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Category Archives: Comedies

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

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Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Image credit: Forgetting Sarah Marshall, 2008.

Aloha from Cinema Sips! As I prepare to jet off to Kauai for a much-needed vacation, I’m doing my homework in the form of a Hawaiian film binge.  First up- a comedy postcard from Oahu, Forgetting Sarah Marshall (DVD/Download).

Like every Judd Apatow-associated project, this film is about thirty minutes too long (the man should really stick to television). But I am happy to see Freaks & Geeks alum Jason Segal in the lead role as recently dumped composer Peter, and Apatow regular Paul Rudd as the not-all-there surf instructor. As Peter tries to forget about his ex-girlfriend Sarah Marshall (played by Kristen Bell), he drinks a lot of frozen cocktails, flirts with Mila Kunis, and performs hilarious ballads from his vampire puppet rock opera. Yes that’s right- vampire puppet rock opera. First, this needs to be a real thing, and second- why is this not a real thing???

Nothing says getting over a breakup like planting yourself at a bar, and if that bar is in Hawaii, you’ve got to start with a Piña Colada. Bonus- imbibe more than one of these, and even Russell Brand is funny. While watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I recommend drinking a Piña Colada.

Piña Colada

3 oz pineapple juice

1.5 oz white rum

1 oz dark rum

1 oz coconut cream

Crushed ice

Pineapple, cherry, and umbrella (for garnish)

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until you reach a smooth consistency. Pour into a glass, and garnish with a slice of fresh pineapple, maraschino cherry, and umbrella.

As this movie proves, break ups are tough, but Hawaii makes everything better. I can’t wait to see if the water is really that blue, and if the drinks are as fantastic as they look. Fingers crossed I’m right on both accounts. Cheers!

Weekend at Bernie’s II

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Weekend at Bernies 2

Image credit: Weekend at Bernie’s II, 1993.

I harbor a secret (or not-so-secret) love for most of the terrible sequels I’ve featured this month. A lot of them were favorites from my childhood that still bring me a certain amount of glee. I went into this week thinking that Weekend at Bernie’s II (DVD/Download) was actually pretty good, based on my memory from 20 years ago. Welllllll……. I admit. I was wrong. Go ahead, put in me in movie jail and make me watch Ingmar Bergman films as punishment. I deserve it.

I get a shocking amount of traffic on Cinema Sips from my original Weekend at Bernie’s post, so I know there are a lot of Terry Kiser fans out there. The first movie was ridiculous, but it was FUN! You kind of believed that it was possible for a self-centered group of one-percenters to not notice an actual human corpse in their midst. But in the sequel, all believability goes out the window with a trio of asinine plots. #1- Bernie is raised from the dead by a voodoo priestess working for mobsters. #2- the people who actually perform the voodoo ceremony are two random dudes with no connection to anything, yet they spend the whole movie following a shuffling Bernie around in search of the mob’s money. #3- Rich and Larry are back, and decide to look for the money Bernie embezzled in the first movie. They’re being trailed by Barry Bostwick, who is hired to prove that the two doofuses were in on the embezzlement. Essentially, all these people are following Bernie, I can’t keep anything straight, and I eventually throw my hands in the air and accept that this movie MAKES NO SENSE.

The one thing Weekend at Bernie’s II has going for it is a gorgeous tropical locale in the Virgin Islands. Richard and Larry spend most of their time at the hotel bar, avoiding the stench of a rotting corpse in their mini fridge (don’t ask). If you’re like me, you’ll need a lot of rum to make this funny. While watching Weekend at Bernie’s II, I recommend drinking a Voodoo cocktail.

Voodoo

2 oz aged rum

¾ oz Martini Rosso Vermouth

2 ½ oz pressed apple juice

½ oz lime juice

¼ oz simple syrup.

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a rocks filled Collins glass.

I’d like to think I’ve always had impeccable taste in movies, but this one proves that there are a few missteps in my past. It also proves that not all sequels are created equal. For every Before Sunset, there’s a Weekend at Bernie’s II, which (like Bernie himself), is long past its sell-by date. But if you must watch, by all means please- do it with a cocktail. Cheers!

*Side note-  Pretty, pretty please do not judge Andrew McCarthy for participating in this film.  I like to think that he financed his later career as an AMAZING travel writer with the money he got from this schlock.  In my opinion- totally worth it.  I highly recommend his book The Longest Way Home.

National Lampoon’s European Vacation

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national lampoons european vacation

Image credit: National Lampoon’s European Vacation, 1985

Sure, we all had fun on that trip to Walley World. And Christie Brinkley will be missed. But when the Griswold’s go to Europe, hilarity ensues. There have been a lot of sequels made to National Lampoon’s Vacation, but my favorite will always been this week’s Cinema Sips pick, National Lampoon’s European Vacation (DVD/Download). For anybody who traveled to Europe before the internet or TripAdvisor, you’ll get it.

