If you haven’t read the intro to this series please do so that you have some idea of what’s going on here.
Who doesn’t like Tom Hanks?? I can even overlook his loathsome political beliefs because I’ll be darned if he isn’t a great actor who has starred in a plethora of really entertaining movies. Our marathon doesn’t have the best of Hanks’ filmography by any stretch, but there are reasons for that which will become clear down the road. That being said, I do think we have a solid cross section of his career, from one of his breakthrough roles in 1984 to a late 90’s entry that he wrote, co-starred in, & directed. Rest assured that you’ll be seeing a lot more Hanks here in the future, but I think this is a fun way to start.
Full disclosure…I hadn’t watched Bachelor Party for many years until I thought it prudent to do so for this discussion. Let’s be honest…Tom Hanks has grown into a much better actor in the past three & a half decades than he was in 1984, and has starred in a ton of more highly regarded movies. However, what one gets with Bachelor Party is Hanks at his peak level of fun, before he got caught up in trying to become a great actor, before he became a regular at awards shows, before anyone had high expectations of him. Bachelor Party is exactly what it sounds like. It tells the story of Rick, a happy go lucky bus driver by day and a total party animal by night. His buddies throw him a wild bachelor party the night before the wedding (as is always the case on TV & in movies even though it’s not actually a thing in real life most of the time). Hijinks occur, and the overriding question is whether the groom will cheat on his gal before the big day. The bad guys are the bride’s father & her ex-boyfriend, who conspire to torpedo the marriage before it even begins. Recently deceased Tawny Kitaen portrays the bride, and the wave of fame earned from this movie and a notable music video she starred in a few years later was something she successfully rode for decades. The best man is played by Adrian Zmed, who was a big deal for a few years in the 80’s (anyone remember Grease 2?? TJ Hooker?? Dance Fever??). Bachelor Party has a tepid 54% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but that’s not surprising. It isn’t really the kind of mindless entertainment notoriously priggish critics praise.
To date there have been four Toy Story films, a franchise largely responsible for reviving interest in animation and taking the genre to a whole new level. Feel free to watch the entire series, but we’re only covering the original film today. It was the first ever full length feature using computer animation, putting Pixar on the map. In the years since Pixar has produced two dozen movies, and most of them have been hits. Perhaps this is trivia that only interests me, but did you know Apple founder Steve Jobs is listed as an executive producer of Toy Story?? Or that Joss Whedon, now known for writing & directing The Avengers and creating television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel, is credited as one of the writers of Toy Story?? Anyway, the plot revolves around a group of toys that belong to eight year old Andy. These toys become walking, talking, breathing beings as long as no humans are around, which is almost creepy when you really ponder the idea. The leader of Andy’s toys is Sheriff Woody (voiced by our guy Hanks), a pull string rag doll cowboy, but his role within the group and in Andy’s life is threatened by the arrival of Andy’s latest birthday present…Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen), a boisterous space ranger action figure who doesn’t realize he is a toy. Woody is jealous of Buzz and a rivalry develops, but things happen and they eventually become friends. Toy Story was the third highest grossing film of 1995 and boasts a rare 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Critically acclaimed & accessible to the masses is a rare combination.
Turner & Hooch
I just watched Turner & Hooch not long ago, which was the first time I’d seen it in atleast 20 years. You know what though?? It holds up well. It’s a comedy, but provides a small glimpse into Hanks’ future with some dramatic, tearjerker type scenes because (spoiler alert) anytime a cute animal is in mortal danger there will be some emotion. A similar film…K-9 starring Jim Belushi…featuring a cop partnered with a dog had been released a few months earlier in 1989, and I recall thinking that K-9 was a better movie than Turner & Hooch, but critics & audiences alike disagreed with me. One thing I noticed when watching Turner & Hooch recently was the supporting cast, which includes forgotten Brat Packer Mare Winningham, Craig T. Nelson (you remember him from films like All the Right Moves & Blades of Glory as well as hilarious 90’s sitcom Coach), and Reginald VelJohnson, who was Bruce Willis’ sidekick in Die Hard and the Dad who had to put up with nerdy neighbor Urkel in Family Matters. Kudos to the casting director.
Unlike alot of other Hanks films this isn’t one I’m all that familiar with or have watched many times, which surprises me given my affection for the dramedy sub-genre. Roger Ebert criticized Punchline for “making the fatal mistake of taking stand-up comedy seriously”, while the Washington Post opined that it “commits the unforgivable sin of being a movie about comedy that’s not funny.” Both are valid criticisms because dramedy is so difficult to pull off successfully, but Punchline isn’t bad because how can anything with a cast including Hanks, Sally Field, & John Goodman be terrible?? Hanks straddles the line, making one ponder how great he could’ve been as a standup comedian while simultaneously showing off acting chops that have been refined in the 30+ years since Punchline was produced. We can’t be too surprised though that it’s a performance oftentimes lost in the shuffle of his stellar filmography. Still, I’d encourage anyone to give it a whirl.
That Thing You Do!
By the time Hanks wrote, directed, & co-starred in That Thing You Do! in 1996 he’d already won two Academy Awards for Best Actor and was a bona fide megastar, so of course Hollywood was like “Okay dude, go ahead and make your silly little film about a one hit wonder band in the 60’s with its catchy theme song”. The thing is, it’s actually a pretty decent flick. The cast consists mostly of character actors like Steve Zahn, Tom Everett Scott, & Ethan Embry. Liv Tyler is also there in one of her earlier performances, just a couple of years after she & Alicia Silverstone had gained notoriety starring in Aerosmith’s music video for the song Crazy. I suppose Jonathon Schaech, who portrays the band’s brooding lead singer in That Thing You Do!, was supposed to become a big star, but Hollywood didn’t get the memo. And then there is Hanks, whose role as the band’s manager is relatively inconsequential, but whose name & mere presence helped the movie make $35 million at the box office…not bad for film with a $26 million budget. For context, 1996’s biggest hit…Will Smith’s Independence Day…had a budget of $75 million. It certainly helps that That Thing You Do! is a pretty good film with a 93% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes, meaning that critics liked it even more than folks like you & me. It’s the kind of delightfully satisfying movie that one watches on a lazy weekend when there’s nothing more pressing going on.
“Movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things. They take us to other places, they open doors and minds. Movies are the memories of our life time, we need to keep them alive.” – Martin Scorsese
As with the 30 Day Song Challenge I do not have the patience to post once per day for an entire month, and fortunately I don’t need to since I make the rules in this space. I feel like I’ve probably written entirely too much about movies here over the years, but it’s a subject I enjoy and right now I need as much to smile about as possible. 2020 has been a bumpy ride for many, so I don’t want to be selfish. Having said that, the past few months have been brutal for me personally, so I’m thankful for an outlet that allows me to take my mind off things, atleast for a little while. The vast majority of these were easy answers, though I had to ponder a few, and in some cases I found the questions a bit puzzling. That’s why I like providing context…it provides some insight into my thought process, which is not only helpful for you but something I find constructive as well. Once again I have broken this project into two parts for readability. Enjoy.
1 The first film you remember watching…
Coal Miner’s Daughter
To be honest I’m not entirely comfortable with this answer. Coal Miner’s Daughter was released when I was eight years old, and I’m pretty sure I watched movies before then. However, our local mall (complete with multiplex cinema) wasn’t built until a few years later, so anything I saw before had to be at a drive-in or on television, and nothing specific comes to mind. However, I have a clear memory of going to the drive-in with my parents & sister to see Coal Miner’s Daughter.
2 A film you like that starts with the first letter of your first name…
Sleepless in Seattle
I really like alliteration…it’s fun. I actually had a date…with a woman…to see this movie. It might be the last real date I’ve had lol (I don’t even remember her name though, which speaks badly of me, her, or both of us). Anyway, Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan are screen magic, and Sleepless might be my favorite film of theirs.
3 A film that has more than five words…
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
I’m not going to dive into a marketing lecture, but the vast majority of films have short titles…1-3 words. It’s just easier for people to remember, among other things. I really had to think about movies I’ve enjoyed with longer titles, but once Anchorman popped into my head it became an easy choice. Stay classy!!
4 A film with a number in the title…
So many choices!! However, I’m a big fan of the Ocean’s Trilogy. Eleven is a remake of a 1960 Rat Pack classic, and I actually enjoy the remake more than the original, partly because the ending of the newer film is so much more satisfying than the older one. Ocean’s Twelve is okay, though certainly the weakest of the trilogy. Ocean’s Thirteen rebounded with the addition of Al Pacino to the cast. I highly recommend binge watching all three movies, something I’ve done many times.
5 A film where a character has a job you want…
Okay, so he is a psychopath…but don’t forget that Jack Torrance (as portrayed brilliantly by Jack Nicholson) is also a writer.
6 Your favorite animated film…
The Toy Story Series
This is tough. There are so many animated classics that we all enjoyed as kids, but I have to ask myself, would I sit down and watch many of those old movies now…as an adult?? I suppose the occasional nostalgic mood may hit, but generally we look at such things differently when we’re older. However, the four Toy Story movies are more recent, have quite the memorable voice cast, the animation is top notch, and the plot is written to be enjoyed by all ages.
7 A film that you will never get tired of…
There are dozens of movies I could (and do) watch over & over & over again. I tend to prefer older movies that I grew up enjoying to most of the pathetic excuses for entertainment Hollywood churns out these days, and Casablanca is as pleasurable to watch now as it ever was. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.
8 A film where you liked the soundtrack more…
Saturday Night Fever and The Big Chill
Two movies immediately sprang to mind and I’m not going to choose between them. The Big Chill is about a bunch of middle-age 60’s radicals gathering together in the midst of the conservative revolution of the early 80’s to attend the funeral of an old schoolmate who committed suicide. The film itself is just fine, but the soundtrack…wow. Smokey Robinson. The Temptations. Marvin Gaye. Three Dog Night. Aretha Franklin. If you like Motown you can’t help but dig one of the best soundtracks ever produced. Saturday Night Fever not only skyrocketed John Travolta to superstardom, but it defined the disco era. The soundtrack relies heavily on The Bee Gees, but that’s okay because they kick ass. Disco may be dead, but it had its time in the spotlight and this particular album may have been the high point.
9 A film you hate that everyone else liked…
I watched it once…I just don’t get it. Travolta is cool. Samuel L. Jackson?? Very cool. I’m a big Bruce Willis fan. Tarantino just isn’t my kind of director. I can’t think of a single one of his movies I’ve enjoyed.
10 Your favorite superhero film…
I’ve said it a thousand times…I wasn’t a comic book kid. Outside of the three big superheroes (Batman, Superman, & Spiderman) I couldn’t possibly care less. The only “Marvel Cinematic Universe” films I’ve seen are the two Spiderman movies. I may or may not ever watch the rest of them. However, I do love me some Batman, and I really like the 1989 film starring Michael Keaton as The Caped Crusader. Keaton & Adam West (who portrayed Batman in the 60’s TV show) are easily my favorites, and it didn’t hurt Tim Burton’s movie to have Jack Nicholson’s larger-than-life portrayal of The Joker.
11 A film you like from your least favorite genre…
Horror flicks aren’t generally my cup o’ tea. However, John Carpenter’s original Halloween is a classic. From the brilliant opening sequence to the legendary theme music to the amusingly ostentatious performance of Donald Pleasence as a Captain Ahab-esque psychiatrist, well…it’s nearly flawless. It’s hard to believe that what has become an annual October institution was produced on a shoestring budget of just over $300k (in comparison, Jaws, which was produced three years earlier, had a budget of $13 million).
12 A film that you hate from your favorite genre…
Holmes & Watson
This one is a double whammy. I’m a huge fan of the Sherlock Holmes novellas & short stories, and I’ve also enjoyed the work of both Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly. When I first heard that the duo were going to tackle Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fabled crime solvers I was excited to see what kind of hilarious spin the stars of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby could put on the story, but the result was immensely disappointing. Rotten Tomatoes gives Holmes & Watson an atrocious 10% score, and it won the Razzie for Worst Picture of 2018.
