Yearly Archives: 2012

December 20, 2012

Yes Eumaeus

Yesterday read this piece by Michael Chabon about Finnegans Wake. Afterward I took out my copy of the book and considered it again, which seems to happen once every few years.

I say:

Finnegans Wake is not unloved because of all the puns and convolutions; they’re certainly overwhelming, but they’re not what make it really hard. It’s actually hard and unloved for the same reasons and in the same ways as the “Eumaeus” chapter from Ulysses, which seems to me to be a clear precursor to the style. Here’s how “Eumaeus” begins:

Preparatory to anything else Mr Bloom brushed off the greater bulk of the shavings and handed Stephen the hat and ashplant and bucked him up generally in orthodox Samaritan fashion, which he very badly needed. His (Stephen’s) mind was not exactly what you would call wandering but a bit unsteady and on his expressed desire for some beverage to drink Mr Bloom, in view of the hour it was and there being no pumps of Vartry water available for their ablutions, let alone drinking purposes, hit upon an expedient by suggesting, off the reel, the propriety of the cabman’s shelter, as it was called, hardly a stonesthrow away near Butt Bridge, where they might hit upon some drinkables in the shape of a milk and soda or a mineral. But how to get there was the rub. For the nonce he was rather nonplussed but inasmuch as the duty plainly devolved upon him to take some measures on the subject he pondered suitable ways and means during which Stephen repeatedly yawned. So far as he could see he was rather pale in the face so that it occurred to him as highly advisable to get a conveyance of some description which would answer in their then condition, both of them being e.d. ed, particularly Stephen, always assuming that there was such a thing to be found.

It’s one of the longer chapters and the whole thing is like that.

“Eumaeus” is sort of the black sheep chapter in the book, nobody’s favorite, talked about relatively seldom. With all that textual oversharing there’s not as much room for academics to insert themselves, so they tend not to. It is hard to read not because it is complicated but because it is blather, and blather is alienating. This is the real sense in which Finnegans Wake is hard, and would still be hard even if it were written in English.

For all that I say that I’ve read Ulysses, I have never actually made it all the way through “Eumaeus.” It always pushed a button in my brain that said “skip,” and pushed it hard. I think that’s true for many people. One recognizes that Joyce is pushing that button intentionally, but that’s exactly what makes it all seem to be some kind of big shaggy-dog joke. Possibly, like the parody of saccharine junk in the “Nausicaa” chapter, the joke is at someone’s expense, or possibly it’s just a kind of obnoxious playfulness. (“The language is tired just like the characters are tired” is a standard pat explanation for the chapter.) That’s as far as I have generally gotten with it, and of the critical commentaries I’ve read, many don’t get much farther.

But I’ve always kind of known that this was insufficient. In the “Oxen of the Sun” chapter Joyce flies through many much more rich and specific stylistic parodies at a much faster pace. He was too interested in his own skill and too dedicated to craftsmanship to simply set it aside in favor of willful asininity for an entire long chapter, just to prank the reader, or vent his disgust with bad writing, or to evoke the experience of having one’s patience tried by a bore, or, god knows, to depict that “the characters are tired.”

Clearly, he found this kind of blather somehow aesthetically rewarding in its own right. Variants of the style occur in other places in Ulysses. This language is impersonal almost to the point of being uncanny: Who is it coming from? Who could such language possibly ever come from? We associate blather with pomposity but Joycean blather is so pure, so untethered from any coherent ego or intention, that it doesn’t even manage to be pompous. Its recurrent pretenses to being folksy or personable or clever are so transparently superficial that they aren’t really even there; these impressions are just artifacts of the cliches themselves. This blather has no subconscious and no ulterior intention. It simply is.

It is, I think, meant to be the sound of language heard and not of language spoken. “Blah blah blah” is the way we indicate the same. “This is what it sounds like when you hear that talking sound in the world. You know, that weird and evocative blah-blah-blahing?” It is a kind of defamiliarized language, like the thing that words become after you say them too many times to hear their meanings intimately anymore (“milk milk milk milk milk milk milk milk milk milk milk milk milk”) – Joyce I think was fascinated by the thing that syntax and rhetoric would become on the other side of the same curtain of intimacy: clause upon clause, weirdly numb. Like the dancing of creatures under a microscope, simultaneously motivated and unmotivated, organic but soulless. There is no “thou” there for us to grab on to.

Why did this blather-transcendence fascinate him so utterly? I don’t know, but some guesses are 1) because it approaches the condition of music; 2) because he was going blind, and was being gradually cut off from the mimetic – which is to say sensory, which is to say visual – aspect of art, and this focus on the autonomous life of language offered an escape from that depressing thought; 2b) because he was going blind and increasingly found himself hearing and processing the world this way; 3) because he felt like this was virgin artistic territory and that was appealing to his ego; 4) because it was an extension of his lifelong interest in art as the refinement of real-world materials.

To elaborate on that last idea – and this is the crux of the thought I am trying to record here – I have the strong impression that he did find it specifically and deeply appealing that this kind of transcendence could be gotten at by digging down through parody and out the bottom. That you can get dumber, and dumber, and dumber, and dumber, and dumber, until something becomes so dumb that it is transporting. That out beyond the most absurd parody is something so pure and strange that the essentially petty idea of “parody” falls away from us, along with much else, and we find ourselves open to stranger and more essential impressions than most art can manage.

Beth and I have been reading Harry Stephen Keeler lately and the other day I said that, in addition to reminding me of Raymond Roussel, Keeler reminds me of the stapled compendiums of student writing that my elementary school would distribute every few months, which my family used to devour with delight. We didn’t know or care about most of the authors, so we were free to experience their absurdities as a natural phenomenon, and a wonderful one. I remember thinking, even then, “since we love this so much, why doesn’t that make it good for real? Or does it?” I’m still not done with that question.

Anyway, I think Joyce, at a slightly different pitch, was addressing himself to the same thing. Anyone who actually began a sentence with “preparatory to anything else” because he thought it sounded smart would no doubt be a terrible bore and his sentence a terrible one. But if this person is anonymous or nonexistent, if there’s no pyschology or intention, behind it, there starts to be a kind of ecstatic quality in the idiocy – when we discard the idea of “error,” it becomes joyous. And yet the mode by which we’ve reached it is unmistakably derived from parody, and so that hint of superiority and disappointment lingers in the air. I think that was a part of his worldview and seemed right to him.

So: fans of Finnegans Wake often talk about it as though its message is “look at us dancing in the gloriously hallucinatory garden of language!” I think it might actually be saying something closer to “look at all this awful awful bullshit you hear people saying! Don’t you love it and hate it?”

Here is a sentence from the beginning of Finnegans Wake book I, chapter 4:

It may be, we habben to upseek a bitty door our good township’s courants want we knew’t, that with his deepseeing insight (had not wishing oftebeen but good time wasted), petrified within his patriarchal shamanah, broadsteyne ‘bove citie (Twillby! Twillby!) he conscious of enemies, a kingbilly whitehorsed in a Finglas mill, prayed, as he sat on anxious seat, (kunt ye neat gift mey toe bout a peer saft eyballds!) during that three and a hellof hours’ agony of silence, ex profundis malorum, with unfeigned charity that his ouxtrador wordwounder (an engles to the teeth who, nomened Nash of Girahash, would go anyold where in the weeping world on his mottled belly (the rab, the kreeponskneed!) for milk, music or married missusses) might, mercy toprovidential benevolence’s who hates prudencies’ astuteness, unfold into the first of a distinguished dynasty of his posteriors, blackfaced connemaras not of the fold but elder children of his household, his most besetting of ideas (pace his twolve predamanant passions) being the formation, as in more favoured climes, where the Meadow of Honey is guestfriendly and the Mountain of Joy receives, of a truly criminal stratum, Ham’s cribcracking yeggs, thereby at last eliminating from the oppidump much desultory delinquency from all classes and masses with directly derivative decasualisation sigarius (sic!) vindicat urbes terrorum (sicker!): and so, to mark a bank taal she arter, the obedience of the citizens elp the ealth of the ole.

But here is Joyce’s first draft version of this sentence, from about 16 years earlier:

With deepseeing insight he may have prayed in silence that his wordwounder might become the first of a long dynasty, his cherished idea being the formation, as in more favoured climes, of a truly criminal class, thereby eliminating much general delinquency from all classes and masses.

Once the reader has been put on to the fact that the surface of the former is only so hideous because it has been subjected to a process of fractal growth, based on insertions and punning overlays, it becomes a fairly straightforward task to extricate an underlying English-language text like the latter. And, like I’ve been saying all along, the essentially hard thing about this sentence is its blather.

With this in mind, the “fractal growth” starts to seem more obviously like an extension of the same principles, a kind of endless buildup of the needless in the spirit of “preparatory to anything else.” Similarly the dreamy vagueness of the actual meaning is kind of a conceptual equivalent: that someone would wish a curse on an enemy who wounded him is cliche, and that the curse might have to do with his offspring is also cliche, and that the offspring of a criminal would be more criminals is cliche, and that society is divided into criminal and non-criminal classes is cliche, but the loopy way these things link up in the sentence is governed by the dream-logic of the listening mind, not by the rational logic of the speaking mind.

