11
Mar
2011
Random Pop Culture Question of the Week
Erasing Movies From an Entertainer's Career
Random Pop Culture Question of the Week is a bi-weekly journey into the headspace of the Review to Be Named gang, in which a pop-culture question is posed, answers are sought, and discussions are generated about issues and hypotheticals from throughout the realm of pop culture.

This week's question comes from our own Rachel, who asked,
Hypothetically speaking, if the movies Gods came to you and gave you the opportunity to act as a temporary savior for your favorite star (or director) what role/production would you remove from their career and why?
With that question in mind, here are the responses from several Review to Be Named contributors. Comment and let us know what we missed!

Sam:

When thinking about this hypothetical there was a wealth of options to choose from. My first reaction was to remove ugly performances/projects from the career of some of my favorite filmmakers and actors. Do I remove the Apebraham Lincoln stain from Tim Burton's career thanks to Planet of the Apes? Or do I try to salvage some respect for our greatest actors worst money-grubbing roles like Jack Nicholson's Anger Management or Dustin Hoffman's Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium? But what I settled on was erasing a movie I actually love. I wish that Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen just never happened. It's a great film that shows off what Gilliam does best. Fantastical and unapologetically wacky, it is the prototypical Terry Gilliam movie that praises the power of storytelling and cinematic fun. But the reason that I would love this film to be wiped from the collective memories of everyone on the planet has to do with the horrific production story that came with Munchausen. The movie was a financial disaster that basically put a giant WARNING label on everything Gilliam would make to this day. Terry Gilliam is now a pariah of sorts in the Hollywood community, fighting to finance his always-ambitious projects. Remember those first, bland as rice cake, Harry Potter films? Well, Terry could have spiced those up had he not scared the crap out of every major studio head. Didn't like Zack Snyder's style over substance Watchmen film? Maybe Terry could have made the only Alan Moore approved film (or television series) to ever be released. Lastly, Gilliam's pet project, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote has been marred with production issues for years. He's been forced to seek purely European funding (which he set a record for and still was miles behind most Hollywood budgets) for a movie that is just too ambitious [cursed by voodoo movie spirits] for a glorious release. Sorry Terry, I love Baron Munchausen as much as the next nerd, but I'm doing it for the good of your fans everywhere.


Jordan:

This was a really god damn hard question, Rachel. First off, I knew I wasn't going to do an actor, because I can always rationalize that they did it for the money or for the role (there are certain roles that I think you take, regardless of the quality. If they offer you Batman, George Clooney, you get a pass for taking the role.) My first thought, like Sam's, was removing Planet of the Apes from Tim Burton's career, but on second thought, he made a good movie after that (Big Fish ranks among his best in my mind) and I don't think erasing that would stop the quality free-fall he's been in for the last several years. He may just be beyond saving.

Even the worst movies by some of my favorite directors aren't that bad. I could erase The Ladykillers or Intolerable Cruelty from the Coen Brothers oeuvre, but neither of those movies are as bad as their reputation, and I really like that the Coens get a movie out pretty much every year. I hated Gangs of New York, but I can't really fault Scorsese for making it, and Daniel Day Lewis is pretty great in it. I think its tough to pin point the movie that started Woody Allen's downslide, and I'm not sure erasing it would save him.

Finally, I thought about erasing Elizabethtown, which promptly ended my love affair with Cameron Crowe, who made one of my favorite movies of the last decade, Almost Famous, and also made Vanilla Sky, a pretty solid remake of Abres los Ojos. But his follow up, We Built a Zoo is yet to hit theaters, and I fear I may be erasing Elizabethtown without saving him from falling into an endless well of whimsy, Manic Pixie Dream Girls, and awfulness. So I'm going to throw myself on the filmic cross to erase a movie that I think might actually have a grand effect on cinematic history. At the risk of futility, I'm going to erase Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Ideally, this would stop Lucas from making the entire disastrous trilogy and preserve the legacy of the Original Trilogy. Hell, if he wasn't planning Phantom Menace, there's even a chance he wouldn't have done those terrible re-releases in the late "˜90s (Greedo shoots first? Really?). I've already talked at length about my theory of Lucas' artistic death, but if I could stop him from shitting on his own legacy and crushing the dreams of legions of fanboys, it would mean that people could mention Star Wars without saying "but..." And even if he still made another trilogy of Star Wars movies, and still messed with the originals, I at least would have spared the world Jar Jar Binks. Which is good enough for me.

Chris:

Swept Away. I've never seen Swept Away. I never intend to see Swept Away. I only know that it marred the otherwise genius streak of Guy Ritchie's fun crime thrillers that include Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, and RockNRolla. Is Ritchie kind of repetitive and formulaic when it comes to plotting? Yes. However when you do your niche that well, an argument can be made for not deviating from it. And that argument is Swept Away.

Rachel:

Ok listen. I'm probably going to catch a lot of crap for this, but I'm going to go with it anyway. Because the boys are entirely too serious to consider an actor for this question, and I like to think I bring this whole operation a much needed dose of the low brow.

James Franco. I love him. In my eyes, he can do very little wrong. He's stupid pretty (duh), he's getting a PhD in English (swoon), and he's made it clear recently that he (shock and awe) knows how to read, and that he does it often. Unfortunately, he's taken a lot of really, really shitty roles. I can explain away the stint on General Hospital as a giant fuck you to Hollywood and an uber-meta piece of performance art (in the show he plays a performance artist, and Franco is a fledgling performance artist, and the cycle goes on and on and on until my head explodes). But he was an absolutely exquisite Allen Ginsberg, I adored him in Milk, and I cannot wait to see him as Hart Crane.

My love for Franco is relatively new, and as a convert, I refuse to hold him all that accountable for the shit that actors need to wade through when they're getting started. It would be like an ex-post facto judgment and, as a former Constitution nerd, I'm just not down with that. But I have absolutely no qualms about criticizing him for contemporary roles. And I have only three words to levy a major criticism against my new obsession:

Eat .Pray. Love.

Generally, I wouldn't mind if this atrocious, sappy, pointless movie was erased forever and I could forget that a slew of actors I liked stuck their hands into this cesspool. But the one that hits the hardest is Franco.

Why, James? Just why? Why subjugate yourself to a piece of fluffy (albeit tasty) man candy? I've come to expect more from you. And your fruit loop of a character was honestly barely redeemable (although definitely the best of all the men in the movie, except maybe for Billy Crudup's character, whose only crime was wanting to go back to school, something I can really never fault anyone for). But when your competition is a super obnoxious Julia Roberts and a crybaby Javier Bardem, being the lesser of the evils isn't really saying much. My love (sometimes, and at least for movie stars) is largely contingent on their ability to maintain artistic integrity. And nothing about Eat Pray Love says integrity.

Stick to the meaty roles, James. Because if you keep taking this shit, I'm going to have to re-allot my time from justifying your enigmatic Twitter behavior, and really, neither of us can afford that.

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