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7 Follow-Ups to Classic Christmas Movies That Ruin the Original

by J.M. McNab

While we may have accepted that Indiana Jones met some aliens, or that Francis Ford Coppola cast his daughter in the third Godfather movie, we demand more from our Christmas movies and specials. Unfortunately, many classic Christmas movie characters nevertheless returned for follow-ups that denigrate the original, thus ruining Christmas. If this was a TV movie, Rob Lowe would save it somehow… maybe Dean Cain.

7. Clarence the Angel Gets a Sexy ’90s Makeover

“It’s It’s a Wonderful Life, but sexier, and for the nineties!” is probably how the 1990 TV movie Clarence was pitched by a coked-up, ponytailed screenwriter, to a soulless, shoulder-pad-wearing television executive.

Clarence finds the beloved guardian angel character from Frank Capra’s classic 1946 film (which we discussed on this week’s show) transformed into a younger, handsomer, guardian angel played by Robert Carradine… because, Christmas magic, I guess?

Clarence became a cocky jerk ever since he got his wings.

Apparently Clarence has used his powers (the kind normally reserved for convincing people not to commit suicide) to make himself more attractive and youthful-looking. Isn’t vanity supposed to be a sin? Try watching the original knowing that the benevolent angel you know and love becomes a superficial douchebag.

Also, for some reason, Clarence doesn’t like saving people anymore, and agrees to back to Earth in this movie only because a fellow angel’s widow is contemplating suicide. So basically, he won’t tell people not to kill themselves unless it’s a favor for a buddy. Merry Christmas everybody.

6. Frosty the Snowman is Actually Depressed and Lonely

Everybody loves Frosty the Snowman (except for that evil magician), so one would naturally assume that his sequel would recapture the magic of the original. Well, it turns out it doesn’t. To start with, remember how Frosty sang “I’ll be back on Christmas day” in the original? Turns out that was a big fucking lie. The sequel, Frosty’s Winter Wonderland takes place several years later, for some reason.

Guess what else isn’t fun about Frosty 2? Frosty is depressed and starts crying.

That’s right, it’s bad enough that you have to deal with your family members’ soul-crushing sadness on Christmas, now even beloved cartoon characters can’t keep their shit together during the holidays.

Turns out Frosty has… needs… So the kids build him a snow-woman for a wife– the only problem is she doesn’t have a magic hat to bring her to life, which is, again, depressing. It’s like trying to set your best friend up with a mannequin or a corpse.

Watching this sequel makes you wish those kids in the original had never meddled in dark arts, playing god and creating a whole new lifeform. In light of this sequel, the original Frosty becomes a maddening prelude to a host of unanticipated ethical dilemmas.

5. The Grinch Just Went Back to Being a Dick After Christmas

Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas was such a successful TV special, it would be insane for its creators not to produce a new special about the second-most popular holiday and find a way to awkwardly shoehorn The Grinch into it.

That being said, the 1977 follow-up, Halloween is Grinch Night, finds The Grinch once again terrorizing the town of Whoville– which doesn’t totally gel with the ending of the original.

“I did WHAT at Christmas? I must have been hammered that day.”

What happened to The Grinch carving the roast beast? Or his heart growing an, albeit medically-worrisome, three sizes that day? Having a sequel where The Grinch acts like a deranged stalker undoes all of the character development from the original, and accidentally reinforces that most famous of Christmas morals: “Nobody ever changes… pass the wine.”

4. Charlie Brown and Linus Forget the True Meaning of Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of the most beloved half-hours of family entertainment. Setting it apart from other Holiday programming is the special’s frank examination of the over-commercialization of Christmas, Yuletide malaise, and the holiday’s disengagement from its spiritual origins.

Originally airing in 1965, it wasn’t until 1991 that the show was released on home video (apparently the stupid 1960s didn’t have VHS). Fittingly, Charlie Brown appeared in a television commercial promoting the release of this seminal work. The ad begins with Charlie Brown and Linus, trudging through the snow, carrying their skates. It almost feels like a proper sequel to the classic special.

Charlie Brown: I’m worried, Linus. Christmas is coming, and I don’t know what to get anyone.

Linus: Charlie Brown, what you need is a gift everyone will like–

Okay, here it comes, another one of Linus’ big speeches! In the original he quoted the Bible, assuring everyone that the true meaning of Christmas didn’t involve material goods–

Linus: That’s it! A Charlie Brown Christmas videotape!

