Tag Archives: John Lithgow

The Set of 400: #120 – My Favorite Pandemic Outbreak

Today! Because some things aren’t meant to be changed. You need to accept that –

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Directed by Rupert Wyatt

Starring Andy Serkis (x4), James Franco (x3), Freida Pinto, John Lithgow (x4), Brian Cox (x6), Tom Felton, David Oyelowo, Tyler Labine, Jamie Harris

I’m not a huge fan of prequels (The Phantom Menace notwithstanding, chumps!) and I was never particularly into the ’70s Planet of the Apes movies, so I had very few expectations going into this movie. Sure, if you’ve convinced yourself you’ve gotta make a prequel to some story, you could do worse than this – how the hell the world devolved into an ape run hellscape sounds like a pretty great tale (even if it was explained somewhat in the final original films) – plus you’ve now got the technology to render realistic apes in the driver’s seat of this rebellion, not just Roddy McDowell in a rubber mask. But still, why would anyone think this would play out as anything but another cash-in on a long dead property? Tim Burton tried rebooting this nonsense only a decade early, with relatively disastrous results.

Make that “solidly disastrous”

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The Set of 400: #177 – My Favorite Parfait Endorsement

Today! Because she’s married to the muffin man –

Shrek (2001)

Directed by Andrew Adamson & Vicky Jenson

Starring Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy (x3), Cameron Diaz (x2), John Lithgow (x3), Vincent Cassel, Kathleen Freeman (x2), Conrad Vernon, Chris Miller

Without looking it up, I couldn’t tell you for certain right this second whether there were three Shrek movies or four, not counting Puss in Boots. And look, the second movie was pretty solid as I recall, but I don’t remember what the hell the third one was about, or if the fourth movie even exists. Jeez, are there five Shrek movies? I just don’t remember.

I’ve never been one to dismiss animated movies as children’s fare, even endless sequels that seemingly only exist to generate cash. So when Shrek was released – and it was so different from everything that had come before – I thought it was groundbreaking, amazing hilarity. Okay, now, The Emperor’s New Groove actually was out the previous Christmas (as an animated, children’s, non-musical comedy), but I didn’t see that until much later. And sure, you had the South Park movie, but that didn’t really count, as it wasn’t aimed at kids at all. No, Shrek kinda became the template for animated movies from that point forward. And it’s great. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #281 – My Favorite Radio War of the Worlds Explanation

Today! Because it’s not my goddamn planet. Understand, monkey boy?

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)

Directed by W.D. Richter

Starring Peter Weller, John Lithgow (x2), Ellen Barkin (x2), Christopher Lloyd (x3), Jeff Goldblum (x2), Lewis Smith, Clancy Brown, Rosalind Cash, Ronald Lacey, Vincent Schiavelli (x3), Carl Lumbly, Dan Hedaya, Jonathan Banks, John Ashton, Yakov Smirnoff

Playing like the third or fourth sequel to a property that didn’t previously exist, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension doesn’t waste a ton of time explaining the hows and whys of the title character – a brain surgeon/rock musician who heads up a crime fighting team named the Hong Kong Cavaliers, none of whom appear to be from southern China. But there’s no reason to get too bogged down in all that – this movie plunges you straight into the action, with Banzai breaking the ethereal barrier to the 8th Dimension, and all the alien invasion/global intrigue that follows.

Quite the crew!

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The Set of 400: #331 – My Favorite Punchable Child Character

Today! Because he’s got a chip on his shoulder the size of the national debt –

Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

Directed by Joe Dante, John Landis, George Miller, and Steven Spielberg

Starring Dan Aykroyd (x2), Albert Brooks (x2), Vic Morrow, John Larroquette (x2), Steven Williams, Scatman Crothers, Selma Diamond, Bill Quinn, Murray Matheson, Kathleen Quinlan, Dick Miller, John Lithgow, Donna Dixon, Burgess Meredith (x3), Abbe Lane, Bill Mumy, Nancy Cartwright, William Schallert, Patricia Barry, Kevin McCarthy, Jeremy Licht, Priscilla Pointer, Martin Garner, Helen Shaw, Charles Hallahan, Doug McGrath

A wildly uneven movie, which is to be expected considering the basis, the highs in Twilight Zone are pretty damn high, while the lows are only mediocre – this is a wall-to-wall watchable movie, even if on paper it seems like it shouldn’t have worked at all. Bringing in the high profile quartet of directors was certainly a good first step – with the only one I tend to skip being Dante’s “It’s a Good Life.” I don’t know, it’s not an episode I particularly enjoy either, so I’m not blaming the way they execute it, I’m just not a huge fan of that asshole kid. It’s pretty meh.

But the other three – pretty solid. The only original story of the group – the Landis directed “Time Out” is a bit heavy-handed, but effectively lead by Vic Morrow (famously killed on the set of this film, requiring a different ending to be concocted). Spielberg’s “Kick the Can” is schmaltzy, but has always been my favorite segment, with its sadly sentimental senior citizens getting one night to be young again. But clearly they saved the stand-out sequence for the finale, as George Miller’s “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” surpasses the episode it’s based on (the best episode they chose to adapt, too) and gets a dynamite performance from Lithgow as the tortured passenger, seeing a monster on the wing of the plane.

Lithgow is largely not doing well

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