Run Lola Run – A Rewind Review for a Rewind Loop Film

franka potente in run lola run, a ground hog day movie
Lola Runs. And runs again. And again. Happy Groundhog Day!

Even though I’ve only seen this movie one other time, it’s one of my favorites.  There’s plenty to love about Lola.  The premise is simple: Lola has twenty minutes to raise the money to save her boyfriend Manni’s life.  Each failed attempt causes the clock to reset Groundhog Day-style.  Except Lola doesn’t seem to remember she’s lived these twenty minutes before, as she often turns to the same useless source for help. 

 

What I love about the movie is that it’s a love story.  It’s about the power of love.  Lola resets time and defies nature  — by sheer force of will out of her love for Manni.  The movie has an awesome techno soundtrack (one of my all time favorite movie soundtracks).  Director Tom Tykwer uses animation and split screen, among other techniques, to compress time and give the movie a unique look and feel. 

 

One of the coolest things about the movie is the way it briefly cuts away from Lola to show the audience the future of  background characters via jump cut photographs.  And the way those futures change in the different timelines. 

I can hardly think of another movie where such minor characters get to have their stories told.  I love that the film does this in such a breathless style as well, as if it is in just as much of a hurry as Lola, trying to keep pace with her, not wanting to take its eyes off her for too long. 

 

Franka Potente’s Lola is the badass girlfriend you never had.  With her expressive face and shocking red hair, she’s willing to walk in the fire and do whatever it takes to save the man she loves.  It’s hard not to feel what Lola is feeling.  That sympathy is part of what keeps you on the edge of your seat.

 

Although the movie is a scant eighty minutes, you feel like you’ve been on a journey by the end of it.  Tykwer uses music, sound effects, and editing, to make you feel both the pressure Lola is under, and all the ground she is covering.  It’s very effective.  At one point, I found myself on the couch feeling compelled by the music to do SOMETHING, but not knowing what to do, feeling restless and helpless. 

 

A few things to note:  This is a foreign film, so there are subtitles.  There is also some violence.  I was a little more sensitive to the violence this time than I was the first time I watched it. 

 

I was glad this movie lived up to my memory of it.  I would recommend this to fans of Guy Ritchie, Alfred Hitchcock, and Rod Serling (with his show The Twilight Zone). 

If you enjoyed this, you can find more movie reviews on this blog.  And, of course, remember to get Peetimes from the RunPee app the next time you go to the movies.

18 Groundhog Day Type Movies – the Ultimate Repeating Day List

Movie Review – Happy Death Day

Movie Review – Edge of Tomorrow (Live. Die. Repeat.)

Movie Review – Before I Fall

Virgin Review – Source Code

Movie Review – Looper

Happy Death Day – Every “Day” We Watch, and Rewatch (Spoilers)

happy death day 2 U is a horror sequel
Live to die another day. Wait, isn’t that also from a James Bond film?

In the movie Happy Death Day, Tree is murdered on her birthday.  Instead of dying, she wakes up and has to relive the day all over again.  Tree relives the same day (and gets murdered) seventeen times. (We only see eleven of the murders because a montage is used to compress time.  We only get bits and pieces of those days.)

Here is a summary of all seventeen days and eleven murders (okay, technically one’s a suicide):

 

Tree wakes up hungover in Carter’s dorm room.  

 

During the walk of shame back to her sorority house, Tree is confronted by creepy stalker Tim.

 

When Tree gets to her room, she changes clothes and grabs her book for the class she’s running late for.  Her roommate Lori gives her a cupcake with a birthday candle in it.  Tree blows out the candle and trashes the cupcake.  “Too many carbs.”  

 

After class, Tree goes to the hospital to see the doctor she’s having an affair with.  She runs into Lori who is working a double shift as a nurse and who tries to warn her about the consequences of her actions. 

 

At the sorority meeting at lunch, Danielle and Tree embarass Becky for bringing a huge tray of food.  Carter accidentally bumps into Becky, sloshing chocolate milk all over Tree.  He further embarrasses Tree by giving her back her bracelet, confirming he’s the boy she “slept with” last night.  

 

Tree and Gregory (the sexy doctor) are almost caught when his wife makes a surprise visit to his office. 

 

That night, Tree watches TV and paints her toes while Danielle quizzes here on when she’s coming to the party.  

 

On her way to the party, Tree gets distracted by a birthday music box.  It’s a trap set by a killer wearing the school mascot mask (a creepy baby) who chases her and stabs her. 

