What the Hell Happened to Chevy Chase?

Chevy Chase 2013

In the late seventies and early eighties, Chevy Chase was the height of cool.  He was the original break-out star of Saturday Night Live which was the hip show to watch and not an institution like it is today.  When he went into movies, Chase was hailed as the next Cary Grant.  But despite appearing in a few durable comedies, Chase has failed to live up to the promise he showed early in his career.  These days, he is known for his tirades more than his comedy.

What the hell happened?

Chase got his start as a writer.  He was part of a comedy ensemble called, Channel One and wrote for the Smothers Brothers TV show in the early 70s. In 1973, he became a cast member on The National Lampoon Radio Hour which also featured John Belushi, Gilda Radner and Bill Murray.  Chase also worked with Belushi in the Off Broadway revue, Lemmings, which was a send-up of musical counter-culture.

In 1974, Chase appeared in the sketch comedy film, The Groove TubeThe Groove Tube was written and directed by Ken Shapiro who was co-founder of Channel One.

The Groove Tube was made on a meager $200,000 budget which made it highly profitable.

chase - snl

Chase was discovered by Lorne Michaels one day while standing in line to see Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Chase was cutting up.  Michaels took notice and ended up hiring Chase as a writer – not a performer – for his new show, Saturday Night.

Chase convinced Michaels to allow him to appear on the show.  He did the opening segment in which he would take a prat fall before announcing “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night”.

Chase was also the first host of Weekend Update, a role which allowed him to say his name on television every week.  Chase started the segment by saying, “I’m Chevy Chase and you’re not.”  It became a popular catch phrase while subtly pointing out that Chase was probably cooler than you.

chase - weekend update

The original cast of Saturday Night Live included comedy legends like Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner.  But Chase quickly ascended as the break-out star.  Many in the cast (especially Belushi who was not used to being upstaged) resented Chase’s sudden stardom.  It didn’t help that Chase was a coked-up jerk with a gigantic ego.  He was known for being a “put-down artist”, ordering everyone around  and bragging about his rising fame.

“He likes to focus attention on himself,” said Dan Aykroyd, one of the few SNL cast members who remained friends with Chase over the years.

It was a friendship that was able to survive all the focus on him that first year as a huge star.  I’m pretty easy to get along with.  I’m from Canada.  We know how to bend backwards and forwards towards Americans.

In 1975, Chase was so popular that there was talk of renaming Saturday Night Live the Chevy Chase ShowNew York magazine ran a cover story hailing Chase as “the funniest man in America”.  And an NBC exec referred to him as “the first real potential successor to Johnny Carson.”  There were rumors Chase would guest host for Carson on the Tonight Show.

Chase dismissed talk of taking over the Tonight Show saying “I’d never be tied down for five years interviewing TV personalities.”  Ironic considering Chase would eventually host a late night talk show of his own.  Carson responded to Chase’s claims by saying he “couldn’t ad-lib a fart after a baked-bean dinner.”

chase - snl 2

Chase’s contract as a writer for SNL was only for one year.  After the first season, Chase decided not to return to Saturday Night Live.  He fired his manager, Bernie Brillstein, who also represented Lorne Michaels and signed with the powerful William Morris agency.  Michaels, who had been close with Chase, felt betrayed by the way Chase left the show without notice.

These days, Chase claims that he left Saturday Night Live for love.  He was dating model Jacqueline Carlin at the time.  According to Chase, she demanded that he move out to Hollywood if he wanted to continue seeing her.  But staff writer Tom Davis claims that at the time, Chase told him he was leaving the show for “money – lots of money”.

Chase moved out west and immediately married Carlin.  The couple divorced after 17 turbulent months.  Carlin filed for divorce citing threats of violence.  Meanwhile, Chase was appearing in his own prime time specials on NBC.

During Saturday Night Live’s second season, Chase returned as a host.  When he did, he insisted on taking the Weekend Update segment back from Jane Curtin who had been hosting the bit since he left the show.  Chase claimed this upset Curtin, but she insisted that “Chevy was expecting a reaction he wasn’t getting from me.”

Chase’s return did get a reaction from Bill Murray who had replaced Chase on the cast in the show’s second season.  Belushi, served as an instigator telling Murray that Chase was looking to get his old job back.  Murray confronted Chase and a fight ensued moments before the show was about to start.  Laraine Newman recalled:

“I don’t know if Chevy provoked it or not,” says cast member Laraine Newman. “But it culminated with Billy saying to Chevy, ‘Why don’t you fuck your wife once in a while? She needs it.’ And I don’t even remember who threw the first punch, Billy or Chevy. But it was ugly.”

chase - animal house

National Lampoon’s Animal House was originally written with the cast of Saturday Night Live in mind.  The role of “Otter” (which was played by Tim Matheson) was written for Chase.  However, director John Landis wasn’t interested in making Animal House a Saturday Night Live movie.  So when he met with Chase about the role, he subtly tried to dissuade him from taking the part.

Landis told Chase that one of the benefits of Animal House was that it was an ensemble, so Chase wouldn’t have to carry the weight of the film’s success on his own.  He was counting on Chase’s ego to prevent him from signing on to an ensemble cast.  And sure enough, Chase bowed out for a starring role in another 1978 comedy.

Next: Foul Play and Caddyshack

Posted on April 16, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 114 Comments.

  1. After literally months of anticipation, all I can say is WOW and THANK YOU! This was really well done Lebeau. I’m among the Chevy Chase enduring fan base and will always be grateful for all the laughs over the years. With Chase’s reputation my fear was that you would make him sound like an even bigger jerk. But as always you were both fair to the subject, and entertaining at the same time. He’s always kind of had a reputation for difficulty, hasn’t he? I seem to remember his attempt at being Johnny Carson was pretty much expected to fail. On the other hand, my memory was faulty because I thought Funny Farm was a much bigger hit than it actually was, box office. He did have quite a few decent comedies he starred in, all of which seem to live on forever in the DVD world, although he doesn’t seem to have any box office future now unless he adapts a little better to the inevitability of aging and maybe stop burning bridges. Then he could get funny old man/Griswold type of roles.

    You do owe it to yourself to see Vegas Vacation! I’ve easily watched it 50 times.

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. The fact that you’re a fan makes it that much better. I half expect Chase to show up in the comments section to tell me off.

      In my youth, I was a die hard fan. I used to run home from school because in the afternoon, a local channel played the Best of Saturday Night Live. All of the original cast members became comic heroes of mine. As the break-out star, Chase stood out. I thought everything he did was funny.

      Later, I started reading about SNL behind-the-scenes history. I was shocked to read about the Chase/Murray fight. I started to realize that Chase wasn’t always a great guy to hang out with. But I didn’t care. I still thought he was funny.

      That changed with The Chevy Chase Show. I remember tuning in expecting to be entertained. I was excited for it. I could not believe my eyes when Chase lamely chatted up Goldie Hawn and demanded that his studio audience got up and danced. What a train wreck! I tuned in for weeks hoping it would get better. But it so did not! Instead, Chase stopped trying. If anything, it got worse towards the end.

      Still, I hoped for a comeback. Then I remember reading an article about what a jerk Chase was and how many in Hollywood were actively rooting against him. He was a childhood hero. I was still rooting for him. And I was glad to see him get another shot at TV. I watched him on Chuck. I checked out Community, but couldn’t really get into it.

      I will be interested to see what the future holds for Chase. Presumably, he will be in the next Vacation movie. But I don’t expect his part will be large. After that, I would wager he’ll go back to TV guest spots and movie cameos.

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      • Breaking News: Chevy Chase is still a d**k:
        http://www.datalounge.com/cgi-bin/iowa/ajax.html?t=11462113#page:showThread,11462113

        By all accounts Chevy Chase is a major ass, however I never understood why Harmon had him on the show at all. His character is pretty one dimensional and Chevy was under utilized. Chevy can be really funny despite making a string of shi**y films, but he wasn’t given anything funny to do on Community. I also don’t understand why he’s stuck it out this long if he hates the role. Jeff Winger is based on the kind of character Chevy used to play and that’s all he’s good at playing. Making him the grumpy old man of the group is just casting Chevy as himself. And no one likes Chevy so why bother.

        by: Anonymous reply 19 04/01/2012 @ 08:58AM

        The ultimate irony about Chevy Chase and his irrelevance is that commercial several months ago where a couple tell all their friends about going on vacation and meeting Chevy Chase and then go on and on about something totally unrelated to him.

        The joke is supposed to be that they met Chase but are all excited about the credit card (or whatever product it is) they used.

        But I always thought it perfect, because who would give a sh** about meeting some has-been blowhard privileged cunt like him.

        by: Anonymous reply 20 04/01/2012 @ 09:05AM

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    • The decline of Chevy Chase’s film career is probably the most obvious of anybody who has been profiled in the “What the Hell Happened to…” series thus far. When you act like an a-hole/female dog towards your associates for most of your career, it’s ultimately going to come back and haunt you when you’re career starts to tail off. It’s just like why hardly anybody wants to put Val Kilmer, Mike Myers, or Debra Winger in headlining roles in mainstream movies anymore.

      He’s Not Chevy, He’s an A**hole: A History of Chevy Chase’s Horrific Behavior:
      http://gawker.com/5899097/

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      • He’s not Chevy, he’s an a**hole: a history of Chevy Chase’s horrific behavior:
        http://www.datalounge.com/cgi-bin/iowa/ajax.html?t=11475001#page:showThread,11475001

        Didn’t Chase write an autobiography about 10 or 15 years ago acknowledging that he was a prick during and immediately after his time at SNL? The reasons he gave were drug abuse, which he claimed to have given up and growing up with a cold, remote and abusive father (can’t remember if it was emotional only or if he was physically abused, too.) He also went on to say he’d gone to therapy and had gotten all better…

        by: Anonymous reply 9 04/05/2012 @ 04:51PM

        Chevy Chase is his generation’s Milton Berle. They were both men who had a surprisingly long comedy career considering nobody could stand either one of them.

        by: Anonymous reply 17 04/05/2012 @ 06:18PM

        I don’t understand why the early cast and crew of SNL was flabbergasted that Chase left the show. From the first airing he was being hailed as a “young Johnny Carson.” The only reason for this was because he resembled Johnny Carson in his youth. You have to admit, he was the most attractive male cast member and had screen charisma. So when he was offered large amounts of money to do other things, of course he was going to take the money and run. If any of the other cast or writers had been offered anything similar, they would have done the same thing. So I don’t consider that to be a**holish behavior. He didn’t go looking for all those contracts and all that money — they came to him.

        Over the years he’s exhibited bad behavior just about everywhere. I agree with the poster who said that there have been stories of Chase’s bad behavior for 40 years. If you hire him, you don’t get to complain about him. Nobody is deaf, dumb and blind when it comes to Chevy Chase. You know what you’re going to get when you sign him up. Why anyone signs him up s a mystery. There doesn’t seem to be a huge audience demanding Chevy Chase in their TV shows.

        The “roasts” are just a bunch of Comedy Central losers who write insults for a living and sporadically work on these shows which don’t have a large viewership. Chase’s roast was no more or less awful than anyone else’s.

        Let me just put in a good word here for Dan Aykroyd. He’s a genuinely nice guy who did a solid for an in-law of mine, out of the blue, when he had absolutely no reason to do it except that he’s a nice guy. Yay, Dan. Boo, Chevy.

        by: Anonymous reply 41 08/22/2013 @ 12:40PM

        He pissed everyone off during his brief guest stint at The Sally Field Programme a few years back.

        They were testing waters to maybe have him recur here and there. By day 3, both Rachel Griffiths and Calista were enraged. They ended up filming all his stuff (for two episodes) that week and got him the hell out of there.

        He’s the dictionary definition of entitled a**hole.

        by: Anonymous reply 42 08/22/2013 @ 01:04PM

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  2. Maybe your best yet, Lebeau!
    I have to admit that I loved Benji when I was a kid.
    Considering that I got my driver’s licensce in 1986 it might not come as a surprise that I saw quite a lot of Chase’s movies on the big screen. But I don’t ever remember being a big fan. Some movies just happen to you. One specific friend actually dragged me to Fletch Lives, European Vacation and Spies Like Us now that I think of it. Maybe he was the fan. I have to cop to the others.
    I’m surprised there was no mention of his dust-up with Stephen Bochco on Politically Incorrect.

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    • Thanks. Chase gave me lots of material to work with.

      Benji was my first live-action movie. Bambi was my first movie. I cried at both. My parents seemed to like taking me to movies that made me cry.

      I am actually in the opposite position. I saw just about every one of Chase’s early movies on video. I do remember seeing (and loving) Spies Like Us in the theater. I also went to see Christmas Vacation, Funny Farm and Memoirs of an Invisible Man. That’s how big of a fan I was. I went to see Memoirs of an Invisible Man on opening night. And not because of John Carpenter. I went to see Chevy Chase!

      By the time Cops and Robbersons came along, I was required to watch it for work. No one had to twist my arm. I was a Chevy Chase fan. I liked Jack Palance and Diane Weist. I was happy to watch it. But my happiness ended early. By the time Cops and Robbersons ended, I was mad.

      That was probably the last time I saw a Chevy Chase movie on the big screen. I remember ducking out of the requirement to watch Man of the House.

      When I researched the article, I made a list of Chase’s feuds. The Politically Incorrect incident was on the list, but I ultimately didn’t include it in the article. I wasn’t able to find a clip and I really wanted a clip. Perhaps I’ll go back and add it in later.

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  3. Something else you reminded me of. The original Vacation movie was not really intended as a family flick. At the time, all of us who went to see it, had the expectation of “Animal House” raunchier type of humor, popular among highschoolers and college kids then. To a lesser extent, same thing with “European Vacation.” Evidently what caught the producers/studio/whoever by surprise, was that the series resonated with audiences on a different level entirely, as family comedies. So they toned down the raunch into PG13 material for XMas and Vegas. The first 2 became popular on TV with some judicious editing. I like many of Chase’s movies but I absolutely LOVE the Vacation series. “Vegas” is my favorite of the 4 and I re-watch it often. Opinions differ…. the reviewers certainly disdained it, but for anyone who is a fan of the first 3, this one ties everything together nicely (even with new actors playing the kids) and delivers fresh humor at the same time. What REALLY struck me as funny, after reading your humorous comment about the director who used psychology to get Chase NOT to appear in an ensemble movie, is that “Vegas Vacation” is very much an ensemble production with great supporting players and cameos. LOL! Chevy as the patriarch Clark Griswold is still the anchor, but many funny scenes do not feature Clark, and focus on the other castmembers, which adds to the likeability of the movie overall.
    Oh, and it helps if you like Vegas, too :)

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    • I will have to check it out.

