Two movies mashed together and clued to make some sense, as in 22A: Double feature about the Arctic Ocean? (FROZENWATERWORLD), or 96A: … about an insomniac? (ROCKYSLEEPER). Not terribly hilarious, or novel, but sometimes that’s the way it is. “38A: … about the search for extraterrestrial life” (ALIENCONTACT) is a little weird, because “Contact” already is about that subject, but I guess just one movie title wouldn’t fit the theme.
1A: Really tiny (ATOMIC), I’ll give a B. I actually like the 115A answer to the same clue slightly better (ITSY). I kind of wish “15A: Over yonder” had been “thar” instead of AFAR, but I loved “36A: Actor who was lionized in the 1930s?” for LAHR. We both got it immediately, but we still loved it. I also enjoyed the irreverent SHAFT (46A: Unfair treatment, with “the”). Heh. Combine that with AROUSE and MISTRESS and you’ve got quite the racy puzzle!
Others in the plus column are 60D: Sides of a quadrangle, maybe (DORMS) and 113A: They lose their heads over time (BEERS). Tricky! And I chuckled at “10A: What may follow a breakdown” (TOW), and SCALP (33D: Where your roots are) was pretty clever, too. Speaking of SCALP, I was scratching mine about AMFAR (1D: H.I.V. research org.) and GNMA (32D: Fed. lending agency). I don’t believe I’m familiar with either acronym. And what are we to make of UTAHN (52D: Pioneer Day celebrant) showing up just a day or two after “Utahan” was in the grid? I didn’t much like the longer version, and I like this new one even less.
So in all, I guess I give this puzzle a tepid thumbs up. It had enough fun stuff to balance out the lukewarm theme and the ORLE, TYES, ASYE, MEIS, and EEE-type stuff.
Looking forward to starting it all up again tomorrow!