Time to brine.
Hershel Greenbaum (Seth Rogan) immigrates to America with his wife, Sarah (Sarah Snook) and begins to work in a pickle factory to fuel his American dream. One day he's accidentally knocked into a pickling vat, and the factory is condemned so he's left to brine for 100 years until two kids accidentally free him. He then meets his only living relative, great-grandson, Ben (also played by Rogan) and becomes a media sensation.
I absolutely love how they explain the science of how he was able to stay alive. It's hysterical. Sometimes the easiest way is the best way. When I sat down to watch this on Saturday night (pro tip: it's best to have pickles handy in your house because you will want to eat one at some point during this movie) I had pretty much forgotten the trailer I had seen months ago. Because of that, the conflict in the movie was a bit of a welcomed surprise for me.
Seth Rogan is great in this. It's easily the best performance he's ever given. Both Hershel and Ben are very different and Rogan never loses sight of that. He's never just playing "Ben with an accent" when he's playing Hershel, and vice versa. They're both fleshed out characters in their own right.
I will say structure wise, this movie does play out a bit like a shorter Judd Apatow film, meaning it has about 15 minutes or so towards the end after the main conflict has reached its crescendo where is absolutely drags while the main character ponders what he did wrong. But that aside, I laughed enough to make this worth my time.
Memorable Quote: "I will create a pickle empire and prove you stupid." - Hershel (Seth Rogan)
What I knew going in: The famous songs.
IMDB sums up Meet Me In St. Louis up best. "In the year leading up to the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, the four Smith daughters learn lessons of life and love, even as they prepare for a reluctant move to New York." The majority of the film follows Esther Smith (Judy Garland) as she tries to get her new neighbor Jon Pruitt (Tom Drake) to notice her. Esther also has an older love sick sister Rose (Lucille Bremer) and two mischievous little sisters, Agnes and Tootie (Joan Carroll and Margaret O'Brien)
I realized, embarrassingly that I'm not very well versed in the late, great Judy Garland's filmography. I knew plenty about the drama surrounding her life, but I had only seen two of her films. This year I decided to right that wrong and I figured Meet Me In St. Louis was a good place to start.
This movie was delightful and just what I needed after a long, depressing week of another needless killing of a black man by a police officer in America. (You're reading this in August, but I'm typing this review on May 31st. Hopefully people have started to listen to the protesters more by now) It lifted my spirits for a short while, and for that I'm very thankful.
Judy is wonderful and her voice is just something else. The films is so bright and colorful and she radiates joy throughout. The Smith family was fun to watch and it was nice to get all the context behind the musical numbers I was familiar with. I wish Joan Carroll would've gotten more to do though. She opens the movie singing the title song briefly, then she's really just background noise to Margaret O'Brien, who had the juicer role of the two younger sisters.
Memorable Quote: "Oh I don't hate you, I just hate basketball." - Esther (Judy Garland)
Now onto Summer Stock, in this film Judy plays Jane, a down on her luck farmer whose sister Abigail (Gloria DeHaven) shows up one day with about 20 actors in tow and has promised them the barn for the show. Jane beings to butt heads, then fall for the show's director and star, Joe. (Gene Kelly)
I love me some Gene Kelly but everyone in this movie aside from Jane, Joe, and Esme (Marjorie Main) is too dumb for words. That made it a little hard to watch at times, but the dance numbers were so much fun that I would forget it about briefly. I read a lot about the backstage drama surrounding this film. How Judy was at the height of her drug addiction, and performance wise you never would've guessed. She's good here too and Kelly is an absolute delight.
As you probably can tell, I liked Meet Me In St. Louis far more, but don't sleep on Summer Stock. It's enjoyable enough, plot contrivances aside.
Memorable Quote: "We're trying to tell a story with music and song and dance." - Joe (Gene Kelly)
The Sopranos - After 84 years, I'm finally starting the Sopranos. So far so good, I'm only on season 2 but it got off to a better start than the last old HBO show binged.
Did you know there was an Aladdin TV series that came out a few years after the movie? I did. I used to watch it. It was goofy and took place after The Return of Jafar, and that's about all I remember from it.
2) How To Train Your Dragon: Race To The Edge
The popular film franchise also spawned a Netflix show that had 6 seasons. I'm not sure I saw all of this, but I'd watch occasionally with my son and while the animation wasn't the sharpest and it didn't have the music the movies did, it was still a pretty decent companion piece for the films that let you get to know the characters a bit better.