13 A film that “puts you in deep thoughts”…
First, I must state that I detest the way this is stated, like a nine year old wrote it. Secondly, though I’m not above thinking deeply I rarely run across a movie that makes me do so. It just doesn’t seem to be Hollywood’s thing, and sadly I don’t know which came first, the chicken or the egg. Are crappy special effects movies with inane action sequences & insufferable explosions the norm because the populace demands it, or have we been conditioned to be dumbed down & accept such mediocrity?? I suppose it’s a little of both. At any rate, in 1993 Bill Murray & director Harold Ramis teamed up to give us the antithesis of such tedious garbage, and what they accomplished is far more than your typical comedy. Groundhog Day is existential. It is profound on a level that neither Murray nor Ramis likely intended. I watch it every February 2nd, and it always makes me ponder life.
14 A film that “gave you depression”…
The Perfect Storm
Another poorly worded turn of phrase. Here’s the thing: I don’t watch movies to get depressed. Trust me…my real life is miserable enough. Why on God’s green Earth would I pay money to have alleged entertainment make me sad?? It’s why I lean so heavily toward comedy. Having said that, occasionally something sneaks up and gives me all the feels. When I first watched The Perfect Storm I had NO IDEA it was based on a true story. It was on television and I was bored, so I gave it a whirl. It is well-written with good performances so I was quickly hooked. At the film’s conclusion I fully expected the ship’s crew to be miraculously rescued…but, of course, they are not. I’m a little slow sometimes, but eventually I learned that this actually happened…these were real people who died. The film does a superb job of conveying the very tangible danger faced by fishermen every day, and I have developed tremendous respect for those who put their lives on the line to put food on our table. Some years after my initial viewing of the movie (which I have watched countless times) I decided to read the book on which it is based, and I must opine that it is the rare case where the film is far superior.
15 A film that makes you feel happy…
I suppose numerous comedies make me happy, but since it’s summertime and baseball just began after a virus related delay of several months Bull Durham popped into my head. Sports films are delightful…sports comedies are sublime. One major barometer I use when judging movies is whether or not I am still glad to watch them many years & multiple viewings later, and more than three decades later I find Bull Durham just as enjoyable as I ever did.
Okay folks, let’s take a break. Stay tuned for Part 2!!
“Movies touch our hearts, awaken our vision, and change the way we see things. They take us to other places…open doors & minds. Movies are the memories of our lifetime.” – Martin Scorsese
We’re going to forego a verbose preamble today and jump right into the fray. If you have not read Part 1 please go back and do so at your leisure. As always I appreciate everyone who stops by to read the things that are written here, and your feedback is welcome.
90 Ma & Pa Kettle (various films)
Ma & Pa Kettle starred in ten films from 1947-57. They are simple country bumpkins raising their brood of 16 kids on the family farm, and the movies put them into various fish-out-of-water scenarios like trips to New York, Hawaii, & Paris, as well as winning a “house of the future” in a contest. I seem to recall that the Kettle films were shown on Saturday morning television with some frequency during my childhood. That was way before channels like TCM & AMC, so I assume it had to be a local syndication type of deal. I also have a vague recollection that it was my Dad who enjoyed watching Ma & Pa Kettle and introduced me to the movies.
“It may be a good day for you, but it ain’t for Pa. All the poor man wanted was a new tobacco pouch and instead he won a house he didn’t want and he got a bad sunburn.” (Ma)
“You do all the barkin’, but it’s me that’s always in the doghouse.” (Pa)
“You mean, Pa & Me’s got to support all our kids and the government too?” (Ma)
“Pa, you’re lazier than that old hound dog we used to have.” “Which one?” “The one that used to lean against the wall when she barked.”
89 Thelma Dickinson & Louise Sawyer (Thelma & Louise)
Full disclosure…I believe I’ve only watched Thelma & Louise once, but that was enough. The duo are southern ladies taking a girls’ trip to escape from their mundane existence, but things go awry when a drunken rabble-rouser tries to rape Thelma and Louise kills him. Of course we all know that in TV & movies no one ever does the smart thing by calling the police…instead they get spooked & go on the run, which is the foundation for the adventure that follows. Nearly three decades later many of us still refer to mischievous gal pals as Thelma & Louise.
“You said you ‘n’ me was gonna get out of town and for once just really let our hair down. Well darlin’, look out ’cause my hair is comin’ down!” (Thelma)
“You get what you settle for.” (Louise)
“He kinda prides himself on being infantile.” (Thelma)
“Good morning everybody, this is a robbery. Now if nobody loses their head, nobody will lose their head. Simon says everybody lay down on the floor, right away, right away, except you sir. You’ll have a story to tell your friends, that or a tag on your toe, it’s your decision.” (Thelma)
“I feel really awake. I don’t recall ever feeling this awake. You know? Everything looks different now. You feel like that? You feel like you got something to live for now?” (Thelma)
88 Raymond Babbitt (Rain Man)
I’m not sure anyone in history has done more to promote awareness of autism than Raymond Babbitt. Dustin Hoffman won his second Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Raymond, a savant whose deceased father left him millions that his scheming brother is trying to get from him. It is rare for Tom Cruise to be outshined in any film, but Raymond’s charming blend of pathos, humor, & vulnerability does the trick.
“I’m an excellent driver.”
“13 minutes to Judge Wapner and The People’s Court.”
87 Dr. Frank N. Furter (The Rocky Horror Picture Show)
Some films have broad appeal, and I assume that is what the powers-that-be are going for most of the time. However, there is no shortage of movies that are focused on a rather specific target audience. I haven’t seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show since I was in college, sitting out in a field late at night throwing rice & toilet paper at the screen, but that’s okay since it is exactly the kind of weird, drunken, relatively innocuous, & completely stupid experience one should have at 19, because if that’s how you spend your weekend when your 35 or 50 it becomes a bit disturbing. Dr. Furter describes himself as a “sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania”, which seems like a fitting description. Unforgettable name?? Check. Unique outfit?? Check. Quirky as all get-out?? You bet. Actor Tim Curry has been nominated for Tony Awards, starred in films like The Hunt for Red October & Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and portrayed Pennywise in the TV miniseries of Stephen King’s It, but he will most likely always be remembered as Dr. Frank N. Furter.
“Tonight, my unconventional conventionalists, you are about to witness a new breakthrough in biochemical research, and paradise is to be mine!”
“Don’t be upset…it was a mercy killing. He had a certain naïve charm, but no muscle.”
86 Mick “Crocodile” Dundee (Crocodile Dundee)
Let’s face it…the only reason any of us in the good ol’ USA has ever requested for someone to “throw another shrimp on the barbie” is because Crocodile Dundee taught us what that means in 1986. Outback Steakhouse was created in Tampa, FL two years after the film’s release in hopes of capitalizing on America’s newfound fascination with Australia. Two Dundee sequels were produced, but neither had the magic of the original, a classic fish-out-of-water tale featuring a most unconventional protagonist.
“Get on the right side of the road you pelican!”
“That’s not a knife…THAT’S a knife.”
“Well, you see, Aborigines don’t own the land…they belong to it. It’s like their mother. See those rocks? Been standing there for 600 million years…still be there when you & I are gone. So arguing over who owns them is like two fleas arguing over who owns the dog they live on.”
“Imagine seven million people all wanting to live together. New York must be the friendliest place on earth.”
85 Tommy DeVito (Goodfellas)
Not too long ago I saw a poll on Facebook asking about the best mob movie and was stunned when Goodfellas beat out The Godfather, because in my humble opinion The Godfather cannot be touched. Having said that, it is a rather unfair comparison. The Godfather is an Shakespearean fantasy with lots of Hollywood style & polish, whereas Goodfellas is more raw & down-to-earth. Inasmuch as The Mafia still exists in modern America I assume Goodfellas is probably a more accurate portrayal, but for me that doesn’t necessarily equal entertainment value. It’s kind of the same thing as people who fawn all over Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy because of its gritty realism, while I lean toward the escapism of the Burton/Schumacher Batman flicks from the late 80’s/early 90’s. At any rate, actor Joe Pesci had done Raging Bull in 1980 and added some life to the Lethal Weapon franchise in 1989 so Goodfellas wasn’t his first rodeo, but Tommy DeVito has become one of his defining roles (we’ll get to another a bit later). DeVito is loosely based on real life gangster “Two Gun Tommy” DiSimone, a NY City gangster who “disappeared” in January 1979. Two Gun Tommy was much younger, not to mention physically bigger & stronger, than the diminutive, middle-aged, fast-talking tough guy depicted in the film, but other mobsters have said that Pesci’s portrayal…for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor…is otherwise fairly accurate.
“What do you mean I’m funny? What do you mean? You mean the way I talk? What? You mean, let me understand this, ’cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe, but I’m funny how? I mean funny like I’m a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny? Funny how? How am I funny?”
84 Larry Talbot (The Wolf Man)
Y’all know that I’m not a horror movie fan, but for some reason I love the old Universal monsters from the 1930’s & 40’s. Talbot is a mild-mannered man who returns to Wales after two decades in America to reconcile with his estranged father. He is bitten by a werewolf while trying to rescue a damsel in distress, and thereafter becomes a werewolf himself. After committing a series of murders he is eventually bludgeoned to death by his own father, who doesn’t realize The Wolf Man is his son. Lon Chaney Jr.’s portrayal of Talbot as quiet & reserved and emotionally tortured by his infirmity is the perfect contrast to the ferocity of the beast.
“You think I don’t know the difference between a wolf and a man? You’re insane! I tell you, I killed a wolf! A plain, ordinary wolf! Don’t try to make me believe that I killed a man when I know that I killed a wolf!”
83 Tony Montana (Scarface)
I don’t rate Scarface as highly as some simply because I tend not to like movies about crime & drugs…it’s just not my kind of entertainment. Having said that, there’s no denying that Tony Montana is a memorable character. Tony arrives in Miami from Cuba and starts his new life as a dishwasher. A few years later he is a wealthy drug lord with an unhealthy cocaine addiction. As is the case with such characters there is a lot of bloodshed, ultimately ending (spoiler alert) with Tony face down in a fountain after having been shot in the back by a rival’s henchman. Critics like to attach meaning to films like Scarface, seeing it as some sort of allegory about rising & falling, the excesses of the American Dream, or a commentary on criminal avarice, but I prefer to learn such lessons without all the violence & profanity. Italian-American Pacino seems like an odd choice to portray a Cuban, and I’m not sure that would fly in our newly woke culture just a few decades later. Interestingly, Robert DeNiro was the first choice for the role of Tony Montana but he declined the opportunity.
“This is paradise. This is paradise, I’m tellin’ you. I shoulda come here 10 years ago. I’d have been a millionaire by this time. By this time, I’d have had my own boat, my own car, my own golf course.”
“Me, I always tell the truth…even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy! Come on. The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you. Come on. Make way for the bad guy. There’s a bad guy comin’ through! Better get outta his way!”
“This country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the woman.”
“Okay, you little cockroaches… come on! You wanna play games? Okay, I can play with you. Come on! Okay, you wanna play rough?!?!?? Okay! SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND!”
82 Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard (The Fugitive)
Other than its love of sequels the other way that Hollywood plays it safe by not being particularly innovative is to recycle old television shows and bring them…or atleast the central premise…to the big screen, with the results being decidedly mixed. The Dukes of Hazzard, Leave it to Beaver, & The Wild Wild West weren’t good movies, while The Addams Family, The Brady Bunch, & Charlie’s Angels were decent enough. One of the best movie adaptations of a TV show is The Fugitive, with Harrison Ford portraying erroneously convicted Dr. Richard Kimble. While the television show had Dr. Kimble doggedly pursued across the country by local police Lt. Philip Gerard, the film kicks it up a notch by making the hunter no nonsense U.S Marshal Sam Gerard, although the quest is essentially limited to Chicago. Tommy Lee Jones won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Gerard, and became the focus of the story in a much inferior sequel a few years later. In the movie neither Kimble nor Gerard resemble the television characters they are based on all that much, but in this case the adaptation is actually better than the original.
