There have been many, many great sit-com characters over the decades. Here are 10 that were the cream of the crop.
Sophia Petrillo: The Golden Girls
The show was an ensemble, but Petrillo and her sharp tongue and wit often stole the spotlight. She often told long-winded tales that began with "Picture it... " but behind her acerbic demeanor was a woman who fiercely loved her daughter, Dorothy. The interplay between the two often was the funniest part of the show. Shady Pines' loss was our gain.
Dr. Perry Cox: Scrubs
The man gave primers on how to give the best long-winded, angry rants that were simultanously hilarious. John C. McGinley was able to show this doctor who had the shortest fuse with anything that he perceived as incompetent as being capable of then turning around and espousing some wisdom that showed the way for people to figure things out. I am still mad though that they couldn't have a Cox-Dr. Gregory House face-off.
Louie DePalma: Taxi
The dimunitive Danny DeVito gave a heart and personality that was twice his size. In a show that featured such out-sized actors like Christopher Lloyd and Andy Kaufman, DeVito outshone them both.
Frasier Crane: Cheers/Frasier
Kelsey Grammer imbued humanity on someone who could have been viewed as merely pompous. Frasier was someone who often was unable to let his brain and his feelings reconcile while in the pursuit of romance. It didn't help that he had a neurotic brother who was in the middle of his own romantic crisis.
Cosmo Kramer: Seinfeld
Sure, Kramer was a nut, but Michael Richards added layers to the zaniness. The main lesson that I learned from him though is: Always lock your front door. I never understood why Seinfeld always had the door open. What is it with people who leave their front doors unlocked? Oops. I'm going off on a Seinfeld stand-up joke tangent...
Barney Stinson: How I Met Your Mother
Stinson may be a complete womanizer and near-sociopath, but he's also loyal to his friends at the very end. He may have been the archetype of hedonistic bachelorhood, but now we'll find out if he commits to a life with Robin? What makes Barney so great is that while he is a total self-centered buffoon, there's that little, tiny sliver of humanity in him too.
Archie Bunker: All in the Family
In this ultra PC world, I don't think Carroll O'Connor would have been allowed to even play the character, even with the depth that he displayed. Actually, he could, but it would have to be on a cable channel like FX. He's probably be another character on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Cliff Huxtable: The Cosby Show
Here's a man who gave a portrayal of a smart and very involved family man - who was black. That hadn't been seen that often on TV before and Cosby rightfully is hailed for doing so. This was the happy Cosby, not the grumpy one from that different Cosby show that aired years later on another network.
Ralph Kramden: The Honeymooners
One of the first sitcom archetypes -- the loud, blowhard husband. Jackie Gleason, made the character his own, though, and no one else could touch the part. Cedric, I'm looking at you. People might not like that "Bam, to the moon!" threat nowadays, but even back then, you just KNEW that if he had actually laid a hand on Alice, he would have wound up wearing his bus steering wheel around his neck.
Roseanne Connor: Roseanne
Sure, her character was supposedly the product of a writer's imagination, but she was a darn good mother and person on the show, despite her sassy mouth. Under that hard exterior beat a heart of gold. I always loved the back-and-forth with her and Jackie.
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Super is compared far and wide to Kick-Ass its cousin-of-sorts and people have the right to do that. They’re both films about losers without super powers attempting to become super heroes but that’s where the comparisons can and should end. However I need one more to kick off my review. While they’re both great movies with similar concepts Kick-Ass takes a very stylized comic book approach to the material whereas Super is treated as if it takes place in the real world with real world consequences. Both methods serve their respective narratives well and since we can enjoy both of these movies at the same time without taking away anything from either we don’t have to say which one does the concept better.
The film comes from writer/director James Gunn previously responsible for of all things the awesome Slither and writing the better-than-expected live action Scooby Doo movies. The film follows Frank (Rainn Wilson) a down on his luck diner cook who decides to become a super hero after he watches his girlfriend (Liv Tyler) get taken by the town’s local bad guy (Kevin Bacon) and then is touched by God (literally). He gains the attention of the local comic book store employee (Ellen Page - delightfully dirty) and soon they team up as the Crimson Bolt and Bolty.
