The Critic--The Live Action Movie

The Critic--The Live Action Movie

A fancast for a movie based on the underrated 90's gem.

(First of all, just so this fancast counts, Jay Sherman appeared on The Simpsons, which have their own comic, so this counts.)

One of the most underappreciated gems of mid-1990's television was a witty little series called "The Critic", which aired on ABC and FOX from 1995-97. The series revolved around the daily life of Jay Sherman, a 36 year-old film critic who is the host of the cable tv show 'Coming Attractions', in which he reviews the latest films to come out of Hollywood. I recently watched the entire series on Youtube (and now hope to get the complete series DVD set), and agreed with a lot of people on how it was not only funny, but it was HIGH-QUALITY funny. It had everything from well-timed jokes to numerous film parodies, and even a few bits revolving around Orson Welles. So, I now present to you, my idea for a live-action movie of "The Critic". Do note, some of the characters have had their ages changed just to be a little easier for me to fancast. Bio info courtesy of Wikipedia.

Jay Sherman--Jason Alexander or Jack Black

"New York's third most popular early-morning cable-TV film critic," 36-year-old Jay Prescott Sherman (voiced by Jon Lovitz) is the host of Phillips Broadcasting's Coming Attractions. His catch phrases include his exclamation of surprise ("Hotchie motchie!"), his common putdown of sub-par films ("It stinks!") and his distinctive cough/sneeze ("Achhum!"). He is known for his surly and sarcastic putdowns of nearly every film he sees (an act that has earned him disdain from the public and rather low ratings). His favorite films are usually Golden-Age classics and foreign films such as The Red Balloon, Citizen Kane, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. He often uses the "Shermometer" to measure the films he reviews, or a list of diseases he would rather have than see a movie. He has been known to rate films on a numerical scale, in which his highest score is seven out of ten. Most of his dislike for films comes from a love for cinema that has been disillusioned by seeing the commercialism that has overtaken the film industry.

I thought either one of these guys could pull Jay off, both of them are certainly funny enough. I'll leave this up to you guys.

Duke Phillips--Gary Busey or Robert Redford

Real name "Duke Scabies," Duke (voiced by the late Charles Napier) is Jay's boss, and head of Phillips Broadcasting (formerly Duke Phillips' House of Chicken and Waffles). He somewhat resembles Ted Turner and has a virtually superhuman constitution (he's able to lift Jay with relative ease and walk through concrete walls). He runs the network that shows Coming Attractions, and is always trying to change things to increase ratings and maximize profits. He owns an amusement park called Phillips Land, dubbed "The Happiest Place In Jersey", founded his own preschool ("Built on a dare"), runs PNN (Phillips News Network), and a hospital/medical research center (with a giant statue of himself on it chanting "All hail Duke. Duke is life"). He also tried to run for president with Franklin Sherman as his running mate. He possesses a hypnotic power called the "Evil eye" which he used to avoid reporters questions during that campaign.

I thought of the following: Busey could bring his usual zaniness to this character, while Redford could do it with more dignification. With this one, it's up to you guys again.

Doris Grossman--Betty White

Doris (voiced by Doris Grau) is Jay's make-up artist. She is a chain smoker, only has one lung and anytime a cigarette is removed from her mouth a new one appears. She was once a Commercial actress for Phleghm Fatale Cigarettes, but her career in acting ended after she "got knocked up by the Fruit of the Loom banana." Doris was even married to horror-movie actor Lon Chaney as evidenced on her arm tattoo.

Betty White is one of the funniest 'little old ladies' out there, and she'd do justice to the role, an honor for the original voice actress, Doris Grau.

Jennifer--Reese Witherspoon

Jennifer (voiced by Valerie Levitt), in the webisodes of The Critic made in 2000, is Jay's new makeup lady on the show, and dates him later on. In my tweaked version, she's Doris's assistant and the two sort of have an "All About Eve" thing going on. I thought Reese would be good for her, since she can play the 'straight woman' in a room full of oddballs.

