My name is Joe Starr. I am a comedian
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There is something amazing about the television movie.
Not movies made for TV- just movies being broadcast on a network: the big Saturday movie! Sunday Morning Movies on Big 58! There’s something wonderful about your morning completely changing because you happened to turn on the TV with your roommates and immediately canceled your plans because Spy Game was on TBS.
We’re losing moments like that as streaming services take over the entertainment landscape. Finding a movie to stream is a completely different beast than stumbling onto a movie on TV. Browsing your streaming options is an active choice. It’s something you scheduled and made time for. However, finding a gem on television that started 20 minutes ago and staying with it through every commercial break is a beautiful act of relaxation. It’s the ultimate act of just letting go, and allowing yourself to hit a comfortable pajama clad bottom before the Tyler Durden that is life eventually demands that you pour vinegar on your hand and put on pants.
So in tribute to a fading phenomenon that will be sorely missed, I put together a list of my favorite ‘look what’s on!’ movies. Honorable mention: Phenomenon.
MacGruber: I paid $45 for my wife and I to see this in a theatre. I hated it. I wished it a thousand deaths. I did not laugh- the absence of that much money from my checking account could not be healed by any amount of banging the ghost of Maya Rudolph next to a fog machine.
But a year later over Christmas break, that all changed. If ‘seeing a movie on TV’ has its own playoffs season, it’s Christmas. You’re stuck with family, you spend most of your time lying on a couch because your time zone clock is still thrown- what else are you going to do?
You’re going to laugh your ass off at MacGruber sobbing “just tell me what you want me to fuck and I’ll fuck it!” is what you’re going to do. And you’re going to laugh at it at least 7 more times, because Christmas scheduling is extremely repetitive and you have nothing else to do until your old high school friends get into town for New Years.
Disney’s The Three Musketeers: This movie is terrible, and damn it if I don’t love every last Chris O’Donnell filled frame of it. Nothing about this film is acceptable, but for whatever Keifer Sutherland soaked reason, that’s what makes it so watchable. I think the fact that Tim Curry and Michael Wincott appearing as aligned villains in the same film but also it being this one speaks louder about the state of the early 90’s than Pump Up The Volume ever hoped to.
No matter what scene is playing out when I land on this movie, whether it’s Charlie Sheen in a priest costume seducing a pretty young blonde and prophesying his future like some sort of coked out Illuminati fortune teller (the blonde is Brie Olson and the Mothman in the background is his growing drug problem, man!), or Keifer Sutherland screaming SAVE THE KING in a way that always gets me, no matter how hard I try to remember that he’s Keifer Sutherland and that the men he’s rallying include Oliver Platt, I will watch this movie to its bitter, Bryan Adams scored end.
And thanks to ABC Family, that happens more often that I’m capable of admitting to myself.
Hot Shots: I own Hot Shots Part Deux. It is still one of my favorite comedies. Sometimes (most of the time) I will chant ‘gummie bears gummie bears/sprinkles sprinkles’ for no reason. However, I will only watch the first Hot Shots if it’s on Spike TV at 11:00 on a Saturday morning. This should probably be my response when people ask me to tell them about myself, as it’s the most revealing thing I’ve ever typed.
It’s probably Cary Elwes spoofing Val Kilmer that keeps me coming back. Plus it’s always a really good excuse to say “you know what guys? Fuck it. We already crippled our day. Might as well keep the momentum going and throw Deux on for the Three Bears speech.”
Brotherhood of the Wolf: This is on your list, too- whether you’re brave enough to admit it or not. It’s so impossibly hard to describe this movie, that my best approach is to just list movies that tried really hard to be Brotherhood of the Wolf but just weren’t Brotherhood of the Wolf: 47 Ronin, Mortal Kombat, and Hugh Jackman: Vampire Hunter are not Brotherhood of the Wolf. In The Name of the King is not Brotherhood of the Wolf. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is sort of Brotherhood of the Wolf. Actually if you were to merge Ang Lee’s filmography into one epic French film you might get close.
The imdb trivia for this movie is 5 reminders that it is based on an actual historically recorded beast in France and that Monica Bellucci’s character was likely a Vatican Assassin. I don’t know what else to say in order to justify the fact that even typing this many words about this insane movie has made me want to watch it right now. Like, I know that Arby’s is bad for me. Give me curly fries and a cherry turnover.
Brandon Lee’s replacement from The Crow is in this movie. That’s probably the most common sentence spoken by a person after they suggest that you watch this with them.
Jaws: In no way does Jaws belong in a list with these other films, but is at the same time the king of this list. I don’t give a shit about Jaws. I don’t own Jaws, and I never seek Jaws out. As my friend Sammy said when we were discussing this list, “I’ve never suggested that everyone come over so I can pop in the Jaws blu-ray.”
But at the same time, if you find Jaws, you can’t not watch Jaws. What are you, a communist? From the anchor print suited mayor to anything that Quint does at any moment he’s on camera, this movie is amazing.
It’s a perfect film. It’s a classic. It should be playing on a space probe for aliens to learn about our entertainment culture. But unless I find it on the USA network some random midweek sick day midway through Quint taking out his tooth, I just don’t care.
Also, Murray Hamilton’s character in this movie was likely a Vatican Assassin.