Throw a stone and you’ll hit 8,000 “bad movie” review shows on the internet. These shows range from the good (Milwaukee’s own Red Letter Media) to the unwatchable (insert random YouTuber here). Near the top of the heap is We Hate Movies, a long-running New York City-based podcast hosted by comedians and bad-movie buddies Andrew Jupin, Stephen Sajdak, Eric Szyszka, and Chris Cabin. Tackling both the obscure and the random (A Shock To The System, Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead) and the cultishly beloved and currently-in-theaters (Howard The Duck, The Last Jedi), We Hate Movies uses these films as jumping-off points for hilarious diversions, biting social commentary, and the occasional bad impressions. Not since Mystery Science Theater 3000 has listening to people talk about crappy movies been so much fun.
Ahead of a We Hate Movies live show at The Back Room @ Colectivo on Saturday, July 14, (featuring 1995’s Tank Girl), Milwaukee Record chatted with co-host Sajdak (right) about the state of “bad movie” review shows, why a film like The Room is off limits, and the pleasures of trashing a young and Nintendo-addled Fred Savage.
Milwaukee Record: You guys have been doing this for nearly 10 years, which seems crazy.
Stephen Sajdak: It’s kind of insane. We feel incredibly old. We started in November 2010, and we’ve been somehow going ever since. It was a hobby and now it’s a thing we can travel with, which is kind of bizarre.
MR: What’s the criteria for movies you talk about or don’t talk about?
SS: It’s evolved since we started. Originally we were really into doing very obscure movies that we were kind of getting drunk and watching at the same time. Things like Number One With A Bullet, or that weird Wired John Belushi biopic with Michael Chiklis, that kind of stuff. It evolved into changing the dynamic to a little more popcorn fare, things people might have heard of, and things that might get people interested in what we were putting out there. We kind of have a loose “10-year rule.” More often than not, we will not touch a movie if it is under 10 years old. Though we end up breaking all our rules all the time anyway. We ended up breaking it for that Batman v Superman movie, just because it’s so damn bad. [laughs]
I guess the criteria is stuff that has a lot of meat on the bone in terms of what we find funny. Weird character logic, or maybe a totally outdated or insane movie point of view. We talk to the movie a little bit. A movie has a system of beliefs, if that makes sense. A thing we yell out sometimes is, “C’mon, movie!” It’s not, “C’mon, director!” or “C’mon, John Ritter!” or whoever the hell is in it. It’s, “C’mon, movie, what are we doing here?” The movie invited you over to the movie’s house, and now the movie is serving you this crap sandwich. You’re like, “Movie, that’s not very nice of you.”
MR: What’s your stance on famously bad movies like The Room, or bad-on-purpose movies like Sharknado?
SS: We try to steer clear of both of those kinds of movies. The Room, for one, is on this list of stuff we won’t touch. It’s stuff that has been talked about to death. Everybody knows what’s going on in The Room. Adding our voice to the conversation, more often than not, will…well, again, never say never, because we’ve broken all our rules before.
The thing with Troma and Sharknado and whatever, any time a movie is winking too much at the camera, it gets to the point of, “Whoa, what exactly is this movie trying to do?” If it’s trying to be bad, if it’s the kid who pisses his pants on purpose to get attention, what can we mine out of that comedically? I’m not going to be the first in line to make that joke. The kid with the bad haircut, on the other hand, then I’m going to really nail him.
MR: What do you think makes We Hate Movies stand out from other “bad movie” review shows?
SS: For one, we’re the ugliest. That’s a guarantee. When we started in 2010, we were sitting around making these jokes anyway, and it was like, “Hey, let’s make a podcast!” I had no idea what a podcast was. Nobody did. “Like the Ricky Gervais thing?” That’s kind of where we were. I had grown up with Mystery Science Theater, and I was so afraid when we came up with the show that people would shout from the rooftops that we were ripping off MST3K. But even before MST3K, this kind of thing existed, but not in this specific form.
I guess what makes us stand out is an East Coast sensibility. That chip-on-your-shoulder, either cursing or praising the Yankees kind of mentality. I think we also try to blend in a little bit of social consciousness stuff, which is something that has evolved and comes into the show a lot, especially with the state of politics today. We’re very apt to do those kinds of jokes. It’s something we look for in movies: “Okay, wow, that’s racist!” or “Wow, that’s super homophobic! Why was that allowed five to 10 years ago?” We look at why that was funny and then turn it back on the movie a little bit.
MR: You guys also aren’t afraid to go way off topic and indulge in some comedic flights of fancy. It might be minutes before you get back to the movie.
SS: I think that’s what we’ve found to be the best part of the show: when we’re not even talking about the movie at all. I think that the “bad movie” thing is what it is—in terms of so many comedians or comedic personalities finding it an easy “in”—is that all comedy is simply, “Let’s talk about a shared experience.” “We all saw this movie!” It’s airline food. It’s Freddy vs. Jason. That’s the “in,” and ideally what we can do with all of our stuff is find jokes within the world.
Someone will be like, “When I saw this movie in the theater 10 years ago, this guy was doing whatever,” and that will take us 10 minutes off topic, and then go back to, “So, what’s happening in the movie?” That’s when I know we’re having a good episode or a good conversation. We’re not just going plot point by plot point, just doing a recap. Some recaps can be fun, though, because the movie’s so nuts. Like Ninja III: The Domination is just one of those movies where it’s like, “Listen, I’m going to tell you about this movie really quick, and you have to believe that there’s a sex scene involving V8.”
MR: I’ve been cherry-picking through old shows, and the hardest I’ve laughed in weeks is your episode on The Wizard where you guys are trashing Fred Savage and doing this thick Chicago accent.
SS: [laughs] I think we won’t do that this weekend. [We Hate Movies has a show in Chicago the night before the Milwaukee show.] We might leave that at home, in the safety of our New York high-rises that we don’t have.
MR: What can people expect from your live show?
SS: We kind of use the movie as a comedic backdrop for a 60-minute improvised comedy performance. It’s basically an improv show that uses a movie as the vehicle. We don’t write anything down. We all just show up having seen the movie, hoping you’ve seen the movie, or at least have an idea of what the movie is, and make fun of it doing bad-to-okay impressions.
We Hate Movies comes to The Back Room @ Colectivo on Saturday, July 14. General admission tickets are $25. The show, featuring 1995’s Tank Girl, begins at 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.)