TV

The Rundown: What’s Better Than Maya Rudolph In ‘Big Mouth’?

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

I have good news and bad news. The good news is that Big Mouth is back for another season this weekend and it is just as funny and foul and occasionally sweet as ever. This should not be a huge surprise because Big Mouth is always funny and foul and occasionally sweet. All your favorites are back, and some new ones show up to join the fun. Seth Rogen pops up early on to show his cartoon testicles to you. Paul Giamatti appears as a piece of crap, and yes, I mean that literally, Paul Giamatti voices an animated chunk of feces. Big Mouth remains Big Mouth, in all the important ways.

And guess what: I don’t actually have any bad news. Just more good news. At one point in this season, Maya Rudolph, in character as Connie the Hormone Monstress, says Alec Baldwin’s name, which is not in itself newsworthy, but what makes it newsworthy is the pronunciation she throws on it. The closest I can get in text form is “Alec Bwalt-twin,” with an extra W and a big extra oomph on the T that does not appear anywhere in his name. It’s the best. Just a delight.

What better than Maya Rudolph in Big Mouth? I mean that rhetorically, yes, of course, but also literally. Name me ten things better. Any things. I’ll give you pizza and maybe “sitting outside on a 75-degree day with a big glass of iced tea,” but the list gets dicey after that, real quick. She’s just so good, all the time, delivering a voiceover performance for the ages. It’s great because she goes so huge with everything and it still fits perfectly because of the context. She’s a hormone monstress. She has no filter, no voice in her head telling her to dial it back. On a show filled with great voice work — I would love to see live-action footage of everyone recording their lines in the booth, especially John Mulaney, because he has such a sweet little boy face and his character is a perverted little creep who is practically glowing from hormones ravaging his body — she laps the field. I mean, who can forget this?

Netflix

It’s the extra syllables she tosses into the stew that makes it. “Bawabbuh bay-eth.” It’s so sultry and luxurious. It almost sounds the way taking a nice hot bubble bath feels. And that’s far from her only notable pronunciation. One of my personal favorites was when Jessie was struggling and rebelling and Connie gassed her up about shoplifting from the pharmacy and turned that last simple word into something entirely different. “Phwaaaarmacy.” It even made me want to steal something from a pharmacy and I’m a reasonably well-adjusted adult who has not shoplifted in decades, as far as the police know.

Rudolph won an Emmy for the role this year, in the recently created category of Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance. (The original Outstanding Voice-Over Performance category was split after 2013 so narrators and characters could be honored separately.) This was good for a few reasons. Three big ones, mainly. The first is that she deserved it, obviously, and it’s good when deserving people win stuff. The second is that the award had gone to a cast member from either Family Guy or The Simpsons every year since the new category was created (Harry Shearer, Hank Azaria, Seth MacFarlane, Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth MacFarlane), and it’s nice that the voters started watching a new show. The third is that she hadn’t even been nominated before 2020 despite dropping the aforementioned bubble baths and pharmacies and the whole thing had me on the verge of throwing a tantrum in the street. Its good. The Emmys are silly and I do not care much about them, in general, but if we’re going to do them every year (and it sure looks like we are), we should at least try to get it right. Giving Maya Rudolph an Emmy for voicing this character counts as getting it right.

So take some time this weekend and watch a few Big Mouths and appreciate what Maya Rudolph is doing with it. Maybe watch with your headphones in, though. Even if you’re by yourself. Big Mouth remains a lot in only the best ways.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — Okay, fine, let’s talk about the thing

Warner Bros.

I’m mad. Not necessarily about the news I’m about to share, although that’s not super ideal, either. No, I’m mad because this section was originally going to be about Henry Winkler joining TikTok and posting a video of himself dancing like a loon, which kills me for about 10 different reasons. Henry Winkler is the best. I was hyped to discuss it. But then Warner Bros. had to go and set the entire movie industry on fire yesterday afternoon and I can’t really just ignore it. Ugh. Fine. Here’s the important chunk of the press release.

Today, the Warner Bros. Pictures Group announced that it has committed to releasing its 2021 film slate via a unique, consumer-focused distribution model in which Warner Bros. will continue to exhibit the films theatrically worldwide, while adding an exclusive one month access period on the HBO Max streaming platform in the U.S. concurrent with the film’s domestic release. The hybrid model was created as a strategic response to the impact of the ongoing global pandemic, particularly in the U.S. Following the one month HBO Max access period domestically, each film will leave the platform and continue theatrically in the U.S. and international territories, with all customary distribution windows applying to the title.

Warner Bros. Pictures Group’s 2021 expected release slate currently includes The Little Things, Judas and the Black Messiah, Tom & Jerry, Godzilla vs. Kong, Mortal Kombat, Those Who Wish Me Dead, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, In The Heights, Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Suicide Squad, Reminiscence, Malignant, Dune, The Many Saints of Newark, King Richard, Cry Macho and Matrix 4.

