Archive for the 'Humor' Category

Films can be funny, but this is humor about films: parodies, satires, and more.

Sesame Street parodies the Hobbit, Hunger Games

09-Dec-13 11:18 AM by
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The Internet has inspired a revolution in Sesame Street's relevancy. Always a wonderful tool for educating children not just in reading, writing, and arithmetic, but also in social skills such as cooperation and patience, these values are now being encased in many wonderful YouTube videos whose humor will appeal to adults as well. Nowhere is this more evident than in the show's newest segment, "Cookie's Crumby Pictures", in which Cookie Monster teaches kids self-regulation and executive function skills in the form of parodies of Hollywood's latest big-budget hits.

This series is impressively modern by setting its sights on this holiday season's headliners. One of the current hot flicks has been Catching Fire, the second adaptation in the Hunger Games book trilogy. Cookie Monster engages in survival of the fattest in The Hungry Games: Catching Fur:

Despite Cookie being the leading role, Pita nearly stole the show. What an improvement over the original!

The next fantasy film in showgoers' sights is The Hobbit: The Desolaution of Smaug, releasing this week. What force could be more evil: a dragon, or a ring? Neither! Beware the one dessert to rule them all in Lord of the Crumbs:

Classic icons aren't above having our furry blue friend inserted into their casts. When the world's best spy isn't available, they call Cookie Monster in The Spy Who Loved Cookies:

You can also see Cookie Monster as Captain Snack Sparrow in Cookies of the Caribbean and as an earnest martial arts student in in The Biscotti Kid. See the playlist for the full catalog of parodies.

It just goes to show: everything is better with Muppets!

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day offerings

27-Nov-13 2:19 PM by
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It is a good time to be a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The television show spent ten years lampooning some of the worst films ever created, and this week, 25 years after the show's debut, the comedy just keeps on coming.

If you didn't catch this show during its decade on the air, or you're missing your favorite episodes, Shout! Factory has you covered. All this month, they've been celebrating the show's 25th anniversary with daily sales on select DVD sets. But why settle for one a day? This Thursday and Friday, ALL previous sales will return simultaneously. Engorge yourself with your favorite box sets at MST3KTurkeyDay.com.

There are still more box sets to come, with the 25th Anniversary Edition having been released just yesterday, and another box set — the show's 29th! — announced as coming next year, containing some of the best episodes ever.

Want to watch MST3K show live like it's 1988? A tradition long gone from our world returns this Thanksgiving, thanks to show founder Joel Hodgson. The MST3K Turkey Day Marathon is back, with six favorite episodes airing starting at noon ET, again at MST3KTurkeyDay.com.

Reruns are great — but what about the future? After MST3K concluded its run, its hosts continued the comedy with two similar troupes: Cinematic Titanic, hosted by Joel Hodgson, and RiffTrax, spearheaded by Michael J. Nelson.

Cinematic Titanic focused on DVDs and live tours and will be concluding their farewell tour next month. I caught them on all three of their visits to Boston, most recently on November 2, when they subjected their audience to a terrible movie, The Doll Squad. Hodgson engaged in Q&A with the audience, but more impressively, he yesterday conducted a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA). Generations of fans paid tribute and got sincere, thorough answers to their questions about the past, present, and future of Hodgson's comedy exploits.
Meanwhile, RiffTrax continues to publish audio commentary MP3s to accompany your favorite blockbuster films, from Starship Troopers to Twilight. Their next live event is a holiday riffing of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians on December 5 at 8 PM ET. Tickets are now on sale, and these events have been known to sell out, so get yours today!

This holiday season, I am thankful for the talented artists who have brought so much laughter into my home, and the many friends with whom I've shared those experiences. We have movie sign!!

UPDATE (2-Dec-13): Missed the Turkey Day Marathon? Here are all the original host segments featuring show creator Joel Hodgson:

(Hat tip to Annie Lynsen and Annie Lynsen)

RiffTrax Starship Troopers gets my name wrong

20-Aug-13 1:45 PM by
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RiffTrax, the comedy troupe composed of Mystery Science Theater 3000 alumni, earlier this year conducted their first Kickstarter. The plan was to raise enough funds to secure the rights for a one-night live riffing of Twilight. Having heard their MP3 riffs of this film, I was all in. The Twilight studio proved enthusiastic to work with RiffTrax but felt the timing wasn't right to dilute their sparkly vampire brand, so the comedy team moved onto their second choice: Starship Troopers.

Starship Troopers
Prepare for an explosion of funny.

The show was last Thursday, which I attended with my middle brother Dan and dozens of friends from the local Meetup group. I encouraged everyone to wait after the movie, as my Kickstarter pledge had earned my name an inclusion in the credits. Dan, in anticipation of seeing my name on the silver screen, pulled out his iPhone and started recording the credit sequence.

It didn't turn out quite how we expected.

How "Ken Gagné" became "Ken GagnŽ", I'll never know. But that'll teach me to be all fancy with my foreign accent marks.

Thanks for the riff, guys! An encore performance will occur on Thursday, September 12, at 7:30 PM. On August 30, tickets will go on sale for their next original live show: Night of the Living Dead!

UPDATE (5-Dec-13): Bill Corbett (aka Crow T. Robot) balanced the scales when he got my name right in the first 30 seconds of this Kickstarter thank-you video:

UPDATE (20-Dec-13): RiffTrax offered an official apology as a comment on the above Vimeo video.

Even Trekkies need cars & insurance

08-May-13 10:45 AM by
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Star Trek celebrities have been long sought after to endorse a variety of products, from William Shatner pitching Priceline and DirectTV to Jonathan Frakes hawking enterprise software. The connection between Star Trek and the product being sold can be tenuous or non-existent, but a savvy director and clever script can nonetheless make the most of their actors' heritage.

With the release of Star Trek Into Darkness just a week away, we're seeing a new spate of advertisers timing their tangential promotions to coincide. Car insurance company esurance collaborated directly with the team at CBS and Paramount to get their hands on the 2009 film's set and shoot a short encounter on the bridge of the U.S.S. Not Enterprise:

Opting away from a Star Trek setting and instead relying on known actors, Audi has created a car commercial that pits the two Spocks in a race to the golf club:

Leonard Nimoy's the real star here, working in references not only to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan but to his singing career. He also proves that he's a far more experienced Vulcan than young upstart Zachary Quinto, who still has much to learn!

For those of us who have been avoiding spoiler-laden summer movie trailers, these commercials are fun little doses of original content bases on our favorite spacefaring franchise. Still, they're no substitute for the real thing. See you next week!

Take flight to Middle-Earth with Air New Zealand

31-Oct-12 2:04 PM by
Filed under Humor; 2 comments.

For six films, New Zealand has played host to the denizens of J.R.R. Tolkien's tales, its lush country landscapes providing the fantasy setting of Middle-Earth. While the first film in Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy doesn't land until December 14, you can land in Middle-Earth today, courtesy of Air New Zealand, who provides this pre-flight instructional video:

This is no indie work — it features cameos by both director Peter Jackson (who turns 51 today!) and Gollum. Impressive!

I have flown seven flights in the last two weeks, and many more than that every year. Not once have I ever found an instructional safety video that gripped my attention like this one. When else have you ever found yourself indulging in this genre on YouTube?

Well done, Air New Zealand! I look forward to visiting Middle-Earth soon.

(Hat tip: Gina Serpe via Gene Demaitre)

Application to SHIELD

26-Sep-12 3:12 PM by
Filed under Humor, Television; Comments Off on Application to SHIELD

In 2012, four Marvel superheroes combined their franchises into one summer blockbuster: The Avengers. This team consisting of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and The Incredible Hulk was assembled by agents of the secret military agency known as Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division — SHIELD for short.

ABC wants to know more about this agency and has ordered a television pilot. Best of all, they're tapping Avengers director Joss Whedon — creator of Buffy, Dollhouse, and Dr. Horrible — to co-write and possibly direct.

Just as SHIELD did, Whedon is assembling an all-star team, and graphic designer Adam Levermore wants in. He has worked on the Battlestar Galactica, Serenity, and The Guild franchises, which he feels make him the perfect candidate to work in the super nerdy world of superheroes. Although I'm not familiar with his name and only vaguely familiar with his work, I have to admit that he makes a convincing case for his application to the SHIELD series:

I'd hire him. Wouldn't you?

And if you don't get the closing joke to Adam, you need to see "Once More, With Feeling"!

(Hat tip to Cheezburger)

Star Trek gets spoofed in John Scalzi's Redshirts

07-Jul-12 6:03 PM by
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RedshirtsGalaxyQuest was a funny movie for a general audience and hilarious for lovers of Star Trek. Conversely, I can't imagine anyone but Trekkies who will appreciate John Scalzi's latest book, Redshirts — but boy, will they love it!

Set on a fictional starship, the book parrots almost every element of the Star Trek universe — or, more precisely, the television show. When lowly ensigns start to realize that they're always the ones to die on away missions, and "main characters" never do, they start to look into exactly why. What they discover is as surprising as it is riveting.

I've read a few of Scalzi's other books (Old Man's War, Fuzzy Nation) and knew him to have a sense of humor, but it's never been as obvious as it is here. When an opening chapter can have the following happen to our then-protagonist: "But then he tripped and fell and a worm ate his face and he died anyway" — you know you're in for a good time. (You can read the first five chapters online.)

Yet after the story is done, three codas told from three different perspectives, making for a total of 70+ pages of "bonus" material, do more than pad out an otherwise relatively short tale. These chapters adopt a completely different tone, hitting a variety of emotional cues and balancing the story out.

Redshirts is a quick and fun read that you'll be sorry to see end — heck, it's even good enough to have its own theme song by Jonathan Coulton. I highly recommend it to all geeks.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my book reviews on Goodreads

Thomas the Transforming Tank Engine

08-Mar-12 7:12 PM by
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I'm not trying to be hip when I say "I liked Transformers before Transformers were cool." Because the fact is that Transformers aren't cool — not since Michael Bay got his filthy paws all over them and turned Optimus Prime into a vengeful sociopath. Maybe it's not fair to have high standards for a children's cartoon based off a line of toys, but as an adult, I've revisited many of my childhood's fondest memories, and few have stood up as well as the original Transformers animated series. Even today, when political pundits write stirring calls for action and cite the Transformers ethos, they are referring to the source material, not Bay's adaptation.

But I understand that franchises must either adapt to the times or make way for new properties to ensconce themselves in a child's heart. Perhaps a combination of those two approaches is the way for Transformers to remain both relevant and beloved. Why not meld it with a proven entity? Thomas the Tank Engine has been around since 1946, but as my nephew demonstrates, he continues to be popular with kids.

An enterprising artist named James Farr sees this as a natural mashup and has created an entire series based on the idea. "Thomas the Transforming Tank Engine defends the Island of Sodor against a host of villainous engines bent on destroying the world" in… TRAINSFORMERS.

There are at present four videos, with new ones announced via Facebook and Twitter. My favorite is the second video, as it seems the most perfect amalgam with the least backstory needed — though the stories do seem to get darker and more violent as the series progresses.

How long before Michael Bay ruins this indie effort with a big-budget blockbuster?

See also the 2009 mashup, Transforminators.

(Hat tip to Alon Waisman)