That Was A Surprise …

Tucker and Dale vs Evil (mild spoilers).

When I first saw previews of Tucker and Dale, I thought it would be yet another parody movie – like the Scary Movie franchise or Disaster Movie – which, for me, have become a sort of one-trick pony. They often aren’t my kind of humour, and so I didn’t really want to watch Tucker and Dale. But my young son said that I would like it … and who am I to argue with that? So I watched it.

And I loved it.

At every turn, the audience can see – without having it explained to death – what each group of people is experiencing; the movie manages to play on stereotypes without actually creating any (with the possible exception of the bad-guy reveal, because bad-guy reveals are pretty much all the same). It shows a burgeoning romance without needing everyone to take their clothes off twenty minutes after meeting one another (sorry if that’s what you were looking for). It shows how appearances can be deceiving – as well as crime scene evidence. And it shows a friendship between Tucker and Dale that isn’t just about drinking beer – in fact, the conversations between Tucker and Dale, and Tucker’s attitude toward the vacation home he’s just bought, might make the audience wonder if they’ve been approaching life and friendships all wrong.

Is Tucker and Dale a good choice for Christmas viewing? I suppose that depends on your tastes at the holidays … but I would say it is. You’ll laugh, you’ll think about preconceived notions, you’ll hope for the chance at love, and you’ll re-examine the things you wanted for your own life – a perfect Christmas lesson, I think. And – spoiler alert – no animals are harmed in the making of this film.

So I’m saying Tucker and Dale vs Evil is ideal for Christmas, and for any other day you’d like to feel good about things for a couple of hours. Happy viewing!

 

The Third Annual Pinhead Christmas Blog*

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the land
All the people were focused on supply and demand.
They filled up their stockings – and even whole rooms –
With baubles and garments and toys and perfumes.

All the grown-ups were sleeping, all snug in their beds,
While visions of avarice danced in their heads.
And all of the children, no matter how small,
Had been told to buy/get/hoard/possess/have it all.

Then behind every wall a bright light did appear,
And the people gaped wide-eyed and trembled with fear.
A great wooden pillar sprang up in the square
And toppled the town’s Christmas tree standing there.

The pillar was covered, its surfaces crammed
With the skin of the wicked, the flesh of the damned.
The moon shining down on this horrible sight
Revealed in the shadows eight dread Cenobites.

Their leader, his face and head studded with pins,
Looked over the town and saw everyone’s sins.
He grabbed all the townsfolk with hooks and with chains,
And scoffed at their evils, and called them by name:

“Gluttony, vanity, lust and sloth!
Plenty of envy! Buckets of wrath!
But chiefly among you the worst that I see
Is the massive, insidious bulk of your greed!

“You buy and collect and obtain, yet ignore
All the loved ones you said you were doing it for!
But all that your Black Friday antics have done
Is bring the wrong Toymaker’s ‘elves’ to your town!”

“We’re sorry!” the townspeople cried. “Yes we are!
We just followed examples from near and from far!
We thought we were good! We just didn’t know!”
“You lie!” Pinhead bellowed. “You reap what you sow!

“You wanted it all, and you wanted it now.
You thought you’d avoid repercussions somehow.
But your children are learning; they see well enough
That fulfilling desires is what you call ‘love’.

“They’re drowning in presents; they’re smothered with clothes.
They think they’re in danger if nobody knows
How much money they have, how much stuff they possess,
How important they are, how much others are less.

“They’re imprisoned by things that are shiny and new,
And you’ve shown them exactly what matters to you.
Thus you’ve paid for the box, and the shipping was free;
Now I’ll know your flesh for all eternity!”

The townspeople panicked and cried out for help.
Pinhead laughed when he saw them, in spite of himself.
A wink of his eye, and a twist of his head,
Soon filled every soul with a cold, gripping dread.

But at the last minute, a child appeared,
And walked up to Pinhead without any fear.
“Thanks for responding so quickly,” she said.
“To the wish that I wished when I climbed into bed:

“That the grown-ups would stop buying love in the store
And maybe just try spending time with us more.
I think they all got it; they all saw the light.
They learned the real spirit of Christmas tonight.”

