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Could Madea Make A Successful Middle East Movie?

I was disappointed to see Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass’ new movie, “Green Zone” make a relatively low amount of money this weekend. Not because I have any ownership in the film, but because it is sort of disappointing that Americans don’t want to engage the Wars in the Middle East on any level, even fictional. 

Keeps doing good movies, even if people don't see them.

It is sort of a Catch 22 that films like Green Zone, which is somewhat political (if you consider the truth, albeit fictionalized, “liberal”) and 2009’s Best Picture, The Hurt Locker, completely apolitical, are unsuccessful because of American society’s war fatigue.  If we had such aversion and fatigue over war, where was it in 2003 when troops marched off to war in Iraq?  In other words, if people were as tired of war and wanted to hide their eyes from it as much in 2003 and they do in 2010 then films like Green Zone and The Hurt Locker would never have been made. 

Sometimes I have friends who say, I just want to go the movies for a diversion, something mindless, not for some high minded message movie.  But how much mindlessness can we actually tolerate – Facebook, Twitter, reality television, Internet, video games, porn – and that is just my day before noon!  At some point don’t people want something thought-provoking that isn’t a 90 second clip on The Daily Show?

But I was actually very surprised to see a Matt Damon movie with such a good director fail, no matter what the topic. It raises a question in my mind: is there anyone who could actually sell a Middle East War movie successfully to our half apathetic/half-indignant society?  Here are some ideas I am pitching:

1) Scorsese directs DiCaprio in “The Enlisted”.  DiCaprio plays Tommy Coughlin, a Boston tough who joins the Army and is sent to Iraq as an alternative to going to prison.  There is a ton of Rolling Stones music, a lot of quick shots and of course, DiCaprio gets to speak with a Boston accent all while shooting a lot of brown people.

2 for 2 with Boston Accents. Could "The Enlisted" make it 3 for 3?

2) Will Smith & Tom Hanks in “I Am Soldier” directed by Steven Spielberg – probably the best bet for a successful Middle East War Movie.  Tom Hanks plays General Michael White who is asking Captain John Black (Smith) to go on a dangerous one man mission.  When it seems like Capt Black will fail, Sandra Bullock shows up as a sassy southern enlisted woman who is lost and helps him complete his mission. (Captain Black and General White could be role reversed, at which point instead of Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks companion in the desert would be a volleyball).

3) “I Can Do War Torture By Myself “or “Why Did I Enlist” by Tyler Perry – the wild card here – this film will be about a man whose marriage to Janet Jackson is on the rocks because he is not living a Christian lifestyle.  After receiving advice from his 6’6″ transgendered grandmother  the man decides to enlist in the war to prove that he, like Jesus Christ, is willing to sacrifice his life for a greater cause. 

A Madea War Movie could really test the extent of the Black Church's support for Tyler Perry's "movies."

4) “Sandstorm”starring Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner.  Pattinson plays an English enlisted man fighting in Iraq, but he can only fight at night because of his deep brooding nature and a secret he has (he’s a vampire).  Lautner plays an American fighting alongside, but harboring an even deeper secret (he’s a gay werewolf and if either of those things is found out he will be kicked out of the armed forces).

5) “Memorial Day”starring the cast of Valentine’s Day.  The concept of this movie is simple – every cast member of this film actually volunteers for active duty in Iraq as part of a documentary with an option for a reality television spin off.

Let me know which you think has the best chance.

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The Good, The Bad and the Mo’Nique of the…

The Golden Globe Nominations (voted by the Hollywood Foreign Press) were announced today, which displayed some good judgment in parts and in others displayed why Jerry Lewis and David Hasselhoff were such international superstars.  As a movie addict who has seen or will see all or nearly all of the films nominated (I’m already close) here’s my recap of the good and bad of today’s nominations.  Contrary to my usual I will start with the good:

The Good

1) Meryl Streep is a beast.  2 more nominations bringing her total up to 1,895 career nominations.  She proves that in Hollywood if you are talented, dignified and your name is Meryl Streep you will not be forgotten as an actress after 38 years old.

2) Matt Damon getting nominated for Best Comedy Actor in The Informant.  He was incredibly funny in this movie without being a goofy caricature.  Between the Bourne series, The Informant, The Departed and his cameo on Entourage he has completely erased my annoyance with him from the late 90s as a Masshole in Good Will Hunting (great movie, but I blame the Red Sox and Williams college for my aversion to that accent).

Not sure how to quantify something like this, but Matt Damon is the best Hollywood star.  Can do comedy, drama and seems like he's grounded.  He's like George Clooney's half brother (Clooney had the better looking mother).
Not sure how to quantify something like this, but Matt Damon is the best Hollywood star. Can do comedy, drama and seems like he's grounded. He's like George Clooney's half brother (Clooney had the better looking mother).

