There are a few movies that whenever I come across them whilst flipping channels I just can’t pass by. Once I catch the merest snippet of a scene from one of these films I am pretty much all in until the final credits roll. These movies are the equivalent of putting on a pair of your very favorite sweatpants or fuzzy slippers while drinking a nice warm cuppa something, they are the movie version of comfort food only without the calories. Now what constitutes as a comfort movie for me might not be the same for you, we are all our own unique rainbows and my personal pot of gold is solely comprised of comedies. Watching them immediately transports me to my happy place, and with this already cold and awful November weather and yet another winter on my doorstep I need all the help I can get. Recently two of my favoritedest comfort movies were on at the very same time and I found myself in quite the conundrum. Which one should I watch as my primary movie and which one should be the understudy, i.e., the movie I watch only during commercials? Ugh, it was just so very unfair especially when you consider most of the time when you want to sit down and watch something on cable there is absolutely NOTHING to choose from, despite having hundreds of channels (to be fair, many of them are the same ones, Comcast, go figure). And I would like to please ask BBC America to stop showing Top Gear for days at a time and that goes double for any and all James Bond movies and it goes triple for any episodes of Star Trek, whatever generation. Just STOP!!!!!!!!!
Hot Tub Time Machine: I saw this movie the weekend it opened, because we all know how the supposedly funniest movies ever get less funny the longer they are out and the more we hear about how funny they are from others so if there is a comedy that I am at all interested in my rule of thumb is to see it the weekend it opens. If not I will end up feeling all disappointed and totally misled by the people who told me how hilarious it was* and how they laughed their asses off when I left the movie with my ass still firmly attached thank you very much.
Luckily HTTM did not let me down and it fast became one of those movies that no matter what I should be doing, I end up watching it until the bitter end. Those of us who were lucky enough to experience the 80’s know that it was a time of horrible hair, the bigger, the curlier and the crunchier, thanks to all the mousse, the better. And as bad as the hair was, the fashion was even worse. Acid wash jeans, lace all over the place (not comfortable), neon colored everything and the ubiquitous Frankie Says Relax or Choose Life in huge letters on white tee shirts ruled. Seriously, it had absolutely no redeeming fashion qualities except I did have an awesome pair of white-fringed Minnetonka moccasin boots that I wish I still had today. I remember wearing those at First Avenue and thinking they were the bomb, and really, they were.
John Cusack (Adam), Craig Robinson (Nick), and Rob Corddry (Lou) have all seen better days and are each going through their own version of a middle-age crisis with former party boy Lou suffering the worst. After Lou’s failed suicide attempt the three high school buddies along with Adam’s basement dwelling video gamer nephew Jacob (Clark Duke) hop in the car and head to the hills, the ski hills that is, to the old resort that was the scene of all their youthful good times. Of course the years have also been unkind to the Kodiak Ski Resort which is now a run down husk of its former self and when a can of Chernobly energy drink gets spilled into the control of the hot tub they all get back-to-the-futured to 1986, a winter weekend that was pivotal in all four of their lives.
Hideous fashion aside, the 80’s were a pretty fun, silly time and this movie brings it all back and then some. A mish-mash of Back to the Future and about a hundred other time traveling movies it’s not hugely original. It is however quite possibly the best movie John Cusack has been in since High Fidelity (check it out if you have not seen it or read the book). Frizzy hair, bad fashion, Chernobly, it’s all there and it is glorious. Plus any movie with Scritti Politti’s Perfect Way in the soundtrack is all right by me.
Devil Wears Prada: Remember back when the collective internets did not loathe Ann with an e Hathaway? Before she turned all Tracy Flick from Election on us in her ruthless quest to win a major award (Oscar) for Les Miz? Trust me, there was a moment when she wasn’t insufferable and this movie proves it. TDWP stops me in my tracks every time because: a) New York has never looked so good; b) Paris has never looked so good; c) the clothes are to die for: and d) Emily Blunt as her co-worker who is just one flu episode away from being the perfect size steals every scene she is in. In fact, I loved everything about Anne Hathaway as Andy Sachs in this movie, her hair, her clothes, her being the fat girl in the not-so-thinly veiled Vogue office.
I did not read the book as I was not that interested in the subject matter (hatchet job on Anna-everyone-knows-she-is-a-beyotch-Wintour**) yet the movie sucks me in each and every time and this movie is on A LOT, which is why when it was up against Hot Tub Time Machine I knew this would be my understudy movie. TDWP had a million dollar wardrobe budget and it shows. Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, you name it but the most envy inducing clothes as worn by Ann with an e Hathaway are Chanel. Karl Lagerfeld may be a bit of a see-you-next-Tuesday IRL but he sure makes some awfully pretty clothes.
Shaun of the Dead: Now normally I don’t like horror movies even when they are directed by someone I knew for 48 hours (and had their digits) and I don’t care for gore yet somehow I adore this movie. Or maybe it’s just Simon Pegg that I adore? Anyhoodle, Shaun (Pegg) is a slacker with a crummy electronics sales job, an unhappy soon to be ex-girlfriend (Kate Ashfield) and a loser best friend Ed (played by Nick Frost). When the zombie apocalypse happens slacker Shaun springs into action and leads his friends and family on a road trip to their local pub, thinking they will be all be safe there. Au contraire Shaun, au contraire.
