TRANSCRIPT The Flop House Ep. 323: Deadly Lessons

Our month-long celebration of smaller films continues with the truly odd Deadly Lessons, starring Jon Voight’s fake nose.

Podcast: The Flop House

Episode number: 323

Transcript

dan

On this episode we discuss—Deadly Lessons!

stuart

And the lesson is, watch this movieee! [Laughs.]

music

Light, up-tempo, electric guitar with synth instruments.

dan

Hey, everyone, and welcome to The Flop House. I’m Dan McCoy.

stuart

Oh hey there, Dan McCoy, it’s me—Stuart Wellington! Your friend!

elliott

I’m Elliott Kalan! I also fall into the category of “friend.” Not just to Dan, but also to Stuart! Three friends are we. Yes, friends are us. [Dan laughs.]

stuart

And that’s what this is. This is a podcast where three friends are friends and they talk about friend stuff.

crosstalk

Elliott and Dan: Mm-hm. [Laughs.] Dan: So, friends— Stuart: In particular—

stuart

The way that friends sometimes watch movies and then talk about it. What did we do this week, Dan, on the Friendcast?

elliott

Welcome to the Friend House!

dan

Well, we—during September, at the Friend House, we celebrate Smalltember.

elliott

Smallvember.

crosstalk

Dan: Which is a made-up holiday month where we watch— [Laughs.] Okay. Good point. Stuart: All holidays are made up. [Elliott laughs.] Elliott: Uh, there’s a lot of religious people who will be very unhappy with you saying that, Stuart.

stuart

Oh, burn! They can come find me at Dan’s apartment! [Dan laughs.]

crosstalk

Elliott: I mean, you do have a— Dan: Wait—

elliott

Stuart, you have a public business that people can go to, to talk to you face-to-face.

stuart

Uh-huh. And write mean Yelp reviews, apparently. [Laughs.]

elliott

Oh, yeah. I’m sorry about that. I thought it would be a funny goof if I wrote a thousand mean Yelp reviews about your bar. [Dan laughs.]

stuart

Not a goof. Not a goof, Elliott.

dan

Okay. Where was I? Oh, Smalltember.

crosstalk

Dan: That’s where we watch movies that are slightly smaller than we normally do. Now, this movie is— Elliott: Smallvember. Stuart: Uh-huh. And sometimes very old.

dan

Yeah. This is from 2006. This is probably the largest small movie that—

elliott

Well this had a recorded budget of $30 million. Which would make it a midsized movie these days.

stuart

I guess it’s all on the screen, y’know? [Dan laughs.]

elliott

I mean, to be honest, it does look better than most of the Smallvember movies we’ve seen. I mean like… production value-wise, compared to something like Love on a Leash from last year, this is like… y’know, Saving Private Ryan, production values-wise.

dan

Well did you look into the—I mean, they had like the cinematographers were like there was a guy from Bad Boys. There was a guy from—what was the other thing? Oh, shoot.

elliott

Bad Boys II?

dan

No, no. Jesus. I should’ve had this—I thought I would remember this information—

crosstalk

Dan: —and not it’s gone away. Elliott: Well the secret—

elliott

The secret is that this movie is a Crystal Sky production. Crystal Sky is the company that also makes the Baby Geniuses movies, among other things. And it was founded by Steven Paul, who’s also John Voight’s manager. Which is why John Voight is also involved in a lot of these things. But this seems to be—and I’m not quite sure. So according to IMDB, which is very—not always the best source—it was co-written by Simon Paul. And it was co-written and directed and I think starring Stuart Paul. So it’s like—was it just three brothers got together to make a movie? And if so, why is it not about three brothers who are always bickering and have to—

crosstalk

Elliott: —I guess, bury their mom or something? Stuart: And their—

stuart

Their fourth brother, Aaron Paul, is too busy making Breaking Bad.

crosstalk

Elliott: Yeah, yeah. Exactly. And their fifth brother, Paul of Tarsus— Dan: Sorry, guys. I wanted to say the—

elliott

—was busy having died over a thousand years ago. Y’know, almost 2000 years ago.

stuart

Yeah. That keeps ya pretty busy.

crosstalk

Dan: Oh, god. This movie had two cinematographers. Elliott: Yeah.

dan

One—Douglas Milsome did Full Metal Jacket and—

crosstalk

Dan: —The Last of the Mohicans, among other movies. Stuart: Conrad Hall? [Elliott laughs.]

dan

The other—Howard Atherton—did Bad Boys, Fatal Attraction, Deep Rising—I know you love Deep Rising, Stu! So—

stuart

Yeah! Because I got two eyes and the ability to watch movies.

dan

Yeah. So there’s that. And the composer is Michel LeGrand, who did The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. So they’re—

elliott

And was it edited by the editor of Jeepers Creepers? Yes it was! [All laugh.]

dan

So the guy—this is a vanity project but it’s a vanity project by a guy with a lot of Hollywood connections who was able to raise $30 million to put his nutty vision onscreen.

stuart

And that madman is Stuart Paul, another one of us handsome Hollywood Stuarts. [Laughs.] Me, Stuart Pankin, now Stuart Paul. That’s—the pantheon grows.

elliott

Mm-hm. Yeah, yeah. All the Stuarts. Glorious Stuart.

dan

The main guy looks kinda like a cross between like Steve Guttenberg now and thin Penn Jillette? Like, he’s in this—

elliott

I kind of considered him like a cross between Howard Stern and Neil Gaiman.

crosstalk

Dan and Stuart: Yes. Dan: Those are good ones, too.

stuart

Yeah. He looks a lot like a stepdad who always wears sandals with socks.

elliott

But thinks he’s really cool. Like, he goes to a lot of Steely Dan concerts. He’s always rocking out in the garage and asking you to join him.

dan

And look. I don’t know the man personally. I don’t want to say anything about what he might be like—

crosstalk

Dan: —as a human being? Elliott: I mean, if you did—

elliott

If you did, it would be incredibly unethical for you to then go on and slam his movie. [Multiple people laugh.]

dan

But onscreen, like, as the leads of this movie, y’know, the movie has John Voight—Oscar-winner John Voight—and then like a cabal of what I would say are competent actors. And then it has this lead performance, which is bereft of [through laughter] any sort of charisma or energy.

stuart

It’s like a hole in the middle of the doughnut.

dan

[Through laughter] Yeah.

stuart

Jordan, can you just loop in the monologue that Daniel Craig does in Knives Out, please? Uh, okay, guys. Wait.

crosstalk

Elliott: Yeah, yeah. Still going. Still—okay. Yeah, there ya go. Stuart: Okay. Now. Go, Dan. [Dan laughs.]

dan

I don’t know if you know how cutting works, Stuart. [Laughs.]

stuart

No, no, no. She’s gonna do it live, right?

dan

She’s gonna do an overlay is what you’re saying. Okay. I get it. Alright. Well let’s pause for that.

elliott

No, no. We already did it, Dan. [Dan laughs.]

crosstalk

Dan: [Through laughter] Okay. Stuart: Yeah, we already did it. We’re not interrupting Daniel Craig. Elliott: Stuart, finish that bit.

elliott

Anyway. Why don’t I just talk about this movie, huh? So anyway, this is—technically, I’m gonna allow it. As Judge Kalan, I’m gonna allow this to be a Smallvember movie. Jordan, please put in that gavel sound effect. I’ll allow it. [Dan laughs.] This is officially a Smallvember even though it’s much bigger—

crosstalk

Elliott: —than others and it comes from professionals. Stuart: Uh-huh. And add in that little—

stuart

Add in that little animation we made of Elliott crossing his arms and nodding his head? [Dan laughs.] Like he’s a genie while the gavel’s being slammed down?

elliott

Yeah. And then the wind blows up my judge robes and it’s just heart boxer shorts underneath? Yeah. [Dan laughs.]

stuart

But nobody laughs because we all take Elliott very seriously.

elliott

Yeah, no. That’s the authority I have as a judge. Even after seeing that I’m just wearing underpants under the robe, you’re still like—

crosstalk

Elliott: “Yeah, his mind is first-rate. First-rate legal mind.” Dan: Well, I mean…

dan

If anything, we fear you more at that point because the fact that you may feel embarrassed makes us scared to see what vengeance you may wreak on us if we laugh.

elliott

Exactly. Yeah. I’m an angry god. Yeah. Speaking of gods, this movie is somewhat about the existence of God? But not really. Let’s get into it, shall we? And I’ll mention that my notes for this movie are very long so I’ve condensed them. They’re not quite as short as I’d like them to be, normally, but there’s a lot that happens in this movie and I’m not gonna go into. So if there’s any details that you guys—that I’m skipping over? Feel free to stop me and introduce them because I cannot go into every detail.

dan

Now, I do have one question, Elliott. Did you take notes on the Tubi commercials you watched because Tubi is the only place you can find this movie streaming?

elliott

[Laughs.] I did not. This is already a long movie. It is over two and a quarter hours long, and yet Tubi is the only place you can watch it online and they put commercials in frequently. So it was like, “Hoo, boy. This is—” [Laughs.]

stuart

So I had to set up a Tubi account in order to watch this movie, and this is no slam against Tubi—I kinda want to leave my profile having only watched this movie. [All laugh.]

dan

Stuart, you can leave it after you find out what movies Tubi suggests to you now—

crosstalk

Stuart: Oh noooo! Okay. Dan: After having watched only this movie. That’s what I’m curious about. Elliott: Well it immediately—

elliott

It immediately went from—on mine it was just about to start playing Alex Cross before I shut down the website angrily.

crosstalk

Elliott: Because I did not need to see Alex Cross again. What? Dan: Mine started playing Five Corners.

dan

So I don’t know what that’s—Five Corners?

crosstalk

Dan: I don’t know why they chose that. Stuart: What’s that?

crosstalk

Dan: I don’t know. It started with Yesterday on the soundtrack, by the Beatles. So. They had Beatles money, I guess. Elliott: Oh. It’s the sequel to Four Corners. Stuart: Uh-huh. And it just about—it was firing up and Audrey’s like—

stuart

“Stop it, Dan! Stop it, Dan!” And then the two of you were both typing on the computer at the same time to try and stop the feed and it wouldn’t happen— [Elliott laughs.] —and then Elliott came over and unplugged it and you’re like, “Elliott!” Then he nodded his head. Gavel sound. Everybody laughs.

crosstalk

Dan: Yup. Old person wins again. Elliott: Stuart, you’ll be happy to know—

elliott

—we’re taping this the day after Rosh Hashanah and last night’s Rosh Hashanah dinner I described to my in-laws that very scene. [Multiple people laugh. Someone claps slowly.] So anyway. It’s Blue Sky Productions—oh, no, Crystal Sky. Crystal Sky Productions comes up—

dan

In comic sans.

elliott

In comic sans. The logo is— [through laughter] is the cheapest-looking logo you can get. And we start hearing some voiceover by a guy who says that his mom says his mind is messed up. And for help, she’s gonna go to one Simon Conjurer.

elliott

Elliott: Who’s kind of a long-haired guy who—it’s pronounced “Con-JUR-or.” And he has kind of a [in exaggerated New York accent] New York accent. Stuart: Conjurer, yep. Mm-hm. Dan: The rural conjurer.

elliott

Like I said, he reminds me of Howard Stern crossed with Neil Gaiman, but he’s steeped in existential whimsy, as we’ll learn. And we’re introduced to him as he is teaching a classroom of children not to fear flying by literally talking them into having the magical ability to fly around the classroom like they’re little miniature airplanes. And the music that is playing tells us we’re in real Wonder Emporium territory. This is supposed to be magical and amazing. Y’know.

stuart

Yeah. It’s the kind of score that Charles Band dreams of filling his castle halls. [Laughs.] [Elliott laughs.]

dan

Well it’s also one of these movie…

elliott

It is a movie, yes.

dan

One of these movie classes where you’re like, “Wait, what is being taught here?” Because it starts off—

crosstalk

Dan: Yeah. It’s like, “Oh, you don’t—” Stuart: Not to be afraid of flying on airplanes.

dan

“—frightened of flying,” but then like he has a globe that he takes out that turns into a bird? And he’s like, “Okay. We gotta take care of the earth.” And then he’s asking the kids, “What did we learn here today?” And I’m like, “Yeah, what did we learn here today? Is this what my tax dollars are going to?”

crosstalk

Dan: Simon Conjurer? Stuart: [Through laughter] Oh, wow. Elliott: It’s—

elliott

And later—the thing is also that later there’s some trouble about whether the dean of his school is going to throw him out I guess? And it’s not clear if the—is that the dean of this elementary school? [Dan laughs.] ‘Cause usually they’re called principals. Like, you don’t usually have deans for elementary schools and it’s just very—I guess for like a private school? Maybe this is a fancy private schools. And it’s one of those private schools where it costs a lot of money and celebrities send their kids there but they don’t actually teach them very much? Y’know?

crosstalk

Stuart: I mean, this is a dean that later on— Dan: They are employing a wizard.

stuart

Not to jump too far ahead, but this is a dean who later on has the ability to command the police to arrest someone. [Laughs.]