The book is meant to be experienced as pure disembodied art, an escape “out the bottom” from all the foolish worldliness of which it is so elaborately and parodically derived. Its extravagance is meant to be fungal rather than virtuosic. Of course, in an esoteric sense, fungus is virtuosic. Joyce’s great 17-year labor was to empathize with the virtuosity of fungus so that he could write it, but I don’t think he expected the reader to try to follow him there. He seems to have expected only academics and twits (“puzzle hermits and know-it-alls,” in Chabon’s essay) to try to chase him down the rabbit hole of getting inside his authorial head, and liked the idea that they’d be stuck there forever, undone by their wrongheaded approach to literature. This perhaps was his mistake.

The genuine aesthetic difficulty of the work – the difficulty of crossing into and maintaining an awareness of language in its “milk milk milk milk milk milk milk milk milk” defamiliarized state in order to experience art that lives and functions only on that far side of the curtain – is a difficulty for the irrational, observing mind, which is the only part of the self that can make the journey. Unfortunately, when the mind is confronted with a challenge, it applies its rational half. Joyce seems to be have believed that the more he distorted the language, the more he signaled the irrelevance of the task of unraveling it, and helped to guide the reader toward the mode of reception he had in mind. In this sense, Finnegans Wake attempts to be less difficult than “Eumaeus” because it doesn’t leave as much room for the reader to think psychologically and come to the conclusion that he is in the company of a bore. Joyce wanted us to understand deeply that we are in no company at all so that we could have the transcendent experience of language without source. But that’s the problem – he was alone with it, and so it worked for him, but he is the only one. For the rest of us, he is there. He has ostentatiously absented himself from every convoluted syllable, such that we can think of nothing but him and his peculiar intentions. This I think was a failure of his social imagination.

This thought is here recorded mostly because when I googled to see what other people had said in this direction (i.e. the style of the Wake being an extension of Eumaeus), I didn’t find much (apart from a couple pages by Hugh Kenner here). But google has its limits, and I didn’t dig too hard. If passers-by can direct me to critical writings that cover this ground, go for it.

I was real, real, real tired when I wrote this and wasn’t trying very hard to rein myself in, so I might come back later and prune and edit. I know it goes on. This is how all my papers used to be back in the old minimum-page-count days.

November 12, 2012

R.S. Thomas: Poems

R.S. Thomas (1913–2000)
Song at the Year’s Turning (1955)
Poetry for Supper (1958)
The Bread of Truth (1963)
H’m (1972)
Laboratories of the Spirit (1975)

Roll 28 was 1575: R.S. Thomas: Poems. This being R.S. Thomas’s sole entry on the list.

The latter four of the five collections above were to be had at the local library and were pulled for me from deep, neglected storage. (They seemed to me a sufficient selection, seeing as the collected poems didn’t seem to be available anywhere in my vicinity.) I read most of them. Then I chanced across the earliest collection at a bookstore, bought it, read it, realized it clarified the others, decided I needed to start again. But didn’t. Then about a year passed (during which I renewed the four collections thirteen times – apparently the library has an unlimited renewal policy, at least for Welsh poetry). Then I read all of them over the course of about a week. Now a few more months have passed. Here we go.

Here’s a photograph of R.S. Thomas from the National Portrait Gallery:


This is a great portrait because it captures the tone and substance of the work exactly. The only essential thing missing is what he’s looking at with such apprehension. Though I suppose it’s implied. Yes, of course he’s looking at the cold Welsh landscape, the raw world and God’s silence, but first and most immediately, what he’s looking at are his weird rural parishioners.

The earliest work is basically the musings of a country priest who can’t help but notice that the flock he’s tending is made up of impenetrable, incurious, stunted people, people so ominously unlike him that his soul is troubled. The sequence of poems about the farmer “Iago Prytherch” essentially addresses the same question as American Gothic, but at its full weight: what are such opaque people thinking? Is it not terrifying to consider that they might be thinking nothing at all? Are they closer to the truth than we, or further from it?

(I feel like I should try to make a Western Canon callback to this work on a related theme but sadly, I hardly remember it. I guess there’s also a callback to be made to this one but I don’t want to.)

Thomas is haunted by the thought that his restless and philosophical mind (“the mind’s acid” is a phrase that recurs) might bar him from the real source, the solidity of the man who day after day does the same silent thing, out in a field. But such a man surely is missing out on something. Isn’t he? Isn’t he?

This seems to me as good a linchpin as any for a spiritual poetry about the meaning of life, which is more or less what I found here.


He was in the fields, when I set out.
He was in the fields, when I came back.
In between, what long hours,
What centuries might have elapsed.
Did he look up? His arm half
Lifted was more to ward off
My foolishness. You will return,
He intimated; the heart’s roots
Are here under this black soil
I labour at. A change of wind
Can bring the smooth town to a stop;
The grass whispers beneath the flags;
Every right word on your tongue
Has a green taste. It is the mind
Calling you, eager to paint
Its distances; but the truth’s here,
Closer than the world will confess,
In this bare bone of life that I pick.

If you read up on R.S. Thomas, you will quickly learn that there is a Welsh nationalist reading to be had, and that for most scholars – as well as, quite possibly, for the poet himself – the political reading is the primary one. But as you can imagine, that was of little interest to me. Thomas’s personal metaphysics are interwoven with the reality of Wales in a way that mine will never be; his politics are (like all politics) an arena for the expression of something else. So I tried to read for that something else. I feel pretty sure he was trying to write for it.

There were, admittedly, a whole series of poems that either tried to use Welsh myth overtly or else were explicitly political in their nationalism. I say “admittedly” because what I’m admitting is that I didn’t care about those and didn’t make much of an attempt. I felt like Thomas’s career-long drift toward greater abstraction and universality vindicated me.

The spiritual bewilderment of confronting a silent farmer, a person who stubbornly insists on remaining an object, an “it” in your field of awareness, is really just a crisis of loneliness. And it is in fact Thomas’s “mind’s acid” that creates this loneliness, not the opacity of the farmer. And he understands this, in time. In the later collections he cuts out the middleman; the poems become very directly about Man and Nature, God and his Creation, the terrible Machine of modernity, and above all: he himself, the poet. All informed by an expansive loneliness. But a loneliness without vanity.

Vanity I think is the thing I detest most in literature, art, or people, and certainly in poetry. It’s a kind of lie, and what are we here for if not honesty? Beauty, I know, but there’s no comfort for me in beauty contrived in defiance of truth.

I realize only now that I have never liked the two famous William Carlos Williams miniatures. “So much depends upon” is either all the wrong words, or a phony sentiment. In a poem of sixteen words, they should be the right ones. There is vanity here: why must so much depend on this? Why would we pretend to believe that so much depends on it?

Thomas writes a similar poem but in his, crucially, the phrase is “It is a matter of.” British, and without vanity. We can’t say what “it” is, only that we feel it to be a matter. It is a something. What is Williams expressing but the same thing in vain, aggrandizing, false terms?

Likewise the plums. “This is just to say” is not in good faith. A real icebox note doesn’t need to call itself “this,” to name its own humility “this is just.” “This” is to do more than just to say – it is to be something, a bit of unacknowledged self-regard. Vanity again.

Thomas is full of arrogance and self-regard, but it is all acknowledged. It is his subject and his burden. He does not derive real satisfaction from it, or believe in getting credit for it. Arrogance without vanity is entirely sympathetic to me; in fact it seems to me the correct and healthy state of mind.

“Arrogance without vanity.” Maybe that should go on my tombstone. Or as motto for this site, my living tombstone on the world wide web.

As someone in the process of trying to nurture the spirit by having less mind-acid and less commerce with The Machine, I found the essential problem here quite familiar, and the work entirely admirable and frequently affecting. But I think back to how I felt about The Seventh Seal (and Rilke) and feel something similar once again: this is the art of one who did not know a way out of what he describes. It is the art of problem, not of solution. Even in its acknowledgement of grace, of the unearned that transcends earning, all is still cast in terms of strain, risk, fragility, fatalism.

The first poem I encountered (because someone pasted it into an Amazon review) and perhaps the one that felt most valuable:


I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
the treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

Yes, real wisdom is there. Life is not hurrying on to a receding future, nor hankering after an imagined past. And this past year I have found this poem inspiring, thought its tone correct. But now, having gone a bit deeper into my own process of relief, and also being on the point of returning R.S. to the stacks, I find myself questioning even this poem. The revelation here is presented in a context of desperation and regret: don’t get it wrong and pass it by like I keep doing! “I must give all that I have to possess it” is Christian but it is not enlightened even according to the poem itself. Or perhaps it is, but his religious faith and his work ethic are among the things he must give, and he isn’t prepared to mean that at all.

Life is not hurrying on to a receding future, nor hankering after an imagined past. The real enlightenment would be for the poet to look up now, to turn aside like Moses not at some future moment of salvation, but now. But no, the poet R.S. must soldier on, ever straining for the answer, seeking the one true field. In his world, hope and fear are two sides of the same honorable coin. Neither joy nor despair have a proper place here; the only thing to do is keep the tightest possible grip on that coin.

Look what happened to this man:


The work is the record of the habits of thought that do this to you.

The gothic tragedy of the work is that it is quite obviously this business of poetizing that is killing him. Like in some Edgar Allan Poe story, it is the narration itself that is haunting the narrator. For God’s sake put down the pen!


That resigned look! Here I am,
it says; fifty-nine,
balding, shirking the challenge
of the young girls. Time running out
now, and the soul
unfinished. And the heart knows
this is not the portrait
it posed for. Keep the lips
firm; too many disappointments
have turned the mouth down
at the corners. There is no surgery
can mend those lines; cruelly
the light fingers them and the mind
winces. All that skill,
life, on the carving
of the curved nostril and to no end
but disgust. The hurrying eyes
pause, waiting for an outdistanced
gladness to overtake them.

