Ask 411 Movies for 09.07.13: The Book of Webb
Posted by Chad Webb on 10.07.2013
How much control over their voices do the cast of The Simpson have? Is The Cable Guy an underrated film? How did Metallica's 3D film stack up? All this and more covered this week in Ask 411 Movies!
An "Ask 411 Movies" column would be nothing without questions, so please toss them my way. Why should you ask me instead of using Google? Well, perhaps I'll tell you something you can't find there, or maybe you just like my conversation and soothing words. You can post any questions or thoughts below in the comments section, email me at email@example.com, or send me a tweet using the links below:
This week I saw Rush, which I highly enjoyed. I customarily like Ron Howard films. He's versatile and proves it again here with one of the better racing movies out there. I also saw Metallica Through the Never on 3D IMAX, which I did not care for. I love the band's music, but not this. I caught Gravity, which was pretty damn fantastic. Great everything in that film. I finally saw Lake Bell's comedy In A World… about the people who lend their voices to trailers. It's very funny, sweet, and absorbing. See it!
I also watched a bunch of TV lately. Sons of Anarchy is amazing in that Kurt Sutter keeps unraveling twists and turns and compelling drama to keep it going at such a frenetic speed. It's not flawless by any stretch, but I'm entertained by it still. The twist with Tig was annoying, but hey. My DVR still has a lot on it. We recorded every episode of The Bridge and have not watched one second of it yet. Gotta get on that. By the time you read this, I'll have seen The Book of Mormon on Broadway (hence this week's title). I've been waiting for awhile to see it.
If you liked what you just read and want to know more about my movie tastes, check out my page on Letterboxd by clicking right here. Also, make sure to look at all the great articles and writers at 411, particularly in the Movie-zone because that's where I predominantly am, but all of the zones.
Q: A few questions, I guess
1) How much control over their voices do voice actors have? For example, Paul Winchell was Tigger in a Winnie the Pooh cartoon (Disney), and then a year later he used the exact voice (sound, mannerisms, and trademark laugh) as Fleegle in the Banana Splits Adventures (Hanna-Barbera). Were both companies okay with this? Also, I know Nancy Cartwright isn't allowed to pretend to be Bart Simpson without permission, but if she quits the show can she use that voice as another character?
2) Have there been any movies based around volleyball, beach or regular? And no, Top Gun doesn't count.
Thank you, and congratulations on 7 years,
A: 1) Excellent question and thank you. The details of voice acting can get pretty complex to explain, but I'll do my best not to ramble. To start, union contracts state that voice actors are allowed to take up to 3 roles in one production. If we're focusing on control, that could be up to the director or the actor. It depends on much freedom (or not) they're given. The competition in this industry is fierce, so most actors are probably given instructions and allowed to run with it, unless it's a cast of celebrities hired for their name value only. That's another discussion. It's not uncommon to experience a "Hey, it's that voice!" reaction to various characters. On one hand, it depends on the individual actor, their range, and the number of things you've heard them in. Of course how much trouble you're spending trying to recognize them also weighs in. If you spend enough time watching animation, you'll find your ear becoming better attuned to picking people out, even when they change their voices.
There is also a phrase called "Pigeon Holed Voice Actor," which explains a form of type casting. It involves a voice actor being irrevocably linked to a specific personality they play, especially the character who made them famous. In Japan, seeing a picture of a character and knowing the actor who voices them will give you a good idea of what they'll be like. This is a debated point within animation. Some animations buffs consider versatility more impressive than, say, having a long resume. Versatility always helped the legacy of Mel Blanc for instance. However, not having as wide a range as other actors is not necessarily a bad thing. Many fans feel that some actors who are typecast into particular roles take jobs that are appropriate for their range.
As far as Paul Winchell goes, it seems he did have a solid range (Smurfs, Wacky Races), but there is a trope where a character from a voice actor (or any actor for that matter) is so impactful that many other characters created afterwards are heavily inspired by it. In the case of Tigger, he was extremely popular. Winchell even won a Grammy for voicing the character, so it would not shock me to learn that Hanna-Barbera were aware of similarities and wanted to use a similar voice so when viewers saw Fleagle they heard Tigger. This isn't inherently a negative thing though. Over time, enough changes might be made to the character that no one will care.
