Monday Morning Critic – 8.24

On tap this week:
— The differences in British and American comedy
— Are we the princes of the universe?
And slightly much more!

One of the cool things about playing soccer in my adulthood has been that I’ve gotten to meet so many people from different backgrounds along the way. And some of the funnier things I’ve heard or said have come from these associations. And since I don’t have any long form thoughts on film for the week, this will have to suffice.

A couple of the guys on my men’s league are originally from Britain. Great guys, obviously, and a funny thing occurred to me and my buddy Rich (one of the Brits) as we were getting ready to go to the pub. It was his 40th and a bunch of us gathered at his place to put down a beer or two before we went out. I brought a six pack of Newcastle for the occasion. When in London, right?

Rich was walking BBC America when I got there and he had on some talk show. I don’t remember the name, but it was a generic talk show like the one David Frost had in the ‘70s. The guy had a number of British and American celebrities on and one of them happened to be Eddie Izzard. He does an American so well on a number of shows, and in a number of flicks, that I didn’t think he was British. It was the same with Christian Bale, too, as his Welsh accent was so out of whack because he never uses it as an actor. Heck, he spent the entire Batman Begins press conference using an American accent because he didn’t want fans of the franchise to think of an American icon as not being from the U.S. I thought he was Canadian and nearly lost $20 to Travis Leamons at 1am once.

Izzard was talking about what it was like to shoot Valkyrie with Tom Cruise, as his appearance was coinciding with the release of the DVD, and the host (who was a bit of a tool) asked about Izzard’s trademarked cross-dressing. And it led to an interesting discovery as the conversation branched into this subject by the group of us assembled. I half-drunkenly pointed this out and everyone else just kind of agreed in one of those weird meta-moments that make up my life. I traditionally refer to them as the “rampant acts of stupidity layered over random shenanigans that comprise my life.”

But the insight gained was worth the hangover the next day. And it’s something I want to explore a bit because comedy in different countries varies so wildly that even two countries that have a lot in common can vary wildly in its perception of it. To wit, the following rule seems to apply:

“When an American guy wears a dress, odds are something’s seriously wrong with him. When a British guy wears a dress, odds are it’s going to be [redacted] hilarious.”

There’s no other way to describe it. We look at RuPaul as a freak because it dresses up like a woman, or used to be a man and became a woman or something like that. We view men in dresses, in American society at least, as a sign of mental instability (or something along those lines). It’s not normal and not acceptable of our celebrities/comedians. But the Monty Python gang comes out in dresses and it’s like “hey, this is probably gonna be hilarious.”

Watch Flying Circus and when they come out in drag it gets funnier. There’s no logical explanation for it, of course, but it somehow is. That’s one of the things why people didn’t accept White Chicks as plausible or entertaining, en masse. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and there’s no rational way of figuring out why this is so.

America and Britain have a bit of a special relationship, that’s for sure. We’re so similar that it’s kind of odd, in a way. We have Angelina Jolie, they have Lucy Pinder. We have the Yankees, they have Manchester United. Tito Ortiz is our version of Michael Bisping. Heck, we remake their mini-series into movies repeatedly. Hell, we’ve practically dug Jane Austen out of her grave and had intercourse with the body. And the Brits are known for their necrophilia. But the one massive area where we differ (besides on the use of dental hygiene) is in cross-dressing I think.

Listen to me now and believe me later.

Audiences would go “what the heck” if Dane Cook or Chris Rock decided to do their stand up routines in a sun dress. It’d be a HUGE story, and not in a good way. That’d be a career killer, potentially. John Cleese puts a dress on and it is high comedy. There’s no rhyme or reason for it but it’s just one of those things in life I suppose.

But then again, thoughts like these make me realize why I didn’t get into the good colleges.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s Film – Highlander


Ricky Bobby: Wow. I feel like I’m Highlander!
Jean Girard: [Jean chuckles, confused] What is the Highlander?
Ricky Bobby: It’s a movie. It won the Academy Award.
Jean Girard: Oh for what?
Ricky Bobby: Best movie ever made.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Ahhh . . . Highlander. A modest hit of a movie that spawned an avalanche of cheap sequels, a cult television series and catchphrase immortality (“There can be only one.”) So, having picked it up to fill out a 5 for $20 deal at Blockbuster I feel obliged that I ought to watch it sometime. Hence the reason for this portion of the column; if anything it gives me a reason to clean off the DVD shelf marked “[Stuff] that needs watching.”

Connor McCleod (Christopher Lambert) was a Scottish highlander in 1518, a warrior defending his country, when something miraculous happens. Killed in battle, apparently, he awakens afterwards to find that death is apparently a minor injury for him. Living amongst humanity ever since, he’s among a group of immortals bound to wander the Earth until “their can be only one.”

And if the 80s spawned plenty of awesome action films, it also spawned plenty of awful ones too. And this is one of the latter. Everything awful about 80s action films is encapsulated in several films: Action Jackson, anything with Dolph Lundgren and Highlander. For all the complaining about how The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen abused the talents of Sean Connery, Highlander was proof that perhaps the former James Bond had a bit of a knack of picking crappy projects.

Recommendation to avoid.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

The Final Destination – More teenagers die after beating death a first time.

Skip It – The first one was garbage and they’ve been continually getting worse since. No reason to see it.

Halloween 2 – Rob Zombie is back to torture cinemagoers by once again anally violating the corpse of John Carpenter’s legendary franchise.

Skip It – The first remake of Halloween was long and boring, making one of horror’s great villains out to be an over-muscled behemoth with daddy issues.

Taking Woodstock – A fictionalized recount of the wild story behind the Woodstock Music and Arts festival featuring Demetri Martin in dramatic role.

See It – Its importance to American history is significantly overrated, but Ang Lee has a knack for making interesting movies. And it’s the first film for “Oscar Season” as well, which makes it a worthy viewing.

Do you have questions about movies, life, love, or Branigan’s Law? Shoot me an e-mail at and you could be featured in the next “Monday Morning Critic.” Include your name and hometown to improve your odds.

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