December 29, 2017

Home Alone

To listen/download, click here!

Well, it's finally time to pack up #HolidayMoviepalooza for another year, but even though Christmas is past, and we had to skip a week, the guys went ahead and recorded a commentary for the movie you, dear reader/listener, chose from our polls: the 1990 classic, Home Alone.

Home Alone is essentially Die Hard for kids.

With Macaulay Culkin in the Hans Gruber part.
It's a few days before Christmas, and the McCallister family is preparing for a trip to Paris, where the patriarch of the family, Peter (John Heard), has been temporarily transferred for his job.

The night before they are scheduled to leave, a policeman (Joe Pesci) shows up to check on the house, claiming he is making sure that that people in the neighborhood are taking steps to combat break-ins that have been taking place. After Peter makes assurances to the officer that there are timers on the lights and an alarm system--there is also an overlong bit about paying a pizza delivery guy--the cop leaves, and the family dives into the pizza, including young Kevin (Macaulay Culkin), who gets upset at his older brother Buzz (Devin Ratray) for eating all the cheese pizza.

A fight ensues, and Kevin's mother, Kate (Catherine O'Hara), banishes him to the attic, telling him he can sleep there for the night. Kevin, being a snotty eight-year-old, argues with her and then says he wishes the whole family would disappear, the storms off upstairs.

Where he proceeds to invent his own family from random objects around the house.
The next morning, the family wakes up late, and in the frenzy to get to the airport on time, they accidentally leave Kevin home without realizing it. Later, when he wakes up, he sees there is nobody else in the house, and he assumes, quite naturally, that his wish came true.

And so, Kevin starts enjoying the heck out of life. He watches movies he is not normally allowed to watch, eats nothing but junk food, jumps on his parents' bed, and rides a sled down the stairs and out the front door.

High above, on a Paris-bound jet, Kevin's mother comes to the realization that they have left their youngest son at home, and she immediately freaks out, quite reasonably.

Meanwhile, the "cop," who is really a burglar named Harry, and his partner, Marv (Daniel Stern), are  using information Harry got from the people in the neighborhood to determine which ones are out-of-town for the holidays. Harry shows Marv the McCallister house, and they both decide that that one will be the big score. But when they go for a closer look, they are spotted by Kevin, who, thinking quick, pretends his parents are still there, causing Harry and Marv to leave the place alone for the time being.

Which is just as well, as it turns out that they are both idiots.
Kevin continues his own questionable activities by ransacking his brother Buzz's bedroom in order to steal his life savings (about $25), and orders a cheese pizza all for himself. In order to convince the pizza guy that there are adults in the house, Kevin uses a VCR to play audio clips from an old gangster movie, which conveniently has perfect dialog for the pizza guy to perform the entire transaction without actually seeing another human being. To top it off, Kevin uses part of a murder scene to scare the guy off once and for all. And one has to wonder, why didn't that guy call the police?

The kid goes shopping the next day for some essentials, only to almost get run over by Harry and Marv while those two argue about whether or not it's a good idea to continue calling themselves the Wet Bandits, whose signature move is to plug the kitchen drains in the houses they rob, and leave the water running, thus flooding the houses. After the brief run-in, Kevin continues on to the store, where he asks a lot of questions before "accidentally" shoplifting a new toothbrush after seeing old man Marley (Roberts Blossom), whom the kids int he neighborhood believe to be The Shovel Killer.

Now a hardened criminal, Kevin heads home, where he comes to the conclusion that he needs to beef up security with his own special plan. He does so by setting up an elaborate and improbable machine using dummies, mannequins, and a Michael Jordan standee mounted on a train to make it look like there's a big party happening at the house, causing Harry and Marv to again put off robbing the house.

Again, because they are idiots.
Over in Paris, Kate is trying desperately to get call friends back home, as well as the police, to go and check on Kevin to make sure he's not dead or, worse, eating too much junk food and not changing his underwear. The police send a patrol car out, but Kevin refuses to answer the door, so the police immediately wash their hands of the whole situation. Your tax dollars at work, folks!

Kevin makes some attempts to not be a terrible person, even going to church for mass, where he runs across old man Marley, who is there watching his granddaughter's Christmas choir concert. Marley tells Kevin that he knows what everybody thinks about him, but insists it is not true. He's just a sad old man who is estranged from his son. Kevin, being only eight-years-old, believes him completely, and the two discuss the difficulties of dealing with family. They part ways after kevin offers the sage advice that Marley should probably ought to talk to his son. You know, just in case his son doesn't actually hate his guts.