elliott

Yeah. That’s part of being a dean! So Simon, he has a reputation for curing the seemingly incurable. And the mom, Betsy, she says, “Oh, there was a man in my neighborhood who called himself Mr. Evil. He was a violent homeless man, but now that you talked to him, he just runs around distributing candy to strangers!” Which I would say is another form of violence. [Dan laughs.] If I was walking down the street, I do not want a stranger shoving candy into my hands. Especially if he still calls himself “Mr. Evil.” [Dan laughs.] But he has a son who calls himself “Rebel” who hates everything. And this is the beginning of the movie is—

stuart

Apparently he doesn’t hate on-the-nose nicknames. [Laughs.] [Dan laughs.]

elliott

This is the beginning of the movie’s lack of sense—thank you. This is the beginning of the movie’s lack of sensitivity about emotional issues. In that we’re told he tried to jump off a building but was saved by landing in a mattress truck. So we’re living in a cartoon world for sure. Simon? He says there’s only one thing to do. So next scene he has kidnapped Rebel and handcuffed him to the inside of this big truck that he has that’s full of video screens playing a self-help video that Simon made? And it’s weird, ‘cause we never see anything like this in terms of Simon ever again. [Dan laughs.] It’s like, why does he have this Simon-mobile full of screens playing his videos and he’s handcuffed a young man to it? It doesn’t make sense! And they argue for a long time. Rebel gets free, and then Simon gives him some money and lets him crash his truck and so Rebel agrees to go with Simon to—his late-night self-help class. But first, we’re gonna have to meet the real star of the show! That’s right—John Voight as Dr. Crazx, a Pulitzer Prize-winning psychologist who either writes novels or self-help books. [Dan laughs.] It’s not clear. And guys? I want you to describe this performance for me.

dan

Well first I want to specify for the audience—if you’re asking how “Crazx” [pronounces it “Craze-ex”] is spelled, it is spelled the traditional way. Like, “crazy,” but replace the “y” with an “x”? [Laughs.] And Jon Voight is wearing, like, nose and face prosthetics like he is Orson Welles reborn. [Through laughter] But Orson Welles like playing—like, I don’t know. Dr. Robotnik in a cartoon or something? [Elliott laughs.] Like—

stuart

He is constantly stuffing his face with candy. And now we can all—I think we can all agree that—Jon Voight the person? Not cool.

crosstalk

Stuart: Not a good dude. Dan: Yeah. Elliott: Not someone—

elliott

Not someone we approve of, no.

stuart

But Dr. Crazx in this movie brings a lot of energy.

crosstalk

Dan: Yeah. I would argue this is the only performance that comes close to successfully doing what the movie needs? Elliott: He’s—he is—he is const— [Laughs.] Stuart: Naturalistic?

elliott

I mean, this is the biggest performance I think I’ve ever seen in a movie. It’s so big and over-the-top and he has an English accent but he’s always wheezing and like—he’s trying to do—assume he’s trying to do Sydney Greenstreet, basically. Like, this kind of jovial, big, fat, wheezing guy who’s always eating candy and hopping around like a little imp. Like, everyone else in this movie is striving to appear as if they’re like a one-dimensional version of a real person? And he’s like, “No, no, no, no, no, no. I’m going to be a multidimensional version of a fake person. I’m going to give you the biggest, most energetic fake person that never existed.” And it is like a Bugs Bunny villain is hopping through this movie. [Laughs.] [Dan laughs.]

stuart

It feels like he has decided, “I am going to make the most loathsome character that everyone hates and I’m going to play it crazy and I’m going to make sure that everyone treats me like crap.” [Dan laughs.] Like that is his—it’s this weird, like, masochistic desire where he’s like, “My kink today is everyone being mean to me and I’m gonna be a mean weirdo.” [Elliott laughs.]

dan

Well also, we haven’t addressed the dialogue in this movie quite yet? But Simon—

elliott

Oh, it’s wonderful. I have—wait. Can I—wait. Finish what you’re saying and I’ll say my favorite, up-to-this-moment-in-the-movie piece of dialogue. [Stuart laughs.]

dan

Okay. Well, Simon Conjurer in particular talks in like this very literary, extravagant way? Like he’s proclaiming something off of a scroll most of the time? And it would be okay if one character in the movie talked that way? But from time to time, every character in the movie will talk in this very affected, strange, high-language manner. And Jon Voight is also the only one who comes close to making that dialogue work. Like, it makes sense coming out of a crazed performance.

elliott

It makes sense coming out of a character who seems to be a trickster of mythology. Who has like come out in his—and basically is a hobgoblin of some kind. [Dan laughs.] But Dan, I wanted to mention—my favorite up-to-this-moment piece of Simon Conjurer dialogue is—Betsy says, “You’ve gotta help my son,” she says. “I’ll pay you anything.” And he says, “You can afford such?” [Dan laughs.] Like one, they haven’t named a price. But—“You can afford such?” And then he agrees to do it for free. But it’s also… this guy has such a… like, such a Tristate area, New York, New Jersey accent? [Dan laughs.] That it—[Strong New York accent] “You can afford such?” [Regular voice] And it’s like, come on.

stuart

He’s like the Gandalf of Borough Park. [Elliott laughs.]

dan

Yes! Exactly!

elliott

That should’ve been the title of the movie. Yes.

dan

[Through laughter] He is a bad Renaissance Faire cosplayer with like— [Dan laughs.] —long, curly hair and like… [Laughs.] Yeah. He’s an interesting guy!

elliott

He’s an interesting, interesting guy. [Multiple people laugh.] And then later on it’s implied that he and Jon Voight have known each other since they were children, which makes no sense. [Dan laughs.] Unless one of them was an exchange student. I don’t understand.

crosstalk

Stuart: But which one? Elliott: So Jon Voight—

elliott

Dr. Crazx, he’s talking to Dean Elkwood, who is the dean of the school Simon teaches at. Again, it’s not clear if it’s the elementary school or if it’s the college where his night classes are done. And he says, “Simon Conjurer is a menace!” But he says that in 700 more words than I just said it. He goes on and on and on. “And you need to fire him, or I’ll pull my name and my funding from this school!” That is something that is never touched on again, that apparently he has some kind of leverage over this school. Why he would? I don’t know. But anyway.

stuart

And the dean is kind of introduced initially on Crazx’s side, right?

crosstalk

Stuart: At least that was the impression I got. And then she reveals that she’s secretly was a former student of his. Elliott: Well, it’s—it’s implied—when we—yes.

elliott

And a former lover! And so the—we see her first smoking a cigar, which is usually movie shorthand for either this is an elderly comedian or an evil person. Or evil rich person. But it turns out it’s neither. She’s just a good-hearted school administrator who loves smoking cigars in her office, I guess? But yeah. She seems to be going along with him until he leaves and then she goes, “You really are crazy” or something like that. She opens her drawer where there is a framed picture of her and Simon. Okay. So. Simon and Rebel, they show up at Simon’s night school self-help group therapy class, and we go through—there’s a group of people there who each have one specific vice. And we go through all of them in extreme detail. And it’s like, one guy has an overeating problem. One woman has an anorexia problem. One guy’s a drug addict. Oh no, one woman’s a drug addict. One’s an alcoholic. One is a depressive named “Tears”? They all have like offensive nicknames, too? And—

crosstalk

Dan: Yeah. And it— Stuart: Oh, but like—

stuart

I feel like they probably deal with all of the emotional problems with, y’know, a fair amount of solemnity, right? [Elliott laughs.] Like, they deal with it pretty reasonably.

elliott

It’s a real source of jokes. In my notes I refer to it as “the barest minimum of sensitivity by the filmmaker.” And the characters are—their personalities are not really clear from one moment to the next?

crosstalk

Elliott: And there’s so many of them. It’s like— Dan: Yeah. I— Stuart: It makes me yearn for the—

stuart

It makes me yearn for the sensitivity of Moving Violations. [Dan laughs.]

crosstalk

Stuart: Or Summer School. [Laughs.] Elliott: And the only thing—

elliott

Or like, the movie Nuts. Or Mixed Nuts. Or anything with “nuts” in the title.

elliott

Elliott: There’s a—I just wanna say— Dan: Yeah. This is—this is—

elliott

And jumping into this classroom, it felt like reading an X-Men comic in the ‘90s and being like, “wait, who are all these people? Hold on.” [Laughs.]

dan

Yeah. This is definitely like pitched about halfway between… like, Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, and like a bad sitcom [through laughter] about like an encounter group? And yeah. I just wanted to tell people—if you want to watch this movie, which is an experience, like, just be aware of if your—

elliott

Watch it on Tubi. ‘Cause you can’t see it anywhere else.

dan

If you are sensitive to insensitive portrayals of mental health issues, you might not enjoy [through laughter] that part of it.

crosstalk

Stuart: Yeah. I mean, it’s pretty offensive. Dan: And also there are things—

dan

There are things that are treated as pathologies that are not pathologies, like a young man being sexually uncertain about his sexuality. Y’know.

elliott

Yeah. It is not a movie to go to for a… nuanced look at—

crosstalk

Elliott: Emotional problems. Dan: Mental health. Stuart: Yeah. [Multiple people laugh.]

elliott

Well, yeah. It is—I mean, as you might guess from the title Deadly Lessons[Dan laughs.] —which is—

stuart

And the classroom is filled with all these people, and they—none of them seem to be happy to be there. So it made me—like, maybe I missed something, but were they like court-ordered to be there? [Dan laughs.] Did they all get kidnapped by him in this van?

dan

[Through laughter] Yes. Were they all chained and then—but apparently left behind where they were safe not to leave the classroom. “I’m gonna chain you to the classroom, but what you do there is your own thing.”

elliott

And you gotta imagine that for the first person that he picked up and brought to the classroom, it was a long night. ‘Cause they had to wait for him to get, one by one, every other person. What a—wow.

dan

Like a weird Santa Claus.

crosstalk

Dan: He’s removing— [Laughs.] Elliott: Dan, think about it.

elliott

Let’s think about it. Santa Claus, as he is, is pretty weird. Okay. So he’s a big fat guy who chooses the chimney—perhaps the narrowest form of entry for a house—to go through. He delivers toys to—he says—all the children in the world, but I would beg to differ, as a non-Christian child. He lives at the North Pole—not a pleasant place to live. I’ll tell ya why. One, cold. Two, polar bears. Three, he has a candy cane-themed house which is, again, strange. [Dan laughs.] That’s a weird thing. He also has—and I’m setting across the weirdest thing about him, which I guess is not weird so much as evil, that he has enslaved both a group of little people to make toys for him and also a herd of reindeer. And the reindeers have this cruel culture based around taunting and verbally assaulting any members of the reindeer group who have different noses than the rest of the group? There’s a lot about Santa Claus that’s weird.

stuart

And Elliott’s kind of glossing over the thing that I think is weirdest, is that he’s played by Tim Allen. [Multiple people laugh.]

dan

Well, I mean, only that Santa Claus was.

stuart

Whaaat? [Elliott laughs.]

crosstalk

Stuart: Tim Allen wasn’t in the sequel? Dan: I mean, that movie, specifically—

dan

That movie specifically postulates that there have been several Santa Clauses over the course of history.

elliott

You’re right. And if you kill one, you become one. There’s nothing weird about that. [Dan laughs.] It’s such a—I mean, it’s a ballsy move for a children’s movie to start with the main character [through laughter] murdering Santa Claus? [Dan laughs.]

stuart

Imagine being in that pitch meeting. [Multiple people laugh.]

dan

“Okay. Now, stay with me, guys—” [Multiple people laugh.]

elliott

“I’m gonna pitch a movie to you. It’s a children’s movie. Now, five minutes in you’re gonna think I’m a madman. But promise me you will wait ‘til five more minutes. Give me five more after that. Because it will get whimsical.”

stuart

“He’s locked the door! We can’t get out!” [Multiple people laugh.]

elliott

He goes, “Now you’ll have to listen to my pitch, Mr. Jones.” “Why?” “If you want the antidote to the poison you just swallowed!” [All laugh.]

crosstalk

Elliott: I guess it’s “Dr. Jones.” It’s not “Mr. Jones.” Dan: If you’re the screenwriter to— [Laughs.]

dan

If you’re the screenwriter to The Santa Clause, let us know how close this scenario was to your actual pitch experience. We’d love to know.

crosstalk

Stuart: Yeah. Big fans. Elliott: When you pitched it, did you have to say, “Stay with me, now. Stay with me.” [Dan laughs.]

elliott

Okay. And I just want to mention that among the students is a woman played by Skyler Shaye, who Flop fans may recognize as Chloe from Bratz, the movie!

dan

She’s in a bunch of Baby Geniuses things. I looked her up on Wikipedia. She’s apparently Jon Voight’s goddaughter, which is why there’s so much crossover between their projects.

stuart

And sometimes performers just click, y’know. I get it.

elliott

Yeah. It’s not like Robert De Niro is Martin Scorsese’s godson.

crosstalk

Dan: Look. I’m not saying that she doesn’t have the talent to make it on her own. Elliott: Or is he? Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Maybe he is!

dan

I’m just saying that they probably like to work together.

elliott

Yeah. Probably. ‘Cause it’s a family thing.

crosstalk

Elliott: They’ve known each other for so long. Dan: [Singing] It’s a family affair!

