The movie business is difficult; that shouldn’t surprise anyone. A lot of thought and care and preparation — not to mention money — goes into the filmmaking process, and sometimes the end result just doesn’t quite turn out the way its creators intended. But even when a film production goes sideways, for whatever reason, there’s often a glimmer of something incredible hidden beneath the botched line deliveries, mediocre special effects, and general ineptitude on display. Sometimes, there are great scenes to be found in truly Rotten movies.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled an initial list of 30 examples in which an inspiring exchange, an ingeniously staged action sequence, or a hilarious performance helped shine a light on otherwise mediocre productions. We’re talking about genuinely outstanding moments — not ones we find ironically amusing — that might feel right at home in more expertly crafted films. There are, of course, countless more we could have included, but we’ll save those for the next installment of this series. And, if there are any that you think belong here, let us know in the comments!
(Photo by 20th Century Fox)
DARTH MAUL vs. QUI-GON AND OBI-WAN
The long-awaited Star Wars prequel introduced us to such inexplicable horrors as Jar Jar Binks, midi-chlorians, and mind-numbing Galactic Senate debates, but the film did offer an awesome glimpse of what it could have been. The final battle pitting Darth Maul against Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of the most dynamic lightsaber duels we’ve ever gotten, thanks in part to the martial arts talent of Ray Park as the Zabrak Sith Lord. Not only is the fight kinetic and inventive, who can forget the iconic moment when that second crimson beam emerges from Darth Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber?
The Transformers franchise is largely a jumbled mess of CGI, explosions, stilted dialogue, and perfunctory storytelling. That said, Michael Bay knows his way around visual spectacle, and while Dark of the Moon features its fair share of incomprehensible robot mayhem, there is one practical stunt (read: they did it for real) in the film that is genuinely thrilling. Bay enlisted the aid of experienced wingsuit flyers to jump off the Sears Tower and soar between Chicago’s skyscrapers as chaos unfolds all around them. It’s impressive, it’s majestic, and it’s just cool as hell. If only the rest of the movie could match this three-minute sequence…
OPENING HIGHWAY PILEUP
None of the Final Destination movies is particularly well-reviewed (Final Destination 5 is the only Fresh one at 62%), and for the most part, they all feel like a series of morbid Rube Goldberg-esque vignettes strung together by the thinnest of plots. A few of those gory scenarios, however, are surprisingly inventive, and none of them tops the opening to Final Destination 2, which sets its wheels in motion with an immaculately staged, over-the-top highway pileup that is equal parts ridiculous, harrowing, and literally explosive. Nothing else in the film even comes close.
(Photo by Distant Horizon)
DONNIE YEN vs. COLLIN CHOU
You may know Donnie Yen from Ip Man or Rogue One, and you may know Collin Chou as Seraph from the Matrix sequels, but chances are you haven’t seen this Hong Kong action thriller by Wilson Yip (who also directed the Ip Man movies). The story is a predictably rote potboiler about a loose-cannon cop who takes on a crime syndicate, but the climactic battle between Yen’s Detective Ma and Chou’s gangster Tony is savage and visceral, with bone-crushing stunt work and Yen adding MMA techniques to his more traditional martial arts style.
PARKING GARAGE SINGLE TAKE
Since directing and co-writing the first Saw, James Wan has introduced the world to the Conjuring universe, brought us the best-reviewed Fast and Furious movie, and earned the right to bring DC’s Aquaman to the big screen. Before all of that, though, he did direct this fairly absurd action thriller about a grieving father (Kevin Bacon) out for revenge against the gang who murdered his son. It’s a violent film with a ridiculous plot, but it does feature one sequence that demonstrates Wan’s potential for greater things. A two minute-long single take follows Bacon’s character as he attempts to lose his pursuers in a multi-level parking garage, with seamless camerawork that weaves up and down the ramps and alongside the outside of the garage to capture perfectly timed appearances by different characters. It’s impressive, and it far outshines everything else in the movie.
ABNER DOUBLEDAY INVENTS BASEBALL
Adam Sandler began his stint on Netflix with a bang, garnering a rare 0% with this joyless — and casually racist — spoof of The Magnificent Seven. There is one gloriously effective moment of inspired comedy, though. In a scene that riffs on the invention of baseball, John Turturro cameos as Abner Doubleday, who invites the titular sextet and a dozen others to play a new game with him, only to make up all of the sport’s rules and terminology on the spot just to ensure he wins. It may be the only joke in the movie that lands, but it lands superbly.
(Photo by New Line Cinema)
AUSTIN GOES TO HOLLYWOOD
By the time the third installment of Mike Myers’ Austin Powers series hit theaters, the world had just about had its fill of “Yeah, baby!”s and shagadelic double entendres, but the cameo-filled opening scene of Goldmember is pure magic. The film begins with an action-packed Hollywood adaptation of Austin Powers’ life story, starring Tom Cruise as the titular spy, Gwyneth Paltrow as Bond girl stand-in Dixie Normous, Kevin Spacey as Dr. Evil, and Danny DeVito as Mini Me. To top it all off, as the scene ends, the cameras pull back to reveal the man at the helm is none other than Steven Spielberg. Genius.
THE FIGHT FOR THE KEY
The first Pirates of the Caribbean film was a pleasant surprise, able to silence most of those who thought it silly to build a movie around an amusement park attraction. Every film since then has been a gradual step down, and it all began with the first sequel, Dead Man’s Chest, an overstuffed bombardment of spectacle with little but Johnny Depp’s performance to hold it all together. That said, the extended swordfight for the key to the titular chest is the high point of the film, making use of some fine stuntwork and clever setpieces to deliver a top-notch action scene.
“I WAS UP FOR PRINCESS LEIA.”
The Scream formula was getting creaky by the time they shifted the setting to Hollywood for the most meta entry in the series (the cast of a Stab film, based on the real events of Scream, start getting plucked off by a real-life ghostface). The laughs were still there, thanks mostly to a killer performance by Parker Posey as Jennifer Jolie, the actress playing Courteney Cox’s Gale Weathers; the scares, not so much. But kudos to Wes Craven and whoever else convinced Carrie Fisher to make a cameo as the disgruntled, and loyal-to-a-point, studio archivist Bianca. When approached by Jolie and Weathers on the hunt for details on a former starlet, Bianca stops them before they even get a chance to ask if she’s you know who. “I was up for Princess Leia,” Fisher explains. “I was this close. So who gets it? The one who sleeps with George Lucas.”
(Photo by Universal Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)
“LA MER” ON THE BEACH
It’s hard to deny that Mr. Bean is something of a cultural icon, and it’s essentially defined the career of Rowan Atkinson. While the early-’90s series was hugely popular, the character’s big screen outings didn’t quite measure up. 2007’s Mr. Bean’s Holiday found the endearing man-child stumbling his way through France, and it largely consisted of watered-down slapstick and his trademark buffoonery. But it was also intended to be an unofficial send-off for the character, and the film’s final moments absolutely shine in that respect. As Bean makes his way across a picturesque beach, everyone around him joins him in an uplifting rendition of “La Mer,” and it’s equal parts triumphant and bittersweet. Love him or hate him, his goodbye was perfect.
