(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Over the course of his decades in show business, Denzel Washington has done pretty much everything — he’s played cops (good and bad), lawyers, reporters, educators, doctors, mobsters, and more, earning multiple Academy Awards and more than a billion dollars in box office grosses along the way. Of course, it’s fairly difficult to do all that without piling up a pretty hefty stack of positive reviews, and Mr. Washington’s filmography has definitely drawn its share, from Oscar winners like Glory, Training Day, and Philadelphia to his collaborations with director Spike Lee, like Malcolm X, He Got Game, and Inside Man. With all of that in mind, we’re here to celebrate by taking a comprehensive look at his career, including the best Denzel Washington movies and the worst. Perfection! Let’s go to work.
(Photo by Touchstone Pictures, Fox, and Marvel Studios)
“Know Your Critic” is a column in which we interview Tomatometer-approved critics about their screening and reviewing habits, pet peeves, and personal favorites.
In just the few years since she founded her multimedia platform Pay or Wait, Sharronda Williams has become a go-to source for her audiences. She’s interviewed major creatives from directors like Spike Lee to actors such as Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer. Her expertise and sharp wit shine brightest in her video reviews on YouTube, in which Williams always offers both nuance and a sense of humor.
“For me, it’s very intentional that people see me, that I’m funny at times,” Williams said in an interview with Rotten Tomatoes. “I try to make people feel like they’re talking to themselves, I never want to make people feel as though, ‘I’m not smart enough to be a film critic,’ right?”
Williams’ decision to appear on-camera is a reflection of her desire to offer visibility for Black women like herself, and to transparently represent her experience. No matter what she’s reviewing, she is aware of the many subjectivities at play: her own, the creatives’, and the audiences’.
“Sometimes it is hard to let go of your experience as a Black person in this country, because you see the film in a totally different viewpoint,” Williams said.
“When we’re talking about issues, especially that are still a sore subject in America’s history – when it’s confronting slavery, and confronting racism and how it still plagues this nation to this day – it’s very hard to make sure that you’re doing your job as a critic,” Williams said. “These are experiences that are lived that are witnessed day in and day out.”
As Williams grows her audience, she has become – and hopes to remain – a voice for movie fans and up-and-coming critics alike.
What’s your favorite seat in a movie theater?
I like to sit in the back, middle. I love being in the middle of the screen. I feel like I have all of the viewpoints I need to see. I also hate when people kick my seat, I hate to hear people chew in my ear. The only downfall to that being my favorite seat is, I can see everyone and their cellphones.
You get to see people’s reactions, too. I love people-watching and seeing how the movie makes them feel. That’s why – even for press screenings, when they put you in the front – I really like sitting in the back, because I love watching the audience’s reaction as well.
Does that ever play into how you review a film or how you discuss it?
I love going to screenings for kids’ movies because I really love to be able to tell how it’s going to hold a child’s attention. I bring my god-children with me – they’re still getting into going to the movies.
That and comic book movies, I love – I have to see it with an audience.
I totally agree – comic book movie experiences are made by the audience.
I literally still remember the audience’s reaction to the end of Endgame, when you hear Steve say, “Avengers, assemble!” And then when you hear Sam say, “On your left.” It’s just brings me back to that emotion of what was happening in the theater at that time. You can’t beat a theater experience, you really can’t.
(Photo by Liam Daniel/Netflix)
What has been your favorite thing to watch in quarantine this past year?
The obvious is Bridgerton, because it gave me romance, it gave me entanglements, it gave me messy drama. It’s what I live for. It made me feel like I was in a whole relationship, I was totally invested.
Did you binge the show, or do you avoid binge-watching?
I actually watched Bridgerton a couple of months before it released and I was like, “Oh my gosh, this show is so good.” I was literally calling my colleagues like, “You need to go, you need to request Bridgerton. Do it right now. It’s going to be a hit, just thank me later.” So yeah, I binged the whole thing.
I had to pause halfway through – I think it was the fourth episode – when the Duke… the whole scene in the garden. When he said he still wasn’t going to marry her, I lost it. I had to take a couple of hours of a break because I was so upset at him that I couldn’t even deal. I had to come back to it the next day.
That scene infuriated me. I cannot stand when people know they could be happy and will not choose happiness.
Yes, because it was his pride! I was like, “What are you doing?”
When you are reviewing, do you go in cold?
I do reviews on YouTube and trailer reactions are this huge thing. Every time a trailer comes out, they’re like, “Hey, can you do a trailer reaction?” And then I have to disappoint everyone and tell them that I don’t watch trailers. I like to go in completely blind.
So, I get into the movie and we’re watching it, and then Rachel McAdams‘ character dies. I literally was the only one who gasped in the middle of the movie theater. My friend turned to me, she was like, “What is wrong with you?”
I was like, “She just died!” And she was just like, “Girl, that was in the trailer!” And I was like, “See! I will never watch another trailer again after this, never.”
What makes a “good” movie?
It makes me feel something. I mean, that’s why we watch movies! We want to be excited. Sometimes we want to be sad or we want to be happy, we want to laugh.
Movies that cause thoughts or discussion. Movies that promote change or a change within, that make you want to be a better person, make you analyze yourself as a person. Those movies that truly stick with you afterwards, and you’re still thinking about the next day, that you’re still having conversations with your friends about. I think those are such good movies, because it just truly shows the impact of a creative work.
Was there a movie or a television series that you watched that made you want to become a critic?
I can tell you one that made me understand the importance of being a Black critic. That was Detroit.
When Detroit came out, it was really interesting because I would read reviews but I also watch YouTube videos. That’s what helped me solidify why I do what I do – and really, just seeing a lot of the people miss a lot of the historical things that someone growing up in the Black experience, that this is my life.
When they show The Great Migration portrait – the famous illustration in Black culture. Growing up, everyone had this picture in their house. We’ve seen this on Black TV shows. I saw that a lot of non-Black critics, they didn’t understand what that illustration meant. Or, they didn’t understand the importance of how certain characters are portrayed, especially when we’re dealing with real events that have happened, that have shaped our country as a whole.
I think it really helped me understand the importance of my voice, the importance of why we ask for diversity in film criticism. The beautiful journey of watching from different viewpoints, different experiences – how they’re really shaped, how you view films, how you criticize films. That was a movie that helped me to keep going, even in times when I felt like giving up – my perspective as a Black woman, why it’s so necessary and essential to film criticism.
(Photo by Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection)
What are you most proud of in your career thus far?
I remember the first time I got an email from Rotten Tomatoes. When I first started, I remember going to the website and looking at the qualifications and I’m like, “Child, I’m never going to get this. We’re going to put this on the back burner forever.” Being a part of Rotten Tomatoes, being able to say that when you see the Tomatometer on commercials or whatnot that, “Hey, my review counts towards that.”
Most recently, I got my first pull quote for Judas and the Black Messiah. I remember I was asleep and I woke up and everyone was like, “Oh my goodness, I just saw your name on TV during SNL!” Having my brother call me as I try and drift off, “I just saw your name. I was watching Judas and the Black Messiah and then I watched this trailer afterwards where your name popped up.” I think that is when I was like, “Whoa, this is serious, this is real.” You know?
Do you remember a time when you were watching something, a movie or a television series, where you saw a character that reflected your experience?
Living Single was one of my first experiences. Before I got into film criticism, I used to want to be a lawyer in college. I remember growing up and watching Maxine Shaw on Living Single and I was like, “Oh my goodness, it’s a Black woman as a lawyer. And she lives by herself, and she has these friends, and she’s lives this great life.”
What is the hardest review you’ve ever produced?
The most recent one was Antebellum. It was really hard.
I always want to make sure that I respect the role of creatives – that they took the time and the energy to put their art into the world for a lot of people to consume it and form their own opinions.
