The Parent Trap Is Our Aesthetic

It’s summer, and our aesthetic is The Parent Trap (1998): a rustic cabin in a pine forest, a kicky new summer haircut, a sedate London home, secret twins, a sprawling Napa estate, getting your ears pierced by a child, comfy yet timeless sundresses, midafternoon dips in the pool with your dad’s too-young fiancee, casual camping gear, finding out your parents were totally OK with never seeing one of their children again… The Parent Trap has it all.

Although remakes usually pale in comparison to the original, The Parent Trap is different. The Hayley Mills version is fine, but it’s the Lindsay Lohan adaptation that I go to time and time again. It came out when I was 11 – the same age as Hallie and Annie, and could have passed as their triplet – and although almost two decades have gone by, it feels ageless. It’s no mistake that this is our second “___ Is Our Aesthetic” post featuring a film from Nancy Meyers, romcom queen and kitchen guru extraordinaire: all of her movies feel fresh and current when they come out, and thanks to her use of timeless and playful styling, they stay that way.

The Entire Camp Experience

I never went to sleepaway camp: not rich enough to afford it, nor poor enough for a scholarship (even at 11, I was able to recognize that the Parker-Jameses were seriously loaded). But maybe that’s for the best, because I am free to imagine summer camp exactly as it is in The Parent Trap. Camp Walden is everything you expect in a New England summer camp. Nestled among tall trees, the girls really do bunk in rustic cabins, wake up to bugle calls, eat at a mess hall, swim in a lake, hold unsupervised poker tourneys and engage in elaborate prank wars.  It’s the kind of low-tech, high-fun camp I could imagine generations of the same family attending.

Even the preppy-yet-simple uniforms are great, and those little touches like how Annie always chose the more formal version: the polo shirt instead of the tee, for instance.

To get it out of the way: those twin scenes were filmed with the help of Erin Mackey, Lindsay’s double and now a theater actress, who is sort of the Kathryn Alexandre of the Parent Trap universe:

The Handshake

Annie and her butler Martin have a secret handshake, which Hallie must learn to replicate in order to impersonate Annie. Not sure what is cooler: having a butler, or having a secret handshake.

MAKEOVERS!

Whether it’s The Parent Trap, Clueless, The Princess Diaries, The Breakfast Club, She’s All That, or one of our many other throwback favs, we loved a makeover scene 20 years ago and we love them still. There was something so satisfying about Hallie getting the haircut and ear piercing just right… thank goodness.

The Soundtrack!

Not strictly aesthetics, but music is a big part of the timeless summertime vibes in The Parent Trap. I’m not ashamed to say I owned the CD. (Off topic: Mid-to-late 90s: the golden age of movie soundtracks?) The score even has the whimsical, pretty sound of The Holiday, another of our Nancy Meyers favorites, although The Holiday was a Hans Zimmer score and The Parent Trap was Alan Silvestri.

Hallie (And Annie-As-Hallie)’s Relaxed Wardrobe

(Links to a Hallie Parker-inspired look. I always loved those multi-colored beaded bracelets and the plaid shorts and denim jacket combo)

hello, moto jacket.

Hallie is a laid-back Napa girl: she’s outdoorsy and informal, but she wasn’t exactly wearing hand-me-downs like the rest of us poors (not that she could have, as her sister was a secret).

Annie (And Hallie-As-Annie)’s Classic Style

Don’t panic, but the headband matches. This is why I matched my school uniform kilts to a headband with the same plaid. Also because I was a dork.

This is how I’d love to dress my children, who will hate me.

Blair Waldorf’s style inspiration.

Oh, to have Annie’s upper-class, finely-tailored, utterly timeless wardrobe: tweed and Peter Pan collars and A-line dresses as far as the eye can see. If you weren’t one of the fanciest children in all of London town, it was probably just a dream for you, but it was Annie’s reality.

The Napa Ranch

I’m floored Hallie even GOES to camp, because her real home has an in-ground pool, horses to ride, acres of land and a Nancy Myers kitchen. I especially love her lived-in, pretty bedroom:

The London House

Like the girls’ respective wardrobes, Hallie’s is the one you can imagine possibly having in an alternate universe, but Annie’s is the unreachable goal.

[All house images are sourced from and link to a page on Hooked On Houses about the Parent Trap homes. Hooked On Houses has been a favorite of mine since I bought my house – I seriously cannot get enough.]

11 Things I Never Noticed About My Best Friend’s Wedding

“We’ve known each other for what, 20 years? That’s a long time.” Yes, Julianne. It is.

Does a big anniversary of major pop culture moments in your life ever make you think about your own mortality? No? Just me? CAN YOU BELIEVE IT’S BEEN 20 YEARS SINCE ICONIC ROMANTIC COMEDY MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING WAS RELEASED? I totally can. Because I am young and youthful and have so much life to look forward to.

I was 11 when this movie came out. Fifth grade was coming to a close and I was about to move on up to middle school. Helping me through that process was Julia Roberts and the cast of My Best Friend’s Wedding. I remember seeing Julia, Dermot Mulroney, Rupert Everett and Cameron Diaz on Rosie’s My Best Friend’s Wedding Day-themed show (as you’ll recall, Molly & I were both big Rosie nerds), and thought that they all looked like they were genuinely friends and there was singing in it, so obviously I would love it. I eventually watched it and fell in love. By the time I got the VHS tape, I played it on repeat. So much so that I’m surprised it still works. Yes, I still have a VHS player. Yes, it ate the tape when I tried to put it in. Yes, I spent 15 minutes trying to fix a VHS player in 2017.

This was just the beginning of my Julia Roberts phase. Next year we can talk about Notting Hill. Anyways, I loved this movie so much, but TBH it’s been years since I’ve seen the film in its entirety. Would it hold up watching as an adult? Would I find it as endearing? Would some jokes finally make sense to me? I got down to the bottom of all my questions and finally got my VHS player to work. Here’s what I learned about My Best Friend’s Wedding, two decades later.

The Foreshadowing

Honestly never realized that this opening sequence is basically what it looks like inside Jules’ brain. I guess I just thought it was a fun wedding-themed song???

You won’t get him Thinkin’ and a-prayin’ Wishin’ and hopin’…
Plannin’ and dreamin’ his kiss is the start
That won’t get you into his heart

So if you’re thinkin’ how great true love is All you gotta do is
Hold him and kiss him and squeeze him and love him
Yeah, just do it and after you do, you will be his

Marriage Goals Were Different in the ’90s

Julianne (Julia) is 28 (turning 28 in three weeks when the movie starts), which means she and Michael made the pact to marry each other if they’re still single when they’re 22. I don’t know about you, but when I was feeling 22, I wasn’t making any wedding pacts, and at 28, I sure as hell wasn’t wishin’ & hopin’ that I was engaged and heading down the aisle. But hey, that’s just me.

“Angelique broke her pelvis line dancing in Abeline during spring break.” Kimmy, who is still going on spring break.

Speaking of which, Kimmy (Cameron Diaz) is 20. She’s a junior at the University of Chicago. She orders an Amstel Light at the karaoke bar but isn’t even old enough to drink. She seemed so old and put together when I watched this as a burgeoning 6th grader. At 20, I was galavanting around Europe looking for the best place in Amsterdam to have weed. Get weed? Smoke weed. Actually, eat weed.

Gypsy Traded in Cars For Dresses

The movie came out a few years before Gilmore Girls even started, so it never occurred to me that Rose Abdoo was even in this movie! But now, it’s obvious that it’s her – could it be the similar accent? Possibly. Also, Mara Casey, Gilmore Girls casting director and sometimes actress, is also in the movie as “Karaoke Girl”!

Even More Before-They-Were Stars Cameos!

