Butt News Movie Club #11: It's a Wonderful Life
Merry Christmas! Hee-Haw!
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Somehow I made it to 39 years old without ever watching It’s a Wonderful Life, but a bunch of you requested it for Butt News, so this was the year! I literally had no idea what this movie was about. I knew it was Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, and that, maybe, Jimmy Stewart has a wonderful life but then… he… dies? DID NOT KNOW ABOUT “HEE-HAW,” which it’s actually illegal to spring on someone without warning, so you’re all under arrest.
It’s snowing in Bedford Falls, NY and a ton of people are praying for George Bailey, who as far as I can tell is in a coma or something? Or he’s missing? Whatever it is, the whole town is STRESSED. “I owe everything to George Bailey, help him, dear father.” “Joseph, Jesus, and Mary, help my friend Mr. Bailey.” “Help my son George tonight.” “He never thinks about himself [Ed.: FALSE!]—that’s why he’s in trouble!” “George is a good guy, give him a break, lord.” “Please, God, something’s the matter with daddy! Please bring daddy back!”
Hmm, sounds like a pretty wonderful life where you’re hella popular and everyone loves you, even your dumb kids, and it’s only 1929 so you still have a chance to halt global climate change! How could that have gotten all fucked up? (Toxic masculinity, that’s how!!!!!!!! [Yes, I am a stereotype!!!!!!])
Then we go UP IN SPACE, which is where HEAVEN IS(!?!?!?!), and wow it’s only taken 15 seconds for this movie to go completely off the rails! First of all, heaven is real, and it’s apparently, like, near Mars, and it operates as some sort of large corporate bureaucracy where working class angels scrabble and beg for promotions from sneering, petty middle manager angels. Also, according to this part, angels are stars, which a quick Google search (“what are stars”) tells me are “huge celestial bodies made mostly of hydrogen and helium that produce light and heat from the churning nuclear forges inside their cores.” And they can talk. And read. And they have feathers, which one would assume would combust when affixed to a star burning at 18,000 degrees Fahrenheit! But I guess not! I am learning so much from this movie already!
A little green star named Clarence has been waiting 200 years to get his angel wings, and his bosses (imagine dying and going to heaven and STILL HAVING A BOSS) think George Bailey would be a great assignment for Clarence, even though Clarence has “got the IQ of a rabbit” but “the faith of a child.” IS ANYONE FROM HEAVEN HR MONITORING THIS WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE PERFORMANCE REVIEW?
They call Clarence over and they’re like “A man down on earth needs our help,” and Clarence goes, “Is he sick?” and they’re like, “No, worse, he’s DISCOURAGED.”
Maybe this just hits differently in year three of a global pandemic, but R U SURE THAT’S WORSE? Is this like how all celebrities have brain worms because they can’t go to the grocery store anymore so they think that the best way to stop the refugee crisis is to, like, design a hoodie? Angels are Susan Sarandon thinking a banana costs $40.
Before Clarence can go down to earth to help George Bailey with being in a coma and/or missing, they make him (stars have gender) watch a 90-minute PowerPoint about George’s life. Before they start, one of the bosses is like “what’s that book you’ve got there,” and Clarence is like, “Oh, Tom Sawyer!” and no offense but IT WOULD BE ON FIRE. Smh!!!!!!!!!!
It’s 1919 and George Bailey and his friends are sledding on shovels down a hill and out on to a frozen pond, and maybe it’s because I come from a place that never freezes, but why do they have so many shovels, and why is anyone ever fucking with a frozen pond??
At this point I realized that when they said we’re getting a retrospective on George Bailey’s life they really meant A RETROSPECTIVE ON GEORGE BAILEY’S LIFE, like we are going to start at the beginning and go alllllllll the way through, and that sounded so long that I fell briefly into despair. But if this is the movie, this is the movie! Let’s do it! Hee-haw!
