Ten True Scott Facts, As Seen On #Twitter

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

True Scott Fact #10: I have an extraordinary lack of trust in people. – Basically, what I mean here is that for whatever reason, I’m paranoid about what people do when my eyes are closed. For much the same reason, I don’t like people sneaking up on me. 

True Scott Fact #9: I plan to stop using “The Quickening” as a shorthand for an unwanted and terrible sequel upon rewatching it. – Two reasons for this: I watched the movie again recently, and while it is bad, it’s not as bad as my constant usage of it as a byword for bad sequel would imply. The stuff with Sean Connery is sheer gold. The second reason is that Highlander 5: The Source has no redeeming features whatsoever. It is genuinely dire and another reason I’m arguing for the existence of objectivity is that we can get this thing filed away as terrible.  

True Scott Fact #8: I own so many books I’ve lost count. Am estimating 3-400 plus. - I have a bookshelf that contains 60 books or so per shelf, and it has three shelves. Add that to my boxes of books, my pile of books and my books on other shelves and you can see why I’ve lost count!

True Scott Fact #7: I vary what my favourite movie is depending on who asks me the question. - I have three favourite movies: Highlander, The Man From Earth and Star Wars. There are several reasons I vary them, usually based on my reluctance to answer questions about them. What I usually do is gauge their movie knowledge before they ask me and base my answer on that. For instance, if you’re not a movie buff, I would say Star Wars is my favourite. If you had an extensive knowledge of movies I would say Highlander. I reserve The Man From Earth for people who know me very well, because these people hear me rave about it anyway.

True Scott Fact #6: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is the reason I prefer 80s music to any other type. - I thought this one was self-explanatory. There is a kind of incomparable joy that you get from belting down a Fiami (Fake Miami) highway, blasting out Crockett’s Theme or Run To You that nothing else can give me. 

True Scott Fact #5: Judging by the amount of times I use it, my favourite word is clearly ‘rather’. – This one is very self-explanatory. Just read one of my pieces and you’ll probably find it in there once, if not more!

True Scott Fact #4: I keep track of my time of work experience at Camp Mohawk by knowing the date that Pokémon Diamond and Pearl came out. - These games came out on July 27th 2007 and I bought Pearl on the last day of my work experience, which was the day of release. 

True Scott Fact #3: I was the first reviewer to have seen Penn And Teller Tell A Lie, according to Penn Jillette. – Originally there was a link here to the Tweet in question but Boy informed me that it was a broken link so I’m going to try and get it from memory (since my Twitter won’t let me go back too far) “Glad you like it. You’re the first who’s seen it.”

True Scott Fact #2: Alexander Armstrong once implied that I sent the BBC death threats. - This was during a recording of Epic Win (not the episode where my friend breathed in someone’s face). Some of you may remember the anecdote from my previous blog on the subject. He came out and said hello to the audience, mentioning that they had to turn people away and that somebody started making death threats. At which point he turned to me and shook my hand. He did it to somebody else on a subsequent night so it wasn’t just me.  

True Scott Fact #1: There are bottles in my bathroom that I have to turn away from me when I’m in the bath as I can’t stand looking at them. - The bottles are by somebody called N-Spa Fruit and the reason I can’t look at them is that they have ‘quotes’ from a wise man on the front that angry up my blood. The quotes are nothing but a load of run-on sentences and hateful aphorisms that show a contempt for the kind of person that uses their product. Here’s a link to their (Self) Indulgent page, showing a few of the messages I mean on the bottles. Words cannot describe the contempt I have for them.

What I’ve Been Doing Lately…

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

A casual checking of the dates between posts will show you how much I’ve been neglecting this blog of late. The main reason for that is that I started this as a review blog, but since then I’ve found other outlets for my work (more about those on the About page). As bizarre as this may seem for a man who writes reviews and opinion pieces, I don’t like writing about myself (and yet, look how easily the words flow!), so I tend to let the day-to-day annoyances stay confined to reality and thus there are no posts here.

