Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Johnny California: F This Movie Fest Wrap-Up

 by JB

The only part NOT FUN was waking up at 7am PST.

Another F This Movie Fest has come and gone, and... ain’t we got fun? This year’s Fest was very fun. Just ask the 116 million people who joined us this year. Okay, I exaggerate. It was only 115 million. Fuck you, Elon!

I personally tweeted 63 times; that’s an average of ten per movie. I don’t know if that’s high or low. It seems higher than last year. The day started with oatmeal, progressed to Chili for Babies and ended with proof of pizza and LA Doug joining us at Casa Oxnard for Return of the Jedi. It was the ginchiest.
As we have for the past several years, Jan (recent guest on Reserved Seating with Adam and Rob) and I prepared FTM Fest Fun Packs for the F This Movie crew. The fun pack contained a WarGames foam tic-tac-toe game, the only intelligent decision regarding which is the decision not to play; Superman III red kryptonite, which was in reality cleverly disguised Pop Rocks candy; Mr. Mom Chili For Babies; a Krull Shrinky-Dink glaive pendant; a Valley Girl soundtrack CD of questionable legality; and an official Return of the Jedi “Adopt-An-Ewok” kit. Thanks to the brainiacs at UPS, Rob DiCristino received his fun pack yesterday. So, I guess we simply need to do the whole thing over again!
Here are my Expert Impressions(R) of this year's 1983 lineup:

I realized as the film unspooled that I had only seen it one other time, the Friday it first opened in theaters. I was pleasantly surprised by how well it holds up, how well it still plays to contemporary audiences, and what a terrific parade of character actors it contains. Boy howdy: Dabney Coleman (Someone tweeted that his moustache was 90% nicotine!), Barry Corbin, James Tolkan, Michael Ensign, Joe Dorsey, John Wood, William Bogert, Maury Chakin, Michael Madsen, Eddie Deezan, Art LaFleur, and John Spencer. As I mentioned on the podcast Saturday night, the film’s effective message still stuck with me forty years later: The only intelligent decision is the decision not to play.

"Let’s take the suspect [Matthew Broderick] to NORAD and not the local field office!"

Superman III
Boy, our post-Fest podcast made me wish I were watching this with Rosalie Lewis! Oh, what fun they had. I sat incredulous during the entire film (I had never seen it before) at just what a patchwork, slapdash mix of styles and tones it was. The producers (after sweating blood to get the first two good films in the can) obviously thought that once they signed Richard Pryor, they could sit back, their work done. Good Lord. Is there any worse scene in film history than Pryor in that Patton get-up delivering that desperately unfunny, cocaine-fueled diatribe as he gives Superman his fake award? Couldn’t the producers have gone back to the comics and found a Superman villain that Pryor could play? Would that have been so hard? Also, I don’t know if anyone else had this problem, but I found it hard to hear Robert Vaughn, Pamela Stephenson, and Annie Ross’s dialogue over the deafening sound of the three of them cashing their paychecks. BUT the snarky comments from fellow F This Movie Festers made this one a joy. Also, it was fun to see how many on the Twitter machine thought Evil Supes was HOT.

Slow-release Kryptonite. Kryptomorrow.
Mr. Mom
I half-remembered this movie being goofy fun (and then being part of some Pizza Hut or McDonalds giveaway on DVD?) but I was surprised Saturday that, for a sort of middle-of-the-road American comedy, it tries to tackle real issues associated with working moms and stay-at-home dads. Go, John Hughes! Yes, some of it is exaggerated for comic effect (the washing machine, the soap opera fantasy) but I was pleasantly surprised at how much heart this little film has. Everyone cheered (and I still remember this moment from my original viewing in 1983) when Keaton decks Jeffrey Tambor for disrespecting his son. Fuck you, Jinx!

My father never dropped anyone that was rude to me. Ahhhhhh, the movies.

How did Michael Keaton hook up with all those kids?

This movie gave me such deja-vu. For most of its running time, I felt that I had watched it before IN PATRICK’S BASEMENT. Did I dream it? Was it actually part of an old Sci-Fi Spectacular at the Music Box Theater? Prior life memory infringing on present life? Which one of these? The world may never know.
I enjoyed picking out the procession of English character actors along with the rest of you. When David Battley appeared as Ergo, his voice is so distinctive, I felt we were all racing each other on the Twitter machine to identify him as the obnoxious science teacher, Mr. Turkentine, in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It was nice to see that back in 1983, Liam Neeson was already getting work. (“Liam... Liam... in only ten years, you will play... Oskar Schindler!”) Boy, did Robbie Coltrane ever look younger? I tweeted that I thought he looked like Freddie Mercury... if Freddie had eaten the other members of Queen.

