Potpourri: Contributions on Other Sites

Be sure to check out some of the reviews and contributions I’ve made to other sites!

  • Over at Filmoria I posted a review of the John Travolta/Robert DeNiro thriller Killing Season (out in theaters now). This review was fun to write (even if the film wasn’t that much fun to watch.)
  • Also at Filmoria, my first book review in a long time–a review of Matt Phelan’s graphic novel Bluffton: My Summer with Buster Keaton. If you’re a fan of The Great Stone Face (or your kid is!) check out this charming children’s novel.
  • Lastly, Man of Steel was incredibly polarizing. So much so that I argued its Pros and Cons with other Filmorians and stopped by Outside the Envelope (the DearFilm podcast) to talk to hosts Brian and Rick about poor Pa Kent, Lois Lane, and film franchises.  Note of caution, the podcast is NSFW because we’re potty mouths.

A Thank You Letter to Guillermo del Toro for “Pacific Rim”

*Editor’s Note: This is a spoil-heavy post; I suggest waiting till you’ve seen the film before reading this.

Image

Dear Mr. Del Toro:

 

I am writing this letter to thank you for populating the world of Pacific Rim with people of variety, equality, and difference.

Thank you for a film where men are allowed to be both physically strong and emotionally expressive. The world of Pacific Rim includes brothers, fathers, and sons who vocalize pride (and the occasional bit of chagrin) with each other. 

Thank you for a world populated with people of different races and nationalities, and for not including a single joke or line that undermines any of their personal power. In fact, race is never discussed in Pacific Rim. It’s not even a factor. Instead you give us Stacker Pentecost, played by Idris Elba, a black man who is both military commander and loving father to his adopted daughter, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi). It’s a pleasure (and rarity) to see any diversity on screen, and particularly for it not to matter a damn iota to the characters depicted on screen. 

Thank you for including strong female characters in Pacific Rim. Admittedly, this beautiful picture would not pass the Bechdel Test, because there are no interactions between female characters. However, your representation of women in this film matters in great part because of what is missing: any discussion of their gender. There are two female pilots in this film: Mako and the Russian Lt. A. Kaidanovsky (Heather Doerksen). They may never interact with each other, but there are also no conversations between other characters about how they can’t do their jobs or how hot they look in their pilots uniforms. Indeed, the only time gender is even brought up is when Mako is referred to as a “bitch,” and this is done in a moment of tension and disapproved of. It’s the only gender-infused insult in the film, and it comes not after she sleeps around or cheats on someone, but after she fails her first test run as a pilot. In fact, the insult cuts so deep because it’s the only gendered moment among the pilots, and thus it’s out of place in the Jaeger-pilot world.

Thank you for your depiction of Mako, a woman both capable of great emotion and great physical strength. Yes, she is motivated by a sense of revenge, and yes, she often has a tear in her eye, but she is also able to overcome her metaphorical demons (mentally) in order to overcome some literal demons (physically). She is one of the best recruits for the pilot program, and we get to watch her kick some serious ass with a bow staff. 

Thank you for not making Mako a typical action hero female: a character relegated to the sidelines so that she may be lusted after and later rescued by the hero. Instead you tell us her story and make her as equally damaged (and as equally important to the plot) as her co-pilot, Raleigh Becker (Charlie Hunnam). They have each lost something, and their stories are given equal weight. They share the burdens of the past and the present equally. It’s an equality rarely seen in action films (or indeed, any major Hollywood films of late).

Thank you for never suggesting that Mako’s power lies in her ability to be sexy or flirtatious, but instead in her actual physical strength and the power of her mind. You don’t subject us to gratuitous images of Mako in her underwear or undressing. She and our hero never sleep together. They are bonded by shared terrors, by present fears, and they are literally “compatible” with each other because of their brains–it’s their mental compatibility that makes them good co-pilots.

And thank you, thank you, thank you for that ending, which emphasizes their bond as co-pilots and equals–as two people who save the world, and who care for and respect each other. Thank you for giving us a moment of pure male-female friendship, bonding, and appreciation, without insisting that the bond exist because of sexual and romantic chemistry. The lack of a kiss is a most satisfying absence.

Thank you, Mr. del Toro, for creating a cinematic world that is vivid, beautiful, and terrifying. Pacific Rim was a real film experience, and–monsters aside–it was a world I could really get behind.

