Friends With Benefits (2011) -vs- No Strings Attached (2011)

July 21, 2011 Jackie Zabel

Apparently in 2011, film couples are taking the Nike slogan literally. They would rather “just do it” than have to suffer the emotional consequences of a real relationship. Or at least so goes the premise of two separate movies released this year — Friends with Benefits and No Strings Attached.

Both movies are about casual sex, and there’s lots of it onscreen. The challenge is to make it funny, which they do, with mixed results, by talking about body parts and functions in graphic detail. Some of these scenes are even educational. Women will learn even more about the male perils of having to pee with a hard-on than they did from Steve Carell’s bravura bathroom struggle in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Quite the visual here. Who says Americans are puritanical? […]

Without Limits (1998) -vs- Prefontaine (1997)

July 14, 2007 Bryce Zabel

To this day when the major track running events are held, it’s a safe bet that plenty of people remember the gutsy runner who pretty much owned distance running back in the day, Steve Prefontaine. In the late 90s, Hollywood bizarrely made two films back-to-back about the legendary distance runner, and you may be tempted to go rent one of them to see for yourself what the fuss was all about.

About a decade after that box-office match-up, my wife and I had a Hallmark Channel film shooting out here in Los Angeles, Chasing a Dream, about a high-school athlete who decides to go for a sub-four minute mile. During the time we were polishing up our screenplay’s last draft before production, we looked for a little inspiration and watched both Prefontaine and Without Limits within a couple of days of each other. It was like a film school assignment to see what different production teams and actors could do with essentially the same source material. But there was another element here, for me, that put even this challenge through a separate creative filter.

Steve Prefontaine wasn’t actually a legend to me, you see, because I was there when he was breaking all these incredible records. […]