While Moriarty saw this new badass X-MEN stuff, I sat.... at an airport for about 5 hours waiting for my plane to be 'fixed'. Having only one quarter in my pocket, I placed it in the nearest slot machine, pulled the one armed bandit's arm and sat and watched as 800 quarters spewed out of the machine. The first thought to enter my head, "What the fuck am I gonna do with 800 quarters?" Then the second thought was.... "Wow, all the lapdances and drinks at the O.G. cost me only a quarter! Man, that shit is so much better than a video game!" I then went on to do about 5 interviews via my cel phone about this whole Wall Street Journal Oscar Poll thingee. Sigh... "FACETIOUS-Wonder why they called me-SUOITECAF" Now, I know how you good folks feel. Sigh. I WANNA SEE THE X-MEN THINGEE NOW!!! Sigh... Here's the evil genius with his ILLEGAL CAR HE DROVE ACROSS STATE LINES IN BROAD DAYLIGHT WITH NO LICENSE PLATES!
Hey, Head Geek…
Well, I'm back in the Labs, secure in my titanium-reinforced bunker, relaxing, the dog-headed mutant henchmen watching the doors. I didn't think I was going to make it, but I did. I literally took the drive from Vegas at a dead gallop, averaging 120 miles per hour the whole way. I had to get out of Vegas. The mojo was getting too strange. I found out that someone had stolen the license plate off the MoriartyWagon this morning, right on the heels of learning about Harry's grandmother, just before being banned from the Fox press line. All these things began to stack up, and I could tell that Vegas had decided that my luck was up. The city can turn on you like that. One minute you're pulling $200 in quarters out of a slot machine, the next minute you're grounded in a plane for hours while they fix "mechanical problems" on the thing that's supposed to carry you home. You drop $4000 at a table, then have your film showcased as the centerpiece of the Fox lunch the next day. Good, bad, yin, yang. When you feel your luck changing, don't fight it. Just hop in the car or climb on a plane and get the fuck out of Dodge. That's what we decided today.
To be perfectly frank, I didn't care that I was banned from the press line by Fox, since Harry and I were both dealing with different crises all morning long. Besides, after some of the poisonous conversations we've had with journalists on the line, we're getting the distinct feeling that we don't belong in the same holding pen as the rest of them. They resent us and our methods. There's a lot of open animosity and jealousy. One guy had an outburst earlier in the week in which he railed about us swooping in and getting special treatment after all the years he's worked at this business. All I can offer to people like that is a reminder: we're not in your business. This site is not just another press outlet where we regurgitate press releases, where everything is of equal merit, no matter what the quality. We only do this because we enjoy it. If working a press line turns you into one of those people, then maybe being banned is a good thing.
Instead, I just showed up in time to take my seat for the luncheon itself. I thought the opening presentation of Humanitarian of the Year to Tom Sherak was a genuinely warm and touching event. I had no idea the amount of work that Sherak does for charities around the country, with an emphasis on MS charities. There was a film that had been specially prepared for the event today that featured Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Lucas, Joe Roth, Larry Gordon, Gordon Radley from Lucasfilm, a shitload of Fox execs, John Davis, Warren Beatty (who was notably funny), The Farrelly Brothers, Bill Pullman, the full cast of BEDAZZLED, Danny De Vito ("I never realized Tom was a vegetarian"), Sherak's wife Madeline (in a truly moving moment), his son William, and assorted other daughters and grandchildren. This guy's been blessed with a fairly huge family. There were a number of other faces that went by, all of them speaking about him in glowing terms.
In addition, there were these great segments cut into the thing of Sherak appearing in various Fox films from over the years. For example, there was the classic shot of the X-wings making their run on the Death Star, but when we cut to the cockpit, it's Sherak who makes the deciding shot. There's a scene from ALIENS, when the Queen Mother is hunting Newt and the loader crashes through the wall, only to reveal Sherak inside snarling, "Get away from her, you bitch!" It was very funny to see him inserted into various classic movie moments. This presentation was probably longer than the entire Fox product reel presentation, but it seemed to be a heartfelt expression, and it obviously affected Sherak deeply.
