Movies

The Rundown: Let’s Cast The Hypothetical Movie About The GameStop Stonks Scandal

The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items could vary, as could the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday, and we are here to have some fun.

ITEM NUMBER ONE — I must have Giamatti

My knowledge of the stock market could fit inside a Dixie cup. Multiple people have explained short-selling to me multiple times and I still do not fully understand why or how it exists. I am not the person you should look to for answers about the GameStop/Reddit/Robinhood stonks situation, unless you are looking for someone to say something like “Hmm, this seems kind of hilarious.” If you want more helpful analysis, look here. I do not understand it and I do not particularly want to.

What do I understand, on the other hand, is formulaic Hollywood productions based loosely on real-life events. This is kind of my specialty, honestly, thanks to many years of watching movies on basic cable on rainy Saturdays. So while I cannot help you sort through your stock portfolio in the wake of various chaos-adjacent events that involve many arrows pointing in many different directions, I can help you dreamcast a movie based on all of it. It’s very useful. I have not wasted my life at all. Let’s do it.

Two notes before we begin:

  • Again, this is a lightly-fictionalized version, only because it is much more fun that way
  • I am operating without a budget because it is also much more fun that way

Here we go:

The evil hedge fund CEO — Walton Goggins, obviously

The embattled-but-sweet CEO of a GameStop-type company whose name is something like Gamer Heaven — Michael Keaton, although an argument can be made that we should shoot for someone younger like a Nicholas Braun in full “Cousin Greg from Succession”-mode

The Reddit-type daytraders who moderate the forum where it all starts, which is called like HotStockTipz — Manny Jacinto and Jake Johnson, because I love them

The intrepid young finance reporter who won’t stop pursuing the story even as it goes all the way to the top — Zendaya, with her hair pulled back and a pencil stuck in there

The intrepid young finance reporter’s editor/mentor who is skeptical at first but later encourages her to keep chasing the story even as pressure from corporate forces puts his own job and/or life in danger — John David Washington, just being as principled and righteous as all hell

Some as-yet-undetermined character played by an unshaven Jonah Hill — Jonah Hill

The idealist lawyer who runs a small firm that is cluttered with papers and boxes but is secretly brilliant and leads the class action — Paul Giamatti, in his full flustered and rumpled glory, with a dress shirt on and a tie that is so loose it looks like a necklace and, for some reason, suspenders

The young associate at the lawyer’s firm who is a mousy research genius and also at one point at the beginning of the third act shows up to a fancy event in a strapless gown and no eyeglasses and suddenly everyone is like “I had no idea she was attractive!” even though she’s been played by Anna Kendrick the entire movie — Anna Kendrick, although Aubrey Plaza can work here, too

The Elon Musk-type billionaire who tweets too much — James Wolk, who already played an Elon Musk-type in Billions and was killed off when he blew himself up in his own spaceship, which I point out here because it is still very funny to me

The cable news anchor who reports on all of this in little snippets the audience only sees over the shoulders of other characters who have it on in the background — Jay Jackson, in part because he plays an anchor or reporter in everything and in part so I can shout “That’s Perd Hapley from Parks and Recreation!” every time he shows up, every time I watch, to the great annoyance of everyone I know

The sleazy senator who is in the pocket of Wall Street — Eric Roberts, because no one does sleazy authority figures better, with the possible exception of Joaquim de Almeida

The aide to the sleazy senator who realizes he’s on the wrong side of history after a rousing speech by the young lawyer who he also develops a thing for — Zac Efron, mostly so I can remind you how much I loved his eco-travel show

The good senator — Salma Hayek, just giving passionate speeches during Senate hearings and saying stuff like “The people deserve answers!”

