Tag Archives: Isaac Hayes

The Set of 400: #49 – My Favorite Satanic Romance

Today! Because it’s been six weeks since Saddam Hussein was killed by a pack of wild boars and the world is still glad to be rid of him –

South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (1999)

Directed by Trey Parker

Starring Trey Parker (x2), Matt Stone (x2), Mary Kay Bergman, Isaac Hayes (x2), George Clooney (x5), Brent Spiner (x2), Minnie Driver, Dave Foley, Eric Idle (x3), Mike Judge, Toddy Walters

The first time I saw anything South Park related was after my sister went away to college and somehow acquired a copy of the infamous Spirit of Christmas short – the epic Jesus vs. Santa bloodbath – which helped launched the long running Comedy Central program. At this point, our town hadn’t even gotten cable beyond channel 36 (QVC, incidentally), but the clamor for it was at such an intense volume that I can point to a number of people who would claim their lives completely changed when the lines got run to their houses, and all of a sudden we had multiple dozens of new channels.

I suspect no one under the age of 25 can really understand this now – going from an insanely limited number of options to seemingly everything we could ever want. I mean, we had MTV and VH1 and…A&E, since around 1990, but I remember when we expanded to that batch of channels, nearly tripling our lifetime tally of 13. Obviously getting MTV was the big deal then, considering it had existed for years by that point, but come 1997/8, the stories of all the splendors of extended cable were emanating from big cities, and South Park embodied all the wonders we were missing. I didn’t know what the hell was on E! or Bravo or The Learning Channel (TLC used to be The Learning Channel! Go look at what they air now!), all I knew was that I needed Comedy Central.

There are no bigger sellouts on Earth than TLC

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The Set of 400: #395 – My Favorite Medieval Malcolm X

Today! Because we didn’t land on Sherwood Forest, Sherwood Forest landed on us –

Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)

Directed by Mel Brooks

Starring Cary Elwes, Richard Lewis, Dave Chappelle, Roger Rees, Tracey Ullman, Amy Yasbeck, Mark Blankfield, Patrick Stewart, Mel Brooks, Isaac Hayes, Dom DeLuise, Dick Van Patten, Robert Ridgely, Eric Allan Kramer, Megan Cavanagh, Matthew Porretta, Avery Schreiber, Clive Revill

While far from the best Mel Brooks outing, it is the last good movie he’d direct (in fairness, this was only followed by the thoroughly meh Dracula: Dead and Loving It), and it was on TV constantly in the early/mid nineties. But I’m not trying to make excuses for its inclusion here – there is a lot to like about Men in Tights. Cary Elwes was perfect for this sort of comedy – only really on display here and in Hot Shots! – and effortlessly carries the mayhem along. I also can never keep straight whether he appeared in Mel’s Dracula or Coppola’s Dracula that inspired it, so solid is he at both types of movies. Sure, it revels in the dated, Catskills-style jokes Mel would lean more and more into as the years wore on, but between Chappelle’s great early work here as Ahchoo, Tracey Ullman uglying it up as the witch Latrine, and Richard Lewis doing his best Richard Lewis impersonation as Prince Johnthere is plenty to enjoy. Does it have the laugh-out-loud highs of Mel’s early films? Not really, but it also pushes harder on parody, and really dials up the number of jokes per minute. So what if the success rate is 50/50? I still really enjoy Men in Tights. Continue reading

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