You know, I just came down to the realization that people who make a funny face, rather than just smiling when having their picture taken are doing that because they're very insecure about how they look. It's like, they're afraid of looking like shit, so they preemptive strike that motherfucker by sticking out their tongues or bugging out their eyes or opening their mouth wide or whatever they fuckin' do when posing with a friend in front of a national monument or something.
I bet you if I had a picture taken of myself ten years ago (I don't like having my picture taken) and held it up next to my reflection in the mirror today, the photo version of me would look better, simply because I was not as shitty-looking back then, compared to now. But I'd gotten so used to waking up with an ugly face/Winston Churchill in drag that I never considered that age was making my non-hotness even worse. At least in my youth I had the benefit of looking fresher. I was too stupid to know that the pitfalls of aging affects both the ugly and good-looking.
On a completely related topic, I watched Outrageous Fortune as part of what was intended to be my Written By Leslie Dixon double-feature (Overboard is the second half of the bill, but more on that later). This was a movie that came out back in 1987 and starred Shelley Long and Bette Midler. It was directed by Arthur Hiller, a Canadian motherfucker who probably misses the 70's. Seriously man, this guy was fuckin' ON from 1970 to 1979: The Out-of-Towners (the original, not that Steve Martin bullshit), Love Story, The Hospital, Silver Streak, The In-Laws (the original, not that Michael Douglas bullshit). But if you flash-forward to now, you'll find that the last movie he directed was National Lampoon's Pucked; the title alone threatens to throw me into a mild depression. What the fuck happened, Arthur Hiller? Your ass used to be beautiful.
But hey, I'm gonna take a page from Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story and not concentrate on how the man died, but on how the man lived. I'm talking about his career, not his life; I'm sure Mr. Hiller is still alive and you know what? Maybe I shouldn't judge his most recent works without having seen them, because for all I know, when he read the script to National Lampoon's Pucked maybe he was all like "Not since Paddy Chayefsky have I read such words..."
So when the movie started, I noticed that the credits were in French and that the on-screen title was Une Chance Pas Croyable and for a second I thought maybe I was wrong and that there was a mix-up at Netflix. Maybe I got this French film by accident because Outrageous Fortune was not an original screenplay by Leslie Dixon, but in fact, a remake of some Francis Veber shit (hence the mix-up) because back in the 80's, it felt like half of the films that came out of Touchstone Pictures were remakes of Francis Veber joints. Really man, they should've just named that company Francis Veber Remakes.
Except I was wrong -- Outrageous Fortune is not a remake, it is indeed an original screenplay. What happened was that the DVD included alternate French credits if you choose to listen to the French dub of the movie, and somehow I activated that shit. For a moment, I considered watching the movie in French because the quality of the print and the music and even the fuckin' font did have a France-circa-the-late-80's vibe to them and I thought maybe it would play better that way, and plus I need to keep that shit in practice. But in the end, I decided against it; better to watch the original intended vision of the director, this man who evenutally directed National Lampoon's Pucked.
The opening credit sequence is really swell because it consists of a Patti LaBelle song playing over shots of anonymous women's hands, feet, torsos, and lips decked out in horrible/wonderful 80's style. The skirts, blouses, sweaters, earrings, bracelets, lipstick, shoes and belts -- holy shit, the fucking belts! -- all reminded me of my early childhood, not because I was some crossdresser back then (well, there's that too), but because during that time I grew up with my sister and my cousin -- two teenage girls who were all about looking cool, so living with them was like living with a nostalgic movie set in the 80's that still hadn't been made yet because it was still the 80's. Some movies, you're not quite sure what time period it was shot in, but not this fuckin' movie -- there is no doubt during the opening credits when this shit was made.
So then we're introduced to our primary character played by Shelley Long. This chick, she used to be on Cheers, right? And I guess there are two different stories as to why she left, one being that she left that show to pull a David Caruso, and the other story being that the rest of the cast couldn't stand her and she left once her contract was fulfilled because really, man, fuck those guys.
