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Category Archives: Comedies

She’s All That

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She's All That

Image credit: She’s All That, 1999.

Although 1999 was the golden year of teen rom-coms, She’s All That (Disc/Download) was considered THE prom movie. It seemingly had it all—the Cinderella story, reality TV references, teenage coffee addicts, even DJ Usher! This was a movie that popular kids and artsy brains alike could enjoy because there was something for everyone.  Well, everyone except me, that is.  I never quite got on the Freddie Prinz Jr. bandwagon.  I was saving myself for Heath Ledger ;-).

I’m unclear on the actual ages of the actors in this film (and I can’t care enough to do the math), but l’m pretty sure they all had mortgages at the time. As the wife of a high school teacher, I can confidently say, teenagers do not look like the “teenagers” in this movie. Even Rachel Leigh Cook, who might have been under 18 at the time, has a world-wise Audrey Hepburn aura. Maybe that’s why big-man-on-campus Freddie Prinz Jr. falls so hard for the tragic nerd. It’s obvious that underneath all those hair extensions and glasses, this is a girl who will soon be studying abroad in Italy and having an affair with her art history professor. He’s gotta make this happen while she’s still naïve enough to think he’s cool. Even still, by the time prom rolls around and she’s got a sleek hairdo and stylish black prom dress, I sit there thinking, “meh, you could do better, sweetie.”

One of the most misunderstood characters in the history of cinema is Taylor Vaughn, aka. The Popular Villain. She’s obviously overcompensating for some serious insecurities, and we need to cut her some slack. The only goal she seems to have is that of Prom Queen, so really—shouldn’t we just let her have it already? She works hard, giving out lattes to the other students in exchange for their vote (I think the only thing prom nominees handed out at my high school were snide comments behind your back). While watching She’s All That, I recommend drinking a Vote for Taylor! Latte.

Vote for Taylor! Latte

2 oz Rumchata

1 oz Vanilla Vodka

1.5 oz Cold Brew Coffee

1.5 oz Vanilla Soy Milk

Coffee Ice Cubes

Freeze coffee concentrate into ice cubes. Once they are frozen, put in a glass and set aside. Pour Rumchata, Vanilla vodka, cold brew, and soy milk into a cocktail shaker with ice, and shake until well mixed and chilled. Strain over prepared glass.

Vote for Taylor Latte

This movie still has a lot of fans, and I think it’s because we like to dream big. We want to believe in unpredictable love and those great movie moments lit by twinkle lights and sequins. And that’s what prom is right? For one night, you get to pretend that you’re the sort of person who goes to balls and kisses the handsome Prinz at the stroke of midnight. Even if you wake up the next day with the same old glasses and paint splatter on your overalls, at least you had the fairy tale. Cheers!

10 Things I Hate About You

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10 Things I Hate About You

Image Credit: 10 Things I Hate About You, 1999.

Picture this: young (but not so young that it’s creepy) Heath Ledger in a bulky jumpsuit that somehow manages to show off his broad shoulders and narrow waist. Long hair pulled back into a rakish ponytail. Beside him, on a bed of hay, lies Julia Stiles, covered in paint. He cups her face with his strong hands, smearing the colors, preparing her for his kiss. Let’s just say, this scene in 10 Things I Hate About You (Disc/Download) DID THINGS to a teenage Liz Locke. Heck, it does things to Adult Liz too. I need a cocktail to cool off.

Adapted from Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, this delightful rom-com is a fun mix of cheesy acting and sparkling dialogue. In his American film debut, Heath Ledger plays the bad boy with a heart of gold. His Patrick Verona smolders with a cocky can’t-give-a-fuck attitude until he meets the girl who matches him eyeroll for eyeroll. Although initially paid to take out the prickly Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles), he makes the mistake of falling for her in the process. We all know how this is going to end (the joy, the heartbreak, the reconciliation), but watching it unfold is so darn fun. There are other charming actors and subplots in this, but let’s be clear—I’m here for Heath, his accent, and his incredible smile (and, okay, his tight black tanktops).

