Skip to main content

In fact, I hate anyone that ever had a pony growing up.


Seinfeld
2.2: The Pony Remark

The Premise

Jerry attends a relative’s dinner party and she takes extreme offence at a joke he makes.

Observational

Much as I like Morty and Helen Seinfeld (Barney Martin and Liz Sheridan), I find their episodes don’t tend to have the zest or spark of, say, those with George’s parents. This may be because there’s something slightly recumbent about them, which you could never say of the senior Costanzas.

This idea behind this one is ultimately slightly better than the finished episode; an offhand bit Jerry throws out proves objectionable to Manya (Rozsika Halmos). When she dies that night, Jerry wonders if the offence he caused was so great it killed her. What really sells the thing is the sheer unlikeliness of the subject matter (“Who figures an immigrant’s going to have a pony?”). Jerry decides to lay into these equine beasties (“In fact, I hate anyone that ever had a pony growing up”), little realising that Manya had one (“He was a beautiful pony and I loved him”). Halmos relays Manya’s indignation beautifully. But the dinner scene is such a highlight that the rest can’t quite match up.

Still, there’s some good material at the subsequent funeral, not least the eulogy delivered by Earl Boen (Silberman in the first three Terminators). Louise-Dreyfus also has to shout her inquires over the possibility of letting Manya’s apartment to the not-quite-present Isaac (David Fresco). Consistently barbed are the blunt suggestions that Jerry’s remarks killed Manya; no one is attempting to smooth over his trouble conscience (not really that troubled at all, since a baseball game is his priority), even after Isaac indicates that he wasn’t the cause (“She was much more upset about the potato salad”). Later in the series Jerry will generally coast by unaffected by what transpires; here he is “punished” by losing his baseball game (“Makes you wonder about the spirit world”).

A number of staples of Jerry’s family background are introduced. We learn that Morty had the idea for the beltless trench coat, which will later blossom into a less-than-fruitful business transaction with Kramer. We also see Uncle Leo for the first time, a boorish relative of Jerry’s who comes complete with a tache and a chin; and the inimitably enthusiastic delivery of Len Lesser.

It’s George who shares a backseat with Kramer this time. In fact, he doesn’t even appear until the second half when he surfaces with non-sequitors about his absent sex life. The best part of this scene is his digression and Elaine’s digression over the workings of the spirit world (“It’s all mental!”) Kramer’s contribution is a bet with Jerry over whether he will actually put into effect his plan to split-level and carpet his apartment. When he goes off the idea he does the very Kramer thing of proclaiming the bet is off (Jerry replies, “That’s the bet. That you’re not doing it!”)

Quotable

George: Do you know how easy it is for dead people to travel? One second! It’s all mental! It’s not like getting on a bus.

Eulogist: Oh, how she loved that pony. It’s lustrous coat. It’s flowing mane. It was the pride of Krakow.

Jerry: But I went to the funeral!
Elaine: Yeah, but that doesn’t make up for killing her.

Verdict: 


Popular posts from this blog

You were this amazing occidental samurai.

Ricochet (1991) (SPOILERS) You have to wonder at Denzel Washington’s agent at this point in the actor’s career. He’d recently won his first Oscar for Glory , yet followed it with less-than-glorious heart-transplant ghost comedy Heart Condition (Bob Hoskins’ racist cop receives Washington’s dead lawyer’s ticker; a recipe for hijinks!) Not long after, he dipped his tentative toe in the action arena with this Joel Silver production; Denzel has made his share of action fare since, of course, most of it serviceable if unremarkable, but none of it comes near to delivering the schlocky excesses of Ricochet , a movie at once ingenious and risible in its plot permutations, performances and production profligacy.

No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.

The Matrix  (1999) (SPOILERS) Twenty years on, and the articles are on the defining nature of The Matrix are piling up, most of them touching on how its world has become a reality, or maybe always was one. At the time, its premise was engaging enough, but it was the sum total of the package that cast a spell – the bullet time, the fashions, the soundtrack, the comic book-as-live-action framing and styling – not to mention it being probably the first movie to embrace and reflect the burgeoning Internet ( Hackers doesn’t really count), and subsequently to really ride the crest of the DVD boom wave. And now? Now it’s still really, really good.

Well, something’s broke on your daddy’s spaceship.

Apollo 13 (1995) (SPOILERS) The NASA propaganda movie to end all NASA propaganda movies. Their original conception of the perilous Apollo 13 mission deserves due credit in itself; what better way to bolster waning interest in slightly naff perambulations around a TV studio than to manufacture a crisis event, one emphasising the absurd fragility of the alleged non-terrestrial excursions and the indomitable force that is “science” in achieving them? Apollo 13 the lunar mission was tailor made for Apollo 13 the movie version – make believe the make-believe – and who could have been better to lead this fantasy ride than Guantanamo Hanks at his all-American popularity peak?

