RSS Feed

Category Archives: Comedies

Waitress

Image Credit: Waitress, 2007

Y’all didn’t think I’d let Pie Month go by without talking about the ultimate in cinematic pie experiences, did you? Frankly, I was shocked to see that I haven’t covered Waitress (Disc/Download) before now. It’s one of my favorite movies, and I watch it every year the night before Thanksgiving, on what we call “Pie Night”- a glorious evening when my husband and I eat all the pie we won’t have room for after the next day’s feast. Trust me when I say that Pie Night is the greatest holiday of the year.

Why is this the best movie to watch on our annual pastry binge? Because it features Keri Russell as sweet, strong heroine Jenna, a waitress who spends her days making gorgeous pies in a rural diner. Her combinations are inspired and often autobiographical, such as the “Pregnant Self Pitying Loser” Pie, and the “I Don’t Want Earl’s Baby” Pie. The pies are an outlet where she can vent frustrations about an abusive marriage, her elation over a secret affair with an OBGYN, and her fears about impending motherhood. Honestly, the movie itself feels like dessert. It’s got sweetness, a little bitterness, and just a touch of heat to make us feel all warm and cozy inside. Director Adrienne Shelley gave women a delicious gift in this movie, and I intend to eat every bite.

There are a lot of pies in this movie, but my favorite is probably the Chocolate Strawberry Oasis. I subbed white chocolate for dark, but the complexity of this drink makes it feel like one of Jenna’s lush desserts. While watching Waitress, I recommend drinking this Everybody Hates Earl Martini (because we DO all hate Earl).

Everybody Hates Earl Martini

2 oz Strawberry Vodka

1 oz White Creme de Cacao

1.5 oz White Chocolate Liqueur

1 oz Chambord Raspberry Liqueur

1 oz Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

Strawberry for garnish

Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a strawberry.

Although Jenna has some complicated romantic entanglements, the true heart of this movie lies with her friendships. The bond she forms with fellow waitresses and cantankerous diner owner (Andy Griffith) is such a joy to watch, and reminds me of what I’m most thankful for every year- good food, good drinks, and great friends. Cheers!

Blazing Saddles

Image credit: Blazing Saddles, 1974

Even though I’m not a big fan of westerns, I had to make an exception for this week’s pie pick Blazing Saddles (Disc/Download). It actually wasn’t that hard to do, since this is technically a western spoof, complete with Busby Berkeley dance number, Marlene Dietrich-inspired seductress named Lili von Shtüpp, and a whiskey-swilling Gene Wilder. Mel Brooks, you magnificent genius, you did it again. You made me spit my drink from laughing too hard.

Fair warning, the language used in this movie is sometimes difficult to hear, and in fact the film is often shown with a special introduction now. It’s actually a very progressive script for 1974 as well as today, but taken out of context, certain elements could be problematic. The thing to remember is, the ignorant racists are the ones who come off looking like fools, while the handsome black sheriff and his friends are the heroes. Like most Mel Brooks films, I don’t watch Blazing Saddles for the plot. I watch it for the one-liners, the funny character names, and the biting commentary on Hollywood and society-at-large.

The reason this movie made it into my month of pie flicks is due to the EPIC pie fight between villains, good guys, and assorted staff members of the Warner Bros. backlot. Normally I’d be sad about all these commissary pies being destroyed, but since it’s in the name of comedy, I suppose it’s okay. While watching Blazing Saddles, I recommend drinking this Pie Fight cocktail.

Pie Fight

1 oz Whiskey

1/2 oz Peach Schnapps

1 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream

2 oz Orange Juice

Whipped cream/pie crust for garnish

Combine whiskey, schnapps, Irish cream, and orange juice in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Top with whipped cream, and a piece of pie crust (I used store-bought refrigerated crust, cut out a shape, and placed in an air-fryer for 3-5 minutes to “bake”).

This cocktail is a great substitute for a cream pie, and if you’ve inexplicably found yourself with a racist sitting at your Thanksgiving table, feel free to toss it in their face. Far less clean-up than a whole dessert. Cheers!

