It’s the great comedy dynamic – groups of uptight, hoity-toity, nose-in-the-air snobs against groups of down-to-earth, slovenly fun-seeking slobs. The haughty vs. the naughty is a genre unto itself. It had its heyday in the late 70s and throughout the 80s, but it’s hardly a dead notion, since all the kids who grew up on those movies are out there making movies today. We’re not quite talking about “The Odd Couple”, with one neat guy living with one messy guy, but rather marauding hordes, or at least trios and quartets of rabble-rousing malcontents making life difficult for prim and proper types and good-looking bullies – although we’ll leave “Major League” and “The Bad News Bears” to sports movie lists. So let’s take a look at 10 of them, in chronological order, so you can then start angrily commenting about which ones I should’ve included instead.
“A Night at the Opera” (1935)
The Marx Brothers made a career out of being crazy weirdos who spent their time infiltrating high society in order to make a mockery of it, and that’s well on display in this 1935 film as they finagle their way into the opera world. Their contemporaries The Three Stooges also made a lot of hay out of this dynamic (see their short Hoi Polloi) and, if you want to get completely meta about it, The Marx Brothers vs. The Three Stooges will get you a lot of snobs vs. slobs arguments – at least among the film critic set.
Robert Altman’s 1970 film about a group of pathologically insubordinate army surgeons – Hawkeye Pierce (Donald Sutherland), Trapper John (Elliot Gould) and Duke Forrest (Tom Skerritt) – constantly aggravating the proper sensibilities of Majors Frank Burns (Robert Duvall) and Major “Hot Lips” Houlihan (Sally Kellerman) during the Korean (read: Vietnam) War is a quintessential piece of work which spawned 11 years of television hijinks of the same nature from Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers and Mike Farrell.
3. “Animal House”
Let’s be honest: John Landis’ 1978 college comedy is the first thing that pops to everyone’s mind when the idea of snobs vs. slobs comes up, since it had hordes of copycats. Dean Wormer (John Vernon) and his “double secret probation” against the men of Delta Tau Chi house and his recruitment of the nefarious Omegas to help his crusade to expel them all prompts a battle of wills between the academic establishment of “College” and Bluto (John Belushi), Otter (Tim Matheson), Flounder (Stephen Furst), Pinto (Tom Hulce) and the rest of the gang. Food fights, vomit and parade vandalism ensue and legends are born.
If you’ve got snobs giving you trouble, you want Bill Murray on your side, and that’s the fact, jack. In this 1979 Ivan Reitman flick, he’s Tripper Harrison, head counselor at slapdash Camp North Star, and their rivalry with the rich folk over at Camp Mohawk – who constantly beat them in every athletic competition – leads to one of the most inspiring comedy speeches of all time and a nutty amount of cheating to get one over on them.
There’s no better target for snob-mockery than the world of country club golf, and there’s no better slob for taking the piss out of uptight upper-crusters like Judge Smails (Ted Knight) than Rodney Dangerfield. Bill Murray gets a lot of attention for what he’s got goin’ for him in this 1980 Harold Ramis comedy, but when Dangerfield’s Al Czervik comes to the Bushwood Club as nouveau riche without a care or a manner in the world and planning to buy the whole place, the resulting showdown on the links eventually degenerates to glorious Kenny Loggins madness.
Spend Valentine's Day weekend with IFC's Underworld movie marathon.
Posted by Emmy Potter on Photo Credit: Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection
Romance takes many forms, and that is especially true when you have a thirst for blood or laser beams coming out of your eyes. It doesn’t matter if you’re a werewolf, a superhero, a clone, a time-traveler, or a vampire, love is the one thing that infects us all. Read on to find out why Romeo and Juliet have nothing on these supernatural star-crossed lovers, and be sure to catch IFC’s Underworld movie marathon this Valentine’s Day weekend.
1. Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine, X-Men series
The X-Men franchise is rife with romance, but the steamiest “ménage à mutant” may just be the one between Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Their triangle is a complicated one as Jean finds herself torn between the two very different men while also trying to control her darker side, the Phoenix. This leads to Jean killing Cyclops and eventually getting stabbed through her heart by Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand. Yikes! Maybe they should change the name to Ex-Men instead?
2. Willow/Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Joss Whedon gave audiences some great romances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer — including the central triangle of Buffy, Angel, and Spike — but it was the love between witches Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) that broke new ground for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a LGBT relationship.
