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Paycheck (TrojanMan)

The thought that it could be “Paycheck” crossed my mind, but no, it’s far too close before release – wait, was that John Woo taking a peek at the audiencer Yes, it was. My girl wanted to leave right then and there because anything Affleck does makes her reach for the pink stuff. I made her stay for the screening.

And now I offer her my sincere apologizes. John Woo is officially an old man. It breaks my heart to write that. I first became aware of Woo after watching “Hard Target.” It blew my mind. I had never seen anything like it before. You can imagine the des**tment that occurred after I got my hands on “The Killer” and “Hard-Boiled.” We’ve all been witness to his steady decline since those films, but with “Paycheck” he’s reached a new nadir.

This is the most boring, tired and dim-witted film he has ever made. He’s just going through the motions now. Remember all the emotional passion in Woo’s earlier work (“Don’t let me die like a dog!”)r Gone. The meditations on honor, loyalty and what separates good from evilr anished. Kick ass action scenesr Some other guy must be directing those now because Woo certainly isn’t.

Ben Affleck plays a reverse engineer in the near future who helps corporations get a leg up by figuring out how their competitors’ products operate. For reasons not fully explained, after each of these jobs Ben has to get his memory wiped so he can’t remember any of the work he’s done. Enter Aaron Eckhart, an old friend, who offers Ben a job to build something that will net Ben $90 million – one big paycheck. After some truly embarrassing dialogue exchanges with Uma Thurman that are supposed to set up some sort of romance, Ben rolls up his sleeves and gets to work. Of course we don’t see on what because that would spoil the “mystery.”

Flash forward three years. Ben has completed his task for the obviously evil Eckhart. Strangely, though, Ben has forfeited all of his money and mailed himself an envelope containing twenty unrelated, everyday items. Ben doesn’t remember doing any of this because of the memory-wipe. But before Ben is allowed to moan too much, a pair of FBI Agents (the criminally wasted Joe Morton and Michael C. Hall) arrest Ben for treason. There’s a silly scene where they interrogate Ben while he sits on a spinning chair (apparently, in the future, they force confessions by making you sick to your stomach), but he escapes thanks to two of the random items in that envelope. It’s almost like past-Ben would know that future-Ben would need those two exact things to get out a jam. What the audience has just figured out takes Ben another ten excruciating minutes of screen time to realize – that he has built the Evil Eckhart a machine that can literally see into the future.

The only way Ben can evade the Feds and survive the goons Evil Eckhart has sent his way is through the prodigious use of the items in that envelope. A neat concept on paper, but it basically serves to make Ben omnipotent and any suspense the movie may have generated is obliterated because we know that whenever Ben is in trouble he just has to reach into the envelope and pull out a paperclip or a motorcycle key and everything will be a-okay.

If the lack of suspense doesn’t turn you off, the utter contempt “Paycheck” has for its audience will. Hey, filmmakersr Ben Affleck has the faulty memory, not us, okayr We don’t need the scene of Ben sitting in a hotel room and having a flashback of everything that’s happened to him in the last ten minutes. We just saw it. We also don’t need to be reminded every quarter-hour that Ben built a machine that can witness things that have yet to happen. We got that. You also don’t have to keep reminding us that knowing one’s own future has bad consequences. Even the high school students you’ll be marketing this to have read “Oedipus.” Just get to the action scenes, all rightr

Or maybe don’t. What you would expect to be the high water marks of a Woo film, the action scenes of “Paycheck” are depressingly weak. Very little PG-13 gunplay (and no, I repeat, no two-handed blasting action), a tepid car chase that has all of one good explosion and a showdown in a rain-swept botanical garden that climaxes with Ben and Uma jumping out of the way of a bullet we’ve known is going to be fired at this exact moment in time for the last hour-and-a-half. Wow. How exciting.

