Movie Hero of the Week: Michael Keaton*

Apologies for slacking on the “-of the week” part of this series.  However, it’s proven to be pretty popular!  I was going to do this post in honor of Spring Cleaning, but I fell down on the job.  Thankfully, this is a volunteer position and we will all survive. Anyway, many of the more recent additions to my life (post 1999) have originated in the area surrounding the Ohio River Valley sweeping from Jefferson County, Ohio through West Virginia and into Allegheny County, PA.  The additions include friends, a husband, and subsequent family.  As such, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that completely coincidentally, one of my favorite actors has always been child of Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, Michael Keaton.  The fact that I can’t seem to escape “yinzers” is mutually exsclusive from my love of Michael Keaton, but it was worth mentioning.

ANyway, a man is more than his origins, isn’t he.  ISN’T HE?!

Of course, being a child of the 80’s, Michael Keaton was a pretty easy guy to spot.  Mr. Mom, Night Shift, Beetlejuice, and Batman are like 1980’s Film 101 selections.

The aforementioned good people of mining country often tout Gung Ho as one of Mr. Keaton’s underappreciated films.  I, on the other hand, would like to draw your attention to Johnny Dangerously.

Johnny Dangerously

Johnny Dangerously is an up and coming gangster in 1920’s New York.  He is trying to balance his career in crime with his ailing mother and Eliot Spitzerish (pre-scandal) crime fighting DA of a brother.  It’s an all star cast, if you count Joe Piscapo, and it’s really funny.  Really very funny.  80’s funny, but also truly funny.  If my eloquence isn’t convinving you, let me include this excerpt between Johnny’s mother and her soon-to-be daughter-in-law-

Ma Kelly: You’ve gotten to be like a daughter to me and I wanna share somethin’ with ya.
Lil: Awww, what’s that Mom Kelley?
Ma Kelly: I go both ways.
Lil: Oh.

Johnny’s nemesis is a gangster named Roman Moroni who is famous for butchering swear words.  My personal favorite is bullschtein.  Marilu Henner sings a song I’ve been trying to find the sheet music for for years.  Check it out.  It’s a great flick.

Dogberry

Although the 80’s were perhaps Keaton’s popular heyday, the 90’s allowed him to expand a bit and movies are better because of it.  His turn as Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing is perhaps one of my favorite Shakespearean performances EVER.  I don’t say that lightly (although I don’t say that as heavily as some other dorks.)

Multiplicity

Perhaps my favorite Keaton performance of all time is in the quirky movie Multiplicity.  On it’s face, it’s basically a screwball slapstick comedy, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that it is perhaps Keaton’s finest hour, at least in the comedy sense.  He is fantastic in the dramas Clean and Sober and My Life, sure.  But making people laugh is so much harder than making them cry and no matter how goofy Multiplicity gets, Keaton is freaking fantastic.  I find myself quoting this movie and expecting everyone to know what I’m talking about.   Unfortunately, when I say “Good party, Steve,” people just think I’m confused.  Ah well.

So here’s to you Michael Keaton!  Truly, your films have been some of the most joyous movie experiences of my life.  And that’s no joke.

*What is a movie hero? An un or under-sung member of the film making community who deserves more of the spotlight. And yet lack of such a spotlight often adds to their charm.

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