George’s brother Harry rides the shovel all the way to the end of the pond and beefs it through the ice and into the freezing water (SEE!??!?!), so George has to jump in and save him, and in return for Harry’s life Poseidon takes as his dark price the workings of George’s left earball. Now George has 1 ear and 0 respect for his brother or shovels.
George and his friends see a fancy carriage and someone’s like, “Who’s that? A king?” and someone else is like, “That’s Harry Potter, the richest man in the county!”
George goes to work at—what is this? A child store? Where children shop? And children work there? It’s a bar for children???? There’s a girl named Violet sitting at the bar who can only be described as… slutty? Despite being 8? And she tells this other girl, Mary, that she has a crush on George Bailey, child bartender.
Violet: “I like him.”
Mary: “You like every boy.”
Violet: “What’s wrong with that?”
NOTHING AT ALL, VIOLET. JUST BECAUSE THESE CHUMPS HAVE A SHRIVELED, STUNTED CAPACITY FOR LOVE DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD HIDE YOUR LIGHT.
Violet leaves to go friendzone like eight guys probably, and Mary orders some ice cream. Then comes this conversation from outer space.
Mary: “I’ll take chocolate.”
George: “With coconuts?”
Mary: “I don’t like coconuts.”
George: “You don’t like coconuts? Say, brainless, don’t you know where coconuts come from? See here! From Tahiti, the Fiji islands, the Coral Sea!”
Imagine asking someone if they want coconuts PLURAL on their ice cream and then telling them to fuck off and die if they don’t!!! Our first glimpse into the howling void at the heart of George Bailey!
George bends down to put nonconsensual coconut on her sundae anyway even though she said no thank you (STRIKE TWO) and Mary whispers, “Is this the ear you can’t hear on? George Bailey, I’ll love you till the day I die!” which is why you shouldn’t make life decisions when you’re six.
Then George stands up and says (REALLY): “I’m going out exploring someday, you watch, and I’m gonna have a couple of harems, and maybe even three or four wives!” Again, this man is TWELVE MAXIMUM. Can you imagine if Violet said that?????
George’s boss Mr. Gower peeks out from the back room and is inexplicably weeping, so George looks around and finds a telegram that says Mr. Gower’s son died of influenza this morning. George goes back to check on Mr. Gower and realizes that Mr. Gower is wasted because of his dead son so he is trying to fill prescriptions but instead of filling it with medicine he accidentally filled it with POISON. George knows this because there’s a bottle on the table labeled “POISON”! Hey, how about the things that make you alive and the things that make you dead be kept in different rooms? Mr. Gower tells George to deliver the poison and George is like uuuuuuuuuhhh oooookaaayyyy??????
(That was actually the 3rd leading cause of death in 1919—drunk pharmacist.)
George doesn’t know what to do, so he runs over to his dad’s work at the Building & Loan to get some advice. Unfortunately, George’s dad doesn’t have time to help him decide whether or not he should knowingly feed poison to a child, because he’s too busy arguing with Harry Potter, who is mad that George’s dad helps people get houses instead of stealing all their money. A lot of complex gray areas in this movie!!
Dad’s no help, so George runs back to the pharmacy where Mr. Gower punches him in the head for not delivering the poison. HIS EAR IS BLEEDING. NOW HE IS BLEEDING FROM THE EAR. HE IS LEAKING BRAIN FLUID.
George tells Mr. Gower that he didn’t deliver it because it was poison instead of medicine, so Mr. Gower opens the capsule and TASTES IT WITH HIS MOUTH and is like OH NO YEP THAT’S POISON! It’s got that poison taste!!! (Second leading 1919 cause of death: tasting to see if something is poison.)
Now Mr. Gower realizes his fuckup so he hugs George and then, to make up for punching him in the ear, ten years later he buys him a used suitcase.
It’s 1929, and a now 22-year-old George (CLEARLY AS U CAN SEE)…
…is getting ready for his long-awaited trip around the world to visit every coconut.
