Movie Copycats # 12: We’re gonna need a bigger Genre

Victims:  Anyone who became terrified of going in the Ocean after the 70’s.

Perpetrators: 

Jaws (1975) - Directed by Steven Spielberg, Written by Peter Benchley (novel/screenplay) and Carl Gottlieb

Orca (1977) - Directed by Michael Anderson Written by Luciano Vincenzoni, Sergio Donati, and Robert Towne

Similaritis: In a seasonal fishermen infested vacation town off the coast of a mostly secluded area tourists and locals are terrorized by a deep sea mammal.  Muhahahaha.

*SPOILER ALERT*

Differences: 

Susan Backlinie - Jaws (1975)

Jaws is a more traditional film in the sense that there is an antagonist, the shark, and a protagonist, the local sheriff played by Roy Scheider, and ultimately there is a face off between the two opposing forces in which the hero comes out on top.  Very American.  Orca  on the other hand reverses these roles and despite the antagonist seeming to be the whale it is ultimately a role more well suited for the main character, a  deep sea fisherman played by Richard Harris.  Orca really makes you want to be on the side of the whale and I feel like this is mainly due to the foreign influences of the story developers.

Jaws (1975)

Jaws takes place in the beachy town of Amity, the epitome of small town America.  Chief Martin Brody (Scheider) is charged with its protection.  However his authority is overlooked on the eve of the biggest tourist season of the year when a young girl is killed by what he believes to be a shark.  Amity’s Mayor, Murray Hamilton, refuses to close the beaches despite Brody’s concern.  It’s the classic tale of one person trying to prevent a disaster and the establishment refusing to heed their warning until it is too late.

Robert Shaw, Roy Schneider, and Richard Dreyfuss - Jaws (1975)

Ultimately Brody and his Motley Crew are brought in to venture out and take care of the shark when it kills again.  This crew consists of a brasin sea captain Sam Quint (Robert Shaw) and marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss).  While it does take awhile to get to this point of the film it is a big pay off.  We get to watch a shark ‘splode!  After the awesome sea captain gets killed though :-(.  Small price to pay for some cinematic justice.

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Two years after the crisis of the fictional Amity beach town Orca came out.  Interesting fact to note is that the boat they set out to destroy Jaws on was called, Orca.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Orca starts off in a more graphic fashion.  Hard to consider seeing as a woman is killed in the first ten minutes of Jaws.  The reason that this particular film is more graphic then it’s predecessor is because it actual shows things, which might have been the reason it wasn’t as commercially acceptable as Jaws.  One film you could get away with taking your kid to the other you most certainly could not.

Momma Orca dies - Orca (1977)

Orca opens on the fishing boat of Captain Nolan, played by Richard Harris.  We might remember him better today as the original Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets.  Back in 1977 he was poaching whales!  As Captain Nolan he ends up killing a female whale in the beginning of Orca only to realize that she was pregnant.  The baby whale spills out onto the deck.

The dead orca baby . . . so sad - Orca (1977)

All of this unfolds while the Daddy Orca looks on in horror from afar.  It is this incident that insights the Orca to reek havoc on Captain Nolan, his crew, and the fishing town he calls home.  One of the best scenes in this film is when the Orca slams into Captain Nolan’s seaside home and attacks Annie (Bo Derek) an injured crew member.  Causing the house to fall into the ocean Annie slides into the grasp of the Orca much like the way Quint does towards the end of Jaws.  the only difference here is that instead of dying the woman gets her leg nawed off by a whale.  It’s awesome.

Bo Derek getting her leg ate up - Orca (1977)

In the end Captain Nolan along with the remaining crew, a helpful Native American Umilak (Will Sampson), and Rachel Bedford (Charlotte Rampling) set out to fight the vengeful Orca.  Basically they get owned by the Orca because Karma is on it’s side.  I really don’t want to go into details because it’s pretty messed up sequence of events for an ending.  Not your traditional neatly resolved Hollywood ending like Jaws.

Richard Harris, Peter Hooten, and Will Sampson - Orca (1977)

Verdict:

Jaws by a nose!  I like the fact that Orca was a lot more graphic just for the simple fact that I was NOT expecting that at all the first time I saw it.  And the ending is non-traditional which is always a plus.  The good thing about Jaws is that the story is so well handled that there is no need for an excessive amount of gore or even the need to show the shark for almost the entire film.  There’s just this overwhelming build up of dread that culminates into an amazing climax ending.  Very well done.