3) Woody Harrelson for best supporting actor.  He was a beast in The Messenger.  But he should lose to Christopher Waltz from Inglorious Basterds.  That dude’s performance was the Heath Ledger of 2009.  Minus the Olsen twins fu-king and overdose.

4) Jeff Bridges nominated for best actor in a drama.  I have not seen Crazy Heart yet, but it looks like The Wrestler, but instead of wrestling, he plays country music.  Sort of like in 30 years when I star in a movie called The Comedian.  Jeff Bridges is a really underrated and versatile actor and although I think he will finally win for playing some racist grandfather when he is 80 years old (think “Driving Mr. Daisy”) it is nice to see him nominated.

5) 500 Days of Summer and Up In The Air getting lots of nominations.  2 of my top 10 movies of the year.  The best Clooney movie ever (finally all the love struck geeks in Hollywood have a legit reason to praise him instead of “loving” his dramatic (boring) movies of the last few years – Good Night and Good Luck, Syriana, Michael Clayton – all good, all overrated).  500 days of Summer is the best romantic comedy/drama I’ve seen.

6) Animated movies.  Really strong category.  2 of my top ten of the year are in this category – Up and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.

Really really great stuff in the animated category - and how long til a porn spoof title: Slutty with a Chance of Tiger's Balls? Really really great stuff in the animated category – and how long til a porn spoof title: Slutty with a Chance of Tiger’s Balls?

 

The Bad

1) Eastbound and Down shutout.  I shouldn’t be surprised that the foreign press didn’t nominate it if the American Emmys didn’t, but to see shows like Entourage and Glee (that show has been on a steady decline – with the exceptions of Matthew Morrison and Jane Lynch – from the first episode.  However it has found it’s niche market – gays and girls – sort of like Britney Spears, so it plays to them, but to an annoyingly goofy level that its first few episodes did not have).

Like Picasso and Milli, Kenny Powers' artisitc greatness may not be recognized in life.
Like Picasso and Milli, Kenny Powers' artisitc greatness may not be recognized in life.

2) Two nominations for Sandra Bullock is  two too many.   One for The Proposal – one of the worst films of the year and one for the Blind Side where she combines two of Hollywood’s favorite shallow things – Julia Roberts (an impression of her from Erin Brockovitch) and the benevolence of whites helping blacks be their best.  Admittedly I did not see this movie, but that is because I could not stop puking during the preview.

And this is the story about how Mommy pandered for a white guilt Oscar and the foreign press fell for it!
And this is the story about how Mommy pandered for a white guilt Oscar and the foreign press fell for it!

3) The Messenger is not nominated for best picture.  I thought it was the better of the two war dramas (The Hurt Locker was very good, but I thought the Messenger was better).  Brothers is melodramatic and simple and uses musical score the way one would if they were walking a child through what emotions should be felt during different situations.  Not in the discussion.  But Tobey McGuire’s over-the-top bug eyed performance got an undeserved nomination (speaking of which, why didn’t Bill Paxton get nominated for his hilariously paranoid performance in Aliens back in 1986?)

4) Hung.  Thomas Jane got nominated for best actor in a comedy, making it the first time anyone could consider Hung a comedy.  This was the most disappointing show of 2009 and generated approximately .4 laughs per episode. 

5) No nomination for Paul Rudd.  Since the Golden Globes have a specific category for musical/comedy it is extra disappointing that his hilarious, seemingly effortless and incredibly realistic performance in I Love You Man was not recognized.

The Ugly

1) Mo’nique – I don’t like her very much and I can see her being a real diva (just look at the unnecessary apostrophe in her name for starters) once she wins an Oscar, but her performance in Precious on a scale of 1-10 was a 12, to quote one of Tiger Woods’ skanks.

2) Television Actress Nominee Anna Paquin – she’s just not that pretty and I want you to know that I know that.  For God’s sake when Michael Strahan watches True Blood and even he goes, “Damn she needs to fix those teeth.”

To quote Jacobim Mugatu - "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" I like True Blood and I don't mind Anna Paquin naked, but she really is not that attractive.
To quote Jacobim Mugatu - "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" I like True Blood and I don't mind Anna Paquin naked, but she really is not that attractive.
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Good J-L Hunting

A recent breakdown of my finances coupled with the plate-tectonic speed of my comedy career have brought me to the conclusion that I will have to re-enter the workforce at some point towards the end of 2010.  With this dreadful idea comes several dilemmas:

  1. Do I embark on a new career?  If so would that be tantamount to giving up on a comedy career if I have to revert back to serving two masters?
  2. Do I just take a regular job while lying to the people looking to hire me when I should just be telling them, “Yeah, there are going to be a lot of sick and personal days in my future and a lot of bringer shows in yours.”
  3. Do I dare touch the legal profession with a ten foot pole?

