Every week, host Adam Sockel interviews a popular member of the literary world about their passions beyond what they're known for. These longform, relaxed conversations show listeners a new side of some of their favorite content creators as well as provide insight into the things that inspire their work.
Matt Singer loved movies so much that he's made a career out of it writing for Screencrush. His passion began as a child watching At The Movies with Siskel and Ebert, the subjects of his latest book, Opposable Thumbs. It's a deep dive into their relationship as partners and how they changed how we ingest movies. We discuss his favorite films of childhood, Kevin Smith, Mel Brooks, and a bunch more.
You are listening to Passions & Prologues, a literary podcast. For each week, I interview an author about a thing they love and how it inspires their work. I'm your host, Adam Sockel, and today's guest is Matt Singer, author of the brand-new book, Opposable Thumbs: How Siskel & Ebert Changed Movies Forever.
Matt is very, very well known for his incredible film reviews for ScreenCrush, and this discussion was just so nerdy and joyful. It would be very fair to say that Matt's passion is in fact Siskel & Ebert, but we get a little bit broader than that and talk about the general idea of movies because that is exactly what Matt lives and breathes every single day.
He writes film reviews as part of his job. He writes about movies. He ingests movies. He is a movie and film nerd and buff. We talk about the movies that we both loved in our childhood. We joke about some of our favorite directors and just a myriad of other things. So, it was really, really fun. It was very much like, yes/and-ing each other, getting to have a little bit of sketch comedy in this discussion.
You're going to adore Opposable Thumbs. I know I've done a couple of nonfiction books in a row here, but Siskel & Ebert, they are two people that truly, truly did change the way that we look at movies, that we discover movies, the whole two thumbs up thing is something that we still use today, and that was something they created.
And their relationship was a little bit messy. It was very interesting. They started out really well known, separate and didn't really love each other all that much at the beginning but they became best friends. And their life stories combined between the two of them is just very, very fascinating. So, I think you're going to really, really love this particular book.
Speaking of books I enjoyed, I finished one recently that this time is not thematically connected to this particular episode but just finished it. Wanted to talk about it, it came out a few years ago. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. Anyone who has followed me for any amount of time knows that I adore Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.
And this story is sort of similar thematically. It is a story of two women separated by circumstance, culture, and distance, and the enduring connection between mothers and daughters. The story opens in this remote Chinese mountain village, and our main character and her family, their life very much revolves around tea, the farming of tea, the selling of tea.
And they are really, really ensconced in the ritual and routine and traditions of their people, so much so that initially, I did not know what timeframe this book was set in just because I didn't even notice it on the first pages. It felt like it was set hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
It is not, it is much closer to present day. And in fact, our main character kind of grows up and has life experiences that connect her to the modern-day world that we are much more familiar with. And it's the story of her life.
It's the story of her having a family and needing to fight to keep that family and her experiences going through her educational life, and then the life as an adult that she lives. Really interesting, very, very sagaesque. It kind of tells the story of multiple generations of this family. And so, I really think you'll like it. It's the Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane.
Again, if you're a very into kind of family dramas and family sagas, highly recommend this book. And I absolutely highly recommend Opposable Thumbs by Matt Singer. It's a wonderful, wonderful story of Siskel & Ebert.
If you want to get ahold of me, you can, of course always reach me at [email protected]. You can also find me on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube at Passions & Prologues as well.
One last thing, I just want to give a quick call out to before I go. I'm going to be talking about this a fair amount in the coming months, so I apologize in advance, but I'm running the Boston Marathon this spring.
People who have, again, followed me for any amount of time know that distance running is one of my deep passions, and I'm very, very honored to get to run this particular race. It has been something on my bucket list for a long time.
Part of running the Boston Marathon for my journey is supporting the Boston Medical Center, trying to raise $12,000 for the Boston Medical Center. They are truly, truly an incredible charity. They're dedicated to providing exceptional care to patients as well as families.
And it's something that every single donation helps them to improve healthcare access, advancing medical research, and just the overall wellbeing of their patients and families. So, I'll put a link in the show notes here, if you have a few bucks, you can donate.
Again, I'm trying to raise $12,000. I have a few bucks to do it, but I would deeply appreciate it if you're able to do that. And if not, if you can just share the page with others who might be able to, that would be wonderful too.
