Nathan Rabin's Happy Cast



Nathan Rabin's Happy Cast is the official podcast of cult pop culture website Nathan Rabin's Happy Place, featuring Nathan Rabin (of course) and Clint Worthington. Every other week we delve deep into crazy pop culture ephemera, and very occasionally, also things everyone else is fascinated by. It's a safe, happy place to let your geek flag fly.


  • #13: Look Who's Talking/Fire Birds (with Justin McElroy)

    03/06/2020 Duration: 01h06min

    Travolta and Cage fly high this week, as their filmic timelines finally align with two 1989-’90 films in which they play pilots! After a few dour years, Travolta struck gold with Look Who’s Talking, the Amy Heckerling-directed tale of a young single mom in New York (a pre-insanity Kirstie Alley) looking for a good dad for her baby son Mikey (voiced by an all-too-lewd Bruce Willis), and possibly finding it in Travolta’s happy-go-lucky cab driver/aspiring flight instructor. Then, of course, there’s Fire Birds, the 1990 action vehicle/Top Gun riff in which Nicolas Cage plays a hotshot Army helicopter pilot (a maverick, if you will) training to fly the Apache helicopter so the Army can roll into Colombia to take down the (German?) drug cartel leader who killed Cage’s partner. It even opens with a George W. Bush quote, which might be the free space on everyone’s “American jingoism” bingo card. At least Tommy Lee Jones is having fun, though! Podcasting/video game creature creation magnate Justin McElroy (My Broth

  • #12: The Experts/Wild at Heart (with Stephen Sajdak)

    20/05/2020 Duration: 01h19min

    This week on the pod, we fill out another notch on our We Hate Movies guest bingo card with the lovely Stephen Sajdak, as we break down two decidedly gonzo love stories in our heroes’ filmography! First, there’s Nic Cage’s one and only collaboration with David Lynch on 1989’s nightmarish road movie Wild at Heart, the tale of a snakeskin jacket-wearing criminal (Cage) and his lusty moll of a girlfriend (Laura Dern) boning their way through the American countryside with Dern’s vengeful mother (an ecstatically bizarre Diane Ladd) on their tail. It’s a kaleidoscopic mishmash of Wizard of Oz, Elvis Presley movies, and the kind of seedy violence and surrealism only cinema’s greatest weirdo can supply. Contrast that, of course, with Dave “SCTV” Thomas’ screwball Cold War comedy The Experts, where a pair of hip New York losers (John Travolta and Arye Gross) are unwittingly recruited to modernize a creaky old Midwestern town that --gasp- turns out to be a spy school in the middle of Soviet Russia! Put on the shel

  • #11: Basements/Time to Kill (w/Brock Wilbur)

    29/04/2020 Duration: 01h07min

    Greetings Cagers and Travoltettes! This week on the podcast, Nathan’s Postal co-author Brock Wilbur (get your copy today) joins us to begin our inevitable descent into the mid to late ‘80s, where both Travolta and Cage started making curious career choices that would bury them in obscurity until they could claw themselves out. Here, we see both our heroes tackling those rarest of Travolta and Cage roles — the non-American. In Robert Altman’s stuffy, inscrutable TV special Basements, Travolta plays a Cockney hitman opposite a wearied Tom Conti in a filmed staging of the Harold Pinter play “The Dumb Waiter,” and it’s just as confusing and baffling as you’d expect. But where Travolta commits wholeheartedly to his over-the-top Cockney accent (“POPPYCOCK!” his Fanatic character would call it), Cage pulls a Boy in Blue for the Italian war drama Time to Kill, in which he plays the world’s most Californian Italian during the fascist occupation of Ethiopia in the 1930s. CW: discussion of sexual assault in this seg

  • #10: Perfect/Vampire's Kiss (with Eric Szyszka)