Pinhead, quite doubtful, said, “It’s up to you;
I only came here since you wanted me to.
If you think they deserve one more chance to do well,
Then I and my pillar will go back to hell.”

“I do,” the girl told him. “But thanks all the same.
It made quite a difference; I’m happy you came.”
So Pinhead retracted the chains and the hooks,
And the Cenobites all jumped back into the box.

And the townspeople, saved by one kind little girl,
Were grateful to be still alive in the world.
But they heard Pinhead warn, as he faded from view:
“Open your hearts … or I’ll do it for you!”

 

* A parody of ‘Twas the Night before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

~Previous Pinhead Christmases:

Hellraiser Inferno         Pinhead Countdown Part One         Pinhead Countdown Part Two   Pinhead Countdown Part Three        Pinhead Countdown Part Four       Pinhead Countdown Part Five      Pinhead Countdown Part Six

 

 

 

The Thing I Like About …

Muppet Christmas Carol: the way the spirit of Christmas Present grows old in a day.

In Muppet Christmas Carol – just like all the other Christmas Carols – three spirits visit Scrooge, and try to show him the error of his ways. The spirit of Christmas Past is a little girl, and the spirit of Christmas Future is a grim reaper. The spirit of Christmas Present is at first a young man, but after spending a few hours with Scrooge and showing him how Christmas is going in other parts of the town, the spirit of Christmas Present has grown quite elderly, and ultimately fades away into oblivion as the clock strikes twelve.

He only lives one day.

While all three spirits have something to teach Scrooge, Christmas Present has the most to teach all of us. He only lives today, because today is all that we have. Now is all that we have. There is no future, because when we get there, it’ll just be now. There is no past, because it’s … well, because it’s past. There’s only now, today, this moment, and when it’s gone, it’s gone – just like the spirit of Christmas Present.

Christmas Present lives for today. And while watching the Spirit age and vanish, Scrooge realizes that he needs to live for today too. When the Spirit of Christmas Future comes to show him his third lesson, all Scrooge is worried about is that it not be too late to start living for today. He wakes up with a changed heart, and realizes that it’s still today – it’s still Christmas, and the Spirits showed him hours of lessons in, basically, a moment. He does start living for today, and helping people today, and sharing and caring and loving today.

Because it’s always today. That’s where our lives are, where our love is, where our kindness is, where everything that happens, happens. It’s where we make our mistakes, and where we correct them; it’s where we laugh and cry and sleep and dance and hug and eat and everything else. It’s where we’re young, and where we’re old.

We only live today.

Bit O’Blog

Crying

My father had what could be described as a rough childhood – if you’re incredibly understating what could arguably be one of the worst childhoods imaginable. He doesn’t really talk about it, but what little he has mentioned is truly horrifying to me; I don’t even want to imagine what he’s leaving out.

He is currently a good man with a big heart, who has nothing but love for his children and his grandchildren. He is a testament to the fact that we are not proscribed by our history, and that our circumstances do not define us.

He has taught me a great deal: how to drive, how to swear at something until it works, how to treat animals and other defenseless creatures (like really, really deserving royalty in the service of whom you and I have all been created), how to be patient with the truly stupid and how to be impatient with those who just aren’t paying attention. He taught me how to feel about money – I don’t know if he even ever had any money in his wallet (my mom handled the budget, I believe), but he had a six-foot accordion in there of pictures of all of his kids, including the dog. He taught me that “Can’t died in a ditch,” that “All you have to do is die,” and that I shouldn’t depend on someone else to take care of me – I should get an education and a job and know how to take care of myself. He taught me that kids need to eat – in part because of his own beginning, my father would probably be ecstatic to see children everywhere being rolled around by Oompa-Loompas because they have had SO MUCH TO EAT that they are now PERFECTLY ROUND. He taught me that everyone has equal value … unless you have hurt someone he loves, in which case you are now worth less than worm-excrement.

