So, the Hollywood hype machine tells us we only have two choices this weekend – “JP3” and “America’s Sweethearts” – and you’re probably wondering how best to waste your hard-earned cash. Well, I’m here to tell you that no amount of pussy you’ll get out of your girl will be worth accompanying her to “America’s Sweethearts.” This is not because I’m betting on “Jurassic Park” to be any good (I know Saint Steven says this one is better than “Lost World,” but all respect, if I sliced off your eyelids then pissed on your baby blues for two hours it would still sting less than seeing a velociraptor go down by way of gymkata). I haven’t even seen “America’s Sweethearts” yet, nor do I plan to. But that’s because I know how “America’s Sweethearts” was born and how it was made.
Perhaps you’ve read the Entertainment Weekly fluff piece on how Billy Crystal and Larry Sanders God Peter Tolan wrote a script about the most famous movie-star couple in the world. They have just broken up, but now have to behave as if they are together during the press junket for their latest blockbuster and in so doing, fall in love all over again.
Joe Roth and Revolution Studios grabbed the script and Joe passed it to his good friend, the Mouth in hopes she would play the actress. Which makes sense. I mean who better to play the Biggest Movie Star in the World than the Biggest Movie Star in the Worldr One problem. The Mouth doesn’t want to play the Movie Star. She’d rather play Kiki, the star’s put-upon assistant. In EW the Mouth says it’s because “Kiki had the most nuances.”
Bullshit. It’s because the Mouth just played the biggest Movie Star in the World in “Notting Hill” and she wanted to do something different.
I’ll pause a moment while you wipe the vomit off of your computer screen.
Like me… hell, like the entire movie-going audience the world over… you realize that the Mouth plays the Biggest Movie Star in the World in every movie she is in. That’s why people keep going to them. Sometimes she branches out, sure, and adds some subtle shading to her persona. She might know some shit about pelicans in one movie or push up her tats and swear a lot in another. But the fact of the matter is this, the Mouth is always playing the Biggest Movie Star in the World. Wearing glasses, pulling her hair back and plodding around in a fat suit for ten minutes is not going to alter that.
Now if the Mouth asks Laura Bush to blow the Press Secretary in front of the national press corps, I guarantee you the morning briefing is going to start with Ari Fleischer dropping trou. That’s just the way the world works. What the Mouth wants, the Mouth fucking gets. Doesn’t make the job any easier.
So, Billy Crystal and Peter Tolan found themselves having to write a new script about the most famous movie-star couple in the world. They have just broken up, but now have to behave as if they are together during the press junket for their latest blockbuster and in so doing, fall in love all over again. Except at the end they can’t fall in love and some minor character that previously had nothing to do with the story now has to take center stage. Oh, and this script has to be rewritten in time for the movie to make the 4th of July next year (and please note how “America’s Sweethearts” isn’t opening until a full three weeks after turn-your-hand-into-hamburger day).
As if his assignment wasn’t hard enough, apparently Peter Tolan ran into the Mouth at some sort of charity function and when he introduced himself to her she had no idea who the fuck he was. Whyr Because the Mouth only has enough room in her brain to remember the name of one writer and right now that writer is Richard LaGravenese. A writer who the Mouth had just hired to replace Tolan and Billy (who’s still intending to star in the movie). Now, I like Richard LaGravenese’s work a lot. “The Fisher King” and “The Little Princess” are two of my all-time favorite scripts of the 90’s. He punched up “Erin Brockovich” to decent shape and his “Living Out Loud” is a pretty decent flick. However, Richard isn’t really known for romantic-comedy and it turns out there’s a reason why: he sucks at it.
So Joe Roth and the Mouth had to beg Peter Tolan and Billy Crystal to come back and re-write the movie’s mess of a story while it’s in production. Do you really think Billy and Peter gave their full attention to the film after having been screwed over once already and being forced to work while they were hip-deep in their own television projects (“61*” and “The Job” respectively)r And don’t forget, Billy still has to expend some of his energy and talent to act (and with Billy, I use the term “act”r very loosely) in this fucking thing.
Now, sometimes when these movies come crashing together like a Mongolian clusterfuck things turn out okay. “The Fugitive” and, as mentioned on this site, “Ghostbusters” come to mind. But please excuse my lack of faith when the director of the movie is coming off of a ten-year layoff and once cast Bradley motherfucking Whitford as the King of the Jocks. Now, I can believe Brad Whitford taking a bullet for President Bartlet and I even bought him as a cop opposite Bruce Campbell in one of those “Line of Duty” telepics, but nowhere ever should Brad have been allowed to be King of the motherfucking Jocks.
My suspicions were confirmed (at least to my satisfaction) a few weeks ago when I talked to a buddy close to the movie who said, and I quote, “It’s a piece of shit, but it’s going to make a lot of money.”
Now, I don’t serve up this gossip just to rant or see my pseudonym in print. It’s because I am sick of movies being made this way and someone needs to speak out against it. When movies suck, it isn’t because the marketing was bad or the action scenes lacked believability. The dump the Warner Brothers publicity department took on “The Iron Giant” didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the film nor does the obvious cheesiness of Bruce lessen the terror in “Jaws.” Ask yourself, why do those movies workr Because of the stories. That’s why we give so much money (possibly $8 billion this year alone) to Hollywood: to see good stories. And when movies suck, it’s almost always because too many cooks fucked up the story and then didn’t bother to fix it or go back to what originally attracted them to the fucking script in the first place.
Bruce Willis has said he has only been in three movies where the script he signed on to do is the script that was shot without being futzed around with during production: “Pulp Fiction,” “Twelve Monkeys” and “The Sixth Sense.” Those are three of the best five movies that he ever has and ever will be involved in. Think that’s a coincidencer
It’s damn near impossible to make a decent movie. Really, it’s an incredibly difficult proposition. But filmmakers don’t do themselves any favors by junking a perfectly decent screenplay a month before they’re scheduled to shoot it. And if you think you can write a good script while shooting a $100 million movie then you probably have an MBA from an Ivy League and thus know shit about the real world. Unfortunately, this is what happened to the people who worked on “America’s Sweethearts” who are all very nice and very talented (I know, I’ve met many of them) and have made some very good stuff before. But when people start trying to force their own vision onto something in a short amount of time so they can meet a release date they start to suffocate on their own shit.
Christ, this business is warped. It’s the only one I know of that continually fucks up its own product on purpose and still turns a profit. I bet the Firestone family is wishing they got into pictures right now and if you’re a would-be writer do yourself a favor and work on a novel.
Trojan Man out.