With a new Audrey and Russ, but same old Clark and Ellen, the Griswolds embark on a free gameshow trip across the European continent. They find tiny, bathroom-less hotel rooms in London, rude waiters and hookers in Paris, and car thieves in Rome. Plus- Eric Idle on a bicycle. Everywhere. Directed by Amy Heckerling, with a script written by John Hughes, this is 80’s slapstick raunchy comedy at its finest. This movie isn’t trying to be anything more than a satire of international travel, and in that respect it succeeds beautifully. Even now, in the age of websites and online reviews, it’s still possible for a boorish, entitled American to be stuck in a tiny European closet of a hotel room, wondering where they put the real shower (not the little phone booth in the corner with the trickling water feature). And by entitled American, I mean myself of course.

If you’re attempting to travel around the world by alcohol, the easiest solution is beer. All of Europe seems to have a firm handle on good beer, so instead of a cocktail this week, I’ll be drinking a European Beer Flight*.

 

European Beer

*(note, Trader Joe’s had ZERO British beers so I had to improvise….)

I think the reason these Vacation movies have always worked so well, whether it’s the 1st or 4th, is that despite the dumb jokes and sight gags, there’s a little bit of truth in all of them. I may not have backed my car into Stonehenge, but I have nearly collapsed on museum steps from sheer tourist exhaustion. And I KNOW I’ve eaten a microwaved frozen dinner at a Roman café. It paired really well with Campari. Cheers!

High Fidelity

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High Fidelity

Image credit: High Fidelity, 2000

True story- the one and only time I’ve ever been carded and turned away from a movie was High Fidelity (DVD/Download) in April 2000. I was 16 years old, a recent transplant to Central Pennsylvania, and stunned to find myself smack dab in the Bible Belt. For months afterward, I waited impatiently to see what erotic, taboo tales awaited me in the R-rated and undoubtedly-risque High Fidelity.  Imagine my surprise and outrage that not only was there nothing “R” about it, but also that I was unnecessarily delayed from seeing what would become one of my all-time favorite films.

My Top 5 lists on Cinema Sips are a direct homage to this comedic gem, so in lieu of a proper plot description I think it’s more appropriate to list off my Top 5 High Fidelity Scenes:

  1. When John Cusack plays the new Beta Band LP in his niche Chicago record shop, causing all the customers fall under its spell. Perfect music moment.
  1. Lisa Bonet sings “Baby I Love Your Way” by Peter Frampton. I too, always hated that song. And now I too, kinda like it.
  1. Jack Black berating a customer for wanting to buy a copy of Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You”. In answer to his subquestion, it is definitely better to burn out than to fade away.
  1. The making of a Top 5 List of songs about death. This is absolutely a conversation I want to be a part of.
  1. Barry Jive and the Uptown Five singing “Let’s Get it On”. And just like that, Jack Black the Movie Star was born.

Although the Nick Hornby novel this film was based on is set in London, I love the decision to set the movie adaptation in Chicago. The city itself becomes like another character in the film, so to that end we should definitely celebrate this midwestern metropolis with its namesake drink. While watching High Fidelity, I recommend drinking a classic Chicago Cocktail.

Chicago Cocktail

2 oz Brandy

Dash of Triple Sec

Dash of Bitters

1 oz Champagne

Stir Brandy, Triple Sec, and Bitters together in a shaker filled with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe, and top with champagne.

If you happen to find yourself celebrating Record Store Day later this month, don’t be too put off by the employees at your local vinyl shop. They actually do know a lot about music, so let them make suggestions. They may not be able to give relationship advice, but if you’re looking to find a band that picks up where Echo and the Bunnymen left off, they’ve got your back. Cheers!

Trainspotting

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Trainspotting

Image credit: Trainspotting, 1996

As a film studies student in college, I used to have an incredibly cliche poster of the opening quote from this week’s film Trainspotting (DVD/Download) tacked up to my wall. You know the quote, “Choose life, choose a job, choose a career…” – almost as a warning of the kind of life I didn’t want. Well, let me tell you, enough nights worrying about when your next paycheck was coming, hungover mornings, and cheap microwaved food, and suddenly the stuff on that poster doesn’t seem so bad. I’ll take low cholesterol and dental insurance over gross apartments and toxic relationships any day of the week. Heck yes.

Trainspotting is a rebellious classic that spoke to an entire generation of young people upon its release. It’s selfish people wreaking havoc on the lives around them, and not giving a damn. It’s junkies in a vicious cycle of getting on/getting off heroin, so frequently that you wonder what “normal” even is for them. It’s friends betraying friends, wild nights in clubs, Iggy Pop music, and drug deals gone bad.  Danny Boyle’s wild ride through the seedy underbelly of Edinburgh is deliciously fun to watch. I feel cooler just being in the audience.

As a young skinny heroin addict stumbling toward redemption , this was the movie that put Ewan McGregor on the map. He’s not a bad guy, just….. an addict. He needs help; maybe an antibiotic (or five). So while watching Trainspotting, I recommend drinking a Penicillin cocktail.

Penicillin

2 oz blended Scotch whiskey

¾ oz lemon juice

¾ oz honey syrup (1 part water + 1 part honey, boiled)

¼ oz smoky Islay single malt scotch

Fresh ginger

Muddle ginger at the bottom of a shaker and add blended Scotch, lemon juice, and honey syrup. Add ice cubes, and shake well to chill. Strain into a glass with a large ice cube, and float the single-malt scotch on top.

