Episode 133: Better Off Dead (1985) - Scenes w/Yuji Okumoto
3:13PM Mar 13, 2023
foreign exchange student
Whoa, just curious. Welcome to Just curious media. This is let's talk Cobra Kai. I'm Jason Connell.
And I'm Sal Rodriguez.
All right, Soule. We're back for another episode,
another special episode.
special episodes. It's the season. And today this is really a unique one a first, because today we're talking about a movie very close to my heart. Not the Karate Kid. Not the Karate Kid. Part two, not the Karate Kid. Part Three. Not that no, I'll stop. It's better off dead came out in 1985. Because one of our cast members from Cobra Kai is in it. And although I knew it, I'd forgotten about it. And I watched it the other day, and it's like, you gotta be kidding. Wait, you just
have to discover this.
Oh, yeah, yes, yes. Yes. Chosen? Is it it? Yugi Okamoto is in this movie. And so we're calling this episode better off dead 1985 scenes with YuGiOh Komodo. I remember him vividly now. Because I saw this movie long before I saw the Karate Kid part two because it preceded it. But I also hadn't revisited this movie in a long time. And for let's talk movies. I'm doing that more. Although I haven't covered this on that podcast yet. But I should. But I stumbled on him as like, oh my gosh, let's explore this here. Let's look at the scenes he's in and just talk about it some. And before we came on, you told me what about this movie? What's your relationship with
the movie better off dead? Well, my relationship with this movie is I've never seen it before. That's, that's my relationships. I didn't have before you brought these scenes to my attention and I love it. And just the scenes I saw this movie looks hilarious. I gotta see it. And especially all the more reason now after knowing that Yugi said it.
Exactly. That's gonna put on your radar for sure. Um, hopefully some of our fans who haven't seen it and those who have seen it one will go back now and be like, Oh my God, he is in it. Now nice because it did come out in 85 in 1986 that Karate Kid Part Two comes out. Yes. Which of course has Yugi Okamoto has chosen to Gucci now. Did this movie help him catapult him didn't hurt. This is a pretty good comedy high profile comedy popular. I'm sure it was a launching point for him. And this movie, though, that we're talking about briefly before we get to the scenes It Was Written and directed by Savage Steve Holland. And it star John Kuzak. Now this is John Kuzak on that like, you know super high trajectory that he was on in the early 80s He plays Lane Meyer lovable loser. But you know salad between 83 and 8619 8319 86. John Cusack was in class. These are all like, you know, great movies for the day, and some better than others class 16 candles. John Hughes Grandview USA the sure thing Rob Reiner great where we stand by me also Rob Reiner. He plays a bit part but he's really good at summer.
I'm sorry, Jason. I do not play by me and I saw it a few times. He plays
chances older brother who dies he's in flashback sequel. He plays the
older football player brother who dies older brother baseball god. Yeah, River Phoenix is no I'm sorry. I wasn't River Phoenix. No, no, no Wheaton older brother. Well, we died. That was John Cusack.
And Marshall Bell plays the father. This is coming full circle who we played at the festival. A lot of his movies. I got to know Marshall Bell. We were both honored in Tulsa on my birthday. I got honored at the Circle Cinema and he got he became Marshall Bell day on my birthday. I got to know him. And I'm like, Oh my God, you're the jerk dad, standing by me. Yeah, so that was John Cusack. He was on this like a tear. Yes, yes. And this is one of those movies because he went from like class 16 candles. Grandview, USA is like, you know, just supporting, and then he's the lead and better off dead. Yeah. So this is that timeline.
Well, hang on. Also, also in this timeline, just for more of a frame of reference, Jason, right at this very moment, as Yugi is on the set of Better Off Dead marches on the set of the outsiders. Yes. Would that be around this timeframe?
Now macho would have been on the set of The Karate Kid.
Oh, hello. Yes. Okay. Outside. It was like 8082 or 83. I
think when they made this movie Yeah, well, I mean, maybe karate kid had round No,
no, I got Yeah, I jumped a movie. Yeah.
