Cody Tidmore

Triple Feature Horror Show

Halloween Triple FeatureOne show, three terrors. It's the Triple Feature Horror Show that opens this weekend at the Dallas Comedy House (DCH). One portion is inspired by Ghostbusters. Another by Alien. And the third by Seinfeld. To learn more about the show, I sat down with creators Michael Corbett, Ryan Goldsberry, Grant Redmond, Nick Scott, and Cody Tidmore as they were taking a well-deserved Alaskan cruise. Let’s talk about inception (not the movie, though if you want to touch on it, feel free). How did the idea for the show come about? How long did it take to produce it (write it, practice it, etc.)? And how did you choose the cast? 

Grant: Corbett, Cody, and I did a Halloween sketch show together last year and Corbett pitched the idea of doing a narrative Halloween show this year with us. But since Cody and I are too busy for our own good, I pitched the idea that we could do a triple feature in one hour. Three casts, three directors, and three sets of writers. This would ease the load on everyone involved. Corbett pitched out the idea to Ryan and Nick to be the writers for the other two stories, while Cody and I tackled ours.

Cody: I’m just going to add to what Grant said because, as our friends on social media are painfully aware, there’s nothing more obnoxious than two people saying the exact same thing. (But please like both of our statuses.) In terms of how the idea came about: Originally, we were running with a campier take on different Halloween tropes. But, at the time, we were watching a lot of Seinfeld and doing a lot of Seinfeldian bits, and it sorta just hit us how fun it would be to try to marry those two worlds. Oh, and for the record, I still have yet to see Inception. Hope that’s OK.

Michael: Inception...wow, great movie.  You know, by the end Dom had just stopped caring whether or not he was in a dream, and because of that he finally found peace. Anyways, for this show, I spoke with Grant about doing another Halloween sketch show but didn’t want it to just be another montage like Stage Fright, our 2015 Halloween sketch show. Initially, I pitched the idea of a knock-off of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, starring Grant and Cody and a cast of more contemporary movie monsters. That conversation evolved into a variety of ideas, and finally, we settled on the triple-feature format, which for me was inspired entirely by The Simpsons’ "Treehouse of Horror." I liked the idea of giving someone 15 minutes to tell a story or to make a parody of an existing property.

Grant: Cody and I wrote the "Dracula" portion. It's based on Seinfeld and was really fun to write for their voices. It didn't take us all too long since we were already fans of the show. The hard part was casting for people who could mimic these crazy characteristics that Seinfeld gave us.

Cody: Agreed. Casting was definitely the hardest (and most crucial) part because we weren’t necessarily looking for someone who can embody the mannerisms of Dracula, but who can embody Jerry Seinfeld as if he were Dracula. Although, as someone who is already covered in hair and hates everything, embodying Wolfman Costanza was a kind of natural progression.

Michael: Our initial meeting was in July, and we secured Nick and Ryan as the other directors shortly thereafter. So, we’ve been working on it since then. Of course, when I say “we” I mean Grant, Cody, Nick, and Ryan, who actually wrote the segments. I just watched from a safe distance and kept track of deadlines.

Grant: For casting, Cody and I just made a list of performers we’re fans of and chipped away at who could possibly play these roles. Eventually, we landed on our existing cast and we’re ecstatic that they all said yes. Casting our host was probably the easiest part, though. Our host, Goreticia, is played by Sallie Bowen, who is one of the best character actors I've seen at DCH. Really goes all out with makeup and costumes and it's really fun to watch.

Cody: Couldn’t have said it better myself, so I won’t. Our "Dracula" cast is phenomenal. And we’ve had our eye on Sallie’s character work for a long time, most notably in her rap group, Gross Bitch, which you should definitely check out. She’s embodied Goreticia so well it’s almost like she’s a fantastic weirdo in real life, too.

