Movies

The Rundown: We Should Let (Or, If Necessary, Make) Jake Johnson Play Batman

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 — Listen to me

The fact of the matter is that Jake Johnson should play Batman. We should let him do it. We should probably make him do it if he gets a little wishy-washy about it. Nothing too forceful. No kidnapping or threats of violence or any of that. Just a really hard sell. It’s for his own good. And ours. Mine, mostly. Jake Johnson would be a blast as a Batman. We all deserve this. Jake Johnson deserves it. I deserve it.

The problem here is that Batman has gotten too dark. I think I blame Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale. The Dark Knight trilogy was incredible and I will probably rewatch at least one of the movies again this week for the 15th time, but that sucker was devoid of whimsy. Which, okay, fine. Batman is a dude who spends half his day in a cave preparing to fight crime because someone killed his parents outside the opera when he was a little boy. There’s some trauma there. No one is saying Batman has to be a zany goof.

But Batman used to be, like, fun, at least in an off-kilter way. The Adam West Batman television show was basically a live-action cartoon, but that might not be the best example. The best example is Michael Keaton. Michael Keaton played Batman in two movies in back in the 1980s and 90s and was the only person to grasp what an absolute weirdo Bruce Wayne is. Just a world-class nut, as one has to be to wake up one day and say “I will thwart villains while dressed as a flying rodent.” I mean, look at this.

This is why Jake Johnson should play Batman. He has the dramatic chops to make it all work, and he’s got some action-type roles under his belt (The Mummy with Tom Cruise), and he has a strong enough jawline to look convincing in the mask. But he’s also, like, kind of a lunatic. I mean that in the best possible way. I think he would grasp that Keaton-y flair that has been sucked out of the character ever since. Robert Pattinson is set to be some sort of super-emo Caped Crusader in The Batman. That’s fine, even if, as we’ve discussed, Robert Pattinson is way more of a Joker than a Batman. There can be different takes on all of this. I’m just saying one of the takes should be like, well, this.

I’m serious about this. This is not a bit. I think Jake Johnson would be a good and cool Batman and I think it could breathe some new life into a character we’ve now seen about 700 times, getting a little darker and more brooding with each iteration. Let’s let Jake Johnson be Batman. Let’s make him if he pushes back. I feel confident enough about this that I think he would end up thanking us later. It is time for Batman to be cool and weird again. No more growling. I don’t think I’m out of line here. Think about it.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — And now, a few notes on the increasingly heated Ted Lasso Discourse

APPLE TV+

Ahahahahaha

Ahahahahaha

Ahahahahaha

No.

Absolutely not.

You have lost your entire mind if you think I have any intention of wading into this, especially on a Friday. You may wade into it if you like, if I can’t convince you not to, but please know that I will not be on the shore to save you if you get in too deep and the undertow starts dragging you out. I will be somewhere with a metaphorical and/or real umbrella drink, just basking in the unfiltered joy of choosing not to engage with any of it.

It’s always nice to remember that this is an option, the not engaging. It feels great, kind of like what a bird must feel like while soaring above a raging forest fire, just quiet and peace amidst the chaos.

I know I’m throwing a bunch of metaphors at you here, between the bird stuff and the umbrella drinks. If it helps to picture me as a soaring bird with a tiny beer helmet on, with tiny umbrella drinks in the holders, flying and sipping from a bendy straw, that’s fine. I started picturing it, too, as I was typing it just now. It was a much better use of my time than whatever else I had planned. I’m still doing it now, to be perfectly honest. Little birdy in the sky, flying all crooked as the rum hits the bloodstream, diving this way and that like a lopsided paper airplane. I feel great about it.

So those are my thoughts on the Ted Lasso Discourse.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — This is, in my opinion, too many skydives

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The thing I like about Tom Cruise is that he’s a maniac. Like, objectively, for all the bad reasons you’re probably ticking off in your head right now, but also for good reasons. Or fun reasons, at least. I think an example will help. Let’s go with this one, from yesterday, during the big event where footage of the new Top Gun and Mission: Impossible movies were screened for critics and journalists. Read this out loud a few times.

Skydiving 500 times in a year is madness. I bet there are actual skydivers who don’t skydive 500 times in a year. Lots of them. It works out to almost 1.5 skydives per day, which is so many skydives, with no days off. I suspect these numbers come with a qualification that makes them make more sense but, also, I do not care. And do not show me the qualification if you find one. You’re going to have to let me have this one. I’m begging you.

Somehow, against staggering odds, it gets better, because the people involved elaborated on the what and why of it all, and you really need to read some of these quotes.

Cruise barrels down a ramp off a cliff and in mid-air lets the bike go before his parachute is released. McQuarrie’s mouth drops as he watches the first take.

“Tom Cruise just rode a bike off a cliff six times today,” says one of crewmembers in the BTS shot.

“The only thing that scares me more is what we’ve got planned for Mission 8,” says McQuarrie.

