Michael Arbeiter
Staff editor Michael Arbeiter’s natural state of being can best be described as “mild panic attack.” His earliest memories of growing up in Queens, New York, involve nighttime conversations with a voice from his bedroom wall (the jury’s still out on what that was all about) and a love for classic television that spawned from the very first time he was allowed to watch “The Munsters.” Attending college at SUNY Binghamton, a 20-year-old Michael learned two things: that he could center his future on this love for TV and movies, and that dragons never actually existed — he was kind of late in the game on that one.
  • The Prestigious Celebrities of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 18, 2014
    YouTube/The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Just three weeks in production, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has raked in more than $15 million — this puts it ahead of the latest YA release The Giver as the eighth highest grossing property this month. But trouncing that Jeff Bridges/Brenton Thwaites travesty by nearly $3 million is only the second most noble of the Ice Bucket Challenge’s efforts. The movement is allotting nigh unparalleled funds toward the study of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an illness known best as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The condition observes the weakening of the muscles in accordance with a degeneration of a specific portion of the spinal cord. As a result of ALS, those afflicted find difficulty speaking, swallowing, breathing, and moving altogether. Though discovered in the 19th century and brought to infamy in the late 1930s in accordance with the suffering of beloved New York Yankee Lou Gehrig, ALS remains the most common motor neuron disease actively plaguing men and women today. While perhaps only a small measure in the fight against the illness, the Ice Bucket Challenge is allowing for tremendous progress in the collection of funds devoted to the defeat of such a longstanding travesty. YouTube/JustinTimberlake As is inevitable with any cause célèbre or public movement, we have witnesses no small share of backlash against the Challenge; critics decry the endeavor as a bandwagon trend and a waste of time that offers no real benefit to the cause in question. As far as the latter goes, the $15 million and counting — a sum made possible thanks in large part to the spirited, sportsmanly brand with which the Ice Bucket Challenge was designed — would beg to differ. Nevertheless, we find those with a sour taste for the charitable phenomenon. Not to mention those who simply don’t want to pour a bunch of cold water over their heads. But if you find yourself a culprit of this mindset, maybe take a look at the pedigree of the company you’d be joining were you to hop aboard for this particularly frigid mitzvah. So what pop culture accomplishments can be attributed to the community of water-logged philanthropists? 5 ACADEMY AWARDS Between Steven Spielberg (3), Russell Crowe (1), and Oprah (a Humanitarian Oscar). 60 EMMYSBetween Oprah (13 Daytime Emmys and 2 Primetime Emmys), Steven Spielberg (11), Meredith Vieira (4 News/Documentary Emmys and 3 Daytime Emmys), Jimmy Fallon (4), Justin Timberlake (4), J.J. Abrams (3), Conan O'Brien (3), Jim Parsons (3), Ricky Gervais (2), William Shatner (2), Harry Connick Jr. (2), Rachel Maddow (1), Ryan Seacrest (1), Nathan Fillion (1 Daytime Emmy), and Topher Grace (1 Daytime Emmy). 62 GRAMMYSJustin Timberlake (9), Taylor Swift (7), Carrie Underwood (6), Lady Gaga (5), Mackelmore (4), Lil Wayne (4), Keith Urban (4), Weird Al Yankovic (3), Gwen Stefani (3), Ludacris (3), Brad Paisley (3), Adam Levine (3), Harry Connick Jr (3), Jason Mraz (2), Drake (1), Jimmy Fallon (1), and Calvin Harris (1). 10 GOLDEN GLOBESSteven Spielberg (7), Russell Crowe (1), William Shatner (1), and Don Johnson (1).
