You haven't been able to explain why, but for some reason the past few months have felt... nicer. Friendlier. More humane. Like the world's cynical edge has faded into a general aura of good intentions and widespread compassion. Well, hopefully you haven't gotten to used to it, because the mean streak you used to know is back — Veep has returned for its third season on HBO, coming back in full force with the very best insult comedy on contemporary television. This season, we're going to hone in on which of the series' characters is leading the pack in general misanthropy by ranking the best barbs of every episode.
We start off with the season premiere, which sees Vice President Selena Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) on a book tour through Iowa as the rest of her staff is back home in D.C. for Mike's (Matt Walsh) wedding to a reporter named Wendy. Due to Mike's unprecedented giddiness, he sat the week out in the insults game, but his colleagues were on point in terms of disses, put-downs, hostile barbs, biting reproaches, and your run of the mill bullying. Who won the race with the coldest zingers?
6. Abhor-ney General: JONAH
"I'm leaving here with my head held high and my nuts hanging low on your mom's chin, Martin."Jonah's unimpressive, infantile sign-off after he's been fired from the White House for running a gossiptainment blog.
5. Secretary of Offense: AMY
"Look at you, Dan. You have more nervous tics than a shoe bomber."There's something about Amy's subdued, even-tempered jabs that feel even more hurtful than her cohorts' heated ones.
"Jonah, what's the point? You don't show up in photographs."Said, again calmly, when Jonah is trying to worm his way into a group photo at Mike's wedding. Good for a chuckle, but this episode isn't Amy's best.
4. Secretary of Treachery: SUE
"Would you like me to mold the cake into a pair of testicles for you, Gary?"To be perfectly honest, neither of Sue's jokes this week (her only two lines in the episode, I might add) are Veep-caliber insults. But Sufe Bradshaw's delivery is impeccable.
"I hate how he learned English from pornography."Markedly better; said in response to Jonah's excessive use of phrases like "money shot" in non-sexual context.
3. Secretary of Hate: BEN
"Get out of the way or I'll f**king inhale you."Ben yells this at Selena's obscenely incompetent Iowa right-hand man. The believability of the threat makes it so funny.
[On the title of Selena's book, New Beginnings: The Next American Dream] "You’re so full of s**t, there’s a colon right smack dab in the middle."Now that's just terrific wordplay.
2. Viscious Vice-President: DAN
"I would hate the be the local Iowa guy that’s got to take care of [Selena]. Trying to source Gazpacho in a city that thinks soup is for f**s."An insult to Iowa, Selena, the gay community, and, somehow, Gazpacho. Points for versatility.
"What the f**k are you doing here? You weren't invited. Unless you're the Worst Man."This clumsy and obvious clunker docks the usually clever Dan a few points.
"Hey, Hepatitis J."Classy, elegant, hilarious.
Jonah: "What's Google's number?"Dan: "I don't know, ask Jeeves."Not so much an insult as it is just taunting and aggressively unhelpful. But one of the biggest laughs of the night regardless.
1. The President of Put-Downs: SELENA
"Hey, Richard. No offense... you're a catastrophe."Julia Louis-Dreyfus is one of the few comedians who can deliver a line as blunt and unimaginative as this and make it feel sharp.
[To Ben] "Good to see your friendly-ish face-ish."In sharp contrast to the former, the beauty of this excellent jab at her friend's personality and appearance is its majestic subtlety.
"That bag of wrist-slits got the nomination? With that face and personality?"Boom. Easily the meanest thing said all episode. And she delivers it with that demonic smile. Oh, woe is the world in which she occupies the Oval Office.
And since we love Gary so much, we'll also be running this little addition to our weekly insult-off:
NICE THINGS GARY SAID
"[To Wendy] You look gorgeous! Is that lipstick coral blush? Nicely applied!"Oh, Gary. You sweet soul.
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Bobby Garfield (David Morse) returns to his small hometown to attend the funeral of his childhood friend and remembers the fateful summer in 1960 when his whole world changed. The story flashes back to when 11-year-old Bobby (Anton Yelchin) and his best friends Carol (Mika Boorem) and Sully-John (Will Rothhaar) capture the pure joy of youthfulness. When a mysterious stranger named Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins) moves upstairs and starts to pay attention to Bobby the boy suddenly realizes what's truly missing from his life--the love of a parent. Bobby's mother Liz (Hope Davis) is embittered by the death of Bobby's father and shows little compassion for her son's growing needs. Ted fills a void with the boy opening his eyes to the world around him and helps Bobby come to terms with his real feelings for Carol--and his mother. But Ted also has some deep dark secrets of his own and Bobby tries hard to stop danger from reaching the old man.
The performances make the film especially in the genuine camaraderie of the kids. Yelchin Boorem and Rothhaar never deliver a false move with an easiness that makes us believe we are simply watching three 11-year-old children grow up together. Yelchin in particular is able to get right to the heart of this young boy who misses his father and clings to the only adult who will listen. And his scenes with Boorem simply break your heart. (Davis) does an admirable job playing a part none too sympathetic. She manages to show a woman whose been beaten down but who does truly love her son in her own way. Morse too is one of those character actors you can plug in any movie and get a performance worth noting. In Hearts you want to see more of him. Of course the film shines brightest when Hopkins is on the screen. It may not be an Oscar-caliber performance but the actor is unparalleled in bringing a character to life--showing the subtleties of an old man looking for some peace in his life.
If you are expecting the Stephen King novel you may be disappointed. Screenwriter William Goldman and director Scott Hicks (Shine) deftly extracted the King formula of telling a story through a child's eye and explaining how the relationships formed as a child shaped the adult later. Hicks did an amazing job with his young actors especially Yelchin and Boorem. But where the novel continued into a supernatural theme explaining Brautigan's fear of being captured by "low men in yellow coats" (a reference to King's The Dark Tower series) the movie downplayed the mystical elements instead giving real explanations for Brautigan's man-on-the-run. That was the one problem with Hearts--we needed more danger. Introducing men from another dimension may not have been the way to go but had there been more tension the film would have resonated more especially when Bobby risked his own safety to save Ted.