Author

Brendon McCullin
  • Fox Needs to Give 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' Its Own Night
    By: Brendon McCullin May 13, 2014
    FOX Broadcasting Co. Andy Samberg's ensemble cop comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine had quite the first year campaign, winning the Golden Globe for best comedy series. As a reward for the good work, Fox will move the show next season to Sunday nights, sandwiched between The Simpsons and Family Guy. For anyone wondering, Brooklyn will in fact still be a live action show next season, even if the Fox move might make you wonder if the programming executives realize that.   Tuesday Was Bad Enough Brooklyn Nine-Nine spent its freshman season already leading into two sitcoms that it didn't mesh with: New Girl and The Mindy Project (with Dads providing a weak lead-in). The fact that it survived is a testament to the show's strong writing and the outstanding performances of Samberg, Andre Braugher, Terry Crews, Joe Lo Truglio, and the rest of the cast. Fox's reasoning for moving the show is to put it in a grouping with other male oriented fare, since Samberg's core audience really isn't too much different from his Saturday Night Live predecessor Adam Sandler. On the surface, the reasoning makes some sense, but is the audience for Brooklyn really the same as those of either The Simpsons (at this point in the show's run anyway) or Family Guy? Samberg's show is closer in tone to some of the workplace ensemble comedies of the '70s… a descendant of programs like Barney Miller and Taxi by way of The Office. Even when it veers into broad comedy, there's a certain level of sophistication in the way that Brooklyn approaches its funny business. A Scheduling Problem (and Solution) Unfortunately, Fox boxed itself into a corner with its schedule, given the number of hour-long shows the network has on its grid. In a roundabout way, they tried to partner Brooklyn with freshman sitcom Mulaney, which also comes from the Lorne Michaels tree. It follows former SNL writer John Mulaney as an aspiring stand-up comedian working for Martin Short. Mulaney is set to follow Family Guy on Sunday nights. That show faces much the same problem as Brooklyn… how much of an audience does it share with Seth MacFarlane's long-running series? Family Guy, though, is still a proven ratings winner so Fox isn't going to move it… meaning that Brooklyn and Mulaney are stuck on either side of it. Both shows would've been better served being paired together on Wednesday night in the 8 - 9 PM time slot. While Survivor continues to pull decent ratings for CBS there, neither ABC's offering of The Middle and The Goldbergs nor NBC's new series The Mysteries of Laura would have been impossible to overcome. With a Golden Globe in its back pocket, you would think that Fox would have confidence in letting Brooklyn lead off a night of its own.   While bouncing a show around a network's schedule is a time-honored way of killing it, Fox should consider making another move with Brooklyn Nine-Nine the next time that it's making scheduling adjustments when a couple of its new show inevitably fail and build a block of programming around Samberg and his merry band of cops… instead of trying to squeeze them into the schedule wherever they can. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @LifeAsSitcom //
  • Blockbusters of the '70s vs. Blockbusters Now: Which Are Better?
    By: Brendon McCullin May 13, 2014
    Universal Pictures via Everett Collection/Walt Disney Studios via Everett Collection As Memorial Day approaches, American moviegoers prepare for an onslaught of summer blockbusters. Whether it's the latest edition of a franchise like  X-Men: Days of Future Past or the possible beginning of one like Guardians of the Galaxy, everyone has gotten used to big, expensive films hitting the multiplex when the weather gets warm. Of course, it wasn't always that way. The mid '70s work of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas helped usher in the current model that studios use in setting their summer releases. While the work of the two directors is iconic, what's followed hasn't always lived up to the term "blockbuster." Our writers argue whether things were better in the days when Lucas and Spielberg ruled the roost or if we're in a new golden age of big budget extravaganzas. The Spectacular Spielberg (Jon Lisi) Let’s just assume for a second that Jaws  was never released in the summer of 1975. Cynics might claim that the brilliant New Hollywood films of the 1970s like Five Easy Pieces, Nashville, and The Conversation  would continue to be made as a result, but we all know that this so-called “American New Wave” was on the inevitable decline. Instead, we’d have to imagine a cinema in which the first major summer blockbuster from Hollywood was not Spielberg’s