Tag Archives: Nick Nolte

The Set of 400: #29 – My Favorite TiVo Contract Clause

Today! Because the one man who made a difference five times before is about to make a difference again. Only this time, it’s different –

Tropic Thunder (2008)

Directed by Ben Stiller

Starring Ben Stiller (x2), Robert Downey Jr. (x10), Jack Black (x7), Jay Baruchel (x2), Brandon T. Jackson, Tom Cruise (x5), Nick Nolte (x4), Steve Coogan (x2), Matthew McConaughey (x2), Danny McBride, Bill Hader (x3), Brandon Soo Hoo, Reggie Lee, Maria Menounos, Christine Taylor, Tyra Banks, Tobey Maguire (x5), Yvette Nicole Brown, Jennifer Love Hewitt (x2), Jon Voight (x3), Lance Bass

Hang on a minute – a movie about movies and it was in the epic summer of 2008? There was no way Tropic Thunder wasn’t making this list, right? Maybe it seems a touch high to you? Are people still talking about this film a dozen years on? I think it’s safe to say that even though this movie isn’t all that old, it already feels like something that wouldn’t be made today. I mean, it’s got the universal comedic concept of egomaniac actors and how completely out of touch with reality they can be, but it also has legitimate black face throughout the movie, even if RDJ got nominated for an Oscar in the role. Could this get made right now, given the changes in the world over the past decade? I’d say maybe, but only a 50/50 chance.

Because the movie really does work hard to handle this issue as being actor ridiculousness, and not even remotely a cool thing to do. Brandon T. Jackson’s rapper-actor Alpa Chino is there half the time to keep Downey’s Kirk Lazarus in check, even as he effectively steals the movie. And while this character seems to popularly be the movie’s lasting cultural impact, it is stuffed with tremendous comedic turns – from Matthew McConaughey’s loopy agent Rick Peck to Danny McBride’s special effects expert Cody to Steve Coogan’s Brit director Damien Cockburn. Stiller’s work as over-the-top action hero Tugg Speedman is spot-on, but a touch thankless, as the nominal lead more or less swallowed in the plot, by being the de facto damsel in distress. Jack Black’s Jeff Portnoy gets largely overlooked, which I think is really unfair, as his typically hyper-invested work as this wacky, drug-addled Z-grade comedian delivers a bunch of great moments. And none of this is to ignore the literally amazing work of Tom Cruise, unrecognizably transformed into the vulgar uber-producer Les Grossman – by far the funniest role Cruise has ever played.

His end credits dance sequence is incredible

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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: #360 – My Favorite Movie Theater Cigar

Today! Because granddaddy used to handle snakes in church, Granny drank strychnine –

Cape Fear (1991)

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Starring Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis, Joe Don Baker, Fred Thompson, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Illeana Douglas, Martin Balsam (x2)

A terrifically tense, harrowing suspense thriller, for about an hour and a half, before collapsing into ludicrously violent madness. Sure, there were certain things Scorsese was locked into doing with Cape Fear, considering it’s a remake and all, but man, some of the choices made are…well, extreme. I think it comes at an interesting point in his career, and De Niro’s too. Figure, both were coming off of Goodfellas, which should’ve finally been the movie Marty won all the Oscars for, but instead it got screwed royally (I’m never forgiving anyone for Dances With Wolves), and through some manner of lashing out, we got Cape Fear. The directing is so intense it borders on intrusive, especially in the first half hour, but it does make for some pretty artsy handling of an otherwise straightforward crime thriller.

De Niro’s tattoos alone are so over-the-top as to question the sanity of everyone involved

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