The President of the United States of America — Angela Bassett, because more movies should feature Angela Bassett as the president and if I’m the one putting together the cast of this sucker then I’m going to get the ball rolling

I look forward to watching this movie 700 times on TNT in the next decade, preferably in a mini-marathon with The Accountant.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — Rest in peace, Larry

Larry King passed away. That stinks. Larry King was an institution on television. He was on television as long as I’ve had a television. He was extremely on television, too, in a way very few people have been or will be. Think about it this way: Larry King was on television so long that it’s hard to remember a time before there were jokes about Larry King being on television a long time. Losing him and Alex Trebek and Regis Philbin in the span of a year feels like the universe turning a page in a very harsh and unwelcome way. Also, his real name was Larry Ziegler and he just up and decided one day to go by Larry King. Larry King was such a cultural institution that we did not stop and find it hilarious that there was a person who changed his name to “Larry King.” That is not nothing. Not even close.

He did a lot in that time on television. He interviewed presidents and world leaders and movie stars and asked them whatever questions he wanted to, because he was Larry King. He was also deeply weird in a way not enough people are anymore. He had Kermit and Miss Piggy on his show and asked them about their hypothetical offspring. He did a hedgehog impression while interviewing Ben Schwartz — who voiced Sonic the Hedgehog in the live-action Sonic movie, a character and movie Larry King knew nothing about and did not bother to begin learning about until they were recording the interview — and it remains one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. (It’s in the video up there. Watch it.) He tweeted, a lot, or rather had someone tweet things for him. It was a modern extension of a column he wrote at USA Today for years and it was… hmm. I think the easiest way to explain Larry King’s tweets is to show you a few. The only thing you need to know is that context for them is unnecessary because context for them never existed.

Just perfect. Larry King, in the ninth decade of his life, became an iconic poster. That’s not nothing either. And it’s even better when you realize how he tweeted:

When Larry King wants to tweet, he doesn’t log onto the Internet. He pops open the flip phone stored in the shirt pocket between his suspender straps and calls the number for a voicemail set up specifically for this purpose. Then he dictates a thought that will be picked up by an assistant and transcribed onto his @KingsThings Twitter account. And nearly 2.6 million followers are there to receive it.

People loved him, too. After his death, The Hollywood Reporter ran a kind of as-told-to piece from a longtime waitress at his favorite Los Angeles diner. Look at this collection of words.

On weekends, he would come in a little later but he always ate the same thing. I would have two bowls waiting on the table, filled with plain blueberries. He took coffee with heaps of ice — a lotta, lotta ice and always more ice than coffee — and 20 packets of Splenda with nonfat milk. He would even put Splenda on the blueberries. A long time ago, he used to throw the empty packets on the floor and we would get mad and say, “Larry! You can’t do that.”

Then he would eat matzo brei burned. Or lox and onions burned. Finally, one day I had to ask, “Larry, what is wrong with you? Why do you eat all of this food burned?” He said, “Gloria, I don’t like the taste of eggs so I only want to taste it burned.” He hated eggs.

Again, just fantastically weird in a charming way. He was Larry King all the time and he loved it. He was still going viral as recently as a few weeks ago. It feels weird to know that he won’t be doing that anymore, or sitting behind home plate during Dodgers playoff games, eating ice cream in the front row, just over the batter’s shoulder, always there, a part of the action even when he’s not directly involved in the action like he always was. It doesn’t feel right.

Rest in peace, King.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — This is so stupid… but I love it

WARNER BROS.

The trailer for Godzilla vs. Kong came out last weekend and I straight-up lost my mind about it. I pitched a post on it to my editor via text on a Sunday afternoon (sorry, Brett), and I had 1700 words up about it Monday morning. This may seem silly and unnecessary to you in a profoundly stupid way. This is fair. I have no great defense for any of it beyond pointing you to the GIF above, in which King Kong punches Godzilla square in his scaly jaw. This is so funny to me for reasons I cannot and will not articulate. It is so, so funny. BLAMMO. I would watch this movie if it were just two hours of these fictional beasts clobbering each other with haymakers. This is, for better and worse, what I am about.

Anyway, a few days later, just when I was ready to move on, this happened.

There’s a serious issue here related to this being a fictional fight and a large group of people presumably knowing the outcome and how all of this creates the possibility of stonk-like manipulation for profit. I assume this is all baked into “odds” by the people involved, but I will not be entertaining any of it. I didn’t even look it up before I posted that tweet in here and I’m not going to look it up ever. Why would I? It’s beautiful and funny and harmless to picture an actual gambling market developing around a fictional fight between Godzilla and King Kong, and I refuse to go and investigate the joy out of it.

