Home > Sunday Screening Films > Sunday Screening #29: Tapeheads

Sunday Screening #29: Tapeheads

After the heaviness of Intolerance, I think it’s time for something quite a bit lighter this Sunday. So I’ve decided to choose a film that I really love and I think most people haven’t seen. How I was exposed to this film escapes me, but it was about 10 years ago and at the time I was either producing video for my friends who are professional wrestlers, or starting film-school, so the characters really spoke to me (sadly 10 years later and I’m now writing code for a Healthcare company and not producing anything creative, but that’s another story). I think Tapeheads fell into a bit of a void when released, which is kind of sad. If I expand my top 5 movies to 6, I really feel this film would be at that number 6 slot. Tapeheads is funny, smart, focuses on video production, has some great music and features John Cusack and Tim Robbins…what more can you ask for?

If you’re keeping up with the comments on Intolerance you might have seen the Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles ad from the movie (which is AWESOME). I tried to find a trailer online, but it doesn’t seem all that readily available so I’m going to leave you with this music video from the film (music by Devo).

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  1. August 1, 2011 at 12:42 PM

    I liked Tapeheads. Paul’s enthusiasm got me more excited than I would’ve been, though I’ve wanted to see it for a while now, but after a solid start, the film kind of lost its momentum in my eyes. Pretty much from the moment they achieved success forward, the film never reached the comedy of the what came before. I also could have done without the political scandal aspect as all of the events of that acted as deus ex machina (without the woman trying to expose the congressman or whatever he is, they never get famous). None of that is to say I wasn’t amused by the movie, just let down after a stellar start.

    One thing I struggled with was buying John Cusack as the fast-talking conman type (I know he’s not really a conman, but I can’t think of a better word except shyster and that’s not appropriate either). He played the role fine, but something wasn’t convincing about it. Of course, that could be the point since Ivan and Josh are in over their heads much of the time.

    I enjoyed the mix-up over the music video that made them famous, but since The Blender Children got killed by a piece of “SpyLab,” I kind of wished that the footage of the camera coming right at the band was going to be used since it reflects something falling from the sky towards the band so well. Also, I wish they had kept up with the digs at Hollywood/the movie business and made it more of a satire on that, as with the working on spec stuff. Basically, I liked the movie, but would have changed nearly everything after the first act.

    Even though I’m in the minority of people like Be Kind Rewind, I felt like I wish Tapeheads had followed that direction more where it was just about people doing something out of love (and the Swanky Motes stuff doesn’t count in my mind because i found a lot problematic with that plot line, too), even though I feel that movie owes a lot to Tapeheads. As does Airheads for that matter (which I didn’t put together until just now the similarity in the titles…).

    Observations
    — I knew the woman who kissed the security camera was Gozer!
    — I love Jessica Walter is in this since I watched it in the midst of preparing for Arrested Development trivia. The only other movie I knew she was in is Play Misty for Me. Also, I just learned that Connie Stevens was in Sugarfoot, a show referenced in Arrested Development!
    — Dug the gobble when the NBC logo was on screen.
    — “I’m a big cello fan.”
    — That security system sure had all the bells and whistles.
    — “I’m going to make him eat that syllable.”
    — It was cool seeing David Anthony Higgins (Craig Feldspar from Malcolm in the Middle) pop up briefly.
    — “Weird Al” being a dick for no reason!
    — I wonder if Cusack and Robbins can still do the backwards, non-vowel, and signed alphabet.
    — Katy Boyer looked way cute in the red long underwear.
    — If it wasn’t for Ricky Martin’s success, I probably would have had no idea what that Menudo stuff was all about.

  2. August 1, 2011 at 5:58 PM

    I’m stuck at work, but I WILL watch this movie, and possibly eat some chicken and waffles while I’m at it.

  3. August 2, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    I definitely enjoyed Tapeheads. It had a lot of charm, and I guess that’s a way of saying that all the rough edges didn’t bother me. Characters drop in and out of character and don’t do things that make sense (I’m thinking of the congressman’s goons in particular). Plotlines and characters are tossed into the mix without much setup, don’t really go anywhere, shift abruptly, or veer off in random directions (congressman cover-up, Belinda, Swanky Modes…). But the feel of the movie is so breezy and good-natured that I just didn’t mind.

    I can definitely think of comedies in which lots of random stuff is thrown in and neither the stuff nor the approach is funny, but for me it worked here, possibly because the movie just didn’t take itself seriously, moved at a brisk pace, and was just 90 minutes long. I was reminded a lot of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Strange Brew, and movies like that: goofy humor, zaniness, a devil-may-care approach. Tapeheads felt like an example of the kind of comedy where the parts you wouldn’t think would work actually add to the humor and elevate the experience.

    Probably one of the most random things was the fight between Belinda and the antagonist chick when she discovers the sex tape. They somehow acquire weapons, there are lots of intense shots of the two actresses staring each other down, and then a few brief fight moves. Then as soon as it begins, it’s over because Ivan and Josh show up, and it isn’t explored further or even acknowledged really. It’s that kind of laid-back vibe that I found funny throughout the movie.

    I was impressed with the Cube-Squared “Baby Doll” music video Ivan and Josh did. It was fun watching them throw paint, feathers, firecrackers, and water from a hose at that cheesy band.

    John Cusack and Tim Robbins had great chemistry and I thought they were perfect for their respective roles. Mo Fuzz was totally awesome and I wish he was more of a central character/antagonist. “Let’s get into trouble, baby!”

    Also, great ending credits song.

    • August 2, 2011 at 4:19 PM

      The most appealing part of the movie is its laid-back silliness. The part you mentioned was funny and reminded me a lot of Wayne’s World 2 (although that actually had a fight). I also dug the part where they are driving and each catches a beer out of nowhere.

      Their music video for Cube-Squared seemed like it would fit right in with OK Go. And since in my two posts here I’ve referenced four different items that I can draw a straight line to, I feel like Tapeheads is probably pretty influential to many artists, which makes sense given its subject.

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