Friday, September 18, 2009

Community service interlude

I'm often irritated by the lack of imagination and variety in AP celebrity obituaries, which too often latch onto one generic facet of a person's career while ignoring lots of other interesting highlights. One would think that the only two roles Patrick Swayze ever had were in Dirty Dancing and Ghost and that Henry Gibson's only contribution to culture was Laugh-In. Swayze's best movie keeps getting ignored even though it was a hit, and the majority of Gibson's career is mysteriously absent even though it's loaded with gems. Here's my small contribution to rectifying these oversights.

My sister visited a friend in Dallas a few years ago, and they went to some bars downtown. A guy started hitting on them, and, in the course of expounding his philosophy of life, talked mostly about Patrick Swayze. He referred to Swayze as "The Swayz" and his dream was to save enough money to get a giant tattoo on his chest of The Swayz riding a surfboard in the center of the Polish flag (where his parents were from) (I'm not sure if Poland was the right country or not, but it was a European country. I think it was Poland.). I bet this man is crushed right now. Anyway, that tattoo, which I hope he finally obtained, references the best Swayze movie, curiously absent from all obituaries I've read or seen on the TV. I'm talking about Point Break, people. Point Break kicks ass. It's one of the funniest, craziest, weirdest, and most exciting big budget action movies of the 1990s. It's Kathryn Bigelow's biggest financial success (though I still think Near Dark is her best movie). It is a thing of kinetic beauty. With a cast that also includes such leaden presences as Keanu Reeves and Lori Petty, Point Break is benefited greatly by The Swayz, who keeps the whole ridiculous thing from imploding under the weight of its ambitious nuttiness. He's also very good in Donnie Darko.

Yes, Henry Gibson was on Laugh-In, but look what else he was in, and look what else he was great in (and these are just some highlights from a long and fantastic career):
The Nutty Professor (Jerry Lewis)
Kiss Me, Stupid (Billy Wilder)
The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman)
Nashville (Robert Altman)
The Blues Brothers (John Landis)
Innerspace (Joe Dante)
the 'burbs (Joe Dante)
Gremlins 2: The New Batch (Joe Dante)
Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson)
the voice of the eye-patched newspaper reporter Bob Jenkins on Mike Judge's TV show King of the Hill

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