Take a Drink: whenever you recognize a set, actor, or line from Birdemic
Take a Drink: whenever you recognize an almost exact establishing shot from The Room
Take a Drink: every time someone says “Stellachip”
Take a Drink: every time Mark air-humps
Take a Drink: for every flashback
Do a Shot: birds!
By: BabyRuth (Six Pack) –
Hey James Nguyen fans! Did you love the first half of Birdemic: Shock and Terror? That hot, intense love story about Rod and Nathalie? Those static shots of the two dining? The awkward dialogue? Did you wish there was a whole movie like that? Without those pesky birds? Well, still with some, okay, a lot of birds… but nice ones? And maybe with some more boardroom clapping scenes, big sales deals, and the obligatory perpetually horny friend? Well, have I got a movie for you.
Julie and Jack is software salesman turned visionary filmmaker James Nguyen’s first feature film. (Birdemic is actually his third. The second, Replica, has never been completed and released due to, in Nguyen’s own words,“bad casting”, which, if you’re familiar with his films, HOLY SHIT JAMES NGUYEN, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD RELEASE REPLICA!)
Our hero is the titular Jack, a computer chip salesman (sound familiar?). Jack’s not doing so well. He sucks at his job, he recently broke up with his longtime girlfriend, and he has the world’s biggest douchebag for a best friend. He often goes to visit said douchebag, Mark (Fact: in San Francisco, everyone’s best friend is named Mark), without calling first, which always seems to result in him interrupting Mark mid-coitus, which we the audience are unfortunately treated to. See, Mark is obsessed with sex and illustrates this by constantly talking about it while humping the air. So one day when Jack is especially down in the dumps, Mark suggests that a new girlfriend may perk him up… if you [air hump] get my drift. He mentions a popular new dating website called CupidMatchMaker.net (after you watch this movie go to that actual site– kudos to the person responsible).
On the site Jack meets a pretty blonde nicknamed Lady Renegade.
Despite her troubles with basic grammar, they go on several dates and hit it off right away. Her real name is… wait for it… Julie and it turns out she is a software developer who develops software and loves to dress up in costumes, whether it be a Great Gatsby-themed party or a trip to a local Chinese restaurant in traditional Chinese attire.
They quickly fall in love and Jack starts doing well at work, selling the hell out of the hottest chip on the market- the Stella chip.
And he doesn’t even have to offer a 50% discount (just a free trip to Vegas)!
Things couldn’t be better. That is until Jack begins to push Julie to take things [air hump] to the next level or even just reveal some basic information about herself. She grows distant and eventually cuts off all communication. So naturally Jack does the only logical thing and stalks the hell out of her, showing up on the doorsteps of her former friends, colleagues, and parents. Not creepy at all.
So what is Julie’s big secret? Can their eternal love survive?
Fans of Nguyen’s bizarrely inept yet endearingly sincere brand of filmmaking will not be disappointed as Julie and Jack contains all the familiar cinematic idiosyncrasies we have come to know and love. Nguyenisms include slow-walking, first-take-is-fine line fumbles, parking scenes, poorly framed static shots, sound dropouts, and distracting, loud background noise. There are also references to large, round amounts of money, Ferraris, nanotechnology, and of course many, many birds. Sharp-eyed viewers will recognize many of the same locations used in Birdemic (just with different 8×10 inkjet printed signs on the walls) as well as several of the same actors in different roles. Oh yes, we get another Damian Carter performance, people!
In addition, the film is set in San Francisco which of course brings to mind that other best-worst cult phenomenon. And both movies were produced around the same time (2002-2003) so it’s possible James Nguyen and Tommy Wiseau were simultaneously filming right down the street from each other. Not only that, but the two movies could theoretically exist in the same universe!
“The flower shop owner said I was her favorite customer!”
Stay with me here. Like, what if Lisa worked at the same company as Jack and couldn’t sell any Stella chips and that’s where she learned just how competitive the computer business really is? What if Jack purchased all those roses he gifts Julie with from the flower shop with Doggy? What if the two Marks know each other and trade sex stories and discuss how dumb their best friends are?
As in Birdemic, the female lead is actually a decent actress. Julie is played by Jenn Gotzon, who went on to work pretty steadily in movies and television shows you have most likely heard of (Frost/Nixon, Pushing Daisies). Her line readings verge on melodramatic, though given what she has to work with, it’s clear she does the best that could have been done with the material short of taking it in the opposite direction of the genius subtle parody style of Birdemic’s Whitney Moore.
The same can’t be said for the majority of the rest of the cast, Justin Kunkle as Jack, in particular. Sadly, he never went on to do more than a couple short films after Julie and Jack, but we’ll always have his, uh, performance here.
You will never be forgotten, Justin Kunkle.
Guess who else is in this movie?
Yup, James Nguyen himself is part of the supporting cast(s) as one of Julie’s college professors and his delivery of the line “Gotta go cup of coffee” must be seen to be believed.
It’s no secret James Nguyen is a superfan of Hitchcock, especially The Birds. Somehow he managed to get Tippi Hedren to appear in this movie.
Like, in a real role. This should have probably gone in the Toast section, because that’s pretty impressive and I have no idea how he managed that. Blackmail? Make-A-Wish? Who knows? But it’s kind of sweet to watch, since it was obviously a dream come true for him. It would be like if I made my own low budget alien musical and got my idol Julie Brown to reprise her Earth Girls Are Easy character. (Note to self: Brush off that script pronto; dreams can come true!)
It’s too bad he [air hump] blew his load with Julie and Jack and couldn’t get Tippi to appear in Birdemic, the actual homage to The Birds. Well, that’s not entirely true. She does appear, sort of- a clip of her in Julie and Jack is briefly shown on a television screen in the background in the “You look… fine” motel room scene.
I haven’t gone into the big twist of Julie and Jack because I really don’t want spoil it as the reveal is legitimately “What the fuck?” bonkers great. And I really want to tell you because there is a Time magazine cover meme currently going around that would have fit in perfectly. Oops, what did I just do? Forget I said that. Anyway, this once again proves that James Nguyen is indeed, a visionary ahead of his time. See also: Spike Jonze (copycat!).
By the end of the movie I kind of ended up hating Julie as she’s really a mean person. Without going into spoilers, she kind of [air hump] dicks Jack around first by putting herself in a situation that would lead him to think she was open to a relationship, then keeps a pretty crucial secret from him, then gets angry when he finds out and can’t handle the secret, then throws one last devastating curveball when poor, dumb Jack finally does come around and attempts to make it work with her. And she keeps another huge secret from her parents which would really help them through something major. She’s awful.
If you are a wonderfully-bad-movie devotee, Julie and Jack is not to be missed. I recommend watching it twice, once in its original form and then the Rifftrax version available here. With many beers of course.