If you thought Cher singing “Fernando” to a man named Fernando in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was as good, cheesy, and Cher-y as it gets at the movies, you clearly didn’t stick around for the second half of 2010’s Christina Aguilera vehicle Burlesque. The movie, which is Rotten at 36%, overflows with small pleasures for those in the just right mood (read: at least three Chardonnays into your evening), among them Kristen Bell as the vampy, villainous dancer Nikki. But when club owner Tess (Cher), fretful for the future of her business, belts out the Dianne Warren-penned survival anthem, “You Haven’t Seen the Last Of Me,” singing it to no one in particular, but somehow touching anyone who hears it, well… all hail the queen.
Poor man’s Scream, rich man’s Urban Legend, I know What You Did Last Summer was one of the defining slashers of the mid-to-late ’90s – even if it was one of the most generic and uninspired, sitting at 35%. Most remember it for its laughably hysterical moments (“What are you waiting fooooor!?”) and that weird Anne Heche business, but even the most discerning of genre fans give credit to director Jim Gillespie for the sequence in which the guy with the hook chases Sarah Michelle Geller’s Helen Shivers all over town. It’s genuinely scary (beware the mannequin jump scare), giggle-inducing (did she really just drop the keys), and a tiny bit moving in the end. Why the hell did she turn around?
(Photo by 20th Century Fox)
LOGAN AND VICTOR THROUGH THE WARS
X-Men Origins: Wolverine was Fox’s first attempt at a solo story based on one of their beloved Marvel properties, and other than hiring Liev Schreiber to star opposite Hugh Jackman, the film has precious few things going for it. (Seriously, who thought letting will.i.am speak — and shutting Ryan Reynolds up — was a good idea?) At least we got a pretty great opening credits sequence out of it: after revealing the origin of Logan’s (Jackman) relationship to Victor Creed (Schreiber), the film depicts the half-brothers fighting alongside each other in the US Civil War, both World Wars, and the Vietnam War, illustrating Victor’s violent descent in the process. That’s the movie we all wished we could have seen.
GARY OLDMAN WAXES NOSTALGIC ABOUT DISFIGUREMENT
Neither director Jonathan Demme nor star Jodie Foster returned for this 10-years-later sequel, but most assumed it was in capable hands, with Ridley Scott taking the helm, David Mamet penning the script, and Julianne Moore taking Foster’s place as Clarice Starling. The end result wasn’t expected to live up to its predecessor, but few foresaw the smug, unsatisfying tale of gore we ultimately got. However, in an initially uncredited role, an unrecognizable Gary Oldman plays disfigured Lecter victim Mason Verger, whose macabre retelling of his encounter with Lecter is chilling, gruesome, and a testament to Oldman’s ability to captivate an audience, even with a slab of play-doh stuck to his face.
“I’VE GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN”
Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor made names for themselves with the Crank series, so it was evident from the start they weren’t exactly interested in high art. Right after Crank: High Voltage, in fact, they came back with this futuristic thriller starring Gerard Butler that plays more like a CGI-blasted update on The Running Man, but with far fewer genuine thrills. Rotten at 28%, the movie is kind of a slog to get through, but when Butler’s Kable infiltrates the mansion of evil game developer Castle (Michael C. Hall), something almost magical happens. Castle reveals himself to Kable via a choreographed dance routine set to Sinatra’s “I’ve Got You under My Skin,” complete with a troupe of mind-controlled brawlers. As Kable fends off his attackers and Castle continues lip-syncing in the background, you can’t help but wonder, “Why couldn’t the rest of the movie have been this interesting?”
(Photo by Columbia Pictures)
TERRY CREWS LOVES VANESSA CARLTON
Despite the cult popularity of In Living Color during the early 1990s, the various members of the Wayans family have struggled to achieve the same kind of success on the big screen. Much of their output has been defined by spoof movies and sub-subpar comedies like White Chicks, built from interesting enough ideas for a sketch or two, but a bit too flimsy for an entire movie. In this case, though, the presence of Terry Crews does help liven things up, and he is at his absolute best when he gleefully lights up as Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” comes on the radio and he begins to lip-sync with it. It’s a small chunk of comedy gold in the middle of a stale, moldy, powdered-sugar donut.
THE “FIRST-PERSON SHOOTER” SEQUENCE
Back when he was still going by “The Rock,” Dwayne Johnson paid his dues in stinkers like 2005’s Doom, which did little to inspire confidence in video game adaptations on the big screen. At a measly 19% on the Tomatometer, Doom is an incoherent mess of a sci-fi action flick and an unfortunate stain on the resumes of all involved. But there is one instance of blatant fan service that, well, actually kind of works. The camera takes on the first-person viewpoint of Karl Urban’s character, Reaper, for several minutes as he tears through the research facility, blasting mutated baddies along the way. It’s a carefully planned and choreographed sequence that’s not only true to the game, but incredibly ballsy to attempt, and they managed to pull it off with pizazz.
THE 15-MINUTE FINAL BATTLE
After he brought a fresh new take on martial arts films with 2003’s Ong Bak, Tony Jaa co-directed and starred in its “sequel,” Ong Bak 2, which was neither set in the same time period as the first nor really related to it in any way outside of its title. Ong Bak 2 left much of its predecessor’s playfulness by the wayside in exchange for an overly serious and familiar tale of revenge that exposed Jaa’s shortcomings behind the camera. With that in mind, it’s still worth fast-forwarding to the final battle of the film, a glorious display of Jaa’s martial arts prowess that sees him utilizing multiple fighting styles and weapons techniques to take down an entire village of assassins over 15 brutal minutes of non-stop action. It’s visceral and awe-inspiring, and it highlights not only Jaa’s immense skill but also the dedication of his stunt team, who no doubt took a massive beating during the shoot.
(Photo by Lou Faulon/STX Entertainment)
This is not Luc Besson’s first space rodeo, but working with a $200 million budget, he evidently felt compelled to throw every wacky idea he ever had at the screen. The end result is a visually exquisite but narratively slipshod adventure, but it features another standout opening scene that hints at the film’s true potential. Set to the music of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” it chronicles the history of technological advancement that eventually leads to the film’s intergalactic setting, and it reflects a refreshingly hopeful, wholesome future of peace and cooperation that’s both touching and clever. And then the rest of the movie happens.
ROD’S QUIET PLACE
Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer have amassed a huge following, thanks to their work as The Lonely Island, and fans of their brand of humor are often quick to come to the defense of this cult comedy (we get it; some of you love it). Unfortunately, critics didn’t quite feel the same way, calling Hot Rod a loosely threaded collection of hit-or-miss sketches that fails to live up to its stars’ potential. The biggest “hit” of the lot, though, is clearly the scene when Rod (Samberg) escapes to his “quiet place” in the woods to blow off some steam and ends up tumbling down a hill for nearly a full minute. It begins as a spoofy Footloose homage before it suddenly turns into one of the greatest — and probably the longest — pratfalls ever filmed, and it’s pretty glorious.
“THERE WAS A FIREFIGHT!”
