Life Lessons from Movies

The Improv

In Documentary, Movies on April 22, 2014 at 10:10 PM

The Improv: 50 Years Behind the Brick Wall (2013) is an EPIX documentary narrated by Adam Sandler about the stand-up comedy stage founded in 1963 by producer Budd Friedman and actress Silver Saunders in New York City, and later in Los Angeles in 1975, that launched the career of a number of successful comics, including Rodney Dangerfield, Richard Pryor, Jay Leno, Larry David, Lewis Black, Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Judd Apatow and Jimmy Fallon.

Life Lesson:

If you want to succeed in a field, you have to endure long hours of hard work for no or low pay while you hone the necessary skills.

Movie Scene:

Jay Leno: “I used to sleep in the alley around the corner. I remember waking up and I would see Dyke’s Lumber Yard across the street. I didn’t have any place to live. [...] And I thought, ‘oh, really, is this my life now? Is this what show business is? Sleeping in an alley?’ But just to get on at The Improv, it was worth it.”

Judd Apatow: “The person that I, you know, inspired me in a lot of ways was Larry Miller because Larry Miller had this incredible polished act. He could do two and a half hours. [...] He would say, ‘you know how I do that? I write. I write all day. Most comedians are at the mall. I write.’”

Jerry Seinfeld: “Why are there not more giant comedians breaking more than once every 13 god-damned years? ‘Cause they don’t put the work in. That’s why. They have a million others things they can do. And that’s a handicap.”

Jimmy Fallon: “I would work Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursdays, whatever I could do. And you would get a check for $8.25 per set.”

Ray Romano: “I remember Leno saying, it takes six years to really find out who you are on stage.”


In Fantasy, Movies on March 27, 2014 at 7:05 PM

Trailer: Up

Up (2009) is an animated fantasy co-written and co-directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson about an elderly widower, Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner), who moves his house with the help of a young boy, Russell (Jordan Nagai), to South America, in order to fulfill a lifelong wish he shared with his wife Ellie.

Life Lesson:

Caring for living beings is more meaningful than caring for material possessions.

Movie Scene:

Russell: “Sorry about your house Mr. Fredricksen.”

Carl: “You know, it’s just a house.”


In Documentary, Movies on February 26, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Evolution: Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (2001) is a documentary co-written and co-directed by David Espar and Susan K. Lewis about naturalist Charles Robert Darwin and his theory of evolution, published in 1859, that established that all forms of life on Earth are related because they descended from a common ancestor via natural selection, a process whereby individuals better suited to their environment survive and reproduce while those that aren’t well suited perish, thus creating genetic changes in populations which overtime can become so great that a split from the original population occurs, leading to the formation of new species.

Life Lesson:

Biological evolution (genetic change over time in populations via descent with modification through genetic inheritance) is caused by four mechanisms: natural selection (individuals better adapted to their environment tend to survive and reproduce, thus passing their genes to their offspring), mutation (a change in the structure of a gene), migration (gene flow from one population to another) and genetic drift (a change in the frequency of a gene in a population due to random chance).

Movie Scene:

David Page: “In the 19th century, in Darwin’s time, it was audacious to claim that humans and chimps were closely related. There wasn’t that much scientific evidence. But since that time, the evidence has become strong. First, we saw the fossil record appear. Evidence of human ancestors that had apelike features established the plausibility of the idea that humans and chimps had common ancestors. And then in the last twenty years, we’ve seen the emergence of a whole new type of data that’s established a close relationship between chimps and humans. And that comes from the analysis of DNA. This is DNA. We’ve got DNA. Chimps have got DNA. Bacteria have got DNA. Petunias have got DNA. Crabs have got DNA. Every living animal, plant, fish, frog has got DNA, and if we compare the DNAs of any two species, we can establish how closely related they are one to another. [...] Here we’re looking at the DNA sequences of one particular gene that’s found in human and chimp and what’s immediately evident is that humans and chimps have DNAs that are 98% identical. They’re basically the same, there are just a couple of spelling changes. Why are there only a couple of spelling changes? Because we and chimps had a common ancestor only a few million years ago. And these few spelling differences have accumulated during the propagation of this DNA during those few million years. If more time had passed since we had our last common ancestor, more spelling changes would have accumulated.

Narrator: “If the same gene from a rat is compared, many more spelling differences are seen.”

David Page: “That’s because our common ancestor with the rat lived about 80 or 100 million years ago, and there’s been much more time for spelling differences to accumulate.”


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