Maybe the performances were good, you ask. The movie does have a strong cast. Well, Ben is…Ben. You either like his schtick or you don’t. Personally, I think it works better when he is the unlikely hero as in “Sum of All Fears” rather than a superman like he is here or in “Daredevil.” Paramount must be on a crusade to ruin Aaron Eckhart’s career by putting him in drek like this and “The Core.” He must think so, too because he gives without a doubt the worst performance I have ever seen from him. Paul Giamatti appears to be paying penance for being given such a good role in “American Splendor.” All he does here is say unfunny lines with impeccable comic timing – what they call in the business “groaners.” And Umar She gets to do three things: 1) cry when Ben says he can’t remember their love affair (this happens way more times than you would think possible in a two hour movie) 2) gaze admiringly at Ben when he demonstrates his scientific prowess 3) kick people’s asses with props such as a giant wrench and thrown motorcycle helmet. These are the moments when Uma really comes alive, but I felt the credit for that lies more with Quentin than Woo.

Woo does give us a dove flying in slow motion and some Christian imagery, but it all seems like a pale imitation of his older, better work. “Paycheck” is worse than “Windtalkers” and worse than “M:I-2.” Worse than “Broken Arrowr” Yeah, because at least “Arrow” appealed to that reptilian part of my brain that needs to see things explode and people riddled with bullets. “Paycheck” couldn’t even deliver that.

Rating: D
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The Majestic

Aunt Cleo: So, I went to see “The Majestic” last Saturday.
Aunt Georgina: Which one is thatr
Aunt Cleo: With Jim Carrey.
Aunt Georgina: Oh, I don’t like him. He’s vulgar.
Aunt Cleo: Not in this movie he isn’t. He’s sweet and handsome and charming. Like in “The Grinch.” That movie was excellent and had a message and “The Majestic” is just the same, but better because it’s newer.
Aunt Georgina: Well, Cleo, after listening to your well-reasoned recommendation and allowing myself a silent moment internal deliberation, I have decided that I too will pay money to see “The Majestic.”

Those MBAs at Warner Bros. go, “Ka-ching!” while you’re tryin’ real hard to be the shepherd and not shove this turkey bone up Aunt Cleo’s ass for diluting the family gene pool. But, as usual, I digress…

I went to see “The Majestic” because it seemed to be another one of those films made specifically for me. It takes place in the 1950’s (a decade that fascinates me more than any other) and it’s about a screenwriter (hey, instant character identification) who refurbishes an old movie palace (I plan on enslaving Theo Kalomirakis someday–and if you don’t know who Theo Kalomirakis is then, um, you’re dumb). Additionally, The Majestic is directed by Frank Darabont who’s made one of the best American studio films ever in Shawshank and it stars my two most favorite modern day actors: Jim Carrey and Bruce Campbell (will someone please cast these two as brothers in an action-comedyr).

I don’t know why I still get emotionally pig-dogged every time a movie doesn’t live up to expectations because I should be used to it by now. Not to say that “The Majestic” is bad. Far from it. Actually, not too far. “The Majestic” is mediocre at best, cold molasses boring at worst. Part of this has to do with the script by Michael Sloane which hammers us over the head with the same points over and over again. How many times do we have to hear someone say…

The town needed you, Jim, because all of our other sons died in the War.

Or…

Listen, Jim, you really don’t want to screw around with those McCarthyites–you could be blacklisted!

Maybe it’s because the film is rated PG, but it speaks to us, the audience, as if we were all 8 years-old. That’s probably one reason why “The Majestic” runs 2 1/2 hours and probably the only reason why the climax is of Jim standing before HUAC–I shit you not–reading aloud from a pocket sized Constitution.

But there is good stuff in the movie. All of the performances are top notch. You’d expect nothing less from Jim. Bruce handles his B-movie one-liners with aplomb. Martin Landau proves again why he actually deserved that Lifetime Achievment Award/Best Supporting Actor Oscar. And seeing Laurie Holden –who must of us know and loathe as the Unablonder from X-Files– is like breaking one of the seven seals…she’s a revelation. Funny, fiery, sexy. You can completely understand why Jim’s character falls in love with her because the audience does, too. Seriously impressive stuff by Laurie. She’s gonna get a lot bigger real soon.