Perhaps the only good thing about The Boondock Saints is the opportunity to see Willem Dafoe at full tilt (though, to be fair, when is that ever not a good thing?). Much of the film is dedicated to macho posturing and childish fantasy wish-fulfillment — not a surprise considering its notoriously toxic writer-director — but there is a brief moment that lingers long after the credits roll. As Dafoe’s FBI agent Smecker arrives on the scene of a shootout, he begins to visualize what took place, passionately conducting a chorus that only exists in his mind and proclaiming, “There was a firefight!” The whole scene falls somewhere between unhinged and insane, and Dafoe’s exclamation is the cherry on top.
(Photo by Warner Bros.)
A RHINO GIVES BIRTH
Before he really began to demonstrate his range in movies like The Truman Show during the 1990s, Jim Carrey had to wade his way through a number of films that almost solely relied on his gift for physical comedy. His outlandish antics weren’t for everyone, though, particularly when you’d seen them before, and so the Ace Ventura sequel, When Nature Calls, settled at a measly 33% on the Tomatometer. While the movie feels like a somewhat stitched-together series of vignettes, the scene when Ace becomes trapped in a mechanical rhino, strips naked, and escapes through a tiny hole in the rear is… Well, as Simon Pegg put it, “It is one of the single most genius pieces of comedic writing that will never be given its due because it’s part of a ridiculous, vaguely racist, silly comedy.”
THE EMINEM INTERVIEW
Eminem is no stranger to controversy, and his most recent album reignited a familiar one about his use of homophobic slurs in his lyrics. Say what you will about his word choice, but the man is essentially besties with Elton John, and he even skewered himself on the issue in what is certainly the best scene in the 2014 comedy The Interview. As James Franco’s talk show host Dave Skylark interviews Em on his show, the contentious rapper casually reveals that he’s gay, and that he’s surprised no one has figured it out yet, considering the “breadcrumb trail” he’s left behind in all his lyrics. It’s a rather surprisingly effective moment that only works because of all the controversy he’s attracted, and his deadpan, matter-of-fact delivery is pitch perfect, making him the funniest man in the room.
After the success of the Matrix trilogy, the Wachowskis had carte blanche to work on whatever they wanted, and they chose to take on this long-in-development feature adaptation of the classic animated series. Despite their impressive technical wizardry and the candy-colored dreamscape they brought to life, the film bombed both critically and commercially. Even if you don’t love the movie as a whole, it’s hard to deny the power of the climactic race, an unexpectedly heartfelt finale bursting with top-notch special effects that not only boasts kinetic thrills but also provides closure on a key plot point. The film has gone on to inspire a cult following, and this ending is a big part of it.
(Photo by 20th Century Fox)
THE WET BANDITS GET BRICKED
The law of diminishing returns is very real, but when it comes to movies, it’s difficult to argue with a moviegoing public that saw something it liked and simply wanted more of the same. Enter Home Alone 2, which essentially repurposes the story from its predecessor but changes its setting from Chicago to New York. The silly shenanigans here are so familiar that it all essentially feels like a lazy rehash of the same movie. That said, the scene where little Kevin (Macaulay Caulkin) displays Hawkeye-level brick-throwing accuracy just gets funnier with every painful crunch, if only because Daniel Stern’s googly-eyed desperation and concussed mumbling reaches vaudevillian heights.
QUINN AND CREEDY DO STAR WARS
Nowadays, a fantasy action film headlined by Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale might be met with fierce anticipation, but that’s exactly what we got in 2002’s Reign of Fire, and it was far less than the sum of its parts. Despite an intriguing, if somewhat goofy, take on post-apocalyptic humanity and some fairly successfully realized CGI dragons, the film bombed with critics and audiences alike. But in one scene, Bale’s Quinn and Gerard Butler’s Creedy reenact the climactic battle from The Empire Strikes Back for a crowd of awestruck children, playing it as an oral tradition, a campfire tale told from generation to generation. It’s an inspired nod to the power of Star Wars and a wink to the audience that hits its mark much more effectively than much of the rest of the film.
THE MISSING PHONE
By the time the third Jurassic Park movie came along, it was already clear the franchise was starting to run out of ideas (gymnastics battle, anyone?), and putting dinos onscreen was deemed sufficient. At least JP3 had a pretty formidable new breed in the Spinosaurus, and one scene in particular hints at how much better the film would have been with a bit more ingenuity. After Paul Kirby’s (William H. Macy) satellite phone goes missing earlier in the movie, his newly reunited son Eric reveals it was the sound of that phone that alerted them to their location. Cue the ominous ringing of the phone… and the Spinosaurus that swallowed it.
(Photo by Universal Pictures)
MEET MR. HYDE
Last year’s reboot of Universal’s classic monster movie franchise performed so dreadfully that the studio’s plans for its own “Dark Universe” were almost immediately eighty-sixed. That was, in itself, a pretty incredible feat, considering they had the talents of Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe to work with, but at the very least, the latter provided arguably the one standout moment of the movie. Crowe brought a complex intensity to the dual role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, sophisticated in one breath and savage the next, and it left many of us asking if we couldn’t at least see a bit more of him, regardless of what happened to the Dark Universe.
Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday could have been so much more than it was, and at over two and a half hours, it was already a lot. Its overlong run time isn’t the only issue the film has, though; it also reiterates timeworn sports movie cliches and attempts to cast a critical eye on pro football even as Stone fetishizes it. All that aside, when you’ve got Al Pacino at your disposal, the smartest thing you can do is set him loose on some meaty lines, and that’s exactly what happens when Pacino delivers a pregame pep talk late in the film. It’s a powerful moment that really cements what Stone saw when he cast Pacino in the role of a head coach. Who wouldn’t follow that man?
THE BIG WAVE
It’s always a little tricky to turn real-life tragedy into a blockbuster production, but Wolfgang Petersen gathered a top-notch cast and gave it a go anyway. The Perfect Storm provided a pre-Pirates opportunity for Petersen to practice his nautical storytelling skills, but he proved he was more interested in the spectacle of it all. At the very least, he delivered an epic climax that ramped up the drama and pitted George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, William Fichtner, and the rest of the Andrea Gail crew against a monster wave they couldn’t hope to survive. It’s an amazing image, and the fact that it isn’t an exaggeration of what the open sea may hold makes it that much more terrifying.
The Lonely Island understand pop music from the inside out. They also understand pop stardom from the inside out. As longtime ringers for — and consistently the best part of — Saturday Night Live, they observed and worked alongside some of the biggest celebrities and pop stars of their day. I’m talking your T-Pains, your Timberlakes, your Boltons. When they wanted to make a song called “I Just Had Sex” that sounded like something by Akon but expressed an oblivious dork’s unself-conscious jubilation over sexual intercourse, they were able to get Akon himself to sing the hook on it.
So when it came time for The Lonely Island to make their first movie, 2016’s Judd Apatow-produced Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, pop stardom was a natural target. More specifically, the film took on Justin Bieber, the angel-voiced Canadian man-child who has alternately seduced, appalled, and enraged a spellbound and apoplectic public with his drug- and arrogance-fueled shenanigans en route to being one of the most loved and hated men in the world.