 

Sincerely,

Reel Feminist

 

Cinema Treats From Film Blogging Friends

Image

Today I received two lovely packages in the mail, and they truly made my day! First, my dear friend Ryan McNeil, blogger (and podcasting extraordinaire) of The Matinee sent me a fantastic treat. Along with a lovely note, Ryan sent along a French Film postcard from the TIFF Cinematheque, the 2-Disc Limited Edition release of E.T., and The Chaplin Collection DVD release of The Great Dictator.

In a word: SQUEE. These are gorgeous releases, with juicy special features (and hello, the E.T. cover is a work of art)! 

Ryan has been a true friend and a real supporter of my work here at Reel Feminist, and I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to him for all the support and encouragement. This year has really had its trials and tribulations, and it’s tough to be a film blogger who can’t treat herself to DVD releases because she’s short on funds. It really means a lot to be sent a couple well-loved DVDS from a friend and colleague–especially one you really respect and admire. You should check out his site–he has new content EVERY DAY.  

Secondly, you’ll see in my (apologetically grainy) images, a few posters and postcards which are courtesy of the amazingly talented Alex Kittle, aka Film Forager. Alex is a supremely talented artist (and blogger, too!) who puts her love of film into her art. Hidden in there is a piece of work from her Etsy page that I recently purchased for a friend’s Christmas present (in fact, I purchased two posters from her). Alex’s work is currently on sale at her Etsy page, and I missed the sale by a couple hours, so she thoughtfully threw in one of my FAVORITE works by her–the insanely hysterical “Fuller–Go Easy on the Pepsi!” print that immortalizes Home Alone. I seriously crack up every time I look at this poster. 

Lastly, Alex also sent me two postcard prints (and they happened to be two of my favorites): ImageDr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem from The Muppets, and her Tangled movie poster. They’re lovely, and they’re hanging up on my door as soon as I get home tonight. 

I just want to say a big THANK YOU to Alex for really making my day with this–she too has been a huge supporter of Reel Feminist, and she’s just an all around solid, good person with lots of passion and drive.

Today’s surprises really reminded that after over just a year of blogging independently (and, more recently at Filmoria.co.uk), I’ve really made a solid network of friends, colleagues, and supporters in the blog world. I can’t thank my readers and fellow bloggers enough for all their kind words of encouragement, comments, and Twitter conversation. I can’t thank YOU enough, either.

Thank you, film friends, for everything!

On Child Stars and Sexism: Ownership of the Mature Female Form

ImageEarlier this week a promotional image of Alexa Vega in Robert Rodriguez’s upcoming film Machete Kills was released. The former child star is shown standing in front of a flipped car, looking dangerous with a gun in her hand, and dressed in a Western-styled bra top and chaps. It is a very provocative image, and as such it provoked a lot of reaction from the film blog world. Unfortunately, its images didn’t provoke commentary about the movie so much as statements about how Vega—the former child star known for her role in “Spy Kids”–is now a voluptuous, full-bodied woman. Now there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that a former child star is now transitioning into more adult roles (though Vega has been in smaller pictures, including the cult hit Repo! The Genetic Opera, since her appearance in Spy Kids more than 10 years ago). Nor is there any problem in acknowledging that a beautiful woman is, in fact, a beautiful woman. But there is a problem when the language used to acknowledge this shift is mired in sexist and disturbing language focused not on the movie itself but on the body of its star and a perverse gratitude for what puberty wrought on her body.

When an attractive girl is shown in a bra top the usual “she’s so hot” commentary is expected, even on film sites that are mainly news and review-based. A lot of film sites nowadays capitalize on such pictures and lists, and let’s face it—they probably get more hits because of these lists. But the language of these sorts of posts are often inherently heteronormative and sexist; probably the most disturbing sexist language is utilized when it comes to former child stars who have matured into attractive adult women. The language surrounding Vega’s picture includes remarks about how she’s “Not a kid anymore,” “is all grown up” and even “less young” which is true, but it takes on a creepy tone–particularly the “less young” remark–that seems to posit her current attractiveness in direct correlation to her previous youth and sweetness. The implications are that it’s okay to find her attractive even though she was once a kid, indeed that her current attractiveness is all the more impressive because hey, she was once just one of those “precocious little tykes” from SpyKids

