A cameo can play as a nice little Easter Egg that tucks itself into a movie. All of a sudden, a film treats you to a surprise appearance by one of your favorite actors. But then there's another person. Well, two eggs is still a pretty reasonable dish. But if the movie keeps piling them on, if can feel like you've eaten a whole basket full of them and boy does your stomach ache. There are some movies that get the recipe right and some who just overstuff themselves and spoil the entire meal.
Possibly in the "Ruined It" camp we have the trailer for They Came Together. There's a cavalcade of familiar faces that come in to support the Paul Rudd/Amy Poehler vehicle. We see people from Saturday Night Live and many Fox and NBC comedies, as well as Chris Meloni and Cobie Smulders. It got to the point that trying to guess who would be showing up next took precedent over following what the movie was about. That can be seen as a big detraction, and it remains to be seen how it might help or hurt the movie when it hits theaters.
Others in the "Ruined It" category: Saving Private Ryan. This really gritty movie opened with a scene visceral enough to make WWII vets leave theaters due to flashbacks. It was a realistic, immersive movie that opted for genuine emotion over hokey war movie stereotypes. Well, until a character portrayed by Ted Danson showed up and started shooting Nazis. "Wait... is that Sam Malone? What's next, Carla Tortelli smacking a Nazi with her serving tray?" A very poor casting choice in an otherwise stellar film.
When it comes to successes, though, we can look at movies like those in The Expendables franchise. People sit through the movies wondering what great '80s or '90s action hero is going to make an appearance. It's icing on the cake of the over-the-top feel of the films (which are riddled with scenes and people punching each other bloody). There's an almost satisfied sigh when a Chuck Norris shows up.
Additionally, a well-placed cameo can lift up the entire mood of the film: Sean Connery appearing at the end of Robin Hood, and all those superstars at the end of The Player (which was supposed to be about making a movie with a lot of no names).
Too many cameos and a movie risks actually turning people off. Without at least one recognizable person on the screen, you might never hook 'em in the first place. Like many things that come out of Hollywood, it's a guessing game as to what will or will not be successful.
Just see how full one's Easter Basket is at the end of the movie.
MGM via Everett Collection
With Divergent is hitting theaters on March 21, the theme of teens fighting for survival on the big screen is at the forefront of our minds. It's one that has resonated through the decades in cinema, and we're taking a look at some of our favorite examples.
I'm talking about the 1984 original, not the forgettable reboot. As someone who was born in the 1970s and was growing into teenager-hood in the 1980s, the sight of those parachuting Russians in the film's opening made me want to crawl under my blankets and hide forever. Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev's steps toward Glasnot years later couldn't come fast enough. This was a bloody movie that featured many up-and-coming stars like Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, and C. Thomas Howell. The film hit towards the end of the Cold War, allowing USSR to play an effective Hollywood villain. The film saw America become a Russian state; the band of teenagers who fought back against the Red Menace made all of us look like sad-sack couch potatoes. To this day, you can yell "Wolverines!" at any person over the age of 35 and you'll much more than likely get a knowing nod back... and not just on the campus of University of Michigan.
By now, nearly everyone in the world knows who Katniss Everdeen is. For the very few uninitiated, Everdeen is a teenager who has to go and hunt other teenagers in a dystopian future that takes its cues from The Running Man more than anything else. Everdeen is tough, resourceful, cunning, and also one hell of a shot with a bow an arrow. She shows people that teens can take matters by the horns and do what it takes to win, and still not entirely sacrifice their humanity. There are those why decry the things she does, but in the long run, she is a good role model for being a strong female lead, which is something the movies have been lacking quite often. Everdeeen isn't one to quake and let a male take over or win or make her compromise herself. Yes, this series of movies shows kids murdering other kids, but the underlying message beneath is one that can't be ignored either.
Released in Japan in 2000, the movie comes from a different culture and as such institutes different tropes into its school-aged characters. The film centers around the students of a ninth-grade class that are made to fight each other to the death. Even more brutal than the American films, it shows what people are capable of when they have their backs to the wall and are being forced to commit atrocities in the name of their own government. I'd be seriously scared to get a note from my son's school in the future about something like this.
