A formal shout-out to Spaulding, the true hero of “Caddyshack” (1980)

Who’s the best character in “Caddyshack”?  Yes, I know many out there will cite Rodney Dangerfield’s Czervik, Bill Murray’s Carl, Chevy Chase’s Ty, or … as some contrarians might say … Ted Knight’s Judge Smails … as the best character in the classic 1980 film comedy “Caddyshack.”  But in my opinion, Smails’s obnoxious grandson Spaulding is the s–t!  Spaulding is THE very definition of devolution.   He’s rich, spoiled, obnoxious, out-of-shape, and incredibly stupid.  He is literally the 3rd generation photocopy of a bad 3rd generation photocopy.  And for the limited time he’s onscreen, he’s f–king hilarious.  Major kudos to John F. Barmon Jr. for such a great performance.  This is someone who took a nothing part and made it classic.  Too bad I’ve haven’t seen Barmon do anything else.  But his Spaulding is enough to warrant a NY Times mention once he eventually leaves our mortal coil.  Raise a glass, motherf–kers to Spaulding Smails!

Spaulding gets drunk:

Spaulding picks his nose:

Spaulding places an order for lunch:

An interview with the real Spaulding several years after the fact:

All hail Spaulding!

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“Wild Things” (1998) dir. John McNaughton

Video

Oh … my … God! Ostensibly, a modern film noir erotic suspense thriller, “Wild Things” is one of the most deliriously nasty and hysterically funny films ever made. If you aren’t laughing your ass off throughout this movie, you either have no sense of humor or are dead.

Before “Wild Things,” director John McNaughton was best known for the intense classic “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” and the critically acclaimed, but under-appreciated thriller “Normal Life” (discussed earlier on Dave’s Strange World). However, “Wild Things” wound up becoming McNaughton’s most popular and best-known film. While “Basic Instinct” is the magna carta of erotic thrillers, “Wild Things” is its disreputable punk rock cousin, pissing all over whatever “class” “Instinct” had.

Recounting the plot is pointless. Mainly because there are double, triple, quadruple, quintuple … ad nauseum crosses with added red herrings that extend even into the credits. The fact that a new (and frequent) plot twist completely changes the meaning of everything you saw before it is part of the fun.

To call “Wild Things” sleazy is damning it with faint praise. Of course it’s sleazy … but trust me, it takes a lot of talent to make something this disreputable so much fun. The performances by Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon, Denise Richards, Neve Campbell, and Bill Murray are pitch perfect for the insanity you’ll experience while watching it. As much as I love “Color of Night” for its bats–t craziness, “Wild Things” delivers everything “Color of Night” has in a much cooler, confident manner. If you’ve never seen it, you’re in for a major, major treat. Like a bad (but still enjoyable) one-night-stand, you’ll hate yourself the next day … but only to a certain extent.

“Reliving Groundhog Day” by James Parker (from the March 2013 edition of “The Atlantic”)

I could either try to write about the brilliant 1993 film “Groundhog Day” (and am fairly certain it will come up lacking) … or just let you read this essay by James Parker from this month’s Atlantic Monthly which smartly and succinctly sums up why this film delivers some incredibly deep and complex philosophical concepts in a wonderfully entertaining and sweet package. As Parker says about the lead character Phil, played by Bill Murray: “He learns contentment, and he learns forgiveness, and he learns kindness. He sits in the Punxsutawney diner, happily reading—but he’s not just reading, he’s radiating Buddha-nature. It’s all expressed in the trajectory of his relationship with Rita. He wants her, he tries to seduce her—first with meanness, then by fraud, then with recitations of French poetry and engineered perfect moments. It is only when he gives up, when he accepts the blessing of her company, free from desire—at which point she, too, magically becomes a far more interesting character—that she is delivered into his arms.” That’s as brilliant an evocation of love that I’ve read in a long time.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/03/reliving-groundhog-day/309223/