Boiled Frogs, Poo Brownies, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Spiderman 2


Somehow, a couple of stories from Sunday school actually stuck with me. One is the completely false example of the frog in boiling water. Supposedly a frog placed in boiling water will immediately jump out, but the frog placed in cool water will stay put even as the temperature rises to the killing degree. The point is that somebody does not become evil or morally corrupt all at once, but over time. It was a warning to be on guard. The story is false. The only way to make sure the damn amphibian stays is to hold the lid in place and listen to the pinging sounds as it jumps into the roof of its increasingly uncomfortable prison. Besides, who boils frogs? Frog legs yes, but entire frogs? The lesson should go: if you toss a frog into boiling water it will jump out, but if you chop off his legs he won’t ever jump again. Stick that in a fortune cookie and eat it.

Then there was the poo brownies. This was employed to teach youngsters to be careful about their media intake. The teacher would go on for a bit about the most delicious brownies ever made. The more ambitious teacher might even have brought a pan of homemade brownies with them. Just as you swallowed the first bite the teacher would casually mention that a very small portion of excrement had been introduced into the batter prior to baking.

“You may think it is OK to watch a really fantastic movie, even if it only has one or two small bad parts,” they would say, “but that is like saying that it is OK to eat poop, if it is part of a really fantastic pan of brownies.”

You get the idea. A spoonful of crap can really ruin a batch of brownies (Go ahead and stick that in a fortune cookie as well). On the other hand, a single spoonful in a large enough batch might have little to no effect on taste. One also should consider the type of poop. Is it canine waste? Or perhaps civet crap, from which they make coffee for elitists? Or even bat guano, which rumor holds as an ingredient for some snack foods and salad garnishes?

Last week I consumed allegorical crap in a really fantastic batch of hypothetical brownies (I really should work at a fortune cookie plant). I went and saw The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Add three cups of extremely talented actors, including Edward Norton, William Dafoe, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Adrian Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Jeff Goldblum, and Ralph Fiennes. Mix in a brilliant script by the director/cook, Wes Anderson. Then add a scoop of bat shit in the form of cuss words, sprinkle in a pinch of excreted 80+ year old nude ladies (or should I say pinch in a sprinkle?).

Pull the confection out of the oven and you have a delicious, quirky and absolutely hilarious pan of brownies. The quality and humor is only complimented by the occasional crassness and even as you consume waste you know it just wouldn’t be the same without it.

Ralph Fiennes was the real surprise for me, but now I wonder who else could stand over the corpse of his 85 year old lover and say, “…You’re looking so well darling, you really are. I don’t know what sort of cream they put on you down at the morgue, but I want some…” with such a perfect, charming, strait faced delivery?

For me the Grand Budapest was Wes Anderson’s best to date. It had the quirky humor but was this time accompanied by a cohesive plot and the result was a 5 star gourmet brownie. Turn the temperature up, cut off my legs if you like, but I will definitely stay, like a good frog, to be boiled alive for this flick. Go see it if you can stomach some richly flavored, chocolate accompanied feces.

Spiderman 2 comes with little to no crap. I would not call it a gourmet brownie, more like an expertly cooked box brownie. They were heavy handed with their theme, which is an attraction for me. I don’t want to be preached at, but I like a point to be made. Sneering elitist critics probably regurgitated their civet coffee in their mouths and swallowed the acidic mixture back down when they found out it was a movie with hope as its theme. “How very cliché,” they likely said, “how quaint. Hope is a thing for the common man. I read the New Yorker and believe in the hopelessness of the human condition.”

Personally I can not think of a better subject then hope for any movie. Us’n regular folk who work for a living and let our kids play on the McDonald’s playground (insert gasp here) try to cling to hope.

Did the movie follow a formula? Yes. I am OK with that. A celebrated cook might make brownies from scratch without the aid of measuring cups and spoons, but the rest of us (when not shaking the mixture from a box) follow a formula. Why? Because it works, and it works well.

The chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone was fantastic and believable and the movie was all about relationships. Setting aside Gwen and Peter, both of the bad guys were upset about relationships turned sour, or the complete lack of relationship, and that was in large part their motivation for trying to off Spidey. The movie was in turns sweet, captivating, and heartbreaking.

Were there a few plot holes and feats that defied believability? Uh, yeah. It is a super hero movie about a man who climbs walls and swings around New York on giant spider webs.

Of course it helps that I went to this one with my four year old son who threw a tantrum last Christmas because the Spiderman socks that he got in his stocking did not give him the ability to climb walls. He was impressed, to say the least, and so was I. It’ll have a place on my shelf when it comes out on DVD.

I guess what I’m really saying here is a little bit of crap can make brownies a delicacy as long as they don’t pile it in (I am looking at you, Game of Thrones creators), and I’m also saying that I can enjoy boxed brownies (will in fact choose them 9 out of 10 times).