Tag Archives: Kevin Pollak

The Girl Without a Name

Timecode: 33:48 – 36:17

SAM
You got Dramamine?

KAFFEE
Dramamine keeps you cool?

SAM
Dramamine keeps you from throwing up; you get sick when you fly.

KAFFEE
I get sick when I fly because I’m afraid of crashing into a large mountain, I don’t think Dramamine’ll help.

SAM
I’ve got some oregano, I hear that works pretty good.

If AFGM was a wedding, its invitation would include that post-script you see more and more these days: “We love your kids, but this is not an event for children.” The film spans 138 glorious minutes, and there’s not a single childSam's Baby

Actually, scratch that. There is one: Sam’s baby girl, who as you can see from the above photo, “just looks like she has something to say.”

But I’m afraid that’s about all I can tell you about her, because for some strange reason, the tiny actress’ name never appears in the credits¹. Now, it’s not like I expected to see her billed alongside Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, but I assumed (incorrectly) that every actor who appears on screen (even those that can’t yet eat solid foods) would at least be acknowledged in the end credits. Nope.

Somehow, the film’s payroll assistant (Harry Winters), first aid specialist (Roberta Wells), and negative cutter (Donah Bassett) all earned themselves a credit. But not the tiny tot who was precocious enough to point to a mailbox, as if to say, “Pa, look! A mailbox!”

Well, needless to say, I was outraged [primarily because I’d come up with the (baby) genius idea to turn this post into a thousand-word blowout all about the film’s littlest “star”]. But then it hit me: I’ve got the Internet! You can find out anything on the Internet!

So, I went to IMDB: nothing. Then I Google’d everything from “who played Sam’s baby in A Few Good Men?” to “Is the government trying to keep me from knowing who played Sam’s baby in A Few Good Men?” And guess what? Not even a clue as to who this tiny towhead might be.

I guess it shouldn’t come as any surprise what famous dialogue exchange immediately sprung to mind:

That’s right! I do want answers! I do think I’m entitled! I need to know why this baby didn’t get her goddamn due! Could it be because…

…the baby tragically died during the making of the movie? (Of course not! That would definitely be on the Internet.)

…they couldn’t find a baby girl to play the role, and last minute, decided to dress a baby boy up in that little pink jumper, but wanted to spare that boy any residual gender-identity-related scarring down the road? (I’m not ruling it out.)

…the baby was played by Tom Cruise’s illegitimate daughter, and he got cold feet about making the movie their coming out party as a father and daughter? (Let’s hope not, ‘cause Siri’d be pissed!)

Whatever the reason, I need to know! I mean, what if it turns out that this baby has grown into the woman of my dreams² and fate is trying to keep us apart? You have to admit that it’s at least possible. I mean, a dedicated AFGM blogger falling for the uncredited baby that appears in the film? At the very least, it could make for a great Lifetime movie (assuming the woman ends up suffocating me in my sleep after our relationship goes off the rails). I mean, just look at those eyes; there’s definitely some darkness behind them, right?Sam's Baby2

Who knows? Maybe she’s out there right now, reading this… And if she is? Well, my dear, I hope you feel like you finally got your due.

Whatever the hell your name is.

-MPM

¹I watched the scroll twice just to be sure.
²I did the math: it wouldn’t be creepy.

That’s The Code

Timecode: 26:48 – 30:31

KAFFEE
You don’t need to call me sir.
(to DOWNEY)
Is this your signature?

DOWNEY
Sir, yes sir.

KAFFEE
You certainly don’t have to do it twice in one sentence.

Considering his clients have been in a jail cell for almost 24 hours since their transfer up to D.C., it seems only right that Kaffee should finally pay them a visit. After all, there’s only so much Chocolate City sightseeing you can really do from behind bars, right, Louden? Plus, I mean, I’m no lawyer, but an attorney actually meeting his clients face-to-face seems like something he should probably do before striking a plea bargain or (god forbid) going to trial¹.Is this your signature

The scene marks a sharp tonal shift, which Reiner (and cinematographer Robert Richardson) tip us off to the moment we see the holding cell’s drab coloring and dim lighting (which is made all the more drab/dim by its contrast to the preceding scene: shot outdoors on a bright and colorful softball field). The suggestion seems to be simple: shit’s about to get serious.

