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August 9, 2007 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | August 9, 2007 |

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
8949 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Cuba Gooding
N. Hollywood, CA 91610

August 8, 2007

Dear Mr. Gooding —

I am writing on behalf of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. As you recall, in 1997, we awarded you the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor after your star turn in Cameron Crowe’s Jerry Maguire. At the time, Mr. Gooding, we were very impressed with you. You had a decent track record in small roles, including a very impressive performance in Boyz n the Hood. Your presence in Jerry Maguire, in the role of Rod Tidwell, was vibrant and magnetic; you even overshadowed then twice-nominated Tom Cruise, stealing nearly every scene you were in. It was not a particularly adventurous, difficult, or challenging role, but you imbued Rod Tidwell with enough excitement that we decided to give you the Oscar over the arguably better choice of Ed Norton, in Primal Fear. Though it made for a good story at the time (and thank you for your Oscar speech; it was the only decent moment in the otherwise dull Oscar telecast), it is a decision we deeply regret today.

Mr. Gooding, when we hand out Oscars, we expect certain things from the recipients. First and foremost, we expect that Oscar awardees will not embarrass the Academy. It happens, of course: After her award in 1992, Marisa Tomei made the un-Oscar worthy Untamed Heart and Only You before heading off into romantic comedies, bit parts, and relative obscurity. However, Ms. Tomei — per our instructions — has kept a largely low profile, so as not to remind the world of our rueful mistake, providing a small bit of redemption with her role in In the Bedroom. Similarly, our regretful decision to award Whoopi Goldberg an Oscar for her supporting turn in Ghost has not entirely backfired — she, too, has done a number of different things in the media that have, at the very least, allowed the public to forget that she was ever awarded an Oscar, thus largely masking the stink of our lamentable choice. Likewise, Roberto Benigni — awarded a Best Actor Oscar in 1997 for his role in Life is Beautiful — has also thankfully faded into obscurity (though, it took a little pushing on our behalf; who do you think made his Pinocchio disappear? Yeah. That was us).

But, despite repeated warnings and letters, you simply will not go away, Mr. Gooding. Indeed, despite our best efforts, you continue to bring shame upon our 80-year-old institution. We did appreciate you taking a supporting role in the decent, if not overrated, As Good As It Gets and, we could at least see what you were going for in What Dreams May Come, even if it was a total failure. However, things began to go decidedly downhill in 1999 when you had the audacity to take a role opposite Skeet Ulrich in the ice-cream truck action flick, Chill Factor. What were you thinking, Mr. Gooding? It was then, I’m afraid, that your career took a very nasty turn for the worse.

We sent you a warning at the time, requesting that you refrain from making further unwise career decisions. Unfortunately, you refused to heed our advice. Pearl Harbor and Rat Race we understood — you needed the money. Besides, few remember you were in those films. However, it went from bad to worse when you made the deeply unfortunate decision to take the lead in Snow Dogs, alongside Sisqo and a pack of dogs. Mr. Gooding, you really should’ve known better. Oscar award winners do not share screen time with musical artist responsible for songs about thongs. And Boat Trip: Inexcusable. In fact, after you so brazenly chose to make the gay boat film, we very kindly insisted that you either find a new career or choose roles that would reflect better upon our institution. Mr. Gooding, sir, Radio was not what we had in mind — it takes an exceptionally gifted actor to pull off a mentally-challenged character, Mr. Gooding, especially one that rides around on a lawn mower. And you, sir, are not that actor.

As you recall, we wrote to you after Radio appeared in theaters for a scant few days and disappeared into TBS oblivion, to warn you that if you didn’t keep a lower profile, there would be dire consequences. We appreciate, Mr. Gooding, that though you haven’t fallen completely off the map over the last four years, you have been responsible enough to take roles that would not attract undue attention to your mediocrity — Shadowboxer, Dirty, and End Game were wise decisions, films that got hidden in the back corners of Blockbuster. Indeed, for the most part, the world at large thought you were dead. That’s the way we would’ve preferred it, of course (premature death always reflects well upon our recipients), but relative obscurity is a decent second option.

