"I wrote 63 songs this year. They're all about Jeter." Just kidding. The game we love, the players we hate, and more.

Culture and Criticism

From Norman Mailer to Wendy Pepper — everything on film, TV, books, music, and snacks (shut up, raisins), plus the Girls' Bike Club.

Donors Choose and Contests

Helping public schools, winning prizes, sending a crazy lady in a tomato costume out in public.

Stories, True and Otherwise

Monologues, travelogues, fiction, and fart humor. And hens. Don't forget the hens.

The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

Home » Culture and Criticism

Poppy-Fields Movie Couch Of Fame: The Fifth Element

Submitted by on June 5, 2014 – 5:24 PM22 Comments
Gaumont Buena Vista Int'l.

Gaumont Buena Vista Int'l.

Our next PFM nominee comes from Kat From Jersey: The Fifth Element.

KFJ will now make the case for a cable staple! Take it away…

Yay! Love this topic! So many movies make my list, but I'm nominating my ultimate film, The Fifth Element. Out of the many, many movies (from Clueless to The Green Mile and everything in between) that I have to stop and watch, no matter what I'm doing, this one tops the list (to quote my husband, "Again?"). Your checklist/my criteria:

  • lengthy? 126 minutes, so fairly long.
  • familiar/frequent? It seems to be on one of the pay cable channels every other day, for a two-month block, every three months. So, yes.
  • classic/award-winner Uhh, no. But it does have the classically-trained and award-winning Sir Ian Holm in a very funny role as a futuristic priest trying to help save the world from exploding. And Milla Jovovich, who IMO is the most beautiful, most badass action heroine to ever grace the screen (take that, Jolie). And it has Bruce flippin' Willis, looking as gorgeous as he ever has, as the snarky, straight-man actiony hero. And Gary Oldman as the over-the-top bad guy named Zorg. I'm sure he's at least been nominated for a few awards!
  • "Greetings, Professor Falken" (big payoff/long-shot victory a la WarGames)? Well, the heroes save the world from exploding, with seconds to spare. With the help of annoying yet very funny broadcaster to the universe, Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker). The giddy "Yes!!!!" from twitchy acolyte David is the best payoff for me.
  • "Wanna have a catch?" (Pavlovian tear-jerk; anything with dads opens the ducts for this guy)? Bruce Willis teaches Milla Jovovich that love wins out in the end. Awww!
  • Quote-fest? Definitely, though this film is a bit lesser-known, quote-wise. Multi-pass!
  • caper-ish or -adjacent camaraderie? Both! A renegade band of misfits, including an ex-military cab driver, a priest and his acolyte, an effeminate-yet-ladies-man DJ, a blue alien opera singer, and a divine being, trying to save the world.

Readers, this one's for you to decide. I fell asleep in front of it years ago, so I'm recusing myself, but I will note that it was Oscar-nominated for Best Sound Effects Editing. It scores a solid 5, at least; people do seem to like it, even if it's not classically "great." Discuss!

Kat: You've won a shirt from the TN store; thanks so much for submitting.

Update 6/13/14: Looks like a winner to me! Grab a pillow, Fifthsie.

The Poppy-Fields Movie Couch Of Fame is here. To nominate your own PFM, email bunting at tomatonation dot com with a rundown of the criteria and your argument for why it deserves a cushion. If I use your entry, free loot shall be thine.

Be Sociable, Share!



  • Sue says:

    Yes!! It takes many tropes and subverts them cleverly. And terrific performances from so many people. Even the small parts (looking at you, Luke Perry) are good performances. The world-creating is really ingenious.


  • Michelle W says:

    I adore this movie, too! The Diva's solo is an electronic masterpiece, and we named our cat LeelooDallasMultipass.


    Aziz! Light!

  • Anne says:

    Yes indeed! I got the DVD just to get all the details, heh. Matches, anyone?

  • MsMollyD says:

    Definitely! I absolutely get sucked into this movie any time it's on. And I spent a good half a decade referring to the Feria hair color I used as "the one with LelooDallasMultipass on it."

  • Emma says:

    I would vote yes. This movie sucks me in every time it pops up on cable, even though I own the DVD.

    What I really want to know is, why is this entry tagged with Angelina Jolie?

  • Kerry says:

    Hells yes! Also hello TRICKY is in this movie. Oh where oh where has Tricky's acting career gone. Also Tiny Lister!

    Also, "I am a meat popsicle."