terrifying monster movie. Is it possible to picture the summer blockbuster without Jaws? I don’t think so. For better or worse, Jaws  is the gold standard to which all future summer blockbusters have been judged. The question that is asked as a result, then, is whether or not contemporary summer blockbusters like Transformers, Iron Man, The Avengers  and other superhero amalgamations compare in quality to past summer blockbusters like Jaws, E.T., Back to the Future, and Ghostbusters? If we are to answer this question honestly, we need to remove any consideration of money. After all, plenty of movies do well at the box office, and the massive success of the Twilight franchise shows how few of them are actually good. Instead, we need to focus on what the first summer blockbusters like Jaws  and Star Wars  had that contemporary ones like Transformers and Iron Man lack. The most significance difference, I think, is that a summer blockbuster like Jaws isn’t about a shark, whereas a summer blockbuster like Transformers  is about alien robots. That is, Jaws  uses a series of shark attacks to investigate small-town mentality in an entertaining way. You can certainly sit back and enjoy the film literally — as a monster movie — but Spielberg wants you to think about what the shark reveals about American community and the ways individuals work together to solve a common problem. Transformers, by contrast, doesn’t offer anything interesting beyond the initial spectacle. The digital effects may lure you into the theater, but after the stuff blows up, you aren’t left with anything to ponder. This may not matter to prepubescent boys, but for those interested in mainstream fare that is also intelligent, the contemporary summer blockbuster doesn’t suffice. I’m aware that there are exceptions. For instance, the films by Christopher Nolan merge commerce and art quite successfully, as do most Pixar films. However, these are anomalies, and for the most part, contemporary summer blockbusters have failed to live up to the standard Jaws set nearly 40 years ago.  A Marvel-ous New Era (Brendon McCullin) The passage of time tends to lend a glow to the early blockbusters of Spielberg and Lucas. In reality, Spielberg went the Hitchcock route with Jaws because he was forced to by external conditions. And we can argue how much the performances by Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw had to do with his directing. Lucas, for his part, might have been great at story concepts but he always had a tin ear when it came to dialogue (leading to the famous Harrison Ford rant, "You can type this s**t, but you sure as hell can't say it"). That's not to denigrate what Spielberg and Lucas did — they each authored cultural phenomena that altered American filmmaking and the movie industry as a whole — but let's not go too crazy. Some of their contemporaries, particularly screenwriters like John Milius and Robert Towne, may have liked them personally, but didn't always love how they handled their craft. The fact is there has always been and will always be a place in Hollywood for big, crowd-pleasing popcorn movies… and there have always been good and bad ones. Just because Jaws was better than The Towering Inferno and Star Wars was better than Airport '77 doesn’t necessarily kick into the same strata of cinematic history as The Godfather. If we were having this argument 15 to 20 years ago, I would be completely on board. Back when Michael Bay was unleashing a steady stream of trash like Armageddon and The Rock on audiences and what amounted to good storytelling was Will Smith making wisecracks while fighting aliens in Independence Day… well, yes, that was a low point for summer blockbusters. Heck, that was a low point for film in general. Since then, however, a new group of filmmakers who value story as much as visual pyrotechnics have taken the lead on some of the biggest tent-pole movies in recent years. Some of them, such as Joss Whedon (The Avengers) and J.J. Abrams (Star Trek) come from the writer dominated domain of television. Others, like Jon Favreau (Iron Man) and Kenneth Branagh (Thor) are themselves actors and work to make their stars look good. Combine that group with the aforementioned Nolan (The Dark Knight) and the Pixar team under John Lasseter and really, you would be hard pressed to find another period that matched the number of talented, conscientious, and literate filmmakers that are willing to helm blockbusters. The nice thing is that many of these directors — particularly Whedon and Abrams — clearly gained some of their sensibilities as youngsters watching the films of Lucas and Spielberg. You're never going to get rid of people like Bay and movies like his Transformers franchise, but blockbusters are in as good of hands now as they've ever been.
  • How Would We View These Classic Movie Scenes Now?
