It’s been two months since late-night television host John Oliver challenged Radiant Plumbing & Air Conditioning to make a film spoof for charity, and we’ve got an exciting update: the Austin-based company isn’t just up for the challenge mastered, but also given a master class in filmmaking.
Radiant Plumbing & Air Conditioning, whose zany commercials include movie parodies like “The Toiletnator” and “Toilet Dune,” was featured on HBO on the March 5 episode of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” Oliver challenged Radiant to do a parody of a film of his choosing, and he would donate $10,000 to the Central Texas Food Bank.
Five days later, Radiant had a Zoom conversation with Oliver. Oliver told the team he picked the 1999 film Magnolia for them.
“I couldn’t think of anything. It’s over 20 years old.[Oliver]started describing it and talking about frogs falling out of the sky and I was like, ‘Oh my god. This movie.’ I just couldn’t remember it. It wasn’t my ultimate goal. But I clearly remember the frogs falling out of the sky and I was like, ‘This movie is a mess.’ I knew right away I was in a bit of trouble and this was going to be really tough,” said Brad Casebier, co-founder of Radiant Plumbing & Air Conditioning.
The Radiant crew spent a Sunday watching “Magnolia” in their separate homes before getting together to plan a script. The film is three hours long and Casebier spent six hours watching and taking notes.
“My house looked like a detective maniacally trying to solve a mass murder crime, with diagrams going everywhere and threads connecting different characters because the movie is difficult,” Casebier said.
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Aptly named “Magtoiletolia,” the spoof includes incredible attention to detail, faithfully copying scenes from the film. It also includes footage of a mini-set featuring mini-toilets, a first for the plumbing company.
“There was something fun about just switching modes completely and putting people in a miniature environment and coming right back out. I thought that was hilarious,” Casebier said. “The miniature set consisted of some cardboard and tape and we sat on the floor with scissors and crayons, hilarious. It was totally like a junior high production.”
The parody took five days to film, a few hundred dollars, some wigs and costumes. Everyone in the parody already works at Radiant or is a family member of a Radiant employee, Casebier said.
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The feedback the company has received since the parody aired on Oliver’s show has been great, Casebier said. There’s a sense of Austin pride, he explained. Many have followed the company and its hilarious ads for decades.
“I think people feel like they know us and really root for us and are excited that we’ve gotten this attention,” Casebier said.
Oliver’s team donated $10,000 to the Central Texas Food Bank, Radiant announced on its website May 1. The plumbing company brought Oliver a $10,000 donation to the San Antonio Food Bank.
Watch the video “Magtoiletolia”.