Die Another Day (And Other Cameos)
February 28, 2016
Todd: Before we move on to Madonna's...directorial career...[sigh]...I figured we should take a look at all the films in which she only had cameos or minor roles.
- Clips of Madonna in various movies to be explored later in the video.
Todd (VO): There's a surprising number of them, often times with really good directors. This is how famous she was: even though she's a terrible actress, sometimes you need that flash of style and celebrity that only Madonna can provide. Actually for the most part, these movies are total cameo-fests. If you got Madonna in there, you've probably got a whole ton of other people too. [Brief clips of...] Richard Belzer, Kathy Griffin, Roseanne, why the hell not? If you can afford Madonna, you can pretty much afford everybody. Another thing they have in common is that they're not good. I didn't hate all of them, but I really wouldn't recommend any of them either.
Todd: [Sigh] Okay, I've plowed through a lot of mediocre indie movies for this one, so...let's get this over with.
- Vision Quest
Todd (VO): In 1985, just as she was starting her film career, she made a short cameo in the 80's teen movie Vision Quest. It's pleasant enough, but it's low-key and kinda boring. I dare say that two seconds of Madonna is probably the only reason to watch this. It's a movie about...wrestling, believe it or not. And not the fun kind either, like, the real kind, without costumes. Look, there's a reason why you remembered The Karate Kid and not this. It's a little too relaxed for its own good. The idea is that his quest to be a champion wrestler is like the coming-of-age ritual...
Todd: ...where Native Americans go out into the desert and have visions.
- Louden Swain (Matthew Modine): What am I really even doing?
- Kuch (Michael Schoeffling): You're on a vision quest, man! You're trying to find your place in the circle! [He pins Louden] You knew I was half Indian, huh?
Todd: ...yeah, sure ya are, pal.
- Louden: ...cooch man? You'll be the first Indian president!
- Kuch: Sure man, except for one thing: I ain't no fucking Indian! That's just shit I made up in my head!
Todd (VO): This was not the most shocking plot twist in movie history.
- In the movie, we cut to the scene of Madonna performing "Crazy For You" in a nightclub
- Club Singer (Madonna): You said I'm crazy for you
Todd (VO): Anyway, Madonna has a small cameo as a club singer. She sings "Crazy For You," one of Madonna's best songs wasted on a fairly tepid romance. Keep in mind that literally just a few scenes earlier, she caught him sniffing her underwear. But I would like to call attention to the other tune she sings in this scene.
- Club Singer: I'm a gambler
- I aim this straight between your eyes
- Yeah I know all the words to say
- Cause I'm a gambler
- I only play the game my way
- That's right baby I'm a gambler
Todd: Hey Madonna? This scene is a little longer than we realized; we need another song to fill it out right now. Like right now. ... Well I dunno, just make something up! Doesn't have to be good, just...go! Go go go!
- Shadows and Fog
- Paul the Clown (John Malkovich): You're the only one they seem to like.
- Marie (Madonna): Yeah, but I have my little tricks for seducing.
Todd (VO): All right, Woody Allen's Shadows and Fog. Alongside Warren Beatty and John Schlesinger, this would be the third of the Oscar-winning directors who have worked with Madonna. It's an homage to, you know, these old black-and-white movies like M, The Third Man, basically any black-and-white movies with a lot of shadows and fog in them. So just add Woody Allen dithering through those movies with his own Woody Allen-ness. Siskel and Ebert both hated it. Quite honestly, I'm not sure why.
- Kleinman (Woody Allen): I don't like this, I don't wanna have to go out. I was in a nice, warm bed; suddenly, I'm part of a plan.
Todd (VO): I mean, it's a Woody Allen movie, all right. I really don't have any gauge on what counts as a good Woody Allen, honestly. Why is Hannah and Her Sisters allegedly so wonderful and this is bad? I...
Todd: ...I don't know.
