An offshoot of the Red Letter Media review and sketch comedy site. This show revolves around Mike Stoklasa and Jay Bauman as "Mike and Jay", a pair of out-of-work VCR repairmen who pass the time with wanton acts of sociopathy (and, occasionally, chatting about new movies).At the show's start, the duo were attempting to fleece Mr. Plinkett (now played by Mike's best friend and lifelong collaborator, Rich Evans), the clueless senior who hires them to fix his VCR. The scam eventually fell though, yet the pair continue to concoct 'get rich quick' schemes that go nowhere. The show has featured numerous guest critics, including Tim Heidecker, Samurai Cop star Matt Hannon, and a self-appointed Milwaukee superhero known as The Watchman. Rich Evans also appears as various men about town, all of them named "Rich".
Annoying Laugh: Rich Evans. His laugh is referenced multiple times within the episodes as quite possibly the worst thing you'll ever hear.
Anything But That!: When Jay shows a poster of Jeff Who Lives At Home, Mike exclaims, "NO!!! Get that away from me!", then calmly tears the poster into tiny pieces, while Jay deadpans, "Oh, no" in the most emotionless tone possible.
Ass Pull: Invoked and parodied in the Interstellar review, where Mike and Jay floats around in a house on Lake Michigan, and wonders how they are going to watch films to talk about under the current circumstances. It is justified in a deliberaly half-assed way, as a folder of boot-leg DVDs of unreleased films and a DVD-player randomly washes into the living room with the seawater, enabling them to somehow somehow watching Interstellar on Plinkett's totally smashed TV. Both of them point out at great length how incredibly convenient it all is, before Mike ends the segment with an exasperated "Let's just talk about the movies, okay?"
Author Appeal: Mike considers The Rocketeer an underrated gem, and occasionally includes a clip as an examples of correct storytelling.
Bait and Switch: A common running gag consists of them building up the "plot" of the episode to the movie they're about to review (which the audience knows since it's in the title), but then mention the movie in a completely different context and proceed to review it.
Jay: "Speaking of hungry, have you seen The Hung—" Mike: "We should now talk about the recent films we've seen." (The Hunger Games trailer rolls)
Jay: "I never thought I'd be so happy about rape!"
Brand X: The bottles on the title card are labeled "CHEAP BEER". Averted within the show proper, in which Mike and Jay are quite frequently seen to be drinking Wisconsin's own Spotted Cow.
Broken Record: The "Red Letter Media Talks About Prometheus" segment. Mike asks endless questions "Why did they...(x20) Whhhhhhhyyyyyy?". Jay stares vacantly into the distance and says precisely nothing.
Butt Monkey: Plinkett has essentially been flanderized into this trope on Half in the Bag. He's still creepy and a pervert, but he's generally portrayed as ineffectual. He's suffering from amnesia, and is abused by Jay and Mike on a regular basis, up to attempted murder. He even shows some form of genuine affection for them in some episodes.
Call Back: In the review for Jack and Jill, Mike uses Plinkett's memetic line, "you may not have noticed, but your brain did," complete with the identical "child playing with molding clay" image.
Calling the Old Man Out: While having a female guest who enjoys "chick flicks" discuss What's Your Number with them, she eventually gets frustrated and calls Mike out for trying to insinuate she and fans of the genre must be stupid for liking it.
The Chew Toy: Plinkett has gradually evolved into this. The show makes light of his age, deteriorating health and senility, and constantly getting killed over and over a la South Park's Kenny only to arise again next month.
Jay finally gets Mike to really laugh (after 45 episodes) during the Haunted House discussion, which segues into a riff on the Seltzer and Friedberg films (ironically, it's about how unfunny their jokes are). Jay is clearly taken aback by how hard Mike is laughing, even starting to ask him "Did your brain...", before being overcome with laughter himself.
In the review of Star Trek Into Darkness, Mike laughed the hardest he ever has in a video... when Jay refers to the villain as Benedict Cabbagepatch. Both Jay and Rich react to his sudden burst with wonder.
Mike's geeky diatribe about Mandarin from Iron Man 3 during the Man of Steel review got Jay and Rich to giggle incessantly.
Couch Gag: Plinkett knocking over the beers at the start of each episode.
"Half in the baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaag!" "Fuck movies." "I don't even know who I am anymore." "Jay and Mike are frauds." "Hey, ain'tcha got anythin' better to do?" "Why are you even watching this shit?" "Who do these guys think they are? Rick Berman?" "Everyone always complains about things on the internet!" "I just shit in a coffee can." "Whatever happened to Meg Ryan? oh right, she died" "I'd buy THAT for a dollar!"
Catchphrase: Mike, in his lawyerly way, will always ask, "Are you suggesting that...", as a lead-up to Jay openly accusing the filmmakers of being hacks.
Whenever Mike gives an (honest) unpopular opinion on a movie, Jay will respond with an understated "Oh my god..."
