ron underwood interview

A few months ago, when I resumed writing this column for How Did This Get Made?, I began by making a wish list of filmmakers who I’d been wanting to speak with for years. And one of the people at the top of that list was the subject of today’s piece: Ron Underwood

Even if you don’t know the name “Ron Underwood,” you’ve probably seen some of his work. Maybe it was when you were a kid. Maybe in school you were shown one of his sweet-natured stop-motion educational films. Films like Courtesy: A Good Eggsample. Or maybe you saw his adorable adaptation of Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle

Or maybe your introduction to Underwood’s work came through one of his beloved films from the ’90s. Perhaps it was Tremors? Or City Slickers? Or Mighty Joe Young? Again, at some point in your life, you’ve probably seen a Ron Underwood film. Which makes it all the more ironic that what led me to Mr. Underwood was the one film of his that you’ve almost definitely never seen. A film so few people saw that even now, nearly 20 years after the fact, it’s still considered to be one of the “costliest box office flops of all-time”: The Adventures of Pluto Nash

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This week, the gang at How Did This Get Made? covered The Peanut Butter Solution, a mid-80s children’s fantasy film about a suddenly-bald 11-year-old boy who uses a peanut-butter-powered magic potion to try and grow his hair back 

The key to understanding The Peanut Butter Solution is Rock Demers—the French-speaking, Canadian producer whose beloved ReadingRainbow-like “Tales for All” series of films has been captivating children around the world since 1985. The same year, in fact, that The Peanut Butter Solution came out. So to get to the bottom of that film, as well as understand how it fit into his Tales for All vision, I spoke with Mr. Demers.

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This week, the gang at How Did This Get Made? covered The Boyfriend School, a 1990 romantic comedy starring Steve Guttenberg, Shelley Long and Jami Gertz.

To better understand how (and why) this film got made, I spoke with the film’s editor, Marshall Harvey, and its producer, George Braunstein

Given that George Braunstein hasn’t produced a film in several years, and that he’s best known in Hollywood as an entertainment attorney (he’s a partner at Braunstein & Braunstein), I was particularly curious to hear how he had gotten into producing films. 

And the answer to that question begins in the late 1940’s… 

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This week, the gang at How Did This Get Made? covered Ninja 3: The Domination (1984), the final entry in Cannon Films’ so-called “Ninja Trilogy” 

The director of Ninja 3, Sam Firstenberg, is an interesting guy with many stories about his unlikely journey from Jerusalem to Hollywood. So many, in fact, that we’re going to save his tales about breaking into the business, working for Cannon in its heyday and directing the iconic cult classic Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo for a separate piece in the near future. 

Today, instead, we’re just going to put on our most Sherlockholmesian deerstalker and investigate how did Ninja 3: The Domination got made. Which begins—a couple years earlier—with a film called Enter the Ninja. 

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A few days ago, we spoke with legendary producer Al Ruddy about the making of The Godfather, Ladybugs and Megaforce (which the gang at How Did This Get Made? covered in their most recent episode).

Today, in Part 2, we continue our epic discussion with Al Ruddy—this time talking about Million Dollar Baby, Little Fauss and Big Halsy and The Longest Yard

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How Did This Get Made Al Ruddy Interview

This week, the gang at How Did This Get Made? covered Megaforce (1982), an over-the-top action film directed by famed stuntman, Hal Needham. 

The first person I got in contact with was Megaforce’s producer, Al Ruddy. But unfortunately, he replied, “I’m participating in a German-produced documentary on the film currently and with my other projects, I simply have no spare time.”

I thanked him for the quick reply and then assumed we’d never cross paths again. But less than 24 hours after he had declined, I received a new email from him that said: “Just had a couple thoughts…call me.”

What were those thoughts? And what had changed in the course of a day? In a nutshell, Ruddy had done a little research and really liked the idea of this series—the idea of going behind-the-scenes to answer how did various movies get made. “But,” he explained, “for what you guys are doing, I think it shouldn’t just be about the losers.” The point he wanted to make (and which led him to agree to this interview) was that even the “winners” go through their fair share of chaos, struggle and backroom drama. And, well, if anyone would know that to be true, it’s Al Ruddy. 

Because while it was Megaforce that led me to Ruddy, he’s best known for producing a different class of films. Several of which we talked about during our interview—beginning with a little film called The Godfather

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Synopsis: The sexy star of a comic strip called “Cool World” attempts to seduce her cartoonist so that she can cross over to the real world. 

Tagline: There are two different worlds: The Real World and the Wacky, Animated World. Only one of them will survive.

In 1988, Disney released a beloved hit, which garnered enormous praise for its ability to fuse together live-action and animated storytelling. That film was Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Four years later, Paramount Pictures released Cool World which—like Roger Rabbit—brought live-action into a cartoon universe. But beyond that (and also starring a sexy cartoon seductress), the two films shared little in common; least of all their results at the box office. Whereas Who Famed Roger Rabbit made over $300 million, Cool World made less than a tenth of that. 

To be clear, Cool World was never meant to be Roger Rabbit 2.0; from the get-go, it was supposed to skew older, darker and hit with a harder edge. But—as I learned during my conversation with screenwriter Michael Grais—the final version of Cool World (which hit theaters in July 1992) was a far cry from what the film was originally intended to be.

Below is a copy of our conversation…

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Jason Mantzoukas Interview

People who watch lots of movies start to recognize character actors from role to role, especially in comedies, when a funny guy or woman keeps showing up. Jason Mantzoukas has been one of those reliable actors stealing scenes in movies like Baby Mama, The Dictator, The House, Sleeping with Other People and more. But in The Long Dumb Road, Mantzoukas finally takes the lead.

The Long Dumb Road premiered at Sundance this year, and is now playing select theaters and VOD. In the film, Mantzoukas plays Richard, a mechanic who, just after getting fired, helps Nat (Tony Revolori) with a broken down car and rides with him to college as they have a series of road trip misadventures. Mantzoukas took the time to speak with /Film about his lead role, his role in John Wick 3, and of course, the beloved movie podcast How Did This Get Made?, on which he’s been a regular with Paul Scheer and June Diane Raphael since 2010. Read More »

Gallery 1988 How Did This Get Made

For the past couple years, we’ve been churning out companion pieces to go along with episodes of the comedy podcast How Did This Get Made? Hosted by comedians Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas and June Diane Raphael, the podcast features a discussion about a movie that is acknowledged to generally be pretty terrible, and in some cases so bad that the movie actually ends up being good. That’s why we’re happy to call attention to a new art exhibition inspired by the podcast.

Gallery 1988 opened up a How Did This Get Made? exhibition with artwork inspired by specific episodes of the podcast highlighting movies such as Mac and Me, Face/Off, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, Jingle All the Way, Con-Air, Demolition Man and more.

Check out our favorite pieces from the Gallery 1988 How Did This Get Made show after the jump. Read More »

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