“Let that be a lesson to you, boys & girls. Don’t ever argue with the Big Dog, because the Big Dog is always right.”
“Listen up, ladies & gentlemen! Our fugitive has been on the run for 90 minutes. Average foot speed over uneven ground barring injuries is 4 miles per hour and that gives us a radius of 6 miles. What I want out of each & every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse, and doghouse in that area. Checkpoints go up at fifteen miles. Your fugitive’s name is Dr. Richard Kimble. Go get him.”
81 Walter Sobchak (The Big Lebowski)
Lebowski is a weird movie, but it sure is fun to watch when a particular mood strikes. One of the key reasons for its success is John Goodman’s portrayal of Walter, the foul-mouthed, slightly unhinged, but loyal best buddy of the film’s protagonist. I’ve never been a fan of Goodman’s infamous TV show Roseanne in any of its incarnations, but I sure have enjoyed his big screen career. Raising Arizona. Everybody’s All-American. The Hangover Part III. They may not be transcendent films, but they’re enjoyable enough and better because Goodman is in them. Walter is most definitely second fiddle in Lebowksi, but that’s okay…great movies need supporting characters that add a colorful layer to the story, and in this case the mission is certainly accomplished.
“Donny, you’re out of your element! Dude, the Chinaman is not the issue here!”
“Nihilists! I mean, say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.”
“Lady, I got buddies who died face down in the muck so that you & I could enjoy this family restaurant!”
“You want a toe? I can get you a toe. Believe me. There are ways, Dude.”
“Life does not start and stop at your convenience, you miserable piece of shit!”
“You know, Dude, I myself dabbled in pacifism once. Not in ‘Nam of course.”
“We’re talking about unchecked aggression here, Dude.”
“Smokey, this is not ‘Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.”
80 Captain Louis Renault (Casablanca)
¾ of a century after its theatrical release Casablanca is still regarded as one of the best movies ever produced. There are multiple reasons for that, but one of them is Capt. Renault, a cynical & slightly corrupt French policeman. Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco on the coast of Africa. During World War II it was a vital strategic port, and since a large chunk of Europe was controlled by the Nazis travel was limited, hence the importance of the film’s “letters of transit” (a true film MacGuffin…in reality no such documents existed). Capt. Renault plays all sides, loyal only to his own needs & desires…or so we are led to believe until the film’s conclusion. He isn’t a clichéd movie bad guy…he seems pleasant enough, and in fact has some of the more blithe dialogue. It is rare for an alleged villain to add levity to the story, but that is exactly what Renault does, which is probably why I like him. Actor Claude Rains played more conventional antagonists in films like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious, and earned four Academy Award nominations in his career, but Casablanca was the beginning of a beautiful friendship with the audience and Cpt. Renault.
“I’m making out the report now. We haven’t quite decided whether he committed suicide or died trying to escape.”
“It is a little game we play. They put it on the bill, I tear up the bill. It is very convenient.”
“I have no conviction, if that’s what you mean. I blow with the wind, and the prevailing wind happens to be from Vichy.
“How extravagant you are, throwing away women like that. Someday they may be scarce.”
“You mustn’t underestimate American blundering. I was with them when they “blundered” into Berlin in 1918.”
“I told my men to be especially destructive. You know how that impresses Germans.”
“Everybody is to leave here immediately! This cafe is closed until further notice. Clear the room, at once! I am shocked…shocked…to find that gambling is going on in here!”
“Well, Rick, you’re not only a sentimentalist, but you’ve become a patriot.”
“Round up the usual suspects!”
79 Jack Dawson & Rose DeWitt-Bukater (Titanic)
For several years Titanic was the highest grossing film of all time, and it swept thru the 1997 awards season like a tornado. Critics & the general populace both love it, but one of the few condemnations I seem to recall hearing back then was that the main focus wasn’t on actual people who lost their lives in the infamous tragedy. Instead the spotlight was given to two fictional characters in Jack & Rose. They are essentially a riff on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. He’s a good-natured American guy from the wrong side of the tracks heading home to Wisconsin, while she is a prim & proper British debutante who hates her rigid life. In the course of three hours we become invested in them individually and in their love story. They may not be based on real people, but as composite characters I believe they are solid representatives of the 1500 souls lost on that catastrophic night.
“I’m the king of the world!” (Jack)
“Do you know of Dr. Freud, Mr. Ismay? His ideas about the male preoccupation with size might be of particular interest to you.” (Rose)
“I’m not an idiot. I know how the world works. I’ve got ten bucks in my pocket. I have nothing to offer you and I know that. I understand. But I’m too involved now. You jump, I jump, remember? I can’t turn away without knowing you’ll be all right.” (Jack)
“I’m flying, Jack!” (Rose)
“I got everything I need right here with me. I got air in my lungs, a few blank sheets of paper. I mean, I love waking up in the morning not knowing what’s gonna happen or, who I’m gonna meet, where I’m gonna wind up. Just the other night I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people. I figure life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it. You don’t know what hand you’re gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you… to make each day count.” (Jack)
“Jack, I want you to draw me like one of your French girls. Wearing this…wearing only this.” (Rose)
“I don’t know about you, but I intend to go write a strongly worded letter to the White Star Line about all this.” (Jack)
“Don’t you do that…don’t you say your goodbyes. Not yet, do you understand me? You’re gonna get out of here, you’re gonna go on, and you’re gonna make lots of babies, and you’re gonna watch them grow. You’re gonna die an old… an old woman warm in her bed, not here, not this night. Not like this, do you understand me? Winning that ticket, Rose, was the best thing that ever happened to me. It brought me to you, and I’m thankful for that, Rose. I’m thankful. You must do me this honor. You must promise me that you’ll survive, that you won’t give up, no matter what happens, no matter how hopeless. Promise me now, Rose, and never let go of that promise.” (Jack)
78 Jenny Curran (Forrest Gump)
A lot of subtext can be read into Forrest Gump. Some believe that Jenny…the lifelong friend of the film’s simpleminded hero who was abused as a young girl, becomes a hippie, descends into a life of drugs & prostitution, and ends up dying of (we assume) a sexually transmitted disease…is meant to represent the counterculture & upheaval of the 1960’s that many consider the loss of America’s innocence. She is the darkness in contrast to Forrest’s patriotic optimism. I’m not sure any of that symbolism was purposeful by the filmmakers, but the movie & the character stand on their own merits regardless of intent. Actress Robin Wright has had a solid career in Hollywood, from soap opera Santa Barbara in the mid-80’s to The Princess Bride in 1987 to the recently concluded Netflix hit House of Cards, but the sadness & vulnerability that defines Jenny has been her crowning achievement.
“Dear God, make me a bird. So I could fly far. Far far away from here.”
“Listen, you promise me something, okay? Just if you’re ever in trouble, don’t be brave. You just run, okay? Just run away.”
77 Inspector Harry Callahan (Dirty Harry)
Clint Eastwood’s career has spanned over a half century, and he’s done everything from westerns to critically acclaimed dramas to the television show Rawhide. He’s even become an Academy Award winning director. However, Eastwood will always be most closely associated with his portrayal of Harry Callahan, a tough as nails San Francisco cop who plays by his own set of rules.
“I know what you’re thinking: ‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’ Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?”
76 Euphagenia Doubtfire (Mrs. Doubtfire)
The titular character in this film is actually a man in drag. Daniel Hillard is an itinerant voice actor whose uptight wife divorces him and gets custody of their three children. Instead of allowing their father to spend more time with them the career driven mother decides to hire a nanny, so Daniel dons a very convincing disguise and becomes an elderly British woman. The ruse works, and Mrs. Doubtfire allows Robin Williams’ comedic genius to shine.
“Oh, sir! I saw it! Some angry member of the kitchen staff. Did you not tip them? Oh, the terrorists – they ran that way. It was a run-by fruiting.”
“I’m a hip old granny who can hip-hop, be-bop, dance ’til you drop, and yo, yo, make a wicked cup of cocoa.”
“Oh. Carpe dentum. Seize the teeth. Just shake them off, like a dog.”
“I found the best way to keep from smoking again and lighting up is to be around those who do smoke. I have to randomly ingest just a little bit of nicotine and it steels my wool.”
“He was quite fond of the drink. It was the drink that killed him. He was hit by a Guinness truck. So it was quite literally the drink that killed him.”
75 Woody Pride & Buzz Lightyear (The Toy Story Series)
The older I get the more I appreciate animated movies, especially since the technology has really advanced in the past couple of decades. It doesn’t hurt that Toy Story is a great example of a film that can be enjoyed by kids but is well written enough for adults to be entertained as well. Buzz Lightyear is a boisterous Space Ranger who doesn’t understand that he’s a toy. He is the newest action figure for young Andy, a birthday present from his mother. Buzz initially has a difficult time fitting in with the rest of Andy’s toys, especially Sheriff Woody, who is envious that he’s been replaced as Andy’s favorite plaything. Woody is the unofficial leader amongst all of Andy’s toys and feels threatened by Buzz at first, although the two eventually become pals.
“To infinity and beyond!” (Buzz)
“I can’t stop Andy from growing up… but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” (Woody)
74 Inigo Montoya (The Princess Bride)
You killed his father…prepare to die!! Inigo Montoya is a Spanish swordsman on a mission. As a child he witnessed six fingered Count Rugen murder his father and has spent his life seeking vengeance. Initially he works with malevolent Vizzini to kidnap the lovely Buttercup, but eventually he becomes a good guy, teaming up with The Man in Black & giant Fezzik to rescue Buttercup. He also comes face to face with Rugen and finally gets his revenge.
“He was a great swordmaker, my father. When the six-fingered man appeared and requested a special sword, my father took the job. He slaved a year before it was finished. The six-fingered man returned and demanded it, but at 1/10th his promised price. My father refused. Without a word, the six-fingered man slashed him through the heart. I loved my father. So naturally, I challenged his murderer to a duel. I failed. I was 11 years old. When I was strong enough, I dedicated my life to the study of fencing. So, the next time we meet, I will not fail. I will go up to the six-fingered man and say, ‘Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.’”
73 Lt. Dan Taylor (Forrest Gump)
I was born with a birth defect and have been disabled my entire life, so the way I do things & live my life is entirely normal to me. However, I have known people who became disabled later in life thru some sort of calamity, and it isn’t uncommon for such folks to become understandably bitter & angry about their situation. Lt. Dan captures those emotions perfectly. He’s kind of a prick, but one can’t help but have empathy and root for him. Gary Sinise might be the most underrated actor of his generation, and it’s a shame that he didn’t win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Lt. Dan.
“Now, you listen to me. We all have a destiny. Things don’t just happen…it’s all part of a plan.”
“There are two standing rules in this outfit. One, take care of your feet. Two, don’t go doing something stupid, like getting yourself killed.”
“You call this a storm?!?!?? Blow, you son of a bitch! It’s time for a showdown! You and me! I’m right here! Come and get me! You’ll never… sink… this…boat!!!!”
72 Edward Scissorhands (Edward Scissorhands)
I can’t say I’m on the Tim Burton bandwagon (I have zero interest in Ed Wood, Mars Attacks, or Sweeney Todd, Dark Shadows didn’t really work for me, and I’m thoroughly confused by The Nightmare Before Christmas), but I have enjoyed some of his work (the Batman films of the late 80’s/early 90’s are much more entertaining than Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy no matter what anyone says, and Beetlejuice is a modern classic), with Edward Scissorhands chief among them. Edward is the Pinocchio-esque creation of an elderly inventor whose kind & quiet demeanor is offset by the scary looking blades he has instead of hands. The inventor dies and Edward lives for years in an old gothic mansion until a nosy Avon lady stumbles upon him and tries to integrate him into her odd little neighborhood. There Edward falls in love with the lovely young Kim, which makes her boyfriend jealous. Drama & violence ensue, with Edward fleeing back to his mansion. The movie has a framing device with an older version of Kim telling her granddaughter the story and saying that she believes Edward is still alive & living in the old mansion. Johnny Depp seems like kind of a weird dude, but credit where it is due…the guy is a terrific actor and Edward Scissorhands is probably his best performance. Edward is a quiet character who expresses so much with his eyes & facial expressions, which I find captivating.