It’s challenging as a Black critic – and I think a lot of people will agree whether they will publicly admit it or not – because we don’t get a lot of films or TV shows that center around the Black experience that star Black women. Because we don’t get so many, it becomes very hard because you understand the importance of seeing someone like Janelle Monáe on screen, a woman leading this film. That was a really hard review, critiquing a work that features a Black woman, that features an issue that is very close to me as someone who lives the Black experience each day – especially when you don’t necessarily connect with it.
It’s hard, because personally you want to see more of this on screen and you don’t want to knock down someone’s ability to create. Especially because it’s so hard for Black people to be able to create in this industry, and to actually have their projects seen by the masses. But you also want to make sure that the stories that are being told, the stories that are portrayed, and these characters – who are my aunts, my uncles, my mother, my sister, my brother – you want to make sure that it is being done in a great light.
Because in this world, what you see on TV, people take it as gospel… Unfortunately, that’s just the society we live in. What we see on TV, we basically say, “This is what Black people do, this is how they act.” If you see Black caricatures, that is how people see us. The situation makes it hard as a critic, especially a Black critic.
(Photo by Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)
What is your favorite movie from your childhood?
I watched A League of Their Own so many times that if my mother came into the room she was like, “I can’t believe that you’re watching this movie again.” It was just – I loved it, I was fascinated, I didn’t know that there were female baseball players.
Especially that scene where the Black woman catches the ball and throws it, and she has this mean arm. I loved that moment in the movie.
Is there an actor or a director or a screenwriter whose work you always love? Someone who regardless what they make, you’re excited to watch it?
The most conflicted I’ve ever felt in a movie was Training Day. I’ve never necessarily hated Denzel so much in a movie, and I felt morally conflicted because I wanted this character to die so bad. But it’s Denzel playing him, so I can’t … I just remember watching that with my parents and I was like, “This is really causing me stress, like internal stress right now, that I really don’t like him in this movie.” But I mean, I think that speaks to his performance.
Do you ever feel like actors get cast in roles that are completely awful and unlikable people, so people will empathize with them?
Yes, that’s how I feel about him in Training Day. I mean, it’s such an iconic role! You know? “King Kong ain’t got nothing on me!” I mean it was just like, “Oh my goodness, why is he so good at a bad person? Why?! Why are you that good?”
That’s my dream interview one day, to interview Denzel. I will pass out though, if they actually said, “Hey Sharronda, it’s time to interview him,” I’d probably pass out.
(Photo by Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)
What is your favorite Rotten film or television series?
Sister Act and Sister Act 2. It’s disgusting! It is troubling. Sometimes I cannot sleep at night, to think that Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, one of my favorite films growing up, is at a 19%! It is an injustice, it truly is.
Yes! I feel that way about But I’m a Cheerleader. Like, “Did y’all miss the point? Did it sail over your heads? What?”
Even Robin Hood: Men in Tights! That’s disrespectful, too. I could go on about this for days. But Sister Act 2, we’ve got to do something about that.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about critics?
I think part of it is that film critics hate every single thing. It’s weird because, in our industry, the negativity is what gets amplified outside of those who actually connect and love the art that comes out.
For YouTubers, they don’t see us as critics because we don’t write. I think that’s really important. I’m an English major, I’ve written poetry that’s been published in books. I can write if I choose to write, you know? I think just understanding that what we do is just as important, it’s just another way that people consume criticism. And I think really just opening themselves up to the fact that the world is changing and how people consume things are changing.
For me as a Black woman, it’s not easy for me to go get a staff job. To write for someone, it’s just an anomaly, honestly. It doesn’t happen very often and it’s too few and far between in the industry right now.
For me, it’s important that we have avenues to build our own platforms that we can support ourselves off of, and to have that visibility. Because the visibility of a YouTuber is really important, especially in the Black community.
You’ve mentioned before that your decision to appear on-camera for reviews was very intentional. Can you talk about that?
My parents always took me to the movies since I was a little kid. I would have my mom drop me off in the theater by myself to spend the whole day there. I love watching films. But I never saw anyone who was like me, who was popular and made me feel like that was something that I could be – a film critic. I thought I could just be someone who always went to the theaters every weekend. It’s very important that you see people who look like you, that you see Black women who are doing this.
There’s so many people that reach out like, “Oh my goodness, I want to be a film critic and never thought I could do it, then I saw your channel and I started my own.” I help people – people who message me or DM me, I help them – give them tips on how they can do it because I don’t want to be the only Black woman who does this. I don’t want to be the only Black face that you see on YouTube.
So, it’s really important that we have these images of people who look like us, because they inspire the next generation. They inspire those who have been trying to do this for so long and just never had the courage to actually do it. And that’s why for me YouTube is such an intentional thing that I do, especially when you see the discussions all the time about how – as we look at staff writers for major publications – there’s not a lot of Black people, and especially on top of that, not a lot of Black women.
Everyone’s perspective, as long as it’s done respectfully, is needed in criticism.
(Photo by Universal International Pictures)
What is your favorite classic film? And, you can define classic however you like – inside or outside the canon.
There’s this movie my mother – my mother is such a character – if she felt like I wasn’t appreciating her as a mother, she would make me watch Imitation of Life. I think it was the 1959 version.
I watched it so many times. She was like, “You see how she treated her mother?” She turned into a whole African queen. And I was like, “How many times do I have to watch this movie?”
But that film is now ingrained into my DNA. That is a movie I will never forget, and mainly just my mother forcing me to watch it every time she felt like I was being a disrespectful child.
Is there an under-the-radar director or screenwriter that you think more people should know about?
Mike Gauyo (@blackboywrites). He was like an assistant on Claws, this show that I love, and also too, on this upcoming season of Insecure. He was actually on a writers staff for Ginny and Georgia. Some of his work is in TV, but I would love to see him be able to break through more doors.
Who are three people that you think everyone should follow on Twitter?
@Ryan_Ken_Acts on Twitter. He’s hilarious. He’s an actor, but he does parodies of movie stuff. He literally brightens up my day, because whatever I was thinking about a film he’s like spot on in his parody of it.
I love Robert [Daniels] (@812filmreviews). Robert’s my fave. I love his spicy tweets. He’s also a great writer and it’s inspiring to watch Black critics excel the way that Robert has. I love that he uses his platform to uplift other voices and to also use his platform to fight for change, which really affects those spicy tweets.
You know who I love? Joi Childs (@jumpedforjoi). I love watching her progression – we both worked corporate jobs and we’re film critics. To see her transition and see her working for Amazon – and seeing how she makes it a priority to uplift diverse voices, that she’s in a position of power and still continues to fight for that in a different arena – I think is really inspirational. … Joi’s one of those people that I just can’t wait to see what she’s doing 10 years from now, because I know she’s going to be a badass in whatever she’s doing.
Just, I want us to get to a point where we uplift everyone. My goal in life is to have a platform so I can uplift those under-represented voices to provide more shine or light to people who are up and coming in the industry – whether it be actors, film makers, and writers. I think that is why we build our platform, that’s why we have an audience, to help usher in a new generation of people.
Do you have any advice for critics who are still finding their voice?
Just keep providing criticism. Your voice is going to change, how I view movies, how I reviewed movies is totally different from when I first started, to where I am now. And I think that as you get more access, and you’ll start to see that you have a bigger responsibility. … It’s such a huge thing to put your art out there, and there’s a respect that has to be had.
I would just tell people to keep fighting, keep pushing. If there aren’t any lanes for you to succeed in, then create your own lane. And just always be true to yourself. Don’t change who you are, don’t try to sound like someone else. I always tell people, especially when they ask me how to become successful on YouTube, even though I don’t feel like I’ve found success yet myself: What viewpoint or what perspective are you giving that you’re currently not seeing?
I started my channel because on YouTube I didn’t see Black people, especially Black women, who looked like me giving their thoughts on films and TV shows.