So, what have I been doing since my last update?

Well, for one thing I got a gig writing theatre reviews for the Maidenhead Advertiser by exploiting the hell out of a connection I have. It’s unpaid at the moment but it’s a step in the right direction and I get to watch shows for free! (And if I was an alcoholic, the free drinks would’ve helped too!) I’m honestly proud of the stuff I’ve written for them, it’s some of the best stuff I’ve done.

Round about October, I got my dream job! It was at Waterstone’s in Windsor. And yes, I know working in a bookstore is a bit of a sad dream job to have but if you know me it’s also utterly predictable. I worked there for about three months or so but had to leave due to my temporary contract running out and their not having the hours to keep me on (and due to my hilarious incompetence). So now I’m unemployed again but I gained a lot of confidence from doing it, which is the important thing.

I’ve developed a rather neat script idea for college which I plan to write into a full movie script when I get the time (certainly won’t be able to do it in college time).

I’ve been featured in the pages of Nintendo Gamer magazine (Issue 72) as their Lylat Wars Super Fan, in which I made a somewhat grand claim about being able to play it blind. I can’t; I’m familiar with all the enemy patterns, it’s just that my problem is that I can’t visualise.

I’ve had my laptop stolen twice, once in a house burglary and the other out of my Dad’s car. This pissed me off no end, let me tell you.

And now, as I start out with the best of intentions to keep this blog updated in the future, it only remains to tell you that I’ve embarked on a series-wide review of the James Bond films on Kasterborous’ sister site, Cult Britannia. Except Quantum Of Solace.

Blu-ray Vs. DVD: FIGHT!

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

I’ve been antagonising some of my nerdier friends on The Twitter recently with my proclamations that there’s fuck all difference between Blu-ray and DVD.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an idiot – I know that one is read using a Blue laser as opposed to a Red one (hence the name) and I know that if you watch an older DVD and compare it to a Blu-Ray, the picture quality is poor by comparison due to how the definition of Standard Definition has changed over the years. Compare The Shawshank Redemption to Star Wars and you’ll see what I mean.

It doesn’t help that by its very nature, you cannot advertise Blu-ray quality on a DVD (much like you can’t advertise 3D footage on a 2D television). I saw an advert the other day where the ‘before’ picture appeared to have a filter applied to it to make it look worse. You can, however, upscale existing DVDs to high definition in most Blu-ray players just by putting them in and playing them.

These days, Standard Definition looks a lot better than it did, as evidenced by the most recent series of Doctor Who and Sherlock. This makes a small step up to almost-unnoticeable High Definition so very, very unnecessary. Think of the upgrade from VHS to DVD, and now compare the upgrade from DVD to Blu-ray. Almost unnoticeable.

What I don’t understand is why stand-up comedy productions get their own Blu-ray releases. There’s almost nothing gained by it, it’s purely done to get more money due to the price difference between Blu-ray and DVD. I would be less cynical of the studios’ motives if Blu-ray was actually a big step forwards. My best analogy for this is comparing the DSi to the DSi XL. While the step up from DS Lite was a noticeable improvement, the one from DSi to DSi XL was much less so.

So in essence, it’s more expensive, more isolating as a format (as Blu-ray players are more expensive and for obvious reasons DVD players are not forwards-compatible) and the difference is negligible. Why does it exist again?

Blu-ray Facts:

Blu-ray discs have 25GB of capacity. You’d think some of that would be visible!

50 First Dates was a launch title for Blu-ray, a fact so depressing that I want to kill myself now. Should’ve been Failure To Launch! [/snark]

I have precisely one Blu-ray disc in my collection (although with the picture quality these days, I don’t need any): Dara O Briain’s This Is The Show. I was happy with this until I realised that I couldn’t watch it that day due to not having a Blu-ray player in my room.

Blu-ray is trademarked under that name, rather than Blu-Ray. Similar to the way Technicolor is a trademark whatever country you’re using it in.