You know how everyone joked about the Fast & Furious movies going to space because they were running out of things to do on Earth and finally the people involved were like, “Okay, fine, let’s do it”? This is kind of like that, but if Ludacris and Tyrese actually did film the stunt in space. This sounds like a joke until you remember that Tom Cruise actually is going to film a movie in space. McQuarrie is right. There is no limit to where this goes next. He might insist on a scene where Ethan Hunt loses a finger like John Wick did in John Wick 3 but then actually cut off one of his fingers in real life. We simply cannot rule it out at this point.

And then, as if all that weren’t enough, Tom also said this.

“I wanted to do it since a little kid,” says the actor in the behind-the-scenes clip with director Christopher McQuarrie and his stunt production ensemble.

Two things are true here:

  • I do not doubt for one second that he is being honest here and a little 8-year-old Tommy was telling people that one day he would drive a motorcycle off a cliff and parachute to safety
  • None of this is the weirdest thing an actor admitted to doing for a role this week

Michael Caine has entered the chat.

Sir Michael, veteran of more than 130 films, including A Bridge Too Far, picked up the tip from a book, Teach Yourself Film Acting.

He said: “One thing that stuck in my mind was, ‘Don’t blink. You must never blink’.

“For the next eight years, I walked around trying not to blink. People around me, my mother and everybody, thought I had gone nuts.

No one tell Tom this. He’ll never blink again. His eyes will be so dry, especially with all that skydiving.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — One of the frustrating things about being in a wheelchair is that I need a ramp to get on my soapbox, but I will do it for you

weinstein company

Regular readers know this but we might have some newbies here who were sucked in by my fresh Batman takes so let’s just run through it all real quick. I’m in a wheelchair. Spinal cord injury and everything. It’s a whole deal, to use the official medical terminology. I mention it again here, now, for a reason. And that reason is that famed British writer Jack Thorne is saying some stuff I think you should hear.

“Actors – actors I admire – have taken roles they shouldn’t have; I’ve been complicit in some of those decisions. Producers have ignored disabled writers. Commissioners haven’t taken the opportunity to tell disabled stories. There are very few disabled people in front of the camera, and even fewer behind it.”

This is true, all of it. Television and film are really bad at telling stories about disabilities. Most of the stories they tell are either the sappy inspirational ones about some plucky wheelchair guy who saves Christmas with his can-do attitude or ones about a guy who is depressed and wants to kill himself about it. And yes, those people exist. Those are real stories, for sure, but they’re not the only ones. I spend most of my day typing increasingly unhinged words into a box about my beloved Philadelphia 76ers. Make a show about that, you cowards.

Complicating factors here, as Thorne alluded to, is the thing where disabled characters are usually played by non-disabled actors. The picture up there is from a movie called The Upside, in which Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston plays a quadriplegic millionaire. While I can understand some of the reasoning behind this kind of casting (he’s a big name you can put on the poster, actors pretend to be people they’re not all the time), even if I concede all of that, it still kind of stinks. There are only so many good roles for actors who use wheelchairs. It’s not like they can act like they’re not disabled, you know? This was a good opportunity for a disabled actor to make inroads in an industry that is already almost impossible to break into. But nope. It’s Heisenberg. Not great.

Hey, while I’m already mad…

Thorne said there needed to be an “attitude change” as to the importance of disabled drama, describing how he was once asked to consider rewriting a series treatment about a wheelchair basketball team to make it about a non-disabled basketball team, because it was “full of good ideas” and it needed “the best chance it could.” He said that the fact it was about a disabled team was “dragging it down,” adding that, up until 2021 (he’s currently working on Then Barbara Met Alan with the BBC and Netflix), he had never made a single disabled story on a full drama budget.

This sucks. Please, let’s try to do better. I promise it will not be very hard. You can tell a fun and interesting story about disabled people. It doesn’t always have to be bummers and inspirational hooey. Call me if you need ideas. I have fun all the time. Thank you.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Shoutout to Sydney Sweeney’s cool grandmas

White Lotus star Sydney Sweeney has a new movie dropping on Amazon next month. It’s called The Voyeurs and it’s being billed as an erotic thriller and you are perfectly welcome to watch the trailer and develop all the opinions about it that you like. I want to talk about Sydney Sweeney’s Nanas. I want to talk about the thing where, per Sydney, her two Nanas were in town visiting during the filming and Sydney got them a role. In the erotic thriller. Starring their granddaughter.

This thing.

“Yeah, it’s probably not the most grandma-friendly movie to watch,” Sweeney said. “But then my grandma also thought it would be great to bring her son – my uncle. I couldn’t say no. So it’s my uncle, my aunt, my two grandmas, my mom and a couple of friends who are here. I did tell them there are going to be some moments where you have to cover your eyes and ears. They did. Actually, my Nana sat there going, ‘Whoa!’”

