The Second Case of Second Chances

Way back, in the ancient time of 2018, we started our podcast. Back then we were a different show. We did less research, almost no scripting, and we also had only one microphone. This was how we recorded our second episode: The Case of Second Chances. 

If you never listened to it, the three of us each brought a film that we believed deserved a second chance. This could mean two things: a movie we saw once and hated, but enjoyed the second time–OR a movie that was unpopular with critics and viewers, that we think deserves a second look. 

Well, that was a long time ago. So, we’re giving that episode a second chance with new equipment, new research skills, and new movies that deserve another watch!

The Idea for the episode

  • Everyone should see every movie at least twice. Why? Well, because context is everything. Maybe you were in a bad mood the first time you watched something? Maybe you had unrealistic expectations based on all the hype surrounding the movie? Maybe you were in a different place in your life, or recent events swayed your opinion.
  • Of course different people have different tastes, but if you hate something, you should have reasons why–and maybe those reasons could be affected by another viewing.
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THE MOVIES

  • SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (MARCI)
    • In 1993 a movie called Sleepless in Seattle came out. It was directed by Nora Ephron, who had already become known for the classic When Harry Met Sally from 1989. The story follows two main characters and how they find each other and fall in love. The first is Sam Baldwin who is a widower with a young son named Jonah. The second is Annie Reed who is a recently engaged reporter in Baltimore. The young boy Jonah calls into a radio show where he tells Dr. Marcia Fieldstone that his dad needs to remarry. When Sam ends up on the phone, and thus on the radio, the women of the country fall in love with him but especially Annie who writes and asks them to meet her on top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day.
    • Creators
      • Film producer Gary Foster brought Nora Ephron on to direct Sleepless. There was already a script but he knew that she could rework it and make it magic, just as she had put her own spin on When Harry Met Sally. In order to accomplish this movie she brought in her sister Delia to help.
    • Why I didn’t like it the first time
      • Sleepless in Seattle is a movie I believe I received as a gift from my brother Greg and sister-in-law Janeen. I think I was in high-school when I watched it. Of course it is one of those classic romantic movies that everyone hears about. How could you not? It has Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks as the leads.  
      • When I think about it, I believe that one of the reasons I did not enjoy it as much as I had hoped would be because Annie and Sam really do not spend time together in the movie. They are mostly separate, and are explored individually until the final scene when they officially get to meet each other. 
      • I would be remiss if I did not say that it bugged me that Bill Pullman was the man that Meg Ryan leaves. Up to this point I had watched movies, such as Spaceballs and While You Were Sleeping, which had him as this handsome leading man. It felt wrong that he was the allergic, sneezing, and almost unlikable fiance in this movie.
    • Why I gave it a second chance
      • So one of the things you may or may not know is that Sleepless in Seattle is like a soft retelling of An Affair to Remember. (Fun fact this would be the first of two retellings that Meg and Tom would take part in, the next would be “You’ve Got Mail” which is “The Shop Around the Corner.”) Not only does it have a similar story-line but it also references An Affair to Remember several times. When I found out later, probably in college, that An Affair to Remember was an actual movie— I had to watch it. I checked it out at my local library and gave it a watch. Once I had watched it, Sleepless made more sense. I then re-watched Sleepless in Seattle and here we are. My mind was changed, and I got a new perspective on what the movie was. Even watching it a third and fourth time there is more to get with each watch.
