'Obsessively Specific': The A.V. Club's Book Of Lists
Lists abound this time of year: 10 best books, 10 worst movies, most overlooked albums or overblown celebrity egos. Just in time, The A.V. Club, a Web site "from the faceless corporation that brings you The Onion," has a new book of lists called Inventory.
Actually, the book's full title is Inventory: 16 Films Featuring Manic Pixie Dream Girls, 10 Great Songs Nearly Ruined By Saxophone, and 100 More Obsessively Specific Pop-culture Lists.
Obsessively specific? They're not kidding. Inventory's lists include "13 movies with key scenes featuring characters watching other movies," "10 things the Ramones wanna or don't wanna do," and "6 Keanu Reeves movies somehow not ruined by Keanu Reeves."
At the top of that last list? Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.
According to Josh Modell, the managing editor of The A.V. Club, Reeves manages not to ruin Excellent Adventure because "it's essentially Keanu Reeves playing Keanu Reeves, just kind of this dumb, nice guy. He's really great at being kind of this empty guy, which is why he's great in The Matrix as well."
Reeves doesn't play any of the "22 ridiculous horror-movie adversaries" in the list cheekily titled "Night Of The Killer Lamp" — the title refers to a floor lamp possessed by Satan in Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes — but that doesn't mean the movies avoid ruin.
"Some of them are so, so worth seeing," says Modell. "Some of them you should watch one minute of."
Which ones should be avoided?
"Death Bed: The Bed That Eats," says Modell. "People go and lay on this bed and often there's some hanky-panky on the bed and then the bed just sort of sucks them in and turns them into a skeleton with some yellow goo. ... It's just one of those movies that you watch and you feel sorry for the people that made it, but at the same time you're watching some of the greatest unintentional comedy ever."
Many of the lists themselves walk the fine line between irony and sincerity. Take the list of "13 particularly horrible fast-food innovations." Modell says his staff contains "a few writers who are very interested in fast food and unashamedly eat fast food. And when new ones come out, we're really compelled to try them."
On that list: Oreo pizza from Dominos and a doughnut-flavored drink from Krispy Kreme. Modell says that particular abomination was the company's response to the Atkins diet craze, introduced "shortly after they overbuilt Krispy Kremes all over the country. ... They did taste like doughnuts, but then [Krispy Kreme] discovered that people didn't want to have doughnut drinks."
Despite the specificity of many of the lists in Inventory, not every topic, no matter how narrowly defined, makes for a good list. The book's final list comprises ideas that the editors rejected before they got around to actually compiling the lists. Modell says most of the entries — examples include "21 classic country songs that objectify men" and "76 great moments where hammy actors yell things at the sky" — were jokes. We wish they'd write them anyway.
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