Okay… Well, that makes sense, they have to sell their videotape somehow. It’s not like the only way to purchase the tape would be by buying something else from some kind of billion-dollar corporation trying to lure you into consuming their product using your childhood nostalgia as bait.

Charlie Brown: But where do I get them Linus?

Voice: Participating Shell stations are now offering A Charlie Brown Christmas while supplies last. Only $3.99 with an eight gallon fill-up!

Oh.

The True Meaning of Christmas is big oil.

So the only way to buy A Charlie Brown Christmas, an animated treatise on the non-corporatization of Christmas, is by going to a Shell station and filling up your tank. That’s like if the DVD of Gandhi was only available through Burger King. The worst part is, this betrayal of the characters’ values is enacted by the characters themselves! It’s so out of character, one wonders if Shell was holding Lucy, or Peppermint Patty hostage in exchange for these classic characters abandoning their core beliefs.

3. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is Still Treated Like Shit

While it seemed that the original 1964 special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer had a neat and tidy ending, there have nevertheless been several sequels. One of which, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys from 2001 strangely replaces the quaint, timeless stop-motion animation of the original with hollow, soulless, cheap-looking CGI.

In this movie, Rudolph has to escape from the Nintendo 64 he’s trapped inside.

The most troubling part of the sequel though, is how it undercuts the message of the original. Remember how the ostracized Rudolph was finally accepted at the end? Turns out that wasn’t such a happy ending after all…

As we see in the beginning of this sequel, everyone at the North Pole still treats Rudolph like a freak, like some kind of yuletide Elephant Man, Rudolph is constantly being hounded to perform his nose “trick.” Rudolph leaves the North Pole in despair muttering “Guess I’m just a novelty act around here.”

2. Scrooge Continues to Hate Christmas but Learns to Love ‘80s Rock

The 1983 special Scrooge’s Rock ‘n Roll Christmas produced to, presumably, cure the public of their enjoyment of both Christmas and music, finds Ebeneezer Scrooge working on Christmas day, grumbling about how Bob Cratchit took the day off.

So, seemingly this is both a sequel to Charles Dickens’ classic story A Christmas Carol (and its many cinematic adaptations) but also a reimagining of it– what would happen if Scrooge wasn’t visited by the ghosts on Christmas Eve? The short answer: he’d still be a dick. The longer answer: he’d be a dick who learns to love bad ‘80s rock.

Through some kind of rip in the space-time continuum, a visitor from the future (ie 1983) enters Scrooge’s office believing it to be a record store. Since Scrooge is all Bah Humbugy, the girl from the future teaches him about contemporary music using a magic snowglobe, which is a thing people totally carried with them in 1983.

Seen here: Scrooge discovers sexual tension.

After witnessing performances by stars such as Three Dog Night, The Association and even meeting The Beach Boys’ Mike Love, who he recognizes for some reason, Scrooge learns to love Christmas…Well, not really, but it does seem like he’s really grooving to those tunes. It’s a disturbing revisionist sequel to one of the great Christmas stories.

Seen here: The Ghost of Christmas Past-Facial Hair

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1. Kevin McCallister’s Parents Really Are the Worst

When Home Alone hit screens in 1990, audiences somehow accepted that Kate and Peter McCallister could accidentally go on vacation without their son, Kevin. In their defense, they did befall a series of unfortunate coincidences, and were firm believers in the controversial parenting tactic of banishing your small child to the attic.

When it happened again in the sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, it was less believable. Nevertheless, the filmmakers made a concerted effort to show that Kate and Peter still loved their son and didn’t, say, want him to be murdered on the streets of New York– Which, let’s face it, is what would have happened almost immediately if it were real life.

In the 2002 straight-to-video Home Alone 4 (Home Alone 3 has nothing to do with the McCallisters, who happened to not abandon their child that Christmas) Kevin, who now has a different hair color and looks younger for some reason, is spending Christmas with his recently divorced dad at his dad’s new girlfriend’s mansion.

It’s like looking in a mirror. A mirror owned by a terrible Casting Director.