Paul Giamatti pre-Sideways plays Richard the Bellman at the hotel Julianne is staying at, and he provides some comfort to her as she thinks about what she’s done to hurt Michael. He does some excellent smoking work in this scene. Also, there are before-they-were-stars cameos from Rachel Griffiths and True Blood’s Carrie Preston, who played the gossipy and slutty cousins of Kimmy, Private Practice & Scandal star Paul Adelstein as an (uncredited) family member – sitting at the head of the table during the Say a Little Prayer scene, and Grimm’s Bree Turner was one of the gals in the opening title sequence of the “Wishing and Hoping” trio!

But Michael’s Like, Leading Her On

“You look really good. Without your clothes on.” Michael walks into Julianne’s dressing room while she’s half naked, and that’s what he says before he gives her a long once-over then moseyed out the door. And don’t even get me started on the romantic dance/serenade on a boat ride down the river. “You’ve sort of been the woman in my life.” “And you’ve been the man in mine.”

*Or maybe this is just his way of finally letting go of Jules? Let’s go with that. Why? Because…

But Also Like, Juliette is a Bitch

“It’s amazing the clarity that comes with psychotic jealousy.”

You know, because it’s Julia Roberts, and the movie is written in a way that we’re supposed to view the situation through her lens, and I never really stepped back from the whole picture and acknowledged that Julianne is being a bitch. I know, I know.

She sets up Kimmy at the karaoke bar, then practically shoves her in the cab to go home just so she and Michael can have some alone time. During that time, Jules casually asks if he’s marrying her just to get a high-power job at the conglomerate/White Sox organization Kimmy’s dad owns, and Michael was adamant that he isn’t.  Cut to: Jules convincing Kimmy that Michael hates his traveling sports reporter job and wants a job with her dad. Conniving plan begins.

What a crazy move to involve your best friend, his fiancee, his fiancee’s dad, and his boss in a giant ruse just to make him love you back. It’s cuckoo bananapants and I still can’t believe Michael forgave her so quickly.

Julianne ‘I’m completely out of sneaky ideas’ Potter successfully reunites Michael with Kimmy and they agree to get married after a 5-hour breakup, Jules thinks it’s the right time to tell her BFF that she loves him, and kisses him as Kimmy looks on. The music swells in a way that leads us to believe this is the couple we should be rooting for. Instead, this is exactly what we should not be.

“I’m the bad guy.” Yes, Jules. You are. I can’t believe I’ve been blind to that for 20 years. Yes I can. I was 11 when I watched this. Julia Roberts could do no wrong. Her playing a villain was never a possibility. But actresses are dynamic, Trace. As a 31 year old, I definitely believe it now.

Just How Good Rupert Everett Is

From the moment he arrives in Chicago and pretends to be Jules’ fiance, Rupert steals the show. The scene in cab where he’s all over Jules, in the church where he charms the family members, then of course, the whole I Say a Little Prayer scene and him meeting Jules in a mental insitution while he was visiting “Dionne Warwick”. I feel like he should’ve been given more credit for this role!

***Apparently he was nominated for a lot of things playing George, including a Golden Globe, BAFTA, and an MTV Movie Award nomination, so I guess that’s better than nothing.

HER E-MAILS THOUGH

LOL at the entire scene where Jules is compiling an email using Kimmy’s dad’s laptop. It’s so archaic-looking, but I guess it was 1997. I didn’t even get AOL until a few years later. It makes sense that only this successful businessman only has easy access to email.

And why is she typing in their whole names and occupations in the To: field? Why would she save a draft for “Michael to see later”?? It’s a v risky plan.  And why would Walter be sending Michael’s current boss an email basically telling him to fire him so he can work for his own company? V unprofesh. And how is it that Walter doesn’t find out?

Brunch Before The Wedding

I’ve never been married, but I have been to a number of them, and I know full well that a wedding is an all-day thing. The ladies have to get up at the ass-crack of dawn to start getting ready. And even if Michael and Kimmy are set for to tie the knot at 6pm, that does NOT mean they should hold an elaborate brunch the morning of the wedding. They went all out as if it was a mini-wedding before the wedding. The egregious amount of balloons! What even is that! And also, Michael and Kimmy are attempting to not see each other on their wedding day, but still planned this brunch for their families? No.

The Ice Sculpture of David

Never really got *why* this was so funny. Now I do.

Julia Roberts Wears a Wig

Imagine a world where this wasn’t the final scene of the movie. Because that could bet he AU we’d be living in. In the first pass, the last shot featured Jules met a new guy to potentially find love with – John Corbett of Sex and the City fame. But after producers screened it for the first time, viewers “hated” Jules by the end because they “couldn’t understand her motives”, according to director P.J. Hogan. So the writer and director went back to the drawing board and expanded George’s role as her Gay Best Friend to play more of her conscience throughout the movie.

As part of that expanded role, Rupert and Julia did reshoots eight months after they wrapped, including the final scene (in which Julia is wearing a wig because she has a pixie cut IRL) where George surprises her at the reception. It’s heartwarming, lovely, and makes you root for Jules again, knowing she’ll be ok with the other love of her life – George.

“Maybe there won’t be marriage. Maybe there won’t be sex. But my god, there will be dancing.”

.

.

.

Real Talk: Kimmy and Michael are divorced now, right?

Pop Culture Blind Spot: The Babadook

When The Babadook took its rightful but confusing place as a gay icon after Netflix included it in its list of LGBT films, I had a real dilemma. I hate horror movies, but I love when everyone on the internet is joking about the same thing. As usual, my love for internet won out. It’s time for me to learn about the Babadook, a scary basement demon recently outed by Netflix.

The Babadook opens with a mom, Amelia,  dreaming about a car accident and waking up to her creepy Australian child wanting to read his favorite book. Australian children are less creepy than British children in horror movies, more than American. Fight me on it. If you were a British child, you wouldn’t have to. You’d just say something fairly innocuous like “I’m awake, mummy” and I’d run screaming.

The entire house is decorated in shades of gray and midnight, like they interior decorated for the comfort and preferences of the ghost. Demon, monster, whatever.

demon chic

Samuel (creepy-but-not-British-creepy child) tells a random supermarket lady that his “dad’s in the cemetery. He got killed driving mum to the hospital to have me.” Gay means happy and this is NOT.

Sam stands on the tip-top of a swingset while being a Babadook, I guess. Still not clear on what a Babadook is. A small white dog scratches at a locked door, which I gather is where the Babadook lives. Is it a closet??? Is the Babadook in the closet? I’m trying.

and dorothy. of you and me and dorothy.

Maybe everything is gray and colorless so it can become rainbow when the Babadook comes?? Kind of like The Wizard Of Oz… starring gay icon Judy Garland?? I’m reaching.

It turns out the Babadook is a terrifying pop-up book Sam has. For the record, they say Babadook to rhyme more with “look” than “Luke.” PLOT TWIST: the terrifying pop-up, which ends with the words “you’re going to wish you were dead,” ends up looking like a generic colorful children’s book when they pull back, and Amelia is reading a different story entirely. Amelia hides the book (rhymes with Babadook!) above her wardrobe.

Amelia watches black and white tv because that’s her aesthetic.

Sam throws firecrackers in anger.

Amelia: Where’d you get those firecrackers?

Sam: You got them for me on the internet.

Amelia: That’s the end of the internet.

Why did I love that exchange so much?

Samuel loves to play in a sequin cape,  a nod to Liberacci??

NOPE

Sam, or a Babadook, hung up an empty men’s suit on the wall and it’s very spooky. Also I KNOW that a hanging suit is, or should be, empty but that’s really the only way to describe it:

There’s glass in Amelia’s soup or thickened boiled milk that she’s eating. Sam said the Babadook did it. Maybe the real Babadook is SAM.

Sam watches an unsettling magic DVD. How does Sam keep getting these age-inappropriate forms of media? Don’t say the internet. Amelia swore off of Amazon.

Amelia goes upstairs to find the photo of her and Sam’s dad all scribbled out. Scribbled out like … bi erasure??? Guys I am so sorry but nothing’s gay yet.

At Sam’s friend Ruby’s birthday party, all of the moms wear black to look creepier for the Babadook.

