For April 15: Five Movies About Taxes
April 15 each year brings with it the journalistic challenge of covering yet another "last-rush filers" story, or some clever way to say that it's the deadline for getting your return in. (We still wonder if anyone's ever been prosecuted because their return had an April 16 postmark.)
The subject of taxes, of course, is mind-numbingly boring, even if it's Star Wars rambling on in its intro about levies on interstellar trade routes. But it's a subject everyone can relate to, so Hollywood sees fit to bring it up in any number of ways.
Here are five movies about taxmen and the havoc they wreak:
5. Stranger Than Fiction (2006) Will Ferrell plays an IRS auditor who suddenly begins hearing the narration of his life. Our review: Didn't see it. But it had a kick-ass cast, including Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Queen Latifah. So why didn't we see it? Well, it was about an IRS auditor. Plus it reeked of "Comic Actor Trying To Stretch." Here's Ferrell singing the Wreckless Eric classic "Whole Wide World," which is a great song, so at least the movie has that going for it.
4. Speedway (1968) Elvis (Presley, not Costello) plays stock car driver Steve Grayson, who gets in trouble because of back taxes and....come on, that's more plot information than needed for most any Elvis movie. Speedway is famous for having some of the most hilariously unconvincing green-screen footage in history, where an obviously studio-bound Elvis is driving not-so-furiously along, occasionally cut with footage of actual cars actually moving. But we prefer showing Nancy Sinatra singing "Your Groovy Self," if only for the inept and mismatched finger-snapping and seat-tapping done by two white customers ostensibly listening along.
3. Blues Brothers (1980) The sisters at Jake & Elwood's orphanage have to cough up $5,000 in back taxes or the place will close. Fixing the problem requires Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway, John Lee Hooker and a whole lot of car crashes. Here the IRS forces them to sing "Rawhide."
1. Slap Shot (1977) The Johnstown Chiefs are in trouble, mainly because they're a tax write-off for their disinterested owner. This movie may be the second-most quoted movie of all time after Caddyshack , and up north, if two guys start trading lines you might as well leave the room for a while. We leave you with Paul Newman's sensitive portrayal of what one should do if someone (say, the former wife of the opposing goalie) confides in you that she's not straight. As you can see, such situations must be handled with tact and delicacy.
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