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*Shameless Spin-offs*

KILLER FISH!!! (1979)

Need I say more . . . .

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Movie Copycats # 11: You’ve lost that loving feeling

Victims: Anyone who joined the military in the 80’s.

Perpetrators:

Iron Eagle - TriStar Pictures (1986) Directed by Sidney J. Furie Written By Kevin Elders and Sidney J. Furie

Top Gun - Paramount Pictures (1986) Directed by Tony Scott, Written by Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr., and Ehud Yonay

Similarities: Both films feature a main character who is a gung-ho pilot with a chip on his shoulder and daddy issues.

Jason Gedrick - Iron Eagle (1986)

Differences: In Iron Eagle Doug Masters, sets out to save his father after his fighter jet is shot down in Middle Eastern Air Space.  Despite the efforts of one of the richest militaries in the world, he is unable to be rescued by American forces.  Doug teams up with Col. Charles ‘Chappy’ Sinclair and together they hatch a plan to “borrow” fighter jets from the U.S Airforce and fly to the middle east to save Doug’s father.  Most likely playing off the success of Red Dawn which came out two years earlier, with the whole teenage over-night military hero storyline.

Tom Cruise - Top Gun (1986)

Top Gun comes across less as a teenage military fairy tale.  It was inspired by the article “Top Guns” written by Ehud Yonay and published in California Magazine in May 1983.  The article detailed the TOPGUN pilots at the  Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego.

Maverick (Cruise) is a renegade pilot living in the shadow of his father’s legacy.  This film is based more around character development than Iron Eagle and is also centered more in reality.  You can’t just hijack two American Fighter Jets and go on a rescue mission to the Middle East, you kind of need to learn how to fly in combat situations first.

Verdict: Usually I would go into some detail about the cast of characters in each film but I somehow find it unnecessary for these two films.  Top Gun is my favorite of the two by far.  While I’m not much for the romantic story lines I do feel it is the more solid film because it deals with real issues facing real pilots.  Somewhat out dated now of course but still made for an interesting film.

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Movie Copycats # 10: Ten Things I Hate about Teen Comedies

Victims: Overly hormonal teenagers.

Perpetrators:

She's all That - January (1999) Miramax Films

Ten Things I Hate About You - March (1999) Touchstone Pictures

Similarities: Both movies are based on William Shakespeare’s play Taming of the Shrew.  Despite Ten Things I Hate About You being the more direct adaptation of the Shakespearean tale they are both about turning an unpopular “ugly duckling” into a more desirable person.  The motives are what make them different.  And then there’s also the whole “Everything has to be done by Prom” time-line, which seems to be standard procedure in most high school comedies.

Julia Stiles and Larisa Oleynik - Ten Things I Hate about You

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Differences: In She’s All That, Zach Siler (Freddie Prinze Jr.) makes a bet with his jock buddy Dean (Paul Walker) that he can turn any girl into a prom queen and make his ex-girlfriend jealous in order to win her back.  In Ten Things I Hate About You Bianca (Larisa Oleynik) gets Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the boy who is completely in love with her, to find a date for her sister Kat (Julia Stiles) so she can have permision to date the popular Joey (Andrew Keegan).

Paul Walker and Freddy Prinze Jr. - She's All That

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Stand-Out Supporters:

Miss Perky in 10 Things I Hate About You – Allison Janney

Allison Janney - Ten Things I Hate About You

Despite having barely any screen time she is one of my favorite characters in the movie.  Janney is one of those actors who makes you feel like you could go out and grab a couple brewskies with.  She completely owns the role of the horny guidance counselor and  I can’t think of any actress who could have pulled it off better than she did.

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Brock Hudson in She’s All That – Mathew Lillard

Freddy Prinze Jr. and Mathew Lillard - She's All That. *Note the blatant tightey whitey's over Lillards muscle shirt.

In a film full of flat acting Mathew Lillard does an amazing job bringing to life Brock Hudson, the satirical embodiment of a reality TV star douche bag.  My favorite scene of his is when his character gets kicked out of the Real World house and becomes a icon just for being an ass.  Check it out at 05:10 in the clip below.

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Walter Stratford overprotective father in Ten Things I Hate About You – Larry Miller

Larry Miller - Ten Things I Hate About You

His character is adorable and extremely well developed for being an over-protective father.   Like Janney he is able to make a small role big due to excellence in comedic performance.

