keys to his car inside said vehicle, so he just straight up takes a pole out of the ground to smash his car window. With ease, he does this. It’s also raining, but it’s the fakest rain ever and the sun is shining like it’s 90 degree day, and all I can think is the rain machine is blowing the water horizontally at Patrick Swayze’s face. That handsome mug must be insured, this shouldn’t be happening to him.

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41:00 This balancing on a log practice could be problematic. That is a ravine right there. Maybe don’t risk your life when you could easily do this on a dance floor? Also, I’m supposed to be shipping this right?


43:00 Johnny takes Baby to a field and subsequently the famous lake, which is much better than a log in the middle of the forest. But why isn’t Baby’s family concerned about her whereabouts? She just disappeared from camp. Isn’t her sister wondering why Baby didn’t show up to Wig Class?

47:00 Baby has somehow aged 10 years with her costume for the competition. She now looks like a New York Housewife competing in DWTS.

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51:00 Uh oh. Penny’s not looking too hot after her shotty abortion. Baby comes to the rescue again by secretly getting her M.D. Dad to help her. Jerry Orbach (RIP) is quite the Doctor Detective. And quite upset with Baby’s interaction with the Dirty Dancing sexual deviants.

56:00 Welp Baby basically just confessed her love to Johnny. He’s already got his shirt off, so she asks him to dance… But on the real tho –  this sex dance scene is still hot.

1:00 Penny clearly picks up the sex vibes that Johnny and Baby are putting down, and she warns him not to get serious with Baby. Which of course, in 80s movie terms, he obviously is.

This outfit is the reason I keep forgetting the movie takes place in 1963. This could either be 1987 or 2015, who the hell knows.

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“What is with all this rain? Remind me not to have my honeymoon in Niagara Falls.” Baby’s sister

“So, you go to Acapulco, it’ll be fine!” – Queen Bishop

1:04 Baby and Johnny can’t stop boning. She’s technically a teenager, right? Since she’s “planning” to go to Mount Holyoke? Johnny’s obviously the type to skip college in favor of living out his dreams of being a camp dance instructor, so is this forbidden love even more forbidden?

1:07 Oh hey, a scene I actually have scene before. This makes sense in context now. Before I thought it was just some weirdo lip syncing to a song.

1:09 Neil, the annoying grandson, is like the Patrice of this movie. He wants Johnny to dance the Pachanga for the final show, and Johnny’s response is one that made me legit LOL: “He wouldn’t know a good idea if it hit him in the Pachanga” 1:12 Johnny’s bad boy side comes out when asshole waiter sees him kissing Baby, and the scene is like a fight between the Jets and the Sharks.

1:13 Baby’s sister singing I cannot.

1:18 There’s some side plot about Johnny’s cougar dance client setting him up as a kid who stole her husband’s wallet, but Baby comes to his defense by providing an alibi that he was with her at the time of the alleged theft. Not really important.

1:19 Baby goes to confront her upset father about basically admitted she slept with Johnny, and the whole conversation looks like a scene from The Bachelor when one of the final girls meets the bachelor’s dad for the first time to talk about how in love they are with their son.

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1:22 Johnny’s heading out of town because of all the “trouble” he’s caused, and as he rides away, She’s Like the Wind plays in the background. Yes, the hit song by Patrick Swayze. TOO META. BTW, what exactly is Johnny’s accent? And does he not look like The Terminator in this scene?

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1:26 This camp has its own theme song. This is just such a foreign culture to me that I’m having a difficult time believing it’s real. This tune is a cross between a traditional hymn and one of those camp songs you hear in like Troop Beverly Hills.

1:29 Ah yes, the iconic “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” scene. In my head she was in a literal corner of a room, sitting in a chair as if she had been punished. In addition, Johnny was gone for like 2 hours they’re all acting like it’s been years. ALSO Queen Bishop looks so hot rn!

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1:30 So here’s my problem with Baby and Johnny dancing to Time of My Life – it’s a song that was made in the 1980s, but supposed to be set for a performance in 1963. This is why I’m confused. However, I will say that this song in context also makes so much more sense with the movie. Oh, and how did Johnny coordinate a flash mob so fast??

“I think she gets this from me.” KELLY FREAKING BISHOP

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There are some interesting characters in the crowd, including the guy who predicted wearing sunglasses at night long before Corey Hart, the band leader dancing with Penny, and the two larger women happily dancing with each other. The movie ends with a pan out on the dance floor, with a spotlight on Baby and Johnny DIRTY DANCING. Bless. Also, it’s very reminiscent of the High School Musical 3 finale, because as you remember, Kenny Oretga is a mastermind of both these epic films.

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(Previously posted in August, 2015)

Questions, Comments and Concerns: Dirty Dancing (2017)

Dirty Dancing was the coolest, most grown-up movie when I was eight years old and it was an entirely different movie. The 1987 film was a mainstay of sleepovers and cable tv throughout my ’90s childhood, and it’s where I learned about family summer camps, partner dancing and I guess also abortion. [Traci saw it for the first time as an adult – read her pop culture blind spot post here.] Thirty years (? and also !) have passed since the release of the original Dirty Dancing. Since then we’ve been treated to 2004 sequel Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, a stage musical that I saw only because it was part of my season package, and now ABC’s TV movie treatment. The 2017 version of Dirty Dancing loosely adapts the original screenplay, makes it a musical – sort of – and stars Abigail Breslin as Baby, Sarah Hyland as Lisa, Debra Messing as mom Marjorie (in what I can only assume is a bid to make us feel even older than we did when we realized Dirty Dancing was 30), Colt Prattes as Johnny and Nicole Scherzinger as Penny, among others. I wanted to like it a bit, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea.

Question: Does this meta-Dirty Dancing framing device serve any purpose?

Dirty Dancing (1987) is the story of a young woman going to family summer camp in 1963 to learn about dancing and herself.

Dirty Dancing (2017) is the story of a 30-something woman going to a stage musical in 1975, of a movie that in the actual universe was released in 1987 (but don’t worry, the 1975 musical still has INCREDIBLY ’80s-looking posters),  which is the story of the time she went to family summer camp in 1963 to learn about dancing and herself.

Maybe ABC just wanted to show off their green screen technology:

Places I’ve seen a more accurate depiction of a person standing on a street in NYC:

(1) New York, New York in Las Vegas

(2) Epcot

(3) Sesame Street

(4) snowglobes

Comment: Baby is an early adopter of Betty Friedan-era feminism

Neither a question nor a concern, just mentioning that the first dialogue is a convo about The Feminine Mystique for whatever reason.

Concern: A costume designer hates Abigail Breslin, a cute young lady

Or is completely unable to tailor clothing to a non-hanger-shaped human. Not sure which would be worse. Two more inches and some work on the darts, PLEASE.

Comment: At least Baby still has anachronistic hair

One of my tv/film pet peeves is anachronistic hair in period films. It was especially prevalent in films of the 1950s to 1980s, but even in this 2017 version Baby has hair that would’ve looked positively nutty in the early ’60s. Still not as bad as Jennifer Gray’s ’80s perm.

See also: Jennifer Gray’s 80s-style jean shorts, crop top, keds combo.

 

Question: How many former So You Think You Can Dance contestants do you think are in the Den Of Vice where the employees go to sing and dance after-hours?

They do a good job.

