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.


  • #31: The Generals Daughter/Gone in 60 Seconds (with Simon Barrett)

    #31: The General's Daughter/Gone in 60 Seconds (with Simon Barrett)

    21/04/2021 Duration: 01h07min

    This week, the realms of Travolta and Cage come perilously close to merging, as our double feature covers films directed by fillmmakers who either have or will directed the other! In The General’s Daughter, we’ve got a steamy, somewhat dated legal thriller/airport potboiler courtesy of Con Air director Simon West, in which a warrant officer (John Travolta) investigates the rape and murder of a young female captain on a Georgia army base. On the other, deliberately dumber side of the coin, we’ve got Gone in 60 Seconds, the Dominic Sena-directed car-heist remake starring Nic Cage as the leather-clad, “Low Rider”-jamming gentleman thief “Memphis” Raines. It came out a year before The Fast & The Furious, but it’s got a lot of neon-soaked machismo under its hood, alongside some neat turns from the typical Bruckheimer stable of too-good-for-this-actors (Angelina Jolie, Robert Duvall, Delroy Lindo). But does its goofiness hold up for two entire hours? Luckily, we’ve got a character witness in the passenger’

  • #30: A Civil Action/Bringing Out the Dead (with Josh Gondelman)

    #30: A Civil Action/Bringing Out the Dead (with Josh Gondelman)

    07/04/2021 Duration: 01h11min

    his week on the podcast, comedian and podcaster Josh Gondelman (author of Nice Try: Stories of Best Intentions and Mixed Results) hops in the passenger’s seat for a wild night of good-to-great cinema with our two boys! First up is A Civil Action, the schmaltzy-but-scintillating Steven Zaillian legal drama starring John Travolta as a sleazy personal injury lawyer drawn to the allure of justice, surrounded by a murderer’s row of ‘90s character guys (William H. Macy, Tony Shalhoub, Robert Duvall, the list goes on). Then, we chug a Red Bull and pull an all-nighter for Martin Scorsese’s criminally-underrated Bringing Out the Dead, a Paul Schrader-scripted descent into the heart of darkness for an exhausted EMT (Nic Cage) over three crazy nights. The perfect Easter watch! Pledge to our Patreon at Follow us on Twitter @travoltacage Email us questions at Podcast theme by Jon Biegen Podcast logo by Felipe Sobreiro

  • #29: The Thin Red Line/8mm

    #29: The Thin Red Line/8mm

    24/03/2021 Duration: 01h01min

    This week, Nathan and Clint go it alone for one of the podcast’s most curious double features — an art-film masterwork with barely any Travolta in it, and a fully-loaded grotesquery with more Cage than we can shake a snuff film at!First, there’s Terrence Malick’s 1998 war film The Thin Red Line, an elegaic meditation on man’s inhumanity to man, and the way war corrupts the majesty of nature — with an ensemble cast so sprawling even folks like George Clooney can just pop up for 37 seconds! It’s one of cinema’s most beguiling and entrancing works of moralism, and Travolta crops up for about five minutes in a silly mustache to talk tactics with Nick Nolte. Cinema! On the other side of the coin, we get a sneaky glimpse into the kind of direct-to-video thriller sleaze Cage would make his living in for the next several decades with Joel Schumacher’s 8mm, a lurid, obvious tale of a snuff film and the doe-eyed PI who chases it. See Cage mug while he watches a filmed murder that looks not unlike a Marilyn Manson vide

  • #28: Primary Colors/Snake Eyes (with Emily VanDerWerff)

    #28: Primary Colors/Snake Eyes (with Emily VanDerWerff)

    24/02/2021 Duration: 01h10min

    This week on the podcast, Vox culture writer extraordinaire Emily VanDerWerff hops on the campaign trail for an interesting, auteur-driven double feature mired deeply in the politics and aesthetics of the late ‘90s! First up is Primary Colors, a Mike Nichols-directed, Elaine May-scripted adaptation of the Joe Klein-penned roman a clef about the Clinton Years. Travolta does his best Alabama drawl as Senator “Jack” Stanton”, a Bill-esque figure whose political idealism is marred by the many personal failings his campaign team (an all-star ensemble including Adrian Lester, Billy Bob Thornton, and an Oscar-nominated Kathy Bates) have to clean up. Then, we dive into the next-level lurid sleaze of Snake Eyes, Brian De Palma’s stylized thriller about a murdered cabinet member, a prize fight in an Atlantic City casino, and a full-bore Nic Cage hamming it up as an amoral detective caught in the middle of it all. It’s next-level dumb, but boy is it fun. Which wins out — a well-made, albeit naive, referendum on the d

