Set in 19th-century Russia, Allen is a cowardly serf drafted into the Napoleonic war, who would rather write poetry and obsess over his beautiful but pretentious cousin. Allen's cowardice serves him well when he hides in a cannon and is shot into a tent of French soldiers, making him a national hero. A hilarious parody of Russian literature, Love and Death is a must-see for fans of Allen's films.
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In Which I Take Exception to John Nolte's Hot-Tub Ruminations
(”Love and Death” is briefly mentioned in this.)
“Che”-loving (but not Che-loving) conservative movie critic John Nolte hates “Hot Tub Time Machine,” saying the movie is cynical, looks cheap, glorifies making money (!) and makes fun of people who love “Red Dawn.” I completely disagree. (Indeed, Nolte and I hardly ever see a movie the same way.) Allow me to respond to Nolte’s charges one by one.
“The supporting gals — who are portrayed as sluts, stupid, or both.”
First, I object to this sort of read of a movie, especially a comedy — that it must, with its half-a-dozen characters, fairly portray all demographic groups. But the charge isn’t even true. Craig Robinson’s girl may have cheated on him (once) but this doesn’t mean she’s a slut and indeed Robinson’s overreaction to this is a rich source of comedy. The most important female character, the rock journalist Cusack meets back in 1986, is a cool alternagirl. She gets a funny scene all her own in which she invites him to her “friend’s” house, then calmly breaks in to what is obviously not a friend’s house and helps herself to whatever she finds because she’s the kind of free spirit that can open up a tightass like Cusack’s crushingly non-spontaneous guy.
Moreover, this feminist take doesn’t even make any sense on a gender-wars level since the guys are guilty of much worse behavior. I tend to think women find a comedy more objectionable if the female characters are relegated to shaking their heads at all the foolishness instead of being given an opportunity to be funny. (Of course, male comedy writers are afraid of being called sexist so it’s a trap for them.)
HTTM is soulless because as you’re exiting the theatre you realize it’s not about anything other than four narcissists getting everything they want. The story’s emotional center is only about achieving pleasure, not happiness, and obtaining wealth, sex and drugs are portrayed as worthy goals. If there’s any kind of moral, it’s to stick with and enable your loser high school buddies no matter how degenerate and immature they are. Cusack’s character is given a shallow love story but the quirky pretty girl with the big eyes and offbeat answers to life’s questions is long past becoming a cliche deserving a stake through the heart.
Not so! What the movie is about is missed opportunities and giving up too easily and learning to take advantage of whatever chances are thrown at you. If you should happen to find yourself back in 1986, why not use your knowledge of the future to get rich? I would. Anyway, if you have some sort of moral qualms about this, you’re in a drama, not a comedy. As for wealth, sex and drugs being portrayed as worthy goals — well, drug use in excess can muck up your life pretty badly but that isn’t really what the movie suggests. A la “The Hangover,” it suggests that the occasional wild weekend is a lot of fun. As for wealth and sex, I can’t speak for anybody else. But they’ve always worked for me.
The film sneers at everything 1986, from the fashions to the metal bands. And naturally the story’s rich preppie bullies all worship “Red Dawn” and see communists ‘round every corner.
What’s not to sneer at? And the idea of rich preppies who are just aching to let their inner Wolverines out is so preposterous it’s hilarious. By the way: “Red Dawn,” enjoyable though it may be, is also pretty cheesy and ripe for mockery. Just because something has an anti-Communist theme doesn’t mean it’s a work of art.
The production is so cheap looking nostalgia would’ve been impossible anyway. Nothing feels like the mid-80s. Considering the wealth of material at their disposal (remember how “The Wedding Singer” did such a great job transporting us back?), the song choices are awful, the fashions look and feel like they came straight from studio wardrobe, and the locations are horribly under-lit and have the closed-in feel of a Lifetime Movie.
Who cares if it looks cheap? It’s a comedy, not “Lawrence of Arabia.” A comedy works if it’s funny. (“HTTM” is a lot funnier than “The Wedding Singer.”) “Love and Death” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” looked (and were) cheap. Neither suffered from its low budget. You might argue that their budgets were assets. Would a big-budget Holy Grail have hit on the idea of King Arthur’s servant clopping coconuts together? No, they would have just hired a horse. As for the song choices being awful — I think this must be a typo because the word John is searching for is awesome. “Safety Dance”? “What You Need”? “Modern Love”? “True”? “Jessie’s Girl”? “Bizarre Love Triangle”? “Once in a Lifetime”? Awesomeness. Even one terrible song — “Home Sweet Home” by Motley Crue — is absolutely the perfect choice to go with the depressed, yet sentimental and very angry Rob Corddry character.]]>
Adam Carolla likes to say his podcast empire is his “pirate ship,” a vessel giving him independence from the Hollywood system. Yet Carolla didn’t make his new comedy “Road Hard” as any bird-flipping salute to the industry.