    15/04/2020 Duration: 01h07min

    In 1988, Nicolas Cage reached arguably his final form as the caterwauling, manic New York business bro Peter Loew in the horror-comedy Vampire’s Kiss. Meanwhile, John Travolta was still floundering in dated, mismatched romances like 1985’s fitness expose/rom com/Rolling Stone advert Perfect, co-starring a be-leg-warmered Jamie Lee Curtis. This week on the pod, We Hate Movies’ Eric Szyszka squeezes into some spandex and works up a sweat with us as we break down these two decidedly disparate entries in each actors’ filmographies. Vampire’s Kiss is maybe Peak Cage, in all his flailing, over-committed, cockroach-swallowing goodness; Perfect, meanwhile, spends way too little time on Travolta and Curtis’ gyrating sexual chemistry and far too much on creaky treatises on journalistic ethics. Listen to us break down these ‘80s turkeys, and maybe we’ll shed some poundage doing it! Pledge to our Patreon at Follow us on Twitter @travoltacage Email us questions at Po

  • #9: Two of a Kind/Moonstruck (with Karina Longworth)

    01/04/2020 Duration: 58min

    In a strange twist of fate, this week’s Travolta/Cage sees our heroes embarking on two decidedly different romances with musical megastars — but the difference is, one won two Oscars and the other was nominated for five Razzies! With the help of special guest Karina Longworth (You Must Remember This), Nathan and Clint explore the strange double feature of Two of a Kind, John Travolta’s flop-tastic reunion with Grease co-star Olivia Newton-John, and Moonstruck, John Patrick Shanley’s charming ode to love, fate, and talking with your hands a lot starring Nicolas Cage and Cher (in an Oscar-winning role). Together, we ask the big questions, like: why wasn’t Two of a Kind a musical? Why is Heaven so understaffed? And what exactly happens when the moon hits your eye like a big a-pizza pie? So strap on your headbands, schnap out of it and let us whisk you away to a land of amore, for both good and ill. Pledge to our Patreon at Follow us on Twitter @travoltacage Email us questions at trav

  • #8: Staying Alive/Raising Arizona (with Sean Conroy)

    18/03/2020 Duration: 58min

    Greetings, fellow quarantiners! Hope you’re all staying safe and isolated as COVID-19 ravages the United States. Over here at Travolta/Cage, we’ve got another terrible affliction to deal with — disco fever! For this week’s episode, podcaster Sean Conroy (Sean Conroy Gets Happier) joins us to talk about Staying Alive and Raising Arizona. Staying Alive, of course, is the seven-years-too-late sequel to Saturday Night Fever, in which Travolta’s Tony Manero swaps out disco as an escape for a career in Broadway dancing (which, naturally, called for the talents of writer/director Sylvester Stallone). Strip away the grittiness, good dancing, and scintillating interpersonal drama for disco diapers and creaky love-triangle melodrama and what do you get? Well… this. Raising Arizona, on the other hand, sees Nic Cage transitioning from hunky weirdo in weepy melodramas to his beautiful-butterfly stage of madman histrionics, teaming up with the Coen brothers for their second(!) film. It’s a madcap Tex Avery-inspired crim

  • #7: Blow Out/Peggy Sue Got Married (with Dan McCoy)

    19/02/2020 Duration: 01h15min

    We finally start to play the real hits over on Travolta/Cage this week, as The Flop House’s Dan McCoy joins us to talk about two great films in our respective subjects’ careers: the Brian De Palma thriller Blow Out and Francis Ford Coppola’s romantic fantasy Peggy Sue Got Married! In Blow Out, we get to see Travolta shuck his overwrought pretty-boy character studies to play the dogged lead of a tight-knit Hitchcockian thriller. It’s a great showcase for what Travolta can do when he’s not tasked with dancing or smirking; he’s haunted and intense as a sound designer who happens upon a political assassination and tries to unravel the mystery surrounding it. De Palma’s never been more stylish, and Travolta’s unique brand of nose-to-the-ground competence porn is beautifully suited to it. And then there’s Peggy Sue Got Married, a charming little movie about the road not taken starring Kathleen Turner as a middle-aged woman suddenly transported back to her high school life with the knowledge of the disappointing l

