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?

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Batman and Robin (1997)

Welcome back Batmanatees! Anthony drags Sam across the finish line of their Batman journey with 1997's notorious Batman and Robin, directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Matinee Manatee alums Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chris O'Donnell, Michael Gough, and John Glover, and also newcomers George Clooney, Alicia Silverstone, and Uma Thurman! Wow, that's a lot of names, you may say. That sounds like kind of a mess, you may say. Interesting! Apparently there had been plans to continue Schumacher's Batman movies for several more installments, but the critical and audience reception of this one put those plans on hold and effectively ended the series. But, was that harsh reaction deserved? Pack your bat credit cards (never leave home without them), float along with us, and find out!

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Happy 2022 everybody! We're still on our 90's kick with 1991's legendary Terminator 2: Judgment Day, directed by James Cameron and starring Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Robert Patrick. Can you believe it took us this long to get to a Schwarzenegger movie? The second of what would eventually be six movies and a television show, Terminator 2 retells the timeless struggle between a guy with a robot skeleton and an angry jelly man and, arguably, tells this classic tale better than any movie before or since.

Ben rants about the bar exam and pitches Terminator franchise sequels that nobody's tried yet, Sam explores theme composition and the effect of seeing movies' legacies before the movies themselves, and both manatees tackle the important questions other podcasts haven't had the guts to, like: Are those laser planes also terminators? Should online reviews use mean, median, or mode? Are The Terminator and The Matrix in the same universe? Would Danny DeVito have been a good T-1000? (Yes, obviously.) Tune in to find out!

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Home Alone (1990)

Happy holidays everybody!

To get in the mood for the season, we're revisiting the famous 1990 Christmas movie Home Alone, directed by Chris Columbus and starring Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, and Daniel Stern. The classic story of a child being able to do whatever he wants in his house and a rich family shocked that they can't buy their way out of problems, it kind of starts as like an abandoned-building Dawn of the Dead for kids, then in the last half hour turns into more of a Straw Dogs... for kids. It's definitely a movie for kids, and perhaps it loses something if viewed too hard by adults, but the nostalgia is strong with this one. Maybe it's also a Moby Dick for robbers? The Odyssey for moms? Are we reaching too hard? Probably. Sam talks music composition, Ben compulsively compares it to other movies, both notice a few more holes than they'd hoped, but overall it's a pretty chill time. Float along with us?

Thursday, November 25, 2021

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

New episode is up!

Happy turkey day everybody! In celebration, we went back to one of our favorite movies about kind of sort of birds, and then watched the sequel instead: 1997's The Lost World (Jurassic Park 2) directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Jeff Goldblum and Julianne Moore! The Lost World got a lot of flack for not being as good as the first Jurassic Park, but if not for having to fill those giant puddle-rippling shoes, is it really that bad? Come find out with us! Is Julianne Moore a dinosaur agent? Should Jeff Goldblum play James Bond? Are T-Rexes telekinetic? Why are we talking about David Duchovny so much? We get right to the bottom of it. Eventually. Sort of.

Monday, October 18, 2021

28 Days Later (2002)

Happy Scarytober everybody! This month the manatees checked out 28 Days Later, directed by Danny Boyle and starring Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris! This one was a patreon poll, and honestly we're pretty glad it turned out the way it did. The movie that arguably kicked off the zombie resurgence of the early 2000s, 28 Days Later isn't actually a zombie movie according to its creators, but it's close enough that it gets lumped in with them quite a bit. Is that fair? Float along with the manatees as they wrestle with this question for about two seconds, then spend a lot longer ranting about zombie survival plans, pandemics, proper coma patient dressing etiquette, and revealing that they know almost nothing about European geography. If there were a rage vaccine, would people even take it? What's the difference between an apartment and a flat? How would The Mariner deal with running out of water? Listen for the answers to all these questions and more!

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Jason And The Argonauts (1963)

Tom Hanks once said that Jason And The Argonauts was the greatest film ever made. But was he right? I mean, yeah, probably. Directed by Don Chaffey, starring Todd Armstrong and Honor Blackman, and featuring an original score by the fantastic Bernard Herrmann, Jason And The Argonauts is perhaps better known as a showcase of the legendary Ray Harryhausen's visual effects, but even aside from those it's got a pace and a feel that's worth catching. Also, it's free on the web archives, so that's a plus! Float along with the manatees as they gush over mid-century claymation, discuss responsible provisioning plans, and demonstrate a consistent and profound lack of Greek myth expertise. This is a fun one!

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Waterworld (1995)

New episode is up!

This month we're watching another collaboration by the Kevins Reynolds and Costner with 1995's Waterworld! Also featuring the triumphant return of Dennis Hopper and the podcast's first appearance of Jeanne Tripplehorn and Tina Majorino. The most expensive movie ever made at the time of its release, Waterworld was widely considered a flop but actually did make its budget back eventually, and poses many thought provoking questions, such as: Is there weather in the future? Can we breathe through fish? Why is pee easier to purify than salt water? How are cigarettes made? What makes a man a fish? Where does water come from? What is water? And so on! Sam sets out to design two new video games, Ben says "piss" about a hundred times, both accidentally reveal how little they know about sailing, and a generally good time is had by all. Float along with us?

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Highlander (1986)

New episode is up! HEEEEERE WE ARE! It's one of the 80's most notorious cult classics and every mall samurai's fever dream, 1986's Highlander, which made no money but somehow spawned half a dozen sequels and four TV series! Directed by our old friend Russell Mulcahy and starring Matinee Manatee alumni Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, and Clancy Brown, along with newcomer Roxanne Hart, Highlander is just self-aware enough to make for some pretty spectacular schlock. It's got everything you could want! Queen! Swords! Very white sneakers! 80's lightning! Bad age makeup! And, an immortal elk? Sam shares wrestling facts, Ben rants about streaming services, both vow to watch the followups which probably neither of them do. Come float along and be bemused with us at this bizarre artifact of a more creative and, arguably, less demanding time.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

New episode is up!

You've definitely heard of this one! The manatees are back to crushing on Bob Hoskins with 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Bob Hoskins, Charles Fleischer, Christopher Lloyd, and Joanna Cassidy. Made in the era before CGI, Who Framed Roger Rabbit presents probably the most impressive precedent of pretending between actual actors and animated art anywhere at the age it appeared! (And, arguably, after!) I tried to have some fun with alliteration there but I'm not sure it worked. Includes wrestling trivia from Sam, failed novel settings from Ben, and a bit of history about Los Angeles' public transit system for your perusal. Float along with us as we gush over Bob, noir, and cartoons in general, and try not to let Judge Doom give you any nightmares.