So the synopsis for this movie because there's a lot of other this there's very memorable people in this movie.
Okay, there just is like Curtis Armstrong. I love them Curtis
Armstrong, you know, booger from Revenge of the Nerds and he's in risky business. And so a lot of you'll go back and go oh my gosh, look at this. I mean, there's a ton there sprinkled all in this movie and we're not doing a deep dive in this movie. So I'm trying to like you know, stop myself from doing so like what we were doing let's talk movies. But the synopsis for this movie just to give people you know, some information some background after his girlfriend ditch this is all about Lane Meyer John Cusack Okay, after his girlfriend ditches him for a Borash ski Jack Lane decides that suicide is the only answer. It's called Better Off Dead. However, his increasingly inept attempts bring him only more agony and embarrassment filled with the wildest teen nightmares. So kind of clunky at the end there, but that's what's going on. He's got ditched by his girlfriend Beth, and he'd rather be dead right? And then he starts to kind of discover himself and there's a there's an arc he goes from being a loser to kind of super popular we love these tropes. We saw it a lot in the 80s and although Eugene is not like his best friend, but he has a very memorable role in this movie, one that I would quote for years not wait before I knew who chose it. In fact, when I saw credit card part two, I don't even know if I made the connection initially, because he's such a bad guy such a villain is chosen. Hate him. So yeah, to get connected this way, so ug Okamoto plays ye Sook ri, and I don't want to get too much into it. But let's just say that he plays an Asian character who learned how to speak English by watching the Wide World of Sports and specifically Howard Cosell. So that's how he learned how to speak English. That's his character. Now he's always with his brother, who plays cin Ri and that's played by Brian imata. Now just a quick thing on him because he won't say a word. He's like a mute. He was in Big Trouble in Little China. John Carpenter we both love that movie. We love John Carpenter. He played wing Kung Hatchet Man. So he's in some of those wild scenes. And he did a lot of stunt work after that one of which I wrote down they live also John Carpenter I love they live so kind of cool. But what we're gonna do is look at these three scenes that really you know, show and spotlight Yugi and talk about it but anything else you want to talk about before we jump in?
No, I love I love this concept of seeing where people are like in space and time right before that moment and for our purposes of Karate Kid, right before he's chosen. This is ug before chosen. I love that.
The four he was chosen the Karate Kid part two.
What I do there. Now if he's not in this movie, is the incarcerated party. If we get chosen up on the show, we can see maybe he was already on board. You know, I was going to not mention this. But just since we're talking Yeah, the movie before this that he was in real genius. Wow, Kilmer. Now he played a very big role in that. And I nearly pulled that into this same Yeah, episode. But I was like, Yeah, let's save it. I love that movie, filmed at Occidental College, very dear to my heart as well. super memorable sci fi comedy. A lot of those were happening back then. But anyway, let's dive into this. Let's look at these hands. I gotta queue them up one by one. You can talk over them or we can talk in between them. It doesn't matter.
No, but I will say this, Jason because I'm realizing this as you and I are going along and yes, we're about to get to it is we've never done a show quite like this because every time we cover some of our stars, some of our stars of Cobra Kai, and we go back in their career, they're always playing the same roles, right? It's Martin Cove playing crease and a commercial right? It's Johnny Lauren's playing, wins after playing playing Johnny Lawrence in a commercial. Yeah, so this is like for example, one of our listeners asked us to do Lucille, what's Lucy's name? actress who plays Lucille. Oh, Randy Heller, Randy Heller, somebody asked us to go back and like review a randy Heller movie. And we're like, well, she wasn't playing Luciano. See her on Mad Men. Okay, yeah. Oh, there we go. Yeah. So this so now we're doing that now we'll open up the door breaking new ground. Oh, yeah. Yeah, looking for our review of Mad Men with Randy Heller probably coming up.
