The First Twenty Million Is Always The Hardest

So how ironic is it that the film version of the the book will probably never play in the San Francisco/San Jose Bay Area, the one area where interest in this would be highestr Probably a wise move on Fox’s part, since they’ve screwed this project up quite literally from the day it was concieved.

Screw up number one: Hiring Jon Favreau to write the screenplay. Favreau has this thing that he does, and he has his fans as far as I can tell. But he’s not a screenwriter. He’s an actor writing cool bits for himself and Vinnie Vaughn and his buddies. Nobody else has hired Favreau to write a script he’s not going to act and/or direct, apparently for good reason. But I can’t put all the blame on Favreau. Because…

Screw Up number two: Hiring Gary Tieche to write the screenplay. Who the hell is Gary Tiecher I said the same thing myself. This guy is a DP who wrote and directed the attrocious 1997 film Nevada. Since there are two “screenwriters” on this project, I don’t know which one to blame for the faults in the story. And there are many. Rather than bore you with a laundry list of complaints, let me touch on the one that pretty much destroys the entire movie…

Screw up number three: The story, in both the book and the movie, is about a group of guys who create a ninety nine dollar computer. The Ironmen wannabes take a typical computer setup and start breaking it down. Computers don’t usually come with printers or monitors, so that cuts X dollars out. Remove the hard drive and have all the programs for the user stored online, which cuts Y dollars more. So far, it’s pretty reasonable. But remember, this is a movie. So the Ironmen in the movie come up with the brilliant idea of dumping the keyboard as well. So now they have a little box with no monitor and no keyboard. How do they expect people to use the machiner Wired gloves for data entry and a hologram generator in place of the monitor. Yes, somehow the audience is expected to believe a computer that utilizes a hologram generator as a display will be able to be mass manufactured and sold for a retail price of ninety nine dollars. But wait, it gets worse. Because after their idea gets ripped off in a wildly but probable scheme involving their mentor, who is about to sell off their idea to the highest bidder, the Ironmen wannabes create a better, more powerful and smaller version of their magical mystery machine in just one day. I’m not talking about creating a prototype unit. These guys design, build, program, test and manufacture about three dozen units… in just one day. Oh, and the data gloves are gone. Now you stick your hands into the hologram and the machine responds to your movements, as if a keyboard is suspended in midair.

And the machine is still expected to retail for ninety nine dollars.

I’m not an Ironman. I had trouble putting together one of those little ZX80 home computer kits back in the early 1980s. Anyone who saw the ugly first design of this site two years ago can attest that I am not the world’s smartest person when it comes to computers. But I highly suspect that a hologram generator that can also detect body movement is going to wholesale for more than a hundred bucks, especially for a unit as compact as the one this new computer will be using. I’m a writer myself, so I understand the concept of suspension of disbelief. The concept only works to a point. I might be able to believe there are spaceships out there which can travel faster than the speed of light. I might be able to believe a bus can be propelled quickly enough to jump a small section of a freeway that has yet to be completed. I might even be able to believe a woman would find Stephen Baldwin sexy. But there is no way I can believe this load of junk.

I understand why the filmmakers made the change. Building a computer is boring in real life, and all the swiftly edited, shaky cam fly-by zoom in zoom out Dutch angled shots set to high energy music is going to make building a computer sexy. But then, neither is having Ethan Suplee gaining an additional 100 pounds and playing an even more grotesque and socially inept character than he usually does going to make it sexy, or having Jake Busey in your movie at all. Which takes up to…

Screw up number four: The casting. The biggest names in the cast are Enrico Colantoni, Adam Garcia and Rosario Dawson. That’s the photographer guy on Just Shoot Me, the pretty boy from Coyote Ugly and Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats. Sure, Rosario is now Will Smith’s love interest in Men In Black 2, but you have to look at this from the perspective of a year and a half ago when the project was forming. Did anyone in the general public know who these were two years ago, or did Fox think they had another Star Wars on their handsr “Unknown castr Check. Director of a wildly popular movie that no one would know by namer Check. Lower budgetr Check. Some Special Effectsr Check. Yeah, it’s the next Star Wars!”

Okay, so that’s a gross exaggeration, but there is no other reason I can think of for Fox to have made this movie. Because I can’t figure else why they would spend thirteen million on an adaptation of a non best seller with a no name cast. Unless they expected all the “Just Shoot Me” fans to come out because Elliot shows off his backside.

The First Twenty Million Is Always The Hardest gets a D for effort and a D for execution,

Rating: D