A Few Random Observations

Here’s my favorite line from Road House: “A polar bear fell on me.”

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I recently saw the preview for American Ultra, and as I listened to Jesse Eisenberg announce that he had just killed two people and was mildly freaking out about it, it occurred to me that maybe this movie was actually a modern version of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, which would have been weird since I just saw The Double a few weeks ago, and Jesse Eisenberg was in that, too. And for one brief shining moment, I had this vision of a world in which Jesse Eisenberg’s career was actually one long Andy Kaufman-esque performance, and he was secretly making his way through every single one of Dostoevsky’s works, spinning them out beautifully and theatrically like ships onto the ocean, his personal tribute to one of the greatest writers of all time, all without anyone knowing. Anyone other than me, of course. What a beautiful thing that would have been. But then I remembered that he’s playing Lex Luthor in Batman v. Superman, and that pretty much shot that theory to hell.

And speaking of The Double, I don’t like to part my hair on the opposite side because it makes me feel like I’ve become my own doppelgänger.

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And now, a bit of heresy. In my opinion, silent film comedian Harold Lloyd is much, much funnier than Charlie Chaplin. Take THAT Chaplin fans. (Chapsters? Chapniks?) Consider the film, Safety Last. You’ve got scene after scene of incredible physical humor, all cleverly choreographed by Lloyd himself. You’ve got the backwards “kick me” message that Harold writes in chalk on the wall to trick the policeman (only to have it end up on his own back), as well as the scene in which a drunk man has a hilarious conversation with several nicely dressed store mannequins. And of course there are capers. So many capers. It’s got everything you could want in this type of movie, including a bewildered yet optimistic protagonist who does crazy stunts and is bendy like Gumby. In contrast, Charlie Chaplin movies are just cloying and overwrought. Too many little orphans with giant eyes and frayed pants gazing wistfully into the camera while sad violins play. Weren’t a lot of these films made during the Depression? Wouldn’t people have been looking for an escape from all this down-and-out crap? Ugh. Give me pure physical comedy any day.

One last image from Safety Last. Picture this: Lanky Harold Lloyd is sitting awkwardly on a flagpole that is VERY high up on a brick building, trying desperately not to fall, when a dog starts barking at him from a nearby window. The owner leans out and shouts at Harold, “Get out of here! Don’t you know the dog might fall?”

What can Chaplin do to compete with this? A tap-dance routine with shoes on his hands? Boo. Hiss.


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My daughter, unsurprisingly, is obsessed with Superman. We own Superman II, which is beyond question the best of the Superman movies (General ZOD!!), but so far we’ve only rented the original Superman. We used to own Superman Returns, but at some point the DVD was compromised by little hands and Jell-o, and that was the end of that. So the other day, Zooey asked me if we could please buy the Superman movie where he saves the plane and lifts the island. Well, clearly, she was referring to Superman Returns, so when I happened to find a used copy at our local game store, I snapped it up. Excitedly, I handed it to my daughter, and she was thrilled! Until the next morning, when she came storming into our bedroom after having watched the first twenty or thirty minutes of it. “What is this movie?” she demanded. “He isn’t a baby and Krypton didn’t blow up!” This tiny little person, this beloved daughter of mine, was bristling with rage.

“But this is the one where he saves the plane!” I protested. “This is the one where he lifts the island! You said you wanted the one where he lifts the island.”

“No! I don’t want this Superman!” she shouted. Honest to God, there were tears in her eyes. She angrily stomped back into the living room and defiantly turned on My Little Pony instead. Ouch. I guess the Internet was right—no one likes the Bryan Singer Superman.