Popstar’s satirical take on Bieber is Andy Samberg as Conner “Conner4Real” Friel, the pretty-boy breakout star of Style Boyz, a genre-hopping boy band that paired him with childhood friends Lawrence “Kid Brain” Dunn (Akiva Schaffer), a moody, resentful wordsmith, and Owen “Kid Contact” Bouchard (Jorma Taccone), the sunny, affable peacemaker and beat smith of the group.
When Style Boyz break up due to Conner’s selfishness, Owen swallows his relatively modest ego to DJ for his former bandmate, even when that means rocking a Daft Punk-style EDM light-show helmet that makes him look like an ecstasy-fueled Day-Glo Man in the Iron Mask and emits a noise and light akin to some Lovecraftian monster’s belch of the damned.
(Photo by Universal)
Conner4Real behaves like an insanely entitled doofus, blundering across the globe as the quintessential ugly American.
As a dead-on parody of Justin Bieber, Conner4Real behaves like an insanely entitled doofus, blundering across the globe as the quintessential ugly American. He insults whole countries with his short-attention-span boorishness and inadvertently does everything conceivable to transform the public’s feverish, outsized love for him into seething hatred.
But because Conner is played by Andy Samberg, he has a sweetness and a vulnerability that belies the character’s purposeful obnoxiousness and makes him far more sympathetic and appealing than he really has any right to be. It also helps that Conner isn’t on top for long — he spends most of the film in a steep downward spiral after the gimmick-riddled release of his sophomore album (a follow-up to his debut, Thriller, Also) tanks his promotional tour and his career in short order. Nothing humbles and humanizes a narcissistic egomaniac quite like failure, and Conner’s long slide downhill offers a deep, rich sense of Schadenfreude not unlike similar reactions to the ongoing public humiliations of the real Bieber.
Outside of Conner, Popstar has the enviable problem of juggling too many great supporting characters and subplots to do justice to any of them, like a tragicomic (but mostly just tragic) subplot involving Conner’s party-hearty and spiritually lost mother, who is played by Joan Cusack with that distinctively Joan Cusackian sense of adorable heartbreak. The wonderful Tim Meadows, who seems to be getting better as he gets older, also makes an indelible impression as Conner’s manager, a world-weary show business survivor who never quite got over getting kicked out of Tony Toni Tone! back in the day. In a big, broad comedy with big, broad laughs, Meadows comes close to stealing the film with his understated delivery and the strangely affecting sense of pathos he brings to the role.
In the theatrical version of Popstar, Sarah Silverman is predictably under-utilized as Conner’s no-nonsense publicist, the only person in his life (other than Lawrence, who isn’t really in his life) who tells him the unvarnished truth, which Conner interprets as a never-ending sarcastic goof. Yet her character — and many others — are rounded out in the deleted scenes found on the film’s essential DVD. Separately and collectively, these deleted scenes would have made the 84-minute comedy funnier and deeper on an emotional level, but it’s hard to begrudge a movie with so little fat and so much funny.
The embarrassment of riches extends to its use of music. Popstar gallops along at such a pace that we only get to hear little snippets of the brilliant, funny, and weird songs delivered via elaborate production numbers. I’m speaking of tunes like “Mona Lisa”, which is at once a much-needed response to Da Vinci-extolling numbers by the likes of Nat King Cole and a devastating lampoon of Americans who travel the world expecting it to be as endlessly and easily stimulating and familiar as their Facebook or Twitter feeds. And, let’s face it, to 21st century eyes, Mona Lisa ain’t exactly Scarlett Johannson. It’s about time a truth-teller like Conner dispelled the poisonous myth of her attractiveness.
(Photo by Universal)
Popstar imbues a totally absurd reality with a genuine emotional core.
Popstar offers the perfect balance of Apatowian raunch and heart, particularly evident in a scene where Conner and Lawrence have an animated disagreement while a fan’s naked penis angrily fights for attention in the background of the frame. Both sides of that equation — the heated and emotionally authentic argument between two people who once loved each other and the nude male genitalia demanding and receiving the audience’s attention — are quintessential Lonely Island and help define the film’s weird balance of unexpectedly deep emotion and expectedly frequent dick jokes.
Perhaps also due to Apatow’s influence, Popstar has a warm breathing heart and emotional core, while previous Lonely Island productions like Hot Rod mocked the very conceit that human beings might feel anything for one another. The further Conner plummets from his place high atop the socio-economic and show business ladder, the more he’s drawn back into the orbit of his old bandmates, particularly after Owen “parent traps” Conner and Lawrence, tricking them into a reluctant reunion.
Popstar‘s genuine emotional core comes from the decades the leads have spent working together. Its dynamic echoes that of The Lonely Island itself — they’re all huge talents and multi-hyphenates (while Samberg is the lead, the other members co-directed, and all three co-wrote the script), but Samberg is undoubtedly the star, the frontman, the Justin Timberlake of its N’Sync. You can feel the dense, complicated, bittersweet tapestry of resentment and appreciation, nostalgia and zealously held grudges, love and visceral, long-simmering hate that exists between artists who’ve worked intimately with each other for decades and carry that baggage into every emotionally loaded interaction.
Part of what makes The Lonely Island such a delight is its sneakily sincere appreciation of pop song craft and the dizzy, ephemeral pleasures of the pop world. Popstar may be cynical about the fickle nature of pop stardom and the parasites who flock to big, dumb sheep like Conner, but it’s also clued in to the joy that pop music can bring, even if it’s from an overgrown child like Justin Bieber or Conner4Real.
This is most evident in a climactic reunion performance featuring cameos from Usher, Michael Bolton, and frequent collaborator Justin Timberlake (who has a small but fun role as Conner’s adoring personal chef) that, like the climax of Walk Hard, is both a ridiculous and inspired parody of rock and roll pretentiousness and epic self-delusion, and a catchy, infectious, and memorable anthem that’s weirdly beautiful despite its ridiculousness.
That isn’t the film’s only resemblance to Walk Hard, though. Like Dewey Cox, Conner4Real is such a funny and appealing character from such a perfectly cast actor, singer, and songwriter that he almost threatens to transcend the cultural context and become sort of a bizzaro-world pop star in his own right, like Spinal Tap, which released a number of albums that had nothing to do with the movie that made them cult stars.
(Photo by Glen Wilson/Universal)
It gets us to root for Conner, to feel for Conner, to believe in his fundamental goodness.
Still, Popstar gets us to laugh at Conner4Real. That’s no small feat, given how difficult it is for mainstream comedies to be funny at all, let alone this consistently hilarious. More impressively, it gets us to root for Conner, to feel for Conner, to believe in his fundamental goodness and capacity for emotional growth and redemption.
That Popstar works emotionally as well as comedically may be a testament to the Apatow touch, or it may be a lucky byproduct of the movie being made by three people who are friends and life partners, not just people thrown together by a casting director and asked to fake a lifetime of camaraderie and simmering resentments.
That was true of Spinal Tap as well. It too was the work of musician funny-men (not the most common or most respected breed) who had been performing, writing, and playing together for decades, sometimes, appropriately enough, during their stints on Saturday Night Live, although heaven knows their runs on SNL were not career highlights for Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, and Michael McKean.
