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Praise for "The Worst Idea of All Time" Podcast

I'm a latecomer to it, but considering that the show is nearly at the end of its proposed run, today I thought I'd share a brief recommendation for The Worst Idea of All Time Podcast.


Most likely you've already heard about this, but in case you haven't: this is a weekly show from New Zealand where the hosts, Tim and Guy, watch the movie Grown Ups 2 and then record a brief 20-30 minute podcast every week for a year.

The result is one of the most interesting experiments I've had the pleasure to witness.

I have not seen Grown Ups 2, and, taking the advice of the show's hosts, I plan not to.  While I usually try not to pass judgment on cinema I haven't seen, I make soft exceptions in cases like this.  It just looks absolutely dreadful in every sense of the word.  All the ads, all the clips, all the critical responses, and especially Sandler's recent track record give me enough evidence to say, without watching, that it is at best an incredibly stupid movie.

The hosts attempt, week after week, to make some sense of the plot or humor; to glean from what might have been the worst movie of 2013 any semblance of hope in a weekly "Shining Light" segment; to understand how a movie like Grown Ups 2 gets made; and, most unsuccessfully of all, to figure out just why the hell they committed to this idea in the first place.

It's the kind of concept for a show that clearly started out as a joke.  "Wouldn't it be funny if....?"  The two guys laughed about it for awhile, then decided to commit before they could actually come up with some kind of a mission statement.  Only after they had started airing the episodes did it seem to dawn on them that the idea was entirely absurd.

But what's incredible and scathing about the show is that its mere existence is all the damning commentary on Grown Ups 2 that you'd ever need.  I don't mean that the show tears the film apart - it does, but that's not the damning part.  It's the fact that it is a show made on the cheap by two unpaid guys who have no idea why they created the thing they create, but commit to it, anyway.  The result is beautiful, strange, and hilarious - performance art meets film criticism meets standup comedy meets existentialism.  Meanwhile, the subject of their obsession is a vacuous commercial enterprise that was made for exactly one, crystal-clear, shallow reason, cost a shitload of money, had no passion, and ended in a train wreck.  It's the artist's struggle captured in the most perfect metaphor imaginable.

When you think about the concept for more than a few minutes, it's easy to see all the ways it could fail.  For one thing, their decision to focus on Grown Ups 2 was inspired.  Tim and Guy mention in one of the early episodes that they originally thought about watching Con Air instead, but they determined that it was too good a movie.  Having actually watched Con Air several dozen times as a teenager (that's a story for another day, I think), I can confirm they are correct.  Con Air has fun moments in it and actually has a pretty well-structured plot even if it is dumb as hell.  From what I understand, Grown Ups 2 is literally just famous people hanging out and not being funny for an hour forty.

They also wisely kept the episodes of the show short and sweet.  This might have been the best idea of all.  By keeping the show brief, you get a good sense of the details that stick with them each week without it feeling bloated.  In the time it take to listen to just one episode of most film podcasts, you can run through the first month's worth of shows and figure out whether or not you want to continue.

I'm also fascinated by their perspective as New Zealanders.  They're reviewing an American movie about grotesque caricatures of American excess from the outside.  Their sense of shock and occasional outrage at the film and the culture it glorifies is refreshing.  I sometimes feel like I exist in a cultural dome and I'm not getting enough news from the external world, so it's a delight to find out that everybody else is sane and recognizes the movie for the bullshit it is.

I can't recommend the show enough.  If you're a fan of movies or podcasts at all, you owe it to yourself to listen to at least the first few episodes.  I'm sure you'll start tearing your way through them as I have.