 

Tree wakes up and is confused to be in Carter’s room again.  She does the walk of shame again.  When Tim pops out this time, she asks him what day it is.  

 

Tree leaves Lori’s cupcake on the dresser this time, the breeze from the closing door blowing the candle out. 

 

At lunch, Tree is too lost in thought to pile on Becky.  She is distracted by the spooky mascot masks for sale nearby.  Catching on that everything is repeating, Tree tries to warn Becky to look out but it’s too late.  Tree ends up covered in chocolate milk again.  This time, Carter forgets he has the bracelet and Tree has to prompt him to give it to her. 

 

At the hospital, Tree locks the door to Gregory’s office.  She tries to tell him what’s happening to her.  He starts kissing her instead.  And his wife interrupts on cue.  “Thank God you locked the door,” Gregory says.

 

That night, Tree avoids the music box and takes another path.  When she gets to the frat house, the party is a surprise party for her.  She goes to Nick’s room where he plays loud music in a dumb frat boy attempt at seduction.  While Tree’s distracted on her phone, the killer kills Nick behind her.  After a struggle with the killer, Tree is stabbed with a bong shard.  

 

Tree wakes up screaming.  She does a run of shame.  She confesses to Lori she thinks she’s going crazy.  She has already lived through this day twice.  And someone is going to kill her.  Lori convinces her to skip class and relax.  

 

That night, Tree barricades the windows and the door to her room.  Danielle’s conversation with her is from the other side of the door this time instead of face to face.  

 

Tree looks for the TV remote and finds a creepy birthday card instead.  When she looks up the TV is off.  She turns it back on.  It turns off again.  The killer sneaks up on her and stabs her.  

 

Tree wakes up screaming again.  She runs out the door.  The world is a confusing blur.  Carter comes out to give her the things she left behind, she clings to him for dear life.  

 

Tree tells Carter what’s happening.  He tells her to make a list of suspects and use her unlimited number of lives to narrow them down.  

 

This leads to a montage.

 

Tree stalks Tim for a change.  She stands outside his window and sees him watching gay porn.  Then she gets stabbed by the killer.

 

Tree wakes up and throws her phone in the trash can.  

 

Tree experiments with some pink highlights.  

 

Tree spies on Gregory’s wife from a fountain with a pair of night vision goggles.  

The killer drowns Tree in the fountain.   

 

Tree wakes up and spits out water.  

 

Tree finds the incriminating birthday card from day 3 in Danielle’s things when a passerby knocks her books out of her hands.  Tree grabs Danielle’s hair and starts a catfight.  The two girls end up in the street and a bus runs them over Final Destination style.   

 

Tree wakes up screaming.  

  

Tree does the walk of shame shameless and naked.  

 

Tree accidentally hits Becky with a bat instead of the killer.  The killer hits Tree with the bat when she leans down to check on Becky.

 

Tree wakes up in a lot of pain and has trouble standing.  She passes out before she can get out the door this time.  

 

At the hospital, Gregory tells her she should be dead from the amount of injury she’s sustained.  

 

Tree steals Gregory’s car keys, outruns the killer in the garage, and drives away.  Until she’s stopped by the police for speeding.  Thinking she’ll be safe in jail, she tells the cop she’s drunk and high so he’ll lock her up.  When she’s cuffed and trapped in the back of the cruiser, another car speeds past, killing the policeman.  Guess who’s driving?  The cop car is leaking gasoline.  The killer drops a single candle to set off an explosion.  

 

Tree takes an entire bottle of Tylenol. 

 

Carter follows her on the walk of shame and she does the Groundhog Day thing where she calls everything right before it happens.  

 

A news story about a murderer named Tombs comes on the TV while Carter and Tree are at a restaurant.  He’s at the same hospital where Gregory works.  

 

Tree rushes to the hospital.  Tombs has already killed the security guard and has a gun.  Tombs ends up cornering Tree and has her at point blank range.  Until Carter tackles him.  Tombs breaks Carter’s neck then chases Tree.  She has a chance to kill him, but then Carter will be dead forever.  So she hangs herself and resets the day one last time.  

 

Redemption Day

Tree greets Carter with a big hug. 

She borrows his pillow to cushion the fall of the frat boy who passes out from hazing every morning. 

She finally signs the petition to stop global warming.  

She tells Tim it’s okay to be gay. 

She waves back to the girl in front of the sorority house.  

She apologizes to Lori for not being a good roommate. 

She dumps Gregory. 

