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The Good, The Bad & The Badass: Ron Howard

10.24.2016
Last week, we went into the long, extremely badass career of actor Ian McShane. This week’s subject started out in-front of the camera, but found his place as an A-list director, producing a superb body of work that’s going into its third decade now...
Ron Howard

Many of you younger readers may not realize Ron Howard was already famous as an actor before he started directing. As a child, he played Sheriff Andy Taylor’s cute son Opie in “The Andy Griffith Show”, before becoming a teen hearthrob with the one-two punch of the nostalgia-driven AMERICAN GRAFFITI and the long-running hit show “Happy Days”. While he could have probably had a long career as an actor, Howard always wanted to direct, making his first outing a low-budget car chase B-movie for Roger Corman, GRAND THEFT AUTO, in which he also starred. This led to his first studio hit, the surprisingly raunchy NIGHT SHIFT, starring his “Happy Days” pal Henry Winkler, and Howard’s discovery, Michael Keaton, who went on to make several films with him as a director.

Howard’s first major hit was the Tom Hanks-starrer, SPLASH, which was the first movie to ever get released by Disney’s Touchstone Pictures, and made stars out of Hanks, Daryl Hannah and John Candy. After that, his career became one of the most enviable in town. All of his movies were hits, including COCOON, GUNG-HO, the George Lucas produced fantasy WILLOW (with a great score by frequent collaborator James Horner), and then - in the nineties - becoming an award season favorite with APOLLO 13, the Mel Gibson-starrer RANSOM and more.

He’s had the odd ill-advised foray into comedy, with ED TV and THE DILLEMA, but Howard’s movies, while not always ultra-dynamic, are usually very good, with the recent RUSH and IN THE HEART OF THE SEA being underrated. He’s also one of the top producers in town with his shingle, Imagine, being absolutely huge (his partnership with Brian Grazer is among the most successful in Hollywood history). Known to be an especially nice guy to boot, Howard remains as prolific and as popular as ever, even dabbling in-front of the camera with his long gig narrating “Arrested: Development”, where he also plays a fictionalized version of himself, and numerous funny viral videos for “Funny or Die.”

His Best Work

While I admire Ron Howard’s career as a director, with him having made many fine films, to me the best movie he’s ever been involved in remains George Lucas’s AMERICAN GRAFFITI. A slice-of-life portrait depicting the last night before college for some 1962 teens, Howard is only part of the ensemble, but his story-line, where he has to decide whether he can leave his childhood sweetheart behind, is very moving. This movie is so out-of-character for Lucas, but it’s a mesmerizing work and it’s a shame he never tried doing a similar, character based drama, as it works so brilliantly. It’s probably one of my favorite films, and one I return to as much as I do the first STAR WARS trilogy.

His Most Overrated Work

I’m not especially excited for this week’s INFERNO, even if the reviews are pretty good. While I like Howard and love Tom Hanks, their Dan Brown/Robert Langdon movies haven’t done a thing for me. Both have just been two hours of Hanks standing around figuring things out, and Howard, oddly, even cut back on the book’s action sequences, making the films even more dull in the process. THE DA VINCI CODE is particularly bad, with Hanks’s much-maligned haircut being especially unfortunate, although it made a mint at the box office so I guess someone liked it (I haven’t really met anyone who has though).

His Most Underrated Film

BACKDARFT has always been my favorite movie about firefighters. It lacked the maudlin sentimentality of the latter LADDER 49, opting for a heightened, action-heavy approach that revolved around an arsonist making fires Kurt Russell’s crew-chief has to deal with over-and-over in some spectacular sequences. The pyrotechnics in the movie are outstanding, and Kurt Russell makes for an iconic hero. Some critics took issue for just how over-the-top it gets, particularly in the climax, but it’s a really fun ride. William Baldwin has one of his best parts as Russell’s inexperienced younger brother, who becomes an arson investigator with Robert De Niro’s badly scarred “Shadow”. De Niro’s parole hearing scene with Donald Sutherland’s insane arsonist is one of the best sequences of Howard’s career, and the Hans Zimmer score also deserves top marks. Check it out if you haven’t already seen it.

His Best Scene

”Houston, we have a problem” became one of the all-time great lines in nineties film, after being uttered by Tom Hanks’s every-man hero, the real-life Jim Lovell, during this memorably tense scene aboard the Apollo 13 that features Howard directing at the very peak of his abilities.

His Five Best Films

5. SPLASH
4. A BEAUTIFUL MIND
3. COCOON
2. APOLLO 13
1. AMERICAN GRAFFITI

Up Next

In addition to INFERNO, Howard is also producing THE DARK TOWER, which he toyed with directing for years, as well as the Tom Cruise/Barry Seal biopic, AMERICAN MADE. And yes “Arrested: Development” fans, he should also be back narrating that beloved show once the new season gets rolling.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Source: JoBlo.com

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7:27PM on 10/25/2016
I couldn't agree more with American Graffiti and Backdraft - two stellar efforts by Ron Howard. And I still get chills from watching Apollo 13. Ron Howard can do it all.
I couldn't agree more with American Graffiti and Backdraft - two stellar efforts by Ron Howard. And I still get chills from watching Apollo 13. Ron Howard can do it all.
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8:51AM on 10/25/2016

