Ask Me Another
10:22 am
Fri May 10, 2013

'Plus One' With Wesley Morris

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 10:07 am

New movies — especially sequels — hit theaters so quickly these days, it can be hard to tell what's worth checking out. So we thought it would be fitting to call upon the Boston-based, Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Wesley Morris for some clarity.

Morris chats with host Ophira Eisenberg about whether it was hometown bias that led him to predict that Argo would take home the Oscar for Best Picture, and exemplifies how difficult it can be for a lifelong film scholar to narrow down an answer to the question, "What is your favorite movie?"

Then, house musician Jonathan Coulton pits Morris against a fellow film fanatic for "Plus One," a game in which the opponents must add "1" to a numerical movie title to create its fictitious sequel. For instance, Molly Ringwald's Sam Baker is shocked when her family forgets her birthday, again, in Seventeen Candles.

About Wesley Morris

Wesley Morris is currently a staff writer, with a focus on film, for Grantland. Previously, he was a film critic at the San Francisco Examiner, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Boston Globe, where he won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. His writing has also appeared in Film Comment, Slate, and Ebony.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

As I mentioned, we have three special guests on this show. Because so many amazing people live in Boston, we had to take advantage of it. So right now, we're going to bring out one of them, Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Wesley Morris.

(APPLAUSE)

WESLEY MORRIS: Hello.

EISENBERG: Welcome. Wesley. Wesley, you predicted that "Argo" was going to win this year for best picture over "Lincoln."

MORRIS: Yes.

EISENBERG: Was that anything to do with any favoritism towards Boston on your part, or did you really think Ben Affleck deserved it?

MORRIS: Okay, so there's two things. The first thing is no, he - I mean, deserve? I don't know. Was "Argo" the best of the ten movies? No. Or the nine movies? I don't think so. But it was this sort of like Hollywood rallying around this guy for having this perceived tragedy happen to him.

EISENBERG: Right.

MORRIS: The tragedy of not making the best director cut, when the other five guys were like Ang Lee and Steven Spielberg and a couple other people.

EISENBERG: Do you have a favorite movie?

MORRIS: That is my least favorite. It's just a hard question to answer.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Do you have a favorite movie in the last year?

MORRIS: In the last year? My favorite movie in the last year, I like "The Paperboy" from last year. That might not be my absolute favorite. I'm now blanking on what my first favorite movie from 2012 was.

EISENBERG: Just so you know, my favorite movie of all time...

MORRIS: Yes.

EISENBERG: ...is "Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark."

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: "Raiders of the Lost Ark," the first one.

MORRIS: Lost Ark, okay.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

MORRIS: It's never going to change?

EISENBERG: Don't think so.

MORRIS: Wow.

EISENBERG: This is going to be a fun game. So, Wesley, we have found someone to play against you. Please welcome Dan Katz.

(APPLAUSE)

DAN KATZ: Hi there.

EISENBERG: Hi, Dan. Now, Dan is a math teacher, he's a film fanatic. He's also written a play about love.

KATZ: Love and crosswords.

EISENBERG: Love and crosswords.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Okay, so this is your chance to pitch the movie version of your play to a Pulitzer Prize winning film critic. You have one sentence to do it. Give him what it's about.

KATZ: One sentence?

EISENBERG: Yeah, that's what you got.

MORRIS: Elevator pitch, give me.

KATZ: Well, to quote my theater adviser at the time, it's a piece of self-indulgent wish fulfillment.

(LAUGHTER)

KATZ: In which a man discovers that his girlfriend, who's not really that into crosswords probably shouldn't be his girlfriend.

MORRIS: Oh.

EISENBERG: Sounds perfect. What do you think, Wesley?

MORRIS: I'm going to call the people at Sundance right now.

EISENBERG: There you go.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: So this next quiz is called Plus One, because we're going to a special event, I hope, a movie screening. Jonathan?

JONATHAN COULTON: No. No. You know very well, Ophira, we are never invited to any special events.

EISENBERG: True, that's true.

COULTON: This game's about fictional movie sequels. We will describe a fictitious sequel to a movie. You tell us the title of the new film, which is made by adding one to all of the numbers appearing in the original title.

For example, if we said in this Ron Howard sequel, tom hanks tells Houston "we have another problem," as he once again fails to land on the moon, you would say Apollo 14. Whoever wins this round will move on to our Ask Me One More final round at the end of the show, and that includes you, Wesley.

In this dramatic sequel, Henry Fonda's character meets a forensic scientist who reconvenes the jury and convinces them that the defendant actually was guilty.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Dan?

KATZ: Thirteen angry men.

COULTON: You are right.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: After all the brouhaha last year with her sister's wedding and the underwear, high school junior Sam Baker is shocked when her family forgets her birthday again.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Dan?

KATZ: Seventeen candles.

MORRIS: Mine keeps locking.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Wesley is already blaming the buzzer. You're right, Dan. At the start of this epic sequel, Moses has just led his people to the Promised Land, when god summons him back to the mountaintop for one more rule: beer before liquor, never sicker.

(LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Wesley?

MORRIS: The eleventh commandment. Sorry.

COULTON: That's right.

(LAUGHTER)

MORRIS: I almost said eleven angry commandments. That's redundant.

COULTON: You're mostly right, yeah. As if the 2010 original wasn't quite grueling enough, this sequel brings James Franco back and pins his left arm under a rock for 60 minutes longer than the right one was.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Dan?

KATZ: 128 hours.

COULTON: That's right. In this rom-com sequel - that means romantic comedy you guys - Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell try to recapture the old magic by attending even more nuptials and memorial services together.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Dan?

KATZ: Five weddings and a funeral.

COULTON: We need you to add one to both numbers in the original title.

KATZ: Can I do it?

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Wesley?

MORRIS: Five weddings and two funerals.

COULTON: That's right.

(APPLAUSE)

MORRIS: I would have said the same thing he said. Thanks, Dan.

COULTON: Luckily, you're slower on the buzzer, Wesley.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Unable to secure Macy's as a filming location, producers decided to shift the action one block uptown for the sequel to a holiday classic about a girl's belief in Santa Claus.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Dan?

KATZ: Miracle on 35th Street.

COULTON: That's right.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: That is correct, Dan, and that is the final clue, so you will be moving on to our Ask Me One More final round at that end of the show. How about a huge round of applause for Wesley Morris?

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.