        • For anyone who does not know what an Affair to Remember is, it is a movie from 1957 (During the time of the Hays Code.) It stars Cary Grant as Nickie Ferrante and Deborah Kerr as Terry McKay. They are both engaged to other people but meet on a cruise from Europe to New York. They fall in love and agree to meet at the top of the Empire State Building in 6 months if they still feel the same way about each other. Tragedy strikes however when she is not able to make it because she is in an accident that cripples her. She is too proud to ask him for help until she gets better, and he is too angry and hurt to ask why she did not show. It is a really dramatic but beautiful movie and what leads the motivations for love in Sleepless in Seattle. A great example of the dramatics in this movie is when Terry says the famous line “Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories… we’ve already missed the spring!” 
    • Why I was wrong/ What is Special about it
      • The Stars in it!
        • This movie continued the magic of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan’s chemistry.
        • Ross Malinger as the son.
        • Rita Wilson as Sam’s sister, and Victor Garber as his brother-in-law.
        • Bill Pullman as Annie’s fiance. 
          • Due to watching An Affair to Remember I was able to reconcile with Bill Pullman and this movie. He is very much like the fiance in An Affair to Remember. He does not want to be the one someone settles with. He is a strong character for this, especially because he does not hold it against her.
        • Rosie O’Donnell as Annie’s Friend.
        • And Rob Reiner as one of Sam’s friends.
      • What is really special about this movie is that there is a lot to unpack. This is a movie that is as much about how movies shape our ideas and thoughts about love, as it is about finding love. The director’s sister Delia Ephron said in the movie featurette that “This isn’t a movie about love. It is a movie about love in the movies.” 
        • The fact that movies are a part of everyone’s lives is pointed out many times throughout. Some other movies mentioned are Fatal Attraction and The Dirty Dozen. 
          • Sam Baldwin : There is no way that we are going on a plane to meet some woman who could be a crazy, sick lunatic! Didn’t you see “Fatal Attraction”?
          • Jonah Baldwin : You wouldn’t let me!
          • Sam Baldwin : Well, I saw it, and it scared the shit out of me! It scared the shit out of every man in America!
      • There are actually a lot of amazing lines within this movie. Here are just a few….
        • Annie: “Now that was when people knew how to be in love. They knew it! Time, distance … nothing could separate them because they knew. It was right. It was real. It was …”
          • Becky (Rosie O’Donnell): “… a movie. … You don’t want to be in love, you want to be in love in a movie.”
        • Jay (Rob Reiner): “Well, this is fate! She’s divorced, we don’t want to redo the cabinets, and you need a wife. What do they call it when everything intersects?”    
          • Sam: “The Bermuda Triangle.”
        •  Sam Baldwin (Hanks): “It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together, and I knew it. I knew it the first time I touched her. It was like coming home, only to no home I’d ever known. I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew it. It was like magic.”
      • Ratings
        • I picked this movie because I did not like it upon first watch. I was probably in the minority on this being that..
          • It currently has a 6.8/10 on IMDB, 74% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 72% on Metacritic. At the box office worldwide it made around $227 million. So even though it came out around the time of Jurassic Park, it did pretty well for itself. 
          • Even Roger Ebert had this to say about it, “”Sleepless in Seattle” is as ephemeral as a talk show, as contrived as the late show, and yet so warm and gentle I smiled the whole way through.”
      • Fun Facts:
        • Lydia Ruth, the spokeswoman for the corporation that runs the Empire State Building, said that after the movie was released people kept calling to ask if the heart could be displayed on the sides of the building like in the movie. Unfortunately they could not, because it had been computer generated for the movie. 
        • The final scene at the Empire State Building almost did not happen. They had been turned away from shooting at the building. Luckily the director Nora Ephron was able to pull it off because she knew the publicist for the building’s owner. The owner, Leona Helmsley, was currently in jail for tax evasion but allowed them just 6 hours to shoot those final shots.
        • It was so popular that it became a stage musical at The Pasadena Playhouse and was set to be made into a Broadway production and a London Premier. Even through Covid they were planning for a socially distant opening in London during August 2020. You can listen to a sneak peak of one of the songs here-called “Outta My Hands”– https://www.playbill.com/article/sleepless-musical-based-on-sleepless-in-seattle-begins-in-london-august-25
