The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items could vary, as could the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday, and we are here to have some fun.
ITEM NUMBER ONE — Look at everything happening here
It brings me great pleasure to inform you all that there is a new Guy Ritchie movie on the way titled Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre. It brings me so much pleasure for a few reasons, which I will show you now in bullet point form:
- It is titled Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre, which translates literally from French into “ruse of war,” but which generally refers to all forms of trickery and subterfuge
- It stars Jason Statham as an assassin named Orson Fortune
- Wait until you see the poster for this thing
But first, the trailer:
Plenty going on here, all of it mostly ridiculous. Guy Ritchie appears to be doing some of the self-parody thing he did with The Gentlemen, which is fine. Jason Statham appears to be doing some of the self-parody thing he did in Spy, which is excellent because he rules so hard in that movie. And Hugh Grant appears to be playing a well-dressed billionaire arms dealer who is obsessed with an American actor played by Josh Hartnett, which is, I mean, just a lot of fun to type out. Good for them. And I’m still not entirely over the name “Orson Fortune.” I feel like Guy Ritchie started with that and built the film out from there. I respect it.
But more importantly, the poster. Look at this poster. Look at all of it, as a whole and as individual parts. It’s… it’s kind of perfect.
I was already borderline obsessed with this sucker and teetering toward writing 1000 words about it, if only because Hugh Grant looks like he’s still playing his villainous character from Paddington 2 (I don’t know why I acted like I don’t know the character’s name; it’s Phoenix Buchanan, I didn’t even have to look it up), but then I received this email from a reader named Justin and it tipped me right over the edge:
I’ve looked at it about 5 times and laughed at something new each time. It’s like a vision board of a teenage boy: private jet, Ford Mustang, guns, mountains, velvet smoking jackets. Is Hugh Grant cosplaying his version of Bond? Janet Snakehole is in this film? Josh Hartnett looks just as surprised as I am that Guy Ritchie is obsessed with him now. If they haven’t resurrected Boy Sweat Dave, what is the Ritchie Extended Cinematic Universe even doing?
True, all of it, especially the thing about Aubrey Plaza kind of playing her mysterious/fancy alter-ego from Parks and Recreation, Janet Snakehole. I imagine she’s holding a long cigarette holder in one or both of the hands we can’t see. Some other notes:
- God bless Cary Elwes for pulling off the “jacket draped over the shoulders with the arms inside and not through the armholes even a little” look, a look most often seen on wealthy elderly women and mafia bosses from the 1920s
- If you showed me nothing else from this movie — no trailer, no Cary Elwes jacket-draping, no “Jason Statham is playing a hitman named Orson Fortune” — other than Hugh Grant dressed like that and making that face, I would still go see this movie on opening weekend
- More movie posters should feature Jason Statham towering over all the other characters and action like some sort of bald and vengeful deity, and yes, this applies to Oscar-type movies, too, like, for example, Licorice Pizza
It’s lovely in almost every way. I only have two small complaints. The first is that it would all be a lot funnier if it weren’t already a little tongue-in-cheek. I’m happy we get to see Comedy Statham again and Lord in Heaven knows I love a self-aware smarmy Hugh Grant, but I don’t think I can describe to you how happy I would be today if this had been played dead serious, like a “Kelsey Grammer in Money Plane” or a “John Travolta in Speed Kills” situation. I might have just exploded like a can of soda in a campfire. Hot sugary syrup everywhere. Big gooey mess.
My second complaint is less with the poster or movie and more just a general issue I have with Hollywood that this whole thing has brought to the forefront once again: LET JASON STATHAM PLAY A PADDINGTON VILLAIN.
LOOK AT HIM
HE’D BE SO GOOD
HE AND PADDINGTON COULD DO MARTIAL ARTS
GIVE IT TO ME
ITEM NUMBER TWO — I must have it at once
If you were to walk up to me on the street tomorrow and say something like, “Hey Brian, what are your two favorite things?” there’s a pretty good chance — unless I’m hungry, in which case my answers will be “pizza” and “a second pizza” — that I will say, “Basketball and star-studded prestige television series about notable real-world events.” This is an exaggeration, sure, but barely, as anyone who has ever heard me go on and on and on about the Philadelphia 76ers and the O.J. Simpson season of American Crime Story can attest. Which is why it brings me such great pleasure to share with you this trailer for Winning Time, the new upcoming HBO series about the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers.
Variety has some basic information but please meet me after this blockquote to discuss further.
The show, now titled “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,” will debut in March 2022 with ten episodes on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max. It chronicles the professional and personal lives of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers, one of sports’ most revered and dominant dynasties.
In the first trailer, team owner Jerry Buss (John C. Reilly) says, “There are two things in this world that make me believe in God: sex and basketball.” It then delves into Buss building the Lakers into a major force in the NBA, beginning with the signing of Earvin “Magic” Johnson (Quincy Isaiah).
