Thursday Movie Picks #296: Spoofs /Satires/ Mockumentaries

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Friday everyone! I’m a bit late to the TMP party but I love this week’s topic that I still want to participate. The Thursday Movie Picks blogathon was spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… Spoofs / Satires / Mockumentaries.

For this particular post, I’m going to select one movie each from each category:

Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)

A spoof of Robin Hood in general, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) in particular.

It’s been ages since I saw this movie but I remember laughing SO hard in the theater watching this with my brother that my tummy hurt! Mel Brooks is obviously a comedic genius, he must saw the unintentionally-hilarious Prince of Thieves and knew he had to spoof it! Cary Elwes is absolutely perfect for the role of Robin, plus a fabulous ensemble including Patrick Stewart, Tracey Ullman, and Richard Lewis. Apparently Elwes based his performance in Princes Bride after Errol Flynn, and here he’s channeling him as Robin as well.

The musical numbers are a lot of fun as well, though some of the actors didn’t actually do their own singing. Relentlessly irreverent and consistently hysterical, it’s definitely a comedic classic that can be watched over and over. To this day, it’s still hard not to laugh watching the oh-so-serious and grim Robin Hood (*cough* Ridley Scott *cough*) after watching this one.


Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a War Room full of politicians and generals frantically tries to stop.

I actually saw this movie in a film class in college and at the time I didn’t really get the significance of this movie. Upon rewatch, I realized just the brilliance of this cold war satire, and I read how Stanley Kubrick originally set out to make a serous drama before he realized the misguided patriotism of the characters. Filled with many quotable lines, especially “this is the War Room” line delivered with deadpan by the great Peter Sellers. Satire, when done well, can deliver the most potent social commentary, and this is definitely one of the best. No wonder it was shown in a film class as it’s a text-book example of how to do this genre brilliantly. It certainly takes guts, skill and enormous amount of wit to be able to do one, as Taika Waititi recently did with JoJo Rabbit.


What We Do In The Shadows (2014)

Viago, Deacon and Vladislav are vampires who are finding that modern life has them struggling with the mundane – like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs and overcoming flatmate conflicts.

The tagline of this movie is ‘some interviews with some vampires’ I LOVE that!! It’s the quintessential mockumentary that takes a brilliant concept and executed it smashingly (check out my full review). Written by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, this movie is SO freaking witty, hilarious and fun! It’s the first time I discovered Taika (as I knew Jemaine already from Flight of the Conchords) and he’s such a gifted writer/filmmaker so I’m glad he’s found success in Hollywood now.

Every single one of the cast is hilarious, even Stu who had never acted before and thought he was hired to help with computer work as he’s actually a business analyst, but he ended up playing himself in the movie which was simply genius!! This is perhaps one of the most quotable movies I’ve ever seen, I still quote a bunch of the lines like ‘Wakey, wakey,’ ‘We’re Werewolves, not Swear-Wolves’ and my personal favorite ‘I go for a look which I call dead but delicious’ 😀 I own the Bluray and I cannot wait for the sequel (with the original cast). I watched season one of the series, which was funny, but still can’t hold a candle to this movie!


What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of them?

Rental Pick: What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

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I had been wanting to see this movie for ages but for some reason I never saw its theatrical release in my neck of the woods. Even the synopsis and the trailer had me in stitches. Well, the movie itself more than lived up to the hype, it’s so well worth the wait! In fact, the reason this review kept getting delayed is because I kept getting distracted by watching the clips of this on Youtube and they made me laugh every single time.

