The Pagemaster

Post 73- Character Actors…ASSEMBLE!

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Over the past few years a lot of buzz has been building over the heavily anticipated Joss Whedon-directed Avengers movie. The film stars all of the recent movie-incarnation Marvel superheroes: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). It also stars S.H.I.E.L.D agents Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders). Yes. Cobie Smulders.

The trend in super-hero movies these days is to cast well respected character actors (actors who play exceedingly eccentric or unusual characters) as the major villain. In Iron Man it was Jeff Bridges, in The Incredible Hulk it was William Hurt and Tim Roth, in the new Spider-Man it’s Rhys Ifans and brilliant In Treatment actor Irfan Khan, in Green Lantern it’s Peter Sarsgaard, in Batman Begins it was Liam Neeson. The better the villain, the better the hero.

Since The Avengers are arguably (no disrespect to the Justice League) the ultimate superhero team, the villains they fight must be the ultimate villains. After all, one  Avengers mantra is that they “fight the foes no single superhero can withstand.” I’m not sure who the Avengers are fighting in this new film. I believe it has not been released yet. However, the original comics have story lines featuring Thor’s Loki using the Hulk as a weapon, as well as a group known as the Masters of Evil. Which brings me to my main point. Which amazing character actors out there (who haven’t already portrayed big villains—leaving out Steve Buscemi, Gary Oldman, John Malkovich, etc.) would be believable as formidable opponents to Robert Downey Jr. and his team? Which actors are so badass and, following the recent trend, character-y, that you would believe that they could only be defeated by a team of the greatest superheroes alive? Who are the Avengers of character actors? Here are my picks:

Timothy Spall– What a weird looking guy. He has the market on menacing, mousy underlings (see: Harry Potter, Enchanted, Sweeney Todd) but has the chops to give you Winston Churchill (The Kings Speech), and Rosencrantz (Hamlet). I could see him as the rotund Puff Adder.

The Soup Nazi– To be honest, I didn’t even bother looking up his name, because that’s who he is. He’s the Soup Nazi. Forever and ever. He even appeared in an episode of Scrubs as The Soup Nazi. Can you name me another actor who appeared on one episode of a sitcom and turned it into a career? (Robin Williams starring as Mork on Happy Days doesn’t count.) Who does he play? Nazi scientist Baron Zemo, of course!

Stephen Toblowsky– This guy has done it all. Most recently appearing as former Glee coach/drug dealer Sandy Ryerson on Glee, he has made a career of playing irritating business types (see: Groundhog’s Day) and lite comic villains (see: Garfield). He would make an excellent super villain and would annoy the hell out of Captain America with his pompous attitude. Let him be evil genius, Immortus.

Wallace Shawn– This guy deserves the chance to strut his stuff on a mammoth scale. He excels at playing the nebishy, brainy nerds (see: Clueless, The Princess Bride.) But boy does he do that well. Watching him torture his perfect foil, Thor, using logic games, and just watching him divulge his evil plans to a held-captive Iron Man, would be delectable. Definitely Egghead.

Matt Walsh– Let’s get a little comedy into this Avengers movie! In the past decade, Upright Citizen’s Brigade founding member Matt Walsh has “secretly” appeared in every comedy film/television show released in the past 10 years, playing the loud, obnoxious oddball. (See: The Hangover, Children’s Hospital, I Love You, Man, Step Brothers). Obviously, he’d play the juggling Oddball.

Christopher Lloyd– Hollywood loves a comeback, and it’s about time that Christopher Lloyd return to his rightful place as the go-to eccentric. Let him give younger audiences a taste of what he showed us in Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Pagemaster. He would rock the socks off as a super villain bent on destroying the world and driving Jeremy Renner insane. Let him play the dichotomously brilliant and destructive Mr. Hyde.

Conchata Farrell– Conchata is the take no guff, sarcastic, confident big ol lady best known for her roles in Two and a Half Men, Mr. Deeds and Erin Brockovich. A powerful woman who won’t take Robert Downey Jr’s sass or succumb to Chris Evans’ charm, she’ll play The Executioner.