That’s the important thing that everyone misses. I think everyone looks at who’s successful and, “I need to be just like them. I need to write like them. Why can’t I write like them? Why can’t I come up with these think pieces like everyone else?” I think that if you’re chasing someone else’s dream, you’re never going to realize your own, or even be able to live it.
You have to always be true to yourself at all times. Just be you. There are going to be people who don’t like you. There are people who don’t like me – they don’t like my long nails, they don’t like how I talk – but I have to always be me. And there’s going to be people out there who enjoy you for who you are and the work and the viewpoint that you bring to the criticism.
(Photo by Getty Images - Rachel Luna)
Every now and then social media does do good things. A couple of years ago after Brooklyn Nine-Nine was canceled by Fox, the internet and some high-profile names refused to accept it. Celebrity fans Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Hamill, and Guillermo Del Toro decided to band together to kick off a tweetstorm of support for the show. That spark ignited the “Nine-Niners” (the internet name for fans of the show) to plead with another platform to save the beloved series from cancellation. And it worked. Brooklyn Nine-Nine trended on social media for several days and was eventually picked up by NBC.
Two seasons later, the show is still going strong and set to shoot its eighth season (the third on NBC) as soon as TV production is allowed to continue. This die-hard support is why Terry Crews (who plays Sgt. Terry Jeffords) and the entire cast feel such a special affinity for the fandom. No one is quite sure when production will be approved to continue, but until then, fans can hear the NFL star-turned-actor in the animated adaption of Lois Lowry’s children’s novel The Willoughbys.
The children’s dark comedy, which is currently Certifed Fresh at 89% on the Tomatometer, follows an eccentric family whose children think they’d be better off raising themselves and devise a plan to send their parents on “vacation.” They then embark on a harrowing and humorous adventure while left alone and eventually discover what “family” truly means. The cast includes Will Forte, Alessia Cara, and Sean Cullen, who voice the kids, while Maya Rudolph plays the kids’ nanny and Ricky Gervais hilariously narrates the film as the voice of the family cat. The selfish parents are voiced by Martin Short and Jane Krakowski, and Crews plays Commander Melanoff, the affable owner of a candy factory.
Read below to see our chat with Crews about The Willoughbys, in which he breaks down his love for animation, explains when we can expect more Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and gives us his Five Favorite Films — including one with an Oscar snub he’s still not over and one from his own filmography that holds special meaning.
Number one is Do the Right Thing. Do the Right Thing changed my life in so many ways. Spike Lee and the cast of that movie. Actually, when it came out back in 1989, I saw it in the theater probably 25, 30 times. This was way before we could just download anything. I’m in that era. I’m in the analog era. Pre-cell phone. You know what’s strange? At the time, Do the Right Thing, once it hit the video stores, was listed as a comedy. [laughs] That blows my mind. It was nowhere near a comedy, but that’s exactly where they felt black films that dealt with any subject matter needed to be. Right now you would never think of Do the Right Thing as being a comedy — it dealt with police violence, it dealt with xenophobia, it dealt with all kinds of stuff. It’s very encouraging on many levels.
Star Wars was my number one before Do the Right Thing came out, but it basically changed everything. It created the tent pole. I saw it in 1977 at a drive-in with my aunt. It was one of the first movies I was able to see because my mother was super religious. It changed the game for me. It let me know I was going to be in entertainment. I didn’t care what it would be. I didn’t care how I was going to do it, but once I saw Star Wars I was hooked. That just changed everything in many, many ways. The science-fiction part. The artistry. Everything about it was incredible, and to this day when I hear that John Williams score, it’s like, “Ahh.” I hear those horns, it fuels me and makes me remember why I’m in this business.
Next is Aliens. Alien was incredible but Aliens just took me out. James Cameron’s Aliens is crazy. The [Xenomorph] is still the most perfect movie monster ever created. You’ll never get better than the alien in Aliens. James Cameron actually one-upped the first movie with the Marines, the twists and turns, and Sigourney Weaver being this femme fatale who destroyed everyone. That’s the other thing. It had a feminist view. It had just so many viewpoints that were actually introduced in the movie that had never been there before. Everything else was all male-oriented and superstar, the guy who could never get beat and all that stuff. This movie turned that on its ear. Loved it.
Next is Training Day.
That was your first “real” role in a film right?
Yeah, Oh my God! I was an extra in Training Day. I didn’t have a chance to read the script, didn’t know what it was about. I just said, “I’ve got to be on this set.” I didn’t even get paid for that movie. I remember I showed up every day. A friend of mine was working on it, and he was like, “Hey man, Denzel’s shooting down in the jungle. You want to come?” And I was like, “I’m there.” And the director, Antoine Fuqua, put me in the movie as I was standing there. He said, “Hey man, you want to be in this movie?” I was like, “Yep.” He said, “Take your shirt off, go to the roof, and we’re going to be flipping pigeons.” I was like, “Let’s go!”
I came back every night, but when I saw the film it was on a psychological level. It just let you know the nature of what evil really is, and it plays on your good intentions. I thought of how many times in my life… I [got] tricked into things. You start out with great intentions, you try to do good things, and then you kind of open up and you realize, “Oh man, it’s not what I thought it was.” I had that moment 50 million times in my life, and when I look at Jake versus Alonzo, I say, “This started out good. He had great intentions, and he didn’t know what he was getting into.” I look at my whole career in the NFL like that.
Finally, Pulp Fiction. I still believe Sam Jackson should have gotten an Oscar for that film to this day. It was one of the most brilliant performances I have ever seen. It informed everything. It was funny, it was scary, it was sad, it was beautiful. My God, it was just a tour de force in filmmaking. Anytime it’s on, I cannot stop watching. What a beautiful, beautiful piece of artwork. It had all my favorite genres. It had blaxploitation, it had mystery, it had gangster.
Jacqueline Coley for Rotten Tomatoes: You have done a lot of voice work. What made you want to get involved with this one?
Terry Crews: You got to understand I’m an artist. I was going to be an animator when I first moved to LA. I had my portfolio in at Disney, at Dreamworks, Hanna-Barbera, the whole thing. My whole mood was to get behind the scenes, and acting was a mistake. That was an accident. I love animation. Animation is the holy grail for me. Ralph Bakshi has been one of my favorite guys. I remember American Pop back in the day. That early, early animation was just groundbreaking to me. The fact that you could draw these characters and do this thing, and then Pixar took it to another level.
So when I look at any opportunity to be in animation I never, ever turn it down. Kris Pearn, who was one of the directors of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, I got a chance to work with him there and just had a ball. When he was putting this together, because he’s one of the writers and the director of The Willoughbys. Another thing I loved about The Willoughbys is that it had a darker tone, much more heavy than you would normally see in animation, which kind of mirrors me. It’s funny because I’m very big, and I love comedy, but to me, I’m a very dark personality. The darker you are, the funnier you can be.
I thought this is a worldwide turn for animation, whereas in the typical Western animation, it’s like, “Yeah, we’re happy, and here’s another joke. Here’s another joke.” People kind of got formulaic about it, but with this, it’s Ricky Gervais’ tone where it’s just like, “Whoa!” I think it’s just so fresh, and so perfect. Martin Short, Will Forte, they’re all friends of mine. Maya Rudolph from my Idiocracy days. Jane Krakowski. I’m just honored to be amongst such great talent, because I’m a fan first. I’ve never considered myself this actor dude. I’m just a fan, and I enjoy great animation.
RT: Any Brooklyn Nine-Nine updates to give us during the quarantine?
Crews: Oh my God! First of all, we are more popular than ever. The Brooklyn Nine-Nine Instagram just hit two million today, which is strange for a show like that. To have people actually want to see you and be interested in your show when there’s so much out there, this is the payday of entertainment. You will never get more, and it’ll never be easier to just kind of flip from one to the next. But people are watching 100 episodes in a row. Whole families are now Brooklyn Nine-Niners.