Jeremy Hawke--Hugh Jackman

Jeremy (voiced by Maurice LaMarche) is an Australian actor, and is Jay's best friend since Jay gave his first film its only positive review. Best known as the star of the "illogical, blasphemous, and ultra-violent" Crocodile Gandhi series, he has starred in multiple action movies and played former president James Monroe (as a spoof of James Bond e.g. "Monroe, James Monroe"). He has a twin sister, Olivia, who tries to win Jay's affection. He is a combination spoof of Australians Paul Hogan in terms of the exaggerated accent, and Mel Gibson with his luck with the ladies as well as his action film roles. His hidden shames: he's 43, uses elevator shoes to give the illusion of height, had allegedly fired a caterer for bringing the wrong kind of biscuit and has had extensive plastic surgery. He can also imitate the voice of Bullwinkle J. Moose. He shares a surname with popular Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke.

I thought Hugh would be absolutely hilarious in this role, since he's basically spoofing the image he and actors like Mel Gibson shaped in Hollywood.

Vlada Veramirovich--Steve Buscemi

Vlada (voiced by Nick Jameson), who is an Eastern European immigrant, runs a restaurant called L'ane Riche (French for "The Wealthy Jackass"), which Jay and Jeremy both frequent. He hates Jay, but loves his money. During the series most of his wealth is thanks to Jay's appetite and when Jay dieted they couldn't afford Harvard for Zoltan, his equally effeminate and disturbing son. Also according to Zoltan that they bought a yacht as a result of Jay's appetite. Vlada frequently belittles Jay quietly or in a foreign language to the staff. Best known for his greeting to Jay, "Ahhh, Meeester Sherman!" he has a keen understanding of who is hot and who is not in New York and a posse built for schmoozing.

Steve does great creepy, and at the same time, can be very funny. Why not combine the two?

Humphrey the Hippo--Jennifer Aniston

A parody of Barney the Dinosaur, Humphrey (voiced by Tress MacNeille) is a popular children's host dressed as a giant green hippo who, like Barney, sings bland, sugary children's songs like "Ho, Ho, Ho, Stick Out your Toe; Hee, Hee, Hee, Stick Out Your Knee." Unfortunately for Jay, the Humphrey the Hippo Show airs directly opposite from Jay's show, stealing one of Jay's largest demographics: young preschool children who love Jay because he resembles The Pillsbury Doughboy. Naturally, Franklin is a big fan of the show too. Humphrey's unseen pals are parodies themselves of real-life personalities, including Rabbit De Niro, Burt Baccaracoon and Robin the Bloodsucking Leech. While children love the show—when Jay made Humphrey sad, outraged children demanded his thumbs be broken—the kids who co-star with Humphrey rejoice when they think Humphrey is dead in one episode ("No more stupid songs!") In the episode "A Little Deb Will Do Ya," the woman who plays Humphrey reveals she's sexually attracted to Jay – presumably, her infatuation ended after sleeping with Jay; she remarked, "It's amazing someone so inadequate in bed can be so relaxed and unconcerned."

I just thought Jennifer would be so great in this role, it's uncanny!

Marty Sherman--Clark Duke

Jay's 13-year-old son Martin (voiced by Christine Cavanaugh, known as Marty for short) usually stays with his mother, but visits Jay often. Like Jay, he is overweight, which causes him problems at United Nations International School. He was elected eighth-grade president thanks to a speech written by his father, dated Fidel Castro's granddaughter (he even secretly boarded the plane she was on in order to see her again), and discovered he has a gift for belly-dancing (he has great muscle control in his belly). In the second season episode "From Chunk to Hunk," he lost a lot of weight, but found his new thin body to be more trouble than it was worth and gained it all back before the end of the episode.

I upped Marty's age a bit for this interpretation, and thought Clark would be great in this role, though I've only seen him in Hot Tub Time Machine.

