Twice-(Thrice-?Umpteenth-?)Told Tales of the Great White North by
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Prompted By Rewatchable Movies

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Calling All Hosers

Rewatchable movies?  I submit that in the pandemic era surely all or almost all movies, regardless of genre, date, cast, subject matter, etc. are presumptively rewatchable.  At least those available in hard media form, like DVDs, or via streaming.  But I am an inveterate rewatcher from way before Covid.  And not just once but again and again. Holiday movies, for example.  Movies like “A Christmas Carol”*, It’s a Wonderful Life and, of course, A Christmas Story (good ol’ Ralphie).  So much so that I can quote extended stretches of dialogue from each.  Which I put to good use on one occasion.

Let me pose a question: for a movie to qualify as “re”watchable does it first have to be watchable?  What about Stupid Movies, the kind that seem to exist solely to celebrate their own inanity?

Former wife #3 purported to operate a picture framing business.  She had a real talent, but chose merely to dabble in that skill rather than operate a business.  She had all the necessary equipment and supplies, of course, including a prodigious amount of Kraft paper, the familiar sturdy brown paper used to back the framed pictures.  Anyway, by the last December that we were together it was obvious to her that she would never use anywhere near the quantity of Kraft paper on hand, so she suggested that we wrap all Christmas presents with it to use at least a portion.  I agreed, but ventured that the visual of presents under the tree would be quite dull.  And then inspiration: using 2” by 4” labels I would inscribe quotes from the three holiday films mentioned and plaster them all over the packages.  Given my encyclopedic knowledge and recall of dialogue, no sweat.  I made it so.  But I digress.

Let me pose a question: for a movie to qualify as “re”watchable does it first have to be watchable?  What about Stupid Movies, the kind that seem to exist solely to celebrate their own inanity?  Films that most of the general public, let alone cinephiles, would avoid at all costs.**  Categorically, then, not “re”watchable, correct?

But that’s of no consequence for me.

On another platform sometime last year I posted an observation about what I call the ministry of things.  Unlike the internet of things – smart TVs, doorbell camera systems, certain thermostats, etc. –  that all too often complicate our lives (and even spy on us) the ministry of things is the universe of things that provide us comfort.  A favorite shirt.  Coffee mug.  Recipe.  Dessert.  Etc.  Highly individualized for each of us.

For me, that includes Stupid Movies.

Bill Murray has starred in many great comedies, such as “What About Bob?” and “Stripes” and even in an uncredited role in “Tootsie”.  Eminently watchable and rewatchable because they are good.  No, I’m talking about “Meatballs”.  Even the name works.   I am told that Murray ad libbed much of his performance.  I can, and have, watched it again and again.  But I believe that it may not qualify as a truly Stupid Movie because its premise, the story of a sleepaway camp and the adventures and misadventures of its teenage counselors (led by head counselor Murray as “Tripper”) and campers, is conventional, and it works.

No, the cake taker is “Strange Brew”.  Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis as the McKenzie brothers, expanding upon the sketches they did for Second City TV.  Complete and utter nonsense.  And side-splittingly funny.  At least to me.  And maybe a handful of others who will admit it and perhaps some more who won’t.  Many times, when we talk of movies to those who have not seen them, we must take care not to be spoilers.  For Strange Brew, however, no worries. Plot, such as it is? Things like “continuity”? Nope. It’s just achingly funny; there’s just nothing to spoil.  Beauty, eh?***

– – – – – – –

* Perhaps the classic edition of this is the early ‘50’s version starring Alastair Sim, the quintessential Scrooge.  The actual title of the movie, though, is “Scrooge”, not “A Christmas Carol,” upon which it is based.

** One must distinguish Stupid Movies from Bad Movies, i.e. truly epic stinkers, see, e.g. “Plan 9 From Outer Space”.  Or should I say don’t see?

*** The McKenzie brothers reside in Ontario in the Great White North.  The film is faithful to the vernacular of the region.

Profile photo of Tom Steenburg Tom Steenburg
Retired attorney and investment management executive. I believe in life, liberty with accountability and the relentless pursuit of whimsy.


Characterizations: funny, well written

Comments

  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    I love your idea of decorating the Kraft-wrapped gifts with quotes from Christmas classics, Tom; inspired! And I agree that passing the time amusing yourself with funny movies is a great diversion! Bill Murray is a truly funny guy. He spends a lot of time golfing on Martha’s Vineyard, so we get to see him in up close and personal. In fact, I was getting PT behind a closed curtain a few years ago, and heard a familiar voice. When the curtain opened – there was the man himself, sitting a few feet away, having a finger worked on. He was as nice as could be (to the physical therapist, who is well-known on the island) and slipped out without a fuss. It’s great when the myth matches the man.

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    I can’t count the number of times I watched A Christmas Story with my kids. Never failed to make me laugh. Like you, I’m a sucker for stupid movies. The Airplane ones were quite rewatchable.

    • You’re right about the Airplane movies, but. The fact that there is more than one means that they aren’t quite Stupid Movies. Ya see, the fact that there is a sequel means that the filmmakers left something on the table after the first. That violates the first precept of Stupid Movies: give it your all, leave no groan unturned. This is where Strange Brew excels.

  3. Love your digressions Tom, and enjoy your stupid movies. I think I understand your distinction between Stupid and Bad – the first is intentional, the second is not, yes?

    Diana Vreeland, the Vogue fashion mavin supposedly said something sorta a propos –
    “I can tolerate people with poor taste, it’s people with no taste I can’t abide.”

  4. Marian says:

    While I’ve seen a small bit of the McKenzie brothers on the old SCTV, I confess I haven’t seen the movie, Tom. I get where you are going with this, because I will rewatch Trading Places, with Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, and Jamie Lee Curtis, for the same reasons, even though it’s completely silly. And, I love the “ministry of things,” great concept!

    • Thanks, Marian. I, too, love Trading Places and have seen it many times. Same as A Fish Named Wanda. But as enjoyable as they are, they’re not Stupid. As for your “confession” – it’s misplaced. For a Stupid Movie like Strange Brew one need not confess that one has not seen it, one must confess that one has.

  5. Khati Hendry says:

    Aside from the movie reviews, I loved the Kraft paper wrapping with apropos labels, and the “ministry of things”. So hard to be tidy when a whole ministry is at work to spark joy in an abundance of stuff.

  6. Khati Hendry says:

    That made me laugh out loud–hadn’t heard it, but oh so true!

  7. I’m with Khati, Tom…love the Kraft paper idea, and laughed out loud at your oh-so-true and freshly minted aphorism. I might have to borrow it!

  8. Suzy says:

    I’m probably never going to see any of the movies you wrote about, but I enjoyed reading what you had to say. And I love that line you made up in your response to Khati – that should be a sign in my house!

  9. John Shutkin says:

    Great concept about stupid movies, Tom. I know exactly what you mean and have loved me a bunch of them myself. Though I’m not sure I agree with your theory that there cannot be a sequel to a stupid movie. I mean, even its title almost writes itself: “Too Stupid.”

  10. OK, this Retrospect wins the prize for best follow-up comments! That means that the original post also wins!

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