Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Men In Black (1997)

Aliens, you guys! This month we checked out the classic (?) 1997 movie Men In Black, starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, but mostly starring Vincent D'Onofrio and his mime skills. The second Barry Sonnenfeld - Will Smith project to feature on this podcast, Men In Black is what we assume Wild Wild West wanted to be but wasn't. Float along with the manatees while they talk fashion, comics, aliens, secret coverups, and the art of zen slacking with this summer blockbuster from (almost) thirty years ago, and relax.

Monday, April 22, 2024

3000 Miles To Graceland (2001)

We're back!

Life circumstances, you know how it goes, sorry for the quiet month. To make it up to you, we've forced ourselves to sit through probably the single largest collection of missed opportunities we've ever seen: 2001's "3000 Miles To Graceland"! Starring Kurt Russel and Kevin Costner, 3000 Miles To Graceland is a series of largely unconnected vignettes that purport to have something to do with Elvis, but with a very few exceptions, don't. Not quite a heist movie, not quite a roadtrip movie, not quite a concert movie, and not quite a crime movie, 3000 Miles To Graceland is really more of a... um. It's, uh. Well, it's certainly a movie. But was it really as bad as the box office returns suggest? Float along with us and find out, why don't you.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Dante's Peak (1997)

New episode is up!

We're back and we're checking out another Patreon poll winner: the 1997 disaster movie Dante's Peak! Directed by Roger Donaldson and starring Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton, Dante's Peak was one of two big volcano movies to come out in 1997, but the only one to take a scientific eye and really address those age old volcano questions, like: What if a volcano erupted like three times? What would that do? Would it look kind of cool? What if you, like, drove through lava? And others! This one's like two completely different movies, folks. Really something else.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Elf (2003)

Happy Holidays everybody!

This year the manatees are going a little more recent for the 20th birthday of a modern classic Christmas movie, 2003's Elf! Directed by Jon Favreau and starring Will Ferrell and James Caan, Elf is a colorful little modern-day fairy tale that's pretty much appropriate for all ages and moves along at a good clip. But how compelling is it really? The manatees talk red flags in dating coworkers, the inner workings of hybrid engines, commiserate on the pros and cons of being the biggest guy in a workshop, and wind up talking a lot about video games. Float along with us and enjoy the season, won't you?

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Jingle All The Way (1996)

Happy Black Friday week everybody!

In the spirit of the holidays (consumerism) we're rewatching the widely reviled but oddly charming holiday flop Jingle All the Way, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad, and directed by Brian Levant. It's almost thirty years old! You've probably heard of this one; it's almost universally panned by critics but has its fans regardless, and we're going to find out if we're among them. Float along with the manatees as they tackle the important questions like: should bodybuilders' kids be played by other bodybuilders? How do masks work, exactly? And of course, just how many daylight hours are there in Minnesota in December? Literally none of these will be answered satisfactorily. Come take a nap!

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Thing (1982)

Happy Halloween, everyone!

We're taking a look John Carpenter's 1982 classic, The Thing! Starring Kurt Russell, Keith David, Wilford Brimley, and a bunch of other guys in parkas. While it was a flop at its release, The Thing has become a cult classic since and appears on just about every top 100 list of horror movies ever made, famous both for its special effects and for its paranoid psychological tone. But does it deserve the hype? Float along with the manatees as they tackle the important questions like: is the monster kinda dumb? Are flamethrowers normal de-icing equipment? And, are we sure this ending is actually ambiguous? Among others. Take a look-see if you've got a strong stomach, or maybe skip this month if scary movies aren't your thing, but we're diving right in.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Conan the Barbarian (1982)

At long last, the manatees are covering the famous story beloved around the world about a long-haired bronze age man who was crucified by an evil empire and then rose from the dead to save us all from the serpent... Conan the Barbarian! The 1982 version, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sandahl Bergman, and James Earl Jones, directed by John Milius, and featuring a soundtrack by the incomparable Basil Poledouris, this sword-and-sandahl epic (GET IT?!?) has remained above all its imitators since through sheer style and unconventional casting choices. But does it hold up?

Float along with the manatees as they tackle the important questions like: how much of paleolithic history do we actually know about anyway? Is there any combination of ingredients that make it a good idea to serve soup at an orgy? And of course, that age-old industry calculus: is it better to invest in oxen or orphan power for your mill? Get the answers to these and other pressing questions, or just nod off and dream of being exceptionally large, with the manatees and Conan.


Saturday, July 29, 2023

Troll 2 (1990)

It had to happen. We finally check out the infamous, the legendary, the nigh-on-indescribable work that defined a generation, 1990's Troll 2. Directed by Claudio Fragasso and starring Michael Paul Stephenson, George Hardy, and Deborah Reed, Troll 2 has exactly zero connection to the movie Troll and indeed zero trolls in it. But does it deserve the reputation and cult following that it has? Float along with the manatees to the mysterious town of Nilbog as they talk sorcery, lavender dating, geography, and what makes a life well lived while trying to decode this mind-bending work that the world still isn't ready for and probably never will be.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Twister (1996)

We're returning to the 90's well with 1996's "Twister", directed by Jan de Bont and starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton. Twister is an interesting attempt at making a natural disaster movie by making a slasher movie and replacing the slasher with a twister. But does it work? Well... that's debatable. The manatees have more pressing concerns, like: just how complicated is barrel opening? Could a catapult solve this entire situation? And aren't the bad guys way better guys than the good guys here? Float along with us to find out the answer to these and other pressing questions.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Mars Attacks! (1996)

There are two movies out there based on Topps trading card limited series from the 60's, and of those two, 1996's Mars Attacks is our personal favorite. Directed by Tim Burton and starring pretty much everyone who's ever been in another Burton movie, Mars Attacks has the extreme honor of being the first Burton film that's title isn't just a character's name. However, it also had the bad luck of being released the same year as the much-more-beloved Independence Day, and predictably under performed. But was it actually that bad? The manatees dust off this curio of a film and tackle the important questions like: what exactly counts as a flop? What is the ideal number of Jack Nicholson characters in a feature film? And wait a second, is that Ray-J? (it IS!) Float along and watch it all burn down with us. TW: intentionally over-the-top cartoon gore, violence, etc.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Avatar (2009)

We're back after an unplanned month off (sorry!) and checking out the suddenly-sequeled 2009 cgi spectacle "Avatar"! Written and directed by our old pal James Cameron and starring Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana, Avatar famously leans style over substance, but that doesn't mean it can't have both, does it? As of the writing of this episode note, Avatar remains the highest grossing film of all time, was seen by pretty much everyone in the world, and is about... um. I guess it's Ferngully? But also Pocahontas. But all the characters you care about are giant skinny blue people. It's um. It's actually pretty strange. Have you seen it?

Float along with the manatees as they ask some of the less-frequently-examined questions of the film, like: are the avatars just alien men in black? What puts something in the uncanny valley? And, if you can make hybrid avatars of alien species on a planet with giant butterfly dragons, why choose the blue people? Also, book recommendations, discussions of caricatures and tropes, and several very contrived excuses to talk about Jason Momoa. Happy listening!

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

The NeverEnding Story (1984)

New episode is up!

We're going back to the 80's for another movie with puppets with 1984's cult classic The NeverEnding Story, directed by Wolfgang Petersen and based (contentiously) on the book by Michael Ende. Famously one of the most expensive movies ever made outside of the US at the time, The NeverEnding Story features one of the most overtly fantastical settings of any movie ever, and the youngest cast of any movie the manatees have seen to date. But does it hold up?

The manatees face the truly challenging questions this movie poses, such as: Which fictional world would actually be possible to survive in? Which horrible puppet monster would make the best husband? And of course, just how old is Law and Order actually? Float along with us to find out the answers to these and so many other definitely relevant questions.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays and so forth and so on!

We're staying in the sort of spooky sort of holiday spirit with the 1990 Christmas classic(?) Edward Scissorhands! The first of a long line of collaborations between Tim Burton, Danny Elfman, and Johnny Depp (Helena Bonham Carter had not joined the gang yet) and also starring Winona Ryder and Matinee Manatees alum Dianne Wiest, Edward Scissorhands arguably cemented Burton's reputation and style for the rest of his career and became a standby for the kind of sad and somewhat spooky for a generation. But how long has it been since you actually sat down and watched it? The manatees discuss pressing issues like the propensity of neighborhood kids to hang out in derelict buildings, ideal utensils to have instead of fingers, and the sad neglected fate of Edgar Cookiefeet, the sad robot boy who could have been. Float along with us as we revisit this cult favorite, and a very merry any-holiday to you and yours.

Monday, November 28, 2022

The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

We're starting the holiday season early with the famously saccharine Christmas romance, The Mothman Prophecies! (alternate title: Mothman Saves Christmas)

Richard Gere plays a grumpy widower from the big city who doesn't want to do anything on Christmas but sit at home and play with his phone, but one day when his car breaks down in the idyllic rural town of Point Pleasant, his life gets turned upside down and he finds that he just doesn't want to leave! With a little meddling and a little magic from his mysterious guardian angel, Richard Gere begins to make friends and even find love with a pretty small-town cop who has a lot of Christmas cheer, considers abandoning the big city career that doesn't make him happy, and most importantly, learns that Christmas is about more than fancy parties and getting presents in: The Mothman Prophecies. (TW actually a parapsychological thriller. Kind of.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Leprechaun (1993)

We're revisiting some beloved Matinee Manatee alumni with Leprechaun, the 1993 comedy-horror starring Jennifer Aniston and Warwick Davis, our old friends from Office Space and Willow. Written and directed by Mark Jones, Leprechaun would go on to spawn seven sequels to date, so it must be doing something right, right? Float along with us to relive this bizarre little film and also get some free bonus content from the manatees, such as discussion on the proper handling of potentially rabid animals, learning fun new words like "numismatologist", and super valuable blood donation hacks you can try at home! (Do not try them at home.)

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Office Space (1999)

Just in time for being way too late for labor day, the Manatees are revisiting the 1999 Mike Judge classic Office Space, supposedly starring Ron Livingston and Jennifer Aniston but actually starring Gary Cole and Stephen Root, and also featuring Matinee Manatee alums Orlando Jones and Michale McShane! While it was a flop at release, Office Space quickly became a cult classic in large part due to its portrayal of middle American office culture at the turn of the millennium. But does it hold up? Float along with the manatees and find out! Personal anecdotes about office jobs and incessant comparisons to Fight Club ensue. The manatees share old guy advice on how to get away with slacking at work, why you should never dramatically quit when you can make them fire you, and why there is never a good way to ask a service worker out on a date while they're at work, and ask the tough questions, like: Is Milton real? Is this job actually bad or is it just the protagonist's personality? What does any of this have to do with Drew Carey? Answers to all these and more on the next exciting episode of Matinee Manatees! (Please note: description of episode as exciting is not intended to be legally binding)

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Bloodsport (1988)

What can we say, we missed Mortal Kombat so much we decided to go after its dad: 1988's cult classic Bloodsport! Directed by Newt Arnold and starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bloodsport is about a guy who goes to Hong Kong and fights a bunch of people. Somehow, Forest Whitaker is there. That's about it, that's all you need. The manatees do a deep dive into the history and traditions underpinning competitive martial arts and jump-tackle the darkest secrets of the MMA underground, such as how shorts make you a better fighter, why you can't just stop after learning the Dim Mak, how the UFC is this movie's fault, and why Andre The Giant should have been in this movie. And, just because we know everyone's asking, yes, there is a lengthy segment on JCVD's underwear. Don't worry, we've got you covered. Unlike JCVD's butt. Ha-HA!

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Double Dragon (1994)

What do you get when you combine the setting from Escape From La, the costumes from Siegfried and Roy, the car from Back To The Future, the half locket from Annie, and the prosthetics from the Garbage Pail Kids? Why, Double Dragon, of course, the movie based on the game that had none of those things.

Directed by James Yukich and starring Robert Patrick, Mark Dacascos, and Scott Wolf, Double Dragon takes a game about two brothers with mullets working on their hot rod and beating up a town full of gangsters and turns it into a movie about two brothers in the future whose father was either a king or an archaeologist who need to steal half a medallion before the T-1000 does. Also, Alyssa Milano is there! The manatees do their best with this one and tackle the hard-hitting questions, such as: What should a remake look like? Are the games any good? Did they already make a plot hole in the opening crawl? What's the difference between an amulet and a medallion? And most importantly, where exactly is the line between so bad it's irredeemable and so bad it's good? Float along for the answers to these and more exciting questions with 1994's Double Dragon.

(Maybe you're better off just rewatching Ninja Turtles instead.)

Monday, May 23, 2022

Over The Top (1987)

New episode is up!

We're back in the weird 80's genre with 1987's Over The Top, directed by Menahem Golan and starring Sylvester Stallone and Robert Loggia. We both thought this was a movie about arm wrestling, but it's actually more like two separate movies, one about arm wrestling and one about an awkward father-son road trip. Also, the son's name is Mike Hawk, and if you think we couldn't possibly overdo a joke about that, you are very wrong. Float along with us as we tackle the serious questions like: Why was this movie made? Is this a different singer than the last one? How come this movie was made? Is Lincoln a serial killer? For what reason was this movie made? How do shipping companies work? To what end was this movie made? And so on! (We actually kind of loved this one.)

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Felix The Cat (1988)

New episode is up!

It's a patron request month! This month we're checking out 1988's Felix The Cat animated feature, aptly described to us as "an acid trip box office flop". If you haven't heard of it, that's probably because almost nobody saw it. But why? We've all heard of Felix The Cat, seen the clocks, might have won a stuffed animal at a carnival once or twice, so how come nobody saw the movie? Does it deserve more attention, or is it where it ought to be in the cultural consciousness? Who'd win in a fight between Felix and Micky? Did Sonic the Hedgehog copy this movie for his 2006 game's plot? If Felix and Garfield and Heathcliff formed a faction could they compete with the Looney Tunes and the Disney gang? We have no idea, this movie melted our brains. Float along with us?