For good and bad, it is all set-jaw poetry. It is run through and through with an ethos of strain that I am trying to transcend.

I am quoting a lot of it here because, yes, I liked it. I just want to be smart about how I like it. If these years of Western Canon reading have taught me anything, it’s that reading can be dangerous.


I choose white, but with
Red on it, like the snow
In winter with its few
Holly berries and the one

Robin, that is a fire
To warm by and like Christ
Comes to us in his weakness,
But with a sharp song.

He often drops the line breaks exactly where the thought most resists breaking, which I suppose can give a sense of momentum, emphasizing the magnetic pull that spans the gap. But again, even in rhythm, he aestheticizes resistance; even flow is an upstream battle.

To Thomas, even passivity is a form of strain. This one about sums it all up:


And I standing in the shade
Have seen it a thousand times
Happen: first theft, then murder;
Rape; the rueful acts
Of the blind hand. I have said
New prayers, or said the old
In a new way. Seeking the poem
In the pain, I have learned
Silence is best, paying for it
With my conscience. I am eyes
Merely, witnessing virtue’s
Defeat; seeing the young born
Fair, knowing the cancer
Awaits them. One thing I have asked
Of the disposer of the issues
Of life: that truth should defer
To beauty. It was not granted.

Look at this! The BBC did a 90 minute radio drama with Jonathan Pryce as Thomas in 2009. I’d listen to that if I could find it.

Okay, I don’t need to renew these any more.

November 11, 2012

Disney Canon #42: Lilo & Stitch (2002)


BETH Okay, I will start.

BROOM Yeah, you’re the one who’s never seen it before.

ADAM And who had no idea at all, when this started, what it was about.

BETH I had no idea. I thought it was so unusual for Disney to have a movie that looked and was like this. The script was so strange. The script was great and it had nothing to do with anything Disney had ever done before.

BROOM It had to do with The Ugly Duckling.

BETH Okay. I guess I’m just thinking superficially.

ADAM It was so sad! I teared up multiple times.

BROOM It was really sad.

ADAM Her parents died in a car accident! There was a lot of social realism that we’ve never seen before and will never see again. This is like All Dogs Go to Heaven territory.

BROOM I’ve never seen that so I don’t know.

ADAM I’m kidding.

BETH It had more to do with the real world.

ADAM Yeah… except for the aliens.

BETH Of course it had aliens, but it had a social worker, it had Elvis… I mean, when have we ever acknowledged outside culture in a Disney movie? Never.

BROOM Is that true?

ADAM Well… What was that short? Set in old New York?

BROOM Alice Bluebonnet?

ADAM Yeah.

BROOM But has there ever been a pop-culture reference like this? There were those weird Beatles vultures in The Jungle Book, but that was more like an inside joke. I don’t know why we’re talking about this. Yes.

BETH There’s never been anything as overt as Elvis.

BROOM The tone and spirit of the script was completely different from the norm, but in being about real emotions in the way that it was – which I think is so great – it was tied into the original Disney tradition. Essentially, this is the movie that I’ve wanted them to make, for the last thirty years of movies. And they only did it once. I don’t know why.

BETH Well, no, I think we can find examples.

BROOM But there’s a kind of…

ADAM … realism. And it’s really effective. But it’s effective in part because it’s paired with the surrealism of the aliens. It would be actually really depressing to watch a movie about a little girl whose family is rent apart by uncaring social workers. But the fact that there are aliens in it saves it from being too depressing.

BETH It felt like it was more the story of one person than of a team. All of the 90s movies felt like a bunch of people working on a concept together, and this felt like a very personal story that they managed to tell very well, I thought.

ADAM The Descendants, but with aliens.

BROOM Yeah, a little bit.

BETH It kinda was, kinda.

BROOM I mean, it was like E.T. but with Hawaii. And where the alien is the one learning things, instead of the kid.

ADAM It was really funny, though, in consequence. I thought all the jokes were really affecting. The interaction between the sisters was satisfyingly real but funny, in the way that the interaction between the family members in The Emperor’s New Groove was just alluding to. Remember we talked about how they had that jokey interaction?

BROOM I’m not going to knock The Emperor’s New Groove for not having been this; the tone there was different. But yes, this was – it’s just so obvious, watching it, that the feeling behind it is in good faith, and is not some kind of concocted simulacrum according to a formula like every other Disney movie’s sentiment in so long.

ADAM I thought it was great. I thought it looked really pretty but without being over-the-top beeeautiful.

BROOM It is beautiful. The backgrounds are all watercolor; I remember them being proud of that at the time, as they should be. And it’s a reference to their Ugly Duckling short – not part of our series – but when they look in that picture book, it looks like the 1939 Ugly Duckling Silly Symphony, and the backgrounds are all in that style. They haven’t used backgrounds like that since the 30s, and it gives it such a lush, human feeling.

BETH Also, the way the bodies were drawn was completely different from how they’d been treating women up until now.

BROOM Loving but not fetishized.

ADAM Huge legs.

BETH Yeah, but I feel like they were going for something realistic: very strong legs, unbalanced features, not completely proportionate.

BROOM There was a real spirit in all the designs. I thought it was particularly interesting when they had that Pamela Anderson lifeguard, and it was like they were saying “this is our version of a sexy body, within this worldview.” It wasn’t fetishistic. It was like the whole movie had a worldview, and nothing was going to break it.

ADAM I like that there’s all this Hawaiian dancing, and it seems like it’s going to be Disney orientalism, but actually they work at, like, a tourist resort. Which is satisfying, and felt legitimately what it would probably be like to live in the particular milieu of being working-class native Hawaiian.

BROOM Well, their house was pretty nice, until it got blown up.

BETH But it was small. I liked all the details of how the sister wasn’t keeping it together. I thought it was great.

BROOM I was feeling like it was one of the very very best – I may still feel that way – but I was thinking that this was a five-star masterpiece for the first two-thirds of the movie, and then once the house blew up, I felt like the denouement had a lot less conviction behind it.

ADAM It gets a little mawkish when he learns to speak English.

BROOM I think you get this effect in a lot of animated movies where they’re obligated to have the climax be climactic, and there’s a sense of exhaustion. I think they tend to leave that stuff until the end of the production, and it’s obligated to be hectic and to trump everything else, and it ends up feeling arbitrary. Here, so much attention had been lavished throughout on the little details, to allow the movie to be about little details, and then at the end it was like, “okay, we’re going to do some movie stuff so you know it’s an ending.” And I felt like the care dropped out of it a little. On the Little Mermaid commentary track, Alan Menken says it stresses him out to watch the end of the movie where the boat’s going around in the whirlpool, because he had to compose the cues in a crazy stressful rush.. and I think that’s going on in a lot of the final sequences of these movies. When the witch gets really big, turns into a dragon, whatever – those sequences often have a kind of grudging quality to them. And that’s what I felt here; some of the air came out at the end.

ADAM When the genie gets too big.

BROOM Actually, that’s one of the very best of those types of endings, the ending of Aladdin. But here, when they were chasing each other around in the spaceships at the end, it felt like “let’s just wrap this up, please.” But up until there it was on a much higher level.

ADAM I liked the personalities of Stitch’s alien pursuers.

BROOM I love that one of them is an obvious Dr. Seuss reference.

ADAM The skinny one?

BROOM Yeah, the little one, with the epaulettes for no reason and the little Dr. Seuss Adam’s apple.

ADAM But the big one seemed like a Rocky and Bullwinkle reference. He seemed like Boris and Natasha.

BROOM The Russian accent.

ADAM I like that the aliens all look like animals, and that they’re all horrified when they see Stitch revealed for the first time.

BROOM The whole setup is really good, and I was especially enjoying thinking of Beth watching it and having no idea where this movie was going or what the attitude of the movie was, as it was revealing itself.


BROOM And yes, as we said right before starting this recording, they really paid to get real Elvis songs.

BETH That had to be incredibly expensive.

BROOM It was built into the movie.

ADAM As a kid I loved the effect where you had animation but then you had a real photograph in it, which was an effect you got in both Tiny Toons and in Bloom County.

BROOM I don’t think it’s been done in one of these before, has it?

BETH It has not.

ADAM I loved it in both of those places and I was childishly tickled to see it here. Both when he watches the cartoon, and the photo of Elvis.

BROOM He in fact watches a non- cartoon. He watches the only thing that is not a cartoon.

ADAM Yes, he watches a disaster movie. Which is very much like a Tiny Toons joke. And maybe was an homage to that. So, thank you.

BROOM Just you wait for Chicken Little. So the character designs are thoughtful and interesting and satisfying, but the animation itself is some of the most fluid, loving animation we’ve seen in a long time. Especially coming after Atlantis.

BETH It seemed like an entirely different staff worked on this movie than worked on the past five. I mean, I liked The Emperor’s New Groove.

BROOM You know I think The Emperor’s New Groove is great.

ADAM But this is different.

BROOM This has real heart. This is something good for kids. Not that Emperor’s New Groove isn’t.

BETH But this is one that I feel like, “oh, I would want kids to watch this!”

BROOM I think the message is a really good one.

ADAM That’s why I say it all the time!

BROOM In fact, by being more specific than something like Bambi that just has very general ideas about family, it makes itself valuable. Here they’re saying, your family is a place where you understand each other, even though in the outside world…

ADAM I teared up when she said that she knew his parents must be dead because that’s why he breaks things. Aw.