elliott

And that’s why in this movie they share zero scenes together. [Dan laughs.] So Simon hands everyone in class big, leatherbound books. These are your real, like, grimoire-type ancient tomes. And it turns out to be a novel called Prophet Without a God. And the text in the book describes the students in the class! And it describes a teacher just like Simon Conjurer, but it gives him a different name? Which is a detail that the book seems to forget and it just starts calling him “Simon” later on? But the teacher, it mentions, had lost faith that there was a god. Which had driven him to an existential dread. The book also—they’re all like, “You wrote this. You wrote this and you just handed it out.” And he goes, “There’s information in there that I don’t know. Keep reading.” And the book then—we go through as the book describes every single person in the class’s tattoos or scars, and each one of them has to prove it’s true by revealing their tattoos and scars. It goes on forever, and it doesn’t end. And for some reason, Tears—the woman with depression—has to pull down her pants to show them her butt because she thinks she has a tattoo there? This whole scene, I was just like, “Why is this still going on? Why does the male model have to show us he only has one nipple? I don’t understand!”

dan

Well also, this poor character. Like, yeah. The scene ends on this woman being bullied into mooning the class and—

stuart

She’s then assaulted while she’s mooning them.

crosstalk

Elliott: Well verbally, yeah. They are. They are. Dan: Well, I mean, no, but the thing is later on you find out—

dan

Like, blessedly, they do not show this? But the implication is that she was molested as a child. So… like, looking back on that scene, it feels [through laughter] even worse. They’re like, “No, no. Pull your pants down.”

crosstalk

Stuart: Yeah. That was not lighthearted fun. Dan: Not that it wouldn’t be bad enough on its own! I’m just saying, like—

dan

[Through laughter] That character. Don’t do that.

elliott

When the character is bullied into showing everyone her butt, it’s not the whimsical, magical moment that the soundtrack would have us believe it is.

dan

[Through laughter] Yes, exactly.

stuart

Guys? We’re like 40 minutes into the movie and I gotta say… why the fuck do they pronounce it “Con-JUR-or,” guys? [Elliott laughs.] Like, as soon as I heard it I was shouting “What the fuck” and I aroused my sleeping wife. Who was—

crosstalk

Dan: Well, ‘cause “CON-jur-er”— Stuart: —peacefully sleeping and not watching the movie with me.

dan

See, Stuart, “CON-jur-er” would be too on-the-nose and obvious. But “Con-JUR-er?”

crosstalk

Dan: Now you got something! Elliott: It’s also possible that the filmmakers didn’t know—

elliott

Like, the movie Coven? [Pronounces it along the lines of “Cove” with an “n” at the end, rather than rhyming with “oven.”] How the long thing in American movie, how it’s like—well he thinks that “Cove-n” sounds better than “Coven.” Like, I wonder if they just didn’t know it was pronounced “CON-jur-er?” But it is annoying and strange every single time someone in the movie says “Con-JUR-er.” At first I thought it was Jon Voight’s affectation? Like… I used to do a sketch with my old sketch partner, Brock Mahan, where it’s about Goofus and Gallant all grown up. And Gallant has kidnapped Goofus and tied him up and it’s one of those things where it’s like, “All my life I’ve lived in your shadow!” And he keeps calling Gallant “Guh-LANT” ‘cause he’s got this very affected accent? I thought it was that? But no! They just all say “Con-JUR-er” and it’s very… it’s a weird choice. It’s an interesting choice. But then again, I think there are no right choices in this entire movie? Like, there’s no choice in it that I can mention—I mean—

stuart

I mean, there’s a waterfall later that I think works out. But y’know, we’ll go on.

elliott

Yeah, yeah. The part where Jon Voight’s character lustfully fondles a penis’s statue before lifting it up to reveal a hidden gun underneath? [Dan laughs.] Maybe that was the right choice. I don’t know. But anyway—or the moment—

dan

It’s a real Zardoz reference there.

crosstalk

Dan: Guns and penises. Elliott: The moment where someone pushes—

elliott

The moment where someone pushes a button and pig is shot out through a tube into a snake’s mouth? Maybe that was the right choice. I don’t know. We’ll get to those scenes. But. Okay. So the book tells them that Dr. Crazx is on his way. He’s gonna frame Simon for murder. And they all run out right as Crazx and the cops come in. This book, after—as Stuart mentioned—there’s roughly 25 minutes of them hanging out in this room. It’s like you’re watching a one-act play all of a sudden. They’re all on Team Simon now. This book has swayed them. If they don’t fix themselves and solve this mystery, they’re gonna be arrested as accessories for murder. What’s this crime of murder? Well, we find out that one of the little kids from Simon’s class has fallen to her death. It would be tasteless to just show a kid’s body lying on the sidewalk while characters walked around talking about it, right? Let’s go ahead. Let’s do it. So they do. And that kid is lying there for a long time. And there’s little number markers on it like you would put for like bullet casings at a murder scene? And I was like, “What clues could these possibly be marking? I don’t understand. Like the places where her teeth fell? I don’t understand.”

crosstalk

Stuart: [Through laughter] Oh, wow. Dan: [Through laughter] Oh, god! Oh, okay. Her baby teeth. Elliott: And so there’s—yeah. Yeah, yeah. She’s a kid. She had a loose—she was— Stuart: They fell out before she fell, Dan. She’s a kid. Kids lose teeth all the time.

elliott

She was on the way down and she was like, “Tooth Fairy! Save me!” So she was getting her loose teeth out—

crosstalk

Elliott: —just so the Tooth Fairy could swoop in and save her. [Laughs.] Dan: Oh, god. No! No! Stop it! [Laughs.]

stuart

“This is the only currency I have! I’m a child!”

elliott

There are these two detectives who are talking about the case, and they’re like big, beefy guys with moustaches. They don’t look alike enough to be twins, but they could definitely be brothers. And one of them says the classic line, “I’m sick of murder!” [Dan laughs.] But they’re on the case, I guess.

stuart

You think those two actors—like, every time they see like a Sonic commercial, they’re like, “That should’ve been us.”

elliott

[Laughs.] “That should’ve been us! We could do that!” Also when they listen to Car Talk on the radio. Anything where there’s two guys. Y’know. They figure that should be them. But yeah, “I’m sick of murder” is such a funny line to me. It’s just like… what’s that line in Plan 9? It’s something about, like, “Aliens!” or something like that. “Can’t stand them!” or something like that. Anyway. [Dan laughs.] So now the movie falls—I’m not going to do everything in detail. This movie falls into a rhythm of Team Simon goes from one location to another. Frantically doing nothing. Like, just kind of frantically getting somewhere and then just talking. And each of them takes a turn having incredibly simplistic breakthrough where a phrase or an object suddenly reminds them of a repressed memory that caused their specific trauma. And as soon as they know about it, they’re cured and their personal addiction goes away. Simon, meanwhile, does nothing? Says nothing. He—sometimes I forgot he was in the movie while these characters were having their breakthrough.

dan

I—like, I have—[sighs.] I have been blessed with a very easy life, but a propensity toward depression. And I would say that it is a falsehood that understanding why your brain [through laughter] works a certain way allows you to immediately drop that behavior. It is helpful? Don’t get me wrong? But you need to work [through laughter] after recognizing and like… turn yourself around.

elliott

Going back to my Temple of Doom reference earlier, it’s as if they said, “Dr. Jones, you just took poison.” And he goes, “Well now I know it’s killing me. Thank you. I don’t need the antidote anymore.”

crosstalk

Dan: [Through laughter] Exactly. Stuart: Yeah. Elliott: Now that I don’t need the antidote—

elliott

—I can just walk away ‘cause I know it’s poison that’s inside me.

dan

And I think—like, obviously we should return to this. But just to clarify, like, what we were saying. Like, the gang is basically on the run with their teacher ‘cause everyone thinks their teacher killed this child. [Elliott laughs.] And I guess they are like sticking with him because of these magic books that, y’know, are pretty good indication that maybe they should hang out with this guy.

crosstalk

Dan: But then like— Elliott: I mean, if a magic book tells you to do something—

elliott

—either it is the right thing to do, or it is very much the wrong thing to do.

crosstalk

Dan: Yeah. Stuart: Yup. Yes. Elliott: Depending on the book.

elliott

If that book is bound in human skin? Do not listen to that book.

stuart

Yeah. If it’ s a death note, don’t read it. [Elliott laughs.]

dan

Yeah. But Elliott’s right. They do a whole lot of nothing, but the kind of general idea, I think, is like they’re trying to find something on Dr. Crazx to prove that Simon is innocent. That Crazx is behind everything.

elliott

And along the way things will happen, like, the gang member Scorpio will accidentally catch some terrorists? And have a breakthrough that he is violent because he was verbally abused by his father and then it’s over. He’s fine. It’s okay. And he’s like—

stuart

Yeah. It’s gonna put him on the path to justice.

crosstalk

Dan: [Through laughter] Well, also—he— [Laughs.] Elliott: Yeah. He basically becomes a vigilante. He’s like, “I should only fight bad people!” Which is not a good lesson. Stuart: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

stuart

Yeah. That’s what Curtis Sliwa—that’s what happened to him before he became a Guardian Angel.

dan

Yeah. It was not an anti-violence message. It was just a pro-violence against the right people message. Can you explain this terrorism thing to me? Because like…

crosstalk

Dan: I must have— Elliott: I guarantee you I can’t, but I’ll try. [Laughs.]

dan

[Through laughter] I must have missed a scene ‘cause suddenly they’re in like the back of this truck and I assumed that this truck was driven by one of them, but no. Apparently they, I guess, got into the truck of a couple of terrorists who had like bombs in the back and then like Scorpio or Scorpion or whatever his name is—

crosstalk

Elliott: His name’s Scorpio. Dan: —that’s not the point. Stuart: Scorpio.

dan

Scorpio is like, “Screw this. I’m not gonna get chased by the cops.” And he goes through a door to I guess the front of the truck?

crosstalk

Elliott: To the cab of the truck. Stuart: Uh-huh. Dan: And I assume like beats up the people driving the truck—

dan

—‘cause it’s a hard cut then to the truck being stopped by the side of the [through laughter] road and the police having been—and everyone’s in a crowd and they’re not being arrested under suspicion of anything, even though they’re in this terrorism truck. The police just take their word that they caught these bombers.

crosstalk

Dan: Did I get this correct? [Laughs.] Okay. Elliott: Yeah. I—yes. You are exactly right and I had the exact same confusion.

elliott

At first I thought that they had stolen a truck or had someone owned a truck? Since we know Simon Conjurer had a truck earlier. Maybe this is another one of his truck fleet. But nope, apparently they must have—either as they were running out of the school been kidnapped by terrorists in a scene that we’re not blessed enough to see— [Dan laughs.] —or they just jumped into a passing truck to get away. That truck happened to have terrorists in it, and that information is given to us after the fact when the truck has already been pulled over by the—I mean, they’re being chased by the police and Scorpio goes up to do something in the front seat—

crosstalk

Stuart: In the cab, yeah. Elliott: And the next thing we know, the police are saying—

elliott

“Well, you caught those terrorists and the truck is full of C4! There’s a reward for you, Mr. Scorpio! But you’ll be getting that reward from—what—the mayor?” And it is—

crosstalk

Elliott: I had the exact same thing. Dan: By the way, this— Stuart: Based on later in the movie when awards are meted out—

stuart

I’m assuming he would just go to the local bodega where they have to fork over piles of cash to him.

crosstalk

Elliott: That’s how the FBI’s Most Wanted List works. Yeah. Dan: [Laughs.] Including $31 million.

elliott

If you get the reward they give you like a chit or a coupon that you bring to a bodega and they just give you a million dollars.

stuart

That’s why you always see Dog the Bounty Hunter hanging out in bodegas.

elliott

[Laughs.] I mean, it’s one of the two reasons. He also loves Slim Jims.

dan

Yeah. I feel like this bears a little more examination when it actually comes up in the plot. But in general I want to say that this movie about, sort of, self-actualization and, y’know, getting rid of your emotional scars? Is also seems really concerned with money. [Through laughter] Because there’s this part where he gets a reward and then there’s bets and at the end, like, Conjurer like really cleans up on like [through laughter] all these bets that have been made throughout the movie? And then—

elliott

And everyone in the group wins the lottery, too!

dan

[Through laughter] Exactly! It’s very strange.

elliott

Well there’s only two lessons that we really learn from Simon Conjurer, and we have to read them on blackboards in the back of his room? And the first one we see, it says “E=MC^2. Enlightenment=Mind Control.”

dan

Squared. [Laughs.]

elliott

Which we’ll find out maybe what his strategy is. And at the very end, we see that—behind the blackboard—it says “Belief/Justice = Magic.” Which is—I’ve been trying to puzzle out what that means. [Dan laughs.] And I don’t know. So… I don’t know.

stuart

How do you divide belief by justice, guys?

elliott

And what that has to do with magic, I’m not sure. Because I like magic. I’ve seen magic performed many times and there’s a certain amount of belief. Like, you have to say to yourself, “For this trick I’m going to believe that there’s some special thing going on and it’s not just the magician distracting me while he throws the card away.” But I don’t know how justice factors into it?

stuart

And that card better not be a land. ‘Cause you’re gonna need that to bring other cards in.

elliott

Yeah, yeah. Exactly. Sure. Or an energy, if I’m gonna wanna do my GX attack once per game. [Stuart laughs.] Uh— [Dan laughs, applauds slowly.] So I wonder if—maybe it’s a sly little statement of like, “Hey. Justice doesn’t exist. You can believe in it, but that’s magical thinking. There’s no justice in this world.” But the movie seems to be telling us that there’s nothing but coincidental justice in the grand plan of the world. If we harness—anyway. The movie—the philosophy of the movie doesn’t make sense. So anyway. Our heroes eventually end up at Crazx’s apartment. I’m glad we went through the truck stuff. I was gonna skip it originally, but I’m glad we went through it. And Crazx’s apartment—again, I want you guys to help me describe it. It’s like a Batman villain’s apartment. Right?