Back home, Kevin decides that he has to defend his home, and he begins setting up several dangerous and increasingly complicated traps, as well as a zip line so he can escape to his treehouse for a dramatic Last Stand.

When Marv and Harry show up, Kevin shoots Harry in the dick with a BB gun, and then shoots Marv in the face. To be honest, Kevin takes entirely too much joy in assaulting these guys with a potentially deadly weapon, even if they are trying to break into his house, but it's Christmas! So we guess that makes it okay.

And, of course, there is the fact that they are idiots.
Their resolve strengthened, Harry and Marv split up to find an easier way in. Marv heads for the basement, where he first slips and possibly suffers a concussion because Kevin coated the outside basement stairs with water, which froze into ice. When he finally manages to get inside, he heads for the stairs, which are covered with tar and shingles with nails pounded through them, adding to Marv's potential health risks with tetanus and possible infection! Harry does not fare much better, burning his hand on a heated doorknob, and then having his head set on fire with a torch.

Did we mention that this is supposed to be a comedy?

Now back in the United States, Kate is trying to get a flight from Pennsylvania to Chicago, where Kevin is, no doubt, dead from a sugar coma, and probably still wearing underwear from two days ago...Any mother's nightmare. And although there are no flights available, she is offered a ride by Gus Polinski (John Candy), the Polka King, and his band. This sounds sketchy, but she accepts, dooming herself to hours of terrible polkas as they drive through the night.

Kevin causes further trauma to Harry's and Marv's craniums by smashing them in the face with paint cans when they both finally make it inside the house. It is very likely these two will not escape alive, and if they do, they will still suffer from debilitating brain damage at the hands of this rambunctious, psychopathic scalliwag.

After what feels like several more hours of abuse at the hands of this tiny psychotic, the two of them manage to chase him to his escape point, where he uses the zip line and openly mocks them from his treehouse after calling the police and giving them the address to a neighbor's house. Harry insists the crawl along the rope to get to him. Marv, now terrified of this small child, does not think it is a very good idea, but he's not the brains of the outfit, so he has to follow Harry. This, of course, results in them being further injured when Kevin cuts the rope as they are halfway across, causing them to swing across the yard and smash faces-first into the brick wall of the house.

Kevin escapes to the neighbor's house, where Harry and Marv catch him. But before they can take their revenge on him for the assault, they are stopped by old man Marley, who assaults them himself by pounding their heads with a snow shovel.

That they even survived is a miracle. Also, as previously noted, they are idiots.
Will Kevin get the house cleaned up in time for Christmas? Will Harry and Marv, now taken into what can only be considered protective custody, survive through the night after the brutal beatdown administered by a small child and an elderly man? Will Kate make it home without being raped by a group of lonely polka musicians, or will she end up in jail herself after killing them all when Gus shouts "ONE MORE TIME!" as they enter into hour fifteen of their journey? You'll have to tune in to find out!

Larry loves this film, as he was twelve when it came out. Also, his mother was obsessed with it, so it was a family tradition, and so there are all kinds of soft, squishy memories attached to it, which is understandable. He also thinks Joe Pesci is hilarious, which is also true. He does, however, think Kevin is an unstable and psychotic human being. This, too, is also understandable and most likely true.

Derek does not care for this one, mostly because Kevin is a horrible little turd of a human who takes entirely too much joy and satisfaction in injuring people, regardless of whether or not it is done in the course of protecting one's home. This kid has issues, and will suffer for it some day, most likely in some sort of institution. If not, he will probably grow to be a criminal himself, or possibly an addict of some kind.

December 22, 2017

It's a Wonderful Life

To listen/download, click here!

Four years. Several attempted scripts. Numerous run-throughs. Zero finished product.

Until now.

Yes, after discussing doing a riff of It's a Wonderful Life back when this podcast was called "The Ugly Couchcast", plans were made. Then they were pushed back. The next year, when the guys started doing movie reviews and occasionally recording commentaries, they decided it was time to try again. And then they didn't, pushing it back another year. Are you seeing a pattern here?

After yet another failed attempt, Derek finally took the initiative and announced that they were just going to do it on-the-fly...No script. No planning. No backsies. Just put the movie in and let the cards fall where they may, which brings us to this week's addition to #HolidayMoviepalooza 2017.

Larry wanted to do Snakes on a Plane, but couldn't present a plausible argument.
Meet George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart). Looks like a pretty happy guy, right? Big family, beautiful wife (Donna Reed as Mary)...Yup. Things are looking good. But, alas, not all is right in the small town of Bedford Falls, USA. We'll get to that in a minute.