BROOM And then that they made it his story. They’re struggling because they have a small family, but he’s struggling because he’s existentially abstract.

BETH He has no roots.

BROOM Which reminded me a little bit of this movie’s contemporary, A.I.

BETH Which I have not seen.

BROOM It’s very dark and it’s nothing like this. But that they made Stitch be the protagonist, even though he can’t be the protagonist by any normal rules. Because he’s a joke character.

ADAM I like that this is a movie set in Hawaii but the protagonist is not a clownfish.

BROOM What other movie is set in Hawaii, besides The Descendants?

ADAM Uh, probably Blue Hawaii with Elvis.

BROOM Now, is it accurate that everyone on Hawaii would just be able to surf? That doesn’t seem likely.

BETH No, they really do.

BROOM Even this ordinary teen girl would be able to surf like that?

BETH I think it’s common, yes.

ADAM Barack Obama can surf.

BROOM Can he?

ADAM I believe he can.

BROOM Did anyone else think about the birth certificate when they showed the official State of Hawaii document?


ADAM Which played such a crucial role in the movie.

BROOM Right.

ADAM The movie is great.

BETH It is. I don’t understand why your sister thinks it’s boring.

BROOM She doesn’t remember it. I think she might have been thinking of something else.

ADAM I actually did not remember any of the first twenty minutes, in space. I didn’t remember that that happened.

BROOM I did. I remember being sort of tickled by how unusual the movie was, at the time, but I don’t think I was as moved or as grateful as I was now. Maybe I just wasn’t as invested in what was going to happen to Disney. Or maybe I just didn’t realize that Disney was about to really lose it, yet again, so it didn’t seem so significant. But now it seems significant. I don’t know how they squeezed this one out; I don’t know how the guy whose idea this was – based on an idea by, and then he was a co-director – got this to happen. I don’t know how this movie happened, but it’s cool that it did.

BETH I’m glad it did, too. What year is this?

BROOM 2002.

ADAM All I really remembered about it was “Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind.”

BROOM You’ve said it like four times in the course of the project, and it always seemed funny to me that you remembered it at all, because I didn’t remember that. But I do now.

ADAM And I remembered the hunky boyfriend and his fire-dancing routine. He was sort of a himbo, in a way that was endearing.

BETH He had fancy hair.

ADAM “She likes your butt and your fancy hair.”

[we read the review]

ADAM How strange that I made a Ving Rhames joke right before we started watching this.

BROOM Did you not know he was actually in it?


BROOM What did you say?

ADAM I said it starred Ving Rhames and Anne Hathaway.

BROOM Right before I restarted the recording, you said that that was a weirdly earnest review, but I think it was an earnest movie, in its private way.

ADAM There just weren’t a lot of pyrotechnics in the wording of that review.

BROOM I think A.O. Scott’s gotten bolder in recent years. His mean reviews now have some fire to them. Anyway, I think we agree that the review was right on.

ADAM I’d totally let my children watch it. It seems totally post-9/11.

BROOM Does it? What does that mean to you?

ADAM It has an emotional earnestness.

BETH But don’t you think they were developing it prior to 9/11?

ADAM Yeah, I know, I’m being silly.

BETH No, I like that we bring it up every time.

BROOM Well, this is the one to say it about.

ADAM If you had to guess which came before, and which came after: this, and The Emperor’s New Groove

BROOM Guys, let’s not forget Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

BETH Atlantis was nothing.

BROOM Now, Adam, it’s been a couple weeks since we saw Atlantis. Do you still feel that we were too hard on it?

ADAM Yeah. I just remember it being exciting.

BROOM All right. I was just curious.

ADAM All I can remember is the exciting visuals.

BROOM This one was like a feast for the eyes.

ADAM This was better. Of course this was better.

BETH So much better.

ADAM This was probably the best one after the classic ten. It’s the best non-classic one.

BETH I agree.

BROOM Honestly, while I was watching this, I was thinking…

BETH You think it might be “a classic”?

BROOM No, I think maybe I like it better than, like, Beauty and the Beast.

BETH So what are our top ten?

BROOM Thus far? Because let’s save some room for Brother Bear!

[We then proceed to try to make a list of ten, but after some consideration, I am omitting this section of the conversation because I deem it to have been premature (see below) and, more importantly, under-prepared. Our fuzzy memories of our own opinions diverge, arbitrarily and sometimes drastically, from our actual opinions as documented on this site. We will return to this exercise as a future date.]

BROOM I like how we’re doing a post-mortem because we feel like the true story is over and all that’s left is to claw our way through the rubble.

BETH Who knows, maybe Bolt will belong on there.

ADAM I’m actually really excited for Frozen.

BROOM How do you feel about Drop Dead Fred, or whatever? Wreck-It Ralph?

ADAM The title didn’t seem promising, but the previews and the posters that I saw looked pretty good.

BROOM I’m worried that it’s going to be too tied to actual video game characters and will feel commercial in a way that will grate.

ADAM I think it’s gonna be a lot like Toy Story.

BROOM Maybe, but Toy Story was… well, Mr. Potato Head was a real toy.

ADAM And Barbie. And the little green army men.

BROOM You’re right. But those things are all each several decades older than Mario. Just the idea of Mario showing up in this movie kind of creeps me out.

ADAM He’s probably too expensive.

BROOM Oh, no, he’s gonna be in there.

ADAM He is?

BROOM I’m pretty sure they’ve got Nintendo characters in there. It’s good business for everyone. Who doesn’t want to be in a Disney movie?

ADAM I’m just saying I think Frozen will be good. And I think that The King of the Elves will be good.

BROOM I don’t know enough about what those are.

ADAM I read the synopsis on Wikipedia of the story on which it’s based.

BROOM Well I am not un-looking forward to Treasure Planet. It could be fun.


September 28, 2012

Titles Are the Worst

(Snippet of original music below. The following carbuncle has formed on what I intended to be a nearly empty entry.)

I made up some silly titles for this particular skitch (one notch less than a sketch). But then I realized that if I post it under some whimsical illustrative name, you’d all try to picture the ostensible subject-matter while you’re listening. You won’t be able to stop yourselves. The title would win, even though it was just a joke. Then I considered posting it under an impossibly inappropriate title (“The Triumph of Virtue and Nobility over Ignorance“), but after a moment’s reflection it seemed to me that you’d all still try to apply the inapplicable title to your listening. How could you not?

Titles are just too powerful. No matter how big your work is and how small its title, the title will somehow become a big enough umbrella to cover it all. Y’all might claim that you’re just using “Beethoven’s Ninth” as a tag of convenience to help refer to an essentially title-less piece, but that wouldn’t be honest. Fact is, every note of that piece sounds to you like “Beethoven’s Ninth,” which is about the dumbest possible title imaginable, a really worthless little clot of text to have strutting through your brain while you listen to that particular music.

For the record, “Ode to Joy” is a pretty inane title too (it always sounds to me a little like “Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence”). But so is “The Triumph of Virtue and Nobility over Ignorance,” which is perhaps the kind of title that Beethoven’s Ninth might have coming to it, if it had one coming to it, which thankfully it doesn’t.

Even good titles aren’t actually good enough to justify their overarching status. Doesn’t it feel like that play suddenly opens up wide and needs to be completely reconsidered when you imagine that it isn’t essentially called “Hamlet,” but only circumstantially? Believe it or not, if it were called “The Dark Secret of Elsinore,” it would be the same play! Or should be, anyway, but it probably wouldn’t be because we can’t help ourselves. Is watching “Hamlet” an identical experience to watching the Borgesian untitled play that has the same script?

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, is I think what I’m getting at here.

But she’s talking about things and people – naming them is fundamental to our system of communication. Artworks on the other hand are experiences. We don’t give titles to dinner every night, or to trips to the bathroom. (In a pinch, a good trick is to put “The Dark Secret of” before the ordinary name of the thing.) Wouldn’t knowing that you weren’t just eating potatoes but were experiencing “The Dark Secret of Eating Potatoes” somehow distance you from the essential truth of the experience? Would you like me to repeat the question?

Or am I wrong in saying that in titling artworks we are titling the experiences? Is “The Mona Lisa” really just our fancy and dramatic way of referring to a certain framed rectangle of wood, the way we have fancy and dramatic names for famous jewels, or mountains, or other glamorized physical things? (A: No. It’s a title.)

… Okay, artworks can have titles, fine, if you insist, but then I don’t know how to make my experiences of them untitled, and that’s important to me. I think I generally find music more moving when I don’t know what it is, or at least when I’m not actively aware, in the moment, of what it is. One more form of zen to work on, I guess. Or to not-work on. (“To poop on,” as the borrowed punchline goes.)

And calling things “Untitled” doesn’t get us anywhere, because the next thing you know someone’s making a placard for the museum that says “Untitled” in the same bold black font as any other title. Or worse, “Untitled 3,” which is syntactically meaningless unless it’s a title. It can’t be anything but a title.

I feel strongly that museums should never print “Untitled” as a title; they should instead leave that part of the placard blank, and then at the bottom in small print say “This work is untitled.” STRONGLY.

Has anyone written a history of artwork-titling? I would read that. (Okay, I see this, but it doesn’t look that appealing. Is there anything better out there?)

That said… click on this hypertext “link” to hear a recording of some music I made up. Clearly the music must be, like, about titles, right? I dare you not to be thinking about titles while you listen.

