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Could “Better Off Dead” and “One Crazy Summer” Have Been Made Today?

Could "Better Off Dead" and "One Crazy Summer" Have Been Made Today?

Karina Longworth interviews Savage Steve Holland at LA Weekly, timed to this weekend’s double feature of his cult classics “Better Off Dead” and “One Crazy Summer” at the Cinefamily theater. The filmmaker turned kid-show producer claims those movies couldn’t be made today, but I have to disagree. I think if any movie proves him wrong, in fact, it’s this weekend’s hot release, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” Before I explain, here’s Holland’s statement from the interview:

I would never get [“Better Off Dead”] made these days, but I just wanted to put in everything I knew about filmmaking — cartoons, Claymation, everything — because I figured I’d have one chance at it. Today the comedy police would stop me.

Except for the Claymation part, Holland’s description could easily apply to Edgar Wright’s “Scott Pilgrim” adaptation (it features 2D animation instead). And on top of the fact both movies feature a hodgepodge of cultural influences and reference points, there are some correlative story elements. There’s the foreign love interest, the fraternal Japanese rivals and isn’t Michael Cera this generation’s John Cusack? I’m sure I’ve heard that somewhere before. Also, substitute drug-like substances with boy toys and Kieran Culkin is the Curtis Armstrong of “Scott Pilgrim.” I could make similar reaches with “One Crazy Summer,” too (struggling musicians, on-location film production … yeah big stretches), but mostly it’s the tone that’s relative.

It’s true Holland would have trouble getting his movies made the same way he did them 25 years ago. He would have had to publish the stories as comic books first, and “Summer” in particular would have been very suited to that medium. Especially the fuzzy bunnies segments. Then, once they had enough of a following Hollywood would come knocking. I guess if he ever gets tired of working on actual cartoons, tween programs and direct-to-video spin-offs of Reese Witherspoon movies, he should try the “Scott Pilgrim” route and give us another one of his great surreal comedies.

Also, does anyone else agree he should have helmed “Hot Tub Time Machine”?

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