  • #27: Mad City/City of Angels (with Fiona Underhill)

    #27: Mad City/City of Angels (with Fiona Underhill)

    10/02/2021 Duration: 01h09min

    This week, we (along with special guest, JumpCut Online’s Fiona Underhill) begin our post-Face/Off slide into the latter years of Travolta and Cage with two ‘90s artifacts, Mad City and City of Angels! In City of Angels, Nic Cage takes the ‘fallen angel’ baton from Travolta’s Michael, as a dewey-eyed angel who falls in love with a heart surgeon (a radiant Meg Ryan) and decides to become human to explore that. It’s a remake of Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire that bumps the political dimension for romantic fantasy (romantasy?), but it somehow works? And on the other side of the coin, French-Greek auteur Costa-Gavras stumbles into one of his rare English-language films with Mad City, a sleepy, facile Ace in the Hole riff involving a craven TV journalist (Dustin Hoffman) who finds himself in the middle of an erstwhile hostage situation with a disgruntled museum security guard (John Travolta, playing deeply dumb). It’s got a lot to say about the fickle attention of the public and how the media can manipulate it — or

  • #26: Face/Off (with Jordan Morris)

    #26: Face/Off (with Jordan Morris)

    08/01/2021 Duration: 58min

    It's like looking in a mirror, only.... not. It's finally here, folks, the apex of John Travolta and Nicolas Cage's careers, American action cinema, and this podcast's stated mission! This week, the two realms merge with John Woo's Face/Off, in which Travolta and Cage play dual-wielding badasses on opposite sides of the law who find themselves swapping faces and lives as they continue their cat and mouse game. As a John Woo film, it's got all the doves, slow-motion dives, and incongruous Catholic imagery you can stand. But on top of that, it's also got Cage and Travolta having the time of their lives, poking fun at the quirks of their own star personas while playing each other... and sometimes playing themselves while playing each other while playing themselves. Wheels within wheels, man! Luckily, we've brought an expert along with us to share all two-plus hours of this adrenaline-fueled display of cinematic id: Jordan Morris, podcaster extraordinaire (Jordan, Jesse, Go!), who marvels at the bizarre, shagg

  • #25: Shes So Lovely/Con Air (with Griffin Newman)

    #25: She's So Lovely/Con Air (with Griffin Newman)

    24/12/2020 Duration: 01h23min

    Merry Christmas, you filthy animals! To help us usher in a decidedly bizarre yuletide this year, we’re celebrating a fascinating double feature: a bizarre, shambolic Cassavetes family affair and one of the great entries in the Dipshit Film Canon, respectively. What’s more, we’ve got a very special guest to guide us through: Actor and Blank Check podcaster extraordinaire Griffin Newman! First is She’s So Lovely, a lost John Cassavetes script turned into a schmaltzy, all-too-conventional romantic drama courtesy of son Nick “The Notebook” Cassavetes. Starring Sean Penn and Robin Wright Penn as a self-destructive barfly couple torn apart by alcoholism, sexual assault, and madness, which throws in a ten-year time skip and a reformed, remarried Wright a mentally-recovering Penn has to get back. Sure, it’s got Daddy Cass’ knack for complicated characters and verbose dialogue, but not even Travolta as Wright’s post-cleanup husband in the film’s second half can clean up the mess. But to soothe the pain, we get to ba

  • #24: Michael/The Rock (with Roxana Hadadi)

    #24: Michael/The Rock (with Roxana Hadadi)