  • #6: Urban Cowboy/The Boy in Blue

    02/02/2020 Duration: 50min

    Greetings lovely listeners! This one’s a bit late on account of Clint’s whirlwind sojourn to Sundance, but now he’s back and we can subject you to another shockingly one-sided cinematic duel between John Travolta and Nicolas Cage! This time around, we decided to go without a guest, since a) we got busy and b) we didn’t want to subject the hard-to-find Nic Cage sporting drama The Boy in Blue on a third person. That’s right, in 1986, Nic Cage starred in a Canadian historical rowing flick as the Canuckier-than-thou bad boy sculler Nick Hanlan in The Boy in Blue, an absolute slog of a sports movie where Cage barely pretends to be Canadian, let alone act. Luckily, we got to leaven that with a Travolta movie about an equally confounding sport (mechanical bull riding) in James Bridges’ surprisingly textured Urban Cowboy. Think of it as Saturday Night Hoedown — another big Travolta vehicle that peers into an under-explored subculture for the time and ends up popularizing it. Where Fever brought disco back from the d

  • #5: Moment by Moment/Birdy (with Alonso Duralde)

    15/01/2020 Duration: 01h04min

    This week on the podcast, the tables turn for our intrepid young hunks, as John Travolta’s hot streak comes to a close with 1978’s Moment by Moment and Nicolas Cage gets a big, juicy, Cage-tastic role in 1984’s war drama Birdy. And we’ve got film critic Alonso Duralde (The Wrap, Linoleum Knife, Who Shot Ya?) in the passenger seat for this sizzling mix of May-December romance and homoerotic Vietnam melodrama! Moment by Moment is the third and final film of Travolta’s contract with Robert Stigwood, a languid romance between a half-witted, drug-addled beach bum (Travolta) and a recently-separated middle-aged woman (Lily Tomlin) who discovers herself in the arms of this hunkasaurus. Too bad it’s performed with all the urgency of a school play, and Travolta and Tomlin’s chemistry is more familial than erotic. Then there’s Birdy, Alan Parker’s 1984 adaptation of the William Wharton novel about two best friends (Cage and Matthew Modine) wrestling with their Vietnam trauma and using the power of only-slightly-heter

  • #4: Grease (1978) / The Cotton Club (1984) with Jake Fogelnest

    03/01/2020 Duration: 01h17min

    This week on the pod, we continue our trek through John Travolta and Nic Cage’s early careers, when Travolta was hitting it big as a singing, dancing A-list movie star and Cage was still slumming it in weird supporting roles in his uncle’s ambitious films. To that end, we brought on Emmy-nominated writer, comedian and satirist Jake Fogelnest (Corporate, The Fogelnest Files) to talk about these distinctly disparate entries in our subjects’ oeuvre. For Grease, it was John Travolta’s big moment — a rip-roaring, gleeful Hollywood musical with killer choreography, catchy songs, and only a few major whiffs of problematic material when seen through 21st-century eyes. And then, there’s The Cotton Club, the Robert Evans-produced misfire that saw Francis Ford Coppola try to make a Gilded-Age melodrama about an aspiring musician (Richard Gere), a black tap-dancing performer (Gregory Hines), and the titular Harlem club where their paths collide. Oh, and Nic Cage is there too, paying Gere’s hotheaded brother who weasels

  • #3: Saturday Night Fever (1977) / Racing With the Moon (1984)

    23/12/2019 Duration: 01h22min

    This week on Travolta/Cage, We Hate Movies’ Andrew Jupin clears the dance floor to help Nathan and Clint through a groovy double feature of Saturday Night Fever and Racing with the Moon! In Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta grooves and twists his hips through his first big superstar role as Tony Manero, a blustering Noo Yawker who dreams of stardom and only gets a taste of it when he dances at the local nightclub. Everyone knows this one for its banging Bee Gees soundtrack and its groovin’ reinvigoration of disco as a trend, but it’s easy to forget that it’s also a grim, gritty take on ‘70s New York and the perils of toxic masculinity. On the other hand, we’ve got Richard Benjamin’s Racing With the Moon, where Nic Cage plays third fiddle to Sean Penn and Elizabeth McGovern, the reckless best friend of Penn who gets the both of them into trouble as they spent their final weeks before leaving for war in small-town 1940s America. It’s a shockingly sweet and layered picture, with Cage eking out as much pathos

  • #2: The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976) / Rumble Fish (1983)