We’ve got the best ball and chain in the world. Your ass.

Wedlock (1991) (SPOILERS) The futuristic prison movie seemed possessed of a particular cachet around this time, quite possibly sparked by the grisly possibilities of hi-tech disincentives to escape. On that front, HBO TV movie Wedlock more than delivers its FX money shot. Elsewhere, it’s less sure of itself, rather fumbling when it exchanges prison tropes for fugitives-on-the-run ones.

I can’t be the worst. What about that hotdog one?

Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) (SPOILERS) It would have been a merciful release, had the title card “ The End ”, flashing on screen a little before the ninety-minute mark, not been a false dawn. True, I would still have been unable to swab the bloody dildoes fight from my mind, but at least Everything Everywhere All at Once would have been short. Indeed, by the actual end I was put in mind of a line spoken by co-star James Wong in one of his most indelible roles: “ Now this really pisses me off to no end ”. Or to put it another way, Everything Everywhere All at Once rubbed me up the wrong which way quite a lot of most of the time.

Drank the red. Good for you.

Morbius (2022) (SPOILERS) Generic isn’t necessarily a slur. Not if, by implication, it’s suggestive of the kind of movie made twenty years ago, when the alternative is the kind of super-woke content Disney currently prioritises. Unfortunately, after a reasonable first hour, Morbius descends so resignedly into such unmoderated formula that you’re left with a too-clear image of Sony’s Spider-Verse when it lacks a larger-than-life performer (Tom Hardy, for example) at the centre of any given vehicle.

So, you’re telling me that NASA is going to kill the President of the United States with an earthquake?

Conspiracy Theory (1997) (SPOILERS) Mel Gibson’s official rehabilitation occurred with the announcement of 2016’s Oscar nominations, when Hacksaw Ridge garnered six nods, including Mel as director. Obviously, many refuse to be persuaded that there’s any legitimate atonement for the things someone says. They probably weren’t even convinced by Mel’s appearance in Daddy’s Home 2 , an act of abject obeisance if ever there was one. In other circles, though, Gibbo, or Mad Mel, is venerated as a saviour unsullied by the depraved Hollywood machine, one of the brave few who would not allow them to take his freedom. Or at least, his values. Of course, that’s frequently based on alleged comments he made, ones it’s highly likely he didn’t. But doesn’t that rather appeal to the premise of his 23-year-old star vehicle Conspiracy Theory , in which “ A good conspiracy theory is an unproveable one ”?

Twenty dwarves took turns doing handstands on the carpet.

Bugsy (1991) (SPOILERS) Bugsy is very much a Warren Beatty vanity project (aren’t they all, even the ones that don’t seem that way on the surface?), to the extent of his playing a title character a decade and a half younger than him. As such, it makes sense that producer Warren’s choice of director wouldn’t be inclined to overshadow star Warren, but the effect is to end up with a movie that, for all its considerable merits (including a script from James Toback chock full of incident), never really feels quite focussed, that it’s destined to lead anywhere, even if we know where it’s going.

He’ll regret it to his dying day, if ever he lives that long.

The Quiet Man (1952) (SPOILERS) The John Wayne & John Ford film for those who don’t like John Wayne & John Ford films? The Quiet Man takes its cues from Ford’s earlier How Green Was My Valley in terms of, well less Anglophile and Hibernophile and Cambrophile nostalgia respectively for past times, climes and heritage, as Wayne’s pugilist returns to his family seat and stirs up a hot bed of emotions, not least with Maureen O’Hara’s red-headed hothead. The result is a very likeable movie, for all its inculcated Oirishness and studied eccentricity.

I have done some desperate, foolish things come 3 o'clock in the morning.

Sea of Love (1989) (SPOILERS) It’s difficult to imagine Sea of Love starring Dustin Hoffman, for whom Richard Price wrote the screenplay but who bowed out over requests for multiple rewrites. Perhaps Hoffman secretly recognised what most of us don’t need telling; there’s no way he fits into an erotic thriller (I’m not sure I’d even buy him as a cop). Although, he would doubtless have had fun essaying the investigative side, involving a succession of dates on the New York singles scene as a means to ensnare a killer. Al Pacino, on the other hand, has just the necessary seedy, threadbare, desperate quality, and he’s a powerhouse in a movie that, without its performances (Ellen Barkin and John Goodman may also take bows), would be a mostly pedestrian and unremarkable entry in the then burgeoning serial killer genre. Well, I say unremarkable. The rightly most-remarked-upon aspect of the murder mystery side is how unsatisfyingly it’s resolved. Sea of Love is so scant of r