In the first of our Great Switcheroo episodes, Danielle shares her pick of the 1984 movie The Ice Pirates. What do you get when you can’t decide between being a goofy lampoon of Star Wars or just a knock-off? It might very well be The Ice Pirates. The galaxy has inexplicably run out of water, the remaining bits of ice from comets are controlled by the Templars, a group of chain-mail wearing space knights. The annoyingly rouge pirate captain Jason (really) finds himself captured by the Templars and at risk of castration at the hands of the Castratomatic machine. Luckily, he’s saved by the princess Karina who wants his help to find her lost, and possibly dead, father the King of something, who knows what. At this point, some of Jason’s crew also escape with him, but run into a robot pimp with a TV showing scantily ladies in its stomach. The robopimp doesn’t really matter to the movie, but Sam thought it important to mention that it’s basically a horny Teletubby. Anyway, the crew and the princess escape to the pirate moon, there’s a space herpie on the ship but it doesn’t matter. Really, the thing that matters most is that the group eventually makes their way to possibly the best named character of all time; a lover of baby donkeys and teenage ducks, the one, the only, the indomitable Lanky Nibs. There’s a bunch of stuff after that about finding Karina’s father and the Seventh World, but after Lanky Nibs it’s all just a blur until a finale that screws with time in ways that make our heads hurt. Also, did we mention Anjelica Huston has a minor roll in this movie, as well as Ron Perlman in his second ever film credit? So come enjoy Danielle grapple with explaining why she didn’t love a movie that seems to have it all, and tune in next week for Sam’s turn on The Great Switcheroo!
This week Danielle takes Sam through the 2012 dark comedy film It’s a Disaster. When Tracy (Julia Styles) brings her new boyfriend (David Cross) to a regular brunch to meet her friends, they all quickly find themselves trapped inside the house together as a series of disasters threaten the world around them. However, they won’t let something like the end of the world get in the way of their interpersonal drama. This one is short, weird, and really needs to be experienced to be fully understood, but Sam is nonetheless impressed by the cast’s comedy chops, and the way the story makes life-threatening circumstances funny. Danielle really only cares that the cast contains America Ferrera. But the thing the two of them agree about the most for this brunch-pocolypse is “don’t be late”.
This week Danielle takes Sam through the truly bizarre finale of the 2020 Ernest Cline novel Ready Player Two. Wade Watts is trapped in the OASIS in his ONI VR headset by Anorak and his “infirmware” and is being forced by Anorak to find the seven shards hidden by Halliday on various media worlds Kira—the late wife of Ogden and romantic obsession of Halliday—had a hand in creating. And if that sentence doesn’t sum up Ready Player Two, nothing does. The purpose of this latest scavenger hunt is still unclear, but Wade now has 12 hours to complete it before he dies, so naturally he completely ignores the help offered by his biggest fan L0hengrin. Wade and his friends set off to various media worlds, including the not-much-of-a-challenge school world, and the fever dream of the Prince world. Eventually, Wade figures out that Anorak wants the shards because he—the A.I. consciousness of Halliday—wants to use the shards to resurrect an A.I. consciousness of Kira which Halliday created without her consent. Anorak wants to live in eternal bliss with this A.I. Kira even though she never loved Halliday, even when reconstituted virtually. We won’t spoil how the space ship full of frozen embryos figures into all this, but it’s wild. Anyway, Wade and his friends find a convenient magic sword that Ogden, and only Ogden for some reason, can use to defeat Anorak, and embark on a pretty simple heist to free Ogden and bring him to the Oasis to fight Anorak. All of this is pretty standard, but then Wade discovers there are A.I. scans of every person who has used an ONI device, and his solution to this is probably the most ridiculous, and most irresponsible, part of the whole book, which is really saying something.