Ardeth--Holly Hunter

Jay's ex-wife (voiced by Brenda Vaccarro in season one and Rhea Pearlman in season two), last name unknown, who fell in love with Jay as his nurse, during a period in which he was completely bandaged and gagged. She instantly regretted marrying Jay, admitting so during the wedding ceremony. They spent their wedding night playing The Newlywed Game, which they won (Jay correctly guessed Ardeth compared his sex appeal to a dead mackerel). Ardeth spends most of the series insulting Jay or demanding more alimony. At one point, when he greets her at a school athletic competition, she tells him he has to pay her $100 every time he talks to her. Handing her a wad of cash, he replies, "Fine. Here's two hundred. Get bent!" It is implied that Ardeth cheated on Jay with the judge who presided over their divorce case when, during the hearing, they make suggestive comments and flirtatious purring sounds to each other in front of Jay.

For picking Hunter, I was inspired by her role in The Incredibles. Combine it with Bebe Neuwirth's character on Fraiser, and she's good for the role.

Margo Sherman--Emma Roberts

The youngest child of the Sherman family, and the only biological child of Franklin and Eleanor. She is 16 years old and is a junior at Miss Hathaway's School for Untouched Girls. Margo is an activist who often protests her mother's socialite lifestyle. She also cares greatly for Jay, making sure his girlfriends are not just dating him to get good reviews and having him escort her to the debutante ball.

I thought Emma could do great in this role, she's a great "nice girl" actress.

Franklin Sherman--Dick Van Dyke

Jay's adoptive father and Eleanor's husband. Franklin (voiced by Gerrit Graham) speaks with a thick "Locust Valley lockjaw," wears slippers and always has a glass of brandy in his hand no matter where he goes. His mental health is uncertain, and he often acts quite erratically. His family claims that he had a stroke (to which Eleanor adds "He didn't really. We just say that to explain his personality"). A few of his oddities include burning down the house (this is explained by him forgetting to turn the oven off), becoming stuck to an ice sculpture, gluing the dog and silverware to the ceiling, dressing up as the Energizer Bunny, rubbing his behind on the dinner plates, wearing underpants on his head at the dinner table, and sticking a banana in his ear which he claimed was an attempt to lure the monkey out of his head. He is also well-known for dressing up as the New Year's Baby for the year 1937 and has destroyed both Picasso's Guernica and Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam via monster truck and helicopter respectively. He is a former governor of New York, as well as a former ambassador, Cabinet member, a Rhodes scholar and a heavy contributor to the Republican Party. He was also U.S. Secretary of Balloon Doggies. When told by President George Bush that the position is a ridiculous figment of his imagination that Congress will no longer provide funding for, Sherman vehemently claims, "I didn't ask to be Secretary of Balloon Doggies, the balloon doggies demanded it." Franklin was Duke Phillips' running mate when he ran for president, though Duke tried to remove Franklin after a disastrous Vice Presidential debate, in which, among other gaffes, he claimed to be the first black female head of the Ku Klux Klan and that "America stinks!"

Van Dyke is a great comedian, and he was my absolute first choice for this...that is, if Leslie Neilsen didn't die.

Eleanor Sherman--Meryl Streep

Jay's adoptive mother and Franklin's wife, Eleanor (voiced by Judith Ivey) is very prim and proper. She can be very nasty and underhanded when it suits her purposes, such as willing to shoot her daughter's horse to force her to go to a debutante ball. She is often embarrassed by her family and its eccentricities. She seeks to have all poor people shot into space, and when she wrote a children's book about Jay called "The Fat Little Pig," she promised to put all the profits toward that goal. She loves Jay but often shows humiliating photos of him. She is a little too concerned with her outward appearance, despite her lack of tear ducts and having the ability to cry bred out of her family, although in one episode she was seen crying after Jay yelled at her, so the lack of tear ducts may be a lie on her part. This is brought to light when she is asked how her skin is so smooth, and she replied that she scrubs her face rigorously with steel wool, and then soaks her face in boiling hot water for two minutes exactly. Eleanor's voice and many of her mannerisms were inspired by Katharine Hepburn.