Mickey Jones– He’s the big biker guy you’ve seen in everything from Total Recall to Lizzie McGuire. The man has more than paid his dues to the biz and is ready for more than just showing up in a bar fight. He can pull off The Wrecker.

Tommy “Tiny” Lister– With his one line as the huge prisoner on the boat in The Dark Knight (“Give it to me, and I’ll do what ya’ll shoulda did ten minutes ago.”) I knew that I wanted to see more of this guy. So let’s see more of him! Make him Thunderball!

Maggie Wheeler– Better known as the most annoying girlfriend ever—Janice from Friends—her siren call gives her more than enough credibility to destroy Scarlett Johansson and keep even the Hulk at bay. She’s definitely Man-Killer!

Until Tomorrow–

Day 28- "I want to see Meet the Fockers in 3D"- My 14 year old camper Michael Namm after telling him I had just seen Superman Returns in 3D.

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So as you can tell, I will not have the time to necessarily update the blog as frequently as I did during the summer. HOWEVER, you should still check it often as a new post may be up there when you least expect it. Having said that….

HERE IS THE NEW SAID POST!

If I had to be one actor from the mid-eighties to early 90s I would probably want to be Christopher Lloyd. Mr. Lloyd has claimed a firm place in cinematic history as one of the best go-to manic character actors, and has also attached himself to some of the best/most popular movies of those days. Lets go through some of them shall we?

1. Back to the Future (1985): There is really nothing to discuss other than to say that this franchise is in my top 4 movies of all time (Airplane, Austin Powers and The Matrix probably being the other 3). It has action, adventure, humor, time-travel, (I guess there is something to discuss) an eighties soundtrack featuring Huey Lewis and the News, a giant clock tower, awesome chase scenes, a wicked cool/trippy concept, Libyans, an awesome logo, plutonium, Crispin Glover, the brother Dwayne from ‘The Wonder Years’, fire, and the best score of all time (yes, it is my ringtone). Taking all of that into consideration, even though Marty McFly is the hero of the film, Doc Brown is really the heart and soul of that movie. When he was shot by the Libyans, you (and by you I mean I) almost cried.

2. Clue (1985): Not neccessarily a classic, but the board game is, and the witty dialogue (“You see? Like the Mounties, we always get our man”) , excellent casting (Tim Curry as the BUTLER!) and zany cast of characters make this movie a must-watch. This movie also has made it through the sands of time to be played on basic cable on Sunday afternoons. It also has developed a bit of a cult following, so thats 2 for 2 Mr. Lloyd.

3. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988): This movie is in my top 7. It is one of the most creative, hilarious, innovative, brilliant comedies of the past 25 years. The animation is unbelievable, the plot is engaging, and the cartoon that Christopher Lloyd turns into at the end of the movie is FUCKING SCARY (to be said in an increasingly high pitched voice): “Remember me Eddie! When I KILLED YOUR BROTHER! I SOUNDED JUST…LIKE….THIIIIIS!” Jessica Rabbit (as voiced by the sultry Kathleen Turner) is still the hottest cartoon of all time (No disrespect of course to Tanya Moskowtiz from “An American Tail”). I’d much rather watch her sing in a night club than watch Cameron Diaz sing circa “The Mask.”

Furthermore, this is probably going to be THE movie Bob Hoskins is going to be remembered for (Sorry “Super Mario Bros,” but Dennis Hopper really mailed in his performance as King Koopa. I much preferred him as Victor Drazen.) Even the Roger Rabbit cartoon that opens the film stands alone as a hilariously violent triumph. The real impressive aspect of the film is that Disney got Warner Bros to let them use Bugs Bunny and the whole gang of WB cartoons. Seeing Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny together taunt Bob Hoskins as he falls out of a window? Priceless.