  • The Best Parodies of Disney Songs from Cartoons
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 15, 2014
    Walt Disney Pictures via Everett Collection As much as we love Disney songs, we can't help but hold in even higher esteem Disney song parodies. A variety of cartoons, like The Simpsons, Family Guy, and The Critic, have given us particularly favortable, irreverent send-ups of our favorite just-a-bit-too-earnest classics from Walt's canon. Here are a few of the funniest, most clever, and all around catchiest Disney song parodies. "See My Vest" From: The SimpsonsA Parody of: "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the BeastDegree of Genius: High. Mr. Burns embracing the classic Disney showstopper to celebrate his love of animal furs is terrific macabre comedy. "I Need a Jew" From: Family Guy A Parody of: "When You Wish Upon a Star" from PinocchioDegree of Genius: Admittedly pretty clever, considering the fact that it's one long joke about Jewish stereotypes. "Beauty and King Dork" From: The CriticA Parody of: The title song from Beauty and the BeastDegree of Genius: It's a quick one, but the inclusion of singing dust busters, a Mork and Mindy reference, and Jay Sherman's attempts to cover up the embarrassing lyrics make for one of the best gags on the list. "Just the Same Old Heroine" From: AnimaniacsA Parody of: "Just Across the River Bend" from PocahontasDegree of Genius: Yes, it's a show directed at children, but it is easily the most biting, articulate satires of the Disney formula of the lot. "Duff Beer for You, Duff Beer for Me" From: The SimpsonsA Parody of:"It's a Small World"Degree of Genius: Well, it does accurately capture how horrifying and haunting that song is. "The Surprises in Life" From: AnimaniacsA Parody of: "Circle of Life" from The Lion KingDegree of Genius: As much a chronicling of man's inevitable existential crises as it is a Disney song parody, this one is just as likely to make you cry as it is to make you laugh. Deep stuff. "It's a Wonderful Day for Pie" From: Family GuyA Parody of: Disney schmaltz in generalDegree of Genius: Catchy, but not quite up to par with the likes of its peers. "Up There" From: The South Park movieA Parody of: "Part of Your World" from The Little MermaidDegree of Genius: True, this is a far looser parody than the others on the list, but Trey Parker and Matt Stone nail the tone and style of the Disney "I Want" number in general. And it's sung by Satan, so that makes things all the sweeter. Follow @Michael Arbeiter | Follow @Hollywood_com
  • Review: There Is No Truth or Humanity Whatsoever to 'The Giver'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 15, 2014
    Weinstein Company via Everett Collection At the heart of any dystopian story — be it about warring farm animals, omnipresent elder siblings, or colorless societies wherein pain and inequality have been all but eradicated — there is meant to be something human. Something that shines through to show us just how close we are to the world onscreen and just how far away from it we need to get. But at the heart of The Giver — Phillip Noyce’s film adaptation, not Lois Lowry’s ‘93 intro-to-Orwell novel — we find no humanity. There is nothing remotely vital about the film, its themes, its world, or its characters. Thus, who really gives a damn what kind of hell they’re all dealing with? Brenton Thwaites is our hero — the exception among the heap of mindless drones (not to be confused with the movie’s surplus of literal drones) that occupy the nameless society, or so we’re meant to believe. In truth, Thwaites and his character Jonas are just as flat, vacant, and devoid of nuance as every other member of this pallid world. So when he is selected as the only villager capable of bearing the world’s memories of joy, pain, life, suffering, and — most prominently — ethnic dancing, we’re bored to tears by what might otherwise be an emotionally riveting journey into emotional maturity. Weinstein Company via Everett Collection But Thwaites isn’t the only issue. Jeff Bridges manages some combination of tired Sam Elliott, tired Bane, and tired Scooby Doo in his performance as the titular Giver, the man whose relationships with the society, Chief Elder Meryl Streep, and Receivers past and present are never illustrated with enough clarity to understand him as a man or a metaphorical function. Just like Thwaites’ big moments suffer from a lack of substantial precedent, any message that Bridges’ character is meant to unfurl falls as flat as the inflection of a dystopian resident. Broad strokes are one thing; The Giver seems to miss the canvas entirely in its portrait of the importance of pain and experience. Without a single human moment to convince us of the importance of humanity, we’re really left just staring at a confusing oscillation of the color wheel for 90 minutes. 1.5/5 Follow @Michael Arbeiter | Follow @Hollywood_com
  • Ranking All the '90s Nicktoons, from Worst to Best
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 15, 2014
