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 — Scorsese would agree, I know it
I won’t pretend to be the first or only person with a WordPress login to claim that the Jackass movies represent one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of American cinema. That argument has been made many times by many people who are much smarter than I am. It is true, though, and I will happily remain a member of that bandwagon.
If I’m being honest here (and why would I lie on Johnny Knoxville’s internet), my appreciation of it all has changed over the years. At first, even before the TV show, back in the CKY days when it was just Bam Margera and friends tearing apart West Chester, it was just something I would watch while drinking cheap beer with a group of fellow idiots. And it is still that in many ways. It is mostly that. Watch this trailer for Jackass Forever and tell me I’m wrong.
But it’s also, like… perfect? It’s kind of perfect. It says more about 21st century America than half of the movies that have won awards in that period. You could make a compelling argument — and I will, especially after a few of those cheap beers — that it is a more worthy addition to a time capsule from this era than, like, Argo or The Departed. It captures the vibe of a subset of the culture as accurately as any piece of art ever has. There’s a whole underlying statement there about suburban malaise and young men attempting to cope with a rapidly changing society, none of which anyone involved intended to make, I imagine. It’s true, though. In a just and fair world, it gets nominated for Best Documentary at next year’s ceremony. This is not hyperbole.
It is also, to be clear, a movie franchise in which a softball pitcher whizzes a heater straight into a dude’s beanbag to the great delight of his buddies.
Put 10,000 comedy writers in a huge room and give them all the energy drinks and time you want, they will still not come up with anything that makes me laugh harder than this. It’s the jimmie-walloping of it, to be sure, but it’s also the self-satisfied fist pump and the thing where a graying Johnny Knoxville leaps into the frame in celebration while wearing a cardigan. There are layers here. But it’s mostly the thing where the guy got rocked in the junk. I say this as someone who has degrees from college and law school. I feel okay about it.
And then there’s this moment from the trailer, which is lovely in motion but somehow even better as a still image.
That is art. I’m not kidding. It’s kind of beautiful in a way. It sums up everything they’re doing and everything they represent and even, to some degree, the futility of mankind trying to control the natural world. It is also an image of a 49-year-old man getting launched ass-to-the-heavens by a bull for the enjoyment of a nation of doofuses. Art can be more than one thing. This is what they mean by that whole “eye of the beholder” thing.
Jackass is good. It has always been good. Do not try to think yourself out of that. Whether you enjoy it for the simple reasons or the deeper reasons, or you use the deeper reasons to justify the simple reasons, the point is that there’s very little there not to enjoy. Put it in the Smithsonian. It will help future generations understand us in a painfully clear way. As all good art should.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — I need them to hash this entire thing out in a live primetime television special
The feud between The Rock and Vin Diesel brings me an amount of joy that borders on unreasonable. I can’t explain it. It just makes me happy to know that these big beefy dudes get so mad at the mere thought of each other that they could spit right there on the floor. It’s been going on for years now, too, dating back to the filming of The Fate of the Furious in 2016 when The Rock dropped this nuke in the caption of an Instagram post.
“My female co-stars are always amazing and I love ’em. My male co-stars however are a different story. Some conduct themselves as stand up men and true professionals, while others don’t. The ones that don’t are too chicken sh-t to do anything about it anyway. Candy asses.”
Things, as they sometimes do, spiraled from there. The Rock was spun off with Jason Statham for Hobbs & Shaw, Tyrese got emotional about it all on social media, and everyone started lobbing little passive-aggressive sticks of dynamite back and forth. It was great. And now the franchise is sending characters into outer space and The Rock is off making action movies based on rides at Disney World, which all feels kind of correct, cosmically. It’s fine. I refuse to choose sides. I just want them to bicker in the press forever.
All of which has made this a wonderful summer for me. The press bickering has been incredible. First, Vin Diesel spoke to Men’s Health for a profile to promote F9 and said one of the most flabbergasting things I’ve ever read. Speaking about The Rock’s performance and their subsequent issues, he said, “I could give a lot of tough love. Not Felliniesque, but I would do anything I’d have to do in order to get performances in anything I’m producing.”
Just incredible. I really think he believes that, too. Vin Diesel thinks he’s making art with the Fast & Furious movies, to the degree he thinks they should contend for Oscars. It is endlessly fascinating to me. Someone it is less fascinating to, on the other hand, is The Rock, who had this to say while promoting Jungle Cruise with Emily Blunt.