Other good stuff: the scene where they re-open The Majestic theater for the first time made me cry. And I don’t cry often–not at my wedding, not during acting class, not even when God Himself did Irish fans a favor and arranged it for George O’Leary to get fired from Notre Dame. But I cried during “The Majestic.”

Finally, the film has come out at a time when it’s themes will actually make people think about the world around us. Because it’s about American boys going overseas and sacrificing themselves for the Greater Good. Because it’s about what it means to be an American. And because it’s about an understandably scared government prosecuting people on flimsy evidence just because they happen to be a part of the wrong minority group. Not that I don’t think the Justice Department should be investigating suspicious Saudis, Egyptians, etc. They should, but at the same not allowing things to turn into a witchhunt. Wow, look at that. A Jim Carrey movie inspiring politically charged discourse. Who woulda thunkr

I took my grandparents to the movie and they loved it. Really loved it. And since they are roughly the same age as your average Academy Award voter and since every other old fogey in the theater stood up and cheered at film’s end, I think Jim will finally get his official Oscar Acknowledgment (that’s what they’re calling “nominations” these days, isn’t itr Acknowledgmentsr How can you get fucking PC about awards terminologyr Only in this town). So, if you’re old or like easily digestible melodrama-with-a-message or need a Bruce Campbell fix you should be fine with “The Majestic.”

Rating: B+
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Count of Monte Cristo, The

I don’t know. But it did. Now, I got some spoilers here so watch out. Bare bones review: the movie is pretty solid and I would recommend it.

For all you illiterates and twelve year-olds out there, “The Count of Monte Cristo” is based on the classic (and really fucking long) novel by Alexandre Dumas who also wrote “The Three Musketeers” (and if you ever get the chance–there is an excellent stage adaptation written by Charles Morey that is the best version of the story I have ever seen). “Monte Cristo” was made into a Richard Chamberlain movie which I slept through in English class and is often described as the mother of all prison break movies. This version stars Jim Caviezel as Edmund Dantes, a naive sailor, and Guy Pearce as Count Mondego, a fellow adventurer and Edmund’s best friend. The movie opens with Jim and Guy landing on the island of Etta. Their ship’s captain has a “brain fever” and they are desperately looking for a doctor. Complications arise from the fact that Napoleon is being held prisoner on the island and, fearful of a possible prison break, his British captors have been ordered to shoot on sight anyone who sets foot on the island. Thus is set up our first big action scene and it’s poorly staged and confusingly edited and I was pissed as hell, cause it looked like I was going to be in for a long night.

In fact, the whole first act feels clipped and rushed like they new the film was long (this cut came in at about 130 minutes), they needed material to excise and the set-up was chosen to go.

Now, Dumas wrote really complicated plots so I won’t go into detail how or why Jim is set-up for treason by Guy and sent to an inescapable island prison, but suffice to say when Jim does get imprisoned, the movie starts to pick up steam. Jim is befriended by an old, wrongfully imprisoned priest played by Richard Harris who is much better and more lively here than he was in Gladiator. Dick teaches Jim all about mathematics, how to play swords and most importantly the location of a huge Spanish treasure. This is easily the best section of the movie, interesting and full of suspense and if it feels derivative of The Mask of Zorro… well, motherfuckers, guess who ripped off who. After Dick dies, Jim escapes the island and runs into a group of smugglers. Luis Guzman is one of these smugglers and he is set-up as one of the world’s greatest knife fighters and Luis is going to fight Jim to the death and if he doesn’t…the smugglers will kill both of them. So, there’s this great set-up for what will be a great action set-piece…only it never happens. Jim disarms Luis in about two seconds and then tells the smugglers that he refuses to fight and the smugglers say, “Okay. Come be a pirate with us.” The fuckr Look, you could have just put up a title card that says: “Jim meets a gifted minority actor who agrees to be his manservant and comic foil.” Lazy. And Luis Guzman is too good for treatment like that. Seriously, every time he was on screen I saw the audience lift themselves out of their seats so they could better see what he was doing. Dude’s got talent and charisma and even with the shitty material he had to work with, was quite good.

