Ernest Builds a Snowman

LORELAI: And we’re Ernest Builds a Snowman.

Lorelai is referring to the Ernest film franchise, starring Jim Varney as a well-meaning simpleton named Ernest P. Worrell. The films came out of a series of advertisements in the 1980s, which then became a television sketch show, then a series of low-budget films, beginning with Ernest Goes to Camp in 1987, and ending with Ernest in the Army in 1998 (by this stage, the films were going direct to video). The films were not critically well-received, but quite profitable.

Although Ernest doesn’t seem to have built a snowman, he did have a winter-themed outing in Ernest Saves Christmas (1988), generally considered one of the best of the Ernest films.

Godfather 3

RORY: Oh, we have to rent Godfather 3 on DVD.
LORELAI: You’re kidding.
RORY: In the audio commentary, Coppola actually defends casting Sofia.

The Godfather Part III, the 1990 crime film that is the third of the Godfather films, previously discussed. Although packaged as a trilogy, director Francis Ford Coppola himself considers the first two films a duology, and the third film as their sequel.

The film was a commercial success and received positive reviews, although it is generally regarded as a lesser work than the first two. Critics praised Al Pacino and the screenplay, but criticised the convoluted plot, and Sofia Coppola’s performance as Mary Corleone, Michael’s daughter. It is the only film in the franchise not to win any major awards, while Sofia Coppola received two Razzies for Worst Supporting Actress and Worst New Star.

Francis Ford Coppola answered his critics by writing a letter to the New York Times in 1991, and in several interviews. Sofia was not his first choice for the role, but Winona Ryder had arrived late on set so exhausted from filming Mermaids that doctors advised she be sent home to recover. With no other suitable actresses, and filming already delayed by Ryder, he decided to cast Sofia as she was the perfect age and already knew the script. Furthermore, he had originally based the character of Mary on Sofia.

In 2019 while promoting the 2020 director’s cut of the film, Francis Ford Coppola insisted that Sofia may not have been a professional actress, but she was beautiful, touching, and authentic. His defence of his daughter has remained ongoing and heartfelt – way more than just one remark on the DVD audio commentary.

It’s interesting that in an episode where Lorelai hears from Christopher, hoping to see Rory, it opens with a mention of a Godfather film, and a fond father. Not only that, it is Rory who wants to watch the film specifically so she can listen to the audio commentary of Coppola’s defence of his daughter Sofia.

“By George, I think he’s got it”

TRISTAN: You don’t want me to tell Dean that we kissed.
RORY: By George, I think he’s got it.

Rory is referencing the 1964 musical comedy-drama film My Fair Lady, adapted from the 1956 Lerner and Loewe stage musical of the same name, which was based on George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play, Pygmalion.

In the film, phonetics professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison), has a bet that he can teach a Cockney flower girl named Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) to speak with an upper-class accent. At first she makes no progress, but one day has a sudden breakthrough, leading Higgins to exclaim delightedly, “By George, I think she’s got it”.

My Fair Lady was a critical and commercial success, becoming the #1 film of 1964, and won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director (for George Cukor). It is considered one of the greatest musicals, and one of the great films of all time.

Meryl Streep Movie

LORELAI: Remember that Meryl Streep movie where she and her family take a rafting trip and then psycho Kevin Bacon forces them to take ’em down the river?

Lorelai references The River Wild, a 1994 thriller directed by Curtis Hanson. It stars Meryl Streep as a woman on a whitewater rafting trip with her family, and Kevin Bacon as one of a group of men who join them, before it becomes apparent his character is a violent criminal who forces them at gunpoint into a terrifying trip down the river.

The film received lukewarm reviews, mostly for not being scary enough, but was praised for its cinematography and Streep’s performance. It’s one of the rare films which has a woman, in a cast of males, as the action hero protector.

It is confirmed here that Lorelai is a Kevin Bacon fan (presumably the reason she watched the film, although she’s a Meryl Streep fan as well), and that he is one of her celebrity crushes.


LOUISE: What’s with the cast from Cocoon?

Cocoon is a 1985 science-fiction comedy-drama directed by Ron Howard. It is about a group of elderly people, residents of a retirement home, who are rejuvenated to become younger and stronger by their neighbours, who happen to be a group of peaceful aliens.

Cocoon was a box office hit, becoming the #6 film of 1985, and received fairly good reviews. Ron Howard won Best Director at the Saturn Awards, and at the Academy Awards, Cocoon won Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Don Ameche), and Best Visual Effects.