 

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Romantic Leads:

Rachel Leigh Cook and Freddie Prinze Jr. -She's All That

Rachel Leigh Cook and Freddy Prinze Jr. do make a cute couple but I didn’t think the chemistry was entirely there.  Prinze’s character isn’t even that interesting.  He’s a jock with a heart of gold . . . blah blah.  Cook’s character however, has a flare to her that most of  her fellow cast members lack.

Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles - Ten Things I Hate About You

Heath Ledger and Julia Styles are a genuine pair.  Both are extremely well rounded actors with a wide range.  They are able to play characters in a teen comedy and make them not seem typical and pretentious.  It’s much harder than it seems people.  Another awesome thing about their performances is that they didn’t get sucked into the teen comedy black hole.  Despite this being the movie that made Ledger popular in America he strayed away from teen heartthrob roles afterwords and I think that really shows class on his part.  Thank God he avoided typecasting.

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Verdict: Ten Things I Hate About You is the winner.  For me it didn’t come across as cheesey and She’s All That did.  Especially with the ridiculously choreographed prom dance sequence at the end.  Ten Things I Hate About You doesn’t take itself too seriously and that is always a good quality for this brand of comedy.  Every member of the cast is able to come into their own no matter how small the part.  She’s All That just seems more immature in comparison to Ten Things I Hate About You, that’s the best way I can describe it.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and David Krumholtz - Ten Things I Hate About You

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Movie Copycats # 9: Overnight Debauchery

Victims: College bound teens.

Perpetrators:

Overnight Delivery - Motion Picture Corporation of America (1998)

Road Trip - Dreamworks (2000)

Similarities: Both of these movies are about a guy who gets drunk and sends proof of fake infidelity/actual infidelity to his girlfriend who is going to a different college than he is.  He teams up with a companion/companions and sets out on a somewhat noble quest of preventing the package from being delivered.

*SEMI-SPOILER ALERT*

Christine Taylor and Paul Rudd - Overnight Delivery (1998)

Differences: Overnight Delivery is centered around Wyatt Tripps (Paul Rudd), who is in a long distance relationship with Kim (Christine Taylor).  Before they go to their different colleges they pledge that they will not have sex with each other before they are married.  Tripps agrees but to his dismay he learns that Kim has been involved with someone named “The Ricker”, after placing a call to her dorm room and speaking to her ditsy roommate.

Reese Witherspoon - Overnight Delivery (1998)

After hearing the news his roommates decide to take him to a “gentlemen’s club” to help cure his woes.  It is there that he meets Ivy (Reese Witherspoon).  After striking up a repor they hatch a plan to send Kim an overnight letter with evidence of a fake tryst.  After waking up the next morning to discover that The Ricker was nothing more than a bird Kim was pet sitting Tripps and Ivy begin their journey to stop the package from being delivered.

Amy Smart - Road Trip (2000)

In Road Trip Josh Parker (Breckin Meyer) and his girlfriend Tiffany (Rachel Blanchard)  are also in the midst of a long distance relationship after beginning their college careers.  Josh becomes suspicious after Tiffany does not answer his numerous phone calls and gets talked into going to a party Beth Wagner (Amy Smart), the girl who likes him, will be attending.  After winning her in a

Road Trip (2000)

fraternity auction they go back to his dorm room and video tape themselves having sex.  The next day his roommate Barry Mannilow (Tom Green) sends the sex tape off to Tiffany instead of some sappy recording of a song he performed for her.  After learning this Josh and his buddies set out on a-you guessed it-road trip, in order to beat the package to Tiffany’s school.  Numerous shenanigans ensue that appeal to the taste of the overly hormonal pre-pubescent teenage male.   Providing them with a slightly humorous and greatly inaccurate idea of what their future college experience will be like.

Lost Performances:

Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon in Overnight Delivery

Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd - Overnight Delivery (1998)

Witherspoon and Rudd rock this movie.  But somehow it managed to fly under everyone’s radar.  I remember watching this every time it played on Comedy central and loving it.  They are both so damn adorable.  This is the movie that made me a fan of both of these actors, and to their credit, each of them have moved on to have respectable acting careers as opposed to the cast of Road Trip.

Tom Green in Road Trip

Probably the most interesting and least cliche’ character in the whole damn film.

Verdict: I am going to have to go with Overnight Delivery on this one.  I feel that while there are moments of crude humor the movie is based more around the comedic performances of Witherspoon and Rudd.  Road Trip is a little too riddled with juvenile sex humor that makes it a very tasteless movie.

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Movie Copycats # 8: Oh God! … The dog wet on the picnic basket.

Victims: Angsty teens or people who never stopped living in the 80’s.