No one tell me. I’ll be so mad.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Meanwhile, on 9-1-1 Lonestar

FOX

This is a young woman named Lily. She popped up on this week’s episode of 9-1-1 Lonestar, standing on the griddle of her vegan Tex-Mex food truck, which was:

  • Named Guac and Roll
  • Overrun with scorpions

A reasonable argument can be made that I should have led with the scorpion thing. And I would certainly listen to that argument if the scorpions were the biggest threat she was facing, which they were not, because lava.

FOX

I’ll explain via additional bullet points:

  • 9-1-1 Lonestar featured a volcanic eruption this week
  • There are, to my knowledge, no volcanoes in Texas, where the show is set
  • None of this is important

What is important, though, is how Lily escaped. It involved a panicked 911 call and an operator who opened the Wikipedia on scorpions (not joking) and then said this sentence…

FOX

Lily chased off hundreds of scorpions by squirting cilantro lime vinaigrette at them (scorpions dislike acid, according to Wikipedia), and then was pulled from her food truck by EMTs as the lava from the Texas volcano swallowed Guac and Roll whole.

Really just a wonderful television program.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — I would like to talk about the patio table grill from The Gentlemen

The Gentlemen is not my favorite Guy Ritchie film, which is surprising because The Gentlemen features Matthew McConaughey as a refined American weed magnate in London who goes to war with a Choice-Making Jeremy Strong. Hugh Grant shows up as a real slimy weasel. It’s got so much going for it. In theory, I should love it. And yet… eh.

But.

There was one part of it that fascinated me at the time and still fascinates me years later: the combination grill/table that Charlie Hunnam’s character has in his yard. Watch the video at the top of this section. It looks so cool. I want it. I need it. I must know more about it. And luckily, now I do, thanks to the website Film and Furniture. It turns out it was Guy Ritchie’s grill. Kind of.

“It’s his personal invention which he has gradually refined to the fabulous object you saw in the film” [production designer Gemma] Jackson says. “It’s very clever. You sit around it and keep warm as your legs are tucked under the table where there is the warmth from the burning embers. Guy throws furs etc over the chairs so that he can entertain outside all the year around.”

Is it weird that I’m mad about this? That I’m upset that Guy Ritchie is a successful film director and grill/table inventor? It’s weird. At the very least it’s petty. It’s not a great look to be jealous of someone else’s accomplishments and/or grill. I’m more upset about the grill, if I’m being honest here. I feel like that makes it more understandable.

It was chosen for this scene because it was felt to be sufficiently innovative for a bit of a dark horse like the character Ray: “It wasn’t originally in the script but as we all thought about it, the idea stuck and we put it in Ray’s garden” Jackson continues.

I like to picture the entire cast sitting around Guy Ritchie’s flaming patio table the day before production started and one of them — let’s all agree it was Jeremy Strong — saying “This table should be in the movie.” And then it just was. This makes me even angrier somehow. I’m not proud of any of this.

The good news: This will soon be available for chumps like you and me to purchase, courtesy of Guy Ritchie.

Soon to be launched by the Gritchie Kitchen Company, it was designed by Guy Ritchie in collaboration with Gritchie Kitchens’ technical Director Nigel True. It will be available in four sizes, from a large BBQ table to a smaller portable picnic size.

I must have the biggest one. I must have it as soon as possible and I must have all of you over in groups of 8-10 once we are allowed to hang out again. You have to bring the food, though. And the beer. And you have to promise not to be too weird about it. A little weird is okay. But don’t ruin this for everyone, okay?

READER MAIL

If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at brian.grubb@uproxx.com (put “RUNDOWN” in the subject line). I am the first writer to ever answer reader mail in a column. Do not look up this last part.

From Lee:

I was thinking about Wynn Duffy and then I said “Twin Duffy” out loud and now in quiet moments I find myself creating a post-Justified life for him based around the premise that he has an identical twin whose couch he is crashing on. His brother’s name is Wayne and he is absolutely guileless, Wayne’s wife doesn’t trust Wynn because he’s shady, and Wayne’s daughter thinks he’s the bee’s knees because he’s a dirtbag uncle and also his pointers paid off big time when she tried out for the high school tennis team. Who would you like to find out has an identical twin, and would they be a good twin (twins power used mainly for hijinks) or an evil twin (parenthetical here for symmetry)?