And it is.

For the first time since we’ve met him, Kaffee has encountered an audience (Dawson & Downey), who not only don’t find him amusing, they don’t even seem capable of speaking the same language. As much as Jo has rolled her eyes at Danny’s sarcastic quips, it’s clear that (at the very least) she gets the joke. Dawson and Downey², on the other hand, greet Danny’s humor with all the understanding and appreciation that a cement wall greets a tennis ball. And aside from Galloway’s “You know what a Code Red is?” stumper, it’s the only thing that we’ve seen have the power to wipe the smirk off of Kaffee’s face.Oh Harold

[As a quick aside, this got me thinking: what would make Dawson and Downey laugh?

For Downey, the answer is easy: so long as a superior officer wasn’t breathing down his neck, he’d probably laugh at just about anything that didn’t involve clever wordplay or straight-faced sarcasm. This list would include Marmaduke comics, The Great Cornholio, fart noises, every second of Jackass and Tosh.0 ever put on film, and pretty much any inappropriate sex joke that you heard in middle school.Dawson

Dawson, of course, is a whole different animal. If memory serves, the guy doesn’t so much as crack a smile the entire movie (Markinson and Kendrick would also make this list). He’s the fucking bizarro-world version of Smilin’ Jack Ross: Hangdog Harry Dawson. That being said, he strikes me as the kind of guy who would laugh were he reminiscing with a friend or sibling about “the good old days”. In other words, if he’s going to slip out of super-serious Lance Corporal mode, he’d have to be with someone he felt incredibly close/safe with. And I don’t imagine that list of people would be very long.]

It takes all of a few seconds to learn that Kaffee and Dawson mix about as well as root beer and grapefruit juice³. And nowhere is that more evident that when Kaffee calls into question the code that Dawson lives his life by (not to be confused with the code that Danny lives his live by: Softball. Yoo-hoo. Babes. Steak knives.):

Kaffee certainly has no shortage of antagonists to contend with in this movie. He’s got Galloway up his ass basically non-stop. In just a matter of minutes, he’ll have Jessep, Kendrick and Markinson stonewalling him at every turn. And as much as Jack Ross may smile, he is — quite literally — the opposition (that’s how the whole prosecution-defense thing works, after all).

And yet, despite all those heavy-hitters, no character will prove a bigger catalyst for Kaffee’s arc/change than Harold W. Dawson. Their relationship will personify the central theme/conflict of the film. And if you don’t believe me, just look at where their first meeting is placed structurally: the last scene of the First Act (sometimes known as “Conflict Lock”). There’s no turning back from this moment for Danny, just like there’s a concept that Harold’s gonna have to start warming up to: Kaffee’s the only friend he’s got.

-MPM

¹Although I could totally see the 2016 version of Kaffee FaceTiming with his clients between innings of one of his softball games.
²a.k.a. D+D Music Factory
³Take my word for it.
To say nothing of the ghost of his father lurking behind all of this.
And those are some serious fucking heavy-hitters, especially when you consider the actors who are playing them.
The character being played by the guy nobody’s ever heard of, who’d go on to do guest spots on Charmed.
Frenemy might be more accurate, but the term wouldn’t be invented for another 15 years or so.

Hal, Is This a Blog?

Timecode: 22:45 – 23:24

EXT. THE BRIG – DAY

Another red-brick building. A few M.P.Is stand out front as the cars pull up. As soon as they come to a stop, all the doors swing open and various uniformed and non-uniformed officers hop out and move to the unmarked sedan where they escort DAWSON and DOWNEY, in handcuffs, out of the car.

HAROLD DAWSON’s a handsome, young, black corporal. Intense, controlled, and utterly professional.