If you get the chance, I highly recommend seeing this film’s sequel T2 to find out what has become of these iconic characters.  In my opinion, this is one of the best sequels ever made, and such a perfect grace note to original. Thinking back to that poster, I may have chosen DIY and wondering who the f**k I am on a Sunday morning, but still, I chose life. And it’s a damn good one. Cheers!

Away We Go

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Film Title: Away We Go

Image credit: Away We Go, 2009

Sometimes travel has nothing to do with business or pleasure, and everything to do with searching. Searching for a person, or a place, or maybe just a feeling. In Away We Go (DVD/Download), two soon-to-be parents embark on a quest across North America to find perhaps the most important thing of all- Home. As it turns out, this is one of the hardest destinations to find.

Directed by Sam Mendes and starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, Away We Go is full of both earnestness and humor. I see myself and so many people I know in these characters, two well-meaning people forced to grapple with this idea of adulthood and finding one’s place in the world. Pregnancy is a catalyst, but don’t mistake this for a She’s Having a Baby type of discourse on parenthood. Instead this is a film about two unique individuals who finally have to grow up and figure out the kind of future they want. Visiting friends and relatives in Phoenix, Madison, Montreal, and Miami, they search for an anchor to tie their boat to. Beautifully shot, with a soundtrack by Alexi Murdoch, this film truly feels like a journey.

Throughout Away We Go, John Krasinski waxes poetic on the allure of the Mighty Mississippi, and wanting to give his child a “Huck Finn” kind of upbringing. It’s a romantic notion, and certainly refreshing in the age of smartphones and videogames. When we finally see the Mississippi in this film, it feels utterly majestic. While watching Away We Go, I recommend drinking a Mighty MissisSip.

Mighty MissisSip

1 ½ oz Light Rum

1 oz Whiskey

3 oz fresh lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup

Lemon Twist

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker full of ice, and shake until combined. Strain into a chilled coupe glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.

I was in the very fortunate position to decide where I wanted to build a future before I got tied down with responsibility. I knew I didn’t like where I was living at the time (sorry DC), so I considered all the places I’d ever been that had felt like home. Austin won out, and not for a clear-cut reason. Nobody can explain why a certain place feels like home, it just….does. And as much as we want to tell ourselves that home is a person, I’m not sure I believe that. There’s a unique sense of purpose and hope that one feels when they look around and realize they’ve discovered the place where they belong. Like the characters in Away We Go, I’m grateful to have found mine. Cheers!

Up in the Air

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up-in-the-air

Image credit: Up in the Air, 2009.

When summer break seems too far away, and spring break is oh so short (and expensive), sometimes you have to turn to the movies.  To sooth my wanderlust, all month long on Cinema Sips I’ll be enjoying some travel-focused films. Kicking things off is the George Clooney tragicomedy Up in the Air (DVD/Download). As an HR exec who spends 322 days on the road, he knows a thing or two about air travel. Let’s prepare for takeoff.

Up in the Air does a great job of showing the perks and pitfalls of business travel, from slow moving senior citizens setting off the airport metal detectors, to quiet, perhaps lonely drinks in a hotel bar. Only Clooney could pull off a character whose main purpose is to be the ultimate jerk. He flies in to Omaha or Tulsa or any other nondescript white-collar business town to lay off employees, but he’s just so charming that they almost thank him for the pleasure. When a young whippersnapper played by Anna Kendrick waltzes in to extol the virtues of firing by videoconference, he has to prove his worth on the road. With an “empty bag” devoid of commitment, attachment, or anything of meaning, he’s free to rack up airline miles and casual sex. But is that really living?

I used to dread airline cocktails, until the magical Carry-on Cocktail Kit was released by the Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Although they have many varieties, I like to stay loyal to the Gin & Tonic kit. It truly does make flying much more civilized, with a linen napkin and tiny metal jigger. Sure, I get funny looks when I VERY SPECIFICALLY order a can of club soda, a separate glass of ice, a tiny bottle of gin, and a lime, but I figure my annoying order for the flight attendant is revenge for the miniscule bag of peanuts I’m about to be given. Nobody likes peanuts. While watching Up in the Air, I recommend drinking a Carry On Gin & Tonic.

Carry On Gin & Tonic

1 can club soda

1 mini bottle gin

1/2 oz tonic syrup (from Carry On Cocktail Kit)

Wedge of lime

Glass of ice

Pour gin and tonic syrup over ice, then top with club soda. Stir gently to combine, and squeeze/drop the lime in.

carry-on-cocktail-kit

Honestly, I am extremely jealous of anyone who gets to travel for business. Your company sends you on a free trip, puts you up in a hotel where you don’t have to make your own bed or do your own dishes, you get to eat out every night, AND you can put your accumulated frequent flier miles into your own personal account? All without spending a dime of your own money? What’s not to love? Sure, there are lonely nights on the road, and missing your family, but it’s a sacrifice I’d be willing to make for all those miles. Cheers!