Michael: When it came to casting, I left it up to the directors of each segment to decide who they wanted to cast. I felt it was important to give them as much freedom as possible to ensure that each segment had its own distinct feel and matched the vision of its director. Grant, Nick, and Ryan have all taught sketch classes at DCH, so I knew they would have a lot of good ideas when it comes to casting. As for the host character, we knew we needed someone who would really elevate the role, and Sallie was an obvious choice. We gave her an overview of what we needed the host to do but wanted to give her the opportunity to craft a character of her own design. Needless to say, she did not disappoint.

Ryan: Honestly, not a fan of Inception. I thought it was beautiful to look at, but underwhelming and condescending to its audience. The premise really wasn’t that hard to grasp. We’ve all seen Nightmare on Elm Street and Ocean’s Eleven. Why did we need Ellen Page’s character asking about the mechanics every 12 seconds? Was anyone really not getting it after the initial, “Oh we go in someone’s dream and then do kind of a heist” explanation?

As for my portion, I started writing in July, finished a first draft in August, and did rewrites up until mid-September, when we started rehearsing. What I ended up doing for casting was asking people that I respect as performers and that I knew were fans of Alien. Even though our scene strayed far away from a direct adaption, I thought it would be cool if everyone involved was a fan of the original property. Couldn’t be happier with the group of people that said yes.

Nick: I dig Inception, but mostly because I love little trinkets and it was nice to see little trinkets get to shine as important plot points.

Shortly after Corbett talked to me about joining up, I was reading stuff about the new Ghostbusters online and the idea to do my segment dealing with all the blowback came to me. I pitched it to Corbett, who liked it, then I put off writing it until like three days before we were supposed to have our first meet-up. In my head, I cast the sketch before I wrote it based on performers I had seen around DCH, then wrote the parts for them, hoping they’d be able to do it. And they were (able to do it).

What is something you’ve believed incorrectly about Halloween for a long time?

Grant: That it’s meaningless once you get older because you end up becoming a guy opening the door and giving away all your candy to random kids. Now I just turn off all the lights and go to a show or party and ignore the kids. Much more fun.

Cody: For the record, two years ago we handed out candy to the kids on our block, and it was absolutely delightful. Separately, I agree with Grant: It’s silly to think Halloween is for kids. Halloween is just silly in general. If you’re like us, you should embrace it, go to a Halloween karaoke party and try to sing both parts to "A Whole New World" while dressed as Bob Ross and a Reverend.

Michael: You know that whole checking your kid’s candy to make sure it wasn’t tampered with or poisoned? There’s only one documented occurrence of that ever happening. It happened in Pasadena, Texas, and the culprit was the child’s father. It’s something to keep in mind when you read about all those creepy clown incidents. Odds are, most of them never actually happened. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be afraid of clowns, though. Remain ever vigilant.

Ryan: That next year is the year I’ll be comfortable with a sleeveless costume. Not that I have any sleeveless costume ideas (not enough hair to pull off Snake Plissken). But if I had a killer one, I know I wouldn’t be comfortable with it.

Nick: That the blood of the innocent must be shed each All Hallow’s Eve in order to keep the spirit world at bay. Boy, have I done a lot unnecessary, terrible things.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever heard about yourself that isn’t true?

Grant: That I'm a catch.

Ryan: That I’m a catch.

Michael: That I thought Grant and Ryan were catches.

Cody: That Nick doesn’t think I’m a catch.

Nick: That Cody thinks that I don’t think that he’s a catch.

What’s the most interesting opportunity you’ve gotten through DCH?

Grant: Any commercial or even audition that I've had a chance to do through DCH has been a great experience. I also pick up writing gigs here and there, which is great, because I'm poor.

Cody: The opportunity to goof around with some amazingly talented, incredibly funny people is something I truly cherish. Also Grant’s writing gigs; we’re poor.