      You are exactly right about the Vacation franchise. It went from a raunchy R to a family-friendly PG for Vegas Vacation. I’ll be interested to see if the new movie goes back to the series’ raunchy roots. I doubt it will.

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  4. The Lost Roles of Chevy Chase:
    http://splitsider.com/2011/09/the-lost-roles-of-chevy-chase/

    Say what you will about the quality of Chevy Chase’s movies, but you have to admit his influence on modern American comedy is vast. As Saturday Night Live’s first breakout star, he was largely responsible for the show becoming a surprise hit, paving the way for every comedic actor and actress that followed in his footsteps by transitioning from castmember to movie star. On SNL, Chevy Chase co-created (with writer Herb Sargent) and hosted the segment Weekend Update, which has gone on to become the longest-running sketch on what has become arguably the most influential comedy show in this country’s history. Although fake TV news had existed prior to this on the BBC’s That Was the Week that Was and Laugh-In’s “News” segment, Weekend Update was the earliest fully-formed incarnation of modern American faux-journalism and it came to shape The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and even The Onion in the decades that followed.

    As a movie star, Chase’s misses outnumbered his hits by a wide margin, but he did manage to star in his fair share of comedy classics, including Fletch, Caddyshack, and National Lampoon’s Vacation (the first one). In Vacation, he played a deadbeat dad to a dysfunctional family during a decade in which cheery, idealistic series like The Cosby Show and Family Ties were the predominant depictions of families in American pop culture. Married with Children and The Simpsons often get credit for turning this on its head and popularizing the dysfunctional family formula, but National Lampoon’s Vacation did it first. Everything that has followed owes a little bit to the movie and Chevy Chase’s bumbling father Clark Griswold.

    While the late 90’s saw Chevy Chase retreating from the spotlight to raise his daughters after a few bombs too many at the box office, he’s had a late period career resurrection recently, courtesy of Dan Harmon. On Harmon’s NBC sitcom Community, Chase plays senile moist-towlette mogul Pierce Hawthorne and is a crucial part of one of the most inventive comedies currently on the air. Community will be back for its third season tonight, and in honor of the show’s return, let’s take a look at the various movie and TV roles Chevy Chase turned down, wanted but didn’t get, and the projects that were called off altogether. Read on to learn how one key decision by Chevy Chase could have prevented Tim Allen’s movie career, the two pivotal roles for Tom Hanks that Chase passed up, and multiple botched attempts to revive the Vacation and Fletch franchises.

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  5. An overview of the career of comic leading man Chevy Chase:
    http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/motion-captured/posts/saturday-night-at-the-movies-he-s-chevy-chase-and-you-re-not

    Yes, I know that headline’s probably been used a thousand times, and I expect that when Chevy Chase finally shuffles off this mortal coil, that headline or some variation on it will be used another thousand times. That line summed up an attitude that personified what made “Saturday Night Live” such an amazing immediate cultural sensation, and it is entirely appropriate that it has followed Chevy Chase as a sort of signature since then.

    Chevy Chase was the first “Saturday Night Live” movie star.

    Even though the entire cast made an impression that first year, “Weekend Update” gave Chase a forum to be showcased as himself, not as a character,and for whatever reason, that translated into an immediate sort of stardom. He left the show after a single season, the first person to defect, and I think that set a reputation of sort in motion, one that Chase may or may not deserve based on who you talk to.

    One director I’m friends with only uses the filthiest words possible when describing Chase and his experience working with him, and he’s only one of many people I’ve spoken with who have relayed truly awful personal and professional stories about the guy. It used to disturb me, because I consider myself an original-generation Chevy Chase fan. I still remember seeing “Foul Play” first-run in the theater and walking away from that film convinced that Chase was the funniest person of all time.

    Keep in mind I was eight when “Foul Play” came out, and I was primed. I already knew Chase from “SNL,” and I knew Goldie Hawn from “The Sugarland Express,” which I’d seen at a drive-in as part of a double-feature with “Duchess And The Dirtwater Fox,” and I was excited to be taken to see what my parents obviously thought of as a “grown-up” comedy. What made Chase different from most of the comics I was familiar with is that he obviously placed just as much emphasis on being cool as he did on being funny, and those two things don’t often work well together. In Chase’s case, though, what made him truly hilarious was the way he tore down his own carefully constructed facade of cool, and in doing so, seemed to be even cooler. It was an impressive juggling act of tone, and right away, I think it’s what made people so crazy about his work.

    And back in those days, he was huge. He was rock star huge. He had three movies out in 1980, and you could argue that he managed to aim for three totally different audiences with the films. “Oh Heavenly Dog” was aimed squarely at kids, at the audience that had been carefully cultivated by the Benji brand. “Caddyshack” was aimed at adolescents of all ages. And “Seems Like Old Times” was a mainstream Neil Simon comedy that reunited him with Goldie Hawn, aimed squarely at the general adult audience. And all three of them worked for those audiences. You don’t see comic leads doing that today, making choices that diverse, one on top of another like that. Today, comic actors tend to aim at a certain audience as much as possible. Working non-stop, though, was dangerous because not every script worked, and it seemed like Chase’s agents were more concerned with exposure than with any sort of quality control.

    1981 saw the release of both “Modern Problems” and “Under The Rainbow,” and they are rancid films. “Modern Problems” reunited Chase with Ken Shapiro, who directed him pre-“Saturday Night Live” in an underground sketch comedy film called “The Groove Tube.” It was a comedy about a air traffic controller who gained psychic powers from a nuclear waste spill while he’s driving. Only later in the film, it seems like he’s possessed. By magic cocaine. Because it is a terrible, terrible movie. I’m not sure if Chase did this film as a favor to Shapiro, or if there was ever a script that made sense, but it’s an incoherent film, and at times, it’s so ugly it’s hard to believe it was intended as a professional release of any sort. Indeed, it was the last thing Shapiro directed, and it was an embarrassing failure that year. And “Under The Rainbow” has a potentially interesting bit of Hollywood lore at its core, but doesn’t work at all. It tells the story of the filming of “The Wizard Of Oz,” and specifically deals with the hotel where the Munchkin cast was put together. The legends about their bad behavior are amazing, and there is probably a way to make a great raunchy comedy out of those stories. “Under The Rainbow” is not that film. I’m not offended by “Under The Rainbow,” except as a missed opportunity. The film tries hard to be rude and crude and equally offensive to anyone watching, but it’s just labored and noisy instead of funny. Chevy co-stars with Carrie Fisher, and the two of them seem interested in cutting sarcasm at the expense of anything else in their performance. It’s a strange mismatch, and based on those two films, Chevy was starting to look like a momentary star, a flash in the pan.

    And then in 1983, he made “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” one of the very best things he’s ever done. In that first movie, I think Clark Griswold is arguably the best character Chevy’s ever been given to play. I empathize with Clark, deeply, and I love that in the first film, the Griswolds are the center of the comic storm, victims of fate and circumstance, and Chevy in particular is playing a comic Job variation that I find enormously appealing. It’s a great blistering R-rated comedy, with a sharp script by John Hughes and a perfect sense of how families implode when stuck together on road trips. Set piece after set piece, character after character, “Vacation” works because it was a great piece of material on the page, and then it was executed well. As obvious as that sounds, so few of the films in Chase’s filmography started from a really solid piece of writing, and that’s probably the biggest mistake he or any of the “SNL” actors ever made… that willingness to start shooting something that didn’t have a script that was ready yet. Compare the first “Vacation” which came out of real experience and sincere observation with “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” two years later, which was a mean-spirited, ugly, garish piece of crap. It makes the fundamental mistake of recasting the Griswolds as victimizers instead of victims. Europe doesn’t happen to the Griswolds; the Griswolds happen to Europe. Like the plague. Even the better-but-not-as-good-as-the-first-one “Christmas Vacation” suffers because they decided to tone it down to a PG-13 while basically just aping the best parts of the first film.

    Chevy never had particularly good luck with sequels. I love the 1985 film “Fletch,” as do many people, and I was stunned at how far off-track the sequel “Fletch Lives” was in 1989, especially considering how great the books are that the films were based on. That should have been an easy franchise, but somehow they lost sight of the source material, made a wretched second film, and killed the series dead in the process. And “Caddyshack II” is one of those sequels that most fans like to pretend don’t even exist. Chase looks miserable in his brief screen time at Ty Webb, fully aware that the film he’s making is a shoddy, disgraceful follow-up to something special. Once the “Vacation” series eventually limped its way around to “Vegas Vacation,” there was nothing left in the film to remind audiences why they enjoyed the Griswolds in the first place.

    1985 was one of Chase’s busiest years. In addition to “European Vacation” and “Fletch,” he also made “Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird” and “Spies Like Us” that year. “Spies” is one of those films that people like and enjoy and that definitely has fans, but I would consider it a lesser effort for Chase. It’s a formula picture, made at a moment where the studios really didn’t know how to encourage good comedy voices in film, focusing on the onscreen stars and playing little attention to cultivating real writers or directors to develop projects. Things were built from a high-concept first, packaged, slapped together. There are laughs in some of these films, but they don’t do much for me as movies. They don’t feel like much more than sketches.

    In 1986, Chase appeared in a movie that stands as a very special landmark in the history of “SNL” films, the only movie on which Lorne Michaels has a co-screenplay credit. He co-wrote it with Randy Newman and Steve Martin, which is a very strange trio of names to see sharing credit on anything. Onscreen, Steve Martin, Chevy, and Martin Short appeared together in a very silly riff on “The Seven Samurai,” in which three silent-movie cowboys are recruited by the people of a small Mexican town to stand against El Guapo, a real bad guy who has no idea who The Three Amigos are. It is a wonderful little movie, full of some of the most quotable dialogue on the ’80s, and it benefits from some of the supporting performances by Alfonso Arau, Tony Plana, and many more. Ultimately, though, it’s one of the few movies with Chase where he feels like he’s really part of a group, and not just Chevy Chase scoring solo points. He plays the deeply befuddled Dusty Bottoms, and there’s a sweetness to the way he plays it that is not present in much of his work.

    Indeed, from that point on, it was a parade of Chase playing very similar variations on “the smug jerk” in films like “Funny Farm,” “Memoirs Of An Invisible Man,” and the truly unbearable “Nothing But Trouble,” which I’ll deal with in a column dedicated to that one film. It deserves a column all its own. It is that bewildering a mistake. His supporting role in “Hero” was a smart one, and it suggested a direction that Chase might have been smart to pursue. There are actors who have found a wonderful career late in life playing completely bastards. It’s worked well for Alan Alda, for example, and Chase seemed like he would benefit from moving into more serious films in supporting roles, playing to the strange caustic unlikeable nature that was starting to assert itself in everything he did.

    Just as Chevy paved the way for other stars like Eddie Murphy to leave “Saturday Night Live” at the height of their heat, he also paved the way for them to move into terrible family films once it started to seem like their adult careers were over. “Cops and Robbersons,” “Man Of The House,” and “Snow Day” all feature depressing work by Chase, mugging and slow, nothing like the guy who clawed his way off the screen in the late ’70s. Bloat and boredom took its toll onscreen, and the work slowed down. He would make occasionally appearances in things like “Zoom” or “Orange County,” but he couldn’t open a movie anymore, and the things he starred in went direct to video, unnoticed, unwatched. He was invisible.

    Right now, Chevy does genuinely funny work every week on “Community,” a show that has gotten better and better over the first year it’s been on the air. The writers have created a deranged, perverted, racist idiot for him to play, and it’s the most likeable he’s been in years. I’d like to think that the Chevy Chase who burned down the goodwill of audiences and his co-stars and his creative collaborators finally had to change, and that the Chevy who stars on “Community” is a newly reformed Chevy, a Chevy who loves what he does again and who is open to more filmmakers trying different or risky things with him. Like I said, I’ve been a fan for so long that I hate hearing terrible things about him. I want to believe the best of Chevy Chase. I want to see more from him that reminds me of what made me laugh in the first place. I will always have a soft spot for him.

    After all, he’s Chevy Chase. And I’m not.

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    • That last article especially was interesting Terence. I’d be hard pressed to find a critic that liked Vegas Vacation. But it’s not very often I agree with most critics anyway. As a group they always seem preoccupied with what they think they should like or what sounds cool and forget how to just plain appreciate movies. For example, instead of basically saying “it’s the last installment I’m bored with it ho-hum” they could focus on something more unique such as that in Vegas, unlike the other 3 movies, each Griswold kind of had their own storyline so evidently Chase didn’t stand in the way and the result is an enjoyable ensemble, further enhanced by (mostly) good editing. Anyway it was cool that the writer acknowledged his body of work.
      Now as far as him being an asshole.. I would be more surprised to hear a superstar is NOT an asshole. Think about all the ordinary people you meet who get that way if they gain only a little bit of power and control. I can’t imagine what happens to celebrities who are surrounded by who they are surrounded by, and various substances, etc. Not to mention the creative, brilliant personalities, all that money in the balance… yeah, he might not be a nice person to hang with. But it doesn’t matter because I will never be in his social circles and I’d rather just see the movies anyway.

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    • Top 10 Chevy Chase Films:
      http://www.top10films.co.uk/archives/7329

      For years after first seeing National Lampoon’s Vacation I was hooked on Chevy Chase films. Stepping back in time I sought out his earlier work such as Foul Play, Caddyshack and Seems Like Old Times while enjoying his eighties and early nineties output like Fletch, Three Amigos and Memoirs of an Invisible Man.