Well, guess what: I love it. That’s not a surprise, I suppose. I’m not a complicated person. This is an email that references one of my favorite television characters ever and includes the phrase “Twin Duffy” and mentions evil identical siblings. I was always going to love it. Thank you, Lee.

As far as your question goes, I think I would like to see what the evil twin of Jason Mendoza from The Good Place is like, both because it would be fun and because I’ve been thinking about him since I mentioned Manny Jacinto 2800 words ago. He would have a mustache, of course, like all evil twins, but everything beyond that is a conundrum. Would he love Tom Brady and the Patriots, seeing as they are the opposite of Blake Bortles and the Jaguars? Would he be way into, like, fine dining or salads? Would he hate dancing and chaos and heaving fiery bottles at things that displease him? It’s dawning on me as I type this that maybe Jason Mendoza was already the evil twin. He doesn’t look too great on paper.

No. No, I take that back. Jason Mendoza was a sweet man. And he didn’t have a mustache. Let’s just give him a twin who looks and behaves exactly the same and let’s let them start a two-man breakdancing team. This seems reasonable to me.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Southern California!

“Jackass” reality TV and film star Brandon “Bam” Margera briefly stopped into a San Marcos gas station’s convenience store Wednesday morning to get gas and charge his phone before having his Bentley stolen, the star said.

This sentence is quite a journey, and yes, the main reason I say that is because Bam Margera got his Bentley stolen from a gas station he was at, but also, like… who charges their phone at the gas station? Does Bam Margera not have a car charger? Is this something people do? Would you ever walk into a gas station and be like “I’m just filling up on pump six but while I’m here can I quick grab a charge, too?” I don’t think it would even dawn on me to do this unless it was an emergency. Especially if I looked like Bam Margera, who, I mean this in the nicest way possible, does not look like a dude you would see pull up in a Bentley and say “This is a straight shooter if I ever saw one. I’ll let him use my outlets.”

I don’t know. I guess the bigger issue is the stolen luxury car. Let’s find out more about that.

Margera told NBC 7 he had an early morning appointment with a shaman in Escondido in San Diego’s North County. He lives in Southern California and decided to drive down early the night before and spend the night rather than make the drive early the next morning for the appointment.

This is starting to make more sense now. They probably should have mentioned the shaman in the first sentence, really. There are not many stories that can surprise me if they start with a visit to a shaman. Kind of sets a tone, you know? Anything could happen on that journey.

Margera said one of the men in the group made a request to drive the Bentley. Margera didn’t think much of it, so he agreed. He got in the passenger seat with one of the men driving and the other members of the group in the back seat, and allowed them to take a “quick spin around the block,” he said.

Margera then asked to go back to the gas station so he could get his phone.

He said he exited the vehicle, entered the convenience store, looked back outside and the car was gone.

Let’s unpack this, briefly. Bam saw some dudes at a gas station and they wanted some pictures of his Bentley. I’m with it so far. It’s the next step, though. The one where he lets a total stranger drive his $250k car and he goes along for the ride — during a pandemic — without his cell phone because he was charging it at the gas station. This is… this is something. It’s somehow more reckless than anything he did in any of the Jackass movies. If he did this in a Jackass movie — after, say, trying to ramp a volcano in a go-kart — I’d be like, “Okay, now this is all getting out of hand.”

The deputy followed and tried to stop the Bentley, then the driver briefly stopped to allow two men to get out before the driver sped off “at a high rate of speed into a nearby residential neighborhood,” Lopez said.

“Deputies temporarily lost sight of the car but found that it had crashed into a house and the car was not occupied,” said Lopez. “There was damage to the home but no injuries to the residents.”

It sounds crazy, I know, but given the way this all started and the way it developed from there, “and then the guy crashed Bam Margera’s Bentley into a house” feels like the most logical way for this story to end.

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