We're late. We're the worst. We know.
I know, I know. We suck. Like many of you, fall is the busiest time of the year. Holidays will give us a welcome reprieve of time away from work where we can sit down and watch all the upcoming Oscar contenders. It's that time people, we did it! For now, sit back and enjoy the Newsletter, MamFam
10 Best Guest-I-Verse Characters
Last month, Christopher Guest released Mascots, his fifth mockumentary feature film (sixth counting This is Spinal Tap which he wrote and conceived but did not direct), directly to Netflix. As long time Guest fans, Richard and I were incredibly hyped for and ultimately disappointed by Mascots; I fear our straight-laced hero may have lost his fastball for good. Regardless, a new Guest movie gives us a good excuse to revisit his classic works. Instead of ranking the films themselves (for the record: Richard’s list goes (best to last) Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, This is Spinal Tap, A Mighty Wind, For Your Consideration, and Mascots while mine goes Best in Show, This is Spinal Tap, A Mighty Wind, Waiting for Guffman, For Your Consideration, and Mascots), we thought it only fitting to rank the true stars of the Christopher Guest-i-verse, the characters themselves.
10. Steve Stark – Michael Hitchcock – Waiting For Guffman
Brimming with envy, love, and enthusiasm. This small town pharmacist is probably the most underappreciated character in the Guest-i-verse. Hitchcock plays the role with such intensity, it kills me every time. Only one other person could do that…and that’s Barbara Streisand. - RB
9. Libby Mae Brown – Parker Posey – Waiting for Guffman
Guest character tend to fall into two (broad) characters: those that are so over the top as to become caricatures and those that are so grounded in reality that you start to believe you’re watching an actual documentary. I tend to gravitate to the former (see below) but the Libby May Browns of the Guest-i-verse are really the glue that holds the whole thing together. There’s something so true in Posey’s performance, perfectly summed up in her dispassionate line, “If this doesn’t work out I guess I’ll just go back to the Dairy Queen. I’ll always have a place at the Dairy Queen.” - BG
8. David St. Hubbins – Michael McKean – This is Spinal Tap
It’s hard to pick out a single character from Spinal Tap as, perhaps better than any of the other Guest movies, the core group of characters exist as a whole rather than as parts assembling a whole. But for me, McKean’s Hubbins is both the most oblivious of the band members and the most believable. Take almost any music documentary about the time period and sub Hubbins in for the lead singer and I’m not sure the average person notices. It’s perfect. - BG
7. Hamilton Swan – Michael Hitchcock – Best in Show
Of all the Guest regulars, I think Hitchcock is the most underrated. He’s always so incredibly good in roles that are less spectacular and honestly more difficult to work within. Hamilton Swan is his masterpiece. When Hitchcock passes on (hopefully at a ripe old age), if someone doesn’t stand at the podium and scream about an important rubber dog toy, I will be extremely disappointed. – BG
6. Mitch Cohen – Eugene Levy – A Mighty Wind
Levy does outstanding work in all of the Guest movies and he is, ultimately, the star of Best in Show. But for me, everything he’s done in his entire storied career pales in comparison to Mitch Cohen. It is just such a perfect portrayal. Levy always nails the straight man but the straight man with a massive set of quirks, who maybe isn’t aware that he’s the straight man, is on another level. - BG
5. Meg Swan – Parker Posey – Best in Show
This person actually exists, I swear. Posey is at her best here exploring the nuances of the yuppie movement. No overblown southern accent, just subversion of every emotion and exploring the depression of having everything. - RB
4. Scott Dolan – John Michael Higgins – Best in Show
Along with Michael McKean’s Stefan Vanderhoff, these are the rare homosexual stereotypes of a bygone era that hold up and do not offend (granted, I am a straight male, but I am sensitive to these things!) the beauty is in the subtext (a former wife, boudoir shots, etc). Laugh out loud at every turn. Doesn’t hurt that I think Higgins to be the most underrated comedic actor of his time. - RB
3. Corky St. Clair – Christopher Guest – Waiting for Guffman
You can make a pretty solid case that Corky doesn’t hold up nearly as well as many of the other characters within the Guest-i-verse. I don’t necessarily disagree with that, I just happen to think that Corky is such a FORCE the first time you watch Guffman and this trumps any lack of longevity. We’ve all come in contact with a Corky St. Clair at some juncture of life and you think you understand the character arc…and then Corky cranks it up to eleven. I remember seeing Guffman for the first time and just staring in wide-eyed amusement as Corky implodes. “You are all bastard people.” What a line, what a perfect delivery, what a brilliant character design. - BG
2. Mickey Crabbe – Catherine O’Hara – A Mighty Wind