    04/12/2019 Duration: 01h07min

    Welcome to episode two of Travolta/Cage! This week, film and TV critic extraordinaire Noel Murray (AV Club, The Dissolve) joins us to discuss the next two films in Travolta and Cage’s oeuvre. First up is 1976’s The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, a surprisingly effective TV weepie-of-the-week starring Travolta as Tod Lubitch, a boy with no immune system who has to live his life in — you guessed it — a plastic bubble. Will he find love with the relatable girl-next-door (Glynnis O’Connor)? Will he escape his life of isolation? And most importantly, will he finally get to jerk off in private? Then, of course, there’s Rumble Fish, Francis Ford Coppola’s avant-garde followup to The Outsiders, a film that behaves like Ponyboy’s pretentious French cousin. While the bulk of the story follows teenage ruffian Ricky-James (Matt Dillon) flirting with teenage delinquency to impress his mysterious older brother Motorcycle Boy (sorry, The Motorcycle Boy) (Mickey Rourke), Nic Cage shows up in his uncles’ movie as the surprising

  • #1: Carrie/Valley Girl (with Scott Weinberg)

    20/11/2019 Duration: 01h40min

    Hail, friends, and welcome to the first episode of Travolta/Cage! Think of it as Happy Cast, renewed and refreshed, with a groovy new purpose! It’s the same old Nathan and Clint, but this time, we’re going through the filmographies of John Travolta and Nicolas Cage — two of the strangest, most fascinating pop culture figures, warts and all — in chronological order. For our premier episode, we bring on ‘80s pop culture expert Scott Weinberg (‘80s All Over, now Science vs. Fiction) to help us talk about two of Travolta and Cage’s first big movie breakouts: 1976’s Carrie and 1983’s Valley Girl. In the former, we’ve got Travolta as pervy, evil teen Billy Nolan in Brian De Palma’s lurid horror classic; in the latter, we’ve got chiclet-toothed Nic Cage as a punky hunkasaurus chasing Deborah Foreman’s titular valley girl in Martha Coolidge’s surprisingly sweet and nuanced teen sex comedy. Who wins out? Listen and learn, my sweets! Pledge to our Patreon at Follow us on Twitter @travoltacag

  • #49: Netflix: Movies You Can Watch While Folding Laundry

    25/09/2019 Duration: 01h04min

    Amid a slow week at the cinema, amongst stuffy English TV lords and sad Brad dads in space, Nathan and Clint decided to stay on the couch this week and check out some of the streaming-only offerings on the old Net of Flix? Did you know you can watch movies on your computer now? Instantly? For a subscription? Wild! This episode, we’re offering up an anti-comedy double feature with two stars who disappear into unlikable personas of themselves. First, there’s Between Two Ferns: The Movie, in which Zach Galifianakis leverages his Funny or Die sketch series into a Wayne’s World-esque road trip through a bevy of hilariously uncomfortable celebrity interviews. Then we dive deeper into the wacky world of method acting with Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, in which Jim Carrey recounts the time he disappeared into the role of Andy Kaufman for Man on the Moon, and generally made an ass out of himself. Enjoy! 8:06 - Between Two Ferns: The Movie 32:12 - Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond 53:42 - Mailbag 1:00:48 - Happy P

  • #48: You Don't Make the Best Choices!

    11/09/2019 Duration: 01h08min

    We here at Nathan Rabin’s Happy Cast love to keep our finger on the pulse of pop culture, so naturally this week’s episode is about the hit #1 movie everyone’s talking about, the smash hit that’s blowing up the box office… the John Travolta-Fred Durst project The Fanatic! This week on the pod, we partake in a double-dose of Travolta VOD madness with two of the three projects he’s dropped into video hell this year. First up is his woefully misguided, yet fascinatingly terrible character study The Fanatic (in which characters unironically listen to the director’s music and Travolta makes some Bold Acting Choices as an autistic, toxic fan). After that, we dredge up the convoluted, unexpectedly silly noir pastiche The Poison Rose, co-starring Brendan Fraser as a goofy Foghorn-Leghorn doctor with a lisp and a yellow fedora. Together, they form a deliciously demented cross-section of Travolta’s career at this point: a series of wigs, tics and scowls, grasping for relevance… or at least his next paycheck. Still,

  • #47: This Ain't It, Commander-in-Chief (with Brock Wilbur)

