Thursday, November 28, 2013

The CriterionCast

Bottom line: The CriterionCast is a really fun podcast that you should check out.
I was looking for something to listen to while I drive around town and I thought it might be a good idea to download some film podcasts. After a quick Google, I found the CriterionCast. It's a podcast devoted to discussing films in the Criterion Collection. The Criterion Collection is a company that remasters and distributes classic films. I’ve always had good experiences with their releases. The bonus features like movie commentary are usually good. Now, first and foremost, this podcast is about films. Each of the episodes are about an hour and a half but there is a nice flow to the discussions so it doesn’t feel that long.

I was a little hesitant at first. As it is a podcast devoted to a particular company's collection, I thought it might it be too promotional. I was pleasantly surprised to find that that was not the case. In fact, during the episode about Robocop, the guys criticized the Criterion copy. The one speaker explained that he already has the MGM box set of the film which includes audio commentary. He didn’t feel the need to pay the extra bucks for the Criterion version because he already had all the extra features and, on top of that, the Criterion version wasn’t even the best visual quality. The people on the show use the Criterion Collection as a pool of classic movies to discuss, not to discuss or particularly promote the company itself. Granted, I have only listened to one and a half episodes so far but I didn’t get any promotional vibes yet.

The first episode to which I listened focused on the Godzilla release which included the original Japanese release, Gojira, and the American release, Godzilla: King of the Monsters. It was really fun to listen to their conversation. The tone was casual but not too casual. It was focused on the movies and their experiences with the movies. They pointed out some fascinating facts from the commentary tracks. For example, consider the three names in the collection release: Gojira, Godzilla, and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Which of the three is the “correct” name? They cite a someone who wrote a couple books about Godzilla, explaining that the Japanese word Gojira was constructed in such a way that it was synonymous with the English version. They are actually the same word. They talk about a bunch of fun little facts like that. I dig it.

They also mentioned something that I didn’t know about Godzilla. It was made, on some level, in response to a mysterious accident involving the loss of a Japanese fishing boat. The boat was destroyed somehow or it became irradiated. This happened a year before Gojira came out. It was recreated as the first scene of the film. Similarly, they mentioned the Korean horror movie, The Host, but I disagreed with their commentary. The Host opens with an American scientist dumping chemicals down a drain which leads to a river which then causes a fish to mutate into the giant monster. The speakers thought that The Host was using the ludicrous establishment to poke fun at the monster-movie genre. In fact, that scene was also a response to a real life event; a year prior to the movie, a scientist actually dumped hazardous chemicals down a drain which got into the Han river. This is to say that while these guys are solid film aficionados, they are human. They aren't exactly authorities on film but it is still very fun to hear them banter.

I would use these podcasts as food for thought and as a sort of discussion point rather than an authoritative text. I do highly recommend you it check out though. If I am looking at the website correctly, they have over a hundred and thirty episodes out and I look forward to seeing if my initial thoughts hold.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Downton Abbey post-Season 3

Bottom line: After three seasons, I am getting a little tired of all this drama.

As I am going to be discussing my thoughts with respect to Season 3, mind yourself of spoilers.

I liked the first two seasons of Downton Abbey, in part, because the drama was varied. Did Mary care about Matthew? Were they going to get together? What mischief was Thomas up to now? How was Mrs. Bates going to try to foil her husband’s new life? The drama was about how each of the characters were going to react to a new situation.

Unfortunately, Downton Abbey’s recent driving force has been who is going to die or hook up. I’ve seen enough movies to be emotionally prepared for character deaths so that isn’t going to work on me and I don’t really care about the new relationships.

There are new characters introduced for a little while but I’m not very emotionally invested in them. Take the new maid in the last episode or two. At the beginning of the episode, she eyes up Tom Branson. Of course, they are going to be a thing for an episode or two but because she was just introduced, is she going to be a lasting character? Sure enough, she gets fired before too long.

Over the past season, quite frankly, I got sick of the majority of the characters. I resented Robert for making out with that one maid and never mentioning it. I grew weary of Matthew carrying on about this or that. A major plot line was that Robert’s poor investment decision was going be the financial ruin of the estate. Conveniently, Matthew receives a telegram saying that he might inherit an obscene amount of money. That little possibility shut down any sense of suspense for that plot line but I had to wait maybe three or four episodes for them to move past it. Matthew kept carrying on about how he couldn’t bring himself to accept the money on the matter of principle, never mind the fact that his wife and her family were going to have to sell their home otherwise. Sybil and her husband are the only characters I really liked so, of course, she had to die.