She brings a huge tray of food to lunch too.  And pours chocolate milk on Danielle for being a bully.  

She kisses Carter and asks him out.  

She has lunch with her father who she has stood up for the entire movie. 

 

That night at the hospital, Tree holds a knife to the throat of the guard outside Tomb’s room in order to take his gun.  

 

“This is a really bad idea,” he tells her.

 

” So is dying for the sixteenth time.”

 

Tree shoots Tombs.  

 

Then she finally eats Lori’s cupcake with Carter.  

 

Tree is distraught to find herself stuck in the same day again. 

 

Tree starts packing her things.  She’s going as far away as possible.  When Lori offers her the cupcake, Tree realizes it’s poisoned.  She died in her sleep.  Lori had access to Tombs and he was the perfect scapegoat.  Lori reveals she’s been killing Tree out of jealousy over Gregory.  

 

Tree forces the cupcake in Lori’s mouth and pushes her out the window. 

 

Carter fakes Tree out and makes her think it’s the same day again.  

 

It is Tuesday the 19th.  She made it!

 

Happy Death Day is one of my favorite recent horror films.  It’s a movie that has a lot of fun with its concept. And it rewards repeat viewings.  The scenes with Lori are a lot of fun when you know what’s going on beneath the surface.  Happy Death Day 2 U will be wicked fun with the whole cast vulnerable this time, not just Tree.  Remember to check this blog for a movie review when it comes out. And use the RunPee app to get Peetimes! 

Happy Death Day – All the Clues to the Killer (SPOILERS)

Movie Review – Happy Death Day

Happy Death Day – All the Clues to the Killer (SPOILERS)

happy death day 2 U is a horror sequel
Who’s the masked killer? I don’t care — just stop wearing that hideous thing…

On first viewing, the twist in Happy Death Day seems to come from nowhere.  But the filmmakers have played fair all along.  If you watch it a second time, all the clues are there for an observant audience member to piece together what’s happening.

(I’ve said it in the the title and this should be clear by now, but be aware this article contains spoilers for Happy Death Day 1.)

1.  The Killer:  There are two big moments in the movie that hint at who the killer is. 

 

On day 4, Carter tries to help Tree narrow down the list of suspects.  He asks her who knows it’s her birthday.  Thinking of the surprise party later that night, she says the whole campus.  But the only person who’s made a big deal about her birthday is Lori. 

 

Later, the killer uses a candle (or is it the whole cupcake?) to light the fire that blows up the cop car Tree is trapped in.  The only person we’ve seen in the entire movie with a birthday candle is Lori. There wasn’t even cake at Tree’s party.

2. The Motive

Lori tries to warn Tree away from Gregory when she visits him the first time.  She tells Tree her affair with the married doctor is bound to have “some pretty serious consequences.” 

 

At the surprise party, Danielle tells Tree Lori’s “boning” some mystery guy. 

 

Later, when Tree apologizes to Lori for being a bad roommate, she says she wants to hear about Lori’s mystery guy. 

 

All of Lori’s scenes are either in the dorm room or at the hospital.  And the only hot guy at the hospital is Gregory.

 

Lori’s affair with Gregory is all but spelled out.  The filmmakers make sure to bring up the “mystery guy” the second time because it’s close to the end.  That way we’ll make the connection when Gregory’s named is dropped at the climax. 

3. The Weapon

So it was Lori in the dorm room with the cupcake all along!  (And my money was on Colonel Mustard in the study with the lead pipe.  Drats!) 

 

Tree throws the cupcake away on day 1, sets it aside on day 2 without even blowing the candle out, and unwraps it on day 3 but sets it down to look for the remote.  (In a deleted scene, she drops it when she gets startled during the blackout before she has a chance to eat it.)  It’s only on Tree’s next-to-last day in that Sixteen Candles tribute scene that she finally eats the poisoned cupcake.  Who doesn’t eat a cupcake the moment it’s presented to them? A careful observer would catch on that something suspect is going on with the cupcake.

 

Happy Death Day is one of my favorite recent horror films and I love analyzing it and seeing how they put it together with a horror spin on the Groundhogs Day theme.  Stay tuned to this blog for a review of Happy Death Day 2 U, coming out on Valentine’s Day this year.  Remember to get the Peetimes for it from the RunPee app!

Movie Review – Happy Death Day

18 Groundhog Day Type Movies – the Ultimate Repeating Day List

Rewatch Review – Mary Poppins – The Original & Classic Film

mary poppins flies with her unbrella
How do I get my Umbrella to do that?

