Scrooged vs. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

Watching Ghosts of Girlfriends Past actually inspired this post. I know it strange, but I take inspiration where I find it 🙂 It occurred to me that this movie borrowed a few aspects from Scrooged, so I decided to have some fun with the review.

If you haven’t seen these movies, here’s a quick summary:
Scrooged (1988): A selfish TV exec needs to change and learn the true meaning of Christmas.
Ghosts of Girlfreinds Past (2009): A womanizer needs to change his ways; not a Christmas movie.

Billy Murray Scrooged
Photo from: http://www.pinterest.com
Matthew McConaughey
Photo from: http://www.pinterest.com

Similarities:

  • Both use Dickens’ A Christmas Carol format. The dead guy who comes to warn the main character, and there are three ghosts.
  • Both have a love interest who got away.
  • The girl who got away is a brunette. In Scrooged, it’s Karen Allen; in Ghosts, it’s Jennifer Garner.
  • Both have a strong actor who plays the main character (aka the a’hole) In Scrooged, it’s Bill Murray; in Ghosts, it’s Matthew McConaughey. They both have a brother, who is really the only person they love.
  • The main characters are successful in the entertainment industry.
  • The ghost of Christmas/Girlfriends present is the most interesting ghost, both are women, and neither are afraid to teach the main guy a lesson.

Differences:

  • Even though both use the same format, Ghosts is not a Christmas movie — it’s a true rom-com. It actually deals addresses the pressures of getting married, and if you are single, the pressures of fitting into a society full of love and couples.
  • The love interests are very different characters. Allen is sweet, a do-gooder, donates her time to the less fortunate. She clearly loves Murray and wants a future with him; she supports him throughout the entire movie. Garner hates McConaughey; he has obviously jaded her against men and relationships, but she’s not quite ready to give up on love. Garner is quick and sometimes nasty to him.
  • The first ghost in Scrooged has one primary scene. In Ghosts, that ghost (his uncle) stays with McConaughey throughout his journey and even pushes McConaughey into his own grave.
  • Murray is a selfish, true cynic of a man. He’s hollow and would staple a mouse’s head to make a costume work. McConaughey is this character 2.0. He’s a real piece of crap, and it’s obvious they tried to make him hateable. They did a good job.

So which one is a better movie? I prefer Scrooged because it’s funnier and moves well. The pace is perfect. Ghosts feels a little slow, and they spend too much time on the past. Emma Stone plays a great ghosts of girlfriends past, but the exposition slows the movie down. Murray may not be as mean as McConaughey, but he’s a lot more endearing and fun. Both movies deserve a watch, but I can and have rewatched Scrooged several more times.
Share your thoughts in the comments below, and if you want us to “verses” something, feel free to suggest something!

Seven Psychopaths: 10 Reasons to Love It

Seven Psychopaths
Photo from: http://www.bbc.co.uk

Seven Psychopaths, written and directed by Martin McDonagh, is a movie after my heart. It is so well done it deserves a list of the best things, so here are 10 reasons to love (and watch) Seven Psychopaths:

1. It’s not Tarantino, but it feels like it. I’m a huge Tarantino fan, and when I saw Seven Psychopaths in the theater I didn’t know who the director was. I assumed it was Tarantino until I learned otherwise. It’s as close to a Tarantino film as you can get.

2. The dialogue. This is hard to do, especially do well, and there are many jabs and one-liners. Some are funny, some are smart, some are deep. The film is conversation heavy, but it’s good conversation and keeps the story going. People talk about things real people would talk about; for example, two gangsters killing time by talking about people who had been shot in the eyeball and survived. The dialogue one of the best parts of the movie.

3. The cast. My favorites: Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Bonny the dog. Other good stars: Colin Farrell, Michael Stuhlbarg, Linda Bright Clay, Gabourey Sidibe, Tom Waits, Michael Pitt. The movie is full of familiar faces and talent, and they blend well together.

4. Humor. Seven Psychopaths is listed as comedy/crime. This isn’t slapstick humor though; it’s dark humor (my favorite) and sometimes very wrong. But it is funny if you enjoy smartA remarks, language, and smart people.

5. Violence. It’s violent but not tasteless. It’s bloody but the realistic blood that you’d expect when someone gets an arm cut off or shot in the head. In a lot of movies now, “blood” is colored so it doesn’t look real or it’s not seen at all, but the blood in this movie looks like movie blood. It’s red and thick, but the shots hold long enough to establish it, not to mash it in your face. And it’s a gangster movie, so there’s plenty of shooting.