I could not find information specific to Winchell, but if I had to guess, the voice he used was similar to Tigger on purpose. If it had been a tiger on The Banana Split Adventures Hour, Disney probably could have sued for violating their copyrights. Because the character was likely different enough, there is little Disney could have done. How can you tell an actor not to sound a certain way? What if they say they have no choice? This is how they sound. Again, range could be a factor as well.
As for Nancy Cartwright, if she left The Simpsons and used a voice reminiscent of Bart for another character, obviously the similarities would be under the microscope more stringently because of the popularity of the show. But if it were different enough from Bart, say an animal or something, I believe she could probably do that if she wanted. It all hinges on what violates the copyrights and what doesn't. On a side note, Frank Welker is the most successful voice actor, as he has over 700 credits on his IMDB resume. Going along with voice actors who used similar voices throughout their career, below you can see a clip from Twice Upon a Time, which has Lorenzo Music (the voice of Garfield) voicing a character that sounds just like the famous orange cat.
2) Well, it's understandable why you haven't been able to locate many volleyball movies. There haven't been that many.
Here are a couple:
Side Out is a 1990 film about a beach volleyball competition, featuring C. Thomas Howell, Peter Horton, Harley Jane Kozak and Courtney Thorne-Smith. The term "side-out" refers to an obsolete rule in volleyball under which the winning point could only be scored by the serving team. A side-out is now defined as when the receiving team earns the right to serve whether they get a point when they do so or not. Side-out can also refer to a type of scoring in a game of volleyball where only the serving team can score points.
Cloud 9 is a 2006 American sports comedy film starring Burt Reynolds that was written and produced by Brett Hudson, Burt Kearns and Academy Award-winning producer (The Godfather, Million Dollar Baby) Albert S. Ruddy. Reynolds plays a down and out sports promoter living in a trailer in Malibu, California, who turns his luck around after he has the brainstorm of starting up a beach volleyball team composed of strippers.
The rest of the list isn't that long. To read about more, click here and here. It goes without saying that the classic of this sub-genre is Air Bud: Spikes Back.
Q: Hello Chad,
My question is regarding an actress who seemingly was one of those...I know her but don't know her name but she's been in a lot of big money/director helmed movies: Nancy Allen. What has happened to her since Robocop 3 (which we shall never speak of again)? I know she was in Carrie, a lot of DePalma movies in the early 80s and finally perfectly fit as Peter Wellers partner, Lewis. She seemed to be sought after and now suddenly dropped off the planet.
A: Nancy Allen is a Golden Globe nominated actress (Dressed to Kill most famous for her roles in the late 70's and 80's. She was in quite a few Brian DePalma films, but then she did marry him in 1979. They would divorce in 1984 due to the stress on their marriage from DePalma filming Scarface. The number of roles Allen took decreased gradually over time. She still can be seen every once in a blue moon, but not too often these days.
She has appeared in several documentaries about her most famous pictures, many of which you mentioned. She has done a bunch of appearances on television shows throughout the years as well. Her last notable part was as Midge in Steven Soderbergh's Out of Sight. Allen's time as a performer faded away probably because of her work as an environmentalist and an activist against breast cancer. In December 2010, Nancy Allen was named Executive Director of the weSPARK Cancer Support Center, which was founded by her longtime friend and actress Wendie Jo Sperber. Allen was quoted as saying: "That is what I do. That is what my life is dedicated to. I'm there, I run it. I've created the whole program format and I fund raise. It is my life's work." Of course less opportunities could also be a factor in her working less, but her breast cancer work seems to be the main reason.
Q: Q: Lastly, what is the most underrated movie or tv show? A movie in your personal opinion that should be considered a classic. You can say the same about actors or directors.
A: This week I tackle the final part of your question. Thank you for being patient. For underrated movies I selected strictly titles I personally believe are underrated. Usually when someone asks me to list a certain type of movie or TV series I choose generally accepted titles mixed with one or two of my own. This time I'm just throwing out my own picks and as such they will not be unanimously agreed upon. Oh well. They will also mainly be picks of the last few decades. If someone wants me to list more underrated films someday, I'll go deeper into the archive and pull out some older ones. Until then...