    By: Brendon McCullin May 13, 2014
    Warner Bros Everett Collection Just how different are modern cinema and that of the '70s and '80s? Are there great movie scenes that wouldn't get made today because the audience wouldn't tolerate them? Conversely, are there scenes that were shocking back in the day that wouldn't cause anyone to think twice now? It's a given that audiences' tastes change over time… the same as social norms do in America. Oddly, though, where audiences sometimes become more relaxed about what they will accept — for instance, with profanity, since George Carlin's "7 Dirty Words" has been reduced to two — they sometimes become more conservative about other things. Below is our look at a group of scenes from movies that probably wouldn't make it on screen for a studio release now, and some others that were shocking when they were released that wouldn't cause anyone to lift an eyebrow today. Oh No, They Didn't! The Last Temptation of Christ / Life of Brian Martin Scorsese's adaption of Nikos Kazantzakis' 1953 novel, with the scene of Jesus dreaming of a sexual encounter with Mary Magdalene, was controversial in 1988 and caused an outcry from various Christian groups. In today's media environment, and with the advent of social media, that controversy would be 1,000-fold and wouldn't go away easily. Even Scorsese wouldn't be able to get that into a film now… we'll accept the debauchery and debasement of his The Wolf of Wall Street but depicting Christ as having sexual urges wouldn't fly. In the same vein, imagine trying to convince a studio to okay Monty Python's famous "Always Look on the Bright Side" finale to Brian with the singing crucifixion victims. It met with criticism when it was released in 1979, but it would cause Bill O'Reilly's head to explode now. Blazing Saddles  Quentin Tarantino gets heat from all sides for his use of the N-word in his stylized action-violence fantasies like Django Unchained and Pulp Fiction… which represent a far different aura than a studio comedy would. Many white audiences would shift uncomfortably in their seats now at Mel Brooks' comedic use of the word during the scene where Cleavon Little's Sheriff Bart first arrives at Rock Ridge. (As well as the various other ethnic jokes throughout the film; Brooks' was an equal opportunity offender.)  Airplane! / Heathers On a similar token, as funny as Airplane! remains in our memories, in the wake of 9-11 many audiences would be squeamish about laughing at a plane crashing through a terminal, just as the reveal of Christian Slater's plot to blow up the school in Heathers would play much differently now. What's the Big Deal? The Exorcist / Rosemary's Baby /The Blair Witch Project Horror movies have to really work hard now if they want to be controversial. William Friedkin's The Exorcist is still plenty scary 40 years later and the scene where Linda Blair's Regan finds an inappropriate use for a crucifix would still get attention… but it would be minor and chalked up to the now standard shock tactics employed by the genre. Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby is so non-threatening at this point that it's being done as a network TV series. Similarly, Blair Witch's up-the-nose shots would be seen as cute after the rise of films like Paranormal Activity that, in fairness, it helped spawn. Lolita / The Last Tango in Paris When Reese Witherspoon had sex with her teacher in Election, it barely registered as being inappropriate. Vladimir Nabokov's book and the subsequent 1962 Kubrick film were hugely controversial (pick any scene of James Mason and Peter Sellers leering at Sue Lyon). When the film was remade in 1997 with Jeremy Irons playing the tortured Humbert Humbert, obsessed with a young girl, audiences could've cared less. When Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango was released in 1972 with Marlon Brando as a widower in an illicit affair with a young French woman it earned an X-rating for its sexual content, particularly for a scene involving butter being used for something far removed from toast. When Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty came out in 1996 with Liv Tyler as an American teenager experiencing a sexual awakening amongst a group of artists in Italy, most people's reaction was, "Hey, is that Steven Tyler's daughter?" Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @LifeAsSitcom //
  • The Most Inspirational Songs In Movies
    By: Brendon McCullin May 12, 2014
