Even if you're the type of person who watches DVD special features, you have to admit that commentary tracks are generally pretty boring. Commentary tracks are two straight hours of people talking over a movie (which every sane human being automatically despises unless there are snarky robots involved), and for what? To hear Robert De Niro's opinion on the catering? To learn about the time Gwyneth Paltrow got lost on the way to the set and almost accidentally touched a black person? They're just not worth it. Not unless one of the filmmakers or actors snaps and has a mental breakdown right there on the tape ... which actually happens pretty frequently.
Cannibal! The Musical: Trey Parker Still Isn't Over a Relationship That Ended 15 Years Ago
Cannibal! The Musical is a comedy created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker years before they hit major success with South Park. Given their candid nature and penchant for silly BS, you can probably guess that their commentaries are going to be almost as much fun as their movies ... especially when they open with a formal reading of their alcohol inventory.
But the South Park boys are but men, after all, and they get a little weepy when they drink.
The commentary quickly dissolves into a pity party for Parker, who caught his fiancée sleeping with an a cappella singer ... 15 years earlier.
Parker: I was engaged to this girl Liane ... and about a month before the wedding she decided to start sleeping with this guy in an a cappella group ... and I wrote this movie ... just so I could ridicule her, basically.
Yes, that's the same Liane that Cartman's slutty mother is named after on South Park. And Cannibal! The Musical is about a horse named Liane who leaves her owner. Hey, nobody said the man was subtle.
The rest of the movie's commentary is predictable Parker and Stone shenanigans: They reminisce about the boom mike operator's boobs, speculate about going to a strip club once the recording is done, and ... wait, did Parker just bring up Liane again, out of absolutely nowhere?
Stone: You gave it the old Abraham Lincoln save ...
Parker: Because Liane wasn't really ... she was with a dirty f---ing a cappella singer guy.
People keep trying to redirect him, but Parker won't hear of it.
Third Voice: Check out Matt and Ian in the background there, dude.
Stone: This is pretty sweet-
Parker: ... and now she's with the manager of Foley's. Ooh! Hi, I'm worth $7 million, and she's with the manager of Foley's! Whoops!
No bitterness there! Admittedly, this is pretty in line with Parker and Stone's sense of humor and may well be a bit they're doing. But something in his voice, that hurt little quaver ... we can't help but think that, after recording wrapped, Stone stripped to the waist and stood out in the rain screaming Liane's name until his nosy neighbors called the cops.
At Least Joel Schumacher Is Sorry for Batman & Robin
Batman & Robin probably would've killed superhero movies if X-Men and Spider-Man hadn't come along to revitalize them. It's the Superman IV of the Batman movies, such a watershed of terrible moviemaking that no one would ever dare speak in its favor.
Except, of course, for its director, Joel Schumacher.
Psyche! There's a line even Schumacher won't cross, and that line is defending the existence of Batman & Robin. Schumacher spends the entire commentary track by himself repeatedly and earnestly apologizing for what he did. No stars to get in the way. No producers. Just an hour and a half of Schumacher pretty much going "God, I am so sorry -- I just ... nipples? What was I thinking? Send me your address. I will pay you your money back." There are very few clever anecdotes, precisely zero joyful reminisces -- just a few feeble defenses that quickly give way to shameful apologizing. If you want a fine example of a proper mea culpa, Schumacher is your man: "Blame the director," he says, " that's what our names are there for."
The man's only human, though. His first instincts are to deflect blame. For example, the acting? It's bad, " But hey, it's a comic book" -- because we all know nobody goes to a Batman movie to see a soul-shatteringly brilliant performance. Schumacher then responds to criticisms of Clooney's performance by reiterating that he "really doesn't see where the harm is" because "it's a Batman movie." But eventually, he brings up the script, and Schumacher finally seems to lose the argument he's been having in his head. He admits, "Akiva Goldsman was blamed a lot ... but that's not fair. I take full responsibility. I mean, Akiva did write the script, but I shot it."
Take note: Moments of self-awareness like this are rare in Hollywood, and they exist only briefly, like mayflies, before being utterly obliterated by a mountain of cocaine.
Rowdy Roddy Piper Thinks They Live Really Happened
They Live is a cultural milestone. A masterpiece of art and cinema. It is how an entire generation will be remembered -- not by their politics, music, or theater, but by this six-minute fistfight scene alone. If you haven't seen it, shame on you. We should exile you from this entry entirely, but we'll take pity this one time and fill you in. They Live was a sci-fi/action flick about aliens who invade by sneaking subliminal messages into corporate advertising campaigns -- messages that only become visible when the movies' heroes don magic sunglasses. For director John Carpenter, it was an opportunity to turn his acidic criticism of Reaganomics into a major release. For professional wrestler and movie star "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, it was a documentary.
The commentary derails early, right around the time the movie first shows us the aliens' subliminal tactics. That's when Piper explains that They Live is more than satire -- it's based on a real story that, somehow, the film's own director had never heard about:
Piper: Back in 1954, they had this thing called the Bronswik Affair. Do you know about the Bronswik Affair?
Carpenter: No, I don't.
Piper: The Bronswik Affair was a television they had. People would buy it and all of a sudden a housewife would come home with 50 pounds of dog food and she didn't own a dog ... And what they were doing was just what you had them doing here. They were sending signals out to the TV.
Carpenter: Oh, I-
Piper: And in history you look back at it, and it'll tell you about the Bronswik Affair.
Carpenter: Well ...