One site included the following text: “It’s ok to think she’s amazingly hot, by the way. She’s grown up now (actually been married and divorced already)… Either way… good god! ….Just to make this post more legitimate, here’s the poster for Machete Kills…”  To the site’s credit, it acknowledges that this isn’t exactly a film news post, but really an excuse to post the picture of an attractive woman. At least the writer is self-aware enough to know that the post exists explicitly so we can ogle her. I guess the awareness is better than having him completely unaware that he’s specifically setting out to enjoy her body. Unfortunately, he actually gives us, the viewer, permission to ogle her as well: (“It’s ok to think she’s amazingly hot…she’s grown up now”). The implication is ‘Hey, she’s totally legal now, so it’s okay to lust for her—it’s not illegal anymore.’ It placates the viewer’s fear that they may be enjoying the beauty of a child, and gives them permission to find her sexually gratifying. The language essentially says, “Don’t worry, you’re not a pedophile—you can enjoy her looks because puberty is long gone. But gee, wasn’t puberty super good to her?” The first post even says “You’re welcome,” as if the man who wrote the post deserves your gratitude for bringing this image to your eager eyes.

 What’s equally disturbing is the bizarre conflation of Vega the woman and her fictional character, Killjoy. This conflation happens on another site where it’s noted that “She’s not a shy girl, evidently.” The statement implies that it’s okay to view Vega sexually because she’s put herself on display for us. Of course she is on display—this is a film still after all—but just because her character Killjoy is a sexy scantily-clad character does not have any bearing on how Vega is outside of the world Rodriguez created. This kind of conflation blurs the obvious boundaries between actress and character and gives us permission to view not just Killjoy the character but also Vega herself as a sexual object.

Ultimately sexist language pervades many film and pop culture websites, but the language used to describe former child stars is particularly offensive and puzzling. Often this language relishes the move of a woman from childhood to adult, as if her maturation resulted in some gift to mankind. What is it about a woman’s maturation within the public eye that lends itself to the language of objectification and sexism? Why are child stars who shift into adult roles consistently discussed in a smarmy, congratulatory way that seemingly celebrates the viewer’s ability to find the actress attractive? Perhaps there’s a sense of viewer entitlement. We the viewer have witnessed this child’s maturation via the silver screen, and as consumers and viewers of this process we somehow possess the actress–as a child of the image she has become ours to consume with our eyes. Perhaps there’s a sense that we have the right to comment on her maturity simply because we once enjoyed her as that precocious young girl. 

Podcastin’ Away Part Quatre

Aside

I’ve been lucky enough to serve as a guest on one of my favorite podcasts, Outside the Envelope, in back-to-back episodes. It started with a guest appearance in which we had a thrilling and challenging conversation about Rian Johnson’s fantastic sci-fi-infused Looper. I love this podcast because hosts Rick and Brian are super knowledgeable, gracious, and enthusiastic. It was a fruitful conversation, and they even managed to make me question my own feminist interpretation of the film. Check this podcast out here. (There are spoiler-free sections before we get into the nitty-gritty.)

While recording the Looper podcast, Rick and Brian mentioned they might be covering the a capella film Pitch Perfect, starring Anna Kendrick. Since I’m a huge fan of collegiate and professional a capella, it seemed like I was a good fit and I promised to come back as a guest. Sure enough, Rick and Brian’s readers voted that they cover Pitch Perfect on the podcast, and what resulted is one of the most hysterical, vitriolic podcasts I’ve ever recorded. I try to balance the criticisms of the film with praise, but as you’ll hear, it’s hard to defend. Check this podcast out here. (Be forewarned, there’s no spoiler-free section on this podcast.)

Podcastin’ Away Part Troix!

Hello there again folks!

I recently visited two more podcasts for some spirited conversations about everything from Colin Farrell’s surprising ability to act, to the creepiness of David Lynch, to feminism in action movies. Note of warning: these podcasts are most certainly NSFW.

On The Demented Podcast, Episode 43: I talk with hosts Nick Jobe and Steve Honeywell about two neo-noir flicks: In Bruges and Blue Velvet. I had very different reactions to these films (one I love and one I really hate), so check it out to see which is which and why I end up talking about phalluses in contemporary culture and the word “cock.”