    Universal Pictures There are certain songs that transport you back to movie scenes as soon as you hear them. Sometimes that makes you feel warm inside, sometimes it inspires you, and other times it gives you the willies. We're taking a look at the songs that we can't help but associate with the big screen, toucing on the best love songs in films and the creepiest uses of pop songs in movies. Here, though, we take a look at the songs in movie scenes that pumped us up and made us ready to face anything the world might throw at us. "Change" in Vision Quest Matthew Modine's wrestler scales a peg board while John Waite's hit drives him on. It got our heart pumping in 1985 and some things ain't ever going to change.   "Eye of the Tiger" in Rocky III Bill Conti's "Gonna Fly Now" was still used for the training montage in the third Rocky film, but Survivor's chart-topping smash does a nice job of getting things going as Sylvester Stallone pummels some opponents while  Mr. T looks on angrily. "That Thing You Do" in That Thing You Do If you've ever wondered what it would be like to hear your song played on the radio for the first time, we're guessing that it would be pretty close to the way that The Wonders react in Tom Hanks' directorial debut. By the middle chorus, you want to jump around with Liv Tyler and Steve Zahn, too. "Twist and Shout" in Ferris Bueller's Day Off Okay, so it's a little bit odd that Matthew Broderick's Ferris knows all the words to Wayne Newton's "Danke Schoen," but let's not nitpick. There isn't anyone that wouldn't love to jump on a float and lead all of downtown Chicago in an impromptu musical number set to The Beatles. "Don't You Forget About Me" in The Breakfast Club "Does that answer your question? Sincerely, The Breakfast Club." We're all the same deep down was the message of the movie and Simple Minds made it unforgettable. You throw that fist up, Judd Nelson! Throw it up high! "Tiny Dancer" in Almost Famous We've all been there… you're sick of your life and your friends and everything else. Then the perfect song comes on the radio and things melt away. Cameron Crowe managed to meld Kate Hudson and Elton John into the perfect antidote for the tedium of a tour bus. "Footloose" in Footloose "Let's dance!" Kevin Bacon screams just before Kenny Loggins' hit starts the joyful teen toes tapping in the '80s megahit. We're still not sure how all of them know how to breakdance since it was banned just before that, but we still dance along with Chris Penn's rhythmically challenged Willard anyway. "You're the Best Around" in The Karate Kid How can Ralph Macchio's Daniel possibly beat the Cobra Kai? With the love of Elisabeth Shue and the help of Joe Esposito's rousing pop ditty, of course. Not even the great William Zabka is a match for that.    "Danger Zone" in Top Gun Loggins was the master of the soundtrack in the '80s when seemingly every movie had to have a hit song attached to it. No matter what you think of the jingoistic message of the Tom Cruise classic, it's hard not to get a little bit pumped up as he flies off into the danger zone. "Maniac" in Flashdance Sure, we all know that Jennifer Beals had a butt-double for the famous running in place dance warm-up set to the Michael Sembello song, but the combination of music and action made it a butt worth striving for. Years later, it still makes you want to run out and take a spin class. "My Sharona" in Reality Bites Janeane Garofalo's bangs are still just as unfortunate now as they were in 1994, but we still want to dance when she leads Winona Ryder and Steve Zahn into the impromptu convenience store dance party upon hearing The Knack classic on the radio. "I Got a Name" in Django Unchained Only Quentin Tarantino would think to stick Jim Croce's 1973 hit in a movie set in the 1800s, but as Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz ride off to fight injustice, we all know that the former slave has a name and that name is Django. "Let It Go" in Frozen If there's a more rousing ode to girl power than Idina Menzel's instant classic from the Disney smash, we haven't heard it. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @LifeAsSitcom //
  • The Creepiest Songs in Movies
    By: Brendon McCullin May 12, 2014
    Lionsgate via Everett Collection There are certain songs that transport you back to movie scenes as soon as you hear them. Sometimes that makes you feel warm inside, sometimes it inspires you, and other times it gives you the willies. We're taking a look at the songs that we can't help but associate with the big screen, toucing on the best love songs in films and the most inspirational songs in movies. Here, though, we take a look at the pop songs that suddenly became creepy once these movies got ahold of them. "Hip To Be Square" in American Psycho Who knew that ax-wielding psychopaths dig Huey Lewis and the News (as well as Phil Collins)? At least Christian Bale took the time to make sure not to mess up his killer designer suit. "Stuck in the Middle with You" in Reservoir Dogs From Steven Wright's deadpan introduction on the radio to Michael Madsen's dancing to Stealers Wheel's lone hit, everything is unsettling in Quentin Tarrantino's ear-splitting scene.  "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" in Insidious If you're old enough to remember him, than you already know that Tiny Tim was plenty scary on his own. Adding some nightmare-inducing marionettes to his ukulele strumming is just not fair. "Hurdy Gurdy Man" in Zodiac Donovan was just singing about a guy playing an odd musical instrument… we're pretty sure that he wasn't looking to provide a theme song for a serial killer. David Fincher used it to such effect in his film that others followed, turning it into the go-to '60s track for creeping everyone out.  "Jessie's Girl" and "Sister Christian" in Boogie Nights It's not a horror movie, or even a thriller, but when Alfred Molina starts smoking crack in his underwear to his mix-tape of Rick Springfield and Night Ranger it certainly is enough to weird anyone out. We jumped right along with Mark Wahlberg and John C. Reilly every time a firecracker went off. "In Dreams" in Blue Velvet The granddaddy of them all. David Lynch's movie is disturbing on any number of levels, but the scene of Dennis Hopper's sexual deviant beating the snot out of Kyle MacLachlan while Roy Orbison's voice pipes out of a car radio has been the basis for too many night terrors to count. "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" in Pulp Fiction The first time that you see it there isn't anything wrong with Uma Thurman dancing around to the Urge Overkill remake of a Neil Diamond song while John Travolta gives himself a bathroom pep talk. It's on the repeat viewings when you know what's going to happen afterwards that it makes you a little uneasy (especially if you're afraid of needles). "I've Got You, Babe" in Groundhog Day and "We've Only Just Begun" in 1408 The Carpenters and Sonny and Cher are about as innocent as you can possibly get when it comes to pop music… and the two films are not anything alike. With that said, if we are ever in a hotel and the stupid clock radio starts repeatedly playing a song on its own, we're checking out right then and there. And, if the song is John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High," the tipoff to impending death in the Final Destination movies, we're running as fast as we can.    Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @LifeAsSitcom //
  • The Greatest Love Songs in Movies
    By: Brendon McCullin May 12, 2014
    20th Century Fox via Everett Collection There are certain songs that transport you back to movie scenes as soon as you hear them. Sometimes that makes you feel warm inside, sometimes it inspires you, and other times it gives you the willies. We're taking a look at the songs that we can't help but associate with the big screen, toucing on the greatest inspirational songs in films and the creepiest uses of pop songs in movies. Here, though, we take a look at the songs in movie scenes that touched our romantic hearts. "Unchained Melody" in Ghost   "Oh, my love... My darling… I've hungered for your touch..." The song was a hit for The Righteous Brothers long before the movie was made, but ever since that opening line and Bobby Hatfield's falsetto can only mean one thing… Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze and a pottery wheel. "Must've Been Love" in Pretty Woman Roxette's hit from the Julia Roberts film still calls to mind a tangle of red curls looking hopefully out of the back window of a limousine and a sadly dapper Richard Gere looking forlornly from his balcony. "You Make My Dreams" in (500) Days of Summer It wasn't the first time that Hall & Oates song was used in a movie, but just try playing it now without thinking about Joseph Gordon-Levitt happily dancing down the street after his hook-up with Zooey Deschanel. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" in The Lion King Yes, it's a Disney movie, but it's also Elton John. The song is so linked to the image of lions falling in love that Sir Elton frequently plays the animated clip on screen when he sings it in concert. "Falling Slowly" in Once Even if it hadn't subsequently become the centerpiece of the Tony-winning Broadway musical version, the duet by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová in John Carney's movie would still be just as sweet. "Iris" in City of Angels The movie about Nicolas Cage's angel who falls in love with Meg Ryan's mortal would probably have faded from memory entirely if not for John Rzeznik's plaintive voice on The Goo Goo Dolls hit. "When You Say Nothing at All" in Notting Hill Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts climb over a fence to wander in an English garden. As they share a moment, Ronan Keating's version of the country song plays and suddenly they're the only two people in the world. "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" in Dirty Dancing When Jennifer Warren sang with Joe Cocker for An Officer and a Gentleman, only the instrumental version of their "Up Where We Belong" played over the climactic scene (similar to Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic). In Dirty Dancing, however, Warren's duet with Bill Medley is front and center as Swayze pulls Jennifer Grey's Baby out of the corner. "I Will Always Love You" in The Bodyguard Regardless of what you think of her acting, Whitney Houston could sing. We're not sure that we would stop a plane to go kiss Kevin Costner, but we'll watch it all day if we can hear the song and Houston's amazing voice again. "In Your Eyes" in Say Anything… According to both parties, John Cusack lobbied director Cameron Crowe to have a Fishbone song playing as his lovesick Lloyd Dobler held his boombox aloft to get Ione Skye's attention. Thankfully, Crowe opted to keep the Peter Gabriel classic. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @LifeAsSitcom //
  • Is 'Mad Men' the Best '60s-Based Series Ever?