6. The story. Ferrell is writing a screenplay about seven psychopaths, and the psychopaths exist in real life. All the mini stories intertwine, and the main people involved try to write the ending. (The ending is often the most difficult part.) I can see if McDonagh’s own intentions and motivations come through Ferrell’s character. He’s tired of the stereotypical psychopaths and wants something you wouldn’t expect.

7. Music. The soundtrack is one of the best aligned with a film I’ve ever heard. It’s not one I’d want to own, but it pairs perfectly with the scenes, action and story. I’ve worked to this movie multiple times and perk up when a song comes on. Artists include: Hank Williams, P.P. Arnold, The Stone Poneys featuring Linda Ronstadt, and The Walkmen. You may not know them by seeing their names, but you will know the songs when you hear them.

8. It’s refreshing. A lot of crap has come out in the last few years. However, this was a good movie that premiered in 2012, and not enough people knew about it. If all the Tarantino-style fans in the world saw this movie, it would have blown up. As a movie-buff, it’s nice to know there are still people in Hollywood who can make a good movie without it being based off an adolescent novel.

9. Creativity. The story, characters, dialogue, everything is creative and theatrical. It’s what a movie should be: entertaining and a world you want to live in for two hours. The story has not been overdone, and you don’t feel you’ve seen it before. Unpredictability is a good thing.

10. Love. Believe it or not, there’s real love in Seven Psychopaths. Walken and his wife, Bright Clay; Bonny and Rockwell; Waits and his runaway woman. The movie shows love is tough, but it stays with you into eternity. It’s not something you’d expect from a gangster movie, but Ferrell pretty much lays out the movie in the first 20 minutes. If you pay attention, you get it.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about the movie in the comments, so feel free to share!

Bad Teacher May Deserve a Sequel

Bad Teacher
Diaz and Smith in a bar. Photo from: aceshowbiz.com

I rarely think a movie needs a sequel, but Bad Teacher is on that short list. The movie, starring Cameron Diaz, tells the story of a lazy, irresponsible teacher who is beyond materialistic and selfish. I’ve seen this movie dozens of times on TV, but recently I watched the unrated extended version. After that, I knew why it needs a sequel – in a good way of course.

  • It’s a good comedy. There have been some pretty good ones over the last few years, but most modern comedies try to shock the audience or gross them out (eg. excessive vomiting). However, Bad Teacher is funny because of the dialogue. Sure, there is one bathroom scene and it can be a little immature, but the dialogue and conflicts are well written. It is pretty adult but not over the top or trying to disgust you.
  • Fun, distinct characters. The people make or break it. The story can be solid, but if the characters suck, the movie will. Bad Teacher has a great cast who feed off each other, and in many cases, opposites attract. I’d love to see these characters together again. Aside from Diaz, the movie stars:
    • Lucy Punch (crazy but good teacher who cares about the kids), Jason Segel (cool gym teacher who likes to smoke weed), Justin Timberlake (preppy, geeky substitute teacher), Phyllis Smith (teacher and the best best friend ever), and John Michael Higgins (dolphin-loving principal).
    • Diaz is terrible, but you can’t help but like her. She’s selfish, manipulative, mean, and horrible with kids. And it’s so funny. Smith is a great asset to the movie because she seems like the average teacher, but she’s fun and the most supportive person ever. People need to be that kind of best friend. Punch plays a great teacher – the kind who freak us out a little with their enthusiasm for learning – and I could so see Segel as a gym teacher in another life.
  • School environment. I really like movies that take place in schools, especially when they’re not dramas. Bad Teacher portrays the school life well. For example, Diaz receives a $37 gift card from the staff as a going-away engagement present. I was surprised by how well the actors play teachers, and I know a lot of teachers. The kids are great too. Noah Munck (Gibby from iCarly) and Kathryn Newton (teen girl in Paranormal Activity 4) are two students you may know.
  • The end. SPOILER alert! At the end of the movie, Diaz starts a new school year as a guidance counselor, doesn’t get the boob job, and is dating Segel, which is a cute match. It’s a very good ending because she is much better at counseling, but I want to see her in that role. Diaz as a guidance counselor would be awesome. Her advice is real. The kind of advice that’s sometimes hard to give and take (I give a lot of this kind of advice, so I can relate and appreciate it).
  • The sequel factor. The movie isn’t highly rated, so a sequel will probably never happen. However the end wraps everything up so well, if you enjoy the movie, you want more. That’s a good sign of a good movie. You watch it, enjoy it, and think I could rewatch that or I wish there was more. Good films make the audience want more.