Opposites attract is one of my favorite tropes, especially when there’s some great banter involved.  What I love about Patrick is that he can dish it out just as well as the feisty Kat, thus creating oodles of tension.  These two either have to kill each other or kiss.  While watching 10 Things I Hate About You, I recommend drinking a “Prickly Pair” Margarita.

“Prickly Pair” Margarita

1.5 oz Blanco Tequila

1/2 oz Cointreau

1 oz Lime Juice

1 barspoon Prickly Pear Preserves

1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Orange Twist (garnish)

Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake until chilled.  Strain into a glass filled with ice.  Garnish with an orange twist.

Prickly Pear Margarita

Although Heath is delicious and wonderful, let’s not forget about Allison Janney as the  guidance counselor who writes romance novels on the side.  Add to that epic proms, a seaside vista, and Letters to Cleo performing on the roof, and this is basically the greatest high school in the world.  Why would anyone ever want to graduate?  Cheers!

Never Been Kissed

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Never Been Kissed

Image credit: Never Been Kissed, 1999.

Somehow, my life has turned into a Drew Barrymore movie.  I’m a fully grown adult woman about to attend her first prom, 18 years late. Also, I’m really hoping to be kissed by a hot teacher (preferably, the one I’m married to). Am I nervous about the big night?  No- because Never Been Kissed (Disc/Download) is there to show me the way.

In high school, I was totally Josie Grossie. Bad skin, retainer, oily hair, hands permanently attached to a book. Prom was too terrifying a prospect for that girl to handle. But then I grew up, lost the retainer and the zits, got a stylish bob, started writing books in addition to reading them, and realized maybe a big school dance isn’t such a scary thing after all. Drew Barrymore certainly handles it well in this movie, as an adult posing as a high school student for her newspaper. She wears her Shakespearean prom gown with confidence, knowing she’s way past all the pettiness. The mean girls still exist, and they still try and torment her, but the great thing about growing up is that you realize how lame the bullies are. Plus, this lady can legally drink  and they can’t.  That privilege trumps flawless Jessica Alba skin any day.

The prom theme of Never Been Kissed is great literary pairs. This got me thinking about cocktail pairs—those two ingredient drinks that are a perfect combination. High school Elizabeth would have gone for beer, but adult Liz gravitates toward fancy liqueurs. So why not combine the two? While watching Never Been Kissed, I recommend drinking this Pink Satin cocktail.

Pink Satin

1 oz Campari

6 oz IPA beer (I use Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin)

Grapefruit bitters

Fill a highball with ice, and pour in Campari and beer. Stir gently to combine.  Top with a few dashes of grapefruit bitters.

Forever Young

It’s pretty rare in life to get a do-over. Not that I regret my high school experience, but I don’t think there’s a single person out there who wouldn’t like to pass some of their adult knowledge onto their younger self. Personally, I wish seventeen-year-old me would have known the following things:

  • You will never be thinner than you are right now. Enjoy it.
  • Don’t stress about not having a boyfriend. You’ll find your prince charming, and he will make you laugh every single day.
  • It’s okay not to know what you want to be when you grow up.  You’ll figure it out eventually.
  • Turtleneck and a sweatshirt- not a good look.

Cheers!

California Suite

California Suite

Image credit: California Suite, 1978.

Well, I don’t know what to say about the Oscars this year except they’ve really mucked it up, haven’t they? From the host debacle, to the televised category back-and-forth, to the lack of female nominees, it’s enough to make even the most die-hard film fan skip the ceremony altogether. Me, I love a good train wreck.  But if you REALLY must skip,  I suggest watching California Suite (DVD/Download) instead. In this delightful gem of a film, Maggie Smith perfectly sums up the Academy Awards in one sentence: “I’ve been getting ready for this horseshit affair for THREE HOURS!!!!” I feel ya, Mags. All they have left are the dresses.

Adapted from a Neil Simon play, California Suite follows four couples who are all staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel. In these vignettes, we get to enjoy the following highlights: Maggie Smith, shit-faced after losing the Academy Award, arguing with her semi-closeted gay husband played by Michael Caine. Walter Matthau, waking up next to a hooker he has to hide from his wife. Jane Fonda and Alan Arkin, bickering over custody of their daughter. Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby, playing tennis, wrestling, and showing us why it’s a bad idea to travel with friends. Shot on location at the Beverly Hills Hotel, this film is a vintage textile lover’s dream. That banana leaf wallpaper— SWOOOOON! I know I’ll never be Maggie Smith, and I know I’ll never be up for an Academy Award, but I can sure as hell get drunk in the hall and fondle that wallpaper. One might even say it’s on my bucket list.

