Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!

What Ever Happened to…? Volume 7: Australia’s Favorite Son Edition: Paul Hogan

You could be forgiven for not remembering who Paul Hogan, Australian comic actor and 1980s icon, is in the year 2016. Hogan hasn’t starred in a commercially successful vehicle since the late 1980s, after all. Sure, he’ll pop up randomly in a Subaru ad from time to time, but by and large Paul Hogan has had almost zero cultural footprint since the days of George H.W. Bush. That was not always the case, however. Would you believe this guy hosted the Oscars? Would you believe he’s an Oscar nominee, even? I know, I know – I totally forgot about that too. But there was indeed a time when Paul Hogan was the most famous man in the world. Let’s remember that for a bit.

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For two years in the 1980s, this guy was everywhere.

Paul Hogan became famous in his native Australia in the 1970s, when he was already in his 30s, for portraying a classic Australian “ocker,” roughly the equivalent of an American redneck and/or hillbilly, and also for hosting Australian network television variety specials. He became something of a cult figure in Australian media, and Hogan managed to eventually parley his small-screen success into a gig promoting tourism in Australia, where he coined the phrase “shrimp on the barbie.” The tourism ads became a hit in America during a time when cultural fascination with Australia was about to reach something of a zeitgeist thanks to celebrities like actor Mel Gibson, easy listening band and 1980s radio mainstay Men at Work, and entertainer Olivia Newton John.

Because of America’s growing love affair with the land down under (remember vegemite? I sort of do), Hogan was eventually able to somehow convince Australian government bigwigs and various rich native Australians to coproduce a movie idea he had that would essentially introduce Australia to the world, with the ultimate goal of creating Australia’s first mega-successful Hollywood film production. Australia has a deep and rich history of film production you might not know about (check out the documentary Not Quite Hollywood, which is excellent), with several smaller productions reaching cult status in America, including the now-ubiquitous Mad Max film franchise. But nothing had ever broken big, and Hogan intended to change that.

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For two years in the 1980s, this guy was everywhere.

So with a budget of nearly $9 million US dollars (Australia’s largest production by far) and essentially zero guidelines or producer interference, Hogan set out with a bunch of his television production friends, eventually creating what became known as “Crocodile” Dundee. The film was an instant hit in America, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, creating catch phrases, catapulting Hogan to stardom in America and abroad, and earning Paul Fucking Hogan an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Even more than that, Hogan was asked to co-host the Oscars that year in order to increase buzz and viewership, as the Oscars had been lambasted in previous years for being bloated, unfunny, and self-congratulatory (not much changes). That’s right – Paul Hogan was asked to come aboard to increase viewership.

Let’s talk about “Crocodile” Dundee for a moment. It’s a putrid, racist, misogynistic, homophobic film. There’s a scene where Hogan grabs a transgendered person by the balls for fuck’s sake. It deals largely in unearned sentimentality. It’s co-lead, Linda Kozlowski, is completely devoid of both charisma and talent. But holy shit is Paul Hogan amazing in it. He steals the entire thing. He’s funny, charismatic, ruggedly handsome – the film almost dares you to take your eyes off the action, and you just can’t. In hindsight, this makes total sense. Hogan wrote the thing himself, rightly making himself the star and centerpiece. He’s the most talented person in the room, so why not? Hogan owned that film, and despite several racist and homophobic jokes, “Crocodile” Dundee, which is a bad film, almost holds up solely due to Hogan’s ocker charm.

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“You call that a knife?” “Crocodile” Dundee inspired catchphrases.

After the first film grossed well over $300 million dollars at the worldwide box office and star Paul Hogan captured everyone’s hearts, it was assumed a sequel would be fast-tracked. Indeed, “Crocodile” Dundee 2 was released less than two years after the first one. At a budget of $14 million, the film grossed significantly less than part one but still posted a healthy profit. Critics savaged the film as well, and there was to be no Oscar nomination this time around. Still, the film managed to gross over $200 million dollars in its theatrical run, so Hogan was on the A-List in the hearts and minds of many, including money-happy Hollywood film producers, who looked at Hogan and assuredly saw dollar signs.

What Paul Hogan did next, however, made zero sense and virtually derailed his Hollywood career forever. In 1990, director Jerry Zucker’s film Ghost grossed over $500 million worldwide, becoming the year’s biggest hit by far. Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore skyrocketed to the A-List and Whoopi Goldberg of all people scored a Best Supporting Actress statuette at the following year’s Oscars ceremony. What does this have to do with Paul Hogan, you ask? Well, he turned down the role of the main character. That’s right – Paul Hogan was offered the role that eventually went to Patrick Swayze. Against all logic, Paul Hogan turned down a role in a film that went on to gross half a billion dollars.