I love madmen. Well, before I go on to the scenes, I wanted to cue this up too, because this I didn't realize this. In the past I did. But today I was like, Wow, check this out. The poster for better off dead right over there. My shoulder. That's what we're looking at, folks. I took the left side cover catalog and I moved that aside for the better off dead poster
for the listeners. Jason has a very pleasant looking studio with a beautiful television screen behind him. He doesn't have a bunch of toys behind him as I do.
Now, he does not now like I believe so there's John Q. Zack, and that kid was ahead of the class. Yes, Curtis Armstrong there's Beth his girlfriend. There's this new love interest. She was also on Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, but I believe this is chosen Well,
Yugi Yes, that's huge and the baluster
that's Yi Sook re he made the because he has such a memorable role. He knows no one else in this movie, he only has a connection with line and you're about to see it. But he made the poster. That's
pretty cool that they considered that because yeah, he's like, he's not a big character. He's just a memorable character.
That's exactly right. Well, there's more to that. So now I'm going to queue these up. So give me a second because I have to find them on my version of Apple. Because I own the movie now, which is great. There it is better off dead. So I'm going to cue the first one up.
Jason and I have argued about what ownership means because he says I own the movie. I go, let me borrow it. He goes I can't I go, but you said you own it. He goes I do. I said let me borrow. And he said I can't I'm like, like Abbott and Costello here.
Even if I own the Blu Ray I wouldn't want to loan it No, I'm just kidding. There we go he's
an awesome Spectre. That's why once again he is an obstinate attempt to borrow some Perry Ross equal and I love
that dish gloves
as well as light green
so the cars are side by side and the basically challenges them to a race is what he's doing. In effect.
Well then haircut you might recognize him from the movie, the trilogy Porkins that was Porky. Okay.
I never saw Porky's. I only heard about Porky's. It was like, like raunchy right? Wasn't pork is like a raw Yeah,
it was raw. I wasn't even allowed to sit until I was all really, but I gotta say not in today's standard. It's kind of like American Pie.
Okay, right. Well, is it like, for the era itself, right?
For the era itself. So what we saw was Lane Meyer driving his family truckster his station wagon, and then he pulls up to a stoplight. And then here it comes. I guess we'll go by their stage names. Ye su GRI and Chenery Chenery does the driving ye played by ug Okamoto is doing all the talking and they have speakers on top of their car and he's doing Howard Cosell, you know, like Lane Meyer are once he's doing this. It's Wide World of Sports. And they're always challenging them to racing. But then Lane Meyers had it in reverse, like in IDEO. It's the car behind him. And they take that's the first racing scene. There's one more racing scene. And then there's an ending scene which chosen I say chosen. Listen to me once Yugi reprises his role. So this is number two.
No, I was just gonna say Jason. The thing of it is, is I love the scene. It's so funny, but like he didn't need the speakers because this is the era when he couldn't use Mr. Microphone mirror. Mr. Microphone, totally cutting. Hey, girls, we'll be back to pick you up later.
Yeah, that's right. That's right. Well, that's a good image. It's a good shot of the of this. You
know what it's like, hang on. Animal House at the end, right. Yeah. Wasn't there? Striders? On top of the grade?
Yes. Yeah, that whole thing. So this is a great sequence to because now there's people in the car, the foreign exchange students up front with him who becomes a love interest. And there's Ricky from head of the class. He's in the back and, and that's who she lives with. But he now explains the rebreathers to them. Yes, there's an audience gets more Yes, yes. So this is really good information. So let me cue this up. And we'll continue on another red light. And here they are. Oh, no, not now. By the way. This is like 50 minutes later in the movie. So it's like oh, they're back.
What do they want? They want to race. Why my cat from grandpa
they live in Glendale.
Here's a good example. Two brothers one speaks no English the other learned how to speak English from watching the Wide World of Sports. You tell me which is better speak knowing we should always be in Howard Cosell. Swans great when. you must obey the proper speed limits a car is not a toy.
Okay, so the girl punches the accelerator and then going forward this time lane is going forward not in reverse. Right great shots by the way oh now there's none.
Straight. Cannon well.