“Mrs. Monroe showed me where the salon’s going to be. You could have a cosmetics counter. And then she showed me the back room where she took all of her clothes off.”
71 Mickey Goldmill (The Rocky Series)
Burgess Meredith had a long & successful career in Hollywood, doing a little bit of everything from portraying The Penguin in the 1960’s Batman TV show to playing Lenny in one of the best film adaptations of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice & Men, but to those of us of a certain age he’ll always be Rocky Balboa’s grizzled old manager in the first three Rocky films. Mickey sees Balboa’s potential and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Mickey encourages Rocky in his pursuit of heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, and does his best a few years later to steer the champ away from the menacing Clubber Lang. Of course Rocky is mauled by Lang, but Mickey’s death immediately afterward spurs his path to revenge.
“I’m here to warn ya, that ya gotta be very careful about this shot that you got at the title. Because, like the Bible says, you ain’t gonna get a second chance. What ya need is a manager. I know, because I’ve been in this racket for fifty years. I’ve seen it all, all of it. I’ve got 21 stitches over this left eye. I’ve got 34 stitches over this eye. Do ya know that I had my nose busted 17 times. I got all this knowledge, I got it up here now, I wanna give it to you. I wanna take care of ya. I wanna make sure that all this shit that happened to me doesn’t happen to you. Ya can’t buy what I’m gonna give ya. I’ve got pain and I’ve got experience.”
“You’re gonna eat lightnin’ and you’re gonna crap thunder.”
“You got another shot. It’s a second shot at the, I don’t know, the biggest title in the world. And you’re gonna be swappin’ punches with the most dangerous fighter in the world. And just in case, you know, your brain ain’t workin’ so good, all this happens pretty soon and you ain’t ready. You’re nowhere near in any shape. So I say, you know, for God’s sake, why don’t you stand up and fight this guy hard?! Like ya done before? That was beautiful! But don’t lay down in front of him like this! Like, I don’t know, like some kind of mongrel or something. ‘Cause he’s gonna kick your face in pieces, you know that? That’s right. This guy just don’t wanna win, you know. He wants to bury ya, he wants to humiliate ya. He wants to prove to the whole world that you was nothing but some kind of a freak the first time out. And he said you’re a one-time lucky bum. Well, now, I don’t, I don’t wanna get mad, in a biblical place like this, but I think you’re a hell of a lot more than that, kid.”
“Why don’t you carry this? ‘Cause I liked you a lot better when you was carryin’ spit. ‘Cause the way you’re trainin’, you’re gonna end up pumping gas in Jersey somewhere!”
“You can’t win, Rock! This guy’ll kill ya to death inside of 3 rounds! He ain’t just another fighter. This guy is a wreckin’ machine, and he’s hungry! Hell, you ain’t been hungry since you won that belt! Three years ago, you were supernatural. You was hard and nasty. You had this cast iron jaw. But then, the worst thing happened to you that could happen to any fighter. You got civilized. Don’t worry, kid. You know, presidents retire, generals retire, horses retire, Man o War retired. They put him out to stud. That’s what you should’ve done, retire.”
70 Ace Ventura (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective)
Jim Carrey has gone on to become a fairly well-regarded actor who takes himself, his craft, and life in general way too seriously. However, 25 years ago he was an up & comer known for portraying Fire Marshal Bill on the TV sketch comedy show In Living Color. Critics hated Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, but its 47% score on Rotten Tomatoes was trumped by a $72 million box office, making it the 12th highest grossing film of 1994 and earning a sequel just a year later. The sequel was an even bigger financial success but also more panned critically. Ace is a unique & unforgettable character because really, who would even conceive of “pet detective” being a thing?
“Einhorn is Finkle. Finkle is Einhorn! Einhorn is a MAN!”
“Fiction can be fun! But I find the reference section much more enlightening. For instance, if you were to look up professional football’s all-time bonehead plays you might read about a Miami Dolphin kicker named Ray Finkle, who missed a 26-yard field goal in the closing seconds of Super Bowl XVII. What you WOULDN’T read about is how Ray Finkle lost his mind, was committed to a mental hospital, only to escape and join the police force under the assumed identity of a missing hiker, manipulating his way to the top in a diabolical scheme to get even with Dan Marino whom he blamed for the entire thing!”
69 Rhett Butler & Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind)
The on again/off again relationship between Rhett & Scarlett reminds me of every “will they or won’t they” antagonistic & tortured “romance” we’ve seen play out on TV in my lifetime. In the real world such relationships are toxic, but within the scope of entertainment we find the tension & chemistry charming. Rhett Butler is a wealthy scoundrel who eventually enlists in the Confederate Army. Scarlett O’Hara is an entitled debutante, the self-centered daughter of a plantation owner. She spends most of the film pining for southern gentleman Ashley Wilkes, but he’s married to her cousin. Rhett is immediately smitten with Scarlett, but thru the years she marries two other men for all the wrong reasons, and both husbands end up dead. Scarlett goes through a lot of stuff over the course of the story, proving herself to be as resilient & tough as she is spoiled. Eventually Rhett & Scarlett marry & have a child, but she STILL can’t get over Ashley Wilkes. Rhett becomes fed up with her shenanigans and bolts, just as she finally figures out that he’s the man she truly needs. Vivien Leigh won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Scarlett, beating out the likes of Greta Garbo & Bette Davis in the process. Clark Gable wasn’t the original choice to portray Rhett…Gary Cooper turned down the part. Gable was nominated for Best Actor, but lost to Robert Donat for his role in Goodbye, Mr. Chipps.
“I’m very drunk and I intend on getting still drunker before this evening is over.” (Rhett)
“As God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat, or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again! (Scarlett)
“The war stopped being a joke when a girl like you doesn’t know how to wear the latest fashion.” (Rhett)
“Tara! Home. I’ll go home. And I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all… tomorrow… is another day!” (Scarlett)
“Open your eyes and look at me. No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how.” (Rhett)
“I’m the only man over 16 and under 60 who’s around to show you a good time.” (Rhett)
“There’s one thing I do know, and that is that I love you Scarlett. In spite of you and me and the whole silly world going to pieces around us, I love you. Because we’re alike. Bad lots, both of us. Selfish & shrewd, but able to look things in the eyes as we call them by their right names.” (Rhett)
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” (Rhett)
68 Robin Hood (various films)
Sir Robin of Loxley first appeared in English folk ballads in the 15th century and has popped in & out of our collective pop culture consciousness for over 500 years. An outlaw who steals from the rich & gives to the poor, lives in Sherwood Forest with his band of Merry Men (Friar Tuck, Little John, Will Scarlet, et al), battles the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham, & romances the lovely Maid Marian, Robin Hood has starred in about three dozen movies in the past hundred years. It is likely that he’d be a bit higher in our countdown if more of those films had been…noteworthy. Hollywood keeps trying, but despite their best efforts the only Robin Hood movie that has made much of an impact is 1938’s The Adventures of Robin Hood, a classic starring Errol Flynn.
“We Saxons have little to fatten on by the time your tax gatherers are through. Overtaxed, overworked, and paid off with a knife, a club, or a rope.”
“It’s time to put an end to this! Now, this forest is wide. It can shelter and clothe and feed a band of good, determined men – good swordsmen, good archers, good fighters. Men, if you’re willing to fight for our people, I want you! Are you with me?”
“What else do you call a man who takes advantage of the King’s misfortune to seize his power? Now, with the help of this sweet band of cutthroats, you’ll try to grind a ransom for him out of every helpless Saxon, a ransom that will be used, not to release Richard, but to buy your way to the throne. I’ll organize a revolt, exact a death for a death, and I’ll never rest until every Saxon in this shire can stand up free men, and strike a blow for Richard and England.”
67 Clark Griswold (The Vacation Series)
Five years ago The Manofesto ranked Clark Griswold 4th on our list of Superfluous 7 Most Awesome Fictional Dads, opining that despite being kind of a dufus it is obvious that he is a devoted family man. Chevy Chase has portrayed Clark in five films stretching all the way back to the original National Lampoon’s Vacation in 1983. He’s an interesting character in that his occupation as an R&D expert in food additives & preservatives seems to indicate some level of intelligence, yet he is depicted as an ordinary putz in his personal life. Chase’s gift for physical comedy as well as how others play off him…with sort of an eye-rolling tolerance for his buffoonery…endears Clark to the audience, making us glad when everything turns out fine despite his persistent screw-ups.
“This is no longer a vacation…it’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun! I’m gonna have fun and you’re gonna have fun! We’re all gonna have so much fuckin’ fun we’ll need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles! You’ll be whistling Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah out of your assholes!!! HAHAHA!!! I gotta be crazy; I’m on a pilgrimage to see a moose! Praise Marty Moose! Holy shit!!!”
“Hey, look kids…there’s Big Ben and there’s Parliament.”
“Honey, we’re not normal people. We’re the Griswolds!”
66 John Doe (Se7en) & Keyser Soze (The Usual Suspects)
Oscar winning actor Kevin Spacey may be persona non grata in Hollywood these days, but until he ran into the #MeToo Mafia his career had been full of memorable roles. To be honest Se7en & The Usual Suspects aren’t really my kind of films, but both offer unforgettable villains made even better by the presence of Spacey inhabiting the characters. Se7en tells the story of a serial killer who uses The Seven Deadly Sins as a theme in his murders. John Doe forces a man to eat until his stomach ruptures (gluttony), kills a lawyer by literally taking a pound of flesh from him (greed), starves a drug dealer/child molester almost to death (sloth), forces a man at gunpoint to kill a prostitute by raping her with a bladed “toy” (lust), & mutilates the face of a model (pride). For those who haven’t seen the movie I won’t spoil the final two crimes representing envy & wrath. The Usual Suspects finds the LAPD interrogating cerebral palsy-afflicted con man Verbal Kint after he survives a massacre on a ship. Kint weaves a tale about a crime lord named Keyser Soze, but in possibly one of the best endings to a movie ever it is revealed (major spoiler alert) that Verbal Kint IS Keyser Soze. Spacey won his first Academy Award (Best Supporting Actor) for his role in The Usual Suspects.
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” (Keyser Soze)
“Don’t ask me to pity those people. I don’t mourn them any more than I do the thousands that died at Sodom & Gomorrah.” (John Doe)
65 Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Young Frankenstein)
First of all, it is pronounced “Fronk-en-steen”. That is just one small way in which Frederick has intentionally distanced himself from his grandfather’s twisted legacy. However, upon inheriting the family castle in Transylvania Frederick finds himself at a crossroads, and I think we all know the hilarious path he chooses. I’m a fan of parody films, and the way director Mel Brooks spoofs the classic story is funny in a way that I fear may be lost on modern youngsters. Gene Wilder not only stars as Frederick but he also co-wrote the screenplay with Brooks. The cast…Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr, Gene Hackman…is first rate, even if no one under 45 these days might appreciate that fact. I have a bad feeling that someday somebody is going to get the bright idea to remake Young Frankenstein, and that would be…at the very least…misguided.
“From that fateful day when stinking bits of slime first crawled from the sea and shouted to the cold stars, ‘I am man!’ our greatest dread has always been the knowledge of our mortality. But tonight, we shall hurl the gauntlet of science into the frightful face of death itself. Tonight, we shall ascend into the heavens. We shall mock the earthquake. We shall command the thunders, and penetrate into the very womb of impervious nature herself.”