crosstalk

Stuart: Yep. But instead of a giant coin there’s a giant penis that hides a gun. Dan: [Through laughter] Yes! Yeah! And—

dan

And they say it’s—I couldn’t tell whether it was like the lost Library of Alexandria or somehow it’s supposed to be the lost Library of Alexandria.

elliott

It’s not clear. But his apartment is full of ancient artifacts and a very cold, Hannibal-esque kitchen. And also—a room that is either a complete replica of the Library of Alexandria or a time portal that takes him there. [Dan laughs.] Because it’s stocked with all the books!

stuart

And that’s explained by gambling addict, what—Plankhead? Or Platehead?

elliott

Platehead.

stuart

Platehead, who wears a crucifix around his neck that’s so tight I’m worried his head is just gonna fall clean off. [Elliott laughs.]

elliott

Platehead—he got his name because he was an ambulance driver who fell out of an ambulance or something and had to put a plate in his head, which led to gambling. But anyway, I also wanna remind people of what I mentioned earlier—there is a terrarium in the middle of the room with a pet snake in it with a big button that says, like, y’know, like, “Edible Delicacies” or something like that? And if you push it a squealing baby pig is shot— [Dan laughs.] —out of a tube straight into the snake’s mouth.

crosstalk

Elliott: In what was the only moment in the movie where I was like— Dan: Now, you would think that this would— [Laughs.]

elliott

“Okay, movie. I didn’t expect that and that was pretty funny.”

dan

Oh, there’s a lot I didn’t expect [through laughter] in the movie, but. [Laughs.] That was the only time it really worked. Although it doesn’t come back in any way. You’re like—

elliott

Nope. Never.

dan

There’s no reason why this happens. I thought maybe, y’know, there would be a scene where there’s a fight and it shoots out pigs at people? But no. That’s it.

stuart

Dan, justify the existence of this. Please. [Dan laughs.]

crosstalk

Dan: Chekhov’s pig gun. Stuart: You’re rewriting the script.

elliott

I mean, ironically, it’s the one thing in the movie if eel like I can justify, just on the basis of like, welp, I never thought I’d see that in a movie! [Dan laughs.]

stuart

Yeah. [Laughs.] Yeah.

elliott

So there’s more miraculous breakthroughs because if you see a bicycle it’s going to remind you of how something bad happened with your family. Or if you see the ashtray that your uncle used to use when he told you you were ugly and that’s why you became a male model who smokes and stuff like that.

dan

[Through laughter] By the way, I gotta just take a pause to talk about the uncle who [through laughter] also tells the kid that he’s ugly. ‘Cause it’s—y’know, like this little kid and they’re in like—I don’t know. Like a toolshed or something, like a shack. And this [through laughter] uncle looks like an old prospector type. [Elliott laughs.] And he’s like, “You’re never gonna be [inaudible]. You’re ugly.” And then he goes—as he’s walking out, he just goes, “Ya ugly.” And it all sounds like a ADR done by someone who normally does voices for cartoons whenever this guy talks.

elliott

Yeah. And so then they eventually end up in the Library of Alexandria room and Platehead goes on for a while about the great minds of antiquity— [Multiple people laugh.] —and this is when I was like, “Oh. This movie thinks that it is like… kind of a lasagna or a layer cake of ideas. That there’s this whimsical mystery comedy. And underneath that is this story of emotional growth, like a Celestine Prophecy type thing. Because underneath that are these big ideas that humanity has grappled with for millennia—is there a god? Is there chance or is there meaning in the universe?” But it really is none of those things. But clearly the movie thinks it has more on its mind or else why have the character go on and on about the Library of Alexandria?

crosstalk

Dan: Yeah. And the— Stuart: It feels like—

stuart

It feels like when you’re having a conversation with somebody that you just met and you’re like just joking around. And then all of a sudden the guy—it’s always a guy—starts getting super serious. And you’re like, “Uh, no. Let’s keep this light. Let’s keep this surface-level, please.” [Elliott laughs.]

dan

Yeah. No. In the fool’s errand that is trying to explain [through laughter] the particular feel of this movie, I also have a couple of touchstones. Some of it felt to me, weirdly, like Book of Henry where there’s this elaborate kind of magical plot that is dealing with issues that are far more sensitive [through laughter] than the movie is? And then it also kind of felt like this was all, y’know, funded by some cult that you like never heard of as like a way to get people interested in their particular belief system? I don’t know.

elliott

I mean, if the movie ended with them all at the Church of Scientology, I would’ve been, like, “Oh, okay. This makes sense. I get this now.”

dan

Yeah.

elliott

“Like, now I understand what this is about.” But it doesn’t. It ends in a even more baffling way that makes no sense. [Dan laughs.] But we’ll get to that. So Simon finds—hidden in one of Crazx’s own book, which—you gotta give Crazx credit for this. He did not put his own books in the Library of Alexandria as far as I can tell. [Dan laughs.] Which shows the one restraint. One moment of restraint that Crazx or Jon Voight has. That he didn’t—

dan

So you’re imagining that he would just like go down the line and be like, “Oh, wait, what’s The Kite Runner doing in here? What’s the—” [Laughs.] [All laugh.]Finance for Dummies”?

elliott

“What is this doing in the Library of Alexandria?” I mean, at a certain point, you just need bookshelf space. I mean, my house, we try to separate by fiction and nonfiction into different shelves. But y’know, you don’t have the exact same number of fiction and nonfiction books. So there’s gonna be some Lincoln books in the novels, y’know?

stuart

Yeah. And I have to separate my roleplaying manuals from my comic books. And that’s, y’know, a pain in the ass.

elliott

Yeah. And Dan, I assume you have to separate your 1970s Playboys from your 1980s Penthouses. [Laughs.]

dan

Yeah. [Laughs.] Yeah. [Elliott laughs.]

elliott

And they’re on a bookcase! That’s the thing! They’re out for display.

dan

I mean, y’know, if you’re not gonna [through laughter] have pride about who you are, Elliott, then.

elliott

And I love that you went to that bookbinding place in Brooklyn and you got them bound in leather editions— [Dan laughs.] —that have the title of the magazine and the dates and then on the back you’ve actually written the centerfold names.

dan

Yeah. The weird thing is, after I did that, though, I glued all the pages together and carved out a spot for a flask. So. [Elliott laughs.] It was a lot of work for that payoff.

elliott

Oh boy. But—so Simon finds in one of the books the bracelet that belonged to the little girl who died. And then the class finds it on him and briefly suspects him? But he says, “Turn to the books.” They turn to this book and the book says something about how he took the bracelet and put it on his own person to test fate and the chaos of the universe to see if taking it got him into trouble. Anyway. Whatever it means. It’s nonsense and gobbledygook. It leads Chloe from Bratz to realize that Simon is a man in need of guidance. And hey—he needs them as much as they need him. Then she has a breakthrough about how her eating disorder stems from a time that she threw away her friend’s Valentine’s card? And— [Laughs.]

dan

Yeah. This one was arguably the least sensicle justification for one of the problems they’re seeking help with.

elliott

And she gets the longest explanation and the more she talks the less sense it makes.

stuart

Do you think the line that keeps being repeated—“Prophet without a god”—is that referring to Simon Conjurer? ‘Cause initially I assumed that it had something to do with the John Prophets; the race of clone soldiers of the Earth Empire who kind of worship the Earth Mothers as like a god but not really? I mean, that’s really not in their like mental programming?

elliott

No. That—I guess their only real god is conquest, right? Is the expansion of the Empire of John Prophet? So the—

stuart

Yeah. And doing their duty. That makes sense.

elliott

So it could be. It could be the prophet without a god. I mean, you could think maybe Badrock becomes the god at the end since he awakens and is one of the, y’know, tipping point moments. Foresight.

stuart

[Inaudible] Troll. He and Troll converge and like create a new galaxy or something. But maybe it means Old Man Prophet who created a race of Free Johns to opposite the Earth Empire. I don’t know. I mean, I assume the movie’s not saying that? But it might be! Y’know.

elliott

Considering the movie seems to have either no financial, corporate, or creative relationship to Brandon Graham’s run on Prophet, the Image comic, I don’t know that they’re actually based on each other or related in any way.

dan

For a second I thought maybe it was my book, P-R-O-F-I-T Without a God, which is just about how atheists can cash in.

stuart

Oh wow. Is that a how-to book?

dan

Yeah. It’s like—y’know. It’s like a personal finance guide.

elliott

And I thought it was Prophet Without a Dog. I misheard it and misread it at first. Which I thought was about how Moses lost his dog. [Dan laughs.] It’s a sad story.

stuart

Wow.

dan

Well I mean, you’re wandering for 40 years. That dog’s not gonna stick with you the whole time.

elliott

Well, no, I mean, if he’s a good dog he will. But unfortunately he was not a good dog and he ran off. Very sad story.

stuart

Uh, pretty sure they’re all good dogs, Elliott. [Laughs.]

elliott

I mean, if they all go to heaven I guess by tautology definition they must all be “good dogs” or else heaven has no boundaries. So that’s when the detectives break into Crazx’s apartment, without a warrant, to find clues. Everyone hides. Then Crazx comes in and the detectives hide. [Dan laughs.] And Crazx looks for the dead girl’s locket because in an earlier scene that I didn’t’ mention about Dean Elkwood implies to Crazx that she knows he’s a murderer, leading him to have what I thought was a heart attack but I guess was just a panic attack. The locket isn’t there! We know Simon Conjurer has that, but Crazx’s in the Library of Alexandria room does find Simon’s book! He goes on for a while with a kind of goofy, paranoid monologue about the book and about whether he’s gonna read it or not ‘cause it might be a trap? He calls Simon the R-word at one point? Which seemed—again—not okay.

stuart

Nope.

elliott

And he decides he’ll read it at random to see what information he can find. And he chooses the sentence by spitting the chocolate in his mouth up into the air and it spins around a bunch of times and then splats on a page. And he’s like, “That’s the page I’ll read.” And he reads a scene that is set up as if it’s the climax of the movie, but it’s something that—it seems like a… almost like he is having a fugue state and going into an alternate version of this movie. Where he’s having a rooftop confrontation with Simon and Crazx has apparently kidnapped the dean and Simon and him, they’ve known each other since they were kids. Crazx says, “You shot me in the side!” And Simon says, “You killed my wife!” And it’s like, “When did any of this happen?” It’s not really clear if the wife they’re talking about is the dean or not. Apparently they both—

stuart

It’s like when you start a roleplaying game and all the players have much more interesting backstories than the adventure you’re actually playing in.

elliott

[Through laughter] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. They’ve both been chasing proof of the existence of god and Crazx has decided there isn’t one. And Crazx admits to Simon, “Yeah. I killed her. Because there’s nothing worth living about in this world. And to frame you!” And he takes the girl’s locket from Simon at gunpoint, then he pulls a level which reveals a plank— [Dan laughs.] —in the roof, and he takes out a pirate saber—or a cutlass—and he forces Simon to walk it at sword point and he pushes Simon off and then Simon falls for a long time. Cut back to the apartment? Crazx slurps the chocolate off the book. Like, he’s just licking and slurping the chocolate off. [Dan makes disgusted noise.] And then while he’s doing that, Team Simon run out, having also seen in their minds what Crazx was just reading and imagining in his mind? So they know all the information that Crazx had in his mind? And Crazx—

dan

Yeah. At this point, the listeners of the podcast is—surely Elliott is just engaged on another flight of fancy improv, as he is so keen on doing. But all of this is accurate to the film, Deadly Lessons, aka—what is it? The Something of Simon Conjurer? I forget the alternate title.

crosstalk

Stuart and Elliott: The LegendStuart: Yeah. Dan: The Legend. Yeah. So sorry for the break-in. But I just needed to reassure them— Elliott: And so the—it’s—no, but it all—it’s—

dan

—that they have not come [through laughter] untethered.

elliott

No. No. Only we and the movie have. But it’s one of those moments where like… it’s almost like the movie was like, “How are we gonna communicate that they know all this information now? They saw what was in his head at that moment. And they’re like, ‘Hey, it was like we could see it in our heads, too!’” They run out. That’s when Crazx, of course, goes over to a nude statue with a huge penis. Rubs the penis a bunch of times. Then lifts it up to find—to a place where there’s a gun hidden. And then he runs off himself. And it is a… the movie—from this point on—it’s like at that point, when we saw that rooftop thing? The movie broke. And at this point it is no longer even following the pattern of a real story anymore. Like, up to that point you could be like, “Okay, I get what they’re doing. They’re kind of going on this journey and they’re each having their moments and I get it. Simon is a man looking for answers, too. He doesn’t have all the answers.” From this point on, it’s not even really clear what’s actually happening in the movie. They go to Dean Elkwood’s house ‘cause they know from the vision they had of what Crazx’s read in the book—which, again, is like—it’s not like Crazx said “I’m gonna go kidnap the dean.” He read in a book a scene where he mentions kidnapping a dean and they assume that that’s his plan. They go to—so the heroes go to Dean Elkwood’s house where she is having a sexy nude shower under an indoor waterfall, and how long does this shower go for, would you guys estimate?

