I’m officially old. I know because I spent most of Lady Bird identifying with the mom instead of the teenager, even when she wasn’t such a great mom.
Because I apparently bring this blog out of mothballs exclusively for Halloween fare these days*, I figured I might as well follow up on last year’s epic Simpsons Treehouse of Horror odyssey. If a bit late.
Treehouse of Horror XXVIII (2017)
Opener: There are no credits or couch gag in order to make room for “The Sweets Hereafter,” a marginally clever CGI short that’s practically a separate act of its own. The Simpsons family is depicted as sentient Halloween candy (except for Lisa as a nutritious apple) hoping to survive the night in the trick or treaters’ bowl. Bart as a Butterfinger is a neat in-joke (and also leads into a sick burn on the divisive chocolatey treat), but my favorite is Maggie as a ring pop.
Stories: 1) The Exor-Sis (Maggie gets possessed); 2) Coralisa (Coraline parody using CGI that attempts to kinda-sorta look like stop-motion animation); and 3) MMM… Homer (in which the Simpsons patriarch accidentally discovers his own flesh is the most delicious meat of all).
Ned: “I’m afraid that little devil needs an exorcism!”
Rev. Lovejoy: “I’m afraid they didn’t teach me those at Pepperdine.”
Notes: Overall this is a ho-hum episode (the middle segment seems like a particularly wasted opportunity), but it does score some points for extra-cool stunt casting with the guest voices. I like that they invited Neil Gaiman himself to voice Snowball while skewering his work. But, in my opinion, the best call-out is when Ben Daniels (aka Father Marcus on Fox’s The Exorcist show) shows up to yell “Demon get out!” precisely three times at Possessed Maggie.
I think the gag mostly worked for me because I only just recently started watching season one of the re-envisioned horror franchise, and I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. After suffering through a handful of episodes of both Minority Report (2015) and Lucifer, I felt tolerably convinced that Fox would just convert Exorcist into yet another generic police procedural. But happily it’s a little more interesting than that.
* Seriously, it’s been almost two years since my last non-Halloween post. I probably give the impression that Halloween is my favorite holiday, but it isn’t. I do like it a whole lot, but as a rather boring adult, I can never think of any cool ways to celebrate anymore. This year I didn’t even dress up to get a $3 boo-rito from Chipotle, which is how I phoned it in for 2016.
Disney has re-released The Nightmare Before Christmas for a limited engagement at Regal Cinemas just for this weekend through Halloween. Even though I consider it really more of a Christmas movie, I still decided to make this my primary Halloween celebration this year. Below are some random thoughts:
- There are much more memorable tunes and visuals throughout the film, but what I love about “Poor Jack” is that you almost think that Jack will actually learn something from putting everyone through this massive ordeal, but NOPE! As the lyrics continue, you realize he’s learned NOTHING, and it’s amazing.
- I’ve watched it on television a thousand times, but it took re-visiting it on the big screen to realize that Zero’s glowing nose is actually a light-up jack-o-lantern. Huh. Neat.
- The whole Harvey Weinstein scandal and #MeToo and just all of that recent business really casts a new light on Sally’s relationship with Dr. Finkelstein.
- A few years ago I went to Disneyland in October, and I felt chagrined to discover that the Haunted Mansion ride had been given a Nightmare Before Christmas makeover. Make no mistake: If this movie had its own ride, I’d be the first in line. But the whole point of the trip was to get drenched in nostalgia, so I felt bitterly disappointed that I couldn’t experience the Haunted Mansion of my childhood.
- Only one sobbing, terrified child at my screening. I had estimated there would be about three.
Like most other Americans, I spent the last couple of days consumed with a different sort of nightmarish joke. But life and the days of November march on, and now that it’s ten days past Halloween, we need to wrap this up.
It felt good to laugh and get one last sweet taste of Halloween for the year. I even ate some candy — gummy bears — to mark the occasion. And The Simpsons managed to let me end on happy note by providing two mostly solid episodes. I’m glad I took this ride with you all.
And now we enter the modern era…
I’m not sure how much progress I will make on my Treehouse of Horror quest over the weekend. While you wait, enjoy this announcement.
It only just occurred to me tonight (10 and a half hours into this roundup) that I could have made things interesting by collecting and crunching some Simpsons data as I watched. What percentage of Halloween segments focus on each character? How often are Kang and Kudos central to a plot rather than mere background? How many times does each character actually die onscreen? What a missed opportunity!
Well, I guess I could just start over.
Just a shorty tonight, I’m afraid. Two episodes only. I needed a bit of a break from non-stop binge watching or I would wind up like Homer here.
We’ve hit a bit of a rough patch. What say you, Groundskeeper Willie?
Harsh, but probably accurate. This was not a great group of episodes, although it wasn’t a complete comedic dead space.
Over the weekend, I walked up to the Georgetown theater to see Denial. I sat near an old married couple, near enough to hear him quietly give her his one-word opinion on each trailer. Skip or see. He’s apparently a tough critic because everything got a skip, but she contradicted him on Loving and Collateral Beauty. And the way she said “see” made me think that he is definitely going to have to sit through those two movies.
Despite the highly emotional nature of the controversy at its heart, Denial is a cerebral pleasure. To watch it is to view an inflammatory topic as an invisible member of a highly skilled legal team, dispassionately and strategically. I enjoyed it, but probably will not revisit.