I can’t wait ’til we come back. To see that this has really become a worldwide phenomenon is not lost on me, and I can’t wait to give people more. I’ll be honest with you; this season 7, it’s too short. We did 13 episodes, and I’m going, “Damn it! We could’ve done more.” I really do. We did 18 last year. We only did 13, but we did get picked up for season 8. When this pandemic settles, I can’t wait to see my Nine-Nine family. We’ve been all communicating with each other, and we can’t wait to get back and give the fans more.
RT: What’s next for you?
Crews: I did Rumble, which is coming out. It was supposed to come out in January of 2021. The trailer was on Sonic the Hedgehog film. That’s an animated character I played called Tentacularis. What’s so weird is that we don’t know if the movie is actually going to be in the theaters by that time. It may have to go straight to VOD just like all the other movies are right now. It’s kind of weird. It’s a very uncertain time. Everybody’s like, “Will the next James Bond actually be in theaters?” We don’t know.
RT: What do you think will happen on the other side of this?
Crews: I truly believe this is the deal. A lot of people are saying, “Oh my God, everything is going to change.” But you cannot do away with human interaction. You just can’t. And first of all, the world has seen pandemics before, and eventually, everything went back. I don’t know how long it’s going to take, is the real question, but the fact that it will go back is inevitable. Comedy shows to concerts to film, there’s no way we can all do this forever.
In 2019, Rotten Tomatoes turns 21, and to mark the occasion we’re celebrating with a series of features that look back at the brightest moments on screen of the past two decades – and one year – and the things that have us excited for the future.
They’re the lines you’ve worn on T-shirts and Photoshopped into memes. They’re the lines you’re maybe a little sick of, but can’t stop loving. Before they were famous, though – before they were parodied on SNL and printed onto ironic mugs – they were words on a page and then words in a movie you were hearing for the first time, and they stuck. Maybe they were hilarious (poor Gretchen, “fetch” never happened), or maybe they were chilling (“I see dead people”). Maybe they were delivered just right (“Why… so… serious?”). Here, we’re looking back at the 21 most memorable lines from the movies since August 1998, the year that Rotten Tomatoes came into this world. If we missed a favorite of yours, let us know in the comments.
Neither M. Night Shyamalan nor Haley Joel Osment knew that the intensely whispered “I see dead people” would become the center of Disney’s marketing push for The Sixth Sense – and the subject of parodies for decades. Talking recently to Rotten Tomatoes, Osment said he was just thankful Twitter hadn’t been invented at the time the film came out, when he was 11.
When you pair America’s sweetheart with Britain’s reigning rom-com king, you have to bring your A-game, and writer Richard Curtis did just that for Notting Hill. With this heartbreaking line, he manages to somehow get us rooting for one of the world’s richest and most glamorous movie stars, and screaming with frustration at the regular “fairly level-headed bloke” whose love she’s asking for.
Paul and Chris Weitz’s surprisingly sweet teen sex comedy gave us one of the late ’90s most indelible movie images (the pie!), and chased that up with one of the decade’s most memorable movie lines. And one that’s got a sex-positive ring: “What?” asks Alyson Hannigan’s Michelle flatly after revealing where she sometimes puts her flute. “You don’t think I know how to get myself off?”
From Chuck Pahalniuk’s pen to Brad Pitt’s mouth and into the minds of college students all over the country…
It was only appropriate that this cult spoof of Star Trek and its legion of Trekkie fans would have its own live-long-and-prosper–style catchphrase. It is delivered with Shatnerian levels of cheese and determination by Tim Allen, playing Jason Nesmith, who’s playing Commander Quincy Peter Taggart.
We could run through an entire stack of Post-Its writing down our favorite lines from Mike Judge’s cult favorite, but this chipper, grating, morning greeting wins out – an encapsulation of the deep, smiley rage suppression that gives Office Space its kick.
When Ed (Albert Finney) asks Julia Roberts’ Erin Brockovich, “What makes you think you can just walk in there and find what we need?”, she fires off this line and a look that says, Seriously, you need to ask? The resourceful real-life Erin Brockovich has said she did use the line with the real-life Ed – probably more than once.
Some consider it blasphemy that Peter Jackson added this line as a climax to Gandalf’s defiant verbal smackdown of the fiery Balrog; in the original Tolkien book, Gandalf only says “you cannot pass” (which he also says, though less iconically, as he starts his speech in the film). Jackson’s addition became one of the best “f—k yeah!” moments in the original movie trilogy and went on to spawn thousands of memes.
Denzel Washington won an Oscar for playing corrupt narcotics cop Alonzo in Atonine Fuqua’s Training Day, and it might have been his delivery this line – puffed-up and chest-pounding as he realizes power is slipping away – that got any hesitant Academy voters across the line.
It’s unfair to say that Edna Mode (voiced by Incredibles writer-director Brad Bird) steals Pixar’s superhero smash – there are too many awesome elements and characters for one to dominate – but she comes very, very close. She’s full of one-liners and shady zingers, but it’s her golden rule (“No capes!”), and the various anecdotes that led to it (R.I.P. Thunderhead), that people remember most fondly.
Mean Girls (2004)
Mean Girls’ Regina George (Rachel McAdams) is the queen bee of her group, and this was perhaps her sharpest stinger. Irony is, while “fetch” didn’t happen, this line caught on in a big way.
On paper, there’s nothing particularly special about this line – it’s kinda just a statement of fact (it is Sparta, after all – not Athens or Thermopylae, and definitely not madness, nor blasphemy). But coming out of Peak Gerard Butler’s mouth as a kind of gravelly scream for the ages, and accompanied by that iconic slow-mo kick, it’s gone down in film history. Watching this moment, we are all Sparta (even those of us without six packs).
This greeting of the Wakandan people, and the accompanying gesture, infiltrated popular culture following the release of mega-hit Black Panther in February 2018. (The film’s stars were asked to do the gesture so frequently on red carpets and during interviews, memes began to circulate showing a bored-looking Chadwick Boseman – who plays the titular hero – giving a perfunctory version of the cross-armed symbol.) Interestingly, the most memorable use of the phrase might come in Infinity War, and not Black Panther, when T’Challa shouts the phrase as he leads his Wakandans into battle against Thanos’s forces.
When Jake Gyllenhaal said these words to Heath Ledger while shooting Brokeback Mountain, he probably had no idea what a life they would go on to have: first as a wrenching moment between their characters, Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar; then as a source of parody and a meme (mostly among those too immature to cope with the film); finally, and most recently, as a shorthand for the film itself, and what it meant to the LGBTQ community to see a gay couple portrayed authentically and without judgment in a major release.
There are plenty of action-packed, effects-enhanced, and completely thrilling moments throughout the Hunger Games franchise, but few are as simultaneously inspiring and terrifying as the quiet scene in which Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) steps forward to take her young sister’s place in the Games. The line is lifted directly from the same scene in first book of Susanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy.
You may not recall the insane hype around Snakes on a Plane in the lead up to its release – an irony-fueled internet buzz-wave that stemmed, essentially, from the absurdity of its premise-capturing title. You may not even remember much of the film itself. But there is no way you forgot this line, spoken by profanity wizard Samuel L. Jackson in one of those legendary B-movie inspiration speeches he’s so masterful at delivering. (Fun fact: The line has aired on FX as the more-safe-for-work “monkey-flying snakes on this Monday-to-Friday plane.”)
It was in 2009, while in his mid 50s, that Liam Neeson discovered a very particular set of skills – gravelly line-readings, a death-stare for the ages, and a capacity for rapid-fire action – that would launch a whole new chapter of his career: Liam Neeson, Action Star! And while the past decade has been littered with Neeson action programmers (right up to 2019’s Cold Pursuit), none have matched Taken for its intensity, impact, and the power of that oft-quoted bedroom scene.
Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning turn as the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s second Batman film might well have given us the best comic-book movie villain ever. The character’s most famous line – “Why so serious?” – became iconic even before the film’s release, centering one of the most effective marketing campaigns of recent decades.
