Samuel L. Jackson

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 31- I Cant Wait for Anne Hathaway to get pregnant, so the headline of all the tabloid papers will say "Anne Hath-a-baby!"

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I just saw a trailer for the new Adam Sandler movie called, “Bedtime Stories.” During the trailer, interspersed with scenes from the movie, the voice-over (RIP Don LaFontaine) read, “What if you told a story…and the next day it came to life!” Now obviously this is the plot of this movie, yet another Adam Sandler high concept movie. That’s basically how the writers (Matt Lopez and Sandler buddy Tim Herlihy(as in the Herlihy boys)) sold this movie.

For those of you who dont know, a high concept movie is a movie based around a very simple premise that can reach a wide audience. Think most commercial films. Non-high concept movies are typically character driven indies with artistic integrity.

This got me to thinking, there are a lot of high concept movies that were executed very well, and some that were executed very poorly. Here are a couple of examples, and the “pitches” of the movies to the studios.

1. Liar Liar:
Writer: Imagine a world where a LAWYER couldnt lie for a WHOLE DAY! The lawyer…JIM CARREY!
Exec: Lets make a picture! (This exec happens to be from 1930).

I loved Liar Liar (where the message was, “dont lie”). It isnt necessarily the greatest concept, but it didnt matter because in 1997, Jim Carrey was a god. And rightfully so. I dont think anyone else could have done as good of a job as he did, combining the hilarious physical comedy, with the snappy one-liners and get ready for it….heart. Cary Elwes was also great as Maura Tierney’s dorky ass suitor (The Claw!), and Jessica Tilly (apparently the best celebrity poker player out there) was fantastically icy cold as the bitchy whore slut. This movie is quoteable, memorable, and certainly stands to test of time.

PROOF: Last year I was hanging out at AEPi in my friend Stephen Golding’s room with like 10 other people. We were all sitting around discussing what movie we should watch. We had like 15 choices. If I remember correctly, among the choices were–Wayne’s World, The Big Lebowski, Orange County, Ace Ventura, Austin Powers, Men in Black, Liar Liar etc. It took us literally like 25 minutes, but finally we all voted, and it was down to Orange County and Wayne’s World. We all voted again and still arrived at a stalemate. Suddenly, someone (maybe T-BAUM’S World?) said, “hey guys–lets just watch Liar Liar.” Unanimously it was accepted and put into the DVD player. So the lesson is: Liar Liar–always a good choice.

ps. I wouldnt necessarily say this movie is timeless–now you wouldnt hear any kid say, “I wanna be Jose Conseco!” Unless they want to actually grow up and take illegal growth hormones and then rat out all of their friends who took them too, and bring down Major League Baseball and do it all to make some money cause you were stupid and lost all of yours.

2. Meet the Parents:
Writer: You all have had awkward encounters when you met your girlfriend’s parents…am I right? Sure I am! Well this movie is just that! The hero has one weekend to impress his girlfriend’s parents, and instead of winning them over, he just gets into one hilarious embarrassing situation after another! And to make it even more painful for the guy, imagine if the girlfriend’s dad was ROBERT DeNiro!
Exec: I like it. It’s relateable. DeNiro was funny in Analyze This. Let’s make a picture!

I LURVE “Meet the Parents.” I remember seeing this movie when I was in 7th grade and never laughing harder. And it holds up! I was watching it on TV yesterday and it was still as hilarious as ever. This is one movie that relies on each situation getting progressively worse and hilarious and it does! (unlike Along Came Polly). And the comedy doesnt always come from Ben Stiller screwing up. The schtick with the airline lady trying to book him a seat is damn funny. Anyway-Owen Wilson is gold and this movie is awesome.

On a side note, I heard Charlize Theron tried out for the part of the girlfriend, but was rejected on the grounds that she “wasnt pretty enough.” Interesting how the world works out. Charlize–here’s your Oscar. Teri Polo (girlfriend) here’s your….Meet the Fockers.

3. Jumper:
Writer: Imagine if one guy could just jump and get to anywhere in the world!
Exec: I like it. But does it have a plot?
Writer: It doesnt need one! We’ll get Samuel L. Jackson!
Exec: Let’s make a picture!

I hated Jumper. Hated it hated it hated it. I’ve written about it before, so I will not go into detail now. (If you are interested, look it up. The post has a sexy picture of Rachel Bilson on it!)This movie had a wicked cool concept and completely went nowhere with it. And anything with Hayden Christenssen is bad.

4. Snakes on a Plane:
Writer: It’s Snakes on a Plane.
Exec: Fair enough. But who will want to do that?
Writer: Samuel L. Jackson
Exec: Fine. Do it.

I saw Snakes on a Plane opening night and it was great fun. Not very scary, very very funny, and very very bad. But it knew it was bad, so it was ok. This movie had everything you wanted it to have. It even did re shoots to add more blood and more boobs! So I really cant complain.