The Addams Family

Posted on
Image credit: The Addams Family, 1991

They’re creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky. No, not the First Family; I’m talking about… The Addams Family! (Disc/Download) Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, this 1991 adaptation of the comic strip and hit 1960s television show is exactly the level of scary I want in my Halloween movies. That is to say—none at all.

While this film lacks a delightful jingle, it hits a lot of high notes with clever one-liners and stellar acting. Angelica Huston is radiant as Morticia Addams, the glamorous goth mom who always finds her light, and Raul Julia, who brings such joy to the role of Gomez that I want him to be my permanent drinking buddy. These two characters are supposed to be obsessed with death and the occult, but their chemistry makes this one of the happiest, healthiest marriages in the history of popular culture. And then there’s precocious little Christina Ricci as their daughter Wednesday, who enjoys electrocuting her brother and poisoning the neighborhood Girl Scouts. I feel absolutely no shame in admitting that I wanted to be Wednesday as a little girl. Hell, I still want to be her. There’s a ludicrous plot involving amnesia and stolen treasure, but obviously we’re all just here for the deliciously macabre set, black roses, and a disembodied hand named Thing.

Rounding out the Addams Family is Uncle Fester, played by an almost unrecognizable Christopher Lloyd. We’re supposed to believe he’s been lost in the Bermuda Triangle for decades despite the fact that he’s practically transparent from lack of a tan. Let’s give a toast to Fester’s #islandlyfe with this Black Sand tiki cocktail!

Black Sand

¾ oz Lime Juice

¾ oz Coconut Cream

Pinch of activated charcoal powder

1 ½ oz Pineapple Juice

2 oz Dark Rum

In the bottom of a shaker, dissolve charcoal powder in the lime juice and coconut cream. After well combined, add ice, pineapple juice, and rum. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass.

“Fleshlette” hand sculpture by http://paynescultpures.com

I can’t end this post without mentioning Cousin It, who like many of us in quarantine, is in desperate need of a haircut. If you need a break from reality right now, treat yourself to a little absurdity. The Addams Family is ready to welcome you with a lethal drink and an antique torture device. Cheers!

It Happened One Night

Image Credit: It Happened One Night, 1934.

I don’t know what this says about me, but I have a thing for grumpy heroes in popular culture. I guess when I really stop to think about it, I’m the grumpy hero of my own life: I don’t have time for nonsense, my baseline descriptors are sarcastic and pessimistic, but deep down inside I’m a romantic puddle of mush. Maybe that’s why I adore Clark Gable so much in this week’s film It Happened One Night (Disc/Download)—we are two cynics who found love, despite our better instincts.

Hailed as one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time, It Happened One Night 100% lives up to the hype. It’s amazing to me how this 1930s screwball comedy about a scandalized socialite falling for a wisecracking journalist still manages to feel fresh and relevant nearly a century later. Featuring tropes as old as time (enemies-to-lovers + forced proximity), Frank Capra’s ode to romance on the road is smart, daring, and unbelievably funny. While the script is great, it’s the acting that really sells it for me. Claudette Colbert is both ballsy and vulnerable, so desperate to get to The Wrong Man that she jumps off a yacht, hops on a Greyhound, spends the night with a total stranger (The Right Man), and flashes her gams while hitchhiking. And yet, she still needs Clark Gable to tell her how bus schedules work, and the proper way to dunk a donut, and how to not stand out like a sore thumb among the plebeians. Meanwhile, he needs a woman who makes him laugh, calls him out on his oversized ego, and is ready and willing to take the leap into a life of adventure. These two may be on opposite sides of the curtain, but we know it’s only a matter of time before those walls of Jericho come tumbling down.

Claudette Colbert’s character Ellie Andrews is described as a spoiled brat, but I think she’s more of a pissed-off brat. She’s tired of other people calling the shots in her life, and she’s ready to take the reins. This cocktail I found a few months ago in the New York Times cooking section seems tailor-made for Ellie- The Bitter Heiress!

