DID YOU READ

The top 10 Captain Picard moments from “Star Trek”

Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: Generations

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By Jordan Hoffman

While the 1960s were a bit more reliant on a boozy machismo, the 1990s were all about diversity, intellect and the cultured enrichment of the mind and spirit. At least that’s my takeaway from comparing the two great captains James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard.

This is not to imply that Picard couldn’t (or didn’t) kick ass. He simply did it in a slightly more dignified way (oftentimes simply dispatching Riker, Worf and Data to the away team.) Picard’s memorable moments were usually a cutting line, delivered in his stage-ready British accent (even though he was French…go figure.) Part of the Picard method was to solicit advice from each of his senior officers, then usually ignore them and do what he wanted to do in the first place. In this spirit I offer the top 10 Picard moments, and invite you to argue with me in the comments below. I won’t change my mind, but at least you won’t slink back to Ten-Forward feeling ignored.

(Are you a Kirk fan or a Picard die-hard? As part of IFC’s “Trek Week” we’re pitting the two baddest Enterprise captains in town against each other. Chime in with your favorite at #TrekWars on Twitter and click here to see our airdates for the nine “Original Series” and “Next Generation” films.)


10. Having A Drink With Scotty

One of the nicer aspects of Picard’s personality is his respect for his elders. It comes, no doubt, from his studies as an archeologist (his road not taken) and on more than one occasion it manifested itself in the most fan-friendly way possible. More than his mind-meld with Sarek or political intrigue with Spock, I dig his his after-hours libation with “Captain” Montgomery Scott.

See, Scotty’d been held in emergency stasis outside a Dyson Sphere for just long enough to pull a tremendous guest shot on the season 6 episode “Relics.” As the two sit on a holodeck version of the NCC-1701 (“no bloody A, B, C or D!”) and discuss leadership, duty and old friends, I defy any of you not to start blubbering. It’s Scotty’s moment, but Picard leads him there, and has enough character to know when to take a back seat to a legend.


9. Who You Calling A Taar’Chek, Targ?

Picard’s zest for learning and respect for other cultures isn’t just good for drawing room conversation. It can come in handy when the usual channels of diplomacy don’t seem to cut it. It takes a lot of sand to look a Klingon military governor in the eye and call him. . . well . . . this surely isn’t the type of place to translate the vile, Klingon curses that Picard spews forth. That Patrick Stewart can do this with such resolve (and without laughing!) proves he really earned his paycheck that day. Below, behold this awesome moment from the season 4 episode “The Mind’s Eye”


8. Starship Mine

I have now firmly established Jean-Luc Picard as a scholar and an aesthete, so I feel compelled to point out that the man can kick ass when needed. In season 6’s “Starship Mine” he single-handledly triumphs over a band of marauders who attack the Enterprise when it is empty. (It’s basically getting sprayed for bugs, in the form of a deadly red beam that, silly though it may be, works as a nice ticking clock.)

The best part, clearly, is when Picard sneaks up behind one of the terrorists and lays him out with a Vulcan Nerve Pinch. (Note: Kirk once remarked to Spock “you’ve got to show me how to do that” but he never did.) For fans it is especially exciting because the actor that Picard lays low is none other than Tim Russ, who would later play the Vulcan Tuvok on “Voyager.”


7. The Line Must Be Drawn HERE!

There’s some more of the physical Picard in “Star Trek: First Contact,” without question the best of the Next Generation-era films. But before he swings above toxic fumes to break the spine of the Borg Queen, he unleashes some pure (and very dramatic) rage at Alfre Woodard in his ready room.

She accuses him of letting his previous encounters with the Borg (see below) dictate his refusal to set the Enterprise to self-destruct. She calls him obsessed, like Ahab hunting the whale. No! Picard shouts. Noooooooaoaawawwawwawwooawww! And he smashes a display case of model starships. “They invade our space and we fall back! They assimilate entire worlds and we fall back! Not again!”

It’s a powerful moment (and a reminder that Patrick Stewart is a real actor) but, of course, he soon realizes that Woodard is correct. He makes preparations to blow up the ship, and then fate steps in the way.


6. The Ressikan Flute

No one said all of these moments had to be fraught with action or conflict. They do, however, need to be rich in drama.

At the tail end of season 5’s “The Inner Light” (frequently selected as the best TNG episode ever) Captain Picard has to somehow try and shove aside the emotional earthquake that the past forty-years of his life has only been an implanted experiential hallucination. And yet, he lived a rich life, had a family he loved and watched a civilization die. He also learned how to play a small flute and, in the solitude of his quarters, accompanied only by the rumble of the warp core, he plays a few notes that show that he isn’t going to just turn his back on his other life. It’s a simple moment, but it is enough to bring tears to any true fan’s eyes.

