Six most outrageous moments in the 2024 On Cinema Oscar Special, aka “AmatoCon”

Once again I’m here to provide my takes on the latest On Cinema Oscar Special. Except this year it’s called AmatoCon and it’s a business conference with a special presentation about The Power of Mercy from G. Amato. He believes in the power of mercy… or so he says.

Spoilers follow!

Describing the events that led to AmatoCon is no easy task due to everything that happened since the previous Oscar Special. To quickly summarize, in season 14 Tim Heidecker accepted the questionable businessman G. Amato as his new father. Tim allegedly developed a medical condition that prevents him from seeing movies, so he changed the format of the show to a Joe Rogan style podcast and invited a muscular man known as Joey P. to review movies on his behalf. But as usual, the movie reviews between Tim or his proxy Joey P. and Gregg Turkington add nothing of value.

Meanwhile Tim has renamed himself “T. Amato” in honor of his new dad. He’s also been treating his nonsensical medical condition with sunlight and has become so sunburned that he looks like, well… a tomato.

The latest business venture from the mysterious G. Amato this season is his personal brand of bottled “Argentine style water,” a concept Gregg rejects as it doesn’t even claim to be from Argentina and is entirely meaningless.

Tim reconnected with his ex-wife Toni Newman over the death of her son, Matt Newman. RIP Matt, we’ll miss ya son.

This year’s Oscar Special was presented as the last presentation of the three-day AmatoCon held at a hotel in Rialto, California. As always it was broadcast live online.

And of course it’s not On Cinema unless everything goes horribly wrong.


6. Tim’s keynote speech

This confusing keynote speech was supposedly about business, but it seems to promote Tim’s obviously fake medical condition that allegedly lets him convert sunlight into lithium with his mind? To say it’s unclear would be an understatement. He didn’t even finish his presentation and claimed the PowerPoint file was corrupted.

Making matters worse, the presentation seems to be a promotion for Tim’s upcoming book “The Hei Way System,” which he was supposed to finish writing before this conference but he was too busy. What a shame.


5. Gregg’s cringey advance towards Kaili

Gregg has expressed interest in Kaili’s movie trivia segments from the moment she was introduced to On Cinema, but when she mentioned the Harry Potter movies in season 14 it seemed to trigger an unrequited love, with Gregg unsuccessfully asking her out on camera.

During the special Gregg asked Kaili to figure out the “movie links” between a series of VHS tapes he handed her, all of which clearly amounted to a marriage proposal. She quickly excused herself and ran away, while Gregg quietly accepted his defeat and hid behind a stack of VHS tapes. I’ll admit I had a hard time watching this.

Eagle eyed viewers might have noticed that Gregg had no chance with Kaili anyway as a photo of Joey and her in Mexico briefly flashed on the screen earlier in the special when Tim was looking at Joey’s vacation photos.


4. The assassination of Matt Newman

Tim missed a day of his own business development conference to attempt to attend the funeral of his deceased “stepson” only to find he wasn’t welcome. I’ll get to it later but this was hardly the biggest surprise in this plot point.

In an episode this season Tim kept replaying the doorbell camera footage of a man allegedly shooting Matt, though he’s nearly impossible to identify as he’s wearing a hoodie and a face mask. Fortunately Tim’s yes-man investigator Roy St. Charlemagne LaRoux, or whatever his name is, used AI to generate an image of the killer as seen above. Definitely some of LaRoux’s best work yet.

Perhaps the best part is “Bang Bang,” another one of Tim’s terrible and misguided songs.


3. Baboon: A Pep-Boys Movie

G. Amato promised funding for two new movies, one of which would star Mark as a baboon and the other would somehow be about the Pep Boys, the mascots of an American auto parts chain of the same name. This ran into difficulties when Gregg spent all the money on dubious movie memorabilia.

Somehow these two movie concepts have now been converted into one which mostly consists of b-roll jungle footage and shots of Tim, Gregg, and Mark dressed up as the Pep Boys with Tim beating up Mark with a wrench.

