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 will vary, as will 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 — Randall Park rules
We, as a people, are capable of some pretty amazing things. We can overthrow governments. We can push large, seemingly immovable institutions into action. We can cancel any quasi-celebrity we want. We have power when we can all agree on something and put our collective energy behind it. It’s good to remember that sometimes. We should use this power more often, for good. We should make a list of things that need doing. And somewhere on that list, preferably up near the top, we should pencil in “Make Randall Park a huge star.”
You saw Always Be My Maybe, yes? I hope so. It’s a perfectly nice romantic comedy and you probably need something like that every now and then to shake off the cynical 2019 cobwebs. Everyone in it does a fine job. I mean no disrespect to the rest of the cast by singling out Randall Park. Ali Wong is great in a role — high-achieving female business-type — that can sometimes come off a little cold in lesser films. I’m sure Keanu Reeves will finally catch his big break someday. But Randall Park steals that movie from beginning to end.
He does that a lot, too. Have you ever seen Randall Park not be awesome? I don’t think I have. He’s great in Fresh Off the Boat in a big role and he’s great in Ant-Man in a small role. I get legitimately happy whenever I see him pop-up in a movie or television show. He brings this infectious energy to everything he’s in. He takes pretty straightforward material and makes it charming and fun. He’s the best.
Let me give you an example. In Always Be My Maybe, there’s a scene early on where his character bumps into Ali Wong’s character something like 15 years after a high school backseat hookup and an ugly falling out. It’s a scene you’ve seen a million times. One of those “Oh… hi… it’s you… my ex… great… cool” scenes where everyone tries to drive home the awkwardness with all the subtlety of a frying pan to the cranium. It’s not that these are poorly written or poorly acted, it’s just that we’ve all seen them so many times that we know all the beats and need something extra to move us. Usually, the “extra” people opt for is more like way too much.
Enter Randall Park.
This screencap doesn’t do it justice but he’s so good in this scene. It’s almost his specialty. He does flashes of self-doubt as well as any comic actor out there. His delivery of “Wassup?” at a different point in the scene cracked me up. Randall Park is really good. That’s what I’m saying.
That’s also why we should make him a huge star. Put him in everything. Leads of more romantic comedies? Sure. Co-star of some fun action-comedy like Spy? Hell yeah. Some adorable animated kids movie that makes like $1.5 billion at the box office and spawns four or five sequels? If he desires! Let the man do whatever he wants. There are far less deserving people doing far bigger things. We can change this. We can create balance in the universe. We can make Randall Park a huge star.
I vote we do it.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — Big Little Lies remains the best show about people staring into the ocean
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Trailer time
I am very pleased to bring you the trailer for Frozen 2, the sequel to the movie every child you know has seen between 10 and 50,000 times. I am not pleased, however, to inform you that it is terrifying. Some of this is a personal terror, as the ocean (in general) and large unrelenting waves (specifically) are two things that haunt me. There’s something cold and unfeeling about both, these massive moving bodies of water that are filled with prehistoric monsters with sharp teeth.
It’s not just the ocean of it all, either. It’s also the underwater ghost horse. The underwater ghost horse. Explain yourselves, Disney.
“In Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Frozen 2, Elsa encounters a Nokk — a mythical water spirit that takes the form of a horse — who uses the power of the ocean to guard the secrets of the forest.”
Hmm. Interesting. How does an underwater ghost horse to guard forest secrets? I think I’m even more confused now. I guess the lesson we should take away from all of this is to stay on dry land at all times. Can’t be too careful. Elsa knows what I’m talking about now, if she didn’t before.
Hey, speaking of fictional stories about the trials and tribulations of wealthy children born to powerful figures…
Oh heck yeah, my awful and conniving Succession boys are back, baby. Look at them in there, just being terrible and mean and perfect. Logan is cussing and calling people snakes, Kendall is staring out the window with his patented “Welp, I might puke” face, Shiv is looking at people like they have three heads. It’s all there. Even my sweet boy Cousin Greg. Oh, Greg. You kindhearted gangly prince. Between Cousin Greg, NoHo Hank, and Richard Splett, HBO has been doing truly impressive work lately in the field of charming and endearing doofuses. I love them all and would very much like to see their reactions to that underwater ghost horse from Frozen 2.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Let’s check in with 9-1-1 aaaaaaaaand someone almost drowned in a vat of chocolate
First, an apology. I am hopelessly behind on 9-1-1, America’s finest program about firefighters who never fight actual fires but do respond to emergencies in which, for example, a waitress at a chain restaurant gets her nose lopped off by a mistletoe-carrying drone. I have excuses. Lots of them. But who cares? The main thing here is that I flipped it on out of curiosity this week and whooooooops some guy almost drowned in a vat of chocolate.
Some notes about this scene:
- The man in question was a social studies teacher who was at the chocolate factory to chaperone a field trip
- At the beginning of the scene, we learn that he recently lost over 100 pounds, and we learn this from a fellow teacher who expresses concern that all the chocolate might be too tempting for him, which is really just A+ straightforward foreshadowing
- He gets a little sample of pure chocolate liquor and proceeds to go sugar-mad to the point that he leaves the kids and tries to crawl over the tank to steal another sample
- After he falls in, while the firefighters are there trying to save him, one of them describes the situation as “chocolate quicksand”
And the whole thing is set to the song “I Want Candy.” 9-1-1, still a tremendously weird and enjoyable television program.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — I will never stop thinking about Barbra Streisand’s cloned dogs
Last week, Barbra Streisand posted this picture on her Instagram page. This picture is, to be very clear, Barbra Streisand’s three dogs standing on the tombstone of her previous dog. A little weird, sure. But let’s go ahead and ratchet up the weirdness by a factor of, oh, I don’t know, 10 or 12 million by reminding you that two of those dogs are clones of the dog whose grave they are standing on.