Why I Don’t Believe In God…

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

I’ve never really believed in God. When I was young, I went to a Christian school so I didn’t really question it and called myself a Christian (we sung hymns and everything), but that was mainly because I didn’t know there was a word for not believing in God or never having considered it before.

These days, I’m a firm atheist. I try to be tolerant of other people’s beliefs but when you believe that you’re right and other people are wrong (to the point of certainty), that’s harder than it seems. (Hence why people of other religions try to convert you.) Try to let spelling mistakes pass when the other person genuinely believes that’s how it’s supposed to be spelled and you’ll see what I mean. Humans don’t like being wrong and they don’t like it when other people are wrong. After giving it some thought, I concluded that there is no God, but for a number of reasons.

One of the reasons is that I believe that the theory of evolution by natural selection is true and indeed, observable (if people started using the word “theory” correctly instead of using it to mean “hypothesis”, more of them would believe in it). Having worked that one out, I concluded that if life evolved, there was not really a need for a God. You could bring the idea of intelligent design into it, but I personally think it’s a cop-out so that you can still say “God did it”. (I also don’t understand why people are offended at the idea of evolving from primates.) The main beauty of evolution is that if it happened without a God, that just makes the appearance of certain species all the more wondrous.

The main problem that I have with God, and in particular, The Bible is that once you’ve refuted one thing from a 2000-3000 year old collection of myth and allegory, everything else starts to fall down as well and that makes it less likely that there is a God. You’ve got to remember that this was a time when much of what we take for granted today was totally new and crazy to the people of the time, so stuff like thunder probably was frequently interpreted as the voice of God. It was also a time where the written word had been invented not too long before so stories were only just beginning to be written down so people could just lie and say they heard the call of God (or, as is possible with some of today’s charlatans, genuinely believe it and/or have some sort of mental problem). I also feel that religion in general has done more harm than good.

I believe that Jesus was probably a real person (although he wouldn’t have been called that) and he’s on my time-travel “to meet” list, but that all he did was teach some lessons and tell some parables and it all got blown way out of proportion by the gullible fools of that time. And he certainly wouldn’t have been a white man.

I also feel it’s not exactly helpful, even though it’s understandable, to believe in a big man in the sky who will make everything better and is controlling it all, so there’s a reason for your suffering. This goes hand in hand with the invention of an afterlife as a consoling tactic for the grieving (which I’m fine with, just if you’ve read this don’t expect me to say things like “he’s gone to a better place”).

I think the most important thing, however, is the fact that I have got by perfectly fine without believing in any sort of God for most of the 20 years that I’ve been on this Earth. I’ve followed my own moral code and so far I’ve not committed any crimes against humanity or gone on killing sprees (although I have hurt people emotionally, which I deeply regret). I’ve seen wondrous things and known fantastic people, but nothing to make me think there’s some sort of God watching over me. Other people can believe that if they want, and that’s fine, but I have laid out here why I don’t.

EPIC WIN PART THREE: THE REVIEWS…

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

As the second episode of Epic Win that I was in the audience for aired last night, I felt now would be a good time to do reviews of how they came out on air.

Episode 1: The first one I attended, we were told to come back next week so Kane could participate in the “breathing in someone’s face” challenge covered below. This one wasn’t that great, but it did make me chuckle a few times. The experience was mainly memorable for the untelevised “woman walking into doorframe” bit and the fact that I was in the audience for in (and indeed, am visible).

Episode 5: This one was more interesting to me as Kane, my friend, was in this one as a “breather”. He finally admitted (and you can see for yourself, it’s here or you can watch the whole thing on the iPlayer) that he really went for it and breathed hard in the guy’s face. For some reason, he also raised his eyebrows seductively as the camera panned past him. This time, you can see me three or four times. I’ll be honest, I sort of blend into the crowd a bit and don’t look very happy to be there.