      His career nosedived in the mid-nineties thanks to a misguided attempt to established a more dramatic career and he never recovered. The actor, who was one of the founding members of Saturday Night Live, recently popped up in eighties throwback Hot Tub Time Machine alongside John Cusack. That served as a handy reminder to revisit and re-enjoy Chase’s finest adventures in film.

      10. Spies Like Us (Landis, 1985)

      Spies Like Us still gets a mixed reception from audiences but this comedy about two inept secret agents is great because of the pairing of 80s greats Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd.

      9. Funny Farm (Hill, 1988)

      This fish-out-of-water tale see Chevy Chase playing sports writer Andy Farmer who decides to quit his job and move to a small town to write a novel. It doesn’t go to plan as Andy falls foul to small town living.

      8. Memoirs of an Invisible Man (Carpenter, 1992)

      Almost universally panned on its release, Memoirs of an Invisible Man does indeed suffer from an identity crisis as one critic put it. Incorporating comedy, drama, science-fiction and mystery the film is at odds with its director and star. Apparently, Ivan Reitman was originally set to direct the film. He would have been a better bet had the film concentrated on comedy. But creative differences between Reitman and Chase led to a change at the helm and John Carpenter took over. It was an odd choice, certainly from a commercial perspective, as Carpenter’s fleeting use of science-fiction and comedy (They Live [ link to top ten carpenter]) previously didn’t set the box office alight.

      And the film does suffer from this disjointed set of creative specialities. Chase handles the comedy with the finesse of an old pro, while Carpenter concocts some genuine thrills and makes use of excellent special-effects. But the film never knows if it’s a funny, adventure movie or a thriller with the odd funny scene. Chase saw this project as a route into more serious roles. Unfortunately, the film was not only ripped to shreds by the critics, but made less than half its budget at the box office. Instead of being a career progression for Chase, it proved to be a low point of which the actor has never recovered.

      Nevertheless, it is different from anything else the actor has done before or since, and remains an enjoyable if messy version of the invisible man story.

      7. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Chechik, 1989)

      A Christmas favourite for so many, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation saw Chavy Chase reprise his most famous role for a third time. Christmas Vacation is a much better film than the first sequel to Harold Ramis’ hit original about the exploits of the accident prone Griswold family.

      6. Foul Play (Higgins, 1978)

      A homage to Alfred Hitchcock, Colin Higgins’ film finds Chevy Chase and a delightful Goldie Hawn caught up in the murder-mystery plot.

      5. Three Amigos (Landis, 1986)

      Superb casting sees Chevy Chase lined up alongside Steve Martin and Martin Short. The trio play silent film stars The Three Amigos who, in their films, perform acts of justice against evil villains. Believing them to be real, a small Mexican village hires their services when the townspeople are threatened by a gang wanting protection money. Wires are crossed as the Amigos believe they have been hired to put on a live, theatrical show. Soon enough the real threat becomes evident and the actors have to decide to fight or take flight.

      4. Seems Like Old Times (Sandrich, 1980)

      Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn are back together in this delightful comedy about a down-on-his-luck writer who becomes a fugitive after being forced to rob a bank. He seeks help from the only person he can trust – ex-wife Glenda (Hawn) – who allows him to stay at her house. The only trouble is her district attorney husband who would love to get his hands on the fugitive. The film is one of Chase’s best thanks to some great performances (Chase is ably supported by Goldie Hawn and Charles Grodin as Hanw’s husband) and Neil Simon’s witty script.

      3. Caddyshack (Ramis, 1980)

      More of an ensemble film than a Chevy Chase vehicle, Caddyshack remains a favourite amongst fans thanks to its risqué humour and brilliant cast of characters including Bill Murray as a nice-but-dim greenskeeper and Rodney Dangerfield, a rich, loud-mouthed gold enthusiast. Chevy Chase is a member of the upscale Bushwood Country Club where he plays gold of a regular basis. He spend much of his time teaching caddie Danny Noonan about life while showing off his array of trick shots.

      2. Fletch (Ritchie, 1985)

      Now firmly a favourite amongst Chevy Chase fans, Fletch was a success for the actor at the box office and within the eyes of critics. Since it was released it has gone from strength to strength, gaining a strong following and inspiring sequel Fletch Lives. Based on the popular novels by Gregory McDonald, Fletch tells the story of quick-witted, smooth-talking newspaper reporter Irwin M. Fletcher (Chase). While investigating the drug trade for his latest story, he disguises himself as a homeless junkie who wanders the beach in search of his next hit. One day he is approached by Alan Stanwyk who asks Fletch to murder him. Apparently, Stanwyk has an inoperable disease and wants his family to receive his life insurance. Fletch agrees after being offer a large amount of money but is suspicious of Stanwyk’s motives. Stanwyk has no clue Fletch is an undercover reporter, believing him to be a street bum of no consequence. When Fletch digs deeper he finds that Stanwyk does indeed have a few skeletons in the closet and the whole murder plot maybe a set-up.

      Fletch is Chase’s favourite movie. It is easy to see why – he obviously has a lot of fun with the character. Fletch uses many disguises allowing Chase to take on various personas, highlighting his talent at depicting character-based comedy. Director Michael Ritchie also allowed the actor to ad-lib throughout the film, giving Chase another dimension to explore the character with.

      1. National Lampoon’s Vacation (Ramis, 1982)

      Chevy Chase’s most memorable character has to be Clark W. Griswold. He is the disaster-prone father and husband of the Griswolds, a family who set out on a journey from Chicago to Los Angeles to spend a day at theme park Walley World. Along the way things don’t go to plan. However, that doesn’t stop Clark making sure his family have the time of their lives. And, when they eventually get to the theme park and find it’s closed for maintenance, Clark decides he is not going to take no for an answer. So he kidnaps the security guard (John Candy) and forces him to take the family on all the rides. Chevy Chase is great as Clark in Harold Ramis’ funny and endearing road trip comedy.

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  6. Chevy sounds like he was Mike Myers before Mike Myers, but, when all’s said & done, he was, for the most part, an actor doing his job. So, he can’t be blamed for crap like “Nothing But Trouble” and “Memoirs of an Invisible Man” the way Myers can be for “The Love Guru” & “Austin Powers”
    What he can be blamed for is being an a$shole like Myers.

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    • I am going to agree with you up to a point. But I do blame Chase 50% for Memoirs. The film was intended to be a comedy. But Chase still had enough star power to shoot down the comedic elements. He ended up chasing off Ivan Reitman who had no interest in making the film as a thriller. Carpenter specifically wanted to get away from thrillers and genre pictures as much as Chase wanted away from comedies. The director and star were working at opposite goals so the movie ended up neither very thrilling nor very funny.

      Early on in his career, Chase was shaping his movies quite a bit. He didn’t write the scripts, but he insisted on improvising as much as possible. He wasn’t quite the control freak Myers is, but he did exercise a lot of control.

      Something I wanted to address more in the article was how many movies were written for Chase. He walked away from a lot of movies early in his career. If you read some of the other WTTH articles, his name comes up a lot because projects were developed for him and then he changed his mind.

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      • Movies That Killed Comedy Careers:
        http://www.ugo.com/movies/movies-that-killed-comedy-careers-memoirs-of-an-invisible-man

        Memoirs of an Invisible Man

        While no one is debating Chevy Chase’s place in the pantheon of comedic actors, especially with his current resurgence as Pierce Hawthorne on NBC’s Community, he nearly deep-sixed his career with the 1992 John Carpenter directed (huh?!) Memoirs of an Invisible Man. This flick currently holds a 24% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes and what Washington Post reviewer Desson Howe labeled as “[not] a movie, but an identity crisis” with regards to the mix-mash of seemingly incompatible actors, director and genres.

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    • The flops of Chevy Chase:
      http://collectedcinema.blogspot.com/search/label/Chevy%20Chase

      The flops of Chevy Chase part 3: Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)
      So here we are with the last look at where Chevy Chase’s career went off the rails and actually it’s probably the most interesting of the three films I’ve looked at. As well as being a rare semi-serious role for Chase it’s also directed John Carpenter, who had taken a long break from filmmaking after the commercial disappointments of Prince of Darkness and They Live. The film was very much a passion project for Chase, who had secured the rights to the book by H.F. Saint after it was published in 1987 and he clearly had a strong vision for the film.

      Memoirs of an Invisible Man sees Chase play Nick Halloway, a stock analyst who gets caught in an explosion at a scientific researchbuilding that renders him completely invisible. CIA Agent David Jenkins (Sam Neill) is tasked with tracking him down with a view to turning him into the ultimate assassin. However Nick wants nothing to be left alone so he enlists the help of Alice Monroe (Daryl Hannah), a woman he was beginning a relationship with just prior to the accident, to help him escape to safety.

      As I said this was very much Chase’s vanity project. The script was originally written much more as a comedy, with Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters) set to direct but Chase insisted on it being a more serious film so he brought in John Carpenter, who had little enthusiasm but was happy to do it as a “work-for-hire”. After the film was released he explained he hadn’t titled it “John Carpenter’s” as he did his other movies because he knew Warner Brothers was more “in the business of making audience-friendly, non-challenging movies.”

      It’s a shame that Carpenter dismisses the film so much because there’s actually a lot to enjoy about it. Firstly, the special effects, though not spectacular, show a lot of creative thinking. The approach of having Chase mostly be seen by the audience but invisible to everyone else on screen is a very clever idea and adds to the comedy of situations. Seeing assault teams break into his apartment while he just walks past them is very entertaining.

      The film has some very clever ideas about the realities of being invisible. For instance Chase can’t see him own hands so he finds it hard to eat food. He also can’t eat otherwise people will just see the floating contents of his stomach. And there’s a fantastic bit where he needs to travel so he punches a drunk guy and gets him to flag down a taxi. Also, Sam Neill is highly entertaining as the bad guy. He brings some of the same menace he showed in Dead Calm to the role of Jenkins. It’s a shame he and Chase don’t get more scenes together because they make great adversaries. There’s a particularly tense scene where he traps Chase in his own office that shows the potential of what a more serious take on the subject matter could have achieved.

      Despite it’s good points the film does have couple of faults. One of them is that the majority of it all is told in flashback with Chase narrating his adventures. I’ve got to say rarely like films that do this, it kind of kills the excitement and suspense. Also, as much as I enjoy the film I do recognise that it’s quite low-key. What the film really needed was someone like Steven Spielberg to bring out the sense of wonder and boost the film’s set pieces. But then again maybe what I like about the film is that it doesn’t go down the traditional route. Chase doesn’t go on an exciting globe trotting adventure. He just hides out in a friend’s holiday home and eats junk food.

      Carpenter’s direction is solid but it’s a shame his heart isn’t in it. There’s some nice homages to James Whales’ original The Invisible Man film from 1933. And he’s clearly enjoying aping Hitchcock’s thrillers such as North By Northwest and The 39 Steps. If I’m honest though I love both him and Chase they shouldn’t have been involved in the same project. Their sensibilities are too different. Doing this film was a mistake for Carpenter, he was already disillusioned by working for major studios after Big Trouble in Little China and he should have come back to Hollywood with a more personal project.

      And so to Chase, the star. He perhaps wasn’t the right choice for the role but I still enjoy what he did with it. As you watch the film you can’t help but wonder if the film would have been better if it committed to either be a straight thriller or straight comedy. The mix of the two is uneven at times. I think audience’s expectations of Chase put them off the film when it was originally released. He’d spent the entire previous decade playing nothing but comedies and he’d pigeon-holed himself. No one wanted to see him in something that wasn’t a straight forward comedy.

      He was trying to broaden his acting range but he’d left it too late. Chase should have stretched his wings and tried something like this earlier in his career rather than relying on comedies for the whole previous decade. Several other 80s comedy actors had a similar dilemma in the early 90s. Martin Short, John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Martin. Of all of them only Bill Murray managed to break free and start a successful second career as a serio-comic actor (for which he mostly owes Wes Anderson).

      Memoirs of an Invisible Man is a pretty fun flick that didn’t deserve to be such a flop. It earned only half it’s budget back and was really the last major film to be released by Chase. The following year he tried to start a chat show that was a huge ratings flop. And in 1994 he acted in Cops and Robbersons, a particularly poor comedy film by Michael Ritchie.

      For the next decade and a half he had a very dry run. It was only when he was cast in the TV show Community in 2009 that he started to make something of a comeback. It remains to be seen where his career will go from here. Rumours are that he’ll likely come back for a reboot of the Vacation series which would be a nice way to cap his career I think.

      The flops of Chevy Chase part 2: Nothing But Trouble (1991)

      Okay, strap yourself in and prepare for the worst because this is going to get messy. Ordinarily on this site I only review films that I love or at the very least like but this one was a true patience tester and without doubt one of the least funny comedies I’ve ever seen. I can only guess that Chevy Chase took the lead role as a favour to Dan Aykroyd, he can’t possibly have read the script and agreed to it (unless he was desperate for cash). Nothing But Trouble was the brain child of Dan Aykroyd (who directs and plays two roles) and his brother Peter. Now we all know Aykroyd is a little bit of an oddball character. He’s a devout spiritualist and seems to genuinely believe in a lot of supernatural phenomena. This served him very well when writing the Ghostbusters movies but here he unleashes a torrent of such bizarre, ugly characters and storylines that at times I felt physical ill.

      The film sees Chase play Chris Thorne, a financial advisor who takes a road trip with two of his wealthy clients and his neighbor Diane (Demi Moore). Aiming to get to Atlantic City as fast as possible they take a short cut through an eerie ghost town called Valkenvania. However, they accidentally go over the speed limit and the local sheriff tries to flag them down but stupidly they attempt to out run him. This only makes matters worse and eventually they are all arrested and taken to the town’s Judge (Dan Aykroyd under a ton of old man make-up) where they discover that they won’t be able to just “pay a fine and leave”. The judge and his in-bred family of weirdos have a far stricter sense of justice, sending most lawbreakers straight to a meat grinder called Mr Bonestripper! So the group split up and try to escape the town by any means but it’s far harder than it looks.

