All week, The A.V. Club has been marking the premiere of The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power with a series of stories on all things Tolkien, from a breakdown of the Second Age to a list of the strangest video games based on LOTR to an incredibly thorough recap of the first two eps of Prime Video’s very expensive new show by Matt Schimkowitz. But how on earth could we conclude such a celebration without a mention of everyone’s favorite film buff, Gregg Turkington, and his unwavering admiration and cheerleading for The Hobbit trilogy? We couldn’t. Not if we want to get some sleep.
But wait. For those not yet familiar with the On Cinema universe, basically, On Cinema At The Cinema is a Siskel & Ebert-type show in which Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington, playing the characters Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington, discuss upcoming movies. Gregg considers himself the “REAL Mister Movie” and the greatest critic of all time (although he is none of those things, and tends to talk more about runtimes and obscure, bad ’90s movies he owns on VHS), and Tim covers everything but the movies, which tends to be whatever fad he’s gone full-in on: conspiracy theories or instant loans or vaping or very alternative medicine or one of his terrible musical projects. Episodes of the series dropped on Adult Swim’s website until last year, when the show moved to the HEI Network—yes, “Tim’s” network—where it’s completely subscriber funded and offshoot series on said shitty bands and conspiracy theories and even full-length movies, like Gregg’s just-premiered feature, Deck Of Cards, are available to stream.
It sounds like a lot—the universe has also ballooned to include the “Tim”-trying-politics doc Mister America, as well as one following his trial for the poisoning/murder of 20 young people at an electronic-music festival he threw—but it’s the sort of world you can dive deep into or just dip your toes into in here and there and checking out until, say, their annual, always disastrous Oscar Special or the next season of At The Cinema. But in short, know that both Tim and Gregg are awful men, in their own ways, although one has killed more people and ruined more lives. And for our money, their chemistry together and clear disdain for one another onscreen, even in a movie-preview-show format this frothy, never tires.
Which brings us, finally, to Gregg and his love of The Hobbit. In his review of the franchise’s first installment, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which would not-so-surprisingly become the REAL Mister Movie’s favorite movie of all time, after saying he was literally marking off the days off on a calendar until its premiere and that he felt existentially lost after LOTR wrapped up, Turkington, giddily, gives a few choice insights, like, “Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit himself [...] makes this movie rock and roll. He’s sort of a personal hero of mine and to see him fully realized like this, it makes your heart skip a beat, it really does.” And then, he even throws in a sort of burn: “If you haven’t read The Hobbit yet what hole have you been living in? The Hobbit hole?” Tim, who likely hasn’t seen the movie—he never does—chimes in, “So I’m saying this right now, and everybody better be listening: This is the best film of the year; it’s gonna win an Oscar. It’ll win Best Picture. There’s no question about it, because Jackson’s done it again. If Michael Jackson is the King of Pop, then I’ll say Peter Jackson is the King of Movies.”
Gregg triples down on this idea on Oscar night, claiming that, even though it didn’t get any of the nominations for those categories, the first Hobbit film would get write-in wins for Best Supporting Actor, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Picture, and Best Director. On the latter, he posits, “This is another red herring. Obviously, Peter Jackson for The Hobbit is going to be the write-in favorite. Ang Lee is … they’re not gonna give the Oscar to a woman. We’ll see Hillary Clinton be President before we see a woman get the Oscar. Spielberg has done great work, but he’s a science-fiction director. He’s not gonna win for something like Lincoln.” To sum it up, he concludes, “If you’re a betting man, place your money on The Hobbit and get ready to reap your rewards.”
The self-dubbed expert, being completely out of his depth and blindly allegiant to the biggest, most expensive thing and offering completely vacuous awards analysis, is, indeed, very funny—but it also taps into why On Cinema exists in the first place. Before our critics got in front of the camera, they hosted a podcast version in 2011, satirizing the phenom of two dudes with bad mics and no insight doing a show about movies. (Sample take on Ghostbusters: “That movie’s a classic, by the way.”) It’s kind of crazy to think about now, as dudes-adding-zero-insights-to-movies has become basically a genre of the medium, and fan loyalty for widely beloved, very successful properties has only gotten more intense.
But anyway. We’re only scratching the surface of Gregg’s Hobbit obsession (his other ride-or-die franchise is Bond, which he also claims will sweep the Oscars anytime a new installment releases), but we’ll leave you with the moment below, in which our movie expert pulls out a copy of The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien’s posthumously published collection, to predict that there will be “between 50 and 150 new Peter Jackson/J.R.R. Tolkien movies over the next 30 to 40 years.” Obviously, that’s ridiculous. But also, obviously, Gregg, in spirit, was…kind right?