Jay's final word on The Lone Ranger was "don't bother", but he complimented them for using the ''The William Tell Overture" to trick the audience. Said theme rises to a crescendo as Mike responds, drowning out his complaints.
Deadpan Snarker: Mike Stoklasa appears to be this in Real Life, and it's a trait that all his characters share, but especially Mike on "Half In The Bag". He's usually able to get his co-host Jay to laugh without even cracking a smile himself, and any time he's called upon to show any kind of emotion, he always does it in a very phony and insincere way. He also likes to say things that he knows will piss off his audience (i.e. Dr. Seuss is overrated and The Muppets are for babies).
Plinkett: I'm just watching the end of the movie on my iPad... These things are great. You know all about it - yours is in my TV. (chuckles) I sure loved watching the same movie 68 times tonight. Maybe that'll teach you fucks not to LIE to me.
Doorstopper: The Prometheus box set promises to answer all of Mike and Jay's questions... which is why it comes in 47 discs.
Early Installment Weirdness: Many early episodes cover movies which would be far more at home in Best Of The Worst... which hadn't started running yet. Now that it has, Half in the Bag focuses almost exclusively on current releases (except when said current releases are remakes - then they might also review the original movie for comparative purposes).
The very first episode shows Mike and Jay taking a very cavalier attitude toward revealing spoilers, but in most later episodes they are very good about spoiler warnings and listing timecodes for viewers to skip past the spoiler-heavy discussions. (Every once in a while, if a movie has been out for a while and/or it's doing terribly at the box office, they won't bother.)
Even Evil Has Standards: Jay, who's spent most of the series exploiting, belittling, abusing, and even attempting to murder Plinkett, objects to Mike trying to take advantage of his recent meth addiction. Though how much of this is due to genuine concern or because the story demanded it is unknown.
Genre Throwback: In the review of Red Tails, Stoklasa deconstructs this, asserting that making a film a throwback to 1940s wartime B movies actually hurt the film overall, because, while the subject matter and presentation were familiar and nostalgic, other, less positive tropes (cliched characters, illogical plotlines, caricatured and demonized villains...) were not excised and had already been a part of the genre from the beginning. He further asserts that this makes Red Tails an uncomfortably offensive film because "we know better."
Jump Scare: Their main criticism of Paranormal Activity 4 is that it consists almost entirely of these. The review includes some Jump Scares itself to spoof this practice.
Kayfabe: Defied. While the show nominally centers around Mike and Jay, two amoral VCR repairmen, the duo barely even try to conceal the fact that they're Mike Stoklasa and Jay Bauman, two internet sensations and indie filmmakers.
In their review of RoboCop (1987), frequent guest reviewer Rich Evans is introduced as a police officer who has never met Mike or Jay before. Lampshading this inconsistency becomes a Running Gag.
For Man of Steel, Mike asks Rich about how as a construction worker if he had any reactions to the buildings collapsing. Rich replied, "Construction worker...? Oh, I'm a construction worker!"
Knight of Cerebus: Jocelyn Ridgely seems to be their go-to actress for playing these characters. When she first appears in the show, it marks the beginning of a lengthy story arc which culminates in George Lucas attempting to destroy every VCR and kill every VCR repairman in the world, so that nobody will ever be able to watch the original edits of the original Star Wars trilogy, which were only ever released on VHS (at least, for the purposes of the story).
Lack of Empathy: Jay and Mike. They almost never feel... gooeelt? Gooey-elt? Gweelt? Guilt— no, that doesn't sound right.
The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: During the review of A Haunted House, Jay talks about Scary Movie as the template for the "horrible plague" of the modern era of spoof movies, and examples of movies that fits the template such as Epic Movie, Date Movie, Vampires Suck, and Meet the Spartans are shown on the screen. The last of the "horrible spoof movies" examples is I Am Sam.
Mid-Review Sketch Show: There's generally one at the beginning of the video, and one at the end. Sometimes if they're reviewing two movies, they'll include sketch material in between. The sketches themselves are often openly parodying the trope, in the sense that they are deliberately hackneyed and self-deprecating.
The most prominent example is Episode 37. In what is supposed to be a review of Step Up: Revolution, only about 7 seconds of the 8 minutes long episode are spend talking about the film ("It sucked!"), the rest is about wrapping the season's running storyline.
Nutritional Nightmare: In the episode where Mike and Jay review The Wolf of Wall Street, there's a subplot about Mr. Plinkett trying to intentionally have a heart attack through eating A LOT of this (mostly burgers that he fills with butter and lots of bacon).
Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: In their review of Jack and Jill they make a very half-hearted one as they make the transition from the review proper to making their case that the movie is basically a scheme to pump the cash from an inflated movie budget into the pockets of Sandler and his friends. Though the first two notes they start to read from their lawyers are themselves libelous (and even in the third, Mike has to change the word "cohorts" to "associates" as he is reading statement.)
Mike: They wanna get Al Pacino in a Dunkin' Donuts commercial. Jay: Dunkin' Donuts? Mike: Dunkin' Donuts. Jay: Did you say Dunkin' Donuts? Mike: Dunkin' Donuts. Jay: Oh, so Dunkin' Donuts is in the movie? Mike: Dunkin' Donuts plays a prominent role in the film.