Ryan: Getting to teach sketch has definitely been my favorite part of the last year-and-a-half. I get more nervous for my student’s sketch shows than I have for any show I’ve ever been a part of. Seeing other people get as excited about comedy as I do really is the best.

Michael: I actually ended up in my current job because the person doing the interview would frequently attend shows at DCH. It allowed me to completely gloss over my previous work experience and talk instead about a subject I was actually passionate about. Three years later and here I am doing this interview while I should be working at that very job. This isn’t getting published, right?

Nick: I actually got my current job through DCH, and I got a book published thanks in large part to the DCH community, so probably that time I got to eat a whole cake on stage with my hands.

Finally, how do you want audiences to feel when they leave the show?

Grant: That we did Seinfeld justice with our script. Although we are technically monsters, so were they.

Cody: Exactly. That, and to be slightly annoyed. This is Seinfeld we’re talking about.

Ryan: I hope we remind people that the true meaning of Halloween is in our hearts, and the real treat is the friends and family we have to share this special time of year with.

Nick: Despair that the world is a terrible place, and that there is nothing they can do about it except come back and see the show again.

Michael: Terrible sadness that the show has ended and a longing for more. I hope this feeling stays with them for the next calendar year, and they can only find peace by attending whatever version of a Halloween show we put on next October. It’s all about repeat customers.

The Triple Feature Horror Show takes place Oct. 21-22 and Oct. 28-29 at the Dallas Comedy House. Tickets on sale now.

Jason Hensel is a graduate of the DCH improv training program. He manages the DCH blog and performs with .f.a.c.e., the '95 Bulls, and Bound Together.

Redeeming Features: “Choke”

Welcome to Redeeming Features. The blog where I (poorly) review movies that are underappreciated, underrated or under the radar, in hopes of convincing you to give them a second chance. ChokeThis week, we’re gonna get back to our (my) roots a little bit with a movie that a) came from an actual book and b) is driven by some unnecessarily inappropriate narration! Woo hoo! It’s also a movie that I know a lot of people weren’t too keen on because of the aforementioned unnecessary inappropriateness. And rightfully so: there’s more than one scene involving a traveling anal bead. So, hey – I get it. But butt stuff aside, it makes for a pretty interesting story; one definitely unlike stuff I’ve seen/read before. Which, considering the author, shouldn’t shock or awe too much. So, cook yourself up a hearty steak dinner as we take a big ole bite outta Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke.

Now, I know I already poked at it, but I wanna make a point to bring it up again so nobody feels like they were assaulted: Choke is, admittedly and undeniably, yet another flick in the long line of those centered around the same sultry topic: sex. To give you a little taste, we open in a Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting where we find our main character, Victor (Sam Rockwell), internally describing each person in the room. He says, “these people are the reason hospitals have special tools to remove the champagne bottle, the fluorescent bulb, the hamster…” My oh my! But as we go deeper (ew), we quickly learn the ways of THIS sex addict are far less pleasurable. Honestly, it seems as if Victor finds no joy in life unless it’s in Joy, a neighbor’s wife. Or at least the ex-hooker named Nico he sneaks out to sneak in mid meeting.

Victor (again magnificently (and weirdly) played by Sam Rockwell) is probably your least run-of-the-mill sad sack piece of shit. Mostly because his chosen job is helping run a colonial mill with this best friend Denny, a compulsive masturbator. Seriously… home boy has his hand in his pants 25/8. Now, when Victor isn’t teaching children the proper way to churn the butter, he’s doing something far more valiant: intentionally choking on meals at expensive restaurants so unsuspecting rich folk will attempt to “save him,” thus giving cause to keep in touch with them over the years and get monetary donations for made-up ailments. Honestly, if you think about it, it’s a pretty inventive con. One so inventive, it raises the question as to why.

