Going for the Goldblum: Buckaroo Banzai

Hoo boy. I don’t even know where to start.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. It’s a sci-fi action comedy. Buckaroo Banzai, of course, is a practicing neurosurgeon theoretical physicist test pilot who also fronts the world’s most low-energy band (until the Decemberists sprout from a pile of peat moss roughly fifteen years later) and invents a device that lets him drive through a mountain/other dimension, which means that the bad aliens can finally go home (somehow) and the good aliens have to get Buckaroo to stop them. Or something.

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Going for the Goldblum: The Big Chill

Last week, we saw what happened when Jeff Goldblum collected a bunch of rocket jocks for NASA in The Right Stuff. We don’t get too far from that “oh, weren’t the ’60s great for white guys!” vibe, but this time we’re coming at the decade from another angle. Goldblum’s still playing within type for this period in his career: gawky, cerebral at first glance, and slightly endearing. But, boy, is this a whole different beast.

Lawrence “Father of Jake” Kasdan’s The Big Chill is the kind of nostalgia piece that seems poignant and meaningful. In the movie, a bunch of thirtysomethings gather for the funeral of one of their friends, who committed suicide, and take stock of their lives fifteen years after they were in college together. It was absolutely catnip for the Baby Boomer audience it was aimed at.

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Continue reading Going for the Goldblum: The Big Chill

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Going for the Goldblum: The Right Stuff

Here’s the thing about The Right Stuff: it’s great. It’s funny, exciting, rude, and—more than occasionally—cringe-inducing. And it holds up for the most part, even long after my first heady flush of “dang, these fake astronauts are hot” faded. (They were so hot, okay.) If you’re not into desert landscapes, aerial derring-do, or testosterone, you might find the first quarter of the movie skippable, though.

But we’re here to talk about Jeff Goldblum, aren’t we?

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Going for the Goldblum: Rehearsal for Murder

Who could ever forget Jeff Goldblum’s early and very minor roles in such gems as Death Wish, or in random episodes of Columbo, Laverne & Shirley, and Starsky & Hutch?

Well, everybody, really. Goldblum pops up from time to time in movies and TV in the mid-70s to the early 80s, without making much of an impression. He’s tall and good-looking, but weird, or menacing, or almost totally silent. But he did get two fairly major early breaks.

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Going for the Goldblum: Jurassic Park

It’s hard to pick a starting point for talking about Jeff Goldblum’s career. He’s been acting steadily for forty years now, but in a lot of those early roles he was little more than glorified extra. Add in a few ensemble movies and minor-character parts, and I don’t remember anymore the first time I actually watched him in a movie.

I sure remember Jurassic Park, though.

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