Check out Richard’s cineplex.com article on Monty Python as the Beatles of Comedy.
“’I’ve got two legs from my hips to the ground, and when I move them, they walk around,’ isn’t a line with the elegance of, ‘Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away,’ but it is a lot funnier.
“Comparing the work of Monty Python and The Beatles might seem like equating apples to oranges, or guitars to crunchy frogs, but it really isn’t that much of a stretch. Eric (Idle), Graham (Chapman), Michael (Palin), John (Cleese) and a couple of Terrys (Gilliam and Jones) have a lot in common with John, Paul, George and Ringo.
“Monty Python has been called the most influential comedy troupe of all time. Their absurdist brand…” Read the whole thing HERE!
Read Richard’s Cineplex.com listing of the top Monty Python quotes of all time and the stories behind them!
“Monty Python may well be the most quoted comedy troupe in history. There is a Facebook page dedicated to lines from their sketches and movies and it’s not an argument until somebody says, “This isn’t an argument! It’s just contradiction!” Their lines have become part of the of the international comedy conversation and even thought they have been making people laugh for generations, they still seem as outrageous now as they did when they were first written…”
Jay Ward may not a household name, but many of the characters he created are.
As the Grand Poobah at Jay Ward Productions he produced the animated television shows that gave us Rocky & Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, Peabody and Sherman and George of the Jungle among others.
His cartoons weren’t just for kids. The Los Angeles Times wrote, “The good ones, which Ward was a master at creating, worked at two levels: one direct and another wonderfully satiric.”
This weekend his characters take over the big screen in Mr. Peabody & Sherman, an animated film starring the voices of Modern Family’s Ty Burrell, Stephen Colbert and Leslie Mann.
Based on Peabody’s Improbable History segment from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, the movie sees the duo use the WABAC machine to ping pong through time, interacting with everyone from Marie Antoinette to King Tut to Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman isn’t the first film based on Ward’s characters.
In a 199 television movie (originally shot in 1988 for theatrical release) SCTV alum Dave Thomas played Boris Badenov, “world’s greatest no-goodnik.” With his partner-in-crime Natasha Fatale (Sally Kellerman) he leaves Pottsylvania for the United States to retrieve a micro-chip. TV Guide said, “as a 90-minute feature film, it’s at least 80 minutes too long,” but it’s worth a gander to see one of the rare live action performances of June Foray, the original voice of Rocky.
Brendan Fraser brought two of Ward’s characters to life, George of the Jungle and Dudley Do-Right.
George of the Jungle is a riff on Tarzan. He’s boy raised in the jungle by an ape (John Cleese) but who never mastered the art of swinging from tree to tree. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 56% Fresh Rating, but the film remains most memorable for the catchy “George, George / George of the Jungle / Strong as he can be / Watch out for that tree,” theme song by the Presidents of the United States of America.
Two years later Fraser was back in another Ward inspired movie about a bumbling Canadian Mountie called Dudley Do-Right who “always gets his man.”
Co-starring with Sarah Jessica Parker and Alfred Molina, the story saw Dudley track his nemesis, the depraved Snidely Whiplash. Bad reviews—USA Today’s called it a “Dead-carcass spinoff of Jay Ward’s animated TV favorite.”—doomed the movie, but the character lives on as part of an amusement park ride called Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls at the Islands of Adventure theme park.
Finally, despite an big name cast—Jason Alexander, Rene Russo and John Goodman—The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle bombed at the box office despite Robert De Niro doing a take on his famous “You talkin’ to me?” speech from Taxi Driver.
The observance of Halloween dates back thousands of years to the Celts who used the date as a celebration of the end of harvest season. Since Irish immigrants brought the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century the way we celebrate October 31st has changed from a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and slaughter livestock for winter to our tradition of dressing up in outlandish costumes, carving pumpkins and gorging ourselves on Creepy Crawlers Gummy Candy and Twist & Glow Halloween Pops. These days it’s second only to Christmas in terms of the amount of people who decorate their homes for the holidays and North American revelers spend upwards of 5 billion dollars a year on Halloween costumes. Another great treat of the fall season are Halloween specials like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and Mr. Boogedy. The latest entry on the Halloween scene is Igor, a new animated film for kids starring the voice of John Cusack.