The idea of a mockumentary about vampires living in modern society is so brilliant and makes for a perfect comedy material, so I’m surprised nobody has made it before. Well I’m glad that these New Zealand comedians did as I can’t imagine anyone else portraying these immortal vampires now. The only person I recognize is Jemaine Clement, one of the Flight of the Conchords comedy band, and he plays one of the four flatmates living in Wellington, NZ. In the opening sequence, we learn that the vampire flatmates have invited a documentary filmmaker to chronicle their lives, hence the title, and they’ve been given some kind of protection so that they won’t become victims like most humans invited into their homes. “Some interviews with some vampires” is the movie’s tagline, an obvious reference to a popular 90s vampire drama based on Anne Rice’s books.
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It’s so much fun to spend two hours with the trio, Vladislav (Clement), Viago (Taika Waititi), and Deacon (Jonathan Brugh). There’s also Petyr (Ben Fransham), an 8000 years old Nosferatu-lookalike who lives in the basement instead of upstairs with the other three. Viago is like the mom in the family, he’s trying to keep the flat as organized and neat as possible, insisting that his flatmates line the floor and walls with newspapers before they feast on their victims. Of course it’s not always easy, one scene showed Viago accidentally biting the main artery of his victim, causing blood to spurt and splatter all over the room and making a huge mess. This is just one of those hysterical dilemmas these immortal creatures have to deal with living in modern society. All the daily stuff we take for granted, such as being able to see our reflection in the mirror when we get dressed, enjoying the sunlight, etc. are problematic for these vampires and the movie explore those in such a hysterical way.

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I thought that the movie is going to consist mostly of random scenes of these vampires doing daily human chores and other vampiric shenanigans, which would’ve been okay for me considering how hilarious these actors are. But there’s actually a decent plot here, starting with Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), a human lured to become their food who ended up being turned into a vampire. Things start go awry when Nick carelessly break every vampire rules and walk around announcing his new identity. But the most hilarious part is when he starts inviting his human friend Stu (Stuart Rutherford) to hang out with his vampire mates. All the scenes involving Stu is a hoot, especially when he teaches them technology and social media, much to the delight of Viago and the gang. It’s even funnier as he’s got this deadpan expression throughout.

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This movie has become one of my favorite comedies of all time. Right up there with The Gods Must Be Crazy, Top Secret! and Hot Fuzz. Comedies are so subjective I guess so what some people find funny might not be the case for others. For me, I love great writing and fun characters on top of the slapstick stuff, nothing too crude nor vulgar. What We Do in the Shadows delivers on that front, such a breath of fresh air compared to a lot of raunchy-but-unfunny Hollywood comedies of late. Props to Clement and Waititi who collaborated as writers/directors, as well as the terrific cast that bring this comedy to life. There are just sooo many memorable scenes and it’s so darn quotable.

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“We’re Werewolves, not Swearwolves.”

“Vampires don’t do dishes.”

“Yeah some of our clothes are from victims. You might bite someone and then, you think, ‘Oooh, those are some nice pants!’.”

“I go for a look I call dead but delicious.”

Seriously, there are hundreds of funny one liners and it’s funnier when you see them in context. The script is so zany and sharp-witted, and the writers obviously knew enough about the whole vampire mythology and stereotypes to turn them on its head. I’ve gotten the Blu-ray and I know it’ll get a ton of play in my house. Even the deleted scenes are a hoot! I don’t normally care for sequels but I sincerely hope Clement and Waititi would work on a sequel for this, as I can watch these characters bicker with each other for hours on end. I’d think this idea would make for a great TV series too, so hopefully that would happen given how well-received this movie has been.
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Have you seen What We Do In The Shadows? Well, what did YOU think?

Conspicous Trailer of the Week: Gentlemen Broncos

This trailer had me in stitches. I happen to love Napoleon Dynamite and found Nacho Libre at least somewhat amusing, so naturally I’m drawn to this quirky comedy. Here’s the synopsis:

Benjamin (Michael Angarano), home-schooled by his eccentric mother (Jennifer Coolidge), is a loveable loner whose passion for writing leads him on an offbeat and hilarious journey as his story first gets ripped off by the legendary fantasy novelist, Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement) and then is adapted into a disastrous movie by the small towns most prolific homespun filmmaker.

Even the synopsis makes me laugh out loud! And for some strange reason, every time I see Jennifer Coolidge, I just want to burst into giggles. She’s a hoot in her scene-stealing gig in Legally Blonde. Michael Angarano has been called one of the most underrated young stars, and the guy who plays the novelist looks hysterical! I’ve never seen that guy before but he sure grabs my attention. His name is Jemaine Clement, apparently he’s half of the New Zealand ‘folk comedy’ duo Flight of the Conchords. Add brilliant Sam Rockwell as the novel’s fictitious character Bronco, and this could be worth checking out at least on DVD. It’s released in theaters October 30th.