While Maggie prepares to lose the Oscar, her fabulous husband is busy pouring the gin. As he says, “three gins, one tonic”. Sounds like the perfect ratio. You could make one strong drink, or you could join me during the red carpet coverage in trying ALL THE GINS, and a little bit of tonic. Cheers!

Gins and Tonic

We love to hate on this year’s Academy Awards broadcast, but California Suite proves that people have been hating on this damn dog-and-pony show since the 1970’s.  Probably even before.  Whether you watch this movie to mock the absurdity along with Maggie Smith (who incidentally, did win an Oscar for her role in this), or watch it for the wonderful slice-of-life script, just watch it. Preferably with three gins of course ;-). Cheers!

That Funny Feeling

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That Funny Feeling

Image credit: That Funny Feeling, 1965.

If I had to describe my favorite film genre, I’d have to say, “anything with 1960’s cocktail dresses”.   Even before Mad Men came on the scene, I was already obsessed.  Blame Doris Day, blame Sandra Dee– so many wonderful actresses took me down that A-line chiffon rabbit hole.  This week, I’ll be watching one of my favorites in the “pretty dress” canon, That Funny Feeling (Disc/Download).

Starring Sandra Dee and her then-husband, crooner Bobby Darin, That Funny Feeling follows the familiar Pillow Talk formula that worked so well for Doris and Rock. Sandra’s character Joan is a maid/struggling actress, who meets cute with Bobby Darin’s lothario character Tom, never realizing that he owns the apartment she cleans every morning. His trip gets cancelled, right after Joan allows him to escort her home to “her place”, which is actually his place! He has to move in with a friend (Donald O’Connor, in a truly bizarre role), to maintain the charade, during which time she covers his leather sofa with chintz slipcovers and hawks his suits– I’m still not sure why. Maybe so we can enjoy the sight gag of Bobby Darin climbing down a New York City fire escape in nothing but a plaid parka?   Strange plot devices aside, this movie is full of beautiful cocktail dresses, gin, midcentury interior décor, vintage stereo equipment, and sassy best friends. That’s enough to sell me on even the worst movie.

Sandra Dee is a classy lady in this film, allowing Bobby Darin to buy her gin and quinine that she takes one lousy sip of. Until later, when she has (oh dear!) a FULL GLASS and gets hammered. You can certainly watch this movie with a gin and tonic (I like the quinine ratio in Jack Rudy Tonic Syrup), but I also want to highlight the scene where her roommate dumps a bunch of brandy and Cointreau on a roast duck and lights it up with her cigarette. God, I love the 60’s. While watching That Funny Feeling, I recommend drinking a Big Apple Sidecar.

Big Apple Sidecar

1 ½ oz Calvados Apple Brandy

1 oz Cointreau

1 oz spiced apple cider

1 oz lime juice

½ oz lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass.

big apple sidecar

I will admit, there’s a cringe-inducing part of this film where Sandra Dee pretends to have a Japanese accent. It’s bad. It’s very, very bad. However, the script does lament the pervasive white-washing of Hollywood, much to my surprise. That’s the thing about these Sandra Dee movies- they may look all fluffy and retro on the surface, but dig deep and you’ll find some thoroughly modern problems.  After all, sometimes even the best cocktails need a little sweet to balance the bitter. Cheers!

The Darjeeling Limited

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the darjeeling limited

Image credit: The Darjeeling Limited, 2007

Trains are pretty fascinating if you stop to think about it. Depending on which seat you choose, you have the ability to look forward or backward in time, contemplating how the past will influence the future, and how your present is just a brief stopping point on the journey to somewhere else. In this week’s film The Darjeeling Limited (Disc/Download), three brothers do just that on a sleeper car through India. Grab your savoury snacks and teapot- it’s time to dig deep.