However, the Academy — for reasons that don’t quite make sense to me — insisted that I go see your new film, Daddy Day Camp this afternoon. Sir, in my life, I have rarely spent a more torturous 30-minutes doing anything, including the time the Academy sent me to remove an Oscar statuette from an unnamed narcissistic actor’s rectum after he “slipped and fell” while changing a light bulb. I say only 30 minutes, sir, because that’s all I could stomach before moving into an adjacent theater to see the remarkably talented Mr. Damon open up a can of whoop ass (pardon the expression) on bad guys— and rest assured, Mr. Gooding, I paid for Bourne Ultimatum and snuck into Daddy Day Camp, lest my $7 embolden you to continue pursuing acting roles.

It is my understanding that Daddy Day Camp is a sequel to Eddie Murphy’s Daddy Day Care (and wow! Did we ever dodge a bullet this year by not awarding Mr. Murphy an Academy Award — I feel terrible for any critic who had to see Norbit), though I have not had the displeasure of seeing Day Care. However, it if is half as bad as your film, Mr. Gooding, I hope that admission came with free antidepressants and an ipecac , which would allow the viewer to regurgitate all memory of its existence. Am I to understand that you actually took the same role that Mr. Murphy held in the original, supposing perhaps that the film’s core audience of overstuffed toddlers who snack on the contents of their nasal cavities wouldn’t notice that the two of you bear little resemblance? Even more criminal is that even Eddie Murphy’s sidekick in the original, Jeff Garlin, refused to reprise his role. When your stature falls below even that of Jeff Garlin, Mr. Gooding, you ought to be able to recognize how much shame you have not only brought upon The Academy, but yourself. Besides, Mr. Gooding, did you notice when you signed onto this film that it was directed by Fred Savage? Sometimes, there’s a reason former child stars enter a life of drugs and debauchery — it’s so they will never be put in a position to direct a movie like Daddy Day Camp.

Indeed, in the 30 minutes I spent with you this afternoon, Mr. Gooding, I had the very unfortunate experience of witnessing a seven-year-old gentleman stick carrots in his nose, two small children engaged in a ketchup war, and another small boy scratching his anus beneath his diaper. Moreover, you suddenly seem to believe, Mr. Gooding, that you are Ben Stiller — that you excel at self-abuse comedy. Let me make this crystal clear, Mr. Gooding: You excel at nothing — nothing — except bringing shame and humiliation upon our hallowed institution. Indeed, upon learning that your character and your sidekick were buying a day camp out of spite and revenge, I had no choice but to leave the screening, Mr. Gooding. Blisters began to form around my brain. Furthermore, I began to get the sense that the few restless toddlers in attendance would soon rebel and fling their feces at the screen. Mr. Gooding, had I stayed, I don’t believe I could’ve resisted the urge to join them.

It didn’t matter, anyway. In that short period of time, Mr. Gooding, I amassed all the evidence I would need. I am certain you’ve heard film critics joke over the years that the Academy should revoke your Oscar. Sadly, Mr. Gooding, that joke has now become a reality. We here at the Academy — which is made up of a group of your peers, mind you — have unanimously voted to take such a drastic measure for the first time in our history. We are taking back the Oscar, Mr. Gooding. We ask that you return it at your soonest convenience. It would behoove you, also, to comply with our demands. We have not been kind to those who have not. Do you know, Mr. Gooding, what we did to Jack Palance after we awarded him an Oscar in 1992 and he insisted upon following that up with an ill-advised sequel, as well as Treasure Island and Prancer Returns? We killed him, Mr. Gooding. We snuffed out his last breath.

Don’t let this happen to you, Mr. Gooding. Return the Oscar to the address above in due course. If the statue is not returned before Harold is released (a movie, I understand, in which you will play a janitor and share the silver screen with Ally Sheedy and Chris Parnell), we will be forced to take irreversible action.

Thanks in advance for your cooperation.

Sincerely Yours,

Sid Ganis
President, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Hey Cuba -- The Academy Called. Guess What?

Daddy Day Camp / Dustin Rowles

Film | August 9, 2007 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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