Willow is smart and confident and isn’t even sure of her sexuality when she first meets Tara at college in a Wiccan campus group. As the two begin experimenting with spells, they realize they’re also falling for one another and become the show’s most enduring, happy couple. At least until Tara’s death in season six, a moment that still brings on the feels.
3. Selene/Michael, Underworld series
The Twilight gang pales in comparison (both literally and metaphorically) to the Lycans and Vampires of the stylish Underworld franchise. If you’re looking for an epic vampire/werewolf romance set amidst an epic vampire/werewolf war, Underworld handily delivers in the form of leather catsuited Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and shaggy blonde hunk Michael (a post-Felicity Scott Speedman). As they work together to stop the Vampire/Lycan war, they give into their passions while also kicking butt in skintight leather. Love at first bite indeed.
4. Spider-man/Mary Jane Watson, Spider-man
After rushing to the aid of beautiful girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the Amazing Spider-man is rewarded with an upside-down kiss that is still one of the most romantic moments in comic book movie history. For Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), the shy, lovable dork beneath the mask, his rain-soaked makeout session is the culmination of years of unrequited love and one very powerful spider bite. As the films progress, Peter tries pushing MJ away in an attempt to protect her from his enemies, but their web of love is just too powerful. And you know, with great power, comes great responsibility.
5. Molly/Sam, Ghost
When it comes to supernatural romance, you really can’t beat Molly and Sam from the 1990 hit film Ghost. Demi Moore goes crazy for Swayze like the rest of us, and the pair make pottery sexier than it’s ever been.
When Sam is murdered, he’s forced to communicate through con artist turned real psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg in her Academy Award-winning role) to warn Molly she is still in danger from his co-worker, Carl (a pre-Scandal Tony Goldwyn). Molly doesn’t believe Oda is telling the truth, so Sam proves it by sliding a penny up the wall and then possessing Oda so he and Molly can share one last romantic dance together (but not the dirty kind). We’d pay a penny for a dance with Patrick Swayze ANY day.
6. Cosima/Delphine, Orphan Black
It stands to reason there would be at least one complicated romance on a show about clones, and none more complicated than the one between clone Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) and Dr. Delphine Cormier (Evelyne Brochu) on BBC America’s hit drama Orphan Black.
Cosima is a PhD student focusing on evolutionary developmental biology at the University of Minnesota when she meets Delphine, a research associate from the nefarious Dyad Institute, posing as a fellow immunology student. The two fall in love, but their happiness is brief once Dyad and the other members of Clone Club get involved. Here’s hoping Cosima finds love in season four of Orphan Black. Girlfriend could use a break.
7. Aragorn/Arwen, Lord of the Rings
On a picturesque bridge in Rivendell amidst some stellar mood-lighting and dreamy Elvish language with English subtitles for us non-Middle Earthlings, Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) bind their souls to one another, pledging to love each other no matter what befalls them.
Their courtship is a matter of contention with Arwen’s father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who doesn’t wish to see his daughter suffer over Aragorn’s future death. The two marry after the conclusion of the War of the Ring, with Aragorn assuming his throne as King of Gondor, and Arwen forgoing her immortality to become his Queen. Is it too much to assume they asked Frodo to be their wedding ring-bearer?
8. Lafayette/Jesus, True Blood
True Blood quickly became the go-to show for supernatural sex scenes featuring future Magic Mike strippers (Joe Manganiello) and pale Nordic men with washboard abs (Hi Alexander Skarsgård!), but honestly, there was a little something for everyone, including fan favorite Bon Temps medium, Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis).
In season three, Lafayette met his mother’s nurse, Jesus, and the two began a relationship. As they spend more time together and start doing V (short for Vampire Blood), they learn Jesus is descended from a long line of witches and that Lafayette himself has magical abilities. However, supernatural love is anything but simple, and after the pair join a coven, Lafayette becomes possessed by the dead spirit of its former leader. This relationship certainly puts a whole new spin on possessive love.
9. Nymphadora Tonks/Remus Lupin, Harry Potter series
There are lots of sad characters in the Harry Potter series, but Remus Lupin ranks among the saddest. He was bitten by a werewolf as a child, his best friend was murdered and his other best friend was wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban for it, then THAT best friend was killed by a Death Eater at the Ministry of Magic as Remus looked on. So when Lupin unexpectedly found himself in love with badass Auror and Metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks (she prefers to be called by her surname ONLY, thank you very much), pretty much everyone, including Lupin himself, was both elated and cautiously hopeful about their romance and eventual marriage.
