Dear Lon Chaney,
Dear Echo the Ventriloquist, the main character in the 1925 silent film The Unholy Three,
How’s it going? I’m sure it must be tough for you right now, what with your girlfriend dumping you and your partners in crime getting mauled to death by a a gorilla.
I want you to know: I’m here for you. And by “here,” I mean, “about 90 years in the future, unable to invent a time machine.”
But still! It must have been so hard for you, after you went to all that effort! Although I’m not quite sure why you had to commit to such a convoluted plot: First, you disguise yourself as a harmless little old lady, the strong man as your son or possibly trophy husband, and the dwarf as a toddler. Then you open a bird store and use your ventriloquism skills to convince rich people to buy parrots. Then you deliver the parrots to their houses, which you then rob. And you call yourselves “the unholy three,” because movie titles need to come from somewhere, I guess.
In the meantime, you’ve enlisted your pickpocket girlfriend to pose as your granddaughter, and you hire some dude to work at your phony bird store, and I don’t know why any of this was even necessary. Also, why did you insist on bringing that gorilla along? Were you really planning all along to murder your treacherous partners with the gorilla? Was that really your plan?
I know it sounds like I’m criticizing you, Echo the Ventriloquist, but I assure you, I’m not. (Well, maybe I am, a little.) The truth is, I love you because of your fondness for overly-difficult schemes. I love you for your willingness to hop into granny-drag. I love you for your forethought of carrying a violent gorilla around with you everywhere you go, just in case your partners in crime turn on you, which of course they will, because who can trust a strongman and a dwarf? I love you for the way you, when the man your pickpocket girlfriend fell in love with (seriously, WHY DID YOU HIRE THAT DUDE TO WORK AT YOUR BIRD STORE?) was charged with the crime your traitorous cohorts committed, figured the best course of action would be to use ventriloquism to save him from the electric chair! That’s so stupid, it’s adorable!
Anyway, now that you’ve confessed to the crimes and somehow been forgiven (because that’s totally how the justice system works), and your villainous gang is dead, and your girlfriend has dumped you for the nice guy from the bird store (although what they’ll do for money, I don’t know, since she doesn’t pickpocket any more, and he doesn’t have a job and was recently in prison), and you’ve gone back to the sideshow, I want you to know that I still love you.
No matter how ridiculous your movie was. (Maybe the talkie remake is better?)
I want to write a line of dialogue of such enduring beauty and skill as this screen shot from Buster Keaton’s first MGM film:
“You kill-a de monk!”
I mean, jeez, James Franco’s character, I know you’re trying to cure Alzheimer’s and all, but why did you make a genius monkey? That’s just asking for trouble. It’s almost like you knew you were in a movie called Rise of the Planet of the Apes and felt compelled to do something to move the plot along.
And another thing that bothers me about Rise of the Planets of the Apes, other than all the damn monkeys in it (oh, and they’re CGI monkeys, which is somehow even worse), is that, apparently, we’re responsible for the apes taking over the planet? I mean, apes couldn’t have just evolved on their own, right? We had to help them along? I get that, yeah, we’re supposed to have had a hand in our own destruction, but I always figured we wiped ourselves out, then a century or two later, the apes were all like, “Well, gee, let’s start a civilization, guys,” and then Charlton Heston showed up.
But I guess I was wrong.
I am so sick of movies with talking animals.
Especially ones where the animals are banding together to help some hapless sap find love. I mean, why would they do that? If animals were going to talk, especially zoo animals, wouldn’t they say things like: “This is like jail and we wish we were dead”?
But nooooooo. Captive animals want to help humanity, not eat them.
Especially the gorilla.
I mean gorillas never attack people. (Note: I am aware that gorilla is actually a person in a monkey suit, but it’s funnier that way.)
(Some days, I like letting the links do my work for me.)
Anyway, more to the point, of course the talking animals were just waiting for Kevin James to show up. Like, they were all sitting around, not talking, thinking, man, I wish Kevin James would hurry up and get here so we could get to some hijinks! Also, I totally don’t want to eat him.
So there’s a The Hangover 2 and a Kung Fu Panda 2.
Which is great news, I guess, for people who have anterograde amnesia and can’t make new memories, so they completely forgot they already watched the first films, just like they will completely forget they’re watching the sequels, but they have approximately 10 bucks they really want to waste.
I have nothing against the original films, except, of course, for the presence of Jack Black in anything, but I don’t understand why there are sequels to the damned things.
Oh, except for the Hollywood wanting to make money without exerting much effort thing. Right.
Now there’s plenty of lists of horrific animals out there. Lists that prove there is a God and he hates our pasty human asses.
This list, however, is about animals whose names make them sound like really badass awesome killer beasts, but are actually not so much.
I like lists.
1. Killdeer. Omigod, it’s a bird named the killdeer! It totally dives around killing deer left and right! And it’s a bird! That’s so badass!