Todd (VO): Anyway, there's a circus; Mia Farrow is a sword-swallower, and she's struggling in her relationship with a clown played by John Malkovich...
Todd: ...the greatest casting of all time.
- Paul: Every town I've played in, I get huge laughs, and here, nothing. I mean, no one comes, and the few that do just sit there stone-faced.
Todd (VO): [a la Malkovich] They weren't laughing at my jokes. I was hilarious.
Todd: I pulled a rubber chicken out of my comically oversized pants.
Todd (VO): Little does she know that Malkovich the Clown has been cheating on her with Madonna, the trapeze artist.
- Irmy (Mia Farrow): You are such a pig! You are a pig!
Todd (VO): Trust me, Mia. There are far worse ways you can be cheated on. I think the bigger question is, why is Madonna sleeping with a literal clown? I guess when you work in the circus, it's either Malkovich or Rex the Dog-Faced Boy. Also, there's a serial killer or something. Oh, and Woody and Mia decide to adopt a daughter together.
Todd: [knowing full-well what happened later...in real life] Oh, God.
- Four Rooms
Oh, Christ, this movie.
Todd (VO): Four Rooms is an anthology movie from 1995 consisting of four segments shot by four hot indie directors: Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, and two indie flash-in-the-pans you've never heard of. The Tarantino and Rodriguez ones are okay, the other two are unwatchable. Madonna's in the first, and by far the worst, of the four segments. It is...
Todd: ...absurdly terrible.
Todd (VO): See, all the stories are about this one bellhop played by Tim Roth. In the first segment, a coven of witches shows up to bring their goddess back to life. One of them is Madonna, who brings her lesbian lover with her.
- Kiva (Alicia Witt): This is my first guest.
- Elspeth (Madonna): That's enough, Kiva.
- Kiva: You're not my mother.
- Elspeth: Yes I am.
- Kiva: Then why are we sleeping together?
Todd (VO): Yeah, I think that's, like, basically her only line. Anyway, they all brought a special ingredient.
- Athena (Valeria Golino): We call upon the ancient power. O Goddess Bride, we offer thee milk from a mother's sweet tittie.
- Elspeth: A whore not
- An innocent was
- From whom I seized a virgin's blood.
- Eva (Ione Skye): [a black block reading "Sweet titties" covers her] Diana, fail you, I will.
- I was to bring you fresh sperm from my Bill.
- I had him erect, and his semen would follow,
- But alas, I was hot, so hot that I swallowed.
- [All other witches react horribly, including one who spits fire]
Todd (VO): Well, she may have fucked up, but...
Todd: ...at least she remembered to explain her failure in rhyme.
Todd (VO): How did you not bring this up immediately? For that matter, how did you not find a replacement, lady? Was there something special about this sperm?! Apparently not, because she decides to bang the bellhop; so apparently, she could've offered a BJ to literally any guy off the street, but she left it to the last minute for some reason. And for some reason, he still has to be magicked into it! Anyway, dude gets laid, she adds his jizz to the cauldron, the goddess is brought back to life, and then she...I don't know, destroys the world? Beats the shit out of it. I can't imagine...
Todd: ...why Madonna chose to be part of this except that she...
Todd (VO): ...might have another chance to hit on Antonio Banderas.
Todd: What was the point of this? Awful. Awful from beginning to end.
- Blue in the Face
Todd (VO): Okay, now here's another low-key indie movie about Brooklyn and how great it is...because God...
Todd: ...knows we needed another how great New York is. Pfft. Doesn't have much of a plot, seems to be mostly improvised. Harvey Keitel...
Todd (VO): ...is a clerk at a cigar shop, various actors hang out and improv. There's Lou Reed, Roseanne, Jim Jarmusch
- Bob (Jim Jarmusch): Coffee and cigarettes, you know?
Todd (VO): Yeah, if this movie inspired Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes, that's probably the only worthwhile thing it really does. Anyway, the owner's gonna sell the store and move away, but Jackie Robinson convinces him not to. Yeah, seriously, Jackie Robinson. And this is how he informs Harvey Keitel that he still has a job.
