Why You Need To Watch Apocalypse Now, Er, Now

(Empire Online)

Most people have vivid moments of cultural consumption in their teenage years – an hour watching some movie or hearing some band for the first time – that shake your brainbox upside down and change the world forever. Mine was reading Kerouac’s On The Road, listening to Harvest by Neil Young and even more memorably, watching Apocalypse Now! with my dad.

I was fourteen, sitting on our living room floor, when a denim-clad rockabilly film critic with a greased up duck’s arse hairdo (that’s an actual haircut, and the critic was Mark Kermode, and he still has that haircut) came on the telly, looked at the camera, and said, “You’re about to watch the most indulgent, extravagant and exciting film ever made.”

I put down my Gameboy.

The ominous shimmering opening of The Doors “The End” faded up through our wood-paneled television as a ceiling fan swooshed over Martin Sheen’s harrowing face – woosh woosh WoooOOOOSH – suddenly the ceiling fan was a Chinook helicopter blade whirring ominously over swathes of pristine Vietnamese jungle.

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At this moment my dad shuffled in his reclining chair, looked a bit excited, and said, “Oh, you should watch this, watch the beginning, then watch it all.”

Seemed like a logical progression for movie watching. But why was Dad so roused? The last time he had been excited about a film on TV was when Channel Four showed Showgirls.

I dragged my arse over the shagpile carpet towards the TV and stared. Jim Morrison screamed, “Mother I Want To Rape You!!!” as the pristine jungle erupted in a fiery napalm hell. I could almost smell the gasoline. I was scared of this movie. 

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The next two hours were the greatest movie watching experience of my life.

Here are some of the reasons why it’s insane that you haven’t seen this movie yet. I mean really, it’s right there on your big shiny smart tv. It’s like two fat thumb clicks away. Turn the lights down and turn it up (actually finish this article first).

The production of Apocalypse Now was more than making a movie, it was literal war. Francis Ford Coppola hired the Philippines army helicopter pilots to shoot the famous Valkyrie beach attack, as they were embroiled in a real civil war a hundred miles away. They would often have to stop shooting so the pilots could fly south to actually engage some insurgents.

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Laurence Fishburne played seventeen-year-old Clean when he was only fourteen because he was just that good, which is weird as these days thirty-year-olds play seventeen-year-olds.

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Marlon Brando demanded a million dollars, shaved his head and made up all his lines for his iconic role as Colonel Kurtz. He’s on-another-planet mesmerizing, muttering about snails crawling along razorblades and “making a friend of horror.” Sometimes I have nightmares about Marlon and his shiny blood-splattered dome lying next to me in bed whispering…

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There’s a scene before Martin Sheen gets his mission where he smashes a glass mirror with his fist, drunk and half naked in a Saigon hotel room. That’s a real mirror, Sheen was really drunk and that’s his real blood. Sheen later had a breakdown and heart attack on set.

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It’s cool. I mean it’s maybe the coolest movie ever made. You can be cool too, by watching it. When I was young I smoked cigarettes because I was cool. There are a lot of cigarettes smoked in Apocalypse Now, and the power of suggestion was strong in me. When I was 18 I got the opportunity to see it in 35mm on the big screen, I went to Leicester Square with my mate Tom to watch the premier of the new Director’s Cut. It’s nearly four hours long. This version included playbunnies making out in crashed helicopters, a bizarre colonial french family and even more surfing. When we stepped out into Leicester Square, our minds blown, Tom lit me a Lucky Strike. “This is the best cigarette you’ll ever smoke.” he said. He was right.

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The film also led to the greatest movie documentary ever made, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, in which Eleanor Coppola documents her husband’s descent into movie making hell.

There are so many other reasons to watch Apocalypse Now and I’d happily tell you them all, but for now take my dad’s sage advice: watch it, watch the beginning, then watch it all. You won’t regret it. 

