>>> Click here for the RMC FAQ'N RULES <<<


Your September Random Movie Club Results Are In!

Tagline: Meet Jackie O. She's elegant, glamorous, and well bred. When you've got it all, you can get away with murder.


Pizza: Artisan


If you would have told me that there's a movie starring Tori Spelling and Freddie Prinze Jr. that's pretty good, I wouldn't have believed you. But I saw it myself. It's THE HOUSE OF YES, based on the play (and you can really tell this was based on a play) by Wendy MacLeod. I saw this movie in the theater when it came out in 1997, and again when the Random Movie Generator selected it for tonight's feature presentation.

Parker Posey plays a character named Jackie-O Pascal (we never really hear her real first name). Jackie-O, a smart girl with acid-tongued comebacks too quick for real life (toldya it was a play), fashions herself (literally and figuratively) after the real Jackie O. Yeah, she's got some problems, but it turns out she's not the only one in this family with issues.

By 14, Jackie-O (in a flashback, where her young self is played by Rachel Leigh Cook-Nathanson) was already obsessed with Kennedy/Onassis (were they called Onassedy back then?), able to give Jackie's O's White House tour speech using her own house as a stand-in. But she breaks character when she gets to daddy's room, and from there, the tour rides off the rails. This kid's nutty, and if you need further proof - in voiceover, she tells us that after the Kennedy assassination, she, accompanied by her brother Marty (Josh Hamilton), went to an Ides of March party (umm, isn't that when Caesar was assassinated?) dressed as Jackie Onassis with a pillbox hat, ketchup for blood on her pink Chanel dress with "macaroni kinda glued on, like... brains." This is heard before we really meet anyone, which means we're in for a black comedy. Don't believe me? It's soon revealed that at 14, she slept with brother Marty. But hey, who here hasn't done wacky things when they were 14?

1983. Jackie-O lives in a Washington D.C. manse with her overbearing mother (Genevieve Bujold), whose name is also never mentioned, and under-bearing brother Anthony (Freddie Prinze Jr., who is on Wikipedia's list of "Famous Puerto Ricans"). The floor to this house may as well be covered with eggshells as we learn that Jackie-O has recently returned from the mental ward of the hospital and that certain subjects can trigger her.
It seems she's prone to violent outbursts, so they must be careful what they do and say around her (her last name, Pascal, is a unit of pressure in physics, ain't it?). Writer MacLeod brilliantly takes a dark subject (a really dark one) and balances it with comedy, as easy a feat as balancing a pin on the head of another pin. Wow, that was a lousy analogy, but you get the point. Wow, that was a lousy pun. Anyway, everything's fine with Jackie and Andrew and mom, until Jackie-O's twin brother Marty comes home. With a guest. A guest who is female. A guest who is Marty's new fiancee. TRIGGER! Marty's fiancee Lesly is played by Tori Spelling. Gotta give the girl some chops credit, playing a role she never had to play in real life - the poor girl. Lesly is at first lost in the size of the house and the ways of this family. They may as well be Venusians to her Donut King waitress from Pennsylvania. Hell, they're aliens to
us, too.

Soon, a hurricane knocks the power out (toldya it was based on a play), but this hurricane won't do as much damage as what's going on inside this house - a house whose exterior looks a little White House-y, but a closer look inside reveals that it needs maintenance. There's a picture missing from the wall, and some of those bookshelves feature books turned flat, as if in defiance of the others.

Jackie-O (Parker Posey) and Mother (Genevieve Bujold)

Josh Hamilton (Marty)

There are so many things going on beneath the surface of THE HOUSE OF YES, and they're all witty, wacky, funny and alas, tragic. The threat of Lesly's presence in Jackie-O's face is animalistic. And poor Lesly is no match for the rabbity Jacky-O, who grew up in a house where no one said "no" to her, hence the film's title. She is a spoiled brat, as Lesly accuses her of being in a moment of defiance.
Worse, she's an insane spoiled brat. She sets people up so she can knock them down. She feigns confusion when she knows exactly what you're saying. Like any brat, she rules the roost. And like any brat, you want to rap her in the teeth, but you can't, so you laugh. It doesn't hurt any that she's funny. She's like a verbal magician - The Queen Brat: Master of Manipulation.

With camera push-ins and people appearing seemingly out of nowhere (and that dramatic hurricane outside!), and even someone running for their life from that haunted HOUSE OF YES, this movie plays like a horror film. Well, I mean, a horror film on the outside and a psycho-dramedy on the inside. I suppose it's an internal horror film. The material could have been tonally gothicized, akin to WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?, but darker and funnier (though JANE is also funny). But they're not just trapped in the house because of the hurricane. These people are trapped in the house because that's who they are - a family stuck in a bubble, whose ideas of what is acceptable are skewed, and there's no one around to tell them otherwise. They're like The Addams Family, or Spielberg when he made 1941.