Igor is a riff on the classic mad scientist movies, this time told from the lab assistant’s point of view. Igor (John Cusack) is a lowly hunchback with a “major in slurred speech and a ‘Yes, Master’ degree” who dreams of becoming a scientist. When his master is killed by his own invention Igor gets his chance to shine and maybe even win the annual Evil Science Fair. His invention, a female Frankenstein monster named Eva, is meant to be the most evil creature the world has ever seen, but turns out to be a sweet natured giant with aspirations of becoming an actress. To this end she says she’s interested in adopting kids from other countries and says she’ll become an environmentalist and only fly private when necessary. If she doesn’t drop her ideas of stardom and turn nasty how will Igor win the Evil Science Fair?
Igor is aimed at little kids. Written by Chris McKenna, who previously penned American Dad and voiced by an all star cast featuring Cusack, Steve Buscemi, John Cleese, Jay Leno and Christian Slater, it is a great looking cartoon that’s equal parts German Expressionism and Pee Wee’s Playhouse. The highly stylized characters look like they just walked off the set of The Nightmare Before Christmas, and the inventive backgrounds are bound to set off kid’s imaginations. The camera work, often so static in animated films like this, is fluid and cinematic.
The story is stretched a bit thin even at the compact running time of 85 minutes, but there is enough going on to keep the under ten crowd entertained. Most of the irreverent humor is meant for the little ones, for example:
“I’m all thumbs,” says Eva the giantess. “Yeah, sorry about that,” replies Igor, “I got the thumbs on sale.”
Parents probably won’t find any big yuks in lines like that or the slapstick or even the bathroom jokes, but there are gags to keep older viewers interested peppered throughout.
Igor is a cute Halloween story with stylish animation; jokes that should make ten-year-olds laugh and good messages about the importance of friends and determination and at 85 minutes shouldn’t tax growing attention spans.
Some things are better left alone. I recently read that the Jack Kerouac classic On the Road is being turned into a movie. I can’t imagine that this is a good idea as the filmmakers could never possibly translate this book, which is revered by generations of people, into a film that would be better than the book. Another, more tangible example is out on DVD this week. Charlotte’s Web is a beloved children’s book about Wilbur a little runt pig who is concerned that he is going to end up as dinner unless he takes action. With the help of a quick-witted spider named Charlotte he hatches a plan to avoid turning into Sunday dinner.
This big budget adaptation features an all-star voice cast, including Julia Roberts as the know-it-all spider and Robert Redford, Oprah Winfrey, Cedric the Entertainer, John Cleese, Reba McEntire and Kathy Bates with Dakota Fanning heading up the live action cast.
There’s an old saying, “You can’t put lipstick on a pig,” which seems appropriate here. Charlotte’s Web isn’t as charming as that other talking pig movie Babe, or the book for that matter, but it is sweet and maybe will encourage a few kids to turn off the TV and pick up the book.
Clint Eastwood’s latest film, Hereafter, concerns itself with what happens once you have, as John Cleese might say, “shuffled off this mortal coil.”
In the film, a woman has a near death experience, beginning her walk into a bright light surrounded by misty figures making a similar journey into that great goodnight. That’s just the most recent cinematic vision of what happens after death, but there are many more, some played for laughs, sometimes for drama and now and then for comfort.
In Deconstructing Harry, Woody Allen goes for the joke, taking the viewer on an elevator ride through hell’s nine floors, each reserved for a different kind of sinner. Best line? “Floor 7: the media. Sorry, that floor is all filled up.”
Tim Burton also had some fun with the afterlife in Beetlejuice. Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis get tips on how to haunt their old house in a book titled Handbook for the Recently Deceased. Best line? “We’re not completely helpless, Barbara,” says Adam (Baldwin). “I’ve been reading that book and there’s a word for people in our situation: ghosts.”
Taking the hereafter a bit more seriously is The Rapture, which sees Mimi Rogers almost reunited with her dearly departed daughter. This version of Heaven is much starker than the usual sweetness and light paradise seen on film; there’s no Pearly Gates or fluffy clouds with angels snacking on Philadelphia Cream Cheese. For that version check out the opening minutes of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel. The story of a dead carnival worker who asks for permission to be sent back to earth for one day to make amends for mistakes he made in life starts with a glittering vision of heaven, complete with sparkling stars. Best heavenly quote? “Here there is no time; this is the beginning and the end.”
What Dreams May Come, the 1998 film about a man who leaves heaven to search hell for his wife paints heaven as a place that, as Roger Ebert noted, seems “cheerfully assembled from the storage rooms of images we keep in our minds: Renaissance art, the pre-Raphaelites, greeting cards, angel kitsch.” The heaven in this film is a wonderful place “big enough for everyone to have their own private universe.”
On the flipside is the movie’s vision of hell as a surreal, dark place. Best quote: “Hell is for those who don’t know they’re dead.”