Monday, July 31, 2023

Film Review: Sound of Freedom


Sexuality/Nudity Mature

Violence Mature
Vulgarity Mature

Anti-Catholic Philosophy No Objection

This movie injured me.  

It really hurt my heart.

Sound of Freedom centers around Tim Ballard (Jim Caviezel), a Homeland Security officer who has arrested many pedophiles during his tenure.  However, the job is getting to him and he is haunted by the fact that he arrests the criminals, but he never rescues the children.  So he decides to step up and ends up rescuing Miguel (Lucas Avila).  But rather than settling his heart, Ballard is haunted by the knowledge that Miguel's sister has also been sold into human trafficking.  Ballard decides to go undercover with the help of a former cartel man Vampiro (Bill Camp).  But as the challenges mount, Ballard has to make increasingly difficult choices in pursuit of his goal.

The biggest detriment to this movie is that is not written very well.  The scenes are disjointed and too short.  It's almost as if screenwriters Rod Barr and director Aljenadro Monteverde had to keep each scene to one page of script.  This is especially noticeable regarding Ballard's wife (Mira Sorvino).  Here you have an Academy Award winning actress who only has a handful of lines that seem randomly sprinkled throughout the film.  In addition, the character arcs are essentially flat.  Ballard and everyone else in the film are pretty much the same at the beginning of the story as they are at the end.

Normally, this would be enough to completely sink a film.  But the craft of the other parts of the film compensate.

The best comparison I can make is to the movie United 93, about the airplane on 9/11 when the passengers rose up against the terrorists.  Because the movie wanted to stay as factually accurate as possible without much embellishment, they didn't add the normal script elements to create large character arcs or a flowing narrative.  And yet I found myself crying in the movie theater because what was presented on the screen touched me so deeply.  

Monteverde perfectly balances the horror of human trafficking without devolving into exploitation.  He never lets you turn away from the ugliness of this world, but he is restrained enough to only imply the crimes while giving you the full emotional impact of these crimes.  I'm not an angry person, but part way through the movie, I said to my wife "I want to kill all of these human traffickers."  That rage carries so much of the narrative as you desperately want and need Ballard to succeed.  Monteverde knows how to frame a shot and how to use the camera to build up horrible tension that puts you on the edge of your seat.

The other thing that helps this movie from overcoming the script problems are the performances.  Caviezel is fantastic.  As emotional as the subject is, his performance is wonderfully restrained.  He projects a masculine power that is holding in his breaking heart.  The scenes where he has to pretend to be undercover are fascinating to watch as you can see his contempt masked under a smile.  Camp is also wonderful as Vampiro.  He has a wonderful monologue in the middle of the film that is delivered with pitch-perfect emotional depth.  The child actors are also wonderful as they show us their harrowing experience.

The movie sees itself as a modern day Uncle Tom's Cabin (this is an explicit analogy made during the credits).  It wants to be a clarion call to end modern slavery.  Like most message movies, it hopes that this message will cover its script mistakes.  Most of the time, this does not work.  But in the case of Sound of Freedom, it does.  That's because you cannot help but getting emotionally entangled in the story.  Watching these poor children be exploited by heartless men and women is heartbreaking.  It forces you to imagine the terror of this happening to those whom you love.  And the sad fact that this is a true story about things that are happening right now only further drives the knife into the heart.

As a film critic, I cannot say that the movie is good simply because it has a good message.  But in spite of the script, the movie is able to use their other story-telling powers to make a truly deep connection to the audience and move them.

Sound of Freedom will break your heart if you let it.  

And you really should let it.

Star rating 4 of 5.png

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Film Review: Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part I


Sexuality/Nudity Acceptable

Violence Acceptable
Vulgarity Acceptable

Anti-Catholic Philosophy Acceptable

Being a movie star means that your name becomes a brand.  And Tom Cruise is a movie star.

In the last 10 years, he has starred in 6 excellent movies: Oblivion, Edge of Tomorrow, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, Mission: Impossible - Fallout, Top Gun: Maverick, and now Mission: Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part I.