Mystic Pizza

PARIS: Excuse me. We reserved this place for 8 sharp and right now my watch says 8:04.
MISS PATTY: Well, then tell it to go outside and have a smoke. You can’t rush a cool down sweetheart.
PARIS: Look, I understand the whole Mystic Pizza, small town, ‘we don’t let a clock run our lives’ thing, but I come from the big city where money talks and I’m paying good money for this place and I have a schedule to keep.

Mystic Pizza is a 1988 romantic comedy-drama film directed by Donald Petrie, and starring Annabath Gish and Julia Roberts as two teenaged sisters working as waitresses at Mystic Pizza, a pizza parlour in the real-life fishing village of Mystic, Connecticut (it also features Matt Damon in his screen debut). The younger sister, played by Annabath Gish, is on a partial scholarship at Yale and also works part-time at the whaling museum, so there are some connections with Gilmore Girls. If you enjoy Gilmore Girls, I would definitely recommend Mystic Pizza.

Mystic Pizza received generally favourable reviews, with particular praise for the lead actresses, and has gained something of a cult following as a feel-good coming-of-age movie. In September and October of this year, it was turned into a stage musical by the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine – this was several years after a fictional Broadway musical based on the film featured in the sitcom 30 Rock in 2007.

The real life Mystic Pizza restaurant which had inspired the film was renovated to resemble the film set, and is still in business.

Romeo and Juliet Movie

RORY: She’s letting you go? That’s amazing. What changed her mind?
LANE: I let her watch the Romeo and Juliet movie with Leo and Claire Danes.

Lane is talking about William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (often shortened to Romeo + Juliet), a 1996 film directed by Baz Luhrman and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in the title roles. It is a modernised adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, with the Montagues and Capulets two rival (mafia) business empires in the fictional American city of Verona Beach (inspired by Venice Beach in L.A., but filmed in Mexico).

The film was a commercial success and gained mostly positive reviews, as well as winning several awards internationally. At the BAFTA Film Awards, it won Best Direction, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Music, and Best Production Design. It continues to be a popular choice for high school English teachers to show their students as an introduction to the play.

It wasn’t released on DVD until 2002, so I’m not sure how Lane showed her mother the movie. Perhaps it was conveniently on at the local cinema.

On the Town

RORY: How did [Tristan] fall in with those guys [Duncan and Bowman]?
MADELINE: The new year started and there they were, all three of them, side by side.
LOUISE: And practically dressing the same.
MADELINE: It’s very On the Town.

On the Town, a 1949 musical film directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, based on the 1944 Broadway musical with music by Leonard Bernstein and Roger Eden. It stars Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin as three sailors with a day’s leave in New York City, and their romantic escapades. An immediate succeess, it won the Oscar for Best Music and is regarded as one of the greatest musicals.

Like the three sailors, Tristan and his new pals all dress the same – although as there’s a school uniform, doesn’t everyone dress the same anyway?

Butch Cassidy and the Sun-dunce Kid

RORY: Tristan got suspended again? … What did he do? …
MADELINE: Took apart Mr. McCaffey’s car and put it back together in the science building hallway …
LOUISE: Yeah, well he didn’t do it by himself. Duncan and Bowman were there too …
PARIS: Hey, anyone stupid enough to hang out with Butch Cassidy and the Sun-dunce kid deserves whatever they get.

Paris references the 1969 Western film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, directed by George Roy Hill and written by William Goldman. The film is about the real life early twentieth century train and bank robber Robert Parker, better known by his alias, “Butch Cassidy” (played by Paul Newman), and his accomplice Harry Longabaugh, “The Sundance Kid” (played by Robert Redford).

Although the film became #1 at the box office for 1969, initial reviews were mixed. Over time, critics have warmed to it, and it is now considered a classic. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid won four Academy Awards, including Best Original Screenplay.

Lorelai’s Video Rentals

LORELAI: Mmkay, I couldn’t make up my mind so I got The Shining and Bringing Up Baby. Now, I know you’re thinking, one’s a movie about a homicidal parent and the other one’s . . . hello.

The Shining, previously discussed.

Bringing Up Baby, a 1938 screwball comedy directed by Howard Hawks and starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. The story is about a palaeontologist who has a series of predicaments with a scatterbrained heiress and her tame leopard, Baby. The film was a box-office flop when it came out, but its reputation improved when it began to be shown regularly on television in the 1950s. Since then, it has received critical acclaim for its zany antics, perfect comic timing, and excellent cast. It’s now considered one of the greatest films ever made.

Lorelai is going to say that The Shining is about a homicidal parent, while Bringing Up Baby is about a “baby” capable of killing its “parents”. By the end of the scene, Lorelai has made up her mind – they are watching The Shining, one of of her favourite films. It’s a possible sign she’s feeling a little homicidal herself, or at least in no mood for a lighthearted comedic romp.