If you like comedies or want to chill to a movie, check it out. It’s good fun.

Final Thoughts on Robin Williams

This week, we at RevPub decided to pay our respects to Robin Williams. It’s rare we are affected by celebrity news, but this announcement hit us especially hard. It chipped away a piece of my heart. I remember standing there thinking … he was the genie. The genie is gone.

I grew up watching Robin Williams. I remember my grandma loving Hook, my brother loving Aladdin, everyone loving Mrs. Doubtfire. I watched his movies because he starred in them. He made me laugh and sometimes cry, and I loved his smile too. The genie in Aladdin remains one of my favorite Disney characters of all time, and I still quote and sing songs from the movie – especially “you ain’t ever had a friend like me.” That movie is still my favorite Disney movie and always will be. Robin Williams made that movie a hit.

The night of his passing, I watched the Weapons of Self Destruction stand-up and laughed to tears. I had a unique, strange experience while watching it though. When he discussed drug abuse and usage (specifically acid), the streaming on my TV slowed way down, so he had this trippy glow around his arms, head, and legs as he moved. At first, I thought it was part of the show (for TV audiences) because it was like watching the show under the influence of something, and it fit so well. From what I’ve heard about acid, it would compare to an acid trip lol. Once I realized it wasn’t part of the show, I stopped streaming and resumed, and the slow-mo glow was gone. As crazy as it sounds, it was as if he showed his appreciation for my watching the stand-up that night. I believe in spirits and energy, and that was too weird to not acknowledge.

It’s no secret he had his demons – we all do. Substance abuse, alcoholism, depression all tormented him, but many creative geniuses suffer in the same ways. Hell, schools around the world teach classes on the authors alone. Learning about the suicide hurt me more than his passing. This person dedicated his entire life to making others happy – even if only for a moment – and felt so low and hopeless he took his own life. Some believe people who commit suicide should not be celebrated, but it doesn’t matter how we die, it’s how we live. And he lived for others. With that said, I want to pay my respects to an actor who made me laugh throughout my entire life. We will miss him.
My Favorite Robin Williams movies:

Good Morning, Vietnam

Hook

Aladdin

Mrs. Doubtfire

Jumanji

The Birdcage

Jack

Flubber

One Hour Photo

Insomnia

Weird Al and the Cycle of Pop Culture

Off The Top of My Head

With the release of a brand new Weird Al album this week, I got to thinking about my personal history with the Great Yankovic’s music and noticed an alarming trend….

When I was a kid I listened to a lot of Disney albums and dinosaur-centered kids’ records. The first album from a specific musical artist I ever received was literally a WEIRD one. An older kid whose mom was friends with my mom gave me my first Weird Al album. And it was a doozy. Dare to Be Stupid.

As a six year old I did know some popular music. I of course knew Michael Jackson, some Madonna, the Bangles “Walk like an Egyptian,” for some reason “Cruel Summer” by Bannanrama sticks in my memory from this era. But I didn’t know much beyond that. The only song I recognized at all from the Dare to be Stupid was the Madonna cover “Like a Surgeon.” I knew “Like a Virgin” from the radio, however to be honest I listened to the Weird Al album so often I still can’t hear the intro to Madonna’s original without singing the lyrics to Yankovic’s parody.

Of the rest of the songs on the album I only vaguely knew “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” so I knew the tune, but I couldn’t even define “parody” well enough to realize Weird Al was lampooning a popular song. The rest might as well have ALL be Al-originals. I didn’t know Huey Lewis beyond Back to the Future and “Lola” was unknown to me but I sure knew Star Wars well enough for Al’s “Yoda” to resonate.

I was an instant fan, whether I knew the original artists or their songs or not.

A couple years later I received Polka Party and the self-titled album. Off this album I knew NONE of the original popular songs but I still know every word to the Al parody, even though I still don’t know what some of the originals ARE. Off of the self-titled, I only recognized the Joan Jett cover of “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” well enough to know “I Love Rocky Road” was indeed a parody of it. Though these albums cover artist from James Brown, and Tom Petty, to Queen, and Mick Jagger I only knew Al.