The costumes are still great. The music is still great. The cinematography is still great. If I didn’t ever watch anymore of the show, I don’t feel like I would be missing out. It is ok but I am starting to check out.

How are you feeling about Downton Abbey? Have you seen all of it so far? What characters do you like or dislike? Please do leave a comment. Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Easy Rider

Directed by Dennis Hopper. Written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern. Starring Peter Fonda (Wyatt), Dennis Hopper (Billy), and Jack Nicholson (George Hanson).

Bottom line: Easy Rider is a powerful movie that captures the American attitude and spirit in the late 1960's. 

The premise of Easy Rider is rather quite basic; two friends, Wyatt (Fonda) and Billy (Hopper), ride their motorcycles from LA to Louisiana for Mardi Gras. Their drug fueled journey becomes a spiritual journey as the pair learns about themselves and America. The movie opens with the pair of guys parking cheap motorcycles outside a run down cantina. They are there to meet a cocaine dealer. The pair sample and approve of the powder. The camera cuts to the pair waiting near an airport runway. A Rolls-Royce rolls up and a well dressed man steps out. He, too, samples and approves of the powder before buying it for a large sum of money.  The pair has made a fortune and plans to spend the money on a trip to Mardi Gras. They buy new motorcycles and set off into the desert roads.

The acting in Easy Rider is solid. Dennis Hopper’s performance as Billy is great. Initially, I labeled his character as “hippy”: he has long hair and a bushy mustache and uses “man” as punctuation. At one point the two pick up a hitchhiker who is traveling back to a commune in the middle of the desert. The hitchhiker made me realize that there is a complexity to the characters that I missed. Billy is a hippy-like character in appearance but his temper and focus on worldly pleasures differentiate him from the others. Wyatt is a “cool” or relaxed type of guy and is the one that really grows through the journey. Unlike Billy or George or the hitchhiker, Wyatt is not a representative of a 1960’s demographic. As George (Nicholson) explains, “You are change and people don’t like change.”

As Easy Rider is something of a road trip movie, a common artifact is the super long, scenery shots. Denisoff and Romanowski note, the music played during these riding montages, forms a sort of “musical commentary”. The soundtrack, beginning with “The Pusher” by Steppenwolf, continues with the iconic “Born to be Wild” also by Steppenwolf. You can see the progression of the story and tone throughout the rest of the soundtrack. Easy Rider is a perfect example of how music can be utilized to complement the images on the screen. Sure, we might have a great orchestration that provides emotional support but, here, the music provides a political (as well as emotional) support.

Have you ever watched a movie where a particular scene is burned into your memory? Maybe it strikes a chord with you but as you see the shot you know that it is going to stick with you. I'd bet that it usually happens with scary movies. For example, you're in the shower and the Psycho shower scene flashes through your mind or if you are in a narrow, creepy hotel hallway, you might imagine The Shining's the twins. Easy Rider had one of those moments for me. Wyatt rolls the money they earned by selling cocaine into a rubber tube. He hides that rubber tube in his motorcycle's American flag painted, teardrop gas tank. It is a beautifully succinct yet complex statement about the US. One of the best parts is that the movie lets the image speak for itself.

The cutting used at times in the movie is jarring. Instead of a Star Wars-like swipe cut or a fade to black transition, the movie alternates between the two scenes. We are watching scene A, then the movie cuts scene B but after a second cuts back to scene A. The movie alternates between the two scenes a couple times until resting on scene B. It is the type of cutting you might expect in an action movie. A character has a gun and points it at his or her target. The camera focuses on the gun, then the target, then the gun, 'bang,' then on the target. This rapid cutting is exciting so we are used to seeing it in an action but in Easy Rider the transitions between scenes aren't exciting. One jump, for example, takes us from the pair sitting around a campfire to Wyatt walking through a dilapidated Church. It felt jarring and don't quite know how to feel about it. I like the idea of using film techniques in unconventional ways but it feels awkward. Yeah, I can dig it. The idea that it is disruptive fits in with the rest of the movie which is socially disruptive.
My only major qualm about the movie is that sometimes it moves away from visual messages to just sitting around a campfire telling us something. Consider the image of the gas tank and money. I know you can show some good stuff, movie, keep going; don’t just regress into telling me something. This isn’t a deal breaker by any means but it is noteworthy.