Gunn is considered a horror auteur and the film shows his roots. It’s incredibly violent (and I do mean VIOLENT) gory (lots o’blood) and profane (Ellen Page in Juno - eat your heart out!) but also incredibly funny. The potentially off-putting thing about Super is how Gunn manages to weave each aspect into the story seamlessly. But isn’t life like that? One minute you’re laughing while beating up an old lady the next you’re sad because your dog died (none of those things happen in the film but you feel those sentiments within minutes of each other). Some will detract the film for its tonal shifts but that was exactly what Gunn set out to do. And I think he succeeded quite masterfully.
The main thing about this film is that it works. Everything feels real every move feels correct and all the characters are dynamic. While Wilson is playing another sad sack like Dwight Shrute that’s about as similar as the two get. His violent outbursts create a character far removed from anything in Scranton. Page is the surprise ace-in-the-sleeve; she delves into the profanity and gore with glee. Everyone gets their own moment for a big laugh and a big action piece even Nathan Fillion who shows up in a religious subplot involving a Christian superhero. I can’t stress how violent and funny (emphasis on both) this film is and how well it works together.
My only problem is that towards the end it becomes a little too comic book-y (like Kick-Ass) but it is handled in such a realistic way that this is a very small complaint. To sum up I present the notes (as a poem) that I started to take before I gave up and just enjoyed the movie:
Opening sequence - amazing
Burnt burgers give you cancer
Tentacle Rape Porn
Shut up crime!
As a legendary Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer Ben Randall (Kevin Costner) was all heart and no regret. But it all comes undone in the span of one night when he goes out to the menacing seas with his crew to make a rescue and he is the sole survivor. Following that fateful night he’s ordered to teach at “A” School--a demotion for a man of his stature and seniority--an elite training program that helps turn the best recruits into the best Rescue Swimmers. Randall teaches the cocky students the only way he knows how and his tough tough love is initially met with skepticism by his fellow trainers who think of him as a has-been. But one student in particular Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher) catches his eye and draws his ire. Fischer is cocky hotheaded and highly skilled--just the right pedigree to make a great Rescue Swimmer and a lot like Randall was at his age. Randall rides him extra-hard while Fischer only hopes to one day be in the same boat as his mentor. Be careful what you wish for Jake! Costner's always been an acquired taste--sometimes a downright noxious one on first bite--but there's no denying he slides right in here. Roles that feature him as the aging provider of wisdom are now his true calling and the sooner he accepts it the better. And even still Costner gets to flex his action muscle a bit. As for Kutcher the only thing he shares in common with Costner is the last two letters of his last name--as actors these guys are each other’s antitheses! And in a weird way they strike a nice chemistry because of it one that is borderline exciting to watch. As a standalone actor in The Guardian Kutcher is a bit misplaced and seems to know it. He nails the physicality of the role but while the character's attitude and brashness befit Kutcher the peak dramatic scenes with Costner leave something to be desired. A pleasantly surprising turn from relative unknown Melissa Sagemiller (The Clearing) as Kutcher's girl toy and reliable supporting performances from Sela Ward and Neal McDonough round out the cast. Director Andrew Davis' proximity to his career peak The Fugitive cannot be measured in time: He's a lot further away from the mega-hit than a mere 13 years. But in Hollywood if you have a Fugitive under your belt you'll never run out of chances to replicate it. That's the current juncture for Davis--one last shot at Fugitive glory...till his next last shot. It's hard to say what The Guardian will do at the box office but Davis' stodgy direction doesn't necessarily help its chances. The movie can be boiled down to awful pacing: the first and last 15 minutes are high-octane action and everything in between is low-octane Top Gun (the non-action scenes!). That blame belongs to Davis and writer Ron L. Brinkerhoff. But only Davis can shoulder the other flaws such as a single scene of dubious camerawork--filmed to look like handheld-montage style completely deviating from the movie's context--and the special effects during the somewhat cheesy action sequences which may remind you of a theme-park tour during which you learn how they filmed a boat scene...in the '80s!