Tag Archives: Bill Irwin

The Set of 400: #253 – My Favorite Grocery Store Pickup Line

Today! Because I am the worst case scenario of Thomas Jefferson’s dream –

My Blue Heaven (1990)

Directed by Herbert Ross

Starring Steve Martin (x4), Rick Moranis, Carol Kane, Bill Irwin (x3), Joan Cusack, Melanie Mayron, William Hickey (x2), Daniel Stern, Ed Lauter, Colleen Camp, Deborah Rush, Jesse Bradford, Julie Bovasso, Gordon Currie, Carol Ann Susi, Ellen Albertini Dow (x3)

The third of the three comedies they’d appear in (if you don’t count Rick’s uncredited cameo in L.A. Story), My Blue Heaven makes the most out of teaming Martin and Moranis. Parenthood is more drama than comedy and Little Shop of Horrors only has them together briefly, but My Blue Heaven gives them a pair of conflicting, two-ish dimensional characters and let’s them run. Martin’s witness protected gangster Vinnie needs to stay out of trouble until the trial, and Moranis’s FBI agent Barney Coopersmith is tasked with handling him, to great comic effect.

While Moranis seems obviously suited for the nerdy G-man role, Martin as a slick Italian gangster doesn’t immediately sound right. In fact, Martin originally was supposed to play Barney, but after someone (Schwarzenegger? That can’t be right) dropped out, he switched roles and they brought in Moranis. Genius move! Both are playing extreme stereotyped versions of these parts – they weren’t aiming for a gritty mob film with comedic touches, it’s a wall-to-wall comedy – and their interplay, as well as their romantic entanglements, provide for a solidly underrated gem all around. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #276 – My Favorite Veal Piccata

Today! Because you have the whitest white part of the eyes I’ve ever seen. Do you floss?

Hot Shots! (1991)

Directed by Jim Abrahams

Starring Charlie Sheen, Valeria Golino, Jon Cryer, Cary Elwes (x4), Lloyd Bridges, Kevin Dunn, William O’Leary, Kristy Swanson, Bill Irwin (x2), Bruce A. Young, Ryan Stiles, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Heidi Swedberg, Don Lake

Indirectly responsible for foisting Two and a Half Men on the world, I imagine, Hot Shots! is a direct parody of Top Gun, plus a bunch of other movies mocked along the way. Abrahams spun off from his frequent collaborators the Zucker brothers to concoct this largely solid gagfest with Naked Gun/Police Academy writer Pat Proft, and while a little dated today – this movie being the height of Gulf War comedy – it’s still a pretty funny movie, all things considered.

As mentioned earlier, there aren’t a ton of opportunities to see Cary Elwes do zany comedy – despite this being what he does best, outside of smarmy villain roles – so couple that with Airplane! vet Lloyd Bridges, future Veep great Kevin Dunn, clowning genius Bill Irwin, improv maestro Ryan Stiles, and a weirdly suited for this type of comedy Valeria Golino, and Hot Shots! totally keeps the comedy rolling. I’ve mentioned before how franchise films blend together for me from when I was a kid, and Hot Shots! Part Deux is no exception. It’s more a Rambo thing, right? So that makes it a little easier to differentiate.

Yeah, I’d say that’s accurate

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The Set of 400: #365 – My Favorite Octopus Punch

Today! Because this is a fight to the finish. The first man who’s dead loses –

Popeye (1980)

Directed by Robert Altman

Starring Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall, Paul L. Smith, Ray Walston, Paul Dooley, Bill Irwin, Richard Libertini, Donovan Scott, Roberta Maxwell, Allan F. Nicholls, Donald Moffat, Linda Hunt, David Arkin

A pretty roundly savaged film in its day, Popeye almost single-handedly ruined Robert Altman’s career. By the standards of the time, it was kind of a bomb, and it received a bunch of year-end Worst Movie joke nominations and wins. Yikes! And I’ll admit, it’s not a film that totally works – Altman’s style mixed with very child-friendly humor and some pretty cheap looking octopus effects does leave you a little bewildered at the aims of this movie. There are a bunch of Harry Nilsson songs that are silly but okay, but feel kinda jammed in haphazardly all over the place.

But this is a movie I watched to death as a kid, and can still get a lot of enjoyment from – Robin Williams’ sailor man is solidly funny, Paul L. Smith followed up his terrifying role in Midnight Express with a less menacing but equally imposing turn as Bluto, and the supporting group of Pappy, Wimpy, Castor Oyl, et al are solid in their roles. But come on, if there’s any one person to point to for the watch-ability of Popeye it’s Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl. She’s so perfect in the part that it not only gives the movie some much needed heart, it actually creates some genuine authenticity in the goings-on. Authenticity isn’t the right word. Believability? That’s not a word. Reality? It helps to engender an actual reality in the madness of Sweethaven.

Your MVP – Shelley Duvall!

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