I’m not what most people (well, anyone) would consider a movie buff. And, honestly, that tends to raise a lot of eyebrows seeing as how for the first 25 years of my life becoming an actress was the only thing I ever gave a damn about. I don’t go to the movies very often (sorry, I think they’re obscenely expensive and it’s really hard for me to keep my opinions to myself during some of them). Also, I’m terrible at keeping up with anything “critically acclaimed.” I don’t like irredeemable characters; super-artsy symbolism and abstract imagery don’t do much for me and don’t even get me started on foreign films – if I wanted to read, I’d stay home with a book. Last year’s Oscars? I only saw I, Tonya (I’d watch Allison Janney in absolutely anything), The Disaster Artist (solely because of this podcast) and 3 Billboards. Truthfully? That could be a record for me.
So the fact that, two years ago, I became full-on obsessed with the Earwolf podcast How Did This Get Made? (HDTGM), a podcast whose premise is watching terrible, terrible movies and then dissecting them at length, makes absolutely no sense to anyone who really knows me. I freely admit it’s weird that I love this podcast so much. I mean, I barely watch great movies, but I’ve spent hours of my life listening to people talk about some of the most bafflingly bad movies ever made. And it’s not like I’ve seen most of the movies they’ve discussed either! In fact, by my count, I have seen exactly 17 of the movies they covered in their first 184 episodes.
The only reason I started to listen to the podcast was that I have a weird crush on one of the hosts, Jason Mantzoukas. I watched him on Parks & Rec, The League, The Good Place and a few other comedies that I really love. He plays terrible human beings with such ridiculous conviction and commitment that I can’t help but laugh at every line he says (his Dennis Feinstein in Parks & Rec is one of my favorite TV douchebags of all time). On the podcast, he is the perfect over-the-top, boundary-pushing oddball to balance out his much more reserved co-hosts, Paul Scheer and June Diane Raphael. If there is something truly disturbing to be said, if there is a dirty joke or an insane theory to throw out there (drink whenever he suggests a Jacob’s Ladder scenario), or if there’s a member of the audience at the live shows to be insulted – Jason is the one to do it.
So, thanks to my insane crush, I began to tune into Jason, Paul and June at least three or four times/week on my commute (at least until I caught up) and discovered they are all comedy geniuses (June Diane is absolutely my favorite performer on Grace & Frankie, never failing to make me snort wine out of my nose at least three times a season). Most episodes they have a guest star or two join them, various friends, many from their Upright Citizens Brigade days, the improv theater group they performed with for years, all of whom bring something new and different to each film’s commentary (some of my favorite guest stars have been Jessica St. Clair, Adam Scott, Pete Holmes and Kumail Nanjani).
The first few episodes I listened to (they had about 100 at the time I started following), I went through their list and focused on movies I had seen: Wild, Wild West, Face Off, Con Air, Breaking Dawn (parts 1 and 2) and a few others. But, as I’d only seen a few of the films they’d covered, I quickly ran out of episodes and decided to see if it mattered whether or not I had seen the movie they tackled. Thus began my journey into the morass of movies so epically bad that, in many cases, I not only hadn’t seen the film, I also had no idea it even existed out there in the universe. Some of those stinkers became my favorite episodes!
Their podcast crossover with the James Bonding hosts, Matt Mira and Matt Gourley, discussing A View To A Kill was so great, a huge part of me doesn’t ever want to see the movie. I actually like what I’ve constructed in my mind’s eye and don’t feel a need to ruin that vision with reality.
But, what would happen if I took a few episodes I particularly loved and at least tried to watch the corresponding movies? Would the podcast ruin the movie? Would the movie ruin the podcast? Would I agree with their assessment? Would I be upset if they didn’t cover my most pressing questions? I decided to seek out the answers and picked three very different episodes and movies: Sharknado (Episode 67 with guest Scott Aukerman); Can’t Stop the Music (episode 134, with guests Pete Holmes and Cameron Esposito); and, the seemingly most insane movie to date, Ninja Terminator (episode 165 with guests Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson).
Originally, that was my only plan for attacking HDTGM episodes, until I discovered another category they had already covered: beloved films from my childhood/adolescence. And by covered, I mean essentially ruined (both the movie and my childhood) forever. With that said, there will be a Part II to my not-so-noble experiment (Part I is watching movies I’ve never seen), which will include my journey to the past as I re-watch (for the first time in probably a decade) Airborne (episode 155 with guests Scott Aukerman, Kumail Nanjani and Danielle Schneider) and My Stepmother Is An Alien (I love it so much I own the DVD, but haven’t seen it in years) (episode 162 with guest Whitney Cummings).
Join me for the fun, as I begin my pilgrimage into a plethora of possibly/probably awful movies and let’s see if you can hear the exact moment my soul dies while taking in every single incomprehensible line, baffling plot twist and truly puzzling “artistic choice” these films have to offer.