Not good avoids the nines. Does a 360 gets in reverse. Oh no. Construction Site setting right here
went backwards up a ramp into I thought it was submit, but it's like a small river,
a small pond, pipe breaks or something so that he's failed twice two encounters with the rebreathers. And he's lost both times. But that time was closer. And it's funny and viewers listeners check it out. This is an inspiration to watch better off, Dan. Oh, it's
hilarious. I love it. I really do. It looks so stupid, silly.
So the first one was about eight, nine minutes in the movie. The second one right here was just over an hour and now we're going to the end. I don't want to give a spoiler for the moment. This is the tail end of the movie and we're just gonna go to the scene with you. Yes, yes. So let me go there now. No spoilers here.
No spoilers. Yeah, because I because it will be a spoiler for me. I haven't seen the movie yet.
I know. Here we go. Well, there's a little bit of a spoiler but I will talk about it. Everyone's cheering a lot of chairs or chairs. Elaine Meyers who was on the ski slopes he may or may not want to race is Curtis Armstrong there's the what they call a Porsche? Jock. Oh yes, it's nurses ex girlfriend. It's always this was a common thing in movies. The ex wants you back the new girls upset. This happened and Teen Wolf.
We've been worried about you Monique. Went up here. Do you know how long a drive it is to get here? Vicki Garrett ski Come on. We're going home.
sets the stage
Excuse me. Boss is trolling us a blind man amorphousness of the lane mine. I think our crowds were expecting to say here and probably mountain today. Well, these mountains perhaps show can tell us what what Brahmam such a man championing accelerating language lessons. Why would lessons inspired words from a man who knows how to escape?
was okay, that was a that's such a grail.
But you know what we learned there? I think but that statement is that actually ye Sook Reeves character is more integral to the overall storyline, right than I knew 20 minutes ago. Exact very interesting.
And what he's referring to his language lessons was she was a French foreign exchange student who didn't like the home that she was in so she would not speak English to them. Yes. And only slowly she revealed that she does know English and you know, she can you can hear her French accent. And then that's kind of where the insider thing was. But I love that whole
exchange. I was thinking when when he said language lessons language loss. How did you learn English by Howard Cosell? Well, you know, the language like
it's very meta. Yeah. It's no wonder that but yeah, he was referring to the foreign exchange. Okay. Oh, yeah. It was just a coincidence. So I can sequence there. It
looks really funny. It's great.
It's a comedy that holds up. And so that was the first time the rebreathers were not in the car. They drove to the mountain. They got the gold coat sock to get to land they get oh yeah, they've always got the gold coats on what you saw on the wide roll of the sports. Now, here's what I learned before we did this episode. Here's some trivia, because it sounds so much like Howard Cosell. I figured it was Howard Cosell. They kind of sampled it our rich little
because it was Howard.
Well, first when I was a kid, it was a kid. Howard Cosell shirt, but then I quickly realized it's got to be someone who can do cosell which was rich little in our day. He was everywhere. He could do every impression. Yeah.
And we were like he was on all the shows. He's on The Tonight Show all the show like it did Clark hosted a show. Show. Yeah, Clark. He was all over the place. Yeah.
So here's what I read. Here's some trivia. in post production. It was decided to bring in impressionist rich little to overdub oak Amato's voice with littles customary cosell imitation without the Asian accent, says Okamoto, they explained that they wanted to make sure the audience understood the dialogue. It was a little disappointing. But hey, it's their film. Well, so now he's in the movie, but his voice isn't in the movie. So that's kind of a downer. So but he does get good screen time. He's memorable him and his brother. Sure. And so I'm happy. I just want to think that this had something to do with catapulting him into the Karate Kid. Part two.
Well, I think no, I think it's great. I love knowing where people are in space and time. So here we are in 1980. What do we say five?
Right? Yeah, the movie came out in 85. So they're probably feminine, obviously. 94
Okay, so I wonder if there was an in between here was there an in between, better off dead in credit cut to something in between there. or no?