When asked about Diesel’s comments, Johnson says, “I laughed and I laughed hard. I think everyone had a laugh at that. And I’ll leave it at that. And that I’ve wished them well. I wish them well on Fast 9. And I wish them the best of luck on Fast 10 and Fast 11 and the rest of the Fast & Furious movies they do that will be without me.” Blunt can’t resist extending the moment. “Just thank God he was there,” she says of Diesel. “Thank God. He carried you through that.” “Felliniesque,” Johnson says.
A few notes here:
- The Rock wants to punch Vin Diesel so bad
- I love very much that Emily Blunt was egging him on in there, in part because it’s funny and in part because I love an instigator
- I would pay up to $9.99 for a one-hour special in which these two attempt to squash their beef with the help of a celebrity mediator who for the sake of this hypothetical is, oh, let’s say Jason Sudeikis in character as Ted Lasso
Actually, no. Disregard that last bullet point. I can’t risk these two making up and taking this feud away from me. I need it to burn forever. I need it to rage under the surface like the mine fires in Centralia. I do not ask for much.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Gillian Anderson is the best
— Gillian Anderson (@GillianA) July 19, 2021
I don’t have much to add here. I don’t see why I should add much anyway. Gillian Anderson, star of The X-Files and now Netflix’s Sex Education, logged into her Twitter account and posted a screenshot of a teapot that looks like a penis and testicles and then added the hashtag #PenisOfTheDay. There is nothing not to like about this. And it got even better because, if you click on that hashtag, you will see dozens of people sending her images of Jeff Bezos’s phallic rocketship. Gillian Anderson is good at social media. That’s what I’m trying to say here.
Speaking of women who are good at social media and like to have fun, let’s check in with 75-year-old Dolly Parton.
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) July 20, 2021
Dolly Parton is the best, too. It remains the position of this column that she is a top-five living American and top-20 all-time. Some of that is for contributions to the culture, and yes, this is where I once again mention the story about her allegedly writing both “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” on the same day. Some of it is for just being a good person on a bone-deep level, and yes, this is where I once again encourage you to Google “Dolly Parton charity” and click around for a bit.
But it’s also because Dolly Parton is just, like, cool. Good for her. Good for Gillian Anderson. Good for all of us.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Okay, yes, sure, but why is it so gray?
This is the trailer for The Last Duel, a new movie from Ridley Scott that has a loaded cast. How loaded? Well, let’s start ticking off some names: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Adam Driver, Jodie Freakin Comer. This is how you cast a movie. And it’s got an interesting plot, too. Here, look.
Set in 1386, the pic sees King Charles VI (Affleck) declare that the knight Jean de Carrouges (Damon) settle his dispute with his friend and squire, Jacques LeGris (Driver), over a claim of sexual assault by the knight’s wife (Comer). After a duel to the death, the one left alive would be declared the winner as a sign of God’s will — and if de Carrouges loses, his wife will be burned at the stake as punishment for her false accusation.
There’s a lot going on here, most of it good, starting with Jodie Comer kicking down the door to the movie star clubhouse between this and her upcoming role in Free Guy, and continuing on to Ben Affleck’s hilarious little blond goatee. He should start growing that for every movie. Make a sequel to The Accountant and let him keep the blond goatee. Do not ever explain or even reference it. Just have him crunch numbers and kill goons while looking like the bass player for a late-90s pop-punk band. The people deserve this.
I do have one complaint, though. Why is it so gray? Like, the whole way through the trailer? This always happens in movies set in medieval Europe. They’re always so gray. I know England is often cloudy and I know they didn’t haven’t electricity in the 1300s but, like, come on, you know? Splash some color around, man. I assure you that people will not complain about the historical accuracy of sunshine. And if they do, tell them to come to me. I’ll set them straight. It’s 2021. We just spent a year locked in our houses. If you’re gonna make a cool movie that stars a lot of cool people and features a damn duel, please at least consider not making it look like it was filmed on-location inside a tub of clay. For me.