ImageI also stopped by The Lair of the Unwanted (Episode 37) to talk about the intersection of feminism and action movies with hosts Jason Soto and Nolahn. What starts out as a lighthearted discussion about the awesomeness of Sam Jackson and his inevitable swearing turns into a serious and intense conversation about feminism and film through the lens of The Long Kiss Goodnight, starring Geena Davis. We talk about Davis’ reappropriation of the term “dick,” the spheres of work versus home life, and the conflict of motherhood and sexuality posited in the film.

As always you can find me at Filmoria.co.uk–in the coming week I’ll be reviewing many of the films premiering at the New York-based GenArt Film Festival, so stay tuned!

Podcastin’ Away Part Deux

Hello readers!

Apologies for the delay in posting; I recently began writing for a new site! If you haven’t seen Filmoria before, please do check it out. It’s a UK-based site that includes news and reviews for movies and games, as well as special features like Must See Movies and a section on Cult Classics. I’ve been writing a little bit of everything for Filmoria, but my favorite post so far is a Must See Movies look at Singin’ in the Rain.

I’ve also been making the podcasting rounds, enjoying numerous guest appearances on some fantastic podcasts. I’ve made two appearances on The Large Association of Movies Blogs (LAMB) podcast, LAMBCast, in the last few months. In the episode known as Brian Roan vs. the World my colleague and friend Brian Roan of DearFilm does a great job of debating the merits of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World with a bunch of diehard fans, including yours truly. I also participated in the 6th LAMBpardy! podcast, a Jeopardy!-inspired film trivia competition. I have to admit I got my butt royally whooped, but I did my best and almost swept one category before suddenly going tabula rasa in my brain.

Perhaps my favorite guest spot ever, however, has to be my visit to The Matineecast. Host Ryan McNeil and I talked about High Fidelity and movie blogs we love. It was a great time, and a productive discussion about everything from whether or not High Fidelity is a “guys movie” to how the film holds up in comparison to the book.

Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone at Man, I Love Films for giving me a space to write Top 10 Lists and weekly editorials. It was a great experience, and I appreciate it very much.

Two more podcast guest spots are on their way, so stay tuned everybody!

 

What Manic Pixie Dream Girl?

There are few cinematic terms I despise as much as the phrase “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” (MPDG for short).  My problems with this term are legion, so first off let’s have a little history.  Nathan Rabin coined the term when describing Kirsten Dunst’s character ‘Claire’ in the Cameron Crowe film Elizabethtown.  According to Rabin, Dunst epitomizes the MPDG, a female character who “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”  These women are describes as bubbly, childlike muses who exist solely to inspire a male protagonist, encouraging him to embrace and enjoy life.

The MPDG is one of those cinematic terms that was assimilated as soon as it was uttered; a lot of people accepted its existence as fact immediately, as if Rabin’s term was absolute and not to be questioned.  No one seems to care if it’s a particularly useful or accurate term.  The AV Club (which originally featured Rabin’s Elizabethtown review) later published a list of “16 Films Featuring Manic Pixie Dream Girls.”

The problem is that I don’t think the MPDG even exists.  The AV Club and other websites have spent a lot of energy chasing rainbows, trying to chronicle a supposed Grand History of MPDGs in Cinema, supposedly proving this trope exists by shoehorning some of film history’s most notable female characters—from Diane Keaton’s eponymous Annie Hall and Kate Winslet’s Clementine (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) to Katharine Hepburn’s Susan (Bringing Up Baby)–into this category.  I can’t possibly think what Claire in Elizabethtown has in common with Annie Hall, except perhaps that they’ve both fallen for neurotic men.  Indeed, if these women represent the MPDG, perhaps we could just as easily dub Orlando Bloom’s’Drew Baylor’ and Woody Allen’s ‘Alvy Singer’ the archetypal Neurotic Suicidal Boyfriends.  Or would that be reductive?

Yes, there are characters like Claire in Elizabethtown, who are childlike and irreverent.  However, not all of the characters considered MPDGs are as one-dimensional as Rabin would have you believe.  The MPDG is not an archetype, but is instead a failure by screenwriters to create multidimensional and realistic female characters.  She represents a lack of interest by screenwriters and directors to develop nuanced and complicated depictions of women on screen, when cardboard cutout women who merely stand, look pretty, and say compelling things would do just fine.  Because, lest we forget it, this is not our story: it’s the male protagonist’s story.  Elizabethtown, for example, is the story of how a suicidal man’s life is saved, not how one girl actively choses to do the saving.

