It's been twenty-five years since Jim Henson released Big Bird's motion picture debut Follow That Bird. Is that weird to anybody else? Is that depressing? Watching it today, it's obvious that we haven't really evolved as a film going community. We've devolved. If released this weekend, geeks wouldn't look at this film as some daffy kid's movie. They'd hail it as a reinvention of cinema. I was a young tween when it hit our local theater, and I considered it pabulum for the baby masses. Later, I would eventually catch it on Showtime. And come to understand its importance in history. Though aimed a little lower, this excellent puppet movie is on par with James Frawley's The Muppet Movie and Peter Jackson's Meet the Feebles. It has a weird sense of humor that stays in line with everything else ever released by Jim Henson. It's essentially a true-form Muppet movie involving characters from Sesame Street, and it gets a right proper special edition DVD this week. Whoop-doo! While I am busy pouring over the incredible extra features, I am going to turn this column over to Paulington James Christensen III.
Crossovers are nothing new. It happens on television all the time. Arnold Drummond would show up on Hello, Larry one week. Then a few days later, Mork from Ork would be visiting the gang on Happy Days. These character introductions would sometimes be used to usher in a new series. And that is what we are doing here. In the next couple of weeks, we will be launching a new advice column that looks at life, love, and the movies. Anyone can send in a question, and Paulington will answer it. Sure, it's a really cryptic, cliched concept that has been around since the dawn of time. But we're going to spice it up a little bit. Topics can range from anything: Sex, violence, haints and taints, your favorite movie! Paulington doesn't care. He's basically doing it for a paycheck. He's not really an expert on anything. But he sure does know a lot about movies and human nature. You can send your questions to:
And he will be sure to answer them in a timely manner. To get things started, we thought we'd debut the first "Hey, Paulington!" advice column here. Where someone might actually read it. (I don't mind, it gives me some much-needed time off.) Paulington stuck a flyer on the wall at the laundromat a couple of days ago, and here are the results. Whoop-doo!:
I've recently joined an exclusive seaside movie-watching club, which my girlfriend is strongly against. She thinks I should spend more time with her, and less time with these salivating movie geeks. I've been able to keep my attendance at these meetings a secret, since most of them take place during her work hours. But she is starting to question why I have films like Get Out Your Handkerchiefs and Diary of a Country Priest in my Netflix cue. This club has really opened my eyes to world cinema, but she doesn't want any part of it. Should I defy her wishes and keep going to the meetings? Or should I stick to the rom-coms that she's used to? - Signed, "Film Deprived"
Dear Film Deprived. Look, I don't really care about your little problem. It sounds completely retarded. If she's at work, why does she care if you attend a movie club? She sounds like a controlling bitch. Brother, you obviously need the social interaction this film club offers you. And a fresh insight into the world of cinema. You can't live your life watching her laugh at Paul Blart and I Love You, Man. Obviously, your artistic tastes are different than hers. Do you guys have anything in common? Hopefully. Otherwise I say, "Get out now! Run for the hills!" She's clearly afraid of expanding her mind. Your willingness to do so is a threat to her ability to control this relationship. I completely condone film clubs. They can truly broaden your horizons. Tell her you are going no matter what, and if she doesn't like it, she can piss off. Yes, it is worth breaking up over. If she doesn't let you join a movie club now, especially when it doesn't take away from her free time, imagine the things she's going to keep you away from in the future. At the same time, understand her viewpoint. Watching Get Out Your Handkerchiefs on a Friday night sounds like a horrible idea. What a boring movie. The title itself is putting me to sleep. It's a simple fact: You won't be getting any afterward. To make this work, you have to be willing to see her films, too. And learn to enjoy them. Now, get out of my face with this business. Its stupid.
I was recently forced to watch Twilight on DVD. A trade-off, since I made my girlfriend watch a Rambo marathon. The thing is...I really liked Twilight! Am I gay? Is this normal for guys? - Signed, "Closet Twilight Fan"
Dear Closet Twilight Fan. I haven't seen Twilight, but it takes more than a film to turn you gay over night. That process also involves BJs, HJs, and bite marks on your pillow. You might be gay, but Twilight didn't jump out of the screen and sink its teeth into your neck, thus turning you into a homosexual. When watching the film, you have to ask yourself certain questions. Is it Robert Pattinson that turns you on? Or is it Kristin Stewart? The fact that she looks like a boy doesn't actually help matters. Maybe you "really" like vampire movies. It's not unusual for men to enjoy a really good romantic drama. Watching Rambo all those years, maybe you never gave the genre a chance. That would account for your poor taste here. Rent these four classic movies: Titanic, Casablanca, The Notebook, and BBrokeback Mountain. If you enjoy each one for their story telling techniques, then you are a perfectly normal male specimen. A sensitive, yet macho everyman that is able to show his soft side. If you balk at the first three while burning a laser hole in the Brokeback spit-lube scene, then maybe you and your girlfriend need to have a little talk. She will be quite understanding. Considering that she is a fan of Twilight, she might even help ease you into this new gay world of yours. Though you will be demoted to best friend status, at least you guys will still have Edward and Bella in common. Fag.