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  • TRON: LEGACY (ADAM)
    • As far back as 1999, Pixar of all companies had an alleged interest in creating a sequel to the 1982 film TRON after it garnered a cult following. Rumors further ignited after the 2003 release of the video game TRON 2.0. But it wouldn’t be until 2005, when Disney would finally begin a somewhat lackluster effort to devise that sequel. They began by hiring Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal as writers. Then Joseph Kosinski was brought on to direct two years into the project. As he was not very optimistic about Disney’s Matrix-esque approach to the film, Kosinski filmed a high-concept, which he used to convey his version of the TRON universe and convince Disney to fully greenlight the film. 
    • After a 5 year production, TRON: Legacy premiered in Tokyo on November 30, 2010 and was released worldwide on December 17th of the same year. Upon its release the film received mixed reviews. Critics praised the visual effects, production and soundtrack, but criticized the character development, cast performances and story. Despite this, TRON: Legacy would gross $400 million during its theatrical run, making it a box office success. It was also nominated for an Academy award for best sound editing (lost to Inception.) In the end, like the original TRON before it, TRON: Legacy has been described as a cult classic. 
    • Cast
      • Garrett Hedlund stars as Sam Flynn, a primary shareholder of ENCOM who, while investigating his father’s disappearance, is transported onto the Grid.
        • Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn, the former CEO of ENCOM and creator of the popular in universe arcade game Tron, who disappeared in 1989 while developing “a digital frontier that will reshape the human condition.”
        • Bridges also portrays Clu (Codified Likeness Utility), a more advanced version of Flynn’s original computer-hacking program, designed as an “exact duplicate of himself” within the Grid.
        • Olivia Wilde as Quorra, an “isomorphic algorithm,” a new life form born from the Grid. The last of her kind, an adept warrior, and confidante of Kevin Flynn. 
        • Bruce Boxleitner as Alan Bradley, an executive consultant for ENCOM, and close friend of Kevin who, after receiving a cryptic page from the office at the shut down Flynn’s Arcade, encourages Sam to investigate its origin.
        • Boxleitner also portrays Tron.
        • Michael Sheen as Castor, a flamboyant supermodel program who runs the End of Line Club at the top of the tallest tower in the system.
        • James Frain as Jarvis, an administration program who serves as Clu’s right-hand man and chief intelligence officer. 
    • Why it is widely disliked 
      • Imdb – 6.8
      • Rotten Tomatoes – 51%
      • Metacritic – 49%
      • The biggest hook for TRON: Legacy is the special effects. There are over 1500 visual effects shots in this movie, all of which blend a variety of CGI techniques. This includes everyone’s favorite computer-generated Jeff Bridges. The problem is you can’t make a film solely on its CGI potential (looking at you James Cameron). 
      • While TRON: Legacy brings great visuals, it has little in terms of thematic or character depth. It takes itself incredibly seriously but lacks any motivation other than, “he’s my dad” or “I’m blue and he’s red so he must be the bad guy”. Now for some, amazing visuals are enough. However, by 2010, audiences were used to the huge amounts of CGI in films. Another big issue with TRON: Legacy is that it comes across as a disappointing waste of potential. 
      • In 2010, video games had become a mainstream norm, and a major part of pop culture. They have helped shape decades of storytelling and creative expectations. Stories about the omnipresence of technology and its growing grip on our daily lives make up a significant portion of science fiction. Think Terminator or Black Mirror. So TRON: Legacy has all of these fascinating angles to explore yet it does nothing with them. 
    • Why I like it
      • I am a sucker for visual effects and I am easily transported to new and interesting worlds. I believe TRON: Legacy did this, and did it well. As soon as Sam enters the Grid, I am instantly put in the “aw man this is so cool” mindset. I find myself even now wanting to attempt a TRON: Legacy cosplay one day. 
      • The music is absolutely amazing and I continually listen to the soundtrack. Daft Punk were able to capture the sound of a dark and mysterious electronic dystopia that mixes old and new, while also giving their iconic electronic sound an orchestral twist. 
