Monday, October 08, 2007

More "Thank You for Smoking"? I'd quit that habit

I guess the big news today is that Ben Stiller's new "comedy" couldn't even make enough to topple The Rock at the top of the box office. But since I joined the masses in just skipping "The Heartbreak Kid," I'd instead like to talk about something else that caught my eye (and ire.)

On the surface, at least, this sounds like a fairly good idea. You can count "Thank You for Smoking" as easily one of my favorite movies of 2006, and probably the funniest flick of the year.

So, why not a TV series designed as a follow-up to the flick, as USA Network is currently planning. Well, it's just a really bad idea.

First of all, look at where Nick Naylor ends up at the end of "Smoking" (and if you somehow haven't seen the movie, there's not much I can do for you, so you'll have to just forgive me for giving it away.) The whole flick is centered on Aaron Eckhart's (very Oscarworthy but completely snubbed) portrayal of Nick Naylor as one seriously smug bastard who does sublimely evil things.

By the end of the movie, when he's given up his work for the great Satan (a k a Big Tobacco), you can accept it because the movie's over and you won't have to bear the sight of Nick Naylor actually working for the side of good. Who in the world wants to see that?

Well, the folks at USA think you do. With someone named James Dodson (not to be confused, apparently, with Focus on the Family's James Dobson) writing the script, the TV version will turn Naylor into some kind of free-agent do-gooder, using his rhetorical skills to help people in need. If you just threw up a little bit, I'm sorry, because I did too.

So, along with dropping any of the malicious spirit that drove both Jason Reitman's flick and the Christopher Buckley novel that it sprang from (both of those guys, wisely, have nothing to do with this new project), they'll turn the lead character into yet another generic TV composite character. Meh.

Luckily, Both Mr Reitman, with the upcoming "Juno," which I think I've now plugged here 150 times (and now I've apparently "adopted" both "Juno" star Ellen Page and Georgia actor Ray McKinnon, with the aid of Splotchy, so get used to it), and Mr. Buckley have more important things to keep them busy on the big screen. Although it's not listed anywhere at the IMDB, I'm fairly certain the once-great Whit Stillman (I still consider "Metropolitan" to be one of my favorite flicks) is at work now on an adaptation of another of Mr. Buckley's satirical Washington novels, "Little Green Men."

And you have my gold-standard guarantee that both of those will turn out to be miles better than anything that comes out of this silly TV project.

Weinsteins just say no to "Red State"

I read Kevin Smith's "Boring Ass Life" blog from time to time, mostly because when he's not completely full of himself Mr. Smith can still be a pretty darn funny guy. So I wasn't too surprised to hear the Weinsteins had passed on his rather crazy idea for a "horror" movie, "Red State."

The first warning sign came about two weeks or so ago when Mr. Smith reported that the Weinstein bros. had called his "Red State" script "important" and compared it in import to past Miramax output like "Pulp Fiction" and "The Piano" (that last bit may have actually come from Mr. Smith's mind, but he said it, not me.)

This sounds exactly like the kind of "vote of confidence" a baseball manager gets just before being fired (as Joe Torre hopefully will be tomorrow.) And indeed, another visit to his site this morning showed this to be true.

Given the subject matter, it's not terribly shocking that the Weinsteins wouldn't want anything to do with it. The lead bad guy is based on the Rev. Fred Phelps, a Kansas "preacher" who, among one of his nicer qualities, I bet, likes to picket the funerals of homosexuals (it pains me to even type his name, but remember, I'm just the messenger here.)

Though I'm sure it's a little better than I'm making it sound here, I'm also certain the Weinsteins bought the superior Kevin Smith project in "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" (which now has, in the two latest installments, both Zach Braff and Seth Rogen listed as "rumored" to play the lead role of Zack.)

"Be Kind" and laugh

It's been a fairly bile-filled post so far for a Monday morning, so let's end with a couple of very funny things.

The Michel Gondry flick "Be Kind Rewind," starring Mos Def, Jack Black and Melonie Diaz, is set to come out at the end of January. The flick, of course, is about video store employees who set out to re-create all of the movies after the tapes get magnetized (by the power plant that, of course, is located right next door.) It's a premise ripe with possibility, as these two posters, riffing as far as I can tell on "Boys in the Hood" and "Rush Hour," clearly show. Enjoy, and have an entirely bearable Monday.


Mercurie said...

I agree with regards to a Thank You For Smoking series. Indeed, with but few exceptions, it seems to me that the quality of shows based on movies has traditionally be very low.

Kimberly Nichols said...

First of all, go Tribe!

A Thank You for Smoking TV show? Ugh. I totally agree with your assessment. Don't you hate it when Hollywood has to tarnish a near perfect project?

Reel Fanatic said...

Go Tribe indeed, Kimberly ... It's sad that 10:30 is about as late as I can manage to stay awake during the week, but I'll definitely be up at least that late tonight to watch the Yanks go down in flames

Divinity said...

I couldn't believe how long it took for us to finally sit down and watch Thank You for Smoking but it was interesting that the very next day, both Eckhart and Reitman were on TV (different talk shows) being asked about the movie.
Did the DVDs work?

Reel Fanatic said...

I was worried that there would be some kind of cross-country problem with DVD coding, but they did indeed work, Divinity .. I'm about halfway through the season so far, and it is fantastic .. and I've recorded most of the CDS I want to send you, but may not finish until next weekend

Neel Mehta said...

It doesn't make any sense. You couldn't even call it Thank You for Smoking.

Reel Fanatic said...

I would hope they'd at least have the sense to change the name, Neel, but if they're dumb enough to do this at all, you never know

Fletch said...

With just four features already under his belt (not to mention all the videos), Gondry is on my short list of filmmakers whose films I will see regardless of stars, plot, etc.

Jack Black may be grating, but sign me up anyway.

Reel Fanatic said...

Although I know that many people find Jack Black annoying, Fletch, you can't count me among them ... I love "School of Rock" and even "Nacho Libre" so much that I still count him among my favorite actors

Fletch said...

I don't hate the guy, but he was definitely in the "overexposed" category there for a couple years. Now...not so much. I liked SOR and love him in High Fidelity, but I couldn't go for Nacho Libre. Kinda fun in a dumb way, but mostly just dumb (and a one-note joke). I'd rather watch Napoleon again.