I thought the shows themselves were alright, they had a good couple of contestants and slightly mental ones. As a series, it does have an over-reliance on puns though. I’m sure if the show the show lowered its use of puns that it would be better for all concerned. There’s one bit that’s part of all the shows that is sub-par 70s variety show schtick, which is the bit where the announcer, Joe Lycett, pops up from behind a chair and does his announcing stuff. It seems like it belongs on a 70s gameshow of some sort.

I probably wouldn’t watch any episodes of a second series, but I have been watching the ones I wasn’t on. I thought they were alright, nothing special. They’re a reasonably entertaining way to pass the time, but be warned, you will cringe at the puns.

The Mystery Of The £500,000 Book…

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

So I was browsing on Amazon, looking for Roger Ebert books, as you do, and I found this. Words cannot describe the speechlessness I’m feeling right now.

First of all, I don’t understand why it’s £500,000. It’s from 25 years ago and is almost new. Being almost new should be enough to knock its value down by a few grand. To say nothing of the fact that it’s by Roger Ebert (who I like, don’t think I’m knocking him), rather than one of the conventional masters of the literary form. I’m sure there are original copies of Arthur Conan Doyle books that go for less than this. I’m pretty sure there are Gutenberg Bibles and Shakespeare First Folio pages that go for less than this.

Another thing I don’t understand is why, after shelling out half a mill for a 25 year old book, you then have to pay £2.80 delivery fees. For £500,000 I expect the seller to come to me and throw something else into the deal. I mean, once he gets the money into his bank account, he would be a millionaire as the book is coming from America. He would have to get down on his knees and present me the book like it’s a relic of the saints, while I give him the nondescript briefcase (as opposed to the sack with a dollar sign on it) containing the money. In fact, if I was buying a book for 500 grand, I’d want him to buy me a house that I could live in and a separate house to store the book when I’m not reading it. I want a criss-cross laser grid guarding the book from secret agents at all times. Call me crazy but nobody’s going to insure it for as much as the buyer shells out for it (I expect them to assume it’s a prank call and record it for training purposes) so you’d need some protection for it.

I love books, but I think the idea of paying £500,000 for anything other than the most desirable collector’s item is ludicrous and preposterous.

EPIC WIN PART TWO: REVENGE OF THE WARM-UP…

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

Continuing on from the last blog post I did about Epic Win, Kane and I headed to Television Centre to attend another recording of the new show with Alexander Armstrong. This time, we were there for a reason. Last week Kane got asked to breathe on a guy’s face, as the guy’s ability was to be able to smell what flavour of crisps you’d eaten by smelling your breath. This meant we were promptly separated as he was taken off to some darkened room somewhere. Initial suspicions that he would be taken round back and shot for agreeing to such a challenge were unfounded.

As we were all seated, the comedian started his warm-up routine. I should’ve been worried when I noticed it was the same guy as last time doing the warm-up. What followed were many of the same jokes still delivered by a Dale Winton lookalike. It is fair enough, I suppose – they don’t expect people to be attending twice so they just get the warm-up guy in, and not much of the actual process changes in between shows so they give the same tips to the audience. You know the kind of thing – “fire exits are there, lighting rigs may fall down but the chances of that happening twice in one week are minimal, have a Kit-Kat”, that kind of thing. Then Alexander Armstrong comes out and does the same jokes that he did last week to warm the audience up. Remember the one where he implied I gave death threats? He did that again but to a different person this time.

The actual show wasn’t really that good this time around. The first act was pretty impressive, the jetski guy was pretty cool and both the smurf guy and the crisp-breath smelling guy were just weird. None of them were particularly stand-out acts. Impressive, don’t get me wrong, but nothing that made you marvel at human achievement. Fortunately, nobody concussed themselves this week. Bizarrely, although the top of the door was padded, it actually lowered the ceiling of the door so the contestants going through it had to bend down further.

