Tag Archives: Carol Kane

The Set of 400: #5 – My Favorite Sadly Temporary Side Effect

Today! Because it’s not often you see a guy that green have the blues that bad –

The Muppet Movie (1979)

Directed by James Frawley

Starring Jim Henson (x3), Frank Oz (x10), Dave Goelz (x7), Richard Hunt (x3), Jerry Nelson (x6), Charles Durning (x4), Austin Pendleton (x2), Orson Welles (x5), Cloris Leachman (x6), Dom DeLuise (x8), Steve Martin (x7), Richard Pryor, Bob Hope, Milton Berle (x3), Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy, Elliott Gould (x5), James Coburn (x4), Carol Kane (x6), Madeline Kahn (x9), Mel Brooks (x6), Telly Savalas, Paul Williams (x3), Bruce Kirby (x2), Caroll Spinney (x2), Scott Walker

The gold standard of Muppet productions. The zenith of the entire franchise. The culmination of nearly 25 years of Mr. the Frog’s place in the cultural landscape, beginning way back with Sam & Friends in 1955. After this, and the subsequent completion of The Muppet Show’s dynamite five year run, the felt gang would achieve superstardom few puppets have entertained before or since. A groundbreaking, world-altering comedy/musical motion picture unduplicated in success or popularity through the entire course of human history. The Muppet Movie is the greatest thing ever produced by anyone, anywhere, at any time.

Kermit, for one, is stunned by this adulation

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The Set of 400: #10 – My Favorite Waste of Cocaine

Today! Because Max is a good name for you, Max –

Annie Hall (1977)

Director: Woody Allen (x12)

Starring: Woody Allen (x9), Diane Keaton (x6), Tony Roberts (x3), Paul Simon, Carol Kane (x5), Shelley Duvall (x4), Christopher Walken (x3), Colleen Dewhurst, Janet Margolin (x2), Marshall McLuhan, John Glover (x5), Truman Capote (x2), Jeff Goldblum (x6), Johnny Haymer, Beverly D’Angelo (x2), Tracey Walter (x4), Sigourney Weaver (x8), Hy Anzell

The twelfth and final Woody Allen film on this list, Annie Hall has experienced the most precipitous fall of any movie on this continually updated countdown in recent years. Sure, it is still clinging to a spot in the top ten, almost out of sheer memory for how much and how long I’ve enjoyed it, but as I’ve mentioned many times on this list, my relationship with Woody has changed dramatically in recent years, and this beloved classic is taking the biggest hits.

You may wonder how that can be, considering it’s still in 10th – well, for the longest time, this was a top four movie of mine, maybe three on occasion. If the wife and I could be said to “have a movie” – like normal couples have songs or, I don’t know, pizza toppings – our movie for over a decade was definitely Annie Hall. It was something we could both agree on, and became a sort of de facto Valentine’s Day thing to watch. This extended to a lesser degree to other Allen films of the era – Manhattan most notably – and being that I was already a big fan of the director, I could bring up his movies as something to watch without worry. We were working on watching them all at one point, working backwards from the present, when this new round of allegations really took hold and the wife checked out for good.

Our standard pizza toppings are half pepperoni/half green peppers, incidentally

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The Set of 400: #160 – My Favorite Wyoming as a Country

Today! Because I’m a fuck-up and I’m an outcast. If you get near me you’re gonna get it –

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Directed by Sidney Lumet (x2)

Starring Al Pacino (x2), John Cazale, Charles Durning (x2), Chris Sarandon (x3), James Broderick, Lance Henriksen (x2), Penelope Allen, Carol Kane (x4), Sully Boyar, Susan Peretz, Marcia Jean Kurtz, John Marriott, Dominic Chianese, Judith Malina

The bank robbery movie against which all others are forever judged, Dog Day Afternoon very basically serves as a template for how to sustain tension in a locked-in heist film where everything immediately goes wrong and negotiations drag on for hours. However, what Dog Day does different from nearly all similar films before or following is that it manages to continue throwing twists and bizarre surprises into the plot straight through to its sudden, stunning finish. Most bank hold-up films go for explosions and constant action to keep the audience engaged – here, it’s the wonderfully nuanced performances of Pacino, Cazale, Sarandon, and Durning, all masterfully guided by Lumet at his best.

It’s also a wonderfully sweaty, sloppily dressed film

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The Set of 400: #227 – My Favorite Put a Little Love in Your Heart

Today! Because I’m sure Charles Dickens would have wanted to see her nipples –

Scrooged (1988)

Directed by Richard Donner (x2)

Starring Bill Murray (x6), Karen Allen (x2), Bobcat Goldthwait, David Johansen, Carol Kane (x3), Robert Mitchum (x3), John Glover (x4), Michael J. Pollard (x2), Alfre Woodard (x2), John Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray (x2), John Forsythe, Mary Lou Retton, Lee Majors, Buddy Hackett, John Houseman (x2), Jamie Farr, Robert Goulet (x2), Mary Ellen Trainor (x3), Kathy Kinney, Tony Steedman, Anne Ramsey (x2), Joel Murray, Mabel King (x2), Pat McCormick, Bruce Jarchow, Jack McGee, Kate McGregor-Stewart, Wendie Malick

A Christmas Carol isn’t an inherently funny story, and yet there have been many, many attempts to make it so. Most are musicals, and that helps to lighten the mood, but anything attempting an even halfway accurate recounting of the book usually ends up relatively straight. Even the excellent Muppet version devolves into a typical Christmas Carol about halfway through. There has been better success on television, but usually they take the story pretty far afield to find jokes. The terrific British series Black Adder has probably the funniest rendition (it helps if you’re a little familiar with that show to begin with) which turns the whole plot on its head, making Rowan Atkinson’s Scrooge character the nicest man in the world, who is shown how things were for his evil ancestors by Robbie Coltrane’s Marley/Ghosts figure. Mr. Magoo’s is one of the best straightforward musical versions, but it relegates its Magoo-esque humor to the framing scenes.

“Well, bless my ten toes!”

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The Set of 400: #237 – My Favorite Poisonous Battle of Wits

Today! Because you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means –

The Princess Bride (1987)

Directed by Rob Reiner

Starring Cary Elwes (x5), Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Andre the Giant, Chris Sarandon (x2), Wallace Shawn (x2), Billy Crystal, Carol Kane (x2), Peter Falk (x2), Fred Savage, Christopher Guest, Peter Cook, Mel Smith

As perfect a movie with as goofy a framing device as exists, The Princess Bride functions so well as a storybook fantasy, a love story, a swashbuckling, sword-fighting epic, and an out-and-out comedy that maybe the criticism could be that it does too much? Like, doesn’t this one movie seem like it could’ve been a great five season TV show, from, like, Starz? Maybe if it was written today it would be. But don’t give anyone the idea!

But yes, the sweeping tale of Wesley and Buttercup travels to distant lands, encounters monsters and giants and wizards, features much swordplay and vengeance, and is couched in our world, with Peter Falk’s grandfather reading the book to Fred Savage as he’s sick in bed. Why? I’m not totally sure. And I don’t know why it has always bothered me – it’s an intrinsic part of the movie, used to continually break up the action and mood with these cutaway scenes to 1980s Chicago to keep reestablishing the narrative. I know it’s a thing movies do, but I just don’t get why it’s here. Seriously, when you’re watching Princess Bride, are you anxiously awaiting the next smash back to Fred Savage’s “Kissing is yucky” nonsense?

At least he’s dedicated to the Monsters of the Midway. Bear down!

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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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