Friday, April 1, 2011

April Gab’s Day!

Werth: Hey, Wise!

Wise: Hey, Werth!

Werth: I just got a message from Olivia de Havilland’s agent and she is so impressed by our blog that she AND her sister, Joan Fontaine, want to do an interview with us!

Wise: Jiminy Crickets! That’s amazing! I can’t wait—

Werth: April Fool’s!

Wise: I hate you.

Werth: I can’t believe you fell for that. Everyone knows that Olivia and Joan don’t speak to each other.

Wise: Kind of like us after this blog?  

Werth: You’ll regain your sense of humor after I talk about my favorite fool-full flick, Murder by Death!

Wise: An appropriate title for what I’m thinking about right now.

Werth: Murder by Death is the 1976 comedy that spoofs all those crime-solving characters from literature and film. Famed TV and theater writer Neil Simon pokes fun at such mystery mainstays as Sam Spade, Nick and Nora Charles, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple and Charlie Chan. The world’s greatest detectives have been invited to a mysterious manse to solve a murder that will  be committed at midnight. Or will it...?

Wise: I don’t know. Do I look like Jessica Fletcher?

Werth: A little around the mouth. Anyway, these silly sleuths attempt to find out who killed who in order to win a million dollars—and to survive the night.

Wise: Sounds like Clue.

Werth: There are definite similarities (including Eileen Brennan starring in both), but Murder by Death came first. Murder’s cast is a veritable who’s who of actors who excel at scenery chewing: Peter Falk, the aforementioned Eileen Brennan, James Coco, Nancy Walker, David Niven, Maggie Smith, Elsa Lanchester and in a piece of inspired Yunioshi casting, Peter Sellers as that Far East flat foot, Sidney Wang.

Wise: Do all your favorite movies have offensive Asian stereotypes?   

Werth: What’s even more amusing are the comic turns by normally dramatic Alec Guinness as befuddled, blind butler Bensonmum and author turned caricature 
Truman Capote as the evil mastermind Lionel Twain. Even young James Cromwell plays a Belgian smart-mouth chauffeur. With Simon’s characteristic joke and pun-laden dialogue, there’s no reason for Murder by Death to have a challenging mystery. Most viewers will just be happy with the octogenarian fart-jokes gleefully burbled by eternally aged Estelle Winwood as Nurse Withers.

Wise: A fool’s paradise.

Werth: Has your mood improved enough to tell us your favorite silly cinema?

Wise: Oh, you know how I love to suffer fools gladly.  Especially when they’re in a movie as hilarious as Wet Hot American Summer.  Directed by David Wain and featuring the alumni of the comedy troupe, The State, the film is bursting with an almost embarrassing amount of talent: Molly Shannon, David Hyde Pierce, Amy Poehler, Janeane Garofalo, Paul Rudd, Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, and Bradley Cooper.  

Werth: Before he served his time as Renee Zellweger’s arm candy?  

Wise: It also showcases a fully committed and fully absurd cameo from Law & Order’s Christopher Meloni as a Vietnam vet camp cook who speaks to a can of mixed vegetables and has romantic designs on a mustard-colored, side-by-side refrigerator.   

Werth: Do all your favorite movies have offensive Vietnam vet stereotypes?  

Wise: The movie barely made it to theaters when it was released in 2001, but it has since become a cult classic.  Ostensibly, it’s a parody of summer camp movies from the early 80’s, and while it does tinker with the likes of Meatballs and its ilk, there are moments inspired by The Bad News Bears, The Breakfast Club, and Serpico

Werth: Serpico’s Bad News Meatball Breakfast?
Wise: It’s definitely not a Noel Coward drawing room comedy, but the surreal humor and the enthusiastic cast make it a real gut buster.  Plus the finale includes a hilarious musical tribute to Joan Crawford’s most memorable work.  

Werth: What?! Don’t tell me they do some sort of disrespectful, drag-queen Mommie Dearest shenanigans! Cause I don’t think that’s funny!

Wise: April Fool!

Werth: God, that revenge dish was served cold!

Werth: We’ll warm it up next week with a fresh plate of Film Gab.  

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