The Bitter Heiress

3 oz Lillet

1 oz Fresh-squeezed Orange Juice

½ oz Campari

Orange peel

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, and add the first three ingredients. Stir until chilled, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Take the orange peel, hold it over the glass with the skin facing down, then strike a match and hold it between the peel and the drink. Squeeze peel toward match to spray citrus oil onto the surface of the drink, and discard. Garnish with a fresh slice of peel.

If you need a fun romp for an at-home date night, or just a solo screening that’ll make you feel a little less pessimistic about the world, quit bawlin’ and give It Happened One Night a chance. Here’s to the merry go round!

That Thing You Do!

Image Credit: That Thing You Do!, 1996

Anyone who knows me (or really anyone who’s ever read this blog) knows I have a thing for the 1960s. But where did this obsession come from? I blame the following: endless Nick at Night marathons in the ’90s, and this week’s movie, That Thing You Do! (Disc/Download).

Having been raised on the Pittsburgh oldies station in my dad’s car, I knew this era’s music inside and out. So when Tom Hanks “the director” burst onto the scene with his ode to ’60s pop, I was instantly hooked. Add to that Liv Tyler’s cigarette pants and high ponytails, Tom Everett Scott’s electronics shop wonderland (THOSE VINTAGE RADIOS!!!), and all those references to forgotten stars like Gina Lollobrigida and Suzanne Pleshette, and I was officially a goner. I’d found my pop culture home, and the mid-1960s was it. I wanted to live in this world where the One-ders could rise to superstardom on the strength of one hit song, and not flashy boy-band dance moves. This world where rock bands got to pretend-perform in movies as Capt. Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters. This world where jazz and rock & roll was still somewhat interconnected, and a talented musician like Guy Patterson could perform in front of screaming teenage girls one minute, and studio icons the next. Maybe, at the end of it all, I just wanted to imagine a world where I could leave Pennsylvania and follow my dreams—wearing those cigarette pants, of course.

It’s still incredibly odd to me that Tom Hanks hasn’t found more projects like this to direct, because clearly the guy’s got skills. He made a perfect gem of a movie that captures a specific moment in time, pulling together exceptionally talented people to realize his vision. Let’s celebrate this maestro of ’60s nostalgia with one of my favorite cocktails, the classic Tom Collins.

Tom Collins

2 oz Gin

1 oz lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup

Club Soda

Lemon garnish

Combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a shaker with ice.  Shake until chilled, then strain into a Collins glass with fresh ice. Top with Club Soda, and stir gently to combine. Garnish with lemon.

I did a thing I pretty much never do, which was to watch an unedited version of this movie one lazy Friday night. I know a lot of people enjoy Special Features and Extended Cuts, but to me, theatrical cuts exist for a reason. In most cases, it’s the best version everyone could agree on. But I got curious, wondering what was tossed from my perfect film, and WOW it was a lot. For example, poor Charlize took the biggest hit, and now that strange Spartacus line finally makes more sense. Sort of. Also- Tom Hanks’ manager character was actually gay?? That’s actually something I wish they’d left in. Aside for some great dresses that ended up on the cutting room floor, most of the edits were necessary. Would I watch the extended version again? Probably not—it was extremely long and slow-moving. But as a lesson in how all the parts have to come together in just the right way to tell the best story possible, it was invaluable. Like the difference between the Oneders vs. The Wonders, simple is usually better. Cheers!

The Bad News Bears

Posted on

Bad News Bears

Image credit: The Bad News Bears, 1976

I have absolutely no idea what’s happening in the world of professional sports right now, but I’m guessing things are not normal. If you’re missing your peanuts and CrackerJack, and starting to wonder if you’ll ever get back, then allow Cinema Sips to tide you over with a classic baseball flick, The Bad News Bears (Disc/Download). Featuring an alcoholic coach, a feminist pitcher, and a ton of salty language, this 1976 ode to Little League and Southern California will have you experiencing all the flavors of summer.

