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 — It’s weird to get sentimental about a project that features a huge inflatable penis, but here we are
I was admittedly the target audience for Beastie Boys Story, the Apple+ documentary that converted the group’s live stage show into a film experience. I love Beastie Boys. I’ve loved them for decades. I spent most of high school driving around with Ill Communication blasting out of my very crappy car. I’ve spent a not-insignificant amount of time this year blasting Hello Nasty out of my somewhat nicer car. I read Beastie Boys Book — a kind of history of the group told through a series of essays and stories by the surviving members of the groups and their famous friends — in about two days. I was pretty sure going into the movie that I was going to like it. And I did. It’s funny and silly and sweet and sad. I was expecting all of that. What I did not expect was for it to stick with me the way it did.
It is really sticking with me, too, a lot more so than the book did, which is weird, because the book is a more thorough version of what the documentary is. I’ve been putting a lot of thought into it — the why of it all — and I think I’ve narrowed it down to some combination of three reasons.
The first is that seeing them tell their story helped drive it home for me, the whole concept of change and growth. It’s not just the music, although it is very much the music, too. (It’s wild to think that the same group that made, like, “Girls” also made “I Don’t Know.”). It’s more that the snotty kids who snarled and sprayed beer on the audience grew into thoughtful dudes with regrets about their childish behavior. I can relate to that. I think a lot of us can. There’s this tendency we have, collectively, as a society, to hold up something someone said five, ten, or twenty years ago and refuse to let them off the hook for it today, as though people can’t course correct in the time between then and now. If we’re always holding people to their words and behavior from the past, then what’s the point of trying to improve, to become better? There’s a good line in the movie that’s taken from an old interview with Adam Horovitz: “I’d rather be a hypocrite than the same person forever.” Yup, that about sums it up.
The second reason is the emotions. Horovitz and Michael Diamond, the surviving members of the group, are still rascals. They always will be. It’s one of my favorite things about them. They have a long history of refusing to take things seriously. It is refreshing to see that they still have a healthy dose of that even today as they creep into their 50s. That’s why it caught me off guard to see Horovitz have trouble wrangling his words while talking about Adam Yauch, the third member of the group, who passed away after a battle with cancer in 2012. It makes sense, though. They were all best friends and collaborators for about three decades. Of course there are raw emotions there. But seeing it happen, after they described it as too sad to discuss in the book, really got me. Strong men also cry. So do rascals, apparently.
And the third reason, which is substantially less serious and profound than the first two, is that it’s always strange for me to see them now, in the future. I mean, look at the image at the top of this post and then look at this picture of them on Fallon a little while ago.
They look like wacky sitcom dads now. Horovitz looks like he could be Topher Grace’s uncle. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over this. It’s shaken me to my core. Possibly more than the first two things. Maybe this is why it’s sticking with me the way it is. Beastie Boys forever.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — Ahhhh, I get it
Extraction is fine. It’s fine. The new Netflix original movie starring Chris Hemsworth is violent and fast-paced and not entirely unlike The Raid or a John Wick movie, with the notable exception that both of those have a kind of cool/charming energy and style to them whereas Extraction is just brutal. John Wick is all bright colors and pulsing techno and Extraction is just, like, various shades of tan. Again, it’s fine. It would be better if it was 25-30 percent more fun, but it’s fine.
I guess you’re probably wondering why I have a picture of a broken rake at the top of this section instead of a picture of Chris Hemsworth. It’s a fair question to be asking, all things considered. Allow me to explain via bullet point:
- Chris Hemsworth’s character is named Tyler Rake
- While fighting a henchman early in the movie, he spots this broken rake on the floor
- Tyler Rake kills a man with a rake in the first 20 minutes of this movie
This is what I mean about the fun. How is this scene not fun? A dude named Rake murdered another dude with a rake and not a laugh or giggle was had by anyone involved. And it wasn’t just a coincidence because there was that shot of the rake. It’s perplexing, especially since we know Hemsworth has a sense of humor. We’ve seen Ragnarok. The man is hilarious. It’s infuriating how funny he is. No one that tall and strapping should be that funny. It’s not fair.