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Cartoons You Can’t Watch With Your Kids


Everyone likes cartoons. I’m not talking about stupid shitty children’s cartoons, I’m talking about adult cartoons. Not like porn, get your head out of the gutter you animal, but like, just cartoons for adults, y’know? With, like, curse words and stuff. You know the ones.

OR DO YOU?! I hope you don’t because otherwise the premise of this article is extremely flimsy!

I’m about to give you a list of some seriously good cartoons to check out (if you are over the age of *insert the age of adulthood wherever you are from*), and, because I’m nice / I need to write some kind of content in order to get this thing published I’m also going to write a mini synopsis and maybe I’ll do a ranking system or something.

Bojack Horseman

Let’s start with something you’ve almost definitely heard about. Bojack Horseman is a Netflix original series about a washed-up actor from the 90s who happens to also be a horse. We join the story 20 years after his hit sitcom has ended and watch as Bojack’s suppressed emotions and substance dependence challenge all of his relationships.

It’s dark, it’s depressing, it’s hilarious, and it’s actually pretty clever and deep too. It has a great cast (Will Arnett, Aaron Paul, Alison Brie, Amy Sedaris, Paul F. Tompkins, Patton Oswalt, Kristen Schaal), great soundtrack, and just generally is a great show.

I heartily—that’s right, HEARTILY—recommend this to you.

I haven’t decided on the rating system yet, so I’m going to give this 7 lucky rabbit feet out of 8.

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You’ve probably heard of Archer, too. But on the off chance you haven’t: Oh my god, what are you doing with your life? Archer is a super-secret agent in the style of James Bond. He’s always drinking, womanizing, and killing bad guys. But what makes him different is that his boss is his mother, and he is basically a drunk, petulant child.

This is another star-studded cast (H. Jon Benjamin, Judy Greer, Aisha Tyler, Jessica Walter, Chris Parnell, Lucky Yates, Adam Reed) who each steal the show regularly. There are nine seasons to get stuck into, which might seem slightly daunting or off-putting, but it is absolutely worth your time.

I give Archer 4 martinis out of 5.

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Big Mouth

Big Mouth is relatively new and could be something that has flown under your radar. It came onto Netflix for its first season in 2017 and has had some seriously strong reviews (it’s got an 8.1 out of 10 on IMDb). Essentially, it’s a cartoon about a bunch of kids going through puberty. It challenges a lot of potentially hazardous topics – masturbation, menstruation, a lot more masturbation – in a pretty funny way, without ever overdoing it. The kids are joined in the show by two hormone monsters that appear and guide them through their respective situations extremely poorly (Connie the Hormone Monstress is incredible).

There is a host of famous voices in this too (Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Jessi Klein, Jason Mantzoukas, Maya Rudolph, Jenny Slate, Fred Armisen, Jordan Peele). Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Nick Kroll, but this is actually a really well-executed idea.

Let’s score this is a 3 and a half-minute guitar solo by Slash, out of a maximum possible 5-minute guitar solo by Slash.

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The Boondocks

Where do we start with The Boondocks? Firstly, it’s hilarious. It’s seriously funny, it’s very political, and it’s a great watch. It focuses on the Freemans, an African-American family living in a mostly white suburb. The show largely tackles issues of racism and social injustice through some biting comedy and blunt dialogue. Not to overstate it, but the character of Uncle Ruckus is one of the most memorable characters of all time *mic drop*. It also leans heavily on manga and has some really cool stylistic blends.

The show was created by Aaron McGruder and is based on his comic strip of the same name. It ran on Adult Swim for four seasons from 2005, but the fourth season had no involvement from McGruder, so doesn’t really count in my opinion. It’s got a great cast (Regina King, John Witherspoon, Cedric Yarbrough, Gary Anthony Williams, Jill Talley, Gabby Soleil), is extremely well written, and the animation is fantastic.

5 out of 7 horcruxes.