If, for no other reason, to function as a time capsule, I recommend you see Easy Rider. It is clear depiction of a definitive time in American history. It also illustrates how film can resonate socially and politically. I think for a discussion post I will think about the responsibility of art, if there is such a thing. On a superficial level, or if you saw Easy Rider without actually watching it, it might appear like this film is glorifying a wayward and drug filled lifestyle. From what I hear, that's the message a majority of the original audience left with. In reality, Easy Rider is criticizing this lifestyle. If people misinterpreted its meaning, should it have been more overt?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Capturing the Friedmans

Directed by Andrew Jarecki. Starring Arnold Friedman, Jesse Friedman, David Friedman.

Bottomline: Capturing the Friedmans is, simple put, an amazing documentary.
Capturing the Friedmans is about the Friedmans; an upper-middle class Jewish family in upstate New York. One day, the police come to the home of the Friedmans and search for child pornography. The police uncover a number of magazines belonging to Arnold Friedman. A retired high school teacher, he, with the help of his son Jesse, hold computer classes and piano lessons for young children. Once the police realize this, they start investigating Arnold for child abuse. Before long, he and his son are charged with around a hundred counts of sexual assault.

I have a lot of fun watching documentaries; I can spend roughly two hours watching a movie on the grounds that I am learning something. Over time I’ve come to realize that it isn’t just what the documentary is saying but how. Sometimes documentaries are clearly biased.

If you are a fan of documentaries, there is a website called Documentary Heaven which has lots of documentaries you can watch for free. I remember one that was about secret government cloud seeding experiments. Cloud seeding is, more or less, controlling rainfall and weather patterns. For that documentary, there was just the director, one person that was interviewed, and only about a dozen pictures that faded in and out of the frame. Towards the end of the hour and forty-five minute snoozefest, the director comes out from behind the camera and shouts to the camera, “If he has had so much success cloud seeding, why isn’t the government spending millions doing further testing!?” It detracts from the feeling that you are learning something. Instead it feels like you are spending time hearing propaganda.

The only other documentary I’ve seen more than once was Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man (2005) and that was because I saw it for a film class. I watched it once at home and once in the class. I don’t usually watch documentaries more than once because, well, hearing it once is usually enough. It’s like attending a lecture more than once. You don't unless you have to. I saw Capturing the Friedmans twice so far because, again, I saw it for a class. But I will, however, most certainly be seeing it again. Capturing the Friedmans is an example of amazing storytelling.

The plot thickens at every turn. With documentaries about crimes, I read them like a detective novel. You decipher the film maker’s bias and then anticipate the details of the crime to make up your mind. In this case, whenever I solved the mystery, if you will, the movie would cut to another interview that threw me off.

Jarecki juxtaposes interviews to create fascinating dialogues. For example, we hear from the District Attorney about the process for conducting interviews with children. He explains that the children may be frightened so one doesn't want to put words in their mouths. Instead of saying “we know he assaulted you,” one should say, “what happened next?” The movie then cuts over to one of the detectives who conducted many of the interviews for the Friedman case: “We went through the whole line of questions...’We know you were in these computer classes and we know that there was a good chance he sexually assaulted you...” the camera then fades out. It's an example of how the movie can steer us toward reaching a particular conclusion. Better still, the movie can make us realize how we could never know the truth of the Friedman case. Towards the end of the movie, Jesse and his attorney provide radically different accounts of the same event. Who can we trust?

A major source of information comes from the Friedman’s home movies. The family shot a lot of home movies particularly around the time of the investigations. The footage provides a great balance to the interviews. Some shots from their ordinary cameras are eerily good too which add to the experience. At one point, Arnold is playing the piano and his son moves in for a close up. We listen to upbeat music (though it is made darker given the circumstance) and watch his glasses which reflect his hands on the piano keys.