Perpetrators:

Paramount Pictures (1986) - Directed by Howard Deutch and Written by John Hughes

Paramount Pictures/Hughes Entertainment (1987) - Directed by Howard Deutch and Written by John Hughes

Similarities: Both of these films deal with the exact same issue.  A teenage love triangle.  In each movie two close friends are put at odds when one of them realizes they are jealous of their friends new boyfriend/girlfriend.

Differences: The first movie has two guys trying to win the affection of one girl and the second movie has two girls going after one guy.  However, they do manage to bring somewhat different elements into each film.

*SPOILER ALERT*

Andrew McCarthy, Molly Ringwald, and Jon Cryer - Pretty in Pink (1986)

In Pretty in Pink Andie (Ringwald) isn’t a complete nobody but still is not a part of the “popular crowd”.  Duckie (Cryer) is her closest friend and conceals his feelings for Andie with awkward humor.  This only becomes more of a challenge after Andie meets the popular and rich Blane (McCarthy).  Blane pursues Andie and his friends treat her like crap because she isn’t as rich as they are.  Some conflict ensues and inevitable misunderstandings are made after Blane invites Andie to . . . you guessed it! . . . The Prom.

James Spader - Pretty in Pink (1986)

He gets second thoughts but after realizing that his friend Steff (Spader) was going after Andie he sees that the antagonizing was just a ploy to drive them apart.  Although Andie shows up alone to prove a point she ultimately ends up with Blane who realizes that he doesn’t need his yuppie friends to be happy.  By this point Duckie has also had an epiphany of his own and accepts his role as the best friend.

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Lea Thompson, Erik Stoltz, and Mary Stuart Masterson - Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

Mary Stuart Masterson and Erik Stoltz - Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

Some Kind of Wonderful is a more gritty portrayal of a teenage love triangle.  Keith (Stoltz) isn’t necessarily a bad boy but he’s an artist so that by default lumps him in with the loner crowd.  Watts (Masterson) is a tom-boy drum player who is great at showcasing one of the true lost treasures of the 80’s.  Blue jean sleeveless cut-off outfits and leather jackets.  Essentially in this film Hughes reverses the gender of all the characters in Pretty in Pink but he makes the two friends equal in their social standing as outcasts.  In this case Keith makes the first move by asking out Amanda Jones (Thompson), the most popular girl in school, after finding out that her boyfriend, Hardy Jenns (Sheffer) is cheating on her.  Like Pink there are the inevitable misunderstandings as the popular object of affection receives criticism from their inner circle.  But Some Kind of Wonderful doesn’tuse the typical “prom climax ploy”, which is refreshing.  Instead it’s just an invitation to a party thrown by Hardy, as a showing of good faith to Keith and Amanda.

Craig Sheffer - Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

Keith gets advanced notice that Hardy plans to beat him up and believes Amanda has something to do with it.  It turns out she doesn’t and they go anyway.  Keith ends up turning the table on Hardy and his friends before they can rough him up and leaves the party with Amanda unscathed.  He then gives her a pair of earrings he blew all of his college money on but she refuses.  What!?  She has come to the realization that she needs to be on her own and that there is somebody else he wanted to really give the earrings too.  That’s right everybody in this movie the best friends end up together.

Stand Out Performances:

John Cryer as Duckie in Pretty in Pink

By far the best performance in Pretty in Pink.  Cryer does a great job of portraying that feeling we know we’ve all had at one point.  Knowing you’re in love with someone who has no romantic feelings for you at all.  Best to let his performance speak for itself.

Elias Koteas as Skinhead in Some Kind of Wonderful

That’s right everybody, he did such a great job his character doesn’t even have a name.  He really brings to life that stereotype of the rebellious hoodlum who is just to bad to be good.  Or is he?

Mary Stuart Masterson as Watts in Some Kind of Wonderful

Mary Stuart Masterson takes the role of a simple drum playing tom boy to the next level by adding depth and really delivering on the sarcastic edginess of her character.

Conclusion:

Some Kind of Wonderful  is my favorite of the two movies.  An interesting thing to note is that Pretty in Pink was originally written so that Duckie ends up with Andie at the end.  They decided to change it because it didn’t test well with audiences.  It seems that Some Kind of Wonderful was a way of Hughes getting to make the film he originally wanted to make.  Probably helped that he was one of the producers this time.  One major reason I prefer Some Kind of Wonderful over Pretty in Pink is because ALL of the characters are interesting.  I mean if you’ve seen one Molly Ringwald movie from the 80’s you have seen them all and Duckie was the only character I could connect with.  Some Kind of Wonderful doesn’t come across as corny as Pretty in Pink  does and the ending isn’t as cliche’.