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F is for Family

Another Netflix original, this time from the mind of comedian Bill Burr. In many ways, it seems like your classic cartoon sitcom set up. It’s an angry, disillusioned, Irish-American dad, struggling to cope with the reality of his life not living up to his dreams. It’s like of Peter Griffin or Homer Simpson was upsettingly gritty. It’s set in the 1970s, which gives the show a bit of an angle to tackle the changing roles of different groups of people in society. The show shines an uncomfortable light on racism and sexism, whilst managing to retain humor throughout.

As it’s set in the 70s there is a pretty excellent soundtrack, there is some good writing, and there is a surprisingly deep cast (Bill Burr, Laura Dern, Jesting Long, Debi Derryberry, Haley Reinhart, Sam Rockwell). There are two seasons on Netflix, and it’s been commissioned for a third that should release later in 2018.

I score F is for Family, 11 cups of coffee out of 15.

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Rick & Morty

You have DEFINITELY heard of Rick and Morty. You’ve probably either watched it, or you’ve decided that you’ll never watch it because of those idiots trying to get hold of Szechuan sauce from McDonald’s. Basically, Rick and Morty is a show about a grandfather’s adventures with his grandson. Except the grandfather happens to be a super genius who has perfected interdimensional travel.

It is weird, it is dark in places, it is smart, it is funny, and honestly, it is just an all-round great show. Honestly, Rick and Morty is a show that seems dumb on the surface, and then suddenly an episode finishes and you find that you’ve been thinking about it for hours, days even.

Another show with a great cast of voice actors (Justin Roiland, Sarah Chalke, Chris Parnell, Spencer Grammer), Rick and Morty is aided by brilliant writing and has been driven by the creative excellence of Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland.

9 quesadillas out of 10.

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Happy Tree Friends

To round this thing off, let’s talk about Happy Tree Friends. It’s a show about a bunch of super cute forest animals with names like Cuddles, Flippy, Lumpy, and Giggles, but in every episode is filled to the brim with extremely graphic violence. The Wikipedia page specifically mentioned ‘bloodshed, pain, dismemberment, evisceration and/or death’.

Happy Tree Friends has been going for years. It first popped up in 1999, and there are now 133 episodes in total. 4 seasons have been online and there was one TV season made in 2006. Unlike the other shows mentioned already, Happy Tree Friends has a relatively unknown cast (Kenn Navarro, Rhode Montijo, David Winn, Dana Belben, Aubrey Ankrum). It is also a lot shorter than the other shows, with each episode running at just 1-7 minutes. It’s definitely worth checking out, even if you don’t make it through all the episodes.

I’ll give this 7 bloody acorns out of 10.

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Rian Johnson Schools Star Wars Padawans With Savage Photos

(Twitter/Rian Johnson)

Dudes got burned worse than Anakin

For some reason, the latest Star Wars movie has generated a lot of controversy among fans. Some of them are mad that girls were allowed into the club, and they got handled online by the film’s cast. Others are very upset at what the movie does to their beloved Luke Skywalker. But the largest outcry seems to be about the new force powers multiple characters display throughout the film.

Unfortunately for the naysayers, those new powers are so new after all, and when they tussled with the film’s writer/director, Rian Johnson, he brushed them off like a straight-up force ghost.

This so-called “controversy” has been floating around since the film’s release, and if Johnson hadn’t been aware of it, Twitter took care of that, when some pouty fanboy @’d the director to voice his displeasure with the movie’s plot machinations.

Still, the director stayed quiet as more fanboys got vocal.

The dude has mad patience.

Eventually, however, it got to be too much, and just the other day, Johnson sent out a series of tweets, letting a handful of photos do the talking for him.

First, he asked Twitter to look.

Then he got down to business, first showing us his bookshelf…

Which includes some Jedi-related texts…

Like the filmmaker he is, he built suspense as he homed in on a particular title…

People began to catch on:

As Johnson continued to milk it…

Finally unleashing a force-assisted knockout blow, closing up on a passage from the book that explains the “new” force powers on display in The Last Jedi.

And then he slowly faded back into the bushes…

Without even saying a word.

