I just watched the 2020 horror/comedy/body swapping film Freaky, which was directed by Christopher Landon, whom is the son of actor Michael Landon. And I want Michael Landon to be my TV dad, if anyone asks! 🙂
You can find synopses of this film pretty much anywhere, but the gist is a bullied teenage girl switches bodies with a serial killer played by actor Vince Vaughn. Comedic moments are numerous, especially when an openly gay male teen does a reverse “coming out” to his mother, when trying to (SPOILERS AHEAD), explain why he has one of his female friends tied to a chair. When his “role playing” story falls flat because his mother says it’s a sex game, he tells her that he’s straight. It was pure comedy in a film full of plot twists and as the whole serial killer theme would suggest…violence.
But let’s crack open that Easter egg, shall we? There’s a scene where they’re driving by a shopping mall, and I spotted a sign that said “Discount Bonanza.” There is no such real store called that (an online article I found revealed that they’d changed the name of an actual store for the movie). Being that I’m an older person and am fairly knowledgeable about many pop culture references from the late ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and onward if they do not involve comedian Flip Wilson https://wordpress.com/post/hebontheweb.blog/9779, well…I did a double take!
“Wait what,” I said aloud to my husband, whom was watching the movie with me “Did that sign say “Bonanza” on it?
He confirmed, “Yes, it says Discount Bonanza.”
I said, “He (Christopher Landon) totally did that on purpose as an homage to his dad.” Just to clarify for anyone who may have this pop culture reference go over their heads as much as Flip Wilson did in that trivia game years ago (ahem) – Bonanza was a long-running western themed drama series starring Lorne Green and actor Michael Landon, among others. They made a joke about it on a “Simpsons” episode where a shopping mall was boasting that they had the last surviving cast members of the show on hand for an event. Turns out it was two actors who played Native Americans.
While we’re on the subject of Bonanza, does anyone else remember the old restaurants by that name? The store locator feature on the Ponderosa website tells me that three Bonanza restaurants are still open (all in Pennsylvania). I remember going to at least a couple of them back in the ’80s and early 1990s, one was in the Flint area, the other was in Houghton, MI – and was still open when my brother started going to college there in the early 1990s. I believe they were steak oriented and had an all-you-could-stuff-in-your-pie-hole buffet. See below photo of Duff’s Smorgasbord, which had a motorized revolving buffet! And imagine being a kid and waiting patiently for the macaroni and cheese and fried fish parts to revolve your way!
If you’re more of a movie fan than a fan of slop-trough style buffet restaurants (hey you do you), give Christopher Landon’s movies a look! I’ve seen at least three films that he’s directed – Scout’s Guide to the Apocalypse, Happy Death Day, and Freaky – and have liked every single one of them. Did you know Arnold Schwarzenegger’s son Patrick is in that first movie? With this blog have I revealed that I may have an eensy little obsession with celebrity children? Guilty!