Some of my favorite lines:
Neville Flynn: Everybody listen! We have to put a barrier between us and the snakes!
Man Bitten on Penis: Fucking snake! Get off my dick!

5. Independence Day
Writer: Aliens attack us. Shit goes down.
Exec: Nice. I smell a blockbuster. Get me Jeff Goldblum and you got yourself a picture!

I have nothing bad to say about Independence Day. Any blockbuster movie that features 2 religious Jews as leads that help save the planet has got my vote!

6. Home Alone
Writer: A kid is stuck home alone and sets booby traps for funny robbers
Exec: How cute is this kid?
Writer: Like REALLY cute. Its the kid from “Uncle Buck!”
Exec: I fucking love that kid!
Writer: Me too!
Exec: The best thing about him, is I figure in 10 years he wont be fucked up at all!
Writer: That child actor will turn out comepletely normal!
Exec: We’ll release around Christmas! Lets make this movie!

I Love Home Alone. I love Home Alone 2. After I saw those movies I kept trying to create pranks like that at home, but one of them stained our carpet and got my mom really pissed at me and the other one was just getting a paper bag to fall on the head of anyone who entered my room. It was funny the first time. Any readers out there do funny pranks? LET ME KNOW!

Oh–and in terms of this movie being successfully executed–it was the highest grossing live action comedy of all time until Meet the Fockers came out. Now its the second. So I’d say it was pretty successful.

7. The Animal
Rob Schneider: So get this guys! Imagine if I started acting like an animal! Like peeing on mailboxes and humping people’s legs!
Adam Sandler: That sounds really stupid.
Rob: C’mon man! I really need to do a movie! I’m like your best friend!
Adam: I know man, but you’re not funny.
Rob: C’mon Adam pleeeeease!
Adam: I dunno—
Rob: PLEEEASE! If you do this for me, I promise I’ll never ask you to bank roll that movie I have about me pretending to be a girl!
Adam: Fine. I’ll let you do this ONE movie! But there’s no way in hell I am giving you money to make “The Hot Chick.”

8. The Hot Chick
Rob: PLEEEEEEASSSE!
Adam: No man! I said no! I gave you The Animal and no one liked it! Please let it go!
Rob: But Adam, you’re my best friend!
Adam: I said no!
Rob: C’mon! If you let me do this I’ll only do supporting roles in your movies from now on!
Adam: You realize this movie will make you the laughing stock of Hollywood. You will literally get shit on.
Rob: No I wont! This movie is hilarious!
Adam: Fine. Whatever. Make your stupid movie.
Rob: I wont let you down!

Both of these movies sucked. The lead actress in The Animal was Colleen Haskell, a contestant on Survivor, and even though The Hot Chick was co-written and directed by a guy named Tom Brady, this movie was not at all Super Bowl material.
I will say that I liked Norm McDonald’s cameo in “The Animal” though. As much as he asks you to hate him, Norm McDonald is a funny mother fucker. Watch him at the Bob Saget Roast if you dont believe me!

Until Tomorrow–

PS. You ever notice how after you eat a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, you end up hungrier than you were before? The only good part about them, is if you’re lucky, it makes your yabba dabba doo colorful!

pps. As if I couldnt get any more like Shia LeBeouf, I’m getting more like Shia LeBeouf! Shia LeBeouf is playing a character named ETHAN in his new movie EAGLE EYE! Take that disbelievers!

Day Eleven: All Dogs Go To Heaven (4: Itchy’s Revenge)

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With “Jumper” coming out on DVD last week, I will use this post to discuss my thoughts when I first saw the movie (in theatres, with Wild Willis). I first saw this movie for 2 reasons. 1) Special effects and 2) Rachel Bilson. I was not disappointed with the special effects, nor was I disappointed with Rachel Bilson (although I wish the obligatory sex scene had been longer).

However, every other part of the movie was terrible. Plot? Didnt make sense. Characters? Thin as ice. Hayden Christensen in it? Check. I’m not going to go in detail about any of this because this is not a movie review website and I’m not Rotten Tomatoes. However, I am going to point out a couple instances where this movie just shows how dumb and illogical it is, and how stupid it thinks the audience is.

You know the part in “Thank You For Smoking” when Aaron Eckhart is talking to Rob Lowe about how they can get people to smoke cigs in space if its an oxygen environment? Rob Lowe says, “But thats an easy fix. Just one line of dialogue, “Thank god we invented the…you know…whatever device.” THE ENTIRE MOVIE WAS LITTERED with shit like this.

There is a part in Jumper towards the end when Hayden is on the run. He is looking for Rachel Bilson and goes to the bar where she works. He asks the bar tender: WHERE IS RACHEL BILSON! The bartender says something along the lines of “Oh. You’re old friend from high school just came over here and asked where you were. I told him where you lived. I think Rachel went there to look for you too.”