His dad, who is still having that same argument with Harry Potter btw, wants George to come work with him at the Building & Loan, but George explains that he is a rambling man who does not want to work at the Building & Loan, and instead wants to do “something big and something important” involving Europe. His dad explains that he would be doing something great by helping people to get houses, but George says that unfortunately Bedford Falls fucking blows and “I just feel like if I didn’t get away I’d bust!” At last, his dad relents, conceding that “This town is no place for any man unless he’s willing to crawl to Potter,” which, like, then thanks for trying to trap your son forever in a place you acknowledge is hell?????
Then they ask their Black maid, Annie, to pull up a chair and hang out with them at the dinner table and then they’re like LOL SIKE JUST KIDDING CAN YOU IMAGINE????
George goes to Charlie’s high school graduation party where he reconnects with Mary and they Charleston like crazy. Some murderer deliberately opens the gym floor in an attempt to dump George and Mary into the swimming pool below, “as a prank,” even though many teens would surely be killed. Everyone in the room notices the gaping chasm in the floor except George and Mary, who just keep doing the Charleston (SOMEONE WARN THEM) until they fall into the pool. Against all odds, they survive, so then all the kids jump in the pool and continue to water-Charleston as though gripped by a strange madness! The past was deranged!
George walks a wet Mary home wearing someone else’s dirty gym clothes that he stole from the school. They pass a haunted house and Mary says she wishes she could live there. George tells her he doesn’t want to live in a shitty rotten house because he is ambitious and is going to go see the world, and Mary is VISIBLY DEVASTATED. Look, man, Team Mary in this movie in general obviously, but could we not act like it’s MEAN for a person to want to DO WHAT THEY WANT? Capitalism can eat shit but George does not have to stay in Bedford Falls just because Mary craves his D!
George, forever sending Mary diametrically opposed messages, tells her that despite his clearly stated plan to abandon her forever and marry the Matterhorn instead, he is also going to lasso the moon for her so she can eat it because he is literally obsessed with her. (Bad news: the moon doesn’t taste as good as thin feels!!)
They’re flirting like hell and a nearby old man who’s watching from his porch goes, “Why don’t you kiss her instead of talking her to death!?” If you don’t kiss her I can’t climax!!!!
Mary tries to flee from the pervert’s boner, but when George looks after her it’s just her robe lying in a heap on the ground! Mary has been turned into a little mouse!
Oh, no, she’s just hiding in a hydrangea because George stepped on her robe and she is fully nude on a city street outside a creep’s house. SPEAKING OF CREEEEEEEEPS!!!!! George starts to throw Mary her robe and then STOPS! AND SAYS! “WAIT A MINUTE, WHAT AM I DOING? THIS IS A VERY INTERESTING SITUATION!!!” AND THEN HE WITHHOLDS THE ROBE FROM THE NUDE TEEN HIDING IN A BUSH.
Truly a Christmas classic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Here’s the darkest dialogue in the whole movie:
Mary: “George Bailey, give me my robe!... I’ll call the police!”
George: “Oh, they’re way downtown. They’d be on my side, too.”
Yeah. We know.
Just then, George’s Uncle Billy drives up in a car and says that George’s father has had a stroke so they need to go home now.
It’s a few months later, George’s dad is dead, and George gave up his trip to Europe to help wrap up his dad’s affairs and keep the Building & Loan afloat. Harry Potter is now on the board of the Building & Loan (what’s next—Voldemort on the board of the Order of the Phoenix!?!?!!?!? LOL), and he makes a motion to dissolve it so that he can force the entire town to live in his nasty slums. As an example of why the Building & Loan gotta go, Potter mentions this one time when they helped a lazy guy build a house worth $5000. Gross!!! Potter warns that the Building & Loan is going to usher in “a discontented lazy rabble instead of a thrifty working class.”