    The 1990s were a virtual golden age of televised animation... at least as far as the people who grew up during that decade are concerned. Nickelodeon was no doubt the principal force in churning out quality cartoon programming during the '90s, giving us generation defining entertainment in its slate of original Nicktoons. But which of these memorable entries are our favorites and least favorites? Check out our complete ranking of '90s Nicktoons, and chime in below with your own preferences! 13. CatDog  Nickelodeon "What if... a cat and a dog were Siamese twins?""Oh, yeah! I guess... I guess that could be something."It wasn't. It was nothing. 12. Oh Yeah! Cartoons Nickelodeon This anthology series is easily the least memorable entry from the '90s Nicktoons slate, but escapes the last place slot for introducing the world to some of the next generation's stronger entries, most notably The Fairly Odd Parents. 11. The Wild Thornberrys  Nickelodeon Despite an interesting premise and the whimsy that is Tim Curry's voice over work, The Wild Thornberrys never felt quite like it was on our level. Unlike some of its favorable company, the series always felt like a show that some displaced adults thought that kids would like, but never quite understood why they should. 10. Rocket Power  Nickelodeon Call it my lasting aversion to bro culture, but Rocket Power always seemed a little much. Never proving itself particularly clever, funny, or original, the show banked way too hard on just trying to be cool. It was, I guess, but not that cool. 9. Aaahh!! Real Monsters  Nickelodeon Once in a while, Aaahh!! Real Monsters was enjoyable enough to check in on. A wide variety of weird, crudely drawn creatures living beneath the Staten Island's Fresh Kills Landfill, surfacing only to scare the wits out of humans (not out of malice, but out for the academic merit in the trade) is good for an occasional chuckle, but wore thin pretty quickly. 8. KaBlam!  Nickelodeon For the blossoming comic book fan, KaBlam! had a special appeal. But while the anthology series had a few consistently delightful shorts (like Action League Now!) it was very clear why most members of its ensemble never earned their own series proper. 7. SpongeBob SquarePants  Though really a cartoon belonging to the post-'90s youth, SpongeBob's debut in '99 makes it viable for ranking. In truth, the show has evolved into something relatively impressive, even if its unfathomable giddiness can deter viewers brought up on the darker fare of Nickelodeon's earlier days (as you'll see below...). 6. Rugrats  Nickelodeon The only real fault of the technically stellar and remarkably earnest cartoon is that we got too old for it. Sure, Rugrats never talked down to its audience, nor did it insinuate that a young slate of stars entailed a young demographic of viewers. But the show, a very funny exercise in embracing new perspectives on the day-to-day, just didn't do quite enough to keep us hooked as we went onto more mature fare.  5. The Ren & Stimpy Show Nickelodeon Easily the most divisive show on the list, Ren & Stimpy can be respected even by those who find it disgusting for its sheer ambition... and weirdness. Though heavy-handed and abrasive in its comedy, the show had no shortage of imagination. 4. Doug Nickelodeon Required viewing for anybody growing up with a double dose of anxiety, Doug has earned a very special place in the heart of most children of the '90s. The original Nicktoon was sweet, ethical, and effectively wacky while maintaining unmatched sincerity. Though a viable contender for the top tier of this list, Doug is given the No. 4 spot for not quite managing to escape the myopic, claustrophobic feeling that its superior brethren were able to dash to pieces. But still one of the greats.  3. Hey Arnold! In a way, Hey Arnold! was the precise complement to Doug. Whereas Arnold's Bluffingtonian predecessor struggled with the neuroses within him, the football-headed stoic played the sane man in a world of crazy. Cool, calm, and good-hearted, Arnold navigated a New York City filled with abject lunacy, charged with maintaining justice and order throughout each of his journeys. Colorful and funny, though always a bit melancholy, Hey Arnold! is Nickelodeon's answer to beat poetry. 2. The Angry Beavers Nickelodeon A dark horse No. 2, but truly the most clever and mature cartoon to air on Nickelodeon. Riddled with whip-smart dialogue and ahead-of-its-time pop culture parody, as well as unparalleled devotion to continuity as far as these series go, Angry Beavers is an overlooked gem among the more flashy or earthy Nicktoons. 1. Rocko's Modern Life Nickelodeon There are many programs on this list that rival Rocko's Modern Life in weirdness, that come close in mania, that top it in empathy, and that give it a run for its money in wit. So why, then, does it stand out in our minds as the very best work of art to come out of Nickelodeon's animated community to date? Why is some small-scale, scatterbrained show about a mild-mannered wallaby dealing with mundane qualms like laundry, food shopping, recycling, romance, and breaking his pal out of Heck the most piercingly lovable title that the network has to its name? We don't know what gives Rocko that wow factor, but we can guess. Which is your favorite Nicktoon?