3) The Lion Guard
I had to talk about this show because I rejoiced when my son grew out of it. It's The Lion King, only Simba also has a son named Kion as well as Kiara, who already had her own movie in The Lion King 2. This show is remarkably stupid and it's almost amusing watching them try to tell this story and acknowledge the existing canon. The most egregious thing is Rob uber douche Lowe voices Simba.
1) The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
Of course I had to go with the Wardrobe, that's the ultimate secret door, right? I actually didn't know anything about Narnia before this movie came out but my then boyfriend was a huge fan of the books. I really liked the first two movies. The third was a bit of a dud, but it's still a shame they couldn't continue with the story for the fans.
2) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
There's quite a few secret doors in Harry Potter but I'm going with the film that introduces the Room of Requirements that only appears when a person really needs something. Also, it's the only one of the HP movies not written by that troll Steven Kloves so 10 points to this movie.
In this stop motion film, Coraline movies into a new house and finds a small locked door that takes her into another reality with her (at first) much nicer "button" parents. This is one of my son's favorite movies so I've seen it way too many times, but it's a good one.
1) The Other Guys
I know not everyone enjoys Will Ferrell's comedy but I love this movie. He and Mark Wahlberg had awesome chemistry and the over the top intro with The Rock and Samuel L Jackson aiming for the bushes was hysterical.
2) Rush Hour
I loved these movies growing up. My dad and I watched them together over and over.
3) Bad Boys
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are great together. For some reason, I tend to think of Bad Boys II before the original, maybe because I was a little older when I saw it.
I went for something a little ambitious. I knew I wanted to watched some of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' films, but couldn't decide which one to pick, so I went with both.
For Top Hat, Jerry Travers (Astaire) is an American actor who goes to England and falls in love with a woman Dale Tremont (Rogers) that he initially annoyed. In turn, she mistakes him for a famous producer.
The funny thing about Top Hat is how much I felt like I didn't miss once I saw this film in its full context. I had only ever seen the dance numbers, and to be honest I didn't feel like I missed much at all. The film was funny at times, but it has a solid 20 minutes or so that are insanely boring and I'm surprised a film this sprightly came to a screeching halt like that. Over all, I enjoyed it. Petty side note: I read that Astaire didn't want Rogers to wear that fluffy gown she wore during one of their dances so seeing all those feathers fly off her made me laugh)
Now let's talk about Swing Time. In this one, Astaire plays a performer and gambler named Lucky who goes to New York to earn $25,000 in order to marry his fiance. Her father adds that stipulation when Lucky arrives late to his own wedding. There he meets Penny (Rogers) a dance instructor who - much like Top Hat - he initially annoys, but when he saves her job they start to fall in love with each other.
The chemistry between them was even better, the dances more elaborate. I loved the snowy scenes they incorporated in there, this was all going so well....and then Fred Astaire ends up in black face. I immediately went online after the fact because surely I'm not the only idiot who didn't know this was coming, and it turns out there's a fair amount of discourse on how this was "okay" because it was a tribute to arguably the greatest tap dancer ever - Bill Robinson. I started thinking about that part in Sicario where Alejandro tells Kate "nothing will make sense to your American ears." This doesn't make sense to my modern eyes either, it's racist. "Good intentions" don't make it right and I'm cringing into oblivion. Imagine dancing that same dance without black face. You could still honor his style. What a concept.
I realize it's my fault for not knowing about that scene to begin with but it really drops the quality of the movie over all. Removing that scene all together, that movie would've been an easy A.
So where did we end up with grades?
Top Hat - B-
Swing Time - C+
Memorable Quote: "This was made in the 30's? And you expected what now?" - My husband, who never mustered up a fuck about my tap dancing movies to begin with.
Inception takes us to France, Australia, and several dreams in between. This film is very high up on my favorites list.
Fun fact about me; I don't like James Bond films. Skyfall remains the only one I've watched from start to finish in one sitting...but I did like it. The cinematography was wonderful and of course Bond globe trots in this.
3) The Rundown
I got a little stuck on my third pick but after browsing through my letterboxd, I landed on this 2003 film starring The Rock and Seann William Scott. I remember appreciating it as a teen for SWS's gratuitous shirtless shot while swimming in an underground river* but I also remember they jumped around a bit in this film too. Starting in the U.S and moving on to the Amazon.
*I'm not kidding, look at this. Why was this in the film? because the studio said "Teenage girls in the early 2000's, tonight you feast."