If the thought of Oscar-nominated actor Ryan Gosling and multi-hyphenate crooner Justin Timberlake teaming up to sing and dance to old school R&B makes your fan girl heart tingle, I'll do you two better... because they've already done it! And the song is none other than the Boyz II Men classic, "Motownphilly!" Trust me, your week's not going to get any better than this.
You see, back in the early '90s, young Gosling and Timberlake were two of the new kids on Disney's "Mickey Mouse Club." (Also in their class: Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears.) And the "Mickey Mouse Club," or "MMC" as it was also called, employed its clubhouse of young performers in activities like the performing of skits, the reading of fan mail, and, best of all, the performance of song-and-dance numbers set to covers of contemporary pop tunes.
Like many kids back then, I rushed home every day to watch the "MMC" on Disney just to spot my faves (Tony, JC, and Marc) and to catch the latest installment of serials within the show like "Emerald Cove," a Beach Party knockoff starring many of the show's teenage cast. But the highlights of every episode for me were the musical numbers, which were mostly prerecorded and danced to by rotating ensembles of cast members. Watching "MMC" episodes again this weekend with some like-minded friends, I rediscovered the joy of many of these numbers, including this mind-blowingly awesome version of "Motownphilly," starring Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake, Marc Worden, Dale Godboldo, and Matt Morris. (Gosling and Timberlake are the two little guys in the group.)
(Why are they dressed, as my friend Alonso put it, as some strange breed of grunge lumberjacks? And why are they singing "Motownphilly" in a forest set with trees and stumps? No clue. The themes of "MMC" performances were always strangely random.)
Back then, it was impossible to predict where life would take the talented kids of the "MMC;" Timberlake, of course, went on to form *NSYNC with fellow cast member JC Chasez, and their cohorts Britney and Xtina followed suit to pop music stardom. Meanwhile, Gosling and Keri Russell became the best-known actors of the bunch.
The three remaining guys in the above clip pursued varied careers in entertainment. Marc Worden worked steadily in television after his "MMC" career, using that deep voice ("All the Philly steaks we could eat") to carve out a niche as a voice actor most recently appearing as Iron Man in the animated feature Planet Hulk. Dale Godboldo, who was a frequent lead singer on the show, concentrated on acting and appeared in short-lived shows like Kristin Chenoweth's "Kristin" and "Wanda at Large" and recent films Lakeview Terrace and Fame. Matt Morris, who found success as a songwriter (co-writing Kelly Clarkson's "Miss Independent" and writing songs for Christina Aguilera), released a solo album this year and covered Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" with Timberlake for the Hope for Haiti telethon.
Looking back on "The Mickey Mouse Club" now, it's fun to see the young versions of so many talented artists on display. (Have you heard little Christina Aguilera sing? Her voice was almost as powerful then as it is now.) And though some of these folks might be embarrassed to see their precocious adolescent selves dredged up again – goodness knows I never want anyone to see any artifacts from my 11-year-old existence made public, ever – they should all be damn proud to have been a part of it all. Besides, who knew Ryan Gosling could bust those moves and sing like that?
Chime in below and please tell me if anyone else out there shares my MMC obsession. What's that? You want more little Ryan and little Justin? Well, okay. Here you go: