The Vacation Read: Bill Hader, Adam Scott, Mark Osborne, and JT Petty
Yes, that's right. Still on vacation. Still not here. I know... it looks like I'm here. You're reading words I theoretically wrote. And yet, I am hanging out with my family and playing "inFamous" till my thumbs hurt and reading and eating way too much good food to be spending my time posting anything.
So if you were to read more responses to a question I asked of a wide array of friends, I'm not sure how that would work. I'm guessing magic.
For example, if the director of "Kung-Fu Panda" were to write me with his answer to the question "What is your favorite summer movie?" it might look like this:
Okay I'm gonna go for the not-so-obvious because there are so many amazing summer movies that would top all of our lists (really, I just want to just say Empire Strikes Back, end of story, because that WAS my summer that year and had such a tremendous impact of me for many years to come) but if I could just suggest a SIGNIFICANT SUMMER MOVIE, one that also has some personal importance for me and may not get mentioned otherwise, I'd say: Fast Times At Ridgemont High.
[more after the jump]
It was my first R movie, my first view of moving boobies EVER and my first time realizing that sex actually had some potentially troubling and weird consequences that I couldn't completely understand, but I knew if you screwed up you'd end up with bad words painted on your car and locker. I was just 12 when it came out and my brother and I really really wanted to see this totally inappropriate movie. We were given a note to allow us to go see it though because our mom was the coolest mom in the world and she pre-screened it for us and felt that there was a positive moral message that outweighed any inappropriateness.
She did, however, underestimate the power of boobies and how they outweigh just about everything else to a twelve year old boy.
Result: it was a good summer.
It's amazing how important that first R-rated film in the theater was to people my age. These days, with the internet and cable and DVD, I wonder if it means the same thing to kids growing up, or if they're just numb to it.
Adam Scott is a guy you might recognize from "Step Brothers," where he played Will Ferrell's creepy real brother, or from the absolutely awesome "Party Down," which just wrapped up its first season on Starz. If you didn't see the show, track it down. It's hilarious, a wry look at the world of catering, with a cast that just doesn't quit.
I love Adam's choice of summer movie. Has it really been 20 years? Am I really that damn old?
Have to say The Abyss. Summer of 89 in Santa Cruz my buddy worked at a movie theater so we'd all get to see movies a week before they were released at a special midnight show, so it felt really exclusive.
I love The Abyss. Vintage Cameron-- big action, big set pieces, and most importantly, big characters. The character-driven action movie is a lost art, and he really knows how to do it. The scene where Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Ed Harris have to decide who drowns with that ticking clock remains one of my favorites ever committed to film, a feat of acting and film making. All that and Chris Elliott!
Boy, were we stoned...what a great summer.
Sounds like we had the same summer of '89, Adam. I just wasn't in Santa Cruz.
JT Petty is one of my favorite working horror filmmakers right now, part of a generation of guys who seem to be rejecting the remake in order to focus on originals, even if it means toiling in lower budgets. His latest film "The Burrowers" came out recently on DVD from Lionsgate, and you ever have the chance to track down his movie "S&Man," do so. It's a seriously dangerous film.
Here's his summer movie memory:
I'm kind of an old man about action movies.
I prefer latex prosthetics, real explosions, and injured stuntmen. CGI blood-splatter from a wire-rigged star doesn't feel like the right way to be doling out righteous violence against the unjust. So I'm gonna call DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE the best summer movie. There are better action movies (including the original DIE HARD) and bigger tent poles, but DHWAV hits every nostalgia button I've got. It's the last great Die Hard movie, it's the last great John McTiernan movie. It's the last time Sam Jackson stole the show (unless you want to count the second best shark death ever filmed). It's the last time Jeremy Irons acted in something without making us look at his penis. It's the last R-rated Die Hard. It was made early enough in the history of CGI that it was cheaper to spin a car on the Taconic Parkway than film Bruce Willis on a tilt-a-whirl in front of a greenscreen.
And it's the closest the franchise gets to the alcoholic, divorced, and overtly miserable John McClane movie I still desperately want to see, DIE HARD: IN A BOTTLE.
I love it. So far, this series has produced some really unexpected answers, and I love opening each e-mail as it comes in to see what each person's written.
Finally today, the great Bill Hader steps up, and he's done a great job on such short notice:
A couple of moments come immediately to mind.
BATMAN (1989). I was 11. I had the T-shirts, a huge poster of the Batmobile, the Prince single -- all before I saw the movie. I was primed. I remember sitting in a packed theater with my dad and the moment the theater went dark my stomach went into knots. "I'm finally going to see this!" The Warner logo comes up with the first strands of Danny Elfman's music and then - BAM we're moving through the Batcave! Titles over one of the best film scores of all time. The sense of excitement and mystery captured simply by music and a camera tracking through dark corridors. Where the hell are we? I was certain we were going to turn a corner and see Batman hopping into his Batmobile. But then, the camera pulls back to reveal we were not in the Batcave, but moving through the bat symbol! Holy shit! The music swells. The theater goes nuts! I started wildly clapping. That's what summer movies are for me.
I will, from time to time, just watch the opening titles to recapture that moment...but it doesn't really work.
ROBOCOP. I'm 9. I remember buying a ticket for some kids movie and sneaking into this one. I was so pumped. None of the other kids had seen it because their parents heard it was too violent. My buddy Jonathan and I would be the first. We get to the part where ED-209 comes in. It looked amazing (STILL looks amazing. Tippett is the man.) ED-209 starts to malfunction, telling this douchebag to "Put down your weapon." I'm thinking "He's going to shot him with lasers like BLACK HOLE or STAR WARS. This guy is dead." Here it comes. Then ED-209 COMPLETELY FUCKING ANNIHILATES THIS GUY. Blood sprays all over the screen as the douchebag is reduced to a steaming pile of blood and guts. Our audience shrieked. It was, without a doubt, the most violent thing my little 9 year-old self had ever seen. I turned to my friend "Can you believe that --" but he was gone. He high-tailed it back to the kids movie. He wasn't ready yet. I only stayed because I had to have something to tell my friends. But I stared at my feet for the rest of the movie.
To answer your question more directly, my favorite summer movie would probably be:
JAWS. I've watched it every 4th of July since I was 13. There's nothing I can say about this movie that hasn't already been said. It is my favorite movie.
Okay, that "Robocop" story rules. Bill, JT, Mark, and Adam... thank you.
And on the off-chance my wife checks the page to see if I've been working, I wrote this weeks and weeks ago. Seriously.
And Happy 7th Anniversary, baby. I love you.
See you guys back here tomorrow with more summer movie memories from another cluster of friends, and I can't wait to see what's in store.
The Morning Read appears here every day, Monday through Friday. Except when it doesn't.
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