I really need a good excuse for my ridiculous spending habits on DVD purchases. my girlfriend has really been on my ass to slow down on buying every piece of horror garbage that hits the shelves. I think you are the only one that would understand my dilemma. Please help me. It's the only thing that makes me feel human. - Signed, "The Addict!"
Dear Addict. In this economy, there is no good excuse. Are you pulling food out of your baby's mouth just so you can own The Lonely Scarecrow Part V? Shame on you. You are collecting garbage. My bet is, you'll only watch these DVDs one time, if at all, before they wind up at the bottom of a landfill. You certainly are an addict. And you need to break yourself. I'm on your girlfriend's side here. I understand the want and need to buy every lame DVD that hits the market. You are a hunter. You consider these shiny discs trophies of your watching habits. You want to impress your friends and family with this amassed collection. Guess what? No one cares about your mountain of shitty DVDs. Cut your loses now, and stop buying in bulk. Take it month by month, and spend your money on the classics. Buy only those films you will watch more than once. That should cut your spending habits down by at least 80%. Take pride in the films you keep on your shelf. And don't buy new DVDS when you still have unwatched, unopened discs piling up behind the TV. Once your girlfriend sees that you are making an effort to curb your bad, very unnecessary habit, she will start returning the favor. Buying only the occasional DVD when it is absolutely necessary will do wonders for your love life. If you still feel compelled to watch every horrible Z grade direct-to-DVD Drive-In piece of crud that makes an appearance at the video store, invest in a Netflix account. Or start buying bootlegs from the laundromat. Think of a new way to triumph your viewing habits. Start a blog. Or create a fake DVD filing system and email it to your friends. Then tell them you got robbed. (Scratching head) Jeez, man. Are bad DVDs really that important to you? Lame.
How come there aren't more horror movies with Crocs in them? - Signed, "Rockadile Croc!"
Dear Rockadile. You're in luck! There's a crocodile in Hannah Montana: The Movie. It tries to eat Miley's little brother. But Disney's idea of a killer croc is probably a lot different than yours. There is a simple answer to this question in regards to the horror genre. When it comes to ravenous animals, you can pretty much only do it right once. Everything else is going to pale in comparison. That's why there is only one real Jaws. It's a simple story, and Spielberg knocked it out of the park. Check Great Whites off the list. Every other shark movie has sucked (though, I do dig Deep Blue Sea and its Tiger Sharks). The alligator/crocodile film has been attempted way too many times. In fact, there was a whole spat of them made in the 00s. There isn't much to them, and they all start to look the same after a while. The killer animal genre is riddled with cliches, and it's hard to create something new from its simplistic fabric. The croc gets flushed down the toilet. It grows to improbable sizes. And it eats everything in sight, including a baby and very cute dog. How much further can you go with that? Lewis Teague's 1980 classic Alligator is as accomplished an alligator/crocodile film as you could hope for. Even with advanced effects and new technology, it can't be beat for sheer thrills. My guess is, there are a lot of killer croc movies out there you still haven't seen. To quench this thirst, why not check out Primeval and Rogue, both released in 2007. Lake Placid [WS] and its sequel Lake Placid 2 [Unrated] are chock full of crocs. Tobe Hooper, director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has two under his belt with Crocodile and Eaten Alive. There's the sequel Crocodile 2: Death Swamp. And if you want to have some fun, why not check out Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course [WS Special Edition]. You know what? If they made any more horror movies with crocs in them, I think I would punch you in the face.
Whenever I find myself locked in a conversation about film, I like to pretend that most children's movies are actually high art. Just for fun, I like go on and on about the importance of something stupid just to get a reaction. Even though I don't believe what I am saying. I don't even like kid's movies all that much. But I will watch them just so I can make up theories about how they reflect society. Should I keep up this charade? Or should I actually find something constructive and interesting to talk about? - Signed, "Follow that Bird"
You sound like a straight up poser. Does it entertain your friends? Do you get something worthwhile out of it? Most kids' movies are quite subversive. If done right, they can contain important social commentaries and worthwhile metaphors about the perils of life and all it has to offer. Take Monsters Inc. for example. Did you know that film is actually about gay parenting and adoption? There's more to most Pixar films than meets the eye, and all of them contain some sort of universal message of hope and social injustice. Sure, there's crap, like Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience, that don't offer much on the surface. But even that lax Disney film, with its foaming fire hoses, contains sexual metaphors and keen commentary on the plight of the average teenager. It's all a Rorschach test, really. If you truly want to impress your friends, why not buy a book on film theory, and then apply it to whatever crappy film you might be watching. They will be impressed if you can keep the argument up. It all depends on you. People that talk too loudly about thematic context in public are usually giant douches. If you're in on the joke, and just trying to get a reaction, it could go either way. You might still come off as an idiot, though. Your friends are probably laughing behind your back, and you don't even know it. Start talking about alternative coaching techniques whenever the subject of film comes up. That should throw everyone else off their game.
Well, that's it kids. In the next couple of weeks, this will be a regular column here. So send your questions about love, life, and the movies to:
We will return to our regularly scheduled Boos! next week. Until then: Eat Food! Kill Grandma! Whoop-doo!