I highly recommend you see Capturing the Friedmans. The subject matter is solidly depressing but it is a really well done documentary.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey is a TV drama set in 1912 that centers around the residents of the Downton Abbey estate: the Crawley family and their servants. The series begins with the news of the sinking of the Titanic. The only male heir of the Crawley estate was killed in the sink. Also killed in the disaster was the fiancee of the eldest Crawley daughter, Mary (Dockery). We soon learn that years before a legal document was drawn which bestowed the estate (the family fortune and the grounds) to the next male heir. The next male heir is a “middle class lawyer”, Matthew (Stevens), who lives with his mother (Logan). Matthew is the second or third cousin once removed of Robert Crawley (Bonneville).

This show has been around since 2010 and I believe a fifth season was recently announced. I don’t usually watch TV because, one, I don’t get cable and, two, it is such a time commitment. I have a hard enough time getting myself to write reviews as it is, I don’t need seasons of a show to chain smoke. I don’t play video games for that reason. That said, the first three seasons of this show are going down...probably this week.

The cinematography of Downton Abbey is rather quite good. The lighting and color makes the experience easy on the eyes and the focus shifts are spot on. At times, though, the blur can be a little too much. There are a couple scenes in the first few episodes set at night that have a large blurred border. I’m sure you’ve seen those shots of the heroine in old, black and white movies that have a blur to soften her appearance. It’s kinda like that. The acting is pretty good too. Each of the characters are fleshed out with their own back stories which, I’m sure, we’ll hear. I am also a big fan of the costumes.

I think, at some point, the different points of drama will run out. I’m betting sometime around the third season. One of the first few episodes, for example, had the situation where the cook hands a bowl of an ingredient to the assistant. The assistant was already holding a bowl of rat poison. The assistant runs out of the room, hands one of the bowls to someone else and gives them instructions about how to add it to the soup. Of course, she accidentally hands them the bowl of rat poison. Does someone die? Nope, it all works out. It reminds me of a bit on The Mitchell and Webb.

I wouldn’t have started watching this show had it not been for my fiancée and I must say that Julian Fellowes really knows her audience. The first kiss of the show is between two attractive men. The teaser for the second episode features a “dreamy” man moving in to kiss another “dreamy” guy only to have the camera cut over to a scene with said dreamy guy kissing one of the daughters. My fiancée and I summarized this is as period drama where the women dress up and plot while the men make out.
Would I recommend Downton Abbey? At this point, the hijinx in which the characters become involved has not run out of steam so, sure, if you are looking for a new program to follow. I probably won’t ever watch this program more than once but once is enough. I think I will go finish the rest of season 1 before it gets too late.

edit: I drafted this review before I finished Season 1...and now I’m done with Season 2. Given that I have two seasons down, let me reflect on my initial thoughts. Some of the plot lines are starting to run a little thin and I am getting a little annoyed with some of the characters but it is still an addictive show. I’m enjoying it as far as it goes but I think, next time, I won’t watch five episodes in a row.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Film Noir and You

For the longest time, whenever I heard “Film Noir,” I thought Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart, black and white, and fast-talking but I never knew much more. It was one of those “I’ll know it when I see it” things. I recently watched the 1941 version of The Maltese Falcon starring Humphrey Bogart. With its examples of harsh lighting, moral dilemmas, and the relationship between the protagonist and a femme fatale,The Maltese Falcon is the epitome of film noir. I write this post to help better understand the genre and explore how a couple instances of “neo-noirs,” or modern film noirs, Romeo is Bleeding (1993) and Chinatown (1974), have adapted the classic formula to the modern age.

A predecessor of film noir was German expressionism. German expressionism was big in the 1920’s and 1930’s. The art direction was an outward manifestation of the thematic focus of internal madness and turmoil: painted sets, jagged angles, and fantastic construction are some of the things one might notice. Famous films of this era include Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Check out this image from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari:
Another feature you might notice is the harsh lighting. In this film, the shadows were actually painted into the sets to provide a better, more striking distinction between light and dark. Now, consider your mental picture of film noir with the above image.