Why = Victor’s mother, Ida (Anjelica Huston), a mental patient mentally strapped with a series of made-up characters, resides in a very expensive nursing home that Victor will go to all lengths to pay for in hopes of visiting with his mother. Even if it means playing the roles of her made-up lawyers, ex-friends, ex lovers, and occasionally – her son. Her continuously escaping memory continuously plagues his memory, remembering that growing up he lived a very dysfunctional childhood comprised of different cons, escape routes, and more often than not, police cars taking his mother to prison for stealing him out of his orphanage. Shocker he ended up the way he did, huh?

His mother’s condition getting increasingly worse, Victor turns to a rather unorthodox medicinal solve at the illegal recommendation of Nurse Paige (Kelly Macdonald) in which a sex addict might come in handy (retweet: ew). In her many years of experience, she heard of an experiment involving stem cell research that helped to restore brain cells. However, in order to get unaltered specimens, one must create a baby. Yeah, it’s a little farfetched, but makes for a pretty quick and super awkward character interaction. And also more sex. There’s quite a bit of dat.

Choke, while definitely NSFW, or even NSFHome if literally anyone is around, is definitely worth checking out. If not only to make you realize, “Hey – other people are more sick than me!” Fictional or otherwise, the characters in this film are still weirdly believable and by extension, relatable. I’m not saying you’re all dirty little sex addicts, but I’m saying being unhappy with the skin you’re in and trying desperately to climb out of it is definitely something we’ve all experienced – one lay or another.

TL; DR – sex-addicted con-man tries to keep his life, and his mother’s, together by paying for her hospital bills through a series of overacted choke scenes and gracious donations from unsuspecting saviors.

Cody Tidmore is a Level Three sketch student at DCH. He’s been watching movies for as long as he can remember. Seeing it all – the good, the bad, even the ugly. And when it comes to annoyingly working movie quotes into regular conversation, he’s the reel deal.

Redeeming Features: “Idiocracy”

Welcome to Redeeming Features. The blog where I (poorly) review movies that are underappreciated, underrated or under the radar, in hopes of convincing you to give them a second chance. IdiocracyThis week, I wanna talk about a movie that I know a lot of people have heard of, but I find that not a lot of people have actually seen it. And for fair reasons. For starters, 20th Century Fox, who originally backed the movie, straight up abandoned it. Well, “abandoned” implies they did nothing to help it, but in in actuality, they did a lot of things to try to ruin it. For example, they made no attempt to promote it, released no trailers, no ads, no press kits, nor was it screened for critics. They even tried to see to it that it was never released at all. But why? Why would they green light a movie, and then do their damndest to stop it? Some say it’s because it was a degenerate film that no living person with even an modicum of reasonable intelligence should see. Others say it was because Fox didn’t want to back a movie that pointed out, poked at, and purposefully prodded tremendous flaws in our society while brilliantly satirizing and belittling a major portion of their key demographic. You can say, “tomato, potato,” but I prefer to just say, “potato.” Fried ones…. With cheese.

This week, we’re diving into a vat of Brawndo with Idiocracy; another work of satirical art from Mike Judge that puts an intensely bright spotlight on the increasingly decreasing IQ levels of our population. From the very get, we open with an exaggerated, but terrifyingly accurate example of how procreation has devolved and how earth is essentially a breeding ground for the mentally inept. The smart ones, who should be procreating, understand the risks and money that come with it so choose not to until they’re financially stable. The rest of the lot get drunk, bump uglies, and try to “jump a jet ski from a lake into a swimming pool and impale their crotch on an iron gate” But thanks to modern medicine, we’re there to stitch him up, and give him full reproductive function again. OUTSTANDING. THANKS, SCIENCE. SORRY, DARWINISM.