As we approach the Oscar season, I decided to rewatch the original Mary Poppins (MP). I’m certainly torn as to which one is better, considering that Mary Poppins Returns is not a remake; it’s a continuation of the Banks family drama. I love Julia Andrews and Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins. They both have a sassy, arrogant, and attractive draw to their personalities that make each one a stand-out character.

[pullquote]I enjoy Mary Poppins so much, for so many reasons. It’s fun; the music is uplifting; the cross between human and animation scenes is intriguing, and there’s a morale message for both adults and children.[/pullquote] From the moment MP arrives floating from the sky until she fades into that same sky, my heart beats like a big.band.drum (tee he he).

The storyline tells a lot about parenting and coping with problems and stress. The Banks are so consumed with their careers and lives that they miss precious moments with their children. [pullquote position=”right”]Watching this movie as a child triggered different thoughts in me about my own parent’s attention to me, than watching it as an adult. [/pullquote]Today, I view the message through parental eyes and reflect on how I can do a better job of parenting my daughter, Destiny, and ensuring I don’t just let the street sweeper babysit her, just because I have a book signing or speaking engagement.

The movie truly gives perspective to managing work and life. I dare not say work/life balance, because I don’t personally believe work and life are ever balanced or equal. At some point, one or the other is sacrificed. I prefer to tell people that I’m standing on a see-saw where life is on one end and work is on the other. My goal to keep from falling my behind off the see-saw.

In the same vein, the hard-working and overly focused Mr. Banks got an eye opener on how to live and laugh at the same time. [pullquote]The word that changed George Banks wasn’t the normal word we would think should crack this grumpy old man, like the word love. The word was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.[/pullquote] Phew! That was the game changer for him. That word opened his heart, mind, and his mouth with laughter, and a flood of love and awareness oozed from him like marshmallows in a s’mores.

As a bank examiner by day, I know the bank language they speak of in the movie regarding the tuppence. We see that story come full circle in Mary Poppins Returns as well, as with that kite which seems to get Micheal in trouble in both movies.

One thing that always stand out for me in MP is how the bankers fired George. They didn’t escort him out of the building with a guard and a pink slip in hand. They ripped his suit pocket flower, inverted his umbrella, and pushed a hole through his top hat. Every time I watch this movie, I laugh so hard because I guess for boujee rich people that was equivalent to being a disgrace, when your clothing and accessories are in disarray. Lol!

One more thing, did you notice in the credits of MP how Mr. Dawes, Sr.’s cast name was displayed? It showed as Navckid Keyd, then unscrambled before our eyes to reflect Dick Van Dyke. That’s because Van Dyke played the role of Bert and Mr. Dawes, Sr.

So of course, in Disney style, they had to make it magically-cute.

Mary Poppins will remain as one of my favorite movies, no matter how many times they add on to the story. To me, it’s practically perfect in every way. Now, chop chop, I have work to do here Peeple.

Movie Review – Mary Poppins Returns

5 Differences between the Old and New Mary Poppins

Movie Review – Saving Mr. Banks

While Mary Poppins Returns didn’t get any Golden Globes, it did boast four well-deserved nominations: 

Full List (and comments) for the 2019 76th Annual Golden Globes Nominees & Winners

Mary Poppins is now currently nominated for three Oscars: 

RunPee and the 2019 Oscars – Predictions for the 2018 Movie Awards

Virgin Review – 22 Jump Street (and that truly incredible end credits scene)

22 Jump Street and it's insane sequels, like Mariachi School
Esto se esta poniendo ridiculo. I can’t stop giggling, ya’ll.

22 Jump Street seemed like it would continue the precedent set in 21 Jump Street (and we’re talking about the 2012 & 2014 movies, not the 1980s Johnny Depp TV show), and in one sense, it did. It took two young(ish)-looking cops and sent them undercover as kids. In 21, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum’s characters went to high school. In 22, it was off to college.

[pullquote]What made 21 Jump Street so charming was not just sending adults to school and watch them re-navigate classes, friendships, and the prom, but in having each character accidentally take on the wrong persona — and succeed.[/pullquote] Hill had to hang with the popular crowd and the jocks, while Tatum needed to pull off Advanced Placement Chemistry classes and learn to hack phones with his new nerd pals. It was a challenge for both, but the lack of cringe-humor made this film a winner. The buddy-duo stretched who they were as people and how they thought of themselves.