The same cannot be said of The Lonely Island, who made the most out of their time on Lorne Michaels’ eternally uneven and maligned sketch comedy show as its digital filmmakers. They wrote an unlikely seaboard anthem in “I’m On A Boat” and were honored with a Grammy nomination and the undying affection of the cruise industry for their work. More importantly, they perfected their craft alongside the very pop stars whose essence they were gleefully lampooning.
The commercial under-performance of Popstar is disappointing but ultimately not terribly surprising. After all, This Is Spinal Tap, UHF, and Walk Hard didn’t exactly set box-offices aflame either, but while more successful movies have subsequently been forgotten, their cults only continue to expand. That’s not bad company to share. Though Popstar is about the biggest kind of mainstream pop star, it always seemed both blessed and cursed to live and die — and then live on again — forever as a cult movie.
Original Certification: Fresh
Tomatometer: 77 percent
Nathan Rabin is a freelance writer, columnist, the first head writer of The A.V. Club and the author of four books, most recently Weird Al: The Book (with “Weird Al” Yankovic) and You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me.
Follow Nathan on Twitter: @NathanRabin
The Rotten Tomatoes staff, we could’ve been contenders. Could’ve gone to the Olympics. But instead of becoming world-class athletes, we trained and followed our other true calling: aggregating things on the internet.
But with the 2016 Summer Olympics here, we can’t help but think, “What if…?” Let’s say Rotten Tomatoes were a sovereign nation. Here would be the 24 movies and shows we’d send to Brazil to show who’s boss, while the staff sits in office chairs adding mean reviews of Suicide Squad.
If you’re looking for a good time on DVD this week, you’re in luck — as long as you navigate the minefields of the rotten (Mr. Bean’s Holiday, Hot Rod) and the even worse (Lindsay Lohan‘s career-murdering I Know Who Killed Me) to pick up a genuine charmer (Waitress), a solid familial tale (The Namesake), a mind-boggling anime import (Paprika), or our personal pick, the return of Futurama (Bender’s Big Score)!
Small town waitress Jenna (Keri Russell) desperately wants out of her abusive marriage and her dead-end life, passing the time baking delicious and whimsically-named pies while dreaming of leaving town. When she finds out she’s pregnant, everything changes, thanks to a secret romance with the local OB-GYN (Nathan Fillion), a chance at winning a $25,000 at a pie bake-off, and the newfound joys of motherhood. Bolstered by a warmly quirky supporting cast, this southern charmer comes to DVD as a bittersweet coda to the life of writer-director and co-star Adrienne Shelly, who was tragically killed last year. Months after her death Shelly’s film was accepted into the Sundance Film Festival and picked up for distribution, and opened to critical acclaim the following spring.
Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair) returns to form with this solid adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel, about the culture clash between two generations of an Indian immigrant family. Comic actor Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle) goes dramatic as American-born son Gogol, who struggles to balance his dueling identities and his relationships with two different women; Indian cinema stars Irfan Khan and Tabu play the beleaguered traditionalist parents, who find that their children have grown up very differently than they had imagined.
When a mind-invading device goes missing, doctors enlist Paprika, an electronic persona, to navigate the hallucinogenic dream world and find the culprit. Director Satoshi Kon employs eye-popping visuals and a surrealist touch to invoke the experience of sub-conscious reverie in his artful (if nonsensical) adaptation of the 1993 science fiction novel of the same name. Four featurettes on the disc give insight into the production of the film, but this one is worth it for the film alone.
Good news, Futurama fans! In this first of four new films, evil aliens send misanthropic robot Bender back in time to help them take over Earth, sparking a chain of events that could change the course of history; more importantly, series fans get the return of characters like Zapp Brannigan, Nibbler, Robot Santa, Al Gore as himself, and Kwanzaabot, voiced by the inestimable Coolio. Cast and crew commentary, featurettes, a full 20 minutes of Hypnotoad and more await you in the bonus menu. And remember, the return of the Best. Animated. Series. Ever. hinges on the sales of this and the next three Futurama DVDs, so if you really care about the fate of Planet Express and its dysfunctional delivery crew, snap up this release! (And check out our chat with director Dwayne Carey-Hill and producer Claudia Katz!)
This slow-simmering noir follows a slick-talking salesman (Guy Pearce) whose ominous visit to a roadside fortune teller (J.K. Simmons) portends success — and death — on the horizon. Critics were split on whether first time director Mark Fergus (screenwriter of Children of Men and the forthcoming Iron Man) effectively builds tension in his story or deflates it, but the cast in this indie thriller is certainly notable. Besides, it’s supporting actor William Fichtner‘s birthday today, if that’s enough of a reason to give this flick a chance.
Mr. Bean’s Holiday
The irrepressible Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) returns to theaters a full decade after his first big-screen endeavor (Bean), and despite improving upon that 36 percent Tomatometer effort, he’s still got the scribes befuddled. This time the silent funnyman finds himself on a prize vacation to Cannes, France, recording his travels en route to the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. If you’ve seen any of the classic television show, you already know what you’re in store for; if not, be happy knowing there will be no more additional Bean movies to suffer through.
Saturday Night Live enjoyed an energy boost when the Lonely Island comedy trio of Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, and Andy Samberg signed on (what fan could live now without SNL‘s brilliant Digital Shorts?), but their first feature film — about an aspiring stuntman named Rod — failed to capture the hearts of the critical mass. We say, what up scribes? Hot Rod‘s got a killer 1980s hair metal soundtrack, a punch-dancing sequence, and enough silly laughs to make us want to drop a Hamilton on some crazy delicious cupcakes.
Canadian horror, eh. A half-blood werewolf boy is the key to ending an age-old curse in one small town, but a band of bloodlusting lycans aim to keep the curse alive. Howlingly bad? You be the judge (or trust us, and listen to the critics on this one).
We know, we know. Who would have thought that a stereotype-reinforcing, live action version of a children’s toy line aimed at pre-teen mallrats could be anything but stellar fare?
Ouch. Lindsay Lohan‘s latest couldn’t even beat the irredeemable Bratz movie’s Tomatometer (some might say it single-handedly killed her career). Comparisons to movies like Boxing Helena and unnecessarily gory torture porn flicks don’t help, either. Sadly, we know as well as TriStar Pictures that the extended stripper sequence will boost DVD sales exponentially…
Take aim, home theater enthusiasts. May your DVD-hunting arrows fly true.
It’s been awhile since we’ve heard any news about the forever-in-the-works Dallas movie, but don’t be fooled — the development gears have continued to grind behind the scenes, and as proof, here’s an item in Variety about the project’s new screenwriter and (probable) director.
According to Variety, Betty Thomas is in negotiations to direct the TV adaptation, a position she’d take over from the last Dallas director, Gurinder Chadha. Meanwhile, Pam Brady is working on a new script.
It’s simple, really. Regency and 20th Century Fox have decided that Dallas should be a comedy. A spoof, if you will. It’s all about the kids, according to the article, which puts it succinctly: “There is…hope that a comedy about the dysfunctional Ewings will appeal to a younger audience, which has become a Regency priority.”
This should work out wonderfully. Everybody knows that kids can’t tell when they’re being targeted at all. Fish in a barrel!
Variety lists a January start date for the new Dallas, and yes, John Travolta is still attached to star.