So, a lot of housekeeping. I appreciate your patience. I'm so excited for you to take a listen to this conversation with Matt Singer, author of Opposable Thumbs on Passions & Prologues.
Matt, what is something you are super passionate about that we are going to be discussing today?
Well, as shocking as this may seem based on the book I have written, I am certainly very passionate about movies, the world of movies.
Well, when, we'll get into the book in just a little bit, but obviously in addition to writing about Siskel & Ebert, you also are an editor and critic at ScreenCrush, and you live and breathe movies.
So, let's start at the beginning though. Do you remember what was either the first movie when you were a kid that kind of captured your attention or gave you that feeling where you're like, “Oh my God, what is going on here? What is this thing?”
I don't know what the first movie necessarily was, but when I look back at that period, the movies that I remember watching the most were things like Spaceballs, things like Ghostbusters, very goofy comedies, was certainly the first sorts of movies that I really loved.
I mean, also, yeah, I was into Star Wars. I was born in 1980, so all the things you would imagine a child of the 80s would be into, I was into those things. And I always thought I was the biggest dork about Star Wars or whatever it was.
And then later, now I look around and I go, “Oh, actually, I wasn't as crazy about Star Wars as I thought.” So, yeah, I mean, but the movies that I would watch endlessly and have vivid memories of watching at that age, it was comedies. It was your Ghostbusters, your Spaceballs, your Airplanes, your Naked Guns, your Wayne's Worlds.
I have two kids now, one of whom is … the older one is almost eight. And I look at her and her sense of humor, which is the dumber, the sillier, the grosser, the better. And genetics are real, I cannot deny that that is my kid. Because there's nothing she loves more than watching a movie where somebody gets hit in the groin, that is pure cinema to her.
No, it's so funny how the types of movies and everyone always talks about whatever Saturday Night Live crew you grew up with is always going to be your favorite. But I feel like it's the same thing with the types of movies you're — I'm just a few years younger than you, so very much the same thing you mentioned, like Spaceballs and stuff, but also Dumb and Dumber and Tommy Boy.
And so, even though that's what I would say is very high end, the best possible version of slapstick humor, it is still very much like I said, I will never not laugh at watching somebody fall down a flight of stairs once I know they're okay.
And yeah, I think it's a safe space. The world is hard and shitty sometimes. It's funny to watch someone get kicked in the groin, I think that's okay.
Yeah, no, I completely agree. And yeah, I guess I'm a couple years older, but I mean, these movies I mentioned were the ones that I was watching on home video. I was watching them on VHS tapes, most of them, recorded off of HBO or cable or something.
But yeah, I saw all those movies you mentioned. I was going to the theater; those were the first movies I was paying to see with my allowance. Or maybe my parents would take me to some of them or go with friends with their parents. You mentioned Dumb and Dumber, I had a very intense relationship with Jim Carrey.
His early films, those were, yes, oh, my goodness, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, that was a film that once upon a time, within the first couple of years after the movie came out, I had seen it so many times, I could almost enact it as a one man show.
I could recite every line, I could imitate. It was frankly embarrassing. You look back on her now and you're like, “Can you imagine my parents having to endure just the absolute obnoxiousness and nonsense that I was spewing at them all the time, or my friends, if I had any friends that I was doing this to.” But I did it. There's no point in pretending or lying now, it's the truth. That's who I was.
No, listen, my brother is a few years older than me, and we were best friends growing up, we still are. And I know if he listens to this, he'll probably be laughing this, but with our group of friends, we'll still text each other, like quotes from Monty Python, like Holy Grail, or we will absolutely, unequivocally still do those things.
And literally, I've mentioned Tommy Boy before, like any of them are having a bad day, at the very end of it, when he's sitting on the bench and it snaps and he's just like, “Could have done without that.” I will just still say that to no one, and I will laugh as if it's the first time I've heard it.
But I will say, I still remember vividly getting to just the right age where my mom could drop me off at the movie theater, and you felt very grown up. I remember going to see in the summer, Gladiator or it was a really big deal when I think it was Batman & Robin.
Basically, I think of all the movies that had McDonald's or Burger King partnerships, those all became really big things. So, do you remember, kind of those movies, the ones where you were like, “Oh, this is an event, I have to go see this in the theater.”