LOUDEN DOWNEY’s a 19-year-old kid off an Iowa farm. He’s happiest when someone is telling him exactly what to do¹. DAWSON’s his hero.

The two prisoners stand still for a moment. They might as we’ll be in Oz.

DOWNEY
Hal, is this Washington, D.C.?

Hal, is this Washington D.C.

This week’s short scene seemed like the perfect opportunity to a) highlight a bit of Sorkin’s sensational screenplay (which you see above), b) discuss the high comedy that is Downey’s wide-eyed-ness (which we’ll get to momentarily), and c) take stock of the bigger picture with the first installment of our AFGM Power Rankings² (which you’ll find below). But let’s start with the lovably guileless Louden…

His line in this scene is my pick for the most unintentionally hilarious moment of the movie. While there are certainly naive and unsophisticated people in the world³, there’s something about his delivery of the line that is so broad, it bleeds into caricature. In fact, if this were a different movie, say one directed by the Zucker or Wayans brothers, you could see this turning into a full-on gag if the scene continued:

“Hal, is this prison?”

“Hal, is this a toothbrush?”

“Hal, is this my dick?”

You get the picture.

I think my favorite part about the line, though, is the subtext that I’m (more than likely) projecting upon young Lowden. I like to imagine that the question stems not from naivete but disappointment. He gets out of the car expecting to see The White House, The Capitol Building, and the Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington Memorials all at once. After all, this is supposed to be Washington D.C.! Postcard fucking central. It should look something like this:turn around louden mockup

But nooooo! All poor little Louden gets are a couple of nondescript brick buildings and a dinky metal staircase. I mean, what a gyp!

(Quick side-note: given Downey’s Iowa roots and his inquisitive nature, I also can’t help but think of this famous “Where am I?” moment from movie history:

But hey, at least Shoeless Joe had an excuse for being so dense: I mean, ghosts aren’t exactly known for their crack geography skills. End of quick side-note.)

*

AFGM Power Rankings 1.0

Listed in ascending order from least powerful to most powerful (at this point in the movie):

136) Downey
“Hal, is this last place?”

135) Santiago
Only his fine penmanship (in that letter he wrote) saved him from the cellar.

118) Sherby
If he kept his eyes open, his chances of ranking higher would increase by a factor of ten.

97) Spradling
Was smoked like a dime bag of oregano.

75) Dawson
Definitely outranks Downey (both militarily and in these power rankings), but he’s shown more acumen with duct tape than he has with the English language thus far.

61) Markinson
We just saw him scolded like a small child. I mean, you half-expected the scene to end with him licking Jessep’s boots like he was his dominatrix.

60) Kendrick
Similarly dressed-down in the previous scene, but at least he’s getting a free lunch at the “O” Club out of it.

44) Weinberg
Has no responsibilities here whatsoever.

27) Capt. Whitaker
Pretty sure that dude next to him with his eyes closed is fantasizing about him in a manner that would push the limits of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.Requested by division

* Top 5 *

Drumroll, please…

5) Kaffee
He’s pacing himself.

4) Galloway
Had Kaffee all kinds of turned around by the end of their first meeting.

3) Capt. West
‘Dat mustache, tho.

t-1) Jessep
Took a few innings before they finally brought him out of the bullpen, but he came in throwing absolute gas.

t-1) Tom
Obvi.

-MPM

¹This sentence provides a classic example of why how-to screenwriting books are (mostly) rubbish. They’ll often tell you that you should never include something in the scene description that we (as the audience) can’t see or hear. But when done artfully (and sparingly) – particularly when describing a character for the first time – it can do wonders to help the reader understand what you’re going for. And at the end of the day, that is the whole point of a screenplay.
²Trademark pending.
³And quite of a few of them are probably Midwestern teenagers.
I had no idea until writing this that it’s “What a gyp!” and not “What a gip!” #stilllearning
Military slang for Officer’s Club.