Anyways, Idiocracy focuses on the story of Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson), a military man who, when asked if they want to “lead, follow, or get out of the way,” he chooses the latter. To be blunt, he is quite literally the most average man in the world. Which for the purpose of this movie, is right where you want to be. He’s not too smart that he’s contributing to the downfall by not avoiding it, but he’s also not too dumb that he’s contributing to the downfall by becoming a part of it. He’s perfect. So perfect that the military wants to do cryogenics experiments on him. He, alongside a hooker (Maya Rudolph) were frozen, but due to a military prostitution bust coupled with decades of oversight, the two are left in the freezer a little too long. About 500 years too long. And after an Everest-grade garbage dump landslide, Bauers is reborn from the most average man in the world to the smartest. And unnaturally, it’s up to him to save it.

Together, with a (not at all) helpful band of dullards, including his new lawyer/BFF, intelligently named Frito (Dax Shepard), Bauers sets out to find a time machine he can use to send him back to 2005. But in the process winds up at the White House, which is run by president/pro wrestler/porn god, Camacho (Terry Crews), who promises the entire nation Bauers is so smart that he can fix every problem they have… in one week. But it’s up to him to decide if he will lead, follow, or simply step out of the way and into the time machine so he can get the heck out of sludge.

Admittedly, Idiocracy is not a movie for everybody. Also admittedly, it’s less Office Space and more Beavis and Butt-head Do America. But strip away the fart jokes and ball shots, and really try to focus on Judge’s point: we are the most evolved devolving specimens known to man. And, if we don’t start making an effort to better sustain our crops, empowering people to practice safe sex, AND raising the bar for public education, then I hate to say it… but the most popular movie in the world may very well become a 90-minute flick of a farting ass, accurately titled, Ass.

…and I will review dat Ass.

TL; DR – After an accidental 500 year stint with cryogenic freezing, Joe Bauers finds the world devolved into absolute stupidity and must use his power as “most intelligent person alive” to save the world that left him behind.

Cody Tidmore is a Level Three sketch student at DCH. He’s been watching movies for as long as he can remember. Seeing it all – the good, the bad, even the ugly. And when it comes to annoyingly working movie quotes into regular conversation, he’s the reel deal.

Redeeming Features: “The Other Guys”

Welcome to Redeeming Features. The blog where I (poorly) review movies that are underappreciated, underrated or under the radar, in hopes of convincing you to give them a second chance. The Other Guys“Whoa! What’s this!? Two Redeeming Features in one week?! It must be my lucky day!” said you, maybe?

If not, that’s fine; but this IS the second RF this week. Figured since I missed last week, I outta write my wrong and do two. That, and I was specifically asked to by my boss. Or at least, I think he’s my boss? Hey! Jason! Are you my boss? Better yet, are you my Mother!?

Paternity tests aside, this week we’re loading up a movie that I’ve wanted to do for a while now, but honestly just wasn’t sure how people would react. In my personal opinion it’s funny, but was tragically overlooked and undercut because of its mere stupidity. And rightfully so; this movie is dumb; so so dumb. But in a weird way, its stupidity is what makes it a fun watch. One that makes you say, “Huh… that wasn’t half bad! We should watch it again next year!”

I’m talking about The Other Guys, an overtly silly action cop parody about two buddy cops who are anything but. They spend the whole movie doing everything except draw their weapons on each other. Well, until one of ‘em actually does, that is. And yes, that doesn’t make sense and would definitely never happen. But if you go into this movie fully aware that it has every intention of leaning head-on into absurdity, then you’re in for a good time. I mean, the opening scene involves Samuel L. Jackson and The Rock jumping off a 50-story building, hoping to aim for a vegetable stand to break their fall. And it does break their fall, and also their necks. And they die. Immediately. Leaving space forrrrr… The Other Guys.

The Other Guys in The Other Guys are played by none other than Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. And both do a phenomenal job of doing what they do best: being total morons. Gamble (Ferrell) is an even-tempered, desk jocky who probably blows on his soup when it’s too hot. Also he thinks soup is an actual meal. Hoitz (Wahlberg) plays a run and gun, balls to the wall, wild Tasmanian devil detective who hits one “unlucky” streak after accidentally shooting Derek Jeter. The two make an amazing(ly terrible) pair, and play off each other in the best (worst) ways possible and getting each other into the worst (best) situations possible.

