Paulie: Charlie Kaufman, Eat Your Heart Out

From left: Jay Mohr, Jay Mohr, and Jay Mohr.

Paulie (1998)
Directed by John Roberts
Written by Laurie Craig
91 min.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—when you’re a kid, it’s damn near impossible to know whether a movie is revered or not. You watch a thing, and if you enjoy it, it’s a part of your world. And your world is only as big as you and your parents, so if you and your parents like the thing, it’s a ‘classic’. Only when you grow up do you discover, by asking friends and scouring the internet, how many movies you thought were well-known that were really just well-known to you.

It still throws me for a loop that I’m the only person in the history of the world who has seen Little Big League. When I was a kid, it played on TV just as much Rookie of the Year, but apparently, I’m the only one who flipped to it. I must’ve watched it damn near 30 times, and I still know parts from it by heart: “Kids today are amazing—I played winter ball down in Venezuela, and they had kids half his age, every one of them speaking Spanish. That’s a hard language.” “They speak Spanish in Venezuela.” “I know! That’s my point!”

But I digress.

The point is, Paulie is one of these such movies—a movie that, for whatever reason, hasn’t had its due, despite being ubiquitous at one point in time. And like Little Big League, it still holds up today. It’s thoroughly enjoyable family fare.

But it’s also so much more.

Paulie is the most ‘meta’ family film of all time.
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10 Films Every Libertarian Should See

Dogville (2003)

I don’t really get into my political leanings here at Smug Film, for the obvious reason of this being a site about movies, not politics, but also because I hate creating arbitrary ‘dividing lines’ in my work. It’s petty, and I can’t stand when others do it. For instance, I’m a huge Woody Allen fan, I think he’s our greatest American filmmaker, but I cringe whenever he peppers little jabbing jokes against the Right in his films when the story doesn’t even call for it. Those sort of winks to the audience take you out of the film momentarily, whether you agree with them or not. It’s distracting and wholly unnecessary. So rest assured, people who disagree with me politically—there will be no lazy digs, or insults, or other ‘playing to the base’ bullshit in this post whatsoever.

This list will be of particular interest to libertarians, that’s a given, but even if that ain’t your particular alignment, it should at least be a unique window in the the sort of things we, or at least I, care about, both politically and philosophically. And don’t worry, there are no propaganda docs on here; these are simply great movies, many of which (hell, probably all of which) aren’t even made by libertarians. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, they just so happen to contain, within their myriad elements, certain elements that we get a kick out of. Enjoy!
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‘Synecdoche, New York’ Is More Of A Movie About Facebook Than ‘The Social Network’


If you like The Social Network, fine. I don’t, at all, but fine. It does nothing for me—partly due to the fact that it’s so intensely fabricated, and partly because I find it aesthetically unappealing. But it’s not the kinda movie where if you like it, I need to pick an argument with you. Or the kind of movie I even feel compelled to write a review of—especially now, three years after it came out. Even people who liked it haven’t thought about it in years, and wouldn’t write about it now. It’s just kind of a forgettable movie.

However, there is one tiny aspect of it that has endured in my mind all this time and that  I seriously think about here and there, and that is its absolute radio silence on any and all of the possible philsophical or metaphysical ramifications of Facebook. It’s actually kind of appalling and unnerving. Watching The Social Network is like watching a movie about the development of the atomic bomb and Hiroshima and Nagasaki not being mentioned whatsoever. Facebook has hugely changed the way we communicate, and the way we think about those around us, and the way we think about ourselves. It’s a seismic fucking thing. But you watch this movie and it might as well be about a guy who created any ol’ doohickey. The whole film is a giant sleight of hand, distracting audiences from the elephant in the room which has taken over us all for better or for worse.

Luckily, there’s a film out there which does explore these aspects of Facebook, if only allegorically, and most likely, unintentionally. That film is Charlie Kaufman’s magnum opus, Synecdoche, New York.
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Advice Column #3 (4/1/13)

Looking for something funny, but not necessarily a straight-up comedy per se. Something with self-referential elements, maybe a little meta. I’ve already seen all the Charlie Kaufman stuff.  – Robert M.

Editor’s Note (12/4/14): We no longer answer movie questions through our advice column. We answer them in the mailbag segment of our podcast. Send them to and we will answer on the show!
Continue reading Advice Column #3 (4/1/13)