What, other than the obvious qualifiers such as filmmaking talent and skill, differentiates a loving, well executed homage like Shaun of the Dead from insipid nonsense like Vampires Suck or Epic Movie? Last week, the first real trailer for The Avengers debuted online and was promptly watched a bajillion times by excited fans the world over, and a two minute video released this week can help answer that question. The video is a fanmade, no-budget shot-for-shot recreation of the Avengers trailer; it's compulsively watchable and a whole mess off fun because Bryan Harley and his cohorts made it with love, even if there is no small amount of tongue in cheek humor involved. For their faithful backyard rendition of that trailer, the makers of the sweded The Avengers trailer are our Rogues of the Week.
In the roughly twenty-four hours since his death was publicly announced, there have been innumerable eulogies written and literally countless words committed online to the memory of Steve Jobs. The outpouring of affection and even reverence for the Apple co-founder is unprecedented for a corporate figure, and is a testament to the impact that his vision has had on the culture and his products have had on our collective daily life.
This, however, is not a eulogy, nor is it an act of deification. It's not a part of the inevitable backlash questioning the meaning of a high-profile death or the public reaction to it. It's not written from the perspective of an Apple shareholder,* and it's not an attempt to fit Jobs' life or his contributions to business and technology into yet another article commemorating him. It's just a brief note of the low-key roguish spirit that was part of what made Steve Jobs unique.
Let's start with the blatantly obvious: Bryan Cranston is a flat-out great actor. The 2004 marionette action-satire Team America: World Police – in which Cranston played no part whatsoever but bear with me here – acting jokingly depicted as an incredibly rare, potentially deadly, and endlessly applicable skill. That's the kind of acting Bryan Cranston does, the kind of acting that's like a superpower could secure him a spot in the Justice League. Cranston could act his way out of a bunker buried miles below the Earth's surface and emerge in daylight without a fleck of dirt on his person. But it's not simply because Cranston is a fantastic thespian (and by all accounts, a really nice guy) that he's our latest Rogue of the Week, it's his smart selection of unshowy supporting roles since breaking big on AMC's Breaking Bad.
Gentlemen, let's get this out of the way right now: Your ladyfriend – be she your wife, fiancee, girlfriend, or casual hook-up – would cancel your dinner plans if Ryan Gosling were to suddenly call her, lay a little "Hey girl" on her, and ask to squire her around Disneyland for a day. And ladies, your gentleman-companion would do the same if he had the opportunity to ride Space Mountain with his hetero-man-crush. That said, the movie industry is full of charismatic, good-looking actors and actresses, so Ryan Gosling isn't our latest Rogue of the Week on account of the widespread lust cloud that follows his every move. Instead, the star of this weekend's incredible Drive is worthy of the honor because of his willingness to make unconventional choices, eschewing movie-star vanity and instead turning in consistently surprising performances.
This week, the much hyped DC Comics reboot kicked off with a new number one issue of Justice League, introducing readers to the new look and feel of Superman, Batman, and pretty much the whole new DC universe. Still, that big DC news may just have been overshadowed by a batch of photos from the Plano, Illinois set of Man of Steel, the cinematic Superman reboot directed by Zack Snyder and "godfather-ed" through development by producer Christopher Nolan and screenwriter David S. Goyer. These photos served as the clearest confirmation that Henry Cavill's new Superman outfit will not feature the oft-derided traditional red underwear worn on the outside. That sartorial choice served to highlight what has been a surprisingly pervasive topic of conversation: Superman's junk. Because of the conversation it has instigated, as well as its out-there, in-your-face attitude, Superman's codpiece is our latest Rogue of the Week.
Just a few months ago, pretty much no one had high hopes for Rise of the Planet of the Apes as a summer blockbuster. By March, 20th Century Fox had released just one image from the film, showing James Franco rocking a Bluetooth headset, and the would-be event film then underwent a title change and release date shuffle. As the number one film for two consecutive weeks, though, Rise of Planet of the Apes is performing well beyond all expectations and earning uniformly strong reactions from critics and audiences. The most singularly praised performance comes from an actor has yet to disappoint, but whose face also never appears in the film: Andy Serkis, the magus of motion capture and the man who plays Caesar, a sort of chimpanzee Spartacus.
On paper, it might seem easy to be the straight man in any comedy. Just stand there and react to the funnier guy and in doing so, allow him to continue being funny. A great straight man, however, can actually be far funnier than his more superficially amusing counterpart, shading a seemingly ordinary character with a more subtly comedic personality. Nobody is better at the rare art of the straight man than our latest Rogue of the Week, Jason Bateman.
In this weekend's comedy The Change-Up, Bateman plays a married father who, due to a magical fountain in which they both urinate while making a drunken wish, switches bodies with a carefree lothario played by Ryan Reynolds. The body-switch premise allows Bateman to display his perfect timing, first as the staid, more mature straight man and subsequently as the wild card forced to inhabit the former's life. The comedic actor, who has been working thirty years, moves from one to the other without missing a beat.
There's no confusion about who the star of the Harry Potter series is, since the Boy Who Lived has his name right in the title of all eight films adapted and all seven of the novels by JK Rowling from which they were adapted. Over the last decade, we've watched as Harry went from a neglected orphan living a thoroughly un-magical life to the central figure in a full-on wizarding war, and we've seen Daniel Radcliffe go from an adorable moppet of a kid to a leading man carrying one of the biggest franchises of all time. While Harry's heroic destiny was never terribly in doubt, in the final film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, a far less likely character completes his journey from the butt of every joke to a hero of Hogwarts: Neville Longbottom, played in all eight films by Matthew Lewis.
This weekend's new R-rated comedy Horrible Bosses presents ample opportunities for dark comedy and unabashed bad behavior. It's not, after all, simply a story of three terrible employers, but is actually about their three meek employees who conspire to live out the American Dream by murdering their bosses. The content, along with Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis playing the schlubs looking to dabble in homicide and Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, and Colin Farrell as their bosses, provides ample opportunity for actors to cut gleefully loose. While pretty much all the castmembers do so to varying degrees, it is our latest Rogue of the Week Jennifer Aniston who does so most successfully, playing way against type.
It's July 4th weekend, when we Americans celebrate the Continental Congress' approval of the Declaration of Independence by grilling massive amounts of pork and beef, setting off colorful explosives, and getting righteously hammered. It is not generally a holiday on which we contemplate the document itself, the long Revolutionary War that followed, the compromises that led to the ratification of the Constitution in 1786, or this ongoing experiment in representative democracy. It is instead a day of ecstatic celebration of our own brash, irrepressible Americanism, and in that spirit, our latest Rogue of the Week is Thomas J. Whitmore, the fictitious president played by Bill Pullman in the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day.