Twitter appreciated the slowly delivered burn.

Ah, poor padawans. You come at a Jedi, you best not miss.

Father Figures: Smelled Like Biscuits

(Kyle Lohmiller)

“My wife told me to come smell our newborn daughter because she claimed she smelled like biscuits. I couldn’t smell anything so my wife told me to get closer. I brought my nose inches away and my daughter farted in my face. I suspect they’ve been planning this together for months.”

Kyle Lohmiller

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email fatherfigures@thedad.com.

Ask The Dad: Bad Influence

(Getty/Mark Klotz)

This question is from Marty in Alexandria, VA.

One of my best friends is a guy named Bob (not his real name). We went to college together, played on the football team together, and partied hard together. Anyway, after college, I decided the single life wasn’t for me, so I got married to my lovely wife and we had our daughter, Alexis, who is currently 18 months old. Bob is still single, drinks constantly, and uses the words “chicks, bitches, and hos” to describe girls and women. Long story short, I’m realizing that he’s kind of an asshole and I probably shouldn’t have him around as I’m raising a young girl. Should I cut him out of my life?

Ah, I’m quite familiar with this one, Marty. It’s the “what-if-it-happened-to-my-daughter?” epiphany. In other words, you probably didn’t have a problem with Bob’s behavior until you found yourself responsible for raising a tiny female human (yes, I know the same epiphany happens to men who have sons, too). Would it be better if you realized this prior to having a daughter? Sure, but at least you grew up and realized that something needed to happen.

When we become dads, everything about us changes. Many of us become more loving, sensitive, and empathetic — and in the process, we become more aware of the company we keep. When I first became a dad, I remember cutting a bunch of people from my life because I knew they would have a negative impact on me as I navigated through fatherhood. For example, the dude who kept asking me to play Edward Forty Hands with him on random Tuesday nights had to be cut from my squad immediately.


If Bob is truly important to you, I suggest having a man-to-man talk with him first. It doesn’t need to be anything deep, either — just tell him that you’re a dad and a husband now, and things have changed since your college days together. He either needs to start addressing women with respect (something he should’ve figured out on his own by now, but whatever) and stop acting like a sweaty frat bro, or you simply can’t have him as a friend anymore.

By doing so, you’re putting the ball in his court. Will he realize the error in his ways and be cool with your new (aka, more mature) friendship? Or will he come at you with some toxic masculinity bullshit about how you’re a whipped sissy? Either way, it will make your decision much easier.

Kudos to you for realizing that nothing in the world is manlier than being a good dad.


Stranger Things Are Afoot In These Senior Photos


Is this the Upside Down?

Social media is a crazy thing. It can make celebrities out of your neighbors, friends out of strangers, enemies out of friends, and more. Sometimes it can even make friends out of celebrities. That’s what one young girl found out when she took to Twitter to make an odd request, and her dream came true.

For some reason, a high school senior in California decided she wanted one of the stars of Netflix’s runaway hit “Stranger Things” to join her for her senior photos. And for some reason, he did.

Her Twitter name is @postydamaris, and she posted a question to sheriff Jim Hopper, aka David Harbour, asking him how many retweets she’d need to get him to sit with her for her photos.

Not only did Harbour respond with his number, he had some conditions:

The tweet eventually garnered 30,000 retweets, forcing Harbour’s hand, thanks in no small part to Noah Schnaap, a fellow “Stranger Things” castmate, who tweeted out a plea to his fans to help the photo shoot happen.

So we have Schnaap, and Harbour, to thank for some of the most memorable, and hilarious, senior photos ever, that the actor himself later shared on his Instagram page for the world to see.

He enlisted entertainment photographer Tommy Garcia to take the photos, and true to his word, Harbour even brought along a trombone and sported an Orestimba High sweatshirt.

He really wears the sweatshirt well, doesn’t he? And apparently he even plays the trombone pretty well too!

Each one is better than the last:

She thanked Twitter for helping her strange dream come true.