Finally, they began the presentation of the actual film clips by bringing up Bill Mechanic. He said that all he was allowed to discuss was the summer slate of films from Fox, which meant that he wasn't going to be allowed to mention CAST AWAY or the fact that Tim Burton has closed his deal to direct PLANET OF THE APES or the work that's being done on INDEPENDENCE DAY 2 or DIE HARD 4. Instead, he was going to have to just start at the beginning with TITAN A.E. He talked about how animation was a major new medium for Fox to explore and how proud they were of this "groundbreaking" new film of theirs, ironic since they just laid off most of the Arizona staff a month or so ago. He pitched the film as something for everyone, not just for kids, emphasizing the score by Graeme Revell and Glenn Ballard and the FX work by ILM.
The trailer begins with the Fox logo, then we see shots of the Earth as it once was. "I was born in the year 3023," Matt Damon says in voice-over as "Right Here, Right Now" plays on the soundtrack. "Humans had already conquered space." We see wheat fields, shots of pastoral scenes. In the sky, giant rockets leave magnificent trails. "Even though it was easy to travel to the farthest galaxy, we always thought Earth would be home." Then we see hover vehicles cut across those wheat fields, and when we see Matt Damon's character for the first time, he's watching all this, narrating. There's a panic that spreads through all the humans, word of something coming, and suddenly the entire Ballroom went dark. "We were wrong, and we had to leave." Red lights began to flash all over the room, sirens went off, and people in yellow jumpsuits began to run through the room with flashlights as a countdown began on every screen in the room, backwards from 30, as a series of truly deafening explosions went off. It was madness for a few moments, twice as loud as anything on the Sony reel, which many people (not me) criticized as too loud.
At zero, the movie screen came back on, and we watched the Draj destroy the Earth, the big moment from the movie. It's a pretty preposterous sequence. The moon gets taken out by debris, there's all sorts of narrow escapes. It's definitely big time eye-candy in at least one way. The CG modeling is aggressive, visually exciting. The big problem is that by the end of the trailer that kicks in after that sequence, it's overkill. Literally every shot looks just like the one before. It's all swooping and running and exploding. Matt Damon and Drew Barrymore don't have the most distinct voices I've ever heard (no slight on them as actors… just as animated leads), so neither of them leaves much impression in the trailer. Another pop song with the chorus, "Can you take me higher?" plays at magnificent volume throughout. "20th Century Fox invites you to enter a world without laws, without rules, without limits. It's the beginning of the next generation of animation. TITAN A.E. Get ready for the human race." The website address - www.afterearth.com -- comes up, and that's that.
After the event, I heard a number of people talk about the footage, and it wore them out more than anything. Drew Barrymore was brought up to speak after the reel was shown. She was cute, but barely opened her mouth for more than a second. She said she enjoyed doing the voice, then split. Hardly seemed worth the effort. I understand the whole concept of bringing the stars up to impress the crowd, but if it's not Bill Murray who's willing to go the whole nine yards, then what's the point? Jim Carrey, who could have wowed the crowd, stayed in his seat during the whole Fox event, only yelling something once that was actually hard to make out. Grrr…
HARRY NOTE: I'm very much looking forward to TITAN AE, while I didn't have the chance to see this footage, my quarter-speak here is just to take up bandwidth cause I can do what I want to on here! Hahahaah... Actually, I'm hoping this is as cool as SPACE ACE, but with a dramatic arc to it, instead of just a visceral thrill. At some point at SHOWEST someone told me they heard the scifi inspiration for TITAN AE wasn't Star Trek or Star Wars or Flash Gordon, but OUTLAND! I have to say, that has me excited to see what all the hub bub's about.
Anyway, the next trailer was about to be introduced when Mechanic got cut off and it just started. We saw someone rolling stockings up a leg, and then the room went dark. For about three minutes, all 4000 of us just sat there in the pitch black of the Grand Paris Ballroom. All around me, people made nervous jokes. One guy whipped out a lighter like he was at a concert. It was an embarrassing technical glitch, and they made the mistake of keeping Mechanic's mic off during it. He could have passed the torch to Sherak, who could have told more of his jokes. He killed when the WHERE THE HEART IS screening went off the tracks the night before. Finally, they got it fixed and Mechanic introduced the clip by talking about what a gifted performer Martin Lawrence is. Even though BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE has only been shooting for a few weeks, they decided to cut a quick reel and bring it. I'm sorry they felt the need to do so. This thing feel flat. Way flat. Penny off the top of the Empire State Building flat. It's Martin Lawrence as an FBI agent who is assigned to protect Nia Long, forcing him to disguise himself as a big fat grandmother to do it. It's MRS. DOUBTFIRE with a gun. It's painful. I could barely sit still during it. Trailers like this make me squirm something fierce. I can't stand high concept comedies that don't work. To me, they're one of the deadliest genres. People who accused Martin of running his TV series like a minstrel show aren't going to be any happier with this thing. I guess the whole joke here is having him play basketball as a fat old lady. Ha freakin' ha.
