In the opening act of my time at Penn State’s main campus, I was having a miserable time trying to make the most of my college experience. I had convinced myself that social awkwardness was a disease on par with Old Testament leprosy and therefore opted out of interpersonally fraternizing at our country’s premier party school. Pathetic? Quintessentially so, but I could not have cared less. I set in stone my rationale of staying true to my two primary passions: my schoolwork and my movie geekdom.
And so it was that my self-inflicted ennui led to a lazy Saturday afternoon of surfing the pipes of the Internet’s infinite yonder, a journey that eventually unlocked the dusty New Hampshirite portal to the iTunes movie review podcast known as Filmjitsu, described as “the podcast that wields films like deadly weapons.” This discovery was peculiar and very much unwarranted, like a rough draft of a sequel to Jumanji, which wound up being my first step into the halls of Filmjitsu’s audible offerings.
Hosted by old college buddies and avid movie lovers Mike Merrigan and John Carmichael, Filmjitsu features this droll duo challenging each other on a weekly (and later bi-weekly) basis to sit through an allegedly terrible movie. Take for instance, episode 23, wherein Mike challenges John to watch the critically maligned G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra since John was a fan of G.I. Joe as a child. John reviews the movie, providing details of what went right and (as is often the case) what went very, very wrong with the writing, direction, acting, and technical aspects of the film among other insights.
The podcast continues with a consistently hilarious “bottom five” list related to the episode’s featured movie, which is routinely my favorite aspect of each episode. In this case, Mike and John list their Bottom Five Joes, a list that includes mentions of Joe Dirt (a movie that John apparently saw in a Nyquil haze that brought forth an experience which John believes impeded his recovery), Joe Pantoliano’s recent career, and Joe Carnahan, who Mike refers to as “that knucklehead who directed The A-Team.”
Filmjitsu then concludes with a pair of “staff picks” (movies that Mike and John recommend to listeners), a film-related game (typically “Matinee Deathmatch,” where Mike and John name movies related to a randomly selected category until someone—usually John—can no longer continue), and some feedback from listeners before the episode’s reviewer issues the next movie for the challenger to review in the next episode.
Episode 23: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
From the moment its disclaimer—“The following program contains scenes and language of a frank and explicit nature. Viewer discretion is advised.”— graced my auditory canal, I found myself ardently in love with the towering passion for movies that Mike and John brought forth in each of their 75 broadcasts. John’s seemingly relentless open-mindedness towards lesser known films and Mike’s pointedly logical rants and anecdotes of a whimsical, off-the-wall humor collectively create a listening experience that is the movie podcast equivalent of a savory, eclectic Thanksgiving dinner.
There’s a real sense of friendship between these two gentlemen, who bag on each other often for their strange tastes in movies and personal idiosyncrasies, which was weirdly inspiring to me. The way they interacted with one another and the bedrock of mutual respect amidst the non-stop comicality made me want to shed my uber-introverted shell and try to find someone else like that with whom to have zany dialogues of cinephilia. It took awhile, but I’m proud to say I’ve finally found that person and have been in a relationship with her for almost a year now! This, ladies and gentlemen, is the true power of Filmjitsu.
So, since this podcast disappointingly shut down in December 2011 (just weeks after I finished my first semester at Penn State’s main campus), I feel it’s my civic duty to do my damnedest in spreading the word about the sheer amazingliciousness of Filmjitsu. Therefore, it’s my pleasure to present to you a party sampler of Filmjitsu’s keenest and most insightful hours. Enjoy!
Episode 10: The Bodyguard
The highlight here is the Bottom Five Signature Movie Songs, which I must have listened to at least 23 times over the course of my college career. Selections from movies like Armageddon, Space Jam, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and of course, Titanic, create a showcase for Mike’s comedic chops. Just his description of the songs alone and the details thereof were enough to drive me into an insane, cardiovascularly detrimental chuckle fit (the list begins at 17:51, if you’re interested).
Episode 17: Sex and the City 2
My favorite episode by far and a classic example of Mike’s ranting wrath. Three words: terrorist training video. And don’t even get me started on the bottom five list, which is Bottom Five Actress Faces (inspired by “Sarah Jessica Horseface”). I’ll simply quote Mike’s description of Scarlett Johansson: “She looks like Stephen Fry in a blonde wig and gargling marbles.”
Episode 59: Caligula
Episode 61: Transformers: Dark of the Moon
A primo example of Mike and John sticking to their opinions regardless of its potential unpopularity. After John’s rueful autopsy of the third Transformers movie, the Bottom Five Directors list is counted down with uniformly well-argued reasons for each choice. I especially respect Mike for adding Wes Anderson to his list and continue to applaud him (yes, podcasts deserve applause, too) for his spot-on Emperor’s New Clothes analogy.
Episode 71: Halloween Roundtable on Twilight
Here, Mike and John enlist two loyal listeners for a surprisingly serious breakdown of the Twilight saga. Filmmaker Jason Santo and film critic Larry Clow join the gang in a Siskel and Ebert-level discussion of Twilight‘s merits and lack thereof from both a cinematic and philosophical point of view. In part two, our fearsome foursome presents their individual lists for the Top 5 Vampires.
Episode 74: Jack Frost