Monthly Archives: September 2012

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]