The solution I have come up with is so good it is as if a Hollywood screenwriter came up with it.  What I will do is move out west and take a job as a janitor at a law school in Los Angeles.  At night in between open mics at clubs, coffee shops and dog yoga studios I will write out brilliant answers to questions posed on blackboards.  This of course will not stem from my legal analysis, which is quite pedestrian, but rather, from the fact that I have already taken the classes for which I am writing answers. 

Broaun vuhses -how do you say - buhd uf educacion?
Broaun vuhses -how do you say - buhd uf educacion?

I will also work on my French accent and go by an alias, like Jean-Louis.  As the law students, half of whom want to be screenwriters and actors anyway, get wind of my story I will team up with one, preferably with a Jewish name and a father and/or uncle high up at a studio to put together Good J-L Hunting.  After all, Good Will Hunting is 12 years old, which in today’s culture seems almost over-ripe for a re-make.

After the movie grosses $80 million or so, thanks in part to the casting of Matt Damon in the role of the shrink that tells me to pursue my dream, I will be able to headline clubs around the country and field many offers for movie roles. 

I’m glad I am starting to think realistically about my comedy career now.  Now I just need to learn how to mop.

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Wolverine and A-Rod Must Pull a “McGreevey” To Save…

In case gay men were still fuming (flaming?) over Proposition 8 in California they were just dealt two more blows (can the unintentional gay puns ever stop?) in the form of Wolverine and Alex Rodriguez’s latest scandals.

Although I have already blasted it on Facebook – if you can help it do not go see Wolverine.  I am more guilty than most with going to see blockbusters.  After Batman Forever I swore that I would not see another Batman (the new franchise does not count), but there I was a couple of years later watching Batman and Robin, one of the 10 worst films I have ever seen.

Well last night, since I did not have to be up until 4 pm today for work, I went to see a midnight show of Wolverine.  This is a really really bad movie.  So many cliche moments (did he really just scream up at the sky at the death of someone?, is he really walking with CGI fire behind him? – what a badass!), such bad acting and writing have not been crammed into one film since Sophia Coppola starred in a re-make of Castaway (not true, but wanted to show how easy it is to write Family Guy-style jokes).  Now Hugh Jackman shows up jacked as ever (I question the legality of his training methods at this point), but this steroided up Rupert Everett is not enough to carry the movie beyond a rating or “piece of crap,” which is the only rating before “a Paul Blart.”

Sure the movie sucked, but wasn't I fierce?
Sure the movie sucked, but wasn't I fierce?

And faster than you can say gay man on steroids, here comes repressed Alex Rodriguez back into the news, with more revelations about his “doth protest too much” womanizing and his playing the Matt Damon to Derek Jeter’s Jude law in his baseball version of The Talented Mr. Ripley (does that make Joba Chamberlain the Phillip Seymour Hoffman of the Yankees?).  I have defended A-Rod, not because I think his womanizing or cheating or annoyingly overdone PR image are good, but because I am starting to think this guy is really repressing something.  I mean the guy is a pretty, tan, well-groomed Latin guy from South Beach with a taste for muscular pop singers – I am not sure if Perez Hilton is that gay?  Throw in his alleged obsession with Derek Jeter and his alleged cheesy pick up lines and you might as well not as look at his iPod because I am sure Freedom by George Michael is playing on repeat.

 

Man or woman?  Doesn't matter - if you have sex with this you are attracted to men.
Man or woman? Doesn't matter - if you have sex with this you are attracted to men.

 

So I have the same advice for both Hugh Jackman and Alex Rodriguez to stem the criticism for atrocious behavior (making a bad movie, cheating on everything, respectively).  Pull a McGreevey.  This move, named after former New jersey governor and truck stop enthusiast Jim McGreevey, is when you make a shocking announcement about your sexuality to distract from terrible professional activities. 

Dealing with work problems - just say "I am a gay American" and they magically go away.  Side effects may include horrible personal problems.
Dealing with work problems - just say "I am a gay American" and they magically go away. Side effects may include horrible personal problems.

So my solution for them is that they both should come out and announce that they are gay Americans in the next week.  Sure, Hugh Jackman is not American, he’s Australian, but no one will be listening after he says gay.  And A-Rod could spice it up (Latin pun) and say he is a gay Latino-American thus adding an extra layer of minority protection to his announcement.  I think this is the only thing that can save their respective credibility.  My guess is that the entire cast of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek will have to announce that they are a gay star fleet next week.