Buried Treasure

Timecode: 16:50 – 17:08

There’s an old adage that says no matter how many times you’ve seen a great movie (or read a great book), you always notice something new (and wonderful) each time you go back to it. Honestly, I didn’t think that was possible with AFGM – not because it isn’t great¹, but because I’ve seen it so many goddamn times². But boy, oh boy, was I wrong!

Last week, while I was studying the on-screen chemistry between Kaffee and that apple, I stumbled upon a small (but hilarious) detail that I’d never noticed before. And so, in true A Few Good Minutes fashion, I’m devoting this entire post to those 18 seconds of screen time and what they can possibly tell us about the greatest movie ever made³.

We now join our scene already in progress…

Kaffee has just been dismissed by Galloway, and Sam decides to stick around to explain away Danny’s devil-may-care attitude — ostensibly, to smooth things over with Jo (and possibly, to keep her from telling his boss, Captain Whitaker, that he and Danny are a couple of maroons):

SAM
He’s a little preoccupied. The team’s playing Bethesda Medical next week.

JO
Tell your friend not to get cute down there. The Marines in Guantanamo are fanatical.

SAM
About what?

JO
About being Marines.

About being Marines

It’s a great exchange, highlighted by the dismissive, matter-of-fact tone that Demi Moore delivers the last line. But there’s something even more amazing going on in the background. When Kaffee leaves the office, he turns right and heads off down the hallway (out of our view). But if you look closely, you see him re-appear in the doorway a beat later, heading the opposite direction (translation: Danny’s so out of it, he went the wrong way). Here’s the Zapruder-esque footage to prove it:14hsm8

It’s the kind of comedic touch you’d expect from Buster Keaton or Lucille Ball. But what’s more important (at least for our purposes) is to think about the possible reasons for Danny’s about-face. (Do note, however, that whichever explanation you choose likely says more about you than it does Kaffee…)

Explanation #1 (a.k.a. the simplest explanation): Danny is just that oblivious.

Supporting Evidence: We’ve seen him look to Sam for explanations about everything from fence-lines to Colonel Jessep’s resume during the last two scenes. And while Kaffee certainly enjoys playing up his confusion for comedy’s sake (ex. “Was that 0600 in the morning, sir?”), it’s safe to assume that he legitimately has zero idea who Jessep is.

Explanation #2 (a.k.a. the MJ explanation): Danny has a Michael Jordan-esque will to win (at least when it comes to softball), and all he can think about is beating Bethesda Medical next week.

Supporting Evidence: Anyone willing to hit that many grounders to such a stone-handed doofus (a.k.a. Sherby) isn’t playing “just for funsies”. Insert obligatory Kaffee-Crying Jordan meme here:Kaffee Crying JordanExplanation #3 (a.k.a. the “he’s finally met his match” explanation): While he’d never actually admit it, Kaffee was thrown off his game by Galloway’s “my jurisdiction is pretty much in your face” speech — either because she’s the first person to ever call him out on his bullshit, or because he’s sexually attracted to her (or both).

Supporting Evidence: Given what we’ve seen of his interactions with Spradling, Sam, and Captain Whitaker, Kaffee certainly hasn’t been pushed up to this point. So, at the very least, Jo’s “you’re gonna have to go deeper than that” comment is not something Danny’s heard much of in his professional life. And in the scene still to come, where Galloway calls him out yet again (this time in front of his entire softball team), he’ll allude to being sexually aroused by Jo’s take charge, dominatrix vibe.

While it’s easy to default to the simplest explanation, I tend to lean towards Explanation #3, and here’s why:

Danny can’t be that oblivious; not unless this is a different movie, and it’s being directed by The Farrelly Brothers or The Zucker Brothers (or any other brothers known for incredibly broad comedy). Sure, Rob Reiner has superb comedic chops (and Cruise gives us some memorable comic moments in the film), but at the end of the day, this is a story that we’re supposed to take seriously (even if the main character is doing everything in his power not to up to this point). So, the idea that Kaffee would head the wrong direction simply because he’s not paying attention just doesn’t fit the tone that the movie is going for.