  • Review: 'The Expendables 3' Is Oddly Enjoyable Between Bouts of Mindlessness
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 14, 2014
    Lionsgate via Everett Collection Even if you haven’t seen The Expendables or The Expendables 2, you’ll feel pretty confident in what sort of film you’ve signed on to watch by the end of the very first scene in Stallone and co’s latest on-in-years ensemble. Expendables 3 opens with an action sequence that lacks any visual coherence, falls short of its intended adrenaline, and hangs its sense of humor on a single meta joke about one cast member’s life outside the franchise. But then, almost instantly, you’ll be thrown for a loop. A very weird loop, in fact. The second scene in the movie — a segue between the first high-intensity set piece and the next — is a long (and I mean long) silent shot of a helicopter landing outside of what, if memory serves, is Sylvester Stallone’s character’s HQ. It might not sound like a particularly big deal, but it takes form as a jarring, almost laughable dagger to the movie’s would-be momentum. Lionsgate It’s the first of many instances of peculiarity so obtrusive it’s emotionally rewarding, and often (intentionally or otherwise… I really have no idea in most of these cases) quite funny. Between the running theme of characters staring motionlessly and wordlessly into the camera, a sullen montage documenting the empty lives of the Expendables when they’re not expendabling, and the bizarre reoccurrence of the word “s**tstorm,” you’ll discover a rare, inimitable identity in The Expendables 3: one that amounts to a better time than you might anticipate, and certainly more interesting one. Of course, there are plenty of missed marks throughout the film. As established from minute one, the action is flagrantly uncoordinated, and a lot of the scripted comedy — the hypermasculine chiding and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s callback lines — will provoke hearty groans. But sweeping past the excess of the prerequisite bro jokes and ‘80s movie quotes, we get to the real fun. We get to the odd, often uncomfortable (and delightfully so) hiccups in pacing. We get to Mel Gibson spouting Biblical passages and tirades against big government. Best of all, we get to Antonio Banderas, prancing around the wide shot like a romantic bandit. Off to the side of the top-heavy bulk, these elements make up the real victory of Expendables 3: the fun is in the weird. 3/5 Follow @Michael Arbeiter | Follow @Hollywood_com
  • 10 Famous Movie Directors Who Have Shot Episodes of 'The Office'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 14, 2014
    One of the rare gems we've seen hit the single-digit channels since the turn of the millennium, The Office, actually sported a ton of directors you've more than likely heard of. Some of them were already famous upon helming an episode or two of the NBC mockumentary, others were pinned at the starting line of what has proved to be a rocket-fueled race to stardom. Here are a few great film directors who, as you may or may not know, worked on The Office from time to time: AMY HECKERLING Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection Episodes Directed: "Hot Girl."But You Know Her for: The generation-defining Jane Austen adaptation Clueless, plus the Look Who's Talking movies and European Vacation. HAROLD RAMIS Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection Episodes Directed: "A Benihana Christmas," "Safety Training," "Beach Games," and "The Delivery - Part 2."But You Know Him for: Some of the most iconic comedies from the past 35 years — Caddyshack, National Lampoon's Vacation, and Groundhog Day among them. And as far as acting goes, we'll remember him always as Egon Spengler. JOSS WHEDON WENN/Nikki Nelson Episodes Directed: "Business School" and "Beach Wars."But You Know Him for: It's true that offbeat television work like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly is what got Whedon on the map, but he is now one of the most prominent voices in blockbuster cinema thanks to, if nothing else, The Avengers and the upcoming The Avengers: Age of Ultron. JON FAVREAU WENN Episodes Directed: "Moving On."But You Know Him for: Another member of the Marvel family, Favreau's biggest films are certainly Iron Man and Iron Man 2, though we celebrate his smaller fare: Made, Elf, and 2014's delightful Chef. MARC WEBB Fox Searchlight Pictures via Everett Collection Episodes Directed: "Manager and Salesman."But You Know Him for: Jumping over to the other side of the comic book game, we find Webb's Amazing Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man 2. But before partnering up with Peter Parker (or even joining forces with Michael Scott), Webb helmed the neo-rom com (500) Days of Summer. J.J. ABRAMS Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection Episodes Directed: "Cocktails."But You Know Him for: Whedon's