Her (2013) vs. Lost in Translation (2003)

December 20, 2013 Arthur Tiersky

We here at Smackdown have a soft spot in our hearts for movies about lonely, alienated mopes. This may or may not have something to do with some of us here in Smackland being lonely, alienated mopes, but in any case, we’re all about the Mopelecore movies, and when they’re about how the mopes learn to get out of their mopey shells and embrace the wonders of the world around them, even more so. And when they are brought out of their shells by the likes of Scarlett Johansson? Catnip. Heck, when it’s Scarlett, it doesn’t even have to be a mope, necessarily, it could be some shallow, womanizing, porn-addicted guido for all we care. What we’re getting at here: Consider us Team ScarJo.

But back to the mopes and this week’s Smackdown, in which two Mope-Meets-Jo tales will try to out-sulk each other, and as a special ultra-Smackdown bonus, the writer-directors of each are ex-spouses. Exes fighting each other! Little thing we like to call Ex-Box. (Eh? Eh?)

Anyway… Mopes to your corners! Let’s do this. […]

The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash (1978) vs. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

November 5, 2012 Shelly Goldstein

Beatlemania didn’t just consume Baby Boomers; it defined them. When the band broke up in 1970, their split caused a seismic generational depression as powerful as the surge of joy that began the night of Sunday, February 9, 1964 on the Ed Sullivan Show. So, it was no surprise that the Beatles’ already legendary status proved to be fertile soil for comic parody, inspiring a classic docu… excuse me, mockumentary, built around the greatest Fab Faux band that never was: the Rutles. In turn, The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash, opened the door for yet another fake documentary set in the music world: This Is Spinal Tap, the first feature directed by Rob Reiner.

The Rutles clearly took aim at the Beatles, whereas Spinal Tap focused on a band of mindless metal-head morons. Neither film was what you would call a hit when it premiered. One ran as a network TV special, finishing last in the week’s ratings, and the other was a theatrical comedy that most people didn’t realize was a joke. Yet both today are considered classics of their time, because they were able to capture the massive cultural energy surrounding the British Invasion of the ’60s, lovingly embrace it, and then turn it ever so slightly onto its ear. […]

Will Ferrell -vs- Bill Murray

May 21, 2011 Bryce Zabel

Will Ferrell got booed.

Yes, you got that right. Will Ferrell, a beloved SNL comic and feature funny man, was booed by a couple of guys in the crowd I was in to see Ferrell’s new Everything Must Go. I can only assume that they saw the trailers which had been cut to make it look like a comedy, and they figured, hey, we love our man Will, so they let’s check it out.

I wondered as they left the theater just how far into the film they got before they realized it was not meant to be funny but was a tough story about substance abuse and how it can take away everything you thought you had or thought you wanted. These guys felt duped they did not get the Will Ferrell that they had paid to see.

They probably also didn’t love Bill Murray in Lost in Translation.

Most comedic actors secretly want to play serious roles. Despite what a great gift it is to be able to make people laugh, and despite how much we all need to laugh in this day and age, often times the people most talented at this want desperately to show you their “other side.” Sometimes we are very, very glad they did. Sometimes, not so much.
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