4. The Dream Team (1989): This movie is decidedly much less popular or known, but it did star HUGE HOLLYWOOD STAR (at the time) MICHAEL KEATON. In case you are not familiar with this film, it is like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest but zany. It’s about a bunch of mental hospital patients who go to New York to get fresh air, and end up going astray, getting framed for murder, and just causing a big ruckus in general. If you’ve never seen it before, well….dont rent it, but if its on TV at some point on Encore or something, I’d take a look. The truth is I remember liking it when I saw it when I was 10, and I havent seen it since. So who knows if it is actually good at all. Lets just move on.

5. The Addams Family (1991). This movie was a huge hit at the time. I havent seen it in years, but I probably never will. Why you ask? Well, when I was on a plane on the way to Israel when I was 6 years old, I sat in the first row right in front of the giant pull down movie screen (remember those?) It was a long flight and I was a very tired boy. I fell asleep and when I woke up, I remember staring into the enlarged face of a bald, pale, hunchbacked, creepy Uncle Fester. He was laughing and to a child of 6…well it wasnt very pleasant sight, especially after a nap. I freaked out and have been freaked out by the Addams Family movies ever since.*

*The other movie that played on that flight was none other than….Mrs. Doubfire! Why I remember this? I dont know. But then again I also dont know any math I learned in high school, so you figure it out.

6. THE FAMILY FRIENDLY 1994 3 PACK: Angels in the Outfield (1994), Camp Nowhere (1994), The Pagemaster (1994). All of these movies are friendly PG movies that champion the power of children’s imagination. In AITO cutie patootie Joseph Gordon Levitt thinks he can save the Anaheim Angels season because he can see angels, lead by Christopher Lloyd, helping the team win. “Bahh-humbug” says grizzled manager Danny Glover who acts in every movie as if he is “too old for this shit.” Luckily though, Danny begins to believe and everyone wins, including baseball players, Matthew McConaughey, Adrien Brody and Tony Danza. Interesting that Tony Danza was the highest billed guy in the movie at the time, and now he is a poor schumuck probably waiting to appear on “Dancing with the Stars.”

“Camp Nowhere” is about a camp that KIDS MAKE THE RULES! NO ADULTS ALLOWED! KIDS RULE! KIDS ARE AWESOME! YEA! Really cool kid stars Jonathan Jackson and Andrew Keegan were the stars of this film (which also featured a young, but still scorching Jessica Alba). Chirstopher Lloyd played the crazy homeless guy who posed as the camp director so the parents wouldnt know what was going on. DID I MENTION–KIDS RULE! I watched this film at camp one summer when I was in the infirmary, sick with a fever. I was drifting in and out of sleep during the movie, but I specifically remember jumping out of my bed to go vomit in the toilet just as the BOY and GIRL were about to kiss. Ahh….good times.

FINALLY-“The Pagemaster” starred Macauly Culkin as a wimpy nerd who gets trapped in a library where all the books came to life and sounded surprisingly like Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Stewart and Leonard Nimoy. This was a very imaginative idea, and the animation was cool. Ed Begley Jr. as Macauly Culkin’s dad was ever cooler. This movie was also surprisingly scary, especially CLloyd as THE PAGEMASTER, but then again, when Christopher Lloyd is in a movie, the fear factor does jump up about 10 notches.

ALL in all C. Lloyd has had a pretty awesome career. He is the craziest mother fucker this side of normal town. I like him a lot. NEW ADDITION–I saw C.Lloyd in this “Goosebumps Haunted Lifehouse” 4D Movie (one of those where if its windy, they blow air in your face) at Sea World a year or so ago and he was in it! He played this crazy old sea captain! But you know who else was in that movie? Michael McKean and Lea Thompson (Lorraine McFly herself!). And then Weird Al had a cameo at the end as a waiter which was totally unexpected and awesome. So the moral is if you go to SeaWorld, EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED.

Until Tommorrow–

PS. Did anyone catch the Mad Men a couple weeks ago where Bobbe was trying to black ball Don Draper in a restaurant? While his wife is at the table, Don follows Bobbe to the restroom, and in the hallway, proceeds to STICK HIS FIST INTO HER VAGINA, and tell her never fuck with him again. Needless to say, she got the message. What message? That DON DRAPER IS THE MAN.

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