It's Christmas Eve, and the people of Bedford Falls are worried about their old buddy George. So, as one might choose to do, they send out some prayers to anybody who might happen to be listening. And, believe it or not, it works!

Well, sort of. Saint Peter, who is represented by a glowing tempura shrimp and handles God's schedule and appointments, decides to send a guardian angel named Clarence (Henry Traverse) down to see if he can help George. But before he can do that, he has to hear George's backstory, and we, the lucky viewers, get to see all of it!

Including a vicious beatdown at the hands of his first boss! Christmas!
Young George (Robert J. Anderson) enjoyed most of his childhood. He hung out with his friends, saved his younger brother's life, and worked at the local drug store/soda fountain, where the girls, Violet and Mary, fought over him. He had plans to travel when he got older, and was proud of his father, who ran the local building and loan, which gave loans to the people in town who couldn't go to the mean old guy who ran the other banks in town, Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore).

While at work one day, George notices that his boss, Mr. Gower (H.B. Warner), is acting sort of odd. He's drunk and really yelly, and George discovers it's because Mr. Gower's son was killed while overseas. When George tries to talk to him about it, Mr. Gower yells at him and tells him to go deliver some pills. George, however, notices that the pills are, in fact, filled with poison. Mr. Gower won't listen, so George decides to go talk to his dad (Samuel S. Hinds) to see what he should do.

Unfortunately, Pa Bailey is busy arguing with Mr. Potter. So George heads back to the store to try and talk some sense into Mr. Gower, who beats him without mercy until George manages to penetrate Mr. Gower's rage and sputter out that he thinks the pills are poison. A quick investigation reveals that he is right, and Mr. Gower, the damage already done, apologizes to George, who tells him he won't ever tell anyone what happened.

Jumping forward, George is getting ready to leave town. He wants to travel! He wants to see the world! He wants to get the hell out of Bedford Falls! But not before he disappoints his father by telling him that he doesn't want to work at his dumb old building and loan.

Despite his constant urge to want to argue with Mr. Potter.
Before hitting the road, George's brother, Harry (Todd Karns), insists he come to the school dance and see his old friends. George goes, only to run face-to-face into the now very grown up Violet (Gloria Grahame), and the stunningly obnoxious Sam Wainwright (Frank Albertson). Fortunately, another friend, Marty (Harold Landon), interrupts to ask George if he would dance with Mary, Marty's little sister. After getting a look at her, George agrees, and they begin to Jitterbug vigorously, until the floor opens and swallows them up. (True story. Well, sort of; a jilted potential suitor of Mary's takes his revenge by opening the floor, which is over a pool, and George and Mary fall in it, followed by everybody else in the gym.)

On the way home, in clothes scavenged from the gym locker rooms, George tries to make a play for Mary, but his smooth talking is interrupted when Harry and Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) come looking for him because Pa Bailey has had a stroke.

Pa Bailey doesn't make it, and the building and loan is on the verge of being taken over by Potter, until the board votes to keep it separate, but only if George takes over. He grudgingly agrees, and Harry goes off to college instead of George going off to travel.

Jumping ahead one more time, George and Uncle Billy await Harry's return. Once Harry is back, he can take over the building and loan, and George can head to college. But, as you may have guessed, that doesn't happen because Harry, crazy college kid that he is, went and got married to a woman named Ruth (Virginia Patton). Her dad owns a big ol' business, and he wants to put Harry in there, once again leaving George holding the building and loan.

Where he has to explain to Uncle Billy daily why pants are necessary.
While the family celebrates Harry's marriage, Ma Bailey (Beulah Bondi) informs George that Mary is back in town, and he ought to go see her. He does, trying to play it cool, while Mary makes it very obvious that she is interested. Mary's mother (Sarah Edwards), however, wants Mary to make George go away because she thinks her daughter needs to hook up with Sam Wainwright, who is in New York...AND HE'S ABOUT TO CALL!

George overplays the whole "cool" thing, and ends up getting into an argument with Mary, just as Sam calls. They both talk to him until he starts telling them they need to invest in plastics. Apparently, this gets George and Mary's motors running, because they drop the phone and start making out while Mary's mother watches from upstairs. What a sicko.

George and Mary get married, and, because this involves George, the departure date for their honeymoon falls on Black Friday. No, not the one where people trample each other at Walmart for a Hatchimal. We mean the Black Friday--the one that started the Great Depression.

They rush to the building and loan, only to find that Uncle Billy had locked the gates,, refusing to let people in. George opens the place, and all their customers come in, hoping to be able to get their money out. But Uncle Billy has already given all the money to the examiner, so they are kind of screwed.