“My grandfather’s work was doodoo! I am not interested in death! The only thing that concerns me is the preservation of life!”
“Are you saying that I put an abnormal brain into a 7 and a half foot long, 54- inch wide GORILLA?!?!?! IS THAT WHAT YOU’RE TELLING ME!?!”
63 Carl Spackler (Caddyshack)
One would assume that being an assistant greenskeeper at swanky Bushwood Country Club would allow even a middle class guy like Carl a decent lifestyle. Alas, he lives in small hut on the golf course, with his job & the game of golf itself consuming his life. He dreams of one day winning The Masters, and in his spare time breeds grass hybrids that one can “play 36 holes on in the afternoon” then “get stoned to the bejeezus” on it at night. He becomes obsessed with ridding the golf course of a rabblerousing gopher, going so far as to utilize explosives and blow up the very course he is employed to look after.
“What an incredible Cinderella story! This unknown, comes out of nowhere, to lead the pack at Augusta. The crowd is just on its feet here. He’s a Cinderella boy. Tears in his eyes, I guess, as he lines up this last shot. He’s got about 195 yards left, and he’s got a, looks like he’s got about an 8-iron. This crowd has gone deadly silent… Cinderella story, out of nowhere, former greenskeeper, now about to become the Masters champion. It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole!”
“My enemy…my foe…is an animal. In order to conquer the animal I have to learn to think like an animal. And, whenever possible, to look like one. I’ve gotta get inside this guy’s pelt and crawl around for a few days.”
“And he says, ‘Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.’ So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”
64 Hermione Granger (The Harry Potter Series)
Author JK Rowling describes Hermione as having “pale skin, bushy brown hair, brown eyes, & large buck teeth”. In the films she is much lovelier than the impression one gets from the books, but her personality remains unchanged: intelligent, sensible, strong-willed, loyal, & just a tad bit officious. She’s the kind of person that’s nice to have in your corner, and one that presents fierce opposition. She’s tough as nails and not afraid to stand side by side with the boys or go toe to toe with the baddies, yet she retains an element of vulnerable femininity & kindness. I suppose for a certain age of young ladies Hermione could be called a feminist icon.
“Honestly, am I the only person who’s ever bothered to read Hogwarts: A History?”
“Now if you two don’t mind, I’m going to bed. Before you come up with another idea to get us killed. Or worse, expelled.”
“I’m highly logical which allows me to look past extraneous detail and perceive clearly that which others overlook.”
“Just because you have the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have!”
“No Harry, you listen…we’re coming with you. That was decided months ago…years, really.”
62 Austin Powers & Dr. Evil (The Austin Powers Series)
I may not be a James Bond fan, but I really enjoyed the Austin Powers movies, which are essentially a Bond parody. Powers is a 60’s era swinger & British spy whose arch nemesis is Dr. Evil. When Dr. Evil becomes cryogenically frozen Powers does the same so that he’ll be available to stop Evil in the future. That future is three decades later, when both Powers & Evil are thawed out and continue their battle. Dr. Evil intends to steal nuclear weapons & hold the world hostage for “$100 BILLION!!”. It’s all very silly, with double entendres, sight gags, & the kind of goofy humor that tickles my funny bone. Mike Meyers created the story as a tribute to his British parents and plays both characters. Meyers was a couple of years removed from his time at SNL and hadn’t had much success outside of the two Wayne’s World films, but cemented his stardom with the dual roles. Rumors of a fourth Powers movie have persisted since the third one hit theaters 17 years ago, but so far it hasn’t happened.
“I bet she shags like a minx.” (Austin Powers)
“Fire the laser!” (Dr. Evil)
“The 70s and the 80s? You’re not missing anything! I looked into it. There’s a gas shortage and A Flock of Seagulls. That’s about it.” (Austin Powers)
“Why must I be surrounded by frickin’ idiots?” (Dr. Evil)
“Oh, behave!” (Austin Powers)
“Throw me a frickin’ bone here!” (Dr. Evil)
“Groovy, baby!” (Austin Powers)
“I have a better idea. I’m going to place him in an easily escapable situation involving an overly elaborate and exotic death.” (Dr. Evil)
“SILENCE!! I will not tolerate your insolence!” (Dr. Evil)
“Ladies & gentlemen, welcome to my new submarine lair. It’s long and hard and full of seamen.” (Dr. Evil)
61 John Bender (The Breakfast Club)
There are five high schoolers in trouble & spending their Saturday in detention at Shurmur High School in suburban Chicago on March 24, 1984: Claire Standish (The Princess), Andrew Clark (The Athlete), Brian Johnson (The Brain), Allison Reynolds (The Basket Case), & John Bender (The Criminal). Of that group it is Bender that shines just a little brighter. The idea behind these characters is that they represent typical high school stereotypes, and it’s the main reason the film holds up nearly four decades later…those labels are universal and don’t change all that much. Every high school has rebels like Bender, the kind of badass who thumbs their nose at authority, doesn’t care all that much about academics, & seemingly has a limited future. However, the great thing about The Breakfast Club is that it explores those archetypes & exposes their folly. It’s a movie that one perceives differently thru the prism of adulthood, and as a grown man I am struck by the not-so-subtle suggestion that Bender has been physically, mentally, & emotionally abused at home. There is a scene in which blowhard Principal Vernon gets in Bender’s face, and contrary to the bluster that he exhibits in the presence of his peers, the tough as nails bully cowers like a scared child. It is a stark reminder that not everything is always as it seems – sometimes people put on masks to hide their pain.
“Screws fall out all the time; the world is an imperfect place.”
“Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?”
“I could see you really pushing maximum density. You see, I’m not sure if you know this, but there are two kinds of fat people. There’s fat people that were born to be fat, and there’s fat people that were once thin, but they became fat, so when you look at them you can sort of see that thin person inside. You see, you’re gonna get married, you’re gonna squeeze out a few puppies and then….”
“Eat my shorts.”
“”Face it…you’re a neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie.”
60 Beetlejuice (Beetlejuice)
Horror comedies are a rare treat, but they are the kind of Halloween-ish fare I prefer instead of straight up slasher flicks. Michael Keaton is an undervalued gem of an actor, capable of adding zest to comedies, dramas, big budget superhero films, biopics, or whatever else he does. When a young couple dies in a car accident but still finds themselves residing in their suburban Connecticut home they employ the services of a centuries old “freelance bio-exorcist” to get rid of the new owners of the house. That freelancer is a fast-talking, mischievous, & crude trickster who is essentially a “Livingbuster” (as opposed to a Ghostbuster)…a ghost who exterminates the living by scaring them away. The name Betelgeuse (the proper spelling) refers to a star in the Orion constellation that is the ninth brightest star in the night sky. Rumors of a Beetlejuice sequel have been circulating for years, but the project seems to have hit a wall.
“I’m the ghost with the most, babe.”
59 Sonny Corleone (The Godfather Trilogy)
Hands down Sonny has the greatest death scene in movie history. The eldest son of Don Vito Corleone, hothead Santino takes over as temporary boss of The Family after his father is shot by goons working for narcotics kingpin Turk Sollozzo. Under Sonny’s leadership the Five Families engage in a Mafia war after Sonny’s younger brother Michael kills Sollozzo & a corrupt cop, forcing the entire Corleone organization to “go to the mattresses”. After his brother-in-law Carlo physically abuses his wife Connie, Sonny defends his sister’s honor by beating the holy hell out of Carlo, which leads to rival boss Emilio Barzini setting a trap using Carlo to bait Sonny into making a reckless mistake. He is brought down in a hail of gunfire at a toll booth. Sonny’s sexual prowess and physical…gifts…are elaborated on much more in the book than the movie, but his affair with one of Connie’s bridesmaids at the beginning of the first film is important because his illegitimate son Vincent Mancini becomes Don of the Corleone Family in the much maligned & underappreciated Part III.
“Hey, whatcha gonna do, nice college boy, eh? Didn’t want to get mixed up in the family business, huh? Now you wanna gun down a police captain ’cause he slapped ya in the face? Hah? What do you think this is? The Army, where you shoot ’em a mile away? You’ve gotta get up close like this and bada-bing, you blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit!”
58 Godzilla (various films)
Godzilla (which in Japanese translates into gorilla whale) is a 300-400 ft. reptilian creature weighing several hundred thousand tons who lives in the sea and is awakened as a result of nuclear radiation. He has been the star of about three dozen films dating back to the 1950’s, and the earliest movies are still the best, mostly because of the kitschiness factor of the archaic special effects & amusingly poor dubbing of English over the original Japanese. Big scary monsters are nothing new in Hollywood, but most of them come & go rather quickly. Maybe they get a couple of sequels but that’s usually it. Godzilla has stood the test of time, and we can still count on a new movie in the series popping up somewhere every few years for our viewing pleasure.
57 Bo “Bandit” Darville (Smokey & The Bandit)
At one point in my childhood Burt Reynolds was the biggest movie star in the world, and though he’d previously done well-regarded films like Deliverance & The Longest Yard my earliest memory of him is Smokey & The Bandit. I was five years old and didn’t really get all the humor, but there were car chases & crashes so that was enough to attract my attention. In the ensuing four decades I have watched this movie countless times, and though the entire cast is terrific it is The Bandit that holds it all together. He’s a trucker who’s between jobs, and that guy that knows everyone and is loved by everybody because of his charm & good looks. He’s cocky but not arrogant, confident enough in his skills to agree to a bet wherein he’ll bring 400 cases of Coors beer to Atlanta from Texarkana, TX in just 28 hours. The premise might not make much sense to folks in 21st century America because one first must understand that in the 1970’s Coors was unavailable east of Oklahoma (it didn’t become distributed nationally until 1986), and because it was made without stabilizers & preservatives could spoil quicker than other beers. Bootlegging was the illegal transport of alcoholic beverages due to violation of registration & licensing laws. I have no idea what the penalty was, but I assume the $80k Bandit is offer by Big Enos Burdette is worth the risk. At any rate, his antics are so much fun that it makes an otherwise odd & now outdated idea still entertaining after all these years.
“Oh I love your suits. It must have been a bitch to get a 68 Extra Fat and a 12 Dwarf.”
“You’re always hoppin around. And you’re kinda cute, like a frog. And I’d like to jump ya.”
“He was taking a 10-100.”
“Cowboys love fat calves.”
“What’s a Texas county mounty doing in Arkansas?”
56 Moses (The Ten Commandments)
Hollywood’s history with Biblical epics is spotty at best, but they did it right with The Ten Commandments. It’s got to be a tough gig portraying a character from The Bible, right?? They are real people who actually walked the Earth, but it was so long ago that there aren’t photos or video to lay the foundation for an accurate depiction. With the exception of events that are written about in God’s Word there isn’t much to base a character on, yet millions of people whose faith is deeply important to them have high expectations. By 1956 director Cecil B. DeMille had helmed dozens of movies, many of them in the silent era in the first two decades of the 20th century. His epic circus drama The Greatest Show on Earth had won the Academy Award for Best Picture a few years earlier. Charlton Heston wasn’t DeMille’s first choice to play Moses, but the two had worked together on The Greatest Show on Earth and Heston’s knowledge of Egyptian history captivated the director, who thought the actor resembled Michelangelo’s 16th century statue of Moses in the church of San Pietro in Rome. William Boyd, who had portrayed Hopalong Cassidy in over five dozen cowboy movies in the 1930’s & 40’s, turned down the part, so Heston was chosen. He’d acted in over a dozen previous films, but it was The Ten Commandments that made him a star.
“A city is made of brick, Pharaoh. The strong make many. The weak make few. The dead make none. So much for accusations.”
“It would take more than a man to lead the slaves from bondage. It would take a god, and I am no god. I am but a man, a man who asks by what right any man may enslave another of a different race or creed. But if I could free these people, I would.”
“Who shall withstand the power of God?!?!??”