But enough negative remarks about the writing. One thing I really loved about this movie was the depth of characterization. Guy has his own petty, selfish reasons to do what he does, but we totally buy into it. And while he did fall into some mustache twirling shenanigans every now and then, most of the time Guy was quite human and very believable. Jim was even better, depicting a character who starts off as innocent and naive then becomes a shell of his former self: hollow, haunted, consumed with revenge. I thank Terry Malick and The Thin Red Line for introducing us to this actor. It’s great fun to see Jim reinvent himself as the Count, and begin his exacting revenge on his former captors. There’s also a nice little love story between Jim and newcomer Dagmara Dominczyk, who plays Mercedes, Jim’s former fiance who has since married Guy. The climax of the movie is a little goofy. Does Jim really have to go “mano a mano” with Guy even after he has taken Guy’s family and money and exposed him as a murdererr I don’t know, it seemed kind of liked, “Hey, Gladiator had a big swordfight at the end, maybe we better have one, too!” I guess you do need one, but the motivation behind it didn’t seem so strong to me (shit, there I go talking like a creative exec again…). Oh, there’s also this one really lame character sub-plot about Jim losing his faith in God, but then he finds it again, I guess, by ramming steel rods through people’s chests and breaking Dorleac’s (Michael Wincott) neck.

This movie is better than any other big studio Hollywood action picture I’ve seen this year. The fight scenes may not be as flashy as what we’ll get in “The Musketeer,” but the story, characters, acting and visual design is all there. Solid filmmaking. I recommend it.

Rating: B+
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Lymelife

But if Blonde looks like too much of a chick flick to you then why the hell haven’t you seen “The Others” yetr It’s well-acted, great to look at and has some of the scariest set-pieces since “The Changeling.” What’s that you sayr You don’t like going to a theater full of chattering monkey fucks to see a movie where the silent scenes are just as important as the loud onesr Well, brother, I agree with you, but that heavyset Korean-American gentleman who sat behind me during the 2:00 screening of “The Others” at the Northridge 10 last Saturday certainly does not.

Motherfucker was yammering away throughout the entire film, the most insightful of his comments being, “I wouldn’t go in there if I were her” or “This kind of reminds me of The Sixth Sense.” I shushed the fat ass twice and when I finally turned around and yelled “shut the fuck up!” he seemed to think I meant “please be quiet for the next fifteen minutes, but feel free to resume talking during the climax.” Seriously, that was the third fucking time I asked the cunt wart to zip it and by then…well, it’s either murder the guy or vent about it on the Jerk. Anyway, see “The Others” at a mid-week matinee or on video so you won’t be bothered by these shoulda-been abortions. And bring an extra pair of pants. It’s that scary.

Gosh. Look at that. I’ve written over 500 words on “Legally Blonde” and “The Others” in what was supposed to be a script review for “Lymelife.” Probably because I enjoy writing about movies I like over ones I don’t. “Lymelife” is written by Derick and Steven Martini. The draft I snatched was dated May 15, 2001 and went 113 pages. The Martini brothers, one may recall, got some heat from a movie they co-wrote and starred in called “Smiling Fish & Goat on Fire.” It was a big hit at the Toronto Film Festival and won something called the Discovery Award. Some critics and filmgoers really enjoyed the film. Others described it as warmed-over “Brothers McMullen.” I myself never saw the film because the trailer was shite even for an indie trailer and that’s saying something. Anyway, this new script of theirs (apparently it was workshopped at Sundance over the summer) is best described as plodding “Ice Storm.”

