TV has one more Carl. ABC’s Revenge saw the birth of a brand new baby boy, son of the woman pretending to be Amanda Clarke and her baby-daddy, Jack Porter, and the glowing mother named her bundle of joy (the one that has dictated much of the direction of the season thus far)... (drumroll please)... Carl.
Now, revealing the tyke’s name the same night that The Walking Dead aired a new episode naturally begs some comparison. TV’s other noteworthy Carl is, of course, Rick Grimes’ ever-missing son on the AMC series. This season, Chandler Riggs’ controversial character has put his mischievousness to good use (even killing a handful of zombies himself), but considering the fans’ great anger over the Carl of Seasons 1 and 2 it makes us wonder why another Sunday night show would be so quick to christen another child with the same name. To solve the mystery, we look to a few other notable pop culture Carls to see what’s in a name:
Carl Winslow on Family Matters
He was Steve Urkel’s nemesis and sometimes father figure on Family Matters and a Chicago Police officer plagued by a love of donuts and a lack of physical fitness. The problem was that his constant exasperation was sometimes more obnoxious than Urkel himself.
Carl Points: -3
Carl Grimes on The Walking Dead
I’ve already defended little Carl, whose wayward ways are really his ineffective mother’s fault (let’s be honest, Lori is way worse than her son), but the buzz is bad. Season 3’s Carl 2.0 is working on turning that around, but it’s a tough sell. He’s still got some improving to do.
Carl Points: -5
Carl Carlson on The Simpsons
Carl, of the duo Lenny and Carl (Homer’s friends from the Nuclear Power Plant and Moe's Tavern), is a pretty cool dude. He’s an easy-going science wiz and also (apparently) one of the most attractive men in Springfield. Add to that his surprise Icelandic heritage, an element which rears its head sporadically (and often hilariously) and you’ve got a pretty cool Carl. Plus, he’s voiced by Hank Azaria, which gives him four automatic bonus points.
Carl Points: 6
Carl Brutananadilewski on Aqua Something You Know Whatever (the artist formerly known as Aqua Teen Hunger Force) Carl is kind of the worst, but that’s what makes him hilarious. He’s got a beer belly, a bald head, and his favorite outfit consists of blue sweatpants, flip flops, a white tank top, and a gold chain. He has hair on the bottom of his feet and is obsessed with... pleasing himself. This is not a good Carl. But, he does host his own totally awesome sports web series Carl’s Stone Cold Lock of the Century of the Week, which evens things out a bit. Carl Points: -1 Carl Spackler in Caddy Shack Bill Murray’s classic gopher-exterminator is already the best Carl on this list because he’s played by Bill Murray, but, if that’s not enough, let us recall how he helps the good guys win in the end by trying to nab the wiley gopher with a series of plastic explosives whose detonation knocks a golf ball into the hole, giving our hero the push he needs to win. And if that’s not enough, he’s got the power of infinite quotability. Here, we’ve got ourselves a quality Carl. Carl Points: 8 Carl Hanratty in Catch Me If You Can FBI Agent Carl Hanratty spends most of the film chasing down the charismatic Frank Abignale Jr. and dangit if he isn’t a pain in his rear. But as the film progresses, we see that Frank and Carl have a mutual respect for one another, and an unorthodox, but real friendship. Plus, he’s played by the impossible-to-abhor Tom Hanks. Carl Points: 5 Carl Bernstein in All The President’s Men (and, you know, real life) This all-American hero helped uncover one of the greatest scandals in our nation’s history as the scrappy sidekick to Bob Woodward’s sleek, ivy league-educated reporter. And when Dustin Hoffman brought this reporter to the big screen, he went from legend to screen heartthrob (for some of us, OK?). Carl Points: 7 Carl Point Total: 17 Well, newest pop culture Carl, it would seem that you’re in better company than you might have thought. Perhaps your mother, while likely a little loopy after being in a coma after getting pushed off a balcony at her baby shower (that always happens!), wasn’t all that crazy after all. Welcome to the world, baby Carl. Just refrain from teasing any blood-thirsty zombies, growing a beer belly, or being generally stereotypical and obnoxious. Deal? Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler [Photo Credits: AMC; Orion Pictures] More: 'Revenge' Recap: Get Down To The Heart of the Matter 'Revenge' Recap: Mama Drama 'The Walking Dead' Recap: Walk With Me
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A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.