Even more to the point, Tom Cruise is a great actor. And like all great actors, his performances are defined by the unique and specific choices that he makes. Those choices aren’t arbitrary; they’re always acutely motivated.

And that’s why, until Tom Cruise tells me otherwise, I will go to my grave convinced that the only explanation for Kaffee’s about-face is behind Door Number Three: Jo actually managed to get under his skin a little.

-MPM

¹I mean, c’mon, why would I be writing this blog if it wasn’t?
²Rough estimate: 35 times from start to finish (with plenty of other, partial viewings).
³Military courtroom drama division.
And he’s not alone. Right, Michael Douglas?
Tom, if you’re reading this, you can reach me at mpmsclone@gmail.com

Danny Appleseed

Timecode: 12:59 – 16:49

SAM
Commander, Lt. Kaffee’s generally considered the best litigator in our office. He’s successfully plea bargained 44 cases in nine months.

KAFFEE
One more and I get a set of steak knives.

If you’re a dedicated reader of this blog¹, you may remember that I said Kevin Pollak was the perfect scene partner for Tom Cruise. Well, I was wrong, ladies and gentlemen. Because there is, in fact, another co-star that helps Cruise soar to even greater heights in AFGM. And no, it’s not Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, or Jack Nicholson. I’m speaking, of course, about the juicy, Red Delicious apple² that Kaffee has a torrid love affair with during his first meeting with Galloway.Apple in the mouth

There’s just no denying it: the first half of this scene is a fucking master class in how business³ can enhance a performance. And as such, it absolutely warrants requires a thorough, bite-by-bite, A Few Good Minutes breakdown:

Kaffee arrives at Galloway’s door with Sam at his side and the apple already down to the nub. I have to assume that Danny skipped lunch to hit Sherby a few more grounders, and this apple is all that’s standing between him and dangerously low blood sugar.

• And yet, lo and behold, that “same” apple is a good 15-20% less eaten when he walks into the office (continuity error alert!) We’ll get to why that is in a second, but first, a couple of important questions: how much apple did Tom Cruise have to eat before they finished shooting this scene? And did he have to camp out in his trailer later that afternoon because of it?

• Back to the magically more-intact apple for a second. Why would Cruise trade out flimsy apple #1 for the beefier apple #2, you ask? Because he wanted to achieve peak “pig at a laua” comedic effect when he puts said apple in his mouth (pictured above), while searching his briefcase for the crumpled up piece of paper that he jotted Galloway’s name down on.

• It also gives us a spectacular, “Stars: They’re Just Like Us!” moment a second later, when Cruise turns profile to the camera and there’s a giant, glistening smear of apple juice across his cheek.

• Then, the second he’s invited to sit down, he grabs a chair, takes a thoroughbred-level bite out of the apple, and doubles down on the business by licking residual apple juice off of his hand.

• Before the scene is over, he actually goes to the “apple in his mouth to free up his hand bit” three times: first when he knocks on the door, then when he’s searching for Galloway’s name, and finally, when he passes the Dawson & Downey file to Sam (like it’s a hot potato) upon receiving it from Galloway.

• And then there’s the coup de grâce: with the apple finally finished, Cruise’s eyes dart around the room looking for some place to dispose of the core. This gets Demi into the act, as she fishes the garbage can from beneath her desk and offers it to Cruise with a glare that says far more about how she feels about Kaffee than any dialogue ever could. The business is so good that you could watch the scene with the sound muted, and you could still understand their dynamic.

• Okay, I lied, that wasn’t the final final blow, because everyone knows that when you eat a juicy piece of fruit by hand, your hands become a sticky fucking nightmare! And don’t think Tom Cruise – the everyman of everymen — is going to let us forget it. No, sir! He resorts to the same “Miyagi hands” approach that every last one of us has used while trying to unstickify our hands when there’s no water, soap or paper towels available.Kaffee rubbing hands apple

I mean, my god! Give the man his due. Forget a set of steak knives, Cruise deserves an Oscar and a paring knife made of Valyrian steel for that performance. (Oh, and throw in one of these while you’re at it; they make apple pie-making a fucking breeze!)