This is the seventh film in this massively successful and entertaining franchise.  The story picks up a few years after Fallout.  The government has developed an Artificial Intelligence called "The Entity" which has now become self aware.  The Entity has infected every single intelligence agency computer system and appears to be bending towards world domination.  However, the Entity is hellbent on obtaining two halves of a key.  Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is tasked with retrieving the keys.  One of the keys is held by Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson), Ethan's partner/rival for the previous two movies.  He also enlists the help of regulars Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Vin Rhames).  Getting in the way is a master thief Grace (Hayley Atwell) who has been hired to get the keys.  Grace is caught in the middle of the IMF team and the Entity's human agent Gabriel (Esai Morales) and his assassin Paris (Pom Klementieff).  As with all Mission: Impossible movies, it is a race against time with the odds against them where they all may not make it out alive.

One of the things that is coloring this review is that I spent the week watching all of the previous films (not counting the awful 2nd film).  Starting with Ghost Protocol, the series begins to build a continuity of character, which was different than the previous stand-alone style.  The last three films have all been directed by the same man: Christopher McQuarrie.  Watching all of the movies in a row helps to create a greater sense of connection and tension because of the connection to the characters.  While Ethan may be wearing invincible plot armor, the rest of the team feels very vulnerable and having spent so much time with them, you feel dread at the impossible challenge ahead.

At first I was not as impressed with the AI enemy.  It seemed a bit too much of a science fiction element.  And the first part of the film feels very boiler-plate M:I fare.  It isn't until the first confrontation with Gabriel in a Venice night club that the story really kicks into gear.  Once that happens, I found myself gripped until the end.

As the movie went on the "Entity" grew on me as an antagonist.  It began to feel like a combination of Skynet and Sauron.  As the Entity is able to worm its way into all computer systems, the group can no longer count on any of its technological advantages.  This helped emphasize the theme about how human begins have become too dependent on computers.  We end up becoming the source of our own destruction.  Even with all this danger, governments want to try to turn the Entity into a weapon of the state.  Only Ethan and his team cannot be corrupted by that temptation to power.

Atwell's Grace was an incredibly refreshing element to this movie.  She is hyper-competent as a thief.  But she also not an unbeatable girl-boss.  She is human in a way that is very relatable to the audience.  When someone fires a gun behind her, she freaks out the way a normal person would.  When in a car with Ethan being chased by dozens of others, she understands that his driving skills are superior and insists he drives.  She won't jump over giant chasms without fear.  But she will summon her courage like a hero.

More-so than any previous M:I films, Cruise lets us feel Ethan's desperation.  You can draw a straight line from the loss of his first time in the original film to his terror at losing anyone now.  The script also finally gives us hints as to Ethan's mysterious past in ways that had not been explored before.  Pegg and Rhames are as good as ever and the chemistry between the three feels comfortable and natural.  I've always been a fan of Morales and he plays his part with a cold confidence that makes him intimidating.  Klementieff plays the opposite of her Guardians of the Galaxy character with great physicality and charisma.

The title "Dead Reckoning" refers to when sailors have to navigate without any of their electronic navigational methods.  This movie lays out the question of human nature.  Are we reducible to a predictable algorithm or are we governed by our free will.  The movie explores the nature of what it is to be human as we continually commoditize the different aspects of our humanity through technology.  There is something wild and defiant about standing  against this reductionist view of who we are.

But above all, this movie series is about fun action.  The only sequence I found a bit too long was a car chase sequence.  Other than that, this was excellent M:I spectacle.  Besides death-defying stunts, the movie did a fantastic job of ratcheting up the espionage tension.  There is a scene at an airport where there are no fight scenes, but the suspense was excellent.

My favorite moment was a part where Ethan tells someone that their life is more important than his.  This responds with "You don't even know me."  To which Ethan simply and sincerely responds: "What difference does that make?"  This exchange is such a wonderful and simple explanation of why Ethan is a real hero.  He puts the lives of others, even those he doesn't know, before his own.  This has the flavor of agape love that Christ calls us to: to love everyone with our lives.  This exchange also helps explain why we keep coming back to this series: 

We want to see real heroes in real action.