Because there are really only about three or four active criminals in the United States, the mansion is targeted by a familiar face– Marv of the Wet Bandits… and by familiar face, I mean not familiar at all. Home Alone 4 recasts Daniel Stern’s part with French Stewart, and partners him with some strange lady instead of Harry, the character played by Joe Pesci… which is weird for a number of reasons, mainly because since they made literally no effort to make French Stewart look like Daniel Stern, so they could have realistically cast anyone at all and just called them ”Harry” for the sake of retaining a bare minimum of consistency.

The same woman was later cast in a re-make of Raging Bull.

The most upsetting part of Home Alone 4 is the fact that Kevin is never actually left home alone, instead he’s just ignored by his dad, a negligent parent who is enjoying boning his new girlfriend more than listening to his son’s cries for help.

Kevin is actually attacked by Marv in this movie, and when he tells his dad, Mr. McCallister earns the the Jack Torrence Award for worst father of the year by not believing him. This isn’t just bad writing, it’s irresponsible writing; kids need to know that they can confide in their parents if something bad or dangerous happens to them.

Of course the original walked that line of rooting for the McCallister parents and calling Child Services on them, but somehow they made it work. This movie, however, ruins all of that goodwill. How can you enjoy the first two movies when you know that Kate will allow her son to stay with Peter who has become an irresponsible sociopath? Kevin would be better off being adopted by the Wet Bandits, or that crazy old man who turned out not to be a murderer, but was still really, really creepy.

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6 DIE HARD Rip-Offs That Time Forgot

DH

by J.M. McNab

In the early to mid-nineties, it seemed as though almost every action movie imitated Die Hard to some extent. Several movies straight-up lifted the Die Hard premise (one person in one location against a slew of bad guys) adapting it to a variety of locations: a boat in Under Siege, a hockey arena in Sudden Death, a plane in Air Force One— but while those movies are still relatively well-known, there are many Die Hard rip-offs that simply faded into obscurity.

In conjunction with our recent podcast about Die Hard With a Vengeance, we present 6 Die Hard Rip-Offs That Time Forgot. So if you’ve worn out your VHS copy of the original Die Hard and you’re looking for a new, probably terrible, alternative this holiday season, check out one of these six films.

6. Masterminds (1997)

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If the producers of this  1997 film had any sense, they would immediately re-release it on DVD with the new title CAPTAIN PICARD VS. PETE CAMPBELL. That’s right, Patrick Stewart is a mustachioed villain and a teenaged Vincent Kartheiser is our Bruce Willis surrogate (not to be confused with the Bruce Willis movie Surrogates) when a wealthy school is seized by criminals. Also the school’s principal is the homeless pigeon lady from Home Alone 2… so that’s pretty cool.

The movie was directed by Roger Christian, who won an Oscar for his Art Direction for Star Wars, and was nominated for his work on Alien. While this, his eighth directorial effort, was a box office flop, the stars aligned for his next project: big-budget, A-list movie star, based on a best-selling novel. What could possibly go wrong?

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Oh…

5. Skyscraper (1996)

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If you love Die Hard but think it would have been better if John McClane was a buxom blonde, than this movie is for you… weirdo. Skyscraper stars Anna Nicole Smith as a helicopter pilot who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and in a subtle twist on the original Die Hard, this one is about terrorists who seize control of… a building! Not that different you say? Did I mention it’s a really tall building? Maybe if we compare the two posters.

One has “Forty stories of sheer adventure” the other has “eight-six floors of action-paked terror”… Different.

4. Assault on Dome 4 (1997)

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Employing the same creative tactic used by franchises like Leprechaun and Friday the 13th, Assault on Dome 4 takes an existing story (Die Hard) and rejuvenates it using the magic of making the same events happen in space. Bruce Campbell steps into the Rickman role for this Sci-Fi Channel movie, but instead of a building, he takes a scientific colony, the titular Dome 4, hostage. What he doesn’t know is that one of his hostages is the wife of interstellar lawman Chase Moran. Why stop there? Is there an intergalactic cokehead who keeps hitting on Chase’s wife, do they keep playing Space-Ode to Joy?

Oddly, because Bruce Campbell is the biggest star in this movie, the poster features him firing a machine gun looking cool. Ideologically, this seems to suggest that the film’s villain is actually its hero– would Die Hard be as successful if it featured Alan Rickman on the poster, implying that we were supposed to be rooting for Hans and his friends?