Speaking of Oscar winners… This rather surprising analogy for oil drainage, spoken by Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview, was inspired by real-life words to congress from then Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall, spoken during a 1920s Congressional investigation. Or so Paul Thomas Anderson has said – the original quote has not been found.
The best stupid movie of the past 21 years? Maybe. (Step Brothers would give it a definite run for its money.) But Zoolander is probably the most quotable, thanks to brilliant bites of silliness like this.
The Furious franchise has evolved greatly over the years, shifting gears (sorry!) from smallish-scale Point Break-alike to globe-trotting stunt spectacular, each entry one-upping the other in terms of scale and ludicrousness. What keeps the whole thing grounded, and provides the through-line from 2001 right through to this year’s Hobbs and Shaw? Family, of course, but also the dedication to awesome cheese perfectly encapsulated by this line/mantra/religion. Us too, Dom, us too.
Photos courtesy of Buena Vista, Universal, Twentieth Century Fox, DreamWorks, Warner Bros., Walt Disney, Paramount, Marvel Studios, Focus Films, Lionsgate, Paramount Vantage.
When the first of January hits, chances are you’ll be stuffed with holiday goodies, full of various meats and/or cheeses, and all partied out. You’ll also probably be looking for something to watch as you recover from all the festivities. Luckily, Netflix is releasing a ton of new stuff, particularly on January 1, that should keep you entertained. See below for the full list of new movies, TV shows, and originals coming to Netflix in January.
Song Kang-ho (The Host) and Gong Yoo (Train to Busan) star in South Korean director Kim Jee-woon’s (I Saw the Devil; The Good, the Bad, the Weird) period thriller about two men on opposite sides of Korea’s fight for independence from Japan.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
This documentary chronicles the drama leading up to the historic match-up between a human and an artificial intelligence playing against each other in the ancient Chinese strategy game of “Go.”
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
Al Pacino and Marlon Brando lead an ensemble cast in Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Mario Puzo’s mob family epic, widely considered one of the greatest films ever made. All three chapters of the Godfather saga will be available to stream on January 1.
Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon star in Ron Howard’s Oscar-winning historical drama about the ill-fated titular space mission, during which an on-board explosion forced three astronauts to abort a trip to the moon.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
Baz Luhrmann’s debut feature is an adaptation of his own stage production about a ballroom dancer with a unique vision and his struggle to compete and win a prestigious competition.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
Jim Carrey and Ed Harris star in this dramedy about a man who understandably freaks out when he discovers his entire life has been the center of a television production.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and a slew of stars breathe life into Woody Allen’s dreamy romantic comedy about an aspiring novelist who, on a trip to Paris with his fiancée, is transported back to an idealized version of the city in the 1920s.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
Frank Darabont’s adaptation of the Stephen King novella stars Tim Robbins as a wrongly convicted accountant who befriends another inmate (Morgan Freeman) while serving his sentence.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
Based on the novel of the same name by Laura Esquival, Alfonso Arau’s magical romantic tale centers on the forbidden love between a man and a young woman who can make others feel what she feels through the food that she cooks.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
Gene Wilder offers an iconic performance as Roald Dahl’s slightly nutty candy mogul, who welcomes a handful of children to his sweets factory with the intention of bequeathing his company to one of them.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
Arguably the most celebrated — surely the most widely recognized — Audrey Hepburn film. We just prefer to pretend all the Mickey Rooney stuff doesn’t exist.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
Christian Bale and Michael Caine star in Christopher Nolan’s beloved reboot of the Batman mythology, a supremely effective but dark and brooding affair that set an ill-advised precedent for DC superhero movies to come.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
Naomi Watts and Jack Black star in Peter Jackson’s update on the original monster movie, about a giant ape on a remote island who is captured and brought back to civilization for the amusement of humans.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
Michael Caine stars in the original 1969 heist flick about a career criminal who takes on an eccentric team of accomplices for an elaborate robbery.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
For his cold, dark sequel to Batman, Tim Burton gave audiences not one, but two empathetic, pitiable villains: The Penguin (Danny DeVito) and the Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer).
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
Based upon Neil Gaiman’s fantasy novel and featuring an all-star cast, this fantasy follows a young man who embarks on a journey through a forbidden kingdom to prove his love to the girl of his dreams by presenting her with a fallen star.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, and Bill Murray star in Harold Ramis’s directorial debut, a beloved comedy about the unruly, unusual new members of an exclusive country club.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn star in this romantic comedy about a pair of cynical divorce attorneys who spend their time crashing weddings until they both meet their match in two very different women.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, and Hugh Laurie lend their voices to this DreamWorks animated film about a group of abnormal creatures who come to the aid of humanity when Earth is invaded by an alien robot.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
One of the most hyped movies in Hollywood history, Batman found director Tim Burton jettisoning the plots (if not the dark tone) of Bob Kane’s original comics, and utilizing set designs reminiscent of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and freakish, brooding characters similar to… well, a Tim Burton movie.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke star in Antoine Fuqua’s gritty crime thriller about a rookie cop learning the ropes from a veteran narcotics detective with a decidedly questionable moral compass.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
In this romantic comedy that essentially inspired How I Met Your Mother, Ryan Reynolds stars as a man who recounts his past conquests (played by Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher, and Rachel Weisz) to his daughter when his impending divorce makes her insufferably inquisitive.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
Remember how innocent the Biebz was back in 2011, before all the tattoos and poopy-diaper pants? Watch this naively optimistic documentary about Ju-Bieb’s improbable rise to stardom from the gritty streets of Ontario to the echo chamber of YouTube and beyond.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
Kirsten Dunst and Eliza Dushku star in this tongue-in-cheek look at the competitive high school cheerleading scene that was so acceptable it lead directly to an MCU gig for director Peyton Reed (Ant-Man).
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
Thanks in part to its luminous cast, which includes Bill Nighy, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, Laura Linney, Keira Knightley, Billy Bob Thornton, Rowan Atkinson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Andrew “CORRRRALL” Lincoln, Richard Curtis’ yuletide romantic comedy has become a seasonal cult favorite.
Available 1/1 on: Netflix
This Netflix original series examines the global scope and impact of some common food items, starting from the plate and following the trail of money and politics.
Available 1/5 on: Netflix
Showtime’s show business satire stars Matt LeBlanc as an exaggerated version of himself, tapped to play the lead in a new sitcom imported from the UK, and Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan as the put-upon husband-wife creators of said sitcom.
Available 1/6 on: Netflix
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga star in this supernatural horror story based on true events about a family experiencing unexplained disturbances in their new home who call upon paranormal investigators for help.
Available 1/8 on: Netflix
Kevin Hart and Ed Helms lend their voices to this animated adaptation of the popular children’s books about a couple of young pranksters who hypnotize their principal into believing he is a superhero.
Available 1/10 on: Netflix
Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies star in this sci-fi drama about a family struggling to survive during an alien invasion.
Available 1/10 on: Netflix
Matthew McConnaughey won an Oscar for his portrayal of unlikely AIDS activist Ron Woodroof in Jean-Marc Vallée’s drama about the Texas man who was diagnosed with HIV and took matters into his own hands to find treatments wherever he could.
Available 1/16 on: Netflix
This indie thriller centers on a farmer who embarks on a campaign for vengeance through the Irish criminal underworld after his mother is murdered.
Available 1/18 on: Netflix
Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin star in this Netflix original series about two women who are forced to move in together when their husbands come out as gay and leave them for one another.
Available 1/19 on: Netflix
Will Forte and Domhnall Gleeson star in David Wain’s Netflix original film chronicling the rise and fall of humor magazine National Lampoon.
Available 1/26 on: Netflix
This Netflix original series from acclaimed documentarian Alex Gibney takes an episode-by-episode look at various acts of corporate greed and misconduct.