Comment: Baby looking bemused while wearing Wendy Darling’s nightgown is my vibe during this whole movie.
Question: Honey, what’s this, what’s happening, what’s going on here?

A word on fashions of the late ’50s and early ’60s. Foundation garments were still a THING and ’50s-’60s silhouettes are immensely flattering on ladies with boobs, butts, etc. because the waist is emphasized. These ill-fitting costumes without a proper foundation are just all wrong – even if a fashion-clueless teenager might have looked dowdy by accident, there’s no real need to do that here. Making such an adorable girl dress like my grandma after she gave birth to her fifth child in 1960 ought to be a crime.

Concern: Everyone is really crabby at Baby. Constantly.

Baby: I’ll pay for your abortion.

Johnny: Literally buzz off forever, Baby.

Comment: White struggle: learning to move/clap on the twos and the fours.
Comment: What gets me is, I KNOW Abigail Breslin can sell a dance number.

While I’m watching the classic log scene, I’m blown away by how stilted the dance sequences are, and not just in a “Baby’s just learning to dance” way. I don’t know what to blame – the choreography, the direction, the chemistry – but I stop short of blaming Abigail Breslin because we all remember how she totally sold that iconic dance scene in Little Miss Sunshine.

Question: Is anyone watching Dirty Dancing for middle-aged parents coping with a stilted, loveless marriage?

Doesn’t matter. That’s what you’re getting.

Comment: The scene with Penny and Baby dancing is kind of cute.

The Penny/Baby friendship chemistry is a hundred times better than the Johnny/Baby romantic chemistry. Then they start singing, which is a thing that happens in this production. It’s fine. Oldies, not original songs, which is the way to go I think.

Concern: I have to wait for the end of Johnny and Baby’s mambo performance to find out if it was supposed to have gone well or not.

The audience cheers.

No lift, though.

Started on the two.

Success?

Question: Why was Johnny in prison?

I mean, Johnny was in prison for car stuff. But WHY, you know?

Comment: White struggle #2: Having to leave family camp early.

Not my particular struggle (the idea of my parents ever spending money on something like a family resort-camp is laughable), but presented like it’s a very real tragedy here. Debra Messing pointedly sings They Can’t Take That Away From Me, which is how women in 1963 showed their emotions when their vacation and marriage was about to be cut short.

Concern: Is Debra Messing’s lawyer in her rolodex?

Marjorie wants a divorce and says “I called my lawyer” (and also “I’d rather be alone than lonely”), which causes me to hop on the memory train and get off in the era before cell phones and internet. She either had her lawyer’s number written down or memorized, or the main office had a yellow pages for her home region. Then she either had to use the office phone or a pay phone. Which is all to say that she wants this divorce hard.

Concern: Talk-singing.
Comment: Baby has to tell her whole family she slept with Johnny in order to absolve him of stealing a watch.

And THAT is why you don’t go to summer camp with your family.

Question: Could the costume designer be trolling us?

All of the ’60s styles that would look gorgeous on Abigail and they do this:

Comment: The last half hour of the movie.

Hulu keeps freezing, but I caught the last hour on live TV so we’re good.

The parents aren’t getting divorced because the dad sings the same song the mom did earlier, which is the magic formula to undo divorce feelings.

Debra Messing gets a nice dress. Abigail Breslin gets a better dress than before.

Sarah Hyland learns how to play ukulele and instead of the fun warbling off-key song from the original, we are treated to her singing Bob Dylan. Yes, just a week or so at Kellerman’s and she’s a Betty Friedan-reading, Dylan-listening folk singer with an interracial love interest. As Hairspray – another ’80s flick set in the ’60s with a (better) 2000s remake – would say, Welcome To The 60s. (Marco, Lisa’s friend who teaches her about ukulele and probably love, is cute and charming, played by newcomer J. Quinton Johnson. I like him. And Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright) Is probably one of my top 10 Dylan songs, anyway.)

The less said about the closing song, the better. I’m just going to say this: the spoken phrase “I had the time of my life” segues into the sung phrase “I had the time of my life.”

Concern: Oh. This framing device, again.

We’re back in 1975. A baby-faced 30-year-old Baby leaves Dirty Dancing, the smash 1970s musical, and runs into Johnny, who stars in it? Directs it? Choreographed it? The musical is based on her book. Their romance belongs to the past, just like the last three hours of our lives. Baby has a husband and young daughter (who really does resemble young Abigail Breslin) who is probably way under the target demo to be watching Dirty Dancing or to care about her mother’s coming-of-age summer. Baby FINALLY has makeup, hair and clothing that suits her. I kind of wish they went full This Is Us and set the bookends in the present day with Abigail Breslin aged up to 70 years old, watching this telefilm from her living room as a grandchild distractedly live-tweets it. Now THAT is an unnecessary framing device I could get into.

 

Revisiting The Gilmore Girls Series Finale: A Laterblog

“I guess so.” Those are the final three words Gilmore Girls fans had to live with for nearly 10 years when the original series came to a close on May 15th, 2007. Not really satisfying when you know that wasn’t how the show was suppose to end.

Who would’ve thought that nearly a decade later, we’d get a re-do. That Amy Sherman-Palladino would be able to write the finale she wanted to and finally reveal the final four words (as controversial as it was) she had been keeping secret for years.

So today, let’s look back at the finale that aired 10 years ago with this laterblog of our thoughts, feelings, and emotions (ALL the emotions), and revisit the finale like omniscient time travelers from the future.

*Ed. Note: We published this laterblog back in 2015, when we were prepping to go to the Gilmore Girls reunion at the ATX TV Festival in Austin – PRE-Revival news. Little did we know what lay ahead of us. Enjoy!


{Originally posted June 5, 2015)

It’s Friday, and you know what they say, “Friday night’s alright for fighting, get a little action in.” While we won’t be serving up any punches or dinners for that matter, we’re ending Gilmore Girls Week with the memorable, controversial, semi open-ended ending to the series – the finale.

We’ve done a number of live blogs in the past, but since we’re watching and recapping it almost exactly eight years later (give or take a month), it’s a laterblog of sorts. However, tomorrow what WILL be live is our reports from the #ATXFestival, where the gang is reuniting. Will there be talk of a real reunion? What does Scott Patterson look like now and IRL? And will Amy Sherman-Palladino ever reveal the final lines she planned for the show?

As this post goes live, we’re already in the thick of it, so follow us this weekend on Twitter & Facebook (links on the right) with the hashtag #CAndSTakeATX for Gilmore goodness and all things television! Now, let’s revisit the final episode of Gilmore Girls and grab the tissues, because we’re highly emotional people.

Traci: I’d like to preface this by saying like Friends, I have only seen the Gilmore Girls finale a very few number of times, as opposed to the countless times I’ve seen every single other episode. I usually stop my chronological viewings on the second to last episode, partly because I can’t handle my emotions, and partly because it gets me all riled up and frustrated that they had to end the entire series that way. But we’ll get to that part later.

In 2007, I made a date with my friend Caitlin to watch the finale together. We both love the show – one of our initial bonding moments in college was when we were studying abroad and us and our friends would get together to illegally watch new episodes of GG on my computer since we couldn’t get it in the Netherlands, obviously. We are both emotional people, so we couldn’t be with anyone else except each other. I went over to her house and I remember it going by so quickly, us both crying and snotting towards the end, and like that, it was all over. I’ve seen it maybe three – four, now – times since. Here we go.

