Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Originally a March 17th holiday for Catholics, the day has transformed over the years to become a general celebration by all of Irish culture. For many people, this means two things: whiskey (preferably Jameson) and Guinness.
Of course, St. Patrick’s Day is also all about shrouding yourself in the color green. Each year, the Chicago River is dyed that color in celebration. In Seattle, they paint the day’s parade route in green lines. Hell, this morning at breakfast in MTV’s cafeteria, even the bagels were green. Bad choice there, I think. Who wants to eat a green bread product?
My point is, green is a vital part of St. Patrick’s Day. Which is why, after the jump, I run through a sampling of the many variations of “green” movies you can find.
There’s no better way for a fan of film to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than with a day-long screening marathon of the “Leprechaun” series, a string of Z-movie horror/comedies starring Warwick Davis as the titular tree spirit. There are a staggering six movies in all, including one that takes the diminutive, gold-hoarding little jerk into space (yes, space) and the two that followed it, which take him to the rough-and-tumble world of “the hood.” I’d say that the series jumped the shark when it left Earth in the fourth movie, but that would imply there was a shark in the first place. “Leprechaun” and its descendants nonetheless remains a gloriously entertaining footnote in the history of film.
These days, “green” isn’t just a color. It’s a movement too. We’ve been killing this world for many, many years, and only now are we starting to wake up and smell the depleted ozone layer. Global warming is a fact, and Hollywood has put a fair amount of effort into warning us about it. There are two examples I want to highlight, each lying at opposite ends of the spectrum. For those who want to get serious — or serial, if you prefer — there’s the Oscar-winning Al Gore-led documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” It’s slow and somewhat dull, but it’s terrifying in the stark truths it reveals. On the other of the spectrum is “The Day After Tomorrow,” Roland Emmerich’s warning sign of things to come. Pay attention there: if we keep going at this rate, non-equatorial regions of the world will freeze over and only Dennis Quaid will be able to save us. Trust me… you don’t want this to happen.
In Name Only
There are a fair few movies out there with the word “green” in the title. They’re poseurs. Most of those films, if not all of them, having nothing at all to do with St. Patrick’s Day or being Irish. There are a few in theaters now even, but we’ll get to those in a minute. Here are a handful of “green”-titled movies that don’t actually celebrate the Irish: “The Green Mile,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “Soylent Green,” “How Green Was My Valley,” “Anne of Green Gables,” “Green Card” and “Green Street Hooligans.” Also (a personal favorite): the direct-to-video “Futurama” movie, “Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder.” I’ll say this: it’s the only movie on this list featuring the largest miniature golf course in the universe.
Eagle-eyed movie-lovers may have noticed two recent titles that are conspicuously absent from the above “in name only” section. “Green Zone,” released last Friday, stars Matt Damon in a war-centered action flick that can easily be summed up with the high-concept pitch: “Jason Bourne in Iraq.” The title of course refers to an area of Baghdad rather than any celebration of Irish culture. “Greenberg,” which opens in NY and LA this Friday, is similarly free of Irish underpinnings. Ben Stiller stars as Roger Greenberg (hence the title), a New Yorker who heads to LA to housesit for his more successful brothers… and finds happiness along the way. Awwwwwwww!
What are some of your favorite St. Patrick’s Day movies?