September 03, 2013

Have a question related to pop culture, comics, movies, or music, to trivia that you need a second opinion on? Heck, even a first-rate opinion? Ask Trivia Club’s host Russel Harder anything! With a new column posted every SATURDAY! Ask Trivia Club on twitter @trivia_club or send us a message on the facebook page /TriviaClub!

Q: “What actor or actress did John Hughes work with, who was made for a John Hughes movie? Likewise, who working today would be the perfect John Hughes movie star?” – Krissy R. of The Latecomers

A: That’s an apropos question to start off the first ASK TRIVIA CLUB, with Trivia Club: Fist Pump Freeze Frame, a celebration of John Hughes films, coming to The Gladstone in the Melody Bar on September 17th. So thank you, Krissy! Now that the necessary plug for our upcoming event is out of the way though, let’s get down to brass tacks (if you’ll pardon this upholstery-based turn of phrase that derives from late-1800’s Texas). You suspect, I’m sure, that I’ll be saying one of two names. Molly Ringwald, or Matthew Broderick. Two excellent options, no doubt.

With Broderick, Hughes had the smarter-then-your-average kid (an archtype later returned to in Home Alone, most notably) living the ultimate fantasy day-off. The problem with Broderick however was his aloofness, while in the John Hughes mold. He was entertaining, but completely disconnected. You wanted to be him, but it was impossible to see yourself AS him. Lest you realize he was only a figment of Cameron’s imagination.

Wait, forget that last part. That's another edition of Ask Trivia Club.

Conversely, Molly Ringwald was the heart and soul of John Hughes' teen movie-era. She was, as it goes, his muse in red hair. The trick, in this discussion of who I think was PERFECT for a John Hughes movie, is at the same time separating the character from everyone else in their respective film, to see if the actor is still entertaining and interesting on their own merits. Honestly, Ringwald doesn’t stand-up in a vacuum. Though she worked well as a foil for the characters around her, making Judd Nelson the coolest (for a fleeting moment), and Jon Cryer a martyr, it's SHE who can’t work without THEM. At the end of the day, she’s too boring. If not for Hughes, she’s forgettable.


So who was made for a John Hughes movie?

The one and only John Candy.

Even cameo-ing in the teen-to-family transition film of sorts, "She’s Having a Baby", John Candy started to collaborate with Hughes, during his family-film phase. There’s no one that fits the John Hughes mold better, in my eyes, than John Candy. Candy embodied an adult immaturity that was at its zenith during his trio of major Hughes roles, “The Great Outdoors”, “Planes, Trains & Automobiles”, and last but certainly not least, “Uncle Buck”. For example, "Uncle Buck" was what Kevin McCallister would grow up to become. Within that immaturity, was also a paternal glow that measured up and even surpassed the likes of Harry Dean Stanton in “Pretty in Pink”. Handled with aplomb in his major roles, Candy even shone through with heart-warming glee in his smaller turn in “Home Alone”.

Finally, Candy was the personification of one of the biggest thesis statements the entire John Hughes filmography had to offer, the concept of “class structure” or “class struggle”, upper vs. lower, upper-middle vs. middle, etc. In John Candy, John Hughes had the personification of middle class struggle. Candy may not have been Hughes, as much as Anthony Michael Hall was in the Breakfast Club, but Candy was US. John Candy was someone who you both couldn’t help but cheer for and be entertained by.

Seriously, you guys. Planes, Trains & Automobiles!

Now the second part of the question, who in the present day would have been perfect for the dearly-departed John Hughes to make a movie around? Maybe it was because I’ve been marathoning Parks & Rec, but what about Nick Offerman? Or Chris Pratt?

I really wanted to go with Chris Pratt.

