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The 10 worst moms in movies

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You’ll probably be calling your mom to tell her that you love her on Mother’s Day. Maybe some of these movie moms wouldn’t have been so bad if their kids had told them that more often. Then again, it’s hard to imagine anyone — offspring or otherwise — expressing anything resembling affection to these matriarchal monsters. This year, show your love even more by thanking your mom that she’s not one of the unfortunate parents below.


10. Mrs. Wilson, “Natural Born Killers” (1994)

The mother of future notorious mass murderer Mallory Knox deserves points for trying to keep a cheery attitude even as her disgusting, belligerent husband Ed (Rodney Dangerfield) poisons the suburban Wilson household with his foul-mouthed rage and stain-covered wife-beaters. But she must ultimately be charged with extreme negligence for choosing to quietly suffer rather than interfere every time her husband sexually abuses their daughter. “You didn’t do nothin’,” Mallory says to her mother after her soon-to-be-husband and partner-in-crime Mickey Knox ties Mrs. Wilson to a bed and douses her with lighter fluid. Thusly, Mallory’s Mom goes up in flames for being an accomplice through inaction.


9. Other Mother, “Coraline” (2009)

True, Coraline’s “Other” parents are fun and cheerful and give their daughter a lot more freedom than her “real” folks, but they ultimately show their true colors (of which there are many, actually) when they reveal the price that must be paid for choosing to stay in this “Other” world: having buttons sewn onto your eyeballs, using a needle “that’s so sharp, you won’t feel a thing!” Young Coraline vehemently protests this radical re-design of her peepers, of course, which makes her “Other” parents — particularly her usually doting, sweet “Other Mother” — rather angry. Like, homicidally so. Like, maybe it’s time for our heroine to get back to reality, and pronto.


8. The Woman, “The Road” (2009)

There are many ways in which one can deal with the end of civilization as we know it. You can hold onto your humanity and practice compassion and kindness, like The Boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee). You can become fiercely protective yet uncompromising and suspicious, like The Man (Viggo Mortensen). Or you can just fall into selfish despair and completely abandon your family, like The Woman (Charlize Theron). The key is to not lose hope or the will to live when everything else is literally burning up around you, but this mother would seemingly rather leap into the chaos (and certain death) than stay and hold her ground with her husband and son. Thanks a lot, Mom — now Dad has to worry about finding food and a decent pair of shoes for the little twerp all by himself.


7. Esther Cobblepot, “Batman Returns” (1992)

Tucker and Esther Cobblepot were a wealthy and well-to-do Gotham City couple, peers of the billionaire surgeon and philathropist Thomas Wayne and his wife, Martha. Fate dealt them a Joker card, however, when the heir to their legacy turned out to be a freak mutant baby with an inhuman appetite for cats. Filled with despair and shame, they tossed young Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot into the sewer, where the unfortunate child ended up being raised by penguins and carnival freaks and later emerged as the Penguin, a deformed criminal mastermind with a plan to murder all of Gotham’s first-born sons. Oswald sums it up after visiting his parents’ graves: “I was their number-one son … but they treated me like number two.”


6. Momma Lift, “Throw Momma From the Train” (1987)

Momma Lift isn’t so bad … at least on paper. Sure, the character as written in Stu Silver’s screenplay, which borrows heavily from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train,” is belligerent, nagging and high-maintenance. But is she so horrible as to drive her put-upon son, Owen (Danny DeVito), to want to kill her? Nah. However, when you cast Anne Ramsay — the woman who played Mama Fratelli, the truly frightening and dangerous crime matriarch in “The Goonies” — in the role, well, then Momma Lift transcends the page and becomes a much more loathsome creature, the true stuff of Oedipal nightmares and murderous fantasies. Ramsay’s also in on the joke the whole time, which makes her performance — and character — even more brilliant and unforgettable. “Owennnnn!!”

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Soap tv show

As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

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IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

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When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

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Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

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Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

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First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

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In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

10 dramas about comedy

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When you go to a stand-up comedy show, you’re there to have a good time and laugh at some jokes, and if you’re a nerd about it, maybe you go to appreciate the craft. If you’re the guy on stage, though, the perspective is pretty different sometimes. There’s often an obsession at play that borders on addiction, be it to the art, to the wordplay, to the cadence of each punchline, or maybe to the attention and the spotlight. Whatever it is, the motivations behind each person getting up in front of a roomful of oft-drunk strangers to try and kill them and avoid dying makes for some interesting drama, and every once in a while, people in Hollywood try to capture that. So here’s a list of ten dramas about the world of comedy.


1. “Lenny” (1974)

Dustin Hoffman stars in this Bob Fosse film as the titular comedian of world renown, notoriety and reverence. There can never be enough said about how much of a trailblazer Lenny Bruce was, and this film, released eight years after his death, did not shy away from any of the controversies that defined his life as a crusader for free speech by way of clever, straightforward honesty, expressing himself in ways that hadn’t been heard on stage before. That kind of brazen flouting of convention came with a heavy price, to the point where it’s been said that he was arrested so often that his untimely death was caused by “an overdose of police.” This film was nominated for six Academy Awards, by the by.


2. “The King of Comedy” (1983)

A genre wouldn’t be a genre if Martin Scorsese didn’t try his hand at it, and put Robert De Niro in it. Scorsese’s take is a lot creepier than most, however, as De Niro stars as Rupert Pupkin, a really lousy stand-up comic who lives in his own fantasy world and, when he meets legendary comedian Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis) by chance, he thinks that alone is his big break. When that doesn’t turn out to be the case, Pupkin kidnaps the guy and holds him for ransom – the ransom of a TV spot. Pupkin is one of the more sympathetic psychopaths you’ll come across, and there’s some debate about how much of this film takes place in his own mind.