No, it’s really not.

September 20, 2012

Disney Canon #41: Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)


ADAM Well. It’s a lot more ambitious than The Fox and the Hound, that’s for sure.

BETH I kept thinking about Ocean’s Eleven, because it featured a ragtag team of quirky experts, as this tried to do, and made ninety minutes so much tighter and more enjoyable.

ADAM You’re saying the quirky crew of characters made this more enjoyable?

BETH No no no no no. Ocean’s Eleven has, like this movie, a ragtag team of experts that aids in an adventure. And it’s a short, fast movie in which you get to know each of those characters and like them and root for them. And there’s also a lot of action. I think this movie wanted to do exactly that and completely failed. I thought it was incredibly obtuse.

ADAM What are you talking about? Audrey was the tough Hispanic heroine who had a chip on her shoulder but secretly, you know, a conscience.

BROOM This movie managed to have not a single thing in it that I found interesting.

ADAM Now come on, that’s not fair. It was riotously full of incident and full of invention, for a ninety-minute-long Disney movie.

BROOM What I mean by “managed” is that despite being full of stuff and visually very accomplished, there was not a single thing that genuinely caught my interest. It was all old and it was all done without feeling or sense.

ADAM I thought some of Vinny’s dialogue was funny.

BROOM Yeah, Don Novello came out okay.

ADAM I also liked some of the scenes with the chain-smoking older woman who ran the switchboard.

BETH She was my favorite. You thought she was a cliche?

BROOM I think she was the same as the waitress from the previous movie. [ed.: No, different actresses.]

ADAM They tried not to make them cliches even though they were all stereotypes. If that makes sense. They were each doing a bit, but the bit was a little different from what you’ve seen before.

BROOM I really felt strongly that there was nothing here that the creators of this movie had come up with on their own.

ADAM Couldn’t that have been comfortingly familiar?


BROOM No, because it was a bullshit blend. It didn’t work. It would have been comfortingly familiar if they had aced it or done it with care. But like Beth said, somehow we didn’t actually care about this ragtag bunch. And I know why we didn’t care about them: because they were not introduced one by one, which is the way you do that, they were introduced in a scene where he arrayed a bunch of headshots and then named them very quickly. Then later, yes, they each had introduction scenes, but those scenes were grudging and forced.

ADAM This was a very short movie.

BROOM It was longer than the last one.

ADAM To put this much plot into.

BROOM I don’t know what the plot was.

BETH I don’t either.

ADAM The plot was… what was that movie?

BROOM Avatar?

ADAM Yeah.

BETH It was sort of like Avatar but it wasn’t nearly as good.

BROOM It had the girl from Avatar in it, and it had the waterfall from Avatar in it, but it did not have a plot.

ADAM It had the “everything we thought was right is wrong!” feel of Avatar.

BROOM Because they’re all mercenaries and then they have to be good guys at the end?

ADAM Except in Avatar he’s the only one who’s a good guy. And his mom. Or, not his mom, but…

BROOM Sigourney Weaver?

ADAM Yeah.

BROOM She’s not his mom, but you got it more or less. You got to the psychological core, there.

ADAM Here, everyone is a good guy except for the two bad guys. I didn’t see coming that Rourke was a bad guy. He had a very mellifluous voice and charming character.

BETH Are you serious?

ADAM Yeah. What?

BROOM Well, if you didn’t see that coming, you probably had more fun with this movie than I did.

ADAM I did have some fun with this movie. I thought Kida’s mom was going to come back at the end, but she didn’t.

BETH I did too. I thought she was being stored in a netherworld and would be released. I cannot imagine what it’s like for a kid to watch this movie, because it was really hard to follow, I thought.

ADAM If this was your first introduction to the ragtag team of caperers movie, what an awesome movie this would be. You’d be like, “how’d they think of all that?”

BROOM I felt like this was tried-and-true crap being dished up again but not right.

ADAM But you’ve never seen this crap as a Disney movie before. I mean, look, would you rather have seen another [singing] “Somewhere out there…” … I know that’s not Disney…

BROOM I would like to have seen this movie, but good. Beth kept saying she thought she was going to love it; that was because she knew what all the elements were, and she thought they were going to be cool.

BETH I thought the tropes would provide. And they really let me down.

BROOM I entirely blame the writing and directing. It’s not because the concept didn’t work.

BETH It’s the script. I think it’s mostly the script’s fault.

ADAM Michael J. Fox did not help.

BROOM There was twice as much dialogue as there should have been, so everyone was talking really fast the whole time. It was directed really fast. There were no moments that were real; there was no time that you got to feel that you were really somewhere.

BETH Except in the camp. At night, when they were camping out, that was the one time that I felt briefly, like, “okay, I can do this, this is like a real moment here.” For two minutes. I was okay with that.

BROOM Even that scene, maybe I was just in a sour mood, but I felt like, “oh, sure, they each have to have a backstory.” And again it was handled like that array of faces: “okay, what’s your backstory? okay what’s your backstory? okay we love you all, good night.”

BETH Because the director didn’t know how to do it. Or the writers. Someone.

ADAM Um, everyone: Audrey was a tough-talking Hispanic mechanic.

BROOM She is the worst-animated character…

BETH …in any Disney movie we’ve seen.

ADAM She had a sarcastic catchphrase that became a touching catchphrase when she parted from him! Hel-lo?

BROOM “Two for flinching”?

BETH Her face was not consistent.

BROOM She had no expressions in her face. She didn’t look right. Whenever she was given emotion to convey, she couldn’t do it. I felt embarrassed for her lead animator the first time I saw it, and this time I felt confirmed. Yes. Horrible.

ADAM “Who told you that?” “A man by the name of Thaddeus Thatch.”

BROOM Why didn’t the grandfather…

ADAM Why didn’t he come back, like Frodo?

BROOM No, why didn’t Rourke reveal that he had killed the grandfather?

ADAM You think that happened?

BETH It would have added.

BROOM That’s a standard part of the shit they were doing!

ADAM I thought it was gonna be like when Frodo comes out of the shadows in Rivendell, and he’s been there the whole time.

BROOM Bilbo! Bilbo. Please.

ADAM That’s what I meant to say. Correct that in the transcript.

BROOM Yeah. I won’t subject you to the humiliation. [ed.: untrue]

ADAM Once I’ve seen the three-part movie of The Hobbit, I’ll remember.

BETH It just seems like the script was fixable and workable, and no one stepped up.

BROOM I have a tip for screenwriters: never have your screenplay revolve around a magic crystal. Never. That is the lowest He-Man choice. “What is the power source? What makes everything work?” It could have been anything they wanted. A magic crystal is so lame. And then the whole second act of the movie is about the magic crystal, and what is it going to do? It can do whatever it wants; it’s that magical. And what does it ultimately do? It makes robots clap their hands and make a shield.

BETH It made some cars go. Can we talk about the illustration style? It’s pretty different from everything else we’ve seen. You liked it, Broom, you thought it was good? You said “accomplished” before.

BROOM Well, I often talk about whether it seems like the animators cared about what they were doing. I thought this movie was horseshit and yet I also thought they did seem to care. They seemed excited about the way it looked and the stuff they were doing visually.

ADAM It had a lot of crescendo animations. The city was a little disappointing, but things like the columns, and the volcano, and even Washington D.C. in 1914, I thought, looked kind of cool.

BETH Yeah, but didn’t you think the characters looked a little Adult Swim-y? From the early 2000s?

BROOM I think they wanted to, I think they were going for “comic book edginess.” The Netflix envelope says something about it being a “rare foray into PG animation.” I’m not sure that corresponds so much to the content as it does to the attitude.

BETH Yeah, the attitude. The evil woman’s face had a very grown-up animation look.

ADAM Like, the Nazi? Helga?

BROOM But it doesn’t add up to anything. She just has a smirk. It’s just like a comic book, it’s like a terrible comic book.

BETH She had no nose. Her face was mostly white space with a very little squiggle for her nose, which is so not Disney. And I was impressed with that.

ADAM And all the blue glowing looked really blue. And glowing.

BROOM It was a showcase for the special effects team, and I thought it all looked good. But the guy turns into a crystal monster at the end, and then blows up? Come come!

BETH I thought it sucked. I was so disappointed. I really really thought I would like it based on the trailer.

ADAM I liked it better than you guys did, obviously.

BROOM If I were a kid and I didn’t know this stuff, as Adam just said, if this was my first time to it all, I think I would be able to have an experience that I’m not able to have with this movie. I would be able to imagine being under the earth, thinking about how crazy that would be. But some of it would also be genuinely scary. When she gets drawn into the crystal and it turns into her? That’s incredibly creepy, and it reminds me of the 80s, like I said about The Black Cauldron: this stuff just got into the water and became standard, and I’m not sure the effect on kids is healthy. The crystal person is creepy. And that the guy turns into a crystal because he gets a cut?

BETH That is creepy.

ADAM Why were the Atlanteans Polynesian? Was this supposed to be in the Pacific somewhere? Or was this just some weird misplaced Orientalism?

BETH I think it was that. They didn’t know what to do so they just made them look kind of exotic.

ADAM Just ooga-booga.

BROOM Something borrowed, something blue. The whole thing was just stuff. And the music was so over-the-top.

BETH And yet there were no songs, which was refreshing.

BROOM Thank god. That would have been unbearable. But they kept breaking the mood with the jokes, which were totally scattershot, had nothing in common with each other or with the mood of the story.

BETH Really inconsistent, yeah.