I'm sure the truth can be found somewhere between both of those stories, but as much as I like these guys -- Ted Danson, George Wendt, Danny DeVito's wife, Cliff Clavin, the guy from Frasier who was married to a chick with IBS, and last but not least, my main man, the fuckin' pot-smokin' master himself, Woody Fuckin' Harrelson -- as much as I like them, I think I'm on Team Long. Because I'm thinking that what probably happened was that they were probably being really fuckin' cliquey and for whatever reason, poor Shelley Long wasn't invited to join in their reindeer games. Either that or she's a monster cunt to work with, I'm not sure.
If it's the latter, then she's a great fuckin' actress because she's really likable here and even kind of adorable on occasion. Even when she gets overzealous in her theatrical fencing class, I wasn't hating on her for not pulling her punches (or thrusts, in this case), she's just really eager to be great at what she does. Well, maybe "what she does" is the wrong way to put it, because it's really more like "what she's trying to do" and what she's trying to do is get jobs as an actress, which she isn't doing. In the meantime, she's getting by with a job working at some costume store.
Perhaps a part of why I liked her character so much was that I kinda saw myself in this lady, particularly when she goes to visit her parents to beg them for money so she can throw it away on expensive acting classes with some world-renowned Russian thespian giant. Having had similar experiences with my own parents, I can relate to the empty gesture of promising to pay back a debt. I can also relate because much like Shelley Long's character, I am also a tall pretty blonde woman.
Hey, get this: she has to audition to get into the fuckin' class, just so she can have the privilege of paying $5,000 to listen some Russkie asshole go on about the difference between a Texas diphthong and a Georgia diphthong. Thankfully, I didn't have to deal with that kind of shit in the acting classes I took. Oh yeah, you didn't know? It was something I forced myself to do, in a weird self-therapy kind-of-way, to snap out of the depression I fell into about three years ago. I took acting classes and I started a blog, because I hated the idea of doing either one but at least it didn't involve having to talk to friends or loved ones and letting them know just how deep a world of shit I was living in at the time. Funny how that works.
There's one particular moment in the acting class that I really dug, where this one student is making these weird noises in an overly theatrical way (he was asked to emote without using words), and that reminded me of this one student in one of my acting classes. He approached every exercise and scene we had in this class like he was Mr. Method (I was more of a Given Circumstances guy). So this guy, he reminded me a little bit of that Brian Atene dude who was auditioning for Kubrick, never knowing that 20 years later that shit would pop up on YouTube. I'm not clowning on the dude (or Brian Atene, for that matter), I'm just saying it was amusing to watch -- and apparently my acting teacher thought the same, because a couple of times he couldn't help but laugh.
Anyway, Shelley Long ends up crossing paths with some broad, and when you need a Broad with a capital B, you cast Bette Midler -- at least in the mid/late 80's, you did. Because this is a Hollywood movie and a good example of the kind of screenplay Syd Field would cream over (particularly when it comes to foreshadowing certain character quirks/traits that will pay off later in the movie), these two ladies do not get along, because of that whole Drama Is Conflict deal. Midler ends up auditioning for the class, on a lark it seems -- but mostly to prove something to Long, who is being way-too-uptight about it. It's implied (to me, anyway) that Midler's character, who doesn't know any classical monologues (nor does she seem to care) probably blew the Russian acting teacher to get in (and on scholarship!), or at least that's how Shelley Long's character sees it, and since I'm kind of on her side, I guess I would see it that way as well.
The title, by the way, might throw some people off. Hiller had already directed a couple movies that featured titles that also served as a description of the genre they were in, like Love Story was a love story and Romantic Comedy was a romantic comedy. So rather than complete his Generic Title trilogy (which he could still do by re-titling any of his most recent works as Shitty Film), he moved on to another kind of title for his movies; he moved on to naming his movies after something the characters wanted. For example, he made a movie called Making Love, which I guess is what the gay dudes in that movie were all about. Then he made this movie, where $20 million figures late into the plot, hence the Outrageous Fortune, right?