Suspiciously, Tim’s Pep Boy is dressed in a yellow shirt with blue overalls just like the Minions that were tormenting him in the Oscar Special three years ago.


2. AmatoCon Idol

After Tim was ejected from the one-hit-wonder band he created, Dekkar wrote a song condemning the potentially suicidal actions of Tim that nearly left them all dead. But naturally Tim couldn’t stand for this, so he made his former bandmates compete for the right to use the band’s name. Judges included Joe Estevez and two members of rock band The Sweet.

Tim hired a powerhouse of talented session musicians to back him up, only to become visibly frustrated when they started to outshine him with guitar and saxophone solos. (The livestream chat absolutely exploded when viewers recognized the saxophone player.)

At the end of the contest Tim forced the original band to reunite by threatening not to renew Axiom and Manuel’s work visas, rendering the outcome moot.


1. The Power of Mercy / It’s the knockout

This is the biggest spoiler.

AmatoCon ends with G. Amato’s “The Power of Mercy” speech, followed by Tim asking his “dad” for the keys to the 2018 Dodge Charger he was promised. G. Amato points out that it was conditional on AmatoCon’s success, and the event clearly failed. Tim gets into a rage, snatches the keys and runs out the door to the car.

But of course, it’s not On Cinema if it doesn’t end in utter chaos. And wouldn’t you know it, there were two Chekhov’s guns right in front of us this entire season:

  1. The opening theme for season 14 is a hip hop song that begins with the line “It’s the knockout.”
  2. The muscular Joey P. has been verbally bullied by both Tim and Gregg the whole season and is sick of their shit.

So naturally this plays out with Joey grabbing the car keys back from Tim and punching him out. When Gregg surprisingly comes to Tim’s defense, Joey tosses Gregg into this bushes and walks off camera.

Oh and during this altercation, we also learn that the gunman who killed Matt was hired by G. Amato — and he was there for Toni.

Meanwhile, this is all intercut with Tim’s hired band performing a jam session with “The Power of Mercy” graphic behind them.

Honorable mentions

  • Whenever the camera zooms out, we see that most of the seats are empty.
  • Joe Estevez keeps talking loudly while signing autographs to the perpetual annoyance of Tim. But somehow all the publicity Joe is doing is for the 1990 box office bomb Soultaker, co-starring Robert Z’Dar. If you’re familiar with this movie it’s probably because you watched it on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
  • The callously indifferent revelation that Mark Proksch couldn’t be there because he’d just been hit by a bus.
  • The ever complicated situation with the food vendor continues with Hank having regained control of the name Chaplin’s Chili following the death of Tom Chaplin. Unfortunately Hank couldn’t join in person because he’s launching new locations in Germany. Also, their logo is now a drawing of Charlie Chaplin but without his signature mustache — a subtle joke about marketing in Germany that took me far too long to get.
  • Gregg visits the Harry Potter world at Universal Studios Hollywood Park to make the seemingly baseless claim that it’s the same location where the Ma and Pa Kettle movies were filmed. Even if it were true, I can’t imagine even the most bored person in the world caring about this.
  • Tim had someone in a third rate Big Bird costume from Sesame Street show up, only to be waved away by G. Amato with the phrase “I do not like this bird.” Somehow that didn’t stop Big Bird from returning to witness the madness at the end.

There’s been some criticism online that On Cinema is too expensive, which I think is fair. Personally I subscribe annually to support the show and two of my favorite comedians. And I do commend them for refunding us for the time they didn’t work during the recent Hollywood strike. But if you’re concerned about cost you can pretty easily catch up on the last season or two with a one month membership and buy the Oscar Specials as you go along.

This year’s livestream unfortunately suffered a major glitch that required refreshing the page as they switched services. Fortunately no major plot points happened during this time but there was a funny exchange between Gregg and Joe Estevez that live viewers missed.

For me this season and particularly the Oscar Special that capped it off was so funny that I was laughing so hard I was crying a little by the end. Now I know On Cinema’s style of comedy isn’t for everyone — it’s extremely dark and outrageously cringey — but if I can provide any general takeaway here it’s that you’ve got to find comedy that brings you joy and embrace it.