[pullquote position=”right”]That was fresh and new, and very, very satisfying.[/pullquote]

22 Jump Street unfortunately put both characters where the stereotypes  went the expected course, to the movie’s sincere detriment.  Hill’s character was sent back to dweebdom, and much cringe-humor ensued. Ouch. Tatum got to run the ball for touchdowns on the field — disappearing into the glow of popularity — and acting the entitled jock for all he was worth. It wasn’t pretty. It was hard to root for either undercover cop when everything was so unpleasantly handled.

There was still humor, but it leaned towards the mean-spirited type. The young cops eventually shake off their descent into caricature-hood, but at the cost of a lot of audience goodwill.

[pullquote]I’ll add this, however: the movie’s end is worth the price of admission right there.[/pullquote] I’m sure YouTube has this end scene kicking around somewhere, spoofing how many types of “schools” these two knuckleheaded cops would be sent to infiltrate next. It is howlingly funny. I’d watch every single one of those movies, especially 2121 Jump Street. Look out for the inspired Seth Rogen cameo, among others. You can tell everyone involved had a ton of fun inventing this ‘series.’ (And Channing Tatum really should push for 38 Jump Street: Dance Academy, because, you know, TATUM.)

Hell, here’s the video. Prepare thyselves:

If you get a chance, it’s still worth viewing 22 Jump Street, but my advice is to rewatch 21 Jump Street instead for the well-meaning laughs, as Hill and Tatum seem both out of place but unexpectedly fit right in.

Movie Grade: I was going to give this a C, but am adding the Plus purely for the perfection of the “promised” sequels. It’s that clever. C+

 

Virgin Movie Review – 21 Jump Street

And this is RunPee Sis’s original 22 Jump Street review from when the movie came out in 2014:

Movie Review – 22 Jump Street

Virgin Movie Review – 21 Jump Street

jonah hill and channing tatum as cops in high school for 21 jump street
They could have called this Prom Cops and I’d probably have seen it sooner.

21 Jump Street is a sweet little film that flew under my radar until last night. When my mother DVRed it (and subsequent sequel 22 Jump Street) to her TV for our movie night, I was confused. Wasn’t this a TV show? A cop procedural from the 80s?

She promised me it was definitely a movie and probably funny, so I agreed to watch it and make my notes for a virgin movie review. [pullquote]When I saw it had Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in it, I felt a whole lot better about sitting through it.[/pullquote]

21 Jump Street is actually not a cop procedural, although it’s certainly bookended as one. It’s more like a John Hughes teen angst comedy, with enough cop buddy-hood to keep things a little more grown-up. And yes, upon due investigation, this is a sort of remake/reinvisioned-sequel to the 1987 TV show of the same name. (Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a movie is a continued story or a reboot, but ultimately it doesn’t matter here.)

Was it funny? I’d say I smiled a whole lot throughout and even LOLed a few times. The constant meta-references to Tatum looking too old to be in high school landed well, as did the other funny self-aware bits, like when the police chief tells our guys he’s resurrecting an obsolete, defunct 80s undercover program. Which, yes, that’s exactly what’s happening in-story and outside the confines of 21 Jump Street. When the drama class director says, “And that’s the end of the second act,” it really was the end of the film’s second act. [pullquote position=”right”]For a fluff movie deriving laughs from a fish-out-of-water high school scenario, I found the meta humor more sophisticated than expected in this kind of genre.[/pullquote]

Self-aware joking aside, this movie had a lovely twist in it that I didn’t see coming. I expected things to more or less continue the old school hierarchies seen in the first three minutes, before Hill and Tatum’s characters entered the police academy.

If you haven’t seen 21 Jump Street (the movie, not the TV show), then you might want to stop reading here because I’m going to spoil the twist. Actually, it’s not a twist so much as the entire premise of the show, and I’m surprised I didn’t realize this going in. It made for a pleasant first time viewing to not know, so if you are a complete newbie to this like I was, go away now and come back later.  😉

Spoilers ahead!

When we learn the two boys accidentally took on each other’s fake names, I was prepared for a lot of cringe humor (which I cordially dislike). What I got instead was how Hill’s dweeby persona actually suited him in the brave new world of what is/isn’t cool at school seven years later…and how Tatum’s dim-witted turn as a kid enrolled in advanced placement classes actually leveled him up, to the point he could crack jokes about KNO3 (potassium nitrate), and learn to jail-break a phone with his new-found friendly, accepting nerd friends. [pullquote]It was nice to see a movie where role reversals don’t depend on being desperately out of one’s element.[/pullquote] (Haha, I just made a joke about elements, and wasn’t even trying. See? The film even made me smarter.)