So, three notes here, all equally important:
- The thing at the beginning about how the show is “now titled” Winning Time is because both the era and the book the show is based on we’re called “Showtime,” but HBO had to change it because that is literally the name of one of their biggest premium cable competitors, which is a little hilarious
- This is the show that drove a wedge through the McKay-Ferrell friendship/partnership, allegedly due to McKay replacing him in the cast with John C. Reilly
- That line that Variety quotes from the trailer is important because 1) it is straight-up the first line of the trailer, 2) you just look at John C. Reilly as Jerry Buss, and 3) immediately after saying it he looks right smack into the camera and addresses the audience
This is my favorite show now. It’s settled. I need it as soon as possible, preferably months before the premiere in March, possibly as soon as two months ago so I could have seen it all already. It looks like the most For You, Brian show ever made, even before it got to the thing in the trailer where Adrien Brody pops up as Lakers coach Pat Riley looking like this…
… and before the thing where one of the handful of promotional photos HBO released for the show was their version of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the set of Airplane!
Give it to me. Give me every bit of it at once. And then make a big expensive prestige series about Allen Iverson. For me. I need this. I deserve this. I’ve been so good.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Retta, please come roast my apartment
Home Design shows have never appealed to me. I’m very happy for people who like them and I wish everyone involved nothing but peace and happiness in the lives they have chosen to live, but no, not for me. Pass. It would take a lot for me to move off of this stance. I don’t know exactly what it would entail, though. Maybe something really wild, like, oh, I don’t know… comedian and Parks and Recreation star Retta going around the country roasting the ugliest homes in America. Something like th-…
Containing a press release for a show titled The Ugliest House in America?
Well well well…
Hosted by Retta, a home design enthusiast, as well as a comedian and actress known for her roles in Parks and Recreation and Good Girls, the new series will feature tours of 12 properties that were nominated by homeowners who believe their design-challenged home is one of the worst in the country. During the series, Retta will share her hilarious reviews of each unsightly home and comment on failed flips, gaudy designs and heinous hodge-podge horrors. Based on its ugly appearance, poor functionality and surprising design choices, one house will be deemed the “ugliest house in America” by HGTV and the network will award its homeowners a showstopping $150,000 renovation completed by Alison Victoria , one of its top stars.
“I am certain these were 12 of the ugliest houses in America. Trust. I had to walk through them all,” said Retta. “There were so many stunningly bad design choices. Why would someone WANT an oversized statue of Poseidon in their driveway? I don’t know, but God bless. I was just happy and, to be honest, relieved to help one family get the home of their dreams.”
Retta will kick-off her cross-country tour in the Midwest with stops at three homes where she will gleefully react to houses boasting a range of bad design, from wall-to-wall pink shag carpeting, mirrored walls and ceilings to over-the-top ocean themes featuring fish statues, room-sized murals and wall-mounted stuffed marlins. Throughout the series, Retta will see the best of the worst in every region of the U.S. In the end, the home deemed “the ugliest” will be transformed from a beast into a beauty.
I usually do not post press releases in large, unaltered blocks like this, but… yes. Yes, this will do. I don’t know if I’ll watch every episode of this show, but I’ll definitely check out one or two and see where it goes from there. That’s a big commitment from me. Especially with this whole Lakers show planning to commandeer 50-60 percent of my total brain capacity in the near future.
Good for Retta.
Good for me.
Good for us.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Your periodic reminder to always watch television with the captions on
A lot went down in the most recent episode of Succession, which is as to be expected considering the season three finale is this coming Sunday. Chess pieces needed to be moved. At least one character needed to be left in peril. Peril can mean multiple things in situations like this, ranging anywhere from, to choosing two examples completely at random, cliffhangers about main characters drowning to potential company-altering sexting fiascos. Again, just random examples there. Not sure what made me think of them. Could have been anything.
Anyway, this isn’t about that. This is about the screencap up there and the subtitle on the screen. I paused when I saw it, right in the middle of an important scene, just to stare in awe at the brilliance on display. They did not have to be that specific. They could have just gone with “[crickets chirping]” or even, like, nothing. But they did this. It’s beautiful.
I started watching everything with subtitles turned on a few years ago, mostly because I make lots of screencaps for work and fun, but I will never go back now. It’s too much fun. It’s even better with places like HBO that take pride in doing them well, which, between this example and these from the also very good show The Flight Attendant…
… they very much do.
Try it if you haven’t. Put the subtitles on. The only times I’ve found it doesn’t work is for live broadcasts that run behind as the captions try to catch up and stand-up comedy specials where the caption might beat the delivery and step on the joke. Otherwise, a delight.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — The Stallone hat/boat kerfuffle is incredibly funny to me
Okay, stay with me. What we have here is some profoundly stupid but also deeply funny. I love things like that. I’ll try to explain it in a way that does it justice.
Earlier this week, Sylvester Stallone posted that image on Instagram along with a caption that now reads…
Heading into the Storm….As IN THUNDERSTORM!!! We are in a jet for god sake flying through the rain!