stuart

I think Dan said “Not long enough” in his text message.

dan

No, it goes on for quite some time. We did gloss over the fact that—when you say “Our heroes go there,” Simon goes there as well. Who—last we saw—fell off [through laughter] a building.

elliott

No, no. Dan—but that was—he fell off a building in Crazx’s mind in the scene from the book. That—none of that scene was actually happening. That was all what Crazx was reading in the book. So Simon’s still with our heroes.

dan

But wait. There’s a flashback that explains how he survived falling later on.

crosstalk

Dan: So I assumed it did happen. Elliott: That is just another scene—

elliott

No. That’s just another scene in the book. It’s as if the book is a “What If” story about this movie at this point.

dan

Oh. I see. I thought we saw what—I thought we were literally seeing what happened and the movie didn’t explain why Simon was still alive until a little later in the movie. Thinking that like we were just gonna accept that he fell off a building [through laughter] and was okay until it was explained.

elliott

That is very possible. Y’know what? I was gonna push back and say, “No, that’s not what happened’? But honestly, who am I to question the meaning of Deadly Lessons: Simon Conjurer. It could be what happened.

dan

But let’s—okay. So—

elliott

“Where was I when Simon Conjurer created the Leviathan? I wasn’t there.”

dan

Anyway. Simon Conjurer comes in and starts talking to the dean, like, trying to get her to come with them. And she is—

stuart

Now this set—this bathroom with a waterfall…

crosstalk

Stuart: It feels like—I don’t know. It feels like—it feels like a—It feels like the shower that I would imagine my, like— Dan: Now was it a bathroom? Or— [Laughs.] Yeah. She seems to be showering in like a fountain. Elliott: [Laughs.] It seems like it’s a greenhouse where she takes showers.

stuart

—my girlfriend would have when I was like 12 years old. I’d be like, “I’m gonna date a girl with a waterfall for a bathroom!” [Laughs.] Which—y’know, I’m only 12 years old. I have no concept of the upkeep that a waterfall greenhouse room is gonna be. Like, it’s such a pain in the ass. You got butterflies all over the place. [Elliott laughs.] You have Jim Lee-style obscuring fog covering up all the good parts.

elliott

[Laughs.] The upkeep is expensive for all that stuff. That’s why you gotta have a dean’s salary if you’re gonna afford that. But it is—it is a magical, mystical room. Yes. Simon comes in and is like, “We gotta get you to safety!” And she—no. She must have sex with him right then and there. And they talk about it—so they used to be married or they’re still married and they’re estranged? They were in a committed relationship and even though they’re both totally into each other still, for some reason they were not—I mean, it’s a huge conflict of interest for her to be married to one of the professors at her college or possibly elementary school.

dan

And in much the way that this movie feels like kind of a—like, a… less-poisonous Neil Breen movie with money? Like, this feels like the scene in the movie where the guy who is in charge of the movie is like, “Okay. I’m gonna, like, be like… fondled by this naked woman in the shower.” And I felt even worse for this woman than I do the Neil Breen woman. ‘Cause in the Neil Breen—like, in Fateful Findings, she’s not nude so at least the actress won that argument on set. I can [through laughter] only assume. Whereas here it’s like, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no. It’s very important to the story that we have you [through laughter] naked in the shower at this point.”

elliott

It’s also—and at a certain point, the obscuring objects just stop obscuring? And it’s weird ‘cause this movie is like… the tone of this movie is so strange. Where one moment—

stuart

That’s when you have to put up your own obscuring object so that you don’t have to see anything, Elliott. Like, hands. Fingers. A book. You create fog or something in your room.

crosstalk

Elliott: Anything you can find. Stuart: Just like Jim Lee would want me to.

elliott

Yeah, yeah. Just rub chicken oil all over the screen so it gets all blurry, yeah.

stuart

Oh, like Ridley Scott shoots action scenes.

elliott

[Through laughter] Yup. Because the tone of this movie—sometimes it feels like it’s supposed to be, like, lighthearted wonderment. And sometimes it’s supposed to be goofy. But then it’s hard to have a lighthearted, silly scene in a movie with a naked shower sex scene that is interrupted by a man at gunpoint—a man with a gun ordering Simon to strip and then kidnapping a naked Dean Elkwood. It is—like, the tone is all over. Y’know.

dan

Well I said—while watching it, like—because up until that point the closest thing this has to like a tone in what one might call “mainstream, typical media” is maybe like a tween fantasy? Where like all these like mostly younger people are in this support group and learning to cope and like crazy things are happening? But then like the nude scene comes in and you’re like, “Oh, wait. This is an R-rated movie, which makes it even more baffling. Like, who did they think they were making it for?” Y’know?

elliott

Yeah. It’s a strange—I guess what I’m saying is I’m like… it fails to combine nudity and lighthearted whimsy in the successful way of a Great Bikini Off-Road Adventure. Or something like that. [Dan laughs.] It is striving for and failing to reach what kind of like B-grade softcore porn does.

dan

[Through laughter] Yes.

elliott

Almost naturally. But anyway. Then we get to the scene where the two detectives have taken the book with chocolate on it to a scientist— [Dan laughs.] —so he can use x-ray lasers to read the words covered by the chocolate, and that’s where it describes Simon surviving his fall off the building by landing in a mattress track that Rebel is also in.

crosstalk

Stuart: And while they’re getting the book—they’re—and they’re getting that analyzed— Elliott: So maybe it was all a flashback, now that I think about it.

stuart

They point out that the laser tech has like a big scar on the back of his head? And the two detectives make note of it. But I don’t think it ever comes up again.

elliott

No. I assumed it was supposed to be a joke that he had mishandled the laser at some point.

stuart

Ohhhh, that would make sense. I mean, it’s hilarious, is why it makes sense.

dan

And it keys into the theme of the movie that everyone has some sort of marker on their body.

elliott

Yeah. And also it’s not how lasers work.

stuart

I mean, we’re all covered in scars.

crosstalk

Elliott: Yeah. I mean, the worst— Stuart: They define us.

elliott

But the worst scar’s the one you can’t see.

stuart

Oh. Wow. Cool.

elliott

Actually, you know what? The worst Scar is from Lion King. He kills his brother. [Dan laughs.]

crosstalk

Stuart: That’s a pretty good one. Elliott: And takes over the lions and he leaves his nephew to die.

elliott

That’s the worst Scar, I think. Yeah.

stuart

And Hulk’s son is Scar, right?

elliott

Uh… yeah.

stuart

Doesn’t he invade a planet or something? That’s pretty bad.

elliott

Well, Hulk—okay. No. Hulk gets sent to a planet by the Illuminati. Our heroes, who are acting like bad guys because it was in that period when everyone was acting out of character. And The Hulk is called “The Green Scar” when he’s on this planet, and then his son, I think, is “Suh-car,” maybe? Maybe it’s just Scar. I don’t know.

stuart

You following this, Dan?

dan

I was just sitting around thinking about the scene in Jaws where they compare scars.

stuart

Oh, okay.

elliott

But what I like about this and talking about the Prophet comic? Is that it’s revealing that fiction that I like is not that much clearer than Deadly Lessons: The Legend of Simon Conjurer. [Multiple people laugh.] Like, it’s all pretty nonsensical. So they all have more breakthroughs. They go back to class. There’s a—Platehead is late ‘cause he bought some lottery tickets. And they realize—Rebel is missing! Where’s Rebel? What happened to him? And to be honest, Rebel has fallen into the background of the movie for quite a while. He was set up to be a major character and he’s just kinda like not there that much. The class can—yeah?

dan

Yes. Also, Rebel narrates the movie at like—I would say—maybe four times? Like, I’d forgotten that he narrated at the beginning at all until it like kicked in again [through laughter] like halfway through the movie and I thought, “Wait. This movie has narration?” [Laughs.] And it’s very erratic.

elliott

Unlike—and—I mean, erratic and erotic, if you’re talking about that shower scene. So unlike The Princess Bride where—if you get the feeling that Peter Falk is narrating the whole movie. But if you actually go through and look at it, he only appears a handful of times throughout the course of it? ‘Cause it’s such a well-told movie? In this one, you instantly forget that Rebel is narrating. And eventually that he’s a character in the movie! So they’re like, “Where’s Rebel? Where’s Rebel? Let’s consult the book. The book has all the answers!” So they’ve already fallen to that level of a new religion where they can’t do anything without consulting their magic book. And the book—it’s not giving them any answers! In fact, the pages are all blank! And Simon reveals to them—they’re like, “What’s this all about? What’s this?!” For a long time. For like, three or four minutes. And then Simon says, “You were all having a mass hallucination. You imagined that that text was there. It never existed and you were filling it in with the information that you knew from your own lives and the glimpses you had of your classmates’ lives. And the natural coincidences of the universe filled in the rest. But what does it matter? Because you’re cured now!” It’s an explanation that doesn’t really make sense— [Dan laughs.] —but we don’t have time to go into it because Crazx and the police burst in, and Simon is arrested. Then the two detectives burst in and they go, “Hey, we have proof that Crazx did it. We have an eyewitness!” Dan, which character from the movie is gonna come back and be the eyewitness?

dan

Uh— [Laughs.]

elliott

Which character that we have seen before in the film—his existence foreshadowed and us being like, “Oh! He saw it!” is gonna come back.

dan

Wait, wait. Did we see them before? I know who the character is. Right? It’s Rebel’s dad. Right?

elliott

What I’m getting to, Dan—which I was hoping you would catch onto—is that we have never seen this character before—

dan

Oh, sorry.

elliott

And in fact, we were told earlier in the film that he was dead and did not exist anymore.

dan

[Through laughter] Elliott, I am so confused by this movie that like, you can’t play this game with me because I’ll just be like, “Oh, I missed something.” But yeah, no. He was supposed to be dead and he shows up.

stuart

That’s how you set up a twist, guys!

dan

Mm-hm.

elliott

[Through laughter] Yeah. Is you give the audience no information whatsoever to expect anything to happen.

dan

Now, this movie that was confusing at the beginning…

stuart

Uh-huh.

dan

Y’know, in the grand tradition of a lot of movies with twists, actually got more confusing when the twist was revealed. Because at this point I’m like, “Okay. Wait. Wait. Wait. So all the Crazx stuff about this child murderer actually happened and wasn’t part of their hallucination?”

elliott

Yes! It makes no sense— [Dan laughs.] So at this point you’re left to wonder what is real and what is not real in this movie. So the detectives say, “We have an eyewitness. This wealthy philanthropist—who’s actually Rebel’s dad—he saw Crazx push the girl off the room from his helicopter, which happened to be landing at a nearby building at the same time.”

stuart

And so we see a flashback of a helicopter footage beaming a spotlight on Jon Voight— [Dan laughs.] —who is carrying a child around and then chucks it off a building [through laughter] and it’s so funny.

crosstalk

Elliott: Yeah. And Crazx— Dan: [Laughs.] I mean, like—

dan

[Through laughter] This is like—well, it’s funny, yeah. Number one, because Jon Voight is like, “But who could have seen me do this?” Like, maybe the spotlight helicopter? But number two, you think this movie is gonna be like gentle and be like, “Oh, that child murderer was just part of the thing. Don’t worry. We didn’t put child murder in this lighthearted thing.” And then you get this extended scene of him carrying this kicking child who—blessedly, like, the one thing that makes it okay sort of is that she clearly is not scared. Like, if you look at the actress’s face she’s having a ball kicking her legs in Jon Voight’s prosthetic arms.

elliott

She’s probably Jon Voight’s granddaughter or something. I dunno. But yeah. It’s a—yeah. You expect the movie to be like, “Don’t worry. None of that bad stuff happened. Oh, no, no, no. A kid did die.” [Dan laughs.] “A kid was murdered. Jon Voight’s character is a murderer.” So Jon Voight—and Jon Voight goes, “How could you tell it was me? I was wearing a hat and coat! Oops!” And it’s like, “Yep! He’s a genius alright!” So he gets arrested. Everyone’s happy. They’ve instantly forgotten that just earlier that night a child was killed. Simon and Dean Elkwood, they kiss. And the eyewitness is like, “Yeah, I’m Rebel’s dad. Turns out I’m rich and Rebel is a wonderful child.” And so Rebel’s angry with the world, right? “No, but Rebel did tell me that he crashed your truck. So I’m gonna give you this check for it. And it’s for a lot of money.” It’s like, wait, so hold on a second. Which of these things happened? And all the classmates are like, “We did it! We’re cured!” And they leave. And Simon opens a letter signed “Friend,” giving him instructions on how to hypnotize the class to get them to breakthroughs? And Simon goes—Simon looks at the letter as if he’s never seen it before. Like, he’s baffled by it. And he goes, “Rebel?” And then—

dan

So—hold on.

elliott

This is when—wait. And before—Dan, I’ll just mention before you say something—this is when the movie collapses under its own weight. But Dan, what are you gonna say?

dan

Right. Well, like, okay. So. There’s these nested series of revelations and each one tries to address the last one? But it only raises more questions? ‘Cause at this point you’re like, “Oh, okay. I guess Simon Conjurer [pronounces it CON-jur-er] is like…”

elliott

Simon Con-JUR-or.

dan

Con-JUR-or. Sorry. Is also—

elliott

The Rural Conjurer.

