Tag Archives: Stephen Root

The Set of 400: #115 – My Favorite Dystopia, Brought to You By Carl’s Jr.

Today! Because #1: We’ve got this guy Not Sure. #2: He’s got a higher IQ than any man alive and #3: He’s going to fix everything –

Idiocracy (2006)

Directed by Mike Judge (x2)

Starring Luke Wilson (x2), Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, Terry Crews, David Herman (x3), Anthony Campos, Justin Long (x4), Stephen Root (x5), Thomas Haden Church (x2), Andrew Wilson (x2), Greg Pitts (x2), Kevin Klee, Brad ‘Scarface’ Jordan, Brendan Hill, Sara Rue

I wish I had been including it all along, because I’m curious where Idiocracy would rank in terms of box office on this list. #399, maybe? #307 The Return of Captain Invincible had virtually no release whatsoever, so that’s probably last, but this is damn close. Completely abandoned by Fox in its often delayed release, Idiocracy only ran on 130 screens for about two weeks, grossing $444,000 per the Mojo. Test screenings were apparently bad, plus they were nervous about the film taking shots at many existing brands – Starbucks, Fox News, Fuddruckers, Costco, and Carl’s Jr. most notably. Fox claimed they didn’t know how to market it – a claim also made seven years earlier when they managed to flop Judge’s other classic, Office Space. So Judge took his next film, Extract, to Miramax – where it also didn’t make money. Ah well!

The world was not ready for this movie

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The Set of 400: #117 – My Favorite Pomade

Today! Because we’re in a tight spot –

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Directed by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (x4)

Starring George Clooney (x4), John Turturro (x3), Tim Blake Nelson, Holly Hunter, John Goodman (x5), Charles Durning (x3), Stephen Root (x4), Michael Badalucco (x3), Chris Thomas King, Daniel von Bargen (x3), Ray McKinnon, Frank Collison, Lee Weaver, Wayne Duvall, Ed Gale

When I first saw O Brother, Where Art Thou? in theaters, I was not overly impressed. In my Epinions.com review from that time (R.I.P. Epinions!), I believe I titled the post “The Acme of Foolishness,” taking a line directly from the film, because I thought I was one cute motherfucker. Whereas I normally quickly and whole-heartedly embrace Coen films, this one just didn’t work for me. Initially.

However, one thing I did glom onto right quick was the soundtrack – probably the lasting memory most people have of this movie, if they ever bothered to see it. So popular was T. Bone Burnett’s compilation/re-imagining of that sweet old timey music (#1 on the Billboard chart! 8x Platinum!), that it stayed in the public consciousness far longer than the film remained in theaters (It did gross $45 million – decent by Coen standards). And as you’ve likely gathered from what’s come before on this list, music/musicals register pretty high with this guy, so incessant listening to this CD kept me thinking and reevaluating this movie until finally I learned to like it, then madly love it. Epinions Joe got it way wrong!

And I don’t think Clooney has ever been properly credited for his dancing

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The Set of 400: #132 – My Favorite Stapler

Today! Because it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care –

Office Space (1999)

Directed by Mike Judge

Starring Ron Livingston, David Herman (x2), Ajay Naidu (x2), Jennifer Aniston, Gary Cole (x2), Diedrich Bader (x2), Stephen Root (x3), Richard Riehle (x2), John C. McGinley (x2), Paul Wilson, Joe Bays, Orlando Jones, Greg Pitts, Alexandra Wentworth

When you’re in college and see Office Space for the first time, it’s a goofy, light-hearted look at relationships and co-workers and oh, what a laugh! When you watch it as an adult who has worked in an office non-stop for that last fifteen years, it’s still funny, but in that sympathetic, soul-crushing manner that watching videos of people falling on the ice is funny. It’s such a curiously accurate representation of the horrors of white-collar working that it’s amazing anyone could watch this film while still in college – still figuring out what it is you want to do with your life – and end up in an office. It’s like watching Saving Private Ryan and thinking how fun it probably is to join the Army. It’s like watching Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and being inspired to go into politics. It’s like watching The Dark Knight and considering a career as a bank manager.

Sure, we’d all like to grow up to be William Fichtner, but not this William Fichtner

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The Set of 400: #290 – My Favorite Insurance Convention

Today! Because I do a pretty convincing Omar from the HBO program, The Wire – 

Cedar Rapids (2011)

Directed by Miguel Arteta

Starring Ed Helms (x2), John C. Reilly (x3), Anne Heche, Sigourney Weaver (x3), Isiah Whitlock Jr., Stephen Root (x2), Alia Shawkat, Kurtwood Smith, Thomas Lennon (x3), Rob Corddry, Mike O’Malley, Mike Birbiglia

A movie that snuck in and out of theaters with little fanfare, Cedar Rapids is a terrific character-driven comedy about a rollicking business trip to Iowa as the backdrop to personal and professional crossroads. Director Arteta (of Chuck & Buck fame) compiled a fantastic cast of comedy greats, working from a script by Phil Johnston, who would go on to write a pair of tremendous animated films – Wreck it Ralph and Zootopia. 

But yeah, this little indie – filmed through some tax breaks, I assume, not in Cedar Rapids, but the equally uncinematic Ann Arbor, Michigan (sorry, Wolverines fans) – didn’t crack $7 million total at the box office, and doesn’t seem to have a second life on cable, yet, so far as I can tell. Maybe there is a little too much adult melancholy surrounding the wilder sequences in the film – massive drug parties, semi-nude hotel shenanigans – so that it crossed up the marketers and the audiences alike. It’s hard to say the demographic this is aimed at, exactly, but probably not the age group who would really enjoy this type of movie – high-brow-ish masquerading as low-brow-ish. Medium brow? Is that a filmic delineation?

Maeby Funke straddles this line particularly well herein

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The Set of 400: #398 – My Favorite Peter Noone Torture Device

Today! Because Molly, you in danger, girl –

Ghost (1990)

Directed by Jerry Zucker

Starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Goldwyn, Vincent Schiavelli, Stephen Root

After two blood-and-guts knuckle fests, we’re going with Ghost?? Okay, come with me on this for a minute – I think a definite case can be made that Ghost is the most deceptively marketed film in history. Yes, it’s a romance, kind of, but that pottery scene is all anyone seems to remember about this movie, along with that floating penny, and those account for nearly all the lovey-dovey moments of the film. The backbone of the movie is this drug dealer reimbursing murder, masterminded by a wily Tony Goldwyn, countered by the ethereal Swayze, who has all these fish-out-of-water ghost mishaps, ghost skills training, and body possession sequences that vary from hilarious to just plain cool. The Sam/Molly relationship barely takes up any time, and yet Ghost became a sappy romance in the collective memory as time wore on. How funny is Whoopi in this movie? What about those evil spirits that snatch bad guys off to Hell? Come on! This is an action/horror comedy, soundtracked by the Righteous Brothers! Continue reading

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