Ethan Embry

Cheap Thrills

Director E.L. Katz‘s Cheap Thrills was the first movie to get picked up for distribution at this year’s South by Southwest, and it’s also the third movie in a row actor Pat Healy has had at the festival, following Compliance and The Innkeepers. All three movies have featured Healy in a starring role, but, according to Healy, that doesn’t mean he still isn’t crashing on people’s couches to make it to a film festival.

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review cheap thrills

Editor’s note: Our review of Cheap Thrills originally ran during this year’s SXSW Film Festival, but we’re re-running it here as the film plays Fantastic Fest. Hey, did you guys know the economy sucks? It’s pretty evident from the price of gas to the unemployment rate to the housing market that we’re still not out of the woods yet. So it’s the perfect climate for a movie critiquing how money rules all and offers peace and stability to those who desperately crave it. Cheap Thrills is both thriller and dark comedy at the same time. The lead character is Craig (Pat Healy), a regular guy doing his best to provide for his wife and small child, but his best isn’t good enough, and with an eviction looming he loses his job at a mechanic shop. Hurting from being kicked while he’s down, he heads to the nearest bar to drown his sorrows. He runs into Vince (Ethan Embry), an old friend he hasn’t seen in awhile, and the two are drawn into a conversation with Colin (David Koechner) and his wife Violet (Sara Paxton) who are celebrating and throwing money around the shithole dive bar. But it’s when Craig and Vince head back to the couple’s house that the stakes go way up and the money really starts flowing… as long as Craig and Vince are willing to play along.

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scenes_canthardlywait

While it might not be the definitive high school comedy (that’s a discussion for another time), 1998’s Can’t Hardly Wait is a damn good one, and a strangely enduring new classic. Sure, the nineties-set production is dipped in era-appropriate fashion, slang, and cultural nods (X-Files, anyone?) and its cast is positively peppered by awesomely nineties talents (Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ethan Embry, Seth Green, Melissa Joan Hart, the list goes on and on), but Can’t Hardly Wait still feels applicable to teens today. Or, at the very least, it still feels like a very good approximation of the high school experience that we remember. The film turns a staggering fifteen years old this week (it was released on June 12, 1998), and in appreciation of the film that gave us a stoned Jason Segel as “Watermelon Guy,” reaffirmed the cultural relevance of Barry Manilow, and saw the wonderful Lauren Ambrose get hit in the face with a pot brownie, we give you five scenes we love from Can’t Hardly Wait.

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That Thing You Do

It’s 1964 in a Pennsylvania town. The Beatles and the rest of the British invasion have taken over the pop radio waves and encouraged a lot of small rock bands to dream big. One such band is the Oneders (pronounced Wonders, but commonly as O’Needers). When drummer Guy “Skitch” Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) joins the band with Jimmy (Jonathon Schaech), Lenny (Steve Zahn), the Bass Player (Ethan Embry) and Jimmy’s doting girlfriend Faye (Liv Tyler) they inadvertently turn one of Jimmy’s slow ballads into a fast-paced pop song, and before they know it are touring the country with a hit song.

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