Sadly, the pair met a tragic ending when both were killed by Death Eaters during the Battle of Hogwarts, leaving their son, Teddy, orphaned much like his godfather Harry Potter. Accio hankies!
10. The Doctor/Rose Tyler, Doctor Who
Speaking of wolves, Rose “Bad Wolf” Tyler (Billie Piper) captured the Doctor’s hearts from the moment he told her to “Run!” in the very first episode of the re-booted Doctor Who series. Their affection for one another grew steadily deeper during their travels in the TARDIS, whether they were stuck in 1950s London, facing down pure evil in the Satan Pit, or battling Cybermen.
But their relationship took a tragic turn during the season two finale episode, “Doomsday,” when the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose found themselves separated in parallel universes with no way of being reunited (lest two universes collapse as a result of a paradox). A sobbing Rose told a holographic transmission of the Doctor she loved him, but before he could reply, the transmission cut out, leaving our beloved Time Lord (and most of the audience) with a tear-stained face and two broken hearts all alone in the TARDIS.
We’re just a few months into 2012, but it’s already shaping up to be the return of female protagonists handing out swift justice to the forces of evil. In January we saw Kate Beckinsale kicks some serious ass as “Underworld: Awakening” opened to wide release and Michael Fassbender, secure in his manliness, admitted that fighting MMA brawler Gina Carino in “Haywire” was a freeing experience. Over the coming months we eagerly anticipate seeing leading ladies such as Noomi Rapace in “Prometheus,” Scarlett Johansson in “The Avengers” and “Anne Hathaway in “The Dark Knight Rises” prove that estrogen can be just as dangerous as testosterone. Tough women, it would appear, are the new black. And who among us doesn’t love a sexy bad-ass woman on screen? Here, without further ado, are my ten toughest women film characters.
10. Trinity, “The Matrix”
Carrie-Ann Moss’ Trinity can only be properly construed under the category of icy hot. Decisive, brilliant and kick ass, Trinity was hacker chic before the hacker chic of Lisabeth Salander. As with most of the female characters on this list, Trinity is well-versed in the martial arts, technology and, of course, the care and maintenance of firearms. You know: the important things in Life. Further, Moss’ ‘Trinity dominated nearly every scene she was in in during that first Matrix film, one of the all time favorites of all men. And no wonder.
9. Yu Shu Lien and Jen, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”
Again, the martial arts figure strongly on this list. The martial arts equalizes the body mass differences between most men and women. But in the epic five minute fight scene outside of a school courtyard in Crouching Tiger, we see a stunning array of weapons, including: broadswords, an iron pipe, a spear, hook swords and, of course, the Green Sword of Destiny (wouldn’t you like to have one of those bad boys?) These two ferocious fighters (played by Michelle Yeoh and Ziyi Zhang) forever silenced the critics as to whether or not women can play tough on screen in the same way that Tina Fey’s 30 Rock answered Chris Hitchens’s ridiculous assertion –for all time – whether or not women indeed are funny. Hello?
8. O-Ren Ishii, “Kill Bill”
The so-called “Queen of Tokyo’s Underworld,” Lucy Liu’s O-Ren Ishii stands out among the other also badass members of the Deadly Vipers Assassination Squad mainly because of the delicate beauty with which she slices and dices her victims. O-Ren Ishii creates such beautiful Death. And — at least visually from the perspective of a removed viewer — dying, as Ishii does, bloody and in the snow, is as spectacular a way to go as any other. Very, very Zen. Which leads us to …
7. The Bride, “Kill Bill”
Uma Thurman’s Bride suddenly wakes up in a hospital after a coma. The Bride has lost her baby and she has been abused by an incredibly disgusting hospital staff worker and his Vaseline. That, and that questionable yellow track suit gives her as good a reason to be pissed at the world as anything else. What ensues thereafter in Kill Bill is roughly one hundred minutes of wildly inventive methods of spectacularly brutal murder and exquisite bloodletting (88 yakuza members and Lucy Liu’s scalp). What makes the Bride one of the toughest women in all of film is not just because of her ability to mete out fantastic violence, but also the unbelievable amount of punishment she is able to take and keep moving, gradually, towards the object of her revenge, this mysterious “Bill.”