The first movie I can think of in that vein would be ‘89 Batman. Really before I was a movie nerd, beyond watching just dumb comedies, I was a comic book fan. That was really my first obsession as a kid.
And so, I was already sort of primed for any sort of superhero movie, but I remember just the insanity around the ‘89 Batman. It was unbelievable the amount — I remember kids at school, at elementary school were getting the Batman logo shaved into their head, the back of their head.
I knew a kid who had the Batman logo which, I mean, that's a ridiculous thing to do at any time. But now that superhero movies are so central to the culture, pop culture and movie world, it seems slightly less deranged.
At that time, like I said, I was obsessed with comics, but I didn't talk about it. I didn't tell my friends I read comics; this was a secret shame that I hid from the world. So, the fact that people were really jazzed about Batman, that movie felt like a big deal.
And I do have vivid memories of my dad took me to see it. We went to the Brunswick Square Mall to a movie theater that doesn't … there's still a movie theater there, but it's not the same. They totally redid it. So, I don't count it as the real thing.
And I remember we showed up, and I vividly remember, they had in the lobby a display case of comic books and stuff. And I remember being transfixed by it and I was so into it. I didn't want to even go into the theater.
And I remember they had a copy of the Batman storyline, A Death in the Family, which is the storyline where Jason Todd, the second Robin, not the original Robin, that was Dick Grayson, but the second Robin, Jason Todd, he was killed by the Joker.
And I didn't know anything about this. I was, I guess probably eight, I think eight or nine. And so, I just knew Robin as Robin. I wasn't a regular reader. I was sort of the kid who was begging for comics when you go to the supermarket or watching cartoons, hadn't really reached that fanatically reading every month stage yet.
So, I just remember being like, “Wait, what? Robin is dead. They're killing Robin.” And I remember my dad having to be like, “Dude, the movie is starting, we have to go in now. We have to go in.”
And he was dragging me away to get into the movie. And the opening credits had already started the famous opening where it's going through the Batman logo with the Danny Elfman score was already playing by the time we sat down in the back of the theater. So, yeah, that would be the first one I can remember as being a big event.
And then of course, you get a little older, and then you start to realize, yeah, these events can often be manufactured hype, and they are terrible. And we could talk about that too, that I remember, the first movie that I really remember being an event and then going to, and thinking this is garbage, was I think it's the ‘98 Godzilla.
Godzilla. Oh, I didn't want to cut you off, but I was like, “He's going to say the Matthew Broderick Godzilla.”
Yeah. That was another massive hyped, it definitely had some sort of fast-food tie in, maybe, was it Taco Bell? I don't know.
It was almost certainly Taco Bell.
It had a tie in, it had tons of advertising, marketing, cross-promotion. It was, “It's the American Godzilla, this is a huge deal.” And I bought in, I was there, now I'm probably 17, I would guess at the summer of ‘98.
And from very early on in the movie, you're like, “Oh, this is terrible, this is junk, this stinks.” And that was really the first one I remember of those big event movies where I was like, “Oh, they could lie. They could say, this is a big deal, but that's actually not a big deal, it is bad.” And you have to become savvy about the marketing and how they kind of drum up that level of attention to get you into the theater.
First off, can't let it go by, that's incredible Professor Frank. By the way, just phenomenal.
Oh, that's just my actual speaking voice, I work very hard to sound like a normal person, but thank you, I guess.
Fantastic. No, I know what you mean because back when we were kids, obviously, you could in theory, I guess find reviews of things, and this will get into a little bit about Opposable Thumbs, your book about Siskel & Ebert.
Yes, you could find reviews of places, but really, I was joking about Batman & Robin, but I had an uncle who helped manage a bunch of McDonald's, and so we would get what they claimed to be collectors’ items, toys, and stuff.
And for the longest time, my parents still had the Batman & Robin glassware that you could get from-
We also had the Flintstones ones, which like the Flintstones-
Yeah. Well, this is Batman Forever, but I definitely had the Riddlers Glass Cup, again, Jim Carrey. I had the Riddlers Glass Cup for sure. So, yes, I know all about … yes, I would fixate on those things as well. I didn't have the connections that you had apparently in the fast-food industry. I'm a little jealous about that, but …
Did we have the transformers that turned in from fries to a little …
Oh, wow. Yeah.