Molly: I just got swallowed up into a flashback of trying to watch tv during study abroad. I had a homestay … and their apartment didn’t have internet. Anyway, it was a really good season of Mira Quien Baile that year. I think there were episodes of Gilmore Girls from that period that I didn’t see until I started rewatching it before ATX. Of course, we studied abroad during season 6, so no great loss there. I’ve only seen the finale once, and my recollections are hazy at best.

T: The coup of getting Christiane Amanpour, Rory’s idol since season one, is absolutely one of the most brilliant cameo castings to ever happen on television. Now that I’m thinking about it, it was probably a sign from the writers that Rory’s story – in this part of her life at least – is done being told. She’s ready to go work and be on her own, without being close enough to Lorelai to drive home to her in an hour. Christiane is a symbol of what Rory could be in the future, and she’s propelling her towards the right direction.

M: It’s really easy to read the Christiane Amanpour appearance as stunt casting, but Traci nailed it. From season one we’ve seen Rory pursue the life she wanted, getting sidetracked during some of those weird years (YACHT HEIST WTF), and this just shows she’s making it to where she wanted to be.

Possibly the most awkward picture taken of all time

T: Lorelai gets weird around celebrities like “Jane Pauley, Harry Belafonte and Marisa Tomei” – why are all these people visiting Stars Hollow??

M: It’s like in Full House where like of COURSE Little Richard and the Beach Boys want to hang out with the Tanners.  But if Norman Mailer is to be believed, the Dragonfly is a great place to sit around during lunch hours.

T: The Stars Hollow High School band is playing Pomp and Circumstance at the Rory’s Graduation Reenactment Ceremony. I’ve always said this – the town puts Rory on a pedestal, and it’s borderline creepy, even though you know they’re coming from a place of love.

Rory Gilmore: Ice Cream Queen

M: That’s true, and it makes me love early seasons Rory for not being a bratty teen when she has everyone fawning over her all the time. In real life, even those of us who were AP/Honors/community service/ extracurricular-type teens barely got more than an “eh, you’re sufficient.” I think I like Stars Hollow better. [Of course, this also makes me sort of dislike Logan-era Rory for turning into a cruddy rich kid.]

2002-era Rory would never have had a Birkin Bag plot device.

T: “Once a screamer also a screamer.” No context for you.

M: I’m actually only on late season 6 in my rewatch, so skipping ahead a bit, but they definitely changed Caesars somewhere, right?

T: I just really love the fact Luke has a sister. And I love that she’s weird. With Luke’s parents gone and him just being an all-around grump, the one person he always has unconditional love for is his sister, even if TJ is being, well, TJ.

M: Do the very wealthy really still dress up for dinner at their own houses, Downton Abbey-style, like Richard and Emily do?

T: I can see rich East Coasters living in like, Brownstones in the Upper East Side doing this.

Normal, casual, Friday night dinner

T: Edward Hermann 😦 So sad every time I see him on the show. Fact: I went to a play he was in in Boston just because he was in it, NOT because I was interested in the history of Aristotle (or whatever it was about).

M: For some reason I thought his character was older, and when Edward Hermann died I couldn’t believe he was only in his early 70s. Too young.

T: I’M JUST SO PROUD RORY GOT A JOB WITH THE FUTURE PRESIDENT

Rory Gilmore – still on the road with Barack Obama in 2012

M: Remember how buzz-y Barack Obama was a this time? It’s kind of like our Gilmore Girls playlist where you have to put yourself back in that time – we’d had 8 years of the same president and it sounds hokey, but we really all were looking for ~hope and change. Also I never saw those 2012 pics and that’s adorable!

T: Reminder this also happened season five:

T: AND CUE TEARS NUMBER ONE:

Emily: “So this is it – we won’t see you again for who knows how long?”

Lorelai: “After dinner drinks for sure”

Richard: “Here, Here.”

T: Everyone being upset about Rory’s reenactment party being cancelled is another Rory Pedestal example. They must have other people graduating this year??

M: Granted she’s not graduating this year, but I always wondered why the town didn’t make a bigger deal about Lane. She was also an exemplary teen/young adult with a single mom. Wait. Do we know anything about Lane’s dad? Or did Mrs. Kim just find her in a basket at a tent revival?

T: They reference Mr. Kim a few times in the early seasons, but falls into the category of folks like Al of Al’s Pancake World and East Side Tilly of Characters Who Are Often Mentioned But Never Show Their Faces

M: Got it, so he’s like the Cathy Santoni of Stars Hollow. Or Cousin Tino.

T: TEARS NUMBER TWO *more of a fangirl flailing and tear up*:

LUKE IS GOING TO SOOKIE TO SECRETLY PLAN THE PARTY ANYWAYS

#LUKEDANESDREAMMAN

T: Ok so the town secretly coming together is sweet and not pedestal-y, since they’re doing it because they actually care a lot about Rory and Lorelai. Clearly at this point, they’re doing it out of love. And that makes my emoji face all heart eyed.

M: I love that Luke brought Sookie in on it. I loved Sookie throughout the show, and now it’s kind of crazy to think we had this future star playing this great secondary character for 7 years.

T: Taylor really hates mylar balloons – noted.

M: Speaking of which, at what point did grocery stores stop selling mylar balloons at the register? And wasn’t it really expensive to keep them all inflated all the time?

T: THIS IS IMPORTANT. I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M JUST REALIZING THIS NOW!!! I just had a flashback to my local Wegmans (Look it up, everyone west of like, Ohio).

tiny mylar balloons in the back

T: I really wish I could make a gif of Luke and co. bringing all the grills and items to set up for the party, then spot Lor and Rory, then run away silently. There are people carrying a table and running.

Photo May 31, 12 45 25 AM

M: I wish I paid closer attention to the townspeople extras throughout the series. Did they reuse a lot of people? On a less heartwarming note, I hate when Jackson breaks out his Osh Kosh B’gosh. He’s also wearing some sort of a Little Rascals type cap.

NAGL unless you’re playing Shirley Temple’s boyfriend or something.

T: I think maybe? But also I don’t think I pay too much attention either. The only person I’ve noticed is the Asian guy.

T: DAVE RYGALSKI NAME DROP

T: TEARS NUMBER THREE:

RORY SAYING GOODBYE TO LANE

I’m so glad Rory and Lane got to have this scene together, especially since in the later seasons, it’s been more focused on Rory and Paris being best friends, since Lane had her own life going on.

M: During the initial Dean vs Jess debate – before it became clear that Dean was just a breathing trash-factory – my bias was always Team Just Hang Out With Lane, You’re 16. Seriously. 30-year-old 2015 Rory is definitely still friends with Lane, and doesn’t even have Dean’s number listed as Dean DontAnswer in her phone anymore. Do you guys do that? Use the surname DontAnswer to remind yourselves not to talk to some people if they call? That was MADE for people like Dean.

T: TEARS NUMBER FOUR:

Lorelai: “It’s too soon. If I start to think about you leaving now, I’m gonna fall apart. It’s too soon.”

M: Total throwback to The Lorelais First Day At Yale, when Rory had a week less time than she thought before starting college. Remember that feeling, like no time would have been enough but they just weren’t prepared for it to be THEN?

