August 05, 2010

Woody Allen Plays The English Patient

Elaine Benes:  [quietly]  No. I can't do this any more. I can't. It's too long.

Elaine Benes:  [yells]  Quit telling your stupid story about the stupid desert, and just die already! DIE!

J. Peterman:  [surprised]  Elaine, you don't like the movie?

Elaine Benes:  [shouts]  I hate it!

[the audience shushes Elaine]

Elaine Benes:  [shouts back]  Oh, go to hell!

Seinfeld, "The English Patient"
This morning, I had a Seinfeldian "English Patient" moment.  I was catching up on my stockpile of overnight Twitteramblings, when I ran across this pair of Tweets from the Poker Grump:

Reminds me of Woody Allen's "I am pointing a gub at you."

I can't imagine any of my friends don't know the Woody Allen reference, but just in case:

Ruh roh, Raggy!  I felt after my last couple of Vegas trips, I had broken into the 9th level of Grump friendship—bad poker players who somehow amuse rather than annoy him.  But obviously I am not "Grump-worthy".  Why not?  Because I hate Woody Allen films.

I know, I know, most people and film critics (there is little overlap in the two groups) seem to love-love-love Woody Allen films.  I just don't get what is supposedly so funny about his work.  Most of the time, his movie scenes strike me as Saturday Night Live skits with a bigger budget.  Most of his movies seem like they were funnier in theory than in execution, where the writers and actors roll on the floor laughing at themselves, while the audience gives a wan smile and waits for someone to deliver the humor.  The few scenes that do have some comedic potential are heavy-handedly beaten into the dirt; Exhibit A is the scene referenced by the Grump, which is about twice as long as necessary, killing the humor after a promising start.  Frankly, that scene seems a lot closer on the comedy scale to an SNL Night at the Roxbury sketch than the fart scene from Blazing Saddles

Now, although I enjoy movies and movie quotes, I am absolutely unqualified to be a movie critic.  All I know is what movies I enjoy, because they make me laugh, cry, or escape (or all of the above).  Looking over lists of all-time "great" movies and TV shows, I happen to like most of the ones that generally get listed.  Many of the listed shows I truly love, while some get a meh response, where I won't turn the channel if they're on, but I won't go out of my way to record them either. 

For some reason, though, I seem to be out of sync with most folks on at least a few widely-loved movies and TV shows.  It's not just the wooden Woody Allen oeuvre.  Forrest Gump makes me want to tear the little remaining hair from my skull.  It's a Wonderful Life, wasn't.  Everybody Loves Raymond, except me.  Two and a Half Men, That 70s Show, and Married ... with Children; grating, mind-numbing, and soul-sucking (mix and match at your leisure).  Oh, and Elaine was totally right about The English Patient.  When faced with casual chatter about this pop cultural dreck, a paraphrase of the old Sam Kinison joke leaps to mind:  I don't condone censorship, but I understand it.

So, faithful readers?  What popular and/or critically acclaimed movies and TV shows make you want to gouge out your eyeballs with a vuvuzela?  Share your entertainment hell lineup in the comments!

Here's the infamous Seinfeld "The English Patient" scene; preach it, Elaine!


  1. You'll be relieved to know that friendship does not require loving or even liking Woody Allen. But there's just a general lack of cultural awareness if you don't know, e.g., about the Orgasmatron, or playing the cello in a marching band, or the transformational abilities of Zelig, or refusing to do his homework because the universe is expanding.

    I think he has made two great films (Annie Hall and Deconstructing Harry), and a handful of others of which I am quite fond (Bullets Over Broadway, Everybody Says I Love You, Take the Money and Run, Hannah and Her Sisters). Nearly all the others I can take or leave, and would have a hard time even remember the basic plots.

  2. I'm totally with you on the Woody Allen thing. The only movie of his that I even remember enjoying a little bit was Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) and that was only because I saw it when I was a pubescent teen male and there were boobs in it.

    The one movie everyone seems to love that I cannot stand is The Goonies. It's the same thing for the whole movie and those stupid kids do nothing but scream from beginning to end. Every time I'm forced to watch part of it I keep hoping one of the near tragedies they encounter will finally befall them, but they always squeak by and I'm disappointed again.

  3. @ JT88Keys: Goonies. Good call about a miserable movie. If, in fact, it is a movie.

  4. I know this may get me a perma-ban from your comments section Grange but for me it is Holy Grail. I recognize the movie has some intelligently written gags but at best they give me a wry smile. On a whole I just don't think most of it is funny. What is the point of grown men pretending to ride horses? How is that funny? Meh.

    I can't believe you haven't blocked out a huge block of time and watched The Wire. Best piece of fiction from last decade IMO, be it tv/movie/book whatever. Also pretty accurate in terms of criminal procedure for a tv show.