This week Danielle starts Sam on a VR adventure with the 2020 Ernest Cline novel Ready Player Two. In this sequel to Ready Player One, Wade Watts is the freshly minted owner of the OASIS, a massive virtual realty universe that dominates the cultural and commercial landscape of a dystopian Earth. That’s when Wade’s late predecessor, Halliday, sends him a hitherto unknown technology: The ONI, a neural interface VR system for the OASIS that kills you if you use it too long. This all sounds great to Wade who immediately launches it as a commercial product, and this is why Danielle and Sam feel that you probably shouldn’t pick the successor to your multi-billion dollar essential planetary infrastructure via pop culture scavenger hunt. At this point, a new scavenger hunt appears in the OASIS, seemingly just for Wade and created by Halliday (seriously, does he have any other ideas?). Wade is tasked with finding seven shards but is stumped by the clue and so kinda just ignores if for a few years, like a true hero. During that time, Wade finds his friends divided over the ethics of the ONI devices, and Wade drifts away from Samantha, his girlfriend for all of a week, due to her reservations. Finally, a fan of Wade’s, L0hengrin, clues him into where the first shard is, and helps him recover this first quest item. Things only get weirder from here, and that’s without mentioning the Olympic swimming pool’s worth of 80’s and 90’s pop culture references to slog through, or the spaceship full of frozen embryos. Sam has many questions, and while there are few answers in part one, we can only hope part two will shed some light on his most burning question: How big a jerk was Halliday? (Spoiler: absolutely massive).
This week Danielle brings a little Halloween in July with the 2014 film Vampire Academy. Rose Hathaway is a teenage Dhampir (mostly human vampire) and is guardian-in-training for her best friend Princess Vasilisa (Lissa) Dragomir, a Moroi (pacifist full vampire). They have run away from their titular school after a deadly car accident left Lissa without her family. They are soon tracked down and returned to school, because they’re teenagers, where they arrive in the middle of a Strigoi (evil, non-pacifist vampire) attack at the school gates. At this point, Sam has reached his limit of nonsense fantasy words and exposition, but the movie, and Danielle, aren’t even close to done. Back at school there’s some sinister force harassing Lissa who uses her magic powers (of course she has magic powers) to manipulate everyone into liking her and becoming like, so totally popular you guys. There are some dreamy, broody vampire (and half-vampire) boys, of course, but none of that really seems to matter. In fact, none of the plot of this book really seems to matter as it serves more as a vehicle for vampire world exposition. And boy, does Sam have questions about that vampire world, questions for which Danielle has too few answers. Lissa’s life is eventually endangered in a predictable twist, there’s some almost sex that is surprisingly responsible in terms of power structures, and something called Psi Hounds make an appearance, which are basically just regular dogs with glowing eyes that are psychic in ways that are subtle and irrelevant. So listen and enjoy as both Sam and Danielle examine the finer points of vampire caste systems and reproductive habits. We could seriously use a biologist, and maybe a sociologist, to help figure this one out.
This week Danielle revisits another classic fairy tale in the 2013 film Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. When, as children, Hansel and his sister Gretel are left in the woods by their parents for what will turn out to be stupid reasons, they encounter and manage to kill a witch. They decide to go pro and become full time witch hunters, which is very convenient considering there’s currently a witch plague across the land. Now adults, Hansel and Gretel dispense deadly justice against witches, handing down verdicts based on nothing more than whether or not they look witchy enough. This, as Sam and Danielle both agree, is a terrible means of witch detection, and Sam is convinced that, from the witches’ perspective, this is more akin to a witch genocide. The pair of professional murders eventually encounter a grand witch (which is apparently a thing) who’s stealing children in order to produce a spell for fireproofing herself. This is baffling to Sam as Hansel and Gretel seem to use pretty much any method they want to dispose of witches, fire or not. Nonetheless, there’s also some good witches involved who were hitherto unknown to H&G, so who knows how many “good” witches they murdered over the years. None of that really matters because all Danielle and Sam care about is the morally conflicted troll named Edward, who is just the best. Also, this whole thing is steampunk because this movie needs to find every way possible to annoy Sam.