      • Jeff Bridges is also one of my favorite actors and he brings it as both Clu and Kevin Flynn. Say what you want about the CGI young version, but that wasn’t on him. Clu is still a wonderfully acted and intimidating villain. It’s also fascinating to see how Flynn handles being a prisoner in his own creation. 
      • For me the film does enough to entertain. I’m not going to hold a thin plot against it. The story is still compelling enough for me to want to move forward and see the next great visual set piece. 
    • Why it should be given a second chance 
      • So I cannot lie and tell you that it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that TRON: Legacy’s enduring popularity among cult fans was because of its Oscar worthy plot. Its focus was clearly less on story and more on visual uniqueness. Something that would help it stand out in a crowded market of “Star Wars knock-off” sci-fi while Disney tried to find its way in. Disney would simply go on to purchase Lucasfilm instead. Still, what TRON: Legacy did have, was real forward momentum and a great blend of retro and modern. It’s a classic hero’s journey full of tasks Sam must complete to save the day, mixed with the boundary-pushing technology and art direction. 
      • We all love a good popcorn flick every now and then but TRON: Legacy also stands out in one particular way that makes it worth watching. While re-watching this movie for this episode, I was struck with an idea for a term that I couldn’t shake. That being “calm action”. This movie has a certain flow to it that is unlike anything else I can think of. During some of the most action-heavy scenes, what is happening can actually be seen on screen and is able to be easily followed and understood. It lacks the hundreds of quick cuts that many big budget action movies are filled with. Even the climax of the film is a great example of a chilled out action scene where everything down to the very movement of the vehicles are long, slow, and smooth. This is what I mean by “calm action”. To the characters living it, the action may be hectic and intense, but to those of us watching, we are able to observe like a true audience. 
      • You can see that TRON: Legacy did a lot of important things really well. It expanded the original concept of the Grid into an entire realm filled with endless possibilities, while still remaining true to the source material and its characters. It gave us an awesome new character in Quorra, who is a great mix of naivety and ass-kickery. AND on top of that some absolutely brilliant atmospheric Daft Punk tunes. 
      • Overall TRON: Legacy is a well done sci-fi movie with an interesting world that can be built on and explored even further. It is a visual marvel and musical masterwork. So if even just for a taste of original TRON nostalgia, it deserves a second chance. 
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  • BRIDESMAIDS
    • Back in 2011, an R-rated comedy smashed the box office and took the world by storm. At the time, raunchy buddy comedies were all-the-rage (ie The Hangover, Role Models, Hot Tub Time Machine) which proved that adult audiences craved more grown-up humor. But, there was another reason this particular movie was making headlines–and history. It was written by and starred WOMEN. That’s right, I’m talking about Bridesmaids. 
    • If you’re unfamiliar, (you’re probably familiar) Bridesmaids follows Annie (Kristin Wiig) as she struggles through her adult life alongside her bestie Lillian (Maya Rudolph). When Lillian announces that she is getting married, Annie agrees to be the maid of honor. After meeting the rest of the bridal party, Annie soon discovers that she must compete with the beautiful wife of the groom’s boss: Helen. Helen majored in passive-aggressive in college, and she quickly takes over and out-shines Annie at every turn. Will Annie be able to hold it together and guide her best friend down the aisle, or is she in danger of losing her best friend forever? 
    • Creators
      • When Judd Apatow directed his 2007 movie Knocked Up, he was impressed with Kristin Wiig’s comedic acting. He approached her and asked her to write a movie of her choice for him to produce. 
        • Wiig asked her friend and fellow castmate at Groundlings Theatre School, Annie Mumolo to co-write a screenplay.
        • From the beginning, the idea was to write an ensemble comedy, simply because they themselves knew so many funny women. (They say to write what you know, right?) 
        • After the first draft was written, Apatow contacted his friend Paul Feig. Feig had been looking to create a female-led comedy since he felt that the formulaic Rom-coms weren’t giving funny women the right roles to show off their comedic abilities; and that male-led comedies weren’t very relatable.