    By: Brendon McCullin May 10, 2014
    AMC Ever since Mad Men debuted on AMC in 2007, the 1960s has been as integral a part of the show as John Hamm's shadowy and conflicted Don Draper. Both because the characters react to what would've been happening in the real world at the time as well as the embrace of the style and swagger of the early '60s — when cocktail hour was as important to business as having a good steno pool. These elements have helped to define the series' look and feel. Mad Men does perhaps as good a job as any show ever in recreating a very specific period in American history, delving into storylines that don’t try to shy away from the social norms of New York during that time, which would include a lot of smoking and drinking to go along with institutional sexism and racism. The show also impeccably recreates the '60s fashion trends, lending an air of authenticity to what we're watching. (The writers occasionally slip with business phrases that are more '80s than '60s, but why quibble?)  Because it was such a defining decade in the history of the country, the '60s have been used as a backdrop for any number of series over the years. The Playboy Club and Pan Am both tried unsuccessfully to match the feel of Mad Men, and both suffered in comparison lasting for just a season each. So, what other shows besides Mad Men have done a good job of capturing the era of Vietnam, Kennedy, and the Beatles? China Beach The drama set at a Vietnam military medical way-station earned a Best Drama Golden Globe and Emmys for acting for Dana Delany and Marg Helgenberger. While another series at roughly the same time — Tour of Duty — was covering the combat aspect of the Vietnam War, China Beach excelled at showing the human side of the war, as characters mourned those that were lost and reacted to news that they received from back in the States. The show attempted to comment on how the war affected more than just the people fighting it, and even occasionally showed real interviews with people who had been at the real China Beach. The Wonder Years There might have been no greater change during the '60s than the dynamic within suburban families, and The Wonder Years showcased that. While at heart it was just a family sitcom with panache for melodrama, it did a wonderful job of both showing the frustration of the parents over the changing times and the confusion mixed with optimism of the children. Fred Savage's Kevin dealt with normal early teen issues, but one of his friends (Danica McKellar's Winnie) had a brother who was killed in Vietnam, and his sister (Olivia d'Abo) was more interested in protesting the war than in listening to their parents. The show moved into the '70s as it went along, but the first couple of seasons showed a slice of '60s suburbia that no one else has quite captured before or since. Laverne and Shirley/Happy Days Both sitcoms began in the late '50s before migrating into the '60s (Happy Days by the sixth season and Laverne and Shirley by its third… although, really, each frequently had trouble deciding which decade they were in at any given time). Garry Marshall's pair of sitcoms never pretended to be an actual historical representation of the times that they were set in, but both managed to capture the vibe that American Graffiti  —set in 1962 — had previously… namely in the optimism of young adults at the beginning of Kennedy's America. Neither show was trying to do much more than make people laugh, but thanks to the music that was employed throughout the runs of both shows they each managed to do it just the same. Of course, if you want us to try and explain why Scott Baio's Chachi had a very '70s blown-dried and feathered haircut for much of Happy Days' '60s years… well, you've got us there. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @LifeAsSitcom //
  • The Ultimate Inspirational Movie Speech
    By: Brendon McCullin May 09, 2014
    Buena Vista Pictures via Everett Collection It's that time of year again when young men and women sit in cap and gown waiting for the speeches to be over so that they can get their diploma and move on with their lives. Everyone at some point in time has sat and listened to a speaker try to impart words of wisdom on high school or college graduates — many celebrities have taken a turn delivering such an address — and movies have frequently used a commencement speech as a plot device. There is a lot more life lessons to be gained from high school and college movies, however, than just when a character stands up at a podium and speaks to the gathered masses. What if you could build an inspirational speech from those movies to serve as a killer send off to graduates? Let's give it a shot. You Don't Have to Know Everything Now Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack), the hero of Say Anything…, took a unique tact in trying to figure out what to do with his life. Instead of focusing on what he wanted to do, he first eliminated all of the things that he didn't want to do.  There's nothing wrong with that. Not everyone comes up with a workable life plan in high school or college… some people need more time to find their niche. That's perfectly fine, just as long as you're out of your parents' basement by 28. Take a Stand Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) delivered a whole bunch of lessons to Daniel-san (Ralph Macchio) in The Karate Kid… but "Wax on, Wax off" doesn’t translate that well to a speech. So, we're going with his example of what happens when someone tries to go at things half-heartedly. As Miyagi so eloquently put it, "Squashed like grape." Don't Make Excuses Jaime Escalante, the teacher portrayed by Edward James Olmos in Stand and Deliver, was a real-life inspirational figure, devoting his entire life to teaching impoverished youths. When Escalante first meets his class in the movie, he tells them that he doesn't want to hear