Sam Neill Update: Losing My Mind Edition

I’ve noticed that Sam Neill loves playing crazy people (Event Horizon, In the Mouth of Madness, arguably Merlin 2 because why would you ever agree to Merlin 2?). Unfortunately, I did not group these movies thematically before viewing, so this Sam Neill update only has one movie where it’s actually Sam Neill’s sanity in question. Oh well.

Current project status: 91% complete!!! Right now, only 6 more to go! Assuming my spreadsheet is correct.

Dean Spanley (2008)

Peter O'Toole, Jeremy Northam, and Sam Neill just wanted to hang out without that pesky Henry VIII bothering them

The Movie: Peter O’Toole is Jeremy Northam’s aging father and their interactions are Edwardian and hilarious. Even though I don’t have a brother who was killed in the Boer War, I still can completely interpret every long-suffering look on Jeremy Northam’s face as his dad demands to eat the same meal every day, is affably rude to random acquaintances, and loudly snores during a public lecture. Through a series of coincidences, Northam discovers that local Dean Spanley will regress to his previous life as a dog while drinking some kind of super rare Hungarian liquor he likes.

Let's get smashed and talk about how fun it is to chase sheep and pee on things

And not just any dog, but PETER O’TOOLE’s childhood dog!!!! Who disappeared unexpectedly, crushing his young heart and making him incapable of responding to grief!!! But, after listening to Dean Spanley’s account of that day (spoiler alert: he was shot by a hunter? farmer? someone kind of grizzled, anyway), the aging father finally accepts his son’s death and shares a bonding hug with Jeremy Northam. Then gets a dog. Booyah.

Some fathers and sons bond over fishing, but whatever it takes, you guys

The Character: Sam Neill is Dean Spanley!!! Of course. His full name is W.A.G. Spanley, which is not at all a connection to his previous life as a spaniel named Wag. He’s actually quite serious and no-nonsense, even when talking from his past life dog point of view. There’s just something so bizarre and transfixing about seeing this kind of uptight guy saying things like “The Master didn’t understand how much I hated baths; there was nothing so shameful as meeting a friend and having no smell” like it is the most serious business in the world.

Nothing about this situation is funny at all

What I Learned: At any one time, there are only seven great dogs in the world.

You should watch this if: you like Peter O’Toole and his ridiculous faces

The Vow (2012)

Oh, Sam Neill, the sacrifices I make for you

The Movie: Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum are quirky and in love and so forcibly adorable that you want to throw up in their hair. Then Rachel gets amnesia after a car accident, forgetting entirely about her relationship with Channing Tatum, and why she hasn’t seen her family in years. Channing attempts to be even more quirky and adorable to win his wife back, but after pressure from her family and resistance from her, he agrees to a divorce. Then Rachel discovers the reason she quit law school and left her family for the city and art school: her dad was having an affair with one of her friends! Also she likes art more than law. The film ends with McAdams back in the city and art school, asking Channing Tatum out for dinner. Nicholas Sparks, someone is horning in on your turf.

Sam Neill will always offer you a drink before trying to break up your marriage because he's a classy guy

The Character: Sam Neill is Rachel McAdams’ dad, who at first seems like a bad guy, trying to use the accident to break up the marriage he never liked and win back the daughter he betrayed without her knowing. Except it was kind of more his wife whom he betrayed? And she’s cool with it? Whatever, the point is, Rachel McAdams forgives him in the end, because she is such a big-hearted person, and he really just missed her and wanted what was best for her.

What I Learned: This movie was based on a true story!!!! I’m not sure how much of the law school/cheating Sam Neill backstory is true, but at the end they tell you that the real-life couple stayed married and have kids, and that she never regained her memory. Wikipedia says they credit “their faith in Jesus and their wedding vows before God” with keeping them together. So not chocolate and skinny dipping like in the movie, then.

You should watch this if you like: Nicholas Sparks

Children of the Revolution (1996)

I WISh everyone in this movie had a mustache

The Movie: So this Australian lady is obsessed with Joesph Stalin and writes him these passionate letters about how she just can’t get the revolution started in Australia. He invites her to the USSR to woe her, but ends up dying after they sleep together. Luckily everyone is pretty psyched, so she’s not in trouble, but she is pregnant. She marries some guy in the Australian communist party who like-likes her, and tries to raise the son, Joe, in the communist way. Joe falls in love with a Latvian policewoman whose grandparents were brutally murdered during Stalin’s purges, a fact that begins to torment her after Joe grows a mustache and starts taking control of the police force, looking and acting more and more like Stalin daily.

Yeah, I would not be that upset if I came home to find Sam Neill unexpectedly in my house, but I'm not a communist party leader so whatever

The Character: Sam Neill plays Joe’s possible father, a Russian/Australian/British/??? spy, who seems pretty unclear on whose side he’s on, just that he’s in love with Joan. He accompanies her to the USSR, either to kill her or to protect her, depending on whose orders he decides to take, and ends up having grief-sex with her right after Stalin’s death. Yes, that’s apparently a thing. He tries to do his best by Joe, believing he might be the father, but ends up attempting suicide after discovering he killed Joe’s wife’s Latvian grandparents on Stalin’s orders.

I don't know, somehow this movie is still billing itself as a comedy

What I Learned: People have apparently been arguing about the cause of Stalin’s death since it happened! In 2003, a joint group of Russian and American historians announced their view that he’d eaten warfarin, a powerful rat poison which predisposes the victim to strokes. Stalin was 74 and already suffering the ill-effects of his lifetime of heavy smoking.

You should watch this if: you enjoy fake documentaries; you want to see the lighter side of Stalin

I can’t believe I’m almost done with this project!!! I’m going to have to think of something dramatic to do to celebrate!

Previously: Prime Minister, Soviet Sub Captain, Master Criminal
Next: Thomas Jefferson, Tennis Dad, and a Somber Narrator

5 responses to “Sam Neill Update: Losing My Mind Edition”

  1. Brian says:

    Does that say “and F. Murray Abraham as Stalin”?? SOLD.

  2. mom ladd says:

    I need to see Dean Spanley. I can’t believe I didn’t hear about this movie before. Thanks Trish for keeping your mom in the know!

  3. Rachel says:

    I can haz blog post about the crazy new pony hair I saw on facebook?

  4. […] Character: Obvs Sam Neill plays her controlling, disapproving father! He’s so good at that, after all. He’s also her tennis coach, and you can’t really get mad at him […]

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