Sunday, August 23, 2020

Against the Crowd Blogathon 2020: A guest post by Joel

If you've done some digging around here, you know that I hold super-reader Joel in high regard. Not only is he gracious enough to be regular reader of this blog, and a number of yours, he also possesses a wealth of cinematic knowledge. Whenever I have blogathons, Joel is happy to participate. Since he doesn't have a blog of his own, I have no problem at all turning mine over to him to impart his wisdom on us.

Before I do that today, I have to start with an apology to him.

Here's your peek behind the curtain.

Over the last year or so, due to the amount of spam that was showing up in the comment section, I had to change the settings on my blog so that I would have to approve all comments before they published. Joel commented on my entry in this year's Against the Crowd. Instead of clicking 'publish,' I accidentally clicked 'delete.' Sigh.

I'm sorry, Joel.
In response to your comment, I'll merely agree that, yeah, Green Book is so...nothing.

I feel better, having gotten that off my chest. Now, I can turn things over to Joel so he can go against the crowd.

Why, Why, WHY do I not trust my own instincts when I see previews of films and think “That looks stupid” or “That’s gotta be garbage!”?

No. Instead I’ll listen to word of mouth and think “How bad could it be?”

In the case of Bridesmaid…horrendously so! COARSE! VULGAR!! GHASTLY!!! Are the nicest words that come to mind when I hear this thing mentioned.

Selfish, irresponsible, child-woman Annie (Kristen Wiig) is jealous when her friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) isn't bright enough to see that a superficial new friend, Helen (Rose Byrne), is trying to push her lifelong friend out of the way when both are asked to be bridesmaids at her wedding. Add in her other unbelievably uncouth, boorish acquaintances and supposed hilarity ensues, or not, as was my case.

For two incredibly painful hours we watch this group of idiots do stupid, gross things that would send any sensible person running in the opposite direction as fast as their feet could carry them. The so called mirth included hallucinations from purposeful doping of one of the characters and mass diarrhea! EWWWWW!!!!

After suffering through this trash someone said it was great because the women were unfettered by convention and acting just like men. Maybe it’s just me but being an equal opportunity dirtbag is not an inspirational concept!

At most times I am a Melissa McCarthy fan and she is a big enough talent to make a little something of a terrible part but not enough to save this turkey. How she was nominated for an Oscar will remain beyond my comprehension forever.

Most painful for me was how sad I was to see Jill Clayburgh, a huge star in my teens, as Wiig’s mother obviously ill-her voice ravaged by disease, wrapping up her film career in this sorry piece of garbage. She passed away from leukemia before the film’s release.

The only upside I can find to having seen this is that I didn’t make the mistake of paying good money to see it in the movie theater!!! Ugh!

Okay right from the top this is not “great art” strewn with “important messages,” but with that title were you really expecting it to be? If you want that, go watch a three hour Ingmar Bergman film, but if you want a breezy, silly comedy with good performances and a snappy pace then this is for you.

Seventeen year old Sue Ellen (Swell) Crandall (Christina Applegate) can’t go to Europe with her friends because her mother is heading to her boyfriend’s Australian sheep ranch. Swell thinks she is going to spend the summer looking after her four younger siblings, pothead Kenny (Keith Coogan), flirty Zach (Christopher Pettiet), tomboy Melissa (Danielle Harris) and TV obsessed Walter (Robert Hy Gorman) though she plans to pretty much let them look after each other while she hits the beach. To her surprise however her mother has hired an ancient seemingly sweet old lady, Mrs. Sturak (Eda Reiss Merin) to look after them. Mama hits the road and Mrs. Sturak turns into a raging termagant making the children’s lives a misery with rules and meanness. They are just about to tell her off when they discover she’s dropped dead from a heart attack. What to do?

Why put her in a trunk, leave it on the doorstep of a funeral home with a note that says “Nice Old Lady Inside” and enjoy the rest of the summer…..or so they think. Having accidentally left the money Mom had given to the wicked babysitter on her they find themselves short on funds and have to devise a way to get through the next couple of months!

Swell loses the toss with stoner Kenny and heads off to work. Finding the going tough at first (her first job is at fast food joint, Clown Dog) she bluffs her way into a job as an Executive Administrative Assistant to ditzy clothing manufacturer Rose (a delightful Joanna Cassidy) by falsifying her resume. Immediately engendering the animosity of sour faced Carolyn (Jayne Brook) who was supposed to have the job (and happens to be the sister of Brian (Josh Charles) the boy Swell likes) and mail clerk Bruce (David Duchovny) who she puts in his place, she has to do some fancy stepping to maintain the ruse. It doesn’t help that Rose’s paramour, Gus (John Getz) a fellow exec and slimy creep is putting the moves on Swell.

