Surprising! [NOT 25/7/22]

Hi, friends! Happy Monday!

I hope the day went well. Over the weekend I saw the Thor: Love and Thunder movie and I really enjoyed it! The biggest surprise was that Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman had great chemistry!!! Like I would never have expected that given how wooden and forced it felt in the other 2 Thor movies. I guess it’s a combo of writing and better direction.

Anyways, topic of the night is when you were surprised at a performance in movies or tv – like where you were surprised someone could actually act, that sort of thing.



  1. In the Fall of 1997 two movies were released that were astonishingly well done (to me at least) and both bombed. One was The House of Yes, and the star, Parker Posey, was amazing, of course, you’d expect nothing less, but so was Tori Spelling, whose talents until then were not really on display in any convincing way. It cost about $2 million to make (financed by Tori’s dad, Aaron, the fantastically wealthy producer of all kinds of great stuff, like Charlie’s Angels and Dynasty and The Love Boat and Beverly Hills 90210, the list goes on and on) and earned a whopping $1.5 million at the box office. I saw it at the old $2 movie theater in that strange Worldwide Plaza complex (RIP) and it was the best $2 I ever spent.

    That season also saw the release of The Ice Storm (cost: $18 million, which was a lot of money in 1997; revenue: $8 million) for which I think I paid $8 to see in Greenwich Village. Phenomenal. It was terrific to see Sigourney Weaver fending off reptilian aliens in wealthy suburban Connecticut in Ang Lee’s version of 1973, rather than in outer space.

    I think these two movies bombed because America was saving its movie-going allowance for the relentlessly hyped James Cameron dark comedy Titanic, which of course I saw and rooted for the iceberg. Still, I am grateful for it because no one can ever have enough Titanic movies and to this day I will sometimes say to Better Half, in the most unexpected locations like a doctor’s waiting room, “Draw me like one of your French girls”:

      • Um, not quite. He had just turned 18 when Gilbert Grape started filming. But Johnny Depp was amazing and I like all the Pirate movies, too. Depp was also phenomenal in the lead role of Ed Wood, and that must have been a tough role to pull off.

        Speaking of strange celebrity biopics, I was stunned at how good Michael Douglas and Matt Damon (especially his ass) were in Behind the Candelabra in what could have been HBO’s worst biopic since the dreadful David Schwimmer vehicle Breast Men (also from 1997, FWIW.) But instead it’s hauntingly memorable, and also a big shout-out to Rob Lowe, the Dr. Feelgood who keeps everyone hopped up and brought down by various drugs. Even Dan Ackroyd showed up in it, in a very minor role, but he was much better than he was in some of those now-painful-to-watch-because-we-are-no-longer-stoned-teenagers SNL skits from the mid-70s.

  2. Number 1? Robin Williams. If you saw Mork and Mindy, you got no hint of his actual ability.

    Number 2? Tom Hanks. Bosom Buddies and Mazes and Monsters? I’d have bet you good money that schmuck would never have an Oscar. Much less two, and four other nominations.

  3. Justin Timberlake in Alpha Dogs. I didn’t expect much from him and almost didn’t see it because I hate stunt casting and thought that’s all it was. But he was surprisingly good.

    • He was also really good when he did his Saturday Night Live stint. “Dick in a Box” will remain in the nation’s consciousness forevermore. Sadly it wildly overpromised and underdelivered.

  4. I’m with Bryan re Robin Williams. I saw Good Will Hunting in the theatre without having heard of it because Titanic was sold out (for which I was grateful because I didn’t want to see Titanic) and I couldn’t believe it was even Robin Williams. I was so impressed.

    My number one is definitely Val Kilmer. Granted, I haven’t seen him in more than a few things but I mostly knew him from Top Gun. I think it was 2010 when someone told me to watch Tombstone and it is one of my favourite movies and Val Kilmer is awesome as Doc Holliday.

  5. I would add Daniel Radcliffe in The Lost City. I know he had some good comedic timing from watching Miracle Workers season 2, but the deranged villain role was something I didn’t expect him to do so exceptionally well.

    • I saw Daniel Radcliffe on Broadway (where else? I’ve never seen a Harry Potter movie and I’m pretty sure I never will) in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” He was better than I was expecting. John Larroquette (“Night Court”) was also in it, and, fine.

      • *Gasp* was that the naked one?


        I was surprised at how much I love Daniel Radcliffe post Harry Potter! I will watch anything with him in it (almost). The one exception being that TV series where he’s a priest or some religious leader on the Oregon Trail.

        My favorites are: The Woman in Black, What If?, Swiss Army Man, Jungle, Guns Akimbo, Horns.

        • No, that was “Equus,” which I didn’t get to see because apparently no one had ever heard of bootleg Broadway videos that are all over the internet. So tickets were sold out. I saw “Equus” a long time ago featuring a no-name actor and it’s pretty bad; I doubt a famous English willie would have improved the experience, magic wand or no.

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