Roger Fromm notes that the film noir genre appealed to the disillusionment of post-war America. The nation had had enough of the romanticized Patriotism found in movies produced during the war. These films are dark in every way. These movies are so dark, if were filmed in color, they would still be in black and white. In much the same way as German expressionism, film noirs project the thematic struggle onto the world. The harsh lighting, for example, creates menacing shadows. In The Maltese Falcon, a couple of police officers visit Sam Spade to question him about a recent murder. The camera sits between the two officers looking straight at Spade who sits alone on his bed. The officers become walls on each side of the frame giving an appropriately claustrophobic feel to the conversation; they suspect Spade of murder and will gladly arrest him at the slightest chance.

From a thematic perspective, the internal turmoil translates into an outward conflict. In the case of The Maltese Falcon, we have the ace private detective, Sam Spade. He is a hard-edged man trying to survive in a gritty world caught in between criminals and the police. Spade isn’t the classic, good guy hero who gets the girl at the end. He falls in love with the girl but he saves himself, not her. Spade, as is the case with all film noirs, is an anti-hero. At the same time, although it seems like he considers dealing with criminals, ultimately, he doesn’t. According to the trailer, Spade is a man who “make crime career...the most ruthless lover you’ll ever meet”. Ruthless is a bit of an overstatement. He is more concerned with self-preservation than getting ahead. It isn’t so much that he works against the law but that he is willing to work outside the law. He is fundamentally true even though he commiserates with criminals.

Alongside the male protagonist, is the black widow of a woman, the femme fatale. Beautiful but dangerous, she leads the protagonist into certain peril. In The Maltese Falcon, we have Brigid O’Shaughnessy (Astor). In the words of Spade’s receptionist, “she’s a real knockout.” O’Shaughnessy comes to the office of Spade and Archer explaining that she is looking for her missing sister. She pays an exorbitant amount for the service. Her payment is a red flag in Spade’s mind, and rightly so. She is lying. She is looking for the impossibly valuable Maltese Falcon. Over the course of the rest of the movie, we watch Spade and O’Shaughnessy dance a veritable tango of deception. She lays “the schoolgirl act on thick” and he makes even the truth sound like a lie.

Film Noir faded into the shadows with the advent of color. People had had enough of the dark, cynicism and wanted bright musicals. At times there have been modern efforts to create film noirs. How does one adapt film noir to the present age? I’ll look at two (comparatively) modern film noirs that stand out to me; Romeo is Bleeding (1993) and Chinatown (1974).
Romeo is Bleeding is about Jack Grimaldi (Oldman), a NYC Sergeant who plays both sides of the law; the Mafia pays him to provide the locations of individuals under police protection. He “gives a name, gets the money, and puts the money in the hole” (he hides the money in a hole in his backyard). Before long, his dealings become less about the money itself and more about having the money. The accumulation of wealth, even though he never spends it, becomes his obsession. Jack may not be the hyper-masculine Bogart but he is a corrupt individual whose immorality ultimately consumes him. True to film noir fashion, the beautiful, dangerous, Russian assassin Mona Demarkov (Olin) seduces him. Instead of giving her over to the police or the mob, Jack releases her when she promises two hundred thousand dollars.

We have a couple film noir staples in Romeo is Bleeding, the femme fatale, the morally questionable protagonist, and the plot driving by deception. Visually, Romeo is Bleeding movie is not black and white but it tries to stylize the characters to adapt the genre to color.  The most notable character is Mona whose attire seems to be entirely overcoats, garter-belts, stockings, and deep red lipstick. She’s a little over the top and that’s a risk of modern film noirs or “neo-noirs.”

The original waves of film noir films were timely. It was stylized but it wasn’t saying “this is stylized”. The films, at least the famous ones were cohesive experiences. In something like Romeo is Bleeding, the movie is trying to be a film noir rather than a standalone movie which we would retroactively classify as a film noir. Consider Inglorious Bastards to a movie poorly imitating Tarantino. The imitation becomes obsessed with the Tarantino-style and, in effect, loses substance. Another noteworthy neo-noir is Coppola’s brilliant Chinatown.

Chinatown is set in California at the beginning of the 20th century. You might be thinking, “California? Film noir is supposed to be dark, gray, shadowy; the opposite of California.” A drought has hit the state making the color palate an appropriately saturated set of browns and tans. Roman Polanski stylizes the world but he does so in a way that doesn’t bring attention to itself. Another strong quality of this film is the protagonist, private detective J.J. Gittes, played by Jack Nicholson.

