Cameos

Tom Cruise in Goldmember

There was a time when the comedic cameo was a special, timeless treat. It would blend fiction and reality in an irresistible way, one that that might accentuate the rant of a neurotic New Yorker, like Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall, elaborate on the subtext of comic books like Stan Lee in Mallrats, set the scene of the narrative like the many grunge cameos in Singles, or embody the dream of every struggling college student when paper-subject Kurt Vonnegut pops up to give Rodney Dangerfield some help in Back to School. The above are all contextual, rare and so particular that they’re still remembered all these years later. They were both a viewer treat and an addition that added legitimacy to the film’s message. But what about today? Cameos have shifted from the exception to the norm – I Love You Man, This is the End, Veronica Mars, Zombieland and The Hangover are some of the many modern comedies that throw in a cameo just to have one (some good, others not so much). There are films that get away with it – one can’t blame the 21 Jump Street folks for wanting some source material cameos, for instance – but generally, it’s about a wacky pop culture fun. Ten years ago it was already wearing thin. In a piece at Slate, Adam Sternbergh wrote of the rising ironic cameo culture during the release of Dodgeball, and concluded: “the satire fizzled. So many people were in on the joke that it […]

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There used to be a time when only die-hard comic book fans knew what Stan Lee looked like. His likeness appeared in many of the Marvel comic books for the 60s, 70s, and 80s, but to the average person, he was nothing more than a guy with some shaded glasses. Then Hollywood started putting the guy in some movies. He’s never had a very big part, but to honor the man for helping to create some of the most legendary superheroes (and some of the biggest moneymakers for the movie business), Lee has been given customary cameos in almost every major movie that has been made from characters he helped create. Those who have seen The Amazing Spider-Man (which should be most of you faithful readers, by now) were treated to one of his best and funniest cameos yet. And with more Marvel movies coming down the pike, he’s sure to show up many times again. This gave us a chance to look back on his many appearances over the years and assemble a list of his ten best cameos. Excelsior!

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If Jesus or Tupac ever finally return like we’ve all been saying they will, they should probably do it in a Judd Apatow film or something like that. We love cameos, don’t we? It’s especially delightful when it’s extremely unexpected, and of course extra points if they are playing themselves – or better yet some kind of silly version of themselves. It’s all about recognizing the kind of person you are perceived to be, and then playing off that in a way that makes the audience realize that you are in on the joke. If a celebrity is able to do that, it’s instant coolness.

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Hollywood is good at recycling things. After all, you build a giant house or an elaborate prop and you wouldn’t just use it once and toss it, right? This is why they have backlots at studios; they can hoard all their favorite stuff for later use (like the iconic building in the image above) or, failing that, at least use it for the studio tours. Same kind of goes for on-location sets – some places are just too dynamic to use only once, especially when the owner is more than willing to pimp out their place for cash. This circle of life is great when you are working with a generic looking high school or cookie-cutter set but there are the occasional moments when they use a location just a little too iconic for its own good – and like a type-cast actor, you can’t help but to see the location as anything besides what made it famous in the first place.

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Alice Cooper has long been considered one of the preeminent denizens of the dark. With his lifelong commitment to horror makeup, heavy metal music, and golf, it couldn’t have happened any other way. So when director Tim Burton needed a music act to appear in his upcoming adaptation of the old, spooky soap Dark Shadows, Cooper seemed like an easy fit. Hero Complex reports that the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is set for a cameo in the film where he will be performing his hit song ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy.’ The setup for the scene is that Johnny Depp’s character, wealthy vampire Barnabas Collins, is throwing an elaborate ball at his palatial estate, and he hires Cooper to be the musical entertainment. To bring Collins’s home to life, Burton and his crew have constructed an elaborate series of sets that includes a gothic mansion and a harbor city complete with piers and boats floating in an artificial ocean. Cooper was so impressed with what he saw that, while at a Universal Studios Halloween event, he opined, “They should take that set and make it a haunted house next year.” He also had some kind words to say about Burton, and how he and the director relate to and understand one another very well, “Rock and horror and comedy work together, that’s something I’ve known a long time and people like Rob Zombie know, and Burton knows that too …  I just saw Final Destination 5 and I was […]

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When Zoolander came out on September 28, 2001, the production had digitally removed The World Trade Center’s Twin Towers from the New York City skyline in an effort to avoid displaying a devastating image in the middle of a comedy about the world of fashion. If they’d have left it in, it wouldn’t have been the first time the buildings had been featured on film or television. Since they didn’t, it marks the first time the buildings were ever erased. With the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 coming this Sunday, it’s impossible not to be consumed a bit by the gravity of an action that killed so many and lowered a different world view onto all of us. Landon and I talked on Reject Radio regarding the effect that the day had on movies and movie-watchers, but that mostly dealt with the last decade – the world that came after that morning. As a counterpart, here’s a simply-edited montage of the past. Dan Meth has built a view to the movies where the Twin Towers either stood proudly in the background, made prominent appearances in the front of the action, or acted as the set. It’s stirring in its matter-of-factness, and it’s more than a little moving, but it’s ultimately a celebration of a symbol that no longer (physically) exists. Check it out for yourself:

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With all sights on The Avengers, Marvel is continuing to build its tangled web of cameos and inside jokes even though they crippled Iron Man 2. It’s unclear what role he’ll play in the story (or if he’ll just be buying coffee in the background of a scene), but Jeremy Renner will appear as Hawkeye in Thor. Why is a cameo more likely than a small role? Because Hawkeye’s origin story involves being moved by Iron Man (the hero, not the film) to become a masked hero. That story also includes Black Widow, so if this is truly Thor’s movie, Hawkeye probably won’t even be facing slings and arrows just yet. [The Wrap] [Awesome image done by Brandon Peterson]

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Should Storm show up in Wolverine?

First she was spotted in a trailer, now a major producer is claiming she was part of the celluloid that hit the cutting room floor. We’ll have to wait to see whether she’s in, but the question now is whether Storm actually should appear in the movie. Tell us what you think.

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With enough on his plate, Joe Carnahan has confirmed that he’s working on a prequel to Smokin’ Aces giving us all a reason to strap on a bullet-proof vest.

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In our third Porn Week feature, Adam Sweeney digs through a brief modern history of porn stars showing up in mainstream films to play off their pornstardom. Did you know Ron Jeremy was in Ronin? We did, too.

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Rainn Wilson in The Rocker

The Rocker starring Rainn Wilson opened in theaters Wednesday. We decided this warranted a list, but instead of just hashing out a list about 10 movies about rockers that rocked, we wanted to give you ten rockers who rocked in movies that may or may not have even been about rocking.

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Known for his visual style, one of his most famous visuals was himself. Alfred Hitchcock is famous for his cameos, but sometimes he’s hard to find. Grab your DVD player, and we’ll help you find him.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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