 

The inclusion of so many complicated, strong female characters on these lists illustrate just how arbitrary and useless the definition of the MPDG really is, and how people eager to verify this term via example are actually misreading and/or oversimplifying complex female characters.  Many MPDG lists wrongly include Clementine from Eternal Sunshine, and Summer from 500 Days of Summer.  Clementine, for example, is explicitly not a MPDG: her character actually turns to the male protagonist of the film and says “Too many guys think I’m a concept, or I complete them, or I’m gonna make them alive. But I’m just a fucked-up girl who’s lookin’ for my own peace of mind; don’t assign me yours.”  She explicitly tells Joel (and the viewer) that she is just a girl—she is no MPDG–and yet here we are literally assigning to that character the very thing she makes a point of rejecting.

It’s the same problem with 500 Days of Summer—people imagine that Summer is some quirky girl meant to cheer up and reinvigorate the depressed male protagonist, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s ‘Tom’.  In reality, the crux of the film is that Tom not only has to take control of his own life, but that he wrongly imagines Summer is his own personal MPDG.  In fact, director Marc Webb was asked specifically whether Summer was an MPDG and denied it, noting: “That is one of the codes of the movie. He falls in love not with her but the idea of her.”

It’s not bad enough that Hollywood chooses to make men the protagonists of most movies.  No, we as viewers have to oversimplify and quantify some of our most well-drawn, unique, and complicated portrayals of women on screen.  Labelling Annie Hall, Clementine, and other female characters as MPDGs serves as a means of dismissing them.  They are written off as manic (emotional) pixie (troublesome) dream (imaginary) girls (not women). In other words, the application of the term MPDG to a breadth of female characters serves as a means of highlighting the many one-note representations of women on screen, while simultaneously reducing any richer female characters to supposed one-dimensionality.  MPDG is a term used to turn women into girls, characters into quirks.  Ultimately, just as Tom did to Summer, American pop culture writers, theorists, and film viewers alike have fallen in love with the idea of the MPDG, when in reality she doesn’t exist.

A Look at Miss Representation

On Thursday night I had the pleasure of attending a screening of Miss Representation, a powerful documentary that elucidates how negative portrayals of women in media alter the way women and girls perceive themselves, and how these representations lead directly to the under-representation of women in positions of power in America.  It provides compelling content that illustrates how the media encourages the message that a woman’s value lies in her youth, beauty, and sexuality.  Though it runs just a trim 90 minutes, Miss Representation packs one hell of a punch.

The film’s strength is its comprehensiveness; it provides a well-rounded examination of women in media, from how female characters are constructed on film and TV, to the lack of female voices on the Boards of media conglomerates, to how these fictional constructs of women alter the way girls act and are perceived in the real world.  Film and TV clips are interspersed with staggering statistics that illustrate how the negative portrayal of women on screen impacts a woman’s ability to attain a place of power–not just in her own life, but also in the fields of politics, business, and entertainment.  These points are driven home by interviews with well-known and respected women in contemporary media and politics, from Jane Fonda and Rachel Maddow, to Condoleezza Rice and Katie Couric.  There are also compelling contributions from men in these fields, particularly Cory Booker, the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, and the Lieutenant Governor of California, Gary Newsom (who is also married to the film’s director, Jennifer Siebel Newsom).

My only complaints about the film concern its structure; the narrative of the film is constructed around Siebel Newsom’s concerns as a new mother–how she fears for her daughter coming of age in this media landscape.  While it’s a noble sentiment, Siebel Newsom’s presence in the film isn’t particularly necessary–yes, her voiceover helps propel the film, but the mention of her personal life and her impending motherhood is both unnecessary and distracting.  It’s a directing choice that seems antithetical to the spirit of the film, particularly since it takes a film about rejecting feminine stereotypes and couches it in the rhetoric of nurturing motherhood and maternity.

Structural concerns aside, Miss Representation is a must-see documentary capable of educating and inspiring.  It’s a sure conversation starter that details in stark terms the impact of the media on young girls and women in this country.  It provides no easy answers to the problems it enumerates, but its existence as a documentary is itself a necessary aid in the promotion of understanding and change.  This is a film that could fill a major gap in media studies programs; it would be particularly useful in middle and high schools as a part of a Media Literacy program, showing children how the media dictates what they see, how they see it, and why.  It’s also the perfect film to show anyone who fails to understand the extent to which women are misrepresented and underrepresented in contemporary media.

