— n  , pl -cos -coes
a complete failure, esp one that is ignominious or humiliating
[C19: from Italian, literally: flask sense development obscure]

What is a "Fiasco Flick? The term originated--I believe--at a test screening of "Rob The Mob" at the Sony Lincoln Square Theater in New York City a couple of months ago. The focus group that was recruited was asked a series of questions to help determine what people thought of the film, how and if they would recommend it, how best to describe it etc. I'm glad to report that a resounding ninety-six percent rated it very highly and said they would urge a friend to see it. (What about the four percent naysayers? There's an old film adage that I've always believed: for absolutely every movie ever made, there's one person somewhere on earth who thinks it's the best movie ever made and one person somewhere on earth who thinks it's the worst movie ever made).

But I digress. When asked to describe what kind of movie "Rob The Mob" is, audience members were a little stumped. Some said romance. Some said thriller. Others said it was funny. Some thought it was sad. And it is all of those things--we were never bound to any specific genre except for the several different ones that the film somewhat audaciously crosses. Then one young man--couldn't have been older than his mid-twenties--raised his hand and said: "It's a fiasco flick." When asked what he meant, he explained that in a fiasco flick you know from the beginning that something is going to go terribly wrong and yet you enjoy watching the process of complete failure, humiliation and utter disaster.

It is my favorite genre description that I'd never before heard and I keep returning to it as I try to think of other films that fit the description and what constitutes a true fiasco flick. Certainly "Dog Day Afternoon" fits the description (see post from previous day). "Deliverance" is one of the most perversely enjoyable examples of the genre. How about heist-gone-wrong classics like "Asphalt Jungle" or "The Killing"? For that matter, how about just about any crime movie? And that's where the distinction becomes a little more...er, distinct.

Not just any crime movie is necessarily a "fiasco" flick because the fiasco itself must be a very specific one. So a heist gone awry is fine, but Bonnie and Clyde, say, aren't specific enough to rate as a proper "fiasco flick"--neither, for that matter is Henry Hill's life story. A camping trip gone disastrously wrong--good fiasco. A non-criminal robbing a bank with his retarded friend to get money for his secret boyfriends sex-change operation...total fiasco.  Robbing Mafia's social clubs because you think they'll never chase you down...true fiasco.

My two favorites? "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead" (their own parents) and "Fargo" (his own wife!). Anybody think of any others? And anybody know the name of that kid who coined this invaluable addition to film terminology? I'd like to buy him a Martini.

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