excuses because their future bosses aren't going to want to hear them. True that. Seize the Day Robin Williams's professor in Dead Poets Society was basically a walking speech. Hell he was a bona fide encyclopedia of lessons. But when he reminds his young charges that the pictures on the wall were once in the same position with their entire lives in front of them, audiences everywhere heard what they were whispering. Carpe diem indeed. Don't Let the Moment Be Too Big When the Hickory High basketball team arrives for the state finals in Hoosiers, Gene Hackman gives a demonstration to show that the court in the bigger building isn't really any larger than the one in their home gym… that just because it seems bigger doesn't mean that it is. Keeping things in perspective is always a good idea. We Really Are All the Same When Anna Kendrick cries at the end of a viewing of The Breakfast Club in Pitch Perfect it's a seminal moment for her character and we understand why. The realization that we are all a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal is still mighty darn powerful. Always Remember to Have Passion We'll let Williams' John Keating have the last word, especially since he really did do a lot of speechifying during Dead Poets Society. Life without passion is an empty vessel. Whether or not you believe, like Keating, that poetry is a necessary part of that passion is irrelevant. Having passion about something is what makes life worth living. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @LifeAsSitcom //
  • Building the Perfect High School/College Movie Party Scene
    By: Brendon McCullin May 09, 2014
    Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection Every spring, people graduating from high school or college celebrate the occasion by having a nice dinner with family and friends as they look towards the future. And, then after that, they go have a party. Strike that — they have a PARTAAAY! WHOO! The high school/college party is a such mainstay in films about the age group that we've seen it done just about every way that you can imagine. There are some lessons that we've learned, however, on what all future movie characters should know about making the most of the party… which we will gladly share. Everyone Is Going to Arrive at the Same Time At real parties, people trickle in sometime after the designated start time. Not so in a movie party. On the big screen, everyone arrives all at the same time, as illustrated most effectively in 10 Things I Hate About You. Since chances are that the guests aren't going to be overly considerate of the house, you might want to hide the fine china before the mob gets there. It's Good to Have Someone Keep His/Her Senses When the party gets going, it's easy to lose sight of things. Just like Anna Kendrick's Beca in Pitch Perfect, it's nice to have someone remind the partiers to "make good choices." Dance the Night Away What's a party without music, right? If possible, try to invite some people that can really dance... like, say, Kid 'n' Play and their House Party crew. Just don't let anyone get hurt trying any of their moves. If You're Hiring a Band, Though, Make Sure They're Good Bad live entertainment can kill a party pretty quickly (see: Pitch Perfect), so it's important to bring in the right people. Animal House's Otis Day and the Knights showed the proper way to synch the band with the party. Don’t Forget to Invite the Geeks Whether it's Anthony Michael Hall in Sixteen Candles, Robert Carradine in Revenge of the Nerds, Christopher Mintz-Plasse in Superbad or Charlie Corsmo in Can't Hardly Wait, movies have proved over and over that the geek shall inherit the party.   If Someone Wants You to Play a Game, the Reward Probably Isn't Worth It Personally, we learned this the hard way, but whether it's beer pong or quarters, the reward for any party games is probably going to be tempered by bad after effects. Or, as Skylar Astin found out in 21 and Over, the reward might only be a dude in his underwear. If You Do Over-Indulge, Try to Find Someone Sober to Help Don't do what Caroline did in Sixteen Candles and ask for assistance from some inebriated friends. The cost to get your hair fixed will be considerable. When You See Your Chance, Take It Not even Cher in Clueless could make people hook up at a party, but if the perfect opportunity to express your true feelings to a crush presents itself don't be afraid to take decisive action like Emile Hirsch in The Girl Next Door. Have a Plan If the Cops Show Up The traditional way to handle it is to run… and if the cops are like the ones played by Seth Rogen and Bill Hader in Superbad, they'll just tell you to do that. (Watch the NSFW clip here.) Of course, if your name is McLovin' you can just relax. Don't Invite Prostitutes Unless your name is Tom Cruise. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @LifeAsSitcom //
  • The Lost Year of 'Saturday Night Live': 1984
    By: Brendon McCullin May 07, 2014
    NBC Universal Media/Getty Images Over the almost 50 years of Saturday Night Live, there have been plenty of seasons that were good (more than most casual observers would like to admit) and bad (some spectacularly so). There was, though, only one 1984: quite possibly the strangest season in the history of the show. With Eddie Murphy completely gone to pursue his superstar movie career and the second most recognizable cast member, Joe Piscopo, having worn out his welcome after the 1983 - '84 season, executive producer Dick Ebersol was left without a star. The remaining cast members, including a young Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jim Belushi, had never quite fit in with the show and were largely dissatisfied with the way that they had been treated. Many people figured that Murphy leaving would finally signal the death knell for SNL. Righting a Wrong Instead of trying to develop another young talent