Available 1/26 on: Netflix
This Netflix original series remakes and recontextualizes a popular 1970s-1980s sitcom about a divorced mother raising two teenage daughters: this time, they’re Cuban.
Available 1/26 on: Netflix
This acclaimed documentary takes a look at the men and women who make up the Oakland Police Department, and the department’s effort to reform itself over a period of two years.
Available 1/29 on: Netflix
Owen Wilson returns to voice Lightning McQueen in the third installment of Pixar’s Cars franchise, in which Lightning struggles to stave off retirement and makes one last go at winning the Piston Cup.
Available 1/31 on: Netflix
“Boom! You never know.”
When Denzel Washington said that line to Ethan Hawke in the movie Training Day, he probably never knew the film would become a TV series 16 years later. Washington won an Oscar for his portrayal of corrupt cop Alonzo Harris, whose trainee Jake (Hawke) finally got the better of him.
CBS’s Training Day is set in the world of the movie, but with new characters. Bill Paxton plays Frank Rourke, a rogue detective raising red flags in the Los Angeles Police Department. So they assign Kyle Craig (Justin Cornwell) to be his partner.
Paxton and Cornwell spoke to Rotten Tomatoes about the Training Day series after the show’s panel for the Television Critics Association. Here are 12 lessons they shared about the new show.
The eternal debate of Training Day will be between Frank’s Old West justice and Kyle’s belief in due process. It’s not that Frank will just shoot first and ask questions later, but he believes in confrontations.
“He’s more of a gunfighter,” Paxton said. “He’s going to push the guy into a mano-a-mano situation. He’s not going to just shoot the guy in cold blood. It’s not like he’s going to shoot the perp. He’s going to make the perp put him in a situation. There’s a whole Western myth built into the thing. I think Frank gives them a chance. If it was a due process show, it wouldn’t be Training Day.”
In a single movie, the film took a stand that Alonzo was dirty and Jake had to stop him. With a new episode every week, the Training Day series can explore more shades of gray. Kyle starts off with good intentions, but he won’t always be right.
“My character is like, ‘We have to do things the right way,’” Cornwell said. “We have to put the image out there of cops. We need to be good cops. We don’t need to be these other cops.”
Sometimes Frank is right: Real life is different than the textbooks.
“You want to be a cop?” Paxton said. “You want to stay alive? You gotta get dirty. Forget what you learned in the police academy. He’s like, ‘No, we start doing that, what’s the difference? We’re just like them.’ Yeah, we are. In a weird kind of way, I am pushing that envelope, and it does create that dialogue. Who’s right here?”
Kyle’s father Billy was Frank’s partner before he died in the line of duty. Part of Kyle’s training will be learning the truth about his father. Paxton shared a scene that got deleted from the pilot.
“I start to tell him, ‘What did you really know about your dad? Pee wee football, church on Sunday?’” Paxton said. “Then I go into this whole thing where I say, ‘People were so afraid of your dad, gangsters were so afraid of your dad, if they thought he was coming, they’d turn themselves in. That’s no lie.’ You find out that his dad was King Kong, and he was my fearless leader. He’s the guy that I would follow into hell. He was the baddest one.”
A single episode of Training Day already has more action than the movie’s handful of shootouts. The first episode already has Frank bust a drug house with a foam gun, and Kyle gets blasted through a window, landing on a car.
“I’ve done a lot of my own stunts for this,” Cornwell said. “I did not jump out the window. All the fights were me. I think the only stunt I didn’t do in the pilot was jump out of that window. I landed on the car but I didn’t break the glass. I think it’s more high octane.”
Frank Rourke is a different character from Alonzo Harris in many ways, not the least of which is that he hasn’t fully crossed the line into killing witnesses and dealing drugs himself. One thing that makes him the perfect Training Day veteran though is he can talk.
“He’s obviously got a lot of that Irish in him, Frank Rourke,” Paxton said. “I tapped into that, and the only thing I really pulled from Denzel was really just that wit and that quickness and messing with people all the time. He’s got a fast mind. I think Frank could’ve been successful in a lot of other areas too.”
Training Day matches the look of the film with a yellow tinted skyline of downtown Los Angeles. That may simply be because that’s what L.A. looks like in real life.
“It was dawn, and I was looking at L.A. and I said, ‘Wow, this is the same color as our show,’” Cornwell said. “I feel like it is that. L.A. has that orange hue. It might be the refraction of the light hitting pollution.”
Frank Rourke couldn’t have asked for a more badass introduction, lugging a foam cannon over his right shoulder. It wasn’t so easy for Paxton. Having suffered a spinal injury before shooting the pilot, he had surgery immediately after and held the gun over his right shoulder to spare his left shoulder the weight.
“That’s my first day of filming,” Paxton said. “I’m in excruciating pain because part of my spine is collapsed. I don’t even know if I can get through the pilot.
“Because he’s been doing it so long,” Paxton continued, “it’s the idea that a guy who’s been a painter a long time, he’ll use the minimal amount of effort to accomplish what has to be done. There’s something laid back about the action part of him which I really like.”
At his core, Frank believes what he’s teaching Kyle about the streets. Sometimes though, he just has fun making Kyle squirm, like when he brings his girlfriend Holly (Julie Benz), a Hollywood madam to Kyle’s house for dinner.
“I love that my character is taking great pleasure in his discomfort, looking at him like, ‘Yeah, it’s gonna get weird now,’” Paxton said.
Kyle tries his best to stop his wife from inquiring what Holly does for a living, but there’s no keeping this under wraps.
“I just love what they edited in that scene, looks between us,” Cornwell said. “It speaks volumes with no words. Sometimes dialogue gets in the way. That scene was great because we didn’t have to say much and we kind of let the girls have this conversation.”
Training Day is fictional and all the characters are created; however, they take inspiration from some of the real controversies that faced the LAPD in recent decades, including the 1990s scandal in which more than 70 police officers tied to the Rampart Division’s elite anti-gang CRASH unit were implicated in wrongdoing.
“The police commissioner doesn’t want me turning into another Alonzo Harris,” Paxton said. “She even says that because that just about killed the department, which is a reference to what happened with Rampart. It’s not pulled out of the headlines, but they’re pulling a lot out of things that happened over the years in LAPD.”
Alonzo was just one of the characters in charge of LAPD corruption in the world of Training Day. The movie even touched on the bigger pictures, like the Three Wise Men who were above his head. The show will explore additional pockets of corruption.
“That world still exists [in the TV series],” Cornwell said. “The wise men who sent him on these missions, they still exist. The sickness that’s in the department is still there. The corruption is still there.”
Paxton previewed the season finale of Training Day, which finds Frank interrogated in Mexico. He compared Frank’s escape to Robert Duvall’s Apocalypse Now character on the beach in Vietnam.
“I get shot not just with sodium pentothol,” Paxton said. “It’s a cocktail of sodium pentothol, LSD, something to relax me, but something to get me not too relaxed. So we get busted out of there, and we’re in a shootout, and it’s almost like I become Kilgore in Apocalypse Now: He’s just walking through the bullets. That’s the guy that’ll never get hit. It’s been lifted, and it’s on steroids for sure.”
Alonzo Harris was a lone wolf, and woe be to the rookie who got partnered with him. Frank Rourke is not alone. Katrina Law and Drew Van Acker play other cops who Rourke considers family.
“You find out that I rescued her from a human trafficking ring when she was six years old, real dark stuff,” Paxton said. “Drew [plays] a guy that came into my life. He was a pro surfer that was kind of an adrenaline junkie and was kind of lost. I found him and brought him. He rescues people, but he finds lost souls. He’s kind of looking for a weird redemption.”
Training Day premieres Thursday, February 2 at 10 p.m. on CBS.
This week in TV news, Antoine Fuqua is working with the Weinsteins, Dick Wolf gets into the anthology game, Soul Train may be back on track, and more!