Matt Damon set a
new opening weekend record for the month of August with the top spot bow of
The Bourne Ultimatum,
the third installment in the actor’s signature spy series. The frame’s other new
releases saw more modest openings while most holdovers held up well. The wide
assortment of popular hits allowed the North American box office to soar to the
highest grossing August weekend in history.
Racing past expectations, Universal’s
The Bourne Ultimatum
scored a spectacular opening grossing an estimated $70.2M in its first weekend
in theaters. Infiltrating 3,660 locations, the PG-13 film averaged a muscular
$19,175 per venue and beat out the $52.5M bow of its predecessor
The Bourne Supremacy
by a healthy 34%. That action entry launched in July 2004 and went on to gross
$176.1M. The new entry was also directed by
and co-starred Julia
Stiles and Joan Allen.
If the estimate holds for The Bourne Ultimatum, it will become the fourth film
in five weeks to open north of $70M following
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and
The Simpsons Movie.
The string of big hits set the July box office ablaze and has now spilled over
into the final month of summer which should continue the fireworks. Plus most
films have been holding up well over the last few weeks. Of the 37 holdover
cases in the top ten during the last five weekends, only four have witnessed
declines of more than 50%. By comparison, nine had such drops over the same
five-week period a year ago.
Source: Box Office Guru
This week at the movies, we got amnesiac spies (The Bourne Ultimatum, starring Matt Damon and Julia Stiles), loser daredevils (Hot Rod, with Andy Samberg and Isla Fisher), salsa singers (El Cantante, starring Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez), school girls (Bratz: The Movie, starring Nathalia Ramos and Jon Voight), flying canines (Underdog, starring Jason Lee and Peter Dinklage), and radio personalities (Talk to Me, starring Don Cheadle and Chjwetel Ejiofor). What do the critics have to say?
The third in a series is rarely the best — witness the critical response to the latest Shrek and Spidey installments. However, if you found the thrills and chills of The Bourne Identity and Supremacy too sedate, you’re in luck; critics say The Bourne Ultimatum is one of the most exciting, action-paced movies of the summer, and is easily the best in the series (not too shabby, considering the other two were both Certified Fresh). Yet again, Matt Damon isn’t really sure who he is or how he became such an awesome killing machine, and yet again, he’s on the run from the authorities. But in this episode, pundits say Damon really comes into his own as an action star here, and director Paul Greengrass is well on his way to becoming an auteur of commercial filmmaking. Critics say the dizzying camerawork, rapid-fire editing, and overall craftsmanship make for one wild ride. At 92 percent on the Tomatometer, this may be the ultimate Bourne.
Critics are musing: is Bratz much better than Barbie? Since 2001, the ethnically diverse dolls have built an empire based on their unique brand of girl power and lip gloss, including this film adaptation featuring four girls overcoming their differences and joining together in holy BFFness. But critics deem Bratz: The Movie a vapid and clueless enterprise, with characters who don’t seem to have any discernable characteristics beyond fashion and material wealth. And it freely employs stereotypes (girls must be skinny, boys must be dreamy, and adults are idiots) while paradoxically arguing stereotypes are bad. At 11 percent Tomatometer, these Bratz need a lesson in filmmaking.
You loved him when he was drinking Mr. Pibb with a Red Vines straw, and you loved him when he was cutting holes in boxes. But will you love Andy Samberg in Hot Rod, his feature-length debut in which he stars as an awful amateur daredevil trying to raise money for his ill stepfather? Though Samberg is singled out for his enthusiastic, mischievous charm, little else appears to impress the critics. They say Hot Rod tries for an anarchic brand of physical and lowbrow jokes, but ends up irritating and random instead, the kind of disjointed comedy that gives SNL movies its bad name. At 30 percent Tomatometer, Rod is anything but hot. (Check out our interview with Samberg and his Lonely Island pals here.)
It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: Don Cheadle is one of the best actors in Hollywood today. In his latest, Talk to Me, Cheadle gives a performance that some pundits are calling Oscar-worthy — while noting his co-star, Chjwetel Ejiofor, is no slouch as well. Cheadle plays proto-shock jock Petey Green, an ex-con who brought freshness, humor, and irreverence to the medium during the tumultuous and heady late 1960s. While some pundits note that the film has some bumpy patches – often a problem for biopics — they say the performances and energy are strong enough to overlook most flaws. At 79 percent on the Tomatometer, the Certified Fresh Talk to Me is a movie worth talking about.
Hector Lavoe isn’t widely known with the American public. And that probably won’t change much with the release of El Cantante, a biopic based on the late Puerto Rican salsa singer’s life. Marc Anthony stars as Lavoe, but it’s the life of Lavoe’s wife (played by Jennifer Lopez) that, for better or worse, you’ll remember the most vividly from the movie. Critics call Lopez’s scenery-chewing a vanity acting job, as the rest of the movie is too loosely loose structure, creating a vacuum of character and narrative focus. And while El Cantante revels in biopic clichés, it never bothers revealing why Hector Lavoe was even worthy of an inspiring biopic in the first place. At 26 percent Tomatometer, El Cantante hits a sour note.
“Never fear — Underdog is here!” So went the rallying cry of everyone’s favorite super-pooch back in the day. Now? It appears the people behind Underdog have plenty to fear from critics, since the film wasn’t screened before hitting theaters. The usually-dependable Jason Lee and Peter Dinklage star in the tale (or is it tail?) of a mutt who, after an experiment, gains superpowers. Kids, after you’re done taking Fido for a stroll around the block, Guess the Tomatometer.
Also opening this week in limited release: Summer ’04, a riveting tale of a summer holiday gone awry, is at 92 percent on the Tomatometer; Blame it on Fidel, a Parisian coming-of-age tale about a young girl and her radical activist parents, is at 92 percent; Them, a tense and existential horror flick from France, is at 81 percent; The Willow Tree, a Bergman-esque Iranian drama of a man coming to grips with death, is at 80 percent; Colossal Youth, a sprawling drama about urban life in Portugal, is at 71 percent; Becoming Jane, a biopic of Jane Austen’s early life, is at 62 percent; and The Ten, an anthology of comic vignettes based on the Ten Commandments, is at 57 percent.
Taccone have achieved the ultimate goal of most American high school kids:
getting paid to hang out. The comedy trio have been friends since junior high,
and after gaining an Internet cult following through their troupe The Lonely
Island, auditioned and were hired for Saturday Night Live. Samberg was
chosen to appear on the show, while Schaffer and Taccone signed on as writers,
but all three gained instant notoriety with SNL Digital Shorts like
Lazy Sunday and D— in a Box. With their overnight success, it
wasn’t long before they hit the big screen.
Friday, the Lonely
boys make their feature debut with the comedy
plays Rod Kimble, a terrible daredevil trying to save his stepfather’s (Ian
McShane) life by performing a death-defying stunt.
plays Rod’s half-brother and
takes the director’s chair. Rotten Tomatoes caught up with the three
during a San Francisco roundtable to discuss YouTube, their Berkeley origins,
and their obsessions with obscure 80s teen comedies.
did you learn from making the shorts that you were able to apply to
Hot Rod? And what
working habits from those were no help whatsoever?