6. Princess Leia, “Return of the Jedi”
In a space bikini, the leader of the rebel alliance strangling the perverse Jabba the Hut with the chains of her own captivity is how we best like to remember the woman of all of our crushes. An early adopter, Princess of Leia of Alderaan was down with the rebellion, outlasting the mechanical tortures of Darth Vader within the fetid bowels of the Death Star, even before Luke and Han were on board with saving the galaxy. Princess Leia so clearly rocks.
While Suzanne Collins’ three-book series The Hunger Games has often been billed as the next Twilight thanks to its popularity in the young-adult crowd, anyone who’s read the post-apocalyptic trilogy knows that such comparisons couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, the section where you’ll find the two series in a book store is just about the only thing The Hunger Games and Twilight have in common.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world where the government forces children from each of 12 “districts” to kill each other in a competition for valuable resources, The Hunger Games relegates romance to a supporting role in the narrative while focusing on brutal, life-or-death survival in a world manufactured to ensure competitors meet the bloodiest ends possible.
With “The Hunger Games” movie arriving in theaters this week, it seemed like a good time to tackle some of the misconceptions about the series head-on, and offer some (occasionally tongue-in-cheek) reasons why the premiere of Collins’ trilogy on the big screen should be a red-letter day for guys who love gritty action movies and wild sci-fi adventures, too.
Take one part “Battle Royale,” add a pinch of “The Running Man,” shake violently
One of the strongest cases to be made for The Hunger Games crossing the divide between gender stereotypes is that the story feels like something inspired by that period during the late ’70s and ’80s that gave us films like “Escape From New York” and “The Road Warrior.” The world of The Hunger Games is a bleak version of our own, set at a time after war and other calamities send us scrambling back to the dark ages. Sure, one or two districts live in a utopian, jet-car paradise, but the rest of the world huddles in the dark and dies starving. What’s more, The Hunger Games takes that dystopian ’80s vibe and injects it with some of the slick action and edginess that’s common in some of the last few decades’ most memorable future-gone-bad tales (a la Battle Royale and Children of Men). Basically, it’s the best of both worlds — but they’re not the sort of worlds you’d like to visit for too long.
Insert quarter to continue killing each other…
Gamers should feel right at home when it comes to the pacing of The Hunger Games and the way in which the win-or-die competitions are presented in the series. Without giving too much of the story away, competitors in The Hunger Games are forced to not only kill each other, but also to survive the traps within each game environment. Like the levels of a video game, the setting of each competition is a carefully manufactured stage, filled with different types of environmental obstacles.
On top of that, the children from each district typically specialize in one type of skill or another, adding another layer of complexity to the competition. (Can the kids who grew up in the lumber district beat the kids from the mining district?) Much like the classes of characters you create in a good role-playing game, each competitor in The Hunger Games needs to make the best use of his or her skill set to survive.
She gives love a bad name (and that’s a good thing)
Unlike many of the books classified as young-adult fare, The Hunger Games features a protagonist who couldn’t care less about catching a boy’s attention or falling in love. More of a Mad Max character than a Bella Swan or Sookie Stackhouse, Katniss Everdeen is a female lead who can “man up” with the best action heroes when necessary, and knows better than to get lost in someone’s eyes when there’s a job to be done. Basically, Katniss is the teenage-girl version of hard-luck “Die Hard” hero John McClane.
Mutant dogs, acid clouds, and evil monkeys, oh my!
Remember those environmental “traps” I mentioned? Well, along with natural dangers like quicksand or rockslides, the children competing in the games also have to contend with an array of unnatural threats that seem to come from the depths of pulp sci-fi and horror tales. Imagine a 12-year-old girl being chased by a pack of mutated dogs with razor-sharp teeth and you’ll start to get the picture here (and it’s not a pretty picture). As if a bunch of kids killing each other in a crazy, televised contest wasn’t enough, The Hunger Games pushes things to the next level, and will provide a pleasant surprise to sci-fi or fantasy fans expecting a typical young-adult adventure.
You saw Jennifer Lawrence at last year’s Oscars, right?
Whether it’s men or women that get you hot and bothered, there’s no denying the beauty of “The Hunger Games” actress Jennifer Lawrence. While this last point only applies to the upcoming big-screen adaptation of The Hunger Games, it’s an important point to make. Simply put, Lawrence has achieved the sort of visual appeal that transcends gender preference and puts her in the realm of universal hotness. Seriously, folks, just look at her. And she’s a pretty great actress, too — which is nice.
Did I make a good case for “The Hunger Games”? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.