Masters of the Universe: Is That, In Point Of Fact, Frank Langella In There?

Masters of the Universe: Is That, In Point Of Fact, Frank Langella In There?

In which Jason reviews the trailer for “Masters of the Universe” with Ian Belknap, former Fact Checker for The Encylopedia Show , and Founder and Overlord of WRITE CLUB.

JASON

I feel like Skeletor is throwing away a big opportunity to ghost-ride the whip here. If you aren’t familiar with the parlance, ghost riding the whip is when you put your car in neutral, turn the volume up on your stereo, and exit your vehicle to dance beside it as it rolls forward.  Much like Mitt Romney’s inauguration speech if he’d won the 2012 election, it’s a “Jesus, take the wheel!” kind of scenario, except with more Ray Parker Jr. samples.

“Hey ghosts, could you steer my PT Cruiser? I just need to hop out and twerk for a second. What? Your hands are incorporeal?! I thought you were a poltergeist! Look, just try to scare the car in the right direction. And would it kill you to put on a bed sheet with eye holes in it? People are going to think I’m dancing in the street next to a moving vehicle with no driver and I’ll look like a crazy person.”

Food for thought: Ray Parker Jr. is more afraid of ghosts than he’s ever been in his entire life.

Anyway, does Skeletor think he’s too good to hop out and ghost ride his own hovercraft? Maybe he’s the ghost, and every vehicle he occupies is constantly considered to be in a state of being ghost-ridden, and it’s his minions who should be dancing.

IAN

These are all excellent points you’re making. If “excellent” is understood to mean “scattershot observations that fail entirely to miss the most salient aspects of a thing.”

I for one would ask: “How are we to know that this is actually Frank Langella in there?” How are we to know? The credits that roll at the end of the picture? The somnolent voiceover in this trailer? His IMDB page? The voice (allegedly) issuing forth from behind that skull mask that looks to be made from some kind of luminous extraterrestrial snot? At least THIS Amazon summarizer has the COURAGE to ask of Langella’s memoir “Dropped Names” “How did Brooke Astor lose her virginity?”

Look, I’ll be the first man to stand tall and agree that there can be no more pure expression of “a being of utter evil” than the ability to shoot unconvincing fuschia lightning out of one’s fingertips in a command chamber festooned with gold lamé, as he does here. That’s not the issue. That much is clear. The credentials of the character are unimpeachable. But the people have a right to know: IS that Satellite- and Fangoria Chainsaw Award-nominated actor Frank Langella inside that snot-skull? I mean – at the risk of coming as the “Langella Birther Movement” within the mediascape of the nation of this trailer – I think we can all agree that it doesn’t take a whole lot of convincing to get Dolph goddamn Lundgren to put on that Linda Evans wig and spray tan, wriggle into that light bondage gear (Sidebar: BILLION dollar franchise idea: “Fifty Shades of Dolph” – you’re welcome), and pretend to be Adam, Prince of Eternia. And where the fuck is Battle Cat, by the way?

But Frank fucking Langella has come to STAND for something, goddammit. I mean, we’re talking about the guy who captured our hearts as Lieutenant Hudson in the 2005 Ja Rule picture Back in the Day. OK, maybe not our hearts. But some fleeting portion of our attention, for sure. That portion devoted to late-night BET-sightings of Frank Langella, at any rate.

As to this business of ghost-riding, which I believe was the initial subject of your inquiry: this seems a fantastic way to blow the minds of passersby. Provided you were somehow able to assure that the only passersby were plucked from the ranks of those whose minds are also blown by guys like this.

JASON

That’s me. Joey Five-Cents.

Ian, everything you need to know about Woody Allen will be revealed if you just play this GIF and this song at the same time.

Now, to answer your question, which is the same question his wife asks before she opens the linen closet, and is the same question posed nightly by Chuck E. Cheese’s managers around the country before jabbing a broom handle into the ball pit:

Is that you in there, Frank Langella?

Here’s the thing. At the end of it all, when you look back on the beach, and notice that during the lowest and saddest moments of your life, there was only one set of footprints, you’ll turn to the man who has been walking beside you in a Skeletor mask, and ask, “Skeletor, I don’t understand why in times when I needed you the most, you should leave me.”

And Skeletor will say, “During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I was ghost riding the whip, to impress a waitress at a nearby Senor Frog’s.”

So what do you think, Ian? Is it him?

Is that Frank Langella behind the mask?

IAN

This is why your typical Chuck E. Cheese’s manager gets no place with the ladies, this tendency to just JAB the broom handle into the ball pit, with little fanfare or finesse. Like a bunch of Watsons. Anything a young man wishes to learn about the delicate art of romance may be learned by watching this film.

Chuck E. Cheese’s was forced to change their slogan “Where a Kid Can Be a Kid” when executives at the company realized too late that location has no bearing on the human capacity to be a kid. Independent research has confirmed that a kid can and does be a kid while adrift on an ice floe, sealed in a shipping container, or, to a lesser extent, in the management trainee program at Arby’s.

And everything I need to know about Woody Allen is actually revealed here.

But back to our central line of questioning: IS that, in point of fact, Frank Langella in there? I have asked here, not fewer than 3,800 times. And results, I gotta say, are maddeningly inconclusive.

JASON

More importantly, can Frank Langella be a kid? Can we turn back the clock, for one more night, and just let Frank Langella be a goddamn kid for once in his life? Can I just give you my elevator pitch for a screenplay I’m working on, Ian? Frank Langella is pushed into a magic ball pit by an irate Chuck E. Cheese’s manager with a broom handle, and emerges decades younger as a teenaged version of himself. He’s got his entire life ahead of him!

This time, he’s going to do Skeletor right. This time, he’s going to lend the skull-faced gravitas he should have brought to the role 26 years ago.

This time-he’s going to make a Masters of the Universe Harlem Shake video.

IAN

I like it. I like it. How could I not?

But what about – and I’m just pickin’ up what you’re layin’ down – this notion:

We establish the ball pit magic with an opening montage of adults shoved into it and emerging as kids – I’m seeing like your Don Strouds, your Pat Hingles, your James Sikkings – THEN, when it’s Langella’s time to get poked in the ball pit (maybe worth producing/shooting gay porn Poked in the Ball Pit concurrently?) he emerges JUST as jowly and receding hairline-y as when he went in. Because the kicker? Langella is ALWAYS 51 years old. Be like a metaphysical Freaky Friday-meets-Highlander thing? But instead of being about badassed sword fighting and lightning and stuff, it’s about managing back pain and crippling self-doubt.

OK.

I admit it. Reading back over that last bit makes it seem not so cinematic.

So…

You should rethink the whole project.