You remember this, yes? You remember that Barbra Streisand cloned her dog? I remember it. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. I don’t think I could if I tried. It’s seared into my brain with a branding iron. It’s to the point now that it’s the first thing I think of when I hear her name and it takes everything I have not to immediately blurt it out.
SOME VERY NICE AND UNSUSPECTING PERSON: I just love Barbra Streisand. She’s so talented and I would love to see her perfo-
ME: [exploding into the conversation] DID YOU KNOW SHE CLONED HER DOG?
It’s not particularly healthy. I can’t help it. It’s been fascinating me for over a year now, ever since I stumbled across this story in the New York Times.
In her interview with Variety, Ms. Streisand revealed that two of her three Coton de Tulear dogs were clones. Specifically, the magazine reported that the dogs — Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett — had been cloned from cells taken from the mouth and stomach of Ms. Streisand’s late dog Samantha, who was 14 when she died last year.
Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett “have different personalities,” Ms. Streisand told Variety. “I’m waiting for them to get older so I can see if they have her brown eyes and her seriousness.”
I was blown away. I had so many questions. I had one question, specifically, though: Why? Why did Barbra Streisand clone her dog? Thankfully, this question was answered a few weeks later in a second New York Times article, helpfully titled “Why I Cloned My Dog” and written by Barbra Streisand herself.
I was so devastated by the loss of my dear Samantha, after 14 years together, that I just wanted to keep her with me in some way. It was easier to let Sammie go if I knew I could keep some part of her alive, something that came from her DNA. A friend had cloned his beloved dog, and I was very impressed with that dog. So Sammie’s doctor took some cells from inside her cheek and the skin on her tummy just before she died. And we sent those cells to ViaGen Pets in Texas. We weren’t even sure if the cells would take.
You would, maybe, think that this would have put my curiosity to bed. That Barbra Streisand penning an article in the paper of record titled “Why I Cloned My Dog” would have satisfied my urge to know more about why Barbra Streisand cloned her dog. Well, you would be wrong. Now I have more questions, starting with at what point Barbra Streisand made the decision to ring up the New York Times and pitch this. God, I would have loved to be the editor who made this decision.
SOME NICE AND UNSUSPECTING NEW YORK TIMES EMPLOYEE: Hey, so this is weird, but Barbra Streisand wants to write a first-person piece for us abou-
ME: ABOUT WHY SHE CLONED HER DOG?
SOME NICE AND UNSUSPECTING NEW YORK TIMES EMPLOYEE: Uh, yes, actually.
ME: [tearing off into the newsroom] STOP THE PRESSES.
Anyway, I’m fine. Thanks.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or, like, whatever you want, shoot them to me at email@example.com and 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.
We all know Tom Cruise would destroy Justin Bieber so here’s the real question: Who would give Tom a good fight? Would it be Keanu? Or someone else? Tom Cruise is pretty nuts. I can’t figure this out. I know he couldn’t take The Rock but there’s someone in between Justin Bieber and The Rock who would work. Maybe Statham? This is an action movie conundrum. Help.
This is a great question and it brings up an important point. But first, just to be sure we’re all on the same page, the context:
Okay, to the important point: Tom Cruise is a maniac who does nothing in his life at anything less than maximum effort. Do you remember the stories from the most recent Mission: Impossible movie? Do you remember that Tom Cruise learned how to fly a helicopter so he could do his own stunts? He didn’t need to do that. He probably shouldn’t have. I bet a lot of people associated with the film wished he hadn’t. But he did. Because he’s Tom Cruise, all the time.
That’s the thing about this hypothetical MMA fight. Tom Cruise would take it so seriously. Too seriously. He’d probably end up becoming the lightweight champion of the world. It’s almost unfair to put him up against another celebrity because they’d probably think it’s all in fun. Like, Keanu? Bless him forever but he seems entirely too nice for this. Cruise would have him tapping out in the first round. (Tom Cruise would be very good at submission holds, I’m sure of it.) Statham might work. I don’t know. I’d love to see that.
But to answer your question: Joe Rogan. Let’s let those two intense brain geniuses whomp on each other for a while and then podcast about it if they want. I’m putting $50 on Tom, provided we give him six months to train.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
A reported break-in at the Skowhegan Lions Club booth at the town’s fairgrounds left the group disheartened by a mess that had been left Sunday morning in exchange for several boxes of missing whoopie pies.
I love the phrasing here. A mess that was “left in exchange” for boxes of whoopie pies. Like, yeah, sure they stole the creme-filled baked goods, but at least they left that mess. Kind of thoughtful. They could have left nothing, you know?
On Sunday, however, the group discovered a freezer of frozen whoopie pies had been broken into and 10 boxes, or about 120 pies, had been stolen.
A refrigerator of cookies was also emptied and a gallon of iced tea was half-drunk.
Packages of plastic silverware and plastic gloves were thrown all over the floor.
Have you ever, in your entire life, seen a crime that screams “a couple of dudes on edibles” more than this. The whoopie pies are the big clue here (“Dude, you know what I could go for right now?”), but please do not overlook the half-drunk gallon of iced tea. That’s how you know for sure. A sober mind would have taken the iced tea along. I like to picture these master criminals getting home to devour their bounty and suddenly becoming very nervous that the cops in this small Maine town will DNA test the iced tea jug. (“Dude, you’ve seen CSI…”)
I would like to see a video of police interrogating them about this. Give them another edible first. Let’s get really weird out here.