Personally, I’ll always be a fan of James Franco, no matter where his “artistic” tendencies might lead him. Or, maybe because of. Being too stoned to host the 2011 Academy Awards only endeared him to me further. Even if the outcome was schadenfreude at its best, that will still be better than whatever milquetoast delights Billy Crystal is going to offer up. Franco’s virtual ubiquity (at least on the Internet) in the last few years might be enough to make me groan before I click on a link with his name, but I still click — hoping he’s up to something that doesn’t sound like he’ll be too up his own butthole.
Thankfully, today, there are three items that prompt firm thumps ups, genial shoulder pats, and at least one “‘attaboy” for good measure.
First, a postcard from The Apocalypse, which is the new title of the previously entitled Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse, which was originally a faux trailer of the same name. (Embedded below for your viewing pleasure.) The shortened title reflects the expanding cast; in addition to the already-attached Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen, respectively, comedic thespians Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, and, of course, James Franco will be trying to survive judgment day. Rogen will also make his directing debut with the film, so it’s not too surprising that he’s surrounding himself with his BFFFLs (Best Film Friends For Life). What is vaguely surprising, though, is that each actor is playing “fictionalized” versions of themselves throwing a party on a night that just happens to also be the end of the world as they know it. My fingers are crossed that we at least get a look at a real trailer before our own Mayan Doomsday occurs.
At some point in the future — before either The Apocalypse or the apocalypse, is unclear — Franco will also be portraying the, forgive me, enigmatic lead in The Game. That should not be confused as a remake of the excellent and underrated 1997 David Fincher thriller The Game starring Michael Douglas, and is instead an pseudo adaptation of The Game by Neil “Mystery: The Pick-Up Artist” Strauss, creator of The Mystery Method. You may remember him from a VH1 loosely-reality series wherein he schooled NERDS! on the ways of scoring with righteous babes, and also on looking like this. Check out the video below to see how hilariously seriously the guy takes himself, and imagine how sublime James freakin’ Franco would be giving the same spiel:
Man, I really hope The Game: The Movie is a dark comedy. Like, pitch black. As in the oily sludge that runs through Strauss’s veins instead of blood.
Finally, Franco recently published an open letter to his fellow brethren in the acting category of the Academy Awards. In the letter, he admonishes actors to join their ballotic efforts and nominate Andy Serkis for a 2012 Oscar based on his performance of Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. While singing the praises of both motion capture as part of the inevitable future of the art form and the Weta digital effects team for their achievements in bringing CGI apes to life, Franco rightly points out that all that technology really amounts to is highly advanced “make-up.” He laments that the FX are possibly so good as to distract people into forgetting that there is still a human performer underneath, but he also points out the fact that many award-winning actors have had make-up and prosthesis assist their performances:
“There are plenty of Oscar winning performances that depended on prosthetic make-up to help create the characters: John Hurt’s in The Elephant Man, Nicole Kidman’s in The Hours, Sean Penn’s in Milk. Those actors depended on make-up artists to augment the look of their characters, but the performance underneath came solely from the actors.”
The whole letter is worth a read — and it’s not very long — effectively getting its central message across: Give Andy Serkis an Oscar, damn it. Here’s hoping that the tightly-stuffed and heavily-starched shirts in the Academy are paying attention. If you’ve seen Rise, you get it; if you haven’t, the below video makes the case fairly well, too. But, honestly, you should just stop being a jerk about it and see the movie, already.
Rob Payne also writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter @RobOfWar, and his ware can be purchased here (if you’re into that sort of thing). He’s been an unabashed Franco Supporter since he played Dungeons & Dragons on “Freaks and Geeks.”