Meryl is such a good actress, and for this I was inspired by her performance in The Devil Wears Prada....despite not actually seeing it.

Alice Tompkins--Lauren Graham

Introduced in the second season episode "Sherman, Woman and Child," Alice Tompkins (voiced by Park Overall) becomes Jay's girlfriend. She is named for Alice Kramden on The Honeymooners. She is once married to a country singer, Cyrus Tompkins, but she leaves him when she begins to suspect he is cheating on her (she reaches this conclusion after seeing Cyrus' album, entitled "I'm Being Unfaithful to My Wife, Alice Tompkins. You Heard Me, Alice Tompkins.") As a consequence, Alice moves to New York from Knoxville, Tennessee, to show her daughter Penny that a woman can make it without a man. He later tracks her to New York and tries to seduce her, but his attempts get thwarted by Jay. She has an older sister named Miranda, named after the heroine of William Shakespeare's The Tempest and who has usurped her popularity many times over the years, and a younger brother named Bisquick. Alice was originally an artist and is capable of perfectly replicating art masterworks on the walls of her apartment (such as Michelangelo‘s The Creation of Adam and Georges-Pierre Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte). She pepper-sprayed Jay upon first meeting him on the street, an act he shrugged off (even enjoyed). She then accepted Jay's offer to work as his personal assistant. It is in the episode "Lady Hawke" that she realizes she has fallen in love with Jay, and the two become a couple at the end of the episode.

For picking Graham, I was inspired by her role on Parenthood. All it needs is a little more warmth.

Penny Tompkins--Abigail Breslin

Despite hitting him when she first met him for not liking The Lion King, Penny (voiced by Russi Taylor) quickly takes a liking to Jay, initially calling him "funny man" due to the comical mishaps that repeatedly befall him when he is around her. Later in the season, she begins to call him "Uncle Jay." When he and Alice are unable to get her admitted into any of the top preschools in New York, Duke Phillips founds one exclusively for her, staffed by Jimmy Breslin, Sean Young, and Prince Charles.

I picked Abigail because of her role in Little Miss Sunshine, but in this she can be funnier than she was in that movie. I also upped Penny's age because of that.

Orson Welles--Angus McFayden

Orson Welles appeared on the show (voiced by Maurice LaMarche, his most well-known imitator) in two commercials and a video will, spoofing his later attempts doing commercials. McFayden played Welles on film, and I thought he'd do great for this movie.

*The Sherman family's sarcastic butler, Shackleford (voiced by Maurice LaMarche), would be played by Michael Caine--that speaks for itself. Jason Isaacs would play the devil (voiced by LaMarche) in a couple of gags, and Laurence Fishburne would play Principal Mangosuthu (also LaMarche), the head of the UN School. Taking a cue from the Mel Brooks movie "Silent Movie", there'd be at least a few or six big actors appearing in some movie parodies in this movie--because it wouldn't be a Critic movie without film spoofs. In fact, I came up with a couple of them:
Jay-"Today we'll be reviewing the remake of 'Guys and Dolls', starring Ryan Gosling, Scarlett Johansen, Kate Beckinsale, and Vin Diesel. And you won't believe which of them is the lousy singer. (Shows a clip of Beckinsale singing in a low, deep tone.) Who knew she was a bass? Feh! We'll also be looking at 'How to Lose an Eye in 10 Days', where Kate Hudson plays a journalist trying to write an article on losing men by shadowing a boxer played by Hillary Swank. (Shows a clip of Hudson talking to Swank while Swank is jabbing a punching bag, until her right hook accidentally hits Hudson's left eye and knocks her out.) I'm sure THIS one will be a hit with the crowd. Ha! I JUST made that up!"

And finally, there would be one VERY important cameo:

That's right, the original voice of Jay himself, Jon Lovitz. In fact, he appeared as himself in an episode of "The Critic".

Well, that's all folks. Tune in next week when we review George Clooney's latest film, "Ocean's Seven Samurai".

And now, I leave you with the greatest piece of advice ever given in the history of television animation:
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