T: OMG why have I never noticed the random Asian townsperson finally got to say a line?!!? BRAVO.

Photo May 31, 12 46 21 AM 

M: There’s my answer about recurring extras!

T: TEARS NUMBER FIVE:

LORELAI SNEAKING IN WHILE RORY’S SLEEPING TO TUCK HER IN AND SAY A SILENT GOODBYE

It’s weird – we’re at that age now where a lot of our friends are either about to get married, are already married, or are married with kids, and watching this scene, I had more of a sympathy with Lorelai, thinking to myself how hard it must be to say goodbye to your kid – the one you’ve raised for so long, and now you have to finally set them free. Before, I was just thinking how awesome it was that Rory was going to go on the road with Obama for this great job, which makes sense, because this aired towards the end of my junior year of college. Perspective, y’all.

M: Agreed. I had a moment a few years ago when I realized I was closer to Season One Lorelai’s age than Rory’s. Even though we don’t have kids, I think we’ve made that shift from seeing ourselves as kids – where your place in the world is being someone’s kid, right? – to autonomous adults. So now when I watch things from when I was younger, like Gilmore Girls, I relate to the “adults” more than I could before. DAMMIT TRACI. TEARS NUMBER ONE.

T: NOT EVEN SORRY FOR THE TEARS.

T: TEARS NUMBER SIX:

LUKE SEWING ALL THE TARPS TOGETHER TO MAKE A TENT FOR WHEN IT RAINS

apparently someone has the same feelings as me

T: UGH I HAD TO PAUSE THE EP ONCE THEY LOR STARTED DRIVING IN HER JEEP IN THE RAIN BECAUSE I HAD TO BRACE MYSELF FOR WHAT’S COMING.

T: TEARS NUMBER SEVEN (JUST A STEADY STREAM AT THIS POINT, TBH):

HEARING THE CHEERS FROM UNDER THE TENT

ZACH AND JACKSON RUNNING OUT WITH UMBRELLAS TO GET LORELAI AND RORY

THE SCAN ACROSS EVERYONE CHEERING FOR HER LIKE A FINAL GOODBYE TO THE CAST UGHHH HOLD UP WHERE IS MICHEL

EMILY AND RICHARD SHOWING UP – WAIT LUKE HAD TO CALL RICHARD AND EMILY TO INVITE THEM!! JUST REALIZED THIS NOW.

Richard: “I don’t think this is all for Rory. I think this party’s a testament to you, Lorelai, and the home you’ve created here. It takes a *crying rn* a remarkable person to inspire all of this.

Lorelai: Thanks, dad.

TAYLOR: “BIRTH YOU FROM OUR COLLECTIVE WOMB” YOU’VE CROSSED THE LINE, YET AGAIN.

M: I DON’T LOVE TO HATE TAYLOR. I just hate Taylor. Also he said “gestated” and “nourished” and I haaaate hate hate hate both those words.

T: RORY THANKING LORELAI

M: Reminder that I’m a huge cryer: during Rory’s speech all I can think is I wouldn’t be able to do that without sobbing. I’m real fun at weddings, funerals, days when my friends post pictures of their children on instagram, etc.

T: EMILY TRYING TO GET LOR TO KEEP GOING TO FRIDAY NIGHT DINNERS BY BUYING HER A SPA

M: Also there’s my answer on the dress code! “Don’t wear jeans.”

Emily: “It’s an honor to be your grandmother, Rory Gilmore.”

LORELAI PASSING BY KIRK AND TAYLOR AND BABETTE ONE LAST TIME

OBVIOUSLY THIS REUNION KISS

ME: 

M: UGH Speaking of Titanic, when Rory walked into the party it was like when Old Rose dies or whatever, and she’s back on the ship being greeted by everyone. Except Rory’s not dead, though she is embarking on life on the political campaign trail, so same dif. For some reason I was really excited to see Gypsy.

T: OKAY BUT FRREAL THE ONE LINE I WILL NEVER FORGET AND IS ETCHED IN MY MEMORY SURROUNDED BY A FLOOD OF TEARS:

T: I JUST HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT THIS EPISODE AND THIS SERIES THAT IT’S ACTUALLY WEIGHING DOWN ON MY HEART

M: We’re blogging this in advance because when this post goes out we’ll be at ATX, and maybe we should have waited to watch this together because my dog looks concerned and I don’t think she “gets it.” When I think of finales I’ve gotten emotional about – this one, Parks and Recreation, The Office, Parenthood – they’re all shows about love and about how there’s genuine good in people. IT’S JUST REALLY LIFE AFFIRMING I’M OKAY.

Photo May 31, 12 47 28 AM

Pop Culture Blind Spot: Darby O’Gill And The Little People

Three truths and a lie, St. Patrick’s Day Edition:

  • I grew up Irish dancing and thus I never went to school on St. Patrick’s Day because I had performances.
  • I mostly look like a leprechaun.
  • Every year, my family watched Darby O’Gill and the Little People sometime around St. Paddy’s day.
  • I despair every time someone calls it St. Patty’s Day. Who’s Patricia?

Answer: As you probably guessed from the post title, I’ve never seen Darby O’Gill and The Little People. The 1959 Disney movie is a cheesy, beloved Irish-American classic starring (according to Wikipedia)… Sean Connery?! Woah. In my defense, in the 90s if your family didn’t have the VHS tape of a movie or it didn’t air on a station you got, you just didn’t see it. I’m rectifying that now, so please don’t disinvite me from the next ceilidh or soda bread baking night.

Set design of Irish movies from the 1940s-1970s is the main reason for a lot of lingering Irish stereotypes. Namely, that it’s always vaguely the 1800s with thatch roofs and dirty stucco walls and like … spinning wheels and butter churns and shawls everywhere.

Is the old lady, The Widow Sugrue,  the same old lady from The Wedding Singer? I know it’s impossible but one has to wonder.

It’s not.

If you’re playing Irish Movie Bingo, fill in your square for Pretty Young Lass Needs A Husband

It takes me about 3 minutes to get into the mode where I understand what anybody is saying. It’s not because I’m not used to Irish accents. It’s because these aren’t Irish accents (Katie’s is often OK. Widow Sugrue’s reminds me of elementary school plays where you didn’t know how to do the accent you were supposed to do so you just talked weird).

It’s called Darby O’Gill and The Little People, and for whatever reason I assumed Darby would be a leprechaun too. Nope. Just a guy.

If you’re playing Irish Movie Bingo, fill in your square for Group Of Men Telling Legends In A Pub.

The special effects of Darby talking to leprechaun King Brian are surprisingly very good. Sometimes I think modern CGI makes things look more fake than old-school camera tricks.

The image links to an explanation of some of the *movie magic.* I’m duly impressed.

It also reminds me of the parts of Mr. Rogers when take the trolley to the Land of Puppetville or whatever that was.

If you’re playing Irish Movie Bingo, fill in your square for Village Priest Solving A Financial Problem.

Young Sean Connery could get it.

By the way, Sean Connery is one of those people who’s never been young. He’s 29 here and his face is care-worn and weathered.

Everyone’s sideburns are huge. Little House on the Prairie sideburns.

If you’re playing Irish Movie Bingo, fill in your square for Woman Leans Out A Half-Door.

If you’re playing Irish Movie Bingo, fill in your square for Old Man Plays The Fiddle.