Carpenter is clearly uncomfortable and has no idea what Piper's talking about. But we at Cracked have heard about The Bronswik Affair, because we have access to Google and therefore never have to admit to not knowing about something ever again. It's a short mockumentary that satirizes consumer culture. Apparently Piper saw it, but failed to pick up on the fact that it was a joke (to be fair, that kind of thing happens from time to time). That's definitely the same video, too -- skip to 6:50 to see the exact moment Piper thought was real.
OK, so maybe we're exaggerating a bit there. He was just misinformed about another film. That's all. We can't rightly extrapolate that out to say "Roddy Piper thinks They Live was a documentary." He's never said anything of the sor-
Mickey Rooney Is Pissed and Doesn't Care Who Knows It
"The Last Night of a Jockey" is an old Twilight Zone episode about a jockey who gets suspended from riding horses, then wishes he was bigger. The wish, obviously, backfires, because The Twilight Zone was basically one giant PSA about the dangers of evil genies. As far as episodes go, it's nothing special -- until you hear the commentary of Mickey Rooney (who stars as the jockey) and one incredibly brave interviewer.
Things start off ... poorly. It's obvious that Rooney doesn't want to be there, and has in fact vowed to be a grumpy old fart the entire time.
Interviewer: Do you remember much about this episode?
Rooney: No. I don't remember anything.
Interviewer: Well, we'll watch it together for the first time.
Rooney: I don't care ... anything about it.
For those of you who don't vividly remember the Charleston, Mickey Rooney was known for being small. The interviewer helpfully tries to point this out early on, and gets smacked down.
Interviewer: What today's audience doesn't understand ... anytime anybody said anything about a "short" you were the butt of jokes-
Rooney: Well, I'm tired of that!
You can't help but root for the poor interviewer. He keeps trying his damnedest to make the commentary into something informative, or at least interesting, but Rooney's attitude makes that completely impossible.
Interviewer: What was going on with you when you were making this?
Rooney: I don't remember! It's too long ago!
Oh God, it's like being trapped in an elevator with a bull.
Toward the end, the interviewer makes the mistake of insisting that The Twilight Zone was an important show. It is then that we finally get a glimpse into the mind of Mickey Rooney. And find that it contains only misplaced rage at Internet pornography.
Interviewer: I was looking for you to explain to the younger audience, because they don't understand-
Rooney: The younger audience doesn't want to see this!
Interviewer: Oh, that's who's watching this.
Rooney: No it isn't!
Interviewer: Yes, it-
Rooney: They're watching ... sexy things.
Haha, what? Where did that come from? Does Mickey Rooney think his rise to stardom was thwarted by Internet porn? What does sex have to do with literally anything they were talking about? It's like his rage is shutting down his language center.
Did we mention that the underlying theme of this episode is an angry, petty misanthrope who gets his deepest wish -- to be a big man -- but finds that he's still just as angry and petty as ever inside? We don't bring that up for any reason. We just thought it was interesting.
Arnold Schwarzenegger Really Enjoys His Own Movies
Arnold Schwarzenegger is an Austrian actor who made a name for himself in the '80s by starring in action flicks like The Terminator and Total- oh, you've heard of him! Lucky us. That saves us some preamble space. Did you know he's totally adorable? Because seriously ...
It's hard to explain just how hilarious Arnold's commentary is, and it happens for every single movie he's ever been in. It's like he's his own biggest fan. He's like a 10-year-old boy explaining the movie to his friends using action figures to act out the fight scenes. Here, start with the Total Recall track, which basically consists of him enthusiastically describing everything in the movie as it happens. We have a challenge for you: Just try to read any of these lines without mentally doing a terrible Ahnold impression.
Arnold: Here, this is my job, I'm a construction worker.
Arnold: I put the wet towel on my head, so they cannot detect where I am. I run around like an Indian.
Here's what he has to say about the spaceport scene where he disguises himself as an old lady.
Arnold: I'm actually hiding underneath the thing, which is the amazing thing that you find out later on.
Sometimes he even seems to forget he's not actually on the screen, like when he yelps "ow!" after Sharon Stone kicks his character in the crotch.
He shares the whole commentary with director Paul Verhoeven, but keeps talking over everything Verhoeven says in his excitement. Here's his reaction after watching his character finally recalling his secret spy abilities and taking out a bunch of bad guys:
Arnie: And I'm totally amazed!
Paul: And he's looking, and he says, "Is this me?"
Arnie: And I look at the gun!
Paul: So this is really, this is-
Arnie: Exactly. "How did I do that?"
Throw in a few spit-rich explosion noises and this is exactly how your 6-year-old would describe Skylanders to his disinterested uncle. Here's all Arnold has to say about Conan the Barbarian:
In his Terminator 3 commentary, Arnold gets really distracted, speculating about how great it would be if women could actually adjust their boob size at will.
Arnie: This scene with the enlargement of the breasts was fantastic ... in the audience you see immediately women in the audience saying "Wouldn't it be nice, where can you get that done?" Because there's some guys that like little breasts and there's some guys that like big breasts so wouldn't it be nice if we could play both sides you know and sometimes even simultaneously?
We know Arnie's got his issues: the steroids, the sexism, the puns he reflexively utters after murdering folks. But turn on commentary for one of his movies sometime and try not to be utterly charmed as a man that could tear your head off with his teeth turns into an excitable child every time something explodes.
Michael Taylor writes about the best in alternative rock, cult classic films, TV, and other geek pop culture goodness on his blog smellslikeinfinitesadness.com.
Related Reading: If you love meltdowns, check out this news anchor who destroyed his career in three seconds. And then there's the violence filled meltdown of actor / comedian Katt Williams, the only man to use a motorized shopping cart as a getaway car. Of course, no discussion of people flipping out would be complete without these actor meltdowns behind famous movies.