*In your question you asked me what movie I consider a classic. While all of the titles you'll see below are underrated in my opinion, the top one should definitely be labeled a classic. That would be Blow from 2001. It is an American biopic about the American cocaine smuggler George Jung, directed by Ted Demme. David McKenna and Nick Cassavetes adapted Bruce Porter's 1993 book Blow: How a Small Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellín Cocaine Cartel and Lost It All for the screenplay. It is based on the real life stories of George Jung, Pablo Escobar, Carlos Lehder Rivas (portrayed in the film as Diego Delgado), and the Medellín Cartel. The film's title comes from a slang term for cocaine.
Every aspect of this film clicks perfectly. The casting is brilliant from top to bottom (including Paul Reubens!) and Johnny Depp gives one of his very best performances. It might be tough for some to see how great until they catch interviews with the George Jung himself. The music, the editing, the pace, the emotion all blends together masterfully. When it comes to drug movies everyone typically talks about Scarface, but I feel this is every bit as good, if not better than Brian DePalma's picture. Ted Demme was an incredibly talented filmmaker and it's a true shame that he passed so young and won't be giving us any more movies. Since I started at 411, I've praised Blow a lot and I will continue to do so.
*Lord of War is a 2005 crime war film written, produced and directed by Andrew Niccol, co-produced by and starring Nicolas Cage. It was released in the United States on September 16, 2005, with the DVD following on January 17, 2006 and the Blu-ray Disc on July 27, 2006. Cage plays an illegal arms dealer with similarities to post-Soviet arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Andrew Niccol is a mixed bag of a director, but when he brings his A-game it looks like this. I say this is the best film he has directed. I love Gattaca, but this is more accessible. What Blow is to cocaine, this is to arms trafficking, which is why you see it here. This film has so much energy and is shot with such a distinctive, fresh approach (as can be seen by the opening). And what both Blow and Lord of War have in common is a superlative use of narration. Often a voice over is distracting or unnecessary. Most critics instantly scoff at it, but in these cases it augments the proceedings of both films. This sports stellar acting as well, especially from Nicolas Cage and Jared Leto. Both these movies got fair reviews with modest box office success, but have not really be discussed much in recent years. They should be. And if you've never seen the poster for Lord of War with Cage's face made out of bullets, look it up. It's one of the best.
*The Cable Guy is a 1996 American dark comedy film, directed by Ben Stiller, and starring Jim Carrey and Matthew Broderick. It was released in North America on June 14, 1996 by Columbia Pictures. The film grossed $19,806,226 on its opening weekend. It grossed a total $60,240,295 in the North American domestic market, and $42,585,501 outside the U.S, making a total of $102,825,796 worldwide gross. Despite the critic perception that the movie was a flop, it made a profit in excess of its $47 million production budget.
Would I describe this as a classic? I might not go that far, but I do think this is a brilliant comedy that has been under appreciated for many years. I know a lot of people who still flat out hate this movie. I think they should give it another go. First off, it is a dark comedy, which isn't for everyone. I get that complaint. But the primary reason people reacted harshly to this was because it wasn't the Jim Carrey they were used to seeing. Carrey was in his prime at this juncture of his career and was known for wacky lighthearted slapstick like Ace Ventura and Dumb and Dumber. The Cable Guy was different and so it was dismissed. Carrey is spectacular in it, as is Matthew Broderick and Leslie Mann (don't forget Judd Apatow produced this). It is filled with randomly hilarious moments and to me this just gets funnier with each viewing, a benefit of most dark humor. If you only saw it once and were mixed, it is worth another shot and seek out the Blu-Ray, which has an excellent commentary featuring Apatow and company.
And when I was first courting my wife I made sure that we went to Medieval Times because of this movie. They didn't have one in Pennsylvania where I'm from.
*Cop Land is a 1997 American crime drama film written and directed by James Mangold. It features an ensemble cast featuring Sylvester Stallone, Harvey Keitel, Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Janeane Garofalo, Michael Rapaport, Robert Patrick, Peter Berg, Annabella Sciorra, Cathy Moriarty, Arthur Nascarella, and John Spencer. The story follows an Internal Affairs agent who is investigating deaths caused by a young officer that have been covered up by corrupt officers.