It’s a coming-of-age story about Scott Bartlett, a 14 year-old boy living in 1981 Long Island. Scott loves “Star Wars,” his older brother Jimmy who is in the Army and his father Mickey, a successful real estate developer. Scott is also attracted to his blossoming 15 year-old neighbor, Adrianna who–in the script’s most clever description–“is at that ‘come here, go away’ stage.” She’s a constant tease to poor Scott. Getting him drunk and kissing him then telling him he’s like a brother to her and that she only likes older guys. So as Scott starts to learn exactly what those erections are there for, his parents deal with some marital problems. Mickey, it turns out, likes to fuck around. Right now he’s fucking Adrianna’s mother, partly because Adrianna’s father was bitten by a tick during last year’s deer hunt and has contracted lyme disease. Apparently this makes him lie about going to his job in the city and then sneaking down into the basement to smoke weed all day. I think his lyme disease is supposed to be a metaphor for suburban malaise and the decay of the social fabric being depicted which is a good theme and one that’s never been touched on in film before. Except for the aforementioned “Ice Storm.” Oh, and “American Beauty.” And last year’s “Virgin Suicides.” But other than that, no other film–oh wait, I think “Ordinary People” may have dealt with this subject as well. Same with “Happiness” and on a more fantastical level “Edward Scissorhands.” See where I’m going with thisr And that’s just major American films in the past few years.

It’s not merely the familiar territory being explored that turned me off. It’s that nothing in the movie really happens. “Lymelife” is supposed to be Scott’s story, but…he doesn’t do anything. He gets beaten up by a bully, but lets his older brother kick the bully’s ass. He wants to sleep with Adrianna, but never makes a move for her. Does he want to keep his family her togetherr There are some allusions to that, but he never attempts to soothe his parents’ relationship. Does he want to kick his father out of the house for sleeping aroundr Maybe, but he doesn’t move toward that either. Now, I don’t want to sound like some buzzword spouting suit, but if Scott were a little more “pro-active” then at least maybe something would happen in this script. Scott just kind of stands around and watches other people do shit…and the shit they do ain’t so interesting. It should be interesting: infidelity, madness and first love should all be interesting…but it’s presented so coldly and off-handed here that is just becomes fucking blah. This is one of those slice-of-life movies like “You Can Count On Me” which I deeply disliked–but if Lonnergan’s saga was your cup o’ tea then maybe you would like this script. Come to think of it, I bet “The Ice Storm” looked pretty vanilla on paper, but that movie was shot gorgeously, had a to-die-for cast and some very good direction. Maybe that’s all “Lymelife” needs to be good. Or maybe the workshop process will improve the script. But in its current incarnation, I can’t recommend it.

Rating: D
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Monsters Ball and Adaptation

What upcoming productions have been announcedr A remake of the best zombie movie of all time and a remake of the best movie of a guy screaming “Caaaaaaaaaaannn you dig iiiiiiiiiiitt!!” of all time. It’s so bad, Guy Ritchie can’t even remake his own movie for a third fucking time, he has to go and remake somebody else’s. And sometimes these fuckwits don’t even know what movie they’re remaking. THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER just reported on a spec sale, the title of which I’ve mercifully forgotten, but the following description from the REPORTER will be seared on my mind forever: “A throwback to such thrillers as “Body Heat” and “Dead Calm” the film features a murder on a boat that is then retold from three different points of view.” That’s it. No mention of some old black-and-white Japanese film or some non-animated guy named Akira. Dipshits.

Looking for originality–not to mention brains–in Hollywood is like looking for cock in a convent.

However, like the time Sister Donna whipped out her Polish surprise for me one day after confession, the town that glitters can pull back its robes and reveal what you had always hoped was there: ass-kickingly great and unique screenplays. And even better: ones that have actually been shot and will be released before year’s end.

I finally got my hands on Charlie Kaufman’s “Adaptation.” I won’t bore you with a plot description because McWeeny and others have done so better than I could already. But rest assured, it is every bit as good as they say it is. Definitely one of the five best scripts that I have ever read. Even better than “Being John Malkovich” (which I thought took forever to get going). “Adaptation” is complex, thoughtful and funny as hell. The third act is a humdinger (as mandated by Robert McKee who makes an appearance) and also surprisingly heartfelt and emotional.