You know what? I take it back. The scene with the rake is good as is. Anything better would have been rubbing it in.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Well guess what, there’s a baby in a trash can
I’m so tempted to just leave this here with no context. I really want to. But I feel like I should explain it at least a little. Right? Ugh. Okay, fine.
It’s from Killing Eve. The baby is okay. There was a whole thing where the people in the background started freaking out about a baby in a trash can (as one does) while the lady who dropped it in there went right back to having a pleasant lunch. It was really funny. As funny as any scene I’ve ever watched that involved two psychopaths laughing about stuffing a baby in a trash can.
Hmm. Yeah, I regret providing context. Let’s all just pretend I didn’t.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Hey, look who it is!
Very few television characters have made as big of an impression in as small a role as the person I lovingly refer to as The Car Guy from I Think You Should Leave. You know who he is. If you don’t, watch the “Focus Group” sketch now and then please seriously take an account of what you’ve been doing with the last year of your life. Things are strange out there. You deserve nice things. Don’t deny yourself the nice things!
I bring this up now for two reasons. Number one, because I haven’t posted the “Focus Group” sketch in a while and it felt good to do it again; number two, because the actor who plays Car Guy, Ruben Rabasa, popped up out of freaking nowhere in an episode of Better Things this season and I howled with joy when I saw him. You can howl with joy, too, because here are some screencaps.
To be fair, I didn’t see this when it happened because I am very behind on Better Things. My former colleague Alan Sepinwall informed me. None of you did, though. Not a single one of you reached out to tell me the Car Guy was on Better Things talking about tequila. Jesus Christ. I’m legitimately angry now. After all I’ve done for you people. No emails, no tweets, nothing. Come on.
Anyway, I recommend Googling Rabasa. He’s having a lot of fun with his new fame, achieved at the age of 82 after a multi-decade career as a working actor. I spent a solid 45 minutes clicking around and reading articles about him this week. Here’s a fun one from The Guardian:
Originally from Cuba, Rabasa moved to New York, then later to Miami, where he says he found more work, and LA. However, it was not without its downsides. “In Miami, every movie I get, they killed me. So I moved to LA. The first movie I get in LA, I play a ghost. I said: ‘What the hell is happening?’”
I love him. Let him play the villain in the next Mission: Impossible. I am not joking.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Let’s check in with some quarantined celebrit-… she said WHAT?!
Well, it’s time for another edition of what is quickly becoming my favorite recurring segment: Let’s Check In With Quarantined Celebrities. Two weeks ago, we were treated to a video of former Mad Men star January Jones doing some truly awful tap dancing. It was great. She’s a huge goofball. I support this with all of my heart. And I am pleased to report that she’s back again, this time doing some sort of awkward ballet set to strings that…
At the end.
IS JANUARY JONES DOING CRAPPY BALLET TO THE SCORE FROM JURASSIC PARK?
I… I think she is. Wow. Wowwww. That’s honestly incredible. I’m so proud of her. This is the content people need right now. I really don’t see how anyone can top this one this time around. It would take something pretty impressive. Something so flabbergasting that it stops me dead in my tracks. But I don’t th-…
Absolutely unbelievable content from Britney Spears this afternoon in which she reveals that she burnt her home gym down. pic.twitter.com/lJWt78O3Ug
— Who? Weekly (@whoweekly) April 29, 2020
Okay. I really must insist you click play on that video. It is the most riveting 11 seconds of television I’ve seen all year. Maybe longer. Britney Spears burned down her home gym six months ago. With candles. And she’s so nonchalant about it, like it could have happened to anyone. Like it maybe happened to her before. I love everything about it, especially how hard she hits the word “down” in “it burned DOWN” and especially the part where I’ve been singing “Oops I burned down my gym” to the tune of “Oops I Did It Again” for over 24 hours now with no sign of it letting up.
You’re doing it now, too. I’m sorry and you’re welcome.