I had a couple of gripes with the actual recording process. For one thing, if any particularly tall people happen to go, be prepared to lop a foot off your height. I spent the evening with my legs drawn up to my chest (exaggerated for comedic effect). Another gripe is that one of the guys operating the camera for audience reaction shots looked very pissed off at the audience for making him do it. Every time he had to get a different shot, he looked like he resented having to move in any way. I imagine that he used to be a director but then got busted down to camera operator. Makes it seem like a cop show. (Incidentally, there’s a guy whose job it is to run behind this guy supplying cable. It’s like if you paid somebody to follow you with a hoover so the cord doesn’t get taut.)*

Lest we forget, the main reason that Kane and I were there was to see him breathe on someone’s face. And this happened towards the end of the evening. I am informed that they were taken to brush their teeth and were supplied with their own toothbrushes and toothpaste, which the lucky people got to take home with them. The guy was stood on the stage, blindfolded (so he couldn’t see who was holding what pack of crisps) and the volunteers (15 in all) were lined up off camera with two nutter-looking people at the very front (who I am informed were hired extras). Kane was fourth in line and I was surprised when he really went at that guy’s face. I’m surprised there wasn’t a cloud of flame-grilled steak crisp breath around his face afterwards. The crisp smelling dude (Anthony) got through about 7 of them before his minute ran out, and he’d only gotten four of them (out of eight needed) right. This meant he failed the challenge and had to leave through the Fail door (making sure to duck). Between scenes, he did identify four more but he’d already failed at that point so couldn’t go through.

Lastly came the pick-ups. This was made hilarious by the general confusion of the audience, as they had to do pick-up shots for last week’s show, at which point Stephen K. Amos asked if he’d fallen asleep earlier.

The good thing about my Epic Win saga is that if I’m lucky and if you’re lucky too, in a few weeks you will be seeing my highly attractive and chiselled good looks in a brief audience reaction shot on your screens. Kane will definitely be on it, unless they are real dicks and cut his appearance. Although I can’t speak for him in terms of chiselled good looks.

*In fact, now I think about it he’s probably, you know, a RUNNER.

Incidentally, the last entry in the saga will be a post-airing review of the episodes I was there for.

EPIC WIN…

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Standing outside Television Centre yesterday, Kane and I didn’t quite know what the new show Epic Win! was going to be like. We got an idea of the oddity involved when a BBC Worker approached us and asked if we’d like to eat crisps and breathe on a man’s face as part of the show* (his “talent” was to be able to tell the flavour of crisps consumed by smelling the person’s breath).

Surprisingly, we were seated at the very front of the studio, with no seats between us and the panel. This surprised me because up until now I had the feeling that they were reserved for the beautiful people, but apparently it’s a matter of getting there first. I should warn you that this does make you an excellent target for the warm-up comedian, as he came over and picked on me. This was because he was saying that if we were to be on television, you have to look happy to be there (which is fair enough). I was then informed that he’d seen “better smiles on roadkill”.

He then introduced the host, Alexander Armstrong, who then proceeded to make jokes about how half of the crowd had to be turned away from the previous day’s recording, including one chap who made death threats. It was at this point that he turned to me, shook my hand and said “we’re very glad that we got you back today, please tell us if you want anything”. I can say I wasn’t expecting that, but hell, I got a handshake out of Alexander Armstrong so I’m not complaining.

Around about this point, they introduced the premise of Epic Win, which is essentially: nutjobs come in and perform extraordinarily niche feats (one of the contestants who we’ll be discussing later had to guess ten Take That songs from one-second snippets of them), at which point a panel of judges has to choose how much they would award in money for the feat. Each panel member can award up to £1000, so the total award could be anywhere from £3-£3000. Sounds simple, right? Well, in addition to that, several different cash sums flash up on the screen, one after the other, and the contestant has to judge carefully when they’re coming up to the amount that the judges give them. If they overestimate themselves, they go home with nothing (allegedly).