3. “Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling” (1986)

The icon Richard Pryor insisted that the one and only movie he directed was not autobiographical, but considering how it was the life story of a comedian who burned himself while freebasing cocaine, you have to think this drew heavily on Pryor’s real life. That incident puts Dancer in a coma, during which he reflects on his childhood in a brothel, his self-destructive life and how he got to that very low point.


4. “Punchline” (1988)

Who wouldn’t want to see Tom Hanks as a stand-up comic? He’s a natural born funnyman. In this film, he’s a med student moonlighting in the stage world, and he forms a bond with Sally Field, a housewife who’s also trying to make a go of a new career in this sort of showbiz. However, the friendship is strained when the cutthroat competition of the business gets in the way – not to mention unrequited romantic feelings – and things don’t end wonderfully for everybody.


5. “Mr. Saturday Night” (1992)

Billy Crystal made his directorial debut, giving himself the starring role as Buddy Young Jr., a hugely popular comedian with his own show in the 1950s whose career didn’t go quite the way he’d hoped, and as he aged, he also alienated everybody close to him that helped him reach the top in the first place. While it’s an interesting portrait of a celebrity past his prime, it didn’t do all that well at the box office, but David Paymer was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

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10 movies you’ve never heard of starring pro wrestlers

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It’s the year of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Aside from a stint as WWE Champion and headlining Wrestlemania, we’ve seen him in “The Snitch,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” and “Pain & Gain” so far. Once upon a time, though, a professional wrestler starring in movies would have been considered a lame joke – outside of Hulk Hogan’s goofy stint in “Rocky III” and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper headlining John Carpenter’s “They Live.” But The Rock isn’t the only wrestler who’s tried to make their bones as a movie star, but he’s obviously the only thing close to a bona fide success. To better illustrate why that’s so impressive, here’s a list of ten movies you’ve likely never heard of which feature pro wrestlers in leading roles. It ain’t all that pretty.


1. “Hell Comes To Frogtown” (1987)

Outside of Dwayne, I think we can all agree that Roddy Piper has the best film out there with a wrestler in the lead role – we all love “They Live.” However, that doesn’t mean that The Rowdy One got off scot free as far as cinematic disasters go. In this film, he plays Sam Hell, one of the last fertile males in a post-apocalyptic wasteland riddled with mutant frogs, and he’s captured by a militant group of nurses, fitted with a chastity belt/bomb to force him to follow orders, and then he’s charged with heading into Frogtown to free a group of women being used as sex slaves, so that he can impregnate them instead. See, his name is Hell, and he goes to Frogtown. This time, his extended fight scene isn’t with Keith David, but a guy in a frog mask.


2. “Santa with Muscles” (1996)

Piper’s biggest adversary in his wrestling heyday was Hulk Hogan, arguably the most famous wrestler of all time. He scored big as Thunderlips in “Rocky III,” scored his own starring role in “No Holds Barred,” which even brought Tiny Lister into the squared circle for a while as the incoherent Zeus. The subsequent attempts to cash in on his fame cinematically were very iffy, however, including “Suburban Commando” and this holiday comedy, which has perhaps the lamest title ever. Hogan sports a shorter version of his trademark mustache, as well as disconcerting fake hair covering his infamously bald head, as a jerk millionaire who gets amnesia while wearing a Santa Claus outfit and thinks he’s actually Kris Kringle. Then he has to stop Evil Ed Begley Jr. from harvesting magical crystals under an orphanage. Okay. Keep an eye out for a young Mila Kunis as well.


3. “Santa’s Slay” (2005)

Perhaps the polar opposite of “Santa With Muscles” is this horror comedy, starring WCW legend Bill Goldberg as murderous version of St. Nick. It seems he was actually a demon who lost a curling match to an angel and was thus forced to deliver presents to children for 1000 years – but now, time’s up, and the Anticrhist’s murder spree is in full effect. We’ve also got Robert Culp and Emilie de Ravin along for the sleigh ride.


4. “Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe” (1990)

Jesse “The Body” Ventura certainly made a name for himself not only in Arnold Schwarzenegger movies like “Predator” and “The Running Man,” but also with his improbable victory to become the governor of Minnesota. But did you know that he was also an intergalactic cop trying to stop a renegade officer named Secundus from finding the Comator in order to unlock the secrets of the Anti-Life Equation in order to grant himself omnipotence and immortality? No. No, you probably didn’t. The Comator (Co-Mater?) happens to be a little boy who was conceived and born on the same day when Secundus touched an Earth woman’s belly. Will this odd family teach Abraxas the meaning of humanity? Probably. Jim Belushi won’t be any help, though, as he plays the worst principal ever.


5. “See No Evil” (2006)

In the modern era, World Wrestling Entertainment has their own film division, trying to see if they can’t duplicate the success of The Rock. Their first effort was this slasher movie starring Glenn Jacobs, aka Dr. Isaac Yankem (the evil dentist) and better known as Kane, The Big Red Monster. Standing seven feet tall, Kane is an imposing figure – and in the ring, he usually sports an ominous mask, but even his regular face has an aura of evil about it, making him a fine choice to play an eye-gouging psycho named Jacob Goodnight. Borrowing pages from “Psycho” and “Friday the 13th,” Goodnight was made a monster by his mother.

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