This week Danielle is dredging up the 1976 pulp horror novel Night of the Crabs by Guy N. Smith. When a pair of swimmers disappear off the coast of Wales it’s up to well-known botanist, and uncle to one of the missing swimmers, Cliff Davenport to uncover what happened. Why, exactly, it’s up to him is anyone’s guess, but Cliff quickly proves himself by uncovering crab tracks on the beach (is that a thing?) and concluding his nephew was murdered by sheep-sized crabs. Spoiler: Cliff is wrong, they are, in fact, cow-sized crabs; c’mon, Cliff, do better. Cliff is made to quickly forget the grief of his lost nephew in the arms of the nubile and newly divorced Pat, who is one-hundred percent on board with giant killer crabs, having seen crab tracks herself (no seriously, are crab tracks a thing?!). The two investigate and have sex in about equal measure, but it’s not until the nearby secret, but not too secret, military base is attacked by an army of giant, invincible crabs lead by, as dubbed by Cliff, the cunning King Crab, that anyone else takes notice. Cliff, now somehow a marine biologist, works with the department of defense to devise a plan to entomb the crabs in their underwater cave. This plan, predictably, fails spectacularly, and so many are killed by the enraged crab army Danielle had to give up keeping count. All Sam knows is that he has a new hero: All hail King Crab!
Danielle brings a little magic into our lives this week with the 2013 movie Now You See Me. When a group of random magicians (sorry, illusionists) are recruited to partake in some fancy heists, Sam could not be more excited because, c’mon, magic heists! The all-star cast agrees to hit the targets designated by their mysterious benefactor—in the first instance, a French bank—as they perform the robberies while live on stage. Sam’s excitement quickly disappears like a rabbit into a hat as they proceed to just give the money away to the audience, and Danielle is unable to give a better explanation as to why these random performers would give away their heist money other than “For the love of magic?” Now pursued by the FBI and, even worse, Morgan Freeman the magician spoiler, the heists, and magic tricks, get progressively less believable, especially mentalist Woody Harrelson who legit can just mind control people like Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luckily, the movie never slows down long enough to let you consider the ridiculousness of it all, throwing pure insanity at the audience like Dave Franco using magic-fu to fight FBI agents and a card trick that involves sticking a card in a sapling and then waiting 20 years for the tree to grow around it. Right from the start Sam demonstrates a knowledge of magic and and magicians that was as much a surprise to himself as it was to Danielle, but even he can’t fathom how that tree thing is a good trick, even from an entertainment point of view. There’s nothing up our sleeves as we attempt to make logic appear out of thin air for this move, so pick a card and enjoy the magic!
Danielle is super excited to return to the the K-drama well with season two of the series Love Cells (연애세포 시즌2). If you, like Sam, remember anything at all about the first season of Love Cells previously shared by Danielle, that’s a real shame because it will only serve as a source of confusion as season two seems to be completely unrelated to the first series, with the notable exception of the return of the return of Navi, the love cell cat girl thing. If you don’t remember the first season of love cells, that sentence was indecipherable, but don’t worry, as Danielle explains the show it will definitely become no clearer what’s happening. This season includes a love cell bank and a devious scheme by the love-struck co-host of a cooking show stealing the love cell of her chef crush from the bank and then implanting a kill device in it when it’s eaten by a cat and turns into a girl and using that threat of death to force the love cell cat girl to trick the chef into dating her. We promise, there is no clearer way to state that. Sam is, understandably, lost and Danielle does her best to explain all the characters’ machinations, but they both get lost in the weeds of trying to find any semblance of logic in this show. So join us for one heck of a ride, and if you stay to the very end we might even solve the movie Cats for you; you’re welcome.
Danielle digs deep into the 90s’ well with the Christopher Pike novel The Eternal Enemy. Rela is just a normal girl who loves boys, cookies, and VCRs. Her life goes off the rails when the VCR she just bought turns out to be recording TV shows from the future! This doesn’t really matter as Rela is more interested in the cute boy, Chris, at her school. However, Rela does record a future news broadcast where she’s murdered by a weird stalker, but she decides her best course of action is to go about her daily life, as one would. Sam is already confused about what’s going on, and that’s before the stalker turns about to be Rela’s grandfather from the future trying to preserve the robot takeover of Earth. There’s a lot moral waffling about what has a soul and if humans should be replaced by cyborg hybrids, but Sam is firmly on the robots’ side in all this despite the best arguments to the contrary. If you think the philosophizing is confusing, wait until all the weird time travel paradoxes rear their ugly heads. So enjoy Blockbuster, VCRs, and startlingly fast adoptions in this 90s fueled sci-fi drama!