Quickly, they tumble and rumble their way into the office of David Ershon (Steve Coogan), a Wall Street tycoon who Gamble is convinced has gone crooked. And while he may very well be right, Hoitz doesn’t wanna have any part in this tax fraud bullshit. He wants the big car chases, the gunfire, the coke fueled hobo orgies… and boy does he get ‘em. While attempting to pin down Ershon, the two get caught up in a nonsensical series of “look over here’s” and misdirects. They hot rod Gamble’s Prius all over town trying to get dirty on this scum, but their bad (at being a) cop methods always end up getting them on the receiving end of their Captain’s (Michael Keaton) hilarious ass reaming tactics. One of which involves inadvertently quoting TLC songs. What can I say, boy don’t want No Scrubs on his force.

Much like Gamble’s aforementioned Prius, The Other Guys cruises along nicely, making stops along the way for plenty of all-too-familiar, Ferrell-fueled line-o-ramas and Wahlberg’s incessant probing about Gamble’s insanely hot wife (Eva Mendez). On screen, the two make for a lot of fun and despite this being Ferrell’s wheelhouse, Wahlberg totally holds his own. I would even go as far to say he’s a much better comedic actor than he is serious. Ahhhhh, I’m just busting your balls, Markie – say hi to your mother for me.

TL; DR – Two mismatched New York City detectives seize an opportunity to step up – but until they learn to work together, they’ll continuously take inadvertent steps back.

Cody Tidmore is a Level Three sketch student at DCH. He’s been watching movies for as long as he can remember. Seeing it all – the good, the bad, even the ugly. And when it comes to annoyingly working movie quotes into regular conversation, he’s the reel deal.

Redeeming Features UNCAGED: “National Treasure”

Welcome to Redeeming Features. The blog where I (poorly) review movies that are underappreciated, underrated or under the radar, in hopes of convincing you to give them a second chance. National TreasureThis week, we’re confronting a national conspiracy head on. One so horrific, that even writing about it could, and probably will, send the CIA right to my front door. But no longer shall my fellow Americans live a life of darkness. No no no – I’m blowing the lid of this thing, and I’m taking anyone who stands in my way down with me! So take a bow, as we get to the bottom of this treasure trove! Huzzah!

Now, if y’all haven’t already figured out this mystery, I’m talking about National (fuggin’) Treasure! A literal national treasure in the ‘murican film society; so, pay your respects. National Treasure is a near-flawless film about an ancient treasure, and the man committed to finding it. And that man… is Nicolas (fuggin’) Cage.

That’s right – NT is an NC classic. Cage, in one of his best performances of his career, plays Benjamin Franklin Gates (perfect name), the last piece in a multi-century, multi-generational search for the ancient buried treasure protected by the Knights Templar and the Masons. With the help of his quick-witted/slow-minded sidekick, Riley (Justin Bartha), Gates hops from clue to clue like Blue, uncovering sudden realization after sudden realization; each one as badass and totally believable as the last, and solved with pluperfect intelligence and grace. So badass.

The two quickly make their way to the master clue: an invisible treasure map on back of the Declaration of Independence. Thus cueing one of the most popular movie lines in the last decade: “I’m gonna steal the Declaration of Independence.” Cue goose bumps. But why? Why would someone who respects the nation’s history want to steal, and in the process endanger, what could easily be categorized as the most precious piece of American history? Uh, I don’t know, maybe because some OTHER badass treasure hunter wants at it! Bring out the villain, Ian Howe.

Ian (Sean Bean) starts off as a nice guy (don’t they always, ladies) and part of Ben’s treasure team. But once it becomes apparent that the DOI must be nicked in order to find the treasure/get paid, he, in typical bad guy fashion, tries to blow up Ben and Riley on a 300-year-old, gun-powder-filled steamboat. Classic bad guy move.  Naturally, Ben and Riley are not too keen on this impromptu fireworks show; so, they see it best to put an end to their partnership and head in different (but inevitably identical) directions.