Taken as a whole, Kaffee’s tête–à–tête with the Red Delicious helps to pound home (one final time before the story really gets rolling) both his boyish charm (because, really, what’s more boyish and charming than a farm boy gnawing on an apple from the orchard?) and the nonchalance with which he treats everything work-related.

The key turn in the scene, however, comes when Kaffee tries to wriggle his way out of Galloway’s interrogation by giving her the Dave Spradling treatment (he of the oregano prosecution):

KAFFEE
Right. Is that all?

JO
Lieutenant, this letter makes it look like your client had a motive to kill Santiago.

KAFFEE
Am I correct in assuming that these letters don’t paint a flattering picture of marine corps life at Guantanamo Bay?

JO
Yes, among —

KAFFEE
Am I further right in assuming that a protracted investigation of this incident might cause some embarrassment for the security counsel guy.

JO
Colonel Jessep, but —

KAFFEE
Twelve years.

JO
I’m sorry?

KAFFEE
I’ll get them to drop the conspiracy and conduct unbecoming. Twelve years.

JO
You haven’t talked to a witness or looked at a piece of paper.

KAFFEE
Pretty impressive, huh?

JO
You’re gonna have to go deeper than that.

When Spradling told Kaffee, “I don’t know why I’m agreeing to this” when they settled the oregano case, you could tell that it wasn’t the first time Kaffee’d heard that line before. Given his considerable charisma and that aforementioned charm, it’s probably safe to assume that Kaffee’d heard that line non-stop in the 9 months since he joined the Navy: from JAG lawyers at the end of every plea bargain and from D.C. co-eds before every last call.

But not this time. Not on Jo’s watch. I mean, say what you will about her as a litigator, but no one can question Joanne Galloway’s ability to crawl up a lawyer’s ass. Her jurisdiction is — and always has been — IN. YOUR. FACE. So, buckle up, Kaffee: you’re in the big leagues now.Jurisdiction is in your face

Oh, and you’re dismissed, by the way.always forget that part

I know, I know. You always forget that part.

-MPM

¹Shout-out to my folks!
²You could potentially talk me into it being a Jonagold, but to anyone who thinks it might be an Empire or Gala, please, do us both a favor and stop reading this blog immediately.
³For the uninitiated, “business” refers to the physical actions an actor performs in conjunction with their dialogue.
Because we all know that apple juice is a diuretic, and that apples are high in fiber, which is good for, you know…
Or is it a metaphor for him trying to dispose of the Corps and all that it stands for??? Just kidding, guys. I’m not a crazy person!
Not a real word
And paired with a few spoonfuls of peanut butter, of course, because an apple with some peanut butter is basically the perfect snack!

My Kind of Case

Timecode: 10:57 – 12:58

KAFFEE
That flight to Cuba, was that 0600 in the morning, sir?

Fresh off of smoking Dave Spradling like a dime bag of oregano (whilst conducting infield practice no less), Kaffee is in desperate need of a more formidable adversary (not to mention a semi-competent second baseman¹). Luckily for him (and for us), he’s arrived at the pivotal moment of any great story: the Call to Adventure.

As Joseph Campbell laid out in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, in the classic monomyth, our Hero must receive a call that “disrupts the comfort of [their] Ordinary World and presents a challenge that must be undertaken.” Or put another way: as much as he may want to, Danny can’t spend his whole life hitting grounders through Sherby’s legs. Not if he’s going to be the star of the greatest movie² of all-time, anyway.

But that doesn’t mean that Kaffee is going to like getting the call; he’s what Joey C.³ would call a reluctant hero. So, it only makes sense that he shows up late to the very meeting where his “Call” will be announced to the world a conference room full of co-workers:No excuse Kaffee

KAFFEE
Excuse me, sorry I’m late.