I would have to look at his IMDB. Okay, but after a movie like this that was popular that had a rising John Cusack
it definitely I bet there wasn't anything big in between.
He was an episode of TJ hooker. Oh, wow. And then it was in the movie, the check is in the mail, which I vaguely remember. But they all came out in 86. Okay, so that means they all could have been shot simultaneously. I don't know. Then right out to the credit cut bar to he was on an episode of Simon and Simon. So he was making the rounds. Those are big shows back then.
Sure. Oh, yeah, definitely. Well, when it comes to being an actor, anything on IMDb is the theatrical releases television or movies. Yes, right. Oh, no. If he did, like a theater production, leading up to that, I don't we don't know. Nobody knows. He would tell us Yugi can tell us Oh, yeah. Come on. Yeah. Yugi can say Yo, I was in a theater production prior to karate cut to two maybe that helped me prepare for credit. But you know, we don't know those things. All we know is what we have here in front of us. He
could have auditioned for the credit card prior to before this move even.
That's absolutely correct. Yeah. So what I love it, I'd love to hear an absolute timeline. Because I love to see that your timeline. Yeah, I love that progression. You know, I want to know where like Where was he when he got that phone call for karate kid to you know that phone call from his agent? Maybe? Right? Why credit to get the old a sequel to credit him? Oh, yeah. Yeah. You know, it's like that that moment. Oh, I love that moment. Well,
I wish he still had the voicemail on his answering machine and was recorded. Let me grab my priceless stuff. But regardless, Yeah, amazing job. Yugi kills it. Yeah. Very memorable. Fun. So when you see the movie, a good 50 minutes goes by and then he stops at a stoplight. This will be so well put together for the comedy that it is. Just the beats are good. You can just tell by the editing. But they come rolling up. It's like Oh, yeah. Then you're you know, it's like you were kind of hoping you'd see them again. And here they are. That's the scenes mad just enough to miss you. And then they brought him back three times. So I that was just enough. There's probably outtakes out of more of him plus his voice. Yeah, we never heard his voice. So we want those takes.
There was an extra recording. Yeah,
most of the times you get special features. But in some movies just don't bother to package it like a director's commentary. And so if it ever comes out and they have a commentary or deleted scenes, we may come back and revisit this. I would love it. I thought it was a lot of fun. By the way, I'm very close to this movie, as I mentioned from my youth. Yeah. So when I lived in Los Angeles for you know, the time that I did almost 17 years. I at one point in time lived in Glendale, really nice parts kind of by the hill. So I looked this up one day, because you know, a lot of movies in the 80s didn't cheat it. They shot in Los Angeles.
Oh, really? Oh, well. So like when they when they showed you a receipt. It was actually receipt? Yeah. When they showed us Encino it was actually Encino in movies. Is that what you mean?
They shot some of the Skene scenes in Utah but they shot in Glendale, they shot and lock in Jada, and I've been to lane Myers house. And that is for those interested 1636 Virginia Avenue, Glendale, California. I guess I could have looked the zip code up to when you were
out. You visited Leigh Meyers house when you were out here because you knew the movie.
And I also used to live just a few miles from it. 91202 zip code? Yeah. And I took Nico by one day took photos of the House took in the neighborhood because the foreign exchange student lived across the street like one over kind of you know, they could look at each other. I couldn't believe it man. The house looked exactly the same. So many scenes happen. They're there in front of the house. Sometimes he's working on this car. So I encourage you to go by love it. I haven't been in the house yet. I know where it is. And it just it just a time warp. It took me back to the movie that I have loved for so so many years.
Yeah, that's great. Yeah. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I do love the movie looks really silly. You know, and I like a good silly comedy I do.
It's silly, smart and holds up and there's a lot of performances in there. You're gonna go oh my god. I know that guy. I didn't want to get into it. But sure, maybe we'll dive into let's talk movies. But yeah, there you go. There's our Better Off Dead 1985 scenes with Yugi Okamoto Yeah, congratulations, Yugi congratulations,
Eugene. Those are such memorable scenes really fantastic. Great to see you.
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