These leprechauns have the best outfits. They’re total Keebler Elf getups.

I’d live inside this Leprechaun Ceilidh. It’s like the Trolls hideout without all the LSD, or Munchkinland without the specter of murder. Yet, anyway.

So many dorky Irish in-references: Brian Boru, the harp that once thro Tara’s halls, a tribe of people cowering away from direct sunlight (no? Just me?).

When Darby plays his fiddle really fast and the leprechauns start dancing crazy, you could forget what I said about “without all the LSD” before. This is trippy.

If you’re playing Irish Movie Bingo, fill in your square for Somebody Gets Someone Drunk In Order To Trick Them.

Always been a sucker for a cat vs leprechaun sequence. Another triumph for old-school special effects.

All these songs sound the same. Bless Janet Munro and Sean Connery. They’re trying so hard to have Irish accents in their scenes together. Sean Connery has natural 21st Century American Invisalign Teeth. Janet Munro, an English actress, definitely looks Irish.

Darby would be a cute name for a dog, right?

Darby, requesting whisky: The best in the house!

Barmaid: [look of shock and fear, because best in the house means things are SERIOUS. Also because Darby gives the drink to a man inside his rucksack.]

I start laughing out loud when Katie starts singing in a drippy voice while preening her weird short bangs and suddenly I can’t stop laughing.

Keep expecting this to turn into an SNL sketch where King Brian is really gross or filthy.

If you’re playing Irish Movie Bingo, fill in your square for Woman Gets Offended When Man Loves Her.

The banshee looks like you’re meant to be looking at it through special glasses.

“29. Sean Connery is TWENTY NINE” – me, out loud, trying to convince myself that Very Adult Man Sean Connery isn’t even 30 here.

The ghostly horse and carriage is actually spooky in a laser light show at the planetarium kind of way. If I saw this as a kid I’d be unnerved.

By the way, the headless horseman doesn’t really have an Irish accent, either.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I laugh every time they sing that stupid song.

If you’re playing Irish Movie Bingo, fill in your square for Characters Drive Away In A Horse-Drawn Cart.

The bottom line: I enjoy old movies, and this was an enjoyable old movie. The underlying question with our Pop Culture Blind Spot posts is whether cult favorites are good of their own accord, or if you have to have some sort of earlier sentimental connection to them to really love them.  I could see being really into Darby O’Gill And The Little People if I had loved it as a kid, and seeing at is an adult I have a healthy appreciation for the old-school special effects and the imaginative story. It actually made me realize, in comparison, how much more I liked last year’s St. Patrick’s Day Pop Culture Blind Spot, The Quiet Man. In the battle between Rugged Men Who Aren’t Irish Playing Rugged Men Who Are, Sean Connery vs John Wayne, John Wayne takes this round.

Questions, Comments, Concerns: Beaches

In an attempt to get back into regularly scheduled programming – both on the blog and life-wise – I watched a Lifetime movie this week. It was a remake of Beaches, the classic 1988 Bette Midler/ Barbara Hershey friendship drama that I don’t remember ever seeing. This reboot takes the action to 2017 and stars Idina Menzel and Nia Long. It was exactly what I’d expect out of a Lifetime remake of a beloved movie with good actresses in it. Take that how you will.

Comment: I’m not coming at this with a lot of history with Beaches.

I thought “didn’t I do a monologue from that for auditions for a while as a kid?” but that was Brighton Beach Memoirs. I think I saw Beaches on TV as a child but I don’t really remember it. Guess what I’m saying is, I’m not expecting to have my memories of Beaches tarnished, I’m just expecting a better-than-usual Lifetime movie.

Comment: They did a really good job with the 80s flashback clothing!
Concern: The 80s being a flashback. I was alive then!

Part of the time anyway.

Concern: When you’re such a musical theater nerd that you know the child versions of CC and Hilary.

CC is Gabriella Pizzolo (Fun Home) and Hilary is Grace Capeless (The Lion King). Goes without saying, they’re adorable and talented in that classic older-than-their-years Musical Theater Child way.

Question: Did they just say this was supposed to be Vegas?

For some reason I thought it was meant to take place in Coney Island or something.

(Per Google, the flashback in the original was set in Atlantic City, which makes way more sense. Sorry. Must have misheard something)

Comment: I can see why people love Beaches.

The segment where the letters are going back and forth is really sweet.

Concern: I don’t love Idina in this role ??

OF COURSE I know Idina is talented. Obviously I loved Rent and Wicked. I don’t dispute that Idina Menzel knows what she’s doing. Just what she’s doing here isn’t working for me. I’m willing to admit the problem is probably me, I just wasn’t expecting to feel this way.

Comment: Love the throwback to Idina’s early lounge/wedding/bar mitzvah singer days though.
Comment: PEN PALS ARE LIKE INTERNET FRIENDS.

I don’t know why it took me this long to realize it, but I suddenly relate to this story more.

Question: Is CC’s apartment really messy or just really cluttered or somewhere in between?

(It’s messy, right?)

Concern: I shouldn’t have laughed so hard at “there’s only one dreidel song.”
Question: There’s gonna be singalongs??

They start singing Oh Come All Ye Faithful and my hopes for this movie skyrocket.

Question: Is the show CC’s in SUPPOSED to be bad?

I legitimately do not know.

(They go on to say that it’s supposed to be good. Huh.)

Comment: Nia’s acting at her father’s funeral.

Good work.

Concern: This friendship really isn’t bringing out anyone’s best selves

I just can’t imagine being this mean to one of my friends, ever?

Like I said, I don’t have any history with this movie but I was expecting a lot more warm fuzzies. Someone better give someone else a kidney soon.

Comment: I went from zero emotional investment to crying when Idina sang about “don’t let the last time I hurt you be the last time…”

This is either the magical power of Beaches, which I’ve known about for years but never witnessed, or the magical power of Idina Menzel, which I know very well.

I think my lack of investment may be because I never really have friend breakups on purpose, I just sometimes suck at keeping in touch with people on accident.

Comment: I miss the beginning of the part where they’re putting a crib together because it sounds and looks like a commercial.

Like, where one woman would start explaining to the other why she likes her new brand of tampons.

Question: When is something awful going to happen?

Because Hilary is adorably pregnant and happy and CC and Hilary love each other and there’s, like, an hour to go. I’ve started to emotionally invest. IS THIS WHAT EVERYONE WAS REFUSING TO TELL ME ABOUT BEACHES.

Comment: Hilary delivers the most gorgeous 2-month-old baby ever.
Concern: Shit. Hilary’s gonna die. Isn’t she. ISN’T SHE.
Concern: C.C. is singing I’ll Stand By You.

This can’t be good. Hilary now has a precious, beautiful 7-year-old. Oh, no.

Concern: “Mommy is tired.” “You’re always tired.”

Oh NO.

Comment: You know you watch a lot of Lifetime movies when you get to the last hour and fully realize that the commercials are gonna start coming every 5 minutes.
Comment: This movie is unexpectedly guilting me for being Type O and unable to donate.

SORRY.

Maybe I’ll work on it.

Comment: Now they’re back to the scene they opened with.

Which means Hilary’s gonna die. Come on, Beaches. This is NOT the week for this.

Comment: “Want to know the most magical thing about being a mommy? I’m always with you.”

Beaches can burn in hell.