Though there still seems to be something missing. From Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth McGovern in “She’s Having A Baby” to the McCallister household, a character unto itself, in Home Alone, class structure has always been an important thing to note in a John Hughes lead character, as I mentioned above. Chris Pratt, and especially Nick Offerman, are too blue-collar. John Candy already did it all with that character; it would be a disservice to anyone to look to dip into that well again.  So I went another direction and I almost went with Jay R. Ferguson, but ultimately backed off.

Not that the dude gave any fucks, of course.
As Stan Rizzo on Mad Men he’s become a revelation in the past season. The latter-day Rizzo appearance of Ferguson’s could have easily put him in the vaunted John Hughes bad guy role, in good company with James Spader, not to mention Andrew McCarthy (what, you AREN'T on Team Ducky?), or Dan Akroyd from the Great Outdoors. Then Rizzo goes and grows a beard?! As superficial as the change appeared, it also opened up the actor to the kind of character work and conversation that showed that YES there is potential for Chevy Chase in the guy, hell possibly even that lovable every guy John Candy. But at the end of the day, was I giving Ferguson the nod, or Stan Rizzo?

So who would be perfect casting for a modern day John Hughes-made movie? Anna Kendrick. What can I say, she has the potential to play so many facets and is not only attractive but also inherently funny and self-deprecating. Kendrick seems to have a maturity past her years, as well as the duel ability to play anywhere within the Hughes-centric “class struggle”. Remember how I said she was attractive? It's an attractiveness that is mystifying to geeky men such as myself, and non-threatening and hell even likable, to other women.

No really!

Pitch Perfect, whether it’s a good movie or not, proves that Kendrick could even make a chart-climbing addition to those always exceptional John Hughes movie mix-tapes. Anna Kendrick is a multi-tool movie actor, and let me just end this first question with a wild bit of hyperbole. If Kendrick had been in Molly Ringwald’s shoes, she wouldn’t have ended up in TV movies, she would have ended up with the career of Jody Foster.

(drops mic, remembers the other questions to answer, picks mic back up)

Q: “On the Itchy & Scratchy CD-ROM, is there a way to get out of the dungeon without using the wizard key?” -- @Kevin__Morgan

A: What the hell are you talking about, Kevin? Shouldn’t we REALLY be talking about episode 2F09 when Itchy plays Scratchy's skeleton like a xylophone? He strikes the same rib twice in succession, yet he produces two clearly different tones!

Ahem, sorry, it’s just when a question strikes a nerve I just can’t help myself.

Q: “Who would REALLY win in a fight; Superman or Batman?” -- @saadk

A: Speaking of striking a nerve, Saad! The simple questions will always divide opinion. Here is my answer, however. Who REALLY wins in a fight?


He seems to agree.
The dramatic answer is Batman. The right answer is Superman. And yes, I realize I’ve now made an enemy out of Chris Sim. Remember though Sim, and all those like-minded comic books fans, I’m not saying who is better, or which character in more readable, I’m simply saying that if these two four-colored character REALLY fought? Superman would be able to beat Batman, or any number of other characters who don’t have any powers beyond that of a normal human Olympian (other then a psychotic level of preparedness) for that matter, any number of ways within the first second.

There is no other answer I’m willing to give, or even a devil in this discussion that I’m willing to advocate. The flight, speed, strength, and damage that Superman is able to take, adding in his heat-vision alone, gives Batman a zero percent chance against Superman in a “REAL” fight.

Oh, don't be SO dramatic!
I only put quotations around a capitalized word like that because of course Batman has a chance, especially in a comic book that has "Batman" written across the cover. Superman will always hold back, there will always be kryptonite, etc. As most action-oriented stories go, the real answer is always the quickest and most boring approach to the potential of thrills and adventure. It’s what makes Superman a more difficult character to write well, it seems, than Batman. Aside from noir-ish story tropes being totally cool, of course.

Seriously though, Superman wins. And I'm right, because you asked me.

If you’ve got a question you’d like to see Russel tackle in a future column, just send it to @trivia_club on Twitter with the hashtag #AskTriviaClub.

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