like Murphy, Ebersol turned to more established comedians, including one who had almost been part of the original SNL cast. By 1984, Billy Crystal was already a well known entertainer after his stint on the sitcom Soap and his numerous talk show appearances where he imitated celebrities like boxer Mohammed Ali, but in 1974 Crystal had been cut from the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players on the eve of the show's debut. Why that happened depends largely on who tells the story, but whatever the case, when Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, and Dan Aykroyd rocketed to fame, Crystal wasn’t with them. Nor was he offered the spot that went to Bill Murray when Chase left after the first season. Ten years later, Crystal was finally being given the chance to right what he considered a wrong. The Rest of the Gang Along with Crystal, Ebersol brought in Martin Short, who had already been a cast member of Canada's SCTV (which launched the careers of John Candy, Rick Moranis, and Catherine O'Hara), as well as Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer, fresh off their success in This Is Spinal Tap. Rich Hall, who had been part of an ensemble HBO comedy show called Not Necessarily the News, and Pamela Stephenson, who had been on the British precursor (Not the Nine O'clock News) of Hall's HBO show rounded out the new cast members. It was an odd turn of events considering that Crystal hosted SNL twice the season before he joined the cast, while Guest and Shearer had made a guest appearance as part of Spinal Tap. The Season Crystal, Short, and Guest wasted little time putting their stamp on the creative vacuum that they walked into. Ebersol was by all accounts a very good network executive, but he was not a comedian and didn’t come from a creative background. By the season opener, Crystal was already doing his Fernando Lamas impression ("You look mah-velous!") and Short had brought his Ed Grimley character with him from SCTV. By the third show, Crystal and Guest had worked up a breakout routine with their characters Willie and Frankie, who would continuously one-up each other with pain-inducing practices ("I hate it when that happens"). The show never missed a chance to exploit the new popular sketches — a hallmark of the Ebersol era — with Crystal doing his Fernando so frequently that the character almost deserved a separate credit in the opening theme. More than any season before or since, the show relied on pre-taped segments, with Guest, Shearer, and Short preferring to work that way. While it went against the grain of SNL, some of the short films, particularly Shearer and Short playing aspiring male synchronized swimmers and Guest and Crystal portraying aged Negro League baseball stars were as good as anything that the show had produced. The Oddness Perhaps the best remembered episode of the season is the one hosted by wrestler Hulk Hogan and Mr. T to promote the first Wrestlemania. In the most famous segment, the pair appears with Crystal on his "Fernando Hideaway" sketch and can't keep a straight face. While Murphy returned to host and the Beatles' Ringo Starr took a turn, the other hosts included figures like Jesse Jackson, Howard Cosell, and Bob Uecker. The first show of the season didn't even have a host. Additionally, there was little continuity with the show's fake news segment — called "Saturday Night News" instead of "Weekend Update" — with the show's host sometimes doing the anchoring and real newscaster Edwin Newman sitting in once before Guest finally took over midway through the season. In stark contrast to the hosts, the seasons musical guests were a who's who of mid-80s pop, with acts like The Thompson Twins, Billy Ocean, Bryan Adams, and super-groups The Honey Drippers (featuring Robert Plant), and Power Station (featuring Robert Palmer) all making appearances. The Aftermath When an industry-wide writers' strike halted production in early March 1985, the show didn’t return from the forced hiatus. The abbreviated season ended after just 17 episodes. NBC was unhappy with spiraling production costs and Ebersol was unhappy with his creative staff. Shearer had quit the show in January citing creative differences ("I was creative and they were different," he said later). Short and Guest didn't want to keep doing a live show. Louis-Dreyfus and Belushi (along with fellow holdover Mary Gross) had been used so little throughout the season that they wanted out. Crystal, enjoying the biggest success of his career, was seemingly the only one who wanted it to continue. Ebersol demanded a retooling, wanting to change the format to a completely taped show and with possibly a fixed rotation of guest hosts (his ideas for the rotation included Piscopo and David Letterman). Instead, NBC briefly canceled the show. After rethinking things, the network's executives decided that they would agree to give SNL another chance… if its original creator, Lorne Michaels, would take back over. Then and Now Eventually, Michaels agreed to return to the show and retained none of the cast or writers from the previous season. Taking a page from Ebersol's book, Michaels tried to use established actors like Randy Quaid and Anthony Michael Hall (along with Robert Downey Jr. and Joan Cusack) to re-launch the show… which very nearly did lead to the show being canceled permanently. It wasn't until the following season when Michaels entrusted SNL to virtual unknowns like Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Victoria Jackson, Jon Lovitz, Jan Hooks, and Dennis Miller that the show started the run that finally established it as the institution it has become. The goodwill that the show had gained from Crystal, Short and Guest's lone season helped carry it through Michaels' disastrous first season back. Thirty years later, the 1984 - '85 season remains an oddly alluring anomaly in the long comedic history of SNL.