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The Nutty Professor Eddie Murphy 1996

Weird Science

10 Weird Movie Substances That Had Hilarious Consequences

Catch The Nutty Professor this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal Pictures/Everett Collection

If you’ve ever opened your refrigerator to find some seriously gnarly days-old potato salad, then you know that sometimes the most harmless-seeming things can turn freaky. Movies have conjured up some truly bizarre stuff, often the work of crazed scientists. Before you catch The Nutty Professor on IFC, check out some of the icky-est, gooey-ist and just plain weird substances on the big screen.

10. Flubber

Flubber
Walt Disney Studios

Professor Brainard’s “flying rubber” increases its speed every time it bounces, and increases the chaos, destruction and unlikely basketball-dunkage of anyone who uses it. Thankfully the movie ends before its thermodynamic impossibility cause the incineration of the entire universe.


9. Quantonium, Monsters Vs. Aliens

Monsters Vs Aliens
DreamWorks

In Monsters vs. Aliens, both action-packed parties are battling over Quantonium, an exotic material which massively empowers anyone who holds it. Literally in the case of Susan Murphy, whose exposure turns her into Ginormica and enables her to fight against Gallaxhar’s invasion force.


8. Sustengo, Little Fockers

Sustengo
Universal Pictures

After finally finding favor with his hard-bitten father-in-law, Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) finds himself strapped for cash and starts promoting Sustengo, an erectile dysfunction drug. Which means leaving boxes of ED drugs lying around a family who can’t even use a toilet without triggering a series of hilarious misunderstandings.


7. Iocane, Princess Bride

Iocane
20th Century Fox

Iocane is a deadly poison with no odor or taste that dissolves instantly in any liquid. The perfect tool for murder isn’t usually hilarious, but The Princess Bride makes everything funny. Hero Westley (Cary Elwes) tricks cunning Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) into drinking the poison in a game of wits. Vizzini lost, not knowing that the answer is “Don’t drink anything offered by someone who just talked about how awesome their poison is.”


6. PX-41, Despicable Me 2

PX41
Universal Pictures

The mutation compound engineered by PX-Labs turns anything into a purple, fluffy, indestructible killing machine. And when Despicable Me‘s famous Minions are dosed with it, look out. Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) crafts an antidote, PX-41 Antidote, proving he’s much better with chemicals than he is with names.


5. Mood Slime, Ghostbusters II

Mood Slime
Columbia Pictures

When the Ghostbusters came back for their 1989 sequel, the slime they encountered was sillier and scarier. The “Mood Slime” was a special form of ectoplasm utterly saturated in the emotions of everyone and everything around it. And while our heroes energize some positive vibes with Aretha Franklin tunes, the entire city of New York’s psychic outpourings are filling the sewers with something distinctly less positive.


4. The Stuff

The Stuff
New World Pictures

A science fiction soft-serve satire, The Stuff is about an oddly organic treat which is utterly delicious and zero calories. In fact it’s negative calories, because if you eat enough it’ll take over your brain and hollow you out from the inside.


3. Miracle Weight Loss Serum, The Nutty Professor

Buddy Love
Universal Pictures

The core component of The Nutty Professor‘s plot is a miraculous weight loss serum, a simple fluid which re-engineers human DNA all by itself. This allows sweet but sizable Sherman Klump (Eddie Murphy) to transform into the tight, toned and turbocharged Buddy Love (Murphy again). The serum is revealed to be fatally dangerous, but anything which allows Eddie Murphy to play himself cranked up to the max is pure comedy gold.


2. Cobalt Thorium G, Dr. Strangelove

Dr Strangelove
Columbia Pictures

Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb is about a bomb built with Cobalt Thorium G. It’s a doomsday device designed to annihilate all human civilization and is, slightly worryingly, based on the least fictional materials on this list. Cobalt and thorium both have applications in nuclear weapon design. Luckily we haven’t got them up to G yet.


1. Ectoplasm, Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters
Columbia Pictures

The Ghostbusters live in a world where ghosts are real but physics is still in charge. So while the ghouls are flung around with proton packs, they get the boys in grey back with their appalling ectoplasm, or slime, trail. As Venkman says, getting covered in the stuff will make you feel all funky.

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Fast Times Jennifer Jason Leigh

Retro Grades

The 11 Best Movie Comedies of the ’80s

Catch Fast Times at Ridgemont High during IFC's '80s Weekend.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

The ’80s gave us so many great things (Tab, anyone?), but when it comes to movie comedies, the Reagan years were a golden age of funny. In honor of IFC’s ’80s Weekend, we’ve selected the best big screen comedies from the decade that gave us Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy and other comedy greats. And like one of the movies featured below, this list goes to 11.