    28/08/2019 Duration: 01h04min

    What do Lance Reddick, disgruntled military contractors and black presidents under deadly threat have in common? They’re all contained in both films we’re talking about in this week’s podcast — Angel Has Fallen (the latest in the “Gerard Butler kicks ass FOR AMERICA” series) and 2013’s White House Down, aka the silly Die Hard in the White House film that should have gotten a trilogy. Give us Action Fantasy Obama, goddamnit! To join us on this patriotic journey through films that exist in that strange universe where we were still concerned with the President’s welfare, we bring along Brock Wilbur (of Crooked Media and a bazillion other podcasts) to break down these intriguing cultural artifacts. Plus, more Nick Nolte impressions than you can possibly handle! 6:54 - Scalding Hot Takes: Angel Has Fallen 31:01 - My World of Flops: White House Down 59:47 - Happy Places Follow us on Twitter at @RabinsCast (Nathan: @nathanrabin, Clint: @clintworthing)! Pledge to our Patreon, and subscribe to us on Apple Podcast

  • #46: In Corona Res

    14/08/2019 Duration: 01h03min

    Salut, mi familia - Nathan and Clint peel on their tank tops, slam a couple Coronas, and hop in their muscle cars for a double-dose of Fast & Furious mayhem? With Hobbs & Shaw now in theaters, we take a look at what happens when two buff, muscley dudes smash and shit-talk their way through a buddy cop movie despite being the exact same person. But before that, we skydive deep into the Fast franchise proper with the movie that kicked off their WrestleMania-adjacent partnership, The Fate of the Furious! Along the way, we talk about Vin Diesel beef, running 5ks, and Japan’s wild-as-hell name scheme for the Fast & Furious movies. 5:15 - Lukewarm Takes: The Fate of the Furious 33:47 - Scalding Hot Takes: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw 57:27 - Happy Places Follow us on Twitter at @RabinsCast (Nathan: @nathanrabin, Clint: @clintworthing)! Pledge to our Patreon, and subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts Ask us questions at! Theme Song by Jon Biegen

  • #45: Get Me Nancy Travis! (with Alonso Duralde)

    31/07/2019 Duration: 01h09min

    All right ramblers, let’s get rambling - Nathan and Clint are riding into town on their ‘69 Road Runner, listening to old-school surf rock and dropping ‘60s TV references like nobody’s business in our Tarantino-stuffed Happy Cast! Critic Alonso Duralde (The Wrap, Linoleum Knife, Who Shot Ya?, Breakfast All Day) joins us to talk about QT’s latest, a sun-soaked elegy for Old Hollywood as riotously stylish as it is frustratingly old-fashioned in its ideas. Did we love it? Did we hate it? Did we love it despite it having a bunch of stuff we know we should hate? Listen and find out! Also, we recalibrate our barometer for what constitutes Bad Tarantino by checking out the 1995 Sundance flop Destiny Turns on the Radio, the one Tarantino knockoff in a bajillion that actually featured Tarantino in a starring role as….God, I think? 5:39 - Scalding Hot Takes: Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood 39:55 - My World of Flops: Destiny Turns on the Radio 1:01:05 - Mailbag 1:05:03 - Happy Places Follow us on Twitter at @Rabins

  • #44: All the Kids Love "The Twist"

    17/07/2019 Duration: 01h47s

    Howdy webheads! This week Nathan and Clint catch up on the latest cog in the Marvel machine, Spider-Man: Far From Home, a teen sex comedy wrapped up in Spandex and CGI. It’s cute, it’s fun, it’s a little subversive, but does it hold up to the great responsibility of the Marvel franchise? Let’s find out! In the meantime, we also take a look back at Sam Raimi’s batshit-crazy Spider-Man 3, a movie with a million subplots, Lowell from Wings in a striped T-shirt, and more jazz than any self-respecting NY teens could ever handle. (Also, we’ll say it: Douchebag Emo-Bangs Peter is great, haters to the left.) 7:49 - Scalding Hot Takes: Spider-Man: Far From Home 33:24 - My World of Flops: Spider-Man 3 53:18 - Mailbag 57:13 - Happy Places Follow us on Twitter at @RabinsCast (Nathan: @nathanrabin, Clint: @clintworthing)! Pledge to our Patreon, and subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts Ask us questions at! Theme Song by Jon Biegen

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