In another feat of color coordination, the girl party guests wear pale pink with black accents. The party decorations are maroon, every child’s favorite color. There’s a clown because this is a horror movie, why not.

Amelia’s friend Claire doesn’t like going to Amelia’s house because it’s depressing, possibly because every surface from floor to ceiling, including the stairs and Sam’s bedroom, seems to be covered in black chalkboard paint. I really hope there’s a big reveal at the end at it was colorful all along.

Ruby taunts Sam for not having a dad. Maybe the real Babadook is CHILDREN’S CAPACITY FOR CRUELTY. Sam pushes Ruby out of a tree house which was still very unwarranted. Sam then appears to seize in the car, which makes me wonder why Sam hasn’t had a neurological and psych eval yet??

Amelia gets a new pop-up book… is something that should be a caption on a mommy blogger’s instagram, but which is actually a scene where Amelia gets a new gift from the Babadook about how the Babadook will take her over.

AHHHH. The Babadook calls Amelia on her land line and says “Babadook…dook…dook” in a croaky demon voice.

Let’s talk about acting. Essie Davis is fantastic as Amelia, who half thinks her child is losing it and half thinks she is. She’s extra fantastic in the scene where she goes to the police to report a children’s book. You can see her genuine belief that she’s correct right alongside her realization that what she’s saying sounds ridiculous. Noah Wisemen is also marvelous as Sam and he really does seem like an actual child, not a spooky horror movie child cliche. Also, this was Jennifer Kent’s directorial debut and it’s absolutely beautiful — not too scary, despite my protests against horror movies, but really thoughtful and nicely styled.

Amelia finds a hole in her kitchen wall. Beetles crawl out. She has made references to being poor but she has an expensive-looking vintage replica fridge so that doesn’t quite check out.

The Australian child Sam watches on TV sounds so much more Australian than Sam.

SHIIIIIT. The Babadook sneaks into Amelia’s bedroom by way of creaky door and croaks “Babadook…dook…dook” again. He kind of stop-motions around on the ceiling for a bit. Amelia has an outfit, complete with hat, on a mannequin in her bedroom. What is WITH this family? Anyway, it was a “dream” but surely it wasn’t really.

In keeping with her aesthetic, Amelia watches a black-and-white silent film that looks kind of like A Trip To The Moon, except with Babadooks all up in it.

this is why i don’t have cable

Amelia shouts at Sam to “eat shit,” but I’m certain that’s just the Babadook or the mean older brother in a John Hughes movie talking.

Amelia: 1. crashes a car because the Babadook was Babadook-dook-dooking her; 2. takes a bath fully clothed; 3. attempts to nap while cuddling a violin; 4. tromps around her house with a butcher knife; 5. forces Sam to take pills; 6. watches aesthetically-consistent black and white cartoons.

The dog won’t hang with Amelia, which is how we can be sure she’s harboring the Babadook.

SPOOOOKY. Amelia watches a news report about a woman who stabbed her 7-year-old to death; cut to Amelia in the news report looking out her window with an eerie frozen smile. NOPE NOPE NOPE. This is neither about the Babadook or the Gay Babadook, but when I was little my brother used to open my bedroom door and stare with an eerie frozen smile while singing that circus song, which was some clever sibling bullying. It’s a tattle-proof trick. “Mom, Matt’s smiling and singing!”

Amelia’s dead husband is in the basement. He’s surely a Babadook. He says “bring me the boy” in increasingly Babadookish tones.

Amelia kills the small white dog 😦  Then she Babadook-floats at Sam, who says she isn’t his mother and throws a firecracker and some darts at her.

The kind, elderly neighbor comes over and says that she knows this time of year is hard for Amelia. Maybe the real Babadook is HOW SAD SHE IS.

Sam brings a knife down on his mother with the most unsettling confused grimace/smile.

After some stuff, Amelia voms a black tar-like substance so who knows, maybe the real Babadook is an intestinal bleed and a bowel obstruction.

Amelia relives her husband’s gory death, and tells the Babadook that he’s nothing and not welcome in her house. The Babadook goes back to the basement. The real Babadook is grief and PTSD, just like I’ve been saying this entire time.

Almost right away, Amelia’s hair is MUCH fluffier, and a birthday banner is hung in the living room. They speak freely about Sam’s dad. Ruby was Sam’s… cousin? Which I did not realize. They feed the Babadook worms in the basement, because they somehow learned that he eats worms. The Babadook, which is grief, will always exist in their lives but that doesn’t mean it’s always invited to the party.

Sam does a worryingly good magic trick.

Fine.

Okay, so I still don’t know why the Babadook is gay but he doesn’t owe me an explanation. The Babadook is more than just gay, he’s also a basement grief-demon who eats worms and hangs suits up. I hope he has fun at all the parades and parties!

 

 

What I Think Happens in The Fast & The Furious Franchise (I Haven’t Watched It)

WHO IS EXCITED ABOUT FATE OF THE FURIOUS COMING OUT TOMORROW???

*lowers hand* Not me. Not sorry, Vin Diesel, but I will not be lining up to watch the eighth installment of your very popular film franchise when it is released in theaters. Don’t take it personally. I’m not one for action movies about cars, so I’m not your target demo. I’m sure you’ll be fine without my $15. In fact, the FF franchise has received none of my dollars since it first came out in 2001 – I have not seen one single Diesel movie that has the words “Fast” or “Furious” in it. And yes, I have decided to live with that burden for the rest of my life.

In following line with Molly’s previous What I Think Happens In Game of Thrones (I Don’t Watch It) post, my version is strictly on The Fast and The Furious – except think of it as the complete opposite of our Pop Culture Blind Spot series – because I don’t think I’ll ever sit down to watch these movies ever. So instead, I’m sharing what I think happens in the FF franchise, because that’s way more entertaining to me than any of the movies will be.

The Fast and The Furious (2001)

  • The movie is set in Los Angeles, judging by this picture alone. Because this is where all the fast and furious drivers live. That last bit’s a fact.
  • I forgot how long ago this was released – I was a mere 15 years old, circling everything in the dELiA*s catalog, and apparently Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster did too.
  • The dude with the tatted arm and wife beater is the villain. And other dude in the back with the arm tattoo and wife beater is his villain friend.
  • Michelle and Vin are romantically involved but she’s had a tough life and doesn’t let people in that easily.
  • Paul Walker (RIP) is the hunky hearthrob who gets all the girls.
  • Squad gets into a face-off with a local gang who own the streets of LA
  • Vin and Paul are friends but enemies on the street when it comes to drag racing (is this movie even about drag racing?)

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

  • Tyrese joins the mix and takes Vin’s place…? Is he in this movie? If so why is he not in this picture?
  • Eva Mendes and Cris “Ludacris” Bridges are also newbies to the FF world, and Eva plays Paul Walker’s (RIP) new gal pal while Luda is his longtime friend from his hometown of Tampa, Florida. (but really, where are Vin, Michelle and Jordana? I had no idea they weren’t in this movie)
  • The drag racing continues, this time in Florida, because Paul Walker (RIP) moved back home

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

  • Luda convinces Paul Walker (RIP) to go on vacation in Tokyo, because they’ve both been working too hard (as drag race pros) and are both single and ready to mingle.
  • Once they get to Tokyo, local drivers notice Paul and Luda are in town and convince them to race in Japan’s biggest underground competition, despite the fact they promised each other the trip wouldn’t involve cars at all.
  • There’s a fun scene where Luda and Paul get drunk while out on the town and meeting ladies in sushi bars (set to the tune of Nelly Furtado’s Promiscuous Girl)
  • Vin, Michelle and Jordana are off laying low in some remote island in Micronesia, because they were caught running a chop shop (like the Riggins bros in FNL), so they fled the country. They continue to not be in the franchise.
  • The drag racing continues, this time with more Asian cars

Fast & Furious (2009)

  • Fast & Furious is the real sequel to The Fast and the Furious, because Vin, Michelle and Jordana all come back and they brought an ampersand with them
  • The charges they were running away from were dropped after miscellaneous extra took the fall for them, so they’re all back in LA and being all fast & furious with their driving
  • The drag racing continues, this time with the four leads in one car