Comment: “I want you to take Tory.”

What are you trying to do to me, Beaches.

Comment: “I put it in my will.”

You’re really still going, Beaches.

Concern: Is she going to really die right in the middle of Oh Come All Ye Faithful?

(She doesn’t.)

Comment: This movie has been brought to you by Guilt Over Not Donating Blood
Comment: OH WOW. I forgot that (a) Wind Beneath My Wings was from this movie and (b) for whatever reason, I always hated Wind Beneath My Wings.

Like, I’m half sad, half furious that this song is playing.

Comment: I take back what I said about not liking Idina in this role.

Slow burn, was all.

Concern: If little Tory comes on stage to sing I’m going to die.

She didn’t. I live.

But you know who doesn’t?

Hilary Whitney. RIP.

Comment: Going from this to Steel Magnolias feels like a very irresponsible programming choice, Lifetime.

 

 

Salute Your Shorts Live Blog: Zeke The Plumber – Open Air Toilets & Brain Plunging

In keeping with our Social Media Hashtag week, we’re celebrating #ThrowbackThursday and the 25th birthday of Salute Your Shorts by rewatching the favorite episode of my childhood, Zeke The Plumber (don’t worry, this isn’t one of our real theme weeks …. but the one we have on deck next week is gonna be non-stop, if you know what I mean, and I think you do). We only had five days during Big Orange Couch Week, and we focused on Are You Afraid Of The Dark, Clarissa Explains It All, The Secret World of Alex Mack, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, and All That. But if you were a 90s Kid (TM), you’ll also hold Camp Anawana in your hearts. And when you think about it, it makes you wanna fart. Which was a great joke when you were 6. 

You can watch the episode here! Or, preferably, somewhere legal instead. Ready? Go!

  • The episode opens with a child holding a 90s camcorder and narrating a walk through the woods for his parents. Remember camcorders? And how if you didn’t have a heavy, expensive piece of equipment and the ability to convert those little cassettes to videotape, your memories just had to live in your brain?
  • Sometimes, we look back on terrible haircuts of the past and think “well, it was fashionable then. Times change and someday we’ll all think we look dumb now, too.” This isn’t one of those times. I knew Budnick’s red mullet was bad when I was in kindergarten, and I know it now. Looking back, it actually might be the first time in my whole life I identified that somebody had bad hair.

    But also, this wasn’t totally out of left field in the early 90s – it’s not like he made up this weird hairdo. The 90s did.

  • It’s almost on the fence between ‘mullet’ and ‘too much of your hair is bangs.’ MAKE UP YOUR DAMN MIND BUDNICK.
  • I, um… I don’t remember if I noticed that Ug Lee’s name was “ugly” as a kid. I do remember assuming that he was Budnick’s dad or uncle, because wherever two or more redheads are gathered, I will assume that they’re related. (My childhood BFF and I were both tiny freckly gingers; we loved that people thought we were sisters.)

    No but. They do look alike, right???

     

  • Let’s talk about the theme song. First of all, why do people/Ug put zinc oxide just on their noses? I’ve never had a sunburn that encapsulated just my nose but surely there’s a reason. Also, this may be the genesis of me thinking it was super dorky that I had to wear sunscreen all the time. Anyway, all of the characters are set up in the opening credits. ZZ is a goody-goody who loves nature (she’s Dawn from the Baby-Sitters Club, mas o menos), Ug doesn’t know what’s going on around him, Donkey Lips is a Bobby Moynihan character, Budnick is a shit-stirrer with silly hair, Telly likes sports, Dina is the pretty popular girl, and Sponge is small. There’s a blonde boy I don’t remember well (Michael) who was just … regular … I think? Like if Salute Your Shorts were a movie, he would have been played by one of the Corys.

  • The kids are telling ghost stories and I have questions. Are they supervised? And where did they get all those candles? And matches? Does anyone else think this looks like a huge fire haz? I never went to camp; this all may be very normal.
  • The gist is: Zeke the Plumber was a camp plumber who had no nose. He hit a gas pipe, couldn’t smell the gas and lit a match (I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS, like why would he light a match in the first place, and why are there so many damn matches at this camp, and surely he knew he punctured a pipe, ok?). So Zeke dies and only his plunger was left behind, which I don’t think he needs in a hole with a match, but I’m not a plumber so what do I know.
  • Wow all of these kids are so young! I thought Dina and Z.Z. were so cool and sophisticated and they looked like literal babies:

  • Zeke the Plumber appears in the boys bunk, spending his afterlife plunging children’s toilets, which seems like an odd choice but you do you, Zeke. More specifically, he is plunging the OPEN AIR TOILET THAT JUST HANGS OUT IN THE BUNK ALL THE TIME. Was this there before? And is this camp or prison?!

  • On a related note, I have a weird ghost toilet in my basement and the floor drain near it started spewing water last week …. and all I could think was “in what universe would someone need a haunted toilet in their basement anyway?” I’ll tell you what: a universe in which you’re keeping someone in your basement. That’s all.
  • Nevermind. Zeke was a dream. He “found” Michael’s stuffed hippo in the toilet and plunges his brain.
  • How expensive do we think this camp is?
  • Now, via dream,  Zeke tells Telly he can turn her into a professional ball player, plunges her brain, and sends her to a ball instead. But all the kids dream Zeke the same so he’s obviously real, right?
  • Sponge has an enormous laptop, because this was still that era where being really into owning a computer meant you were a nerd on TV. For a moment I think he’s about to look up Zeke the Plumber, but then I remember that we were years away from it being normal to have internet access, and even more years away from wifi. Maybe that nerd-o was playing Oregon Trail or Carmen Sandiego.
  • Now Budnick is going to spend the night in the woods at the spot where Zeke died. Hold on, I have questions again. How do they know, and why was he digging a hole in the middle of the woods, and why is there a gas pipe in the middle of the woods?
  • The kids all set out to punk Budnick to get him back for scaring them with the Zeke the Plumber story.
  • The punkers become the punk-ees, as Budnick replaces himself with a dummy with a melon-head and sets off soda cans.
  • Ug impersonates Zeke and Budnick catches him in a rope trap, and I know I’m getting old because all of this seems like a lot of damn work just to prove a point.
  • Ug looks exactly like all the kids imagined Zeke The Plumber, which in my estimation means that he’s a real ghost after all.

Questions, Comments and Concerns: The Wolfpack

The Wolfpack is a documentary about the Angulo brothers, 6 teenage(-ish) boys kept almost entirely confined to their apartment by their father, Oscar. The boys watched thousands of movies, became obsessed with film, and even recreated favorite films at home: transcribing scripts, assigning roles, and building props by hand. On one of their early forays into the streets of New York City they met filmmaker Crystal Moselle, who was intrigued by their matching long hair and dark suits, looking like the cast of Reservoir Dogs. A friendship began based on their mutual love of film, and eventually Moselle began a documentary about the Angulo brothers’ lives: The Wolfpack.

Unlike most of our Comments, Questions and Concerns post, this is actually a GOOD movie. It’s just that there’s so much going on here that we do have a few questions, comments and concerns about this most unusual family.

Comment: This is a documentary with no narration, very few talking heads, and no name cards.

So if you didn’t see the 20/20 special on the family ( or any of the myriad articles about these brothers, you’ll be figuring out what’s going on as the doc progresses. But other than some trouble keeping the boys’ names straight, you’ll be just fine.

