Front page

Are you afraid of the dark?

(Click to invert colors, weenie.) (Requires JavaScript.)

All email will be assumed to be for publication unless otherwise requested.

What's in the banner?

Monday, August 05, 2002

The Glories of European Culture

Being newly re-patriated, I'm going to be talking a lot about the wonder and glory of American culture, as represented by Little Debbie's Snack Cakes, Fry's Electronics, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

But I wouldn't want anyone to think that I can't appreciate non-American culture, too. Particularly European culture, of which American culture is only a pale, grotesque, imitation.

And to be very specific, I am speaking of British culture---British cinema, to be exact, as exemplified by that charming British film Thunderpants. (The link is to the IMDB entry. Those of you with a high tolerance for Flash and crap can go to

Thunderpants is the "genuinely touching" (according to the only person to review it on the IMDB site) story of a boy with a special gift---a gift for potent and prolonged flatulence.

Niles and I went to see Men in Black II while in Sydney, and the trailer for Thunderpants was shown beforehand. Apparently a fat kid has a hypergaseous digestive system, and his geeky little friend (one of the kids from the Harry Potter movie) decides that this must have some practical use. Eventually NASA decides to use him as an astronaut who brings his own propellent.

Niles and I sat in the theater, pinned to our seats by the
sheer horror of it. When the trailer was over, I mumbled, "Please, God, let this be a British movie." (It had a bunch of British actors.)

Niles (who is British) said shakily, "No, no, it's American. It's got to be American."

But no. The IMDB makes it clear that it is a British movie. Stars Stephen Fry, among others. I don't even have the heart to taunt Niles about it.

The somewhat inarticulate fellow who volunteered to share his review with us all at the IMDB was particularly taken with the "way he[?] sends up the Americans." Ha ha! Consider us properly chastened, British friend! I'll bet this movie sure shows us who's ridiculous!

Not, mind you, that Hollywood's (er) output is free from dross. The next trailer was for Master of Disguise, with Dana Carvey. Now, we saw this in an almost-empty theater, so it's hard to tell what audience reaction was. But during the Thunderpants trailer you did at least hear a few chuckles and snickers. During the MoD trailer there was only a stunned silence. The trailer was like anti-comedy---something you'd show to a happy audience to get them sober and serious enough to consider a pre-paid funeral plan. I only saw this happen once before, with a trailer for a French slapstick comedy shown before the premiere of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie (which ran on the art house circuit). You could see the excited audience calm down and start to examine their lives, wondering where they went wrong that they ended up watching this joy-sucking movie.

I'm sure it had plenty of fart jokes, too.