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Almost an angel, but definitely a career killer.

Instead of making Ghost, Hogan decided to star in Almost an Angel, a film where he dies and tries to come back as an angel. This premise, similar to Ghost in some ways, did oddly seem more suited to Hogan’s talents. The film, which Hogan also wrote, was a colossal flop in theaters, grossing only $6 million dollars against a $25 million dollar budget. This flop essentially ended Hogan’s status as an A-List actor, and it would be four years before his next starring vehicle, 1994’s Lightning Jack, also flopped in theaters (unfortunately, as I liked that film as a kid). He would then co-star in 1996’s Flipper before returning to the well with 2001’s “Crocodile” Dundee in Los Angeles. That film was also a commercial disaster, grossing less than $40 million dollars in theaters.

So what ever happened to Paul Hogan? Hogan hasn’t starred in a major theatrical production since, and is now more known for his tax problems and car comercials. Upon return to Australia, he was arrested for years and years of suspected tax fraud. He eventually found himself divorced from Linda Kozlowski, his co-star from those “Crocodile” Dundee movies, and hasn’t really done much outside of a few indie films and the odd appearance here and there. And yet, I want so much more from this man. He’s nearly 80 years old at this point, which is almost unfathomable, but I want to see him appear as Michael “Crocodile” Dundee one more time – maybe in a Subaru or Super Bowl ad or something. Despite the crude nature of his film projects, Hogan has an irresistible charm. And with everything 1980s all the rage right now, why not give him a shot? Maybe a webseries on YouTube, Hulu, or Netflix? What harm would it do? None, I’d argue.

-Z-

ANCC: Robot Overlords

Nick and the Gorehound subject themselves in what is easily to the worst movie they have watched thus far, Robot Overlords starring actual legitimate actors in Gillian Anderson and Ben Kingsley (they must have needed a quick paycheck).  How bad is it?  Well, listen to the episode to find out!

To listen to the episode, click here or on the image.

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Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

SPOILER WARNING!
(Although, if you are a
Sherlock fan, you’ve probably already saw it.)

A month after it aired, I was finally able to sit down and watch the hotly anticipated Sherlock special, The Abominable Bride.  Originally pitched as a one-off to tide viewer over until the show properly returns in 2017, the special proved to be anything but that.  And it’s completely jarring turn mid-way through utterly derails what could have been a fun diversion in the show’s history.

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The premise as promoted by the BBC and the show’s producers had the cast recreate the adventures of Sherlock in his original, literary setting of the 1880s.  This sounded like a great approach for a one-off episode.  Put the contemporary-setting Sherlock and “revert” it back to its novel-origins.  A nice hook for the fans of the show.

But it doesn’t even do that.  About mid-way through, it is revealed that the entire 1880s segment is a drug-induced dream that Sherlock is having immediately after the events of “His Last Vow” (much of the present-day stuff takes place on the plane Sherlock was in).  He is attempting to solve a 100 year-old case in his “mind palace” in order for him to figure out how Moriarty is alive.  Let’s first ignore that Sherlock shouldn’t have known that Moriarty was apparently alive yet (he was still on the plane with no television access).  More importantly, how does a 100 year-old case of a dead woman coming back from the grave and killing others help Sherlock figure out Moriarty’s resurrection?

Complicating this further is that the dream is sprinkled with several character bits and squabbling that Sherlock would never have dreamt.  Nor does it make any sense that the dream had an underlying theme of women’s rights which Sherlock would not have really cared about given the crime to be solved.

Sherlock is smart, obviously, but his dream acted more like a story that he was telling to himself since the investigation culminated in him discovering a secret group of women trying to take down the corrupt high-society men.  Furthermore, the fact that his dream had sequences in which Sherlock wasn’t present for completely derails how he could have figured out the crime.

It was a nifty enough idea, but it just didn’t work and falls apart under scrutiny.  I know I am being nitpicky, but here is the thing I’ve always believed.  If a movie/TV show has plot holes, but you don’t really notice them until the story is over, then it did it’s by engaging the viewer and the plot holes can be easily forgiven.  If you can notice them while watching the movie/TV show, then that becomes a problem.  The Abominable Bride is the latter.