And that is what you get in Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part I.

Star rating 4.5 of 5.png

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Film Flash: Oppenheimer


15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon) 

There are 2-3 great movies mixed into this overlong, expertly directed and acted biopic.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Film Flash: Sound of Freedom



This movie wounded my heart.  It overcomes a bad script with powerful directing and performances.

Star rating 4 of 5.png

Monday, July 24, 2023

New Evangelizers Post: No One is Conceived By Accident



I have a new article up at  

At some point in our lives, we learn about “the birds and the bees.” The mechanics of human reproduction are taught to us. And many people in this world try to engage in the activity of reproduction without the intention of reproduction. To achieve this, they may engage in various forms of contraceptives. Despite this, a child may still be conceived.

When this happens, they look at the conception as an “accident.” But something that St. Thomas Aquinas makes incredibly clear about human conception:

No one is conceived by accident.

In all animals other than humans, procreation is caused by the sharing of the male and female sperm and egg. Once these have joined successfully as the cause, the effect is a conception.

However, this cannot be exactly the same in humans. The reason for this is that no effect can be greater than its cause.

All animals (including humans) are substances made of body and soul. But the nature of the human soul has all the traits of the animal soul (growth, motion, the senses), but we also have more. Our souls reflect God in our reason, free will, immortality, etc. This immortal, rational soul is greater than the mortal body.

The human soul cannot be created from the sexual act because for us, conception is not simply the creation of a new human body, but a human soul. The joining of sperm and egg does makes a body, but not a soul. St. Thomas writes, “Since, therefore, the rational soul cannot be produced by a change in matter, it cannot be produced, save immediately by God.” (Summa Theologiae I.I.90.3). In other words, since the human body cannot make the human soul, the sexual act cannot make the soul.

Only God can make the soul.

But that is not the end of the story. It would be a mistake to think that human beings engage in the sexual act and then the soul is added to it by God. On this view, the conception of a human life could be looked at as an accident. It would like the man and woman conceived the body and that God was then forced to infuse it with the soul.

This is completely backwards.

Instead, in the order of causation, God makes the human soul first. When this happens, the human body then incarnates the soul God has created. This may be a subtle distinction but it is incredibly important. On this view, God is the primary agent in procreation. That isn’t to say that the parents are not also truly the parents. Because of the unity of the body and soul, the parents as fully human beings, participate in the act with God. While God is the primary creator of the soul, he does it through the act of the parents.

Why is it important to say that the soul precedes the body?

Because in this way, no conception is an accident.

You can read the whole article here.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Sunday Best: Emmy Nominations 2023

 Below are the list of nominations for this year's Emmy's.  I think the nominations are incredibly interesting and some of them are unexpected.  Some of my favorite shows are once again overlooked, but there is just SO much TV out there that I cannot keep up.  One of the biggest nominees, Succession, is something that I am almost completely ignorant of and cannot comment on its quality.

I find it interesting that House of the Dragon has so few nominations.  I don't watch the show, but it has been getting a lot of praise and is a big hit on HBO.  I'm glad Better Call Saul is getting its proper recognition for its final season.  I watched all of The Last of Us, and I can understand the nominations.  It is a very well-made show.  But some of the writing really was not up to par for the rest of the work put into it.  I didn't see Andor, but I'm glad that this show and Obi-Wan Kenobi were nominated.  It is intersting, people who like one tended to dislike the other and then they both were nominated.

The stand out for me is Jury Duty.  This is a very small show on a small streamer, FreeVee.  I only caught the first few episodes, but it was very witty and creative.  The first episode also had one of the funniest jokes I've seen all year.

And I'm also incredibly excited for "Weird" Al Yankovic.  His movie received 7 nominations.  Yankovic is someone who has navigated the uncertain waters of the music industry for decades and doesn't seem to have lost his unique humor and sense of self.  I'm truly happy for him.

Here are the nominees and my thoughts as to what should win, not necessarily my prediction of what will win.