Comment: Someone in this family is a prop master in the making.

Link: The Wolfpack brothers show us how to reenact our favorite films.

In their film recreations, the Angulos create their own props and some of them are really impressive, especially when you remember they were literally using what they had around the house.

Question: Did anyone else transcribe films and TV in their youth?

I think I remember rewinding my VHS tapes to take down dialogue from shows and movies I really liked in the pre-internet era, so while these kids do have some things in common with those of us who had more typical childhoods.

Comment: Understatement of the year: “If I didn’t have movies, my life would be pretty boring.”

It’s a phrase a lot of us can at least somewhat relate to (feel free to substitute movies with TV, or music, or theater), but coming from a teen whose only connection with the outside world was through movies, it’s on a whole other level.

Concern: What would it be like to be Vishnu?

First of all, Vishnu is the only girl in this family. Second, she’s described as special and in her own world, and was reported to have some sort of developmental disability. How did she get the services she need when her family rarely left their apartment? (NB: This isn’t answered, and for good reason: Vishnu isn’t really a subject of The Wolfpack. That’s a good choice because if she does have a developmental disability it would be harder to obtain her knowing consent, and anyway none of it is our business. However, I imagine that her life is probably every bit as fascinating as her brothers’.)

Concern: How does this HAPPEN?

One boy wonders how his parents fell in love in the first place. While more extreme than most of us, this is pretty relatable – when your parents have been together forever, it’s hard to picture them as the young people who first met each other.

In this case, the boys’ Midwestern-raised hippie mom, Susanne, met their father Oscar in South America. They moved to New York. Susanne was under Oscar’s control and Oscar began to shun the outside world, allowing the children to leave the apartment – closely supervised – only about once a year, if that. I understand, on a level, how overwhelming NY would be to a man from a less-populated area, especially when it’s plausible that he has some issues with paranoia and narcissism.

As for their mother,the boys mention Oscar hitting her sometimes, but there wouldn’t even need to be much or any physical violence with this level of psychological control. It’s almost like when you hear about cult members who have realized the leader isn’t what he promised to be, but it’s too late to leave.

Comment: THAT HALLOWEEN SCENE WAS SPOOKY AS HELL THO

The brothers film children trick or treating outside their window. Meanwhile in the apartment, they record themselves in costumes lighting hay on fire and doing a spooky circle dance to This Is Halloween. It was so eerie I almost had to fast forward. If you want evidence that some boys in the group are born filmmakers, look no further. With no budget or script , they sure did evoke Halloween terror.

Question: What would happen if we all talked to people who seem interesting?

The filmmaker (Crystal Moselle) saw this pack of long-haired, suit-wearing brothers on the street. Like most of us, she wondered what on earth their story was. Unlike most of us, she went up to them and asked. What would I find out if I started talking to the characters I see on the street?

(That’s gonna have to remain a mystery. Riding public transit to and from work, I have enough unwanted interactions with strangers without seeking them out.)

Concern: The level of control Oscar had is staggering, and I thought I’d heard everything.

Only Oscar had the keys to the apartment. If he told the boys to stay in one room, they weren’t allowed to leave. He kept seven children so stifled that many neighbors didn’t even know they existed.

Comment: My heart was in my throat during “the escape.”

Mukunda, then 15,  sneaked out of the apartment wearing a Michael Myers mask. He seemed “off” (as a teen in a horror movie mask would) and eventually, concerned strangers called the police. Mukunda was admitted to the psych ward, which he considers a positive experience as he was finally able to interact with non-family members. THEN, upon returning home, he told his father “I refuse to talk to you, I refuse to take your orders, we are no longer father and son anymore.” That has to be one of the bravest things I’ve heard in my life.

From that point on, the spell was broken and the brothers began to leave the apartment.

Question: Should Child Protective Services have intervened?

And in fact, what are the bounds of legality here? I say this as someone who concentrated in family law in a New York state law school, but this is such a gray area. There’s a push and pull between allowing parents the freedom to raise their children, but to intervene if the child’s health and safety are in peril. Is isolating the children at home a form of abuse or neglect?

Concern: YIKES at one of the boys thinking their mother should still homeschool them.

There’s nothing wrong with homeschooling if that’s what both the parents and kids want, and everyone’s getting a good education. The yikes comes because maybe a rule where nobody in this family says that another family member shouldn’t have to leave the apartment would be a good thing, moving forward. (To be fair, he doesn’t say she should never leave AT ALL, but that working outside the home wouldn’t be best when she is qualified to teach the brothers. Also he certainly has insight that we don’t into what Susanne actually wants to do in life.)

We’ll get to this later, but the best and most freeing thing for Susanne might be to move back to where there are open spaces, which she says she misses, particularly if as her son said, having to go out into New York to work would be too taxing on her.

Concern: The hair thing.

The boys have super-long hair, at least until some make the decision to cut it. Their father says it gives them power. Their mom has really short hair. Her decision or nah?

(If it is, and she’s chosen to look different from her family members, that’s pretty cool.)

Question: What would the real world seem like if all you knew was movies?
Comment: I would have loved to see more of the filmmaker’s interactions with the brothers.

I think leaving herself out of the film was a good choice, that’s just my own curiosity. It’s an interesting dynamic and like I said above, reaching out to these kids on the street isn’t something your average person would have done.

Concern: In old footage, Susanne looks at Oscar like Michelle looks at Jim-Bob.

I guess the concern would be that there are hundreds of Michelles looking at hundreds of Jim-Bobs like that.

Comment: Just want to make it clear I’m not blaming Susanne here.

Is there a chance she’s at fault for some of this? Sure, she could be, but I don’t have enough info here to say that. Susanne was very controlled by Oscar for a long time, and she’s obviously a thoughtful and intelligent person who really loves her kids (and even Oscar).

Concern: Oh no. Is Oscar comparing himself to Jesus now? Oh. no.

Comparing yourself to the Christ: almost always a bad sign unless it’s in the vein of “when the weather is warm, Jesus and I are both known to wear sandals” or “Jesus and I both have an Aunt Elizabeth.”

Comment: Sometimes Susanne’s accent really betrays her Midwestern roots (especially when talking with her mom) and I love it.

I also enjoy how very excited she was to reconnect with her family. This is why I love this documentary: I am so rooting for the boys and their mom. (I do feel for Oscar, on some level, and hope he finds some peace.)

Question: Did anyone else practically cheer seeing one of the boys getting a job on a set and interacting with coworkers like anybody else?

Guys. I’m just really into the triumph of the human spirit. They’re gonna make it after all. I’m sure of it.

Comment: ONE OF THEM MOVED OUT!

Jobs. Haircuts. Rock bands. Environmental protests. Girlfriends? I knew this was coming, but I’m amazed anyway.

And we start with the kids watching trick or treaters through their window, and end with them picking pumpkins and apples out in the world. Because at last, they live in it.

Concern: I’m very happy for everybody but if they do any more of this spooky Halloween shit I SWEAR TO GOD.

You’re very great at spooky masks and eerie sequences but I’m’a have to turn this off now.

Pop Culture Blind Spot: Flashdance

Despite being alive in the late 1980s, there are a bunch of movies from this decade that I am totally blind to – Dirty Dancing, Ghost, Top Gun, all of which I’ve since seen. Flashdance is one of them.