What kid hasn't wondered about the true demonic motives of his or her teachers? This 1998 horror/thriller boasts a cast full of comedic powerhouses like Bebe Neuwirth and Jon Stewart, as well as heartthrobs like Josh Hartnett and Jordana Brewster... and, yes, Usher. Running on the theme of teens versus adults, The Faculty becomes an intense and interesting cinematic experience. Beyond its horror aspects, the uniqueness of the overall movie made it better than something like Halloween or Friday the 13th. If you haven't seen it, it'll make you look at the Daily Show host in a totally different light.
Lord of the Flies
The original teen survivor movie, adapted in 1963 from William Golding's award-winning novel. We meet a group of school kids who get stranded on a desert island, and initially band together to survive... before anarchy starts to take over as the veneer of civilization gets stripped further and further in the movie. It's quite harrowing, and a sobering reminder of what can happen when we let the rules of society slip away. And if you've somehow managed to get this far without reading the novel, we highly recommend it. I read it in seventh grade, and had this weird thing about conch shells for a while after that.
Divergent hits theaters March 21. You can check showtimes and purchase advanced tickets here.
In an unusual move, Peter actually spends time with Stewie. Yes, the entire episode features Peter trying to get his son to go to sleep.
The fat man starts off by reading Stewie Jack and the Beanstalk. Naturally, Family Guy puts its own spin and casts its characters in all of the fairy tale roles. In the first tale, Peter is Jack and his wife is played by Lois. She warms Peter not to take magic beans as payment for selling the family cow. Real money. What do you think Peter does?
Peter happily accepts magic beans. After being scolded by Lois, Peter throws the beans in the yard. Overnight, the beanstalk grows all the way to the sky. Perpetual pervert Quagmire plays Rumpleforeskin; he complains that the beanstalk blocks the view of Little Miss Muffet's tuffet. Peter climbs the beanstalk only to find the goose (Stewie) laying a golden egg. There's also a giant who lives in the castle (Chris), who won't let his goose get taken. A chase ensues — Peter climbs down swiftly while Chris, hugely gigantic, plops his way down. Meanwhile, at the bottom, Quagmire saws the beanstalk down. He really needs to see Miss Muffet! Chris falls after the beanstalk tramples. He lands with a thud and worse, the beanstalk crushes him. A lot of blood splatter here.
Fairy tale two is Little Red Riding Hood. Not much happens here other than Red (Stewie) traveling down the path to Grandma's (Grandma Pewterschmidt) with the Wolf (Brian). They get along just fine. Brian gets to Grandma’s house early, you know, since he has to "surprise" Red. When Stewie walks into the house, he realizes right away that Brian is wearing Grandma's clothes. Randomly, the Woodsman (Peter) shows up with a chainsaw. He makes a bloody mess of the place, the result of cutting Brian in half. "I'm not sure if that’s our hero or just a lunatic going house to house murdering people," Stewie says. Peter really does seem crazed with his wild laugh as he chainsaws the life out of people.
Cinderella (Lois) is the final fairy tale. Lois' awful family (Grandma, Stewie and Meg) rips her dress apart so she can't go to the ball. Luckily, the Fairy Godmother (Adam West) saves the day. It would have been funny if Adam West donned his 1960s Batman costume instead of a pink dress and magic wand. Brian and Joe provide transportation as horse and carriage (Joe screams that it hurts being transformed into a vehicle). Come to think about it, that probably would hurt like hell. The Prince (Peter) falls in love with Lois at the ball after dancing. She leaves at midnight since, you know the spell wears off.
Seriously, why would you make a spell wear off at midnight? Most parties don't get good till after 10 p.m. How could Cinderella party for less than two hours? Anyway, Peter matches the glass slipper to Lois. The two don't live happily ever after: the marriage lasts just seven months and in the end, the two of them don't even follow each other on Twitter. Not a happy ending, you have to at least follow on Twitter.
