Last night we rented Semi-Pro, which was not worth the time I spent trying to decide if I really wanted to see it or not. I like Will Ferrell, and I have liked the last couple of sports-themed movies he’s done, but they’ve gotten progressively worse. What I really wanted to rent was Simple Men, this plot-less film from 1992 that I rented the summer it came out on DVD about 20 times. I don’t know why I chose to watch it so many times, but Charlie is adamant about seeing it. The actors in the three main roles have shown up in more than a few Law & Order episodes, and my glee over seeing them all together again has just made him all that more annoyed that he’s never seen the movie
I’m also jonesing to see 1971’s Cold Turkey, a comedy about a town that stands to win $25 million dollars if they all quit smoking and the tobacco executives (one of which is played by Bob Newhart) that try to stop them. Dick Van Dyke was the town reverend, who agrees to take up cigarettes again, just so he can quit, to prove to everyone that it can be done.
Tom Poston played Mr. Stopworth, a lush who has to leave town in tears because he refuses to quit smoking. As the reverend is pleading with him to consider how badly the town needs the tobacco company’s money: “My drinking is directly connected to my smoking. Now, when I say ‘directly,’ I mean there’s a thing – a physical thing – that is directly connected from my liquor buds to the smoke pouch in my lungs. If you want me to quit smoking, you would have to cut – I mean, you’d have to physically cut that thing! And when you do, my head’s gonna fall off! Do you understand, reverman? The booze bone’s connected to the smoke bone. And the smoke bone’s connected to the head bone. And that’s the word of the Lord!”
Four years later, Smile was released, a parody of beauty pageants and the first of its kind. I remember one scene where a girl is introducing a Young American Miss contestant and her multiple talents. I think the speaker is played by Melanie Griffith, who says the contestant will play the piano and show her artwork “simulatenously and at the same time.” That line has been stuck in my head for thirty years.
Although some of humor in these two movies is probably a little advanced for the age I was when I first watched them, I always counted them among my top favorites when I was a kid.