Jesus, that gave me a headache. That’s the problem with game shows – sometimes they can be too complicated. The simpler the better is the way to go if any of you ever want to make one.

I’ll use this space to give you a brief run-down of each contestant and what I thought of them (spoilers for when this airs, by the way):

First Chap: This man’s talent was blowing up hot water bottles by blowing into them. And holy shit, it was impressive. He blew up 3 in about 40 seconds while on an exercise bike.

Second Bloke: A chap who runs a lawnmower museum had to guess which lawnmowers (out of a choice of 20) cut five strips of grass. He did it in a pre-recorded video. We also got to see Vanessa Feltz’s incredibly phallic seed-dipper.

Third Lady: She was the crazy Take That fan who had to guess ten Take That songs by listening to one-second long snippets of them. She did better than I was expecting at this but still went home for guessing seven correctly (she had to get a minimum of eight). However, that was not the most memorable thing about her. That was the moment that she proved the door was far too short to walk through. She showed us this by using her forehead to make contact with the top of the door in a painful manner. Although we were worried for her safety (Armstrong looked as worried as if he’d killed her himself), she was apparently fine afterwards. This did lead to a surreal moment when they had to do pick-up shots with someone who was no longer there. When it airs, you will note that they didn’t actually get footage of her going through the door. No doubt they will show her walking towards it and then cut away.

The Last Chap: In my view, this guy was the most impressive. According to his intro, he once walked for 36 miles without dropping a football, and he demonstrated his keepy-uppy skills by getting dressed while controlling a ball.

After this came the last few shots, one of which had to be done about three times for whatever reason. Then, about three and a half hours after we got in (to put this in perspective, the show will probably be a half hour one), we finally got to go home.

All in all, it was a rather strange evening, and anyone who has been to one of these things will know that it will get you questioning if anything in television is truly spontaneous. For some of the contestants, I found out that they won or lost before they did by looking at the autocue. I did have fun though, even though some of the dialogue (specifically, the puns) was rather evil. I look forward to seeing it, and hopefully myself, on television.

Edited to add: The airdate for the first episode of Epic Win is the 20th of August.

*This bit was unfortunately cancelled, but hopefully we’ll hear back soon about getting tickets for next week so Kane can breathe on a guy’s face then. I decided not to do it as I’m not sure if they can capture my good side on camera.

Life Is A Box Of Chocolates And My Name Is Forrest Gump…

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Once in a while, a critic comes across a film that is almost universally good. That is, it’s very hard to find any flaws in it due to its sheer excellence (one of these minor flaws is the obvious CGI feather near the beginning that takes away from the immersion in the film). Forrest Gump is one such film, coming as it does from the year 1994, which was a very good year for films. Other films released that year include The Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction and The Lion King, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Leaving aside for the moment my rule about the name of the director not being a byword for excellence and quality (examples of where this rule applies include Stanley Kubrick and George Lucas), it should come as a surprise to nobody that the director of Back To The Future (Robert Zemeckis) was also responsible for this excellent film.

The film is about a mentally disabled boy (the Forrest Gump of the title) who grows up into a man bearing an uncanny resemblance to Tom Hanks. Along the way, the film-makers entrench him in American history with the same footage altering technology that would later be used for the Deep Space Nine episode, Trials and Tribble-ations.

One of the reasons that Forrest Gump is a great film is that it captures the spirit of recent American history for the people who weren’t there and reignite memories of those who were. They use the character of the everyman to do a retrospective of the last forty years or so before the movie was made. What I like about it is that if you’re not very good on dates and times, the film has a timeless feel. You can pin down events roughly and guess at time periods, but much of the film lacks that definitive stamp that tells you when and where a scene is set. A good example of this is Forrest inspiring John Lennon to write Imagine on a TV show. Now, this must’ve happened around 1975 or so, but the film does not tell you that definitively.  It adds to the framing device of the movie, which is him sitting on a bench telling his story to various passersby. Another thing that adds to the framing device is that while he doesn’t know what people in his lives are getting up to away from him (especially Jenny), the viewer sees it anyway.