They should not have had any present-day stuff and let the special be in the 1880s.  It would have much stronger.  I’m not sure why they didn’t commit to it.  Adding the present-day sequences just muddled up the story, and made it convoluted (and even more convoluted when some of the present-day sequences turned out to be part of the dream).  This was such a disappointing return to what is usually a fun show to watch.  Hopefully, when the show returns (possibly in 2017 – but who knows for sure since Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are too busy being movie stars), they’ll right the ship after this bump in the road.

~N

ANCC: The Joneses

Fresh from Kurt Russell Month, the Gorehound and Nick (and the rest of America) are revisiting The X-Files and are in the mood for a David Duchovny.  Join them as they talk about the under-the-radar “dramedy” film, The Joneses starring Duchovny, Demi Moore, Amber Heard, and Gary Cole.

To listen to the episode, click here or on the image.

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The Big Short – The Nick Review

I have a financial planner.  His name is Terry.  He’s a good guy.  I have completely faith in Terry and his office with my investments.  Not just because I fully trust him, but because things like the stock market, Dow Jones, and Nasdaq are completely baffling to me.  When talking heads start to babble on about such things and how some are good and bad, I tend tune this stuff out.  Mostly because these people don’t know what they are talking about, but also because if something was going to south, Terry would let me know.

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Given my lack of knowledge and general disinterest in the stock market, I can’t say I overly enjoyed time when I saw The Big Short this past weekend.  Don’t get me wrong.  It is a good movie with some interesting performances by Steve Carell and Christian Bale.  But I don’t think I appreciated it as much as the film wants me to given that the film surrounds itself with a lot of stock market and banking lingo.  Specifically with how it related to the housing market crash of 2008 and how a select group of individuals saw it coming and was able to profit from it.

To be fair, though, the film does do a good job of dumbing it down so the average film goer can pick things up as they go through humorous cut-away segments hosted by various pop-culture personalities.  The film, for better or worse, does speed through these explanations fairly quickly that I found myself trying to absorb what I just learned while watching the next steps of the narrative.  By the end of the movie, I understood what had happened and how it happened, but I could never fully become engrossed in the film as I would have liked given I was playing catch up as it went along.

This movie also defied my expectations a bit as I went into it expecting our leads, consisting of Carell, Bale, Brad Pitt, and Ryan Gosling, all teaming up to take down the banks in some sort of more-dramatic Ocean’s Eleven style caper (but with playing the stock market instead of robbing places).  All of this was based on the trailers for the film which somewhat reflected this premise.  The final film is nothing like that at all.  In fact, the film is divided between three stories in which three of the four leads never meet one another let alone scheme together.

I do have to say that it is interesting to see Adam McKay do something that doesn’t involve Will Ferrell acting like a man-child for the Nth time.  This is really the first “serious” mainstream film that he’s done.  While there is some room to grow for him (for example, the film suffers from too many quick montages of then-contemporary pop-culture segments and clips – I have no idea where he was going with any of that), I think he is on to something there. I’d like to see more of this Adam McKay.

I’m not sure about The Big Short (disregarding the poor marketing). I don’t regret seeing it, but I never see it again, that’ll be okay.  This is one of those movies that you probably need to see twice to fully get everything that is going on (unless you are big into financial planning), but there is nothing that is really drawing me back into it.  I guess if I was channel surfing one day and found it on HBO, I’d leave it on.  But I wouldn’t seek it out.

~N

ANCC: Captain Ron

Kurt Russell month comes to an end with the 90s cult favorite Captain Ron, also starring Martin Short.  What do the Gorehound and Nick have to say about a rare Kurt Russell comedy?  And listen how they go wildly off-topic to discuss other Kurt Russell movies and the future of the All-New Culture Cast!

To listen to the episode, click here or on the image.

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What Went Wrong? Vol. 56 – Extinction-Friendly Film Edition – The Good Dinosaur

It’s fair to say that Pixar has a pretty incredible track record. In terms of both gaudy box office numbers and critic adoration, Pixar is at the absolute pinnacle of the filmmaking world. The Disney-owned company regularly brings home the golden Oscar statuette for Best Animated Film, and has also been nominated for the grand overall Best Picture prize on a number of occasions as well. Their films play well at home and abroad, to the point where their biggest films regularly gross near record levels of money and sell billions more in merchandise. Even their perceived lesser films, such as Cars 2 and Monsters University, made big enough money and spawned even bigger merchandising machines in their wake.

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The stupid-looking dinosaur protagonist didn’t help.