BROOM “Oh my god, this incredible portal is opening up!…” [vaudeville sting] “wah-wah-wah!” It had no agenda to be anything in particular to us.

BETH What are we supposed to feel at the end?

ADAM It’s supposed to feel like the end of Swiss Family Robinson, where they all go back to the world but he stays behind. It’s supposed to feel poignant, but at the same time so right. You didn’t want him to go back to the boiler!

BROOM He had nothing. His books are in storage.

ADAM His cat…

BROOM I don’t know what happened to the cat! I hope the cat was visible in that scene where the old man was by the fire, at the end.

BETH I don’t think it was.

BROOM Another missed opportunity!

ADAM The cat may have been killed in the shipwreck. [ed: confirmed that the cat is present at the fireside in the final scene]

BETH All right.

ADAM I mean, whatever, guys, whatever. Aren’t you at least glad they tried something different?

BETH Yes, I am.

BROOM I am, but this is still the kind of thing that depresses me, because it feels like the urge to create a movie is no longer quite based on having anything to say. It’s just “let’s do the routine,” and the routine is not even something they have any particular access to.

ADAM When we went to see the Madonna concert last week, I described it to Mike afterwards as being a “frantic pastiche,” which I’ll tell you about offline. But this had that element. There were at least ten movies that this reminded me of.

BETH Yeah.

BROOM Yes. And ten episodes of Duck Tales.

BETH The sad thing is, I thought this was terrible, and I think very much worse things are to come. Right? It’s gonna get worse.

ADAM I don’t know.

BROOM I can’t imagine feeling less connected to what’s going on than I did during this. I might feel that something is really wrong, though. Yes, there might be worse things.

ADAM Do you guys remember The Rescuers Down Under? Apparently not.

BETH But there was a charm…

BROOM It wasn’t very good. But it had that scene where the guy kept moving the eggs around and his lizard was trying to eat them. That was pretty good. You guys don’t remember nothin’.

BETH I don’t remember. Okay, I think we’re done.

ADAM All right. Yeah. Does anyone want to talk about what this has to do with September 11th?

BETH Obviously nothing. I thought we might be able to tie it in; we can’t.

BROOM We’re going to do the thing we always do.

BETH Read the review.

[we read it]

BROOM You felt vindicated by that? You thought it was as good as he thought it was?

ADAM Yeah. I am pleased to note that Vinny was played by the guy who plays Father Guido Sarducci. Of whose letters I had a book when I was a kid.

BROOM Well, he wrote that book of letters but it’s not in the character of Father Guido Sarducci. It’s as Lazlo Toth.

ADAM I know. Which I loved as a kid, by the way.

BROOM I didn’t discover those until late. It was too political for me as a little kid.

BETH Not for Adam.

ADAM No. Although it was all about Richard Nixon.

BROOM Although there was a sequel where he wrote to George Bush.

ADAM “Citizen Lazlo.” I had that also.

BETH So you liked it; that’s okay, that’s fine!

ADAM I mean, whatever, you won’t remember it, but… I don’t know, as I was watching it I was like, “well, that went down easy.”

BETH I agree with that. It went faster than I expected. Well, no. It didn’t go faster than I expected, but it went fast once I realized how much I thought it sucked.

BROOM Once you knew what to expect!

ADAM It was not in the top half, or even in the top two-thirds, but it was not in the bottom ten.

BROOM This was quite low for me, because I felt unable to root for it, because it was so content with what it was trying for and what it wasn’t going to try for at all.

ADAM Well, fine!

BETH How many have we seen?

BROOM This was forty-one.

BETH It might be in my bottom ten.

ADAM You guys will get all the character-driven homeliness you desire in the next one.

BROOM You think these characters were especially attractive?

ADAM I don’t mean physical homeliness, but the plot of the next one is a lot more “Dear Mr. Henshaw” and a lot less… I don’t know…

BROOM “Atlantis: The Lost Empire.”


September 20, 2012

Not Palindromes

I’ve come up with some phrases that are not palindromes:





September 3, 2012

Disney Canon #40: The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)


ADAM I was gonna say it was like a “Looney Tunes,” but it’s actually like a “Tiny Toons.”

BETH It was strikingly unambitious in terms of what it wanted to be, but it was completely successful. I think of Disney movies as all trying to be greater than what this was. It was really silly, and the time went so much more quickly than it had for maybe the past ten. It was really entertaining the entire time.

ADAM As a kid, I would have been in stitches at the “Wait a minute, what you just said doesn’t make sense!” jokes. “Wait a minute, I’m going to spell out a convention here!”

BROOM I am in stitches.

BETH You were smiling the entire movie! Every time I looked at you you had a big smile on your face.

BROOM It makes me smile! And I liked it so much I would even take issue with the idea that this is unambitious. I think it’s ambitious in a totally different direction.

BETH But it will never be a classic. It can’t be a classic, because… it reminded me of watching a cartoon episode of Friends. The types of jokes are the types of jokes that — most of them are not the way people joke now. It was very of its time. And I think if September 11th hadn’t happened, this could have turned into something else. I think that this type of joking ended with September 11th.

ADAM The “Wait a minute, buster!”

BETH The sort of David Spade quality of everything, that the late nineties had. It just ended. There’s something else that took its place.

BROOM I feel like this movie is actually a really interesting landmark on the path of comedy; I don’t think it’s the end of a path, I think it’s transitional. You see David Spade being used as David Spade: “uh-bye-bye,” “no touchee,” and all of that, but there’s also stuff in there that I think is if anything ahead of its time, or at least very astute of them.

BETH There’s some stuff that is still in the landscape of comedy now, but…

BROOM I think there’s a goofball thing here that’s not a Friends thing and not a David Spade thing. I remember when I first saw this, the “I’ll turn him into a flea and then I’ll put that flea in a box and then I’ll put that box in another box and then I’ll mail it to myself…” bit —

BETH That was my favorite joke in the movie.

BROOM It was my favorite joke in the movie too. But watching it now, I feel like that joke looks forward to what the next ten years’ sense of comedy was going to be. And that some of the more Monty Python-style stuff — like where he sticks his head into frame and says “This is about me. Not him.” — the spelling it out, like you’re saying Adam, the meta- “we’re going to joke about the joke,” “Why do we even have that lever?” I think is a later kind of irony. In the nineties, they wouldn’t ordinarily have made the “why do we even have that lever” joke. Whereas now, ten years after this, it feels like, “yeah, we’ve really had that out by now.” I think this was at the point where David Spade and that were both happening. I don’t have a clear sense of how to define that, but I do think there’s another element in this movie.

ADAM When we were in college we had a fake TV show premise called “It’s the Nineties, Mom!”

BETH I’ve heard about “It’s the Nineties, Mom!”

ADAM Actually the humor and the style remind me eerily of “Monkey Island.”

BROOM This is funnier than “Monkey Island.”

ADAM “Monkey Island” has funny bits. Like the waitress in the movie, at the Bob’s Big Boy restaurant. “Oh, we get that all the time, hon.” That’s like a “Monkey Island” joke.

BROOM “Bless you for coming out in public” I thought was pretty funny.

ADAM And the Bob’s Big Boy sign as rendered in, like, South American glyphs was like a “Monkey Island” joke, I thought.

BROOM I think that this needs to be seen as a significant accomplishment, if only because everything that it tries to be is something that so many movies have tried, and continue to try to be, and they rarely get even close to working. It’s usually incredibly tedious. When you asked if you were going to like it, Beth, and I said, “maybe, but I don’t want to get your hopes up,” I really thought that maybe, watching it now — I haven’t seen it in eight years or so — I would feel like it’s just grating, I’ve been Shrekked out and I can’t go back here, it’s not funny. But there’s something real fluid and natural and joyful about this movie that I am very impressed by. It’s exactly what Disney usually sucks at! There’s rarely a joke that I don’t cringe at in other Disney movies.

BETH Yeah, it’s edgier than almost any Disney product ever.

BROOM Because Hercules, it just wanted to be this. What else did it want to be but this, a movie that we thought was charming and silly the whole way through? But Hercules for us was like, “okay, we’re really trying to work with you, please please just don’t be too embarrassing.” This was never embarrassing to me.

ADAM Well…

BROOM Yeah, go ahead, tell us what was embarrassing to you.

ADAM This was the first time in a Disney movie where they had, like, a “no homo” joke. And they had multiple ones.

BROOM How do you feel about that?

ADAM Well, I don’t know. It’s sort of like fart jokes. I’m used to it, certainly.

BROOM You take fart jokes just as personally? Because I know I do. That’s why I don’t go to Chick-Fil-A.

ADAM It was basically the same joke as in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. You know, the “those aren’t pillows” joke. I mean, I don’t know — you didn’t wince at all at the hyper-knowingness? You don’t think that’s, like, a blind alley? You don’t feel like there was no… well, I was going to say there’s no emotional sentiment here, but I guess the kids and the mom were supposed to seem genuinely warm in a kooky way.

BROOM I think they had taken some care to make it clear that joking is a warm family thing in that setting. The joking is going to continue, but here it’s going to signify that this is a happy home. It seemed not meaningless, to me.

ADAM I liked that Yzma wore that cloche hat and that flapper-skeleton outfit.

BETH She was a good villain.

BROOM She was great.

ADAM It would have been lacking without her. Kronk is also a pretty funny character, for being the stupid sidekick.

BETH I liked that he was a foodie. Ten years ahead of his time.

