Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Hey Look, It's Todd Solondz

Todd Solondz is primarily known as the writer-director of feel-good romps involving racism, homophobia and child molestation. But he's also got a couple of acting gigs on his resume! They're mostly in his own early work, but there are two movies of some renown that he has cameos in. In 1997 he was the "Man on Bus" in the above scene from James L. Brooks' classic As Good as It Gets - you figure this was after he'd directed Welcome to the Dollhouse, which was a huge art-house success, and this was moments before he dropped the megaton Happiness on the world. So he was a somebody. And I think Helen Hunt plays this moment hysterically well - Todd is set up as the weirdo, since visually... he was a weirdo. But she never acknowledges him and she's the one who invades his space, pressing further and further in as she waves goodbye to her son. That last little finger poke, where she's basically poking Todd in the ear, really makes it. I know there are people who groan about her Oscar win but I think she's fabulous in this movie. 

Todd's other acting cameo was ten years earlier in Jonathan Demme's Married to the Mob (proving that Solondz even chose his cameos wisely) -- he plays "The Zany Reporter" who gets off a question about prison food to Dean Stockwell's murderous mafioso (this is towards the end after he's been captured and put on trial for killing Michelle Pfeiffer's horn-dogging hubby played by Alec Baldwin). In case you can't make him out in that gif (he's over Matt Modine's shoulder) here's an exact look at Todd, looking totally zany:

So that's fun! In related news Welcome to the Dollhouse has finally been released on blu-ray, everybody! (Thanks to Brad for the heads-up.) Be forewarned that it's a bare-bones package, though - the disc only has the film's trailer on it. Well that and the film, and the film is plenty. Doesn't it seem absolutely perverse that there's only one film of Todd's that's gotten the Criterion treatment though? His 2010 film Life During Wartime specifically, which is an admitted masterpiece, but how do you not put Happiness on blu-ray? HOW???

1 comment:

mrripley said...

Hunt was a deserving winner but my hearts with HBC but as a UK person I only knew her from Twister so her performance felt like a breath of fresh air and she sells every relationship,mother/son,mother/daughter,best friend and to a lesser extent love interest.