It's the dialogue that fuels this movie, whether it's one-liners dipped in snark, like when Lesly tells Jackie-O "I can't talk like that about your brother," Jackie-O responds, "Just pretend he's not my brother. I do." Or the characters' snitched-out stories about each other, like the foreshadowing one Anthony tells Lesly about Jackie-O flushing Marty's lizard down the toilet because he really loved it. And then there's the just plain funny ones, like: Jackie-O: "Oh please, if everyone around here is going to start telling the truth, I'm going to bed."

Jackie and Marty at piano
It would be unfair of me to expose more than I already have regarding how it all goes down. Plus I'm too lazy at the moment. See the movie and let
them do it for you. I will say this, though; The positioning for power is superb. Sometimes its subtextual, and other times blatant, like after Marty and Lesly barely bang CHOPSTICKS out on the piano and Jackie-O steps in. She and Marty play a song so complicated and in sync with each other that it warrants a hearty laugh. Then they break into some vaudeville-like patter that makes it clear to Lesly - these twins' bond is infrangible.

Posey, who has a twin brother in real life (draw your own conclusions, I'm staying out of it), is wonderful in this movie. She leads her small cast around on leashes as if they were her dogs (I saw Posey with her dog in West Hollywood once, so I know!). It's not just how she delivers her ball-of-fire patter, it's also how she listens as others are talking to her. She's processing what they are saying, rather than waiting for her next line. Posey's made some shitty movies and some great ones. I believe THE HOUSE OF YES might be her best, and undoubtedly meatiest, performance. It's a good role in general, and it's a great role for her. She makes the 85 minutes, largely in one location, breeze by. STORY SEEMINGLY FROM LEFT FIELD: I went to a SEINFELD taping once which included a line that killed me. Elaine's boss Mr. Peterman, alone in his office, is reading a newspaper. After a beat, he says to himself, "Parker Posey. I just don't get her." Obviously, Peterman hadn't seen THE HOUSE OF YES. By the way, when they ran the episode, they cut the scene before the line. So there, now you're inside Hollywood, thanks to me. You're welcome.

Lesly (Tori Spelling)
The ensemble works well together, due to developed characters. I can't say for sure this is Tori Spelling's best performance since I've only seen her in one other thing, a TV movie. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say it is. Her being in the cast probably didn't hurt any when they were looking for funding. Director (he also adapted the script) Mark Waters (MEAN GIRLS, FREAKY FRIDAY), whose brother Daniel wrote the black comedy HEATHERS, has a theater background, making this movie a natural choice. He was also smart enough not to Tim Burtonize HOUSE OF YES and just let it play. Like I said, it's ruled by its dialogue, let's not get all fancy with the camera. This was his first film, and perhaps his best film (did anyone see MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS? Oh wait, I did.). Wendy MacLeod's fat-free script is to be commended. As mentioned up top, it's "play dialogue." But oddly, like watching an English film where it takes some time to tune your brain into the accents, the dialogue here became a thing of its own. I really enjoyed her script and this movie. And although the Pascal house is not even a nice place to visit, let alone wanting to live there, THE HOUSE OF YES is definitely worth a viewing.


WHEN I'M OLD ENOUGH, GOOD-BYE (1962) is another ephemeral film. I really love these things. This cautionary tale warns us about the danger of dropping out of high school (by means of a work permit from the school, so it's not nearly as naughty as it sounds) to get a job. And that's what Doug does, despite warnings from his father and guidance counselor that with a high school education, you can get a job, and without one you can't. Of course, this was as much propaganda then as it is now. "No more part-time for me, Bonnie," he tells his girl. And even though he starts in the mail room, he dreams big, looking at suits in shop windows, getting his own bachelor apartment, and making his friends jealous...especially Carlos, who now also wants to get a work permit. But what he doesn't tell Carlos and his friends is that he got the pink slip...and I don't mean the one under Bonnie's skoyt. While Doug is hopping from dishwasher to truck unloader, we see his friends learning English and electronics, playing football and basketball. And Bonnie? She's got a new boy.

Will Doug dissolve into nothingness, or do the right thing and return to school?

What I found interesting in this 28 minute short was that the high school was interracial. Black, white, Hispanic. Pretty cool for 1962. Very cool for a film to come out of "Your State Employment Service, affiliated with the United States Employment Service."

Feed Burner Subscribe in a reader

Powered byFeedBlitz

About ...

RMC email address
Old RMC Men

RMC is not affiliated with Rochester Midland Corporation, makers of fine restroom disinfecting fluids and urinal mats since 1888.


Powered by Pizza, Red Vines,
& 6 Different Kinds of Soda



This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from Random Movie Club. Make your own badge here.

((( Contribute to our Popcorn Fund! )))

Best Viewed With Firefox 2

Add to Google
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to Technorati Favorites!

eXTReMe Tracker