    09/12/2020 Duration: 01h10min

    Welcome to The Rock! (And a Nora Ephron film too, but we know what you’re really here for.) This week on Travolta/Cage, we finally enter that much-vaunted era of Cage, the Schlocky Action Picture, with one of his greats — Michael Bay’s slick slice of ‘90s milporn cheese The Rock. One of the rare films to crystallize Bay’s particular brand of macho maximalism into something approaching a watchable action film, The Rock lets Cage out of his cage as the twitchy “chemical superfreak” Stanley Goodspeed, forced to team up with the dearly departed Sir Sean Connery to stop Ed Harris from extorting the CIA for money to send relief to veterans’ families. (Remind me why he’s the bad guy again?) On the other side of the spectrum, we’ve got Michael, with Travolta in all his now-portly charm as an irreverent angel who comes to Earth to checks notes help two boring journalists find love? Sure Travolta’s fun, and he gets to dance again, but the rest is a cringe-worthy slog through a coastal New Yorker’s vision of what the M

  • #23: Phenomenon/Leaving Las Vegas (with Jason Webber)

    #23: Phenomenon/Leaving Las Vegas (with Jason Webber)

    18/11/2020 Duration: 01h04min

    This week on the pod, we start to crystallize the essence of John Travolta and Nicolas Cage’s mid-90s careers with two decidedly different films about characters engaged in holy martyrdom! Jason Webber, author of Purple Bananas: How Prince Saved Me and Other Selections from the Soundtrack 2 My Life and Juggalo publicist extraordinaire, hops on board for a two-part bender of Phenomenon and Leaving Las Vegas. In Leaving Las Vegas, Cage pours himself into the role of a low-functioning alcoholic publicists who decides to drink himself to death in Sin City, with the help of a sex worker (Elisabeth Shue) who loves him without wanting to change him. It’s a heartbreaking film that won Cage his Oscar, thus ensuring that yes, we do have to take him seriously as An Actor. On the other hand, Travolta indulges a different sort of Christ complex in Jon Turteltaub’s Phenomenon, a schmaltzy bit of Capraesque Americana where he plays a thoroughly-average car mechanic who suddenly gets photographic memory and telekinesis tha

  • #22: Broken Arrow/Kiss of Death (with Joe Berkowitz)

    #22: Broken Arrow/Kiss of Death (with Joe Berkowitz)

    28/10/2020 Duration: 01h06min

    This week, Travolta/Cage hurtles inevitably into the over-amped action movie phase of our subjects’ careers, as John Travolta shacks up with Hong Kong action wunderkind Broken Arrow! Smirking and smarming his way into his first all-out villain role, Travolta plays an Air Force bomber pilot who decides to steal some nukes for some easy money, with only the wiry Christian Slater and Samantha Mathis to stop them. There are no doves, but there’s plenty of ‘90s cheese. Ain’t it cool? On the other side of the coin, Nic Cage is up to his usual tricks, playing the tic-heavy Little Junior Brown in Barbet Schroeder’s Kiss of Death, a remake of a 1947 film noir starring David Caruso (trying desperately to kickstart a film career post-NYPD Blue) as an ex-con wrapped up in a convoluted web of New York mob mayhem. Sure, it’s a bevy of that-guy character actors (Michael Rapaport! Stanley Tucci! Philip Baker Hall!), but it’s Cage, crying and gurning as an asthmatic tough-guy with a goatee and white tracksuit, who steals the

  • #21: Get Shorty/Trapped in Paradise

    #21: Get Shorty/Trapped in Paradise

    14/10/2020 Duration: 01h03min

    This week on the podcast, we trawl through the rare pro-Travolta pairing with film critic Lisa Rosman (, Vulture), as Barry Sonnenfeld’s charming Elmore Leonard adaptation Get Shorty goes up against the execrable, ear-splitting Christmas comedy Trapped in Paradise! In the mid-’90s, John Travolta was flying high off the success of Pulp Fiction, which set up up nicely for his cool-as-ice take on “Chili” Palmer, a suave, personable loan shark who flies out to LA and gets the chance to dip his toe in the movie business. The movie around him’s great, too, a slick little hangout movie with wit to spare and some great supporting turns in Gene Hackman’s bumbling movie exec, Rene Russo as the ambitous B-movie starlet, and Danny DeVito as the world’s smallest biggest movie star. Too bad, then, that we also have to watch Trapped in Paradise, which is like if a Frank Capra film got mixed up with a rejected Saturday Night Live sketch. Cage plays one third of the crime-happy Firpo brothers (alongside a los