Put on a Bus: In the Man of Steel review, Mr. Plinkett is forced to move out of his house since the city is going to pave a highway over his property. Later reviews so far have only taken place in the Lighting Fast VCR repair shop.
The Bus Came Back: Mr. Plinkett is revealed to have moved into an apartment that he shares with Palpatine and still calls Mike and Jay to fix the very same VCR.
Reset Button: Mr. Plinkett's Laser-Guided Amnesia thanks to dementia allows Mike and Jay to mooch off him as VHS repairmen once more, after Plinkett had exiled them.
Rule of Three: Discussed while talking about Lucas' record of creating cultural icons. To quote Mike "Two means coincidence, three equals a pattern." They cannot come up with anything else besides Star Wars and Indiana Jones.
Their guest for that episode, Alexandre Phillipe, suggests American Graffiti, which was a big hit in its day, but which Mike oddly seems to dismiss because it does not appeal to his generation.
Sarcasm Mode: Mike puts on an extraordinary thick layer when he claims that 2012 is one of his favorite films.
Scully Box: The X-Men: Days of Future Past episode had Jay and Mike standing next to one another during the intro. At the end, Jay visibly steps down, and Mike directly lampshades the use of the trope as being necessary for Jay to be "almost as tall as me".
Self-Deprecation: Mike and Jay often jokingly diss their own film, Feeding Frenzy, as being a horrible flop movie.
Don't miss a chance to purchase RLM's greatest hits on "ancient non-digital media."
Also, they really like to do whatever they've criticized in the movie they've been reviewing in the ending segment of the episode, for example in the Jack And Jill and Transformers episodes.
Sell Out: Lampshaded in this merchandise promo. Jay and Mike make it apparent they're ashamed by remaining completely miserable and monotone.
Shared Universe: Relentlessly mocked, especially by the presence of the various Mr. Plinketts.
Despite an entire episode where Mike spoke with indie filmmaker Alexandre Phillipe about the making of the Plinkett reviews, Mike later claims to have never heard of the reviews in their "2013 recap" episode.
So Okay, It's Averageinvoked: Their general consensus is that this is the worst kind of movie, or at least the least interesting one to talk about on their show. In contrast, they dedicate several episodes to showcase So Bad, It's Good movies.
Making fun of instances where internet critics pretend to have super powers or act like their toy props are real, adding in special effects. Jay and Mike pull a Klingon disruptor and a phaser on Rich Evans. Rich lampshades, pointing out these are just toys. Mike and Jay respond by firing the phasers (which only produce toy phaser noises) and pretending as though they're actually incinerating Rich.
At the end of their review for Nightcrawler and Birdman, they discuss videos doing one continuous take and the risk of looking like they're just showing-off. They later sarcastically talk about how the continuous shot in Corey Haim's music video was needed to advance the story and didn't look sloppy or anything.
That Poor Cat: Nearly every time one of the guys throws something offscreen, we hear an unhappy cat.
They Just Didn't Care: invoked They show that even this trope isn't bad in the review of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. One of the reviewers watched the first half of the movie and the other watched the second half of the movie out of protest of the bloated nature of the movie. They then compare notes about what happens in their respective halves of the movie and manage an effective criticism by showing the disconnects between the first and second halves of the movie.
Trash the Set: Plinkett's house takes quite the beating over the course of the show.
True Art Is Incomprehensible: invoked Discussed and Played With in "2014 Movie Catch Up Part 1". Jay says many of his favorite movies have a balance between a coherent story and surreal elements. While Mike says he prefers coherent stories, but thinks surrealist elements can be cool as long as it's not too incoherent.
Uncanny Family Resemblance: Harry S. Plinkett (Sr. and Jr.), Telekinetic Plinkett, Telekinetic Plinkett's brother, and Harriet Plinkett are all played by Rich Evans.
Undercover Cop Reveal: Inverted. "Officer Cooper" turns out to be an undercover hooker, out to get Mike and Jay to pay money so that she and her colleagues can perform "humiliating sex acts". Cue Evil Laugh.
The Untwist: invoked The mastermind behind all of the attempts on Jay and Mike's lives is — George Lucas (again), trying to wipe the original cut of Star Wars from the face of the Earth (again). Jay and Mike go on openly express their disappointment about The Reveal being just "another lame George Lucas thing" and make small-talk over Lucas' Motive Rant, barely even paying attention to him.
Where The Hell Is Plinkett's House?: Early episodes of Half in the Bag are contradictory about whether the show is set in Teaneck, New Jersey (setting of the Plinkett Reviews) or Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Real Life home of Red Letter Media). About the same time that the "two separate Plinketts" theory prevailed, so too did the show's setting in Milwaukee.
Your Costume Needs Work: The one time Mike used the Mr. Plinkett voice on-camera, Jay told him that it was a terrible Plinkett impression.