Drama Series


“Better Call Saul”

“The Crown” 

“House of the Dragon”

“The Last of Us”


“The White Lotus”


While I there was a lot of good work in Last of Us, I think Better Call Saul should win.  They wrapped up the entire series in a way that was emotionally satisfying and had some truly great performances.

Comedy Series

“Abbott Elementary” 


“The Bear”

“Jury Duty”

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” 

“Only Murders in the Building”

“Ted Lasso”


I've only seen the first few episodes of Jury Duty, but there is a great deal of wit there.  I also really enjoyed Only Murders in the Building and Wednesday.  But Ted Lasso is the best comedy this year.  

Limited Series


“Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” 

“Daisy Jones & the Six”

“Fleishman Is in Trouble”  

“Obi-Wan Kenobi”

I've only seen Obi-Wan, which I loved.  I'm glad this show was nominated.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Jeff Bridges (“The Old Man”) 

Brian Cox (“Succession”)  

Kieran Culkin (“Succession”)

Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”) 

Pedro Pascal (“The Last of Us”)

Jeremy Strong (“Succession”)

While Pedro Pascal did some great work, Odenkirk should win this, hands-down.  All the way until the final shot of the series, he reminds us what an amazing actor he has become.

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Sharon Horgan (“Bad Sisters”) 

Melanie Lynskey (“Yellowjackets”) 

Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)

Bella Ramsey (“The Last of Us”)

Keri Russell (“The Diplomat”) 

Sarah Snook (“Succession”) 

I've only seen Last of Us, and Ramsey was decent, but there were other actresses better than her this year.

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Bill Hader (“Barry”) 

Jason Segel (“Shrinking”)

Martin Short (Only Murders in the Building”) 

Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso”) 

Jeremy Allen White (“The Bear”) 

Segal did a great job on a terrible show and I'm surprised that Short was nominated but not Steve Martin.  But Sudeikis once again knocks it out of the park.  His one line read from the penultimate episode where he says "I know," is the emotional heart of the final episode.

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Christina Applegate (“Dead to Me”) 

Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) 

Quinta Brunson (“Abbott Elementary”)

Natasha Lyonne (“Poker Face”)

Jenna Ortega (“Wednesday”) 

While I stopped watching Maisel, Brosnahan is fantastic.  Ortega had a star-making turn as Wednesday Addams.  But I am shocked by how good Lyonne was in Poker Face.  In one of the final episodes, she reached an intensity that I have never seen in her before.

Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Taron Egerton (“Black Bird”) 

Kumail Nanjiani (“Welcome to Chippendales”) 

Evan Peters (“Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story”) 

Daniel Radcliffe (“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”) 

Michael Shannon (“George & Tammy”)

Steven Yeun (“Beef”) 

This is actually a tough call for me because the acting demands for Black Bird and Weird are completely different.  I might have to give it to Egerton.  In those last few episodes, he knocked it out of the park.  It was the best work I've seen him do.

Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Lizzy Caplan (“Fleishman Is in Trouble”)

Jessica Chastain (“George & Tammy”)

Dominique Fishback (“Swarm”) 

Kathryn Hahn (“Tiny Beautiful Things”)

Riley Keough (“Daisy Jones & the Six”)

Ali Wong (“Beef”) 

Didn't see any

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Carrigan (“Barry”)

Phil Dunster (“Ted Lasso”)

Brett Goldstein (“Ted Lasso”)

James Marsden (“Jury Duty”)

Ebon Moss-Bachrach (“The Bear”)

Tyler James Williams (“Abbott Elementary”)

Henry Winkler (“Barry”)

While both Ted Lasso actors are excellent, I might have to give this one to Marsden.  His performance has to feel like an over-the top caricature of himself without going to far beyond reality in order to fool the man at the center of the show.

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)

Ayo Edebiri (“The Bear”)

Janelle James (“Abbott Elementary”)

Sheryl Lee Ralph (“Abbott Elementary”)

Juno Temple (“Ted Lasso”)

Hannah Waddingham (“Ted Lasso”)

Jessica Williams (“Shrinking”)

There are a lot of good actresses on this list.  But Waddingham did her best work this year in Ted Lasso.