(Photo by Getty Images / Jesse Grant / Stringer)
RJ Mitte rose to awareness as Walter White, Jr. in Breaking Bad. While Mitte’s own case of cerebral palsy is less severe than that of the character he played, he serves as spokesperson for several organizations devoted to helping people with disabilities — including actors and others in the media. He also keeps up with his acting career, as evidenced by his most recent film outing, Who’s Driving Doug.
Mitte talked to us here at Rotten Tomatoes about five of his favorite movies — a choice selection of action and sci-fi. You can see if the films that excite him get you excited too:
All these stories piling together and crossing over — I think that is the simplicity of life — these five degrees of separation that divide us all. I think it was a great cast of people; it’s a good story. Films that I enjoy are films that tell stories and not necessarily on the bounds of believable, but in life, anything can happen. I like action films. I guess Pulp Fiction is fairly violent, but I’m an action film kind of guy. It depends on what I’m in the mood for when it comes down to it.
The first one with Brandon Lee. The whole set — it was a really cool set — I liked the whole vibe of it with the martial arts. I was a Brandon Lee fan, and that was a fairly bad-ass movie. That whole Hell’s Kitchen vibe in New York — that whole realm just has this cool mystifying vibe. It looked like it would be a fun set.
I watched Serenity before Firefly [the TV series it was based on]. In 2000, binge-viewing wasn’t something that we did; we didn’t have access to that. If you missed a TV series, you just missed it. Or you’d record it on your VHS, right? It was a chore. In 2002 I was more of a country boy; I was always outside. But I like the whole idea of Serenity, the whole world, that outer rim world that we imagine that one day we will be [part of]. I actually felt this wasn’t too far out of our limits. You look at that ship, and it’s a junky old beat up ship. You would think after a thousand years, we will have things like that — that will fly and that will do things like that. We do. We have shuttles and they don’t look too far off [from those]. [That world is] only going to get closer into our grasp.
I feel like at one point or another, this is everyone’s favorite movie. Danny Elfman is amazing. I’m a big fan of stop motion. I really have an admiration and appreciation for [it]. I think they do such an amazing job, and they take so long to make. It’s almost flawless. You can’t even tell that they’re fake toys. It looks like animation. I like the music; it was amazing. Danny Elfman always does it with his scores, and Tim Burton is really rad. It’s done so well for the time. That’s a movie that will come around every so often that will just hang in the air and will never — no matter how good the graphics get, or how good your TV gets — at the end of the day, it will never folly. There are some things you’ll put on and go “It looked like that?” But when you watch Nightmare Before Christmas, you know it never gets bad or old. The music is always amazing, and they worked really hard. And that rings through. Stop motion is so great.
The vibe of it — I always felt like this was an all-around bad-ass cop movie. I could try to go into detail about certain things about it that stood out to me, about how it all takes place in one day and how he sets him up throughout the whole day. It was done right. It was one of those movies that was just set up right.
Who’s Driving Doug is now showing in limited release and on premiere Video-on-Demand.
We the people of Rotten Tomatoes, in order to make this Independence Day more perfect, do ordain and establish this Total Recall as a cinematic tribute to the Bill of Rights.
Independence Day is a time to reflect on the history of our country, and what makes our nation unique. A good place to start is the Bill of Rights, the original 10 amendments to the Constitution, which provide Americans such essential freedoms as self-expression, the right to a fair trial, and the limits of governmental powers against U.S. citizens. However, since we don’t want to dish out a bone-dry history lesson in this festive season, we’ve compiled a list that puts each amendment in a cinematic context, with plenty of car chases, titillation, and shootouts. In other words, just what you expect on the Fourth of July: fireworks.
|The First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The People Vs. Larry Flynt (1996, 87 percent)
|The Second Amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Death Wish (1974, 74 percent)
|The Third Amendment: No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.Cops and Robbersons (1994, 17 percent)
Smarting from the failure of his quickly-canceled Fox talk show, Chevy Chase reunited with his Fletch director, Michael Ritchie, for Cops and Robbersons, a comedy about a tough-as-nails cop (Jack Palance, natch) who moves in with a suburban family in order to nab the crook living next door (Robert Davi). That the movie’s premise could be accused of playing fast and loose with our friendly Third Amendment was of little importance to critics — they had their hands full pointing out flaws in the direction, screenplay, and performances from the cast. Cops and Robbersons made more than one viewer wish we had an amendment forcing Chevy Chase to choose better scripts.
The Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Training Day (2001, 71 percent)
Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington) is certainly no card-carrying member of the ACLU. If he was, he wouldn’t be acting in such blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment, which prevents illegal search and seizure without a warrant. During the course of a particularly wild 24 hours on the beat, Harris steals money from not one, but two drug dealers. Washington picked up a Best Actor Oscar for his terrific performance, but if this was the real world, he’d be heaped with scorn from civil libertarians.
The Fifth Amendment: No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
The Godfather, Part 2 (1974, 98 percent)
In The Godfather Part 2, a senate subcommittee conducts an open hearing into the alleged illegal activities of the Corleone family. It would seem like the perfect time for Michael (Al Pacino) to invoke the Fifth Amendment and preserve his right to not incriminate himself. However, Michael didn’t get to the top of the criminal world by being a dummy, and his knowledge of the Constitution is particularly astute. “I have not taken refuge behind the Fifth Amendment although it is my right to do so,” he tells the Senate, before evoking the Sixth Amendment. “I challenge this committee to produce any witness or evidence against me.” The government’s case falls apart, and Michael eventually violates his brother Fredo’s Sixth Amendment rights by exercising his Second Amendment rights.
The Sixth Amendment: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
12 Angry Men (1957, 100 percent)
Sidney Lumet‘s terrific debut is more than a compelling drama — it’s also a terrific civics lesson. Featuring an all-star cast, this Oscar-nominated classic follows the deliberations of a jury in a capital murder trial; one of the jurors (Henry Fonda) tries to convince the rest to overcome their prejudices against the defendant — a teenage boy from the wrong side of the tracks — and deliver a fair verdict. As 12 Angry Men proves, a trial by jury can be pretty messy — but it sure beats the Star Chamber.
|The Seventh Amendment: In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.The Verdict (1982, 96 percent)
Kind of a mouthful, isn’t it? Don’t worry — all that founding fathers-speak in the Seventh Amendment just boils down to one simple thing: The right to a civil trial by jury. The Verdict provides what is widely regarded as cinema’s most elegant defense of this right, and for good reason — it was scripted by David Mamet, directed by Sidney Lumet, and starred Paul Newman in one of his most finely nuanced (and most riveting) performances as a washed-up, alcoholic lawyer who finds redemption through his pursuit of a medical malpractice lawsuit that bore a strong similarity to the Karen Ann Quinlan case. Law scholars have been quick to point out that The Verdict hinges on developments that strain credulity, but the critics didn’t care — it’s one of Newman’s best-reviewed films.
|The Eighth Amendment: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. The Shawshank Redemption (1994, 88 percent)
It routinely pops up on “Best Movies” lists and is widely regarded as a classic – in fact, Frank Darabont‘s career-launching adaptation of Stephen King‘s The Shawshank Redemption is so beloved, it’s easy to forget that during its theatrical release, the film barely earned enough to cover its $25 million budget. No one could argue that Andy Dufresne, the unjustly imprisoned banker played by Tim Robbins, isn’t subjected to “cruel and unusual punishment” — but that’s a big part of what makes him a hero we can’t help but root for. Of course, not every member of the prison population is as pure of heart as Andy or his friends — and yes, this is only fiction — but The Shawshank Redemption still provides a glimpse of life without the Bill of Rights that’s as sobering as it is entertaining.