After a week off, the Sharks were ready to have people back in the tank for a new episode. Would they build on the relative success of the previous episode or would all the entrepreneurs walk out with no deals in hand?
The first people in the Tank were Marley Marotta and Alexander Mendeluk from Spirit Hoods. They wanted $450,000 for a 15% stake . The hoods were faux fur hats that had flaps along the sides to protect people's hands in cold weather.There were also built-in speakers. This segment provided me with one of the major highlights of my life - seeing Kevin O'Leary wearing a multi-colored Spirit Hood. Seriously, it looked like a furry rainbow was perched on his head. They tried to get Mark Cuban to wear one that was in the colors of the Dallas Mavericks, but he wasn't feeling it. Spirit Hoods said they were more than hoods, they were looking for a lifestyle brand. What gave the Sharks pause was the fact that there were a large number of imitators out there and also they were a possibly rapidly depreciating company. The net result was no Sharks buying in - though Daymond John did make an offer for 50% of the company, but they tried to renegotiate, which offended his sensibilities and he withdrew.
There was an update about Cuban and John going to an entrepreneur conference and they also showed casting calls for Shark Tank. The point that was driven home was that the Sharks haven't met any of the entrepreneurs before. They only know their first name.
Next in the tank was Jan Goetgeluk from Virtuix Omni. He wanted $2 million for 10%, which raised all the Sharks' eyebrows. The Omni was a virtual reality game which also featured an omni-directional treadmill, which made for a really immersive experience. Robert Herjavec, being the big tech geek, tried it out and nearly fell. The company had raised a good amount of its money from Kickstarter. The main sticking point was the fact that it relied on the visual aid, the Oculus Rift, and all the Sharks were worried about it becoming obsolete very, very quickly. All the Sharks fell out in pretty fast order, since Goetgeluk was trying to get them to buy into a vision two years into the future. Barbara Corcoran also didn't like the size of the thing, saying that any husband who bought it for a home would be in deep trouble, possibly divorced.
The third people in the tank were two tough mothers named Jocelyn Fine and Kelly Dineen from New Jersey. They were selling FoHawxs - add-ons to any biking or skating helmet to make them 'cooler'. The add ons made the people wearing them look like Roman Centurions. I kept expecting one of the kid models to belt something out about Caesar. They wanted $150,000 for 30% of their company. It quickly became apparent that their sales were not as good as what the Sharks needed to invest, despite the items being in many stores. O'Leary even had to bark, "Wake up and smell the bankruptcy!" The two women were still defiant despite no Sharks biting, and O'Leary didn't even try to make one of his ridiculous offers that featured royalties. There was a lot of fiery debate on the entrepreneur's side, but the Sharks didn't see them as being rooted in reality. Fine even nearly broke into tears after all the Sharks bowed out. It looked like it might be another week of no Shark deals. .
Last in the tank was Al "Bubba" Baker, a former NFL player, along with his daughter. The Sharks didn't seem intimidated by the fact that he was big enough to flatten all of them if they made him mad. He had created the De-Boned Baby Back Rib, a boneless rib that only needed 2 minutes in the microwave to be ready to eat. He wanted $300,000 for 15%. He had two patents on it- a first in the Tank, according to O'Leary - patents for food and the process for making it. The main thing that separated it from others was that he cooked the ribs with the bones and then had them removed and stored to preserve the flavor. They asked why he had taken 20 years to perfect it and he admitted that he had quit before, but then his daughter, who was running track, wanted to quit traning and he forbade her to do that. She said he had quit with the ribs, so he promised to get back into it. The first person to make an offer was O'Leary - $300,000, but it had to be distributed from one of the largest meat companies out there and he wanted 49% of the company. John then submitted his own offer and wanted 20% less in equity. The time came for a decision and Baker was gracious. He thanked O'Leary for making and offer and went with John's deal, which met with general approval from the other Sharks...minus O'Leary, of course.
It was another tough night for the entrepreneurs, but 1 of 4 wasn't a total wash. It's going to be interesting to see what happens with the Christmas-themed episode.
