Tag Archives: Mary McDonnell

The Set of 400: #317 – My Favorite Fully Loaded Lexus

Today! Because you took the purest thing in your life and corrupted it –

Blue Chips (1994)

Directed by William Friedkin

Starring Nick Nolte (x2), Mary McDonnell (x3), J.T. Walsh (x2), Ed O’Neill, Alfre Woodard, Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Larry Bird, Anthony C. Hall, Robert Wuhl (x2), Bob Cousy, Matt Nover, Dick Vitale, Louis Gossett Jr.

My favorite college basketball movie of all time (yeah, you heard me, Hoosiers), Blue Chips is a pretty over-the-top hoops spectacle that launched the epic film career of that acting titan, Shaquille O’Neal, the Hardcourt Olivier! The Big Thespian! Such a huge deal was Shaq when he entered the NBA that this film was billed as a Shaq/Nolte buddy picture, a 48 Hours set on a college campus, but no! While Shaq does have some acting tasks in the film – and he’s okay – what he really adds to Blue Chips is the ability to dunk, and in the big game, that’s all he does. Over and over and over. And if you like dunks – and who the hell doesn’t? – it’s pretty awesome, in a very 1994 kinda way.

But no, Nick Nolte is the driving force of this cheese masterpiece. His thinly veiled Bobby Knight impression is explosively crazy, and tends to overwhelm the ho-hum tale of teens getting paid to play at this college. There is a terrific series of scenes where Nolte shouts at players – upon finding out they took money or shaved points, where he shouts at referees – because obviously that’d be included, and where he shouts at scheming money-man J.T. Walsh, who shouts back at him just as much. And it’s all great, if you appreciate incessant shouting in your sports films, and again, who the hell doesn’t?

*unintelligible screaming*

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The Set of 400: #318 – My Favorite Ineffective Nuclear Device

Today! Because that’s what I call a close encounter –

Independence Day (1996)

Directed by Roland Emmerich

Starring Will Smith (x2), Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch, Mary McDonnell (x2), Vivica A. Fox, Robert Loggia, Randy Quaid, Harvey Fierstein, Adam Baldwin, Margaret Colin, James Rebhorn, Brent Spiner, Mae Whitman, Harry Connick Jr., Dan Lauria, Rance Howard (x2)

That crowd-pleasingest of crowd pleasers from the glorious summer of ’96, Independence Day is a bombastic, overblown, super-long, mega-destructive alien disaster movie – a War of the Worlds that no movie studio would allow to end with something like a pesky virus wiping out the enemy. Oh no, there had better be shots of the entire country (and a little lip service to the rest of the world) getting decimated by giant warships, the country and general morale laid low, before the stirring rally commences. This was all before 9/11, mind you. It’s hard to say how this would’ve played after. Judging by the thorough rejection of the pointless sequel twenty years later, I’m guesing not well?

In fairness, Resurgence was a bunch of ridiculous nonsense

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The Set of 400: #378 – My Favorite Loopy Conspiracy Theories

Today! Because Ike said, “Hey look, give us your technology, we’ll give you all the cow lips you want” –

Sneakers (1992)

Directed by Phil Alden Robinson

Starring Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Aykroyd, River Phoenix, Ben Kingsley, Mary McDonnell, David Strathairn, Timothy Busfield, Donal Logue, George Hearn, Stephen Tobolowsky, James Earl Jones

All the cast in the world came together for this relatively light heist flick in the early ’90s, with pretty fun results. It’s not a movie you hear bandied about much these days – but judging by its gross, it was fairly popular in the fall of ’92. Redford and Kingsley play friends-turned-rivals battling over this MacGuffin that will decode and hack into everything on the remedial early ’90s internet. Redford’s team of good guys includes very funny turns by Aykroyd, Phoenix, and particuarly Strathairn as the blind sound expert Whistler. To my knowledge, this is also the only big screen pairing of film legends Redford and Poitier, so that’s cool! Is it a bit dated, given that the high-tech wizardry on display in this movie looks like a cheap Nintendo game? Sure. But even at the time this seemed more an excuse to gather up a ton of great actors and go on a good, old fashioned caper than to try to wow the audience with gadgets. The movie doesn’t quite match up to the heavy hitters involved, but it is definitely enhanced by their collective presence. Continue reading

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