We go back to the bullet points, this time for three things:

  • Sydney Sweeney’s Nanas seem like some pretty chill ladies
  • It delights me very much that her Nanas apparently travel together to visit her on set, which is so staggeringly pure and healthy for everyone involved that it kind of evens out the thing where they’re appearing in an erotic thriller starring their granddaughter
  • I hope this ends up being their big break and Amazon cuts the check for a hyper-violent $200 million action movie where they travel the world looking for somewhere who wronged them, leaving smoking piles of dead bodies and destruction in their wake

Don’t act like you wouldn’t watch.

ITEM NUMBER SIX — I am really happy Bob Odenkirk is doing better

The nice thing about this clip is that it requires minimal setup. All you need to know is that it’s from a show where one guy pretends to be George Lucas and another guy pretends to be a Star Wars character and another guy is comedian Paul F. Tompkins. My colleague Josh explained it all here, if you would like more backstory. I promise it is not necessary. All you really need to know is the stuff I just said and the thing where Bob Odenkirk is currently at home recovering from a health scare.

Okay, now watch the clip.

The first thing that probably jumps out at you here is how good it is to hear Odenkirk’s voice after all of that. That was the first thing that jumped out at me, anyway, because I love Bob Odenkirk. But then once that first thing settles in, maybe a second thing jumps out at you: Bob Odenkirk, weeks off a heart episode and coming in completely cold, picks up the bit right away and rolls with it as though it has been all scripted out.

That’s awesome. Some real Jedi business on display here. Bob Odenkirk is the greatest. Please never forget that

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 Anthony:

I’ve been a reader for a while now and I find that I tend to agree with your taste in almost everything. Television shows, movies, even the dumb local news and heist stories you’re always posting on Twitter. I’ve never really gotten a beat on your musical preferences though. I know you like Wu-Tang and I know you love a good Mambo Number Five joke, but what else? What are some classic Grubb jams?

Oh, yeah, no. I am not the guy you go to for music recommendations. I love music and listen to it real loud while I’m driving around, but most of my input here would be, like, “Hmm, have you heard of Stevie Wonder? Beastie Boys?” I spend most of my time listening to music that came out before I was born. Some people call this being an old soul. Others call it being a loser. Both can be true.

Here’s what I will tell you, though, a little trick I started doing this summer. I’ve had this rotating playlist going, 100 songs, always exactly 100. If I put a new one on, an existing one has to get bounced. There’s no method to it. It’s all kinds of genres and stuff from all kinds of time periods. And then I get in my van and I open it up and hit shuffle and let the algorithm take the wheel. The wheel of the playlist, I mean. Not the van. That would not be too safe, I suspect.

It’s extra fun for me because of the thing we talked about earlier where I’m in a wheelchair. I drive the whole van with this super-elaborate joystick system with a little touch screen. That is already A LOT for people to process when I, say, pull into the parking lot at the grocery store and they peek in the window and realize what’s happening there. Now imagine that, really put yourself in this person’s shoes, and picture, to pick a song at random that is currently on the playlist, “Take Me Home Tonight” by Eddy Money absolutely blasting out of the open window you’re peeking through. (I watched MacGruber again recently and got it stuck in my head. I don’t have to explain myself to you.) Try to think about how you’d react to seeing all of that.

The joy I get out of seeing people’s faces as they attempt to make sense of all of it, as they push their overflowing shopping carts through the pedestrian walkway, still a little cranky over how much the bill was and a little out of it as their mind wanders toward the next parts of their day… buddy, that right there is a real treat for Brian.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To Pennsylvania!

Officials in Chester and Bucks counties are investigating a string of thefts involving Snoop Dogg bobbleheads.

Hell yes.

Caln Township police say a man loaded the 43-inch-tall figurine into a red Toyota Corolla and took off. The bobblehead is valued at $300.

I love it. It’s beautiful. But tell me more about this “string” of bobblehead heists. This implies there has been more than one. Tell me about another one.

In that case, a 3-foot tall Snoop Dogg bobblehead, which was part of a Corona beer display, was stolen from an Acme store. This figurine is also valued at $300.

Incredible. All of it. I’m picturing these guys as roommates and I’m picturing a dozen of these Snoop Dogg bobbleheads, bobbling away at various speeds and patterns, surrounding the two recliners in their studio apartment that they brainstorm excellent ideas in while watching YouTube videos of people getting wrecked to hell while doing the Milk Crate Challenge. They are both watching videos on their phones. Different videos. Sound way up. They sleep in the chairs, too. That was probably implied by the thing about the studio apartment.

I feel like I’m close here. I feel like I know exactly who these dudes are. Maybe one more detail will help. Some shading. Just something minor. Again, I feel like I have this one pegged but let’s just be extra sure.

Police describe the suspect as a man standing nearly 6-feet-tall with a medium build. He was last seen wearing a black baseball cap, a white “Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness’ t-shirt, long black shorts with a white stripe down the side of the leg and black Nike slides.

Yup. There it is. Bullseye.

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