55 Buck Russell (Uncle Buck)
It’s the role that John Candy was born to play: a slovenly black sheep uncle called on to babysit his nieces & nephew in the midst of a family emergency. Buck is a middle-aged unemployed bachelor who smokes cigars, drinks beer, drives a noisy old gas guzzler that’s seen better days, & spends a lot of time at the track betting on horses…not exactly the ideal caretaker for children. The two younger kids take an immediate liking to Buck, but he has a much more difficult time winning over his teenage niece. Those interactions between an uncle clearly out of his element and the children are the crux of the film, and Candy infuses Buck with a mix of humor, common sense, tough love, amiable befuddlement, & roguish charm that endears him to the audience.
“I’m on to cigars now. I’m on to a five year plan. I eliminated cigarettes, then I go to cigars, then I go to pipes, then I go to chewing tobacco, then I’m on to that nicotine gum.”
“What’s your record for consecutive questions asked?”
“I don’t think I want to know a 6 year old who isn’t a dreamer or a sillyheart, and I sure don’t want to know one who takes their student career seriously. I don’t have a college degree. I don’t even have a job. But I know a good kid when I see one. Because they’re all good kids until dried-out, brain-dead skags like you drag them down and convince them they’re no good. You so much as scowl at my niece or any other kid in this school and I hear about it, I’m coming looking for you! Take this quarter, go downtown, and have a rat gnaw that thing off your face! Good day to you, madam.
“Stand me up today and tomorrow I’ll drive you to school in my robe and pajamas and walk you to your first class.”
“Ever hear of a ritual killing? You gnaw on her face in public like that again and you’ll be one.”
“I have a friend who works at the crime lab at the police station. I could give him your toothbrush and he could run a test on it to see if you actually brushed your teeth or just ran your toothbrush under the faucet.”
54 R2D2 & C3P0 (The Star Wars series)
The Star Wars galaxy created by George Lucas offers a multitude of memorable characters. We’ll get to some others eventually, but we begin with a pair of futuristic droids that offer delightful levity amongst all the action & intrigue. There are eleven films in the series…the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy, the soon to be concluded sequel trilogy, Rogue One, & Solo. R2D2 & C3P0 have appeared in ten of these, which is by far more than any other character. R2D2 purportedly stands for Second Generation Robotic Droid Series-2, but the truth is that when Lucas heard his sound editor on American Graffiti ask for Reel 2, Dialog Track 2 in abbreviated form he liked the sound of it. R2D2 is a utility robot used for the maintenance & repair of starships and related technology. In the films he first belongs to Naboo defense forces charged with repairing Queen Padme Amidala’s ship. Thru the years he is owned by Qui-Gon Jinn, Anakin Skywalker, Owen Lars, Luke Skywalker, & Rey. R2’s distinctive shape and various beeps & unique noises are signature elements of the character. C3P0 is a little more humanlike than his buddy, having legs & feet and the ability to speak. He is a protocol droid intended to assist in etiquette, customs, & translation and is fluent in over seven million forms of communication. Thru the years he has served Shmi Skywalker, the Lars family, Padmé Amidala, Raymus Antilles, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, & Rey. His distinctive gold plating makes him easy to spot in a crowd, and his fussy, worrisome personality is rather comical. I’m sure back in the 70’s many people thought that by the 21st century robot assistants like R2D2 & C3P0 would be commonplace, but we’re not quite there yet.
“For a mechanic, you seem to do an incessant amount of thinking.” (C3P0)
“Don’t blame me. I’m an interpreter. I’m not supposed to know a power socket from a computer terminal.” (C3P0)
“R2, you know better than to trust a strange computer.” (C3P0)
“It’s against my programming to impersonate a deity.” (C3P0)
53 Billy Madison & Happy Gilmore (eponymous films)
Adam Sandler’s career has been a mixed bag. He is undoubtedly talented & funny, but his shtick isn’t everybody’s cup of tea and he’s made a lot of bad movies. In my opinion his funniest films were in the early 90’s, though you won’t find many critics who would agree. I take no issue with solicitous, meaningful films with life lessons, powerful messages, & profound themes, but sometimes we just want to turn off our brain for awhile and laugh at something completely stupid & pointless and Sandler has done a decent job of providing that sort of entertainment. Billy Madison is a rather juvenile 20-something in a clear state of arrested development. When his hotel tycoon father plans to retire he’d prefer Billy take over the business but knows he isn’t capable, especially since the old man bribed teachers to pass Billy all the way thru school. At any rate, Billy accepts a challenge to complete 12 grades of school in two weeks, which is somehow supposed to magically make him qualified to helm a Fortune 500 company. I know…it makes very little sense, but the journey is lots of silly fun, which is the whole point. Happy Gilmore is a failed hockey player wannabe who must figure out a way to help his grandmother buy back her house that the IRS took for back taxes she owes. He inexplicably ends up on the PGA Tour and (spoiler alert) wins enough money as a champion golfer to help out his grandmother. Once again…don’t put too much thought into it. The plots of these movies aren’t meant to be logical and the characters aren’t supposed to be realistic, but Sandler infuses both Billy & Happy with enough affable charm that we root for their success and want them to overcome the odds despite the fact that they are total idiots.
“Oh, Veronica Vaughn … soooo hot … want to touch the hiney!” (Billy)
“The Price is wrong, bitch!” (Happy)
“You ain’t cool, unless, you pee your pants! Everybody my age pee their pants; it’s the coolest!” (Billy)
52 Ellis “Red” Redding (The Shawshank Redemption)
Many folks may not realize that The Shawshank Redemption is based on a 1982 Stephen King novella. In that book Red Redding is described as a middle-aged Irish man with greying red hair, so casting Morgan Freeman in the role can only be described as an inspired choice. Red has been imprisoned at Shawshank for 40 years for murdering his wife & passengers in her vehicle after he tampered with the brakes. He has attained a level of influence for being able to smuggle a variety of goods into the jail for other inmates, though his attitude remains somewhat sullen. He is a practical man, resigned to his fate yet regretful of the crime he committed when he was young & stupid. Red befriends new inmate Andy Dufresne, and they end up changing each other’s lives tremendously. Freeman received his third Academy Award nomination for the role, but lost the Best Actor prize to Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump).
“In 1966, Andy Dufresne escaped from Shawshank prison. All they found of him was a muddy set of prison clothes, a bar of soap, and an old rock hammer, damn near worn down to the nub. I remember thinking it would take a 600 years to tunnel through the wall with it. Old Andy did it in less than 20. Andy crawled to freedom through 500 yards of shit-smelling foulness I can’t even imagine…or maybe I just don’t want to. 500 yards… that’s the length of five football fields; just shy of half a mile.”
“Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”
“These prison walls are funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, gets so you depend on them. That’s institutionalized. They send you here for life, that’s exactly what they take. The part that counts anyways.”
“Rehabilitated? Well, now, let me see. You know, I don’t have any idea what that means. I know what you think it means, sonny. To me it’s just a made-up word. A politician’s word, so that young fellas like yourself can wear a suit and a tie and have a job. What do you really wanna know? Am I sorry for what I did? There’s not a day goes by that I don’t feel regret. Not because I’m in here, or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try to talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone, and this old man is all that’s left. I gotta live with that. Rehabilitated? It’s just a bullshit word. So go ahead and stamp your forms, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don’t give a shit.”
“I find I’m so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”
51 Laurie Strode (Halloween)
Screen legend Janet Leigh is the original Scream Queen for her small yet pivotal role in the 1960 Hitchcock classic Psycho, so it is fitting that her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis would assume the mantle after playing Lorrie Strode, an ordinary American teenager who endures a single night of terror at the hands of a knife-wielding masked maniac. Numerous sequels, remakes, & reboots have kept the Halloween franchise alive, but really the 1978 original & its initial 1981 sequel are the only two that matter.
After a brief delay we are pleased to welcome you to the thrilling conclusion of the 2012 Sammy Awards. If you have not yet done so please check out Part1, Part 2, and Part 3 before proceeding.
To present our next award The Manofesto is happy to bring together the cast of The HangoverTrilogy (The Hangover Part III will be coming to your local Cineplex this May). Please welcome Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifinakis, Ed Helms, & Justin Bartha. And the nominees are:
Abraham Lincoln…the 16th President of the United States for those of you in the southern reaches of Appalachia who’ve never been out of the holler but do inexplicably read The Manofesto…is generally considered by both Democrats & Republicans as one of our greatest leaders. It’s one of the few things both sides of the aisle can agree on these days. He was martyred, ended slavery, had that whole Civil War thing…what’s not to love?? This particular offering from Steven Spielberg is a modest, solicitous look at the last few months of President Lincoln’s life when his steadfast focus was on passage of the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery. I have more than a passing interest in politics (although I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as a political junkie) so I didn’t have any issues following the tale, but it is unlikely that this is a film that will appeal to everyone. So be it. Daniel Day-Lewis is remarkable in the titular role and should have another Oscar nomination coming his way soon. Sally Field & Tommy Lee Jones are as solid as we’ve come to expect them to be in whatever they are in, and I have to give kudos to known leftist Spielberg for not inserting any kind of offensive bias into the proceedings. Lincoln is what I describe as a quiet film, meaning that it isn’t abounding in special effects, gunfire, explosions, & violence. There is a story, there is dialogue, and there is good acting. It is simplicity at its best. Most chefs will tell you that a fine cut of meat is usually flavorful enough to be enjoyed on its own, without being bathed in sauces or marinades. The same goes for movies. I have a robust predilection for quiet movies. Your mileage may vary.
Rise of the Guardians
I used to think that animated films were for strictly for children and the parents that felt obliged to take their crumb crunchers to see them. However, in the past several years, with movies like the Toy Story trilogy, The Polar Express, and the Shrek series my opinion has evolved, and so I was excited to see this story about Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Sandman, and The Tooth Fairy recruiting Jack Frost to help them save the world from The Boogeyman. I’m not sure why Alec Baldwin uses an eastern European accent for Santa, but strangely enough it works. Santa also has tattoos, which is weird. Anyway, the story basically takes some of our beloved childhood fairy tale characters and turns them into ass kickin’ superheroes, a premise that I’d normally crap all over. However, like Santa’s strange accent, I mysteriously didn’t hate the idea. There is some subtle commentary about childhood, dreams, fear, and feeling invisible, but that is something that is probably only noticeable to geeks like me. For the target audience this is just a rollicking good time and there isn’t a thing wrong with that.
Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer to sing hymns in church rather than Michael Jackson or Wings cover tunes. That unfashionable attitude initially made me resistant to this story about a small town church choir trying to win a big time “gospel” music competition. You see, all of my life I have attended the same country church that I grew up just down the road from, and that has understandably framed my outlook on what a church should be. But eventually I decided to give this one a whirl, and I was satisfied with the outcome. Dolly Parton has starred in a few solidly entertaining films over the years, from Best Little Whorehouse in Texas to Steel Magnolias to 9 to 5, and she does her thing here acceptably well. Queen Latifah has never really frosted my cupcake, but I suppose she’s alright. The body count is a little too high for a romantic dramedy, which weirded me out just a bit. I really liked the other two leads…a luminescent Keke Palmer as Latifah’s daughter & newcomer Jeremy Jordan as Parton’s grandson. The music is cool even if it’s not really church music. Joyful Noise isn’t going to win any awards, but even a flawed film can be entertaining.