George defends the lazybones, asking, “Do you know how long it takes a working man to save $5000?”
Incredibly disturbing that this is still a totally relatable thing to say in 2021! It’s almost A HUNDRED YEARS LATER and a working man still can’t save $5000! :-|
George delivers an intense and rousing anti-capitalist speech, which I give 10/10, and, hang on, why is there a bird in here??????
George’s speech works and the board votes Harry Potter down, so George decides to stay and run the company for a while. He gives his college tuition money to Harry, with the expectation that Harry is going to come home after college and run the company so that George can FINALLY GO SEE THE FUCKING PARTHENON. Of course Harry doesn’t follow through—he gets married and gets a job doing research at the glass factory—so George permanently cancels his Euro Trip and settles down to be STUCK in the UPPER MIDDLE CLASS with his BELOVED WIFE and his DEAR FRIENDS.
And, like I said before, I don’t think it’s fair for Mary to guilt-trip George into canceling his trip so they can get married or whatever, but I ALSO don’t think it’s a TRAGEDY for a white man to have a stable lifelong career as the BOSS of a COMPANY in a BEAUTIFUL TOWN? Like, what did Annie the maid want to do with her life?!?!?!?!??! Is that a tragedy or is it only a tragedy when it’s GEORGE? (This is the fundamental flaw of the movie. Also that George is always being a bitch.)
George’s mom tells him that Mary is “the kind of girl who will help you find the answers” (yeah like WHERE DO THE DICK GO!!!!! haha) and pressures him to ask her out even though Mary is already dating Sam Wainwright. Mom is like it’s chill bro Sam’s out of town bc she ships George + Mary hard!!!!!
A depressed George asks his mom to point him in the direction of some passionate necking, but then he goes in the opposite direction AWAY from the necking. Violet spots him and he asks her on a date, but when he tells her that for the date he wants to take their shoes off and walk around in grass and swim in a green mountain pool she is like SICK! I would NEVER PUT MY FEET IN GRASS, and the whole town hears and is like LOLOLOL GEORGE U SUCK.
George happens to wander past Mary’s house and she happens to be in the window and she invites him inside. (I didn’t take a picture of it but a note for the background coordinator: why are there like 55 pedestrians walking back and forth outside of Mary’s house on this random residential street in the middle of the night?)
George kicks their fence open (DUDE) and comes in with the worst energy. She shows him that she made a beautiful drawing of him lassoing the moon, and she puts on “Buffalo Gals,” which is their song, but George doesn’t give a fuck because HE has to have a JOB. She asks if he likes her dress and he goes, “It’s all right.” He doesn’t even like the drawing she did OF HIM. George is just being such a fucking bitch!
Sam Wainwright calls from New York to yell at Mary about how he’s going to make a fortune in plastics. Mary and George get real close together so they can both talk to Sam about plastics and thank you, Frank Capra, because this scene is HOT. Speakerphone has ruined sexual tension!!!!
After they hang up, George screams in Mary’s face: “I don’t want any plastics and I don’t want any ground floors and I don’t want to get married ever to anyone! I wanna do what I wanna do!” Which, fine, good boundaries, George, but you don’t need to yell!
Of course instead of him doing that they KISS and then immediately get married.
Okay, Jesus Christ, I am writing this recap ON CHRISTMAS and it’s already 3:15 pm and I gotta pick up the pace so that I can go be with my family (that’s what Clarence taught me!!!!).