Well, maybe, maybe not. Because there's also a couple parts where Long, uh, longs to play the lead in William Shakespeare's Hamlet (as opposed to Jamaa Fanaka's Hamlet), and there's a line in that play that refers to "outrageous fortune" and the only reason I even know that shit is because a couple of years ago, for some reason I started watching some Canadian television series on IFC (or was it the Sundance Channel?) called Slings and Arrows. But just to make sure, I checked IMDB, and yup, it's referring to that whole deal about the bit in Hamlet referring to the horrible fucked up shit that could happen in a motherfucker's life.
She wants to play Hamlet and people try to kill her dream by telling her no way will a woman play that part. What the fuck, man? Why would that be a terrible idea? If anything, it sounds pretty fuckin' cool. They used to have men play the women parts back in the day, so why can't a woman play a guy's role? They need to make more (if any) Shakespeare plays with women playing all the parts, that would be awesome. I'm not going anywhere with this (surprise), other than to say that I think acting in general should only involve women, because who the fuck wants to look at men? Aside from girls and gays, of course.
Anyway, the next day Shelley Long's at her job bitching about that bitch Midler, and along comes Muthafuckin' Peter Coyote strolling in, acting like some Perfect Guy. He's doing the sensitive-guy thing, asking Long if they sell pumpkin costumes because he doesn't want the born-insecure picked-on kid in the class he teaches to get assed out during some upcoming pageant. Well, I guess if you look and act like Muthafuckin' Peter Coyote, you can bed a Shelley Long in under 8 hours, because that's what this guy does. Peter Coyote is as cool as Woody Harrelson, if you get my drift.
So Coyote and Long are doing the lovey-dovey thing, and it seems like every time he picks her up from acting class, they go straight to her apartment to get it on. But sometimes they can't, because Coyote is too busy banging Bette Midler's character, because this typical Man With A Penis is cheating on both of them. And then to make things worse, later on he walks into a flower shop only to get blown to bits.
Midler and Long end up arriving at the morgue to identify the body at the same time, meaning some Jerry Springer shit is about to happen.
I don't get that, by the way, I don't get why these chicks would be at each other's throats. They should be kicking the shit out of the charred cadaver currently decomposing on the slab, giving this two-timing son-of-a-bitch some necro-payback for fucking with their emotions. But instead, they try killing each other at this rather convenient location, because they have such low self-esteem it fucks them up to know that the man in their life was seeing someone else. What could this mean? Am I not attractive to him anymore? She's prettier than me, isn't she? Then they notice that the corpse has a tiny penis (evidently, they based the dead body on me) and soon they realize something's up and it's not the penis -- HIGH FIVE!
You better sit down for what I'm about to tell you, because your reaction will be the prelude to an avalanche of chaos that will ensue and wreck your fucking world once this fuckin' bomb is dropped on your ass. It's gonna be like the last 20 pages/last 20 minutes of The Day of the Locust in this bitch when I get through saying what I'm about to say: these two women who didn't get along...now have to work together to solve this mystery...and maybe, just maybe, they might come out of this situation as the best of friends.
I'm not bagging on the tried and true formula used here, I'm just acknowledging -- argh, I'm just being an asshole, that's what I'm doing. Look, it's a buddy comedy, but it's one of the better ones; when it's not being funny, it's actually pretty involving with the chasing and the shooting and the running and Jesus Christ this shit probably reads likes Professor Frink was dictating it to me.
In addition to delivering a satisfactory suspense/comedy quotient (it also delivers a satisfactory quotient in obvious shitty green-screen/rear-projection work), I think a big part of this film's success is that the two leads are fantastic in it, and as a result, their performances elevated the material, making the movie better than it has any right to be (I guess you can say the same about Hiller's Silver Streak -- not to mention National Lampoon's Pucked). I already told you how much I liked Shelley Long, so let me talk about how much I liked Bette Midler with her mix of ball-buster and sweet-talker (there's a funny moment where she's chewing out some phone company guy one minute, then being all nice to him the next). Aside from any Latina thespian (and Mercedes Ruehl), Bette Midler is the only other actress who can convince you that she wants to shoot a man's dick off. I bet she's done it before, or at least tried to.