My father taught me that you should put your energy behind your strengths instead of wasting your time and everyone else’s by struggling to be something you’re not. He (and my mom) also taught me that I could be anything I wanted. And, even though I spent more time with my stay-at-home mom (and learned a great deal from her too), I am more like my father in temperament – except in one important thing, the one thing he couldn’t teach me anything about at all.

I cry.

My father was not allowed to cry. He could not afford to cry. I don’t even know if he knows how to cry. I have seen him standing over the sink drinking right from the Maalox bottle because his stomach hurt so bad, but I have never seen his eyes so much as glisten. For reasons that are, sadly, not about the stereotypical macho-man stuff, my father does. not. cry.

So I do.

I cry at movies. I cry at TV shows. I cry at commercials. I cry at things that were supposed to be funny, but I was overcome with the awesome metaphor or something, so I tear up. I cry when I see how cute my kids are. I cry when I see they’re not kids anymore. I cry at weddings. I cry at baptisms. I cry at graduation ceremonies. I cry for myself. I cry for others. I cry when I’m happy. I cry when I’m sad. When I’m angry. When I’m scared. When other people are hurt. When I have a good dream or a bad dream. When I have my friend Candice’s French Silk pie (it’s really that good). Sometimes I just cry for no particularly good reason.

My character is not a maudlin one; in fact, sometimes I feel a little heartless because others seem so much more affected by something than I am inclined to be. I tend to see life as a game; I am fairly cool in a crisis, and I laugh at almost every single thing – even bad stuff. Bad stuff needs the most laughter, so that it can be not-bad again.

Did I mention I cry when I’m laughing? Especially if it’s really, really funny.

I cry for the childhood my dad should have had and the scars he shouldn’t have. I gladly take his place in all the things he might otherwise have cried about, and I cry my little heart out on his behalf. I cry because he won’t. I cry because he can’t. I cry for my dad the way you might fill in for a co-worker who called in sick.

I cry for my dad, and I’m happy to do it.

The Thing I Like About …

Groundhog Day: the part where he keeps trying to save the guy who dies.

Phil is a reporter sent to cover the groundhog seeing his shadow on Groundhog’s Day.  For some reason, he enters a time loop and relives the same day over again .. and over and over and over again.  He starts trying to make small changes – to himself, of course, but also to the old man who dies in the gutter at the end of that day.

He tries to save him every day.  He tries CPR.  He tries encountering him earlier in the day, getting him a hot meal and some warm clothes.  He tries everything he knows how to do, but no matter what, the old man dies at the end of the day.

For me, this is the turning point for Phil, more so even than the meaningful connections he makes that eventually break the time loop.  He has to accept that he cares – something he had not been able to do before – and he has to accept that, no matter what he does or how hard he tries, he can’t control everything.  Not even an important thing.  The most important thing in this world – whether we’re dead or alive – is actually entirely and completely beyond Phil’s ability to change by even a moment.

In the film, Phil has to grieve for the old man; he has to come to terms with his “failure” to save him.  But actually, he learned the one thing that was stymying him when he arrived in Punxsutawney, and the thing that tends to stymie all of us:  whether the old man lives or dies is irrelevant.  It’s not the saving of the old man that Phil was being asked to do.  He was being asked to care.  He was being asked to involve himself with another human being, and to help make that person’s life as happy as possible while he’s on this planet.  Maybe the old man died anyway, but Phil had turned what could have been a sad ending in a cold gutter into an evening with a new friend, a full tummy and a warm bed.  Basically, Phil didn’t fail at all.

We all die.  What matters isn’t that we die, but what we do before we die.  Who have we fed?  Who have we clothed?  Who have we befriended?  Who have we loved?  Did we make the people in the world happier with our actions, or not?  Who did we hold, and who’s holding us?  Phil needed to learn to see the world from this perspective, and so do we, I think … but unlike Phil, we only have the one chance at it.  Let’s not mess it up.