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Tuesday, 25 January
The Goggles Do Nothing!

As the month wears on, money of course becomes a little tighter in the Pfaff household, and so the wife and I decided to stay in this weekend. Also, our lousy friends didn't call us or anything, the miserable bastards. So while they were all out giving each other handjobs and stuff, we stayed at home and engaged in an entirely different sort of wanking: we watched terrible movies.

(The following post contains spoilers about two perfectly horrifying movies: The Day After Tomorrow and I, Robot. [Alternate title: Me, Drinking.] Blah blah blah don't read if blah blah blah ruin the movie blah blah blah you have brain damage.)

The Day After Tomorrow is the latest damp sack of crap dumped on our porch from Roland Emmerich, the auteur who perpetrated such grisly crimes as Independence Day and the Godzilla remake; basically, he's Renny Harlin dressed in Gap clothing. TDAT is Rollie's big fucking cautionary tale about how GLOBAL WARMING might DESTROY THE PLANET . . . when? THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW! The whole thing is really depressing, and you know it's depressing, because just look at Jake Gyllenhall! He's mopey as hell. Mostly because he wants to fuck this nerdy gal, but also because the planet has turned into a Slushee.

You don't really have to be a climatologist (or, really, a mammal) to pick apart the hilariously dopey science that the film relies on--one utterly unchilling scene features various characters literally running from cold. Seriously. There's some horseshit about supercooled air being funneled down from the mojosphere or whatever that totally FREEZES YOU WHERE YOU STAND . . . and so people run . . . from the cold. Cold, incidentally, also travels sideways, you'll be interested to learn. The characters' only hope? Get inside . . . something! Preferably with a fire. Which foils the . . . cold, which can only creep insidiously around walls and stuff and not get to you while you're . . . inside? I don't know, honestly.

There is also a uniquely hilarious sequence involving--I can't really believe someone wrote this--(1) a Soviet ship lying frozen in the streets of New York City, (2) a daring raid on said ship for medical supplies (but the cold!), and (3) CGI wolves. Because in Hollywood, it is impossible to find actual trained dogs. "I need CGI wolves!" "But . . . we have real dogs . . . it's much cheaper . . . " "Nonsense! This scene involves . . . uh . . . stairs! Dogs don't look right on stairs. They look like voles." "Voles?" "Possibly stoats. One of those faggy British animals. Don't argue with me! I need CGI wolves!"

It's hard to pick favorite moments from this film. At one point, Dennis Quaid, looking kind of forlorn that he has no Ellen Barkin to put the boots to this time around, decides--insanely--to wander up to frozen Manhattan to grab up his glum son. It is, of course, a dipshit mission, and of course, his two assistants immediately insist upon accompanying him. It's a real Moe moment: "Hey, Homer, wait up! I want to die too!" This naturally leads to a scene of self-sacrifice, and one really sheds a tear when one of the nameless mooks dies for the greater good. I know I wept. "No, guy who is always an asshole on 'Law & Order'! No! "

I could go on more, but why? I won't be so lengthy about I, Robot, just because while it certainly is wretched offal, it wasn't nearly as clamorously dumb as TDAT.

What it is, is mostly just mindless. The movie starts by listing the famous Three Robot Laws or whatever that Asimov geeks can probably recite by heart. Then there's a fairly nonmysterious murder which seems to implicate a robot. "But no!" scream many insensible characters. "It's impossible! Robots can't murder people, by definition! It's in their programming!" I sat for a moment (drinking), and wondered: "What if someone just made some robots without that programming?"

This from a guy who never really got past BASIC.

10 PRINT "THIS MOVIE EATS THE ASS OF THE WORLD"
20 RUN
30 GOTO 10

Partway through the movie, the wife asked me, "Why do the robots have musculature?" I don't know. Why were their faces so expressive--CGI again--when their joints had exposed machinery? It was like Restoration Hardware and IKEA competed for the contract. And the end result was something like Alfred the Butler being encased in a Starkist tuna can (design by Nike).

We continued drinking. There really was no alternative. There were a few loving shots of a shirtless Will Smith, which I assumed was an economical decision: "Nobody went to see Ali, but there's no point in squandering the conditioning."

Postscript: As everyone knows, Johnny Carson died. I heard a lot of talk over the weekend from a number of friends, and there were some opinions I agreed with, and some I didn't. Everyone, however, admired the hell out the guy--this from a pretty harsh group of critics. What I know is this: that man could turn an audience around like nobody I've ever seen. Dead joke? No problem. Crummy interview? Please. He was one of the most effortless people I've ever seen on camera.

