58 episodes

Author and former The A.V Club and The Dissolve staff writer Nathan Rabin and co-host Clint Worthington bring the cult pop culture website Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place to the world of podcasts with Nathan Rabin’s Happy Cast, an audio wonderland for special snowflakes where we discuss bad movies, bad people (such as Donald Trump), new movies (lotta overlap with ‘bad movies’ on that one) and the happy places in pop culture and life that make all of the hassle worth it. Make our Happy Cast your Happy Place as we lovingly massage your eardrums all up in cyber space.

Travolta/Cage Nathan Rabin

    • Society & Culture

Author and former The A.V Club and The Dissolve staff writer Nathan Rabin and co-host Clint Worthington bring the cult pop culture website Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place to the world of podcasts with Nathan Rabin’s Happy Cast, an audio wonderland for special snowflakes where we discuss bad movies, bad people (such as Donald Trump), new movies (lotta overlap with ‘bad movies’ on that one) and the happy places in pop culture and life that make all of the hassle worth it. Make our Happy Cast your Happy Place as we lovingly massage your eardrums all up in cyber space.

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

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

    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 crime comedy about a young couple (Cage and the ever-game Holly Hunter) stealing a baby so they can have a family of their own, and it’s full of all kinds of Coenesque whimsy.

    What did we think of these decidedly disparate films? Take a listen and find out!

    Pledge to our Patreon at patreon.com/travoltacage
    Follow us on Twitter @travoltacage
    Email us questions at travoltacagepod@gmail.com
    Podcast theme by Jon Biegen
    Podcast logo by Felipe Sobreiro

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

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

    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 life she’d lead. Nic Cage is there too, in the rare case where his Big Bold Choices actively hinder the movie; with big, fake chompers and a voice like Pokey from Gumby, it’s a make-or-break performance that may have driven Turner crazy during shooting, but is unforgettable for a whole different set of reasons.

    Which one is better? Take a listen and find out what we thought!

    Pledge to our Patreon at patreon.com/travoltacage
    Follow us on Twitter @travoltacage
    Email us questions at travoltacagepod@gmail.com
    Podcast theme by Jon Biegen
    Podcast logo by Felipe Sobreiro

    • 1 hr 15 min
    #6: Urban Cowboy/The Boy in Blue

    #6: Urban Cowboy/The Boy in Blue

    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 dead, Cowboy kickstarted the ‘urban cowboy’ revival of cowboy aesthetics and brought a new, radio-friendly style of country music into the mainstream. As the self-destructive Bud, Travolta’s stll firmly in his hot-stud wheelhouse, swigging back beers as vividly as he beats his girlfriend Debra Winger. (Romance!)

    Anyways, listen to us take a short-and-sweet look at these two very different sports movies starring two actors in equally disparate places in their careers.

    Pledge to our Patreon at patreon.com/travoltacage
    Follow us on Twitter @travoltacage
    Email us questions at travoltacagepod@gmail.com
    Podcast theme by Jon Biegen
    Podcast logo by Felipe Sobreiro

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

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

    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-heterosexual manlove, and the majesty of flight, to fix themselves and each other. Cage lost 15 pounds and pulled out two teeth (without anesthetic) for the role, and he throws every ounce of that baby-Cage madness into every scene.

    Which one reigns supreme? Listen and find out!

    Pledge to our Patreon at patreon.com/travoltacage
    Follow us on Twitter @travoltacage
    Email us questions at travoltacagepod@gmail.com
    Podcast theme by Jon Biegen
    Podcast logo by Felipe Sobreiro

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

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

    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 his way into the mafia that owns the club.

    Grease is exuberant where Cotton Club is… less so, lean where the latter is bulky (though Cotton Club Encore at least restores some of Coppola’s intended vision), but both have a lot to discuss. And discuss we do, alongside tangents about The Fanatic, Blinded by the Light and Alan Carr, among other things. Take a listen!

    Pledge to our Patreon at patreon.com/travoltacage
    Follow us on Twitter @travoltacage
    Email us questions at travoltacagepod@gmail.com
    Podcast theme by Jon Biegen
    Podcast logo by Felipe Sobreiro

    • 1 hr 17 min
    #3: Saturday Night Fever (1977) / Racing With the Moon (1984)

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

    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 as he can out of a character who, in any other movie, would have a big stinking ‘I’m Going to Die in the Second Act to Motivate the Protagonist’ sign on his back.

    It’s an interesting double feature to be sure — one film is that star’s big breakout, the other a meaty supporting role in a pleasant, but otherwise obscure melodrama. But between both film’s tales of misspent youth (and a curious abortion subplot that crops up in each of them), there’s quite a lot to chew on between this pair of oft-underappreciated classics.

    Pledge to our Patreon at patreon.com/travoltacage
    Follow us on Twitter @travoltacage
    Email us questions at travoltacagepod@gmail.com
    Podcast theme by Jon Biegen
    Podcast logo by Felipe Sobreiro

    • 1 hr 22 min

Customer Reviews

Benstruff ,

Good podcast

Sometimes Nathan is too quiet but other than that it’s fine

Tbowns ,

Killer podcast

These guys blow my mind. I’m constantly laughing and learning. I can’t get enough, keep’em coming!!!!

Joro Gen ,

Love this cast!

I can listen to Rabin wax philosophical about pop culture all day.

Top Podcasts In Society & Culture

Listeners Also Subscribed To