Maybe we did. I don't want to brag.
Wow. Wow. Okay.
This is all to say, like you said, it was obviously much easier. I don't want to say much easier, but if they had enough money, they could make a marketing campaign where I was like, “Hey, you should go see this. It's the event of the summer.”
But how did you go from being a movie lover to being like — this is something I genuinely don't know. Obviously, you've written a number of books, but the thing that people likely know you from is you are a critic, you also review films.
So, how does one get into that world? Like Siskel & Ebert made it a thing people know about, but how did you go from, “Man, I really love movies to, I want to make talking about and writing about them my career.”
Well, I mean, a lot of it had to do with Siskel & Ebert. Honestly, I mean, that was the thing that really turned me from the kid who liked watching dumb, silly comedies into someone who was like, “Wow, movies are interesting. They're exciting, they're enlightening, they're art.” That show was the thing that was kind of the light bulb going off.
And I grew up in suburban New Jersey, so it was sometimes tough to see the movies that they were talking about if they weren't the Batmans and Godzillas of the world, because there wasn't a ton of art house theaters at the time.
And you're right, it was a different era, if they talked about a movie, a foreign film, an art house film that sounded really interesting, you would have to write it down and hope that when it came out on VHS, that the local blockbuster carried more than one copy, so that the week it came out, you could maybe rent it or you would show up to blockbuster and they would have one copy, and it'd be like, “Oh, somebody took it out. I'm going to come back tomorrow.”
And then you would go back tomorrow, “Somebody took it out again, or they didn't return it.” And you would ask the clerk and they would be like, “Please leave me alone. I'm working at Blockbuster; I don't want to talk to anyone.” It was a completely different universe.
So, it really required a level of dedication and nerdiness and passion that you don't necessarily need these days. Nowadays, if there's a movie like that, odds are, you can watch it right now. You might be able to watch it without standing up, you know what I mean?
You can watch it by clicking a few buttons perhaps possibly without spending a dime if it's on one of the services you already paid for. So, yes, they in the show were absolutely sort of the thing that first inspired me, and then went to film school for a while and studied and had several incredibly lucky things happen to me.
Which is not exciting to hear when somebody is going, “Well, how do you do this?” And dumb luck is a big part of it. So, that's never an exciting answer, but it's an honest one in my case. So, yeah, it's a sort of a combination of all those things.
Two things. One, I assume growing up in New Jersey, if you're trying to get a lesser-known film, I assumed you were only allowed to watch Clerks if you're from New Jersey. Is that a rule?
Look, you can poke fun, but Kevin Smith is actually from, not far from where I grew up. And so, I spent a summer in Boston, I guess between junior and senior year of high school. And one of the very first nights I was there, there was an indie theater, a cool theater, the likes of which I very rarely had seen in my life to that point, and they were showing Chasing Amy.
And here was a movie about people who made comic books who were cool. Who had relationships with the opposite gender, who spoke eloquently but amusingly, that was like a … and was a movie I had seen recommended I might add on Siskel & Ebert.
It was like a bomb going off in my mind. It was unbelievable. And then I watched Clerks and then that was it. So, I watched a lot of Kevin Smith growing up, I'm not ashamed to say that.
Listen, I poke fun, but Kevin Smith is genuinely my favorite director, Chasing Amy might be my favorite movie. Talk about talking about movies you could do from start to end. I could still do Chasing Amy. I could literally do Chasing Amy …
There was a while when I was in high school, I had a girlfriend that I thought I was head over heels in love. I could do the whole Ben Affleck super cheesy, speech that he does in the car. So, I poke fun, but I adore Kevin Smith.
And listen, same thing with Dogma, I could do all of his movies, even his actively cheesy and bad horror movies. Listen, I still love Tusk, and I'll defend it to anyone who wants to talk about it.
You mentioned Siskel & Ebert, what made you want to write about them and tell a story about these people who, for most of the public, obviously everyone knows Two Thumbs Up, but they might not know how they really didn't like each other for a long time.
And they were pretty well known, one-on-one on Pulitzer, before they'd ever decided to work together. What made you want to dig into their lives and their relationship and everything they've meant to pop culture?