Or are they? First, Mr.Potter calls and offers to buy everyone's shares in the building and loan for half the price. Just as everyone is getting ready to go over there, Mary jumps in and offers up her and George's honeymoon fund, hoping it's enough to get everybody through until the banks reopen. It works. (Yay!) But in the commotion, Mary has disappeared. (Boo!) She calls (Yay!) and tells George he needs to come home. (Wha'?)

George arrives at the old Granville house, which the two of them talked about and threw rocks at the night of the dance, and Mary has either bought it or just sort of took it over, where she and George can have their honeymoon among the leaky ceilings and broken windows. Outside, Bert the cop (Ward Bond) and Ernie the cabbe (Frank Faylen) serenade them while they do...honeymoon stuff.

Another quick jump takes us through George and Mary's new life together. Potter keeps being a jerk, George and Mary have a pile of kids, World War II starts (probably not related), Harry becomes a hero during the war, and Uncle Billy's incompetence grows, up to the point where he puts the entire building and loan, as well as George's freedom, in jeopardy when he loses the money he was supposed to deposit in the bank on Christmas Eve. George threatens to beat Billy to death, then goes home to yell at his kids and threaten his daughter's teacher over the phone.

Mary, suddenly aware something may be wrong, tried to comfort George, but he's having no part of it. He stumbles out the door, goes to a bar for a drink, gets punched by the teacher's husband (karma can be a real jerk sometimes), and decides that the best way to help everyone would be to jump off a bridge and end it all, because that seems completely reasonable.

However, before George can jump in the icy river and end it all, someone else beats him to it, and George jumps in anyway, but with the intention of saving the mysterious man.

Why can't you poop inside like normal people do?
The man reveals himself to be Clarence, an angel (second class, because he hasn't earned his wings yet). He claims to be here to show George that he is better off alive than dead. In order to do so, he gives George a Twilight Zone-esque glimpse into what the world would be like if he had never been born: Harry des as a boy because George wasn't there to save him, everybody has miserable lives because George wasn't there to enrich them with his clumsy good-naturedness, Mr. Gower goes to jail because he poisoned that kid because George wasn't there to stop him, everybody is living in crappy homes owned by Mr. Potter because George wasn't there to give them loans for better houses,the whole town has turned into a stripmall of depravity because George wasn't there to...not let it happen? Also, everybody suddenly has a New York accent...because...uh... Okay, you got us on that one. We don't know why.

Oh, and Mary is, according to Clarence, an "old maid" who works at the library. (*Gasp!* Scandalous!) So, obviously, everything is terrible. But will George realize it? Will he want to go back to existing? Is Clarence even able to do that? And what was going on the whole time with the real star of this flick, Annie (Lillian Randolph)?

She was off doing her thing, uninterrupted, because she is awesome like that.
You'll have to tune in to find out!

Derek loves this film unabashedly. Seriously. It's his absolute favorite. Everything is great. Really. He has nothing bad to say about it at all, except that there should have been more Annie in it. Otherwise, straight-up perfection. There's no joke here. Move along.

Larry likes it a lot, too. But not as much as Derek. Seriously, that guy has some sort of weird obsession with it. It's really starting to worry Larry. It keeps him awake at night, knowing that Derek is probably watching this movie yet again. But then he thinks about the lovely Violet, and drifts off to sexy dreams of the proto-Cyndi Lauper.

So check your insurance policy, listen for ringing bells, and listen to this week's commentary! HEE-HAW!

December 7, 2017

A Christmas Story

To listen/download, click here!

Welcome to Week 3 of #HolidayMoviepalooza! Larry couldn't manage to get out of work this week, so Derek recruited the guys' pal Troy Parker to record a commentary for this week's movie with him!

And that movie is the 1983 classic, A Christmas Story, based mostly on a story from Jean Shepherd's hilarious book, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.

Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley), a young man whose connection to reality is tenuous at best, is on a mission: he wants an "official Daisy Red Ryder 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time" for Christmas. He does not just want it. He has got to have it. And he will do anything to get his hands on that blue steel beauty.

Including trying not to offend Flight Commander Biggles.
Unfortunately, his biggest roadblock is his mother (Melinda Dillon), who immediately throws out the classic Mother Block, "You'll shoot your eye out."

Ralphie's Old Man (Darren McGavin) is not much help, either, as he is too busy fighting with the furnace, bitching about the family car, trying not to burn the house down, being attacked their hillbilly neighbors' hounds, and attempting to win puzzle contests in the newspaper.