BROOM That, again, is I think a joke that was… to come. The absurd specificity of the spinach puffs. And that he can talk to squirrels.

ADAM Didn’t you think it was ugly to look at?

BETH Yeah, but it didn’t bother me that much.

BROOM I didn’t, I thought it was pretty to look at. What didn’t you like?

BETH I thought some of the backgrounds were nice.

BROOM I thought the designs were all good.

BETH It felt Saturday-morning-esque, a little bit.

ADAM Yeah, it felt Hanna Barbera.

BROOM To me, the fluidity and the style of the animation was really top-notch.

BETH It’s true, the animation is good, but I feel like the character design had a sort of lumpier look.

ADAM It just didn’t look like anything Disney.

BETH It felt the least Disney of all of them. But that was a fine thing!

ADAM Well, they disagree with you, because they’re never doing this again.

BROOM They made an Emperor’s New Groove 2: Kronk’s New Groove, or whatever.

BETH What was the reception to this?

BROOM I think it was well-received because I think that was why I sought it out to watch it. I didn’t see it in the theater, I saw it on video. And for some reason I think I watched it, like, five times in one month in college. It seemed very familiar now, even though I haven’t seen it in many years. I just think it’s well designed and well executed.

BETH It’s a good script all-around. It’s really tight.

BROOM It’s just so rare that in these things the jokes are funny. I’m willing to say that this is a very special thing, because I can’t think of another cartoon I feel that way about.

BETH I had two or three full laughs.

BROOM And it’s funny in an animation-y way, which usually runs the risk of being, like, just animation nerds getting off on their little moments. But those moments were made to land, when they were the point. Like at the end when she’s a kitten and she’s being evil, and the person animating that kitten clearly enjoyed it, it actually gets a laugh because it’s actually fun to watch!

BETH It was self-aware in that nineties way, but… there’s nothing wrong with that.

BROOM It makes me happy to see that this has actually aged well. I don’t think you need to go into retro mode to understand this.


BROOM I don’t think it’s necessarily going to make it another ten years.

BETH Yeah, I think that soon it will feel dated, and we just happen to be —

BROOM But, you know, old fast-talk movies, The Philadelphia Story or whatever, they’re “dated,” and yet they explain to you how the comedy works by being so confident about how the comedy works. I could imagine this being a movie that becomes more and more, like, “they sure don’t make ’em like this anymore!” but while you’re watching it, it works. The Marx Brothers is both dated and not dated at all. For them to be going down a river and he says “We’re about to go over a big waterfall, aren’t we? Bring it on.” — I don’t think that’ll ever seem less relevant, because a scene where people go over a big waterfall is perennial. It’ll always be there. It’s not like we can snark our way out of the reference point even existing for future generations.

ADAM I don’t know. He has a sort of bro-y snarkiness that is very of its time. I hope.

BROOM But the whole point of the movie is that this is a terrible way to be. The moral of the movie is, “Do not be David Spade.”

BETH It is anti-David Spade.

BROOM Which is why it’s so bearable.

ADAM John Goodman was a little earnest for me. It was hard to take watching him save the llama so many times.

BETH I was fine with that.

BROOM They’re trying to balance these elements, like, David Spade has to be totally unlikable, but we have to like him, and, you know, the movie has to be a total joke, but it has to have a serious thing in it.

BETH Isn’t that David Spade’s thing? You hate him but you think it’s cute?

BROOM But on SNL when he would do the same thing, you know, “uh… Dan Rather… you’re an asshole… anal rape…” I would find it unwatchable because I didn’t sympathize with his perspective, and the context was not “this is an asshole talking.” But here it was introduced as “this is what a horrible person sounds like.” We can laugh at that. His attitude was the subject, not the point of sympathy. So I was going to say, it’s one of these balancing acts that people never pull off — and yes, maybe there was one too many rescues or one too many betrayals — but they basically pull it off!

BETH Yeah.

[we read the New York Times review]

ADAM That came down a little heavier on the mindlessness than you are. But I liked it. Will you remember any of those jokes three days from now?

BETH I’ll remember the atmosphere.

BROOM I remember quite a bit of it.

BETH Because you watched it five times.

BROOM It’s just very inviting, to me. I find it delightful.

ADAM The joke of having characters in a non-Jewish setting playing Jews is also a very “Tiny Toons” joke.

BROOM You’ll have to tell me when that happened.

ADAM The waitress!

BROOM Saying “mazel tov”?

ADAM Yeah, and being like an old Jew. That would have struck me as hysterically funny, when I was ten.

BETH And that’s how “Tiny Toons” was?

ADAM It was exactly like this. They were like cute bunny rabbits, and they would always lapse into vaudeville jokes. Or sort of Billy Crystal stuff. I just thought that was super-funny when I was a kid. I’m sure if I had seen this when I was ten, I would have been transported.

BROOM There’s so much more to it than that! When it pulls back and back dramatically and then pulls back further to a bug on a branch, that’s my thing.

ADAM Yes, knowingness was really funny to me when I was a kid!

BROOM It can still be funny.

ADAM I’m just saying, it was particularly funny to me when I was ten. That’s all I got.

BETH I’m debating giving it four stars on Netflix, which is a big deal for me.

BROOM Congratulations.

BETH Thanks. When most things get twos, Disney-wise…

BROOM Yeah, I think this may be their best film of the past fifteen years. That’s how I feel.

ADAM Tangled is pretty good.

BROOM All right. I look forward to the ones I haven’t seen. Coming up next, however: Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

BETH It looks great to me from the preview.

BROOM Atlantis starts out and you feel like it might be comic book fun, but then it has to take its own story seriously, and you think, “this story doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously. I no longer care about this.”

BETH Well, that’s the problem with most Disney, and that’s why this one succeeded. It did not take itself seriously.

BROOM Exactly.

BETH The end.

ADAM The end.

[we turn off the recording but then:]

ADAM We just noticed from looking at the Wikipedia entry that there is no love story in this movie. And that is very satisfying because it avoids a lot of stupid treacliness. Also no songs.

BETH I was going to say, the lack of songs was great.

BROOM There was the opening and closing number. Which is lively and pleasant. But it doesn’t happen during the story.

BETH It’s not a musical.

BROOM Right.

[we turn it off again but then:]

BROOM Say it again.

BETH This was a precursor to the “bro-mance,” about ten years ahead of its time.

BROOM Uh-huh. Except it was called the “buddy movie” prior to being called the “bro-mance.”

BETH But it felt like a “bro-mance” because it had the homophobic rescue kiss scene.

BROOM That’s true.

BETH The end again.

[this time it really is]


July 23, 2012

Comment policy

Dear readers. As you may be aware, the presence of spam comments has been gradually rising on this site and has reached a point, I would say, of unmanageablity.

This is a problem in no small part because this site is running on very old software that hasn’t been upgraded since 2004 and that nobody uses anymore. I am accordingly looking into the possibility of upgrading it or transferring the site to other software.

But that all sounds like a pain in the neck, so for the time being I am doing the simplest thing, which is to make all comments subject to my approval. Where you used to get to see your comment appear immediately — except when for some reason the browser screwed up — now you will probably see something like “your comment is being reviewed” or whatever.

Know that it is being reviewed solely in the sense that if it is SPAM it will not go up, and if it is not, it will. I do not have editorial principles beyond that. As should be clear.

Sorry to do this; I know from my own experience that the instant gratification of the comment immediately appearing is important to making commenting seem worthwhile. Please do it exactly as much or as little as you did before. Knowing me, the “review” and approval will probably happen almost immediately since I seem to check my email once every 15 seconds or so.

I’ll post something if a bigger and better backend change comes to pass.

July 20, 2012

Disney Canon #39: Dinosaur (2000)


ADAM Wow. They sort of head-faked us into thinking this was gonna be another Jungle Book, but it was actually like The Poseidon Adventure.

BROOM I don’t know what it was. It was like The Road, some kind of post-apocalyptic movie. Except then it wasn’t.

BETH But for most of it, it was. For seventy-five percent of it, it was really dark.

ADAM You were surprisingly gripped.

BETH I was. By the time they were in the cave, I was responding to it. I was talking back.

ADAM I’m not so sure that this was a failure, the way it seemed like it was going to be at the beginning, when it was all that swoopy CGI and that Kevin Costner music.

BETH There was no character development early on — or I was not paying attention —

BROOM So you felt like the “character development” — and I’m going to put that in quotes when I type it up — that existed later in the movie was… meaningful?

BETH No. Well, I don’t know.

BROOM You guys understand that the backgrounds were real film, and the credits just now listed all the places they went to shoot them?

ADAM That was cool. There were like eight different places that they filmed it.

BETH I felt like it had to be live, because the water looked way too good.

ADAM There wasn’t character development, but there was strong characterization.

BETH Yes, but I felt like I didn’t really see it until the middle of the movie. Early on — maybe it’s just because I was so turned off by the beginning — no one seemed appealing to me or worth caring about.

BROOM Tell me more about what you were turned off by at the beginning, because I, like I said, was surprised by how early and with what conviction you guys were groaning. It seemed like all we’d seen was sort of —

BETH Incredibly slow —

BROOM — sweeping, beginning-of-a-movie scenery.

ADAM It was the hackneyed sort of establishing shots, and then it was that sort of Rube Goldberg routine with the egg, which was kind of a turn-off, and then the “Mom, can we keep it?” routine, which we’ve seen literally like four times. And I was just, like, “oh, god. This is just gonna be CGI, and they have not thought at all about the story. It’s just gonna be the worst bits of every Disney story just mashed together as an excuse for this rickety CGI.”