It really came down to my love of the show and honestly, I wanted to read this book. And at a certain point it's like, if you want to read it, you might have to write it kind of a thing. And I mean, that was why I've always felt like there should be a book about this.
And certainly, Roger Ebert, a hero of mine and a great writer wrote a lot of amazing books. I have a whole Roger Ebert shelf on my bookshelf in my place. And he wrote a great memoir. But his memoir, Life Itself, it's not the Siskel & Ebert story.
However, many hundreds of pages in that book, there's three chapters about Siskel & Ebert. It's not about this. That's a part of his life, but in that book, it's not the whole story. And I just felt like there was room for this book to exist.
And so, after I had written other things, and I was looking for something to do next and was kind of batting around topics, I made a list that I was supposed to show to my literary agent. And I showed it to my wife first, and she was looking at it and going, “Well, where is Siskel & Ebert?” Because it was not on the list at first.
And she knows me and my insanities. And so, she correctly assessed that it at least should be in the discussion. And I told her that the honest truth was that I was a little intimidated to write a book about it because the show means so much to me.
Gene and Roger were such great critics and writers, and how do you write this and not invite these comparisons to them and to their work. And her response was, “Stop being a dope. Stop being yourself and get over yourself. And if anyone else does it, you're going to be pissed off that you didn't.”
And spite is a really powerful motivator, anger and rage. And she was right. And so, it wound up on the list, and that was the topic. And she was right. I mean, it was something that I would love to do. And I'm really happy with the results. And I'm glad that this book now exists for everyone to read, not just for me.
So, I'm always curious when talking to people who have written biographies, how did you go about your research process and these two people that obviously you had a lot of knowledge in, but to write something like this, you have to really get into the nitty gritty.
So, can you kind of take me through your … and speaking of nerdy questions, I know this is a nerdy one, but I genuinely am always fascinated by where does one go to find intimate and nuanced details about Siskel & Ebert?
Well, I mean, part of it was interviewing people who knew them, worked with them, friends, loved ones, coworkers, that's a big part of it, certainly. Because unfortunately, neither one is alive now, so I can't talk to them.
Getting their voice into the book or voices as much as I could was another big part of the research, which was they did a lot of interviews during their career. And so, it was a lot of online research libraries, finding people who had treasure troves of articles about them. And trying to hunt down as many places.
eBay was actually a really useful place where I found some random things that probably I would not have found otherwise. I found this one issue of Culver Military Academy Alumni Magazine, which Gene Siskel went to this military academy. And either the very late 70s or very early 80s, they did a profile on him.
And it's very long and has a lot of — his biography is in there. It has him talking about how he got his job, what he likes to do, his passions, his interests, all these kind of things which I've never seen this anywhere else, it just was fortunate that I found it.
Somebody was selling their … God only knows why they didn't want to keep their copy of Culver Alumni Magazine, issue number 45 forever and ever, but someone was getting rid of it, and they put it on eBay, and I was able to grab it, and it turned out to be an incredible resource.
And I found a few other things like that where they were just random articles and random magazines and newspapers. Where sometimes I'd buy something on eBay and I'd look at it and go, “Well, this isn't all that useful.” And then there were other times where I was like, “This is fantastic.”
So, it really was about casting a really wide net and trying to find as many sources as I could find, and going through all of them, cataloging all of them, and then seeing, “Okay, well, what do I have? What do I need? What can I supplement by talking to people, who can I talk to?”
And yeah, and then the last element of the research was watching the show, watching as much of the show as I possibly could.
Was there any — and you don't have to give the funniest or best of details away, people got to read the book to do that. But were there any things that you discovered about them that you were just like, “Holy shit, I had no idea about X, Y, or Z,” or like, “Huh, that's pretty wild or interesting?”
From the show or about them?
About them specifically.
I mean, there were certainly some things. I mean, obviously as a mega dork about the show and these guys, there was a lot that I was already pretty familiar with, but there were times where I'd be like, “What rabbit hole have I fallen down?”
I mean, one of the things I did not know about, which I was very excited to find out about, was that they once invented a pizza, the Siskel & Ebert Pizza. They attempted to revolutionize the food industry as they had revolutionized the film criticism world.