Fast Five (2011)

  • The gang travels down to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in an attempt to get back the cars that were stolen from them in the last movie
  • Paul Walker (RIP) invites his friend Dwayne Johnson to join them as extra backup, since rumors surfaced that the dudes who took the cars were also embroiled in some drug cartel business
  • The drag racing continues, this time with Dwayne Johnson literally just throwing cars all over the place and he somehow wins

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

  • The gang travels to London, where Paul Walker (RIP) moved because he fell in love with some British chippie. Jordana Brewster wants to get him back and her brother (I knew this!) doesn’t want her going alone so he tags along for the ride. Slash he misses Paul.
  • Dwayne Johnson is probably like an ex-SWAT team member who just can’t let go of his past and continues to wear all the gear, despite the fact it’s totally unnecessary.
  • Of course they all get involved in local street racing, and the villains are rogue MI6 agents
  • The drag racing continues, this time on the other side of the road

Furious 7 (2015)

  • Everyone gathers back in Los Angeles where they face a similar problem in the first film, in that they’re yet again running the streets against a local yet powerful gang
  • Dwayne ditches the SWAT gear for a simple American Apparel black tee. He’s more comfortable in the LA heat now
  • Paul Walker (RIP) decides for good to leave drag racing, because he and Jordana Brewster have a child and he wants to give her a life free of danger that she deserves. He walks off into the sunset while See You Again crescendos in the background.
  • The drag racing continues, this time in honor of Paul Walker (RIP)

Movies That Will Help Restore Your Faith In Humanity Again

So the state of the world is kind of a real big bummer right now, huh?

Missiles are being shot left and right, the plots of Homeland and Scandal are becoming more like non-fiction with every passing day, and Kendall Jenner somehow thought she could save society with one can of Pepsi. If you’ve been feeling downtrodden over the past few days (weeks/months), use this weekend to regroup and remind yourself that there are still good people in the world. There is most certainly humanity left – but we just have to remember where to find it.

Here are some movies to make you feel better about the world, or at least escape from reality for a few hours.

Amélie

Maybe it’s because it takes place in Paris. Maybe it’s because the dreamy color scheme. Maybe it’s because it’s all in French and you have to really pay attention to the subtitles. But watching Amelie is being awake in an amazing dream for 2 and a half hours. The charming Amelie, played by the even more charming Audrey Tautou, secretly helps people who are living not-so-happy lives. As a result of her do-gooding, she is ultimately rewarded with love of her own, and it reminds us a little kindness can go a long way.

Up

Excluding what’s arguably the saddest ever Pixar opening scene ever, Up is actually one of the most UPlifting animated movies ever. Anytime an elderly person befriends a young nugget, it really gets to me. Carl and Russell are generations apart, but a once-in-a-lifetime adventure changes their lives forever, and teaches us that we can always learn new life lessons, no matter how young or old we are.

Little Miss Sunshine

For months now, it feels like America has been split into two sides, with very different views on how to make the country “great”. That divide isn’t just between strangers, co-workers, and neighbors, in a lot of cases, party lines are drawn within families, and it’s often hard to reconcile that these are the people you share a bloodline with. In Little Miss Sunshine, we are taken into the world of a gay and self-harming uncle, a silent son, a drug-addicted grandpa, a failed dad, and and impulsive mother, who all rally around the youngest daughter who has dreams of winning a beauty contest. They don’t get along all the time and fight constantly, but at the end of the day, they’re all still family who may not necessarily win, but it’s the fact that they do it together that counts.

Hidden Figures

When the impossible seemed just that, these ladies made it possible. These real life women were literal geniuses who shaped the history of America and astroscience (is that a thing) as a whole, and have been greatly underappreciated for years. But they persevered through racism and misogyny to become some of the greatest scientists/mathematicians the world has ever seen. Basically any story that centers on overcoming adversity should give you hope that things will always get better.

The Shawshank Redemption

It wasn’t until recently that I watched Shawshank for the very first time, and let me tell you – it lives up to the hype. Tim Robbins plays a decent man who is falsely charged with murder, and while in prison, he befriends Morgan Freeman’s character Red, and they form a lifelong (and tender) friendship spanning years. The movie not only makes us realize that we have more in common with each other than we think, but that you should always have hope, even in situations when hope seems unattainable.

A Walk To Remember to Remember

I’ll always remember it was late afternoon… when I went to Greece Ridge Cinemas as a 15 year old and saw A Walk to Remember and unexpectedly cried because ~*tRu LoVe*~.

On January 25th, 2002, “Candy” and “I Wanna Be With You” hitmaker Mandy Moore hit the big screen for her first starring role in a movie, alongside Once and Again star Shane West. Based on the 1999 novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks, the story centered on bad boy Landon Carter, who unexpectedly falls in love with good Christian girl Jamie Sullivan (even though she tells him not to). It’s a love story for the ages with one big twist and for most people, it was just another teen movie. For older millennials, it was one of the movies that defined our generation.

For me, A Walk to Remember holds a special place in my heart for different reasons, with different memories connected to each one. In addition to the VHS tape I played over and over again (and currently have in my room JIC I need a Landon/Jamie fix), I was equally obsessed with the soundtrack. For my 16th birthday, my friend gave me the soundtrack (along with a set of fake play keys because I could drive and lololol) and as soon as I popped that baby in my boombox, it was spinning constantly.

While music did play a big part in the film (ONLY HOPE THO), I always felt like the soundtrack didn’t receive the attention it properly deserved. So what better way to celebrate A Walk to Remember than by stepping back in time This Is Us style and revisiting the tracks that formed our formative years.

Dare You to Move by Switchfoot

Some songs are just meant to be featured in movies with characters driving a long distance and thinking about their lives. In this case, it’s Switchfoot’s Dare You to Move falls under that category. It’s the perfect blend of stirring instrumentals and contemplative lyrics that make it a great fit for the movie and an even better fit as the first song on the soundtrack.

Cry by Mandy Moore

Only Hope aside, Cry was the most well known song off this album. Partly because it was sung by Queen Mandy, but also because it was also a single from her self-titled album that came out the year prior. Of course the irony is that we were all left crying in the theater after watching this movie, but I find it much more entertaining to take in the magic that is this music video to promote the film.

Someday We’ll Know by Mandy Moore and Jonathan Foreman

I was obsessed with the New Radicals original version of this song when it came out in 1999, and when I thought I couldn’t even love it even more, Mandy and Jon Foreman, lead singer of Switchfoot did just that. By having the two of them cover the song specifically for the movie, it took on a whole new meaning and reflected the love story between Jamie and Landon, pivoting from the New Radicals’ version of lost love and regret.

Dancin’ in the Moonlight by Toploader

15 year old me had no idea this song was a cover of a King Harvest track from 1972, but I guess A Walk to Remember was there to educate the people. Either way, it was a nice lighthearted song that conveyed the easiness to Jamie and Landon’s relationship, despite the fact the odds were against them. Also I’d like to think it was a preview into Mandy’s most ICONIC album, Coverage (which I wrote about for a past Mandy Moore Monday post).

Learning to Breathe by Switchfoot

Fun fact: Switchfoot was initially signed to a Christian label, and throughout their tenure as a band, they’ve had a weird relationship with being labelled a “Christian band”. However, this song, and the album of the same name, proved to be very sucessful for them in 2001, when it was nominated for a Best Rock Gospel Album Grammy.

Only Hope by Mandy Moore

I.CON.IC. ICONIC.

It’s Gonna Be Love by Mandy Moore

I really like this song, but it always threw me off when it started playing during a tender moment between Landon and Jamie when he’s putting the temp tattoo on her and softly blowing her skin. Cue Mandy Moore singing on the radio while Mandy Moore as Jamie Sullivan reacts in awe/shock/love when she feels the feels.

