Episode #159

As Good As It Gets is an episode focusing on the movie of the same name, as part of the Podcast News miniseries covering the films of James L. Brooks. Posted 15 April 2018.

Summary

Chris Gethard is back! He's a busy guy, but to the delight of Blankies everywhere #TheTwoFriends managed to book a return visit at last. He picked a James L. Brooks movie that he likes and the one that marked James L. Brooks' bounce-back after the massive flop of I'll Do Anything. A lot to talk about on this one.

But first, there's just so much Star Wars that has happened since Chris' last Blank Check visit way back in 2015. Who was the real central figure of Rogue One, in Chris' mind? Mutineer Poe Dameron - is the Rebel Alliance's near-complete destruction in The Last Jedi his fault twice over, and should he face a tribunal for his crimes? Where did Nien Nunb suddenly come from, and why is he the favorite character of audiences in Kenya? Why doesn't any four-legged creature in the galaxy have an advanced intellect or even the power of speech? And of course, no Gethard appearance would be complete without a mention of wrecking-crew-leader and badass ronin Jedi KIT FISTO.

Alright, after multiple false starts, finally: As Good As It Gets. Listen to the list of other 1997 movies that were beaten out at the box office by this juggernaut. Somehow, James L. Brooks made palatable this movie about a total dickhead. It starts with this brutal treatment of a dog played for laughs, the OCD depiction is a bit sloppy, and the script has several stereotypes in it... the movie should have gone so wrong, but it hinges on a singular moment ten minutes in where Helen Hunt immediately earns her Best Actress trophy. It almost literally stops the movie, and it changes everything.

Gethard's got two big questions. To start with, is this the peak performance of Greg Kinnear's career? He never became a leading man but maybe it was poor representation to blame, or something, because he clearly has so much talent in so many different areas.

The biggest question, though, is this: is this the other good Cuba Gooding Jr. performance? They run down the IMDB career to check the competition.

Okay, just a couple more tangents in here. Gethard coins a new term for a genre of movies: when a female character politely refuses a male character's romantic advances. but then the whole movie is about him ignoring that and continually chasing and harassing her until she finally wears down, that's a "But I Like Her" movie. The Graduate being the number one example. Also, Gethard continues to be frustrated by all the crap DC is pulling with their movies. Rename the USA capital city "Washington MARVEL."

Back on track. Brooks isn't a sexy filmmaker, but... Helen Hunt's scene with the white t-shirt in the rain was formative for teenage Ben and Chris at the time. Was this the origin of Soakin' Wet Benny?

James L. Brooks takes all this time between movies, but then he still has to figure stuff out and make major changes on the set? This movie wasn't planned as a romantic comedy, and then when they filmed the last scene they were like, "Eh, maybe try kissing her." Yikes - that's a real dangerous tightrope to walk, and it's going to come back to bite him...

Stay tuned at the end for a reprise of Producer Ben's Finest Moment, in glorious stereo.

Milestones and Ephemera

  • Al Roker on Periscope: gettin' a sandwich, chasin' a dog
  • New nickname for actors' residuals checks: "Ratzenbergers"
  • "But I like her" movies
  • Merchandise Spotlight for the Star Wars segment: Ben's Red Boy figurine, in the studio
  • Gethard's Marvel Comics recommendation: Simonson's "Thor"
  • Norbit: "Noooooo!!!!!"
  • the opposite of 'saving the cat': killing the dog
  • Poll: Would getting Lasik and losing the glasses kill Gethard's career?
  • Survey: What's the worst movie you've ever paid to see in the theater?
  • Approves of Jack Nicholson's "downtown look": Downtown Griffy Newms
  • The way that the painting "Piss Christ" came up in this discussion: organically
  • 'Sclusie! Chris Gethard has written a book coming out later in 2018: Lose Well.

Sponsors

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