I have not been a big fan of director Christopher Nolan’s vision for Batman. It’s too gritty & lifelike for my entertainment palate. Batman is a comic book creation so I prefer a film that reflects that. Tim Burton’s Batman movies, in my humble opinion, struck the right balance between the dark tone of the comics and the expectations we have of a superhero movie. The first movie in this trilogy was a decent enough origin story while the second was dominated by Heath Ledger’s manic portrayal of The Joker and the effusive praise that performance received in the wake of the young actor’s untimely demise. In this case though the third time is the charm, and I have to give Nolan & company credit for getting it done right and in style. This is the very definition of epic, with a complex storyline, interesting characters, intriguing plot twists, and just enough action to keep things moving. Michael Caine is exquisite as Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred, and Gary Oldman is a strong, resolute Commissioner Gordon. Michael Keaton & Adam West are still my favorite Caped Crusaders and Christian Bale does nothing to alter that perspective here, but like a pedestrian quarterback on a team with a great defense Bale doesn’t have to singlehandedly win the game…his duty is simply to not screw it up. Bane is far from the most memorable villain in Gotham City’s rogue’s gallery, but I understand why he was chosen for this particular story. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts here, and it all comes together in a thrilling conclusion that crescendos nicely. I assume someone else will come along down the road, reboot the whole thing, and take it in a completely different direction, but Nolan lays the groundwork for what could be a captivating continuation or a slight detour with Nightwing as the central figure.
The Hunger Games
I really liked the Hunger Games trilogy of books, but I mentioned in my review of them that “I am looking forward to the movies because I believe they were the intended end game all along. I have a feeling that the Hunger Games movies will surpass the books’ achievements.” After seeing the first movie I am ready to backtrack on that statement ever so slightly. As most citizens of The Manoverse know, it is my belief that the book is almost always better than the movie, and in hindsight I think I was shortchanging these books. That being said this is still a fine movie. The powers-that-be nailed it when they chose Jennifer Lawrence to portray heroine Katniss Everdeen, and I really liked Woody Harrelson as deeper-than-you think drunkard Haymitch Abernathy. The movie follows the book pretty closely and there are very few significant alterations or omissions. Some of the choices the director made were interesting. This could have been a typical balls-to-the-wall action flick, but the filmmakers show an incredible amount of restraint, choosing gritty minimalism over CGI excess, which is admirable. I didn’t love some of the shaky, documentary style camera work, but that annoyance seems to dissipate as the story picks up steam. Overall the movie leaves a good impression. Whether or not it is a lasting one remains to be seen.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
I absolutely love JRR Tolkien’s classic book The Hobbit, a prequel to the more acclaimed Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is one of my favorites, which is why I was simultaneously thrilled & apprehensive about it getting the big screen treatment. My concern increased when the auteur of the Rings trilogy of movies, Peter Jackson, decided that he’d direct The Hobbit as well and make another trilogy. You see, whereas Lord of the Rings really is three books therefore making three movies a logical choice, taking one book like The Hobbit and making it into three films seems more than excessive. In addition, tonally The Hobbit is vastly different than Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit is lighthearted, whimsical, and…accessible. Lord of the Rings is darker & quite the marathon. This is a movie that would have benefitted tremendously from a different perspective. However, there’s no use crying over spilt milk and at the end of the day what we ended up with is pretty darn good. Martin Freeman is the perfect choice to portray Bilbo Baggins, and anyone who liked the Rings movies should like The Hobbit.
Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows aired in the late 60’s before I was even a gleam in my father’s eye, so I came into this experience with no expectations and no preconceived notions. I’m a sucker for funny “fish out of water” stories, so I appreciated the humorous idea of an 18th century vampire being revived in the 1970’s. Johnny Depp is clearly having fun playing the role and it is all quite campy. I suppose this would be classified as a dark comedy, although my own personal preference would have been for the comedic aspect to be ramped up just a bit.
Trouble with the Curve
It’s been quite the year for Clint Eastwood. Everyone was talking about his appearance…one way or the other…at the Republican National Convention. He was in a Super Bowl commercial that stirred the pot a bit. He’s hosting the 2012 Sammy Awards. And he also found the time to star in a movie since that is primarily what he is known for. Curve is an inconspicuous little baseball flick about an aging scout who eschews modern technology & that new fandangled sabermetrics stuff in favor of good old-fashioned instinct & legwork. The suits in charge of the ball club are starting to question whether or not Gus (the name given to most old codgers in movies) still has the knack, and his job is on the line in evaluating a power hitting outfielder who might be the next big thing. There is some family melodrama too in the form of Gus’s daughter, a hotshot attorney whose relationship with her father is strained for no particular reason. When she discovers that Gus’s job is in jeopardy and that he is suffering from macular degeneration she puts her own career on hold to go on the road with the old man. Oh yeah…there is some romance thrown into the mix too when a young scout played by Justin Timberlake pursues the daughter. Eastwood is the go-to guy for crusty curmudgeon roles and there is a good reason for that…he’s great at doing them. Timberlake has become one of my favorite supporting actors and Amy Adams as the daughter is tough yet vulnerable, sweet but also benignly sexy. Is Trouble with the Curve a great movie?? Ehhh…probably not. But it’s not a bad way to spend a couple of hours.
Friends With Kids
You might have missed this one. If so it’s worth a rental. The story centers around two single 30-somethings who have witnessed their other friends get married, have children, and become absolutely miserable. Their solution?? Make a baby without all the relationship drama. They do just that, and even though all their married pals predict utter disaster the twosome defies the odds and their lives move along smoothly & happily…for awhile. Of course we see where this is headed because we’ve seen it before. But even though there is never any doubt about how the story ends the journey in getting there is fun & interesting. There are no big stars here, just good writing and an unblinking confrontation with the realities of marriage, kids, and the inherent despair those things oftentimes seem to create in modern America.
If I am a Hollywood suit and someone pitches me an idea that’ll star Tommy Lee Jones & Meryl Streep there is a good chance I’d give the green light based solely on the casting. The legendary duo play Kay & Arnold, an aging married couple who have settled into a boring routine that makes my life look like an episode of 24. They even sleep in separate rooms. Kay enrolls them in a weeklong intensive marriage counseling course in Maine. Arnold thinks their life is just dandy and does not want to go, but eventually he acquiesces, proving that there is an old softy who does actually love his wife buried deep inside all those layers of stolid granite. Playing the couple’s therapist is funnyman Steve Carell, who employs a soft monotone straight out of that old SNL NPR parody The Delicious Dish. That works great here because it leaves Streep & Jones in the spotlight to do that thing they do. The doctor’s prescribed solution to their problem is for them to have sex, which seems a bit simplistic to me, but what do I know?? Needless to say the couple eventually works thru whatever the issues are and reconnect so that we get our happy ending. This is one of those stories that might have been a complete snoozefest without the right cast, but in the hands of craftsmen like Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones it becomes a thought-provoking look into the tedium of marriage. I am probably not the target audience for this film, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
This Is Forty
You may recall the 2007 rom-com Knocked Up in which slovenly funnyman Seth Rogen hooks up with the beautiful (and she knows it) Katherine Heigl. In that film Leslie Mann & Paul Rudd play Debbie & Pete, the sister & brother-in-law of Heigl’s character. This is a spinoff in which Debbie & Pete take center stage as a constantly bickering couple dealing with job pressures, financial problems, bratty kids, and latent Daddy issues. I love Paul Rudd. He steals just about every movie he is in and I am glad to see him given the opportunity to carry a film (although admittedly that didn’t work out so well in 2009’s I Love You, Man). I also dig writer/director/producer Judd Apatow, who is curiously morphing into this generation’s John Hughes right before our very eyes. I am not married nor do I have children but, even though I am sure most couples don’t fight constantly like this pair, I am just as sure that there are some truths in the story that lots of folks will recognize and smile knowingly. Kudos must be given to Albert Brooks, an underrated comic gem whose presence here as Rudd’s father adds a much needed respite from the bickering. This film is superior to its predecessor, although it is an unfair comparison on many levels.
People Like Us
Chris Pine has the potential to become one of my favorite actors. He achieved the impossible in 2009…took over the role of Captain James Tiberius Kirk from William Shatner in a Star Trek reboot that not even noted Trekkie & cantankerous critic of pop culture The Owl could bring himself to dislike. I’ve seen him in a few other TV shows & movies, but he is just now becoming a star. In this interesting character study Pine plays a down-on-his-luck corporate barterer (whatever that is) named Sam whose estranged father dies. Upon going home for the funeral Sam is given a wad of cash ($150K) to deliver to a person he’s never heard of. Since he really really really needs the money and his father left him absolutely nothing he is tempted to just skip town and not find the mysterious person to whom dear old Dad bequeathed such an inheritance, but curiosity gets the better of him. I don’t think it’s a major spoiler to reveal that the person in question ends up being Sam’s sister, a single mother who is struggling even worse than he is. He doesn’t come straight out & tell her who he is for various reasons, but they form a bond and he also gets to know his nephew. There’s no action, no gun battles, no car chases. This is another quiet movie…a story about people, relationships, motivation, secrets, and lies. It is well written and the performances by Pine, Elizabeth Banks, and Michelle Pfeiffer (who is apparently eligible to play hot grandmas now) are understatedly pleasant. It’s not going to win any critical acclaim, but I liked it and in The Manoverse that’s all that matters.
And the Sammy goes to…..
The Dark Knight Rises. I may not have cared for the first two films in Nolan’s Batman trilogy, but the final installment is too good to overlook. To compare this movie to your typical 21st century action flick (Transformers, Fast & Furious, anything starring Tom Cruise or Will Smith) is like comparing foie gras to Vienna sausages. Batman here is akin to the shark in Jaws in that we really don’t see all that much of him (we see much more of Bruce Wayne), but that minimalist approach is utilized to great effect. The story starts out a little slow before building to a stirring climax, which I realize may not be cool with a lot of modern viewers. So many movies offer balls-to-the-wall action from the opening credits to the final scene that it has become what people are used to and what they expect. This is a movie that takes time to tell a story, to offer a plot with layers and intricate context, to develop characters and relationships…all things that I wholeheartedly embrace. The fight scene between Batman & Bane that so many fans of the comics have been salivating about in anticipation plays out differently than what one might expect. It is raw & physical, not some elaborate effects laden dance sequence. Three plot twists at the end…Bruce Wayne’s fate, the identity of the real villain behind all the mayhem, and the reveal of the possible future of the franchise…are well done and probably clinched this award. The ending of a movie is always important, and the last 15 minutes or so of this one is sensational.
To present the final award of the evening it is truly a privilege to bring to The Manoverse the 43rd President of the United States and his lovely First Lady. Please give a rousing ovation to George W. & Laura Bush. And the nominees are:
Biggest News Story
On November 6, 2012 we elected a President of the United States. You may have heard a thing or two about it. From the hotly contested yet kind of boring Republican primary season thru the national conventions in the summer to the general election process this was a story that dominated headlines pretty much on a daily basis.
Trayvon Martin Shooting
Back in February 17 year old Martin was shot & killed while visiting a gated community near Orlando, FL. The gunman was a young man named George Zimmerman who was part of the community’s neighborhood watch program. Zimmerman claims that Martin looked suspicious and that after he had contacted law enforcement the teenager attacked him which is why he shot him in self-defense. The fact that Martin was a young black man stirred the pot and took the story from just another shooting to a national firestorm. Was Martin an innocent teenager in the wrong place at the wrong time, or was he a juvenile delinquent who was out to cause trouble?? Is Mr. Zimmerman a dirty racist murderer or just an overzealous cop wannabe who became cornered by a thug and did what he had to do to protect himself?? We might not ever know the real story, but we’ll hear about all this again when Martin goes on trial this coming summer.
The unemployment rate was right around 7.5% when President Obama took office four years ago. At the beginning of 2012 it was up over 8%. This is in comparison to the 4.5-5% rate for the majority of the George W. Bush years. And we don’t even know if the number is accurate because there are so many people that have just completely given up looking for a job. One must also take into consideration how many people are employed but making a paltry wage in the $7-9/hr. range, which is certainly not enough to properly take care of a family or achieve any goals other than the next meal. It doesn’t seem to matter to a lot of folks these days though because Big Government will take care of them, which of course makes a lot of the politicians happy because it’ll keep them in power. Oh what a tangled web we weave.