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

F. Murray Abraham (“The White Lotus”)

Nicholas Braun (“Succession”)

Michael Imperioli (“The White Lotus”)

Theo James (“The White Lotus”)

Matthew Macfadyen (“Succession”)

Alan Ruck (“Succession”)

Will Sharpe (“The White Lotus”)

Alexander SkarsgĂ„rd (“Succession”)

Didn't see any.  But is it weird that all of the nominees come from only two shows?

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Jennifer Coolidge (“The White Lotus”)

Elizabeth Debicki (“The Crown”)

Meghann Fahy (“The White Lotus”)

Sabrina Impacciatore (“The White Lotus”)

Aubrey Plaza (“The White Lotus”)

Rhea Seehorn (“Better Call Saul”)

J. Smith-Cameron (“Succession”)

Simona Tabasco (“The White Lotus”)

Only saw Better Call Saul, but Seehorn was stellar this year.

Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Murray Bartlett (“Welcome to Chippendales”)

Paul Walter Hauser (“Black Bird”)

Richard Jenkins (“Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story”)

Joseph Lee (“Beef”)

Ray Liotta (“Black Bird”)

Young Mazino (“Beef”)

Jesse Plemons (Love & Death”)

Hauser's performance was horrifying and haunting in the best possible way and should win.

Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Annaleigh Ashford (“Welcome to Chippendales”)

Maria Bello (“Beef”)

Claire Danes (“Fleishman Is in Trouble”)

Juliette Lewis (“Welcome to Chippendales”)

Camila Morrone (“Daisy Jones & The Six”)

Niecy Nash-Betts (“Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story”)

Merritt Wever “(“Tiny Beautiful Things”)

Didn't see any.

Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

Jon Bernthal (“The Bear”)

Luke Kirby (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)

Nathan Lane (“Only Murders In The Building”)

Pedro Pascal (“Saturday Night Live”)

Oliver Platt (“The Bear”)

Sam Richardson (“Ted Lasso”)

Not horribly impressed with any of these (not having seen most of them), but I thought Pascal did a good job on SNL.

Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Becky Ann Baker (“Ted Lasso”)

Quinta Brunson (“Saturday Night Live”)

Taraji P. Henson (“Abbott Elementary”)

Judith Light “Poker Face”)

Sarah Niles (“Ted Lasso”)

Harriet Walter (“Ted Lasso”)

Judith Light was almost unrecognizable in her role here.  S. Epatha Merkerson should have been nominated with her

Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Murray Bartlett (“The Last of Us”)

James Cromwell (“Succession”)

Lamar Johnson (“The Last of Us”)

Arian Moayed (“Succession”)

Nick Offerman (“The Last of Us”)

Keivonn Montreal Woodard (“The Last of Us”)

Offerman.  His performance was excellent. 

Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Hiam Abbass (“Succession”)

Cherry Jones (“Succession”)

Melanie Lynskey (“The Last of Us”)

Storm Reid (“The Last of Us”)

Anna Torv (“The Last of Us”)

Harriet Walter (“Succession”)

Though she was only a short time, Tory did the best job of the ones on this list that I saw.


Reality Competition Program

“The Amazing Race”

“RuPaul’s Drag Race”


“Top Chef”

“The Voice”

Amazing Race has always been good and is still the best show nominated.

Outstanding Television Movie

Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas • NBC • Warner Bros. Television in association with Magnolia Hill Productions and Sandollar Productions

Fire Island • Hulu • Searchlight Pictures Presents, a JAX Media Production

Hocus Pocus 2 • Disney+ • Walt Disney Pictures

Prey • Hulu • 20th Century Studios

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story • The Roku Channel • The Roku Channel, Funny or Die, Tango Entertainment

No question, Weird should win.  It was one of the best movies last year.