CAPT. WHITAKER
That’s alright, Danny. I know you don’t have a good excuse, so I won’t force you to come up with a bad one.

KAFFEE
Thank you, sir.

My favorite part of this exchange is the inherent insinuation that Danny is not only chronically late, but that he’s offered up one ridiculous excuse after another as to why. A few possibilities (listed in order of ridiculousness):

5. Janelle forgot to tell him about the meeting.
4. He thought the meeting was at 0900…in the evening.
3. He had to give Sherby a ride to work, because Sherby’s bike was stolen – again.
2. He was hitting grounders to Sam’s baby.
1. His dad died — again.

With the perfunctory excuses dispensed with, Captain Exposition Whitaker wastes no time getting down to exposition business: “Seems you’re moving up in the world. You’ve been requested by Division.”Requested to do what

“Requested to do what?” Kaffee asks in what may be my favorite Tom Cruise line-reading ever. The bemused distaste with which he asks the question makes the mind race with potential requests Kaffee might have in mind. A few possibilities (listed in order of ridiculousness):

5. Board a boat.
4. Clean the latrine.
3. Fire Sherby.
2. Teach Sam’s baby to say her first word.
1. Throw the game against Bethesda Medical next week as part of the Division’s (super secret) softball gambling operation.

Instead, Captain Exposition Whitaker gives us the lowdown on the Dawson/Downey case with a helpful assist or two from the one, the only, Lt. Sam Weinberg. And just in case we weren’t completely convinced that Kaffee doesn’t take anything (not even an assignment from Division) seriously, he exhibits the telltale sign of a man who doesn’t take anything seriously: he doesn’t have a pen to take notes with. But Captain Codependency Whitaker not only comes through with a writing implement, he also hooks Kaffee up with (equally reluctant) co-counsel:Sam no responsbilities face

CAPT. WHITAKER
Work with Kaffee on this.

SAM
Doing what? Kaffee’ll have this done in about four days.

CAPT. WHITAKER
Doing various administrative… things. Back-up. Whatever.

SAM
In other words, I have no responsibilities here whatsoever.

CAPT. WHITAKER
Right.

SAM
My kind of case.

Tom Cruise has had a lot of scene partners over the years, but there’s something about Kevin Pollak’s lowkey energy and wry comic delivery that provides the perfect yang to Cruise’s yin. Over the course of the film, the two of them also prove incredibly adept at portraying a relationship that you see all the time in the real world, but almost never on screen: colleagues that work really well together, but aren’t so close that you’d ever confuse them for actual friends. Case in point: neither Kaffee nor any of Sam’s other co-workers ever refer to his baby by name (even when she’s on screen later!) And you get the feeling that Kaffee couldn’t come up with the kid’s name even if you handed him this and spotted him about a hundred guesses. It’s a small detail, but an expertly observed one by Sorkin.

But back to the pride of Pioneer High for a second (that’s Pollak for those not familiar with his educational background). The man’s had quite a career as a character actor, but you’d be hard pressed to top his four year run from ‘92 to ‘95. He followed up AFGM with a delightful mix of comedy (Wayne’s World 2 and Grumpy Old Men) and drama (The Usual Suspects and Casino). And it should have come as no surprise either, as his performance as Sam is a perfect blend of both. (Plus, I mean, the guy’s always had range.)

He deserves a pat on the back. And wouldn’t you know it? That’s exactly how the scene ends.

Pat on the back gif

-MPM

¹#sorrynotsorrysherby
²Military courtroom drama division.
³What Joesph Campbell’s friends called him, obvi.
Which also happens to be the alma mater of four of my cousins.
Speaking of impressions, on his Chat Show, Pollak shared that during the climatic Kaffee-Jessep courtroom confrontation, he actually sat in for Nicholson (off-camera) when they were shooting Tom Cruise’s sides, and he performed all of Jack’s lines AS Jack.