In this perfect time capsule of a movie, Walter Matthau plays Buttermaker, a retired Minor League pitcher and current pool cleaner of the San Fernando Valley. He accepts a gig coaching a team of all the kids who weren’t good enough to play on the existing Little League teams, thinking it’ll be an easy day in the dugout with a cooler full of beer. As the misfits and all their schoolyard problems start to get under his skin, he realizes he has an opportunity to give these kids a badly needed confidence boost. He recruits the talented Amanda (Tatum O’Neal) for her golden arm, motorcycle-riding delinquent Kelly Leak (Jackie Earle Haley) for his stellar batting average, and brainy Ogilvie (Alfred Lutter) to help him Moneyball the heck out of this league. Buttermaker’s strategy works, and eventually the Bears start winning games. The script is genius, but it’s the realistic performances that make me come back to this film year after year. I feel like I get to journey back to an era where people went inside a Pizza Hut to have dinner without irony, and a towheaded kid named Lupus could mix you the perfect martini.

Speaking of alcohol, it’s kind of amazing that Coach Buttermaker could hand out brewskies to a group of eleven-year-olds after the game and it wasn’t all over social media the next morning. I’m sure he still got to keep his job, and I bet those kids didn’t even care that they lost. While watching The Bad News Bears, join in the fun with this Honey-Bear Shandy.

Honey-Bear Shandy

1 oz Vodka

1 oz Orange Juice

½ oz Lemon Juice

½ oz Honey Syrup (2 parts Honey to 1 part Water, boiled and cooled)

5 oz Hefeweizen Beer

Orange Slice for garnish

Combine vodka, honey syrup, orange juice, and lemon juice in a shaker filled with ice. Shake well until chilled, then strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Add beer, stirring to combine. Garnish with an orange slice.

Honeybear Shandy

If you’ve ever known what it is to get picked last in gym class, if you’ve ever been underestimated because you’re a girl, or if you’ve ever felt like you’ll never live up to the expectations someone has for you, then you’ll probably relate to this film. I always say, I love baseball movies not because of the sport, but because of the sportsmanship. This year may be full of bad news, but we’ll always have the Bears. Cheers!

Broadcast News

Posted on

Broadcast News

Image credit: Broadcast News, 1987.

I just finished the stellar new season of one of my favorite podcasts, You Must Remember This, which takes listeners on a journey through the career of one of the great unsung heroes of Hollywood, Production Designer/Screenwriter/Producer Polly Platt. I knew of Polly before Karina Longworth’s deep dive, having seen her name in the credits of so many of my favorite films, but the show has opened me up to even more great flicks, like this week’s Cinema Sips pick, Broadcast News (Disc/Download).

I’ve seen Broadcast News classified as a rom-com before, but I have to say, I disagree with that label. Yes, there’s a love triangle set within the world of television news, and there’s certainly comedy (thanks in large part to scene stealer Albert Brooks), but I wouldn’t say the film leaves me with a happy, buoyant feeling. Perhaps that’s because so much of the script is a warning of what’s to come in the world of journalism; a doomsday prediction that has actually come true. It warns of a distrust of information, brought about by flashy salesmen instead of real, credible journalists. The news as entertainment instead of vital public service. Albert Brooks’ character Aaron has the smarts and dedication for the job of newscaster, but lacks the right packaging. And then there’s William Hurt’s Tom, who has the looks but not the brains, or any shred of journalistic ethics. Naturally, he’s given prime screen time. Placed in the middle is Holly Hunter’s Jane, a thinly-veiled Polly Platt stand-in, the producer who’s smarter than all the men in her life, but will never get the recognition or personal happiness she deserves. To be a woman in this industry is to make sacrifices, and nobody knew that better than Polly. If you’ve ever allowed yourself the five-minute cry (*raises hand*) you get it. So much of this film is funny and relatable, but sadly it’s all things you wish you didn‘t relate to.

My favorite scene in Broadcast News is one where Albert Brooks is home alone on his day off, drinking and haunting the sofa in a ragged pair of sweats. He’s slightly inebriated, yelling at the news, wondering when the hell everyone got so stupid. Been there, buddy. Let’s join Aaron in his ennui with this Journalist cocktail!