Gonna blast through some stuff. There’s a run on the bank, so George and Mary use their honeymoon money to keep the Building & Loan afloat. George establishes Bailey Park, a housing development that helps Italians get out of Harry Potter’s slums. There continues to be A BIRD IN THE BUILDING & LOAN. George and Mary move into the rotten mansion even though he literally works in the house business. Mary turns a record player into a rotisserie. Harry Potter decides he’s got to destroy Bailey Park so that all the suckers will move back into his slums and keep paying him rent. George makes a speech x 100. It is established that “HEE-HAW” is Sam Wainwright’s catchphrase, please kill me. Sam invites George and Mary to drive to Florida with him hee-haw but they are like no thank u we literally hate u. George violently kicks his own car because he’s mad he’s not rich from plastic. George goes to meet with Potter who makes him sit in a humiliating tiny chair, which is what they teach you on day 1 of business school. Potter, who was already elderly in 1919, continues to be the exact same amount of elderly 30(?) years later (sounds like somebody found the philosopher’s stone amiriteeteteteteeteetete?!?!?). Potter asks if George wants to be his assistant for $20k a year so he can stop “frittering his life away playing nursemaid to a lot of garlic eaters.” George is like hell no!!!!!!! But then he goes home and watches Mary sleeping and thinks about his dead dreams and he’s mad about it, as usual. Mary gets pregnant and has 4 babies. George goes to work and is pissed off about it. There’s a war. George can’t go because of his busted ear. Harry becomes a war hero and wins the Congressional Medal of Honor. George is mad about it. Uncle Billy gets distracted bragging about Harry’s medal and accidentally hands Mr. Potter all the Building & Loan’s knuts, on the same day that the bank examiner shows up at the Building & Loan to bank-examine the knut accounts! The Building & Loan is fucked! Meanwhile, somehow the elderly pharmacist is still alive???? HOW COME NOBODY EVER DIES IN THIS TOWN?
Okay. Here we are. Here’s where the movie actually starts. THERE IS HALF AN HOUR LEFT.
George realizes that the 8,000 knuts is gone forever and loses his shit on Uncle Billy: “It means bankruptcy and scandal and prison! One of us is going to jail and it’s not gonna be me!”
Then an indoor squirrel crawls up Uncle Billy and nobody even mentions it!!!!!!!!!!!
George goes home to Mary and their 19 kids and he’s all gray and green and shitty and he didn’t even remember the Christmas wreath.
Mary: “What’s the matter?”
George: “Nothing’s the matter.”
OH MY GOD, JUST COMMUNICATE, GEORGE! YOU’RE USUALLY SO WEIRD AND CHATTY!
George screams at his entire family and makes all of his children cry for no reason. Then he goes upstairs where his daughter Zuzu has a cold and very sweetly tucks her in. Why is he only nice to this one kid? He hates all his other kids??? Zuzu’s teacher calls to check on her so George screams at her too. She probably doesn’t even like coconuts!!
Then he wrecks all his stuff, and Mary is like, “George, why must you torture the children?”
I’m no couples therapist, but if you ever find yourself saying that sentence to your husband, GET! A! DIVORCE!
George goes and begs Harry Potter for $8,000 and Potter is like wow did u gamble it on the market or did u give it 2 violet for sex, everyone says u do her, lol, why don’t u ask ur other poor friends 4 money lmao. He points out that George has a life insurance policy and is “worth more dead than alive” and George is like LIGHTBULB!
Oh my god, this movie is so long. (But I have decided that I like it! Calm down!)
Long story short, George goes to jump off a bridge into a river and then FINALLY CLARENCE IS ALL PUT ME IN COACH. Before George can jump into the river and die, CLARENCE jumps into the river instead, so that George has to jump into the river and SAVE him, which still seems like the end result is George in the river, but okay???
(PS. If Clarence jumped into the river wouldn’t it INSTANTLY BOIL AND VAPORIZE??????)
Clarence explains that he is from Heaven and he is an “Angel, second class.” George’s guardian angel, in fact. Which, if that existed, we would know about it. Because you would know a guy that this happened to? George says, “Well, you look like the kind of an angel I’d get,” which is a pro roast.
Clarence tells George that only an idiot would kill himself over money—they don’t even USE money in heaven! Okay, but they actually do use money in Bedford Falls! So it’s not really a 1:1 comparison, is it? (Also, if you don’t use money in heaven, then WHY DO YOU HAVE TO HAVE A JOB????????)