Here’s the cute 21 Jump Street scene about KNO3 (it’s about a minute long):

Also, there’s this bit of rocket fun if you add sugar to potassium nitrate. What’s not to love about chemistry? Also, don’t go out now and blow your fool hands off:

Hill and Tatum have some good chemistry together, which looks like it surprised them as much as the viewer. It was all very playful, like two big puppies wrestling. At the prom.

Now that our next Jump Street sees the “brothers” leaving high school and entering college undercover in 22 Jump Street, I’m looking forward to tonight’s film.

Movie Grade: B

Virgin Review – 22 Jump Street (and that truly incredible end credits scene)

Movie Review – 22 Jump Street

A Discussion on Buddy Cop Movies

Ring in the New Year With Harry and Sally

when harry met sally is a perfect news years even film
Harry, meeting Sally again, just in time. Darn it, there’s something in my eye. 😉

I know there’s more than one movie associated with New Year’s Eve than When Harry Met Sally, but at the moment I can’t think of anything better. And on a re-watch, it still stands up beautifully through time. Ever meet someone you can’t stand at one point in your life, but grow on you through time? That’s kind of the lovely premise at work between Harry and Sally.

It happens with movies too. All the time, especially in the business of RunPee (we’ve seen around 1500 movies over the last ten years): I’ll see something I wasn’t impressed with, then it will come around my radar later, and I’ll be surprised at how good that film really is. Sometimes it’s something nuts, like Monty Python’s Holy Grail (once I memorized the lines, things took on a whole new world of fun), or something with action or sci-fi (like Pacific Rim or Independence Day). [pullquote]Sometimes I’m too young to appreciate a great movie, like I finally noticed on this year’s rewatch of Jaws and Rocky. If you haven’t seen those in a while, give them another watch.[/pullquote] There are moments in each that are pure gold, never completely replicated since.

But it’s New Year’s Eve, so back to Harry & Sally. They took most of a lifetime to become ready for each other.  Their enmity was almost instant as they left college to begin their adult lives. [pullquote position=”right”]They kept bumping into each other, with a visceral reaction every time. That should have told them something right there. Even bad chemistry is chemistry.[/pullquote] Eventually they worked it into friendship, then screwed that up because the timing with people is rarely right, and finally we’ve got the scene at the very end with Harry tearing across New York City to be there for his obvious life partner before the clock hits midnight.

I always tear up a bit at the end. Those crazy kids. I love the bookend ‘interviews’ with the couples. It’s a sweet little film.

If you’re not heading out on the town to drink and dance (and hopefully not drive), consider sticking When Harry Met Sally back in the DVD player.

We’re running a poll on Best New Year’s Eve movies on Twitter right now. Get your vote in this week, or wait to see how the results turn out. And to you and your family, have a safe and joyous New Year! Auld Lang Syne — whatever that means. Sally tells us it’s something about old friends. Awwwww.

Movie Rewatch — Jaws

A Novice Rocky Review

Best Non-Christmas Christmas Movies

Classic Movie Re-Watch Review – It’s A Wonderful Life

it's a wonderful life movie
The meaning of Christmas in black and white.

I have to watch It’s A Wonderful Life (IAWL) every year during the holidays. It’s just one of those movies like that annoying drunk uncle at the family reunion…. it never goes away. I revisited Bedford Falls yet again, and this time with my husband (Scott) because he had never seen it (I know, clutch my pearls). Every time I watch this movie, I discover something new. Hold that thought; I’ll come back to that.

[pullquote]IAWL is a movie that makes you laugh, cry, and think.[/pullquote] Released in 1947…I didn’t see it until the late 70s, or early 80s. It’s about a big dreamer’s (George Bailey’s) plan to see the world, but his plan gets derailed when “life happens.” (pun intended).

Here’s the 30-second or less snippet: George saves his brother. George’s hearing is impaired. Angel Clarence saves George’s life. George discovers his leadership niche. Old Man Potter is evil. Wifey Mary is a superwoman. George learns the meaning of a meaningful life.

Now, here are a few things I discovered during this viewing: (1) Violet was a thirsty (a desperate hoochie. Always up in George’s face trying to vie for his attention); (2) The #MeToo movement started in Bedford Falls, when Harry slapped the maid Annie on the butt as she walked in the kitchen; and (3) The movie started with the big bell ringing, and ended with the same bell ringing.

Favorite line this viewing: Potter says to George, “Are you running a bank or a charity ward?”