Two caveats, though: “Adaptation” is about a screenwriter (Kaufman) who has to adapt an unfilmable book into a viable script. People who are not screenwriters or in the picture business may not be as enamored with the story as the rest of us. I’m also a little afraid of the casting of Nicolas Cage. He will be Kaufman whose first lines in the script are “I am old. I am bald. I am fat. I am repulsive.” Kaufman is supposed to be a pitiable self-loathing, self-doubting creature who spends most of his time masturbating. At one time you Cage could nail this role in his sleep, but that was before Fuckheimer sunk his claws and turned the former Coppola into a pretty boy hack. Thank God for Spike Jonze. If there’s anybody that can get Cage back to his old demented self, it’s Spike. Remember, he’s made the only Cameron Diaz movie in history where I didn’t want to fuck Cameron Diaz.

I also got to read “Monsters Ball” by Milo Addica & Will Rokos. It will star Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry and Heath Ledger. Billy Bob will play Hank Grotowski, a prison guard in charge of executions who is the antithesis of Tom Hanks in “The Green Mile.” Hank is ugly, mean and a racist. Living with his even nastier prick of a father, Hank has driven his first wife to an early death and when he’s not chasing black kids off his property with a shotgun Hank is berating his son (Heath Ledger) whom he loathes. Halle Berry’s charcter is named Leticia, a struggling single mom whose husband is on death row. When not working as a waitress in a trashy diner, she berates her artistically talented son for being so fat.

Hank and Leticia both lose someone close to them. They are emotionally damaged, fragile and both know their lives need to change. They hook up and at first it seems just to be some form of self-medication. They drink and fuck to dull the pain (yes, cinema screens across the nation will once again be blessed by the presence of Halle’s tats). Soon, however, Hank and Leticia start opening up to each other, see each other more and more often. Hank gives Leticia his car since hers broke down. Holy shit, Hank wonders, am I falling in love with this woman–and a black woman, to bootr

Yeah, it sounds like a cheesy romantic melodrama about a narrow minded bigot who learns to change his ways, but I gotta tell you this movie is gonna be totally fucking dark. The scripts takes every chance it has to kick you in the stomach. There is some brutal shit in here which means all of the tender uplifting moments will be earned. I think Hank will be the best role for Billy Bob in a long time and when Halle Berry gives a shit about the person she’s playing (like she did in, say, “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge”) versus the times she doesn’t (as in “X-Men”) she can be really, really good. I have a feeling Leticia will receive Halle’s full attention. She’s a real person with depth who goes through some profound life changes. It’ll be fun to see what she does with it.

Now, I noticed when Garth over at Dark Horizons linked up to my script review of “Ebony & Ivory” the other week he said it was a “positive” look on the script. Really, it should have been “mixed.” That script is still in a rough form, has a long way to go and could get fucked in a thousand different ways. “Adaptation” and “Monsters Ball,” though, are works of genius, have been filmed and they can’t come soon enough for me.

Rating: A
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Ebony and Ivory

So I stole a pile of them. Some blowjob princess wearing a so-last-season headset in the reception area asked me where I was going. I immediately made myself look ambitious and sleep-deprived so I could pass as a mail room troll and replied, “I have to get these scripts to Hal Ashby right away.” “Whor” “Hal Ashby, the director. His last movie was with Jeff Bridges and Rosanna Arquette. God, don’t you read the tradesr” She masked the embarrassment born of her ignorance quickly, “Oh! See, I thought you said Al Ashby. You better get going.” As I left I saw her type “Hal Ashby” into her computer and by the time she figured out that he hasn’t made a movie since “8 Million Ways To Die” with Jeff Bridges and Rosanna Arquette in 1985 because he is fucking dead, I was back in my valley shithole reading “Ebony & Ivory” by Stuart Blumberg.