ITEM NUMBER SIX — MURDER DOG
It is my great pleasure to report that Into the Dark, the new Blumhouse horror anthology series coming to Hulu, will have an entire episode about a murderous emotional support dog that belongs to a character played by Judy Greer.
The film centers on Maggie (Greer), a woman who gets an emotional support dog to help quell some of her anxiety. Only, she finds him to be even more effective than she could have imagined because, unbeknownst to her, he kills anyone who adds stress to her life… Guttenberg [plays] Don, Maggie’s “misanthropic but at times soft around the edges” boss, while Wong is Annie, a former baby-sitting charge of Maggie’s who recently moved to Los Angeles and rekindles their friendship.
Three notes in closing:
- If this dog doesn’t talk, either on-screen or via voiceover, I will heave my laptop out my window and into the parking lot below my apartment
- The picture at the top of this section is from Dog With a Blog, a real show that aired on the Disney Channel for much of the 2010s, which feels like something I would have made up to try to trick you
- MURDER DOG
WE GOT A MURDER DOG.
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.
What game show would be the best setting for a horror movie? I am not up on what game shows are on nowadays, but I am thinking it is The Price is Right. The Showcase Showdown wheel could become sentient and chew up Drew Carey like a saw blade. The yodeling cliff hanger guy becomes a Chucky-like doll and starts hacking away at contestants with his pickaxe. The Plinko board has actual spikes and contestants are dropped down the board to be impaled on those spikes. Who is doing the dropping? Does it really matter? Let’s say the models have become zombies or something.
Am I missing a game show that is a better setting for a sudden breakout of a horror movie? And why has Hollywood not done this before? Or have they and I missed it, which is entirely possible. Probably likely.
This is a terrific email and now I’m a little terrified of you, Michael. The Plinko thing is so good I can’t believe it’s not a thing already. Although Bob Barker seems like more a demonic hellhost than Drew Carey. Something to consider.
As far as my suggestions go, I have two. First, Wheel of Fortune, but Pat and Vanna have people strapped to the wheel. Spinning and screaming with blood flying everywhere as the two hosts cackle with unhinged murderous glee.
The second is Jeopardy. You know how when a contestant finishes with a negative score they’re not on the screen for Final Jeopardy? Well, maybe there’s a trap door under the podiums and these people get dropped into Trebek’s torture pit to work off their debt. I don’t see how we can rule it out. I mean, where do they go?
WHERE DO THEY GO?
AND NOW, THE NEWS
Belgians are being called upon to eat fries at least twice a week as more than 750,000 tons of potatoes are at risk of being thrown away.
Just a whole lot going on in this sentence. Quite a lot, really. I know this story is going to get less fun if we keep reading. It has to. A big part of that is because there’s nowhere to go but down after “Belgians being asked to eat fries twice a week in the name of patriotism,” but also because that’s how the news works. I’m tempted to just stop here. But I won’t. I’m too curious. I must press on.
The coronavirus crisis has led to a surplus of potatoes in the small European country, as demand for frites — a national dish of twice-fried potatoes often eaten in bars and restaurants — has slumped amid Belgium’s government-enforced lockdown.
Ahhhhhhhhh, dammit. I knew this was headed toward “because pandemic.” Why can’t I just have one nice story about a nation demanding its citizens eat more french fries without the hammer dropping on me like this? It’s not fair.
“We’re working with supermarkets to see whether we can launch a campaign asking Belgians to do something for the sector by eating fries — especially frozen fries — twice a week during the coronavirus crisis,” Cools said. “What we are trying to do is to avoid food waste, because every lost potato is a loss.”
YOU: Jesus, slow down. You’re going to choke.
ME: [mouth absolutely jammed full of fries, just a disgusting mush of potatoes and grease spilling out of my face as I try to talk] Itfff’s fah the ah-conomy.
“A lot of people are really optimistic in my country and in the potato sector,” he added. “But to be very honest, as we say in Dutch, I’m holding my heart for the months to come.”
Buddy, a whole lot of people are going to be holding their hearts for months if they’re eating french fries twice a week until they put a dent in a million-potato mountain.