dan

Yes. He is also basically going under the same treatment as his own like students. Like, some force is compelling him to do what he does in part to heal him as well as heal these students. So surely when that is revealed, then things will be explained. But not really, as we’ll see. That’s all I wanted to—

elliott

Yeah. So Simon—I guess what we’re supposed to take from it is that he hypnotized himself and the class based on these instructions given to him by… we don’t know. Because Rebel—we go to—now the narration—and we see that Rebel is actually Roberto, a clean-cut kid who’s just palling around with the old people at the hospital and helping his mom, the nurse, with the patients there. He’s such a lovely boy and he talks about how like he made up the Rebel persona—he dreamed the whole Rebel persona. Which—I don’t know what that means. I don’t understand how that sentence applies to what we’ve seen.

dan

Well he’s like saying that like he doesn’t know what was real but he’s putting it together now? I think he’s like coming out of this… like, his own sort of haze of being this other—alter-ego? I don’t know.

elliott

Now, and here’s one of those moments, too, where you’re like—you almost like—for a moment I was like, “Oh, is this like Identity and this was all happening in Roberto’s mind and he had to like pull himself together?” But no, because then—he goes in and his mother is talking to a sick woman who’s very distraught and his mother calms the woman down by talking her into floating around the room, flying like the kids from the classroom. Which somehow heals her completely? And it’s one of those things, too, where you’re like, “Okay, so his mom has the ability to talk people into surviving life-threatening illnesses. Why does she not use this more often? Like, why does she not teach—"

stuart

She heals the woman so much that a different nurse walks into the room and is shocked—like, y’know, taken aback by how healthy this person now is.

crosstalk

Elliott: Yeah. So—and it’s like, did she learn that from Simon? Or—was he— Dan: But you—well, no.

dan

It seems like maybe she is… so at first I’m like, “Okay. Are there like a bunch of people like Simon Conjurer in the world?”

elliott

Mutants, let’s call ‘em. Yeah. They’ve—superpowered people. Mutants.

dan

Who? Yeah. Superpowered mutants who are bound by impulse to help people and maybe like… one of those is now helping Simon Conjurer himself who’s also one of these magical people? ‘Cause at first I’m like, “Oh, does he have any magic powers at all?” As soon as I see this letter? But then you see him later on doing his same, like, tricks—floating-kid tricks to a new group of kids.

elliott

So it seems like the movie is going to tell us, “Actually, this was all in Roberto’s head. Either he lives in a magical realist world or actually his mom is the one who has this power—this magic.” But then Roberto tells us that the class still gets together regularly to support each other and keep them away from their addictions. So they’re real. And that Simon has gone back to teaching little kids how to fly, so he’s real. And then in jail, Crazx is writing a new novel. And the title of that novel? Prophet Without a God. So Crazx was real? So…

crosstalk

Elliott: So Roberto’s like— Dan: And he wrote the book? I guess maybe is implied? Stuart: And he’s like—

dan

That told them how to do this? Like, that’s the part that like—

crosstalk

Dan: I just don’t understand it. Stuart: And he looks like he’s in jail at the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disneyworld. [Multiple people laugh.] Elliott: Oh yeah. His—his cellmate—

elliott

—appears to be the Man in the Iron Mask, based on the jail he’s in. Yeah.

dan

[Laughs.] Yeah. And during this end montage, we get the scene referenced before where they all win the lottery and they’re down at the local bodega and the bodega guy is like, [through laughter] pulling stacks of money out from behind the counter as if that’s how, y’know, your money is awarded when you win a major lottery prize and not just like $2.

crosstalk

Elliott: It’s such a—when Platehead buys the tickets he’s—I guess so. Stuart: I mean, that’s a pretty nice bodega. They can afford to give the guy working behind the counter a nametag.

dan

Yup. [Laughs.]

elliott

They also say that Platehead won, like, $34 million or something and donated it all. But it’s—so the movie is like, “Hey. They have a magic book and they’re all receiving breakthroughs. Actually, it’s not a magic book. They were just hypnotized by Simon Conjurer. Actually? Simon Conjurer doesn’t know who hypnotized them. Actually? It was all a dream Roberto had. Actually? Everybody’s real. It wasn’t a dream. Forget about it.” The movie like—it’s not even nested reveals? It’s like, they’re throwing hot dogs at the wall reveals. [Dan laughs.] Like, just—like that’s what it feels like. Is it feels like you’re watching a movie made by someone just throwing food at the wall and being like, “That’s the thing now. Oh, that’s it.”

dan

Yeah. No, I mean, with just like a tweak it would be a sketch parodying twist endings. Like, just a little tweak.

crosstalk

Stuart: Yeah. So it was great. Elliott: It is—it is a—

elliott

It is a crazy thing, as you said, Dan, that part of the twist reveal is that much of it was not real but the murder was. Like, that the actual crime was real. Like— [Dan laughs.] It’s—so that’s Deadly Lessons.

dan

That is Deadly Lessons. Hope you were able to follow it.

crosstalk

Dan: So let’s do our Final— Elliott: I mean, if you were able to follow it?

elliott

Write in. I want you to tell me what is going on at the end of this movie or even the middle of the movie.

stuart

If you wrote the movie you can’t write in.

crosstalk

Dan: No. Stuart: Uh, well… maybe. Elliott: Mmmm.

dan

You just gotta write in that fancy dialogue style. So Final Judgements. Is this a good-bad movie, a bad-bad movie, or a movie you kinda liked? I’m gonna say, guys… now as I alluded to before, this movie has issues with [through laughter] its presentation of mental health and of therapy to help mental health and… there is a slur against mental disability later in it. So there’s stuff in it that if you’re sensitive to that, by all means. I’m not saying run out and watch it. But. If you are able to view it with the inherent ridiculousness that the whole movie projects—I mean, like, the thing is, like, I—this movie is too silly for me to [through laughter] get that offended by it? Just ‘cause it is like… I don’t know. A child’s story. Like, it’s like writing like, “And then what happened? And then this happened. And then this happened. And then this happened.” And in a world where we have to watch like your RoboCop remakes and your _10,000 B.C._s to encounter something this, like, rambling and strange and… have it also be a $30 million movie is just a special treat. So I’m gonna say it’s a good-bad movie.

elliott

Uh, yeah. Keeping all those caveats in mind, I would also say—good-bad movie. Just be ready to be a little upset by its portrayal of mental health and therapy. But then just sit back and get ready for Jon Voight to literally like put the scenery in a blender and then chug it down as like a scenery smoothie. [Dan laughs.]

stuart

Yeah. At some points it felt like Jon Voight was auditioning to be in like the next Spy Kids movie or something. That’s not a slam on Spy Kids, but I feel like they have a, y’know, an arch quality to them. Yeah. No. I totally agree with you guys. It is fairly insensitive about how it portrays everything, but it also is [through laughter] it’s also made poorly. [Dan laughs.] But also it looks kind of expensive— [Elliott laughs.] —but it also looks like crap. The music is hilariously bad. And it is like that perfect vanity project where the writer-director has cast himself—like, it feels like the script probably describes Simon Conjurer as like, “A handsome—” y’know, like, “A handsome man who looks much younger than his 50 years” or something. [Elliott laughs.] And he liked showed up with the script and he’s like, “I don’t know! We’re having a lot of trouble finding a Simon Conjurer! I mean, I guess I could do it. I mean, I know the script.” And everyone’s like, “Uh… you wanna do it, dude? Why is your hair so wet?” And he uh— [Dan laughs.] Yeah. There’s even a scene where Simon Conjurer gets in a brief fight with Scorpio, the violent guy— [Dan laughs.] —and he grabs him and throws him across the room up against a wall. And he just explains it away that he has taught himself martial arts. It’s so great.

elliott

It’s crazy. That was one of the moments where I’m like, “Oh, so he has powers now. Is that the—"

dan

Yeah. He was throwing him like he was wearing an Iron Man suit or something.

elliott

Now one thing that we didn’t mention which I’ll mention quickly before we finish is that—so the writer-director and star of the movie—his name is not in the credits. He actually took his name off the film. And I only just learned in looking up stuff now while you guys were talking that at the end of the credits I guess is his explanation for that? So I’m just gonna let the credits roll on my end over here and I’ll let you know when that explanation comes up as to why his name is not on the film.

music

Light, up-tempo, electric guitar with synth instruments.

promo

Music: Cheerful, jazzy, old-timey music plays in background. Freddie Wong: Hey, you like movies? How about coming up with movie ideas over the course of an hour? ‘Cause that’s what we do every week on Story Break, a writers’ room podcast where three Hollywood professionals have an hour to come up with a pitch for a movie or TV show based off of totally zany prompts. Will Campos: Like that time we reimagined Star Wars based on our phones’ autocomplete! Will: Luke Skywalker is a family man and it’s Star Wars but it’s a good idea. [Multiple people laugh.] Matt Arnold: Okay. How about a time we wrote the story of a bunch of Disney Channel Original Movies based solely on the title and the poster? Matt: Okay, Sarah Hyland is a 50-foot woman. Let’s just go with it, guys. Freddie: Or the time we finally cracked the Adobe Photoshop Feature Film. Matt: Stamp Tool is your Woody, and then the autofill— Freddie: Ohhhh. Matt: —Is the new Buzz Lightyear! [Multiple people laugh.] Freddie: Join us as we have a good time imagining all the movies Hollywood is [accusatory voice] too cowardly to make! [Dramatic voice] Story Break comes out every Thursday on Maximum Fun. [Regular voice] I don’t know why I’m using this voice now. [Music ends.]

promo

[Radio interference followed by laidback music with a snare drum beat. A phone rings as the DJ speaks.] Radio DJ: Welcome back to Fireside Chat on KMAX. With me in-studio to take your calls is the dopest duo on the West Coast, Oliver Wang and Morgan Rhodes. [Click.] Go ahead, caller. Caller: Hey. Uh, I’m looking for a music podcast that’s insightful and thoughtful, but like, also helps me discover artists and albums that I’ve never heard of. Morgan Rhodes: Yeah, man. Sounds like you need to listen to Heat Rocks. Every week, myself—and I’m Morgan Rhodes—and my co-host here, Oliver Wang, talk to influential guests about a canonical album that has changed their lives. Oliver Wang: Guests like Moby, Open Mike Eagle, talk about albums by Prince, Joni Mitchell, and so much more. Caller: Yooo! What’s that show called again? Morgan: Heat Rocks. Deep dives into hot records. Oliver: Every Thursday on Maximum Fun. [Music suddenly gives way to static and a dial tone.]

dan

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elliott

Hey, Dan, I was wondering if—by the way, I went through the credits and I couldn’t find the thing that I read was there. But he did take his name off. Anyway. So Dan, I have a website that I—an idea that I was wondering if I could get help from Squarespace to make that! Do you think they’d be able to?

dan

Probably!

stuart

Yeah. Always a first time.

elliott

So anyway, you’ve heard of Facebook. Well this movie—it made me realize there’s a bigger problem involving books, so that’s why I’m creating Fudgebook.com. Do your books have chocolate in them? Like, are the pages covered in chocolate?

crosstalk

Elliott: How are you gonna find out? Dan: Some of them. Stuart: Elliott, you’ve been to Dan’s house.

stuart

You’ve seen what his books are like. They’re covered in chocolate.

elliott

They’re covered in chocolate. So how are you gonna find other people in the “Books covered with chocolate” community to figure out how to remove that chocolate from the books or—if you prefer your books that way—how to get more chocolate on your books. That’s where Fudgebook.com comes in. Fudgebook is your place on the internet for the fudge book community. That’s people who either like having chocolate on their books or don’t like having chocolate on their books, but have chocolate on their books. Maybe you wanna trade your chocolate-covered copy of Stranger in a Strange Land to another person who doesn’t have chocolate on their copy of Stranger in a Strange Land, but would prefer to have a copy of Stranger in a Strange Land with chocolate on it. Well, that’s where Fudgebook.com comes in!

stuart

Yeah! It’s like social media!

elliott

It’s the most social media, because it’s around the three things people love most. One, books. Two, chocolate—or the removal of said chocolate—and three, communication. So that’s Fudgebook.com. Dan, you think Squarespace would be able to help me with that?

dan

Probably. I mean, if you pay them. [Multiple people laugh.] I mean, that’s how business works, guys. Let’s not pretend that—

stuart

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let’s not sugarcoat it.

dan

Yeah. It’s an exchange of money for services.

elliott

Okay. Fair point. Fair point.

dan

Hey, I believe that you both have Jumbotrons this week. Am I right, or am I wrong?

stuart

Oh yeah, and I am raring to g-g-g-go with my j-j-j-Jumbotron! “Happy birthday to a man who hates attention! He will no doubt feel equally thrilled—and mortified—by this spotlight immortalizing him in the annals of his favorite podcast’s history. Even though he is wrong about Chaplin, and will always fight about Batman, we still manage a happy union. Happy birthday, Scott! This message is for Scott… Cryder? And the message is from Billy Harrison. Happy birthday.”

elliott

Sweet and embarrassing. I will say, fighting about Batman? Better than fighting Batman!

stuart

[Through laughter] That’s true. He has trained his body into a weapon [through laughter] to beat up criminals.