BROOM And somehow we think it wasn’t that? I don’t think the movie really changed course.

ADAM No, then it turned into, like, Schindler’s List.

BETH It was just that it subverted expectations.

BROOM By having the apocalypse in it?

BETH Yeah.

ADAM By having the half-hour of just death.

BROOM It was grim.

BETH Survival.

ADAM The trail of tears.

BROOM Which exactly appeared in Fantasia already. The dinosaurs trudging across the desert.

ADAM So yeah, let’s talk about that music.

BROOM The “Africa” music?

ADAM The whole thing. I called it “Kevin Costner music” because it sounds to me like the music in Dances With Wolves and in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. It felt maybe a little antiquated for 2000.

BROOM Sweep. Spectacle. I found the atmosphere of the movie strange, and I didn’t know if the music was trying to compensate for that, or trying to be a part of that. I think the music ended up contributing to my sense of a strange atmosphere. It felt unearthly. I’m surprised you say that the “character development” was something that gripped you, because I felt like the characters were kind of at arm’s length, compared to most Disney movies. I mean, I recognized them, but it was like through a window.

ADAM She was just like Meg from Hercules. Cynical, allied with evil because she has no energy to fight back.

BROOM She wasn’t cynical. She didn’t really have a character. She was the sister to the tough guy, and she said “I don’t know what to think; things are so different now.” That was her whole character.

BETH I didn’t care about her.

BROOM There were the terrible one-liners that —

BETH — all Disney movies have.

BROOM Well, that the worst ones have. That a lot of movies now have. It’s the sound of a room of scriptwriters.

BETH “My blisters have blisters!”

BROOM Your blisters do have blisters. And then there were plot events that fit into this formula. And there wasn’t, for me, a sense of character in between. It sort of made the movie feel like it was happening in a strange other space.

ADAM There was the woman with the strong British accent and the woman with the strong African-American accent!

BROOM Yes. “Shame, shame on you!” She talked like an old lady, but she was in fact the strongest one of them. And that was sort of the revelation of that, the “hitting a rock until it breaks” scene.

ADAM I mean, this movie wasn’t good. It just wasn’t quite the nadir that I was anticipating.

BROOM Yeah, I agree. But this atmosphere; I’m trying to find the word for it. It had… like science fiction sometimes does, it hasn’t been fully realized and that’s part of what makes it unearthly or…

BETH Well, compelling, really. I think it’s part of what was gripping about it, that it had this otherworldly quality.

BROOM Yeah, exactly.

ADAM And pretend dinosaurs that did not have the characteristics of real dinosaurs.

BROOM Well, I think they actually were just lesser-known dinosaurs. They intentionally didn’t pick, like, Stegosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex.

BETH Like, not popular dinosaurs.

BROOM Well, I’m not sure about “Carnotaur” — but the black lady was a Styracosaur, and their dog was an Ankylosaur.

ADAM I know that. And he was like an Apatosaur?

BROOM I’m not sure what he was. We can find out. [begins looking it up on Wikipedia] But you know that movie, The Dark Crystal? It’s a quest movie in a fantasy land, but the fantasy is so strange and otherworldly that your investment in the quest is sort of — you look at it in wonder and think “what am I looking at?” This seemed like it might be almost aiming at that.

BETH Yeah.

ADAM A better ending would have been if they all evolved into birds.

BROOM Well that little voice-over at the very end — I was saying cynical stuff the whole time about how they’re all going to die, and then the voice-over said, “Yes, I’m not sure what to tell you.”

BETH “Let’s just remember this moment.”

BROOM Here it is: Aladar is an Iguanodon. Neera, Kron, and Bruton are all Iguanodons as well.

ADAM Yeah, I got that.

BETH Bruton looked a different type of Iguanodon. I guess he was just harder-edged, weathered.

BROOM Baylene was a Brachiosaurus, and Eema was a Styracosaurus. And the pet Ankylosaur was named Url.

ADAM Did you know those off the top of your head? I would have known Ankylosaur as a kid, but not now.

BROOM I said it before I looked it up. And look: “Carnotaurus, meaning ‘meat-eating bull.’ Only one species has been described so far.” It lived in Patagonia. The article does not have a “Carnotaurus in popular culture” section. But we could add it.

ADAM The movie Ice Age plays on the whole mammals versus dinosaurs thing. But that didn’t really get played up here.

BROOM This is very much like The Land Before Time, if we remember that, from 1987 or so [ed: 1988]. A Don Bluth movie, very tacky 80s kind of thing. Oh look at this: “The film was originally supposed to have no dialogue at all, in part to differentiate the film from The Land Before Time, with which Dinosaur shares plot similarities.”

BETH Thank goodness it didn’t.

BROOM I’m surprised at you two for saying “thank goodness!”

BETH It would have been intolerable!

ADAM Because the first six minutes was the worst.

BROOM I’m so surprised! To me, it’s the wisecracking that’s embarrassing.

ADAM But at least it goes down easy.

BETH Yeah, it just makes the time pass more quickly. The CGI just wasn’t that good. It was very noticeable.

ADAM Yeah, the CGI at the beginning looked like a USA television network extravaganza.

BROOM I would say the CGI was inconsistent. Because sometimes it was very good, I thought.

BETH Yeah, sometimes it was good.

BROOM When he got wet, I thought that was really well done. And I thought the live-action-beautiful-backgrounds idea was occasionally effective. I agree that it looked like ten-years-ago CGI, and that we’ve gotten used to a slightly slicker standard. But it’s mostly just that CGI is itself kind of distancing. You don’t really feel like you’re there.

BETH So you would have been okay with a ninety-minute silent dinosaur movie?

BROOM Well, they’d have had to construct it differently, obviously. All the more otherworldly, I would have thought.

BETH Yeah, okay.

ADAM What was the cartoon short we saw about how the seal leads the other seals into the protected cove? It was from one of the forties shorts, I think. There’s one where the seals go through this magical passageway under an island, and they end up in this cove inside an island, where they’re free from predators and it’s very beautiful.

BROOM Really? Are you sure that didn’t happen to the Smurfs?

ADAM Come on, guys.

[Google efforts along the lines of (“seals” “Disney” “island”) turn up nothing]

ADAM I don’t want to get distracted here, but this really happened.

BROOM You’re going to have to dig into it, because I don’t believe you.

ADAM Okay.

BROOM So… this is just like that? Is that what you’re going to say?

ADAM Yeah.

BETH Find the review; I think we’re done.

ADAM Yeah, I don’t have a lot more to say about this other than, you know, if you’re composing the list of the five DIsney movies you absolutely never want to see, this is probably not one of them.

BROOM Really?! Compose it. Which are the five worst?

ADAM I don’t know. It’s too early to say.

BROOM Yeah, I think several of them are yet to come.

[we begin reading the New York Times review, but are interrupted:]

BROOM Okay, it’s been discovered that The White Seal, 1973, by Chuck Jones, is the film Adam had in mind. Good call; the ending is exactly the same.

ADAM That’s what it reminds me of.

[we finish the review]

ADAM That was a weirdly superficial review from A. O. Scott.

BROOM I don’t know, I think he took the time to give it what it deserved, and I’m not sure it deserved different from that.

ADAM I don’t know. “It had so many credits!”

BROOM I think that the over-emphasis on the credits in his review sort of matches the nature of the movie; it’s like, “technically something was done here, but I’m not sure what was done movie-wise.” Do we feel that this is really a Disney feature, that this follows in the footsteps of the tradition in any way?

ADAM Well, I’m glad that it was strange. It was a strangeness that was more interesting than — what was the worst one, The Fox and the Hound?

BROOM That was my least favorite. But, I mean, Mulan was pretty bad. What was the other one there? Oh, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but, no, that was better than this.

ADAM Also redeemingly strange.

BROOM That had a lot more spirit and eccentricity. I would pick that any day to watch over this. My recollection of this was that it was totally run-of-the-mill forgettable, and it turned out to be not, quite, it was a little more than that. But I think it will disappear very quickly, because the strangeness we’re talking about is in subtle tonal things, but what’s really going on is very run-of-the-mill, standard stuff, with stupid jokes. It’s kind of an insult to us. Right?

ADAM In the grand scheme of things, yes.

BROOM Would you show it to children that you cared for?


ADAM I might. It depends what else was on.

BROOM I wouldn’t really care. But I would be disappointed in them if they came to love it. I really made an attempt to watch it as a child would. I tried to be open to —

BETH — emotions that you would feel?

BROOM To the feeling of the space, which seemed to be its main thing. “Now they’re in the white-feeling desert, and now they’re in the blue nighttime.”

BETH Like how you watched Star Wars.

BROOM That’s right. And… I don’t think there was enough there that I would have liked the movie, as a kid. But there was something going for it on that level.

ADAM Do you think this captures the innocence of the pre-9/11 world, or eerily presages the destruction of the post-9/11 world?

BROOM I think the destruction in the movie was more disturbing to us because we are watching it in the post-9/11 world.

ADAM Oh, I’m sorry, I was thinking this movie came out in 2001, because all the DVD previews were from 2001. I was going to say it would be weird if The Emperor’s New Groove was the first post-9/11 one.

BROOM The first post-9/11 movie is Lilo and Stitch.

ADAM Which actually does make sense.

BROOM It was clearly in production before that. But yes, it’s sort of suitably humanist.

ADAM Earnest.