Fun to hear: awful to watch

Enjoying the “bad movie podcast” How Did This Get Made?

Remember how goofy Superman III (1983) was? If not a trio of smartass podcasters do and they’re happy to share the memory with us. Every week the podcast How Did This Get Made? spends an hour or so laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of films like The Room (2003) Battlefield Earth (2000) or The Wicker Man (2006) and invites us to join in the fun.

Podcasters Paul Scheer Jason Mantzoukas and June Diane Raphael love bad movies and their enthusiasm for baffling nonsense like Crank 2: High Voltage (2009) is infectious. The format is an unscripted free-for-all discussion and it tends to get quite chaotic in a very short amount of time. It’s a great format for keeping things lively but it’s less than ideal for keeping focus or allowing any one of the hosts or guests to finish a thought without interruption. Occasionally a speaker will shout down his colleagues and then once all of the focus is on him he’ll lose his train of thought and collapse into a pile of ums likes and y’knows. Still such moments pass quickly enough and I have faith that this motley crew will improve with practise.

How Did This Get Made? tends to focus on the same kind of “popular” bad movies that the Razzie awards specialize in; stuff like I Know Who Killed Me (2007) and Gigli (2003). This could be seen as going after the low-hanging fruit but it suits the format with much of the comic atmosphere coming from the sense of baffling incredulity that such projects could be given major releases. I suppose that the title “How Did This Get Released to Over Three Thousand Screens” would be more accurate but less catchy. In any case it’s recommended that listeners only tune in to episodes centered on films that they’ve already seen since the podcasts are stuffed with in-jokes spoilers and frenzied out-of-sequence descriptions that will delight you if you know the film but confuse you if you don’t.

The primary delight of How Did This Get Made? is revisiting a film that you still vaguely remember and realizing how weird it sounds when described by a trio of chuckling bad-movie fans. For example; it’s probably been a long time since you’ve seen Superman III but do you remember:

• The opening Rube Goldberg-style series of freak accidents that begins with a busty blond distracting the passersby then escalates to include a bank robbery a burning penguin toy and a blind man confusing a road-painting machine for his seeing eye dog and culminates with a motorist almost drowning in his car after hitting a fire hydrant?

• The wacky “half-cent” embezzling scheme later stolen by the film Office Space (1999)?

• That Robert Vaughn’s evil plan involves controlling the world’s supply of coffee?

• That the plans for the supercomputer are drawn on cigarette packets and since the engineers are seen squinting at the packets themselves we can assume that they were never copied onto a less ridiculous medium?

• That the anti-Superman missile array is controlled in the manner of an Atari-era video game complete with a running score?

• That Robert Vaughn’s butch sister gets turned into a freaking robot?

• That Superman turns evil straightens out the leaning tower of Pisa gets laid and finally gets choked to death by Clark Kent in a junkyard?

Ah yes it’s all coming back to me now. Man that movie is insane.

The podcast also boasts an impressive line of guest stars often including some of the people featured in the movie being mocked. This comes to a head in the Punisher: War Zone (2008) episode featuring Lexi Alexander (the kick-boxing Academy-award-nominated German ex-stuntwoman who directed the film) and comedian Patton Oswalt who gave Punisher: War Zone a gleeful recommendation on his blog due to its ridiculous excesses. This still counts as my favourite episode not least for the inclusion of a clip from the kid-friendly “The Super Hero Squad Show” cartoon in which Ray Stevenson reprises his role as the Punisher albeit in cutesy-poo miniature form. (Chibi Punisher!) The clip involves mini-Punisher comparing criminals to unwanted brussels sprouts on your plate of macaroni and cheese and it stuns Patton Oswalt into uncharacteristic silence.

So now I have to go rewatch Superman III and Punisher: War Zone and I need to start watching that cartoon. Thanks a lot guys.