  • #20: White Mans Burden/It Could Happen To You

    #20: White Man's Burden/It Could Happen To You

    30/09/2020 Duration: 54min

    This week, Nathan and Clint go it alone with our latest pairing of Travolta/Cage goodness — mostly so we didn’t have to make a third person suffer the indignity of White Man’s Burden, a post-Pulp Fiction “racial commentary” in which the race/class divide is reversed and white people are on the lower rung of the totem pole. Here, John Travolta, as a poor construction worker living in the ghetto (sporting a… curious blaccent), decides to kidnap his wealthy employer (Harry Belafonte) to get money and revenge. And yup, it’s about as tone-deaf and clunky as that description implies. Funnily enough, Cage is the steady hand this week, going full Normie for It Could Happen To You, reteaming with Honeymoon in Vegas director Andrew Bergman for a cloying but inoffensive tale of New York’s nicest cop (heh) and a down-on-her-luck waitress (played by Bridget Fonda) who both split a $4 million lottery ticket and fall in love along the way. There’s fame, there’s fortune, there’s Rosie Perez trapped in the greedy-shrew role

  • #19: Pulp Fiction/Guarding Tess (with Jason Bailey)

    #19: Pulp Fiction/Guarding Tess (with Jason Bailey)

    09/09/2020 Duration: 01h17min

    This week, poor Travolta finally catches a break, as we finally reach the point in the podcast where we get to discuss the movie that brought him back from direct-to-video flop hell — Quentin Tarantino’s new-cool opus Pulp Fiction! We’ve got the perfect guest for it, too: film critic at large Jason Bailey, author of Pulp Fiction: The Complete Story of Quentin Tarantino's Masterpiece. Together, we chat about the film’s impact on popular culture, its influence on the indie film renaissance of the ‘90s, and the slew of pale imitators that followed. And, of course, just how damn cool Travolta’s Vincent Vega is. But of course, this podcast is about Cage, too — as out-there as Travolta gets to go, in ‘94’s Guarding Tess Cage is reined in as a by-the-book Secret Service agent who bristles against his milk-run assignment protecting a demanding, widowed First Lady (Shirley Maclaine). It’s Cage at his most momcore, a sweet young man who gradually earns the respect and admiration of his cantankerous charge. That is,

  • #18: Look Whos Talking Now/Deadfall (with Scout Tafoya)

    #18: Look Who's Talking Now/Deadfall (with Scout Tafoya)

    26/08/2020 Duration: 01h08min

    What happens when Nic Cage does a favor for his first-time filmmaker brother Chris Coppola, but derails it with a performance so bizarre it makes Vampire’s Kiss look like Leaving Las Vegas? Well, this week on the podcast, Nathan and Clint find out with the help of guest and friend of the show Scout Tafoya (, as we talk about Deadfall and Look Who’s Talking Now! Two films at widely disparate ends of the Travolta/Cage spectrum, Deadfall and Look Who’s Talking Now feel like adventures at different points in the same gonzo dimension. In Deadfall, we follow a con man (a bland Michael Biehn) roped into grifts within grifts thanks to his unscrupulous uncle (James Coburn) and Cage’s Eddie King, a figure of cosmic weirdness and inconcievable line deliveries. And then there’s Look Who’s Talking Now, the execrable final entry in the Look Who’s Talking series, where the focus shifts off the kids (who are too old to have Bruce Willis and Roseanne in their brains) and onto a pair of dogs (Danny DeVito and

  • #17: Shout/Red Rock West (with Abby Olcese)

    #17: Shout/Red Rock West (with Abby Olcese)

