The Films of Donald J. Trump

 

trump-home-aloneRepublican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump is currently on a campaign to reclaim America’s greatness by making racism, xenophobia, and misogyny socially acceptable, and, if his plan is put into place, bringing the nation to the brink of economic ruin. It’s a big challenge, but one he’s more than qualified for. There are many things we know about Trump. He cheated on his first two wives, for example. He dodged the draft, then went on to mock former POW and legitimate war hero John McCain. He also hosted a crappy reality show in which washed up B-list celebrities sucked up to him.

What you may not know — or remember — is that Donald J. Trump also dipped his toe into the waters of acting. He has a number of prominent motion picture credits on his resume. This invariably leads to one question: Based solely on his film work, is Donald J. Trump really qualified to become the President of the United States of America? Let’s look at five of his performances to find out.

1. Ghosts Can’t Do It

Trump’s first big screen foray was in 1990’s Ghosts Can’t Do It, an intended showcase for Bo Derek that was written and directed by her husband John. It’s the story of an old man (Anthony Quinn) married to a much younger woman. He commits suicide, then returns as a ghost to convince his wife to kill a younger man so that he can inhabit the body and be with her (sexually) again. Trump appears as himself in a scene in which Derek conducts a business negotiation with help from beyond the grave. Here’s a look at him in action.

As you can see, Trump’s performance is incredibly stiff. He looks like he’s focused more on how badly he’d like to get Bo Derek in the sack than he is in giving an authentic performance. (This is probably true, given his acknowledged fondness for having affairs with married women.) In fact, he’s so bad — playing himself, no less — that he was awarded the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor of 1990. Ghosts Can’t Do It also won the Razzies for Worst Picture, Worst Actress, and Worst Director.

Trump failed so spectacularly that someone gave him an award for it. Not very presidential. We need a Commander-in-Chief who wins where it counts, rather than winning for sucking.

2. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

It would be another two years before Trump and his stubby little hands appeared on movie screens again. When he did, it was a cameo in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. In this sequel, Macaulay Culkin’s neglectful family once again leaves him abandoned, this time in the streets of NYC. At one point, he wanders into a Trump-owned building and asks for directions from — you guessed it — the owner himself.

The original Home Alone was a blockbuster that made $285 million at the box office back in 1990. Home Alone 2 was also a hit, but it only made $173 million. That’s more than $100 million less than its predecessor. By every measure, it’s an embarrassing drop. Like many of his business ventures, the film lost a lot of money. Trump likes to claim that he’s a huge success in everything he does. Home Alone 2 proves that such claims are bunk. I don’t know about you, but I want a president who starred in a sequel that out-grossed the original, not one that went so far under.

3. The Little Rascals

In 1994, someone got the terrible idea to update The Little Rascals for modern audiences. Trump was hired to play the father of Waldo, an obnoxious child who thinks he can get away with appalling behavior just because his father is rich. (Much like Eric Trump and Donald Trump, Jr.) The character is unnamed, but it wouldn’t be unfair to surmise that his name might be “John Miller.” In his short scene, he pays Waldo the kind of compliment that probably passes for sincerity in the home of a man who puts his name in big gold letters on every building he owns.

Aside from being a terrible parent in the movie, the end credit outtakes feature a bit in which Trump steals popcorn from the bag of the woman sitting next to him. Surely, this foreshadows things to come — a guy in the 1% stealing from someone in the 99%. Not a good sign, especially since he already thinks poor people are stupid.

4. Eddie

Drumpf…I mean Trump…returned to portraying himself in 1996’s Eddie, a basketball comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg. She plays a limo driver who, through a series of contrivances, becomes the coach of the New York Knicks. Trump appears very briefly in a montage of people talking about her success.

So here we have Trump taking credit for something he had nothing to do with, much like he did with Budweiser, the release of Iranian prisoners, a number of Ford jobs saved by John Kasich back in 2011, Homeland Security’s planned raids on illegal immigrants, and the success of Bernie Sanders. All in all, it’s pretty accurate — and pretty damning, too. The guy likes to claim he’s responsible for a lot of things that had zero to do with him.

