Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fred Savage: Beyond the Wonder Years

You can have your Michael J. Fox, your Neil Patrick Harris, and your Mark Paul Gosselaar:  this post is dedicated to one of the more underrated early 90's stars of his time.  Ladies and gentleman, I present to you Mr. Fred Savage.  He might not have been a baller with retractable claws, a teenage doctoral prodigy, or the most popular kid at Bayside High, but Fred Savage, who ably played the role of a young adolescent that warmed our hearts (Kevin Arnold in the Wonder Years), had a rather solid film career.  Presented to you here are five iconic Fred Savage roles that will thrust you down Nostalgia Lane. 

5. The Princess Bride
While minor, Savage's role as "The Grandson" (I kid you not: it's listed that way on is the backdrop of a timeless classic that featured the likes of Andre the Giant as Fezzik ("I am the brute squad!") and Billy Crystal as Miracle Max ("Have fun storming the castle!").  "The Grandfather" (played by Peter Falk) reads a bedtime story to his grandson, who is sick in bed and, at first, is none too grateful to hear some silly fairy tale.  But, like many of us, Savage is soon taken by an inviting story that is high on wit and romance, a narrative filled with countless quotable lines that still stands up some 22 years after its release.  

4. Little Monsters
As one of two leading roles from the list, Little Monsters is driven by the fear many of us had growing up:  monsters lurking beneath the bed.  Savage's character, Brian Stevenson, interacts with Maurice (played by Howie Mandel), a horned "beast" who grants Brian access to his world and allows him to tag along on some of his nocturnal activities (namely, scaring the snot out of punk kids that deserve their nightly torture).  As Maurice shows him the ropes of bed-snatching, Brian shows him how to be a good-natured monster (as in, avoiding the incessant need to frighten unsuspecting infants and not raiding people's refrigerators).  The film features some otherwise overlooked cameos (Ben Savage, Fred's real-life sibling, plays Brian's little brother Eric and Daniel Stern, the voice of an older Kevin Arnold in the Wonder Years, plays Brian's father Glen).  While not highly regarded on (it garnered a measly 5.3 rating out of 10), Little Monsters stands up as a fun kids' film that teaches a lesson and is worth a second glance in the rare instance it's featured on HBO.         

3. Austin Powers in Goldmember
It is through Savage's character The Mole that Mini-Me is able to infiltrate Austin Powers's spy agency and act as a do-gooder aiming to thwart Dr. Evil, who no longer has a place in his heart for his adoring clone.  Because of The Mole, audiences who raved over Goldmember's hilarity were given some cracks that centered largely around a facial imperfection that would make Enrique Iglesias jealous.  At the mere sight of his mole, Austin Powers remains aghast at the sheer size of it, doing whatever he can to avoid glimpsing at the mole or poking fun at it (luckily, to our pleasure, his attempts were highly unsuccessful).  Let the play on words commence.  Ah-moley, mole!   

2. The Rules of Attraction
In a film driven by an ensemble of late '90's stars (some of whom were WB whores, including James Van Der Beek from Dawson's Creek, Jessica Biel from 7th Heaven, Thomas Ian Nicholas from American Pie, Kate Bosworth from Blue Crush, and Ian Somerhalder from LOST and Life as a House), Fred Savage had a memorable cameo appearance in a dark, college-age cult classic from the bizarre mind of novelist Bret Easton Ellis (author and screenplay writer of American Psycho).  Savage played "A Junkie Named Marc," Sean Bateman's (Van Der Beek) drug dealer who owes him money.  Quite frankly, I don't think words do justice to the three-minutes of hilarious (albeit, disturbing) movie magic that Savage provided; essentially, you see Fred's scene and say to yourself, "Oh my God, is that...FRED SAVAGE?!?!" 

Take a gander:       

1. The Wizard
HBO Family has been playing this film non-stop, and we are all the better for it.  Christian Slater as the "too cool to care" older sibling.  The illustrious Beau Bridges as the clueless single father.  Luke Edwards as the autistic gaming "wizard" (hence, the film's title).  Jimmy Woods (The Wizard) toting his NES Power Glove in a steel toolbox.  Our first taste of Super Mario Brothers 3 (to our chagrin, it was some time--several months away, in fact--from being released in stores).  Simply put, The Wizard was a sight to behold for the young gaming community of the 1980's.  Corey Woods (Savage) could no longer stand his father's neglect, so he takes it upon himself to run away with Jimmy and enter him in a video game tournament called Armageddon (in which "The Wizard" faces off against Lucas, who has a crony that follows him around in the form of Tobey Maguire, listed in the credits as "Lucas's goon at Video Armageddon").  What ensues is a bond between siblings made stronger by an affinity for video games...and the end of a run of some magical late '80's family flicks from Savage, who now directs (Greek, Ugly Betty, and My Boys) and produces (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) some quality television programs.


lauren said...

Bryan - Little Monsters is by far one of my favorites. I had not seen it until 2 years ago when Steve got it as a Christmas gift. What had I been missing?!

Bryan Pol said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Lauren. It's a classic in my eyes, too.

Hope the married life is a blessed one for you.

Marc V said...

I loved Little Monster too, and let's no forget that Princess Bride is classic - To blave!