    05/08/2020 Duration: 56min

    This week, The Pitch's Abby Olcese throws on a vest and electric guitar to join us for a couple Travolta/Cage obscurities filled with both ironic and unironic pleasures! First, there's Shout, the rockin-est, rollin-est, bone-deep silliest (not to mention white savioury) '50s drama, in which a cool-as-ice music teacher played by Travolta, who brings a little slice of funk to a small-town boys academy. A James Dean lookalike pines after a young Heather Graham! Kids dance erotically at the first bars of a blues-y tune! Then, there's the deeply underrated Red Rock West, John Dahl's gritty, atmospheric Western neo-noir starring Nic Cage as a down-and-out drifter drawn into a plot involving murder, mistaken identity, and Dennis Hopper wearing a bolo tie. It's a thrilling little potboiler, well worth your time (and now available on Peacock!) Pledge to our Patreon at Follow us on Twitter @travoltacage Email us questions at Podcast theme by Jon Biegen Podcast

  • #16: Amos amp Andrew/Eyes of an Angel (with Craig Lindsey)

    #16: Amos & Andrew/Eyes of an Angel (with Craig Lindsey)

    22/07/2020 Duration: 01h13min

    It’s buddy week this week, as the stars of our podcast pair up with unlikely partners in some early ‘90s curios of varying levels of quality! First up is Amos & Andrew, E. Max Frye’s well-intentioned but dubiously-funny racial satire about a well-to-do Black intellectual (Samuel L. Jackson) who finds himself the victim of racial violence in his own home, and the down-on-his-luck criminal (Nicolas Cage) who ends up teaming up with him to pull one over on the cops. It certainly hits differently in 2020, and even if the laughs don’t really work, it’s at least refreshing to see a movie in 1991 that actually admits that ACAB. Then there’s Eyes of an Angel, aka The Tender, a deeply obscure direct-to-video weeper, in which Travolta plays a down-and-out ex-alcoholic single dad wrapped up in crime, dogfighting, and the care of an impossibly cherubic daughter. It’s a bad dog movie, it’s a worse Chicago movie, and it’s barely available except in ten-minute-long chunks on Youtube. Fun! Luckily, we’ve paired up wit

  • #15: Look Whos Talking Too/Honeymoon in Vegas

    #15: Look Who's Talking Too/Honeymoon in Vegas

    08/07/2020 Duration: 01h02min

    One of the things we’ve learned about Travolta and Cage during this project is that they’re both, in their own way, Elvis figures: they’re handsome, song-and-dance men who occupy a kind of irresistible masculinity and cultural supremacy in their prime. Never is that clearer than this week’s doozy of a double-feature, as film and TV critic Odie Henderson (, Vulture) helps us break down Look Who’s Talking Too and Honeymoon in Vegas! The podcast’s very first sequel, Look Who’s Talking Too sees young Travolta and Kirstie Alley juggling work and young parenthood as their first baby, Mikey (Bruce Willis, talking for the baby long after he develops speech of his own), grows up just in time to welcome his little sister Julie (a grating Roseanne Barr) into the world. Get ready for baby genitalia jokes and Elias Koteas as a Reaganite Travis Bickle type, and for an 80-minute movie to feel like three hours. Thankfully, we’ve got the deceptively lo-fi charms of Honeymoon in Vegas to contend with, as Nic Ca

  • #14: Zandalee/Chains of Gold (with Alonso Duralde)

    #14: Zandalee/Chains of Gold (with Alonso Duralde)

    24/06/2020 Duration: 01h11min

    This week, Travolta and Cage’s timelines finally merge with two certified stinkers from 1991! Podcaster extraordinaire and recurring guest Alonso Duralde (Linoleum Knife, Who Shot Ya?, a million others) takes the ferry to N’Awlins with us to steep in the sweaty, clumsy erotic thrills of Zandalee, in which Nic Cage plays a tortured artist who livens up the sex life of repressed trophy wife Zandalee (Erika Anderson), much to the consternation of frustrated poet Thierry (Judge Reinhold). The sex scenes are just as unfortunate as the facial hair, and there’s much more Tennessee Williams melodrama — and accidental blackface — to be found! From there, we hop from The Big Easy to The Magic City of Miami for Chains of Gold, a Travolta-penned Miami Vice knockoff about an ad executive-turned-social-worker-who-might-as-well-be-a-cop who tries to save his young charge (baby Joey Lawrence) from the clutches of a crack slavery gang run by Benjamin Bratt. Early-’90s War on Drugs pandering, a spangly Marilu Henner, and an e

  • #13: Look Whos Talking/Fire Birds (with Justin McElroy)

    #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)

    #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

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