Top 5 Movies I Must Watch on TV No Matter What
By Bret Dorman
(As always, possible Spoilers! for the movies below)This past week I was trying to describe to someone my weird and unnatural love of Tennis. Tennis comes on the TV and I can’t help but watch. I don’t follow it devoutly during the year or try to go too much out of my way to find out what’s going on with who, but when they start hitting that yellow ball back and forth I become transfixed. I can’t help it. I love it.
I was reminded of the bizarre hunting habits of the stoat (a British ferret). Stoats love hunting and killing rabbits. But as we all know rabbits are very shy and easily scared. So how can the stoat get close enough to attack? It jumps in the air twisting it body and flailing about. Doing so, the rabbit watches stunned and confused. Hypnotized. Then Blam-O! Dead rabbit for dinner:
This had me thinking if there were any movies that had the same effect. But since you need to pop a DVD in or select a movie on demand, its a bit harder. Not having television anymore (a TV yes, but cable no), it took me a while to remember those days of my youth when I would be flipping through the guide or channels and come to a movie and no matter what, beginning, middle, or end I would select and sit back to enjoy. Even if I had to leave mid movie I didn’t care. Certain movies I would watch no matter what.
Lastly I should mention as a film viewing snob of sorts I never watch a movie on TV unless I’ve seen the real version first. Whether it’s on DVD or in the theater or whatever… editing for time and content is something I don’t really mind (usually), given that I have the real film somewhere in my memory to insert into those cut out chunks.
Here are the five movies that I watch on TV no matter what:
5) Billy Madison/Happy Gilmore
Like John Woo’s Hard Boiled/The Killer, I have a hard time sometimes remembering which bits are from which movie. Happy Gilmore/Billy Madison will always be in my mind (and heart) tangled as two perfectly integrated movies, like Siamese twins. What’s even more incredible is how much free range Sandler and crew had on these films. I can not imagine a producer reading these scripts and giving them the greenlight (perhaps the same producers who greenlit the Cranks?), then were happy or amused with the results. Sandler has since become a running joke of being in bad movie after bad movie, but these two forever make up for whatever he’s done since. Besides, this kind of comedy is a young man’s game. We’ve got movies like the criminally underseen The Brothers Solomon (or Hotrod) to carry that good-goofy torch.
What makes these movies so hypnotic is Sandler’s devoted wackiness. The movie works as a narrative, but every scene is filled with absurdity. The character has a clear goal and arch, but he never loses his child-ish charm. Besides, there are plenty of cameos and tangents to make these perfect for the interspersed commercial format. Each segment surely has its own gem to get you laughing.
(side note: the TV version cuts out right after he throws the shampoo and conditioner in the tub. Casual TV viewers of the movie miss out on the classic “Stop staring at me swan!” line. Why this premature edit? Can’t be time or content… It’s a ten second clip with no nudity or swearing. Hence why I don’t watch movies on TV until I’ve seen the REAL version. Who knows what you’re missing out on…)
4) Liar Liar
Early Jim Carrey movies were filled with such energy that you could hook a DVD up and power a small city for a day. Like Sandler, he eventually moved into the more ‘normal’ realm of comedy. Liar Liar marks the perfect synergy. Beating himself up in the bathroom paired with his touching moments of trying to bond with his son make this both gut bustingly funny and heartwarmingly nice.
What makes this so hypnotic is Carrey’s precise control over every individual muscle in his body. Me, Myself, and Irene also highlights his solo fights but here he also has to contend with ‘The Claw,’ an airport runway, and a pen.
3) Office Space
Not only does Office Space hypnotize me personally, its main character experiences an epiphany while being hypnotized. I always wondered if Office Space would be funnier as I got older and had to deal with the bullshit of having a real job, but ultimately I think this movie sets everything up perfectly enough regardless. I saw it on DVD due to friends constantly quoting it and the humor immediately clicked. Movies like this are what led me to the brilliantly insane red tape beauracracy satires like Brazil.
What makes this movie so hypnotic is the somber cadence with which people speak (especially Lumbergh). The reason why people hate the rat race of every day life is because of how monotonous it is, yet Office Space thrives in bringing out the super monotony and choosing a path around it. Plenty of silly characters make this movie memorable but Ron Livingston’s laid back personality is what glues my butt to the couch and eyes to the screen.
2) Blue Streak
Yes, I saw and enjoyed Blue Streak, the Martin Lawrence movie about a diamond heist that turns into a diamond heist and spans many many years. I’m not ashamed to admit I liked the movie, but how many times I have seen it. While nothing else was on, I have seen this movie in its entirety or partially over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. And I’m not even a Martin Lawrence fan. At all.
What makes this so hypnotic is its blinding speed and dazzling confidence. It’s one of the rare examples of a ‘mistaken identity’ type movies done right. Why? Because it is also a heist movie. So just ‘getting caught’ is already the danger and they heighten it to its most by throwing the main character into the heart of a police station.
1) Saving Silverman
Not only is Saving Silverman a fantastic little gem of a comedy, it is without a doubt, quantity wise, the movie I have seen the most on TV. Jason Biggs plays a perfect hapless everyman just looking for love. Amanda Peet is strikingly beautiful as the manipulating and bitchy girlfriend. Amanda Detmer is adorable as Biggs’ true love-crush. Steve Zahn and Jack Black are hilarious both together and separately. And R. Lee Ermy delivers his greatest performance (second only to Full Metal Jacket, obviously). It’s silly and stupid and sweet all rolled into one.
What makes it so hypnotic…? I don’t know. The first time I saw the movie (in theaters I believe) I remember liking it, but having seen it so many freaking times on TV I have grown to absolutely love it. It hits its overall plot point and themes well and nails the small touches. Every person is perfect in their role. You root for everyone (even Judith in a weird way) and in the end everyone does get what they deserve… each other!!!
Yes. My movies all fall within a 6 time year span (95-01) but that puts my age range at 10-16. Right when I didn’t have a job or any real responsibilities. And yes my movies are all comedies that could mostly be found on Comedy Central. What can I say? I don’t watch TV as much anymore (even if/when I had cable), so my list is very dated and subjective. What movie do you find yourself unable to change the channel on?