Monday, November 26, 2012

Question for the Week of Nov 26-Dec 2: Random Re-casting

What's the best random reinterpretation of a movie I've ever seen or heard of?
A while back, I was talking to a coworker, Josh, and the movie Commando came up. We both shared how much we liked it, and how good the old Schwarzenneger films were. Suddenly, the conversation turned to Commando's villain, Bennett. He was played by Vernon Wells, an Australian actor who also appeared in Weird Science and Mad Max 2. That's Vernon on set with Arnie.

He was an over-the-top villain, but Commando was a very OTT movie. How OTT? Arnie kills someone by hurling the blade of a circular saw at their head.

Bennett has a real problem with Arnold Schwarzenegger's role, John Matrix. From the very beginning of the film, Bennett is executing John's former Delta Force team, one by one. Then Bennett kidnaps John's daughter to force the hero into assassinating someone.

I know the movie pretty well, and I think it's a very solid, if crazy, action film. The chases and fights tend to be fun, and the characters are vivid. Commando certainly is wildly entertaining. And it has Bill Dukes!

But my coworker blew my socks off with a simple but great idea that I'd never thought of: Josh always watches the movie and pretends that Bennett is actually being played by Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen. That's Freddie there on the left.

Pure genius. I was laughing so hard, I thought I might have to leave the room. It's such a delicious idea - Freddie running around as this pumped-up psychopath, tormenting Arnie with guns, knives, and harsh language. In fact, it fits in perfectly with Bennett's outfit - a chain-mail vest over a black sleeveless t-shirt and leather pants!

Especially since Mr. Mercury died so tragically, it makes me all the happier for this film. I'd rather think of an alternate universe where Freddie never got sick and died, and instead pursued a side-career in acting. If I get the chance (and the know-how), I'll see if I can set a video of Commando clips to either (a) "Don't Stop Me Now" or (b) "Bohemian Rhapsody." It'll be so good.

Wanna know the worst part? I mentioned this to my brother, and it turns out he already had the same damn idea and he never told me! I've been deprived of years of good hilarity...

Sometime this month, I'm going to watch Commando all the way through. The whole time, I'll be imagining that the actor portraying Bennett is, in fact, Freddie Mercury. And it will be great.

I'm gonna make a supersonic man out of you, John!


  1. I'm sorry I didn't mention thinking that Mercury played Bennett earlier--although you might have noticed me humming "Princes of the Universe" every time Bennett came on screen. My two favorite things about Commando are the fact that Bennett wears chain mail on a tropical island--I guess he'd argue that it's slimming and surprisingly breathable--and that Bennett's badass bonafides are mainly established by his terrorizing a 11 or 12-year-old Alyssa Milano. Because that'll really convince people that a guy's ready to take on Ahnold in a knife fight.

    1. Yeah, well, it's the fact that he looks like he has a little gut under the chainmail that always made *me* laugh. And it is kind of odd that the movie didn't make more of an effort to establish Bennett's deadliness - smack talking everyone only goes so far...

  2. My favorite (random) story about Commando:

    Back in the late 1980s/early 1990s, when we watched an edited version of Commando on TV, instead of bleeping out certain questionable words, they would replace them with whole lines of dialogue that were used elsewhere in the movie. Surely you must remember when Bennett says "I'm not going to shoot you between the eyes, John. I'm going to shoot you between the balls!" Except in this version it was "I'm not going to shoot you between the eyes, John. I'M GONNA KILL YOU!" The great thing about the "I'M GONNA KILL YOU!" is that it's a clip of Bennett's dialogue extracted from elsewhere in the movie -- within a minute or two of this line, actually. Never mind the fact that it makes his taunt ridiculous. (Because shooting him between the eyes and killing him are the exact same thing.)

    Anyway, my friends and I still quote this altered dialogue to each other. It still makes us laugh.

    1. That's a great story! I have my own experiences with bad dubbing, and that one is new to me - I've never seen a movie try to recycle lines, much less do it like that...

      You may see something similar, I guess, in a post I'm considering now: my experience seeing Glen Garry Glen Ross on Bravo after they stopped being a pay-channel. It was, as the French might say, terrible. The actual cast didn't record tv-safe dialogue, so Bravo had some guy dub Jack Lemon's voice, and he sounded like Sylvester the cat...


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