On the bright side, no pun intended but happily accepted, the trailer and its gloomy vibes did lead to this tweet, which made me laugh out loud at my computer when I saw it and again today when I remembered it and pasted it in here.
tfw Dunkin’ Donuts won’t be invented for another 600 years pic.twitter.com/Xc79ngzb8U
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) July 20, 2021
Someday soon someone is going to have to let Affleck star in a biopic about the family that started Dunkin Donuts. It’s the logical endpoint of all of this. The blond goatee stays. This is my only note.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Well, it’s time for the Olympics…
The Olympics start this week, which is weird because they were supposed to be last year but got postponed until this year to get us through COVID stuff but now COVID stuff is back and everything is a mess. It’s a bummer, too, because I love the Olympics. I love them so much. I leave them on all day and night and develop strong opinions about sports I had never cared about until 30 seconds prior. One time I got legitimately angry about a score in the diving competition. I’m out of control. It’s great.
Speaking of things about the Olympics that are great, here’s Mary Carillo’s badminton rant from the 2004 games. It’s so good and it pops up on social media every time a new Olympics starts and I watch it and laugh every time I see it. My favorite part is how it starts out as actual analysis and then devolves into chaos around the 1:30 mark. Watch it now if you’ve never seen it. Watch it again if you have. Even if you just watched it yesterday.
And then, when you’re done, click over to this old Deadspin post to see the email she sent them after they posted the clip years ago. I’ll excerpt a chunk of it here just to give you a taste.
Can’t believe that thing’s still around. I was hosting a morning show in Athens that covered a lot of badminton—some table tennis too, but badminton, I’d been assured, was going to be “the curling of the Summer Games.” (!) There was no script for that rant—just a little dead time—but it got some chuckles and a head shake from my producer. It was a pretty loose show—I’d already explained a team handball’s size by comparing it against various members of the melon family, and when I found out that equestrian horses were listed as “equipment” I did a rant on the fact that horses needed passports to get into the country and dramatically produced one, so surely they needed an identity upgrade..
Sometimes the Olympics can be packaged a little too slick, with various human interest pieces and graphics and a cavalcade of haircuts pontificating about the meaning of sports. We’re far enough down that road that it’s not going to change in a large way any time soon. But it is good to remember that sometimes the best thing you can do is point a camera at a charismatic person who has a sense of humor and let them riff. This is why, as of right now, I am starting a campaign to have Mary Carillo and Seth Rogen in the booth for the fencing competition this year.
There’s still time. Get them on a plane. Do not let them research fencing on the plane. This last part is important.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at email@example.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.
I have been actually in real life mad at you for over a week about your I Think You Should Leave sketch rankings. I know this is a dumb thing to be mad about. I know that the whole point of a ranking like that is to start a conversation. But I’ve been reading your stuff for years and agree with most of your takes, so when I saw Coffin Flop in your bottom-tier it was shocking to me. What is the matter with you?! The bodies flopped out of the coffins! That’s funny!
Look, I don’t really have a defense here. That was the biggest regret of my rankings and was probably a result of me trying to turn it around too fast. History will prove you correct on this one, I suspect. If I were to redo those rankings today, it would definitely be in the top ten. And Ghost Tour would be much higher. Crashmore might be number one, both because I love it and because I discovered later that the name of the actor who played Santa is “Biff Wiff.” (This is true.)
Anyway, none of this is science. Or even art, really, at least not my part of it. I guess the simplest way to explain it all is with the following screencap.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
A Bath and Body Works candle heist involving bear mace injured dozens of Miami International Mall goers Saturday afternoon. Fire Rescue is working quickly to help those affected by the strong-odored repellent.
Not sure any phrase has ever captured my attention faster than “candle heist involving bear mace.” Yes, I will read this article. This is the good stuff.
With a stolen bag of candles in one hand and the bear repellent in the other, he aimed at customers doing some weekend shopping and sprayed away, Valdes says video showed.
This is a scene from 9-1-1. It might even be too much for that show, which is saying something because that show once lopped off a person’s nose with a mistletoe-carrying drone inside a chain restaurant. I suppose this is why there’s no spin-off set in Miami. There’s no way fiction could outdo the reality of South Florida.
But that’s not the important thing here. The important thing is that this is about to get perfect in the most specific way you can imagine.
After dosing the store, he made his getaway with his bag of stolen candles. He jumped into a yellow cab and fled the scene.
His identity is not known, but police say he is a heavy-set man with short, cropped black hair wearing a black shirt and blue jean shorts.
Be honest: A part of you, somewhere, maybe so deeply buried in your brain that you didn’t access it until you read that last sentence, already knew this guy was wearing jean shorts while spraying Florida mallgoers with bear mace during his candle heist. Like, what else could he have possibly been wearing? This is a jorts-related incident if I’ve ever seen one.