One direction in particular, leading to one Dr. Abigail Chase. Who happens to be a total knockout and, as Riley describes her, is a “very cute man.” Oh, right – she also happens to be the National Archivist, a collector of national election pins, and the sole protector of the DOI. Hmmm, I wonder if she’ll play a pivotal role/love interest. Hmmmmm. Anyways, while trying to steal and protect the DOI, Gates runs into quite a quandary in which Dr. Chase, having stolen his heart, requires his protection thanks to, you guessed it, Ian. What a scoundrel. Thankfully, Cage is a total BAMF and saves her. But quickly they learn they need each other for more than just PG sexual tension and decide to team up.

So, now we’re prepped, primed, and ready to plunge into a series of chase scenes, close calls, and clue crackin’. I don’t wanna give any of the clues away because, well, that’s really the whole damn movie. But I will give you some clues as to what happens: artic terrain, badass ice monster trucks, blood used as ink, explosion, hacking, stealing, guns, lemon and a hairdryer, hanging from doors, caves, and other awesome shit. Also, some pretty dumb, but surprisingly funny dialogue.

All in all, National Treasure is really a fun little movie that is so ham-fistedly spelled out that you don’t really have to be paying attention to get 100 percent everything that’s going on at every turn. It really is a perfect movie. That is, of course, if your definition of “perfect movie” means an American classic comprised of total nonsense scavenger hunts, badass explosions, perfect detective work, and the one and only Nic Cage. And if it don’t – well then f**k you.

TL; DR – modern treasure hunters race to find forgotten riches rumored to be protected by the founding fathers, and in the process, do their best to thwart dangerous mercenaries/look kickass.

Cody Tidmore is a Level Three sketch student at DCH. He’s been watching movies for as long as he can remember. Seeing it all – the good, the bad, even the ugly. And when it comes to annoyingly working movie quotes into regular conversation, he’s the reel deal.

Redeeming Features: "This Is Where I Leave You"

Welcome to Redeeming Features. The blog where I (poorly) review movies that are underappreciated, underrated or under the radar, in hopes of convincing you to give them a second chance. This Is Where I Leave YouYou guys know the band Slipknot? Who am I kidding; everyone is a HUGE fan of Slipknot! But if you aren’t, lemme fill you in some useless information to help set up an even more useless analogy. In Slipknot, there’s like, I don’t know, way too many “musicians.” Some of which, actually musically-inclined (like the lead singer has professional opera training?), play pivotal roles in the musical composition of the band. Others hit kegs with a baseball bat. This week’s actors are kind of like that. Some great, others are not as great, but each, surprisingly enough, is doing something to enhance the tune of the tale. Whether that’s pounding kegs, or pounding their old high school neighbor.

This week, we’re talking about This Is Where I Leave You (TIWILY), a dark, light, odd, funny, interesting, and at times, weirdly moving movie about a dysfunctional family who comes together after the death of their father/husband to honor his dying wish – sit in Shiva (even though he was an atheist) and mourn together. And let me just lead with, “I know.” I, too, thought this was yet another addition in a very, very long slew of underwhelming, poorly-balanced all-star cast super flicks. But when I eventually got around to accidentally clicking on it, I was pleasantly surprised. Mostly because it’s just nice to watch someone else writhe in rue for a change…believable or otherwise.

Now, when I say this has an all-star cast, I mean it has every “star” from the last three-to-all years, including Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard, Abigail Spencer, and little ole Benny Shwaaa (Ben Schwartz). And weirdly enough, they all work super well together – and while not being related even in the slightest, seem to still (dys)function as a family. Whoever cast this bad boy did a bang up job. And since we have so many actors from so many different recognizable (and unrecognizable) roles, I think it’s best if I do a quick breakdown of each.