Schaffer: Well, the first part’s easier to answer than the second, which is-
Samberg: The second part’s easy for me.
Oh, really? Well, you’ll take the second part. This is going to work out
shorts that we’ve been doing since we decided to move to "Tinseltown" as we
called it, and tried to make it-
do not call it Tinseltown.
Taccone: We do. I just found out recently it’s called
Los Angeles actually. I’d never heard of it.
would give the DMV his address and it would say Tinseltown, USA.
They would deliver my mail there. I got that officially recognized.
But doing all those shorts, I was amazed how much on the set of a big movie,
once you realize what the 200 people around you are actually doing and kind of
know their names and so you’re not as intimidated by the buzzing around of the
200 people — you know, the wardrobe people that are just worrying about
wardrobe and the lighting people that are just worrying about lights — how much
it would actually boil right back down to the three of us and a couple friends.
Once everything got quiet and it was time to actually shoot, there was really
actually kind of no difference between doing a short and doing the thing in
terms of like, you’re just trying to make the little scenes work. It gets very
small right after it gets very big.
Right, because the creative battery was essentially the same and a lot of the
other people we brought in were our friends or quickly became our friends, so it
was pretty loose actually.
Trying to be silly in front of a video camera in your apartment is very similar
to doing it in front of the big cameras once you figure out what they’re all
doing and they’re quiet and you’re saying action. All of a sudden it’s just
kind of what’s in the middle that matters anyways.
you were saying that some things are different when you leave the apartment.
would say the SNL schedule specifically was the biggest obstacle for us.
At SNL, [the schedule’s] built for the kind of guys we are, which is
sleep through the day and stay up late. And on a movie you’re up really, really
early every f—ing day. It’s just so early and for me it’s really
excruciatingly hard to wake up in the morning. And when you’re shooting for
daylight, you gotta get up at, like, five in the morning. Which I’m sure for
people with regular jobs they’re like, "Stop your crying."
intentionally geared our whole life to not have to do that. And then you’re
like, "Finally it’s the big dream of a movie and now you have to have a regular
person’s schedule." So that was the hardest adjustment to make. Especially from
getting used to the SNL schedule, which is crazy in its own right, but
much more suitable.
[There are] a lot of times where you stay up 36 hours in a row on the SNL
schedule. I think most people would prefer the movie schedule, just because at
least it’s the same hours every day.
you think it’s fitting that you guys are probably possibly responsible for
YouTube becoming as big as it is? You guys were doing YouTube before there was a
YouTube and doing user-generated content. How did you guys raise from that to
SNL and now Hot Rod?
We were doing these little smaller shorts and producing them ourselves before a
lot of people might have been or putting them up on the web, but if it wasn’t us
it would have been somebody else. YouTube is built for what it’s become.
It’s not like there haven’t been other videos that have gotten very popular on
there after Lazy Sunday. So I’m sure one of those would have drawn
everybody over there. I mean, they got lucky because we made Lazy Sunday
and that’s how I feel inside, but also we got lucky because a hit sketch on
SNL isn’t exactly newsworthy. There’s been 30 years of hits. Like, you
didn’t see 100 articles about Cowbell.
mean, we wrote 100 articles about Cowbell.
My senior thesis was about Cowbell.
was it like going to UC Santa Cruz having your sense of humor and tone? I went
to UCSC and know they can be sometimes on the sensitive side.
They definitely were. There would definitely be classes where I would notice
people saying things just like, "Ugh. You are just missing the point. You’re
missing the forest for the trees ’cause you’re seeing it through such a narrow
open mind but actually very closed mind narrow viewpoint."
The actual basic political and moral fundamentals [that] people are so up in
arms about [at UCSC] we do agree with. But it doesn’t really do anyone good
outside of yourself to treat it as seriously as a lot of people do.
was life like before The Lonely Island?
There was just an abyss.
don’t even know. Did the world even exist?
Before the internet…
We really were friends in seventh grade and [Samberg] was a year younger than
us. When we got to eighth grade he was in seventh, so we didn’t actually really
know each other that well. Then when we got to high school we all became
friends. Basically, there were maybe eight dudes and just like we call
ourselves "the dudes" now, in high school we called ourselves "the fellas."
lot’s changed since then. A lot. I guess we’ve really matured and grown.
guess that kind of answers it. There was "the fellas" and it was eight dudes.
Pretty much, when you’re in high school, your dream is to figure out who’s going
to pay you to continue to joke around with your friends and the three of us
figured it out. And the other five are chemists and studied American Studies at
Michigan and are getting their PhDs.
bunch of them killed themselves.
They blew it. They gave up too early.
love that you said, "Eight dudes made up the fellas before we became the dudes."
That’s a great quote. It’s just the truth. I can’t apologize for the truth.
of the funniest parts in Hot Rod was the scene where Samberg and Taccone say “Cool Beans” to each other in weird voices for about a minute, almost like a bizarre electronica song. How did
that come to be?
basically wrote it as a scene where they say "cool beans" to each other. And
they just keep repeating the words to each other and slowly start saying it
faster and in weirder and weirder ways. Which led us to basically 40 minutes of
footage of them saying it.
No joke, probably like 40 minutes.
And really bizarre takes.
see it on the DVD?
Worst DVD extra, most terrible DVD extra of all time. And we’ll just have
commentary the whole time.
think we lost a few people in the crew that day. They were like, "F— this.
I’m getting out right now."
It almost wasn’t in the movie. We put it in at the very end. When it comes back
from a test it’s always the most liked and the most disliked. Because if you
don’t like it, it will turn you off of everything. And if you do like it, it’s
your favorite part.
there a roster of 1980s movies that you recommend as preparatory viewing for
We just wanted [Hot Rod] to look nostalgic a little bit. Like, it’s
but we wanted it to have the tonal quality, picture-wise, of
Just to remind us of the movies from our childhood.
The fact that the Europe album, The Final Countdown, [and]
RAD [both] came out in
1986 [is making me] think that 1986 was my favorite year of all time.
remember being a young lad in ’86 and being like, "I think ’86 is my favorite
year of my life so far."
It makes sense because we were like around nine years old and that’s when you
first start striking out on your own a little bit.
Until ’88, right? ’88 was the s—.
couldn’t get enough of 1988!
Lonely Island all three of you acted. Now Andy’s the face out there on screen.
Was there any time when you were, "Let’s make a decision: Andy’s going to be the
made that decision a while ago.
[To Andy] But you were always the one, since you were whatever age, had the
dream of being on SNL, not me or [Jorma]. It would be truly sad if one
of us was the face on SNL and you were the one writing. That would have
been infuriating. This is yours and we were kind of like, "Dude, that’s what
you’ve always wanted."
And the one thing I did outside of these guys was stand up for seven years.
While you guys were writing your own stuff I was still dragging my ass to
terrible clubs and doing sets. And that kind of stuff came in very, very handy
for me [during the SNL audition]. But that being said, I would love to
see these dudes on screen a lot more.