HARRY NOTE: Martin Lawrence is like a cat thrown in the air like that ROAD WARRIOR stunt man... this cat always seems to land on his feet. Martin has made numerous TERRIBLE trailers, but somehow pulls out decent (note: I didn't say good or great) movies that mildly entertain in that HBO afternoon sort of way. I expect the same here, from the description Moriarty has given.
The next reel up was a total surprise to me, and a pleasant one. In fact, this film just leapt way up on my radar. When Harold Ramis is on (GROUNDHOG DAY, GHOSTBUSTERS), he's as good as anyone. When he's off (ANALYZE THIS), it can be painful. It looks to me like he was the absolute perfect choice to update a film that, until now, I couldn't imagine updating, BEDAZZLED. I've always loved the Peter Cook/Dudley Moore original. It's got a really savage sense of humor, and it genuinely plays tough with theological ideas. This time around, Brendon Fraser plays Elliott, a goof with no social graces who manages to alienate everyone he comes into contact with. We see him trying to ask out his various co-workers for a night at the bar, but everyone snubs him. We see him at the gym, trying to dress for a basketball game and only managing to get totally tangled in his sweatpants. We see him run into everyone who said they were busy, all hanging out together at a bar. He invites himself to sit down with them, and he's just about to drive them all away when Allison walks in. She's a goddess, a stunning beauty, and all his co-workers can see how bad Elliott's crush on her is. They goad him into talking to her, and she shoots him down within seconds. It's brutal, and even in this brief montage, it's obvious that Fraser's got his comic chops in fine working form here. He's obnoxious, but he's sweet about it, oblivious to why no one likes him. He's just himself, no apologies. As Allison walks away, he whispers, "Dear God, I would give anything to get that girl in my life," and that's when things really kick in. A pool cue comes flying off a table, bouncing, then rolling up to Elliott and stopping against his foot. He retrieves it and looks up to find Liz Hurley standing at the table. She motions for him to bring the ball to her. He does, and they begin trading great quick quips back and forth. Whoever thought of her as the successor to Peter Cook should get a lovely bonus vacation day this year as special thanks. She looks perfect for the job. She offers Elliott seven wishes, and he immediately asks to be rich and powerful and married to Allison.
BAM! Wish number one comes true, and he wakes up in a plush, magnificent bedroom, Allison by his side. He looks sort of like Alfred Molina in this scene, with a big fake nose, a big moustache, and longer dark hair. He gets up, checks the place out, and is dumbfounded. It's everything he wanted. He runs downstairs, which is where he bumps into a butler. The older man asks in Spanish (with English subtitles), "Good morning, sir, can I get you anything?" Brendon answers (also is Spanish with subtitles), "I'm sorry, I don't speak Spanish," then realizes that he said it in Spanish. He tries again with the same results. "Hey! I'm speaking in Spanish!" Delighted, he begins to rattle off crazy phrases in Spanish to hear how they sound. "I'm sorry, but I am very allergic to shellfish!" It's very funny, and Fraser chews it up.
From there, the rest of the trailer was quick cuts and cast names. This looks like a wonderful funny take on the old idea of making a deal with the devil and never truly getting what you want. Every wish he makes, Elliott gets screwed in some way. All Hurley does is give him what he asks for, filling in the blanks he inevitably leaves with details of her own choice. I hope this lives up to this wonderful reel. If so, it could be a great classic comedy.
HARRY NOTE: I've read the script for this project, and it could work, especially if the footage and look of the film is as solid as James G is describing. The script has the potential to be a very fun film, far more watchable by a mass audience than the original Dudley Moore film, which I happen to love and personally feel this film can never hope to eclipse... but wisely, they are taking it in a bit of a different approach.