I love North American Treasure Catherine O’Hara. I could watch her read the phone book. But watching her as a burned out old folkie is wonderful. The songs are delivered in such a straight way and this movie is truly an achievement in so many ways. O’Hara has a unique way (I can only think of Steve Martin with a similar talent) of grounding something in reality, but being equally zany at the same time. - RB
1. Buck Laughlin – Fred Williard – Best in Show
Total improv genius at work here. Such a great set up by Guest to put Willard in a position to completely freewheel and, my goodness, are the results fantastic. There should be an alternate broadcast where Buck Laughlin announces football games. Any time you hear me with a dumb non-sequitur on the podcast, it’s Laughlin I’m channeling—or I’m just being stupid. But, seriously—and this might be a bit off topic—but how much do you think I could bench press? - RB
Suicide Squad: Extended Version
In my original review of Suicide Squad
, I summed up my thoughts on the film by noting, “The foundation for a decent movie was there, but for every one step it took forward it immediately took two steps back… [ultimately] this movie was a dilapidated mess.” Four months and multiple viewings later, I still stand by my comments. The theatrical version of this film could be been great, but it simply was… not.
So when Warner Brothers announced an extended cut of Suicide Squad
approached the horizon, I, like other stalwart DC fans, held my breath and hoped for the best. After all, the ‘Ultimate Edition’ of Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice
was inarguably better. It added enough backstory, character motivation, and narrative direction on to the theatrical version to improve BvS
’s rotten tomatoes score by at least double digits.
Subsequently, I watched the new ‘Extended Edition’ of Suicide Squad
. I am ultimately disappointed to report to all Mad About Movies
fans that the additional thirteen minutes added back into this film do not contribute to its betterment in any significant way. Sure, we now get to watch Killer Croc eat a raw, skinned goat. I guess we get a bit more of Rick Flag’s back story? And, lest we forget… we get to witness Deadshot reflect on his daughter’s harsh judgement against the backdrop of his rain soaked prison cell for an additional six seconds. None of these story beats are inherently bad, but they are all just few extra sprinkles on top of an already overcrowded ice cream cone.
Fans looking for more Joker footage, be advised: you get (almost) none. The only real significant changes in this new version of the film are as follows:
- During the scene before Slipknot’s death, the ‘squad’ now plays a game of telephone, passing along Boomerang’s original doubts about the authenticity of the bombs in their necks and his plan to stage a coup. The scene adds a fun new pinch of team chemistry, but not enough to matter.
- An added flashback of Harley begging the Joker to accept her as a partner/lover. She crashes her bike into busy traffic, blocks his purple car, then holds him at gun point. Fans will know this well as it was one of the first sets of widely leaked paparazzi photos from to leak from the Toronto set. Yes, this scene is fun to watch, and it’s neat to watch the Joker suggest he is more of an idea than a person, but again, this scene adds nothing to any viewer with even the most rudimentary understating of the Harley/Joker “Stockholm Syndrome” dynamic established in comics of years passed.
- Immediately after this flashback, Harley apparently decides to take out her now un-repressed aggression against her new teammates by flashing her psychiatric skills at the squad like a deranged Frasier Crane. She accuses Killer Croc of being a whiny crybaby whose parents “never took him to Chuck E. Cheese.” She then accuses Katana of having “daddy issues,” etc. Eventually, Deadshot convinces her to play nice. Once again, this scene is semi-fun to watch but it adds nothing to the dynamic of the narrative, especially since at this point, the team should be bonding, not fighting.
And THAT. IS. IT.
Feeling disappointed that this new edit didn’t alter the film significantly? Join the club. The wait for the pitch-perfect DC superhero film continues and I won’t lose hope. (Wonder Woman here we come!) The bottom line on this film: I do think the added moments in this version make Suicide Squad
a better film. But much like adding two teaspoons of Coca-Cola to a barrel drum of cheap whiskey, the question remains: How much better is it really
Digital – 11/15, DVD and Blu-Ray 12/13
New to Home Viewing in November
Each month in this space, we take a look at what movies and TV shows you’ll be able to (legally) watch in the comfort of your own home in the coming weeks. I recommend a couple of properties I enjoy, highlight one I haven’t seen but I’m looking forward to checking out, and something I desperately want you to avoid. I’m just doing my part to help you make smart decisions with your precious free time. Am I a hero? I’ll let you be the judge of that.