only rival on this list in terms of blockbuster influence, Abrams is of course the man behind Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, as well as the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII. REGINALD HUDLIN Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection Episodes Directed: "Koi Pond."But You Know Him for: Though Hudlin has spent most of his time directing television in recent years, the dawn of his career gave us two early '90s cult favorites: the Kid 'n Play comedy House Party and Eddie Murphy's Boomerang. JASON REITMAN Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection Episodes Directed: "Local Ad" and "Frame Toby."But You Know Him for: That irreverent fast-paced serio-comedic style we saw in Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air, and (the best of the lot) Young Adult. He also did Labor Day, but we don't have to talk about that one. BRYAN CRANSTON WENN/Joseph Marzullo Episodes Directed: "Work Bus."But You Know Him for: Not directing, but acting. Cranston became a household name thanks to his starring role as Walter White on the unforgettable Breaking Bad. PAUL FEIG 20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection Episodes Directed: And we have a winner! Feig directed 14 episodes of The Office, including "Office Olympics," "Halloween," "Performance Review," "E-Mail Surveillance," "Survivor Man," "Dinner Party," "Goodbye, Toby," "Weight Loss," "The Surplus," "Moroccan Christmas," "New Boss," "Dream Team," "Niagara," "Goodbye, Michael."But You Know Him for: Bridesmaids, of course, plus The Heat... and the legion of exciting projects he has in the works, like a spy comedy, a gay rom com, and (potentially) an all-female Ghostbusters III. And although we're focusing on movie credits here, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention his greatest contribution to pop culture of all: Freaks and Geeks. Follow @Michael Arbeiter |Follow @julesemm | Follow @Hollywood_com
  • 12 Life Hacks from 'Arrested Development'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 13, 2014
    Life can be tough, whether you're dealing with a few "light treason" charges or getting used to your new hook hand. But no matter what your worries, there are little tricks you can use to make things run a little more smoothly. You can find some nifty tips most anywhere, but no family is more rich with life hacks than the Bluths. Yes, Arrested Development has plenty of lessons for dealing with your everyday qualms. Just check out a few below! 1) Have an embarrassing poster hanging up in your room? Worry not! Just cover it up with another, more socially acceptable piece of wall art! Sure, you can’t see the poster you really love, but at least you know it’s there! 2) Training for an exhausting physical competition and worried about your bodily functions! No reason to fret! Just pop a few Oxy-Incontinent pills and you’ll be fit as a fiddle for game day! 3) Constantly throwing parties to which nobody shows up? Forget about it! Just wrangle a few old dolls from the attic and have a pleasant — or invigoratingly contentious — group dinner! 4) Hoping to impress the apple of your eye but don’t have the time to get in shape? Don’t sweat it! Just stick a plush muscle suit beneath your knit polo shirts and you’ll convince everyone you’re truly buff! Netflix 5) It’s your kid’s birthday but you don’t have time to run to the toy store? Forget about it! A ball of foil will do in a pinch! Netflix 6) Have a big date tonight but don’t have anything planned? Put your fears to rest! A simple shopping cart race will impress anyone seeking a good time! Netflix 7) Attending a big business conference and afraid you’ll come off unimpressive? Come on! Just keep reminding everyone how expensive your new suit is! And don’t worry about being consistent with the price, just so long as it’s high! 8) No idea how to get your kids to stop fighting? You’re looking at this all wrong! People will pay big money for video recordings of ad hoc grappling matches! Netflix 9) Too many chores, too little time? Never you mind it! Just manipulate a needy, recently estranged family member or in-law into donning the role of a British nanny so he’ll be forced to do them all for you! 10) Has some pesky interloper stumbled upon a heap of financial felonies you may or may not (that’s for the jury to decide!) have commited? No biggie! Just knock him out at an elaborately staged bachelor party, make him believe he is guilty of murder, and you’re in the clear! Netflix 11) Can't afford lunch due to your criminal family's recent bankruptcy? No problem! Parmesan cheese and mustard makes for some satisfying cuisine! Netflix 12) For that matter, are you light on ingredients for a hearty dinner? Just grab a few old chicken bones or discarded meat chunks, throw ‘em in a pot with some broth and potato… baby, you’ve got a stew going... But you already knew that one.