      I think the problem with this film is that any comedy elements seemed to have been added in at a very late stage in the film development. Bar a few ad libs from Chase and some of the grotesque make-up work there’s very little humour in the story. According to Aykroyd the idea for the film came from a personal experience from 1978 where he was pulled over for speeding in a hick town and forced to plead in front of an elderly judge. Here he’s adapted the story writ large. The town is literally like the stuff of nightmares decorated with broken machinery and human bones. In actual fact Valkenvania is based on a real life ghost town called Centralia, Pennsylvania, where an underground coal fire has warped the landscape and ousted its townfolk since the fire first sparked in the 1960s. I guess you could argue that this adds up to a rich back story but unfortunately Aykroyd seems content to just show us this stuff, not actual use any of it to tell an interesting story. The whole plot basically boils down to Chase and Moore get pulled over, see the judge, they escape and come back later with the state police. That’s it. There’s no revelations or twists or character arcs or anything.

      None of the actors apart from Aykroyd seem to really be very invested in their characters. John Candy plays the role of police sheriff as a nice ordinary guy which jars with the rest of the townsfolk. He also gets to play another role in drag as Eldona, the judge’s mute daughter which doesn’t work either. Chase just looks kind of confused throughout the entire running time. He tries a couple of his usual wiseass comebacks now and then (some which seem to have been messily added in post) but the scenario is so odd he can’t make any laughs happen. There’s also meant to be a burgeoning romance between him and Moore but the two have very little chemistry and their kiss at the end seems very weird given their age gap. Another couple of actors who I haven’t gone into much detail yet is Taylor Negron and Bertila Damas who play Chase’s wealthy Brazilian clients. I honestly can’t see any point of these characters, they escape early on and manage to convince Candy to come with them and that’s the extent of their subplot. It’s baffling to include two characters so prominently and then give them absolutely nothing to do. Also Negron overplays his role was a screeching effeminate voice that will make you reach straight for the mute button.

      And so to Aykroyd. What can I say? He clearly loves acting under lathers of make-up. It’s obviously freeing for an actor but as Eddie Murphy will tell you, it doesn’t make your film any funnier. The Judge is a truly oddball creation and clearly Aykroyd thought the more grotesque he made him the funnier it would be. So he ends up giving him not only a prosthetic leg but also a prosthetic nose – which is shaped like a penis if you look close (on second thought, don’t bother). Aykroyd other role is Bobo, an enormously fat man child in a diaper who along with his twin brother L’il Debbull tries to help Moore escape. Once again I cannot begin to fathom what Aykroyd was thinking by included these mentally retarded caricatures. Were we supposed to laugh at them?

      The film basically veers all over the place and one of the most bizarre subplots (which basically acts as a time filler) is when a group of black rappers are also pulled over and brought before the judge. I guess you’re meant to think that this old white judge will no doubt convict them straight away but they decide to launch into a four minute rap which culminates with the Judge joining in on his organ. Now I know Aykroyd likes his music by why the hell was there a musical interlude in this of all films? Also, one of rappers faces will be very familiar because… it’s the late Tupac Shakur!

      Okay, I think I’ve talked enough about this film. It’s one long, painful trainwreck and Chase got ‘nothing but trouble’ for taking it on. His comedic persona is based around being a cocky wiseass outsider who infuriates any person in authority (see Caddyshack). But here all the control is put in the Judge’s hands. Aykroyd essentially got all his actors friends, Chase and Candy but failed to give them the roles they excel at. Candy is great at playing a lovable slobs so why put him in drag? This isn’t the first time Aykroyd has done this. He also made Neighbors in the early 80s, a similarly dark and humorless movie that wasted John Belushi. Anyway, I guess in some ways, you’ve got to applaud Chase for trying something new. It’s just shame that he picked this movie.

      The flops of Chevy Chase part 1: Fletch Lives (1989)

      I guess a lot of people would question the wisdom of reviewing any of Chevy Chase’s movies not least some of his flops but I’ve always liked him as an actor ever since I was a kid. Throughout most of the 80s he was almost bullet proof, scoring several commercial hit films from Caddyshack to Vacation to Spies Like Us. Though it probably wasn’t his highest grossing film, 1985’s Fletch was definitely the one role that perfectly chimed with his default laconic comedy persona. Even Chase admits it was his favourite role of his entire career in his biography ‘I’m Chevy Chase and You’re Not’. I was always quite baffled as a kid as to why he stopped acting in big movies so I’m going to examining three films that marked the end of his professional career.

      The sequel sees I.M. Fletcher still writing hisnewspaper column, getting harassed by his boss but before he can take on another undercover assignment he learns that his aunt has died and he’s inherited her mansion in Louisiana. Thinking the house must be worth loads he quits his job and flies over to check it out. However rather than being some stately mansion it’s a rundown, woodworm infested wreck. After some quick flirting with his aunt’s lawyer, Fletch winds up bedding her but waking up the next morning he discovers she’s dead. Someone is clearly trying to frame him but who? Is it his aunt’s black caretaker, the local television evangelist or any one of the oddball inhabitants of the nearby town? And just what is it that makes his mansion so valuable to them all?

      Fletch is a fantastic character opportunity. He’s an investigator but he doesn’t carry a gun so he’s forced to talk his way in and out of situations and Chase makes a natural fit for this character. He excels at witty one liners and comebacks. Sadly, this film doesn’t have as great a script as the first entry. The first film (based on Gregory McDonald’s 1974 book) also had a fantastic mystery hook – an undercover journalist gets hired by a businessman to murder himself! The idea of someone inheriting a house from a forgotten relative just sounds like some bad mystery cliche. I’m still a little baffled that they didn’t try adapting any of McDonald’s ten superior Fletch novels. I can only guess they wanted to structure it for more around comedy moments for Chase – figuring that he, not McDonald, made the first film a hit.

      That’s not to say that the comedy bits aren’t good. There’s a fantastic bit where he uses a disguise to get onto the evangelist’s tv show and begins faith healing people by slapping them with a bible. And there’s also an inspired dream sequence where Fletch imagines living in his Southern mansion and everyone bursts into ‘Zipper-dee-doo-dah’ from Disney’s Song of the South – complete with animated birds. What’s missing is a decent mystery story running underneath. The writer Leon Capetanos (who also wrote Down and Out in Beverly Hills) doesn’t seem to understand that a mystery is more than just setting up red herring after red herring and then revealing everything at the end. Too much emphasis seems to have been played on sticking in needless disguises which are clearly designed to be hilarious but mostly fall flat.

      Another thing that probably didn’t help the film is that the plot is somewhat similar to Funny Farm – a film where Chase played a writer who moves out to a country and makes enemies with the local townsfolk that came out one year earlier in 1988. I think one of Chase’s weaknesses is that he didn’t want to branch out with his roles. Clearly by the late 80s Chase had a choice to make, he’d had a good run for nearly a decade. He could either stick with the same wiseass antics or evolve into new roles. It’s telling that in 1989 he made the decision to make not one but two sequels, this and Christmas Vacation. And the previous year he’d also did the laughter-free Caddyshack 2. Obviously Chase didn’t want to evolve or if you want to be generous, maybe his management didn’t want him to evolve. It’s shame because I think he could have had a decent second career along the lines of his arch rival Bill Murray.

      Fletch Lives isn’t a great film but it’s a decent watch and the jokes are pretty good. It’s just nowhere near as classic as the original. Chase still gives the role a good shot but he’s hampered by the weak script. Michael Ritchie’s direction is decent. He also directed the original film and was the one who let Chase ad-lib a lot of his lines. I think if anyone can take anything away from this movie it’s that you can’t make a film just on ad-libs, comebacks and funny disguises. You need some meat on the bones. There’s probably some metaphor about the movie trying to disguise it’s lack of substance but I can’t quite piece it together.

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    • LeBeau’s blog is given a shout-out at the very start of this article comparing the careers of Chevy Chase and Mike Myers:
      http://www.manic-expression.com/apps/blog/show/25726570-is-mike-myers-the-chevy-chase-of-his-generation-

      Now two celebrities that have been featured on this article are Chevy Chase and Mike Myers. And, while I didn’t think about it before, reading these articles has made me realize that what happened to Mike Myers is very similar to what happened to Chevy Chase. Both were guys that broke out on SNL and became very popular there. Due to their popularity, they ended up getting movie deals and people thought they were going to become big movie stars. And, as first, they succeeded as Chevy Chase started off with hits like Foul Play, Caddyshack, and National Lampoon’s Vacation while Mike Myers started off with hits like Wayne’s World, the Austin Powers series, and possibly Shrek (I say possibly because animated movies don’t usually affect one’s career). They also had some movies that didn’t do very well between those. Just look at Chevy’s resume in 1981 (especially Modern Problems which is the definition of a movie that’s just there) and Mike had So I married an axe murderer and 54. However they also had 2 movies that pretty much killed their careers. Chevy had Nothing But Trouble and Memoirs of an Invisible Man while Mike Myers had The Cat in the Hat and The Love Guru.

      OK, One could argue that this has happened to many celebrities-even ones who started off on SNL! But it’s not just those things that make them similar-it’s also the fact that it wasn’t just a few movies that killed their career. What also killed their career is that both were infamous for their ego’s. Hardly anyone who worked with Chevy on SNL liked him and we all know what happened to him on Community and Penelope Spheeris has complained about his behavior on the set of Wayne’s World.

      So when you consider that both had all that happen to them and both have been accused of being “divas”, can you see where I’m coming from when I say that I can’t help but think that Mike Myers is sort of the Chevy Chase of his time? What do you think?

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  7. One thing that was overlooked in this WTHHT on Chevy Chase was the infamous Friars Club Roast that aired on Comedy Central in 2002. Apparently, the roast was so mean-spirited and cruel (too the point in which you could actually genuinely feel embarrassed for Chevy), that Comedy Central didn’t rebroadcast it.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/television/2002/12/the_meanest_roast.html

    http://observer.com/2002/10/the-decline-of-romans-empire/

    http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,624890,00.html

    http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2011/03/the-15-funniest-roasts-of-all-time/stephen-colbert-roasts-chevy-chase

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0347626/combined

    If you ask me, that roast is to Chevy Chase what Meg Ryan’s interview w/ Michael Parkinson is to her, Sean Young dressing up as Catwoman on Joan Rivers’ show is to her, Alicia Silverstone bird feeding her son is to her, or Mel Gibson’s voice-mail rantings, in regards to how extremely awkward and off-putting it is.

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    • I left out the roast for a few reasons. One, I have never seen it. Two, I find them distasteful and rarely ever funny. Three, it was more of an embarassing incident than a real career move. I’ll have to see if I can track down some clips though. Maybe I’ll add it in if I can find a good clip.

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  8. Dirty Laundry: Chasing Chevy:
    http://dirtylaundryblog.blogspot.com/2006/12/chasing-chevy.html

    FINALLY, we did a blog that was non Husker related and got some response. We had to delete some comments (because I’m sure they had to be written by either Michael Richards, Mel Gibson or Andy Dick). But generally people have a genuine interest in at the very least, seeing the current version of SNL fixed.

    OK, so about poor Chevy Chase. Here’s what I think of Chevy: He’s absolutely the major star of that first season currently out on that impressive DVD package (and explains why he immediately bolted for what he thought would be bigger and better things that would await him). It’s obvious that the remainder of the cast resented Chevy for this, or were jealous that Chevy became the first breakout star. It’s also obvious that Chevy became pissed off at how big a star his replacement, Bill Murray became, and this would be a sticking point with Chase for the rest of his life as Murray would go on to have the brilliant movie career that Chevy would only get a small taste of. But Chevy will forever be in the Comedy Hall of Fame for his brilliant comedic turns in Caddyshack and Vacation (the FIRST Vacation flick, none of the embarrassing sequels). There’s also a big cult following surrounding Chevy for Fletch. In my mind, he gets the get out of jail free card for playing Ty Webb and Clark Griswold (again, in the FIRST of each of those movies). HBO has been showing Chase’s first career move after SNL, Foul Play, which is a cheesy, dated romantic comedy with the over the top Barry Manilow song “Ready to Take a Chance.” But somehow, Chevy and especially the gorgeous Goldie Hawn make that one still watchable. Oh sure, it also has Dudley Moore and Billy Barty (OK, I admit it, I watched it just to see little old Bill Barty). It’s a cute little movie that Chase is at least remotely funny in, but it certainly wasn’t the big first movie that Chevy was looking for. That same year, John Belushi came out with Animal House. I’m sure all of this got under Chevy’s skin.

    So after the first Vacation, something very odd happened to Chevy. It’s no coincidence that Chevy did Vacation around the time that Belushi died, and for whatever reason, Belushi’s death seemed to also kill Chevy’s ability to be funny. Chevy Chase literally lost it. He made some incredibly God awful movies (take a look at Chevy’s IMDB page if you don’t believe me). Even after Caddyshack, Vacation, even Fletch and that first season of SNL, Chevy Chase has become a big joke. Legend has it he’s turned into a major duchebag. Will Ferrell goes out of his way to tell stories about what a dick Chevy was when he came back to host the show once. In James A. Miller and Tom Shales great book, Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests, there’s a great story about how Chevy came back to host the show and couldn’t been more of a dick to anyone and everyone, including a skit where he wanted one of the gay cast members to die of AIDS. Then there was maybe the biggest embarassment’s in television history known as “The Chevy Chase Show” . This was FOX’s way of throwing their hat in the late night ring, airing the same year that Letterman was making the jump to CBS. The show started a half hour before Letterman and Leno went on, and within the first five minutes of any of Chevy’s shows, you just sat there squirming at how embarrassing it was. People would literally tune in for those first five minutes just to see what a train wreck the whole thing was. I have no idea how many weeks Fox gave Chevy to make something click, but if my memory’s correct, I don’t think he made it past Halloween. I’m thinking that all available footage of these shows has been burned by Chase himself.

    And this literally KILLED Chevy Chase. There was absolutely no coming back from this. Chevy’s reputation as being, how should we say this, “difficult”, coupled with the idea that he wasn’t even remotely funny anymore, left him for dead. He hasn’t done even one decent movie since, not even a small cameo role in anything. The only good thing he did was a self-mocking appearance on the brilliant “The Larry Sanders Show” (now again is my time to plug or at least ask for the remainder of that series to come out on DVD immediately). It was Chevy’s way of trying to admit that he made a horrible decision with that talk show. There was a scene where Larry and Chevy were waiting outside of a psychiatrists office, where Chevy was seeing a professional to still talk about what went wrong with his talk show.