You by Switchfoot

Switchfoot probably got the most exposure during the Walk to Remember era, but they’ve always been one of those bands that is just always… around. It’s because their music is fine – it’s not bad, it’s not great, it’s not mainstream pop being played on the radio 24/7. Example: this song.

If You Believe by Rachael Lampa

Now that I’m thinking about it – were the producers of this film purposefully choosing Christian music artists for the soundtrack because Jamie and her Reverend father were too? Or does Rachel Lampa just have a really good PR team?

No One by Cold

This is the song I always skip.

So What Does It All Mean? by West, Gould, & Fitzgerald

This track is more in line with Landon’s squad of horrible people, but also, could have been on the Empire Records soundtrack too?

Mother, We Just Can’t Get Enough by New Radicals

New Radicals didn’t get to sing their own song, so instead, they featured on their own track. Good enough.

Only Hope by Switchfoot

You’re a certain type of person that says they prefer this version over Mandy Moore’s version of Only Hope. I’m not saying it’s bad, I’m just saying it’s a choice.

This Should’ve Won An Oscar: Rewatching Matilda

We’d never dream of doing an entire Matilda Week without rewatching the movie. Dare I say, this week was one part celebration of one of our favorite books and movies, one part commemoration of Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday, and one part excuse to watch Matilda again. Like us, the movie has aged very well and is a constant delight. Here were some of our thoughts as we watched it:

This Should’ve Won An Oscar

In general, I think the cinematography is A+. Every scene can be taken as a still shot and look like a piece of art. Danny uses a lot of overhead shots and creative angles when need be, and I appreciate that when Matilda’s younger, there are a lot of camera shots taken from her point of view

I Forgot About 90s Film Quality

Maybe my DVD isn’t ~digitally remastered but I’m shocked by how dull and fuzzy this is.

Truly, Truly Iconic Scene

A+++ Casting On Young Matilda

During our last blog meeting we went on a search for the younger versions of Matilda. Here is Caitlin Fein (one of the toddler Matildas) now:

And here is Mara Wilson now:

Good work, C.S.A.

#RIPMrsPhelpsTheLibrarian

Do you guys ever watch movies from the 90s and see an old person and think, ‘He/she is probs dead.’ Then feel really sad because it’s true? (This actress died in 2000).

Likewise, anyone who was a small child is now an adult. Obviously we know that Mara Wilson has always been roughly our age, but baby Matilda? You saw how old she is.

Harry Wormwood Is The Worst

“Listen, you little wiseacre: I’m smart, you’re dumb; I’m big, you’re little; I’m right, you’re wrong, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Harry Wormwood, the worst

Dark Matilda

You know, if this movie was cut differently, it could easily be a prequel to The Orphan or basically any horror movie which features a little girl as the demon. OH LOOK SOMEONE’S DONE THAT ALREADY. LIKE, MULTIPLE TIMES.

Plus, taking the magical powers out of it, even if you’re the loveliest teacher ever you don’t just get to KEEP THE KID THAT YOU LIKE. This movie definitely demands a dark recut.

Also Lissy Doll is a dead ringer for Matilda which is very Are You Afraid Of The Dark, if you ask me.

Michael Wormwood Is Dudley Dursely

And Matilda’s parents are Vernon and Petunia. Miss Honey is Dumbledore, but also Hagrid and Sirius.

Matilda is probably a Gryffindor but you can make an argument for Ravenclaw. Lavender is a Hufflepuff. I think Miss Honey has some Hufflepuff traits but she’s mainly brave, so Gryffindor.

Do We Think It’s Weird That This Is Set In The USA?

Roald Dahl is such a beloved British treasure that it feels kind of odd that this is set in the USA. I’m not exactly complaining because this movie is so perfect that I wouldn’t wish away any of it. I bet if this movie were made today there would be a big outcry about exporting it to the US and it would have been set in the UK instead.

To translate Crunchem School to the US system they had to create this weird public school that’s sort of like a bizarre private school. It all contributes to the storybook quality of the movie, so it’s fine.

Romper Room

I know what rompers are in modern fashion parlance but I always imagine those baggy calico overalls that Pigtail Amanda wears.

“You Chose Books, I Chose Looks”

Mrs. Wormwood’s taunt reminds me of something a snotty girl would have said in second grade. Also joke’s on her, Miss Honey is a fox and everybody knows it.

Cake By The Pound

“It’s hard for me to remember a specific cake.” Bruce Bogtrotter spittin the truth

I continue to think that chocolate cake looks like the best chocolate cake ever made (apparently the actor who played Bruce didn’t really like cake much, and Danny had his baker friend create a Magnolia Bakery-esque cake for the scene).

“I can’t look, is he going to puke?” – little Lavender’s delivery of this line is one of the best things in the whole movie, and that’s saying something.

Truncuhbull’s Not Wrong

Mrs. D. Mrs. I.
Mrs. F. F. I.
Mrs. C. Mrs. U.
Mrs. L. T. Y.

…why are all these women married?

This Score Is Perfect

Whether it’s the suspenseful music when they’re in Truncuhbull’s (ahem.. rightfully Miss Honey’s) House or the jaunty tune when Bruce is gorging on cake, this is a masterpiece and we’re retroactively annoyed about the missing Oscar. Did you ever notice that 90s kids’ movies, like Matilda, Home Alone, and The Parent Trap, had phenomenal scores, like filmmakers realized children could appreciate good things?

By the way, if you loved a movie in the 90s there’s an excellent chance David Newman was responsible for the score.

The 1972 Olympics

Trunchbull competed in the 1972 Olympics. This film was released in 1996. Ergo, the 2016 equivalent would be a principal who competed in the 1992 Olympics, which I can sort-of remember. Woof.

By the by, Trunchbull’s build is sort of a take on those poor East German athletes who were forced to take a lot of hormones, I think.

PeeWee Herman

… is in this??? I’m honestly not even including this as a thing you probably don’t know about Matilda. I’m just shocked I never noticed this.

Danny DeVito Is A Prince

You know the too-cute scene where Matilda dances around to Little Bitty Pretty One making objects move? In the behind the scenes footage, DeVito explains that Mara was a little nervous about doing that scene. He said “you know why? Because you’re the only one dancing” and made everyone on set – down to craft services – dance. I did some acting as a kid and a lot of adults just didn’t understand how kids think, but it seems like DeVito GOT IT and created a set that was every bit as magical as the movie.

I Don’t Think You’re Ready…

“Absolutely not, Molly” – My mother, Aisle 12 of Wegmans, 1995.

The Wormwoods have that peanut butter and jelly that is all swirled together in one jar and seriously they WOULD.

I Have Another Oscar Complaint

I want there to be a category for extras and bit players and I want it retroactively awarded to the children in Matilda’s class during the Trunchbull revenge scene.

We don’t need to talk about the special effects during that scene. They were doing their best.

Send Me On My Way

The closing scene is so perfect there’s nothing to say about it, so we’re just going to send you on your way.

Baseball Movies, A Late 80s/Early 90s Micro-Trend Remembered

Baseball and film go together like, well, peanuts and cracker jacks. The oldest baseball comedy I could track down, Baseball Madness, was released in 1917, so the genre is almost 100 years old. As recently as 2014, Million Dollar Arm and 42 proved that the baseball film isn’t going anywhere. Still, I’d argue that the baseball movie was especially hot during the late 80s and early 90s. Some of these films recycled plot points and key scenes, but they’re still the best way to begin the most wonderful time of the year: MLB season.

Bull Durham

Year: 1998

Catch Phrase: This speech that I hate:

(I forgot how much I hated this speech but I do. I hate it.)

Key points: One of the only baseball rom-coms on this list (or in film, to be honest). Kevin Costner (Crash) mentors pitcher Tim Robbins (Nuke). Susan Sarandon (Annie) loves them both. Basically Annie and Crash both “coach” Nuke and in the process they form this weird enmeshed relationship. Who will she choose? (Spoiler: Crash, after Nuke makes it to the majors.) Also this is where I learned that baseball groupies exist.