What Pixar hadn’t had in twenty years of theatrical releases was an outright flop. Until now, that is. The long-delayed Pixar film The Good Dinosaur will close in theaters soon, having grossed less than $120 million dollars domestically, ranking as Pixar’s lowest-grossing film since 1998’s A Bug’s Life, a film released in an era not particularly known for its smash hit CGI-animated features (and a film featuring a fraction of the budget of Dinosaur). The Good Dinosaur even failed overseas, grossing a paltry $148 million, or less than half of what Inside Out grossed just months previously. With an estimated production budget of around $175 million, The Good Dinosaur would need to gross at least $350 million simply to break even and perhaps gross more like $500 million after funny Hollywood accounting practices are considered. That obviously did not happen. And you’ll barely hear a peep about this. So what exactly went wrong?

Part of the reason why The Good Dinosaur failed was due to Pixar’s previous release, Inside Out. Inside Out garnered extreme critical acclaim and debuted to a $90 million dollar opening weekend, eventually closing as one of the highest grossing Pixar films yet released, and one of the highest grossing films of 2015 overall. Due to a lack of solid kid-friendly competition (Minions was big, but lacked the critical acclaim given Inside Out), the film went on to have enormous legs, playing in theaters strongly throughout the summer. Critics heaped praise onto the film, and audiences clearly reacted positively as well. Conversely, The Good Dinosaur opened with a noticeable lack of hype behind it. It seemed people were Pixared-out, and there just wasn’t much buzz over Dinosaur’s release. The film opened with a thud, grossing $39 million, or around forty percent of what Inside Out did on its opening weekend back in June. The Good Dinosaur showed little legs as well, despite opening during the lucrative holiday season. And yet, very little was said about it’s failure.

That’s what really bothers me about this enormous flop (and it is just that – an enormous flop). It bothers me how little attention it received in entertainment news cycles on the whole. When Keanu Reeves’ 47 Ronin famously failed two years ago after a lengthy post-production period, there seemed to be an overwhelming feeling of embarrassment and derision lobbed towards both Universal and actor Reeves (who it should be reminded was merely a supporting player and not the main character). When The Good Dinosaur failed spectacularly, no one even seemed to bat an eye. Every Nicolas Cage feature film is met with eye-rolls, no matter that Cage always brings a level of interest to any film role he takes (unlike some actors, Bruce Willis anyone?) that is almost unparalleled amongst his peers. Even the oft-mocked Sylvester Stallone outdid himself once again for his recent film Creed, a film that many mocked until it smashed the box office and wowed critics last holiday season. So why the pass for Pixar?

Full disclosure: I don’t like Pixar very much. I haven’t really enjoyed one of their films since 2009’s Up, and even then I really only liked the first 10 minutes of that movie. I never find Pixar features to be entirely satisfying. They seem to teeter between being for kids and being for adults. I don’t like any Dreamworks Animated feature either, but at least they pretty much strictly know who they’re for. But audiences and critics are seemingly wont to give Pixar a pass for every film they crap out, despite the company featuring a heavily rumored dark side. Take for example 2012’s Brave, a film lauded for featuring Pixar’s first female protagonist (Great job, Pixar! It only took you 17 years!). Pixar execs essentially fired that films female director, Brenda Chapman, quietly before replacing her with a male co-worker. Why was this not more heavily publicized? That film later even won the Best Animated Film Oscar (despite Wreck-It Ralph being a more complete, more charming film), and there was little a word about how the female-centric film featured a female-fired director.

Even the original director of The Good Dinosaur, Bob Petersen, was replaced by Peter Sohn after “creative differences” arose in production. Once again, this barely made a blip on the entertainment news cycle. The Good Dinosaur faced an incredibly interesting production cycle, particularly in its story structure. In fact, one might say the production of The Good Dinosaur might end up a more entertaining film than Dinosaur itself. The entire film at one point was essentially roughly completed and then thrown in the trash basically. New voice actors were cast, new roles were written while old roles were cut entirely, and the themes of the film itself were either enhanced somewhat or changed completely after Pixar bigwigs were unhappy with the near finished product. So after a long production delay and several re-writes and re-casts, it is no surprise that the film ended up a mess. But it’s still surprising to me that it ultimately failed, as Pixar never seems to fail.

And that is the rub, in and of itself. Had The Good Dinosaur debuted last year and flopped similarly, there may have been more than just a handful of words written about Pixar’s continued lack of creativity (Disney’s own animated films like the aforementioned Wreck-It Ralph and 2013’s Frozen have been kicking their ass creatively, and last year’s Big Hero 6, while not great, won the Oscar). But the delay may have actually helped save Pixar’s reputation, as Inside Out was a huge hit and basically masked the pain of The Good Dinosaur’s failure. Their next release is another sequel, Finding Dory, which comes 13 years after Finding Nemo launched in 2003. After that is the long-awaited Mexican culture-themed Pixar film, titled Coco. And then we get more sequels, as Cars 3 and The Incredibles 2 are somewhere in the cards for release. For a filmmaking company that has created so many beloved original franchises, this seems kind of a creative cop-out to me.