The old friend from high school was Samuel L. Jackson who has a white head of hair, black goatee, carries a long electrical cane and is dressed in a series of turtlenecks, collarless shirts and trench coats. WHY ON EARTH would this bartender believe him when he says he is the 26 year old Hayden’s HIGH SCHOOL buddy. Samuel L. Jackson looks like a freak. (Look at the picture. Would you believe THIS GUY was friends with Rachel Bilson and Hayden Christensen?) Why would she tell Samuel where he LIVED? That was just a plot device to come up with an excuse for how Samuel L tracked Rachel Bilson down and it was lame, and stupid and illogical and DIDNT WORK ON ME.

The next stupid thing in the movie is the whole plot involving Hayden’s mom, played by Diane Lane. Diane Lane is the head of a secret organization who’s job it is to kill Jumpers. When she finds out that Hayden is a Jumper when he is a young boy, she leaves the family because she does not want to have to turn her son in…to herself. She then starts a new life, even having a daughter with someone else. Now while its obvious why Diane Lane is in this movie ($) its not obvious why she would rather keep her job than her son. That does not make any sense at all. This woman’s whole job is to KILL jumpers and when she finds out her son is one, she decides that rather than kill her son…she’ll abandon him. Really? She doesnt have a change of heart about professions? Doesnt think, “hey, my son is a jumper and he’s not that bad, maybe I shouldnt be KILLING PEOPLE LIKE HIM!”

At the end of the movie, she tells him to run–she’ll give him a head start. What a nice mom.

Anyway, this movie was just a great premise that never went anywhere, despite the fact that Hayden Christensen went EVERYWHERE. Not even Billy Elliot could save it.

Also–it appears Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol’s brother is going to be joining Memphis next year. If you dont remember, to get Pau Gasol, the Lakers traded Memphis the rights to Marc Gasol who they had drafted the year earlier. Is that how deals are made in the NBA now? Hypothetical conversation between Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and Chris Wallace, the Memphis GM:

Mitch: Alright, so we’re almost done making this deal.
Chris: Yep.
Mitch: Run it back by me.
Chris: We give you our best player, Pau Gasol, for your two worst players, Kwame Brown and Javaris Crittenton. Plus some draft picks. Plus the rights to Aaron McKie
Mitch: Who no longer plays in the NBA and is a volunteer asst. coach for the 76ers.
Chris: Correct. AND–Pau Gasol’s brother.
Mitch: Good. Now are you sure you want just his brother? I can throw in his Aunt Miriam. She makes a great Spanish chili.
Chris: No, just the brother.
Mitch: Deal.

What if family members could always be included in deals? Hypothetical convo between the Miami Heat and LA Clippers:

Heat: Alright I want Elton Brand.
Clippers: Well we want Dwayne Wade
Heat: Well how about if we give you Elton Brand’s nephew and a refrigerator
Clippers: How about just the refrigerator and Udonis Haslem’s first born?
Heat: Does he play basketball?
Clippers: No, but my wife is barren.
Heat: I’m sorry.
Clippers: It’s ok. Its her fault.
Heat: Where were we?
Clippers: We want Dwayne Wade, your #2 draft pick and the rights to Tim Hardaway.
Heat: Tim Hardaway retired 10 years ago. I dont even know where he lives
Clippers: GIVE US TIM HARDAWAY
Heat: Fine! You got Tim Hardaway, our number 2 pick, Udonis Haslem’s first born and we get Elton Brand’s nephew.
Clippers: His nephew is a really funny. He makes me laugh, like all the time. Sometimes he says things like, “white people be crazy when they do this!” AND I DO DO THIS.
Heat: That’s great. I love laughter.
Clippers: I’m so glad we’re friends.
Heat: Me too. Promise me we’ll be friends forever.
Clippers: LONGER THAN FOREVER
Heat: Infinity and BEYOND
Clippers: Buzz LIGHTYEAR!
Heat: You got it!
Clippers: I got it cause we saw that together? Remember, for Alonzo Mourning’s 4th post-kidney transplant after party?
Heat: That party was sick!
Clippers: I think that’s when I got AIDS.
Heat: Thats a shame.
Clippers: Well I’m ok now. It was like the “temporary aids.”
Heat: I’ve never heard of that.
Clippers: It’s totally real.
Heat: I’m sure it is. I’m sure it is.

On a completely separate note, it’s finally nice to see some honesty from today’s NBA players: When asked the question, “Would you be willing to take less money to go to a contender?” Ron Artest responded, “Oh, never. Not in a million years. Actually not in 10 million years.” When asked, “Really?” Artest responded, “Make that 3 million years.” Way to go with the truth RON RON.

Until tomorrow–

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