This movie was released on April 15, 1983, which makes it nearly 33 years old and three years older than me, so this should be a nice FLASHback to the 80s. Although since we’re deep into Cheers, it shouldn’t be that much of a shock.

Knowledge of this film:

Not Jennifer Grey but rather Jennifer Beals is a dancer and she pours a bucket of water on her person. Also, that What a Feeling song.

Actual IMDb description:

A Pittsburgh woman with two jobs as a welder and an exotic dancer wants to get into ballet school.

SHE’S A STRIPPER?!?!?!?! WHO WANTS TO GET INTO BALLET SCHOOL?? LIT’RALLY NO IDEA.

The title scrolls across the screen like a screensaver from Windows 95. There was a similar title card in The Bodyguard, was this just a thing then??

So Jennifer Beals a legit welder? In the 80s was this a common job for women? Or was it just in Pittsburgh because… steel?

If Irene Cara’s What a Feeling *now I’m dancing for my life* music wasn’t playing throughout these opening credits I would think this is a horror movie with all the shots of coal and people welding in the dark.

Ok, Jennifer Beals is a stripper but have any of her male co-workers been to her strip club because I feel like that would be an awkward conversation the next morning in the locker room.

Ah yes, the iconic water scene. She’s actually a good dancer. Especially since she’s dancing on water. I would’ve broken half my bones at this point.

Oh is she an exotic dancer in who doesn’t strip?

Well the guy who just walked in knows her social security number and tells his pal that she works for him. So there’s that.

Richie, the cook at the bar/strip club, wants to get out of Pittsburgh and move to Los Angeles, but a guy (who I’m assuming is the big boss) tells him, “They don’t let short people into Hollywood.” I CAN BUST THIS MYTH RIGHT NOW.

“This place is so small you have to go outside to change your mind.” – Richie, A short-order cook who’s definitely going to make it as a comic in LA.

Nick looks like a typical “hunk” from the 1980s. Like Tom Selleck or Dustin Diamond.

She’s holding a Pepsi that is an old school metal can and besides the big hair it’s one of the props that makes it obvious it’s the 1980s.

She’s a Maniac is from this movie? What is this weird lunging she’s doing? I’ve obviously seen this running in place move but she’s not even dancing she’s doing weird warm-ups.

Jennifer Beals – do we even know her character’s name yet it’s Alex – enters a dance school where the hallways are lined with leotard and tight-wearing ballet dancers and it’s like Save the Last Dance all over again.

Is this secretary related to Meryl Streep?

Tom Selleck is hitting on Jennifer Beals and just wants to get a snack with her. Get a freaking snack with him Alex.

Alex has a QT old grandma.

She also has a priest she goes to to confess. Gotta get that coveted Catholic demographic in the theater.

Some dude who’s trying to get people to watch the exotic dancers just used the word “cunts”, so he is problematic.

There is a workout montage set to the tune of I Love Rock and Roll and it is the MOST 80s thing I’ve seen.

There are two pop-locking/breakdancing kids (?) in the street and they are my favorites so far.

I realized there have been two dancing scenes sans dialogue (a skating rink and crossing guard) in a row and I think it’s because Alex is attempting to pick up new dance moves from the literal streets? IS THIS NOT SAVE THE LAST DANCE?

Richie is doing his stand-up act at the bar and no one is laughing. BLESS. The joke that makes everyone laugh: “I’m just a cook. This is my big break. If you don’t laugh then I’m gonna put cockroaches in your hamburgers!”

But really, this club is not a strip club no one has gotten naked. Do these clubs still exist? It’s like Chippendales but more clothes (remind me to tell you about my recent experience at Chippendales).

The dude with the offensive language, whose name is apparently Johnny, tries to grab Alex and get her to go with him to “drink wine and smoke some weed” and I hate him. He also beat up Richie, so he’s the worst.

Nick Selleck comes out of the literal shadows to save Alex and instead of getting a ride home from him, she decides to bike home in the dark. Come on Alex, Selleck isn’t going to do anything to you (he drives behind her the whole time for safety).

Alex has a friend named Jeanie who is a competitive ice skater and it makes me yearn for the Olympics/The Cutting Edge movie. JEANIE FELL. SHE FELL AGAIN. THOSE DAMN TRIPLE AXELS. Her dreams are shattered.

Alex and Nick are on a date and she takes him back to her place (an old warehouse?) to eat pizza. BOW CHICKA WOW WOW.

She changed into a sweatshirt and took off her bra in front of him. This is their first date. And it doesn’t matter because they slept together. Their next date is literally walking down a railroad track which leads to a landfill of steel. Guys, just because you work as welders doesn’t mean you have to make your dates themed as such too.

WHAT IN THE FRESH HELL IS THIS I CAN’T STOP LAUGHING IT’S LIKE A 1980S GEISHA DURING A DREAM SEQUENCE OF HOW PEOPLE FROM THE 80S PICTURED THE FUTURE. OMG LITERALLY THIS SONG IS CALLED IMAGINATION AND HAS THE WORDS “FANTASY” IN IT

“Do you know how to do the horizontal mambo” Asshole dude GTFO

Whooaaa Alex just threw stones through Nick’s window in anger but I missed why she is so upset.

Richie is leaving for LA to go for his dreams as a stand-up coming and I am truly sad to see him go but happy he’s

Oh Alex saw Nick with some blonde chick at a dance benefit, who turned out to be his ex-wife.

“I broke your fucking window!… Go fuck your blonde!” I LOVE ALEX

LOL at all the other welders cheering them on from the peanut gallery

Yo Alex is serving in this tuxedo look.

Nick’s ex-wife LOL she looks like a Scandinavian socialite.

What’s happening here? Is it Halloween? It’s Halloween. There’s a free for all on the stage.

Alex applied for an audition to the dance conservatory and she got in!

Alex realizes Nick made a phone call to get her the audition, which she obviously didn’t want because she is a strong, independent lady of the 1980s who doesn’t need any GD help from any man.

Oh finally a strip club with actual stripping. It’s like everyone hates their lives here. Apparently Jeannie ditched being an ice skater and decided to only be a real stripper.

HAHA Alex straight up pulls Jeannie from the stage as she’s stripping. AND Asshole guy comes out of nowhere to tell her to not take Jeannie away and Alex pushes him away. It is great.

“When you give up on a dream, you die.” Nick Selleck says to Alex, and Alex realizing she could end up like Jeannie as a real stripper all at the same time.

Is QT grandma not actually her grandma? Alex is calling her Hanna. OMG SHE DIED. YESTERDAY. NOOOOOO

But NOW I bet Alex is going to use her pain and suffering to follow through on her promise to QT grandma Hanna to get into the dance school.

In full disclosure, I’m getting hungry and there are 20 minutes left of this movie and I can barely pay attention.

But Alex is back in the Priest’s confessional and crying? She’s sinned, obvs.

Alex is back in her black leotard from when she was lunging for this audition, and  I’m really wondering why type of dance she’s qualifying this as. She’s literally gliding by the judges’ table and pointing at each of them hahahaha Yup, she’s incorporating breakdancing in this audition. And apparently she got in because the next scene was see is her running outside to meet Nick and she’s super happy about it.

So that was fine, I guess. I’d say don’t waste your time on it?