Next up was the one that I had specifically gone to see, and it was well worth any wait Fox might have imposed. The new X-MEN trailer is pretty damn cool. The description run here the other day was fairly accurate. Bryan Singer came out before the clips ran and explained that the film's only been in the can for about three days, and that there are only eight finished FX shots out of 370-plus right now. Keeping that in mind, there are some great images here. I saw an optic blast, and it was exactly as it should be. I saw an amazing shot of Wolverine as his claws slide gently from slits on the back of his hand. I saw a shot of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants as they walked over a deep chasm, Magneto using metal to build a bridge in front of them as they walked. I've seen Bruce Davison railing in front of Congress about the Mutant threat. The tag line is great: TRUST A FEW. FEAR THE REST. THIS SUMMER, THE THING WE ARE MOST AFRAID OF IS THE ONLY THING THAT WILL SAVE US. I love the last exchange between Xavier and Magneto. "You have to give the humans time. They're evolving." "Not anymore." Now this thing is starting to really look like a comic book come to life. I am going to give the film every benefit of the doubt. Innocent until proven guilty. I want Singer and company to pull it off. All the mutants got a significant amount of screen time here. Jean Grey is very cool, very well-handled. Cyclops looks like a bad-ass, but not compared to Wolverine. I didn't realize how much Hugh Jackman can look like Russell Crowe. It's almost a little spooky, to tell the truth.
This was such a relief for me. If X-MEN works, then we may truly see the floodgates opened on similar material. I know Sam Hamm just recently turned in a draft of FANTASTIC FOUR to the same studio, and I'd love to see this sort of material start being treated really well. All it's going to take is this and SPIDER-MAN working, and we might just get those amazing sights we've waited our whole lives to see, all our favorite heroes finally come to real life before our eyes.
Well, a fan can dream, can't he?
HARRY NOTE: Moriarty sucks. Me hate stupid airport. Me wanna see trailer special thingee now. FOX! GET THIS TRAILER ONLINE LIKE YESTERDAY!
The last film Fox presented to us was ME, MYSELF & IRENE. Now, I just had a chance to really go through my mailbox for the first time since Harry first came to town two weeks ago, and I'm noticing that there was a screening of the film while he was here. If I'm not mistaken, it was the night we went to see Trey Parker and Matt Stone at the DGA. I loved the SOUTH PARK event, but it pisses me off that there was a great test screening while Harry was here, but we didn't go. I'm thinking of dragging out the Time Machine so that we can take a quick jaunt back and see the film. If it's half as funny as the wicked, filthy reel that was shown today, then it will be worth the trip. Jim Carrey looks to be in top form playing both Charlie and Hank, two personalities in one body, both of whom fall for the lovely Renee Zelweger. I've read the script to this film, and it's a million times funnier onscreen. There's a real magic to what the Farrellys are doing these days. The last shot of this reel was a bring-the-house-down hoot in which nice guy Charlie has finally had sex with Irene, and the two of them are lying together. "So why was he better?" he asks. "I'm not going to answer that, Charlie," she responds. He pushes her, though. "Come on… what was it? Did he do tricks? Did he do something special?" He keeps badgering her until she finally snaps, "He was bigger, okay?" Charlie thinks about it, tries to make sense of it, finally asks in a small, humbled voice, "Are you sure?" She nods. "MUCH bigger." It's a good thing there wasn't a scene after this… no one would have heard it over the long, extended laughter of the crowd. It reminded me of the ending of that original PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES trailer. Great. Very, very funny.
HARRY NOTE: It is my opinion that this movie will prove Adam Sandler to be the hack that he is. (note: I don't like Sandler movies, notable exception THE WEDDING SINGER) This movie will undoubtedly cross some 'good taste' lines, and for that.... I'm anxious. After revealing the pre-date spank, what could they possibly show us to revulse and make us convulse at the same time? I look forward to Moriarty breaking out the Time Machine. I want to go back and see that screening NOW!
And that was it. We were hustled out with basically no more fanfare, and that was the end of ShoWest for me. I'm sorry I missed this year's Awards Ceremony. There were some great people being honored like Carrey, Angelina Jolie, Michael Clarke Duncan, Anthony Minghella, Ving Rhames, Alan Ball, and the Maestro, John Williams. It would have been nice, but circumstance just wasn't having any. Next year, we're taking a truckload of AICNers and we're covering every inch of this thing. For such a deceptively simple event, ShoWest can kick your ass if you let it. So it is that this adventure of Harry and Moriarty comes to a close, not with a bang, but a giggle. Now it's up to me to keep a promise I made at the Miramax party and get my '90s lists up on the page and finished before the Oscars. I can't believe how many people are passionate about me finishing the things. I have a lot of work left to do before we're able to bring the Labs back to normal relaxed status. Guess I'd better get cracking on that and the next RUMBLINGS. Until then…