Our culture is absolutely obsessed with celebrities, despite the fact that, guys, they poop just like everyone else, guys. Once you realize that, it's hard to give a shit (... I'm not sorry) about the lives of the rich and famous, unless of course you happen to like movies. Because if you do, then you actually should pay attention to the comings and goings of celebrities, seeing as they can sometimes inspire the creation of some really awesome movies. And I'm not talking about A-list actors signing up for a project and finally getting it greenlighted by the studio. No, I'm talking about the time when ...
Fox Searchlight Pictures
The runaway success of the hit indie film Little Miss Sunshine is made even more impressive by the fact that it's a movie entirely about a family of depressing, borderline-crazy people like the drug-addicted grandpa (drugpa), the angsty son who's taken a vow of silence, and the painfully uninspiring motivational speaker father.
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Who nonetheless have nothing on parents that dress their kids up like Bratz strippers.
Stick those characters in a van and have them drive hundreds of miles to a child beauty pageant, and a heart-warming comedy-drama about the importance of family is the last thing you'd expect to happen (the first one, of course, being a trip to the hospital after everyone gets their stories straight about how they've all busted their lips at the same time). And since we're already on the topic of dysfunctional families: Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Did you know that Arnold Schwarzenegger hates "losers," going as far as to say that he despises them in a speech he gave to a bunch of high school kids? Even if you didn't, it's hardly surprising. Schwarzenegger's entire career has been built around competitions (elections, movie auditions, steroid-eating contests, etc.), slowly turning him into the sort of person who, I'm guessing, would never want to be friends with the success-challenged heroes of Little Miss Sunshine. Actually, scratch that. I know that Schwarzenegger wouldn't want to be friends with them, because according to the film's screenwriter, Michael Arndt, Little Miss Sunshine and its cast of character were written specifically to spite the aging, loser-hating bodybuilder.
Apparently, when Arndt had first read about Schwarzenegger's speech, he found it so horribly misguided that he had to go and punch a keyboard out of frustration. Then, when he looked up, he noticed that he'd accidentally written down the basic outline of a story about losers the audience would root for.
Universal Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures
And who could rock a headband 10 times better than Arnie.
Arndt then tried to figure out how Schwarzenegger ever became so rich and famous, coming to the conclusion that it was thanks to him swelling up with muscle like a giant flesh balloon, which sounds insane when you really think about it. So he looked for some other type of competition that would make you sound a bit crazy if you got really obsessed with it. In the end, he found the perfect candidate in a child beauty pageant and decided to center the entire movie on that, meaning that the Little Miss Sunshine we know and love probably wouldn't have existed without Arnold Schwarzenegger being a total ass that one time.
Warner Bros. Pictures
The Iron Giant tells the story of an amnesiac alien robot landing in Maine during the Cold War and befriending a little boy named Hogarth, who must then hide the giant's existence from the government. If you've never seen it, think something along the lines of "E.T. meets the epic finale of The Avengers."
Warner Bros. Pictures
Then immediately start bawling your eyes out.
If you have seen the movie, then I bet your favorite part is the ending, when the giant saves Hogarth's town from a nuclear missile, seemingly sacrificing his own life in the process. But it might interest you to know that originally the film was supposed to end a bit differently, with the robot battling a "Space-Bat-Angel-Dragon" to the music of the English rock band the Who.
Steve Wood/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Drugs may have been involved.
Before there was The Iron Giant, there first was The Iron Man, a 1968 book by Ted Hughes about an alien robot that lands on Earth, befriends a little boy named Hogarth, and then "fights" some sort of Space-Bat-Angel-Dragon. The story doesn't really provide an explanation for what the creature is. It just suddenly shows up and ends up singing a magical hippie song that brings about world peace. Yeah, it's that kind of book.
But sandwiched between the novel and the movie like a piece of delicious missing link ham lies The Iron Man: The Musical, an experimental rock opera by the Who's guitarist/songwriter Pete Townshend. Townshend discovered the book in the '80s and became interested in it due to, one would assume, its relative sanity compared to everything else he'd ever recorded. He and two remaining the Who members then decided to immortalize Hughes' story about an alien-dragon-battling mechanoid in the only way that did justice to the source material: through weird songs where Hogarth is taught about love by talking forest animals.
As you might have guessed, the musical was poorly received, although that probably also had something to do with its uninspired cover art that more resembled the logo of a PC game company:
Atlantic, Pete Townshend
"So, do you want like a robot punching an alien dragon, or ..."
"No, I have a much better idea."
However, in 1993, The Iron Man: The Musical did get its own London stage show adaptation, after which one of the producers thought that it could actually translate well to the big screen. Calls were made, and soon Warner Bros. bought the movie rights from Townshend (without whom the studio would never have heard about The Iron Man outside of a Marvel comic book) and then hired Brad Bird as the director. Bird then immediately threw out all of Townshend's songs and a lot of the original story and decided to instead base the project on one question: "What if a gun had a soul?"
When informed of this, Townshend, ever the uncompromising artist, simply replied: "Well, whatever. I got paid." And that, kids, is the inspiring story of the beautiful 1999 animated movie that got you beat up in school by making you cry in front of the whole goddamn cinema.