There are a few things happening here, with varying degrees of importance. The biggie is what this means for movie theaters going forward, because movie theaters were already struggling and Warner Bros. basically giving these movies away to anyone with an HBO subscription ain’t gonna help that. (Remember when Disney charged Disney+ subscribers like $30 extra to watch one kind of mediocre Mulan movie? I do!) Some big theater chains might not make it through the next 6-12 months, especially if this proves to be the first domino to fall of many: F9 on Peacock, No Time to Die somewhere else, and all the way down, blockbuster after blockbuster streamed directly into our living rooms. It’s sad and exciting and weird and about four other things at once. I miss movie theaters tremendously. I can’t wait to see a movie in one again someday. I don’t think this will be the end of the entire industry, but I do wonder how much different it will look this time next year. My gut says it’ll be more of a luxury experience, with food and drink and a whole atmosphere about it, a big special Night Out feel. But I don’t know. No one does.

I also respect that Warner Bros. has their hands tied a bit. They can’t really be expected to sit on a whole slate of films just waiting for a green light that might not come for over half a year. And they have this big fancy new streaming service that they want to roundup new subscribers for, one that still has to negotiate deals with the big providers like Amazon and Roku. To whatever degree this stinks (I do not especially want to watch the fourth Matrix for the first time on a screen small enough to fit in my living room, which is another bummer), I can at least rationalize it. A lot of things are going to look really different when we come out of this, not just the movie-viewing experience, and it’s probably good if we all start coming to terms with that sooner rather than later, just so the shock doesn’t send us all on a roller coaster ride of emotions when it’s safe to go do things again.

Uggghhhh. See what I mean? What a downer that became. I regret doing any of it. I should have just stuck to my guns and posted the TikTok of Henry Winkler dancing. Here it is. Go watch that and chill out. There’s no point in worrying about Monday stuff on a Friday, and “will I ever be able to see a movie in a theater again should I survive the global pandemic?” is some extremely Monday stuff. Forget I said anything.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — Hmm… yes, this counts

DISNEY+

Here’s the thing: I am bad at Star Wars. Just terrible at it. I am not a big sci-fi guy and I’m not even really a big “space” guy, in general, unless you count watching The Martian 600 times on basic cable and finding it 11 kinds of funny that the Fast & Furious franchise is allegedly headed there in the very near future. It’s just not my thing, which is fine, as I’m sure I like lots of things you don’t. It does make it awkward when a show like The Mandalorian comes along, though, especially when it starts catering directly to me. Look at what it’s done in the last few weeks alone. We’ve had a Timothy Olyphant sighting (Raylan!), a Titus Welliver sighting (Bosch!), and a mix-up where some dude in jeans was just hanging around in the background of a shot. I love all those things.

And then last week the show really went and did it, dropping a slightly modified “we’re not so different” scene right in the middle of a climactic battle. I love when that happens. It’s one of my favorite things. I don’t know why I like it so much. But I do. I talk about it all the time. I talk about it so much that now my Twitter mentions light up any time it happens in a show or a movie, because so many people know how much I love it. This is not a complaint. Far from it. I hope it never stops. Let me put it this way: a reasonable argument can be made that the only reason I’m still watching Westworld — a confusing show I barely like — is because it has at least one “not so different” scene every year, and that makes me happy.

So between that and the thing where this is the actual, adorable, borderline-manipulative-but-whatever subtitle they use when Baby Yoda makes his little sounds…

D

… the show has won me over despite how terrible I am at Star Wars. I still think they should have made Baby Yoda’s name, like, Randy Yoda instead of Grogu, but that’s an issue for another column. Which I almost wrote this week. I was not lying about being bad at Star Wars.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Nathan Fielder is a maniac

How to With John Wilson was a good show. I think it would be good to get that out of the way first. I did not expect to be moved close to tears while watching an episode about scaffolding, or to be moved to actual tears while watching an episode about making risotto. And yet, there I was, feeling things, often like 90 seconds after laughing very hard at something very dumb. A real ride, that show. Highly recommended.

If you watched it too and found yourself thinking “hmm, this feels kind of like a Nathan Fielder production,” there was a good reason for that: it was a Nathan Fielder production. Like, he was an actual producer on it. Which he explains in this video. Briefly. Before everything takes a hard and progressively dark turn. I did not see where this was heading until it was most of the way there, and then I was kind of laughing and cringing and remembering that Nathan Fielder is a genius. He’s a maniac, for sure, and I’m a little terrified of him and the way his brain works, but he’s also a genius. I guess I’m trying to make two points here:

  • How to With John Wilson was an incredible slice of television and not entirely like anything I’ve ever seen
  • It is good to have Nathan Fielder making television and weirdo disturbing YouTube videos

Yeah, that about sums it up.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Being famous seems awful

Getty Image

It is the position of this column that the ideal situation in life is being rich and anonymous. It’s the best of both worlds. All the money you could ever want and none of the hassle. My colleague Josh Kurp pointed out that the bassist for U2 is worth like $300 million and I wouldn’t know who he was if he walked into my kitchen and introduced himself by name. That’s a nice gig. After Rich But Not Famous, I suppose we go Rich And Famous, then Not Rich Or Famous, then Famous But Not Rich, but things start getting dicey there really fast. Being famous does not seem very fun.