Miss Representation is screening at universities and festivals throughout the United States and internationally; you can also request to host your own screening of the film by signing up here.

Cinema Treasure/Guilty Pleasure: Witches

It’s time for the sixth installment of Cinema Treasure/Guilty Pleasure!  As a reminder, here’s what the series is all about: The first film I discuss is one of arguably obvious cinematic merit–the sort of thing taught in Introduction to Film courses, featured on “Top 100 Yadda Yadda” lists, or winning awards at fancy events that include speeches and extensive song-and-dance numbers.  The second film I discuss is one that doesn’t have the cinematic gravitas of, say, Citizen Kane, but that remains a personal favorite for other reasons: cult films, films from my youth, or films simply so bad they’re good.

This week’s theme: Witches!

This might seem like an odd time to discuss movies about witches, but they’re on my mind this week since I’ll be screening my Guilty Pleasure pick at a Bad Movie Night this weekend.  So what can I say about witches that isn’t said every Halloween?  On screen they’re usually presented with warts, pointy black hats, and brooms.  Back in October I wrote a Halloween post for Man, I Love Films that mentioned two of my favorite witch-centric Halloween movies: Hocus Pocus and the aptly named Witches (based on the book by Roald Dahl).  For this post, however, I’m taking a look at two other top choices, and they’re very very different from each other.

Cinema Treasure: The Wizard of Oz (1939), directed by Victor Fleming (and others, including Victor Fleming).  Starring: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Margaret Hamilton.

I only know one full-fledged adult (you know who you are!) who has yet to see this movie the whole way through. When people talk about The Wizard of Oz, the first thing they mention is Judy Garland.  Her turn as Dorothy Gale is nothing short of iconic, and her performance of “Over the Rainbow” made it arguably her signature song (though some might argue it’s followed at a close second by “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” from Meet Me in St. Louis.)  But this is Cinema Treasure/Guilty Pleasure: Witches!, so let’s talk about those cauldron-loving hags!

The great thing about The Wizard of Oz is that you get three witches for the price of one!  First off, you get the brief but memorable appearance of the Wicked Witch of the East, the original Ruby Slipper wearer whose death-by-house is the impetus for the plot.  Then we’ve got Glinda, the Good Witch of the North (Billie Burke), a lovely bubblegum-pink-and-glitter confection who heralds in the death of the Wicked Witch of the East and aides Dorothy on her journey.  And lastly, there’s the Wicked Witch of the West, played with cackling perfection by Margaret Hamilton.  For me, the Wicked Witch takes the cake–her crouched body, green skin, pointy fingers, and evil laugh make her the perfect villain.  Add in those flying monkeys and she’s one scary broom-wielding witch.

Things I love: The immortal threat: “I’ll get you, my pretty. And your little dog, too!”; the Wicked Witch of the West’s fantastic, water-induced exit; as minions go, flying monkeys are surprisingly effective.

Guilty Pleasure: Teen Witch (1989), directed by Dorian Walker.  Starring: Robyn Lively, Dan Gauthier, Zelda Rubinstein.

Teen Witch stars Robyn Lively as Louise, an unpopular teenage girl who discovers she’s a witch when she meets Madame Serena (Zelda Rubenstein), a local psychic.  As Louise learns to control her powers, she uses them to become more popular and get the guy of her dreams.  Interestingly, Teen Witch was originally pitched as a female version of the popular Michael J. Fox vehicle Teen Wolf.  This might explain why it–like Teen Wolf–is a  movie that is thoroughly, 100% of the 1980s; it’s got everything from teased hair and jean jackets, to leotards and locker room dance numbers.

Louise isn’t your typical green-skinned witch; she’s a pretty regular girl who just wants to be liked.  She’s got frustrating teachers, an insanely irritating and creepy younger brother, and a reliable best friend.  It’s easy to root for her because we’ve all been lonely and awkward teenagers with crushes, and she pretty much does what we’d all do if we had magical powers: she makes herself a hot chick with cool clothes, cool friends, and a hot boyfriend.  The film also features appearances by Dick Sargent (of “Bewitched” fame) and Marcia Wallace (who now provides the voice for Mrs. Krabappel on “The Simpsons.”

Things I love: the “Top That” rap battle between Louise’s best friend and 3 dudes in high-tops; the like, totally rad ’80s soundtrack; the poor man’s Tom Cruise, Dan Gauthier.