5. Celebrity

Woody Allen’s 1998 film Celebrity is a black-and-white drama about a former novelist (Kenneth Branagh) who dives into the world of celebrity journalism after divorcing his wife of 16 years. Trump once more portrays himself, badly. In the film, he expresses an intention to purchase and knock down NYC’s beloved St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

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Yet again, we see extreme religious intolerance from Trump, only this time it’s directed at Catholics rather than at Muslims. Actually, it makes sense that Trump would appear in a Woody Allen film. They have much in common. For example, both are prominent New Yorkers. They’ve both been household names for decades. Also, Woody Allen married the woman who was practically his own step-daughter, while Trump has repeatedly expressed that he would have sex with daughter Ivanka were she not his child. (No really, he’s done it more than once. And he took this super-creepy picture with her. He also once expressed hope that 1-year-old daughter Tiffany would grow up to have big breasts.)

Donald J. Trump has also appeared in The Associate, Two Weeks Notice, and Zoolander, as well as on television shows such as The Nanny, Spin City, and Sex and the City. In every instance, his “performance” has been terrible. You want to build a wall around him so that you don’t have to see or hear any more of his pathetic attempts to act. And since a president has to act, well, presidential, there is no reason to think this orange-hued, taco bowl-loving narcissist will fare any better in that department than he did acting opposite Bo Derek.

Based on his film work, it’s safe to say that Trump and his little baby hands will not, in fact, make America great again. He can’t even make a short scene in a movie great. He is vastly incompetent, despite his own claims. His performances lack substance. They defy logic and reason. Ask him about them and he will sidestep the issue at every turn, in an effort to distract you from the fact that there’s no “there” there. This is how he has gotten by so far. And don’t ask him how he plans to tackle any future acting gigs, because he has no master plan aside from insisting that he will be great and no one else can do the job as well as he can.

The lesson is clear: Donald J. Trump is bad for Hollywood. Anyone who would vote for Trump with a ticket purchase is a fool and an idiot. You want to make America great again? Send him back where he came from.

 

How “Pretty in Pink” Made Me Decide to Skip My Prom

Andie (Molly Ringwald), Blane (Andrew McCarthy) and Duckie (Jon Cryer) in Pretty in Pink.

It’s prom season. This past weekend, I found myself at a coordinated photo-op for students at one of the local high schools. We were there to see my wife’s nephew and his girlfriend, who had been eagerly planning this night for months. Dozens of other prom-bound teens moved around the botanical gardens, their family members following them, cell phone cameras always at the ready. There were good-looking athletic guys in tuxes and beautiful girls in gorgeous gowns. There were awkward kids who looked uncomfortable and ill at ease. There were rebels who wore intentionally dated dresses or accentuated their tuxedos with silly ball hats.

“It looks like a John Hughes movie threw up in here,” I commented to my wife.

That was a silly joke, but also kind of a personal one. I opted to skip my own prom as a high schooler. People have asked me why over the years. I’ve said it was because I don’t like overly formal events (which is true) and that I didn’t have anyone I really wanted to go with (also largely true). But the reality is both far more complicated and far simpler than that.

I didn’t go to my prom because of Pretty in Pink. 

Written by John Hughes and directed by Howard Deutch, Pretty in Pink opened on February 28, 1986. I saw it a week before, at one of the “nationwide sneak previews” that were all the rage at the time. Basically, certain movies were granted one-off showings a week before their regular release to build word-of-mouth. By this time, my views on high school had changed. For my freshman, sophomore, and junior years, I felt as though I was in a constant struggle to fit in. I wasn’t popular and I wasn’t unpopular. I was just sort of there. Shyness and lack of self-confidence prevented me from opening up to people outside my very small circle of close friends. My guess is that those qualities were mistaken for stand-offishness by my peers. (One of my former classmates lives two doors up the street from me. I should walk over and ask if that’s true.) Furthermore, my personal interests were quirky. Forget football games or school dances. Much of my time was spent playing trombone in the school band, memorizing old Saturday Night Live and SCTV skits, or obsessively seeing every single movie that came through town.

Never quite fitting in gave me an outsider’s perspective on the high school experience – the cliques, the attitudes, the social strata. Hughes’ own The Breakfast Club had perfectly given voice to that perspective the year before, which only heightened my awareness of it. (For all intents and purposes, I was an Anthony Michael Hall.) That’s why, when I returned for my senior year, I decided to take a “screw it all” attitude. I did what made me happy, without worrying about how others saw me. My interest in playing by the “rules” of high school was gone. It had become clear that I needed to stop trying to do what everyone else was doing and make decisions that were right for me.