The introduction of Gittes is similar to Spade. He is a private detective. A beautiful woman providing a false story and a lot of money approaches him. Throughout the film, Gittes emphasizes that he just wants the money owed to him so he can leave the problematic case. This establishes him as an individual concerned with self-preservation in a similar way as Sam Spade. Gittes is also rather sexist and racist. Jack Nicholson is incredibly good at giving his characters a frightful temper. Where Spade might come up with a quick story, Gittes might give a threat with a snarl. In terms of tone, hopelessness permeates Chinatown in much the same way that disillusionment filled original film noirs.

The finale is a solid example of this tone. Evelyn Mulwray (Dunaway) and her daughter/cousin tries to escape her incestuous grandfather. She drives away as police (paid off by the grandfather) order her to stop. The police fire and the car halts. We hear the car horn blaring. The camera is sitting just above the on-looking crowd. In the super long shot, we can barely see the stopped car. It is a lengthy cut, so we have time to process the enormity of the situation. Everyone runs towards the car to see Evelyn’s dead body and her screaming child. Gittes is held back by his partners who say, “It’s Chinatown, Gittes. There’s nothing you can do.” Defeat washes over Gittes’ face. He turns and walks off into the night.

From its inspiration in German Expressionism, Film Noir is a genre of darkness. The art direction, lighting, and subject matter serve as an outward manifestation of the thematic focus of cynicism, disillusionment, and hopelessness. By examining more recent efforts of film noir with Romeo is Bleeding and Chinatown, we have a glimpse of the lasting features of film noir and how they translate to modern day cinema.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Directed by Tim Burton. Written by Michael McDowell , Larry Wilson, Warren Skaaren. Starring Alec Baldwin (Adam Maitland), Geena Davis (Barbara Maitland), Michael Keaton (Betelgeuse), Lydia Deetz (Winona Ryder).

Bottom line: Classic Tim Burton film that makes for a solid evening around Halloween.
Adam (Baldwin) and Barbara (Davis) Maitland are a young, recently married couple. They are vacationing at home and make the quick trip to the local hardware store. On their way back they crash off a bridge into a river. Somehow, they walk back to their house (though they don’t exactly remember how) and, drenched, they try to dry off and warm next to the fire they don’t remember starting. They soon realize they drowned in the river and are now ghosts. They still want to try and live, or exist, happily in their home. Unfortunately, a new family (the Deetz’s) from New York buys the house and starts to move in. The Maitland’s decide to haunt the house to scare away the unwelcome residents. After repeated failures, they resort to calling Betelgeuse (Keaton), a freelancer who turns out to be far more trouble than he’s worth.

Beetlejuice is, for me, one of those movies that you actually sit down and watch once but you see it in parts here and there. I first saw Beetlejuice when I was little and I thought it was creepy and somehow depressing. After re-watching it just the other day, I still think it is creepy and depressing but I will say that it is good.

The acting is really rather good. I had forgotten that it was starring a very young Alec Baldwin. As soon as he spoke, I did a double take and thought, “I think I recognize that amazing voice.” Michael Keaton does a really good job at creating Betelgeuse a unique character. I didn’t realize it was him until I looked at the credits. It was like learning that Tim Curry played Pennywise the Clown in Stephen King’s It. It is a combination of makeup and acting to create something new. Winona Ryder fits perfectly into the aesthetic of the film. It made me wonder why she didn’t do more stuff with Tim Burton.

Beetlejuice is one of the few movies that ends with a dancing sequence that I don’t particularly find offensive. Lydia received an “A” on her Chemistry paper so the Maitland’s possess the house so it plays Harry Belafonte’s “Jump In The Line” and possess Lydia to make her float in the air and dance. Many of the dancing sequences I’ve seen use the opportunity to cycle through the characters as they dance to show their status. In Beetlejuice, we cycle through the characters but they aren’t dancing. They are just doing what they would normally be doing: Lydia’s mom is sculpting some modern art and Lydia’s father is reading. It is mildly silly but it isn’t going for a zany ending.

Overall, I’d recommend Beetlejuice if you haven’t seen it before but, considering it has been on TV about a million times, you probably have. Would I recommend you see it again? If it is Halloween time, sure, why not? It isn’t a scary movie and in terms of humor, it’s alright. I didn’t laugh out loud but chuckled here and there.