Fun facts:

  • Sports Illustrated has named Bull Durham the best sports movie ever made.
  • Writer/director Ron Shelton was a minor leaguer himself, playing for the Rochester Red Wings (incidentally, our hometown team).
  •  Susan Sarandon, at 41, was thought to be too old to play the love interest of Tim Robbins (29) and Kevin Costner (32).
  • Sarandon and Robbins, who were together for over 20 years, met during filming.
  • The wedding extras came from a nearby Pink Floyd concert.

Is Costner In It: Yes

Field Of Dreamszone27s-5-web

Year: 1989

Catch Phrase:

Key points: Kevin Costner again plays a baseball guy (Ray Kinsella) with a significant other named Annie (Amy Madigan). His dead father shows up and tells him to plow a baseball diamond into his cornfield, which he and his wife both think is a reasonable request. Then all these basbeball ghosts from 1919 keep showing up, which again leaves everybody more or less nonplussed. Okay, then it’s time for a road trip, and Ray meets an author and they see ghost stats from the 1920s on a Fenway scoreboard. Spooooky. Except not, because again, nobody is really disturbed by any of this. Right. Well, they meet more baseball ghosts, and then they go back to the farm, and Ray’s dead father comes to play catch. Ray’s daughter Karin chokes on a hotdog, because this is baseball, and a baseball ghost named Moonlight saves her, then walks off into the corn. They all play baseball and people come to the games. This summary has been provided by me watching this movie on cable a lot when I was under the age of 8, and then not seeing it for the past two decades.

Fun facts:

Gaby Hoffman (Now and Then and – more recently – Transparent, Girls and Obvious Child) plays little Karin.

It sounds made up but it isn’t: a young Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were extras at Fenway.

James Stewart was offered the role of Moonlight Graham.

A lot of the baseball ghosts were from the 1919 Black Sox scandal.

Is Costner In It: Yes

Major League

Year: 1989

Catch Phrase:

Key points: A showgirl inherits the Cleveland Indians, and tries to trigger an escape clause to move the team to Miami. To do that she needs low attendance, so she hires a ragtag team of really old or really bad baseball players. I think if you’ve ever seen a movie you know where this is going: they pull it together and win. Plus, they beat the Yankees, which as a Mets/ Red Sox blog we really enjoyed.

Fun facts:

  • Charlie Sheen (Ricky Vaughn) almost landed a role in another late 80s/early 90s baseball movie: Bull Durham.
  • Sheen took steroids to prep for the role, even though by now we all realize he isn’t really a person who needed to get hyped up by ‘roid rage.
  • In the original ending, showgirl owner Rachel Phelps actually never planned to move the team to Miami, she just wanted to give the team some motivation. But why did she field such an (on paper) terrible team, then?
  • Pete Vuckovich (Clu) was a real MLB player, and when told to say something to the catcher that a real ball player would say, he asked “how’s your wife and kids.” The sport of gentlemen, my friends.

Is Costner In It: No

A League Of Their Ownleage-own

Year: 1992

Catch Phrase:

Key points: During WWII, with baseball-aged men fighting the war oversees, the All-American Girls League is formed. Among the players: sisters Kit and Dottie, dancer Mae, Southern Belle Ellen Sue, and poor frumpy Marla Hooch. Manager Jimmy Dugan is a total jerk and he’s really mean, but the players are all fantastic and Jimmy can STFU. Kit and Dottie have a Venus and Serena-style sibling faceoff. Then it’s 1988 and the players are all old ladies, and they sing their baseball song, and I cry every single time.

Fun facts:

  • If you think this isn’t one of the best sports movies ever, you’re wrong.
  • If a group of elderly ladies reunited to reminisce about the baseball team of their youth today, they’d be looking back at 1976 (which, by my estimates, means that the “old ladies” at the hall of fame actually aren’t really old; this just came out when I was really young).
  • The director’s cut is four hours long and I want it.
  • The actresses attended baseball training camp before filming. Madonna was not great.
  • Truth > fiction and the real players in the AAGPL were pretty much amazing.

The Sandlotthe-sandlot-moviejpg-e0cddbb30033fc8a

Year: 1993

Catch Phrase: So many! Just a few:

  • You’re killin’ me, Smalls.
  • For-ev-er.
  • Remember kid, there’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered but legends never die, follow your heart kid, and you’ll never go wrong.

Key points: If you grew up in the 90s, there’s an excellent chance you watched this dozens of times and still know when to turn away during the carnival scene. It’s a classic “gravelly voiced adult man narrates his nostalgic, sun-tinged childhood” story. Scotty Smalls moves to a new town and starts playing pickup baseball with the neighborhood kids. The sandlot where they play backs up to an old man’s house, which is guarded by a ferocious dog (the beast), so every time they hit a ball over it’s gone forever. Smalls hits his stepfather’s Babe Ruth ball over the fence, so he has to face up to The Beast. In the process he meets Mr. Myrtle, a Negro League player who gives Smalls a ball signed by all of the Yankees as a replacement.

Fun facts:

  • If The Sandlot came out today, the carefree, old-fashioned childhood would have taken place in roughly 1986. Gulp.
  • It was only 56 degrees the day they shot the Wendy Pfeffercorn pool scene.
  • The Beast was a puppet (some of the time, anyway).
  • The Sandlot’s birthday is this week, and Where Are They Nows are popping up all over the place.

Is Costner In It: No

Rookie Of The Year101215rookieoftheyear

Year: 1993

Catch Phrase: The three Rs:

Key points: Henry, a little boy, breaks his arm and it is reset in such a way that he becomes a baseball phenom. He is recruited to the Chicago Cubs. Henry’s mom has a garbage boyfriend who tries to trade Henry to the Yankees, but it doesn’t pan out. Then Henry loses his magical broken arm pitch, and it’s back to Little League – but the Cubs did the World Series thanks to him.

Fun facts:

  • Thomas Ian Nicholas (Henry) has a Cubs jersey with his character’s name on it, which he recently wore to a Cubs game, which is adorable.
  • The official MLB minimum signing age: 16.

Is Costner In It: No

Angels In The Outfield39f87a27-1e5a-476a-ba0d-dc5cc3544862

Year: 1994

Catch Phrase:

Key points: It’s really hard to tell this, Rookie of the Year, and Little Big League apart if you haven’t seen them for 20 years. But this one stars baby Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Roger, a foster kid whose dad tells him they’ll be a family again “when the Angels win the pennant.” So Roger starts praying about it, and THEN Roger and his boy J.P. watch a game and see… well, it’s in the title. They see angels. In the outfield. Roger becomes a kind of good luck charm/consultant since he knows what the angels want. The Angels make it to the championship but I guess angels aren’t allowed in the, ahem, outfield during the postseason, so they have to win it on their own. Which they do. Then Roger and his boy JP get adopted by  the team manager, George, who unlike Roger’s dad isn’t the worst.

Fun facts:

  • Received the college humor treatment, parodying sports doc series 30 for 30:

  • All-star cast: in addition to JGL, the film featured Matthew McConaughey, Adrien Brody, Tony Danza, Danny Glover, Christopher Lloyd and Dermot Mulroney.
  • Angels In The Outfield was a remake of a 1951 film of the same name.

Little Big League

Year: 1994

Catch Phrase: I feel like there weren’t any?

Key points: Rounding out the 1993-1994 “baseball would be even greater if run by little boys” series, Little Big League is about a boy named Billy who has a single mom (so many single moms in baseball movies?). Billy’s grandpa dies and Billy inherits the Minnesota Twins. So Billy has some run-ins with the grownups in the franchise who are just trying to do their jobs, and names himself manager, since he’s a 12 year old white boy (aka the living, breathing heart and soul of baseball according to early 90s films). As it turns out, little boys are bad at running baseball teams so Billy steps down after ruining things. But he’s one of those people who can ruin things and still be totally beloved, like Tim Riggins.

