Bill and Ted discuss Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 darkly satirical “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” a film that invites viewers to question their general safety and sanity, and maybe even their precious bodily fluids. It’s a movie about geopolitics, atomic bombs, loyalty, patriotism, fluoridation, and fear … not your usual topics for a comedy but if you can’t laugh you might have to cry. Dr Strangelove is as fresh today as it was at the height of Cold War nuclear proliferation.
Bill and Ted discuss Marc Forster’s 2006 film “Stranger Than Fiction” featuring Will Ferrell as Harold Crick an IRS agent who becomes concerned after hearing the voice narrating his life say, “Little did he know that this simple, seemingly innocuous act would result in his imminent death.” With the help of literary professor Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman), Crick works to find the narrator before it’s too late. This absurd light and surrealist comedy delves into life, love and self-sacrifice with strong supporting performances from Emma Thompson and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Bill and Ted discuss Joel Zwick’s 2002 film “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” written by and starring Nia Vardalos as Toula a Greek woman who falls in love with a non-Greek man, Ian played by John Corbett, prompting her to come to terms her Greek heritage and identity while integrating him into her family. With a great supporting cast including SCTV’s Andrea Martin and *NSYNC’s Joey Fatone “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is a simple easygoing romantic comedy for everyone with a big heart, as funny as it is warm charming.
Bill and Ted discuss Joel and Ethan Coen’s 2000 film “O Brother, Where Art Thou” featuring George Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson as escaped convicts Ulysses Everett McGill, Pete Hogwallop, and Delmar O’Donnell. Roaming rural 1930’s Mississippi, the trio embark on a search for a time-sensitive, hidden treasure while pursued by a relentless, devilish lawman. The film is based on Homer’s 800 B.C. Greek epic poem The Odyssey criss-crossed with southern American religiosity and classic old-timey folk and bluegrass music. So get your Dapper Dan hair grease and join the boys as they try to get out of one tight spot after another in this Coen Brothers’ fan favourite.
Bill and Ted discuss Bill Melendez’s 1965 film “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” the beloved TV holiday special written by Charles M. Schulz and starring the Peanuts gang featuring the sweetly melancholic jazz score by Vince Guaraldi. Charlie Brown simply wants to know what Christmas is all about. In his search, he encounters pop psychology, sociology, and rampant consumerism at every turn. Melendez’s short film effortlessly cuts through the cultural clutter of the 1960’s bringing Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip to animated life while providing Charlie Brown, and all of us, with the answer he seeks.
Bill and Ted discuss Wes Anderson’s 2004 film “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.” Set against a quirky backdrop populated with colourful characters, the film features Bill Murray as a Jacque Cousteau-esque oceanographer contemplating fatherhood and failure following the death of his long time partner and friend Esteban (Seymour Cassel), who was eaten by the mysterious and possibly nonexistent Jaguar Shark. Ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime, Anderson’s film deals with the nature of perception and its effects on personal insecurities and relationships.
Bill and Ted discuss Frank Capra’s 1944 film “Arsenic and Old Lace” featuring Cary Grant as Mortimer Brewster, a theatre critic who finds unexpected drama of his own tucked away in his aunts’ window seat on Oct 31st in Brooklyn New York when he and his bride come to tell the family the good news of their sudden nuptials. Hoping to quickly skip town for a honeymoon in Niagra Falls, Mortimer and his new wife Elaine (Priscilla Lane) become embroiled in a macabre comedy of errors as Mortimer struggles to contain the situation. This is broad, physical, and at times gallows humour filled with some great performances, even if Grant was unhappy with his own. If you find Capra to be sentimental and overly serious, have no fear; this film is far less sappy and much more on the silly side.
Bill and Ted discuss Jared Hess’ 2004 film “Napoleon Dynamite” featuring Jon Heder as the idiosyncratic, yet endearing, Napoleon Dynamite a high school student navigating friendship and family life in rural small town Idaho. A film that’s as much about being awkward as it is about being honest, a slow burn comedy that is extraordinarily polarizing. People either hate it or love it. Filled with deadpan humor and an abundance of quirky details this is a film that rewards repeat viewings.
For interested listeners, here are the Top Ten Asperger’s and Autism movies compiled by a child psychologist referred to in the podcast. Napoleon Dynamite is number 7 on this list.
Bill and Ted discuss Tim Burton’s 1988 film “Beetlejuice,” featuring Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis as the ghosts of newly deceased Adam and Barabra Maitlandas they try to spook the NYC high society Deetzes’ and their Goth daughter Lydia played by Winona Ryder who purchased their house in a sleepy New England town. Failing to frighten the Deetzes on their own, they reluctantly turn to the rogue “bio-exorcist” ghost Beetlejuice played to the hilt by Michael Keaton. Burton merges German expressionist style with upbeat Calypso music in this oddly colourful and straggly up-beat ghost story. Of the film Burton says, “It has elements of horror but it’s not really scary, and it’s funny but not really a comedy.” If you enjoyed this film you may also like these: Ted’s Picks: Defending Your Life (1991), The Frighteners (1996), Corpse Bride (2005)
Bill and Ted discuss Wes Anderson’s 2001 film “The Royal Tenenbaums,” featuring Gene Hackman as the conniving patriarch Royal Tenenbaum with Luke Wilson, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow as his adult children Richie, Chas and Margot and Anjelica Huston as their mother Etheline also featuring Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Danny Glover, Seymour Cassel and Kumar Pallana. A quirky movie about life and death, regret and reconciliation amidst an eccentric and eclectic ensemble cast that perfectly embodies the maxim “Family is not a word; it’s a sentence.” If you enjoyed this film you may also like these Ted’s Picks: Home for the Holidays (1995), The Darjeeling Limited (2007), Nebraska (2013)