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Dick

Dick

Image credit: Dick, 1999.

Recent current events have turned my attention back to films about the Nixon presidency, and while I could certainly watch All the President’s Men, or Oliver Stone’s Nixon, it’s a hell of a lot more fun to watch Dick (Disc/Download).  A satire of Richard Nixon’s fall from grace, this under-appreciated gem is suddenly, gloriously relevant again.  Oh, Checkers the dog- how I’ve missed you!!

Starring Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams as average teenage girls who inadvertently become embroiled in the Watergate scandal, Dick is a whip-smart comedy masquerading as an SNL sketch. Sure there are dick jokes aplenty, but there’s also a clever revisionist history that imagines Deep Throat as two Bobby Sherman-obsessed, shrieking blondes.  Then there’s Dan Hedaya as Nixon, BY FAR my favorite cinema Nixon.  He’s got the voice, the swagger, the angry little boy tantrums—does this sound like anyone else we know?  It’s a joy to see all the celebrity cameos (Harry Shearer as G. Gordon Liddy, Dave Foley as Haldeman, Will Ferrell as Bob Woodward, Bruce McCulloch as Carl Bernstein, etc.) but my favorite cast member is Teri Garr as Michelle Williams’ mom.  She. Is. Fabulous.  She’s got a chic apartment in The Watergate, she enjoys cocktails and making out with Ted McGinley, and isn’t afraid of wallpaper.  Honestly by the time we get to a doughy teenage Ryan Reynolds, I’m somewhat fatigued by the star power in this strange little film.  And that’s saying a lot because who doesn’t love Ryan Reynolds?

Adding to the ‘70s verisimilitude is Dunst’s stoner brother, who hides his stash in the family walnut jar.  The girls unknowingly make marijuana-laced Hello Dolly bars for the president, landing themselves a sweet dog-walking gig AND peace with the Soviet Union.  I’ve come up with a Hello Dolly-inspired cocktail that’ll make this already-terrific film even funnier.  Up to you if you want to add some CBD oil to make it more authentic!

Hello Dolly

3 oz coconut milk

2 oz Godiva chocolate liqueur

1 oz Brandy

Crushed graham crackers

Walnut bitters

½  cup ice

Wet the rim of a glass and dip in crushed graham crackers.  Set aside.  Combine coconut milk, chocolate liqueur, brandy, and ice in a blender. Blend until smooth, then pour into prepared glass.  Top with a few dashes of walnut bitters.

I don’t know what the future holds in terms of our current political situation, but it’s fascinating to look back several decades and realize the script was largely the same then as it is today.  Crooked, narcissistic politician does something extremely shady, gets caught, then engages in a massive spin campaign to discredit the Washington Post and shift the blame away from himself.  The Carly Simon song at the end of this film says it all perfectly- you’re so vain. Cheers!

Old School

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old-school

Image credit:  Old School, 2003

I really shouldn’t like this week’s film as much as I do. Old School (DVD/Download) is, on the surface, a raucous comedy that should probably appeal to the lowest common denominator of frat-bros. But somehow, it still has me in stitches. Chalk it up to the surprisingly nuanced comedy of Will Ferrell, or perhaps just that one Graduate-throwback scene in the swimming pool. Whatever it is, it was enough to make me want to see this movie twice in the theater when it was released, and laugh my (earmuffs) ass off each time.

Although much of the action centers around three adult friends who decide to start a fraternity open to all ages, what always gets me are the simple jokes about real 30-something life. I mean, haven’t we all had a nice little Saturday involving Home Depot and Bed Bath ‘n Beyond? Or had to censor ourselves around small children? Or suffered through drunken wedding toasts? The more broadly comedic scenes involving old man Blue and KY wrestling matches may get more laughs, but for me, it’s the believable situations of couples counseling and children’s birthday parties that elevate the film to a higher standard.

Although this is certainly a beer-centric movie (and by all means, if you have a favorite brew from your college days, drink up), I’d like to make a drink for the ladies. For people who’ve seen the movie, you’ll know why I’m using vegetables in my cocktail. For people who haven’t, well, get ready for ladies night. While watching Old School, I recommend drinking a Cucumber Gimlet.  (Once it hits your lips, it’s so good!!)

Cucumber Gimlet

3 thin slices cucumber (plus 1 more for garnish)

1 sprig rosemary leaves (removed from stem)

4 oz Plymouth gin

1.5 oz fresh lime juice

1/2 oz simple syrup

Muddle cumber and rosemary together with simple syrup at the bottom of a shaker. Add gin and lime juice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass, and garnish with a cucumber slice.