elliott

Yep. He is violence as a tool for mental health. Anyway, so there’s another Jumbotron. It goes like this: “Ever feel like there’s too much pop culture out there? Have you wanted to become a Stanley Kubrick film expert but instead settled for watching The Office for the fifth time while 2001 collects dust? The Monkey Off My Backlog podcast is here to help you exorcise your pop culture demons! Join hosts Andy, Tessa, and Sam each week as they offer advice and talk about checking movies, TV, books, videogames, and more off their lists. Join the conversation and start tackling your own lists today! Listen and subscribe to The Monkey Off My Backlog podcast—that’s @MonkeyBacklog on Twitter—on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts!”

stuart

Oh man, yeah, I’ve been dying to get to that last season of Dexter. [All laugh.]

dan

Okay.

elliott

Okay. And there’s two other things we’d like to highlight before we get out of the sponsors and advertising section of the show.

stuart

What do you think happens? Do you think Dexter gets murdered himself ‘cause he’s a serial killer?

elliott

Dexter murders Santa Claus. Now he’s Santa Claus—

crosstalk

Stuart: That makes sense. Elliott: And he has to kill bad children while giving gifts to good children. Dan: Ohhhh.

dan

Goddammit. That—like, if that series had ended that way, like, it would shoot to number one.

stuart

Don’t—no spoil-os!

crosstalk

Elliott: I mean, no spoil-os. I just told you what happens, but no [through laughter] spoilers. [Laughs.] Stuart: Keep it tucked. Dan: On my best [inaudible]. [Laughs.]

stuart

Yeah, but you didn’t do a very good job describing it, so it didn’t spoil it for me.

elliott

Sorry. His dark passenger drives him to kill Santa Claus. Is that better?

stuart

Thank you. Thank you.

elliott

And so. Guys? Hey—remember when we used to do Flop House live shows where we’d go to someone’s city and then we’d do a show on a stage for them?

crosstalk

Stuart: Uh-huh. And we’d fly on a plane. Dan: Do I!

stuart

We’d stay in a hotel. Maybe in the same room together. Y’know. Who knows.

crosstalk

Dan: Oh boy. Elliott: Yeah. And most of the trip would be based around— Stuart: We would eat hotel food.

elliott

Most of the trip would be based around trying to figure out how much time we had to eat breakfast before we had to do our work.

stuart

[Through laughter] Oh man. We got so mad about that. Remember that, guys?

dan

Well, we’re all a little bit of a lingerer. A breakfast lingerer. So.

stuart

I like to take my time. Get a second cup. Third cup.

dan

I know. I just—yeah. It’s a whole day of work.

elliott

What if we could bring that live show energy— [Dan laughs.] —without the anxiety of breakfasts straight to your home? We did it once, a couple months ago. We did our Howard the Duck live Zoomcast, and we’re doing it again! October 24th, 9PM Eastern/6PM Pacific. That’s right—it’s a Shocktober live Flop House Zoom! And we’re going to be watching The Exorcist II: The Heretic. Now, it’s gonna be just like that Howard the Duck show. We’re gonna do presentations beforehand. We’ll have some kind of charity that we’re promoting and want people to donate for. And it’s gonna be right in your home! You don’t have to go anywhere! Which is great, because now is a difficult time to go anywhere. So that’s October 24th, one week before Halloween so you know it’s still gonna be scary, spooky times ‘cause November 1st, the spook time is over and it’s on to turkey time. October 24th, 9PM Eastern/6PM Pacific. [Dan laughs.] The Exorcist II: The Heretic.

stuart

And don’t worry. If for some reason you don’t want to watch us in the moment, live, y’know, with no safety belts; no harness; just raw-dogging the show—it’s pretty scary when we do it, actually. [Multiple people laugh.] If you don’t wanna do that we’re gonna archive it so you can watch it later. [Laughs.]

elliott

Yeah. It’ll be up—it’s gonna be streaming through our YouTube page and it will stay on the YouTube page.

dan

Yeah. The only advantage—and I would say it’s not nothing—is if you watch it live, maybe you can organize a group watch with other listeners or last time we didn’t have the comments enabled because we were scared of meanies? Y’know? We didn’t want any meanies dropping by? But we had—

elliott

Stuart: Those meanies are fucking assholes. Elliott: Yeah. There’s all blue and everything? Yeah.

dan

But we had the YouTube live chat on for our screenplay reading of The Boy Next Door and that went just fine so we’ll probably allow it this time around.

stuart

Oh, they tricked us! Dan’s gonna be watching the feed the whole time and he’s gonna be losing his shit. [Laughs.]

elliott

And last time we had questions from Twitter that we answered and we’ll probably do that again, or maybe we’ll use the comments. I don’t know. But that’s gonna be through the Flop House YouTube page, October 24th, 9PM Eastern/6PM Pacific. The Exorcist 2: The Heretic. A movie none of us have seen, but it’s supposed to be not very good. I have another thing that I’d like to plug that’s just for me! It has nothing to do with Stuart and Dan! That’s that—as I’ve mentioned before on the podcast—September 29th, I have a children’s book coming out! Sharko and Hippo. It’s by me, art’s by Andrea Tsurumi. It’s kind of like the Marx Brothers if one of the Marx Brothers was a hippo and the other was a shark. It’s a fun story. It’s a picture book for kids. And it’s got a lot of jokes about words that sound like other words. So if that sounds like fun to you—and I bet it does!—Sharko and Hippo. Preorder it now or pick it up from, y’know, your independent bookstore’s website or other websites. Go for it.

dan

Stuart, do you have anything to plug?

stuart

Yeah. I own a couple of bars, Hinterlands and Minnie’s Bar in Brooklyn. You should come by and grab something to go or sit in the patio, please! It’s a tough time out here.

dan

Yeah. [Sighs.] Okay. Well, letters. We all get ‘em from time to time.

crosstalk

Dan: Or write ‘em. Yeah. Stuart: Sometimes. Yeah. Elliott: Mm-hm.

dan

Y’know? Like maybe you’re George Washington writing Martha from the front. Or maybe you’re [through laughter] writing us about something.

elliott

Or writing her from the back! Who knows? [Multiple people laugh.] He was into all sorts of stuff!

dan

Jesus God. Okay. Well, I’ll just keep rolling. This first letter—

elliott

[Singing] Hey, y’know, guys? It can be a tough time but it’s always a good time for letters! Sometimes you can feel real sad, but you can’t feel sad about letters! Although now that I think of it, sometimes letters can have bad news and real sad dudes! Can have letters be sad. Yes—can— [Dan laughs.] —have letters be mad. Yes, sometimes letters are just real bad, and your grammar falls apart when you’re singing about lettersss! Oh, yeah! Letters!

stuart

I thought he was wrapping up. [Laughs.] [Dan laughs.]

crosstalk

Elliott: Hoo boy! Letters. Dan: That’s the problem. You can never tell.

elliott

Just a hot, steaming pile of letters! Get ‘em while they’re fresh off the grill! Letters! Letters today!

crosstalk

Stuart: Oh no. Now it’s starting to warm up again. Elliott: What’s the special today?

elliott

Letters! A hot bowl of letters for you! You’ve been driving cross-country delivering toilet paper to people who need it ‘cause the store shelves are sometimes out and now you get to sit down and have yourself a big, hot platter of letters! It’s like a TV dinner but all of the things—

crosstalk

Stuart: Yeah, I don’t know where it’s going now. Elliott: —have letters in them! [Dan laughs.]

elliott

Where there would be creamed corn, there’s letters!

crosstalk

Elliott: Where there would be meatloaf, there’s letters! Where there would be green beans, it’s letters! Dan: I feel like—I feel like he missed the offramp? And now he’s just gotta keep going, so. Stuart: [Laughs.] Yeah. And you’re sitting in the back of the lift—

stuart

—and you’re like, “Where are we going? Am I going to have to pay this?”

dan

Alright. So this first one’s from— [Dan laughs.]

elliott

[Still singing] A big plate of letters for you! [All laugh.]

dan

Oh god. This is from Nate, last name redacted. “Hi, Peaches.”

stuart

Nathan Summers.

crosstalk

Dan: “I’m a longtime tabletop—” Stuart: Better known as Cable. [Elliott laughs.]

dan

I’m a longtime tabletop RPG player and wanted to pick your brain—

crosstalk

Dan: —about D&D movies. Elliott: Why just one time?

stuart

“What’s the best class?” That’s what he was gonna ask. “So Dan, what’s your elite combo? What’s the best stats you ever rolled?”

elliott

Well clearly the best class is Simon Conjurer’s night class where you fix all of your problems in one night.

dan

Oh, if I could only go to a Simon Conjurer. Nate is asking, “There have been tons of successful high fantasy movies over the past few decades, but every single attempt at a D&D movie has failed. Why do you think the past D&D movies have failed, and what do you think a successful D&D movie would look like? Thanks for all the laughs! Nate, last name redacted.”

elliott

Now, I have thoughts on this but I’d like to hear Stuart’s thoughts first. ‘Cause I feel like he’s got more of a dog in this fight.

stuart

Yeah. So… well, I think a couple things factor into this. And I think it partly is tied in also with why it’s so hard to make a successful movie based on a videogame. But I think with D&D, part of the—and this is gonna be undercut a little bit by something else—but I think a big part of it is that part of the joy of games like D&D is that the people that are the audience are also playing in it? And they’re creating their own story and they’re invested in it. And… I think that’s a big part of it. Like, I feel like… the story that you make with your friends in your D&D group, you’re gonna have a bigger personal stake and you’re gonna like it more. That’s undercut a little bit by the success of actual play podcasts like the one we make, but I think part of the joy of those is also the fact that everybody involved is very passionate about it and, y’know. Yadda, yadda, yadda. And the market is often smaller. I don’t know. I think that’s a big part of it.

elliott

I think that’s definitely part of it, and another part—I would say—is that D&D is essentially a world for you to create a story and create your own characters? There’s no characters that preexist necessarily, and there’s no story. So if you’re adapting it into a movie, it’s like the thing that you’re working with is not necessarily the most important thing that an audience that’s not already into D&D is looking for? Like, when people go to a movie, the setting is something that they enjoy but they’re invested in the story and the characters, and D&D doesn’t really come with story and characters. It’s kind of like if—

stuart

Yeah. Except for like Lord Soth or something.

elliott

Yeah. Well it’s like if you were making like a SimCity movie. You’d be like—

stuart

Or Drizzt Do’urden or something.

elliott

Yeah. But if you’re making a SimCity movie, you’d be like, “Okay, I guess it’s a movie about building a city.”

stuart

Or like Elminster Sage or something.

dan

[Laughs.] God.

crosstalk

Stuart: Go on, Elliott. Sorry. Elliott: You’re right. I forgot. D&D has a rich cast of characters. [Laughs.] [Dan laughs.] Dan: That are, like, real household names. Elliott: But none of those are characters—

elliott

None of those are characters that—well, I mean, you don’t have to have household names to make a movie. Like, Guardians of the Galaxy was a huge hit and nobody knew who those characters were except me ‘cause I loved Abnett and Lanning’s run on the title which was kind of the main influence on the movie. But it’s like… if you’re making a SimCity game, you’d be like, “I guess it’s about building a city but like I need to create the characters and the plot and what’s going on.” And they were able to—it’s like—

stuart

Isn’t, like, Marv in SimCity, though?

elliott

Not Sin City, Stuart. SimCity. The game. Come on, Stu.

crosstalk

Stuart: Oh, right. Dan: Yeah. Well, I mean—oh, sorry. Elliott: But—I would say—oh, sorry.

elliott

I would say just two things. One is that—I think the only people that have really been able to pull off something like that are the people behind the Lego movies. Because they were taking something that was just blocks. It’s not—there’s no story to Legos. Y’know. And there’s no characters to Legos except—I know there’s that astronaut character and all that stuff. My son will run in and be like, “Actually, there’s a lot of Lego characters.” But they had to create what is the tone of this movie; what is the characters; what are the stories; what’s the—‘cause all they have to work off of are “Legos are a thing you can build with”? But—and so you’d need people who really like can fill in that stuff. And if they’re gonna fill in all that, then you might as well just make a movie that’s not beholden to the Dungeons & Dragons license? I would say, though, I feel like the Dungeons & Dragons Saturday morning cartoon show was fairly successful because they kind of translated the idea Stuart was talking about, where it was a group of people—a group of friends who are like, had to live out the roles in the game? Y’know? And so it had a little bit of that feeling.

dan

Yet again, by not needing to take a breath and breathing through the gills on his neck, Elliott has scooped me. ‘Cause I was gonna say that I think that the closest thing to a success was that. ‘Cause for that very reason. It was the idea that these adventurers were sucked into this game and, y’know, like had to take on these characteristics of these classes that exist. ‘Cause if you remove the interactivity, what are you left with? You’re left with a world that was heavily influenced by Tolkien and we already have good Tolkien movies with the story added, not just the world. So.

stuart

And some songs!

dan

Yeah. [Elliott laughs.] Some great tunes that I assume Stu has on his iPod shuffle for runs at the gym. [Stuart laughs.]

stuart

Yeah. [Laughs.]

crosstalk

Dan: But yeah. I agree with everything people have said. Stuart: Trying to get vascular.

elliott

I mean, I also say—I don’t think any of the Dungeons & Dragons things have had owlbears in them?

stuart

Yep. That’s actually a good point. I mean, and also, like… like, Kieron Gillen’s comic Die is basically kind of like a more modern take on that kind of the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon. Y’know. Like, gamers sucked into the game.