Not everyone is a fan of Stallone. I get that, but I grew up on his movies and still love watching him in just about anything he does. You won't hear me trying to say that Bullet to the Head is a classic, even though I enjoyed it, but Cop Land is unjustly forgotten. There was a lot of pressure on Cop Land to deliver and exceed expectations for Miramax at the time. They wanted it to be the next Pulp Fiction (in terms of success) if you can believe that. There was also pressure on Stallone, who had made a few crappy movies and was once again branching out from the customary action pic to showcase his range. He called the film "The beginning of the end, for about 8 years" because he had trouble getting parts afterwards.
I love this movie. It is a dark cop tale about morality and features a mind-blowing cast, all of whom are fabulous to watch on screen. James Mangold can be a superb director when he wants to be and I love his vision of the New York/New Jersey area. Stallone gives on of his finest turns and gains 40 pounds (which was heavily publicized). This is a film with a subdued approach. None of the acting was particular flashy and that's to its credit. Every moment is suspenseful and tense and ambitiously made. Of course Roger Ebert gave it a thumbs down, which did not help its chances or its legacy, but like the others on my list, this should be reexamined.
*The Count of Monte Cristo is a 2002 adventure film directed by Kevin Reynolds. The film is the tenth adaptation of the book of the same name by Alexandre Dumas, père and stars Richard Harris, James Caviezel, Dagmara Dominczyk, Guy Pearce, and Luis Guzman. It follows the general plot of the novel (the main storyline of imprisonment and revenge is preserved); but many aspects, including the relationships between major characters and the ending, have been changed, simplified, or removed; and action scenes have been added. The movie met with modest box office success.
Purists are probably not crazy about this film, but I love it. I admit it was my introduction to the Dumas story. I have since seen many versions of the tale. One day I'll read the book. But this adaptation began my adoration for Jim Caviezel, whom I would most assuredly put on a list of top underrated actors. He is awesome as Edmond Dantes, as is Guy Pearce as Fernand who rarely disappoints. This features two of my favorite things, a prison escape and revenge. That is right up my alley. The costumes, sets, editing, and music are all so vital to how much I dig this flick. Kevin Reynolds is the director here and like Andrew Niccol you never know what you'll get from him, but he was on point got this project. The romance isn't overdone, the swordplay is exciting, the pacing is tense, the writing is taut, and most importantly there are so many memorable sequences. Luis Guzman is fun, Richard Harris is sensational, and the rest of the cast are aces. To prove how much I love The Count of Monte Cristo, know that when my wife and visited Marseilles, France I made sure we stopped by the Chateau D'if prison from the story.
*The Mist is a 2007 American science fiction horror film based on the 1980 novella of the same name by Stephen King. The film was written and directed by Frank Darabont, who had previously adapted Stephen King's works The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. Darabont had been interested in adapting The Mist for the big screen since the 1980s. The film features an ensemble cast including Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Samuel Witwer, Toby Jones, Nathan Gamble, Andre Braugher, Frances Sternhagen, and future Walking Dead actors Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, and Melissa McBride.
Although a monster movie, the central theme explores what ordinary people will be driven to do under extraordinary circumstances. The plot revolves around members of the small town of Bridgton, Maine who, after a severe thunderstorm causes the power to go out the night before, meet in a supermarket to pick up supplies. While they struggle to survive an unnatural mist, which envelops the town and conceals vicious, otherworldly monsters, extreme tensions rise among the survivors.
I'm a big Frank Darabont fan, and this is probably his most divisive effort to date. Most people argue about the ending for obvious reasons. I thought it was ballsy on a level that few filmmakers have ever or will ever equal. The cast is uniformly phenomenal, and Thomas Jane gives his best performance. Even though I knew who was directing it, when I heard about this picture I was not enthused to see it. I had recollections of The Fog and was indifferent to The Mist. Thankfully when I saw it blew my mind. Darabont should be adapting every Stephen King book if you ask me. He knows what he's doing.
I realize these picks might come off as odd to some, but they are movies I watch regularly. Here are a bunch of honorable mentions. Feel free to add your own in the comment section:
*Chaplin, The Guard, 54, Willow, The Monster Squad, One Night at McCool's, The Dark Crystal, Strange Days, The Majestic, Eyes Wide Shut, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Burn After Reading, Rounders, Porco Rosso, The Terminal, Beowulf, Jack Goes Boating
"The plural of Chad is Chad?"
--From the movie Recount