Take, for example, Millie Bobby Brown, star of Stranger Things and Enola Holmes, who recently deleted her TikTok and posted a tearful Instagram story after a fan harangued her for a video while she was out minding her own business. We pick up the story after she had already told the fan once that she did not want to be filmed in that moment.

But the fan wouldn’t leave her alone. Millie continued her story, saying, “I was paying and she walked past me and began to video me again. And I said, ‘I’m a human being. Like, what more can I ask from you?'”

She began crying, telling fans through tears, “She said ‘So I can’t take a video of a human being?’ And I said, ‘No, not when I said no.’ It just makes me upset when people try to push the boundary, and I just wish people were more respectful.”

The actress then stood up for herself and demanded to be treated better. “I’m still trying to navigate this all and it’s still overwhelming… Where are my rights to say no?” Millie questioned.

This stinks! Leave people alone. At most, if you see a famous person you like out in public, and they aren’t eating dinner or trying to wrangle their children or are otherwise engaged in the type of activity you would not like to be bothered by some goofball during, maybe say like “Hey, sorry to bother you but your work means a lot to me” and then TURN AROUND AND LEAVE. Just walk away! It’ll be fine! You don’t need a picture or a video to document that you met someone, unless they offer or say yes if you ask very nicely. Sheesh. Don’t be a weirdo. Try not to be a weirdo. Try to be cool, for once. Come on.

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 Anne Marie:

I’m heeding your call for more hidden TV gems, though this one would probably require getting a hold of a Season 1 DVD. (It’s not on YouTube or AppleTV, last I checked.) Lo, the Ad-Rock ep of Edward Woodward’s The Equalizer is a true 1985 delight to behold.

Some highlights:

1. 19-year-old Ad Rock’s unapologetic Noo Yawk accent, though his parents are played by Christine Baranski and fricking Jim Dale, MBE.

2. Christine Baranski! Jim “All The Harry Potter Books” Dale! Alex Winter! Bob “The Last Thing That Went Through His Head” Gunton! Edward Woodward, OBE!

3. One of Ad Rock’s lines to Edward Woodward, OBE is “You just want to get next to Moms, that’s where it’s at.”

4. The ep is called “Mama’s Boy.” (Or as I like to think of it, Moms’s Boy.)

But the real hoot is Eugene Benton, the allegedly “dangerous drug dealer” who has Ad-Rock under his sway and prompts Christine Baranski to desperately seek some quality equalizing. Hahahahahahaha. Eugene would blow away if you pulled a Kleenex from a tissue box near him. He wears super short NBA throwback ‘80s shorts. He’s an Ivy League grad. He practices some type of martial arts involving swords, only the swords are accessories for awkward close-talking and it’s really just an excuse to wear half-open robes. His name is *Eugene*. He preens, he flashes his eyes, his idea of a threat is “… or I might have to change my orientation towards you.”

This last line is highly relevant, because I truly believe that whoever wrote the script* wanted to see how much gay subtext they could sneak onto a mid-eighties primetime network show. The piece de resistance is, of course, the alleyway fight scene; the dialogue could double as ADR for softcore porn. I defy you to watch it, with its “Harder! Harder!” and primal grunting, and tell me I’m wrong. Also, Mark Soper is perfect in the role, but I can’t help envisioning a Deadfall-era Nic Cage in it instead.

This is just a fantastic email. I know I say that about every email but this time I mean it. (I mean it the other times, too.) Look at everything we have here: Ad-Rock from Beastie Boys appearing in a network procedural just before breaking big as a rapper, Christine Baranski, swords, I mean, come on. The best part is that I found this episode on NBC’s website and watched it in chunks over the last week and can confirm everything Anne Marie said. Not that I assumed she was lying. It’s just… there’s a lot going on here.

Please consider this your reminder that the Beastie Boys Story documentary is still on Apple TV and is still great. As is this recent essay by comedian Josh Gondelman about listening to Paul’s Boutique a lot here in 2020. As is the song “Shadrach,” which I will now embed, driving home, once again, the fact that this was a very good email.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To sunny California!

Police in California responded to a report of a suspected burglary in progress and arrived to find the cause of the ruckus actually was caused by about a dozen brawling raccoons.

Okay, first of all, I love it. The are few things in this world better than sentences that take a dramatic swerve at the end and few swerves are more dramatic than “the ruckus was actually caused by about a dozen brawling raccoons.”

The Richmond Police Department said two officers responded to the City Corporation Yard after an employee called authorities to report a banging on the administration office door that sounded like a burglar attempting to break in.

I’m sorry. I can’t focus yet. It’s going to take me at least one more paragraph to get past “about a dozen brawling raccoons.” Take a second and try to get a visual on that. It’s harder than you think. What does a dozen brawling raccoons even look like? I’ve been cranking away on it for days and the best I have is a cloud of dust and claws and screeching little beasts tumbling around an alley with one of them up on top of a trash can diving back into the fray. I think I’m close.

“Although mentally prepared to take action for an in-progress felony, the crime-fighting duo were surprised to find approximately one dozen raccoons in a physical altercation,” police said in a Facebook post. “When challenged, all but one fled westbound.”

Big shoutout to the one that stayed to take the fall for this. Very honorable. I’m proud of him.

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