However it turns out that Swell has a gift for the job and all is going well until Walter decides to dip into Swell’s purse and use the petty cash money for a brand new ultra-deluxe entertainment center. A sudden business crisis put all of them in the hot seat and the gang pull together to come up with a solution!

Ya, the whole setup is preposterous but so are many 80s & 90s comedies. Once this one gets past its bumpy intro scenes, it actually becomes a more focused story of a young girl finding her way through unexpected responsibilities.

It helps a great deal that the cast is headed by two very good actresses. Christina Applegate as Sue Ellen the young teen who finds out she is more resourceful than she realized and the marvelous Joanna Cassidy as (I’m right on top of that!) Rose, her new boss carry the movie on their shoulders easily. Keith Coogan is also a lot of fun as stoner brother Kenny who belatedly grows up.

Besides the good performances, the film is filled with some amusing lines-when the kids car is stolen early on by some drag queens one character says to call the police and the other responds "What are we going to tell them? Liza Minnelli stole our Buick!", enjoyable situations and a flashback to 90's fashion.

A pleasant diversion but again don't expect anything high toned and you'll enjoy the ride and end up with a smile on your face.


  1. I agree 100% about Bridesmaids. I'm still shocked that Melissa McCarthy got an Oscar nomination for that painfully unfunny performance. I didn't mind the vulgarity, for me none of it was funny and Kristen Wiig is not an interesting lead. I maybe chuckled at a few parts, but that's it.

    As for Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead, I remember that being on TV ALL the time when I was a kid, but I don't think I watched it all in one sitting. I never remember hating it though. I'm surprised to see it's got such a low grade, I thought it was fairly popular based on how many times it was on TV. lol

    1. Yay another Bridesmaids hater!!!! It gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.

      I'm surprised by the audience grade on RT because everyone I know who remembers the film does so fondly.

  2. I'm one of those who likes Bridesmaids, but not for any deep reasons. This particular brand of raunch made me laugh. I totally get that it was too much for you, though. I remember liking Don't Tell Mom, but it's been years since I've seen it. The big surprise is that it's RT score is so low. I've come across so many people who speak fondly of it that I assumed it had a high RT score. Might have to revisit this soon. Thanks, as always, Joel!

    1. Raunchy humor by and large is not my deal. Ribald I'm fine with but once it moves into scatalogical humor I'd rather be anywhere else. If that were all there was too it though I probably would have just hated it and forgotten the movie but all those characters were so stupid and vile it ramped it up a notch for me into full on loathing.

      I wasn't surprised by the critic's RT score, they are usually a pretty humorless lot, but I would have thought from the people I've spoken to about the film that the audience one would have been at least in the 70's. I've never met a single person who hated the film. Most have really liked it and only a few said it was just okay.

      Thanks for having me participate! Looks great, love the GIF of Swell saying "Petty Cash?"

      I'd say it's definitely worth a revisit. A nice relaxing, if at times goofy, watch.

  3. I hated Bridesmaids, and for exactly the same reasons. Everyone said it was a women's version of The Hangover, and apparently, I was the only person in the world who thought that was an insult.

    1. Yay! Yet another Bridesmaids hater!! Can't be enough of them. I've heard that comparison to The Hangover and I can see it as an insult. I hated that film too although unfortunately I did pay to see that in the theatre. Everyone around me was laughing uproariously and I sat there thinking "What a bunch of morons! Will it be over soon?"

  4. Ugh Joel... I hope you still respect me in the morning but...I like Bridesmaids which is very gross but, I have low brow humour and laughed like hell throughout this flick even though i truly wanted someone to slap Kristin Wiig. I have not seen your second film but it sounds like the many comedies that came out at that time that is typical but you still enjoy it. If it comes on TV one day, I will check it out

    1. Well everybody has different tastes.

      Don't Tell Mom has its silly parts but after about the first half hour it does leave most of the childish humor behind. As I said it's helped a great deal by the two women who head the cast.

  5. My mom loves Bridesmaids. I liked the film though I don't think the film is as great as many says it is as it's actually depressing considering that Kristen Wiig's character has lost her business, has a shitty job, sleeps with a guy who is a total douche, and lives with a couple of odd siblings who take advantage of her.

    Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead is a film I did grow up on as I had a thing for Christina Applegate (what straight dude didn't watch Married... with Children back in the day) as it was a funny film and it was also charming. I liked it. I can't believe it got a low rating as I remember that Roger Ebert had some praise for the film as he liked Applegate.

    1. You're not alone in liking but it was an agony watch for me. Kept going cause I thought with all this praise it MUST get better! But I waited in vain.

      I was surprised by the low rating of Babysitter too but at least it allowed me to include it and shine some light on the movie. I still watch it from time to time and even though I know where its going I always enjoy the journey. I used to work with a girl who loved it and we would go back and forth when something needed to be done in a hurry saying "I'm right on top of that, Rose!"