Monday, 12 December 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #851: Random Drippings From My Brain Pan


Garry Marshall's latest star saturated romantic comedy New Year's Eve is currently #1 at the box office.

Normally it would be a time for much rejoicing in the hallowed halls of Hollywood, but this time not so much.

You see, it's the #1 movie in what is turning out to be the most sluggish ticket sales in 3 years.  Yep, sales are right where they were during the middle of the financial meltdown of 2008, a time when people weren't keen on buying anything they couldn't eat.  It's sort of like being the king, but your kingdom is a heap of cow shit.

What does this development tell us?

LESSON #1: STAR POWER IS NO LONGER MEASURED IN MEGAWATTS.  Let's face it, movie stars don't really deliver the way they used to.  Yes, there once was a time when people went to see stars shine on screens, because the star's image appealed to them, or they just assumed a certain level of quality with said star.

That isn't true anymore.

LESSON #2: NOVELTY ONLY WORKS ONCE IF YOU CAN'T DELIVER A STORY TO GO WITH IT.  This film was a blatant attempt to cash in on the success of Marshall's last film 2010's Valentine's Day, which did pretty much the same thing, with everyone in Hollywood involved, and made over $200 million at the box office.

At the time it came out a movie starring literally everybody in Hollywood hasn't been seen since the days of Irwin Allen's disaster epics. To most viewers it was new and it was novel, and it sold tickets.

However, when they see New Year's Eve's promotional materials all they see is essentially the exact same movie, with a different date, a mostly new cast, and one of the kids from Glee, because the Garry Marshall thinks they'll really bring in the kids. What they didn't see was anything that promised a new story, so why bother.  

Novelty only works if it is constantly presenting something new. Try to do the same thing again, with nothing new added, and people won't see novelty, but a rehash, and they'll stay away.


I'm really beginning to like Daniel Craig, not just as an actor, or as James Bond, but for being a refreshing breath of honest air.  Something that's exceedingly rare in movie circles these days.

The inspiration for this bonhomie comes from an interview he did with Time Out magazine, promising that the next Bond film Skyfall, won't be as incoherent as Quantum of Solace.  Specifically:
TIME OUT: It seems that the script is sometimes an after-thought on huge productions.

DANIEL CRAIG: ‘Yes and you swear that you’ll never get involved with shit like that, and it happens. On “Quantum”, we were fucked. We had the bare bones of a script and then there was a writers’ strike and there was nothing we could do. We couldn’t employ a writer to finish it. I say to myself, “Never again”, but who knows? There was me trying to rewrite scenes – and a writer I am not.’
Thank you Mr. Craig.  Thank you for having the stones to admit that as an actor, it is your job to say the words, not create them. Thank you for not pulling a Jessica Alba and claiming that you improvise everything. Thank you, your honesty may finally mark the beginning of the end of the myth started by Marlon Brando & the method school that claims that actors do it all by themselves.


George Clooney and his partner Grant Heslov have optioned the movie rights to a book about the Smothers Brothers.

Now to those of you under the age of 40 the Smothers Brothers are Tom and Dick Smothers, a musical comedy duo with a career spanning 51 years. They came to prominence in the 1960s with a comedy and variety show that regularly tackled controversial topics like race relations, religion, and the Vietnam War, and were cancelled by the CBS network for their outspokenness.

The had a brief revival on TV in the late 1980s when CBS brought them back to fill time during a writer's strike. (Since they and their guests wrote their own material they didn't break any union rules)

Now while their story is interesting and tackles many things, I'm just not sure it's going to go very far as a feature film.

1.  Recreating classic comedy performances is extremely tricky. They're never as good as the fans remember the originals and they'll judge the rest of the movie pretty harshly over it.

2.  The Smother Brothers saga is really only of interest to baby boomers, and they don't go to the movies anymore. Anyone younger than that who isn't an amateur pop culture historian has probably never even heard of them. I don't see any teens or twenty somethings spending money to see people make jokes about Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson.

Now I'm not saying that they shouldn't do the story.  I'm just thinking that putting it on the big screen might be aiming a little high.  It might make a great TV movie, perhaps on HBO, but on the big screen, I think it will just fizzle out faster than you can say "Mother always liked you best."

1 comment:

  1. My brother and I used to do the Smother's Brother's routines we were eight or ten right around there. We thought they were funny.

    We saw them again live at a casino in Sequim Washington. It was fun but in a nostalgia way.

    TV would definitely be the vehicle for this.