  • Hollywood Legend Lauren Bacall Dead at 89
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 12, 2014 Staff/Syndicated by: Warner Bros. Lauren Bacall, an icon of Hollywood past and present, was reported dead at Tuesday evening (via TMZ), with a stroke being labeled the cause of her passing. At 89 years old, Bacall remained an active presence on the big screen; the actress had one project in development upon her death: debut director Tom Konkle's Trouble Is My Business. Although Bacall's recent slate has included triumphs like Lars von Trier's Dogtooth and Manderlay, as well as Jonathan Glazer's Birth, she will always be best known and most celebrated for her early endeavors. We look foremost to The Big Sleep, the noir thriller that pit Bacall against Humphrey Bogart, one of the few talents who could match her sheer cinematic power. Through the decades to follow, Bacall starred in noteworthy entries like How to Marry a Millionaire, Written on the Wind, and Murder on the Orient Express, and later The Mirror Has Two Faces. In every picture, Bacall proved herself a dynamite purveyor of thrills, drama, comedy, and romance. From the dawn of her career on through the recent years, Bacall was a venerated force in show business, and one without whom we'd never have some of the greatest pieces of film.
  • How Robin Williams and 'Good Will Hunting' Got Two Fools Through Their College Breakups
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 12, 2014
    Miramax via Everett Collection Between the two of us, my friend Jay and I had probably watched Good Will Hunting more than 50 times through. Like many, we had attached with sincerity to the story of a practically prepubescent Matt Damon, a genius of the Boston slums. As such, the familiar embrace of this particular movie seemed like a good choice when he showed up at my apartment — unanounced, as per usual — with the news that he and his girlfriend had just broken up. As we sat in my living room on what I remember to be a bizarrely humid afternoon for upstate New York's autumn, trying our best to invest in the rise and fall of the prodigious Will Hunting, we both experienced something new. We weren't watching the very same movie that we had time and time over; we weren't adhered with irreverent empathy to the misunderstood bad boy that we both so vapidly wanted to be (and oh, that hair). Instead, our attentions turned with unprecedented domination to his screen partner: not the cackling Ben Affleck, but Robin Williams. As Sean Maguire, Williams always seemed more like a background player, a vehicle for Will's transport through his troubles. That is until this unusually muggy Sunday when Sean's charms and strengths seemed to rear themselves in a new way altogether. We noticed, sharing our discovery tacitly, that in even the heaviest scenes, Williams was able to command a sharp, hearty laugh. Mere syllables uttered by the master of performance, portraying a man who embodied the idea of disgruntlement, sent Jay and I into delirious cackling fits. Williams was doing more with this role — the would-be square straight man part to the effortlessly cool Damon's young, debonair rebel — than we had ever understood. He was playing anger, judgment, and frustration in a very special way. A way that conveyed colossal pain and tremendous humor all at once. After so many views of Good Will Hunting, we had discovered anew just how funny it was. And from this was born our mission: we decided to dub over it. A project pioneered in the interest of emancipating Jay from concentration on his heartbreak, we leapt into intense study of the film — of Damon's swagger, of Ben Affleck's buffoonery, and most of all, of one Robin Williams' freshly realized exhilirating display of dry humor. Jay, whose timber was more conducive to the leading man position, played Will. I happily nabbed Affleck's Chuckie. We traded off the Stellan Skarsgaard and Cole Hauser roles, and left all of Casey Affleck's original dialogue in the finished product... for good measure. And I, the significantly faster speaker, was lucky enough to play the coveted role: Robin Williams. To everyone else our project seemed like a bout of idiocy. Occasionally, we submitted to this designation. But we weren't in this to waste our junior year, or even (as so many seemed to think) to mock or parody a movie that we had seen one too many times. No, we were in it because we saw something in Williams and his role that spoke to us at that time. In the dark hours that met with Sean Maguire, he — or maybe Williams — made us laugh. Hardly at the expense of empathy or sincerity; in fact, Williams/Maguire's ability to incite a chuckle in the very interest of some of the most emotionally substantial scenes in Gus Van Sant's film is what stirred and provoked us so. That's exactly what Jay needed at this time — to find laughter when flat drama was more readily available. And it's what I came to need, several months later — our project having fallen by the wayside, what with plenty of other understandable