dan

Moving on to a letter from Nadia, last name withheld.

stuart

We forgot to answer the question on how to make—

crosstalk

Stuart: —a successful version of that. And obviously— Dan: How to make one? Well what do you got in your head?

stuart

That is Conan the Destroyer. The second of the Conan movies is the closest thing to an actual D&D session in, y’know, in game form. Or in movie form.

crosstalk

Dan: Nadia—oh, god. Elliott: It seems like the Dungeons & Dragons stuff—

elliott

—they’re—it also—there’s kind of like a… they’re like running away from the things that Dungeons & Dragons fans like about Dungeons & Dragons? ‘Cause it’s like, “We gotta make a Dungeons & Dragons movie but we don’t want it to be like a nerdy movie. Whereas like, you just—you’re into it.” Sorry, what were you saying?

stuart

It’s like superhero comics for a while—or superhero movies for a while where they’re like, “Okay. We’re gonna do a superhero movie, but we’re gonna make ‘em look cool.” And you’re like, “Uh, they already look cool. I like the way they look in the comic book. Just make ‘em look like that.”

elliott

Well when they finally realized, like, “Oh, Spider-Man has an amazing costume. We don’t have to make changes too much to it.” Y’know. Or like, Captain America—there’s a reason Captain America’s wearing the same clothes for 80 years. But the—

crosstalk

Dan: Yeah. He doesn’t like doing laundry. Elliott: But then that can go—

elliott

But then that can go crazy when you have Han Solo wearing the same clothes for 40 years and it’s like, “I think he would change the vest at some point.” But… the—there’s like a feeling of—like, with Lord of the Rings movies, like, one of the reasons they’re so successful is because they really go for it on the level of the Lord of the Rings story? And it’s not like, “Okay. This is kind of a nerdy story so let’s put in some—let’s undercut it with gags to bring other people.” Instead—

stuart

Yeah. Like, “Oh, no, the cave troll showed up! Cue the music!” [Singing] “Cut my life into pieces!” [Elliott laughs.]

elliott

So instead it’s like, “Oh, we love this story. Like, let’s do this story to the hilt.” Y’know. So. That’s what you do. You do a Dungeons & Dragons movie that’s super taking Dungeons & Dragons seriously, and you hire Stuart to write it.

stuart

Uh-huh.

elliott

Mm-hm.

stuart

Yeah. Me and my producing partner, Joe Manganiello.

elliott

And you have all those household name beloved character Stuart was mentioning, like, Zazapoff and… and, uh, Digimon and uh— [Dan laughs.] —what? Hieronymus Gorman?

dan

Abe Pagoda?

elliott

Yeah. Abe Pagoda. [Multiple people laugh.]

dan

So this next letter goes like this. “It’s customary for me to tell a bedtime story to my three kids, ages 3, 5, and 9 each night. And I tend to just make it up as I got instead of actually reading something. I try to come up with funny-sounding names for characters and couldn’t resist using ‘Rocket Crocodile.’ My kids keep demanding, ‘Tell us more about the crocodile, daddy!’” [Multiple people laugh.] “So RC has become the main protagonist recently. To keep it kid-friendly, I’ve decided to emit all the Gina Gershon stuff that Elliott stipulated in Rocket’s origin story. As of last night’s episode—"

elliott

What about the Carla Gugino stuff?

dan

[Through laughter] I only assume that it’s still in there, based on the letter of the law. “As of last night’s episode, Rocket Crocodile has found himself trying to escape the pursuit of the villainous Sith Donkey, Darth Mule, as he navigates a _Star Wars-_adjacent galaxy.” And that’s from Nadia, last name withheld.

stuart

Now that Star Wars is under the same umbrella as Marvel, I guess Darth Mule would be part of the Spider-ham universe, right?

elliott

Uh, yep! They—hope they have that joke in the sequel! Yeah. I love that letter. I think that’s super sweet and you will be hearing from my lawyers. [Dan laughs.]

dan

To tell you that you think it’s super sweet. [Multiple people laugh.]

elliott

Yeah! “We’d like to ask the court to serve a writ of super sweetness?” [Dan laughs.]

dan

That rivals a 16th birthday party for super sweetness.

crosstalk

Dan: I’m looking for— Elliott: Mm-hm. We’re serving a writ of Habeus Awww.

dan

Um, so… now we are onto the last segment, where we recommend movies that we enjoyed for non-silly reasons. Let’s say it that way. I’m gonna say that I was curious about the new Charlie’s Angels movie, directed by Elizabeth Banks, and starring Kristen Stewart and some other people who are less famous so I’ve forgotten who they are. Apologies to them. They did a great job.

elliott

There was no way for you to find out that information.

dan

[Laughs.] No way at all. I thought it was a lot of fun! It was a movie that combined some genuine hangout comedy with much, like… better and more clearly choreographed action movies than I was expecting out of a Charlie’s Angels reboot. And Kristen Stewart is just… a delight in the movie. She seems to be having so much fun. She gets saddled with so many like mopey roles sometimes that I think she was just relishing being this kind of offbeat action hero. And I—it got a lot more shit than I think it should’ve, by far. I think mostly from maybe male movie critics who were like, “This is like too overt in its feminist messaging” or something. And I think that they are just not realizing how much of sort of male-targeted action movies are male wish fulfillment and not examining that, like, y’know, maybe you’re not realizing that it’s fine. It’s fine for us both to get some of that stuff. But I just really enjoyed it. A lot more fun kind of action blockbuster than I thought it would be. Charlie’s Angels.

stuart

I’m gonna recommend a movie I don’t think’s been recommended by us before. I’m gonna recommend the recent movie Palm Springs. Starring Andy Samberg and—I think I’m gonna pronounce this right—Cristin Milioti? I don’t know.

dan

Uh, Cristin Miloti, I think.

stuart

Miloti. okay, yeah. Yeah. It’s—I feel like a very apt movie to watch at a time like this. Kind of a movie about being stuck in one place and being stuck in, y’know, repetitive cycle. It’s a comedy but it’s also kinda dark. I don’t wanna go too much into the plot details because I think that’s part of the fun of the movie, but everybody is very winning. And it—I feel like it’s a movie that deserves an Academy Award for casting characters based on their eyebrows matching up so that you can tell— [Multiple people laugh.] —they’re all related. I mean, if you’re gonna cast Peter Gallagher in a movie, you’re like, everyone else has to also have great eyebrows. And speaking of Academy Awards, it also features Lifetime Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor J.K. Simmons is in the movie as well. He is not playing his iconic role of J. Jonah Jameson, the role that won him that award—

elliott

No. [Dan laughs.]

stuart

—in my apartment. [Multiple people laugh.]

elliott

Not the movie that won him the award and also—“Supporting Actor” is not a Lifetime award. [Dan laughs.] It’s awarded for a specific role.

stuart

I mean, yeah. But you can win that award every year, right? For the same role, even if you’re not in a movie based with that character, right?

elliott

Not how the award works, no.

stuart

I mean, but… I could watch that movie this year, so… [Elliott laughs.] I don’t see why he couldn’t win it, Elliott.

crosstalk

Elliott: That’s a good point. That’s a good point. Dan: I mean, Elliott, for the past—

dan

—y’know, since the ‘80s or whenever that movie came out, “Best Movie Named After a Type of Animal” has gone to The Bear over and over again. So I don’t know what you’re talking about.

elliott

It’s not an award— [Dan laughs.] —not an award, and also the movie won [through laughter] zero Academy Awards.

dan

[Through laughter] The way that Elliott just stared at me blankly after I said that. Alright. [Elliott laughs.]

stuart

Uh, yeah. So Palm Springs, the movie! Watch it!

elliott

And I’m gonna recommend a movie that—I don’t know if Stuart has seen, but if he hasn’t seen I would specifically recommend it to him! ‘Cause I think he would like it a lot. This is a movie from 1988 from New Zealand called The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey. It’s currently streaming on Canopy, and there is a English village in the 14th century that is worried that the Black Death will soon be visiting them? And they decide that the only way to keep the plague away from their village is for a mission to set up a cross—for them to take some—what is it, copper? Take copper to a forge to make a cross and put it up at a church in a big town. And so this group of guys being guided by a young boy who has visions, and seems to be able to tell them where to go, go on this mission and what happens to them I don’t wanna say. Even though every description of the movie kinda gives it away. But it goes into what could’ve turned into a ridiculous or goofy plot, but which actually felt—stuck with the tone that it starts with in the beginning, which is kind of like… medieval austerity. So anyway, it’s a medieval movie with a big twist in the middle. That I won’t tell you what it is. But it’s The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey.

stuart

Okay. I’ll check it out. That sounds awesome.

elliott

You’ll find out what the twist is instantly ‘cause it’s in all the descriptions on—anywhere you see abbot it. But. [Laughs.]

dan

Before we get into our goodbyes—as Smalltember comes to an end, I want to thank, in particular, for this episode, Peter Kuplowsky, who is one of the guys who brought us to Toronto for our live show and is a film programmer who alerted us to the existence of Deadly Lessons. So I wanna give credit where that’s due. I want to thank our editor, Jordan Kauwling, who does a great job for us every week. But as I said—

stuart

Jordan—to celebrate, can you just loop in that gavel sound with the Elliott nodding clip again? [Multiple people laugh.]

elliott

It’s not really a celebratory sound. A gavel. If you’re hearing that it’s probably bad news, so I mean—

dan

Well, it’s a gavel that has an air horn attached to it so every time you hit it— [Elliott laughs.]

stuart

Jordan, also edit out all of Elliott and Dan’s bullshit? [Dan laughs.] Just theirs?

elliott

I mean, then I’m gonna be left with nothing, Stuart. That’s all that I do. [Multiple people laugh.] I will say—Jordan really, like, she—the last mini that we did, it was a quick-turnaround mini and I could not stick a final bit that I was trying to do, so she had a lot of editing to figure out. So thank you very much, Jordan, for doing that.

dan

But as I said, Smalltember is coming to an end. But cry not, because Shocktober is just around the corner. And I wanted to tease that for all the people who were asking on Twitter and Instagram, we announced that one of our guests for Shocktober will be Gillian Flynn. It is in fact that Gillian Flynn of Gone Girl and Sharp Objects and Dark Places and other stuff. I could not be more excited. I know we could all not be more excited. So that’s a tease. Unless something unforeseen happens. [Stuart laughs.] She’ll be on to—I mean, I can’t guarantee—

crosstalk

Dan: I can’t—Well I can’t guarantee that the— Stuart: A tease followed by a threat! Elliott: Dan, I don’t think— [Laughs.] Yeah! I feel like you don’t need to hedge against acts of God, Dan.

dan

The world may, y’know, I— [Laughs.] Every morning, every night, I’m like, “I can’t guarantee that the sun will rise next morning, but I think it’s—"

elliott

Hey, you know what, Dan? If there’s a catastrophe of some kind, I don’t think people’s first thought will be, “Well, Dan said there’d be another Flop House, so I’m gonna hold him to it. While I’m running across the wasteland from these oil-hunting biker gangs because civilization has collapsed. I’m not gonna hold a special piece of anger just for Dan because he told me there’s be a Flop House no matter what.”

dan

Y’know, I used to think that it was ridiculous in Mad Max that, y’know, this gasoline-short society was so based around cars? But now that I’ve seen how dumb people are during [through laughter] the actual apocalypse that’s going on, I’m like, okay, sure. It checks out. But none of you listeners. You’re all doing great. [Multiple people laugh.] National treasures, every one of you.

crosstalk

Dan: So that’s a little tease for the— Stuart: This has been Dan hedging bets. [Laughs.] Left and right. [Elliott laughs.]

dan

“Mr. Hedge,” they call me. Tweet about us. Put us on iTunes. Well, don’t put us on iTunes. We’re already there. [Elliott laughs.] Just rate us. [Laughs.]

elliott

No, review us on iTunes. [Stuart laughs.] Review us on iTunes.

crosstalk

Elliott: Feel free to Tweet about us. Dan: Positively. Despite my recent babble. Please make it positive.

elliott

Help us spread the word about this goofy show. Although I don’t know why, after what we’ve been hearing lately. But uh— [Dan laughs.]

dan

But on that note, for The Flop House, I’ve been Dan McCoy.

stuart

I’m Stuart Wellington!

elliott

And I’m… Elliott Kalan.

stuart

Byeee!

elliott

Light, up-tempo, electric guitar with synth instruments.

dan

On this episode we discuss—Deadly Lessons!

elliott

[Tom Brokaw impersonation] Featuring me, Tom Brokaw. [Regular voice] Just kidding! It’s Elliott. I’m back. [Dan laughs.] [Music ceases.]

speaker 1

MaximumFun.org

speaker 2

Comedy and culture.

speaker 3

Artist owned—

speaker 4

—Audience supported.

About the show

The Flop House is a bimonthly audio podcast devoted to the worst in recent film. Your hosts (Elliott Kalan, Dan McCoy, and Stuart Wellington) watch a questionable film just before each episode, and then engage in an unscripted, slightly inebriated discussion, focusing on the movie’s shortcomings and occasional delights.

Follow @flophousepod on Twitter and @theflophousepodcast on Instagram. Email them at theflophousepodcast@gmail.com.

People

Host & Producer

Associate Producer

How to listen

Stream or download episodes directly from our website, or listen via your favorite podcatcher!

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