You'll find it in a cave
The princess you must save
Handsome Colwyn must be brave
Or he'll end up in a grave

Valley Girl
Boy, remember when even teen sex comedies had a grounding in reality? There was a time when even an "exploitation" film like Valley Girl would feature real actors like Frederic Forrest and feature scenes like the sweet one between father and daughter where both characters speak and act like... real human beings. (From somewhere far off we overhear the soundtrack of a Nicolas Winding Refn film: “REAL HUMAN BEINGS...”) I miss the Eighties.

Are [Randy and Julie] going to pass Cliff Booth driving the other way, listening to the same station?

Return of the Jedi
Kudos to LA Doug for making the great Western trek to join us for this one. Jan is an enormous Star Wars fan and Doug suggested that Jedi “was the film [he had] seen the most times IN MY LIFE.” So, it was fun to be a fly on the wall for this one. We would be talking and hours later, I realized that Doug was posting tweets at the same time. It was like some sort of magic trick. I personally cannot tweet and chew gum at the same time.

B FAVORITE TWEET OF THE DAY: The dress on Leia implies [the Ewoks] ate someone close to her size.
During the Fest, my wife blew up some neon balloons to get us in a festy, Eighties mood. I stare at those balloons now, as if experiencing a hangover, the balloons a visual metaphor for fun gone by... I can only mollify my sadness with thoughts of next year... and the films of 1994... and next year’s SECRET SEVENTH FILM.


  1. I really needed to gather my thoughts on this year's fest. Normally about halfway through the last movie of the evening is when the melancholy starts to hit me, but I think this time I didn't really feel it until the livestream afterwards. While all of us FTM fans are typically spread out across the globe, we're also aware that off in FTM HQ each year there's a gathering of epic proportions going on. This year though the livestream was a reminder that even the FTM team is more spread out than ever. It really drives home what Patrick said near the end of the fest: "My dream when I started the fest was that we could all be together in one place. This still feels that way thanks to you all."

    I was very curious to see how this lineup would play. I know better at this point than to doubt Patrick's choice of movies for the lineup, but I also don't think it can be overstated that part of the key to these festivals working is the community Patrick has cultivated here. This isn't a crowd that watches movies ironically just to shit on them for instance, and for any other crowd a viewing of Superman III would have just been an excuse to dunk on the movie while feeling above it. And Superman III certainly got some deserved snark tweeted out, but people also weren't afraid to admit to the bits they liked.

    1983 was a weird year, and I think we got a lineup that reflected that. Would it have been better had The Man with Two Brains made it into the lineup? We'll never know, although I suspect that speed at which the jokes come, and the fact that many people have likely not seen it before, or at least not recently, might have resulted in people being too transfixed by the film to tweet. Say what you will about WarGames pace, Krull's editing, or Superman III's... movie, but they offer some opportunities to catch up with things on the Twitter machine.

    Not much else to say other than to reiterate my call for a JB/Jan/Doug podcast (I miss Doug in general on the podcast), and I'm looking forward to the '94 FTMF next year, and Junesploitation in a few months.

  2. The biggest surprise for me was how much fun it was to watch and tweet thru Superman III. I doubt that I would have ever rewatched it without the Fest so I’m grateful for that.
    I haven’t had much appreciation for Jedi over the years, but now I feel like I’ve regained the joy I had as a kid, recreating with my friends all the awesome set pieces: Jabba, the speeder bikes, and Lando piloting the Falcon thru the Death Star.
    My favorite rewatch was definitely Valley Girl as it’s one of my favorite movies of all time. It felt awesome to see all the love for Julie and Randy, the amazing soundtrack, and all the scorn for Tommy. Deborah Forman and Michael Bowen should have had bigger movie careers.
    My favorite tweet of the Fest came during Richard (Les Nessman) Sanders’ scene as Julie’s driving instructor.
    As god as my witness I thought turkeys could drive. -Josh, Turning Green @Dr_David_Banner
    Anywho, thanks again to Patrick, the F This Movie crew, and everyone who participated for making such a great week and day at the movies (at home).

  3. It sounds so fun! Iʻm pretty impressed you guys made red kryptonite. Okay, I just looked it up and pop rocks candies already come in red color. Still, I love it.

    I couldnʻt make it :( but I was betting Valley Girl would "play the best". Sounds like I mightʻve been right!