distractions getting in the way — when my own blossoming romance came to a crashing halt. "We've got to finish that movie," I decided then, thinking back on the carnal laughter incited by our scholarly expedition of Williams' every meticulous nuance. We did. We stayed up 'til 3 throughout the week, watching, laughing, revising, remodeling... we'd turn away chances to go out with our friends — you know, like normal people — to stay in Jay's room and work on this masterpiece. We fell hard and fast in love with our take on Good Will Hunting. On Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's clunky but charming script, Gus Van Sant's occasionally schmaltzy direction. And Robin Williams' profoundly empathetic and hilarious performance. By the time we were finished, our respective heartaches had won new perspective. Call it an effective distraction, or maybe it was just therapeutic. But I don't think quite anything would have worked so well to inspire the greatest creative exploit that the two of us would ever bring to life, nor would just anything help to foster us through lost love with such efficiency. There was just something about that messy, cathartic, ultimately special little movie, and the bearded man who stole the show. It had to be Good Will Hunting. It had to be Robin Williams. Follow @Michael Arbeiter | Follow @Hollywood_com
  • Which Is Robin Williams' Funniest Role?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 12, 2014
    Kevin Winter/Getty Images Upon hearing of Robin Williams' death, I witnessed many a friend attempt to choose his or her favorite of the actors' many terrific films... most of these attempts dissolved into chaotic indecision. So let's make it easier — while Williams' dramatic genius is well documented in pictures like Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society, his penchant for the dark and twisted well chronicled in Insomnia and One Hour Photo, we'll always have a very special place in our hearts for his comedy. As such, we limit our expedition to this realm: which is Robin Williams' funniest role? There are a few candidates that leap out as frontrunners — Mrs. Doubtfire, for one. It's hard to top a film in which a grown man, disguised as a husky Scottish nanny, tosses a piece of fruit at Pierce Brosnan. But we'd be remiss to discount some of Williams' other laugh riots: He's delightful in the courageous and sharp Good Morning, Vietnam. He's outrageously kooky in the oddball dark comedy The Fisher King. And without even showing his face, he's a tour de force in Disney's Aladdin. Peruse the complete list of Williams laughers below, and then chime in with your feelings. MRS. DOUBTFIREWilliams plays a newly separated father of three who dresses up like a kindly housekeeper in order to spend time with his estranged kids.Funniest moment: An unexpected run-in with the legal representative charged with determining his aptitude as a parent (and human being) forces Williams to dash from room to room, donning and shedding his Mrs. Doubtfire disguise, juggling accents and sticking his face in pies. GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM Williams plays a 'Nam-based disc jockey keeps his Army base lively with his irreverent radio show.Funniest moment: Any one of Williams' rapid fire on-air bits (much to the chagrin of the stuffed shirts in charge). THE FISHER KINGWilliams plays a delusional derelict who entertains Medieval fantasies years after the death of his wife.Funniest moment: Williams' forceful escort of new friend Jack (Jeff Bridges) across the street, completely unfazed by oncoming traffic. POPEYEWilliams plays a live action version of the animated sailor on a perplexing and listless quest through the neighborhood of Sweethaven.Funniest moment: Williams' genius is in his sardonic murmurs; after every ridiculous affirmation by one of the lively Sweethaven residents, Williams will mutter something nearly unintelligible and certainly hilarious under his breath. THE BIRDCAGE Williams plays a gay nightclub owner who is married to his star performer (Nathan Lane) and father to a notably ungrateful young buck (Dan Futterman) who brings his girlfriend and her conservative parents over for dinner... prompting Lane to dress up as a woman. We're noticing a trend.Funniest moment: In truth, Williams is the straight man in this picture, letting Lane take most of the broad, wild comedy. But he does have plenty of good deadpan one-liners to enjoy. PATCH ADAMSWilliams plays a doctor who holds dear to the maxim that laugher is the best medicine when he makes it his mission to lift the spirits of his ailing patients.Funniset moment: That old lady squeezing noodles can't be beat. ALADDINWilliams plays an all powerful Genie, tasked with the wishes (and friendship) of dopey street rat Aladdin when the latter discovers his magical lamp.Funniest moments: It's gotta be his entrance. Williams puts on a veritable stand-up routine when he meets "Al" for the first time in the dank caves below the desert. Which is your favorite? Cast your vote!