Amusing ourselves to death: 12 theme parks where the danger is real

Summer is close to its halfway point, which if you’re responsible in any way for a school-aged child, means you’ve probably spent at least one hot, sticky afternoon waiting in interminable lines and wincing at the price of Dippin’ Dots already this year. (The goths, meanwhile, have been banished from Disneyland and…

GLOW is just the start: 16 unusual athletic events deserving TV dramatization

Much of the fun in watching Netflix’s hit comedy GLOW lies in peeking behind the curtain of a left-field televised athletic event. The less-than-auspicious beginnings of the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling are detailed in exacting fashion, from its outsized personalities to the emotional fireworks that spark among the…

Self-realization before sunrise: 18 movies about coming of age in under 24 hours

“Yesterday’s history. Tomorrow’s the future. Tonight’s the party.” Can’t Hardly Wait premiered in theaters 20 years ago next week with that tagline, although it could be applied to a number of similar movies about kids having one, momentous day that sets the course for the rest of their lives. In that 1998 film, those…

Han Severals: 16-plus characters who smuggled inspiration from Han Solo

Han Solo is based on a familiar archetype: Star Wars’ lovable scoundrel can trace his roots back to our earliest myths, while there are progenitors of his world-weary cynicism in Humphrey Bogart’s movies, his charming roguishness in Douglas Fairbanks’, and his reluctantly outlaw heroics throughout the samurai films…

Solo, a canceled story: 19 TV spin-offs for breakout characters that no one wanted

For all its reputation as the crassly opportunistic refuge of the creatively bankrupt, the spin-off actually holds an esteemed place in TV history. Many shows now considered classics in their own right—The Simpsons, Laverne & Shirley, Frasier, The Colbert Report, etc.—began life on other shows, until producers…

Sticking their noses in other people’s business: 16 TV Cyranos

You know Cyrano de Bergerac even if you don’t know Cyrano De Bergerac. The protagonist of Edmond Rostand’s century-old play—based loosely on the life of an actual French polymath—is a canonical figure, his romantic plight, panache, and prodigious proboscis immortalized in countless stagings, adaptations, and lit-class…

What’s so funny?: 25 singers cracking up at their own songs

Singers laugh for various reasons, not all of them sincere. Take, for instance, the laugh that closes out Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”—a giggle some people find so fake, they made their own fan edits just to cut it out. There is intentional laughter, layered in to create a wild, maniacal atmosphere (“Thriller,” “…

The shitty Avengers: 15 movie superheroes not ready for franchising

Minting a successful superhero franchise out of a preexisting comic book is easy (despite what Green Lantern might suggest). It’s far more notable to create an entirely new superhero who can contend on a Marvel scale—which is why no one’s done it. Rather, film history is littered with one-off adventures from new…

Ha-ha-hostages!: 17 comedies that make abduction fun

A hostage situation is among the most traumatic experiences anyone can suffer through: your life in the hands of a stranger, who threatens to snuff it out for their own nefarious purposes or financial gain. But sometimes, Hollywood asks, isn’t abduction... kind of funny? Hey, maybe a kidnapping is just the sort of…

Halfway-decent proposals: 7 TV episodes that reference the 1993 blockbuster

For a multiple Razzie winner, it’s hard to believe that Indecent Proposal was such a huge hit when it was released 25 years ago this week. It’s equally hard to believe that it somehow milked a two-hour, antiquated, sexist movie out of a guy asking another guy if he could sleep with his wife for a million dollars. The…

Rock me, sexy Jesuses: 15 super-cool sons of God

This Easter Sunday will see NBC’s live telecast of Jesus Christ Superstar with singer John Legend in the title role—the second, or third, or more likely, 102nd coming of Jesus as a pretty cool dude. The trope of our God being an awesome God, as well an awesome guy to hang out with, is a popular one in church youth…

The 25 best set pieces of Steven Spielberg’s career

Broadly defined, a set piece is a thriller within a film, a self-contained showstopper-slash-showcase whose success depends in large part on a director’s chops. Since the 1970s, Steven Spielberg has reigned as its Hollywood master; regardless of what one thinks of his sentimental or narrative instincts, it’s hard to…

Cut the vagina subplot: 12 great movies made from bad books

For as long as cinema has looked to literature for inspiration, there’s been someone around to study the results and helpfully remind all of us that “the book was better.” Usually, they’re right: Moving a story from page to screen doesn’t tend to improve it, if for no other reason than the things you might love about…

Move your clocks and plots forward: 9 stories where daylight saving time actually does something

Over the weekend, much of the world’s population dutifully set its clocks one hour ahead in adherence with daylight saving time, that mandatory act of “springing forward” in order to... something about farmers. Or coal. Or whatever. As a popular Last Week Tonight With John Oliver segment pointed out, most of us don’t…

Murder, they wrote/swam/hauled: 12 professions that translate to TV crime-fighting

On Sunday, March 11, ABC raises the curtain on Deception, a new crime drama in which Jack Cutmore-Scott plays Cameron Black, a world-class illusionist who’s drafted into an FBI consulting gig after scandal derails his career. Hailing from former Chuck writer Chris Fedak and magician David Kwong, the show is a…

Do the wrong thing: 90 years, 90 movies that should have been nominated for Best Picture

When Moonlight pulled a big upset and won the Best Picture Oscar a year ago, it felt like a monumental occasion—and not just because of the snafu that resulted in a different film briefly enjoying the honor. Yes, the Academy bestowed best-movie-of-the-year status on an actual, legitimate contender for the best movie…

Live’s not dead: 21 great live albums from the 21st century

In May 1968, Johnny Cash released Live At Folsom Prison, a recording of a raucous, emotionally charged performance before a group of grateful inmates that went on to top the country charts, completely reinvigorating Cash’s career. Folsom wasn’t the first successful live album, obviously, but it quickly became a…

Doing it wrong: 11+ deeply unsexy sex scenes

What’s that old saying about sex being like pizza? Even when it’s bad, it’s still good? There’s no such saying about bad sex scenes. It’s not uncommon for the movies to get sex wrong—to reduce it to a gauzily lit pantomime of pleasure, actors striking “passionate” poses beneath carefully positioned sheets, in some…

Attention, Ryan Murphy: 14 more true-life TV movies to inspire tomorrow’s prestige dramas

If you want to craft the compelling, hit drama series of today—the kind of show that feels like a can’t-miss cultural event—savvy showrunners know to look to the not-so-distant past. From FX’s The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story to last year’s Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders, in the…

The January Canon: 16 good movies released during Hollywood’s worst dump month

Historically and annually speaking, January is a bad month for Hollywood movies. It’s a “dump month,” that time of year when the major studios offload the projects in which they have no faith. Sandwiched between the holidays and the Super Bowl, these four weeks are generally treated like a write-off season, as bad…