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Movie Remakes # 2: Arthur 2.0

Victims: People who truly value Classic Comedic films from the 1980’s.

Perpetrators:

Arthur (1981) - Orion Pictures

 

Arthur (2011) - BenderSpink, Langley Park, MBST, Warner Bros. Pictures

Similarities:

Both are about the same character.  Arthur, a wealthy over-privileged playboy with too much time and money on his hands and no sense of responsibility.  He ends up falling for a woman his family does not approve of and risks being cut off.  Shenanigans ensue.

Differences:

In the 1981 ORIGINAL the character of Arthur is primarily obnoxious because he is a drunk but in the 2011 version he is just a obnoxious bafoon.  Alcohol seems to have something to do with it, and he does go to an AA meeting in the film, but I think that isn’t the primary focus.  The 1981 version is a Classic!  Well cast, well written, and well-made overall.  There were no gimmicks.  No bat mobiles or Darth Vader masks.  They didn’t need any of that.  Not that seeing Jennifer Garner get trapped on some magnetic ceiling device doesn’t seem promising.  The newest Arthur doesn’t look completely terrible and seeing as the world is in love with Russell Brand right now it doesn’t surprise me that they decided to make another movie where he acts like an eccentric rich guy.  But remaking a classic comedic film and turning it into a slapstick comedy is just sad.

Cast Comparisons:

Dudley Moore, John Gielgud, Liza Minnelli - Arthur 1981

This is by far one of the best ensembles in comedic film history.  Moore, Minelli, and Gielgud, perform extraordinarily well and each character is so well polished that it creates incredible chemistry throughout the film.

Russell Brand - Arthur 2011

Arthur 2011, seems to be relying more on gimmicks than doing any justice to a classic film.  The producers are riding on the coat tails of their Get Him to the Greek success by keeping Brand in the wealthy obnoxious playboy role.  Sure he’s good at it but . . . he IS a wealthy obnoxious playboy in real life.  Or was until he married Katy Perry a couple years ago (still don’t get that).  I think we can all agree that Dudley Moore is the ultimate drunken playboy here.

Dudley Moore - Arthur 1981

Then there is the issue of casting the woman who makes Arthur want to be a better man.  Naomi, played by Greta Gerwig, seems to be more of a wholesome character as opposed to the crass clepto Linda, played by Liza Minelli, in the original version.

Greta Gerwig - Arthur 2011

I have yet to see the film for myself but I am getting the “wholesome” part from the fact that I saw footage of Gerwig’s character opening a library book with pop-up images in it.  I’m no Miss Cleo but I would bet $5 that in Arthur 2011 he meets Naomi after applying for a job at the library so he can get out of having to marrying Susan, played by Jennifer Garner.  That would definitely be a big change from the original seeing as in Arthur 1981 he meets Linda after she is caught stealing a tie for her father.

Liza Minnelli - Arthur 1981

A seemingly simple plot device but only in the hands of lesser actors.  Dudley, Liza, and John turn that scene into a masterpiece.  And if I am right and they made Arthur’s romantic interest wholesome as opposed to a cynical slightly abrasive streetwise clepto.  Than that would be a drastic mistake on part of the filmmakers.

That whole dynamic between Arthur and Linda in the 1981 version is what makes it classic.  The character of Linda has just as large a story arc as Arthur and both are well developed.  At the beginning they are both flawed and unlucky in love but finding each other makes them turn into better people.  In the newest one it seems to be all about making Arthur the better person.

Hobson and Arthur Dynamic:

Helen Mirren, Russell Brand - Arthur 2011

I am not going to say there is anything wrong with the casting of Helen Mirren opposite Russell Brand.  If I were the person casting it I probably would have done it the same way.  But I am sad that Helen had to be associated with a remake of this nature.  Playing Prospera, in the remake of The Tempest is a noble endeavor but doing a comedic remake that is clearly just a vechile for Brand is a little insulting.

John Gielgud, Dudley Moore - Arthur 1981

Helen Mirren is amazing.  John Gielgud is ubber amazing.  Yes it seems Helen Mirren does a suitable job recreating the poise of Hobson but I don’t think anyone can quite create the statuesque nature Gielgud had during that entire film.  Even through the most dramatic scenes he was unchanging.  I feel like they may have made Hobson a little less of a hard ass.