As for prom, I remained undecided. On one hand, it was a time-honored tradition. An adult co-worker at the drug store where I was employed as a stock boy repeatedly begged me go, saying that I would regret it for the rest of my life if I missed this right-of-passage — an admittedly scary thought. On the other hand, I’d lost interest in the time-honored traditions of high school. They hadn’t filled me with much purpose up to that point, so it didn’t seem like prom would turn the tide. I didn’t know what to do, and my feelings about it changed from day to day.

pretty-in-pink-prom

Then I went to see Pretty in Pink. As everyone knows, it’s the story of a financially disadvantaged girl named Andie (played by Molly Ringwald) who is asked to prom by well-to-do popular kid Blane (Andrew McCarthy), much to the dismay of her quirky best friend Duckie (Jon Cryer), who just assumed she would go with him. Blane’s snobby rich friends don’t approve of the date either, which leads to all kinds of dramatic complications.

Watching the film, some very clear messages began to emerge. Like who you like. Do what makes you happy. Stop worrying about what everyone else says. Don’t let anyone else define you. You don’t need to fit a pre-conceived image to have worth. The movie was articulating things that were already tinkering around inside my head.

The seminal moment, though, comes a little more than halfway through. Duckie confronts Blane’s elitist best friend Steff (James Spader), who has essentially pressured Blane to rescind the invitation to prom, leaving Andie brokenhearted. In an empty hallway, Duckie tackles Steff and begins pummeling him. The handsome, rich jerk and the eccentric-but-sincere outcast scuffle on the floor. Two teachers arrive to break up the fight. As the melee ends, Duckie runs down the hall, jumps up, and — with one hand — rips down a prom banner hanging from the ceiling, balling it up and casting it aside.

Here is that moment. I’m sure many of you know it well.

It is difficult to describe how I felt when Duckie ripped down that banner, except to say that there was abrupt clarity. I realized that there is so much pressure (from others or, even worse, from oneself) associated with prom. You have to go because it’s expected of you. You have to go with the “right” person. Girls have to wear the “right” dress. There can be judgement if you get anything “wrong.” Teenagers are pressured, or pressure themselves, into believing that they must have a perfectly magical experience that will be a high point in their lives. I neither needed nor wanted such pressure. I didn’t want to go back to feeling as though I had to do the conventional things in order to fit in with some societal notion of what a teenager was supposed to be. Duckie ripped down that banner and, no lie, I nearly stood up and cheered.

And the words that went through my mind in that exact second were, I am not going to prom!

My co-worker at the drug store repeatedly urged me to change my mind. I sensed that my parents were disappointed, although they accepted my decision. My friends were understanding. A couple of them had, via their own reasoning, opted to skip the prom, too. Regardless of whether people told me I was making a mistake or giving me a theoretical You go, boy!, I knew that I had made the right choice. I didn’t need prom to validate who I was. It didn’t matter whether or not I chose to take part in this tradition because, for the first time in my life, I had some semblance of who I was as a person. Nothing about prom was going to clarify that any further.

blue-cityI wished my friends who were going to prom well and told them to have a good time. I was genuinely happy for those who wanted to go, even if the experience wasn’t for me personally. On prom night…well, you can probably guess what I did that evening. I went to the movies with two friends, one male, one female. We went to see the now-forgotten Judd Nelson/Ally Sheedy thriller Blue City. It was an okay movie. I sat in my theater seat, knowing that many of my peers were all dressed up, dancing and eating and maybe even hoping to get lucky afterward. Some were having the night of their lives. Others were probably having their hearts broken. (Hey, it happens at prom sometimes.) I didn’t regret not being there with them. I was at the movies, where I felt comfortable and at home. Where I felt like me.

Despite what people said, I’ve never regretted my decision to skip prom. Not for a second. Now, as an adult, I realize that I was right in the belief that it wouldn’t mean anything to me in the long run anyway. No prom could ever match the meaning of my wedding day, or the many magical moments that come with having a child, or any of the professional accomplishments I’ve achieved. It would have just been a thing I’d have done for the wrong reasons, out of a misguided sense of obligation.

I have nothing against prom. Many kids go, have a wonderful time, and cherish the memory. That’s great. But it’s also not me, and I had to learn that it’s okay if things are “not me.” Pretty in Pink helped significantly in that process.