1. Back to the Future

“A high school slacker goes back in time, takes his mother to a dance, and gets dangerously close to becoming his own father.” The elevator pitch for Back to the Future doesn’t sound so charming, but the 1985 flick starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover is declared by many as being the perfect movie. (Though we can’t officially say if the Eric Stoltz version would’ve been better.)


2. Ghostbusters

The sheer number of childhoods that were professed to be ruined by the recent reboot should tell you how beloved the original film is. A perfect blend of comedy, horror and fantasy, Ghostbusters has an indelible cast at the top of its game and a heap of one-liners worthy of countless casual references. They have the tools, and they have the talent.


3. Airplane!

Speaking of one-liners, it doesn’t get much more quotable than the 1980 Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker classic Airplane!. Almost a one-to-one parody of the 1957 disaster film Zero Hour!, Airplane! works so well because of how straight faced the zaniness is played — which is something its many imitators fail to notice.


4. This Is Spinal Tap

Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer created the de facto mockumentary film with the hilarious 1984 rock diary This Is Spinal Tap. Heralded as one of the most accurate depictions of backstage life by actual real-life bands, the movie showcases an aging glam metal band struggling for the spotlight while keeping the group intact (especially the spontaneously combustible drummers).


5. National Lampoon’s Vacation

While Caddyshack and Fletch are quintessential Chevy Chase films, nothing beats the bumbling patriarch of the Griswold clan losing his mind en route to Wally World, America’s favorite family fun park. Yes, the sequels saw diminishing returns (aside from Christmas Vacation), but the one that started them all is endlessly watchable. Amen, let’s go!


6. Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Director Amy Heckerling and writer Cameron Crowe managed to capture exactly what high school life was like in the early-’80s. The awkwardness, the frustrations, the scares, the search for purpose and gratification, Fast Times presents its young characters as fully fleshed-out individuals (even the designated stoner shows nuance) and doesn’t talk down to its audience like many teen movies do. (Click here to see all airings of Fast Times at Ridgemont High on IFC.)


7. Beverly Hills Cop

A reminder of the days when Eddie Murphy was the edgiest comedian in showbiz, the one-two punch of Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hrs. set the template for modern action comedies. We wouldn’t have the Rush Hour franchise and every Kevin Hart film without Axel Foley.


8. Trading Places

A treatise on the Nature vs. Nurture argument at the height of Reagan-era excess, Trading Places depicts the lives that are held in the balance when the mega-rich make friendly $1 wagers and just how joyous the retribution can be. Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Lee Curtis are terrific as the leads, the Duke Brothers are delightfully evil, and in all seriousness, that is a nice purse.


9. Better Off Dead

This 1985 Savage Steve Holland movie is teen angst at its most surreal and affably goofy. John Cusack stars as Lane Meyer, a high schooler still reeling from the loss of his girlfriend to a cocky champion skier. (Is there any other kind in an ’80s movie?) With bloodthirsty paperboys, foreign-exchange street races and stop-motion hamburger interludes, Better Off Dead doesn’t let realism get in the way of accurately portraying pure teen heartbreak.


10. Midnight Run

Of all the critically acclaimed pairings that actor Robert De Niro has had through the years, few are as entertaining as his reluctant team-up with a persnickety Charles Grodin in 1988’s Midnight Run. Perfect foils, the bounty hunter and mob accountant race against time, the Feds and mafia hits until mutual Stockholm Syndrome kicks in and the partnership stops becoming merely professional. (The counterfeit bill scene alone is worth the watch.)


11. Heathers

Heathers is the kind of pitch-black comedy that would never get a major release in 2016. Unflinching in its satire of school shootings, teen suicide and the tragedies that come with the need to fit in, the movie remains relevant to the kids currently growing up in a cruel and judgmental world. And the fact that it’s laugh-out-loud funny while also making a sharp point about youth culture is a testament to how great the movie really is.

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Bill Hader in Conan Star Wars Audition Sketch

Acts of Wars

Watch Bill Hader, Melissa McCarthy and More Audition to Play Young Han Solo

The Documentary Now! star shows off his best Han and Chewie.

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Photo Credit: TBS/YouTube

Thanks in large part to The Force Awakens not sucking, the Star Wars universe is about to get a lot more expansive. Sequels, spin-offs, TV shows, and more are underway — which means a helluva lotta casting calls. Fortunately, Conan O’Brien got his hands on a few audition tapes of celebrities trying out for a role as a young Han Solo.

Check out Documentary Now!’s Bill Hader, Melissa McCarthy, Portlandia favorite Jeff Goldblum, Todd Margaret star Will Arnett and other funny folks offering their takes on what that younger, brasher space swashbuckler would be like.

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