 

 

John Gielgud – Arthur 1981

Russell Brand, Helen Mirren - Arthur 2011

The Verdict:

I wouldn’t pay to see the newest incarnation of Arthur in theaters.  I believe it best to wait for this one to hit the stores or even TV.  Russell Brand’s Arthur didn’t even need to be a remake.  From what I have seen in the trailer they have an entirely different way of going about the rich boy craziness but decided to package it as a remmake.  If they had done a little re-writing this could have been a NEW movie.

Liza Minnelli, Dudley Moore - Arthur 1981

If we stop supporting unnecessary movie remakes than Hollywood might stop producing them.  THINK ABOUT IT PEOPLE.  Do yourselves a favor and watch the original.  Rent it, buy it, or wait for it to run on AMC.  Either way will save you time and money.

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Movie Remakes # 1: Hollywood Screws F. Scott Fitzgerald . . . in 3-D!!!

F Scott Fitzgerald . . he is hella mad dogging Hollywood right now

I bet you’re asking yourselves what literary masterpiece did F. Scott Fitzgerald write that could possibly be suitable for the 3-D movie craze.

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THE GREAT GATSBY!!


Did you just throw up in your mouth a little?  I know I did.

According to the IMDB page the movie is set to come out in 2012.  I don’t know if this has anything to do with that whole apocalypse the Mayans foretold of but I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone who sees this in theaters gets sucked into a never ending pit of hell fire.  I get that Hollywood is trying to ram 3-D technology down consumer’s throats but a line needs to be drawn.  We get it.  You can use 3-D for regular narrative films.  Great.  But why do it?  WHY!?

Do we want to see a pensive gaze in 3-D or would we rather see a building blow up?  Hmmmm . . . that’s a toughy!  Is there a 3-D gun in the movie pointing towards the audience so I can at least FEEL like I’m being put out of my misery?

Sam Waterston and Robert Redford - The Great Gatsby (1974)

Apparently the reason it is being shot in 3-D is because it’s being directed by Baz Luhrmann and everything he does is edgy blah blah blah . . . marketing ploy . . . blah blah blah . . . watch it when it goes to TV . . . BLAH!

As consumers we need to realize that this is a trap.  They aren’t doing this for us.  The producers are the ones reaping the benefits when people buy over-priced 3-D movie tickets THAT SHOULDN’T BE IN 3-D!  And we as the consumers just end up losing 90 minutes of our life and leave the theater feeling like we’ve just been physically eye raped.  Every article I come across says just about the same thing.  Great that they are remaking the film but why 3-D?  Here are some excerpts from fans already angered by it.

“Baz Luhrmann, I will punch you in the face so hard, I swear your great-grandchildren will still feel the pain”

“Why not Arse-O-Vision too?”

It has even frustrated Dave Calhoun, film editor of Time Out, who stated the following.

“If you’re spending time worrying about how to make Gatsby’s hat poke out of the screen or Daisy’s necklace float in front of your eyes, what else are your spending time not worrying about,” he said. “Story? Dialogue? Pace? Acting? Character?”

The man makes a good point.  However in this case I feel like the acting won’t be terrible.  Leonardo Di Caprio will play Gatsby and Tobey Maguire is playing Nick Carraway.  Both of these actors have proven to handle dramatic roles exceptionally well but I’m afraid they might end up taking a hit on this one.  Why?  Because myself and anyone else who hasn’t fallen into the 3-D movie black hole WILL NOT pay 3-D prices to see a two-dimensional film.  If you’re thinking about it STOP.  Just don’t.  Trust me it’s not worth it.  Listen to the warnings of people like Calhoun:

The problem with 3D, he added, was that it was a “cynical marketing tool” to increase ticket sales – and its use the province of producers rather than directors. . . But let’s not pretend that 3D offers a new artistic lease of life … It’s comparable to being forced to cast Lindsay Lohan rather than, say, Rebecca Hall in a film because the first might sell more tickets. You might do your best with Lohan, but it would probably be better if she wasn’t in your film at all.”

CAN I GET AN AMEN FOR BROTHER CALHOUN!?

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Movie Copycats # 7: I’ll be your huckleberry

Victims: Anyone interested in factual accounts of the Wild West.

Perpetrators:

Tombstone (1993) – Cinergi Pictures Entertainment

Wyatt Earp (1994) – Warner Bros. Pictures

Similarities:

Both of the films detail the life of Wyatt Earp, one of the most famous figures of the Old West.   Like Capote and Infamous, both films portray a historical figure during a pivotal time in their life/career.