3. Blast (1997)

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“What if all the hostages in Die Hard were women in swimsuits?” Is a thought no one should ever have had– but for some reason someone did, and that inane notion evolved into the screenplay that would become the movie Blast. Despite it’s bland title, Blast actually has a pretty wacky premise: terrorists have taken the women’s swim team hostage at the Olympic games, and the only one who can stop them is the building’s janitor, a former Tae Kwon Do champion turned alcoholic soiled towel-cleaner-upper. So maybe the next time Justin Bieber decides to pee in a janitor’s bucket he stop and make sure that he’s not disrespecting a former Olympic athlete in desperate need of redemption.

Like most of the entries on this list, the cast of this movie is pretty great: the McClane-ish hero is played by Linden Ashby, who sounds like he’d be a Jane Austen character, but is actually the guy who played Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat. Stepping into the villain role is Andrew Divoff, who played eye-patch guy on LOST. Also, Rutger Hauer appears as a Rutger Hauer-ish type character.

2. Demolition High (1996)

demhigh

Similar to Masterminds, Demolition High is about terrorists seizing a school. Not similar to Masterminds, instead of a former member of the Royal Shakespeare company and a future cast member of one of the greatest television shows of all time, this straight-to-video action movie stars Corey Haim, Alan Thicke, and Dick Van Patten– thus breaking the unwritten rule of Hollywood: that Dick Van Patten and Alan Thicke should never, ever star in an action movie.

Strangely the movie spawned a sequel the following year. Demolition University featured Haim again, plus Robert Forster and SNL’s Larraine Newman. Even stranger still, for some reason, Demolition High was referenced in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia. But don’t look for any Assault on Dome 4 references in There Will Be Blood, I’ve already checked.

1. No Contest (1995)

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With the blank in the phrase “Die Hard in a [blank]” being filled by every conceivable location or mode of transportation imaginable by desperate movie studios, logistically, like an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters, it was inevitable that an executive somewhere would come up with “Beauty Pageant” to fill that blank. Satiating America’s appetite for both gratuitous violence and the mindless objectification of women, No Contest may be the most bizarre riff on the Die Hard template. At the very least, it’s the most bizarrely cast.

Starring in the McClane role, who in No Contest is a beauty pageant host/kickboxer, is Shannon Tweed. Fulfilling the movie’s Gruber-quota, the hostage-taking villain of the film is played by master thespian Andrew Dice Clay. So basically, bearing the dramatic weight of this film is a former Playboy model and a washed-up comedian. To lend some Die Hard-cred to the film is Robert Davi, who played Agent Johnson (one of them) in the actual Die Hard. You know, the one not set at a beauty pageant. In fact, the movie’s poster makes it seem as though he’s the star, even though he plays the cop on the outside, along with Andrew Dice Clay– this is like putting Hans and Al together on the poster for Die Hard.

Surprisingly, like Demolition High, a sequel to this movie was made in quick succession. No Contest II stars Shannon Tweed and Lance Henriksen… which mainly just makes me feel bad for Lance Henriksen.

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5 Things You Might Not Know About EERIE, INDIANA

by J.M. McNab

In conjunction with this week’s podcast about Eerie, Indiana we’ve compiled five facts that you may not know about the cult show:

5. Tobey Maguire Played a Ghost

eerie1

Before Tobey Maguire learned the Cider House Rules (which were about abortion or something) or re-invigorated then later ruined Spider-Man, he starred in an episode of Eerie, Indiana. In “The Dead Letter” Maguire plays an old-timey clothes-wearing ghost who enlists Marshall’s help in delivering a love letter to his former sweetheart. In a scene that is both touching and creepy, the young man is reunited with his love who is now a haggard old woman– it’s like a scene from Harold and Maude, or Madonna’s life.

4. The Show’s Co-Creator Also Wrote The Motorcycle Diaries

eerie2

After Eerie, Indiana was cancelled, Jose Rivera (who co-created the show with Karl Schaefer) wrote the screenplay for the acclaimed film The Motorcycle Diaries. While the exploits of the famous Argentine revolutionary and noted T-Shirt logo model Che Guevara might seem like quite a departure from depicting children battling werewolves and zombies, it might interest you to know that Rivera began his career as a celebrated playwright. He also wrote for Family Matters, but you probably find that less impressive.

