Thursday, July 03, 2008

"Guest Starring" Josh Brolin

At the risk of getting cheesy with a Before They Were Stars moment, let's go back to the time when Josh Brolin was only James Brolin's son. It wasn't until his very recent amazing triple play (No Country For Old Men, American Gangster, Grindhouse) that he became a true star just as he was turning 40. Now he's in demand. He'll play the lead role in Oliver Stone's George Bush bio W. this October and then Harvey Milk's assassin in Gus Van Sant's Milk in November.

But guess what? When he was all of 19 years-old in 1987, he warmed up for that Bush role whilst guest starring on 21 Jump Street.


His character "Taylor Rolator" --what a name --was the villain of the the episode "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades." Taylor is an over-privileged rich boy who had everything handed to him by his daddy. [Bush warm up? check ]

But wait, there's more. It gets funnier / spookier.

Young Josh shows up as soon as the credits begin. He's one of three prep school heirs who are out drinking and partying with a high school girl from the non-wealthy side of town. A hilariously underlining song plays over the credits... I wish I could make out all the lyrics because it's unbelievable...
My blood is blue...of the upper caste... Whatever I wear, Whatever I say. People stop to notice me...
My blood is blue. [back up singers: So cool, so damn cool. So cool, so damn cool]
That's all we do so don't you make a fuss. We're not ... But most people regard us with a lot more trust ... political preference. What we do always sets the trend...
We believe our press when they say we're cool... And we're breaking the rules!
Oy. Music was not this show's forte. Anyway, the girl is not long for this world. This is a cop show so they have to start with a crime. We don't see what happens but we do see her dead body the next morning. But first, Brolin has to get her properly liquored up.


He's still in high school and thus not old enough to buy booze. He slips the cashier $100 and then gets rude and bossy on account of the tip he just gave. Taylor disregards the laws of the land and behaves like an incredibly smarmy asshole. [Bush warm up? check, check ]

We desert Taylor/Bush soon so that the leads of the show get some story time. Johnny Depp and his cop partner are middle class guys and they resent these rich boys. They go undercover at West Chedway (the school) to befriend them and find out what happened to the girl But Johnny in particular has a real chip on his shoulder about their wealth "6000 a year just to go to high school!" and finds the assignment difficult.

In class the boys are reading All The King's Men. (How subtle!) The teacher calls on Taylor about a plot point. I was so sure he wouldn't know the answer like that horrible horrible scene in Fahrenheit 911 when Bush sits there stupidly when NYC is under siege. Wait is Taylor/Bush praying for the answer? [ check ]

God apparently answers smarmy asshole prayers because he gives a perfect answer pleasing the teacher. He sounds totally intelligent. [Bush warm-up: nope ] Cop Johnny isn't so lucky. He is totally stumped by the teacher's questions.

But soon enough the 21 Jump Street boys infiltrate the rich kid circle and learn more about them along the way. Taylor is the president of the honor council. When asked if he can be bought, he simply laughs.

He's the figurehead. Are these other guys rehearsing for Cheney and Rove roles?

Handed leadership role --doesn't take it seriously. [Bush warm up? check]

Oh but there is one thing he takes seriously. He is also the "President of the Fun Club" When asked what the Fun Club means, his co-hort explains
Thrill seekers, risk takers, wealth makers. Also known as the royal we. Dedicated to competition and recreation.
Taylor/Bush adds on:
The man with the most toys wins. Plebes be damned!
He follows this charming mantra by snorting coke and chasing it with some Absolut.



Booze. Cocaine. Greed. Dismissive of everyone outside of his base. [ check x 4 ]

I can't go on.This is getting too depressing. Taylor and all his pals talk about their fathers constantly. They've got big daddy issues. In another moment in the show he makes a toast while they're drinking "Here's to taking over!" Argh. He's power hungry too. [check, check]

But since this is television and not the real world "Taylor Rolator" doesn't get away with all his crimes like real world politicians and presidents do. Brolin's Bush warm-up ends before this episode does.

In 21 Jump Street Taylor's money and lawyers get him out of the triple rape and murder charges, but he still doesn't live to see the end credits. The murdered girl's angry brother confronts him with a gun in the street.
What did you do to my sister?
Fade out on Brolin's expression dropping and the sound of a gunshot.

Since Young Brolin is so good at playing Taylor/Bush I'm thinking "What did you do to my sister country?" instead as I watch this. But never mind that gunshot (vigilante violence doesn't solve problems... and boy would we be better off now if our president had known that) --let's just get to the fade out. November 4th can't come soon enough.


Time for the next episode, don't you think?
*

10 comments:

JA said...

I love you, Nat.

Neel Mehta said...

Is this going to be a series? I think your readers would greatly appreciate frequent returns to 21 Jump Street.

elgringo said...

Once again, you're rad.

I totally remember that episode. Why? Because I watched it a couple weeks ago. I own every season.

This post looks like it took a lot of time. Matching up those pictures is awesome.

Scott
he-shot-cyrus.blogspot.com

Liz said...

Brilliant. I'm sure nobody, least of all Brolin himself, saw this coming.

Ray said...

Brilliant.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

you are my hero.

Marshall said...

If Stone were bold he would edit in clips from this episode like Soderbergh used POOR COW in THE LIMEY.

Janice said...

When I saw the photo of Brolin as Bush on the cover of EW I didn't think he particularly looked like the man. Now that I've read this though, the "resemblance" is frighteningly clear. Brilliant stuff, Nat.

I am glad that he's finally getting the attention and love (Brolin that is, not the other). It can't be easy to anchor three highly-rated films in one year and watch all the kudos and awards go to your costars.

cadylee said...

You're my hero for today.

NATHANIEL R said...

aw, thanks cadylee.

thanks all. it was really freaky to watch this show ... which i did accidentally.