Differences:

(From Left) Val Kilmner, Sam Elliot, Kurt Russel, and Bill Paxton

The biggest difference between these two films is how they choose to develop Wyatt Earp’s character.  Tombstone begins with Wyatt Earp’s arrival to Tombstone and the action picks up from there.  Wyatt Earp begins in the late teenage years of his life and turns it into more of a coming of age tale.  I feel that by doing that it really takes away the mystery and bad-assness that Tombstone is able to convey.  Sure it is interesting to see what he did as a teen, his tough-love relationship with his father, and his first wife who died of a sudden illness, but it wasn’t completely necessary.  We get it.  He didn’t have the easiest child hood, but who did in those days?  Parents were more strict, you had to work very hard to make a life for your family, and people died of things we can cure with a tablespoon of cough syrup today.  It’s a nice anecdote but it isn’t the most unique part of Earp’s life.  The shoot out at O.K Corral and the events surrounding it are.

Kevin Costner - Wyatt Earp

Cast Comparisons:

Virgil Earp

Kevin Costner (left), Some Guy (middle), and Michael Madsen (right) - Wyatt Earp

Oh Michael Madsen.  Don’t get me wrong the guy is amazing.  But being a dark brooding intimidating man doesn’t mean you stand a chance against the great Sam Elliot.  Madsen is a good actor but even in the authentic get up he still comes across as a Guido.  The guy just makes a better mobster.

Sam Elliot - Tombstone

 

Sam Elliot really was the best person for this role.  He is the ultimate cowboy.  It’s not like he had to grow out the mustache for the role.  I’m also guessing he provided his own wardrobe.  He’s like the live-action Yosemite Sam.

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Morgan Earp

Bill Paxton - Tombstone

Linden Ashby - Wyatt Earp

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill Paxton is definitely the better of the two Morgan’s. He just comes across as such a genuinely likeable character that it suits the role of the more sensitive Earp brother.  Linden Ashby’s performance comes off more naive.  Paxton is able to find an even balance between being low-key with hints of kick-ass.

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Wyatt Earp

Kurt Russel - Tombstone

Kevin Costner - Wyatt Earp

Kurt Russel is the best Wyatt Earp.  I mean look at his cowboy face compared to Costner.  He could make rambo crap himself.

Costner’s version of the Western hero is just too bland for me.  His performance softens the character too much.  Kurt Russel creates a Wyatt Earp that is more up to par with his  legacy.

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Doc Holiday

Both Quaid and Kilmner portray the sickly Western Vigilante in very trans-formative ways.  However I did find that Kilmner’s portrayal was superior because he came off as a  menacing character with a grim reaper-like screen presence.  Quaid was just . . . grim.

Dennis Quaid - Wyatt Earp

Val Kilmner - Tombstone

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Final Thoughts:

Tombstone is the better Wyatt Earp movie.  If you want the extra, nearly full hours worth, back story about his younger days and moving off his daddy’s ranch by all means watch Wyatt Earp.  But in the end people want to see a movie about Wyatt Earp because they want to know about him being a bad ass in Tombstone, Arizona.  If I want to know about his child hood I’ll read a book.

Kurt Russell (left), and Val Kilmner (Right)

That’s right Warner Bros.  you just got beat out by a Production Company that helped produce Super Mario Bros.  Suck on that!

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Movie Copycats # 6: Mr Hand and Mr Book have some ‘Splaining to do, yes?

Victims: Fans of dark Sci-Fi Fantasy films.

Perpetrators:

Dark City - New Line Cinema February (1998) Co-Written/Directed by Alex Proyas

The Matrix - Warner Bros. March (1999) Written/Directed by the Wachowski Brothers

Similarities:

Both are about a non-human race attempting to use human beings as a means for their own survival.  Both have themes of a “chosen one” who gains special powers which enable him to rise against the opposing forces of Evil and liberate what is left of mankind.

Matrix 1999

Dark City 1998

Differences:

In The Matrix human beings are plugged into a computer system and essentially used as batteries for the robots that wiped out mankind.  The Earth itself has been decimated into a post-nuclear wasteland and any humans left outside the clutches of the robots have been driven underground.

Matrix - 1999

In the Dark City an alien race holds the human race captive within a city where the sun never shines . . . hence the name.  Clever.  They are known as the strangers and refer to themselves with very simple names like Mr. Hand or Mr. Foot. With the reluctant help of Dr. Shreber they interchange memories of the human beings they’ve captured trying to figure out the nature of the human condition.  Probably the eeriest thing about this movie is that there is no mention of Earth.  It’s almost as if the humans don’t even know what it is to be human anymore.