Newcomers may notice strong similarities to another film of the scriptwriter’s, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button. And indeed, it is very similar. All the more noticeable, in my opinion, as the bulk of the story (i.e, the bits with Brad Pitt) takes place over the 1950s to 1980s, where there is a strong backdrop of current events that become a part of American history. Spotting the similarities? I thought so.

I fear that we are reaching a generation where this film will only be familiar to the young because it was referenced in a Lonely Island video. This is a depressing fate for an excellent film. Overall, this film is fantastic but you have to see it to appreciate just how good it is.

“And Now It’s…Springtime For Hitler And Germany!”

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

The annoying thing about remakes or adaptations is that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Removing elements or adding new ones in can either be seen as sacrilege or as the best idea ever (and of course, a lot of it comes down to which you see first). With that in mind, I shall take you through a comparison of a remake and the original. The films are The Producers and The Producers (the film that invented the phrase “creative accounting”), one made in the late 60′s and praised by Roger Ebert as one of the funniest films ever made and the other made in 2005 and praised by me as gloriously underrated.

To give some context, I shall give a chronology of the Producers works. First there was the famous 1968 Mel Brooks movie, starring Gene Wilder and some guy called Zero Mostel. This was then adapted into a musical on Broadway starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick (Ferris himself!). This musical was then filmed as a movie (so they could actually use locations, etc) and released in theaters and on DVD. This was the version I saw first and fell in love with. Some time later I managed to see the original film and was quite disappointed, if I’m honest.

The original is not a musical in any way whatsoever, which may come as a surprise to those who’ve only seen the 2005 one and frankly is a bonus (I don’t really like musicals). It does feature the famous musical number “Springtime For Hitler”*. This it has in its favour. What it doesn’t have is the charm and the actors of the 2005 film. It also features a rather feral performance from one Gene Wilder in his opening scene as Leopold Bloom which came across as halfway funny in the new one but just disturbing here.

The film of a musical of a film is to my mind much better because it features better actors (including Will Ferrell, John Barrowman and Uma Thurman all in stand-out roles), better jokes and a charm missing from the original. What’s bizarre about this one though is that I kinda wish they’d just done a straight remake (that’s a rare sentence considering remakes normally go wrong), which would’ve been even better but would’ve no doubt invoked the wrath of the fans of the original. Special mention must go to Uma Thurman, who excels as the sexy swedish secretary Ulla and convinces girls in the audience to flaunt what they’ve got. John Barrowman also stars as a Nazi-dressing singer in the Springtime For Hitler number with a rather marvellous singing voice. I’d argue his performance was worth buying the DVD for alone (especially as it came six months after appearing on Doctor Who as a time travelling conman fighting for the allies).

Both productions have their own flaws that stop them from being truly great, unfortunately. The 2005 one takes way too long to get going (the movie is two hours and ten minutes long and the beginning 45 minutes of that is spent setting up the plot; it gets much funnier after that), combined with a couple of unentertaining musical numbers near the beginning. The 1968 version suffers from having much the same dialogue as the later effort (I realise that’s not its fault but if you plan to watch both it’s kind of off-putting) and being not as funny due to touches in the script in the meantime (and the natural talents of Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick). The effect that I ended up getting as a viewer and reviewer of both is that it would’ve been great if they’d been able to find some middle ground between the two, and made a version that combined the best elements of them.

I suppose it’s a matter of not the original being bad, but that the 2005 one did pretty much everything better.  It partially also depends on what type of film you want to see. If you don’t mind musicals or are open to them, then see the 2005 version. If you’d really rather not, then go for the 1968 one, although you know what I would recommend.

*Incidentally, after The Producers was first released, all of the Swedish releases for Mel Brooks’ subsequent movies had “Springtime For…” in the title. For example, Spaceballs would be “Springtime For Space”.

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