An Excellent Choice For This Article Series

He directed my all-time favorite movie, A Beautiful Mind, for which he took home the Oscar. So of course I think he's a solid director. Still, his career can be hit and miss, with Da Vinci Code and Dilemma being particularly underwhelming. Though, as far as comedies go, I always liked EdTV for what it was. It's more socially relevant now with the massive influx of reality TV.
He directed my all-time favorite movie, A Beautiful Mind, for which he took home the Oscar. So of course I think he's a solid director. Still, his career can be hit and miss, with Da Vinci Code and Dilemma being particularly underwhelming. Though, as far as comedies go, I always liked EdTV for what it was. It's more socially relevant now with the massive influx of reality TV.
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8:18PM on 10/24/2016
Love Ron. My favorites being American Graffiti, Cinderella Man, and The Grinch. Enjoy all his movies but still haven't caught rush or ITHOTS
Love Ron. My favorites being American Graffiti, Cinderella Man, and The Grinch. Enjoy all his movies but still haven't caught rush or ITHOTS
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6:14PM on 10/24/2016
Howard is not a bad director, but of his work is the most generic Oscar-bait version of the story possible.I like Rush, and Bruhl gives a good performance because he's a good actor and Hemsworth is charismatic as heck , well, he's Chris Hemsworth but the characters are such underwritten cliches and it devotes so much time to "telling" rather than showing via unnecessary monologues, etc. The film could have been stellar and ended up good, but far from the best version possible. That's's partly
Howard is not a bad director, but of his work is the most generic Oscar-bait version of the story possible.I like Rush, and Bruhl gives a good performance because he's a good actor and Hemsworth is charismatic as heck , well, he's Chris Hemsworth but the characters are such underwritten cliches and it devotes so much time to "telling" rather than showing via unnecessary monologues, etc. The film could have been stellar and ended up good, but far from the best version possible. That's's partly because of the script and partly because of the direction. Howard, especially from around 2000 one seems to be much more concerned with what he perceives to be epic feel and "sweeping drama" and characters often seem to get lost in the mix (for example while a lot of people love it every character except for Crowe comes off as a one note cliche in A Beautiful Mind -- especially Jennifer Connely's character, the same can be said for many of his recent films, a standard but likable underdog hero and really flat characters everywhere else). Again, I'm not saying that Howard is bad by any means but I do think he seems more worried about playing it safe by the Box Office and the Academy than making the best movies possible (although tat Box Office is fickle, sometimes Howard's films aren't hits but they almost always sound like they should be on paper). There are very, very few of his films that are outright bad, but also very, very few where I come away thinking "Ron Howard is the only person who could have done that movie" or "He did it better/ in a way that nobody else could have." I've seen 23 of his movies as director and the only two that I can legitimately say that about are "The Missing" and, to a much lesser extent "Frost/Nixon."
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12:21PM on 10/24/2016
I feel like I grew up with him after watching Andy Griffith my entire childhood and later Happy Days. In both programs, Ron Howard played the lovable sweet boy next door. In Happy Days he was the guy you wanted to hang out with because he was kind, cute, fun and always sincere. We all need people like that in our lives. Regarding his directing, I love almost all of his movies although I've not seen the Dan Brown films as they don't interest me. Love most everything else. Adore Arrested
I feel like I grew up with him after watching Andy Griffith my entire childhood and later Happy Days. In both programs, Ron Howard played the lovable sweet boy next door. In Happy Days he was the guy you wanted to hang out with because he was kind, cute, fun and always sincere. We all need people like that in our lives. Regarding his directing, I love almost all of his movies although I've not seen the Dan Brown films as they don't interest me. Love most everything else. Adore Arrested Development.

I agree he's great in American Graffiti too.
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11:56AM on 10/24/2016
The great thing about Ron Howard is that he tackles in a various kind of project, not just any particular genre. I'd say his best work is Apollo 13 and his most underrated work is Rush. It should have been a big hit because that movie is perfect.
The great thing about Ron Howard is that he tackles in a various kind of project, not just any particular genre. I'd say his best work is Apollo 13 and his most underrated work is Rush. It should have been a big hit because that movie is perfect.
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11:31AM on 10/24/2016
Rush and Frost/Nixon are the only movie he's done lately that I feel are worth mentioning. But is career in the '80s and '90s are an enviable collection of winners and near-misses (like Far and Away, which I still have a soft spot for). Apollo 13 is a true Hollywood masterpiece, and The Night Shift and Splash are both '80s comedy classics. Add to that my family grew up watching Andy Griffith reruns (some of my favorite jokes in Arrested Development are when the narrator makes comments specific
Rush and Frost/Nixon are the only movie he's done lately that I feel are worth mentioning. But is career in the '80s and '90s are an enviable collection of winners and near-misses (like Far and Away, which I still have a soft spot for). Apollo 13 is a true Hollywood masterpiece, and The Night Shift and Splash are both '80s comedy classics. Add to that my family grew up watching Andy Griffith reruns (some of my favorite jokes in Arrested Development are when the narrator makes comments specific to that show "They were not making fun of Andy Griffith, we cannot stress this enough").
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6:20PM on 10/24/2016
I agree that Frost/Nixon is pretty dang good, although I re-watched it recently and was a little let down. I'm curious why you feel Rush is one of his better ones? I was really stoked for it, but felt like most of his other recent films the characters are almost all one note sterotypes with almost no depth (Olivia Wilde is literally The Token Wife Character and even Hemsworth has no depth at all to his character which for me really hurts how much I care about the main conflict/rivalry), Bruhl
I agree that Frost/Nixon is pretty dang good, although I re-watched it recently and was a little let down. I'm curious why you feel Rush is one of his better ones? I was really stoked for it, but felt like most of his other recent films the characters are almost all one note sterotypes with almost no depth (Olivia Wilde is literally The Token Wife Character and even Hemsworth has no depth at all to his character which for me really hurts how much I care about the main conflict/rivalry), Bruhl was great though. It also (like Frost/Nixon) has a tooooon of "Telling" rather than "Showing" moments. No doubt Rush was an awesome story, but for me it's the quintessential Howard film, a good movie that could have been legitimately great is somebody else's hands.
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