Journalist

2 oz Gin

¼ oz Cointreau

½ oz Dry Vermouth

½ oz Sweet Vermouth

¼ oz Lemon Juice

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Luxardo Cherry and citrus wheel for garnish

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a chilled coupe glass. Drop in a Luxardo Maraschino cherry and garnish with a dried citrus wheel.

Journalist

If you’re looking for answers as to how we got where we’re at right now in America, look no further than Broadcast News. The question now is, where do we go from here? Can journalism be saved? It’s a question the film fails to answer definitively, and maybe it’s because the answer is up to us. It’s up to all of us to demand that substance win out over style. Cheers!

The Proposal

Posted on

The Proposal

Image credit: The Proposal, 2009.

While Texans were sticking to their car seats in rush hour traffic, I was supposed to have been playing with sled dog puppies and cruising open waters. Thanks to COVID, my Alaska vacation is now a distant dream, but in a way, I can still take it through the power of movies and cocktails. This week, go on a fake journey with me to Sitka, Alaska (by way of Massachusetts) as we watch The Proposal (Disc/Download).

This rom-com starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds has so many of my favorite tropes, I don’t even know where to begin. Enemies-to-Lovers! Workplace romance! Marriage of Convenience! “There’s only one bed”! Add to that a gorgeous house on the water, a humorous (if false) look at the world of book publishing, and a cute dog named Kevin, and I am officially smitten. Directed by Anne Fletcher, The Proposal tells the story of Margaret Tate, a buttoned-up book editor with an immigration problem. She strong-arms her assistant Andrew into agreeing to marry her, but in order to sell the relationship to ICE, they must put on a united front at his Grandma’s 90th birthday in Alaska. Turns out Andrew is secretly the beloved prince of Sitka, and honestly what woman could resist a funny, gorgeous, wealthy scion? Plus, his grandma enjoys strippers and is played by Betty White. If Margaret won’t marry him, can I?

I actually saw this movie in the theater with my grandma, and it would turn out to be our last visit to the multiplex together. We both loved Betty, but agreed her weird Native American dance scene needed to end up on the cutting room floor. I’m thrilled to use one of grandma Jo’s vintage glasses while I drink this week’s classic cocktail, the Alaska.

Alaska

1 1/2 oz Gin (I used Mahon)

1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse

Dash Orange Bitters

Lemon twist

Combine Gin, Yellow Chartreuse, and Bitters in a shaker with ice. Stir until chilled, then strain into a chilled coupe glass. Release lemon oils over glass, then drop the twist in.

Alaska

I can absolutely picture Margaret sipping one of these while she redlines a manuscript late at night, and the chemistry between the gin and yellow chartreuse is just as electric as the chemistry between Bullock and Reynolds. If I can’t actually go to Alaska, this is the next best thing.  Cheers!

Punch-Drunk Love

Posted on

Punch Drunk Love

Image credit: Punch-Drunk Love, 2002

With a title that includes the words “Punch”, “Drunk”, and “Love”, Paul Thomas Anderson’s dark romantic comedy seems like a natural fit for my collection. However, Punch-Drunk Love (Disc/Download) is not a movie I liked on the first watch, or even the second. It’s rare that my opinion shifts so drastically on a film, but that’s exactly what’s happened over the ensuing eighteen years. Now, in our cursed year of 2020, I adore it.

The reason I initially had a hard time connecting with this story was because I just didn’t know what to make of Adam Sandler’s character Barry. Was he being weird for weird’s sake? Was he simply shy with a dangerous undercurrent of anger? No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t figure him out. But since this movie’s release, we have a new language to describe people like Barry. I don’t know that this theory has ever been confirmed by the filmmaker, but to me, this guy is very clearly on the Autism spectrum. And with that realization, I now root even harder for him to find love with fellow lonely-heart Lana. Paul Thomas Anderson did something really incredible in this movie, making us feel through the camerawork and music, what it’s like to be in Barry’s head. Adam Sandler gives an incredible performance (as if there were any doubt- he’s been my uncut gem for YEARS), and I want so badly for this novelty toilet plunger salesman to find the one person in the world who “gets” him. I long for him and Lana to take those pudding cup miles and ride off into the sunset.