3. They Rebooted the Show Six Years Later

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With the original show finding a new audience through syndication and a series of novelizations, a reboot of the original concept (that could also be considered a spin-off because it’s technically another dimension) was produced. In Eerie, Indiana: The Other Dimension, the original protagonists Marshall and Simon were replaced by their Bizzaro-world equivalents Mitchell and Stanley, played, of course, by entirely different actors. Sadly even the alternate universe iteration of the show lasted only one season.

2. Bob Balaban Directed Several Episodes

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While famed director Joe Dante acted as a consultant for the show, and directed many episodes himself, another name you might recognize contributed heavily to Eerie, Indiana. Bob Balaban, who people know mainly for his acting roles in Christopher Guest’s films, Seinfeld, and Gosford Park, just to name a few. But Balaban is also an accomplished director, having helmed feature films such as the insane and underrated Parents, as well as My Boyfriend’s Back, the zombie romantic comedy that came out way, way before that sort of thing became trendy. He has also leant his cinematic chops to a myriad of TV programs including Oz and Tales From the Darkside. He directed three of the nineteen episodes of Eerie, Indiana.

1. It Had the Craziest Final Episode of All Time

eerie5

Most TV shows try to up their game for the final episode, whether it’s Bob Newhart waking up in bed with his former TV wife, or Breaking Bad doing a bunch of things we’re not allowed to freely talk about on the internet yet. Even shows like The Prisoner or Lost that steered their finales firmly into the surreal didn’t have the chutzpah to do what Eerie, Indiana did. In a sly nod to The Twilight Zone episode “A World of Difference” Marshall discovers a script for a show called “Eerie, Indiana” and suddenly finds himself on the set of a TV show where his entire reality is revealled to be a fiction. His parents and friends are all actors and refer to him as “Omri Katz” (the name of the actor who plays Marshall). It’s probably the most existentially disturbing finale of any TV show, let alone a one intended for kids.

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Why Breaking Bad May Be the Greatest Super-Hero TV Show of All Time

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by J.M. McNab

SPOILER ALERT: If haven’t watched Breaking Bad, then you probably shouldn’t read this article.

With the series finale of Breaking Bad airing tomorrow night, it seems like an appropriate time to question: why do people love this show so damn much? Sure it’s superbly crafted and acted, but for me personally, there’s always been some facet of Breaking Bad that is sympathetic and engaging, even when the characters are behaving in a way that, rationally, should elicit anything but.

The answer: It all boils down to Super-Heroes.

Breaking Bad essentially functions as an inverted Super-Hero story. Think of it as a dark reflection of your favourite hero’s origin story. While it broadly identifies with many comic book themes, for the sake of a more narrow comparison, let’s specifically contrast the story of Walter White with that of Batman.

First of all, the most resonant and apparent Super-Hero trope that is engrained in the Breaking Bad narrative is that of the Secret Identity.

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Also a good show.

Walter White doesn’t just start cooking meth, like Bruce Wayne he creates an alter-ego: Heisenberg. His alter-ego has a costume (black hat, sunglasses), and the same super-powers as Batman (the power of science!). Watch any scene from the first couple of seasons of Breaking Bad where Walt is lying to Skyler– now watch any scene where Clark Kent lies to Lois Lane, or Bruce Wayne has to slip out of a party. It plays very similarly. As audience members, we know that he’s dashing off to a violent, life-threatening adventure. This creates tension, and a secret between the character of Walt and the audience.

Remember, no one got to see Batman enter the Batcave, or Clark Kent take off his clothes in a phone booth other than us, the readers.

Sure, Walt is a scumbag. That’s why it is an inversion of the Super-Hero narrative– nevertheless, we want him to trick Skyler, we want him to go off and be Heisenberg. While it may contradict our moral foundations as human beings, as consumers of stories, we’ve come to be complicit in, and ultimately embrace, the preservation of the secret identity. This goes all the way back to Zorro and before him, the Scarlet Pimpernel (or so Antonio Banderas and Wikipedia tell me, respectively).

Sadly, Zorro made the mistake of publicly stating that his girlfriend’s vagina gave him cancer.

Like Bruce Wayne, we get the sense that Walter is being most true to himself when he is the destructive Heisenberg. In later seasons, when he dons Walter White’s clothes, and acts befuddled and useless, it plays almost  exactly the same as when Bruce Wayne acts like a big douchebag. “Walter White” becomes the disguise.