2. Emperor Tamarin. Wow! What are you, like the ruler of all the tamarins everywhere? Do the other tamarins bow to you and bring you offerings of, I don’t know, whatever tamarins like to eat? Do you get your choice of the beautiful tamarin ladies??
3. Thrasher. Wow! A bird named “Thrasher.” Man, he probably kicks ass and takes names all day!
4. Paradise Riflebird. Most animals that have the word “rifle” or “gun” in their name have some sort of special skill that is very rifle- or gunlike in execution. I wonder what the Paradise Riflebird does. Ooooh, this is so exciting!
5. Black spider monkey. My god! It’s an unholy combination of spider and monkey! What could be more terrifying?! Unless it’s a spider rifle-monkey!
6. Volcano rabbit. Ooooh, the volcano rabbit! I doubt that it’s named for its tendency to live in volcanoes, although that would be pretty badass for any animal, and especially a rabbit. No, I think the volcano rabbit is named because of the fire-breathing it does. Or something.
7. Jackson’s widowbird. Holy cats, Batman! What the hell is this bird doing that it’s making Jackson’s wife a widow? Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s quite badass.
8. Ghost bat. Yeah, yeah, everybody’s heard about the tired old vampire bat, but there’s a new bat in town! Ghost bat! It’s like what happens to Bruce Wayne when he dies!
9. Hellbender salamander. If the word “hell” is in your name, you surely couldn’t be a harmless water dwelling creature, could you?
It’s a battle of cancer-stick-smoking icons!
Technically, the Marlboro Man was more like a model than a character, but he kind of embodied this whole cigarette-smokin’ spirit of the west thing, and, whatever, you know? It sounded funny in my head.
On to the action! (Note: Actually, words rather than actions follow.)
Physicality. Joe Camel was a cartoon camel who smoked cigarettes. The Marlboro Man, as previously asserted, was a model. You know what models’ jobs are? To look good. That’s what models’ jobs are. (Unless, I suppose, they are the models who are in the “before” pictures, but that’s a whole ‘nother thing here.) Plus, he had this whole rugged cowboy thing going on, and the chicks are mightily into that, or so I’m told by my cowboy-loving friends. Winner? The Marlboro Man.
More likely to make your kids believe smoking is cool? That depends on what kind of kids you raised. Do your children listen to talking cartoon camels who are supposed to be cool? Then your children are assholes. Gods! Who listens to talking camels? I blame you, parents, for your children’s failings. You suck. On the other hand, every kid wants to grow up to be a cowboy! With cancer! Winner? The Marlboro Man.
Probably had dirty sex scenes embedded into his/its flesh? Can you really call a camel a “him”? I mean, it doesn’t feel right. Sure, there’s male camels and there’s female camels, but they all seem rather “it”-ish to me. Anyway, we can’t know for sure what kind of tattoos The Marlboro Man had (or maybe we could, if we weren’t too lazy to do any research, but I think we all know that sooooooo lazy), but we do know that there was a big hullabaloo (is that how you spell that word? Wait, no, here’s a better question: is that word much, much too lame to use?) about the dirty stuff that had been drawn into the Camel on the Camel cigarette packages. That camel was Joe Camel. Winner? Joe Camel.
Snappier dresser? You know, I’m really sounding old today, what with the whole “hullabaloo” and “snappy dresser” thing. What’s the lingo that today’s hip young cigarette smokers are using? Anyone? Moving right along, where you stand on the whole “snappy dresser” issue depends on whether your preferences run toward cowboy chic or “camels dressed in the current fashions.” Whatever. I can’t in good conscience give this category to a cartoon camel. Winner? The Marlboro Man.
Didn’t die of cancer? Joe Camel was a cartoon camel, and is thus immune to nature’s laws. In fact, to this day, Joe Camel resides in the cartoon countryside, smokin’ cartoon cigarettes and doin’ cartoon lady camels and drivin’ cartoon Ferraris. Life is just one big cartoon for you, isn’t it, Joe Camel? On the other hand, several Marlboro Men got cancer (specifically lung cancer) and died, which proves that method acting is the worst acting of all. Winner? Joe Camel.
Has a lamer anti-smoking counterpart? Joe Camel has been re-imagined (like Battlestar Galactica! Only lame!) as Joe Chemo, “a camel who wishes he’d never smoked cigarettes.” And seriously, if you think about, what sort of sick bastard makes a camel smoke cigarettes? I mean, they’re not like monkeys, right? Not that I think making monkeys smoke cigarettes is okay, but there’s a whole portion of society that’s into that sort of thing. And putting them in little tiny people clothing.
The Marlboro Man has no such counterpart, just a bunch of depressing ads featuring real-life dying Marlboro men advocating against cigarettes. I feel sad on the inside right now. Winner? The Marlboro Man.
Overall winner? The Marlboro Man, but it’s mostly because of my strong aversion to camels. Gods, I hate those things.