          • With Apatow, Feig, and a few actors chosen for the cast, the group did its first table read. After a few years and lots of script changes, the movie finally moved forward 
            • Wiig and Mumolo had a different style of humor than Apatow and Feig, and they reportedly argued over the type of humor in the movie. The women wanted to go with a more natural humor that played on everyday moments–while the men wanted slapstick. 
            • The incredibly famous dress-shop scene when all the women get sick was added to appease the producer and director. 
    • The Cast
      • The film starred Kristin Wiig as Annie. Although she was already well-known for SNL, this was her first starring film role. Annie is meant to be the most relatable character in the film–a woman in her 30’s who feels like she doesn’t know where her life is going.
      • Maya Rudolph was cast as Annie’s best friend Lillian. Feig specifically brought Rudolph into the casting process because he wanted Wiig to play off someone that she was actually friends with. Rather than saying how long the women have been friends in the script, the movie relies on the actors’ chemistry to show the audience how close they are.
      • Rose Byrne had recently been in the comedy, “Get Him to the Greek” when she was cast as Helen. Feig realized her potential for the role when he brought her in to play off of Wiig. The women were both funny, but in completely different ways that really worked for the characters.
        • The first thing they shot with Rose was the engagement party–particularly the scene where she turns around in her elegant floor-length gown. This is also the scene where she and Kristin Wiig keep one-upping each other with speeches, passing the mic back and forth. 
        • While they were filming the scene, Paul Feig let the women go back and forth improvising ways to surpass the other one. Rose stepped in and pretended to speak a Thailand proverb. Everyone thought it was so funny that they made her learn an actual proverb and speak it in the movie!
      • Ellie Kemper was known for playing Erin on the US version of The Office when she was cast as Becca. Originally she read for the part of Megan–the part that originally went to Melissa McCarthy. She later said that before shooting, Paul Feig met with each actress about their characters and she used emails from real brides that she knew as inspiration for her character.
      • Veteran comedic actress Wendi McLendon-Covey of “Reno 911” was cast as Rita. She was perfect for the role of the older, frustrated mother of teenage boys. She said she was shocked when she got the part, but her comedic charm perfectly balances with other characters–most notably Ellie Kemper’s character Becca. 
      • When Bridesmaids took off, the obvious stand-out was Melissa McCarthy. The movie made her a household name for her strange and hilarious portrayal of Megan–a part that was almost cut when Feig and Apatow had trouble finding an actress for the part. 
        • When McCarthy read for the part, Feig didn’t originally understand where she was going with the part. It was a weird and different take on the character. McCarthy has said that she based her performance on Guy Fieri. 
        • Another stand-out moment for McCarthy was the speech Megan gives to Annie to get her back on track later in the movie. Originally the speech was written for a bill collector who would urge Annie to get it together over the phone. But, the writers realized that the scene would better suit a character that the audience already knew.
        • McCarthy also got the chance to work with her husband! He plays the Air Marshal on the plane.
      • Annie Mumolo
        • Although it’s only one scene, co-writer Annie Mumolo appears next to Wiig in the airplane scene as a stressed passenger.
        • It was easy for her to appear in the scene, as she was on set for sudden re-writes. She was also very pregnant at the time. 
      • Jon Hamm
        • Hamm plays Ted, Annie’s original love interest and “fuck buddy.” Hamm is actually uncredited for the role, at his own request. He was afraid that his name would make audiences think that the film was more dramatic than it was, thus hurting it financially. 
        • Jon Hamm was also Ellie Kemper’s acting teacher at one point in time! 
      • Chris O’Dowd plays the lovable Irish cop, Nathan Rhodes. Originally, O’Dowd was meant to put on an American accent, but the filmmakers liked the authenticity of his Irish voice, and they even re-wrote the character to be Irish for him.  