    But nothing worked for Chevy. There was that Comedy Central Presents: The N.Y. Friars Club Roast of Chevy Chase where Chevy literally sat there the entire time, unamused at the shots that friends were taking at him. It was a ROAST Chevy! Didn’t you know that some of your friends, some of whom obviously didn’t even want to be there, were going to say some relatively mean spirited things at you? As with all roasts, the show ended with the star getting a chance to say a few things about the evening. Chevy literally just stood up, looked into the camera and said, in all seriousness, “That hurt.” You’d think that he went backstage and cried for hours and hours because Beverly D’Angelo made some cracks about him.

    And that was literally the end of Chevy Chase. In interviews, he STILL goes on about Bill Murray’s career, saying that it’s a crying shame that he doesn’t have a similar film career. Frankly, I don’t think Chevy ever has, or ever will, get over Bill Murray. I don’t even think he could get Quentin Tarantino to resurrect his career. Or get a Paul Thomas Anderson to do a Burt Reynolds for him. It’s just over. And in a way, it’s sad. But we’ll always have Ty Webb. We’ll always have that sketch with Chevy and Richard Pryor from that first SNL season. Maybe for Chevy, that’s going to have to be enough to hang his hat on.

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    • My opinion of that dirty laundry blog, and others of its ilk, is that it goes overboard with the hatred of its subject and thus loses credibility. The writer is entitled to his views, of course. He may not think much of “Christmas Vacation” for example, but the box office numbers prove how many people felt otherwise, not to mention its afterlife on DVD.

      It is intriguing that CC walked away from as many movie roles as he did. My first reaction was that he screwed himself but upon reflection, maybe he knew exactly what he was doing. Fletch and Clark were sure fire box office and he was comfortable with comedy. Maybe, just maybe, CC was honest enough with himself that he turned down roles he didn’t think he was quite right for. If so, then I give him major props. No one questions that Tom Hanks was the total perfect fit for Forrest Gump.

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      • I have also seen a big deal made of actors turning down roles they were barely associated with. If the actor read the script at some point, there’s an internet rumor out there about how such-and-such boneheaded actor turned down this great role that would have saved their career. Chase says that when he read the FG script it wasn’t very good and that Hanks requested improvements. I find this easy to believe. Also, had Chase starred in FG, it wouldn’t have been the same movie. I doubt it would have been anywhere near as popular.

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  9. Like everyone else I’ve heard all the horror stories about Chase over the years. I guess my reaction to it all is I don’t really care. He’s in a special category as far as I’m concerned, and I don’t have to hang out with him. He starred in some of the most iconic comedies of my generation: Vacation, Caddy Shack, Spies and Fletch being among the best. Fletch is maybe one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. I still quote it to this day….”Can I borrow your towel? My car hit a water buffalo.” Classic. I even tuned in to Community because of him. Stuck with it for three seasons and then dumped it. Wasn’t because of him though. Their stories just got goofier and goofier to the point they were trying (and failing) too hard. I have no doubt all the stories are true and he is a giant ass. I just don’t care; he gave me a lot of laughs over the years.

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  10. Regarding Chevy Chase’s talk show, I read (in the YouTube comments section for his interview w/ Robert DeNiro) that while getting the show up and running, Chevy fired so many unionized people for such petty reasons that ultimately, the unions just stopped sending stage hands and grips. This was because every one that Chevy fired on a whim cost them money. This has also further tainted Chevy’s career ever since movies of course, use union workers and therefore, unions wouldn’t send people to movies that Chevy is a part of. It was simply another case of Chevy thinking that since he had paid his dues, it gave him the golden ticket to treat others like utter crap.

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    • Talk Show Bomb #1: Chevy Chase, “The Chevy Chase Show”:
      http://www.businessinsider.com/chevy-chase

      The higher the expectations, the harder the flop. Like Jay Leno, David Letterman and Conan O’Brien, comedian Chevy Chase began hosting a late night talk show in the fall 1993, hoping to claim Johnny Carson’s mantle. Unlike Jay, Dave and Conan, Chevy’s show lasted only six weeks on Fox. Of its debut show, Time wrote:

      [Chase's] Tuesday-night debut was the sort of disaster TV fans will recall for their grandchildren. Nervous and totally at sea, Chase tried everything, succeeded at nothing. He shot basketballs from the stage, fawned embarrassingly over guests (Goldie Hawn and Whoopi Goldberg), took pratfalls that fell flat and, in one desperate moment, boogalooed in the middle of the stage, pleading with the apathetic crowd, “Everybody, shake it!” He recycled old material shamelessly, not just from Saturday Night Live (caught in the midst of a phone call at the start of his nightly News Update) but even from The Groove Tube, the ’60s comedy revue that gave him his first break (the camera lingering mercilessly on the anchorman when the newscast is over).

      The problem with the show was that, from the beginning, it was obvious Chevy didn’t really want to do it. From the New York Times report on Fox’s press conference to announce the show:

      Some in the television industry have raised doubts about whether Mr. Chase would be willing to make the huge time commitment a job like this requires.

      Mr. Chase did say he planned to be home in time to put his three young daughters to bed, but he expressed confidence that he would be able to attract some fans of his comedy movies to the show. Like the other late-night talk shows, Mr. Chase’s show will be taped in the early evening. ‘I Really Love Making Movies’

      “The fact that I’m not a stand-up comedian and I don’t have material I’m ready to go out with is a real challenge to me, and you just have to see what happens,” Mr. Chase said.

      But he is committed to the show, he said. The movie career, he said, is “on the back burner” now.

      “I really love making movies,” Mr. Chase said. “I just have this yearning in my stomach to go back and somehow subversively screw up television a little bit again.”
      The show’s failure cost then network upstart Fox dearly. The post-mortem, from the Los Angeles Times:

      Fox’s abrupt decision to cancel the troubled “The Chevy Chase Show” came out of a desire to save Chase and the network further embarrassment from critical blasts, celebrities who didn’t want to go on the low-rated program and declining viewer interest, Fox officials said Monday.

      The failure of “The Chevy Chase Show” marks a severe setback for Fox, which had aggressively promoted the show before its premiere as a hip alternative to the traditional late-night fare. The network will pay heavily-reports of Chase’s salary ranged from $3 million to $4.5 million a year on a two-year contract-and advertisers will have to be given free “make-good” spots on other programs. Fox’s lease on the old Aquarius Theatre in Hollywood, which underwent a multimillion-dollar transformation and was renamed the Chevy Chase Theatre-runs through the end of the year.

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  11. Did you guys know that Chevy Chase has perfect pitch? I’ve never done this before but I decided to check out his Wiki page. This alone could contribute to him having a difficult personality. Apparently perfect pitch can be both a blessing and a curse for the person who has it. I’m also more and more turned off by the idea of this whole whatever roast occaison and I’m glad Lebeau skipped over it. The guy is almost 70, and I’d rather focus on what he contributed to the comedy landscape rather than his faults.

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    • I did see Chase has perfect pitch. He apparently has some musical abilities which kind of excuses the vanity album.

      Roasts in general are more mean-spirited than funny. Sounds like this one was bad even by roast standards.

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  12. chevy chase is an idiot but he was a good actor in the 70s and 80s. 90s he lost it but vegas vacation and man of the house were pretty good. the man has problems and he is a political idiot and an egotistical son of a bitch. he’s let ego and politics get to his head. that is why he is a hasbeen.

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  13. if vacation will be good as the rest then i will go see it. if not i won’t watch it.

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  14. lebeau summed it nicely in the last paragraph, CC wasn’t really an actor so much as a comedian, and his star rose so fast it had to fall, plus he burned some bridges. my take is that he was smart enough to know what projects used his talents the best so maybe he knew what he was doing.

    If he’s an idiot we should all be idiots like him… even though he was from a pedigreed background, he worked odd jobs to support himself in NYC while trying to break into comedy, and eventually made it big. He doesn’t have to work and has not had to for a long time. I’m anxiously awaiting the next Vacation and hope that he and Beverly D’Angleo keep the momentum going. There was a glimmer of that in Hotel Hell vacation, although it was vaguely dark and depressing.

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    • I haven’t seen Hotel Hell Vacation. You have piqued my interest. I’ll have to check it out.

      One other thing about Chase’s talent – and I do believe he’s talented. His loose, goofy comedy style works best under a very specific set of circumstances. He was really custome-made for SNL. Chase does not believe in preparation. He says he works best on the fly. That is terrific for live TV. But movies entail a lot of preparation. And that’s why I think a lot of what made Chase a star got lost in translation on the big screen. The movies that did the best were movies like Caddyshack and Fletch where Chase was encouraged to improvise.

      But even then, Chase’s skill set didn’t translate to his next live TV show. Interviews require a lot of preparation. And also for the interviewer to be genuinely interested in the interviewee. Chase is a natural cut-up great at quips, physical comedy and mugging. None of those things are helpful for hosting a late-night talk show.

      Chase himself has admitted he made a huge mistake leaving SNL. It was the best possible job for him.

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  15. Howard Stern: Goofing on Chevy Chase (1/2):

    Part 1 of 2. Features Howard and Richard Belzer’s phone call to Chevy’s house as well as a Stuttering John interview.

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  16. Last night I decided to re-watch European Vacation, my least favorite of the 4 (Rank: 1-VV, 2-CV-, 3-V and 4-EV) although it still provided plenty of laughs (cheeses.. Eric Idle).. only this time, with the Commentary DVD feature. Wish I had done this sooner. It was very enlightening to listen to Chevy Chase give his own personal spin on the movie. I gained new appreciation for HIS appreciation of physical comedy, how effective it is when done well, and the price actors pay for that, as in, back pain later in life. I noticed he had genuine respect for his costars. He appeared to be quite the perfectionist, too, in that he had visions for how the Griswolds should be onscreen. I’m sure that he contributed to the increased “family” aspect and less R rating, as the series continued. More than ever, I am impressed with how he captured family comedy together with family comedy satire, all wrapped up in a story. Films do for the most part have to tell a story. The Vacation movies are unique and reflective of the many acting and directing talents that shaped the series.

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    • Chase really knew physical comedy. I remember seeing him demontrate a prat fall. That was how I learned how to do them. Fortunately, I haven’t done them often enough to need back pain medicine. ;)

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      • Of course the idea is to make it look like you’re hurting yourself without ACTUALLY hurting yourself. As a lanky young actor I was called upon to do a lot of physical comedy and I generally succeeded in delivering the moment without getting injured.
        Unfortunately, no matter how good you are at it you will eventually have an accident. It’s just the law of averages. Most of my dings were small bruises and scrapes, but one time I got a little too aggressive in trying to make a bit look real and I creamed my own head into the stage’s proscenium. I saw stars for several minutes afterwards. Thankfully, it was right before intermission, so I got some time to recover before going back on to finish the show.
        Every time I hurt myself I felt like a real idiot. There is another camp which wears its scars with pride. I guess once you’ve got a scar there’s no other recourse, but I’m of a mind that if I hurt myself I might not be able to do the rest of the show or run at top performance, which is irresponsible.
        Both Chase and Jerry Lewis sustained back injuries which led to dependencies on pain pills.

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        • I suspect Chase was “feeling no pain” during the SNL pratfalls. If you go back and watch, some of them were fairly uncontrolled. Doing that over and over again, of course he sustained injuries. But I have to give him credit. I can’t think of another comic in my lifetime who has been as funny falling down as he was.

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    • 10 Film Franchises You Really Should Stop Watching After The First Movie:
      http://whatculture.com/film/10-film-franchises-really-stop-watching-first-movie.php/3

      National Lampoon’s Vacation

      The original National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) brought together two 80s comedy heavyweights in John Hughes (writer) and Harold Ramis (director), as well as made Chevy Chase (who, after playing Clark Griswold, went on to star in a number of highly-regarded 80s comedies) a bonafide movie star. The super-quotable script also featured inspired performances by Beverly D’Angelo, as the Griswold family matriarch Ellen, a young Anthony Michael Hall as Clark and Ellen’s son Rusty, and Randy Quaid as the white-trash cousin Eddie. And of course, one can’t forget Vacation launched the career of supermodel Christie Brinkley.

      For the sequel, European Vacation (1985), Hughes wrote the screenplay, but direction was provided by Amy Heckerling. Chase and D’Angelo reprised their roles, but in a decision that went on to become a bit of an ongoing gag in the franchise, the two Griswold children were recast. When it didn’t recycle jokes from its predecessor, European Vacation built its comedic foundation exclusively on cheap ethnic stereotype gags.

      Christmas movie aficionados will probably hold 1989’s Christmas Vacation in somewhat high regard, but I believe the movie hasn’t aged well, plus it put too much focus on Quaid’s Eddie – a character that was used sparingly for shock value in the original movie. A lot of the movie’s jokes are mean-spirited and crude, such as a dog that oozes mucous all over the place (named Snots) and an absent-minded aunt who accidentally wraps her cat up as a present (that cat is later electrocuted).

      1997’s Vegas Vacation was so terrible, I can’t believe it wasn’t a direct-to-video movie. Then, there’s 2003’s ill-conceived Christmas Vacation 2, which was a made-for-television movie that aired on NBC, and starred Quaid as Cousin Eddie. The National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise got so atrocious towards the end, you wondered why these people still continued to spend time with each other.

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      • There are a lot of film franchises you should stop watching after the first. But Vacation, to my mind, isn’t one of them. Skip European Vacation, by all means. But Christmas Vacation is worth a look.