|The Ninth Amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.Enemy of the State (1998, 71 percent)
The framers of the Constitution weren’t dummies — they knew that by spelling out the citizens’ rights upheld in these amendments, they might be encouraging the idea that any rights not specifically mentioned didn’t exist, so they gave themselves the Ninth Amendment as a loophole — basically saying that just because you don’t read something here, it doesn’t mean the government has carte blanche to do whatever it wants. This amendment comes in handy for Chris Gardner, the labor lawyer played by Will Smith in Enemy of the State, when he discovers he’s being framed by government agents for a crime he didn’t commit. To accomplish their nefarious goals, these agents resort to all sorts of dirty tricks — planting bugs, having Gardner’s credit cards canceled, even tricking his wife into thinking he’s been having an affair. A beautifully shot ode to the paranoid, Enemy made oodles of cash at the box office.
|The Tenth Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Smokey and the Bandit (1977, 76 percent)
Yes, it’s the ever-popular “states’ rights” amendment — and in this case, those rights meant that, in the late 1970s, transporting liquor past the east Texas border was considered bootlegging, which is why the wealthy Big Enos Burdette (played by Pat McCormick) had to offer an $80,000 reward to infamous trucker Bo “Bandit” Darville (Burt Reynolds) in order to get him to bring 400 cases of Coors to Georgia. Considering that Smokey and the Bandit went on to become the second highest-grossing film of 1977 (outdone only by Star Wars) and spawn a pair of sequels, not to mention inspiring The Dukes of Hazzard, it’s interesting to note that director Hal Needham had to fight tooth and nail to get Bandit made — it wasn’t until his pal Reynolds stepped in that the studios came knocking. The results were unquestionably lowbrow, but the critics didn’t mind.
And finally, for those of you who need a primer on the Bill of Rights, we present you with this:
It’s terrible, but there’s something hot about bad cops. They’re authoritative, powerful, within arms reach of the worst villains life can throw and, they’re only occasionally redeemable. What a challenge.
In honor of David Ayer‘s Street Kings we did a little bad-to-worse survey of the boys who soil their blue. Some of them are hot, some of them caustic, but all of them are fascinating. The cops on this list might shame those who loyally “Protect and Serve” but you know what they say, it’s hard to look away from a train wreck.
Web Smith (Wesley Snipes) is a good cop. He’s mostly clean, except for one little incident in his past, involving a drug dealer, a crib, and a small stack of bills. Web’s been walking around with this secret for a long time, and the bad news is that someone else knows about it, and it eventually gets used as leverage against him. But compared to the plans and conspiracies surrounding the murder he’s investigating, the old bribe is really just small change.
Frank Serpico was an honest cop in a sea of corruption. The entire NYPD may not have been completely corrupt, but in Serpico it sure feels like it. Even the low-level officers are on the take, and hush money from bookies and dealers is passed around between cops with such banality that when Frank refuses a bribe, his brother officers think that there is something wrong with him.
It’s one thing when a cop goes bad, seduced by the power and authority that comes with the job. But it’s something else entirely when the cop in question wasn’t good to begin with. Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) becomes a police officer so that he can work as mole within the Boston PD, and feed information back to his gangster pal Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). So instead of making the streets safer, he’s just making them safer for crooks.
The only thing more frightening than a bad cop is a bad cop responsible for others. When Alonzo (Denzel Washington) takes Jake (Ethan Hawke) out on his Training Day the day looks more like a trip into a nightmarish revisioning of The Wizard of Oz than a beat cop instructional tour. Some crimes seem easy to overlook (Alonzo’s incessant drinking while driving) but others (like extortion or drug trafficking) are harder to overlook. And it’s this play between the upholding of the law and its use that makes the situation between Alonzo and his pupil such a challenging one.
Before Ray Liotta played Hank Hill in Goodfellas he used that baby face to play Officer Pete Davis in Unlawful Entry. Kurt Russell and Madeline Stowe play happy and successful couple who open their doors to Davis just in time for him to slowly devolve into a stalking, hooker-brutalizing monster. Liotta plays his cards close to his chest, alternating between irksome and alluring, conscientious and reckless, honorable and deviant, all without skipping a beat.
We meet Cobb early on in Silverado, and it’s clear than he and one of the heroes, a somewhat reformed outlaw named Paden (Kevin Kline) have a history together. Cobb comes off as menacing, and since he’s played by Brian Dennehy, you know he’s going to come back later. Sure enough he does come back, as the sheriff of Silverado, and the other members of his gang are now his deputies. But in spite of his position, Cobb isn’t much of a tyrant; he may be sheriff, but the cattle baron that’s bribing him is the one that’s really calling the shots.
After multiple turns playing crooks in Noirs from The Asphalt Jungle to The Killing, Sterling Hayden had perfected the diligent working-class villain. Who then could be more evocative as the mob-complicit Captain McCluskey in Coppola’s Godfather? Hayden’s establishment in the industry along with his kindly good looks made him an easy choice for McCluskey, and his performance in this part is short but leaves a lasting impression (on more than just the tablecloth).
Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman) is corrupt on almost all levels. He’s a pill-popping, mob-affiliated DEA agent that uses his position to run his own little drug empire. He uses his own officers to rub out the competition, but he’s not above hiring a professional from time to time either. And he’s not simply ruthless; he’s crazy enough to really enjoy hurting or killing anyone that stands against him. Between this film and Romeo Is Bleeding, Gary Oldman seemed to embody the half-crazed cop role in the early 1990s.
Captain Dudley Smith (James Cromwell) isn’t as crazy Oldman’s Stansfield in LÃ©on, but he’s working on a much larger scale. The seemingly upstanding Captain Smith asks purist recruit Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) to rat out corrupt cops, in what seems to be a genuine effort to clean up the department, but Smith is merely covering his bases. He’s also using the brutish Bud White (Russell Crowe) on a goon squad that runs mobsters out of L.A so that Smith can maintain control of the city’s drug traffic. James Cromwell is frighteningly believable as the “man in charge,” especially once we see how corrupt he really is.
The title for Abel Ferrara‘s completely unredeemable drama is perfect: unambiguous, straightforward, and completely without explanation. This Bad Lieutenant abuses his power in the most unrelenting and disturbing ways, offering us only slivers of insight into his conscience. (Perhaps this is because he only has a sliver of a conscience.) In addition to watching Keitel wantonly abuse his authority by randomly pulling guns on cops and citizens alike, you can actually catch him smoking stolen crack, naked. In fact, you only need to see the poster art to get the idea — and to see proof he’d been working out. He may not be working on a grand scale, but his behavior is so shocking that you can’t imagine any cop being worse that this.
That’s our list of the 10 most corrupt cops in the movies. Who would you add to the list? And do you think any cop is more corrupt than Kietel in Bad Lieutenant?
If you want Cinematical’s take on the subject, check out their Cinematical Seven feature on Out of Control Cops.
In this week’s Ketchup, the Dark Knight engine continues to churn out bits and pieces, as some new stills and the first official poster hit the web, and some possible X-Files 2 plot spoilers mysteriously appear. Also, some new Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull stills arrive, and some final buzz for the upcoming Cloverfield.
This Week’s Most Popular News:
Six New Dark Knight Stills!
At some point, there won’t be any more stuff to leak from The Dark Knight — but fortunately for you, that day hasn’t arrived yet.
The Dark Knight Gets a Poster!
What, you thought we were going to let a day go by without doing a Dark Knight story?
X-Files 2 Plot Details Leaked?
It won’t hit theaters until July, and is being shrouded in all the secrecy you’d expect, but no matter — X-Files 2 plot details are leaking anyway.
Three New Indy 4 Stills!
As you may be aware, three stills from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull hit the Web this week, only to be quickly C&D’d right back off. But if you missed seeing the shots the first time around, not to worry — ComingSoon has ’em legally.
Cloverfield Length, Slusho! Commercial Online
Months of pre-release buzz have told us pretty much everything we need to know about Cloverfield, the formerly-untitled, J.J. Abrams-produced monster movie hitting screens in a few short weeks. What’s left to discuss?