They were doing an interview, I believe, with Vanity Fair Magazine, and they were doing it at a pizza place in Chicago, I think it's called Father and Son, or it was called Father and Son, I'm not sure. It was still around until recently. I think it may have closed just in the last few years, or changed names, changed hands, something.
And they were talking about pizza because they were doing an interview in a pizza place, and they started riffing about wouldn't it be great if there was a pizza where if it had … visualize a donut and then visualize a donut as a pizza, whereas the shape is a donut, there's a hole in the middle of the pizza.
And they were like, “Wouldn't it be great if there was crust on the outside and the inside of pizza?” And then they had the pizza place make up one, and supposedly they did sell it for a little while. And it had a couple of, I mean, it was like the double crust pizza or the double ring pizza.
When have you ever heard someone say, “You know what I would like to have more of on this pizza, is crust.” Again, as a parent of two small children, I never have to fend off desperate pleas for more crust from my … “Dad can I have more crust? I just love the crust.”
So, the fact that they not only created their own pizza, that they thought the way to go about it was to do this thing that no one else had done, which was to make a double ring pizza, that truly was a mind-blowing moment in my life. I'll never be the same.
There's a reason that we dog owners call crust pizza bones. It's because that's the part you give to the dog. If I want crust, I'll just eat bread.
Not according to Siskel & Ebert, they love the crust. Give them the crust.
How would you say, other than the obvious, the fact that they made it much more apparent that this could be a thing you could do, how do you think their influence, since you had such a joy and love of the show, how do you think they have affected the way that you critique films?
I think the main way was that, again, when I was watching the show really obsessively in middle school through high school, was when I was really watching the show. Was they had a way of making everything feel accessible, and they were very inclusive.
You never watched the show and felt like, “Oh, I'm not smart enough to watch this. I'm not up enough on this.” They were not snobs, and they could speak very intelligently and eloquently and passionately about very obscure, very artsy-fartsy movies, quite frankly.
But they could do it in a way that made you want to see the movie if they thought it was good obviously. They made these things seem accessible. And that was absolutely part of the appeal was they would talk about these movies, and I would go, “I want to see that.”
And then I would see it and go, “This is good.” And they would encourage people to see things in a way they're encouraging me, I'm speaking me personally. They were encouraging me to see things outside that comfort zone of dumb comedies that I liked.
Try something from France or from Spain or from England, try something that cost a hundred thousand dollars and has no special effects and doesn't have Bill Murray in it or whatever it is.
And I would hope, if I'm doing anything right as a film critic myself, it's trying to approach things that way, is I never want someone to be reading what I'm writing and thinking, “What the hell is this guy talking about?”
Because I certainly have read some film writers and critics in my day going to school and studying cinema where it can be a slog. And even if they have insightful things to say, they're doing it a way that can be kind of distancing, or almost like they're aiming to go over your head. They're trying to prove how smart they are.
How much they know, yeah.
So, if I've taken anything from Siskel & Ebert, it would hopefully, I'm trying to take that and that I don't expect anyone to come to something I've written or a podcast or whatever it is, and to know everything.
If you know everything, why are you reading it? You're coming to discover, to learn, to have a good experience, perhaps to want to see this movie, maybe you've already seen it and you just want another perspective.
You want to hear what I saw in it, maybe to get a deeper understanding. So, that's what I would say hopefully I learned from them and hopefully I'm aiming for in the stuff that I do.
So, my day job is in marketing specifically for tech, and my partner will get annoyed with me because I will 100% every time, if we're watching a TV show or a football game and a commercial comes on, I'll be like, “That's awful messaging.” And she'll be like, “I get it. Yep.” I can't turn it off.
And I'm wondering if you, as a film critic, are you able to kind of turn off your critic brain ever when you're watching movies that you aren't watching for review purposes? Are you able just to kind of sit there and see something at face value, or is it kind of you're like the cinematography on this is kind of garbage or X, Y, Z.
So, are you asking, am I completely dead inside? Or do I have some semblance of a soul that can be touched and moved by the magic of cinema?
Yeah, that’s a more direct way about it.
No, I'm dead inside. No, I mean, I hesitate to ever … and I'm not getting upset that you said it, but I'm always wary of anyone who ever says, “Turn your brain off,” about anything, including movies. Because to me that's not a really a fun way to enjoy anything. Or if you have to turn your brain off to enjoy something, how good could it possibly be?