While Bruce Wayne was transformed into Batman by the death of his parents, Breaking Bad gives a similar origin story born out of tragedy– but in this inversion of the story, Walt selfishly transforms himself after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. It’s not about others, it’s about him. It’s not about sacrifice, it’s about indulgence. Despite the fact that Walt purports to be helping his family (and in that way, he sees himself as something of a hero) over the course of the show we realize that his dark side just needed an excuse to be coaxed out. Breaking Bad becomes kind of like that evil Mirror Universe from Star Trek.

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Walt even has the Evil Mirror Universe goatee.

Another Super-Hero trope that forms the very building blocks of Breaking Bad is that of the sidekick. Every Batman has his Robin, and Walt has Jesse Pinkman. Their relationship is so Batman and Robiny, it wouldn’t seem weird for Walt to call Jesse “old chum”.

Except Walt and Jesse have way worse posture.

Seeing Jesse’s happiness degrade as his morality becomes increasingly compromised, may even be a more realistic interpretation of the hero-sidekick relationship– how happy would you be if you were Robin and you eventually realized that you’d spent what should have been an innocent childhood assaulting criminals and living in a cave? You would probably freak out, blame Batman, and partner up with Harvey Bullock, or whoever the Batman equivelent of Hank is.

Also like Batman, Walt has his rogues gallery of villains, from the bell-ringing Hector, to crazy Tuco, to Gus Fring who literally becomes Two-Face at the end of season four.

Okay, this might be a stretch.

And it doesn’t get much more Batcavey than the Superlab, the subterranean dwelling filled with beakers and other super-sciencey things that you access via a secret passage. They may as well have included a giant penny and a dinosaur.

What makes Breaking Bad clever is they take a familiar story, a good person’s descent into evil, and tell it through the structure of the Super-Hero narrative. Breaking Bad evokes feelings and plotpoints from our modern adventure mythology then warps them into a darker, more morally ambiguous story.

Of course there’s a lot of pop-culture mythology stirred into the pot of this show; the show can emulate everything from a John Ford Western, to The Godfather, to Seinfeld. But think about this– the show’s creator Vince Gilligan, co-wrote the movie Hancock, a script that was conceived as a darker, morally ambiguous Super-Hero story. While that movie suffered from multiple re-writes and studio edits, never fully capitalizing on its intriguing premise, Breaking Bad, which came out the same year as Hancock, could be seen as a richer more realistic reworking of some of these same themes, albeit in a broader, less literal sense. Also, no Will Smith.

“I was thinking, for Hancock 2, maybe Hancock has a son around Jaden’s age…”

A quick Google search reveals that other bloggers have come to this same conclusion (here, here, and here, for example). Clearly this not a unique observation, this is something that a lot of people feel about this show. But what’s interesting is, with TV shows now beginning to directly emulate comic books and comic book movies (Arrow, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, the newly announced Gotham), will any of them manage to top or even match the intensity and quality of Breaking Bad? It manages to hit all the right buttons, in terms of building a Super-Hero mythology, but because it never needs to service any original source material, it’s free to tell a wholly original story.

Coupled with the fact that there haven’t been any truly great Super-Hero TV shows (sure, people like Smallville and Lois & Clark, but come on), will any show ever top Breaking Bad in its telling of a Super-Hero story, as repurposed as it may be? For a while, at least, it will be the best.

Actually, maybe it’s only second best.

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Casting of Ben Affleck “Offensive” Because Real-Life Batman was Latino

Batman

by J.M. McNab

The news that Ben Affleck would play Batman in a new Batman/Superman movie has elicited a multitude of responses, including many negative ones. While some feel that he is altogether not right for the part, others wonder if he can overcome the stigma of some of his earlier roles, such as the failed comic book adaptation Daredevil. What is most troubling about this decision, however, is that it is indicative of a disturbingly frequent trend in Hollywood films: Whitewashing.

The character Affleck is set to play, Batman, is the alter-ego of billionaire Bruce Wayne, a man of Hispanic descent, whose real family name was Vasquez. The Waynes changed their last name upon emigrating to Gotham City from Tampico, Mexico years before Bruce was born.