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        • jeffthewildman

          Here are 10 that should have stopped after the first movie:

          1: Halloween
          2: Jaws
          3: The Crow
          4: Highlander
          5: Friday
          6: Scream
          7: Nightmare On Elm Street
          8: Madagascar
          9: The Exorcist
          10: Scary Movie

          10 that should have ended at 2

          1: Alien
          2: The Godfather
          3: The Terminator
          4: Manhunter/Silence Of The Lambs
          5: Spider-man
          6: Superman
          7: Shrek
          8: Rocky (although technically it’s the original and Rocky Balboa)
          9: The Karate Kid
          10: Die Hard (although technically it’s the original and With A Vengeance)

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  17. Chevy Chase nailed physical comedy in so many more ways than just pratfalls. The person who he reminds me of with his physical presence, oddly enough is legendary clown Lucille Ball. Yeah, I don’t expect anyone to agree with this comparision.
    It’s something to do with the way they nailed it, in terms of facial expressions, speech patterns, gestures, reactions to other actors, and whatever the whole mysterious package is that makes a great physical comedy player. It’s that indefinable something that makes them comedy gold. Maybe it’s partly a talent for improv. I will never know!

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    • In Chase’s case, I think a big part of his appeal was his “I am too cool” attitude. He very clearly didn’t give a shit. He didn’t prepare at all. He was just winging it. And if you cared, that made you less cool them him. Unfortunately, that attitude is a lot less appealing from a middle-aged man.

      Like

      • Unearthing the Complete and Total Disaster That Was ‘The Chevy Chase Show':
        http://splitsider.com/2013/04/unearthing-the-complete-and-total-disaster-that-was-the-chevy-chase-show/

        That fateful minute of time also showed just how not hip Chevy Chase had become by 1993. At that moment, everybody collectively realized that somebody messed up and let Ty Webb become a month away from turning 50 years old. Unlike David Letterman, who we were used to seeing age one day at a time, and Jay Leno, who had appeared on Letterman’s Late Night show and guest hosted Carson enough throughout the 80s and early 90s to where he also aged in front of the country, the lovable, scurrilous, charismatic bastard that made Ted Knight ca-razy was now just some nervous and overwhelmed middle-aged man.

        It didn’t help that both guests and the host reminded everybody of Chase’s past. Four times in the first eight episodes there was a Caddy Shack reference (the best and most subtle one — “Pond would be good for you.” — came from, you guessed it: Andrew Shue). The worst was when Jennie Garth — who came off as ridiculously sweet throughout — seemed to be a genuinely big fan of Chase’s, singing to him the “I Was Born to Love You” song from the aforementioned classic and later giving him a Chevy Chase doll(!). That was all fine, but I cringed when Chase attempted to play the song, barely remembering the chords and messing up the ending.

        It is a far cry from Ty Webb. There is of course, nothing wrong with being older; people do that all the time. My argument is that it was very jarring to the audience. And that was not the only issue with the doomed show. For whatever reason, Chevy Chase never seemed to get rid of the jitters, or improve in his interviewing skills with people he wasn’t best friends with, which in turn made all of the interviews he conducted bad. As far as the former is concerned, take a look at a News Update segment, with a cameo from former SNL buddy Garrett Morris (the only former castmember of Chase’s that would appear over the six weeks. But Martin Short and his half-mullet did charm the pants off of everybody in the third episode).

        In each and every installment of News Update, Chase would stumble on his tongue and mess up at least two of the already weak punchlines. His decision to read off of papers instead of using a teleprompter or cue cards didn’t help his cause, and it was another example of Chase almost seemingly trying to remind everybody of their own mortality. It’s Weekend Update, just like the old days! Right down to reading off papers! I hate trees!

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  18. You should narrate your WTHH articles in video format on youtube. I’d see them (if I hadn’t already read them).

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    • Lol – that would be something.

      For the Chevy Chase column, I’d have to do a pratfall. Or “I’m Lebeau and you’re not.”

      Dang it, now you’ve got me thinking…

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  19. I’m real serious when I say this. Turning WTHH into a youtube series and/or a podcast will increase its visibility a great deal. Maybe work with somebody if you don’t have time to make it happen yourself. There’s a lot of stuff like this on youtube already and most of it isn’t written anywhere near as good as your stuff.

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  20. I agree totally you’d have the talent and ability to take this on to a YT channel. YT is great for so many things. The comments sections don’t flow as well as they do for a written blog though.

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  21. What’s Gizmo?

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    • Inside joke. If you read the comments section of WTHH to Nicole Kidman I went a few rounds with a commenter who goes by the name Gizmo. I wouldn’t mind having a face to face chat with the irritable Mogwai.

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  22. Today I watched a 2 hour documentary on Bio about the making of the original Vacation movie. (It’s Mother’s Day so I got some control of the TV). It’s quite interesting and featured interview clips from most of the cast in addition to the directors and so forth. What I found particularly fascinating was the collaborative aspect and how it all contributed to the finished product. Talented writer John Hughes (so sad this brilliant man didn’t live longer) wrote the original story and then the script. After the TV show I read the story text of “Vacation ’58.” This is very John Hughes, who contributed the vision of, what a family vacation movie is like from the back seat, with bored teens who think their parents’ vacation ideas are lame. Chevy Chase wanted to bring out the comedic possibilities of Clark Griswold, the Everyman channeling his inner suburban dad nerd who works too much and wants to make it up to his family with a vacation. Harold Ramis helped push the humor envelope. There is so much more, (I’m not as familiar with the producer Matty Simmons but he is clearly innovative) another major aspect of the success enjoyed by Chevy and the others was the perfect casting decision for Ellen, with Beverly D’Angelo being able to play sweet, smart, sexy and comedy all in the same role. It’s also nice to learn that she and Chevy are enduring friends in real life. After seeing the documentary I have even higher hopes for the latest installment now in production.

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  23. After Chevy Chase, Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy got their own WTHHT articles, I would suggest that the next “SNL” alumni to get one would be Adam Sandler. Somebody in Kim Basinger’s WTHHT comment section suggested Dan Aykroyd, which LeBeau said would be problematic because Aykroyd during his prime always had to rely on the comedic talents of his co-stars (i.e. John Belushi, Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, John Candy, etc.).

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StarDerailingRole

    Andy Samberg in Thats My Boy. In the mid to late ’00s, he was an up-and-coming comedy star with roles in media such as Saturday Night Live, American Dad, and I Love You Man generating enough acclaim to give Samberg hope for a successful career. Then this film, released days after he left SNL, did rather poorly both at the box-office and with critics. Since then, Samberg’s popularity dwindled, and has since been reduced to independent films, bit parts and television, though time will tell if the recent success Celeste and Jesse Forever will prove a Career Resurrection for him.
    Of course, one will probably say that Hot Rod was more of a star derailing role than That’s My Boy was as that film was developed as the film that would launch him and The Lonely Island to stardom. Of course, the film made little money and the reviews derided as being nothing more than a feature-length sketch of theirs. That film also made Samberg box office poison.
    That’s My Boy co-star and fellow SNL alum Adam Sandler, who also served as producer of the film, didn’t fare much better. After leaving SNL, he had a Star Making Role with Billy Madison, and continued with hits like Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy, and Big Daddy. Critics never liked his films, but that hardly seemed to matter; he was one of the biggest comedy stars of the ’90s in spite of it. He began to slip up with with Little Nicky and Eight Crazy Nights in the early ’00s, but his career was saved by the critical success of Punch Drunk Love, which proved to many critics that he really could act; despite disappointing performance at the box office it’s gone on to be regarded as one of his best films.

    As the ’00s went on, however, audiences’ opinion of Sandler began to fall more in line with that of critics. While most of his films were still making big money, complaints about his low-brow, vulgar style began to mount, especially after Judd Apatow’s style of comedy started earning the favor of critics and audiences. That’s My Boy was his first out-and-out flop in years, and (along with Jack And Jill, which earned a record ten Razzies but at least made money) arguably marked the turning point in the public’s opinion of him. He still does have the upcoming sequel to Grown Ups, however, so time will tell if he will be successful again.

    http://guyism.com/celebrities/comedians-who-used-to-be-funny.html

    2 Adam Sandler
    Adam Sandler still ekes out the occasional good movie (Funny People). However, his hit-to-miss ratio has fallen dramatically thanks to such recent stinkers as Grown Ups and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. Although, I guess it depends on whom you ask whether or not such comedy classics as Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore are actually hilarious. Regardless, it’s pretty safe to say that Sandler has gotten soft in his old age.

    10 Ways Adam Sandler Can Get His Swag Back:
    http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2012/06/10-ways-adam-sandler-can-get-his-swag-back/

    Adam Sandler’s early comedies Billy Madison (1995) and Happy Gilmore (1996) replay incessantly on cable television, and with good reason. Endlessly quotable and always funny, they represent the kind of innocently moronic Hollywood comedies that aren’t made often these days. Sadly, when you watch those movies now, the viewing process is frequently disrupted by thoughts of, “Damn, I miss this guy.”

    We feel your pain. Nowadays, in the wake of Sandler’s worst movie thus far in his 23-year-career, the 2011 embarrassment Jack and Jill, the proposition of a new Adam Sandler comedy sounds more like a threat than a promise. And he only has himself to blame, since all of the multimillionaire’s projects come from his Happy Madison Productions, and bear his dirty fingerprints.

    The latest example is That’s My Boy, an R-rated flick co-starring fellow Saturday Night Live alum Andy Samberg as the well-to-do son of a deadbeat, partying father (Sandler) who conceived the kid when he was in grade school, with his teacher, no less. Admittedly, That’s My Boy, directed by Sean Anders (who co-wrote Hot Tub Time Machine and She’s Out of My League), does look like it could potentially be the funniest Sandler film since Funny People (2009), but that doesn’t dismiss its undeniable air of predictability.

    10 Good Actors Who Make Mostly Bad Movies:
    http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2012/12/10-good-actors-who-make-mostly-bad-movies/adam-sandler

    Adam Sandler
    Worst movies: Little Nicky (2000), Mr. Deeds (2002), Grown Ups (2010), Just Go With It (2011), Jack and Jill (2011), That’s My Boy (2012)
    Proof that he deserves better: Billy Madison (1995), Happy Gilmore (1996), The Wedding Singer (1997), Punch-Drunk Love (2002), Spanglish (2004), Reign Over Me (2007), Funny People (2009)

    It’s hard not to tear up a bit whenever Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore airs on cable television. With each viewing of Adam Sandler’s earliest, most endearing dumbass-comedy flicks, the realization that the Saturday Night Live veteran only cares about making easy profits through unimaginative and insufferable comedies for shamelessly lowbrow audiences stings more and more. And don’t even get us started on the feelings that arise whenever Jack and Jill terrorizes the cable airwaves.

    It’s sad, really, because whenever Sandler decides to stop speaking in goofy voices and making dick jokes, he’s actually a fine actor. Thoughtful films from talented writer-directors like Paul Thomas Anderson (Punch-Drunk Love) and Judd Apatow (Funny People) show the Sandman’s emotional range and disarming charisma—sadly, though, neither of those passion projects make nearly as much as junk like Just Go with It, so he’s less apt to star in more of the former. Meaning, the world will soon to be punished with Grown Ups 2.

    Blame it on those Billy Madison re-airings, but we still have hope that our once-favorite comedic actor can make us become dedicated fans again. Here are a few suggestions to help his, as well as our, cause: 10 Ways Adam Sandler Can Get His Swag Back.

    http://whatculture.com/topic/adam-sandler

    How ‘Funny People’ Ruined Adam Sandler’s Career:
    http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/opinions/how-funny-people-ruined-adam-sandlers-career.php

    C’MON HOLLYWOOD: WHAT HAPPENED TO ADAM SANDLER:
    http://www.joblo.com/movie-news/cmon-hollywood-what-happened-to-adam-sandler

    5 suggestions to save Adam Sandler’s career:
    http://www.hitfix.com/news/5-suggestions-to-save-adam-sandlers-career

    Adam Sandler in a tough spot. His latest picture, “That’s My Boy,” just endured one of the worst opening weekends of his career. Moreover, audiences only gave the picture a B Cinemascore which is a bad sign for its long term prospects. The only silver lining is that reviews for “Boy” were a bit better than “Jack and Jill” last November (which isn’t saying much).

    While audiences have kept Sandler at the top of the box office consistently since “Billy Madison” 17 years ago, critics have rarely been on board with Sandler’s brand of broad comedy. Unfortunately, the overall quality of his films may finally be catching up with him. Many in the industry are blaming the Razzie-winning “Jack and Jill” on the poor debut of “Boy,” but it’s clearly more of a cumulative effect of forgettable flicks such as “Grown Ups” and “Just Go With It.” And, unfortunately, when Sandler has taken chances with a drama such as “Reign Over Me” or a dramedy such as “Funny People” (both films where Sandler received great individual reviews) the disappointing financial results seem to have scared him off from going in a different direction.*

    *The one exception being “Punch-Drunk Love.” An indie experiment Sandler has shown no intention of exploring again.

    At this point, Sandler is currently in production on “Grown Ups 2″ which could either temporarily put him back in moviegoers good graces or be another “surprising” disappointment. The 45-year-old is also expected to reunite with Kevin James for the comedy “Valet Guys,” but whether the film will be green lit at this point remains to be seen.

    Ever since his years on “SNL,” Sandler has displayed an every-man charisma and willingness to put himself in embarrassing situations or characters for the benefit of his audience. Not every comedic actor of his generation would be willing to go where he’s gone over the years and, even he would likely admit, it hasn’t always worked out. Will the shock of “Boy’s” performance convince Sandler he needs to make some changes on the creative side? We’d certainly like to think so. Taking all this into account, here are five suggestions we hope Sandler will take to extend his career.
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    1. Sometimes being too loyal doesn’t work in a creative medium
    Sandler and his producing partner Jack Giarraputo have a tremendous amount of creative control with the films they make and have consistently pulled from the same pool of directors, actors, screenwriters, costumers, you name it. Sandler tried to go in a different direction on “Boy” with Sean Anders (“Hot Tub Time Machine”), but he’s usually in the hands of Dennis Dugan (six and about to be seven times), Peter Segal (three times) and Frank Coraci (three times). It’s arguably worse in front of the camera. It’s one thing to reunite with Chris Rock or Steve Buscemi, but the consistent use of Kevin James (four times), David Spade, Colin Quinn, Nick Swardson (seven times) and Rob Schneider (11 times) puts a second-rate and increasingly out-of-touch spin on his films. There is something incredibly admirable about providing work for your friends in Hollywood. Especially when you set up and produce smaller commercial films to, um “help” their careers (“Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star,” “Grandma’s Boy”). To say such loyalty is rare in the movie industry is an understatement, but it’s becoming a burden to Sandler’s reputation with moviegoers.