- Singing Telegram Girl (Madonna): I have a telegram for you.
- [She imitates jazz drum riff, then...]
- The deal is off, stop!
- Not selling the store, stop!
- I'll see you next week, stop!
Todd (VO): Well, that was pointless. Hey Harvey, remember when you screamed at her for ten solid minutes in Dangerous Game?
Todd: Good times.
- Girl 6
- Boss #3 (Madonna): You can invite your caller to fully experience his deepest, darkest, strangest, wildest desires.
Todd (VO): Ah yes! This one is a Spike Lee joint. And I've heard it called his worst movie! I certainly don't agree with that! Not when I've already seen She Hate Me and Miracle of St. Anna, not to mention the numerous unwatchable Spike Lee movies I haven't seen yet. But it was the first indication we had that Spike Lee might be losing his mind? I mean, look at this: there's no reason for the main character to be dressed like Tootie from Facts of Life; she just is for no reason at all! Anyway, she's a struggling actress who can't find work, so she [The film cuts to a shot of...] --gah, what? Quentin Tarantino? In a Spike Lee movie? Don't they hate each other? Anyway, since she can't make enough money, she gets a job as a phone sex operator, and she finds that she really likes it. And Madonna plays the sexy strip club owner that pushes her over the line! Into the more dangerous side of being a phone sex operator!
Todd: [Dramatically] Working from home!
- Boss #3: Fantasy girls are restricted by what they can say. A fantasy girl who works out of the home...a home girl...can experience complete and total...
Todd looks around the room with his mouth open, panicked.
Todd (VO): For the record, this was written by a woman, as was the Four Rooms segment, which is weird because they both seem like some dude's masturbation fantasy. She's getting "in too deep." Losing herself in the fantasy! It's a job! You know that friend who's completely convinced that the Hooters waitress is actually totally into him?
Todd: It's like he wrote this!
- Die Another Day
- Clip of the famous James Bond barrel shot
Todd (VO): Die Another Day. The favorite Bond movie of nobody! I mean it's certainly not the worst of the Bond movies, although it is much worse than I remember. And bad enough that Brosnan decided that he was done with this nonsense. And I remember it starting so promisingly! Bond gets captured by the North Koreans, spends eighteen months in a torture camp.
- Film's theme song "Die Another Day" plays over opening credits
- Madonna: Sigmund Freud
- Analyze this
Todd (VO): And then Madonna sings that awful theme song...
Todd: ...and everything starts going to shit!
- Madonna: I'm gonna avoid the cliché
Todd (VO): Ironically, immediately after those lines we get nothing but Bond clichés! Only this time they've upped the ante on how stupid it all is! There's an invisible car, a British guy who's actually a Korean guy who changed his race somehow, another guy who's altering his DNA to hide his identity but doesn't bother to remove the diamond stuck in his face. "Gee, who could it be?"
Todd: Oh, and yes, Madonna sings the theme so naturally she gets a cameo, just like in...
- Clip of...
Todd (VO): ...Thunderball where Sean Connery fought a seven-foot-tall robot Tom Jones. [...who has been inserted into the clip] It's a fairly pointless cameo. I mean, she sports a ridiculous name...
- James Bond (Pierce Brosnan): Verity?
Todd (VO): ...drops some exposition and flirts with Brosnan.
- Verity (Madonna): I see you handle your weapon well.
- Bond: I have been known to keep my tip up.
Todd: ...You don't really need a Sigmund Freud to analyze that one, I don't think.
- Arthur and the Invisibles
- Daisy (Mia Farrow): There is a place, Arthur, where courage isn't measured by how tall you are, but by the size of your heart.