Dark City - 1998

The Matrix has the look and feel of a live-action anime film while Dark City has more of a Film Noir style to it. But . . . .

THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE!!!!?

Story!  Upon researching this particular blog post I discovered that while Dark City was completely conceived by Proyas and two other screenwriters the Matrix was NOT completely conceived by the Wachowski brothers.  Allegedly of course.  There was a law-suit brought against them by a female sci-fi screenwriter Sophia Stewart in 1999.  She claims that the Matrix is based on a manuscript titled “The Third Eye” that she sent the Wachowski brothers in 1986 in response to an ad in a magazine.  It’s a pretty interesting case which I have chosen to detail in another blog post due to it’s complexities.

Check it out here.

Standout Performances:

Although Dark City wasn’t a mainstream success the film did garner a cult following.  Every time I have watched it this very ominous feeling comes over me and I love it.  One of the best performances in the film was that of Mr. Hand played by Richard O’Brien.

You might recognize him from . . .

Ever After - Where he played the skeevy pirate prince guy trying to get in Drew Barrymore's pants.

Here is a scene where Mr. Hand (O’Brien) confronts Dr. Schreber (Kiefer Southerland).

O’Brien creates a sinister character that adds to the unnerving nature of the film.  It’s like that feeling you get when someone scraps their fingernails across a chalk board.

The Verdict:

I am giving this one to Dark City not because The Matrix was a bad film, but because stylistically it is the more mature of the two films and severely underrated.  Dark City is also the more original of the two films.  I think we can all honestly say that there hasn’t been a film quite like this before or after, but I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen it.  Although The Matrix is well told it is still just a story about humans who have been enslaved or harmed by man-made artificial intelligence.

Terminator? I-Robot? It’s a commonly used plot device.  Mind you not on such a large action packed scale.  But common none the less.  If you are one of the many who tossed Dark City aside I STRONGLY recommend giving it a chance.  It is a very beautifully artistic film and a great example of masterful sci-fi storytelling.


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Movie Copycats # 5: A Joyus Celebration of Boob Tubery!

The Victims: Reality TV Fans.

The Perpetrators:

The Truman Show - Paramount Pictures (1998) Directed by Peter Weir

ED TV - Universal Entertainment (1999) Directed by Ron Howard

Plot:

As a part of the biggest endeavors in TV history a child is adopted by a television network and raised within a massive reality television set.  His life is filmed 24/7 without his knowledge . . . until he begins to realize something is amiss.

A man is chosen by a TV network to be followed around by camera crews 24/7.  The inevitable downfalls of the attention quickly prove to be an obstacle for Ed and those close to him.

Similarities:

Each film addresses the ever growing phenomenon of “reality television” which is now one of the most lucrative television mediums out there.  Although each has a different angle they are essentially about being exposed to the media 24/7 and the sensationalism that can arise from it.

Differences:

The Truman Show creates a fictional world where a show about a man living in an artificial 1950’s environment is on-air 24/7 but he doesn’t know about it.  The breakdown of the “American Dream” reality created by television tycoon Christof, played by Ed Harris, acts as a symbol of imperfection.  The whole “love conquers all” philosophy is what really begins the domino effect when Truman falls for someone other than who is cast as his romantic interest in the fake life provided for him by the network.  The romance between Truman and Sylvia, played by Natascha McElhone, is very well developed.  And for someone who hates sappy love stories I have to admit that I really liked this one.

Ed TV on the other hand is a mix of Romantic Dramedy, with a very even-handed level of comedy, romance, and drama.  Although it was not well received at the box office it is definitely one of my favorite movies.  This film really explores the moral dilemmas that come with seeking fame especially in a reality format and despite coming out over a decade ago these themes are very relevant today.  So many random people are famous now just because they appeared on some mundane reality TV show.  Apparently all you need is a gimmick and you can be famous.  But this film also delves into the privacy that you lose when you make such decisions and how it can affect your personal life in a negative way.

There were a lot of stand out comedic performances in Ed TV but my favorite by far was that of Cynthia Topping the neurotic television producer played by Ellen Degeneres.  Characters like that are the glue that really brings a comedy together.

The Verdict:

I have to say that this is a tough one for me.  Although The Truman Show is a very strong dramatic narrative it doesn’t have the comedic charm of Ed TV. To me it’s really a tie just because the genre range of both films is different. I am going to have to recommend them both if you haven’t already seen them.

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