-Z-

 

 

ANCC: Snake Plissken

Kurt Russell Month continues!

Nick and the Gorehound talk about Kurt Russell’s most memorable character, Snake Plissken as depicted in the cult-classic Escape from New York and its silly sequel Escape from L.A.!  What do they think of these survivalist, cynical, dystopian sci-fi films?  Listen to the episode to find out!

 To listen to the episode, click here or on the image.

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Pre-Wedding Nostalgia Fuel

For those who don’t know, I am getting married this summer.  To me, marriage is one of the “most adult” things someone can do.  You are completely sharing your life with someone else in a way that will fundamentally change you.  This feeling of maturity/responsibility is only second to having a child (I would imagine – I’m not there yet).

Now, you might be wondering where I am going with this.  Stay with me. I swear it’ll all make sense.

When the Gorehound and I did the 2016 movie preview podcast (listen here!) I noticed that there were a bunch of summer films coming out that I’m looking forward to mostly due to them connecting to my younger years and giving me some nostalgia.

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I’ve always been a big Superman fan, so logically I am anticipating Batman v. Superman (despite my disappointment with Man of Steel) in March.  Then we go to Captain America: Civil War in May.  Cap was my guy in high school and the more I learn about this film, the more I feel it is Cap from the stories I grew up reading from the mid-90s and subsequently went back to read from the mid-80s.

Sort of moving away from the comic book genre, June brings us to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.  Judging from the trailer, this film looks even more like the 90s cartoon that I loved as a kid than the first film.  The Turtles were the thing for every kid back then.  I had so much Turtles crap too.  I don’t have it now, mind you. Which I don’t know is a good thing or a bad thing.  Good thing.  I’m going to go with good.

The only thing that rivaled Turtles for me was Ghostbusters.  I loved the Ghostbusters.  And I still somewhat regret giving away all the toys when I was a teen.  I still have some things, but I mostly regret getting rid of the firehouse playset.  That thing was awesome.  If you were a kid from the 80s, you know what I am talking about!  Anyway, July gives us a brand new Ghostbusters movie, and I am totally looking forward to it.  Screw the haters on this (more on that later this week).

Finally, this brings us to Star Trek Beyond, the film meant to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise.  I’m anticipating it to be a pretty big deal – these films usually are.  Trek, for me, was the first series that I really got into as I was becoming slightly older (9-10) and beginning to understand more complex storytelling and ideas.   It is also a franchise that I really got into during my teens and though my dedication to it has lessened over time, I’ve been following it since.

Star Trek Beyond is the last nostalgia-fueled movie that is coming out this year for me.  It also happens to be released the same weekend that I am getting married.  I tried to convince my bride-to-be that we had to change the wedding date.  Expectedly, she wasn’t amused my by joke.

All these movies coming out pretty much hit every single major player in my childhood fun (the only thing missing is He-Man), and they all run up to my wedding.  That’s when it hit me.  Given my views on marriage and how it is one of the most adult things to do with major adult responsibilities, it seems incredibly serendipitous that all these films are coming out right before I say “I do”.  I get one last time to really enjoy all the things that I loved as a kid, before I truly have to move beyond and let those things go.

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Just do an epic convoluted crossover and take my money.

Obviously, that doesn’t mean I cannot enjoy stuff like Ghostbusters or Superman in the future nor that I will refuse to see any potential future installments of these particular series.  It is the symbolic nature of it.  The idea of growing up.

I don’t know if I truly believe in fate other than the romantic notion of it, but it tough to ignore how this lines up.  I don’t know, but it does seem fitting.  It is like fate is saying “Yep.  This is legit!  This is happening!”  It adds to the good feeling of change that will happen with my future bride and I will truly begin our lives together, and it add more excitement to my upcoming nuptials!

~N

ANCC: Big Trouble in Little China

Kurt Russell Month continues!

This week, Nick and the Gorehound discuss the 1980s cult classic, Big Trouble in Little China!  A huge flop at the time, but the magic of Kurt Russell turned this John Carpenter film into a beloved home video classic!  Also, come check out the new and improved Kurt Russell intro theme!

To listen to the episode, click here or on the image.

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Also, learn more about out the plight of WEIU by clicking here.  #SaveWEIU

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