Todd (VO): In 2006, I started writing movie reviews part-time for my local paper, and I remember watching a...[Pictures of posters for Open Season, Cars, Ice Age: The Meltdown, and Everyone's Hero] shit-ton of terrible, terrible animated movies that year. And this was one of the worst. This is the one about the kid who gets shrunk and joins a magical group of fairies. [DVD cover for Ferngully: The Last Rainforest.] No, not that one, not in the rainforest...
Todd: ...just his backyard.
- Poster for Epic
Todd (VO): No, not that one either. Ugh, look, this is the one from Luc Besson, the, the French guy? Makes over-the-top action movies like, you know, "The Fifth Element" and "Lucy"? And if you thought those movies were too frenetic and over-the-top, wait'll you see him work with literal cartoons! The gist of it is: Freddie Highmore gets turned into an off-model troll doll and tries to save a magical race called the Invisibles.
- Daisy: They called them the Minimoys.
Todd: ...or the Minimoys, whatever!
Todd (VO): Look, there's no way around it: this movie is excruciating. The animation is butt-ugly, and worst of all, no one ever shuts up!
- Princess Selenia (Madonna): You did that on purpose, didn't you? Could you have waited ten seconds before playing the clown?
- Prince Betameche (Jimmy Fallon): I'm on a mission off great importance.
- Selenia: Ah! Because my mission isn'tof great importance, is that it?
- Betameche: Your farts (???). You know you are!
- Emperor Maltazard (David Bowie): Enough! Stop bickering, the two of you!
Todd (VO): Breathe! Stop to breathe, goddammit!
- Selenia: As the Princess of royal blood, the task of protecting our people falls to me!
Todd (VO): Madonna voices the fairy Princess in this story, and even in a voice role, Madonna is unbelievably miscast. And it's made me realize that her predominant trait as an actress is icy bitchiness!
- Selenia: Here, make yourself useful!
Todd (VO): Which is maybe not the ideal mood to project for a whimsical kids' movie? Also she has the voice of a woman pushing 50, playing a princess in love with a 13-year-old Freddie Highmore! That's not creepy!
- Arthur: Selenia, so, how old does that make me?
- Selenia: Well, the same age as me.
- Arthur: Wow! That's...
Todd: Yeah, sure.
- Club DJ (Snoop Dogg): Let's see if they got the groove!
- Someone kicks over a giant record needle and Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell" plays as Selenia fights off bad guys and dances like Uma Thurman.
Todd (VO): Fuck this movie!
Todd: And finally, let's end this on a stone-cold bummer.
- I Am Because We Are
Todd (VO): You may have heard that Madonna adopted a kid from a small African country called Malawi. Well she made a documentary explaining why! She wrote it and narrated, and let her gardener direct. Yeah, I know this sounds like the most indulgent ego trip any star's made since...
Todd: ...well, any of Madonna's other movies?
Todd (VO): But it's actually pretty solid, mostly devoid of ego and focused on the history of Malawi and its problems and stuff. My only real problem with it is that it's not particularly enlightening. As it turns out, Malawi has endemic issues with AIDS, poverty, corruption, lack of education.
Todd: ...It's not exactly smashing any stereotypes about Africa is my point here.
Todd (VO): So it's not groundbreaking, but it's at least sincere. And you know what? It made me think, you know, if anyone wants to criticize her for, you know, adopting a kid from Malawi, screw you! Goddamn!
Todd: [Stares silently for a couple seconds and sighs] Okay, yeah, I think that's all of them. [Beat] "Hey Todd, did you do this video entirely so you wouldn't have to watch Madonna's directing for a little while longer?" [Beat] Maybe...Maybe. [Cut to picture of the Rotten Tomatoes page for "Filth and Wisdom," which has a rating of 25%] Hmmph.
Closing tag song: "Die Another Day"
I really am genuinely dreading the next episode
This video is owned by me
FEATURING CLIPS FROM:
"Shadows and Fog"
"Blue in the Face"
"Die Another Day"
"Arthur and the Invisibles"
"I Am Because We Are"
THANK YOU TO THE LOYAL PATRONS!