Monday, October 19, 2009

10 Great Movie Cameos

If a few text messages back and forth constitutes a conversation then...The other day I was having a conversation with a good friend about one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, cameo appearance in a movie ever! We both agreed that it's got to be Big Bird in The Muppet Movie (1979). Now, The Muppet Movie is a landmark film in cameos anyway. The movie is packed with brief appearances by some of the biggest legends in showbiz: Orson Wells, Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Richard Pryor to name a few. But who would have ever guessed that a Muppet could make a cameo in a Muppet movie? While driving along on their way to Hollywood, Kermit and Fozzie see a strange figure in the road up ahead. It turns out to be Big Bird traveling in the opposite direction. It turns out he's on his way to New York City to break into public television. Comedy gold! That kind of humor is sort of common place today, but that was oddly self-referential for 1979.

So, as the title of this post suggests, this got me thinking about some other great cameos in movies and it was an excuse for me to make a list.

Chevy Chase in Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird (1985)
My other all-time favorite cameo comes from another Muppet filled motion picture and it's one of my all-time favorite movie stars. Chevy Chase was the number one box-office star when he appeared in this big screen venture for the timeless children's show. Chevy plays a news reporter on television who first breaks the story that Big Bird has run away from Sesame Street...or Sesaim Street as he pronounces it. In just a few brief moments on screen he is hilarious. After a remote spot from on the scene reporter Kermit the Frog, Chevy returns to do the weather: "And now for the weather. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood....A wonderful day in the neighborhood. Won't you neighbor." It still makes me laugh!

Ethel Merman in Airplane! (1980) At a mental hospital: "It's Lieutenant Hurwitz. Severe shell-shock. Thinks he's Ethel Merman." "You'll be swell, you'll be great. Gonna have the whole world on a plate. Startin' here, startin' now. Honey, everything's comin' up roses..."

Pee-Wee Herman in Back to the Beach (1987) Back to the Beach is the 20 year later follow up to the popular Beach Party movies of the 60's. It stars Frankie and Annette as grown-ups with kids of their own. It is a fantastic motion picture you must see! It has a bunch of great cameos in it, most notably Don Addams, Bob Denver and Alan Hale Jr. all playing off their TV personalities. But the best cameo has got to be Pee-Wee Herman, who appears out of nowhere, for no reason at all, sings Surfin' Bird, and then flies off into the sky on a rocket powered surfboard. Brilliance!

Tim Conway and Don Knotts in Cannonball Run II (1984) Here's the setup: This being a Cannonball movie, everyone is driving a car or one sort or another. Tony Danza is driving a stunt limo which makes it look like an orangutan is actually driving the car. The orangutan is even dressed up in a little valet outfit...classy stuff! So, they're speeding and they get pulled over by two motorcycle cops. The police are none other than The Apple Dumpling Gang themselves, Conway and Knotts. The two try to give the monkey a ticket and then all comedy-heck breaks loose!

Bill Murray in Space Jam (1996) There's two great things about this cameo. First, he's just Bill Murray. He doesn't play a character or even play himself really...he's just there. He just shows up and he's there, and he's funny. Second, he shows up twice. Just as out of the blue as his first appearance, he walks back into the movie for no good reason near the end to help Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordon defeat the bad guys. Bill Murray is so good at what he does that you over look the major loopholes in the story.

Leonard Maltin in Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) This sequel is not quite as good as it's original, but it's worthy of being a sequel to such a fine film. The gremlins show up in New York City where they take over a mega-skyscraper. Among the many operations in the building is a television studio where film critic Leonard Maltin is doing a show. He's reviewing the classic 1984 film Gremlins, and he's not giving it a favorable review. In turn, Gremlins show up and give Maltin an unfavorable eating him! (Gremlins 2 is also home to two "lost cameos." Hulk Hogan and Bubba Smith appeared in the theatrical cut of the film, but their scene is replaced in video and television versions.)

"Weird Al" Yankovic in Halloween 2 (2009) I haven't seen this or any of Rob Zombie's other movies...nor do I think I ever will. But how great is it that they put my close personal friend Al in a gory horror movie. It's gotta be great! When this finally makes it's way down to cable TV I'll TiVo it and then fast forward (while hiding behind my hands over my face) to Al's part and hope I don't see anything else that will traumatize me for life.

David Letterman in Cabin Boy (1994) We've never gotten a David Letterman movie so his brief appearance in this film will probably serve as our only big screen adventure with Dave. In this otherwise forgettable film, David Letterman shows up as (according to ImbB) Old Salt in Fishing Village. He has a scene where he harasses Chris Elliott for a few minutes and it is easily the highlight of the film. There is no other reason to watch this movie than to see Dave be funny...very funny. Better yet, you don't have to watch the can easily find the clip on YouTube.

Kenny Rogers and Britney Spears in Longshot (2000) Horrible...HORRIBLE movie which only exists to squeeze as many cameos into one movie as humanly possible. The majority of the Z-list celebs that show up in this stinker, you'll have no idea who they are. But you do get a great pairing when Britney Spears shows up as a flight attendant for 3o seconds. Just long enough for her to make her way into the cockpit of the plane and trade a joke with Captain Kenny Rogers.
Any favorites of yours that we missed....please leave a comment!

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