The cast also includes Bill Nighy (Shaun’s step-dad and the epitome of lanky elegance as always), Penelope Wilton (Shaun’s mom, aka Harriet Jones, Prime Minister from Doctor Who and poor dead cousin Matthew’s mum from Dowtown Abbey), Dylan Moran, (the crankiest bookstore owner ever from Black Books), Lucy Davis (the original Pam from the original Office) and a slew of others most notably Doctor Watson himself, Martin Freeman, or Bilbo Baggins if you’re into that Hobbit crap which I am not.
This one (like all the other comfort movies) can also be found on Amazon Instant but you really should see it on DVD with all the extras like a trashy Jerry Springer-type daytime talk show and a ZombAid concert. It is the first time I have ever even remotely liked Chris Martin, still not enough to ever listen to Cold Play, that could never happen willingly. Borrow it from one of your friends because surely at least one of them should own it. If not, you might want to expand your friend-zone a bit wider.
Blades of Glory: Ah yes, figure skating and I go way back, way back to the old Golden Valley Ice Arena that I think is a bank or a hotel or something else non-ice related now. I spent my Saturdays (and sometimes Sundays) at that rink, perfecting my figure eights (that used to be important in the old days, before triple jumps of every persuasion took over). Oh how I loved putting on my skate guards after a nice lesson with my ex-Ice Capades coach Mr. Lee and drinking some of that boiling hot vending machine hot cocoa. Kids today with their Caribous and Starbucks on every corner have no idea how bad that stuff was, it was all watery and barely had any resemblance to anything even vaguely chocolate-y. I had to have it though, every time. Just like I have to watch this movie every time I come across it.
Will Ferrell is the kind of guy people tend to either love or hate. I definitely am in the love camp and could have easily had three of these comfort movies star him, “Elf“, “Anchorman” and “Megamind” for example but that would be rather boring, wouldn’t it? Ferrell stars as Chazz Michael Michaels (a guy who can appreciate the importance of a good hairbrush) a former men’s champion skater who gets banned for life from singles competition along with his arch nemesis rich boy Jimmy MacElroy, played in all his blonde glory by Napoleon Dynamite‘s Jon Heder. Thankfully, Jimmy’s stalker Hector (Nick Swardson) comes up with a way for them to get around this little set back by having them compete as the world’s first non-mixed pair. Will Arnett and Amy Poehler (now sadly D-I-V-O-R-C-E-D) are great as the ever-so-slightly incestuous (gross) Von Waldenburg siblings, add in a bunch of real-life figuring skating champs like Dorothy Hamill and Scott Hamilton and you have a great popcorn and Milk Dud movie to cuddle up with on a long winter’s night. The anthemic 80’s rock soundtrack doesn’t hurt either. I never got to skate to anything from the 20th century when I was in ice shows let alone something I knew the words to.
Desperately Seeking Susan: The first time I ever went to NYC just happened to be the year this movie came out. I am pretty sure I never saw it then because I was not a Madonna fan and this was her big push to be a film star and we all know how that all turned out for Madge, don’t we? It’s a good thing she has that singing thing going on because unlike Ann with an e Hathaway, she is never going to have to worry about where to put an Oscar in one of her many homes. However, this movie is her best acting work to date and while that isn’t saying a lot, it is saying something since DSS is enjoyable for a lot of reasons. Not the least of which is it does showcase one of the few Madonna songs I ever liked “Get into the Groove” and if that song does not have you singing and dancing along even a little bit then my friend there is no hope for you.
Rosanna Arquette (the one with the Toto song in her honor) plays a bored New Jersey housewife who obsessively reads the personals (remember those? I suppose if they re-did this it would be Craig’s List, which is so very not the same) and one day goes into the big bad city to spy on a planned rendezvous for Susan only she gets hit on the head, develops amnesia (like people do in all the movies) and then meets dreamy Aiden Quinn***. DSS also stars a pre-Roseanne Laurie Metcalf and a couple of other people who show up on network shows regularly.
The best thing about this movie (besides the song) is how great a job it does showing just how very scary NYC used to be. I even forgot how bad it was and I have been going there forever. The lower east side, Times Square, they were not at all the trendy, safe places they are today. And while I really do not miss the squalor and the ick factor that was Times Square back then, I am not so sure I like the chain stores and restaurants a whole lot better. The gentrification and homogenization of NYC has been going on for so long now that each time I go back there is one more piece of the original puzzle missing. Music Institutions like CBGBs in the Bowery, Wetlands in TriBeCa and Love Saves the Day, the store that figured so prominently in this movie are long gone. Even the infamous Limelight nightclub where the club kid murder took place is now a fancy gym and that is just all sorts of wrong.
*See pretty much any Jim Carrey movie ever and There’s Something About Mary, sorry, not funny, not one bit.
** Every time I think of how uptight Anna Wintour supposedly is (her nickname is after all Nuclear Wintour) I remember the very interesting fact that she spent a week holed up in a hotel room with Bob Marley, and then I just laugh and think what a sly little pothead she was and for all we know still could be.
*** I am not sure what it was but for years every time I went to NYC I would see Aiden Quinn. Go to dinner in the meat-packing district, go to a bar in the east village, see a play, you name it, he was there. It was so WEIRD. But he was very cute back then so I didn’t mind.