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He Ain’t Heavy…He’s My Brother…Okay, Maybe He’s a Little Heavy October 26, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Pop Culture Rants.

Grit. Determination. Perseverance. Heart. These are words that describe the unstoppable spirit and timeless work ethic somebody has when they focus their efforts towards an unreachable goal.

Actually, these words are for losers. People who succeed are never branded with these words. They give them nicer, more successful sounding words like champion, star and well, success.

But today, I will use these words to describe the only person in Hollywood history that actually took those second place words and turned them into a career path, nay, a way of life.

Ask yourself this: If your brother received the lion’s share of charisma, the whole enchilada of looks and the “some other metaphor for a lot” of talent, would you stop yourself from carving your own niche? No, he didn’t. In fact, he came to La-La Land first and tricked the whole city into giving him an Oscar nomination before they even realized, “Oh Wait, he’s alright, but who’s your brother?” He is Randall Rudy Quaid, older brother of Dennis and one time holder of the “Wait, I know That Guy” in every single film of the mid eighties.

Randy Quaid made his mark immediately. While his younger brother Dennis was still staring at his chest hair waiting for it to grow back home in Texas, Randy took his lanky, sweaty, eye-rolling body to Hollywood. At first, the town was afraid of him, almost unwilling to accept a man who looked like a cross between Lurch and that Uncle you always accused of molesting you at the family reunion. But Randy persevered. His determination that he would be remembered for became evident when he managed to star in a string of mildly retarded second banana dramatic roles. Hollywood figured we wouldn’t be as scared of him, if we thought his character was a few tacos short of a platter. And they were right: Oscar nominations, notoriety and enough money to buy a carton of Right Guard to annihilate that sweat problem he found himself dealing with all followed

Then, Dennis came. At first, Hollywood did nothing for him. He showed up in roles that were little more than man meat fiestas where he could deliver lines and shake his slightly damp with sweat head in slow motion to Journey songs. But, overnight, it happened. Suddenly, Hollywood noticed that not only was he good looking and blessed with a good physique but held one of those drawls that sounds vaguely Southern but non threatening to us Northerners. And as a bonus, he could act. He could emote. He didn’t make you want to leave your seat and wander around the refreshment stand looking for dancing boxes of popcorn. And then he was everywhere. There was even a government mandate that he was to appear in no less than 80 percent of all movies released in 1987. He was winning Sexiest Man Alive awards; he was half of that cute Hollywood couple you actually feel is part of your inner circle. Dennis Quaid was it. And Randy was back to where he was.

Randy bounced around for a little while. He took roles that enabled him to play the demented villain or the concerned comedic father. He even thought he could regain his notoriety if he took a stint on Saturday Night Live. Unfortunately, he was cast in the dark year that was 1986, when Lorne Michaels left to do some sort of self imposed sabbatical (Read: Burnout). His cast mates: Robert Downey Jr,  Anthony Michael Hall, Damon Wayans. Yup, Randy Quaid was surrounded by enough cocaine on a daily basis to personally fund college educations, Porsches and purchases of small Caribbean islands for the entire Escobar family. His low point came towards the end of the Me Decade. While his brother’s star was launching itself, he dipped into the Vacation well again and again. I mean, Chevy Chase was contractually obligated to be in the Vacation movies. But a meaty role like the alcoholic redneck was too good to pass up, I suppose.

Yet (and here are those words) he persevered. He never asked his younger brother for coattails. He never quit as his heart wouldn’t let him. Sure, his roles became fodder for every slot Cinemax could afford after 2 in the morning. SNL improved after he left. And he even tried a lame attempt at getting his face in the public eye by taking on political causes. And, we as a nation said, “Sorry randy, we’ll buy in the movies sweating and scaring us, but our politic fodder needs to have a lot less perspiration….unless you’re a Clinton.” The member of the family who didn’t have it was wallowing in obscurity, popping up now and then just so his house didn’t go into foreclosure. Yet there was brother Dennis, still drawling and preening his way through the Hollywood scene.

Then something happened. Dennis began to fade. Maybe it was age. Maybe it was his messy split with Meg Ryan. Maybe it was the fact that Hollywood found a cheaper younger pretty boy drawl in Matthew McConaughey. Whatever it was, Dennis was fading faster than the prospects of solar energy. Sure, he’d pop up every once in a while and remind us just why Meg Ryan let him re-enact her famous When Harry Met sally scene. Yet there was a Quadian void. And Randy, who was still gritting it out, saw his opportunity.

He showed up in Brokeback Mountain (actually showed some acting chops). He won one of those fake awards (read: Not Oscar) for his role as Tom Parker in the Elvis movie. And with the death of Chevy Chase’s career (Thank you, Snow Day. Thank you.) he will never again have to play the alcoholic cousin in law. Unless they do a reunion show on Fx or something.

Randy Quaid should be an inspiration to us all. He never once relied on his brother’s obvious better talents. He instead gritted it out, stayed determined and kept himself pushing for the goal. He should be an inspiration to all of us who may not be the best, even in our own families. Sweaty, smarmy men unite in your respect for Randy Quaid. He never quit and he’s who he must look for as our inspiration.

At least until Daniel Baldwin gets out of prison.



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