That's a defense you sometimes hear about those events movies we talked about earlier. It's like, “Well, what did you think of it?” “Well, I thought it was pretty bad. It was a piece of junk.” “What did you think?” “Oh, if you turn your brain off, it was … and it’s like well, shouldn't we aspire to live in a world where we can enjoy something big and spectacular? That's also doesn't insult our intelligence.
So, I will say, I watch a ton of stuff with my kids. It's one of my favorite parts about having kids is introducing them to things that I love, or I loved as a kid. Introducing them to things I like now, seeing their reactions. And it is interesting to see things through their eyes because they're not dead inside like I am.
So, seeing the way for example, my older daughter loves Home Alone, it’s not a movie I would say is a bad movie. May have gotten two thumbs down from Siskel & Ebert as a matter of fact, but it was not one I would necessarily give a thumbs down.
I liked it when I was a kid, it was a funny movie, but to watch how hard it makes her laugh, it does make you appreciate it on some level that even if you are dead inside, that you can see the joy that it's giving to this seven, eight-year-old kid. That's a really special thing and I'm very glad that I get to witness moments like that.
That's awesome. I got two more questions for you. One, you mentioned Home Alone, but what is something that you have reintroduced to your kids (let's spin it positive), that does still kind of hold its own and you're like, “Oh man, this really stood the test of time.”
What's something, again, other than Home Alone obviously, which I agree is still a wonderful movie, what's something that you've shown them and as you were watching it with them, in addition to seeing it through their eyes, you were like, “Man, I still enjoy this.”
I mean, a lot of the movies we watch together I think are really great. Ghostbusters was one of the first movies I think we talked about today. My older daughter loves Ghostbusters, and we've watched now every Ghostbusters movie and a lot of real Ghostbusters cartoons because she got so into it when I showed it to her.
And the conversation around those movies doesn't always entertain me these days. But the movie itself I think really stands the test of time. I love Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, the Gene Wilder version. I loved that as a kid and rewatching it with my kids, I think I probably liked it more than they even did.
Where I was like, “This is just a fabulous movie.” And it feels so … the humor in it really, to me, in a way feels kind of ahead of its time. It reminds me the humor in it of like The Simpsons style of quick cutting away from jokes and the really dry humor of it.
And the satire of media and that sort of stuff. I think that movie holds up really, really well. So, there's two examples for you of movies that my kids like and I like just as much or more than they do.
Beautiful. Alright, last question for you. I usually ask the author who's come on to give a recommendation of any kind. I'm going to pigeonhole you and spin it around into your book. What is a movie you have seen recently that you would give two thumbs up, that you think people should check out?
Well, I recently saw the new Martin Scorsese movie, Killers of the Flower Moon. And here's a hot take for you, this is going to scorch up the internet, stand back. Martin Scorsese is a good director, that guy knows. Yeah, I know, I know.
I've lost it. I'm just going to say, I'm just letting it all out there. That guy is good. That guy knows what he’s doing. And I've seen so already, before a lot of people even seen it, these ridiculous takes. “It's too long, it's Scorsese. He says these mean things about Marvel movies, how dare he?” And I say this as someone who loves Marvel movies. I wrote a book about Spider-Man, come on people.
This movie is incredible. It is long. It's three and a half hours, but it is just a profound and moving and beautiful and heartbreaking and eye-opening three and a half hours. And when it was over, I could have watched another hour. And the last scene of this movie is so good, and I would never think of spoiling it.
But just the last few moments of this movie are incredible and honestly, made me weep. I mean, it is unbelievable. So, that is a movie that I would give multiple fingers and toes up. I would encourage people to see, judge it for yourself. I think it's an incredible movie.
Perfect. Well, speaking of incredible things, Opposable Thumbs is such a phenomenal book. I was so excited to get to talk to you about it as a film dork myself. This is just wonderful conversation. Matt, thank you so much for joining me today.
Passions & Prologues is proud to be an Evergreen Podcast and was created by Adam Sockel. It was produced by Adam Sockel and Sean Rule-Hoffman. And if you are interested in this podcast and any other Evergreen Podcasts, you can go to evergreenpodcasts.com to discover all the different stories we have to tell.