The Wednesday Pop Culture Rant enjoyed the popcorn entertainment afforded by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. We demand a streaming service that is nothing but Baby Groot dancing to 80s music.

What we did not enjoy was the trailer for the latest installment of the Transformers franchise. Oh Mark Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci. We can only assume the producers fill a storage facility full of cash, a la Breaking Bad, and dare you not to sign on for the next explosianalia1. At least The Rant didn’t experience a Megan Fox sighting, an actor that always reminds us of the Dorothy Parker2 quip upon seeing Katherine Hepburn for the first time, “she ran the full gamut of emotions, from A to B.” We think a Transformer comes closer to passing the Turing Test than Megan.

Guardians¬†amused us by letting Kurt Russell do his thing. Although the flashback scene with a young, CGI, Kurt took us a little too far into the uncanny valley. Russell remains grossly underrated in The Rant’s estimation. The man nailed Wyatt Earp and Snake Plissken for the love of cinema. He survived being a child star for Disney (The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit, among many moments of sadness), and a guest-gig on Gilligan’s Island as Jungle Boy (forgot that one didn’t you?), and Goldie Hawn. The Dude abides.

What makes Russell so compelling is the ability to perform at a high level while also projecting an aura of truly enjoying what he does. Not in a self-conscious, smarmy, Adam Sandler way that begs for validation, but in a manner that delights in the process itself, a manner that does not demand your acknowledgement but humbly invites you in to share the experience.

This quality doesn’t equate to greatness, and many great actors don’t have the quality. Olivier leaves you brushing frost from your shoulders even as you admire the talent. Javier Bardem just scares the bejeezus out of you even when he’s playing comedy. Amy Adams projects a constant state of the utmost concentration.

Actors like Russell always remain my favorites. Cary Grant, Simon Pegg, Helen Mirren, Madeline Kahn; they all have a vibe of enjoyment simmering under any role they play. Jack Black can get there (High Fidelity) but too often he’s all party and no craft.

Russell just consistently combines skill with an awareness he’s got a mighty fine thing going on. Long may you reign, Snake. We’ll tell ’em you’re comin’ and always be your Huckleberry.

  1. The Rant has just trademarked that term to describe 98% of all summer movies now made, so back off Reddit
  2. Parker would reduce any and all internet trolls to tears with little to no effort. She would also own the internet, requiring you to pay the Parker Tax to watch kitten videos and any other content she deemed nonsense

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