Dec 30 2013

Silly Billy

The Onion’s head film critic Peter K. Rosenthal reviews It’s a Wonderful Life. He is just like me. I too hate it when people in films do something mind-bogglingly stupid just in order to drive the story along. (Language advisory)

The Onion Looks Back At ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’


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  1. 1
    sigurd jorsalfar

    In the writing biz that’s called ‘carrying the idiot ball‘.

  2. 2
    chigau (違う)

    I thought I was almost the only one who detests the movie.
    I don’t limit myself to Uncle Billy, though.

  3. 3
    Rob Grigjanis

    I’ve hated this movie with a passion for as long as I can remember, and it has nothing to do with Uncle Billy. It’s a sickeningly sentimental right wing wet dream view of America, like most of Capra’s work. Yeah, there are bad guys, but they can be beaten by decent ordinary folk wishing hard enough, with maybe some help from an angel. Barf.

    I do like Arsenic and Old Lace though.

  4. 4

    I left my favorite jacket in a restaurant two weeks ago.

    To quote Rosenthal it had thickness, weight, heft, how could I have not noticed I left it?

    Glad you guys are enjoying your hate on.

  5. 5

    @3 Rob: Arsenic and Old Lace is the only Capra film I’ve ever seen (I just checked at IMDb). I like it too. Lovely aunts.

  6. 6
    4oz of reason

    @4 Fair enough, but was your only purpose in being in the restaurant to keep hold of the jacket, and did you instead accidentally hand it to your nephew’s arch-nemesis?

  7. 7

    In Pacific Rim, I particularly liked the way they forgot they had an 80 foot long fucking sword built into the cocking thing until after leveling most of Hong Kong trying to punch a Kaiju to death

    … and why the hell did it take 5 generations of Jaegers before somebody thought to mount fucking missiles on the things?

    … I may be overthinking that movie, however ;)

  8. 8
    Lassi Hippeläinen

    Stan Laurel once noted that in a succesful American comedy the characters must be stupider than the audience.

    Maybe that explains why America never produced anything like Monty Python.

  9. 9

    Good morning Mano,

    Uncle Billy doesn’t bother me so much. I once left a $500 bomber jacket at the library because it was chilly when I went in and warm when I went out and I flat out didn’t think about the jacket until I was back home.

    By the time I turned around and drove back to the library the jacket was long gone.

    In the excitement of shoving the news of the Congressional Medal of Honor in Potter’s face, I have no problem seeing how the weak-minded Billy could have lost track of the $8,000 for 30 seconds.

    Do all you can to make today a good day,


  10. 10

    One the other hand…

    What I REALLY hate are stupid villains who, when presented with the opportunity to simply shoot/stab/blow-up the hero, let the moment pass in favor of some elaborate scheme that allows the hero to escape.

    (The ’60s Batman TV show was particularly guilty of this.)


  11. 11
    that's a lot of money

    $8,000 in 1946 = $95,618.05 in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI inflation calculator. Would anyone trust his or her moronic relative to handle that much cash today?

    The thing that annoys me is Clarence’s heavenly rank of “AS2″ which supposedly stands for “Angel, Second Class”. Would “ASC” have annoyed the film’s cinematographer, Joseph Walker, also an “A.S.C.”?

  12. 12
    G. Priddy

    Uncle Billy misplacing the money always seemed plausible to me. What’s not plausible is what Potter would have done with the money, or account for its origin. Depositing that much cash in a bank would surely raise an auditor’s suspicion. Or would he have simply laundered it through one of his companies?

    The main point I take away from this movie is not the “oligarch vs. little guy”, but the impact each person’s life has on so many other lives. I know it’s not a simplistic, one-for-one change, as depicted in the movie, but we often don’t stop to realize how many people’s lives we touch, often without even knowing it.

    Even the conflict between the two protagonists is somewhat realistic. The people in Bedford Falls were numerically superior to Potter, and when they acted together, his wealth and power were outmatched. That’s still the case today, even if the execution of it is unlikely.

  13. 13

    @6, yeah, I am embarrassed to say I have done some truly stupid things involving leaving things behind, but @11 is right, knowing who Uncle Billy is, why entrust him with the task in the first place?

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