There was an interview recently on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart that did more damage to the GOP party than the entire shutdown. What happened? A Republican precinct chairman in North Carolina was interviewed on the show and said some really dumb, racist things. You could tell they were going to be in that vein when he said, "My best friend is black." Yup, that practically set up a neon sign. After the show aired, he then resigned his position.
Yes, I know it wasn't Ted Cruz doing something like that, but it did wind up being a bloody nose for the GOP, however small it may be. They probably don't even care, given that Congress has approval ratings lower than contracting ebola. Yes, I'm sure that many people would rather bleed from every orifice than trust politicians implicitly.
The thing is, when it comes to media, journalism has been king for many, many years. People would trust what was read in the newspapers and many news anchors were held in such high esteem that they might as well have been nominated for sainthood: Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, Diane Sawyer...the list goes on. But now the media is being viewed through a prism of mistrust. It seems like more people are listening to Stewart and Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central than someone like Piers Morgan on CNN or anybody on FOX News.
What helps Stewart and Colbert (well, Stewart more, since Colbert is a persona) is they can take an irreverent view on it that is still surrounded by truth and can expose the hypocrisy of what goes on in the government. Maybe the media got too high up on its pedestal and began thinking it could tell people what it wanted to behind its own agenda, even under the pretense of fair reporting. The Comedy Central duo tend to get under the hood and shine their light on what goes on there. Maybe they could call themselves "America's Auto Mechanics."
So maybe people should hope that Stewart gets many more politicians to appear on his show to show what they really stand for instead of having it sanitized on the news. Maybe in a couple of decades from now, we'll look at Stewart like we looked at the other anchors. And that's no laughing matter.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.
It was this time last year that Kathy Griffin was making headlines for dissing Jesus on stage at the Creative Arts Emmys. The carrot-topped comedienne found herself in hot water for off color remarks like, "a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus…This award is my god now!"
But that was last year – this year Griffin’s My Life on the D List earned her a second Emmy for Outstanding Reality Program and the queen of comedy learned her lesson. Still the most brash of all the speeches, a mild “here we are again f*ckers” and “I love this Emmy, I would make love to it if I could” was the extent of it.
Afterward, Griffin admitted, “I’m trying not to get fired between now and next Sunday, because I can’t believe they are allowing me to present at the fancy schmancies (Primetime Emmys)…I didn’t want to get that call like I did last year on Monday. I [was] thinking it was a riot and then I [got] the call saying; ‘You can’t come.’ I’ve got the dress and everything. I’m presenting with the Don Rickles. I didn’t want to fuck that up.”
Griffin wasn’t the only funny woman to take the stage this year at the ceremony celebrating guest roles, reality shows and television’s top talent behind-the-scenes. Sarah Silverman took home a golden statue for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for her mega-hit “I’m F*cking Matt Damon” from her ex’s Jimmy Kimmel Live show. Silverman ended her acceptance speech by recognizing Kimmel “who broke my heart – I mean [for whom] will always have a place in my heart.”
When Glynn Turman came to visit us backstage after winning Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his role on In Treatment he confessed, “My wife said that I could not weld this on the hood of my car. That would be tacky she said, so I’m looking to the mantel.”
While Turman’s win was his first, the same can’t be said for Tim Conway. The veteran actor started receiving nominations in the 1960s for McHale's Navy, The Carol Burnett Show and even Coach. This year he took home another, this time for his unforgettable guest role as Bucky Bright on 30 Rock.
“I should [be back next season],” Conway says. “I did a wonderful job and brought this [award] to them, but I don’t know. They are so stuffy [laughs]. No, I had a wonderful time working with Jack [McBrayer] and Tina [Fey] and Alec [Baldwin].”
Other notable winners included Cynthia Nixon for her guest spot on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Kathryn Joosten for her role as Karen McCluskey on Desperate Housewives.
For a chance to watch the whole show, hosted by How I Met Your Mother’s Neil Patrick Harris and Sarah Chalke, tune into E! next Saturday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m.