Fun facts:

  • IRL, owners can’t also manage their teams.
  • The early 90s baseball movie boom means there was an early 2010s “where are the people in those early 90s baseball movies now” boom, and Little Big League wasn’t left out.

Pop Culture Blind Spots: The Quiet Man

Just last week I wrote this post about things Irish-Americans will understand, but the truth is I’ve been missing a big part of the typical experience. Friends, I’ve never seen The Quiet Man. Pop Culture Blind Spots are all about getting acquainted with the classics and cult favorites that we’ve somehow missed out on, and it doesn’t get much more classic than John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. It’s still Irish-American Heritage Month, and this pop culture blind spot is FULL of Ireland, America (John Wayne, hello!) and a healthy heaping of heritage.

  • What I know about The Quiet Man: John Wayne is an American (I hope, because he’s not great with accents) who goes to Ireland and falls in love with Maureen O’Hara before dragging her across a meadow on Christmas. Maybe he’s trying to be a cowboy in Ireland? Maybe Ireland doesn’t need cowboys. But maybe Maureen O’Hara needs a cowboy.

Based on this poster: a lot’s going on.

  • Also, I’ve been present when The Quiet Man was on – my dad has it on TV at some point every Christmas – but I’ve never actually watched it.
  • Huge props to whomever first put credits AFTER the movie instead of before. Like most old movies, this one begins with a solid few minutes of people’s names.
  • They segregate Irish cast members under a heading The Irish Players and for some reason that cracks me up.
  • John Wayne meets a priest whose whole purpose is to give exposition about him and his parents.
  • Okay, so Sean (John Wayne) was born in Ireland, and now is returning, but he was in America long enough to sound like John Wayne, the voice that comes out of the eagle on a $1 bill.
  • Wow, Ireland has a normal amount of trees. Background: I have relatives who maintain that “the English” cut all the trees down in Ireland and that’s why there … aren’t trees there? First of all, sounds fake. Second of all, if Ireland had a climate where trees grow, wouldn’t trees eventually come back? According to the cinematography of The Quiet Man, yes.
  • No lie, this is filmed in BEAUTIFUL technicolor.
  • This lush countryside with the sheep, collie, and Maureen O’Hara in it is 100% how Americans stereotype Ireland. Just need a thatched cottage (forthcoming, I’m assuming) and a leprechaun (probably not) or family with many children (maybe).

  • Thatched roofs appear by the 10-minute mark, don’t worry.
  • Maureen O’Hara has my natural hair type, and I’d really like those poofy 40s hairdos to come back.

Lit’rally my stupid hair.

  • Speaking of 1940s hairdos, when is this set? Is it mid-century, or is it, like, 1880? So far the modes of transportation are bicycle, horse, and train, so that doesn’t help. I got up to let my dog in during the first minute of the movie so this may have been addressed already. Widow Tillane is showing kind of a lot of ankle if it’s set in olden days, no offense.
  • Wow, everyone sure is wrapped in a lot of tweed in this movie.
  • Mr. Danaher (Victor McLaglen) tries to have an Irish accent some of the time (not all of the time).
  • Mary Kate (Maureen O’Hara) and the other Danahers live in a spacious cottage with a hutch full of fancy china, so at least they aren’t going for the thing where everyone in Ireland is poor.
  • Is this a drinking game? Cool, drink for family with many kids (Mary Kate has an indeterminate number of brothers, unless they’re just house guests).
  • Unrelated: a teen walking a pit bull just let it poop in my front lawn then walked away. SO RUDE, wow. I was going to go bang on my window but I was afraid of spite poop from now til eternity.
  • Drink for people singing folk songs in a pub.
  • I like how there’s a stock character of Old Ethnic White Man With Long Beard who looks completely the same for every ethnicity. Whether you’re Russian, Irish, German or French, eventually you’ll look like this guy:

Far left.

  • Drink again for people singing folk songs in a pub.
  • I don’t know when the title is going to make sense, but as of a half hour in, John Wayne talks a normal amount at a regular volume.
  • OK, I’ll bite. I’ve heard in/een added to girl names before to make it a nickname, but never guy names. Michaeleen, Seanin… I guess it’s a thing! That’s fun.

Sean: So you can talk.

Mary Kate: Yes I can, I will, and I do.

…Maybe he’s only quiet compared to her then.

  • Now Sean and Mary Kate are in love because they looked at each other at mass, which reminds me, I’ve been meaning to go to mass more.
  • A (Protestant) Reverend and his wife visit Sean. They’re mostly made of tweed.
  • Over 60 years later, The Quiet Man still looks like a product of Ireland’s travel bureau.
  • My favorite thing about Mary Kate is she’s always wearing a blanket cape like me in the winter watching Netflix.
  • Mary Kate will only get married if her property goes with her. Married women could own property in the UK after the 1880s (assuming this is pre-independence?).I’m not sure yet when TQM is set. The costuming and set design are vague and woolen.
  • I had to look it up, because it was driving me crazy. Released in 1952, set in the 1920s. Some of the folksy dresses are probably fine because it’s a rural area, but I think Mary Kate’s hair is a bit anachronistic. Probably because it’s my hair, scalped off of my head and placed on Maureen O’Hara’s.
  • They’re at the races, and nobody started singing “ev’ry duke and earl and peer is here,” so I did.
  • No offense but this isn’t going to be a great jockey:

    I can’t find a photo of him in his racing silks, but trust me, hilarious.

  • “Two women in the house, and one of them a redhead.” File under: should be offended, but that’s actually fair.
  • Man. Everyone is very pissed that Mary Kate (MK, I call her) isn’t putting her bonnet on a pole, which is culturally relevant somehow.
  • Call me crazy, but I’m starting to really like the name Mary Kate. Too Olsen Twins? Maybe it could be short for Mary Katherine. Too Molly Shannon? Just putting it out there.
  • IF there were such a thing as drag racing horses, that’s what happens.
  • Well, I’ve thought Mary Kate’s brother was her dad for the past hour. Let it be known that MK has a giant brother who is approximately 40 years older than her.
  • MK has a “fearful temper” which in the 1920s just meant opinions, sometimes.
  • Sean and MK steal a bicycle built for two after they get engaged, but as far as I’m concerned the only crime they’re committing is being too darn adorable (plus petty theft I suppose).
  • Everyone folk-sings “I’m sorry I never got married” at Sean and MK’s wedding. Fun party.
  • BRB overdubbing this whole wedding scene with Helpless/Satisfied from Hamilton.
  • MK’s Old Brother announces that he’s marrying Widow Whatever-aher at Sean and MK’s reception. Talk about thunder-stealing. Also he didn’t clear it with Widow first, which isn’t great. All of these people are like 2 generations apart and it’s very confusing.
  • Sean flashes back to boxing, punching a guy out, and accidentally killing him. WOAH PLOT TWIST. Genuinely did not say that coming.
  • Saddest moment in the movie: MK says “ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of having my own things about me.” Her lifelong dream was to be allowed to own stuff. What does her old brother care anyway? He’s probably almost dead or about to marry into all that sweet Widow Talooley money or whatever.
  • OH OK. MK is going to go Lysistrata until she gets her dowry.
  • MK gets her furniture, and it looks GREAT. But no money because her brother’s a dick.
  • MK talks Irish to the priest, who is fishing and wearing some tweed, but not like a Protestant amount.
  • How about from now on I just tell you if there’s a pub scene that doesn’t end in singing?
  • Meanwhile in the protestant minister’s house, you can tell that he’s a protestant minister by the wife and the giant globs of silver on the mantle. He and Sean have a tete-a-tete about the deadly boxing max and the Danaher dowry.
  • Not to make too much of the cinematography, but I feel like I should be paying more than my monthly Netflix membership to watch this, it’s so pretty.
  • Basically all of the male minor characters are Alfred P. Doolittle from My Fair Lady.
  • Know whose butts looked good in those saggy woolen pants they used to wear? Nobody’s butts. Not a single butt.
  • OK, help me with this. Sean pulls MK off a train and drags her by the arm through the town. A flock of Irish Players trail behind them. A guy at the pub announces that he’s “walking her back, the whole way.” The crowd grows, and Sean grows increasingly yank-y and rough. MK looses a shoe. She falls, he drags her anyway, then yanks her up and pushes her down a hill. Sean then drags MK by her coat collar. A woman hands Sean “a good stick to beat the lovely lady.”
  • You know how sometimes with old movies, it’s hard to understand how the original audiences found them at all surprising or riveting? I am every bit as befuddled as the 1952 audiences were. WHAT IS GOING ON. WHY CAN’T SHE WALK REGULAR. SINCE WHEN IS SEAN A WIFE-BEATER. WAS THIS COMEDY IN THE ’50s. IS THIS A SCHEME? IS THE WHOLE TOWN IN ON IT, BECAUSE IF NOT THEY ARE VERY VERY CHILL ABOUT ALL OF THIS WIFE-DRAGGING.
  • Here, just watch it actually:

  • Danaher won’t fork over the dowry money. Sean throws MK back at her bro, because no dowry/no wife. Old Brother Danaher throws the money at Sean. He and MK burn it. She was in on this, right? I still think he was unnecessarily rough. MK says she’ll have dinner ready for him, then leaves Sean to beat up her brother.
  • What follows is a ten-minute long fight sequence involving:
    • indiscriminate punches thrown by all of the villagers
    • … in a pile of hay
    • a shot fired by Michaeleen to call attention for the rules of the fight
    • Widow Tooraloora watching through an opera glass
    • Old Brother Danaher landing in a river
    • Bookies
    • A deathbed scene for the Bearded Ethnic White Man, interrupted when he pops up to watch the fight
    • Buckets of water thrown on Danaher
    • A priest rubbing his hands with glee
    • Other buckets of water thrown on everyone else
    • A BREAK FOR A PINT TOGETHER AT THE PUB
    • A sub-fight about who is buying the drinks
    • A door breaking into smithereens, a word I don’t use nearly enough
    • A singalong
    • Sean and Old Brother Danaher showing up, drunk and woozy, for dinner at MK’s on her great furniture she owns.
  • Time passes. A crowd is told to cheer like Protestants, which apparently is the word “hooray!” Old Man Danaher and Widow Talooraeay get married! Sean and MK scamper back to their cottage, married and adorable.
  • Well, it’s official. This movie has nothing to do with Christmas. Or, now that I think about it, a man who’s particularly quiet.

 

Post-Holiday Blah-Busting Winter Watchlist

So. Now it’s January. Just January. Been back at work for a few days. I’m feeling sort of chilly, but otherwise unremarkable. Maybe I have some Christmas cookies in my freezer, maybe not. Blah. January.

The same part of me that loved getting new school supplies every September (and even buying new textbooks in college and law school, except for the hefty price tag) likes the clean slate of a new year. Everything is white and blank and open to possibility. But still, it’s not exactly Christmas, is it?

If you had a really good Christmas or Solstice or whatever, going back to regular life is a letdown. If you had a terrible holiday, it kind of feels like you should get a do-over. There’s nothing you can do about that now, so let’s start our post-holiday watchlist.

Here are my requirements for post-holiday blah-busting viewing:

  • It shouldn’t be about the holidays, at least not primarily. If you simply had a wonderful Christmastime you’ll miss it, and if you had the Worst Kwanzaa In The World you’ll just dwell on it.
  • Something set in winter is good, but something that is at least not summer-specific is fine. Some people like escaping to warmer weather and longer days via TV and movies, but I’m more into celebrating the season that I’m in.
  • You know those dark independent comedies that are KIND of funny, like you chuckle under your breath a bit, but mostly they leave you feeling sort of bleak? Not now. Not this binge watch. Not on our blog.

Television

Happy Endings

Why: It’s one of the funniest shows that not enough people (apparently) watched, and is so light and sweet that you could consume large quantities of it in a single sitting, like FroYo. AND it is finally streaming on Hulu, for those of you who didn’t buy all of the seasons on DVD.

Friends

Why: It’s straight-up TV comfort food, and it’s also been so long that a lot of us have watched certain episodes that it’s like rereading old letters. For some reason I’m particularly thinking of seasons 3-8 or so, not sure why. Again, Netflix is going to facilitate this one.

Wings

Was this even good? I genuinely forget.

Why: I don’t know. I got it in my head a few days ago that I’d like to rewatch Wings, so I guess I just want SOMEONE to do it. But really: workplace comedy, occasional romantic intrigue, it’s set in Nantucket so things never get particularly tropical.

Fawlty Towers

Why: If you haven’t seen Fawlty Towers yet, you should – so why not now? And if you have seen it before, I think it would hold up to a rewatch. I know it’s set on the “English Riviera” but the hotel setting makes it feel kind of cosy.

Master of None

Why: We already told you that it’s a show you should be watching if you aren’t already, and we meant it. When I was wrapping Christmas presents this year I literally texted Traci and asked whether I should watch Master of None or Making a Murderer (I didn’t want anything Christmas-y, so I was basically looking for something that would fit on this list). Anyway, Master of None made the cut and two days later I had finished the whole series. Master of None is remarkably true to life for a certain kind of older millennial (read: us), and it paints a kind and optimistic portrait of people you’re sure to recognize.

Movies

Groundhog Day

Why: In the 90s, this passed for a solid and possibly innovative comedy. In 2016, the concept reminds me of one of those Hallmark Christmas movies. Except not even about Christmas. About Groundhog Day. And yet it’s still fun and cute and it taps into the 2016 zeitgeist with Bill Murray and “normcore.”

The Mighty Ducks

Why: The Mighty Ducks is the rare children’s winter movie that isn’t about Christmas, it will remind you of your 90s childhood, it’s a surprisingly well-done family comedy/drama, and you can watch baby Pacey Witter and realize that in 5 years you’re going to have a crush on him and feel weird about it.

Chronicles of Narnia

How I feel about James McAvoy with cloven hooves and a tail.

Why: When Winter is presented as a mystical dreamland, you remember how really beautiful it is. Lots of gorgeous snowy imagery, cute British tots, and some religious allegory if you’re into that. I mentally still refer to this as “the Chronic -what? – cles of Narnia,” so thank you, Samberg and Parnell.

March Of The Penguins

Why: Warm-weather nature gets all the glory, but arctic life is pretty awesome too. If you haven’t seen this yet you may think it sounds dumb, but it isn’t, it’s life-affirming and fascinating and there’s a chance that I cried when I saw it.

Cool Runnings

Why: Okay, there’s a lot of Jamaica, but it’s warm-weather action leading up to cold weather action. Besides, you loved this movie, once upon a time. May as well give it another shot.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Why: Like Fawlty Towers, the enclosed hotel setting feels comfy and wintery, and it has a story you can really fall into for a few hours. Plus the very Wes Anderson sugarplum and macaron color palette feels seasonal, in a good way.

The Peanuts Movie

Why: If you’re watching movies with kids, and you don’t want to watch a Christmas movie and you’ve seen Frozen a million times … but you still want to keep it wintery …. this adorable but not ground-breaking movie is not a bad way to spend 90s minutes.

Obvious Child

Max, guys.

Why: It’s a funny and sweet film and Jenny Slate is the kind of leading lady I want in my rom-coms. But also, this one is set during that point in the winter where you sort of give in and wear Brillo-textured sweaters everywhere and can’t sleep because your radiator is always either at 0 or 1,000. By the way, Jake Lacy is going to be a big thing in 2016 and you can totally see why.

Bridget Jones’s Diary

Why: There’s some minor holiday season shenanigans, but it’s mostly a winter (/season-neutral) romantic comedy. I haven’t seen Bridget Jones’s Diary since I was 15, so I completely forgot that it’s a reinterpretation of Pride and Prejudice (… I know), but I have the same ambivalent feeling toward Colin Firth’s character as I do toward Fitzwilliam Darcy, so now I probably need to rewatch it and write a post about that.