For Your Consideration: Oct. 17, 2014

On Wednesday, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced that yes, song-and-dance-man and awards-show-host-extraordinaire Neil Patrick Harris has finally been swayed to take on the Oscars. Harris has won widespread acclaim for his turns hosting both the Emmys and the Tonys, putting him only one slot away from the first-ever hosting EGOT. Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, returning for their third straight ceremony, are clearly not interested in breaking away from their musical-number comfort zone – so if they’re going to stick to the formula, you might as well get one of the best for it. Harris is known more as a Broadway and television favorite than for his cinematic work, but his film resumé is still more impressive than, say, Jon Stewart – this week we’re considering three of Doogie Howser’s most memorable movie performances.

– Ethan

Starship Troopers (1997)

Cast: Casper Van Diem, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, Jake Busey, Neil Patrick Harris

Available to rent or purchase from Amazon Instant and iTunes, on disc from Netflix

Not everyone in Paul Verhoeven’s cult favorite is quite on board with the director’s hyperbolic satire of jingoistic patriotism and militarism – although in the case of, say, Denise Richards, it’s hard to say whether that’s a matter of miscommunication or ability. But Neil Patrick Harris certainly gets it – as the psychically gifted best friend of our fresh-recruit protagonist Johnny Rico (Van Diem), Harris perfectly balances sincere resolve and enthusiasm with an ironic, winking edge. His bit in one of the film’s hilariously on-point ra-ra recruitment PSAs is one of the movie’s highlights, facing blunt violence with a smile.

– Ethan

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)

Cast: Kal Penn, John Cho, Ethan Embry, Robert Tinkler, Fred Willard, Steve Braun, Paula Garcés, David Krumholtz, Eddie Kaye Thomas

Available to rent or purchase from Amazon Instant and iTunes, on disc from Netflix

Another internet/cult favorite, although “Harold and Kumar” is probably more notable for helping to launch NPH back to the A-list. Not that the former child star ever really went away, but years in the theater and less-notable TV roles put him in a prime spot for a renaissance, with his gleefully raunchy, self-parodying turn as himself in this contemporary Cheech-and-Chong wannabe stoner comedy. “Did Doogie Howser just steal my fucking car?” is a pop-culture line for the ages – and the answer, by the way, is yes, yes he did.

– Ethan

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)

Cast: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Bruce Campbell, Mr. T, Benjamin Bratt, Neil Patrick Harris, Bobb’e J. Thompson, Al Roker, Lauren Graham, Will Forte

Available to rent or purchase from Amazon Instant and iTunes, on disc from Netflix

All right, so NPH doesn’t exactly have a lot to do here, as the talking-monkey sidekick to Bill Hader’s well-meaning inventor in Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s animated charmer. In fact, he pretty much just yells “Steve!” a lot. But it’s funny. Every. Single. Time.

– Ethan

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