December 13, 2006 | Comments ()

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | December 13, 2006 |


Item #1: With the passing of Peter Boyle, it’s important to remember that in addition to giving us the “Puttin’ on the Ritz” sequence from Young Frankenstein — which is funny every time — the man also starred in some genuine crapfests, and I don’t just mean Kickboxer 2: The Road Back. Back in 1994, in that heady post-Jurassic Park era when anything was possible, Boyle had a costarring role in The Shadow, the most unintentionally hilarious Alec Baldwin flick since the playful romp that was Malice. Apparently, 12 years was enough to wash the stench of failure from the brand: It’s been announced that Columbia has picked up rights to the crimefighter for a movie to be produced by Sam Raimi. For those who don’t know, the Shadow has the power to “cloud men’s minds,” which would seem to be a little redundant for a superhero who both wears a scarf across his face and also undergoes some kind of weird facial transformation; I guess nothing sends criminals running quicker than aquiline features. Enjoy that final repose, Clyde Bruckman. You’d spin in your grave if you could see things now. — Daniel Carlson

Item #2: Man, I love me some Tom Perrotta. And it’s not just because we used to share the same barber. (What can I say? We both love $14 haircuts.) No, dude knows how to write a story without letting his prose get in the way, which is one of the reasons I think that the two films (Little Children and Election) adapted from his novels have been so critically successful: His books do not rely on virtuoso feats of language, as do the works of Eggers, Foster Wallace, or Zadie Smith — fantastic writers whose novels will nonetheless never make a successful transition to the screen because of their reliance on the author’s voice (see, e.g., Running with Scissors). Perrotta’s language, on the other hand, is exceedingly normal (think Tobias Wolfe), and there is just enough there to tell a punchy, absorbing story about typical people in ordinary circumstances, which lends itself easily to the big-screen transition. All of which is why Warner Pictures is already making a movie based on Perrotta’s next novel, which isn’t even due for release until next fall. The Abstinence Teacher, which will be directed by the husband-wife team behind Little Miss Sunshine, will follow a divorced sex-education teacher in small-town Middle America, who must fight off conservative groups who want to deny children their right to sex ed. The woman, however, eventually falls in love with a Bible-thumping, born-again soccer coach. Consider me stoked. — Dustin Rowles

Item #3: Finally. After years spent languishing in the light comedy arena with 25th Hour and Inside Man, Spike Lee has decided to turn his directorial eye toward a fresh topic: race relations in modern America. Sure, he explored the topic briefly with, well, everything he’s ever done, but I get the sense that all that was a warm-up for his recently announced project: L.A. Riots, about the spring of 1992, when Los Angeles loosened its already tenuous grasp on reality and tried to eat itself, just like the Midwest had been praying would happen since the late ’60s. Lee will direct a script from John Ridley, who wrote the amazing Three Kings and the deeply lamentable Undercover Brother. So look for the film to be an intense, unflinching look at the emotional toil of the riots, mixed with Eddie Griffin mugging for the camera and making puns about Denise Richards’ ass. I smell an Oscar. — DC

Item #4: In light of my burgeoning understanding of feminism and its role (or lack thereof) in “chick flicks,” along comes Happiness Sold Separately, a chick flick based on a chick-lit novel, featuring Julia Roberts in the lead role. The story, initially, seems fairly simple: A 40ish woman, unable to conceive, withdraws into a world of isolation and laundry and later realizes that her husband is cheating on her with his nutritionist. Instead of going all Alex Forrest or even War of the Roses on her man, the catch here is that this 40ish woman decides that she wants to win her husband back. Makeovers, self-help books, ice cream, guilt, and a Pussycat Dolls cover of “I Am Woman,” follow, all meant to imply that if a woman would just cut her hair short, put on some goddamn makeup, and stop obsessing over motherhood, maybe she could hang on to her man, who is so obviously a victim of the 40ish woman’s neglect. The man, however, is reluctant to return to his wife, because he’s torn between his love of the new and improved 40ish woman (who now looks 35!) and his mistress’ 10-year-old son, who is cute and precocious and probably played by another in an endless supply of factory-produced Culkin kids. And holy shit, if Happiness Sold Separately doesn’t sound like it’s capable of setting the feminist movement all the way back to the ’50s. To which I say: Fuck you, Julia Roberts. It’s amazing that you found a film that manages to be nearly as offensive as Pretty Woman, a movie that taught us all that if you become a brooding white man’s Hooker Barbie, he’s bound to crawl up a building for you. — Dustin Rowles

Item #5: Picture Johnny Carson, dressed as Karnak, holding an envelope up to his turban-enshrouded head. Hear him, in your mind’s ear, saying “the biggest steaming pile of shit ever to be thrust upon us.” Slowly he opens the envelope, as Ed McMahon sits next to him in wild anticipation, ready to let loose with one of his trademark guffaws. Only that laugh never comes. Instead, Karnak reads the following off of the paper he withdraws from his envelope: “What do you call the new animated show being set up by Comedy Central, focusing on Larry the Cable Guy and being written by the men who foisted Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties upon us?” If you haven’t had an aneurism yet, you can visualize the only plausible outcome to this mental play: Stunned silence sweeps across the “Tonight Show” audience, only pierced minutes later when McMahon pulls out a gun and takes his own life, muttering something about the death of all that is good in the world, while Carson crawls on his hands and knees to the bandstand, weeping all the way, and pleads for Doc Severinsen to bludgeon him to death.

… I don’t even have a way to process this information yet, but I, too, am looking for a brass player to repeatedly bash my noggin. — Seth Freilich

Item #6: The box-office round up for the weekend reveals that the whole goddamn country has gone straight to the abyss of hell, as Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto scored first position, with $15 million worth of proceeds now heading toward the Holocaust Denial Anti-Semitic Fund. Happy Feet finally fell to number two, while The Holiday landed in the number three position, clearing a somewhat respectable $13 million. Based on the winsome coupling of Jack Black and Kate Winslet in the film, however, hundreds of police reports were filed over the weekend, as borderline obese men with zero in the looks department attempted to approach beautiful women in bars and win their affection by scatting. Good times. Blood Diamond kind of stunk it up, registering around $8.5 million; Zales stock, however, shot through the roof, as they quickly realized that not even Leo DiCaprio could affect their stranglehold on artificial supply and demand. Finally, Unaccompanied Minors pretty much fell flat, coming up short of $6 million.

What do we have this weekend? Ah, yeah — Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness, y’all. Good movie or bad, the man makes me mushy. I’ve seen the trailer no less than 367 times, but that scene in the bathroom still gets me all wet around the eyes. Eragon also opens, hoping — I presume — to create this generation’s The Neverending Story. Wait a sec; this is that movie based on the novels of Christopher Paolini, who wrote Eragon when he was 16, right? Nice. I love films that make me feel like a failure in life. Also on tap this weekend: Charlotte’s Web, featuring the voice work of Julia Roberts and Oprah Winfrey. Here, let me just save you the trouble: The spider bites it in the end. What else do we have? The Good German, yet another one of Clooney/Soderbergh’s vanity projects, which I swore for the longest time was based on a Graham Greene novel. Also, in very limited release, the Iraq war film Home of the Brave — featuring Sam Jackson, Jessica Biel, and 50 Cent — opens in three theaters. You might recall that Sam Jackson once turned down a role because he would’ve been cast alongside 50 Cent? And 50 Cent then called Jackson a crackhead? I guess they resolved their differences. — DR

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Trade News | December 13, 2006 | Comments ()



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