Couples Retreat dominated the box office over the weekend, which is only important because it gives me the excuse I’ve been waiting for since last month’s premiere of Extract to issue the following statement: Jason Bateman rules.
With that shocker out of the way, let’s take a look back at the actor’s six finest roles, just because we can. (Sorry, Juno fans.)
6. David Hogan on Valerie/Valerie’s Family/The Hogan Family (1986-1991)
Yes, every episode was “very special.” And yeah, he was surrounded by roughly a half ton of dead weight. But Bateman kept flashing his Tiger Beat smile through six seasons of this largely forgettable sitcom and managed to emerge mostly unscathed, even if he was hard-pressed to find decent work for more than a decade afterward. Check out what happens in this 1987 clip when some honey promises to “make love” to him — he gets caught with a box of condoms! Gasp! And by his soon-to-be-killed-off mom (Valerie Harper), no less.
5. Pepper Brooks in Dodgeball (2004)
Comparable to Fred Willard’s blowhard commentator in Best in Show, Pepper Brooks is clueless ex-jock given to quotable non-sequiturs—and really bad hair. Here’s the only Bateman-related clip from the stingy movie that I could find online, one in which he says, “I sure do like pumpkins.” I mean, who doesn’t?
4. Chip Sanders in The Ex (2007)
Blink and you likely missed this fish-out-of-water comedy starring Zach Braff and Amanda Peet; it grossed a sad $3 million over nine weeks in release. But Jason Bateman, who plays Braff’s smarmy, faux-disabled nemesis, steals every scene he’s in, including this one involving wheelchair basketball.
3. Derek Taylor on Silver Spoons (1982-1984)
Bateman got his first taste of stealing scenes as Ricky Schroder’s “bad seed” pal—a modern day Eddie Haskell—on this seminal 1980s sitcom, and he was soon rewarded with a show of his own (see No. 2). Here’s one of countless episodes in which Bateman plays Schroder like a cheap keytar.
Bonus: Here’s a compilation of some of his Silver Spoons moments—with inexplicable backing music by Jesse McCartney.
2. Matthew Burton on It’s Your Move (1984-1985)
Words don’t do this short-lived sitcom from the creators of Married…With Children justice; you kind of had to be there. Criminally, the show—in which Bateman plays a conniving teen locked in a battle of wits with his mom’s equally cunning boyfriend—is still not available on DVD. Which means that thirteen episodes of Mama’s Family are out on DVD but precisely zero from the most hilarious 18-episode sitcom of the 1980s. Wonderful. Here, in three parts, is the episode that arguably best represents the series.
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1. Michael Bluth in Arrested Development (2003-2006)
Michael Bluth was, of course, Jason Bateman’s long overdue comeback role. And what a hard road he’d walked to get there—a decade-long string of stillbirth TV series (UPN’s Simon, CBS’s Some of My Best Friends and George & Leo, NBC’s Chicago Sons) and movies (Hart to Hart: Secrets of the Hart), and the ubiquity of 1987’s hilariously awful Teen Wolf Too on basic cable. As your reward for reading this far, here’s the scene in which he’s spooned by David Cross. But an even greater reward awaits you just below that.
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