That wasn’t what it originally read, though. Originally, it just read “heading into the storm,” which is notable because:
- “Into the Storm” is a kind of catchphrase for the Far-Right Qanon believers
- The hat he has on has a big giant Q on it
And so, as will happen in these situations, people went nuts. Tweets, blogs, tweets about blogs, blogs about tweets, the whole deal. Just a heap of angry madness all over the internet. With me so far? Great. Moving on…
A day or two later, Stallone, who had presumably become aware of the chaos his post caused, logged back into Instagram and posted this…
… with this caption:
For those incredibly inquisitive individuals , let me state unequivocally that the Q on this hat stands for QUANTUM OF SOLACE , the name of the boat I was on, NOT anything else , ok? Relax…. So folks,The moral of the story is…Enjoy your lives and let other people enjoy theirs … So Keep Punching !
Here’s what I love about this story: There are exactly two possibilities as to what happened and they’re both hilarious. Either:
- He’s telling the truth and his innocent post about boating in bad weather caused a full-day of political bomb-throwing among the sickest and most internet-poisoned people alive
- He’s lying and the best story he could come up with to cover it up was “uhhhhh… it was the name of a boat?”
Either way, delightful. A great news story. And it gets even better because it allows me to post some classic early-2010s Stallone tweets. I love doing that. They’re so perfect. Like these two about the haters…
The difference between cockroaches and HATERS? The Roaches are survivors and have prettier legs. You have one life nobody should wreak it..
— Sylvester Stallone (@TheSlyStallone) October 14, 2010
Did you ever wonder how haters must FEEL? I mean if they hate you for no reason they must really hate being trapped in their sad souls 4ever
— Sylvester Stallone (@TheSlyStallone) October 14, 2010
… and this one that is actually about politics…
Lobbist are nothing but bribing Machines! If you took a bribe, jail time, but THEY do it and get elected! It is a CRIME, folks, A CRIME.
— Sylvester Stallone (@TheSlyStallone) November 2, 2010
… and this one that is both objectively true and maybe my favorite thing anyone has tweeted ever.
HELL is tweeting into a an a abysmal black hole ….
— Sylvester Stallone (@TheSlyStallone) September 10, 2010
What a wonderful week. Again, for me. I assume it was less fun for Sylvester Stallone, between the bad weather and the yelling.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at firstname.lastname@example.org (put “RUNDOWN” in the subject line). I am the first writer to ever answer reader mail in a column. Do not look up this last part.
As we’re getting into the holiday season, I wanted to make sure you were aware that you’re part of an all-time great Christmas movie, as your house is on Santa’s list in the animated intro of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. You can clearly see Grubb right after Griswold as Santa checks the list. Fortunately he had already visited you before going through the ringer that is visiting the Griswolds.
I am pleased to report I am aware of this, and have been for a long time, mostly because my last name is not super common and it’s always kind of weird to catch it out in the wild. Here, see for yourselves…
… or just look at the screencap Joe helpfully attached.
There it is. My name. It’s almost as weird as the thing where there’s another dude named Brian Grubb who is a famous wakeskater and X-Games athlete. Do I find it deeply funny that the two most famous Brian Grubbs alive right now are 1) a decorated extreme sports pioneer and 2) some blogger in a wheelchair? Buddy, I really do. It’s like the athletic ability between us got distributed wrong, where he got 180 percent and I got 20. I should call the manager.
While I’m on the subject… this happened again this year. I was watching Mare of Easttown, a show set about an hour from my house (Go Birds), and I saw Kate Winslet say this…
Full-on DiCaprio pointing meme situation. I got excited. I called my dad. You don’t get these moments a lot when you have a name that isn’t, like, Smith or Jones. There’s no reason to try to act cool about it. Freak out a little, I say.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
A refrigerated truck filled with $20,000 worth of freshly made gnocchi was stolen from outside an Australian restaurant Sunday night.
IT’S A GNOCCHI HEIST
AN AUSTRALIAN GNOCCHI HEIST
And we’ll get into all of this, probably, if I can focus on anything other than the phrase “Australian Gnocchi Heist” and the general concept of $20,000 worth of gnocchi. I… I kind of just want to see it? Like, how much gnocchi is $20,000 worth of gnocchi? It must be so much. I’m fascinated by this.
The carb-craving crook fled in the Toyota truck as a delivery driver was carrying box loads of pasta into the Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers restaurant in Brisbane at about midnight.
But I need you to see these quotes from the owner of the gnocchi place. I love this guy so much. Look at this.
“It’s a shame for the gnocchi. I really feel sorry for the poor gnocchi. I know that sounds ridiculous but a lot of work went into making it,” one of the restaurant’s owners, Ben Cleary-Corradini, said.
“I hope the truck is returned but for God’s sake I pray they treat the gnocchi with care,” Cleary-Corradini said.
Here’s the thing: I am, as readers of this column know, generally very much on the side of silly heists. I adore them. I was so happy back when I was typing AUSTRALIAN GNOCCHI HEIST a few paragraphs ago. But now… now that I read those quotes… now that I see how seriously Mr. Cleary-Corradini takes his pasta…
Guys. We have got to get this guy his freaking gnocchi back. This is a full-on John Wick situation. I’m barely joking. We must recover this gnocchi.