Best love moment: When Mary leans over George, as children in the store, and says in his deaf ear, “I’ll love you until the day I die.”  Love that part.

Leadership at its best: during the deposit run, when George uses logic, patience under pressure, persuasion, and interpersonal skills to calm the community members that were demanding a withdrawal of their money from the bank.  He gave them a reason to trust him, to trust themselves with taking only what they needed and not what they wanted.

If you didn’t read this before, It’s a Wonderful Life is one of my favorite Christmas movies.  As a child, it was the first encounter I had with hearing about a “bank examiner.” I never knew bank examining was a job or career until that movie. Then I went to college and low and behold the FDIC was recruiting when I was 18 years old for bank examiners on my college campus.  Long story short — until you read it in my book — at age 21 FDIC hired me.  I’ve been employed with them for over 26 years and lived in 5 states via promotions and special assignments.  Interesting, uh?!?!

[pullquote position=”right”]Enjoy the movie this year and for years to come.  [/pullquote]If you notice something different about the movie when you watched it, comment below.  I’d love to hear your insight.  Happy holidays!

Movie Grade: A  

A Merry Movie Christmas – The RunPee Family’s Favorite Holiday Films

The Weirdest Moments in Classic Christmas Specials

Best Non-Christmas Christmas Movies

Movie Rewatch Review – Elf

Will Ferrel from Elf, and the four food groups.
Will Ferrell eating a nutritious meal.

Elf is one of those rare truly rewatchably joyous, feel-good family films that everyone, everyone likes. I’ve never met a child or even cranky grownup that doesn’t get animated and shout, “Santa! I KNOW him!”, or spout off a very mildly sly or just plain silly line from this highly quotable film, like, “Hi, I’m Buddy! What’s your favorite color?” or “I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite!” How to explain this outpouring of passionate holiday optimism? And by the way, I want to start answering the telephone like that. (Best not to call me at all.)

[pullquote]Even my grownup niece turned around while bar-tending at Hooters, to shout at strangers grinching about Christmas: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!” [/pullquote]The entire bar looked at her like she might have been a little insane, but if you poke around an Elf Quotes search page on Google, you’ll see people tend to be a little like Will Ferrell about this film: a bit too loud, and a whole lot of wholesomely inappropriate.

Even my RunPee Tweet and Facebook posts on Elf got people excited and happy within literally seconds of putting up that “What’s your favorite color?” quote. A poll about favorite funny Christmas movies, up against the storied likes of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Love Actually, and Home Alone has Elf clearly in the lead. How did Farrell manage this?

For one, Ferrell is a highly underrated actor. Because he tossed in his lot with comedic fluff films, it’s a little hard to take him seriously.  But he manages to put a surprising amount of pathos into goofy leading roles, whether it’s as Ron Burgundy with Anchorman, or Daddy’s Home 1 &2.

[pullquote]In Elf, he’s quite remarkable in a weirdly off-putting, often overly enthusiastic way, like a big golden retriever who still thinks he’s a puppy.[/pullquote]You want to take this large man and protect him like the child he seems to be. If you were raised by Papa Elf at the North Pole, you’d probably be filled with happy wonderment too. And also believe sugar is the only form of food fit for consumption: a prestigious list including “Candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup.” Again with my niece: she told me there are untold videos of people making maple syrup/MnMs/Pop-Tarts/Hershey’s syrup/spaghetti meals and chowing down (after mashing it up with their hands, of course). I’ll take her word for it.  😉

So is Will Ferrell kind of brilliant? I’m starting to think so. [pullquote position=”right”]Ferrell does the straight man funny, the narcissistic buffoon funny, and and the man-child even funnier. My guess is the guy himself takes joy from this, and puts his whole heart into it[/pullquote]. His sense of comedic timing doesn’t depend on physical gyrations like Jim Carrey, nor torrents of running commentary as the late Robin Williams could bestow.

In a nutshell, we just plain like movies where people manage to blunder their way into greatness. Look at the enduring appeal of Forrest Gump, Big, and Elf. You want to root for these people, in their simpleminded innocence, to find their way in life and be loved.

It’s easy to laugh at these guys, but there’s something more at stake.

That’s why [pullquote]Elf sneaks under the cynicism layer. [/pullquote]These films feature a fish-out-water story, a narrative as old as time, but with an undeniable twist of  simplicity and earnestness. These kind-hearted leading lugs strike a chord of paternalism and you want them to be happy when their adventure is done. We feel we’d be lucky to have loyal friends like these, even if their trip over their own big feet.