    2. Don’t be afraid to make smaller films again
    Outside of “Punch-Drunk Love,” Sandler really hasn’t delved into independent cinema. “Reign Over Me” was framed as an indie, but had a studio price tag of $20 million and was marketed like a major release. He’s spoken previously about how nervous it makes him to star in more dramatic roles (he famously dropped out of Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds”) , but at this point even making an unconventional comedy — even in a supporting role or ensemble piece — could really help fuel his creativity. It might even be an eye-opener to filmmakers who may not have considered Sandler open to jumping outside his comfort zone in the past.

    3. Better Team-Ups
    As noted, Sandler clearly loves working with friends such as James and Rock, but why did we never see him in a movie with Jim Carrey at Carrey’s career height? Why hasn’t he teamed up with Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jack Black, Steve Carell or even “SNL” vets such as Will Ferrell or Eddie Murphy? (We’re not sure “Boy’s” Samberg counts as a star yet.) Sandler was fantastic with Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and up and comers such as Aubrey Plaza and Aziz Ansari in “People,” why didn’t he reunite with any of them in his next few films? Or actors of that ilk? One of his biggest hits pitted him against Jack Nicholson (“Anger Management”). Why wouldn’t he try an unexpected pairing like that again?

    4. Make another Sports flick
    One thing that Sandler has been known for is his association to professional sports and films such as “Happy Gilmore” (“Caddyshack” for a younger generation), “The Waterboy” and “The Longest Yard.” The latter two wouldn’t be considered classics, but from a commercial standpoint they appeal dirtily to his longtime male fan base. A huge NBA fan, Sandler still hasn’t made a real basketball comedy yet. Why not now?

    5. Don’t be afraid to make another R-rated movie
    In many ways, teaming up with Samberg in “Boy” and going in an R-rated direction was a “change” from Sandler’s recent filmography. Before “Boy,” the only other R-rated comedy Sandler had starred in was “Funny People.” Studio executives will try to sell Sandler’s camp that his audience is so family-friendly he needs to stick to PG-13 films, but ask Eddie Murphy how long that strategy can last creatively. There have been numerous box office blockbusters that were R-rated over the past decade. Sandler’s on screen persona should be a perfect fit for the right R-rated edgier material. Perhaps the third time’s the charm?

    Adam Sandler’s Fall From Grace:
    http://movies.mmgn.com/Articles/Adam-Sandler-39-s-Fall-From-Grace

    What the hell has happened to Adam Sandler? I still remember laughing my head off at the bitter golfing antics of Happy in Happy Gilmore and the childish banter of Billy in Billy Madison. His work on Saturday Night Live was equally as brilliant; Sandler has truly proven that he is capable of working in both small and silver screen environments. In addition, Sandler’s shift of pace in PT Anderson’s dramedy/romance Punch-Drunk Love, is, arguably, the greatest film of his career and one of Anderson’s most memorable projects. It signaled his potential as an actor with both strong dramatic and comedic timing. Nowadays, however, Sandler has returned to the idiotic humour that nearly ended his career before it started in the late 1980s and very early 1990s. Why has this happened?

    The reason for Sandler’s return could only be put down to complacency and a willingness to ride upon the fame and notoriety he has developed since his successful work on television and in film in the mid-1990s. Of late, his work has shared absolutely no resemblance with his work of yesteryear. Tell me, what do the following Sandler films have in common: Jack & Jill; Zookeeper; Just Go with It; Grown Ups<; Bedtime Stories; You Don't Mess with the Zohan; I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo? The answer: they all suck really bad. Sandler's credits over the last half a decade have been mediocre leaning towards terrible, to put it lightly. Sure, he was great as Charlie in Reign on Me, a dramatic return to the brilliance he showed in his collaboration with Anderson years before in Punch-Drunk Love, and he was amusing as Henry in 50 First Dates. Here, however, is where we see the problem: we can count the credible projects he has aligned himself with over the last 5-10 years on one hand. The glory days of Gilmore and Madison are gone and the horrible gags he bored audiences to death with in the early phase of his career are back.

    Jack & Jill is a return to the awkward, ridiculous humor that characterized Going Overboard in the late 1980s. Little Nicky was one of the earliest signs of Sandler's decline but he then redeemed himself with Anger Management, Spanglish and The Longest Yard shortly after. These half-hearted attempts at redemption, however, have characterised Sandler's career. On one hand, he has proven to audiences that he is capable of wooing them with his lovable onscreen persona, as can be seen in his portrayal of Robbie Hart in retro romantic comedy The Wedding Singer, but he has also disappointed viewers with follow-up performances in such films as The Animal and Eight Crazy Nights. Sandler has wavered between funny, amusing, misanthropic comedy to tortured, anti-heroic, dramatic performances. In between, however, we have seen some stinkers. Of late, however, there have been far too many.

    So, the question remains: what's happened to Sandler? His work on Saturday Night Live and his class roles of the 1990s seem like distant memories. His naturally strong dramatic and comedic timing seems absent, almost lost in films he has been involved with over the last 5-10 years. Is this a return to the painfully bad comedy of the late 1980s and early 1990s that nearly ruined his career?

    Zabadooo! The Comedy of Adam Sandler:
    http://splitsider.com/2013/04/zabadooo-the-comedy-of-adam-sandler/

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    • I’m not sure Sandler has derailed yet. He’s taken a few hits. But Grown Ups 2 will probably be a return to form for the guy.

      Personally, I have never understood Sandler’s appeal. But I can’t argue with his batting average. He is remarkably consistent even with a couple of recent flubs.

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        • 10 Adam Sandler Films That Actually Didn’t Suck:
          http://whatculture.com/film/10-adam-sandler-films-that-actually-didnt-suck.php

          With the release of yet another terrible Adam Sandler movie in Grown Ups 2 (you can read my review here) it would be easy to stick the knife in and trot out every awful movie the much-criticized comic actor has ever made. But I figured I should head in a different direction and present 10 Sandler movies that actually don’t suck.

          It’s important to remember that it wasn’t always this grim for Sandler. At one point he was a star of Saturday Night Live, which opened doors up to bigger and better opportunities. And throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s Sandler was a bankable name guaranteeing that your hard earned dollars would be well spent on something funny. But then sometime during the mid- 2000’s Sandler unfortunately stopped caring about producing quality content and nowadays is a guarantee that the movie is a steaming pile of dung.

          It really is unfortunate how far down Sandler has spiraled and fizzled out. There was a time when I actually got excited to see the next Sandler flick, and that didn’t always mean a slapstick comedy either as this list will prove.

          Maybe one day Sandler will crawl out of the gutter and start trying again but for now let’s remember the good times. The times when Sandler’s movies weren’t soulless and devoid of creativity.

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      • I think part of Adam Sandler’s problem in recent years is a bit similar to Eddie Murphy’s. First and foremost, Sandler’s audience/fan-base don’t seem to want him to age if that makes sense. They still want Sandler to act like he acted when he was on “SNL” and was making “Billy Madison” and “Happy Gilmore”. It’s just like how Eddie Murphy’s audience seem to want him to still be like he was during his ’80s heyday (when he was on “SNL” and was making “Beverly Hills Cop”). Sandler will occasionally do things outside of his “comfort-zone” (e.g. “Punch Drunk Love”, “Spanglish”, “Reign Over Me”, and “Funny People”, in which Sandler seemed to lampshade his reputation of continuously making high concept but otherwise lowbrow and obnoxious comedies), but will immediately go back to what was familiar and what would easily make him a huge profit.

        Sandler like Murphy seems to be somebody who would instead of working more w/ quality filmmakers, seems content on always hiring his friends (how else can hacks like Dennis Dugan kept getting work). Sandler as he has gotten older (much like Murphy during the late ’80s-early ’90s) seems to have worn his ego on his sleeve. He seemingly has to portray himself as the supreme alpha male, who is able to land/attract beautiful women at any end (of course he had to get Selma Hayek to play his wife in “Grown Ups”).

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        • Thing is Sandler seems perfectly happy to keep making the same crappy movie over and over again. Murphy was miserable and just couldn’t do it any more.

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          • I another thing that I should mention about Adam Sandler is that you can actually make the argument that he really isn’t that bad of an actor. Adam Sandler’s basic problem is that he more than often doesn’t seem to want to try very hard (to get straight to the point, Sandler just comes across as being incredibly lazy). This perfectly explains why much of his movies are comedies that aim to lowest common denominator. More to the point, much of his movies tend to come across as “Mary Sue” type vanity projects that are always about the same, interchangeable character. He’s seemingly more or less, in it mainly for the money and to give his friends steady work.

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  24. “Jack and Jill” falls into the category of so bad it’s good… There’s no denying it’s bad, TMC, but here’s the thing… Sandler knows what he is doing cause that film made lots of money.

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    • Jack and Jill made a lot of money. But it actually failed to recoup its budget in the US. That makes it a box office disappointment. Especially given Sandler’s track record. It’s extremely rare for him to fail like that.

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  25. Mid-European view (MEV): Chevy Chase is the anti-Nick Cage. Never ever had any success here, I had to google him. Usually all SNL-alumni fare quite well here (Eddy Murphy, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, even Adam Sandler), with two notable exceptions: Chevy Chase who is really unknown and Will Ferrell, who is known but definitely not famous.

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  26. In fact it’s perhaps a cultural barrier, but I really can’t understand what is funny in a sentence like “I am Chevy Chase and you are not”. I definitely have to see some of his stuff on SNL to judge.

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    • What you are Lebeau are saying makes perfect sense; humor often does not translate. As far as what makes him funny to us in the States, that we could talk about for a long time. The whole SNL thing in the beginning is that it was fresh, outrageous and hilarious. A lot of us grew old along with Chevy and the others so it is difficult to explain why “I’m Chevy Chase… and you’re not” was so funny back then. It was his own brand of comic genius, nailing the satire perfectly with his delivery. SNL Weekend update was basically satirizing news shows. You still might not find it humorous after seeing it though.

      Chevy had me at “Vacation.”

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      • Vacation was a real turning point for Chase. It’s when he stopped being the coolest guy in the room and started playing the bumbling dad. He was still funny. In fact, he was funnier than he had been in a lot of his “cool guy” movies. But Vacation is when his big screen image changed irrevocably.

        Although it had to be hard to be the cool guy after O Heavenly Dog and Under the Rainbow.

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    • I am going to do something ill-advised and attempt to explain a joke.

      First “I am Chevy Chase and you are not” was a play on what most news anchors said in their broadcasts and still do. I’m and . Chase substituted something a little edgy for the usual platitude which initially took viewers by surprise. After that, it morphed into a catchphrase and the repetition is what made it funny. Or at least why it got a cheer from the audience who knew it was coming every week.

      But more important was Chase’s attitude. First, he was cooler than anybody else in the world. Unless you were the Bee Gees or John Travolta, odds are Chase was cooler than you. He gave off this attitude like he wasn’t trying and he didn’t give a damn if you laughed or not. He made it all look exceptionally easy which is a key to comedy. Comedy is hard, but it has to look like the most natural thing in the world.

      The phrase “I’m Chevy Chase and you’re not” just sums up that whole “I’m cooler than you” attitude that made him a star. At the time, it seemed like an outrageous and audacious thing for someone on a nationally broadcast show to say. Especially someone behind a news desk. But Chase said it with a shit-eating grin. And he said it very matter-of-factly. He’s cool. You’re not. But he’ll still let you hang out. Aren’t you lucky?

      Of course, that’s extremely arrogant. But Chase delivers that arrogance with a wink that made audiences eat it up. Plus, he had already won them over when he opened the show by falling on his face. And he was a good looking guy – but not too good looking. Men weren’t threatened by him. They wanted to hang out with him. Women thought he was cute and funny.

      Honestly, the SNL stuff probably won’t play very well today. It was all very off its time. What made the show such a smash success was how edgy it seemed at the time. But these days, it doesn’t seem so radical.

      So good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.

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      • Thank you for the explanation, now I see better where Chevy Chase is coming from. And of course, if someone is “cool” because of a TV show in the US, it is difficult to understand what makes him tick in movies when you have never seen that show.
        I remember when I saw “Stranger than fiction”: I was completely unaware of Will Ferrell then and I wondered why they cast this normal straight guy for a rom-com lead. Obviously it was made on purpose: a counter intuitive casting of a leading comedian as a boring dude is interesting, above all in a high concept movie. But if you don’t know it you really can’t understand why Maggie Gyllenhall would fall for such a guy.

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        • Chase rose to fame on being cool and then slowly lost it. Which happens with age. Early on, he was young rebellious and handsome. As he got older, he morphed into a bumbling boob. He could still be funny. But it was different.

          His style of comedy is very unprepared. Some say lazy. That effortless comedy worked when everyone thought he was cool. But once he stopped being cool (The Chevy Chase Show robbed him of any coolness he had left) a lot of that winking “I’m not really trying” comedy stopped working.

          Look at Chase’s impression of Gerald Ford from the early days of SNL. He didn’t look like Ford. He didn’t try to sound like Ford. He didn’t even mimick his mannerism or speech patterns. All Chase did was put on a suit and a dumb expression and fall down a lot. And audiences ate it up. Who many comedians could get away with that?

          Like I said before, comedy doesn’t always translate well. Pure physical comedy does, but mostly comedy is tied to a culture and a time. So it doesn’t age well or carry across borders. The early Chase was the very definition of comedy in the Disco 70s. In the 80s, he softened his image and lost some of that edge. In the 90s, he basically stopped being funny. Although I understand he got some of that mojo back on Community.

          Ferrell is a divisive figure over here. People who think he’s funny (like me) think he’s hysterical. But lots of people in the US just don’t think he’s funny at all. I can see how Stranger Than Fiction would seem like an odd casting choice if you’re not familiar with Ferrell’s popular comedies. Even having followed Ferrell’s career, I didn’t think that movie quite worked.

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    • Context- US viewers were used to talking heads like Walter Cronkite acting like God gave them the news personally.

      Those news shows are struggling- so the joke is partially lost.

