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5 Badass Action Movie Dads Who’ll Do Anything For Their Family

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The stereotypical movie father’s job is to solve problems and offer advice. But actions speak louder than words, which means they get to do both with guns and high explosives. The only way action movie heroes could be more fatherly is if they helped you put up some shelves. Which they would do by throwing them at a terrorist kidnapper’s helicopter and then firing a rocket launcher at precisely the right angle.

But what wisdom can our most action-packed pops offer the rest of us this Father’s Day? And in what situations would they shine? Check out some of the best advice from action movie dads.

5. John McClane, Die Hard

Die Hard‘s John McClane is the ultimate action hero father. In that he’s awesomely cool for a couple of hours, but if you actually had to deal with him every day he’d drive you insane. Which is in fact his entire family history between all his movies. He’s become the poster man for tough father figures despite achieving about six hours of competent fathering over 37 years.

He’s the ultimate example of the father consumed by his work, and not even the cool evil financial work which would let his family ignore him in a mansion. “Kicking terrorist ass on a beat cop’s salary” isn’t heroic — it’s how the government saves millions of dollars on properly trained SWAT teams. But still, he starred in Die Hard. And that means he must be doing something right. And as he said in A Good Day to Die Hard:

John McClane: The shit we do for our kids. Yippie-kai-yay, motherfucker.

And that’s it right there. He might be the biggest screw-up on the force, he might have been separated, divorced, and disowned for most of his adult life, but no matter how badly he’s been treated he’ll still do everything for his children. Because that’s what fathers do.

He even appeared in A Good Day to Die Hard just to save his son. Forget risking his life. Action heroes do that every day. John McClane ruined his own action franchise for one of his kids, in a doomed attempt to turn Jai Courtney into a believable action star. That’s true self-sacrifice.


4. Bryan Mills, Taken

The name “Bryan Mills” is the most redundant writing in history as it assumes a world where people don’t just say “Liam Neeson.” In fact, since it depends on underestimating the action powers of Liam Neeson, the name should count itself lucky Liam didn’t somehow rip it off himself and electrocute it.

Retired CIA agent Mills makes John McClane look like father of the year, because John at least spent some of his movies still married to his wife. Bryan Mills isn’t a great father or husband in the same way the Death Star wasn’t a great weather satellite: it didn’t actually do that, and then managed to get most of what it was meant to look after destroyed anyway. After rescuing his daughter in the first movie he manages to get his family multiply kidnapped and partly killed.

Listen, we could pretend the quote from this movie would be anything else, but that would be a waste of everyone’s time. So you’re at the door, about to head to the prom with Bryan’s daughter, and this happens:

Bryan Mills: But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

He has a particular set of skills, and his family uses them like a cordless drill: they only bring him out when they need something completely screwed, and for the rest of the time they leave him alone. He’s the ultimate end point of being called to open some stubborn jars. It’s just his jars have machine guns. Other fathers get to help their kids move house, or put up shelves. John just annihilates murderers, and gets exactly the same amount of praise. And probably one of those recent crummy Bob Dylan albums on CD for Father’s Day.


3. Harry Tasker, True Lies

Harry Tasker is the top action-father on the list so far because he hasn’t lost his family. Yet. But he’s clearly on the way. There’s just something about defusing nuclear warheads for a living which makes it hard to leave work early for a birthday party. It’s the most awful pressure he can put his family under, because he has the best possible reason for acting like his job as a computer salesman for Tektel systems is a matter of life-and-death. But he can’t tell them that that’s actually the case.

Harry Tasker’s lesson is the simplest possible one: tell the truth. And as always in action movies, the simplest task can sometimes seem like it’s become the most difficult job in the world. But any action movie will tell you that the longer you complicate things with cover stories the more likely everything is to explode in your face. Secret agents get away with slick routines because they can drop everything and run for it inside 90 minutes. Most modern marriages last a bit longer than that. But Harry and Helen Tasker’s marriage only strengthens under stress.

Harry Tasker: Ask me a question I would normally lie to.

Helen Tasker: Are we gonna die?

Harry: Yep!

Helen: I’d say it’s working.

Harry: They’re gonna shoot us in the head or they gonna torture us to death or they gonna leave us here when the bomb blows up…

Helen: Harry!

He tells her they’re going to die in awful ways, and it’s still the start of their relationship’s recovery because he’s finally telling the truth. Making Harry the first man ever to go out and get blasted with chemicals with a bunch of guys and have it help his marriage.


2. Big Chris, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Big Chris spends his movie looking out for his son, Little Chris, and while he might not be the most original father in the world he’s still excellent at it. This combination of work and family life might be a little unconventional, especially when your work is debt collection for a man named “Hatchet Harry,” but the results are undeniable.

He’s found a way to spend time with his child, make sure he exercises, teach him valuable work skills — gathering all the money means Little Chris is probably better at math than most adults — and even insist on moral standards such as never swearing and never working for free. Which puts Little Chris ahead of most people on the Internet already.

Big Chris: All right, son: roll them guns up, count the money, and put your seat belt on.

That’s just good parenting: two parts of good safety advice to one part mathematics practice. Of course there are going to be some challenges when you combine your crèche with gangland intimidation. For one thing, the language gets a little salty.

Things come to a head when psychotic thief Dog takes Little Chris hostage, and that head is Dog’s head being slammed in a car door until it stops working. Which is when Big Chris’s daily insistence on basic safety tips like always wearing your seat belt pays off. True, seat belts usually save you from accidents, not from deliberately crashing your own car to stun a knife-wielding robber, but the fact is that Big Chris was still a better father while beating another man to death than every asshole you see letting their kids clamber around the back seat.


1. John Matrix, Commando

Yes, Schwarzenegger is on here twice, but any action hero list that doesn’t have at least two Schwarzneggers is badly miscalibrated. John Matrix is the ur-action hero, the alpha Schwarzenegger, the simplest possible action star whose single dimension is an endless strip of one-liners, and he’s also the greatest father in action movie history.

Think about it. Why is his daughter Jenny kidnapped? Because he’d retired from special forces work, and actively refused to return for one last job. He already had the action hero lifestyle, and he quit it to spend the rest of his life being a family man instead. Other allegedly heroic fathers quit their dangerous jobs at the end of the movie. He’d already done it before the movie even started, but was simply so good at action the villains actively came to force him to kill their asses. It’s the action analogy of a man giving up the guy life for family life, and his ex-buddies who turn out to be assholes futilely try to pressure him back into the old days.

Not to mention the guy is a font of fatherly advice. He knows the importance of a good breakfast…

John Matrix: I eat Green Berets for breakfast…and right now I’m very hungry!

Getting proper rest…

John Matrix: Do me a favor. Don’t disturb my friend. He’s dead tired.

He’s always available to offer a science lesson…

John Matrix: Loyalty is very touching. But it is not the most important thing in your life right now! But what IS important is gravity!

And, finally, when his daughter is threatened, he’s quick to respond…

Sully: Here, have some beers in Val Verde, Matrix. It’ll give everyone a little more time with your daughter.
Henriques: Heh.
Matrix: You’re a funny guy Sully, I like you. That’s why I’m going to kill you last.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, whether they’re toting machine guns or golf clubs.

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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