Movie Grade: A

Note: Results of this Twitter Poll will be automatically published after the voting period ends, but so far Elf is crushing it: Disclaimer: Poll only includes outright Christmasy movies. Die Hard and Lethal Weapon aficionados have to wait their turn 🙂

Okay. Seriously now. I dare you to eat this:

Rewatch Movie Review – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Love, Actually and Christmas Is All Around (That “Festering Turd of a Record”)

Virgin Movie Review — Daddy’s Home

Movie Rewatch Review – The Birdcage

the birdcage with gene hackman, robin williams and nathan lane.
I’m still giggling. Some of this movie is just not cool today, but the basic madcap humor and earnest message is a win.

When The Birdcage opened as a feature film in 1997, I don’t remember people being quite so terrified of gay men…so it surprised me, 21 years later, to see such fear in the hearts of the young straight couple to admit the groom-to-be had two fathers. Or, as this movie made clear, one male father, and one male mother.

I’m guessing the producers chose to make the young lady’s parents so super conservative to even be close to being okay with this premise — even to making Callista Flockhart’s character’s father an uber republican senator, basing his platform almost entirely on a Moral “Something-Or-Other” Coalition.

I can’t imagine this movie being produced today. The son made his doting, supportive parents pretend to be something society deemed acceptable, deceive his fiance’s parents, bring on a “fake” (sort of–it’s complicated) cis female mother, and REDECORATE THEIR ENTIRE HOUSE to appear heteronormative. It felt so completely unfair and inappropriate that I had to sit back, reminding myself the original version of the story came out even earlier, in a time when “the gays” was a legitimate source of humor. (Gene Hackman’s senator is an equal-opportunity xenophobe: he also says “a Black.”)

As per the Wikipedia, The Birdcage was previously known on Broadway as La Cage aux Folles (written in 1973): “The original 1983 Broadway production received nine nominations for Tony Awards and won six, including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. The success of the musical spawned a West End production and several international runs. The 2004 Broadway revival won the Tony Award for Best Revival, and the 2008 London revival garnered the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival. The 2010 Broadway revival was nominated for eleven Tony Awards, winning the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. La Cage aux Folles is the first musical which has won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical twice and the show that has won a Best Production Tony Award (Best Musical or Best Revival of a Musical) for each of its Broadway productions. The show has had five nominations for Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical from the three Broadway productions, twice for Georges and three times for Albin, and won twice, both for Albin.”

Not too shabby. I’d love to see it on stage, myself.

Anyway. [pullquote]I’ve decided not to judge an old story on new norms. [/pullquote]So be it: in this film’s universe, it’s a screaming hoot to present a wildly feminine fellow as a manly men’s man. Yes, I’m being sardonic, but if we go with the old and acceptable trope of mixed identities and madcap humor, this really is a super fun film. It made me a little sad to see Robin Williams here, knowing now how his genius stemmed from intense depression, but he was note-perfect as the long-suffering father who stands by his man when it counted. Nathan Lane, as William’s effeminate mate, was at turns amusing and heart-breaking, but always fantastic. And [pullquote position=”right”]Hank Azaria (as their houseboy) was a non-stop delight, and not because he was gay, but from being such a wonderful weirdo in all incarnations. [/pullquote](I want an entire movie based on the life and times of Agador Spartacus. )

Hank Azaria in the birdcage
Oh Hank Spartacus, you rock my world!

Everyone committed to their parts with genuine glee and abandon. It was a real pleasure and treat to rewatch this film, so many years later, in spite of the genuine frustration of intransigent attitudes that hopefully don’t persist today.

[pullquote]I give this a super high grade only because the film made me laugh harder than I have in many (many!) years[/pullquote], from seeing everyone scrambling to hide phallic statues and bowls with Greek boys playing “leapfrog” around the rim, serving shrimp soup with no shrimp (and uncracked eggs floating around) as the only dish, and the joyous end with Hackman’s senator finally accepting the inevitable and the ridiculous. I’m still  smiling two days later.

I don’t want to write any more for this review, for two reasons: it’s immensely funny and shouldn’t be spoiled, and because I’m kind of uncomfortable making a lot of comments on using Gay Panic as a source of humor. If you have any suggestions how to handle both loving and being disturbed by the themes of a  movie, please leave them in the comments below. 

Movie Grade: A+ (For being legitimately enjoyable when taken on its intended merits: showcasing great acting, playful humor, and showing that society should never make one feel ashamed of themselves. )