I tell you about this script because out of the ones I read it seems like this one has the best chance to get made and subsequently marketed down our throats. The draft I took a gander at was dated May 14, 2001 and tattooed 123pages. If you want to know about the writer, but are too fucking lazy to go to the IMDB, don’t worry, I did it for you. Senor Blumberg roomied with genius actor (and current Hayek dipstick) Ed Norton at Yale, wrote and produced his buddy’s movie “Keeping the Faith” and did a funny turn as the Car Salesman in “Fight Club.”

I’m sure his script will be changed when/if it is made by Imagine Entertainment and Universal Pictures, but I’m a lousy bastard, so I’ll review it anyway while trying to keep the spoilers to a minimum. “Ebony & Ivory” is a high-concept comedy about a wealthy, white plastic surgeon named Ted Pickford who has a lot of preconceived notions about his neighbor, a wealthy, black rapper named Master Peace. Master Peace, who also happens to have a lot of preconceived notions about Ted, has been cheating on his woman. To get revenge, she enlists her grandmother, an overweight voodoo priestess who farts a lot (did I mention already this will be from the producers of “The Nutty Professorr”) to cast a spell that will cause Ted and Peace to switch bodies.

The two live through each other’s skin, learn it isn’t easy to be a white surgeon or a black rapper and that they’re not all that different after all and become great friends at the end. It’s a feel good race relations satire. And since it’s written by a Yalie there are some good points made;particularly about the hypocrisy behind the business of hip hop and how the form has degenerated from the social commentary made by Grandmaster Flash and Public Enemy in the 80’s to the booties and Bentleys grandstanding of today. Blumberg’s ear for dialogue is very good and the characters are all nicely drawn with a few exceptions: the hyperactive, street slanging Asian intern at Peace’s record company who is a cheap plot deivce, offensive and, even worse, ripped off from Trey Parker’s “Orgazmo.” Ted Pickford is supposed to be very superficial and only attracted to the Barbie-ized bimbos he does boob jobs on, but I think that aspect of him wasn’t developed sufficiently enough to pay off at the end when he reconciles with his put-upon wife. And then there were the black racists.

Blumberg has the gonads to explore racism as a two way street. It’s not a very safe and popular choice–particularly in a movie that I’m sure will be heavily marketed to African-American audiences–to show how black people can be racist, but I’ve met Spike Lee and I gotta tell you, they can. Blumberg shows us these cracker hating people, but unlike the white racists who get their well deserved come-uppances, the black racists get off scott free and I’m sure it’s because Blumberg is afraid of offending somebody. White people don’t get offended when they see movies about the Klan, why should black people get bent out of shape seeing a narrow minded African-American learn that white people aren’t all badr

Blumberg comes dangerously close to saying that for a black rapper to be racist is not only socially acceptable, but justified. Growing up as an ethnic and religious minority in the Rocky Mountain bible belt, I have a problem with all forms of racism no matter who it’s coming from and I think that a script of this nature has an obligation to play it fair from all sides.

Now I’ll step off my soap box and tell you that the plotting of the script seemed pretty episodic and not very sharp, but that can be fixed through subsequent drafts. There were a lot of typos in the script, suggesting Blumberg was in a time crunch to get this thing handed in. Given the time, I bet he can fix the holes and maybe replace the fart jokes with material a little more befitting for one with an Ivy League education.

But look, the real appeal of this script to me was the examination of race relations in America. I hope Blumberg is allowed to explore these themes further and give some director somewhere the chance to shoot a comedy that is not also funny, but really thought provoking. There’s a chance here to make a 21st century “Blazing Saddles” and from what I’ve seen here, Blumberg has the talent to pull it off. But I’ve been in this fucking town too long and I am almost certain that Blumberg’s bosses–the people who raped the memory of Dr. Seuss and contributed to the castration of Eddie Murphy–will probably tell him to scale it back, make it safer, less potentially offensive, but with more jokes like the one where the pit bull fucks the toy terrier. I mean, Christ man, these people don’t even remember who Hal Ashby was…

Rating: B-
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