So you’re just sitting around a very recognizable New York public library, cramming for class or maybe researching the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow, when suddenly your day takes a turn for the stranger. At first you might suspect the dude wearing the sheet with eyeholes cut in it might be a particularly ballsy Klu Klux Klan member who forgot to starch his sheet, but after he takes a seat another “ghost” wanders in. And another. And before you can wonder who you gonna call, the Ghostbusters are on the scene and they’re ready to believe you.
That bit of japery comes via the folks of Improv Everywhere, a New York-based group that…well, improvs everywhere (so long as by “everywhere” you mean “in New York City.” They’ve done some great, well-coordinated stunts over the years, such as having a large group of people enter a store or other public space and then freeze in place at an exact coordinated time. The Ghostbusters stunt is a brilliant demonstration of how comedy relies on timing. It wouldn’t be nearly as funny if they didn’t gradually bring in multiple ghosts before the final visual punchline arrives in the form of four uniformed Ghostbusters.
Did you ever wonder what Neo did when he wasn’t busy discovering the extent of his powers or trying to defeat those damn pesky machines? The guy’s gotta have some down time in there that isn’t occupied by war or one of those freaky Zion rave/orgies. It turns out he’s actually kind of a clothes hound. I mean, you don’t put together a stylish all-black getup like he’s sporting without doing a little shopping around. But wouldn’t you know it? Neo just wants to buy a new man-dress but before you know it, boom, he’s being attacked by multiple Agents.
While I love Improv Everywhere, The Matrix video proves that not every good idea works out as well as it could.. I like the concept of trying to recreate the slow-motion bullet-time fights of the Matrix films, but the problem is that their “slow-mo” just looks kind of clunky and awkward, like the half-speed fight coordination videos where an actor has to learn the fight slow before they can learn the fight fast. If IE wanted to do a Matrix stunt like this, it would have worked better if they’d gone all in and actually coordinated a full-speed fight. You don’t have to be a Hollywood stunt coordinator to work out a short fight sequence that would have impressed. As it is it just seems to go on forever and then end without really having an ending. I do enjoy the whole “man-dress” thing, however.
And just to leave on a more positive note, here’s one of my favorite stunts the IE guys ever pulled: a “jumper” situation where the authorities are trying to talk a suicidal man down off a ledge…that’s only four feet off the ground.