Monday, Mar 03, 2014
by Ned Wazowski
Bloopers prove that the best part of something might be the mistakes.
Uncontrollable laughter, forgotten lines or pranks or practical jokes by fellow cast members. For me, the Special Features are the best reason to own a DVD, and bloopers, also known as outtakes or a gag reel, are irresistible.
The term blooper originates from wartime censorship – it’s short for ‘Blue Pencil’ which was used to cross out unacceptable parts of documents and letters by the 'blue-person'. Its use for these flubs on film was popularized in the 1950s in a series of record albums entitled Pardon My Blooper.
But one of the earliest champions of the blooper reel as entertainment in and of itself was the Burt Reynolds classic Smokey and the Bandit II. Theatre-goers in 1980 didn’t walk out during the closing credits but instead were glued to their seats watching Sally Field, Jackie Gleason, Jerry Reed, but mostly Burt Reynolds flub their lines, miss their marks and otherwise waste precious film in their tomfoolery.
Blooper reels allow us to catch our favorite actors when they let their guard down and we see them being real. You certainly walk out of the theatre thinking that these are people who get along well with each other and who have a lot of fun in their jobs. So what, then, when the actors aren’t real at all?
Lots of Pixar’s films include a blooper reel over the closing credit. This is the ultimate suspense of disbelief since, if the characters are doing retakes, there’s obviously a physical set somewhere with real actors – albeit monsters or toys – that really exist. In Burt Reynolds’s case, the blooper shows that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. For the Pixar crew, the blooper reel proves one half of that old adage: to err is human. If they’re making mistakes, then they must be real.
Monday, Feb 24, 2014
by Ned Wazowski
Are you in or are you out?
When you’re a kid, a sense of belonging is so important. You yearn to be included as part of the group, and being left out is the worst punishment. Fan clubs allow kids to proudly declare their membership to the world, with all the documents – from their favorite hero no less – to back it up.
As a kid, I was a card-carrying member of the Pennyland Fan Club. We didn’t hold meetings or attend events, but that little rectangle of card stock made me feel closer to my favorite characters. Of course, some fan clubs actually did things and even elected officers (rumor has it Margie was President of her local chapter of the Jupiter Fan Club), offering members other ways to be connected to their heroes.
And what if that hero were fictional? That didn’t matter at all. In fact, a club made up of real-life members could help bring the fictional character to life. Or maybe, as in the case of the Spaceman Jax fan club, it allowed kids to participate in that imaginary world and explore beyond the walls of the thirty-minute show.
Do kids still join fan clubs anymore? Not as they existed in the past, but organized groups of fans are pretty common online. Whether it’s liking a fan page and staying in touch by following newsfeeds or joining an official forum, there are plenty of ways to be a part of the group. You may not have a pin or a decoder ring to demonstrate your devotion, but Facebook shows your friends the bands or films or characters you like – letting you wear your heart on your page, if not on your sleeve.
Monday, Feb 17, 2014
by Ned Wazowski
The 21st century – the same as it’s always been.
Watching old episodes of the Jetsons, I’m really struck by how similar life seems today as it was for the “family of the future.” Obviously there are universal truths that may never change: raising kids, working for a big company, and human-canine relations.
But it’s the 1960s view of technology that’s so interesting – all of the screens in the Jetsons, all of the button-pushing and desire for instant-everything.
It’s remarkable not how much the Jetson’s home resembles the home of the future seen at the 1964 World’s Fair, but how much it resembles our homes today. Flat screen televisions that take up one wall of the living room and upon which we can play games, watch films and browse through an entire universe of information, all from the climate-controlled comfort of our push-button world. While we worry about chemicals and preservatives, we enjoy instant meals that are ready with the push of a button or delivered hot to our door, even from restaurants across the country. George Jetson (and his boy Elroy) would certainly feel right at home here.
If only we could figure out how to get the dog to use the treadmill, we’d have it made!