I got a kick out of how a bit of Midler's attitude eventually rubs off on Long in a subtle, film's not drawing too much attention to it sort-of-way; later in the film, once it's revealed how big a fuckin' asshole Peter Coyote really is (a deadly vegetation-killing toxin -- and he's selling it for millions!), I had a good feeling that they were just as intent on motherfucking this asshole as they were on saving the entire wheat belt. Shit, in some cases, it felt like giving this guy the business had a higher priority.
There's a scene in this movie where someone rips a mask off his face, revealing the real person under it, because it's that kind of movie. Only the problem here is that you can fuckin' tell who the guy is before he rips that shit off. If anything, the "real" face looks faker than the fake face, probably because the "real" face consists of some obvious wig and beard work. All I could think about was how uncomfortable it must've been for that character to wear such a tight mask over his hairy face. That shit must've been hot and itchy.
By the way, you know who got a lot of work in movies during the 80's -- aside from Francis Veber? Fat women with evil laughs. Yeah man, the money was flowing like the mighty Mississippi if you were overweight, had a take-charge look and an unsettling, knowing, Something Bad Will Probably Happen To You cackle. The warden from Reform School Girls, the nurse who gave Captain Mauser a full-body-cavity search in Police Academy 2, and let's not forget Large Marge from Pee Wee's Big Adventure. Well, one of those large ladies also shows up in Outrageous Fortune, playing the madam of a brothel. Long story short, the scene involves Long and Midler dressing up as men in cowboy clothes, and they certainly made very convincing boys, that's for sure. I don't know if that says more about them or me.
The other actors are pretty good in this too; Robert Prosky plays the Russian asshole, and he's always good. You know, he passed away a while back, and he was 77. I don't mean to sound like a dick, but I always thought he was older, kinda like how I always thought William Hickey was older than he really was. It was also nice to see George Carlin take up a nice chunk of the last third of the movie, playing what I felt was the Richard Pryor-in-Silver Streak role; like Prosky and Hickey, he also appeared older than his age. Shooter McGavin (or as you more discriminating filmgoers might know him as, Tappy Tibbons) shows up to be awesome for a minute. I also recognized the painter from Murphy Brown who later went on to overdose on a combo of heroin and coke. It's like the drug equivalent to when you mix different sodas together in one cup, I think they call it a Suicide -- funny name, that.
Also along for the ride is that Nick Nolte-looking motherfucker who played Dr. Chilton in two of the Hannibal Lecter movies. Here's an actor who usually plays assholes (Deep Rising and 8MM are two more examples of his prime assholery in play) and I wished he brought a bit more of that asshole attitude into his game because here he comes off like the kind of guy who's never
gonna get laid because he's too nice. He's such a fuckin' pushover and he's never gonna get Long & Midler's respect that way. He's always gonna be referred to as “harmless” and being called "harmless" by a woman is just about as bad as being called a dickless piece-of-shit, only in fewer words.
Earlier I mentioned that this was intended to be a double-feature with Overboard because the same chick wrote both films, which were recommended to me by someone who must get a morbid fascination from reading my terrible ramblings. But the schedule wasn't allowing it, so the double-feature is now a two-parter, and the next ramblings I write on this blog will be about the Kurt Russell/Goldie Hawn comedy that isn't Swing Shift.
Outrageous Fortune made about $52 million at the box office in 1987 dollars. Based on my math, after adjusting for inflation, that comes out to about $793 million in 2011 dollars. Talk about an outrageous fortune, am I right? HIGH FIVE! DON'T LEAVE ME HANGING!
Final tally of references to the penis and its variants: 9
3 days ago