WHAT I’VE SEEN AND YOU SHOULD, TOO: Hell or High Water – Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges, Ben Foster (Available November 22nd)
We saw this one back at the end of August and the early Award Season movies have done nothing in my book to knock it off its high pedestal. HOHW is the kind of smart and simple adult-oriented drama that we just don’t get enough of each year. Packed with subtly brilliant performances from virtually everyone involved, HOHW is also beautifully shot and works as a poignant homage to Westerns of the past.
Check out our episode here:
MAY I ALSO RECOMMEND: Creed – Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson (Available on Amazon Prime November 1st)
Creed is a perfect movie. I watched it for about the sixth time recently and it was still just as powerful and magnificent as it was the first time around. If you can sit through Sly’s final speech before MBJ heads back in the ring and not feel SOMETHING (read: “bawl like a baby”) then I think you should be put on some kind of government watch list. I’m not a fan of Big Brother but Big Brother needs to keep an eye on you, buddy.
WHAT I HAVEN’T SEEN BUT INTEND TO: Eight Days a Week – The Beatles (Available on DVD and Blu-Ray November 15th, also available on Hulu)
My co-host Kent has been championing this one for a while but as always, I’m behind on the documentary scene this year. I’ve always been more of a Zeppelin guy but you can’t be a modern music listener without fully appreciating what exactly The Beatles meant to the scene at the time and how they continue to influence to this day and I think Ron Howard’s focus (looking exclusively at the heavy touring years between 1963 and 1966) is a great approach.
WHAT I’VE SEEN SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO: The Walking Dead (Season 6) – Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira
We have to stop watching this, you guys. We just have to. I know it’s the most popular show on TV. I know. I know that no matter what stupid thing the myriad showrunners and writers do each week, we all keep tuning in. I know. I know that it has somehow crept into a permanent section of our TV Viewing Brains that we access almost involuntarily. I KNOW. But we’ve got to stop. There is a ZERO percent chance that The Walking Dead will end in a satisfying fashion. I don’t believe it’s even possible anymore, they’ve gone too far to the wrong side of storytelling. We will all be SO INCREDIBLY ANGRY when this accursed phenomenon finally ends and I think we all know this. So let’s just quit, okay? You first and I’ll follow, I promise, right after I watch this week’s episode.
November 1st – Star Trek Beyond, Bad Moms, Outlander Season 2, Nine Lives, Anthropoid,
November 8th – Sausage Party, Daredevil Season 1, Taxi Driver (40th Anniversary), Into the Badlands Season 1, Bubba Ho-Tep, Billions Season 1
November 15th – Finding Dory, Star Wars: The Force Awakens 3D, Better Call Saul Season 2, Punch Drunk Love Criterion Collection, Loving Complete Series
November 22nd – Mechanic: Resurrection, War Dogs, Kubo and the Two Strings, Yoga Hosers, Hands of Stone
November 29th – Pete’s Dragon, Don’t Breathe, The BFG, The Wild Life,
NETFLIX – The 100 Season 3, The African Queen, Alfie, Boyhood, Burn After Reading, Colin Queen: The New York Story, The Crown Season 1, Cujo, Dana Carvey: Straight, White, Male 60, The Doors, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, The Heartbreak Kid, The Ivory Game, The Jetsons The Movie, The Jungle Book, Just Friends, Meet the Blacks, Michael Che Matters, Paddington, Ravenous, Tales of the Dark Side: The Movie, Thinner
AMAZON – The Addam’s Family, Addam’s Family Values, Barbershop, Be Cool, Death at a Funeral, Erin Brokovich, Fatal Attraction, Fletch, Get Shorty, Green Room, Happily N’Ever After, James Bond Movies, Legally Blonde, Major League, Matilda, Meet Joe Black, Mermaids, The Night Manager Season 1, Patton Oswalt: Comedy Plus Tragedy Equals Time, Red Oaks Season 2, Rocky I-V, Rollerball, Rounders, Son of Rambow, Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans, Terms of Endearment, The Conversation, Top Secret!, Up in the Air, Urban Cowboy