For a while I forgot Weird Al as a novelty of my youth until I rediscovered him in middle school. I was now more familiar with popular music so when I found old used tapes of Even Worse and In 3D I recognized the songs as older hits. “Bad” and “Fat” were both such big hits they transcended lack of knowledge of Al or Michael Jackson. I also knew the “I Think I’m a Clone Now” track from the cover of “I think We’re Alone Now.” From In 3d Eat it was the huge hit, another I recognized from Michael Jackson, and I recognized a lot of the oldies in “Polkas on 45.” It was nice to know a lot of the music Al was lampooning and it added to the parody as you could see how he changed the song and used the original artist’s music to create a whole new song.

As a teenager I knew the modern popular music of course so when I got Off the Deep End, Alapalooza, and Bad Hair Day, nearly every parodied song I heard I had heard the ORIGINAL first. Often over and over. It wasn’t until this era when I personally realized that, of course, Al parodied the BIGGEST hits of a few years of music. Nirvana, Coolio, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, very well known to me at the time, Al’s tracks were just as great (if not greater) and knowing the newer songs as well as I did made the Al-bums even more enjoyable.

Then something strange happened… Right around Running With Scissors I started to lose touch with popular music again. I knew the songs he was parodying but the original lyrics no longer fought for control in my brain when I heard the Al version. By the time Poodlehat and Straight out of Lynwood arrived I knew OF the songs but can honestly say I never heard “Confessions” or “Ridin” before the Al parodies. Though I did know American Idiot it was the only one I could have named the original title of off of Lynwood.

When Alpocalypse came out I was six years old again. Trying to figure out which of the tracks were parodies and which were Al originals. The additional fallout to this is while walking around whistling “Party in the CIA” to the rest of the world I was jamming to Miley Cyrus…

It’s a strange circle of pop culture life. From not knowing the originals and only know Al’s parodies, to knowing a bit of the originals but more of Al’s, to knowing the originals well AND Al’s, to knowing Al’s parodies better than the originals, and back to ONLY knowing the Weird Al tracks.

It speaks to Al’s longevity and versatility that he has had a successful music career that spans nearly my entire life thus far.

 

I’m eagerly awaiting Al’s latest offering, “Mandatory Fun” though to be honest, even if the track list HAD been leaked, it wouldn’t have mattered…I wouldn’t know the popular originals anyway!

The Best Things About Mean Girls

You know them, or you have been one. Maybe you still are. It doesn’t matter though because at some point, most women have been a mean girl.

Photo from : meangirls-confessions.tumblr.com
Photo from : meangirls-confessions.tumblr.com

As I’ve admitted, I have a weakness for good teen movies. And I LOVE this movie. I have seen it so many times I can quote it, and even though she’s somewhat crazy now, I still have a soft spot for old-school Lindsay Lohan.

Mean Girls (2004) is dead-on when it shows how girls – and oftentimes women – treat each other. That is the primary reason I hang out with guys. I never have to worry about guys gossiping behind my back or trying to secretly sabotage me while acting like my best friend. I have been a mean girl though, so I don’t blame anyone for not liking me either.

The movie truly tells the story of a group of high school friends who are obsessed with body image, their social and sexual lives, and terrorizing each other to look good and gain popularity. Mean Girls confronts trends, cliques, and all the horrible things teen girls do to each other, and why it shouldn’t be that way.

Aside from the movie’s obvious themes of forgiveness, girl power, support, and unity, I take a lot of other things (some silly) from the movie:

  • I know, right? Thank you, Rachel McAdams (Regina George). I didn’t realize I picked up this phrase from the movie, but I know I did. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing though.
  • Plastics. I’m not sure if the term derived from the movie, but it’s a great word for the high-fashion, fully made-up types. E.g.: The ones who look like Barbie dolls.
  • Amanda Seyfried. According to IMDB, this was her first movie. I want to personally thank the casting director for picking Seyfried to play the stereotypical really dumb blonde. Who knew she’d turn into the young star she is now?
  • School faculty. This movie reminds us that teachers and principals have real lives and problems. The ones in this movie seem to say what you know every faculty member wants to. Two of my favorite quotes, “I cannot tell you how happy I am this year is over,” and “Oh, hell no. I did not leave the South side for this!” Tim Meadows (Mr. Duvall) says.
  • Girl-on-girl crime is self-destructive. Not only does Mean Girls teach you that you can ruin your best friend’s life, it proves you can ruin your own. You will be exposed, and people will hate you.
  • People you torture will have the last laugh. Lizzy Caplan (Janis Ian) delivers a fantastic speech in the end where she simply confesses trying to destroy McAdams’ life. She falls into the crowd as they chant her name. Be careful who you’re mean to; they often find a way to retaliate.

Do you have a mean-girl related story? Feel free to share below!