Cucumber Gimlet

I don’t know that I have a strong desire to relive my college days like the guys in this film (sadly, it would probably involve Easy Mac and an empty studio apartment), but the very act of watching Old School does it for me. As I’ve mentioned, I saw it twice in the theater, both times with good friends and lots of laughs. Isn’t that was college was really about anyway?  Cheers!

The Lego Movie

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Image Credit: Warner Bros, 2014, The Lego Movie

Image Credit: Warner Bros, 2014, The Lego Movie

Newsflash: EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!!!!! That’s right, I’ve finally watched The Lego Movie, after hearing rave reviews from pretty much everyone I know. And for good reason. It’s awesome!!! I’ll admit, when I heard they were making a movie out of the little toy bricks that didn’t hold much interest for me as a kid (I was more of a Barbie girl), I rolled my eyes. THIS is what someone in Hollywood thought was a good idea? A movie about talking Lego men? Even my husband, devoted Lego fan for life, shook his head in annoyance. We ignored the glowing reviews when the film was in theaters, thinking surely it’s a fluke and our friends are more immature than we thought. However, I allowed myself to consider the possibility that maybe it was sorta kinda okay and put it on my Netflix queue anyway. The DVD arrived, we watched it, and let me just say- I was so wrong.

I assumed that The Lego Movie (DVD/Download) would be one long cutesy toy movie, catering to 5-year old boys. Not so. It caters to adults as well, through hilarious cultural commentary (honestly, Where are my Pants? sounds about on par with most of the sitcoms on tv these days), and wonderful references to the Legos that older viewers grew up with. When my husband saw that Benny the Lego Spaceman had a broken strap on his helmet, just like the one he had as a child, his face lit up. The filmmakers get it! That attention to detail is certainly what got me hooked, both in the visual style and with the script. This film doesn’t play down to its audience like so many children’s movies do. Adding in a roster of big movie stars (Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell, etc.) lends the film some caché, and I admit I certainly had fun trying to match the voice to an actor I was familiar with.

After deciding that I had to write about this movie on Cinema Sips, I knew I needed to think of a great cocktail to accompany it.  Like a Master Builder, I decided to stop looking for instructions and come up with something wildly imaginative. Also, it had to be fun and youthful. A lightbulb went off over my head when I remembered the one Lego item I have actually used in my life- a Lego brick ice cube tray. If you grew up in the 90’s like I did, you may remember the Bill Cosby Jell-O commercials. I loved the Jell-O Jiggler commercials, and as an adult, I’ve combined the fun novelty of a jiggler with the boozy finish of a Jell-O shot. This is a great way to use wacky ice cube trays that have been lingering in your cupboards, and of course Lego makes their own variety, found here. When watching The Lego Movie, I suggest making a tray of Block Shots.

Block Shots

1 packet Jell-O, any flavor

1  cup Vodka

Prepare your molds by spraying non-stick cooking spray in each mold, then wiping off excess with a paper towel.  Heat the vodka in a pan on the stovetop, careful to bring it just to simmering, but not boiling (we don’t want to boil off all the alcohol). Once it’s well-heated, mix in the Jell-O and stir well. Once the Jell-O is dissolved, pour it into the molds. Place your molds on a pan in the refrigerator, and refrigerate until firm (at least 3 hours). To remove the bricks from the molds, dip your (CLEAN!) finger in warm water and pop the shapes out, running your finger along the edges to loosen.

*Note, if you’re watching this movie with kids, totally not a problem. Just make a separate batch with water instead of vodka for them, in a different color so you’ll know the difference.

Lego-Jello

 

Feel free to experiment with different shapes, and if you don’t feel like investing in bricks or Lego-man molds, regular ice cube trays work fine (though, you run the risk of being called a Duplo-lover). Fair warning, these are VERY strong. As you see from the recipe, there’s no water in them, just vodka and Jell-O. Do you need to get hammered to enjoy this movie as much as your kids? No, probably not, but it makes it a whole lot more fun! This movie has made me realize that I’m a lot more like The Man Upstairs than I would care to admit. I don’t crazy-glue my Legos, but I have museum-waxed my dollhouse into an immovable tableau. Perhaps it’s time to let loose a little bit, in several areas of my life- it can be good to not follow the directions all the time. Cheers!