Monday, April 16, 2012

And now, something interesting someone else wrote about a work that's represented in my "Ask for Babs" mix: Midnight Run (this time, it's a comedy writing genius who wrote about it)

As bullets fly around him, all Charles Grodin can think about is his beloved Miss Piggy.
Community is one of my current favorite shows for many reasons that will forever elude Nielsen families, older viewers who haven't yet figured out the concept (and brilliance) of time-shifted viewing, which has been both a blessing (it's how most of Community's largely young audience catches the episodes) and a curse for the show, and thirdly, morons.

Actually, Alison Brie is doing her impression of Ken Jeong's French-kissing technique. Was that how Jeong greeted his patients back when he was an actual practicing doctor? Because... ew.
Community showrunner Dan Harmon watches Alison Brie make out with a ghost at a 2012 PaleyFest panel for the show.

The man who's mostly responsible for the richly realized world that's given us the enjoyable likes of Troy and Abed ("In the morning..."), Britta, Annie, Annie's Boobs, Leonard, Magnitude, Star-Burns and a dead-on Doctor Who analog known as Inspector Spacetime is Community creator and current enemy-to-Chevy Chase Dan Harmon, who's cited Midnight Run as a film that taught him comedic timing.

g: In the community college system, the people are represented by two separate but equally important groups: the faculty who teach and the students who'd rather smoke a bowl in the car. These are their stories.
Like Community, Midnight Run has been dismissed by some as being a hackneyed and shallow example of its genre, even though it's smarter and deeper than its detractors make it out to be. Harmon would disagree with the opinion that the 1988 Robert De Niro/Charles Grodin movie is a hackneyed buddy flick, and in 2011, the Midnight Run fan recounted how thrilled he was to encounter Midnight Run writer George Gallo, who previously worked with one of Harmon's co-executive producers, on the Paramount lot where Community is filmed:
He’s flattered by praise of this movie in a way that is neither falsely modest nor presumptuous.  I sense that he loves it sincerely and selflessly, like the father of a son that became a fireman.  I’m not going to say “all writers should have this attitude toward their stuff,” because, well, have the personality you want, but thank God, for my sake, that George Gallo doesn’t respond to “Midnight Run is great” with “so what, I’ve written other stuff.”

Or the classic Harmon response of “yeah, but it could have been so much better.”…

Best for last: the scene on the bus, in which Grodin pesters DeNiro about smoking, and keeps asking him “why aren’t you popular with the Chicago police department,” ends with “why aren’t you popular with the Chicago police department” NOT because that’s how it’s written.  What we’re seeing is a “warm up take” in which DeNiro and Grodin are basically running their lines - and THAT’s why Grodin mistakenly thinks DeNiro is putting his cigarette out.  Then the pause, then Grodin repeating the classic line…because the actor is actually starting again, from the top of the scene.  That blew my mind.  My favorite line from my favorite scene in my favorite movie, one that formed my sense of comedic timing…it was an outtake, a blooper, a director and/or editor’s decision.  Not a writer’s.

I now have a signed copy of Gallo’s draft of Midnight Run.  The movie that, from hearing his stories, so few people believed in, that I feel like I could write for another twenty years, because, the scariest thing about creative work is also its greatest strength: nobody ever really knows what the fuck they’re doing.  We are puppets, all of us, waiting for invisible hands to violate and pleasure us.

Gallo signed it, “why are you not popular with the Chicago police department?”

I choose to interpret it in many ways, but the most important interpretation, this morning, is WHO CARES ABOUT A FUCKING NOMINATION, right?!

Time to get a new watch.

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