The Death of Whitney Houston
On February 11 the world was saddened (although not shocked) to learn of the untimely passing of pop superstar Whitney Houston, who was found dead in a bathtub at a Beverly Hills hotel. I loved Whitney Houston when I was 14 years old. She was one of my first celebrity crushes. She was gorgeous & had a set of pipes that would melt even the iciest of hearts. Unfortunately she got hooked up with that jackass Bobby Brown and the two of them became just another clichéd Hollywood joke. Like so many people in modern America Houston became addicted to drugs, and apparently despite public proclamations to the contrary she never completely defeated those demons. How very tragic.
Supreme Court’s Mixed Ruling on Arizona Immigration Law
Controversy has been brewing in Arizona for a couple of years due to the passage there of a law designed to limit illegal immigration. Without delving into boring details let’s just say that the law imposed tough restrictions, requirements, & penalties on illegal immigrants. Almost immediately there were accusations from liberals that the law was nothing more than racial profiling and that it was unconstitutional. Queue The Supreme Court, who ruled this past June that the part of the law in which law enforcement can check on the immigration status of a detainee if they deem it necessary is okay, but struck down a large chunk of the law related to requiring individuals having to have documentation of their immigration status with them at all times and allowing police officers to randomly ask people to show such paperwork.
Facebook IPO Epic Fail
You have a Facebook page. I have a Facebook page. Most everyone not going to dinner at 4pm and telling troublesome neighborhood youths to get off their damn lawn probably has a Facebook page. That’s why the company going public seemed like such a slam dunk. I actually pondered the idea of pooling some cash with some friends and buying a few shares just for fun. In hindsight I am glad we didn’t go thru with the idea. Back in November Facebook began trading publicly on NASDAQ with much anticipation. The first day was disappointing but still successful. But over the next few weeks the price of the stock fell and Facebook became the stock market equivalent of the movie Gigli or the NFL career of Ryan Leaf. Somehow though I think Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, with his bank account of $9 billion, will weather the storm and not lose any sleep over the debacle.
On September 11 the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked. Four people were killed, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Ten others were injured. The Obama Administration tried to blame the attack on an anti-Muslim film that had been posted on YouTube and had been seen by less people than I rode with on an elevator today. Conservatives quickly labeled the Obama response as pure poppycock, and questions began to arise about what really happened, why it happened, what the administration really knew, and why they were so hellbent on lying about it. I believe there are still some Congressional committees looking into the matter, but at this stage it is likely a moot point.
The End of Twinkies & Ho-Ho’s
I make no secret of the fact that I am a chocoholic. You want to take pop away from me?? Okay, I can deal. Tell me that alcohol can never touch my lips again and I won’t even bat an eye because I don’t drink anyway. Tell me I have to be celibate for the rest of my life and never again enjoy the touch of a beautiful woman and I might cringe a bit but I’ll be just fine. But threaten to take away my sweets and we’ve got a problem. I love it all…candy, cake, ice cream, cookies. So in November when Hostess announced that it was going out of business and that snacks like Twinkies, Ho Ho’s, Zingers, Ding Dongs, and those little cupcakes with the swirly icing on top…not to mention Wonder Bread…would be disappearing forever from grocery store shelves I kind of felt like I did when I was 9 years old and my pet frog jumped out of his bowl never to be seen again. Thankfully there is a likely reprieve from this death sentence in the works, as various companies are in a bidding war to buy the rights to these products from Hostess. When fair & festival season rolls around next summer we just might still be able to pay $6 for a deep fried Twinkie. God Bless America.
There is almost always one or two big natural disasters to talk about when reflecting upon a just passed year, and in 2012 it was Superstorm Sandy or Hurricane Sandy (I’ve seen it called both) which inflicted mayhem on the eastern seaboard of the country, especially New York & New Jersey, in late October. It is said to be the largest Atlantic hurricane (meaning it formed in the North Atlantic Ocean) on record and the 2nd costliest, doing about $65 billion worth of damage. It also played a key role in the Presidential election, as there were actually idiots out there who made a last minute decision to overlook the past 4 years of misery and vote for Obama because he “looked Presidential” for a day or two in the wake of the disaster, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie practically made sweet love to the President because he answered a few phone calls and dropped by for a visit for an hour or two. It is my understanding that there are still people in Jersey dealing with the problems caused by the storm, which is a damning indictment of how we use tragedies as political pawns in 21st century America but don’t really do what needs to be done to truly help people over the long haul.
Shootings in Aurora, CO & Newtown, CT
We’ve become almost numb to gun violence in America. It’s just something that happens occasionally and we aren’t all that shocked anymore when it does. However, two incidents in 2012 seemed to awaken the masses and spur debates about gun control, mental health issues, and a whole host of ancillary topics. On Friday July 20 a gunman opened fire at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado during a midnight showing of the newest Batman film The Dark Knight Rises. Twelve people were killed and 58 others injured. I go to the movies often myself, and I am a huge Batman fan. As a matter of fact I had seriously pondered the idea of attending the midnight showing at my local theater but ultimately decided against that idea. It is awful to think that something as fun & innocuous…something so American…as going to a movie isn’t even immune from real life violence anymore. Then on December 14…less than two weeks before Christmas…a 20 year old lunatic busted into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and killed 26 people, 20 of them children ages 6 & 7. We might have become nonchalant about violence in this country, but when innocent kids are senselessly murdered we stop & pay attention. Unfortunately, as tends to happen with these types of tragedies, it was quickly turned into a political football, with leftists and Hollywood hypocrites with no shortage of armed bodyguards resuming their incessant cries for gun control. I understand the logic…I really do. Regrettably however we seem to have lost the ability in this country to have an intelligent & thoughtful debate about important issues. We are a nation of reactionaries on both sides of the political spectrum and at the end of the day everyone loses. I cannot imagine the pain & sorrow the parents of those children have been suffering thru, and I am sure it was the worst Christmas of their entire lives. To me that is what must not get lost in the shuffle here. I pray that God wraps his loving arms around these families and helps them somehow resume their lives and find a way to move forward, although I cannot wrap my head around any scenario in which that’d even be possible.
Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare
I am a huge fan of pro wrestling, and in wrestling one of the fun things that happens occasionally is a heel turn. That is when a good guy turns bad by screwing over his tag team partner or suddenly telling the fans that have cheered him that he thinks they are losers and he doesn’t need their support anymore. Chief Justice John Roberts did a heel turn last June when he became the deciding vote in upholding the crime against freedom & economic sanity that is nationalized health care, better known as Obamacare. Roberts was thought to be a conservative, but instead proved himself to be just another political whore when he ruled that it was perfectly okay for the U.S. government to coerce free citizens into purchasing healthcare coverage or else go to prison. Roberts ruled that Obamacare is a tax, even though President Obama himself had spent years saying that it wasn’t. If it is a tax…which I guess it has to be or else it’d be unconstitutional…Obamacare is the largest tax increase in the history of the United States. Good job Roberts…you jackass.
The Fiscal Cliff
The last few weeks of 2012 were dominated by incessant discussion of this fiscal cliff. In a nutshell the dawning of a new year was scheduled to bring about spending cuts & tax hikes that would have cut the budget deficit but also would have led to another recession (that is if you believe that we aren’t still in one now anyway) and would have wreaked havoc on the finances of nearly all Americans. There was the typical struggle between Democrats & Republicans…one side with a fervent desire to raise taxes, punish achievement & success, & keep on spending money like drunken sailors on social programs that will keep their handout loving voter base happy, and the other side pledging to not raise taxes & desiring to slash spending like Freddy Krueger on a crack high. Of course this deal couldn’t get done way ahead of time. Where would the drama be in that?? As a matter of fact the deal wasn’t technically done on time but a few hours late. From what I understand the Republicans caved like the Buffalo Bills in a Super Bowl, and the Democrats are proud as peacocks. That’s what happens after an election…to the victor go the spoils. It’s just too bad that you & I will be literally paying for this debacle out of our own paychecks.
And the Sammy goes to…..
The Election. I certainly didn’t like the results, but there is no denying the fact that for the vast majority of 2012 it was the lead story on a daily basis. I will refrain from going off on one of my infamous political rants. The fact is that my side lost this time and I have to deal with it. I cannot resist the urge though to point out that it is less than a week into the new year and my paycheck has already been affected in a negative way. But of course most of the 51% responsible for the debacle that occurred on that fateful Tuesday in November wouldn’t know anything about that since they are unemployed and/or sitting around smoking their cigarettes, drinking their cheap beer, watching those idiotic Kardashian twits whore it up on TV.
astronauts Neil Armstrong & Sally Ride…entertainment icon Dick Clark… Pulitzer, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Golden Globe, and Tony award winning composer & conductor Marvin Hamlisch…authors Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles), Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are), Gore Vidal, and Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)…singers Whitney Houston, Andy Williams, Etta James, Levon Helm, Donna Summer, Kitty Wells, and Robin Gibb (The Bee Gees)… General Norman Schwarzkopf…comedienne Phyllis Diller…baseball Hall of Famer Gary Carter…actresses Kathryn Joosten (The West Wing, Desperate Housewives), Deborah Raffin (7th Heaven), and Celeste Holm (Gentleman’s Agreement, All About Eve)…retired NFL stars Junior Seau, Freddie Solomon, Blair Kiel, Alex Karras, and Ben Davidson…Atari & Commodore CEO Jack Tramiel…Soul Train impresario Don Cornelius…disgraced football coach Joe Paterno…hairstylist Vidal Sassoon…infamous police punching bag Rodney King…Boston Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky…automobile designer Carroll Shelby…amplification specialist Jim Marshall…political pundits Tony Blankley and Andrew Breitbart…legendary collegiate coaches Gene Bartow (basketball), Darrell Royal (football), and Rick Majerus (basketball)…game show hosts Richard Dawson (Family Feud) and Bill Raftery (Card Sharks)…director Tony Scott (Top Gun, Crimson Tide, Days of Thunder)…sports commentators Jim Huber and Beano Cook…former U.S. Senators Arlen Specter & Warren Rudman, former Governor George McGovern, and Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye…former WV Mountaineer football coach Bill Stewart…Unification Church founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon…screenwriter/director Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally)…motivational speaker Zig Ziglar…songwriter Hal David (Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head, What the World Needs Now Is Love, I Say a Little Prayer)…former Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell…journalists Mike Wallace (60 Minutes) and Helen Gurley Brown (Cosmopolitan)…artists Leroy Neiman and ”Painter of Light” Thomas Kinkade…pro wrestling legend Chief Jay Strongbow…baseball executive Lee McPhail…fashion designer Nolan Miller…former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork…musicians Earl Scruggs, Ronnie Montrose, Davy Jones, Dave Brubeck, and Donald “Duck” Dunn…boxing historian Bert Sugar…former Patriots/Giants/Jets coach Ron Erhardt…impressionist Steve Bridges…former MLB union leader Marvin Miller…infamous mobster Henry Hill (the inspiration for Goodfellas)…retired pro wrestlers Doug Furnas, Mike Graham, Bobby Jaggers, Buddy Roberts, & Brad Armstrong…NFL Films guru Steve Sabol…former White House counsel Charles Colson…retired boxer Hector “Macho” Camacho”…actors Andy Griffith, Larry Hagman (Dallas, I Dream of Jeannie), Jack Klugman (Quincy, The Odd Couple), Ernest Borgnine (McHale’s Navy, The Poseidon Adventure), Ben Gazzara, Ron Palillo (Welcome Back Kotter), William Windom (To Kill A Mockingbird, Planes, Trains, & Automobiles), George Lindsey (Goober from The Andy Griffith Show), James Farentino (Dynasty), Sherman Hemsley (The Jeffersons), Chad Everett, Herbert Lom (The Pink Panther series), Sage Stallone (Rocky V), Robert Hegyes (Welcome Back Kotter), John Ingle (General Hospital), Charles Durning (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Scarface, Dog Day Afternoon), and Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile, Daredevil, The Whole Nine Yards)