“Thank you, Poe. You’ve proven to be a most useful mammal.”
– Cyrus the Virus
Two years ago, André discovered that neither Leanna or Ben had seen the 1997 Nic Cage classic, Con Air. He tried to sell them on the movie but they weren’t buying the “it’s so bad, it’s good” lines he kept feeding them. Leanna said that if we were going to watch Con Air, we were going to have to make a whole night of it. There would have to be food. There would have to be drinks. There would definitely, absolutely have to be a drinking game of some type. And so, our first foray into film and food was made. Unfortunately, we didn’t come up with the idea to do a blog about this until after we had a blast cooking and watching Con Air, so the viewing experience that started Munch off was never recorded. Until now.
This week, we went back to our roots in celebration of our 2nd anniversary and recreated the full Con Air experience, but brought with us the adventurous cooking techniques and flamboyant food photography staging we have picked up over the past couple of years. The result was better than we could have ever imagined.
There’s nothing quite like nachos during a movie. When we planned our original viewing, we knew right away that we were going to do nachos. We expanded the theme to explosive Tex-Mex, inspired by the sandy southern setting of Con Air, and it’s explosive nature. This time, we wanted to take that theme one step further. We wanted to do take the same dishes, but make them over-the-top ridiculous, just like Con Air, and we actually wanted to explode the food. So, for reimagining our original nachos, we took it to the over-the-top level by making waffle nachos. No, that isn’t a typo. We made cornmeal waffles, cut them into triangles, and covered them in cheese, bacon, radishes, cilantro, and honey-glazed jalapeños (which are delicious). Then we stuck a bunch of fireworks in the nachos and set them off. It was a glorious sight to behold.
For our 2014 main course, we did burritos. Nothin’ too special, just your run-of-the-mill burritos. This time, we took our burrito fillings and wrapped them up in a quesadilla, creating the fabled quesarito. We continued to punish our arteries by deep frying the quesarito, and then we set the whole damn thing on fire. We were pretty happy with the results.
We flexed our creative muscles for the original dessert in the form of Jail Bar Jam Bars made by Leanna. We struggled to come up with something more ridiculous but in the end instead of using a regular crust, we made a cookie crust. As in, the entire crust was an oatmeal cookie. We also made a neat design on the top that is supposed to symbolize Con Air, the plane after which the movie is named. We imagine similar to pirates, the convicts would wave a flag similar to this design out the window of the airplane. Finally, we put sparklers in it because why the hell not.
Just like our first time watching the film, we made margaritas. We felt it was a natural fit for burritos and nachos, and we even added some habanero to it. Why tread old ground though, when you can throw a Corona in there, add an extra half of a lime for garnish and heck, why not a pineapple crown as well. You would probably think we were finished there, but of course, every ridiculous margarita needs a taco and a sidecar of tortilla chips. I mean really, if you don’t have a taco on your margarita, WHAT are you even doing? Oh, and don’t forget the fireworks either.
💥 Drink for explosions.
⛓ Drink whenever a new criminal is introduced.
🐰 Drink whenever the bunny is shown or mentioned.
Con Air is basically a superhero movie. Our hero, Nic Cage, is a southerner (we think, it’s hard to tell where his accent is supposed to originate from) and a veteran who kills a man in self-defense just by punching him too hard. Despite having his wife as a witness, Cage is tried and convicted of manslaughter because “his body is a deadly weapon.” Which may be hard to believe because nothing on Cage would ever be considered a weapon. So Cage is our misunderstood superhero with the best intentions but unable to contain his power, and his archnemesis is going to be a man who is named Cyrus the Virus. Yes, that was the best name they could come up with for John Malkovich’s character. I dare you to try to convince us that Cyrus the Virus isn’t the corniest super-villain name of all time. Their battleground? A sky vehicle nicknamed Con Air, after which the movie is named, christened by the convicts on board.
On top of those obvious parallels, Con Air is definitely a superhero movie because there are massive amounts of collateral damage. After losing fuel and taking damage from some helicopters, the Con Air plane absolutely must land on the Las Vegas strip. Rather than landing the plane anywhere in the vast Nevada desert that surrounds Vegas, they set down on what is likely the busiest street in America. We get that it was necessary for the movie (for dramatic effect), but what really surprised us is that there was actually a solid reason the finale was shot in Vegas (although perhaps not a solid story-driven reason). The men and women behind Con Air were somehow able to negotiate a deal with the Sands Hotel to allow Con Air to actually destroy their hotel. It was set up to be demolished anyway so why not destroy it in a way that would bring joy and awe to hundreds of thousands of Americans? And they had to shoot the whole thing in one take! It’s almost harder to believe than the actual plot of Con Air.
Yeah, the plot. The Department of Corrections amassed a Suicide Squad-esque collection of the world’s greatest villains and stuck them all in one spot without any thought of the consequences or appropriate officers to handle them. We will admit that none of us saw Suicide Squad but we go on the internet and we know it was a disaster, just like the rest of Con Air. Despite a great ensemble of action and comedy stars (Nic Cage, John Cusack, Steve Buscemi, John Malkovich, and Dave Chappelle) and a huge budget, the movie never really takes off.
André: Why couldn’t I put the bunny back in the box? This movie has held a special place in my heart since I watched it late at night with some friends in high school. The movie looked dumb and I resisted watching it, but I eventually caved in. I was glad I did because watching this movie with friends and laughing at it is one of my fondest sleepover memories. Two years ago, I was able to convince Ben and Leanna to watch it with me, even though they put up just as much resistance as I did. We had a great time watching it the first time, but our tastes have really changed since we first started this blog, and we just didn’t enjoy the movie as much on our second watch. I wish I had followed Poe’s advice and kept this particular bunny in the box, where I could remember if fondly and not have any sour memories of it.
Leanna: First time’s the charm. After watching this film a second time, I am honestly surprised there was a time in our lives when this hot mess of a film actually inspired us to embark upon the creative endeavor that is this blog (and podcast!). This movie is just awful. I guess I could see how the first time you’re watching it, everything is new and you’re just sort of watching for the next inexplicable turn of events. The second time, you already know who everyone is and how it all ends, and you’re left with the pain of just watching the film take the most long-winded route to a most ridiculous finale. I guess it’s a movie anyone might be able to enjoy once (emphasis on the might), but it’s not worth a second watch.
Ben: 35%. It was an interesting experience to have remembered enjoying this film when we watched it two years ago, and absolutely detest it this time around. There are entire characters and storylines that have no impact on the plot and add nothing to the enjoyment of the film (basically everything related to Steve Buscemi’s character). And on top of that, there were periods of time where I was questioning why they were even doing what they are doing, and it just doesn’t any make sense. All of this is unfortunate because there are some interesting ideas to the film. A group of convicts figuring out a plan to hijack a plane for freedom, using the cover of a dust storm (which looks really cool) to impersonate agents at a stop point for the airplane, and I am sure there is something else but honestly can’t think of it for the life of me. There are better ridiculous action films out there, there are better and simpler storylines out there, and there are definitely better actors playing these roles out there. Con Air with its promise of ridiculousness and explosions never lives up to the hype.