August 29, 2013

A Great New York Night With A MOVIE 43 Chaser

"Cats don't even process images in that way."
The morning after the wedding we slept in till almost noon, thus sadly missing out on brunch and the chance to say goodbye to some folks.  But eventually I made my way back to Manhattan so that I could sign the paperwork and make the marriage official.  (Hilariously, Kristina accidentally signed on the line marked for a witness instead of the bride, which I maintain was a brilliant attempt to get out of the wedding without anybody noticing.)  Jamie and I met up with some local friends who weren't at the wedding for a drink at the Blind Tiger on Bleecker St before returning to the Bronx to get cleaned up for the evening performance of Once, based on the film starring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.  We're both fans of the original movie as well as the incredible soundtrack, but the big draw for us was that the main character was played by Arthur Darville, a.k.a. Rory The Roman from Doctor Who.  Darville was fantastic and the show was loads of fun; they even have a working bar on stage that you can get drinks from during the pre-show and intermission.  Personally I prefer the film to the stage version, as I think they've made the guy too passive and the woman has become a total Manic Pixie Dream Girl, which she very much is not in the original.  But the staging is pretty clever and the music is still great.  Also, the guy's father was played by fucking Luthor from The Warriors!  (Thanks to Billman for pointing this out to me after the fact.)

During intermission I got a text from Rob.  It seemed that Cochran, one of the groomsmen, had his birthday plans foiled when his fiancee Michelle came down with a wicked case of food poisoning.  Being the good guy that he is, Cochran wouldn't leave her alone in the apartment they were staying in, despite her insistence that he go out and enjoy his birthday.  So instead we took the party to him, gathering up beers, bourbon and snacks and showing up at his door around 11:30 PM.  We had goddamn blast, drinking and playing "The Hat Game" (like "Celebrity" mixed with charades) into the wee hours of the night.  As is typical with our group, there was a lot of laughter that night.  It's a rare occasion when we're all together in the same room and at one point I just sat there and looked at this collection of some of my oldest friends, giving each other shit and cracking ancient inside was one of those moments you just want to live inside of forever.

But eventually we had to trek back to the Bronx and I still had a movie to watch.  By the time we got back to the apartment it was about 3:30 AM, so I needed something short and funny.  I selected Movie 43, a movie which I was drawn to for three reasons: first of all, every trailer made it look like a modern day Kentucky Fried Movie, a movie that blew the damn doors off my brain the first time I saw it.  Secondly, the list of on-camera talent is amazing, featuring a unique mix of both comedians and Oscar winners including (but not limited to) Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Jason Sudeikis, Justin Long, Terrence Howard, Elizabeth Banks, Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Chris Pratt, Ana Faris, Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber, Stephen Merchant, Halle Berry, Johnny Knoxville, Sean William Scott and Gerard Butler as a foul-mouthed leprechaun.   And finally, while each segment has a different director, the whole thing was shepherded by Peter Farrelly*, who is quite simply one of the funniest guys I've ever met.

The film is pretty uneven, with some segments being insanely great while others left me scratching my head in confusion.  Halle Berry and Stephen Merchant playing Truth Or Dare simply does not work, and neither does "Machine Kids", "iBabe" or the weird connecting tissue with Dennis Quaid as an unstable director who's pitching all these shorts to Greg Kinnear's studio exec.  But there are some solid bright spots too; considering I was watching the movie alone at approximately four in the morning, the fact that it not only kept me awake but actually elicited honest laughter is more than a bit impressive.  There's a pretty good "superhero speed dating" segment by James Duffy that serves as a pretty good followup to his original online short starring Justin Long as Robin and Sam Rockwell as Batman.  Schreiber and Watts are great in "Homeschooled" as parents who home school their teenage son with extra emphasis on all the psychological torment of high school, while Elizabeth Banks directs a funny segment about two teenage guys who go into a blind panic at the sight of a girl having her first period.

The two standout segments, however, are the ones that bookend the movie.  At the opening we get Kate Winslet on a blind date with Hugh Jackman as a wealthy bachelor with neck balls.  That's right, Hugh Jackman plays a man with testicles hanging below his chin.  I feel like the scene is a triumph simply for existing, and I love that both Jackman and Winslet each read that script and said, "Neck scrotum?  SIGN ME UP!"  But by far the best segment is the very last one, directed by James Gunn and entitled "Beezel."  It's about a perverse and sadistic animated cat who's jealous of his master's new girlfriend.  Credit to Josh Duhamel for really throwing himself into an extremely silly role, while Elizabeth Banks kills it as the girlfriend who's pulled into a knock down drag out with this "Garfield reject."  The actual animation for Beezel is super low budget, but it totally feels like a twisted dry run for Rocket Raccoon in Gunn's upcoming Guardians Of The Galaxy, which is easily the most exciting of all the impending Marvel movies.

Oh, and if you want to really cry laughing, then read this email exchange between Gunn and the studio about the song he wrote for Beezel called "That Gay Fucking Cat."  In truth, Gunn's list of potential song titles makes me laugh harder than anything in Movie 43.

*Full disclosure: the Farrelly brothers are friends of the family and I worked as a PA on Fever Pitch in college, so I'm usually predisposed to like their shit.

Title: Movie 43
Directors: Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Carr, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Griffin Dunne, Peter Farrelly, Patrick Forsberg, Will Graham, Brett Ratner, Jonathan van Tulleken, James Gunn
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Jason Sudeikis, Justin Long, Terrence Howard, Elizabeth Banks, Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Chris Pratt, Ana Faris, Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber, Stephen Merchant, Halle Berry, Johnny Knoxville, Sean William Scott, Gerard Butler
Year Of Release: 2013
Viewing Method: Redbox DVD

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