Speaking of your ass, how morally satisfying was it to be beaten up by Ian
think that’s the first time someone’s ever started with "Speaking of your ass."
huge Deadwood fans. It was a delight, I mean he kicked the s— out of me and
not always fakely. Some of those blows really connected. He’s really tough so
I think he expected me to be as well. It was a really good time.
many of the stunts did Andy do?
was on the bike a lot, [but] I didn’t ever get airborne.
You went over a curb.
yeah, title shot. That was me.
never ridden a motor bike of any sort before and I was sort of terrible with
anything on wheels to start with. Skateboard, BMX; you name it and I’ve crashed
on it when I was a kid. So I’m starting from scratch and by that measurement I
did a lot of stuff. If I had tried anything too dangerous I would have been
You didn’t have to be too good on it to sell the character, luckily. He’s not
supposed to be much of an expert.
The tricky thing about the stunts in the movie is that they all go wrong, and
it’s a lot harder to make something look like it’s terribly array but still be
safe. You have to actually have stunt training to do that stuff and sometimes
it doesn’t matter, you just hurt yourself. So I wasn’t allowed to do that stuff
honest, it was the smart move. I thought I actually could do the pool [stunt].
I was like, "But its water, I’ll be fine." And they were like, "You will die."
"Whatever. I’m a man!" Then the guy did it and I was like, "Holy s—, I’m
glad I didn’t do this."
did everyone change Pam
Brady’s script to make it more specifically for your talents?
She had written it for
Will Ferrell and was envisioned as a vehicle for him. As a testament to how
well she wrote it, it was very much obviously for
Will Ferrell. When
you read it, you couldn’t picture anyone else in the movie but Will Ferrell. So
if [Samberg] had done those lines, it would have just been like an impression of
Will Ferrell. We had to go through just to make it [feel] like it was ours and
his and all that kind of stuff.
Hot Rod has a great soundtrack. Did you have a lot of input with the music
in the film?
It’s all ours.
They’re going to release the soundtrack, actually.
Which they don’t do all the time these days because soundtracks don’t make all
that much money. We were very excited they were actually going to put out a
how will the soundtrack be different from Europe’s Greatest Hits?"
Oh, it’s much worse than that. It might as well just be
Europe: The Final Countdown. Eight out of 10 songs that are on
The Final Countdown album are in this movie. We were trying to make it all
ten so you could just go to the store and buy it. We went into
Europe‘s library and there’s a lot of great songs, but we just stuck to songs
from that one album, just to try to do that for the fun of it.
movie that’s referenced in Hot Rod is
The Whoopee Boys.
laugh every time I see that. This is our first
What’s that movie like anyways?
This is the first time I’ve gotten to tell this story. I’m happy to tell this
story. This is one of our proudest moments of getting a little bit of power by
making a movie for
first day on the set where they built Kevin’s room and there’s a
Neutron: Boy Genius poster [on the wall] because I told them to put a
movie poster in there. But I’m like, "That really doesn’t quite fit because
it’s computer animated and so digital looking. Everything in their world is so
analog except for their computer. What other posters do you have?"
course they all have to be
and it was Summer
Rental with John
Candy and The Whoopee Boys, which we had never heard of. As soon as
we saw that poster, it’s on his wall. [The poster’s] a painting, like they do
in those 80’s movie posters, with [Marco
Keith’s and Paul Rodriguez’s]
pants down and they’re
looking at you from between their legs and it says, "They’ve got a thing or two
to show high society." And we were like, "Oh. My. God. Not only is this poster
going on the wall but we need to clear off space on the wall, so you can see
were obsessed with it on set the whole time. Our whole crew was into it.
We added lines [referencing The Whoopee Boys].
We kept trying to figure out how we could see The Whoopee Boys. I had my
assistant try to find it and all he could find were old VHS’s on eBay which
would have taken a week to get there. It’s a Paramount movie so we had a
producer call Paramount to see if they had a DVD or something. But they don’t
have anything. They don’t even have VHS at
producer’s] like, "All they have is a 35 mm print. We’ll overnight it." They
got us a theater in Vancouver on a Saturday night. We had the 35 mm print sent
out and we got a limo and invited the whole cast and crew.
You had to do a shot of Jagermeister to enter the theater.
This probably won’t surprise you but the guy who played Rico [Danny
McBride] was really into Jager Bombs.
Ironically, we got way into Jager Bombs.
Which is a very fraternity kind of a drink. It’s Red Bull and Jagermeister.
It’s a terrible drink.
I’ll tell you what though, it makes for a great Whoopee Boys screening.
Matt Damon aims to gun down his competitors and rule the North American box office this weekend with The Bourne Ultimatum, the third in the popular spy series, which opens on Friday aiming to sell more tickets than the frame’s four other new wide releases combined. The Universal release reteams the actor with director Paul Greengrass who helmed the last installment in the franchise The Bourne Supremacy which bowed to $52.5M in July 2004 on its way to a stellar $176.1M domestic cume. The Bourne series has been very well-received and fans do not seem sick of it yet so expect most to return for this new threequel.
Ultimatum has three major advantages over Supremacy – 500 more theaters, slightly higher ticket prices, and less competition from action flicks. Three years ago when the last Bourne bowed on top, the next three films on the charts were all action titles gobbling up a similar $53.5M between them. This time, Hollywood has taken a break with comedies and wizardry filling up the top five so audiences should be ready for an action-packed film from a reliable brand name. As is often the case with the third part in a franchise, there will be some who feel they saw this twice before and don’t need to spend money yet again for the same entertainment. And others will feel that the summer’s eleventh sequel will be a bit too much.
However, ticket sales from adults over 25 should be solid since Ultimatum‘s serious tone counters the wave of immature films flooding the marketplace. Plus critics
are showering the new Bourne with praise which will help convince those with some doubt. Invading 3,661 locations, Universal could possibly score its biggest
opening in four years with The Bourne Ultimatum which might bow to around $55M this weekend.
LAST YEAR: Will Ferrell raced to the top spot with the comedy Talladega Nights which bowed to an impressive $47M. The Sony release went on to gross $148M. Debuting far back in second place was the animated film Barnyard with $15.8M to kick off a leggy run that resulted in a $72.6M final for Paramount. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest placed third with $11M followed by Miami Vice which tumbled by 60% in its second weekend to $10.2M. Lionsgate opened its horror flick The Descent with $8.9M on its way to $26M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
So one of the guys who gave us the genius catchphrase of "DOUBLE TRUE" has a movie coming out in August. It’s called "Hot Rod." And we just got the brand spankin’ new trailer. In other words, welcome to Awesometown. Population: you.
"Hot Rod" stars SNLer Andy Samberg as thick-headed amateur stuntman Rod Kimble. Ian McShane costars as Frank, Rod’s bully of a stepfather who falls ill and needs a heart operation. Kimble devises a plan: he’ll jump 15 buses to raise the money for the operation for his stepfather, and then (per Paramount’s press release) "kick his ass."
The trailer introduces the rest of cast, including Isla Fisher (as the love interest), Will Arnett (that makes like, what, four movies this summer?!), and SNL members Chris Parnell and Jorma Taccone. Kimble’s various run-ins with solid objects are amusingly shot, and the trailer also features all of the three fine tenets of American comedy — explosions, somebody getting hit in the face with something, and a Jewfro.