  • Bridesmaids made $169,106,725 in the US and $288,383,523 worldwide. Its obvious success paved the way for more R-rated female-led comedies and films in general. It seemed to answer the question, “can women be funny?” with a resounding yes. Of course, if you listen to our Todd and Pitts episode, it’s clear that women were always funny. 
    • Ratings
      • IMDB – 6.8/10
      • Rotten Tomatoes – 90% from critics 76% from audiences 
      • MetaCritic – 75 
    • Why I didn’t like it the first time
      • This is always a difficult question to answer. Bridesmaids was SO popular, I kept my dislike for it quiet. I think it was a combination of things: too much hype, and it wasn’t really my brand of humor. I loved Chris O’Dowd, though. That’s one thing that never changed. 
      • I had just graduated high school, so I didn’t really relate to what was happening–and yet, I almost related too much at times. The scene where Annie gives the speech at the engagement party gives me terrible second-hand embarrassment. It was really hard for me to watch her be so insecure in their friendship, and get pushed away from her best friend by this seemingly horrible woman. 
      • I also didn’t appreciate how she treated Chris O’Dowd. After the scene where Annie and Lillian fight at the bridal shower, I turned the movie off. I was furious that Lillian kicked Annie out of the wedding in the first place, and that she didn’t even consider that “Helen-the-horrible” could be causing distance between them. I told myself that they would figure it out, and I moved on. 
    • Why I gave it a second chance
      • Back when we recorded part one, I mentioned that another movie that I didn’t like was Bridesmaids. My friend, Sarah, listened to that episode and actually wrote us a letter telling me that I should re-watch it. It’s the only fan mail we’ve ever gotten, and it’s actually hanging in our studio! So, thanks Sarah you’re the best.
      • Of course, I waited almost another two years to give Bridesmaids a shot. I went into it with an open mind and heart, and tried to view it through the eyes of an adult woman in 2011. 
    • Why I was wrong
      • While I was researching the movie, I found a quote from Kristin Wiig, where she expressed that the women making the movie didn’t understand what a big deal it was at the time. I can relate to that, because even though I knew there weren’t a lot of raunchy female comedies, I still didn’t understand how this movie could change Hollywood.
      • But even all that aside, I barely gave the movie a first chance. It hit close to home in a way that made it hard for me to watch. Being a teenage girl who just graduated high school, I had had enough of bitchy women to last a lifetime. So, I could not stand to watch Annie and Lillian fight, I had such a hard time when Helen stepped in and took over. I was tired, SO TIRED, of women being compared to each other, of this constant competition, and that’s what I saw in this movie. That’s why I turned it off. 
      • But I was wrong to turn it off. In fact, the last act of the movie is undoubtedly my favorite part. When Helen can’t find Lillian on the day of her wedding, she comes to Annie for help. Up until this point I genuinely could not tell if Helen was just a heartless woman, hellbent on destroying a lifelong relationship, or just a lonely person who took charge just because she’s used to running the show. 
        • When she needs Annie’s help, Helen isn’t too proud to ask for it. She apologizes for what she’s done, and although the apology was way overdue, it seems sincere. Helen isn’t a bitch. Helen is alone, she was on the defensive, and she saw Annie as a threat just as Annie saw her as one. 
        • The way these women can mend their differences in a matter of minutes in a (mostly) adult way, really impressed me. I can see how this movie broke new ground in Hollywood. Not only because these women subverted expectations by performing raunchy (and sometimes crude) humor, but because it showed how women can come together without the typical “catty” stereotypes. 
      • When it comes to anyone–woman or man–shitting in the middle of the street, it’s still not my brand of humor. But, that’s one scene. When Annie drunkenly struts into first class on the airplane and hilariously delivers the now iconic line, “help me I’m poor,” that’s funny. 
      • The movie was funnier for me the second time. It still made me cringe, but so does Planes, Trains, and Automobiles–so does The Hangover. And as an adult woman, I’m grateful that this movie was made to pave the way for more female-led stories. 

SOURCES:

Bridesmaids Sources-

Sleepless in Seattle Sources-

Tron: Legacy Sources-

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