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August 25th, 2004


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01:09 am - Those who are tardy do not get fruit cup
Two of the young folks in my training class today were joking about a third who'd come in late.

"You're late," one said. "And what happens when you're late?"

"You don't get fruit cup," replied the other. And I laughed.

"You guys like Mel Brooks?!" I asked. "Cool!" But they stared. "Mel Brooks, right? High Anxiety, right? That's where the fruit cup comes from, right?"

"No," one said, with 'duh' written all over his face. "Sportscenter."

Oh, how pop culture plays games with us.



Got two DVDs from Amazon today, films I adore but I realize almost nobody else seems to dig: The Impostors and Funny Bones, quite possibly the best film ever set in Blackpool. It's also got a great soundtrack with Raymond Scott and John Lee Hooker and all sortsa stuff. Oliver Platt is a funny funny man, especially when he's allowed to be in a very dark comedy.

Forget the box copy for Funny Bones. Don't read it. Don't read the tagline. The marketing for the film was so horrendously mishandled that it's no wonder the film didn't do any business at all. If you go into Funny Bones expecting slapstick crazy comedy right off the bat, oh man will you be disappointed. If you go in realizing "Oh hey this is gonna be a black comedy and it may just shock me as much as it'll make me laugh" then you're gonna be just fine.

There is one scene in Funny Bones which is absolutely brilliant. It was the one scene that stuck with me in the eight years since I last saw the film. I'll put it behind the cut.

The Parkers, two old brothers in Blackpool, run a ghost train dark ride. When someone takes a ride, they eagerly duck behind the scenes and run to take part in a scene. The riders go through your usual funhouse stunts, horribly fake pop-up ghouls and stuff, and everybody's laughing. It's fun to be scared and laugh at cheesy depictions of death. The riders laugh through the entire ride, until they get to the last scene.

It's the two men. The two actual men. At a wake. Mourning someone in the coffin. And as the car rolls by, the two turn to stare, dolefully, at the riders.

And the riders shriek. They scream. They leave the ride crying and shaken.

I love it.

That's the way the entire film is, really. You laugh at what you're supposed to laugh at and then something happens that just kills you. I don't mean comedic kill, either. It just blows the hell out of you. Oh Moses. But that's comedy. Comedy happens at the expense of somebody else -- every single time. Laughs come from our relief at not being the one on the spot, or in the tree, or wearing that ridiculous outfit. Sometimes the schadenfreude is not as pronounced as other times, but it's always there. Just remember the old dictum from Mel Brooks: "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die."

But in the end, even with the freeze-frame ending at the moment of triumph which I do so hate, Funny Bones is good. The comedic climax featuring the two brothers is just... so wonderful. Watching two old comedians do some incredible bits of physical comedy, stuff you just know they'd been doing forever and ever, is just a joy to watch. Plus the film features Lee Evans, an incredibly manic British comedian who just never got much exposure in the States (no, Mouse Hunt does not count.)

And you know, it's one of Jerry Lewis' few roles that I actually like. This and The King of Comedy are his two movies I like. It's funny how good he is when he plays a comedian, eh?

(11 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:derspatchel
Date:August 24th, 2004 11:51 pm (UTC)

The danger of the chase has made you perspire...

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Hooray for another fan! I've always done my best to recommend The Impostors to others, by telling them it's a wonderful throwback to the old zany-cruise-liner comedies, even if it's not as... well, chaste. Tucci and Platt are a good comedic duo, the scene with the subtitles is absolutely brilliant and Lili Taylor is very very charming in the typically muted ingenue role. And the music is great, too!
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From:derspatchel
Date:August 25th, 2004 12:14 am (UTC)

Re: It has made me also... moist.

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Are you talking about the 'silent' slapstick over the opening credits, which I think is really inspired, or the pastry shop scene afterwards, which I agree can be really awkward to watch?
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 25th, 2004 12:32 am (UTC)

Re: It has made me also... moist.

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(livejournal won't let me login right now)

Mainly the pastry shop scene and stuff up until they get on the boat. I do like the opening sequence a lot, but it plays with the viewer's expectations and leaves him or her in sort of a limbo which makes some of the next couple scenes more questionable.

But that isn't to say that I haven't grown to like all of those scenes; I'm just sensitive about them when showing it to people.

Actually, my copy is on my brother's shelf downstairs since I lent it to him to watch months ago. I really should get that back and give it a watch real soon-like.
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From:annilita
Date:August 24th, 2004 11:40 pm (UTC)
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Welcome to foagie-dom, Rob. Stop at the door on your way out and pick up your Vanilla Ice CD, Betamax of the Smurfs, and dittos of your homework.
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From:derspatchel
Date:August 24th, 2004 11:58 pm (UTC)
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CD? What's that? I got these big vinyl platters with Huey Lewis on 'em.
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From:androidqueen
Date:August 25th, 2004 06:08 am (UTC)
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o tragic day! you clearly need to lend one of them blazing saddles because the poor things obviously love mel brooks and don't even know it.
From:oakenguy
Date:August 25th, 2004 07:26 am (UTC)
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Oh, Funny Bones. I have such a love/hate relationship with that movie, which would have blossomed into love/love if they'd shown the two brothers doing an entire skit, instead of giving you just glimpses of each one. It's as if Singing in the Rain showed the beginning of each dance number, and then cut to show you what was going on out in the street. And then on the other side of LA. And then back for a closeup of a little footwork...and then a glimpse of something going on in Philadelphia. Argh.
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From:derspatchel
Date:August 25th, 2004 07:53 am (UTC)
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I agree with you on that. Given the film's slow build, you'd think they'd have had enough time at the end for a full skit instead of resorting to a montage and slow-motion triumph ending. Hell, they might've shot all the material and I'd have loved to have seen it, but sadly this DVD has no bonus features at all. (But it does have that hideous box copy where almost every sentence ends in an exclamation mark!)
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From:seph
Date:August 25th, 2004 07:41 am (UTC)
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Now, you see, if kids are getting Mel Brooks things from Sports Center, how long will it be before all the little chitlin's figure that Donkey Kong originated from Donkey Kong Country? Bah.
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From:signsoflife
Date:August 25th, 2004 07:59 am (UTC)

This is the problem with an incerasingly referential culture. . .

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. . . but then there are people who think "we don't need no stinking badges" comes from Blazing Saddles.

I've had varying kinds of that experience with both "it gets the hose" and "that'll do, pig". (Actually, now that I think of it both of those were referenced in South Park.)
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From:signsoflife
Date:August 25th, 2004 08:00 am (UTC)

Proof that some people have way too much time on their hands:

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