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Blood Splattered Cinema
Hosted by: Horror Guru
The Horror Guru reviews the bloodiest, wildest, and weirdest horror that cinema has to offer!
Cartoon Palooza
Hosted by: Joey Tedesco
A satirical review show where a guy from Jersey watches and criticizes cartoons, including everything from comic books to animated movies. Whatever it is, Joey will either tell you to run out and see it... or fughetabouit!
The Count Jackula Show
Hosted by: Count Jackula
There are vampires, and there are men from outer space, but there is only one vampire from outer space! Join Count Jackula from the Planet Drakula as he explains the ins and outs of horror, from the mythic to the modern. Blood, off-color humor, and an obsession with Elvira are in store for you!
The Examined Life (of Gaming)
Hosted by: Roland Thompson
Just when video games were getting good, the late '90s and early '00s came along. The Examined Life (of Gaming) dares to delve into the good, the bad, and the value-priced games of this dark period, and sometimes we find something worth playing!
The Film Renegado
Hosted by: Film Renegado
Coming to you from south of the border, it's the Film Renegado! A civil engineer with a cinephile complex, the Film Renegado uses movies made in Mexico or by Mexican directors to share bits from his country's culture, past and present. You will both learn and be entertained! How cool is that?
Friday Night Fright Flicks
Hosted by: Count Jackula & Horror Guru
Welcome, fright knights, to Friday Night Fright Flicks! Join your hosts Count Jackula and the Horror Guru as they stumble their way through current horror releases, letting you know which ones are worth the price of admission.
Good Bad Flicks
Hosted by: Cecil Trachenburg
Good Bad Flicks is a show not only dedicated to rare movies, but also forgotten classics and misunderstood box office bombs. Your host Cecil takes you through each movie, discussing the promotional materials, and taking a look at what went on behind the scenes. With a healthy dose of Irish sarcasm, he throws a few jabs at even his most cherished favorites.
The Graphic Novel Picture Show
Hosted by: Sybil Pandemic
Your host Solkir presents The Graphic Novel Picture Show, a retrospective of the history of comic book movies!
The Movie Skewer
Hosted by: Team Agony Booth
From the makers of the Agony Booth™ comes The Movie Skewer, where terrible movies are roasted over an open flame for your enjoyment. Watch the very first online review/recap series that’s too much for one host to handle!
Mr. Mendo's Hack Attack
Hosted by: Michael A. Novelli
Need a healthy dose of cynicism from a guy whose face you can barely see? Then Mr. Mendo’s your man! Whether a movie suffers from Hype Backlash, Intellectual Dishonesty, or is just Complete Shit, Mr. Mendo is there. Mr. Mendo wasn‘t raised in this country, so he takes nothing for granted: if something ain‘t right, he’ll nose it out. So join him as he takes on Oscar winners and legendary flops alike in front of a blanket suspended between his couch and recliner!
Stuff You Like
Hosted by: Sursum Ursa
Stuff You Like is an original show where redhead Sursum Ursa waxes enthusiastic about movies, TV shows, and anything else that comes to mind! Expect singing, snarky subtitles, random pictures she finds on the internet, and lots of fangirling!
Terror Obscura
Hosted by: Fear Fan
Terror Obscura is a show dedicated to exploring the best and worst horror films ever made. While some shows are content to just mock bad films, this one isn't afraid to take even the most sacred of cows to the slaughterhouse. If you like horror, humor, or if you're just looking to find some titles you might want to rent, Terror Obscura is the show for you!
Tom's Retrophilia
Hosted by: Thomas Stockel
Is he a connoisseur of vintage media, or just a bitter old man trapped in the past?  Either way, tune in and watch Tom take a look at the movies and television shows from a time when he was actually in the target audience!
The Unusual Suspect
Hosted by: Unusual Suspect
The Unusual Suspect reviews popular movies, and tears 'em apart! They may be good, but no movie is perfect, and there's always things you may have overlooked and hadn't thought about. So join the Suspect as he exploits and ridicules the films you know and love. Just don't kill him for it!
What We Had to Watch
Hosted by: Il Neige
Il Neige is a smart-ass with a love-hate relationship with movies from the new millennium. Sure, reviews can be fun or cathartic, but there's also the risk of the occasional Twi-hard invasion or fireball to the face! ...That's how these things usually go, right? So join Il Neige as he braves the cinematic dangers that lie just beyond the fourth wall to critique the best and worst of 21st century filmmaking!
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the agony booth

It's a Wonderful Life
Posted on: Dec 24, 2010.
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
It's a Coal in Your Stocking
Courtesy of the Agony Booth!
Page: 1 2

I have to admit, I kind of can’t stand It’s a Wonderful Life.

I’ll explain why in more detail shortly, but first, I’d like to discuss a man who somehow became one of the most famous directors in American history. In fact, he even got his own adjective: “Capra-esque” (the “esque” makes it sound fancy!). It’s been used in recent times to describe movies like The Majestic, Serendipity, Field of Dreams, Forrest Gump, and of course, Heathers.

I’m talking about old-fashioned, feel-good movies that recall a kinder and gentler time. Or, if you’re a cynical bastard like me, shallow, manipulative drivel that basically tells you to keep your mouth shut, never question anything, and eventually everything will go your way.

As dramatically empty as these kinds of movies are, there was a time when things were so bad for the country that people actually liked them. And no one dry humped the formula more relentlessly than Frank Capra.