And then there's Randy (Ian Petrella), Ralphie's non-eating, whiny little brother, who is an entire universe of problems in his own right.

Ralphie's friends, Flick (Scott Schwartz) and Schwartz (R.D. Robb), are completely oblivious, spending most of their time arguing about whether or not your tongue will stick to a frozen flagpole.

SPOILER: Yes it will.
The rest of their time is spent being harassed by the school bullies, Scut Farkus (Zack Ward) and Grover Dill (Yano Anaya).

Undaunted, Ralphie decides that his next plan of attack in his quest for weaponry should involve getting his teacher, Miss Shields (Tedde Moore), on his side, by writing a theme singing the praises of the Red Ryder Air Rifle. How could he lose?

Meanwhile, the Old Man's persistence pays off, and he wins one of his contests. He's getting a Major Award, which turns out to be just the best thing ever.

And Mom is absolutely thrilled for him.
Around this time, we also discover that Ralphie and his brother enjoy listening to Little Orphan Annie on the radio, although Ralphie's interest is solely based on his overwhelming desire to become a part of the Secret Society that Annie sends messages to at the end of her shows. The messages need to be decoded with a special device, available only from the show's sponsor, Ovaltine, and although he sent away for one, his hasn't shown up yet. (This is the sort of thing people did in the 1930s because there was no Twitter.)

The brutal beatdowns from Farkus and Dill continue, consisting mostly of the two of them yelling, "RAAAAAAAWR!" at Ralphie and his friends, and the occasional arm twist. Flick suffers most of the abuse, mostly because the others are faster.

Scut has to stop and wait for Grover to catch up all the time.
Back at school, Miss Shields has given Ralphie a C+ on his theme, so it is clear to him that she is no longer a viable option in his quest, as he is convinced his mother got to her first.

Later that night (possibly), the family goes out looking for a Christmas tree and, on the way home, their car gets a flat tire. When Ralphie's mother suggests he get out and help his father, Ralphie is thrilled! A chance to do Real Man things! Again, what could possibly go wrong?


Especially if, while he is holding a hubcap with the lug nuts in it, his father accidentally knocks it out of his hands, sending the nuts flying, which in turn causes Ralphie to utter The Word. You know the one. The Old Man sends him back to the car, and when they get home, his mother makes him stand in the bathroom with a bar of soap in his mouth for a while, until he is ready to tell her where he heard that word. Not wanting to get the Old Man (his real source for colorful language) in trouble, Ralphie says he heard it from Schwartz. Mom calls Schwartz's mother and tells her, and Schwartz gets beaten for something he did not do! Christmas!

Ralphie finally realizes that the only option available to him now is to go right to The Man himself and tell him about the air rifle of his dreams. What follows is a nightmarish, almost hallucinogenic sequence involving an angry Santa, screechy elves in funny hats, and moist children, all on top of a giant mountain inside the local department store.

The hell is wrong with you, kid?
Unfortunately, Ralphie freezes-up when he gets his chance and, although he manages to finally get it out in the open, even Santa shoots him down! Now what?!

Accepting that he is just not going to get what he wants in life, Ralphie lets his guard down, and he is cornered by Farkus and Dill. But now Ralphie has nothing left to lose, so he snaps, beating Farkus to a bloody pulp until his mother comes and pulls him off the bully.

And then...Christmas comes...

But will Ralphie suffer defeat at the hands of the Christmas gods and eventually grow up a cold, hardened drifter, making what little money he can by offering unspeakable acts at truck stops across the country? Will Flick ever stop getting beaten up at school? Will Randy ever eat?

You'll have to tune in to find out!

Now, before we get to the guys' thoughts on the film, we just wanted to say that we reached out to Zack Ward (he and Derek follow each other on Twitter) to let him know we were watching the movie and whether he had anything he wanted to say to the fans. Here's what he had to say:

What a nice guy.
So, big thanks to Zack for getting back to us. You rock. And be sure to check him out in recent episodes of American Horror Story and It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.


Troy had never seen this movie before. Seriously. What the hell? But he really liked it. He was especially into the whole leg lamp thing. His one concern is for Grover Dill, whose small frame seems completely off, considering how wide he looked. He hopes Yano grew into his width.

Derek unabashedly loves this movie, and has for as long as he can remember. (About three-and-a-half hours, usually.) He is, however, somewhat worried about Ralphie's inability to maintain a constant tether to reality. That kid is going to need some serious therapy later in life.

So turn on your leg lamp (be's fra-GEE-lay), put on your pink bunny pajamas, and tune in to this week's episode!