Happy Thanksgiving 2018, everyone! We have three movie lovers gathered around a banquet of microphones for the patent-pending Top 3 episode of Establishing Shot. Joining Ted and Ricky is Professor Michael Kackman who teaches in the Film, Television, and Theatre Department while also co-hosting Aca-Media, the official podcast of the Society for Cinema & Media Studies and the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies.
In honor of Thanksgiving, Establishing Shot wanted to give turkeys their proper due. Accordingly, Ted, Ricky, and Michael will be talking about their three favorite turkeys (i.e., films that flopped). Now, you might ask: What construes a flop? Answer: We all have our own different opinions! And if you listen, you’ll hear exactly how each guest approaches that question.
Now to the best butterballs in the bunch.
Michael comes out of the gate with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the 1971 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic story of tempting children to steal industrial trade secrets and corporally punishing them once entrapped. He follows that with the campiest of all camp counselors: Showgirls, which records show is the first NC-17 film to hit a Top 3 episode as well as the first SBTB alum vehicle to make the list. Michael closes out his list with the small screen going to Cop Rock, a TV show that was sort of a proto-Glee minus much, well, glee.
Ricky isn’t quite willing to turn the page from Halloween and starts with Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch’s film from 2013 about the most emo vampires in all of Detroit. Flipping his color palette entirely, he then zips over to the Wachowski’s Speed Racer from a decade ago. Leaving his two-fold confusion of how that film was made and why it wasn’t embraced, Ricky closes with Roar, a bore of a film stuffed with wild lions and hubris that actually keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat because, as the tagline says: No animals were harmed in the making of the film but 70 cast and crew were.
Ted’s turkeys start locally here in the Hoosier State with Orson Welles’ 1942 adaptation of Booth Tarkington’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Magnificent Ambersons. After the rise and fall of the Ambersons, Ted discusses Brian De Palma’s 1981 neo-noir Blow Out (which Michael will let you know deserves to in the turkey coop or wherever turkeys might live). Ted closes his Thanksgiving list with the biggest tom of all turkeys who’ve ever tommed, that being Ishtar, a film whose title has become synonymous with box office bombing. Ted, though, is here to serve as its apologist and encourage you to get lost in the desert.
With that, a Happy Thanksgiving to all and, if you’re looking to power through your food coma this holiday, we hope you can find some energy binging on some of these silver screen turkeys.