Total Recall: Matthew Broderick's Best Movies
We count down the best-reviewed work of the Tower Heist star.
Most of the fuss surrounding this weekend's Tower Heist has to do with Brett Ratner, Eddie Murphy, and/or Ben Stiller, and we totally get that -- but for our money, the real reason to get excited about the ensemble comedy is that it boasts a supporting turn from the ever-reliable Matthew Broderick. We don't see Broderick on the big screen as often as we used to, but he spent the 1980s as one of Hollywood's busiest leading men, displaying a knack for arch comedy as well as sensitive drama. To celebrate his latest role, we decided to take a fond look back at some of the many critical highlights from Broderick's filmography, and found a few surprises -- as well as plenty of classic hits. It's time for Total Recall!
Dorothy Parker and her Algonquin Round Table have long been a subject of fascination for historians and literary scholars, but their story doesn't have an obvious cinematic slant -- which is why producer Robert Altman and writer-director Alan Rudolph had to struggle for years to get Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle off the ground, even after getting Jennifer Jason Leigh to star for a greatly reduced salary. In the end, Leigh led a rock-solid ensemble cast (including Matthew Broderick as Parker's onetime paramour, playwright Charles MacArthur) to enthusiastic reviews -- and if audiences didn't respond, it was their loss, according to critics like the San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle, who enthused, "What a wonderful, detailed portrait. And what an evocation of a time and a mood. Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle is truly one of those films that inhabits its own world."
9. Project X
Broderick reunited with WarGames writer Lawrence Lasker for 1987's Project X, a socially conscious, politically themed drama about a smart-aleck test pilot who, as punishment for his misdeeds, finds himself tasked with supervising a chimp project -- and discovers his subjects are being exposed to lethal levels of radiation. His character's subsequent efforts to save the chimps form the basis of the type of noble, heartwarming tale that filmmakers tend to smother with schmaltz, but director Jonathan Kaplan was careful not to layer the film with false sentiment. As Rita Kempley observed for the Washington Post, "It's as unabashedly political as Silkwood and unashamedly sentimental as Lassie Come Home. Yet it remains taut and resists the temptation to paint the villains too broadly."
8. Biloxi Blues
Broderick earned one of his first big breaks with the role of Eugene Morris in Neil Simon's Broadway play Brighton Beach Memoirs, and he returned to the character when Simon's sequel, Biloxi Blues, arrived on the stage two years later -- so it was only natural that when Mike Nichols decided to turn Biloxi into a film, Broderick would play Morris once more. The result brought few surprises, either for Simon fans or for anyone who'd ever seen a coming-of-age story, but most critics felt it transcended its formulaic trappings with a sweetly funny script and a pair of winning performances from Broderick and Christopher Walken. "Perhaps this movie isn't as wise or as profound as Simon wants it to be," admitted the Chicago Reader's Jonathan Rosenbaum, "but it is certainly a cut above sitcom complacency, and packed with wit and charm."
Given its status as a towering classic of 1980s cinema, it's somewhat surprising that Ferris Bueller's Day Off only has an 84 percent on the Tomatometer -- but hey, we don't write the reviews, we just compile 'em. Its spot on this list might be lower than you'd expect, but no matter what, Ferris contains some of Broderick's most beloved work, and he'll probably always be best known for his performance as the cheerfully irresponsible teenage folk hero. "Whether you're coming to this happy-go-lucky comedy with fresh eyes or through a miasma of nostalgia," wrote Netflix's James Rocchi, "there's something here for everyone to enjoy."
Broderick wasn't at the mic for The Lion King's early scenes, when Home Improvement star Jonathan Taylor Thomas played the voice of Simba, and he didn't handle the songs, which were sung by former Toto vocalist Joseph Williams. But still: he was Simba, the Lion King, and that's pretty darn impressive. Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman called it when he predicted, "The Lion King, more than any of the recent wave of Disney animated features, has the resonance to stand not just as a terrific cartoon but as an emotionally pungent movie."