*straps in*

Jason Bateman – well, hopefully you guys all know who he is, but if you need a refresher: Arrested Development, Horrible Bosses (redeemed last week), and literally anything in the last decade that asked for an under-the-breath snark machine. And this flick is no different. Bateman plays one of the siblings, dejected and recently f**ked over “nice guy” who always finishes fast.

Tina Fey – again, you guys know these things: Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, Kimmy Schmidt, and a lot of other incredibly well-written movies/shows/sketches/speeches/words. However, she’s just acting in this! Fey plays another sibling and mother of two, although she doesn’t get much help from the over-worked, under-aware father.

Jane Fonda – come on, it’s Fonda! Nine to Five, Barbarella, Mickey Avalon’s first self-titled album; Fonda plays the recently widowed mother of the lot/celebrity shrink/writer of Cradle and All, the memoir disclosing every infinitesimal spec of her family’s life.

Adam Driver – most known for his role as Adam on Girls, Driver plays the youngest sibling who hops from girl to girl until he finally lands hip pocket of his beautiful therapist, Connie Britton.

Rose Byrne – known for Neighbors, Insidious; Byrne plays Bateman’s high-school girlfriend who’s still stuck at home, teaching ice skating lessons. Still just as cute as can be, she unfortunately gets caught in the fray of things.

Corey Stoll – known for his role as backstabbing Peter Russo from House of Cards, Stoll plays the oldest sibling, a no-nonsense kinda guy who, while raising the family business has difficulty raising his family business – a.k.a., penis.

Kathryn Hahn – known for Parks and Recreation and Step Brothers, Hahn plays Stoll’s wife and the one on the not-so-receiving end of his ED. She becomes increasingly more frustrated at their inability to reproduce/bang on a timely schedule.

Connie Britton –  known for Nashville, American Horror Story, and looking wayyyyy too good for her age, Britton plays the fiancé to be fiancé/psychologist to little brother, Adam. Shocker, she’s way too much woman for him, and he’s five years old.

Timothy Olyphant – best known for playing Josh Duhamel, Olyphant plays the brain-damaged ex to Tina Fey, who she had to leave behind in order to pursue her dream of becoming a middle-class fraud.

Dax Shepard – best known for Idiocracy and surprisingly bagging Kristen Bell, Shepard plays the boss of Bateman, who opens as a fun character, but immediately lets us down by banging Bateman’s wife. And wearing terrible clothes.

Abigail Spencer – while she may not be known for much, she does a pretty great job of playing Bateman’s soon-to-be ex wife/Shepard’s bang buddy. Somehow, she makes you feel bad for her at times, too.

Benny Shwaaa (Ben Schwartz) – best known for Parks and Recreation, House of Lies, and just generally being a singing nut job from College Humor, Shwaaa plays the rabbi destined to bring them together. Unfortunately, he grew up with them and therefore cannot be taken seriously. Thus, the reason they continue to call him by his childhood nickname, Boner.

*unstraps, and takes a nap*

PHEW! Now that all of that’s out of the way, I’m realizing this is way too long. So, let me do my best to wrap it up, while also leaving a little bit to mystery.

TIWILY, while technically a hybrid of rom and com, does a really nice job of setting up some pretty dramatic, powerful moments. Moments you absolutely do not expect. And I think that’s a nice way to encapsulate everything. Sure, there are some super expected parts, but they are far overshadowed by the moments of honest, earnest brevity that hit you like a sucker punch from your younger brother. And I recommend giving it a shot, too.

TL; DR – When their father passes away, four grown siblings are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens.

Cody Tidmore is a Level Three sketch student at DCH. He’s been watching movies for as long as he can remember. Seeing it all – the good, the bad, even the ugly. And when it comes to annoyingly working movie quotes into regular conversation, he’s the reel deal.