Outstanding Animated Program

Bob’s Burgers • The Plight Before Christmas • FOX • 20th Television Animation

Entergalactic • Netflix • Netflix / Mad Solar / Khalabo Ink Society / Edelgang

Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal • Shadow Of Fate • Adult Swim • Cartoon Network Studios

Rick And Morty • Night Family • Adult Swim • Rick and Morty LLC, Williams Street

The Simpsons • Treehouse Of Horror XXXIII • FOX • A Gracie Films Production in association with 20th Television Animation

I know, I know... "The Simpsons today is terrible!"  But that is only in comparison to their best work in their first decade on the air.  Compared to everything else on TV now... it's still the funniest one of the nominees.


Saturday, July 15, 2023

Film Flash: Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part I


15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon) 

Starts slow, but becomes excellent edge-of-your-seat action/thriller. Cements franchise as this era's James Bond.

Star rating 4.5 of 5.png

Friday, July 14, 2023

The Ultimate (Sort Of) Pop Culture Hogwarts House Breakdown

 Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin.

As most of us know, these are the four house of Hogwarts from the Harry Potter stories.

They are also a reflection of the classic literary device of the four humors.

Often in stories, when groups of four a present, each of their personalities reflects four different temperaments.

-Choleric: having a dominant, ambitious personality.  Tends towards pride and vanity.  Can be morally questionable.  This is Slytherin.

-Phlegmatic: being stead and supportive.  This is the type of person who is a loyal and good friend.  This is Hufflepuff

-Melancholic: This is the conscientious and cautious one.  This is the one who tends to be a bit more intellectual, a thinker.  This is Ravenclaw.

-Sanguine: This is the inspiring and influential one.  This is the one who tends to be a leader, the person with the most courage and is a person of action.  This is Gryffindor.

What is fascinating is that as you look at famous fictional quartets, you can see this same breakdown of personality.  This makes complete sense, since you don't want all of the members of your group to have the same personality.  Mixing up the dynamic like that makes for some great character interactions.  

With that in mind, I went through some of the most famous quartets from fiction that I could think of, and here are the houses they would be sorted into.

Big Bang TheoryLeonardRajSheldonHoward
Facts of LifeJoeTuttiNatalieBlair
Fantastic FourThingInvisible WomanMr. FantasticHuman Torch
Golden GirlsDorothyRoseSophiaBlanche
Green LanternsHal JordanKyle RaynerJohn StewartGuy Gardner
IncrediblesMr. IncredibleElastagirlVioletDash
Lord of the RingsFrodoSamwiseMerryPippin
OzLionTin ManScarecrowThe Wizard
Reservoir DogsMr. OrangeMr. WhiteMr. PinkMr. Blonde
South ParkStanKennyKyleCartman
Stand By MeChrisVernGordyTeddy

So a few notes...

-I didn't add Sex and the City because I never watched it.

-oddly, for the Fantastic Four, Mr. Fantastic is not a Gryffindor.  Almost all the group leaders are Gryffindors, but Reed Richards is clearly a Ravenclaw.  This speaks to the kind of group the Fantastic Four are, leaning heavily on scientific thinking.

-Peter Venkman is clearly the Slytherin of the group, even though he is also the leader of the Ghostbusters.  I think this is where the comedy comes in.  His ambition and scheming are what turns the group's scientific and supernatural breakthrough into a money-making enterprise.  The subversion of the leader helps make this so funny.

-For the Hobbits, some may have trouble seeing Merry as being the Ravenclaw, especially if you only know the movies.  But Merry is actually the one who helps Gandalf solve the riddle of the Moria.  He is also the more responsible one in comparison to Pippin.  In the movie, he gives nice monologue about how he had to always look out for him.

-For The Wizard of Oz, the Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow actually already possess within themselves the qualities that they are searching for (courage, heart, and intelligence).  Dorothy doesn't quite fit into the Slytherin.  However, the Wizard fits the role perfectly.  He is a huckster and a humbug who cons everyone into getting what he wants.

-Seinfeld was difficult because all of the characters are horrible.  Technically they could all be in Slytherin.  However, relative to each other, the were sorted into their respective houses.  For example, Kramer is a terrible friend, but he is a friend to many people and he prides himself on being a friend.  Elaine fancies herself as smarter than everyone in the group, even though she really isn't.

Feel free to discuss, debate, or refute.  Also let me know if I left off any obvious fictional quartets.