Ben Affleck had this to say:

“…you know you wouldn’t necessarily select him out of a line of ten people and go ‘This guy’s Latino.’ So I didn’t feel as though I was violating some thing, where, here’s this guy who’s clearly ethnic in some way and it’s sort of being whitewashed by Ben Affleck the actor.”

Some members of Gotham City’s Mexican-American community do find the move disconcerting. Police officer Renee Montoya calls the decision to cast Affleck “insulting” and “offensive.”

While the charge of whitewashing remains in dispute, another controversy plagues the production. It seems Affleck’s character, Batman, may not have been responsible for all of the accomplishments the film’s script purports him to have made. Even Police Commissioner James Gordon admits that many of the events depicted in the screenplay for Batman vs. Superman happened, not to Batman, but to Tom Evans, AKA Captain Canuck.

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Gordon calls Evans the “true hero”, and suggests that the re-appropriation of Captain Canuck’s life’s work into a Batman film was done in the service of crafting a story more palatable for American audiences, who mainly just like to see Americans doing American things, even when they didn’t actually happen that way.

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Batman vs. Superman to Film in Toronto: What Does That Mean for the City?

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by J.M. McNab

A lot of movies are filmed here in Toronto– from this year’s Pacific Rim, to the Oscar-Winning documentary about Richard Gere’s inability to sing, Chicago. Still, I can think of no movie I am more excited to welcome here than the new Batman/Superman movie. The only super-hero movies shot in Toronto in recent years have been the disappointing non-Ang Lee Hulk movie, and the admittedly fun Kick-Ass. But to have my childhood heroes Batman and Superman come to town is a pretty big deal, although is does raise one important question: where does the movie take place? Metropolis or Gotham City?

The Dark Knight took a more realistic approach to Gotham City, shooting in Chicago, and eventually Pittsburgh for The Dark Knight Rises, the Adam West Batman series was shot in Los Angeles, and I believe Batman Returns was filmed in a snow-globe inside of Tim Burton’s brain. Conversely, Metropolis has been less distinctively identified on screen– in the Christopher Reeve movies, they make no effort to distinguish Metropolis from New York, even featuring the World Trade towers on the poster for Superman II. Superman Returns made an attempt to portray Metropolis, specifically the Daily Planet offices, as a stylized art deco location, calling back to Superman’s 1930s roots. The TV series Lois and Clark tried the same thing, albeit with a lot more neon because, you know, it was the early ’90s. More recently, in Man of Steel, Metropolis is envisioned as a smoldering pile of corpses and rubble… *cough*

Metropolis and Gotham City have always been twisted reflections of each other, and of their respective characters– Metropolis a bright, gleaming testament to the successes of Western modernity, and Gotham a monument to urban decay. One is mostly seen in the day, the other, at night.

So which city will Toronto be? If the movie takes place in Metropolis, that would be fitting– Superman co-creator and artist Joe Shuster based his vision of Metropolis on Toronto, his home town. According to Shuster: “Cleveland was not nearly as metropolitan as Toronto was, and it was not as big or as beautiful. Whatever buildings I saw in Toronto remained in my mind and came out in the form of Metropolis… As I realized later on, Toronto is a much more beautiful city than Cleveland ever was…” Even The Daily Planet was originally called “The Daily Star” named after The Toronto Star, where Shuster worked as a paperboy.

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Shuster even modeled the Daily Planet building off of the Toronto Star’s (Then known as the “Toronto Daily Star”) old headquarters.

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On the other hand, Toronto’s changed a lot since the ’30s, and today it may more closely resemble Gotham City. Recently, the Toronto Police fatally shot an eighteen-year-old offender armed only with a knife nine times. Nine times! That sounds like something Commissioner Gordon would take issue with, and then one of the cops would be all like, “Lighten up Gordon!” and then they’d all laugh at him. Or take Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford, who allegedly was videotaped smoking crack. He would be a great Gotham mayor! Someone to make The Penguin look like more of a viable Mayoral candidate.

Of course, Toronto’s seedy underbelly or its history with Superman are probably not on the filmmakers’ radar, they’re making this movie in Toronto for the same reason everyone does: it’s cheap! It’ll probably all be green-screened anyway…

UPDATE: Despite numerous reports (like here, here or here) it now appears Batman vs. Superman will be shot in Detroit. The move was made after the casting of Batman, presumably because Detroit will be standing-in for Boston where Batman will live in the new movie.