“I wasn’t like, ‘I’m gonna tell Hollywood to kiss my ass.’ I don’t know if Hollywood would listen if I told them to kiss my ass,” Carolla tells The Federalist. “I was trying to tell a story about what it’s like to step backwards in life … that’s so humbling.”
“Road Hard” casts Carolla as Bruce Madsen, an ex-“Bro Show” star reduced to touring as a stand-up after his career crashes. Along the way, he wrestles with show business realities, a possible romance with a divorcee (Diane Farr) and his own fractured ego. Oh, and the indignity of flying next to a woman who carries her dog on her lap.
It’s Carolla’s first film since 2007’s “The Hammer,” a well-received indie about an ex-fighter given one last chance in the ring. This time, Carolla co-wrote, co-directed and stars in a film peppered with autobiographical flourishes.
‘Road Hard,’ A Cracked Autobiography
He, too, was forced to hit the road a few years back, and the experience left an indelible mark on him. Carolla, the “Man Show” co-host turned podcast impresario, fashioned his new crowdsourced comedy from the films he’s loved for decades. Think “Defending Your Life” and “Love and Death,” two of Carolla’s favorites.
‘I don’t make many movies … the ones I do I try to have some story, some heart, some romance.’
The laughs in “Road Hard” come with something to chew on, not just a rat-a-tat assault on our funny bone, he says. He had no interest in lobbying what he dubbed a “joke grenade” at his fans.
“I don’t make many movies … the ones I do I try to have some story, some heart, some romance,” he says. “It makes it more interesting, gives you something to hang your hat on … if you never stop telling jokes people start tuning out, and they don’t care.”
The film does taunt the industry for valuing talent far less than playing the game and schmoozing the right people. Carolla is technically removed from that game, given his Carolla Digital enterprise, his best-selling books and his Mangria concoction. Do his comedy friends, many of whom appear in the film like Jay Mohr and David Alan Grier, envy his creative freedom?
Creative Independence Is Hard to Come By
Sure, he says, but declaring one’s independence takes more than waving a red, white, and blue flag.
“I don’t have a great answer for them … there’s no secret recipe to having a successful podcast,” he says. “Everybody wants that autonomy, to do their own thing and be left alone. But who’s gonna pay you?”
He’s not an unabashedly political humorist, but his attacks on Occupy Wall Street, President Obama, and the nanny state give him a rare, right-of-center perspective.
Even Carolla occasionally listens when The Man speaks. His Spike TV gig “Catch a Contractor” is a traditional employee-employer relationship, and he says he has little problem doing as he’s told.
Carolla currently juggles a hectic array of gigs. He records several podcasts each week and performs stand-up material across the country. He’s even shared his political musings with “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News. He’s not an unabashedly political humorist, but his attacks on Occupy Wall Street, President Obama, and the nanny state give him a rare, right-of-center perspective.
These days, he’s also busy paying back fans who helped make “Road Hard” a reality. He’s had to drink with one contributor to thank him for his patronage and hosted a “Road Hard” screening party at “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Phil Rosenthal’s home. Next, he’ll be jetting to several major cities to thank contributors personally for their support.
It sounds exhausting. But Carolla says the alternative was rougher.
“It’s better than going to Hollywood and rattling the can,” he says.
Hollywood Dismembers Conservatives—So Don’t Bother
“Road Hard” isn’t Carolla’s only 2015 film project. He’s working on a documentary about Paul Newman’s racing career. More recently, he added a new podcast, or “PO’dcast,” to his digital empire. “PO’dcast” teams him with Dennis Miller, another comedian whose rants lean GOP-friendly. Carolla says other right-leaning comics could find a solid audience given the liberal nature of Hollywood in 2015, but it would come at a price.
A right-leaning comic ‘would be dismembered by the press and Hollywood.’
“He or she would be dismembered by the press and Hollywood,” he says, laughing. “That person has to think long and hard about being eviscerated.”
The Left, he says, are open to those who agree with their worldview, but “if you disagree with them, you’re screwed,” he says. Then, he warns, the nasty labels start attaching themselves to your name. Homophobic. Bigoted. Xenophobic. Misogynist.
“It’s never gonna end,” he says. And he speaks from experience. His comment that “dudes are funnier than chicks” caused a journalism meltdown. Suddenly, the word “misogynist” attached itself to some of his media mentions.
Carolla shrugs his shoulders at his critics these days.
“I’m used to it, and there’s nothing I can do about it,” he says.
One of them is to be less embarrassed about blogging things I might have taken two or three tweets to say (& in fractured syntax, 140-chrcter cmpromises 2 boot), a benefit being that I will thereby be blogging more regularly. The other is to fill in what I consider the 10 Most Truly Embarrassing Gaps […]
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