Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #848: Hack Gets Flak & Hackneyed Ideas


Producer Scott Rudin and New Yorker movie critic David Denby are in a massive pissing contest over Rudin's next opus The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. They held an advance screening for critics on the agreement that they wouldn't put out their reviews until a time pre-approved by the studio. Denby decided to put his review out right away, and sparked one of Rudin's legendary nuclear fusion powered conniption fits.  Rudin called the breaking of the embargo "lousy & immoral," and folks in Hollywood are debating just who holds the moral high ground in this issue.

Well I have the answer....
They're both wrong.

Personally, I don't really care for these sorts of review embargoes.  If you don't want people posting reviews until a certain time, don't let them see it until the time you want the reviews coming out. It has the unseemly whiff of the studio using its corporate weight to attempt to control the media.  

However, Denby was acting like a petulant douchebag by posting his review before everyone else.  Despite what he claims, I'm pretty sure he's not the total naive greenhorn he claims to be, and by participating in the special screening, he tacitly accepted the terms of that embargo.

Personally, I think Rudin did overreact when Denby broke the embargo. You don't go around yelling and hurling threats when someone does something like that. Simply say that he thought Denby was acting like a brat for breaking the agreement, and then quietly refuse to invite him to any other screenings in the future.


Conservatives and Fox Business News are peeved by the The Muppets, because the movie's villain is an evil oilman hell-bent on destroying the Muppet's theater so he can drill for oil in the middle of Hollywood.

There's a line from an old episode of Seinfeld where Jerry talks to a priest about his dentist converting to Judaism for the jokes. The priest asks Jerry if this offends him as a Jew, and Jerry responds that it offends him as a comedian.

That's pretty much how I feel about this whole issue.
The whole idea of the evil businessman wanting to destroy something beloved for reasons that illustrate the writer's lack of understanding of economics was pretty much done to death during the days of the Li'l Rascals. I also don't think you can count the movies made over the decades where the villain is some middle aged white businessman in a suit, it's a dead horse that is consistently and constantly flogged by Hollywood.

Maybe Segel's intention was to send up the cliche, by making everything around the character so clownish, even naming him "Tex Richman," and giving him the wildly implausible, even for a Muppet movie, plot of drilling for oil in the middle of Los Angeles when the state of California is notorious as a terrible place for oil companies to do business, let alone new drilling.

Then again, maybe Segel's intention was to use what is essentially an old screenwriter's shortcut, because time spent trying to come up with an original villain with a plausible scheme, is time not spent figuring how to toss Muppets into electric fences.


  1. I'd like to comment on the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo embargo but you pretty much summed up everything possible.

    As far as the muppet movie goes, I live for the day when I will see an evil terrorist cell in a movie that isn't simply a front for capitalists. Let alone a movie where the evil white guy is bad.

    Besides, if an evil white guy wants to buy my house at what is presumably premium rates in order to drill on the property, he can have it. He'll be spending enough money to let me build a new house anyway so who cares?

  2. Well... I can't QUITE disagree with you on the muppets,


    But I do disagree a little.

    And to Sandy: There are some evil muppets in the film, so it's not just a hatred of vertebrate lifeforms. ;-)