Archive | Pop Culture Catalog

Six Silly Movie Premises that Worked

Posted on 16 April 2012 by Charles B. French

This summer, theaters will be graced with Battleship, a movie based on the classic board game. It’s unclear how well “you sank my battleship” will translate into a film about an alien invasion, but I’m willing to give it a shot. After all, this isn’t the first strange idea Hollywood has had over the years. We’ve seen strange movies come and go, and sometimes those odd premises pay off in ways we just didn’t expect. So before we write off Battleship as Hollywood running out of ideas (again) let’s look at some other movies that had people scratching their heads until they saw the finished copy.

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Five Best Found Footage Films

Posted on 17 March 2012 by Charles B. French

With the upcoming release of the indie film Hombre y tierra,

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Six Parody Movies That Can Stand on their Own

Posted on 25 February 2012 by Charles B. French

The trouble with a lot of parody movies is that they’re very context specific. They spoof specific pop culture trends that most people won’ even remember six months later. The years are not kind to those parody movies, and watching them is like pulling up an old Tonight Show monologue from 15 years ago. You get that it’s supposed to be funny, but you have no idea why anyone’s laughing. (Unless it’s a Bill Clinton joke – those are timeless.)

The good news is that there are plenty of parody movies that transcend time, not needing an audience up to date on the latest pop culture. The best parodies are able to appeal to those who can appreciate the spoof of the source material, and to those who have no clue what’s being spoofed. If the movie is well-written and funny enough, it’s sometimes easy to forget that it’s a parody at all, which is the case for many of the movies listed below.

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The Six Best DCU Animated Movies

Posted on 12 February 2012 by Charles B. French

There’s a lot of attention about the big comic book movies coming out this summer. We’ve got The Avengers, The Amazing Spiderman, and The Dark Knight Rises, all hoping to be the biggest summer blockbuster the world has ever seen. I admit, I’m very excited and plan to see all of them, and I suspect many of you are as well. However, if you think that big-budget blockbusters are the only place to get your superhero movie fix, you’re wrong.

Since 2007 DC has released a dozen fantastic animated movies that blow many live action productions out of the water. Part of the reason these are so good is that they are based on stories that would never be filmed, either due to budgetary concerns or fear that they wouldn’t have a wide enough box-office appeal. Even if they were green-lighted, odds are that they would have so much studio interference (see Green Lantern) that the result would be a watered-down version of what could have been great.

The animated movies have given DC more freedom to produce great stories, and they are only getting better. This year will see the release of an adaption of Justice League:Doom and a two part adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns. I’m awaiting those movies just as much as the summer blockbusters, and I’m far less worried that those movies will disappoint.

For the uninitiated, I’d live to present the top six DC Animated movies and why you need to see them. (After that you should check out the other six because, really, they’re all good.)

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Why we need a Back to the Future Remake

Posted on 27 January 2012 by Charles B. French

Let’s go back to when ‘Family Ties’ was still on.

I know what you’re thinking. There are too many remakes already, don’t give Hollywood any more ideas. Normally, I agree, and I’d hate to see most of my beloved 80′s movies remade. (To be fair, they did a good job with Footloose.) Most of the time I’m ambivalent about remakes, but this is one case in which a remake is a good idea.

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Eight More 80′s Movies Your Children Need to See

Posted on 13 January 2012 by Charles B. French

I should have known. The instant I put out a list of 80′s movies this new generation needs to see, all I hear about are the movies I’ve criminally left off the list. On the plus side, the next column practically writes itself as I am flooded with suggestions.

I get the passion. The 80′s was a profound time for a lot of us. For me, at least, it represents my childhood, and there was no more magical moment than going to the theater, letting the lights grow dim, and seeing something amazing. Plus, it was filled with all kinds of words I’d never hear in my Saturday Morning Cartoons, so that was extra special.

Whether you were a child or a teenager, these movies had a profound impact on you growing up, and in the intervening decades they still stand the test of time. The life lessons, the zany adventures, and the romance will always be with us, and it’s that gift we can pass on to our children.

Here are eight more 80′s movies your children need to see:

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Eight 80′s Movies Your Children Need to See

Posted on 06 January 2012 by Charles B. French

It’s hard for us to believe that the 1980′s began over thirty years go. At least, it’s hard for me to accept that notion. Back then, a lot of us were kids, and these days, a lot of you have children. As parents, it is your job to make sure that your child has the best nourishment, and that includes both food and media consumption. You can’t let your children watch any old crap, which is why its important to pick and choose carefully.

That’s why I have eight recommendations, eight movies from the 80′s that helped define our childhoods and teen years, and if they were good enough for us, they are good enough for our kids.

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Ten Best Christmas Movies of the last 30 years

Posted on 16 December 2011 by Charles B. French

It’s December, and that means the airwaves and cinemas are flooded with Christmas movies. In case you hadn’t noticed, most of those movies are just awful. There’s no way you’d watch them for free on television, and you can’t imagine anyone paying money to see them in a theater. Christmas movies are usually the laziest form of film-making, as it’s usually the same story every time: someone has a problem and the magic of Christmas makes it all better and everyone learns a life lesson.

The good news is that not all Christmas movies are terrible. There’s been a few good ones, and while It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street are indeed classics, I want to focus on the past three decades and look at more recent Christmas fare. These movies that are starting to become classics that will be beloved by future generations. Not only are they good movies, but they actually have that Christmas magic that all such films need.

If you’re in the mood for a Christmas movie and don’t want to get stuck watching

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Six Couples Who Didn’t Kill Their Show

Posted on 09 December 2011 by Charles B. French

Sexual tension is the bread and butter of many dramas and sitcoms. Week after week, the two characters trade barbs and tease the audience with “will they or won’t they” situations in which they come so close to getting together but never quite take the leap. The classic example of this show is Moonlighting, starring

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Six Sequels Better than the Original

Posted on 02 December 2011 by Charles B. French

I spent two columns railing against sequels that weren’t just bad, I try to pretend like they never happened. What really irritates me about bad sequels is that it’s entirely possible to craft a great sequel.A good sequel isn’t just more of the same and hoping it works like the first time. It’s being able to continue the story in a direction that’s credible, deeper, and worth investigating. The best universes take the world established in the original and give us something more, something new, and at their best, they give us a better movie than the original.

Today I’m going to talk about six of those sequels.

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The Ten Best Human Performances in a Muppet Movie

Posted on 18 November 2011 by Charles B. French

I don’t know about you, but I’m plenty excited to see the Muppets back on the big screen. It’ll be nice to reunite with our old friends Kermit, Fozzie, Rowlf, Gonzo, and Miss Piggy. However, when it comes to Muppet movies, it’s more than just the Muppets themselves. Jason Segel, Amy Adams, and Chris Cooper will join a long and proud history of actors who shared a screen with the Muppets.

Today, let’s take a look back at the best human performances in a Muppet movie, and come next week, we’ll see how Segel, Adams, and Cooper stack up against these classic performers.

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Eight Games That Made You Want to Smash the Controller

Posted on 11 November 2011 by Charles B. French

Some games are works of wonder and beauty, and playing them reaffirms our humanity. When life is hard and stressful, those games make us forget our worries and allow us to relax, giving us a rejuvenating boost that allows us to face another day.

These are not those games. These games make our urge to kill rise just a little bit each time until we prove critics right about video games causing violence by hunting down the level designer and throttling him. Instead, though, we have to stifle those murderous urges, especially since we’re more likely to take them out on our poor controller.

Today I’m chronicling eight games that made us want to destroy our controllers, from the old-school difficulty of the NES all the way to the modern era. The mere mention of these games, and certain levels within, will send gaming veterans into fits of PTSD. For every pleasant gaming memory, there is also one of these:

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Three Best and Worst Live-Action 3D Movies

Posted on 04 November 2011 by Charles B. French

I think we can all agree that 3D is now officially a thing. It comes and goes every decade or so and is usually a passing gimmick, but this time it seems to be here for the duration. For now.

When it comes to animated movies, the 3D is usually pretty good, at least from a visual standpoint. However, live action is a whole different animal (probably a lemur) and it’s a lot more hit and miss. And when it misses, you’re sitting in the theater wearing silly glasses wondering whether paying almost double for tickets was really worth it.

My focus is on the 3D itself, as that’s the point of seeing one of these films. I’m there for the spectacle, as are many of you. Thus, this one time I’m going to give other factors a pass.

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Great Skulls in Entertainment

Posted on 28 October 2011 by Charles B. French

It

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More Sequels I Pretend Don’t Exist

Posted on 21 October 2011 by Charles B. French

After my last sequel article, I received a lot of feedback on what was left off the list. (The feedback wasn

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The Most Well-Written Video Games of the 90′s

Posted on 14 October 2011 by Charles B. French

I started playing video games in the good old days of the NES. And after I performed the usual ritual voodoo to get the cart to work (you had to blow on it, tap it three times, and sacrifice a squirrel) I was usually treated to writing that consisted of

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The Best and Worst Cartoons for Adults

Posted on 07 October 2011 by Charles B. French

If you grew up in the 80′s or the first part of the 90′s, you know that Saturday mornings were a sacred time. Before Saved by the Bell ruined it for everyone, Saturdays were a time for cartoons. It was a great time to be a child, and it cemented my lifelong love of cartoons. Fortunately, I’m not alone, and in fact, I’m part of a huge demographic of adults who like watching cartoons. However, not all attempts to satisfy said demographic have been successful. Today I’m going to explore the many cartoons made for us grown-ups. I’ll first discuss the horrible abominations that prove the devil walks among us. Then, because I like to end on a happy note, I’ll talk about the cartoons that make the case for a kind and loving God.

Let’s begin with the five worst cartoons:

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Sequels I Pretend Don’t Exist

Posted on 30 September 2011 by Charles B. French

For my first column, I’d like to talk about sequels. I like sequels. When done right (Spiderman 2) they can expand upon the universe, explore the characters in greater depth than the original allowed, and resolve dangling plot threads from the previous film. When not done well, and sadly this is often the case, they not only are a terrible movie, they retroactively ruin the previous film. (On the plus side, they do allow a lot of actors to pay back what I assume are massive gambling debts.)

Thus, to preserve my sanity and continued enjoyment of the first installment(s), there are sequels I just pretend don’t exist. As far as I’m concerned, these movies were never green-lighted, scripted, cast, financed, catered, filmed, produced, and released. They didn’t happen, and a pox on anyone who tries to shatter my precious illusion. (And yes, I am aware of the irony that writing about movies I pretend don’t exist violates my own rule. I’m sure we can move past it.)

So let’s take a look at some sequels that, after this writing, I will go back to pretending that they didn’t happen. They can rejoin all my other repressed memories. They’re having a party and want these memories to bring Jenga.

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