Last night DZ and I went to a free screening of the film The Baxter, the movie that gives my surname a turkey-like connotation. The director, Michael Showalter, was to be in attendance. In the interest of protecting the innocent (us), I shall heretofore use pseudonyms for the antagonists of the story. As DZ and I waited in line, we were shocked to witness a rare event: A prominent figure in the local film making scene. Let’s call him James Lipton, was HIMSELF checking people’s names off the list. “Oh great,” I said to DZ. “This should be interesting,” I thought to myself. Mr. Lipton approached us and took our names. As I suspected, he recognized DZ’s name (from the numerous times DZ has sought out assistance from him, or invited him to a screening of OURS to no avail. The following exchange took place between DZ and Mr. Lipton as I stood off to the side willing my eyes to stop rolling.

Lippy: DZ! You do animation, right?
DZ: Uh…no. But I make movies.
Lippy: (with a look of complete, smarmy ignorance) And when am I going to see one of your movies?
DZ: Well, we submitted one to One Reel.
Lippy: Oh yeah? Which one was yours?
DZ: Snow Day, Bloody Snow Day.
Lippy: Ah yes. I remember that one. It was good. You came very close. But as I said in my [rejection] email, we had to make room for a lot of retrospective stuff. That takes up around six hours of programming. (DZ nods). Well, keep making movies!

I don’t actually remember what he said as a closing statement. It might not have been “Keep making movies”. But around the time he said “We HAD to make room for a lot of retrospective stuff”, my ears filled with blood and I went deaf with rage. I’m sure whatever he said was equally as dismissive and retarded. You HAD to make room for retrospective stuff?! Because there’s not enough of THAT in Seattle? It’s not like we have TWO THEATRES dedicated to showing retrospective works or anything. Who wants a film festival dedicated entirely to the works of local filmmakers? That would be BORING. I’m really glad Meep wasn’t there to see that. Actually, I’m NOT glad she wasn’t there because it would have been REALLY cool to see her shoot laser beams out her eyes and make his head explode. Sure, it would have been messy, but SOOOOO worth it.

Anyway, that little incident concluded, we went into the theatre and settled in for the movie. Another nemesis (a local editor who is EEEEEVIL), sat down across the aisle from us. Lippy came down to the front of the theatre to introduce the movie, doing his usual sycophantic/morning D.J. shpiel of getting the audience to repeat things back to him and cheer for various other projects that the director has been involved in. For the record, I only conceded out of my admiration for the director in question. Anywho, the movie began and I could tell immediately that it was going to be very different from Wet Hot American Summer or Stella. It was very subdued. Very quiet. Almost formulaic. But the cast was spot on and there were many little quirky moments of Stella-ness (non-televised Stella, I might add) thrown in. Justin Theroux was HILARIOUS. The man has got the looks AND the comedic chops. I was pleased to see Peter Dinklage in a role that doesn’t make reference to his stature. He is a very fantastic, understated actor. Many of the Stella/State favorites were there including David and the other Michael, Zach Orth, Joe Lo Truglio, A.J. Miles and even Ken Marino! And I don’t care what anybody says, I like Michelle Williams. She is really very good at being cute and likable. Sometimes it’s hard to look past her Jen Lindley years, but I think she definitely put Jen behind her in this movie. Overall, I would say that the film is worth watching at least twice, but I definitely prefer the Wet Hots of the world. As far as romantic comedies go, however (being a genre that I typically find intolerable), it was very enjoyable and just quirky enough to keep me from losing interest.

After the movie, Lippy introduced Mike Show who is surprisingly reticent without the company of his Stella cohorts. I was also a bit taken aback at seeing him, not only NOT in a suit, but dressed in a very indie looking plaid shirt and jeans. I’m sure he doesn’t wear a suit every day, but I’d gotten so used to seeing him like that. Anyway, Lippy asked his own questions for a while before opening it up to the floor. Here’s where the REAL fun started. God, I hate James Lipton audiences. They try so hard to ask questions that sound insightful and original, but instead they come off as snobbish or sycophantic or just plain crazy.

When Lippy mentioned the editing of the film, Eeeeeevil Editor actually CLAPPED. Why? Because he wanted Lippy and Show to acknowledge HIM. And it WORKED. “Oh, are you an editor?”, asked Lippy? WHO CARES? This isn’t YOUR Q&A! Later, Eeeeevil Editor asked a question about the editing and you could tell that he wanted Show to ask him a question in return. “That’s how WE edited The Baxter. How do YOU edit YOUR movies, Eeeeevil?”

Other stupid questions included:
“Did you have a dwarf in mind when you were writing the wedding planner character?” Answer: No.
A question about the plot that I won’t go into detail about for risk of spoilers, but rest assured that anyone who paid attention to the film would have already known the answer.

And finally…”When is The State coming out on DVD?”
Answer: “I don’t know.”

There were a few good questions in there too. Not everyone at these things is developmentally challenged. Someone asked if “the Baxter” is a real term. Answer: “No. I made it up.” Essentially, Show wanted a word that sounded nebbish and square and a bit old fashioned and that’s what he came up with. The person who asked the question said “Well, I think it works perfectly”. HEY!!!! But yes, it does. Damn.

Someone asked why Show decided to go it alone on this one and he answered that it’s a story he’s been thinking about for a while and it’s basically another side of him that he’s wanted to explore. But he can’t really do that with the other guys around because it always ends up being about dildos and necrophilia. Heh.

I really want to know what these directors think of James Lipton when they come to Seattle. Do they think he’s a tool? Do they think that he revered by all the people that are on his list? Do they think he’s a swell guy?

Despite all my bitching, I would say that it was an enjoyable experience. It was a good movie which I will see again (with Meep, whose crush on Justin Theroux is doubtless going to skyrocket) and it was cool to see a different side of Michael Showalter. But damn that James Lipton.


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