Speaking of sunsets, how gorgeous is the scene on Waikiki Beach? I’ve been lucky enough to sit at that beachside bar at the Royal Hawaiian, sipping a Mai Tai, and it’s a memory I cling to during lockdown. Someday, I’ll get back there (in fact, there’s already a room booked for June 2021. Call me an optimist.). But in the meantime, let’s have a drink with Barry and Lana. While watching Punch-Drunk Love, get those Waikiki sunset vibes with this Mai Tai Punch.

Mai Tai Punch

1 cup Light Rum

1 cup Gold Rum

1 cup Cointreau

½ cup Lime Juice

½ cup Orange Juice

½ cup Orgeat Syrup

Dark Rum for topping

In a glass bottle or punch bowl, combine Light Rum, Gold Rum, Cointreau, Lime and Orange juices, and Orgeat. Stir or shake until well combined. Pour into cups filled with crushed ice, and drizzle dark rum on top.*

Mai Tai Punch

There’s a moment in Hawaii when Barry and Lana are in bed, and they start saying violent, mildly shocking things to one another. He looks down at her and says, “This is right. This is good.” Those words perfectly describe what love is—finding that one other person who understands your weirdness and jumps right on into it with you. Barry, I’m sorry it took me so long to get to the diving board. Cheers!

*This gold pineapple glass, while attractive in a photo, is hands down THE WORST container I have ever put a drink in. The top wobbles and falls off, and the bottom gets so cold and slippery that you can’t even hold it. I have a dried puddle of Mai-Tai on the back of my couch cushion to prove it. If you got this from Target on a whim, do yourself a favor and THROW. IT. OUT.

Airplane!

Posted on

Airplane

Image credit: Airplane!, 1980

Since air travel is a distant memory for most of us these days, there’s no better time to watch a 90-minute joke about flying. Airplane! (Disc/Download), the classic parody film inspired by disaster flicks of the 1970s, makes me nostalgic and nauseated all at once. Two words you never want to hear on an airplane: Stomach. Virus.

To be honest, flying was always my least favorite part about travel. The seats are tiny, the air is either too hot or too cold, I distrust the ice in my cocktail, and I always end up next to a man-spreader. Now add virus anxiety, and you’ve got a situation that’s even more nightmarish. Somehow, the writers of Airplane! managed to turn all our air complaints into comedy gold, delivering a steady stream of one-liners and deadpan jokes—some of which land, and some of which fall pretty flat. Luckily Leslie Nielsen is on board to provide his dry sense of humor, almost single-handedly keeping this movie aloft.

I talk a lot about what I don’t like about air travel, but here’s something I do like: BISCOFF COOKIES. Day or night, I always look forward to my Biscoff and Ginger Ale. It’s the perfect snack, and the only thing that can distract me from the annoying person behind me watching YouTube videos on their ipad, without headphones. Yes, we can ALL hear you. While watching Airplane!, mimic the feeling of being airborne with this Biscoff Highball (recipe adapted from TheKitchn).

Biscoff Highball

1 ½ oz Bourbon

½ oz Biscoff Syrup (recipe below)

8 oz Ginger Ale

Combine Bourbon, Biscoff Syrup, and Ginger Ale in a glass over ice. Stir gently to combine.

Biscoff Highball

Biscoff Syrup

½ cup sugar

½ cup water

2 Biscoff Cookies, loosely crumbled

Boil sugar and water together, until sugar is dissolved. Let cool. Add cookie crumbles to a jar, then pour in the cooled syrup. Let the cookies dissolve and infuse the syrup, 4-6 hours. Strain to remove solid pieces, and keep syrup refrigerated in an air-tight container.

Airplane! is one of those movies where the more you drink, the funnier it gets. If you’re in the mood to watch one million Hare Krishna jokes and a blow-up “Otto” pilot, then by all means, stock up on bourbon. Surely, that’s all of us by now. But don’t worry- I won’t call you Shirley. Cheers!