Perfectly placed within the Wes Anderson film canon, The Darjeeling Limited features familiar elements like vintage luggage, perfectly tailored suits in various states of dishevelment, a place for everything/everything in its place, and a lot of paterfamilias drama. As three brothers (Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Adrien Brody) grapple with their father’s death and their mother’s abandonment, they reexamine their relationships with one another to figure out where they went off the rails (pun intended). The Darjeeling Limited train is pretty much the only way I would ever travel through India, and only if it was designed by Wes Anderson. I thought I was partial to the 20th Century Limited in North by Northwest, but the Darjeeling Limited has a quirky exoticism to it I can’t resist. Plus- SAVOURY SNACKS!

During the summer, I would definitely watch this film with a sweet lime gimlet (recipe here).  But during the winter, a toddy feels more appropriate.  With exotic spices and flavors, this drink will make you feel transported to the sunny, hot climate of India.  While watching The Darjeeling Limited, I recommend drinking a Darjeeling Toddy.

Darjeeling Toddy

1 bag Darjeeling tea

1 cup boiling water

1 oz dark spiced rum

1 oz cognac

1 Tbsp honey

1 small piece dried ginger

2 tsp lemon juice

1 lemon wedge

Combine water, rum, and cognac in a saucepan, and drop in tea bag and ginger to steep. After about 5 minutes, discard tea bag and ginger, then stir in honey. Strain mixture into a mug, and add the lemon juice. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

darjeeling toddy

There’s such a romance to trains that it’s easy to see why they’re still featured in cinema, even when they’re no longer a part of most people’s itineraries.  In an era of depressing air travel and trying to get somewhere as fast as possible, it’s nice to watch people slowing down to experience the journey itself. Cheers!

Splash

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splash

Image credit: Splash, 1984.

I know I’m supposed to care about modern underwater extravaganzas like Aquaman, but the truth is I’ve never gotten over my first deep-sea movie love:  Splash (Disc/Download).  Even The Little Mermaid pales in comparison to this delightful Tom Hanks/Daryl Hannah rom-com about a man who falls in love with a mermaid.  Funny and charming, with some pretty impressive fishtail effects, this film is a sea fantasy come to life.

When I was young, I totally wanted to be Daryl Hannah.  Alas, all the Morton’s salt in the world couldn’t turn my legs to scales and my hair into a soft, flowing nest of crimped perfection.  As mermaid Madison, she learns English in a single afternoon by watching daytime TV, goes on a Bloomingdale’s shopping spree, and somehow learns how to ice skate despite the fact that she’s never seen ice before.  Plus, she makes the wise decision early on to fall for Tom Hanks.  He’s the kind of guy who offers to get her a hotel room, even after she’s slept with him, because he knows their afternoon delight DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY OBLIGATE HER TO DO MORE.  He’s the kind of guy who keeps fish tanks in every room because he’s never gotten over the mermaid who saved him as a little boy.  And he’s the kind of guy who will give up a lifetime of John Candy’s jokes for his one true love.  This man is a keeper.

Speaking of John Candy, he plays Hanks’ off-color, sleazy brother with a schlubby, good-hearted charm.  Sure he’s a walking sexual harassment lawsuit, but he also dispenses wisdom like, “Drinking is a matter of algebraic ratio.  It’s not that you had too much to drink; it’s that you’re too skinny.”  SO TRUE.  While watching Splash, capture the flavor of the ocean with some Himalayan Salt shot glasses, and this tasty cocktail:

SALTWATER SHOT

2 oz Citron Vodka

1 oz Orange Liqueur

1 oz Lime Juice

Lime Wedge

Combine vodka, orange liqueur, and lime juice in a shaker with ice.  Shake until chilled, then pour into Himalayan Salt glasses.  Garnish with a lime wedge.

saltwater shots

Rumor has it this film is being remade with a gender swap, but I’ll always love the original because it celebrates a mermaid who doesn’t have to change herself to fit into a man’s world.  Her world is pretty awesome already, and if a guy wants to be with her, he’s just going to have to hang out underwater and kiss her constantly for the rest of his life.  Now THAT’S a happily ever after.  Cheers!