What better way to get back into the swing of posting than with a list? Cameos - sometimes I love them; sometimes I hate them. At their best, cameos are hilarious, poignant, and/or respectful. At their worst, they are cloying, patronizing, and/or just stupid. It's relatively easy for me to forget the bad ones. It's likewise easy for me to recall my favorites. Let's get this show on the road!
5). Spaceballs (1987) - John Hurt
It's no secret that we're big fans of John Hurt around these parts. He has the ability to make any film he's in more interesting just by showing up in it. Now don't get me wrong, I do like Spaceballs; but I do realize it's not in the same league as the best Mel Brooks movies. One of the best parts in the movie, though, comes toward the end when John Hurt shows up to recreate one of his most famous film moments which also happens to be one of the most famous death scenes in movie history.
Go here for the Spaceballs clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XU1MAokrrUk
4). Annie Hall (1977) - Marshall McLuhan
I suppose it makes sense that if anyone is going to have a cameo in a Woody Allen movie, it would need to be someone like Marshall McLuhan - a big name in academic media theory. And you can tell the whole scene comes from numerous real instances in Allen's life where he wished he could do such a thing. What's more annoying to an academic than to hear someone else pontificate on an issue that they themselves feel they can pontificate about?
3). Airplane! (1980) - Ethel Merman
Perhaps the King Daddy of all parodies, Airplane! brings spoofing almost to a science. For my money, there is nary a moment in the movie that doesn't work, and that includes the cameos. It's hard to narrow them down to one, because they all work so well. For the moment I'll choose Ethel, if for no other reason than the scene being short and sweet.
2). TIE: Happy Gilmore (1996) - Bob Barker & Wayne's World (1992) - Alice Cooper
I put these two cameos together because they work for basically the same reason: take the person and what they are known for, and have them be the exact opposite. One of my favorite TV Shows EXTRAS takes this basic idea and runs with it. Bob Barker would seem to be a very nice, patient man. I mean, he put up with scores of random people wanting to hug him for decades. What if he wasn't that way? Alice Cooper is known for being a shock metal performer. What if he was actually more down-to-earth and intelligent than you'd expect? Simple enough idea. Not always easy to pull off.
1). Zombieland (2009) - Bill Murray
OK, so maybe I should rightly be given guff for not choosing any "classic" film cameos. Whatever. These are just my favorites. Bill Murray's cameo in Zombieland is perfect. Not too short; not too long. Just about everything a movie nerd would hope for if they were to meet Bill Murray in the zombie apocalypse. Zombieland is a pretty great recent comedy, and the scenes of his cameo are easily the best part of the movie.