George tells his guardian angel to “shut up,” lol. Then he says he wishes he’d never been born, and here is where Clarence gets a BIG IDEA. Like, dude, Clarence, you came down here without a plan??
Right away George can tell that something is weird. First of all, he can hear out of his broken earball. Second of all, he is no longer bleeding from the mouth where he got punched earlier. He goes to look for his car (he crashed it into a tree earlier but I forgot to tell you because I was in a hurry) and not only is there no car there, the tree is positively thriving! The tree’s owner comes out and tells George that this is “one of the oldest trees in Pottersville.” George is like excuse me bitch but POTTERSVILLE!?!?!?!!?!? There are no Italians anywhere and nobody recognizes George at all. This sucks!
George and Clarence go to the bar to get a drink and George is like hey Clarence can you stfu about the angel stuff while we’re at the bar? Unfortunately the bartender already heard Clarence say that he’s 298 years old which is an AUTOMATIC 86. Before they get kicked out, though, Mr. Gower shows up only instead of a pharmacist he is an old panhandler now! He spent 20 years in jail for poisoning a kid! George still doesn’t get it!
Clarence takes George to downtown Pottersville where it’s all BARS and TITTY CLUBS and not WHOLESOME at ALL and EVERYONE is just JITTERBUGGING EVERYWHERE!! It looks pretty fun tbh but I guess it would be disorienting to see your Building & Loan transformed into a jitterbug den overnight.
Anyway blah blah blah George is like WHAAAT THAAAA FAAUAUUCK and then finally gets it. He got his wish! This is what would have happened if he was never born! Nobody would be there to stop Harry Potter from doing unfettered capitalism to the town!
Harry is dead in the cemetery because George wasn’t there to save him from the ice, and now all the war heroes are dead because Harry wasn’t there to save them from the war. Uncle Billy is in the insane asylum for being friends with a squirrel, and George’s mom doesn’t even recognize him!
George is freaking the fuck out and Clarence thinks that’s a cool time to say, “You’ve had a wonderful life, George,” like my mom telling me I shouldn’t have put so many towels in the dryer at one time! Read the room, Clarence!!
George has to make one last stop. He has to find Mary. It turns out that Mary is at the LIBRARY (ew!) and—I hope ur sitting down—she is an OLD MAID WHO NEVER MARRIED. George runs over there and Mary comes out looking like shit and she has glasses and it’s sick.
She doesn’t recognize George so he chases her down the street and grabs her and screams in her face and punches a cop (ACAB) and finally runs back to the bridge where he falls to his knees and begs Clarence to take him back to his wonderful life. “Please, God, let me live again!”
AND SO GOD DOES!!!!! George is born again! And now he hates money and he LOVES NOT TRAVELING!
George goes back to his house where the cops and the bank examiner are there to arrest him and a reporter is there to take a picture of it. George is pumped! He doesn’t care! He hugs all the kids (like, wow, this has to be destabilizing—your dad was raging at you like a demon 15 mins ago!), and then Uncle Billy shows up with a huge basket of cash and the entire town! Turns out, while George was jumping off a bridge, MARY WAS ACTUALLY FUCKING DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT, which was going around and asking all of their friends and neighbors for help raising the $8,000 for the bank and saving George’s dumb ass! SEE, GEORGE, IT’S CALLED COMMUNICATION AND VULNERABILITY!
All the Italians are there! And Harry isn’t dead! And the cop is there playing an accordion! Even Annie the maid shows up to donate her life savings (GIVE IT BACK, GEORGE)! And Sam Wainwright wires George $25,000 from London! And Clarence gets his wings! It’s a socialist money party from heaven!!
And yes I cried. I understand why you all like this weird movie, okay!?
Still waiting for the sequel where the whole town comes together to do something about George’s anger problems. HEE-HAW!