  • Kerry says:

    Probably wherever Chris Tucker's acting career has gone. This is the movie (well, maybe second to Friday) where Tucker's hysteria worked best for his character. Oh god he was perfect.

  • Tisharp says:

    I saw this movie in the rain at a drive-in back in the day. And it's one of those movies that I'll watch if/when it's on, if nothing else is on, no matter what part of the movie it's at. It's a good one. It's a worn-in classic (for my life) that I don't own, but I still enjoy.

  • Karen says:

    Always and forever. I own it, but I can't not watch it.

    "Negative, I am a meat popsicle"

  • c8h10n4o2 says:

    Love this movie so much that I have it on DVD, still stream it regularly, and will watch it when it's on TV.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Chris Tucker wore the hell out of those roses. I can't think of many other actors gay or straight who could work it the way he did.

    My favorite scene is right after LeLoo's escaped in Willis' cab and he's asking her what happened. She uses her barely formed English to get across "big boom!" in just the most adorable/holyshitthischick'scrazy way possible.

  • Fafolguy says:

    I will stop and watch it as long as I haven't missed the Diva's concert.

  • bluesabriel says:

    This absolutely applies! This movie is my favorite example of what I call the "Oh, dude, THAT was Gary Oldman?!" moment during a movie's credits. He is absolutely insane.

    Also, this movie should win an award for "Best Use of Chris Tucker".

  • Emily says:

    Absolutely yes! Love this movie, and can't pass it on cable without getting sucked in.

  • Brenda says:

    Oh, dear sweet baby James. I love this movie. It is exceptionally snarky funny wonderfulness. I must watch it whenever it shows up on a screen. Love it.

  • Lacinda says:

    One of the deepest rifts in my relationship with my fiance is that this movie is only "okayish" to him. References to this movie come up in at least half of my conversations with my brother. It's good, and cheesy, and smart, all at the same time. There's a self-aware camp quality that let's you just excuse some of the screechier elements. And I'm not actually talking about Chris Tucker, I have nothing but love for Ruby Rhod. :) Definitely an "always watch" for me!

  • scout1222 says:

    I can't stand this movie.

    Lacinda, my husband doesn't understand me on this either. A house divided.

  • Stephanie says:

    I love this movie so much. Definitely a yes!

  • courtney says:

    late to the party, but I, too, own this movie on DVD (it was the first one I ever bought, actually) & yet consistently end up watching it whenever I happen to realize it's on TV. each time, I notice something new–most recently, it was the fact that [extremely mild spoiler if you haven't seen it], after the foppish Louis XIV-type deaf guy misunderstands Bruce Willis's request for a gun & rolls him some billiard balls instead…& then later, when he's surrounded by fawning ladies, you can hear him quietly explaining this "heroic" act: "it was a helping hand."

    also, when Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon [mild Batman spoiler] realized the warhead or whatever wasn't in the truck where it was supposed to be, my husband turned to me & said "it's not here" in his best Zorg voice & we both cracked up as quietly as possible in a crowded movie theater.

  • DensityDuck says:

    Lord, I love this movie.

    I remember seeing it in the theater, and my thought at the end was "…I kept waiting for it to start to suck and it never did".

    I should note that this is a highly personal reaction. There are plenty of people (including the other guys I was with) who thought it sucked right from the start.

    Wow, this movie is over two hours long? It really never feels like it to me.


    Another suggested category: Censored for TV? In this case, digital inserting a piece of equipment in a strategic location to block our view of Milla's nipples.


    Milla Jovovich. You're right that she's a better action heroine than Jolie, because Jovovich seems like she might actually kick you in real life (Jolie really does not.) Jovovich also, by all reports, wasn't playing a character in the movie, so much as "being herself only with the dial turned up to 10".

  • Shannon says:

    Oh how I love this movie! Great actors having a ton of fun, diverse cast, and so many tropes skewered (like how the hero and bad guy never meet). I love listening to the soundtrack in my car where I can get full surround sound on the Diva's concert. The fashion design is just mind boggling.

  • polly says:

    I love most the attention to detail. Jean Paul Gaultier's visual design, not just of the air hostesses, not just of the little Chinese restaurant airship, but the hair styles and overalls of the fellows cleaning the underside of the space ship, in shot for four seconds.

Leave a comment!

Please familiarize yourself with the Tomato Nation commenting policy before posting.
It is in the FAQ. Thanks, friend.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>