It’s time for even more Netflix recommendations. Sit back, relax, and enjoy some of my feel good picks.
Carey, Wayans, and Goldblum
Earth Girls Are Easy comes in from 1989 and boy does the film look it. You cannot get away from the 80s vibe but that’s what makes this movie incredibly charming and an all time favorite of mine. It’s rated PG, don’t even ask me how that happened. I love this film and it talks about female sexual desire far more than many other films will dare along inside the valley girl guise. Shout outs to Julie Brown for her work on this project as a writer, performer, and musician. Julie Brown is a knockout and a funny woman in this vehicle and watching this film really makes me hope that we’ll see more of her work. This number will always be hilarious:
At any rate, this is very much a movie about the female gaze. Those bushy and technicolor aliens crash land into a San Fernando Valley pool, get shaved and emerge as hunks. Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans played up their roles as sex objects with no clue how Los Angeles culture works at all but revel in being adored and lusted after. Jeff Goldblum also gets shirtless and does an amazing job with lines constructed out of what he hears in the consumer culture and from the point of view of Geena Davis’s explanations.
Rather than asking if his crew is getting out of hand, Jeff Goldblum delivers the line, “Are we limp and hard to manage?” with impeccable dead pan earnestness. It is a reminder that our language is defined in many ways by our advertising. Just as Damon Wayans character learns how to dance and sets off a competition with another man for female attention, Jeff Goldblum is learning how to win the affections of Geena Davis based on what he sees and hears. While explaining love, Geena Davis sums her ambivalence in romance as a quest to find “Mr. Right.” When she asks Goldblum, the alien, if he has a girlfriend he sincerely responds, “No Mr. Right girlfriend.” It’s a fascinating gender study to watch him communicate with her using only her language.
Whenever the film can be wacky, it goes for wacky. Angelyne, the strange LA persona heralded by a self-bought billboard and later a gubernatorial campaign, make a cameo as do many other kitschy L.A. spots. The salon where the protagonist works is called, “Curl Up And Dye,” which is a winning name if I ever heard one. This is a fun film to catch if you want some silliness and Jeff Goldblum without a shirt in 1989 who also has a magic “love touch” that induces total pleasure and ecstasy. I love movies that make it clear that the set was a really, really fun place to be.
Ball Of Fire is a great feel-good sex comedy from 1941. Gary Cooper did a tremendous job in this comedy and I never realized what a totally well rounded actor he really was. Barbara Stanwyck plays “Sweet Puss O’Shea” a sultry singer and girlfriend to a mob boss. In this retelling of Snow White, Stanwyck’s gangster world collides with that of dedicated and studios bachelor professor’s who are hard at work composing a comprehensive encyclopedia. There’s a lot of slapstick comedy that goes into bringing these characters together but the movie is supported by a supremely strong ensemble. You might recognize many of those faces from other stellar and academy award winning productions.
This movie had its own share of awards as well. It’s listed as one of the best comedic films of all times and had 4 oscar nominations. The dialog is quick and witty. Gary Cooper explaining the name “Sweet Puss O’Shea” to his colleagues was brilliant. “Her name implies a certain sweetness to her…face.” Another great line delivered by Stanwyck comes when she invites the professors to look into her throat. “It’s as red as the daily worker and just as sore,” she says.
I love Stanwyck’s confidence throughout the film even though the plot goes out of its way to make her a good girl by painting her as naive about her gangster boyfriend’s real work and her hard-boiled exterior as a way to get by in her social circle. Her character rides the line between someone who earnestly enjoys her sexuality that of those around her and someone who willing to manipulate others with sex appeal. The movies paints a picture that her circumstances make the difference.
Another cool thing about this film is the support that the 7 professors have for their colleague when he falls in love. They are happy to see their friend lucky in romance and work hard to support him in every way possible including a wedding night talk about the delicacy of flowers. Nerds and the nerdy at heart will love a showdown scene in which the geeks defeat the gangsters by using their wits and encyclopedic knowledge of their environment.
My Cousin Vinny is another great comedy up right now. Joe Pesci gets pretty pigeon-holed into the gangster role but he really creates a three dimensional character with Vinny. I appreciated this film so much more after I started performing on character. So many people make the assumption that if you dress and talk trashy that you must lack intelligence. Although things work out all right at the end (this is a feel good list) it reminds you of all the contributions we lose that come from unexpected places.
The wardrobe was a big part of this film. The things that Marisa Tomei wears are so bad they’re fantastic. It was fantastic to see how outlandish they could take that costume because they compliment Vinny’s challenge with finding an “appropriate” suit to wear to the courtroom. His black leather suit would no doubt be the pride of Folsom but the movie makes it clear how strange he is in comparison to the people in the town and how bad that is for politics. He flounders when he wear’s the kind of suit that the judge wants him to wear and has the most success when circumstances force him into garb that reminds us how ridiculous the notion of a suit ever was in the first place.
Through all of its slapstick and outrageous moments, it’s a story about being who you are. It’s a very fun movie to watch until the bitter sinking realization that in the real world innocent people go to jail all the time for looking “wrong” even in the presence of credible evidence and data to the contrary. Strive to take in the good moments while you can.
I also recommend this film for anyone getting through a quarter life crisis over the fact that in a recession a college degree means absolutely shit and your future is entirely uncertain and held captive by a sea of hostility. It feels good to have a movie where the hero acknowledges failing the bar exam 6 times before finally passing and starting a practice in law. If you’re bitter about educational assessments, open a beer, toast to Vinny, and yell “fuck” along with him. It’s nice to have a hero who articulates some actual bitterness behind the functions of justice.