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LEGOLAND Shitting Bricks Over Adult Visitors

An Editorial by J.M. McNab and Robert Laronde

Rarely do we here at Rewatchability.com get political, but when certain injustices occur, we consider it our responsibility, nay our duty, to take the time out of our busy schedules discussing stupid old movies and TV shows, to make our voices heard. We are, of course, talking about Lego.

According to a report by CTV, an ailing 63-year-old man and his grown-up daughter recently made the three-hour trek from Windsor to Vaughn (just outside Toronto) in order to visit the relatively new Legoland Discovery Center. The man, John St-Onge, had grown fond of Lego having played with it with his kids when they were children. St-Onge who is battling both cancer and diabetes, and recently underwent heart surgery, journeyed to the only Canadian iteration of Legoland, and enjoyed a fun, nostalgic trip down memory la– oh no, wait they didn’t let him in.

You see, this particular Legoland exercises a sort-of reverse R-Rated movie policy: adults not accompanied by children are strictly forbidden. So John St-Onge and his daughter were not allowed in, refused their requests to see the manager, and sent back to Windsor, presumably while the employees of Legoland waved goodbye and yelled, “See ya, good luck with the cancer!”*

* We’re paraphrasing here.

Their website does note “Adults must be accompanied by a child to visit the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre” in relatively small print, understandably overlooked by St-Onge and his daughter. While most of the attractions seem geared towards children, there are still exhibits such as a model of downtown Toronto built entirely in Lego, which would clearly be enjoyed more by adults.

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You can almost see the crack smoke wafting out of Lego City Hall.

Of course, we love Lego too, and would love to visit Legoland– but all of this raises the question: “Who is Lego for?” Of course, the obvious answer is: “It’s for children– it’s a fucking toy, why can’t the twenty-somethings of this world grow-up and stop placing such importance on toys, retro video-games and movies from the ’80s?” (Side Note: new episode of Rewatchability coming this Thursday). Our grandparents didn’t have to worry about whether or not they could get into Legoland, they were busy fighting World War II. And when they were back from that, they were raising families, and working jobs they hated.

Of course, Lego is for kids, right? It’s not like they’re releasing Lego sets aimed directly at adults in order to capitalize on their nostalgia for both Lego and the movies of their youth–

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Oh… Nevermind.

It seems this summer Lego will be releasing a Back to the Future set, with a price tag of around fifty bucks. This is clearly made for so-called adults with disposable incomes and a lack of real world responsibility. It is also clearly amazing. In addition to Back to the Future, there are Lego sets for the original Star Wars trilogy, Ninja Turtles, and the like– In fact, we will probably see more and more children being born to legitimize their parents’ purchasing these products. Think of it like our generation’s Baby Boom, but instead of the end of a war, everyone will procreate in order to sustain their toy consumption without seeming odd.

Clearly then Lego is not just a product for children, it is for everyone, including people who grew-up with it, and who played Lego with their kids. Why then does the Legoland Discovery Centre not simply advise adults that the contents of the centre is mainly for kids, and let them make up their own minds? Oh yeah, creeps. They don’t want creeps there.

Has this been a big problem at other Legolands? Creepy child-less adults behaving inappropriately? Other family-oriented attractions such as the Zoo and the Science Centre don’t seem to have problems admitting adults. Instituting this policy makes it seem as though Legoland would be a hotbed of pedophiles and psychos if it weren’t for this rule– and why would anyone want to bring their family to a place that, save for one flimsy rule, would be full of creeps?

Of course, Legoland has tried to appease everyone by offering a once-a-month “Adults-Only” night. Could anything sound creepier than that? Based on the name, I just picture the Eyes Wide Shut party, but with more Lego. Or people disassembling the Lego Hogwarts and fashioning a giant Lego penis out of the pieces. And “Adults-Only” night didn’t help John St-Onge, who was cast aside like Megablok piece. Until the day when they make Legoland available to everyone during regular hours, adults wishing to visit the attraction will have to continue to do what they’ve always done– ask teenagers to buy tickets for them, then buy them beer in return.

We’re not just outraged as people who love Lego, we’re outraged as Torontonians. We want to go to Legoland, and on a day when the words “adults-only” aren’t involved. Until that day, we’ll have to be satisfied staying at home, playing with our new DeLoreans.

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