I know as a film buff, I’m supposed to regard Capra’s movies as sacred, like It Happened One Night or Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. But the thing is, unlike his contemporaries like, say, Howard Hawks, Capra’s movies haven’t aged well at all. Pretty much everything Capra did was the cinematic equivalent of a Mitch Albom book: peppy, upbeat glurge designed to distract you from the fact that day to day life mostly just sucks.

This was never more obvious than in 1946’s Christmas themed It’s A Wonderful Life, starring Jimmy Stewart as a guy constantly fucked over by fate, and Donna Reed as his oppressively perfect wife.

Unfortunately, the movie came out just as our nation was entering the longest period of peace and prosperity in its history. So no one was all that interested in wallowing in misery at the time. As a result, the movie flopped worse than Dee Dee Ramone’s rap album.

So, why is It’s a Wonderful Life considered a classic? Because the programmer at your local UHF station was a cheap son of a bitch, that’s why!

You see, the movie was kind of forgotten, and the rights fell into limbo for a while, and by the ‘70s it started showing up on TV because they needed cheap Christmas programming. And there isn’t enough cocaine in the world to justify running Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny.

Eventually, it became one of the most beloved, copied, emulated, and spoofed movies of all time, despite not really being that good. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

The article continues after this advertisement...

We open with the good people of Bedford Falls, New York praying for a guy named George Bailey, who’s lost his way and become depressed. This is supposed to be heartwarming, but I’ve seen the rest of the film, and I know these people are only praying because they know if anything happens to George, they’ll starve to death.

We move to... outer space... where a group of sentient galaxies [??] have a conversation.

It turns out these are actually angels (but of course!) and the small point of light between them is an angel-in-training named “Clarence”. The real angels tell Clarence (and us) about George Bailey’s country song of a life.

Clarence: Is he sick?
Angel: No, worse, he’s discouraged.

I think you’ll find his loss of hope is just plain common sense.

And so, we get flashbacks. To the childhood of a character we haven’t even met yet. In fact, the entire first half of the film is a series of flashbacks, which frankly is a sign of a weak script, as we’ll learn later on.

First, we see young George and his friends playing in the snow. It’s that fun pastime known as “sliding down a hill on a shovel”. Or as they call it these days, “a concussion waiting to happen”.

Caption contributed by Albert
“I’m Johnny Knoxville, and this is Extreme Tobogganing.”

Sure enough, George’s younger brother Harry nearly drowns in a frozen lake. George rescues him, but ends up losing his hearing in one ear.

This is the best thing that happens to George in the entire film.

Caption contributed by Albert
See what happens when you ignore Christopher Walken?

Next, we find young George working at a drugstore, where he meets Mary, his future wife, and Violet, the future town skank. Together, they’re the Paris and Nicole of Depression-era upstate New York.

Little Mary decides to take advantage of George’s hearing loss, and she whispers into his bad ear.

Mary: George Bailey, I’ll love you ‘til the day I die.

Okay. That’s about the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen a child do in a movie. And I’ve seen Omen IV. And Children of the Corn 7. And Baby Geniuses.

Meanwhile, George’s boss Old Man Gower is so despondent over his son’s death that he mixes up medicine with poison. Though you’ve got to be pretty damn addled not to notice the big label that says POISON.

Caption contributed by Albert
The new fragrance by Bret Michaels.

George spots the mix-up, and is rewarded by getting smacked around real good by Old Man Gower and bleeding profusely from his bad ear.

Caption contributed by Albert
Old Man Gower’s pimp hand is strong.

Somewhere during this litany of woe, we get a brief introduction to our supposed villain, the very Dick Cheney-like Mr. Potter. I say “supposed” because his only real crime is that, unlike the rest of the town, he doesn’t sponge off of George for his very survival.

Actually, I’m sort of sympathetic to Potter, because he’s the only character in the film that even comes close to being believably written. Also, the real villain of the film is much more insidious. As we shall see later.

Next, we fast forward in time to the grown-up George, now played by Jimmy Stewart. We find out he’s put off going away to college until his younger brother is old enough to take over the family business, the Bailey Bros. Building and Loan. Basically, George has become that one guy who’s way too old to be hanging out with high school kids, only with a lot less smoking pot and driving muscle cars.

Caption contributed by Albert
“That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older... they stay the same age!”

George attends a high school dance, which is how he meets up again with Mary, now played by the smoking hot Donna Reed, who’s supposed to be 18 but looks 30. They dance, but George is such a prick that one of the kids plays a prank where he opens up the gymnasium floor to reveal the swimming pool below. Which eventually leads to this:

Long story short: They drown, the end.

No, I wish. Actually, this leads to that corny love scene that inspired the creepy vanity card at the end of My So-Called Life.

We learn Mary basically lives across the street from the Munsters’ old place. She wants to live in it someday, and because she’s a certified nutcase, we just know they’ll end up there.

Caption contributed by Albert
Come to beautiful Detroit! A city on the move!

Seriously, what well-adjusted person sees a future crack den and says to themselves, “That’s where me and the guy I’m stalking are going to live one day”? It’s like something out of Silence of the Lambs.

George then one-ups Mary on the crazy, delivering a long rambling speech about what he plans to do with his life.

George: Mary, I know what I’m gonna do tomorrow, and the next day, and next year, and the year after that. I’m shakin’ the dust of this crummy little town off my feet, and I’m gonna see the world!! Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Coliseum, then I’m coming back here and go to college, and see what they know. And then I’m gonna build things! I’m gonna build airfields, I’m gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high! I’m gonna build bridges a mile long...

Yeesh, is this guy George Bailey or Howard Roark? Actually, come to think of it, Howard Roark was a lot less of a blowhard.

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