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Jerry O'connell (#110 of 3)

Review: American Hero at Second Stage

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Review: <em>American Hero</em> at Second Stage
Review: <em>American Hero</em> at Second Stage

There’s a specific sort of aspirational quality to works with the word “American” in their title, a desire to say something that, whether critical or complimentary, may somehow seem emblematic. Now at Second Stage’s McGinn/Cazale Theatre with direction by Leigh Silverman, Bess Wohl’s American Hero is no exception. And while it does succeed in making that big statement about The Way We Live Now, namely that we’re overworked, underpaid, and dehumanized by corporate overlords, it feels a bit expected, more of a foregone conclusion than a hypothesis under consideration.

Without that ambiguity, the show ends up tasting slightly bland, which may perhaps seem inevitable for a play about sandwich makers (or, stubbornly, “sandwich artists”) toiling in a mall’s toasted sub franchise. True to form, they’re each neat archetypes of 21st-century minimum-wage workers. Diminutive Sheri (Erin Wilhelmi) is only 18, but constantly frazzled, as though perpetually on the brink of total physical collapse. Jamie (Ari Graynor), meanwhile, has the “fuck it all” carelessness and lax sexuality of a rock star, but the résumé of a mediocre hairdresser. Ted (Jerry O’Connell), a divorced father and former Bank of America employee, is the walking, talking version of the nauseatingly perky, can-do signs that adorn the shop (“Life is like a sandwich—the more you add to it, the better it becomes.”—Unknown).

15 Famous Movie Fat Kids

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15 Famous Movie Fat Kids
15 Famous Movie Fat Kids

Matthew Lillard joins the ever-growing line of actors-turned-directors this weekend with Fat Kid Rules the World, an adaptation of KL Going’s young adult novel about a suicidal, 296-pound teen who finds salvation in rock music. Rising star Jacob Wysocki plays the beefy protagonist, bringing to life the kind of character who’s notoriously, historically sidelined. Cinema wasn’t always keen on putting plus-size players in front of the camera, but as the medium evolved, so did the exposure, and overweight characters, however often ridiculed, became the kind of scene-stealers viewers grow to love. It’s an archetype particularly common in kids movies, where the themes are as light-hearted as the bullies are nasty. See which cake-loving whippersnappers we corralled for this list, a celebration of the filmic fat kid.

Summer of ‘86: Stand By Me, Take Two

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Summer of ‘86: <em>Stand By Me</em>, Take Two
Summer of ‘86: <em>Stand By Me</em>, Take Two

During the summer of 1986, my friends and I all thought Stand By Me was the greatest movie ever made, and we were sure it had been made for us, because though the characters in the film were a year or two older than we were, and though the story was set during our parents’ teenage years, we could all see ourselves in one of the four main characters. No film had ever seemed more real to me, more true, more beautiful. I was ten years old.

I know I saw Stand By Me in the theater, but I don’t remember with whom. Probably a couple of friends and at least one of our parents, because it was rated R and we were years away from being able to go to R movies on our own. How did we ever convince a parent to take us to a movie in which kids swear, smoke, and talk about sex? I have no recollection, but I expect it had something to do with the music.

The summer of ’86 for me was the summer of Stand By Me’s songs. Before seeing the movie, I scrounged up some money, or wore my parents down with whining, and got the soundtrack on LP. I remember my father’s delight with the album. He took a big cardboard box of 45 rpm records out of the closet and showed me the original singles of some of the songs on the album, singles he had bought at a record store when he was the age of Gordie and Chris and Teddy and Vern. I think I wanted the soundtrack because I had seen the music video on MTV, and I had certainly seen the trailer, which was ubiquitous on every channel. The title song was inescapable that summer, and though the brief scene with Corey Feldman and Jerry O’Connell lipsynching “Lollipop” is not in the trailer, I’m sure it was used in promotional materials. That song and Buddy Holly’s “Everyday,” also used prominently in the film, were two my father was especially nostalgic for.