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  27. For me the SNL stuff didn’t stand up forever but many of Chevy Chase’s movies have remained enjoyable over the years. I can babble on for a long time about the appeal of the Vacation movies… it’s not like a “ROAD TRIP” movie is necessarily unique…it’s impossible to count all the road trip movies that have been made… the concept is definitely a comedy goldmine. There’s just so much material that can be written about, with all the stuff that can go wrong when you plan a lengthy trip. Beyond the humor/satire, “Vacation” spoke to people about something fundamental, that in a country this large connected by the freeway system, the open road always beckons. So I’ve always experienced the movie series as both a satire of family vacations, and for the vacation aspect itself. You really do want to see all the places the Griswolds visit…. well, most of the places. Unlike many critics, I enjoyed the followup movies just as much and Vegas Vacation is my personal favorite. I’m so hoping this latest installment makes it through production, the project is evidently on hold. They would be making a mistake to limit Chase to a cameo, they can still be Clark and Ellen Griswold, even if the son takes the lead. There could be a “grandparent spoiling” subplot that any decent writer could work with. The possibilities are endless!

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  28. ” Although I understand he got some of that mojo back on Community.”

    Yes and no- some of the writers for Community didn’t seem to know what to do with him. I think he was at his best when they either made meta references to Chase being a jerk (this probably didn’t sit well with Chase). They also have given him good episodes where he is shown as a lonely misguided guy.

    It was uneven- and maybe the problems on the set weren’t all Chase’s fault. Harmon released a phone message from an angry Chase that Harmon thought was funny. If you listen to it- you can side with Chase if he is being honest.

    Anyway- these problems might have prevented Community from being a big hit- although its quirkiness has always made that a difficult task.

    But- that might be it for Chase- the Community feud probably put off any other TV show runners- and the movie studios certainly aren’t burning his agents phone.

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    • I do not doubt his ability to burn any and all bridges. I’m sure he will get some work. But I doubt any more network TV shows are going to drop in his lap.

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  29. This summer, with actual time on my hands during a period of unemployment, I finally channeled my inner Chevy Chase, as sort of the Clark Griswold of single moms.. except less cool… and took the kids on a Vacation type road trip. The destination was not Wally World but rather Daytona Beach. We had a blast and I could easily contribute a few script ideas, starting with the appearance of little tiny ants in the car. It had seemed like a good idea when we were leaving, to load some boxes of unsold Girl Scout cookies that had been in the garage, thinking the kids might snack on them en route. Let’s just say there is a gas station near Cincinnati with a garbage can stuffed full of Thin Mints plus we were considerably delayed getting to our first stop by having to go over the car interior with paper towels and hand sanitizer until all the escaped ants were removed. Then there was the freeway situation around Atlanta which could almost spawn a Vacation sequel on its own. Now, it’s time to celebrate my last night of unemployment, by watching Vegas Vegation while doing laundry. Clark Griswold you rock!!

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    • Congrats on the new job and good luck. Glad to hear you took advantage of the time off.

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    • Well- basically the Vacation films made Chase a funny comedy everyman (middle aged version).

      This was different from his too cool Seventies/Eighties persona. Fletch was the last gasp of that- sadly.

      I think I said before that Vacation killed his cool guy image- but now I think he had killed that off- Vacation was the correct way to go- and I guess kept him on the beach in Malibu for another decade or so.

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      • I certainly don’t think Vacation was a mistake. It was probably the second best move of his career (the best being SNL). Chase had slowly eroded his coolness factor ever since leaving SNL. Were it not for transitioning into goofy dad roles, he probably would have burned out long ago. The Vacation films have endeared him to generations like nothing else he has ever done.

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  30. He killed off the cool guy image for sure, and it may have cost him some fans from the cool guy era. Then again maybe that was the better career direction…whether intentional or not? When so many comedians fail trying to reinvent themselves? Some fans, like me are part of the base that only arrived with the middle aged dad phase. I watched SNL in the early days but wasn’t a CC “Fan” other than how he played with the ensemble.

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    • The cool guy thing was never going to last through middle age anyway. There’s only room for one middle aged cool guy and that was Bill Murray. ;)

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      • I wonder why Bill Murray among 1970s era “SNL” alumni has had a much more respectable film career than Chevy Chase? I mean Murray like Chase, has developed a reputation for being a pain in the ass to deal w/ too.

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        • Murray was incredibly savvy about reinventing himself as a dramatic actor while still keeping a tow in comedy. He can do roles that blend the two. He shifted into smaller independent films and supporting roles. And while he’s cashed his fair share of paychecks (Garfield) he didn’t “sell out” like Chase did.

          Murray appealed to critics and became a darling even if he has yet to win any major awards. Odds are he will eventually. Murray may be a pain, but generally speaking he is worth putting up with if you can get him. Chase is just a pain who will eventually bite the hand that feeds him.

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          • I could never see Chase teaming up with Wes Anderson- which no doubt lead to Lost in Translation with Coppola for Murray.

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          • “Charlie’s Angels” (and to a lesser extent, “Osmosis Jones”) is another movie from the latter part of Bill Murray’s career, where you can argue that he was simply “cashing in” for a paycheck (and even then, things ended on a sour note as Murray didn’t get along w/ Lucy Liu or the director, McG). Although, I always assumed that he did that movie in order to appease Drew Barrymore, who kept pestering him to play Bosley (leading up to the incident at the 25th anniversary special for “SNL”, where Murray, reprising his lounge lizard character, approached Barrymore in the audience and said “Don’t go chasing waterfalls!”).

            This could also explain why Murray has been so reluctant to make a third “Ghostbusters” movie (although he did reprise his role via voice-acting in the 2009 “Ghostbusters” video game). I saw him on the David Letterman show and he said that if the script is on par w/ the first “Ghostbusters” movie, then he would be open to make a third one.

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          • Before TV remakes became common, Dan Aykroyd revived Dragnet:
            http://thedissolve.com/features/forgotbusters/263-before-tv-remakes-became-common-dan-aykroyd-revive/

            J. Thunder • 8 months ago
            I think Murray’s longevity as a beloved comedy icon can be chalked up to the fact by the time Rushmore came out, he realized it was futile to try headlining mainstream comedies and had to adapt to the times. After being a star for close to 20 years, he didn’t have to try to compete with the Sandlers or Carreys. Murray embraced being a utility player in respected projects by top tier filmmakers (Anderson, Coppola, Jarsmuch). Some of Murray’s contemporaries (Aykroyd, Chase) in comparison still pretended it was the late 70’s-early 80’s and embarrassed themselves with minuscule box office returns before studios stopped green lighting starring vehicles for them. Of course, Latter Day Murray would stumble occasionally (Charlie’s Angels, Garfield) but overall, he probably feels there’s nothing to prove being a movie star these days; which probably explains his reluctance to make Ghostbusters 3 (or maybe he still hates Harold Ramis).

            When the bad movie podcast We Hate Movies was reviewing Casper, one of the hosts mentioned seeing a flier for Dan Aykroyd appearing at at a liquor store in New Jersey to promote his Crystal Skull Vodka. Very unfortunate. I’d rather see him make a sequel to Loose Cannons than endure that.

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  31. What Chevy Chase does best are the following character “types” and areas of comedy: 1.) Being an eccentric, surly grump (but a lovable one), 2.) Being a geeky, goofy dad or “nice” character (National Lampoon’s Vacation movies, Foul Play, Three Amigos, Funny Farm to an extent), 3.) Being a klutz, 4.) Being a wiseass (what he does best), but in order for this to work, he needs to have fairly constant laughable/buffoonish characters and situations that he can play off of/easily improvise-the situational thing is the key. (Fletch movies, Caddyshack to a lesser extent), or 5.) The guy who is a little “slower” than the others (Three Amigos)-(Its the “What? Me? I’m innocent!” kind of look.) And… that is just about it. But he is VERY good at these kinds of character types/areas of humor. So he is definitely not very versatile, and definitely not able to generate humor on his OWN very well-which is why being a stand up comic was NEVER his thing. But pair him with a weirdo (Uncle Eddie (Randy Quaid) for instance), and there you go, he’s a funny dude. Chase as a person? Hey, yeah, he’s got some issues. That temper, geez… But there are plenty of people who are much worse than he is. If he could just be a little more considerate to the “little people”, I think more people would like him, but I don’t really think that was ever very high on his “priority list” to begin with… So yeah, there is definitely a “me-centered” thing going on there with Chevy-hey, some folks really have a hard time getting outside of themselves…

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  32. I’ve read the Tom Shales book, and it’s full of some mis-quotes according to some of the writers, but if several subsequent cast members go on to continually document how much of an asshole somebody was, then chances are they really are an asshole.

    Chevy’s incredibly full of himself, which would be fine if he was delivering comedic genius year after year. But it was hubris on his part to think that he could pull off a talk-show. People talk about how he’s much better suited to “off-the-cuff” humour, but then why didn’t that show work? Its because they could see the flop sweat beading on his ever-balding head as it was forming. A real comic would never let the audience see how nervous they were.

    But Johnny Carson was even more of an asshole, and he had the requisite skills to make a talk-show work for decades. So it’s a combination of poor decision making, an inability to do any more than he was able to, and a complete lack of public interest due to diminishing returns. People can forgive a bomb or two if you bookend them with hits, or at least marginally interesting films. But by the early 90s, nobody cared about Chevy anymore.

    The last sort of funny thing I saw him in was as a doctor who constantly gets body parts broken by loan sharks–in “Dirty Work” and that was in about ’97 or so. It was a bit part and the movie tanked, which didn’t do him any favours.

    As for the roast, we’ll agree to disagree–I think they can be funny as hell, but there’s not a roast or roaster today that will ever top what the Dean Martin roasts ended up being.

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    • Great post. I think you have summed it up very well. It’s not just that Chase was a pompous ass. When he was successful, everyone was willing to put up with him acting like he invented the pratfall. But Chase’s success was based less on his comic genius and more on his “too cool for school” image which quickly evaporated as he transformed from young Cary Grant in the lat 70s to doofus middle aged dad in the 80s.

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  33. National Lampoon’s “Vacation” reunion: ABC plans comedy with Chevy Chase & Beverly D’Angelo:
    http://www.tvguide.com/News/Vacation-Reunion-ABC-1075529.aspx

    ABC has just signed up both actors to star in a comedy for the 2015-16 season, but the proposed project is still in the very early stages.

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  34. Saw “Three Amigos” on TV recently for the first time in years. Have to say, it was not a bad time. It is cheesy, campy fun. In particular the scene where they sing “My Little Buttercup” in a grungy Mexican bar, is a classic. Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short were all uniformly excellent.

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  35. I just assume every actor and sports player is prickish and entitled because of the great compensation and fawning fans. Gold and glory seldom go with caring and sharing.

    I don’t care if he arranges puppy cage fighting, makes lousy films now, or his only tip to the waitress is on the end of his penis.

    The old Fletch and Family movies were great entertainment and he fit in those roles exceptionally well. The old family film cheese is far better than the crap they make now. The whole point of film is to entertain you and he used to do that. As for his real life decisions they in no way effect the film/character so I dunno whatever. Punch a fleet of babies or be locked away for 50 years for stealing a hotel towel. Don’t care. Just as long as you play your role in the film to satisfaction as that is the only time people cross with you and its better that way without the reality. Entertainment is fantasy. Why do people need to ruin it?

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    • Your comment cracked me up. I share your point of view for the most part. I don’t really care that Chevy Chase is an asshole. I’m never going to have to have the unpleasant experience of listening to him brag about his own awesomeness over lunch. Like you said, that doesn’t impact my enjoyment of his old movies.

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  36. What Chase needs, while he’s still alive, is for somebody to kill his over-compensating ego. Once the ego’s dealt with, then perhaps he can start mending fences with everyone around him. That’s what I think, at least. A therapist would be helpful for doing this.

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    • I was reading an interview with Chase from the early 90s just before Christmas Vacation opened and it was really sad. He talks about how misunderstood he is and how the book on the history of SNL made him cry. But then, his inflated ego gets in the way. When he isn’t talking about how he’s such a victim, he’s making himself out to be the inventor of comedy.

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      • Other people’s egos also, can have the effect of rewriting someone’s history book. If you step on the wrong toes. It’s an unfortunate “real world” problem that some people are skilled in dealing with, and some are not. And sometimes people should just plain know better, other times you don’t see it coming. In the entertainment world, this effect would probably be magnified a thousandfold.

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  37. Reviewing of “Funny Farm” and “Snow Day.” FF is a very good Chase comedy vehicle, except it plays a bit more serious and slow paced, but I think for CC fans it is a movie worth owning. The man’s brilliance at simultaneously playing satire and storyline keeps me enthralled. As I watch him on film it strikes me that he has always been very good at taking a joke as well as making one. In other words he has no problem poking fun at himself for the good of a movie or a skit. Which is something people often overlook.
    Snow Day is a forgettable bit of drivel where CC isn’t even a major role. I watched 3/4 of it while folding laundry and trashed it next morning. My son said as tactfully as he could, “Mom this movie is really bad.” Yep. that sums it up. Chevy Chase owns the screen in his few scenes, the viewer is left wishing this movie was more about his character than the high school kids. This from a high school aged viewer.

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    • Chase didn’t care for Funny Farm. He felt like they wouldn’t let him cut loose. But I remember Ebert and Siskle liked that it was a more reigned in performance. What they liked about it was that it was a movie that just happened to have Chevy Chase in it rather than a “Chevy Chase movie”. I am on the fence. I think I would have rather seen Chase go all out mugging because as you point out the movie is kind of slow and not especially funny.

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  38. Uh…..Chevy WHO?!! From the looks of it he started eating and never stopped. Maybe that’s how he died…..

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    • daffystardust

      not sure if you’re joking or not.
      If you don’t know who he is, then maybe it makes sense that you don’t know he’s still alive.

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      • lol – I hadn’t read your response when I posted.

        If you don’t know who he is, I don’t know, maybe you could read the article explaining who he is and what happened to him. Or just look at the unflattering picture at the top and go right to the comments section. Whatever works.

        Like

    • Do you seriously not know who Chevy Chase is or are you messing with your old pal Lebeau? I can’t tell.

      Like

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