(His was also the only TV show I've ever seen live. I drew a bad one: Father Guido Sarducci and Belinda Carlisle. Eeesh.)

My favorite moment of his was--in an otherwise forgotten episode--when he came out and gave his first joke, the one that sets the audience up for the whole night. The first joke should always kill, otherwise you're fucked, and you're working your way out of a hole.

It died horribly. The first joke was met with dead silence.

Johnny put on that mock-sorry face and backed up towards the curtain. "Good night," he said quietly.

The place erupted in laughter, as did I. It's pretty wan right there on the page, but let me tell you: it was fucking comic genius. And he pulled it right out of his ass. I never knew the guy, of course, and why would I? But the man could make the audience walk and talk. That's worth commenting on.

Johnny, you made a lot of really good jokes. And, let's be fair: you made a lot of really terrible jokes. And I'll be fucked if we weren't with you either way, you son of a bitch.

Back towards the curtain; it's time.

Good night.


Note: Comments are closed on old entries.

Comments

I'd forgotten what a comedy TDAT was. The w*lves were hilari*us! 'Cause they were the *NLY animals that escaped from the z**, eh?

Comment number: 005429   Posted by: Lauren on January 25, 2005 05:43 AM from IP: 209.226.118.55

Skot? What was wrong with that(above) that I had to change the O to *?

Comment number: 005430   Posted by: Lauren on January 25, 2005 05:45 AM from IP: 209.226.118.55

You know that place where they keep the animals? Bad people use that word a lot.

Comment number: 005431   Posted by: Cat on January 25, 2005 07:20 AM from IP: 208.27.203.128

Being an Asimov geek, there was this whole thing in the I, Robot laws where the robot's brain hardware actually didn't WORK without those 3 laws hardwired in there. So it's not like they were just programmed with that functionality, they actually had that functionality built into the wiring of their brains, and only one person knew how that worked. Or something. I don't remember now. But it was pretty convincing in the book that the robots couldn't exist without the "Hey, don't f*ck with humans" stuff in there.

Comment number: 005432   Posted by: Ryan Waddell on January 25, 2005 08:39 AM from IP: 66.46.9.23

Your review of TDAT makes me want to rent it, just so I can blow beer out my nose, snorting.

Are you sure you didn't mean a Barney moment? Because its a lot different if Moe were to say it, than if Barney was...

just wondering

Comment number: 005433   Posted by: Slack on January 25, 2005 09:24 AM from IP: 64.65.184.130

Homer: Shut up! Shut up! Stop it! Stop it. I can't take this any more. I can't let that brave man out there die alone. I'm surprised and disgusted by all of you -- especially his children. I'm going out there!
[goes out, slams door behind him][
pops his head back in] It was a baby ox.
Moe: He's right, you know.
Skinner: [surprised] About the ox?
Moe: About everything, dammit. Hey Homer, wait up. I want to die too.

Comment number: 005434   Posted by: Skot on January 25, 2005 09:29 AM from IP: 66.150.9.2

Your, uh. Your BASIC wouldn't work.

The "RUN" has to go on the outside, and doesn't get a line number.

Comment number: 005435   Posted by: Brendan on January 25, 2005 09:46 AM from IP: 12.220.213.168

Your, uh. Your BASIC wouldn't work.

See? You're just proving my point. I'm that stupid, and yet, still smarter than TDAT.

Comment number: 005436   Posted by: Skot on January 25, 2005 10:01 AM from IP: 66.150.9.2

I just love Ranier Wolfcastle.

Comment number: 005437   Posted by: Brian on January 25, 2005 10:11 AM from IP: 206.77.0.155

The Tonight Show was the ONLY show you ever saw live? You mean you never sat in the audience for Almost Live? Oh! the hilarity! Oh! the Ballard jokes! And you call yourself a Seattleite.

Comment number: 005438   Posted by: on January 25, 2005 02:00 PM from IP: 68.164.201.110

My favorite moment in TDAT - 2 space station guys looking down on our hallowed globe. These guys definitely are not going home again - pretty much the entire northern hemisphere is icebound.
But, hey! No worries! Because, "John, look - I've never seen the skies so clear!" Yay! No smog, maybe forever! Happy Ending!

Comment number: 005439   Posted by: linnea on January 26, 2005 11:02 PM from IP: 67.101.212.88

Hee. Ranier Wolfcastle. Hee.
My mom rented both of those movies. I fell asleep about three minutes into I, Robot. I made it through The Day After Tomorrow by cracking ugly jokes aimed at Emmy Rossum.

Comment number: 005440   Posted by: CG on February 2, 2005 12:30 AM from IP: 70.18.193.161

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