MCN Columnists
David Poland

By David Poland

Critics, Who Needs Them? Not Kids.

It seemed like every film critic panned Cat In The Hatand there would be no way the film would survive. Even if it did have a feline’s nine lives. Boy, were we wrong. Forty million bucks in the first week and the film goes number one. What’s the reason? Kids don’t read reviews, and when a film like this one is so highly promoted with so many cool tie-ins parents don’t stand a chance. Red and white “Kit Kat” bars, shiny tree ornaments at some fast food restaraunt and even a floor cleaner. The Cat himself, by the way, appears in all those spots. I’m quite sure, though, that it wasn’t Mike Meyers himself in the costume but a stand in. Think of it as Mickey Mouse at Disneyland, its just some minimum wage teenager in there .

Alright, let’s get back to the movie. As a parent myself I can’t tell you how many bad movies I’ve sat through that the kids wanted to see. The one that comes to mind is one long Saturday morning I sat with my then five year old daughter for a pressscreening of Pikachu. This was no ordinary press event . We were in the Zeigfeld Theatre in New York surrounded by no less than two thousand screeming kids. To this day I don’t know what that movie was about.

As for The Cat in the Hat we’ll just have to and see if it has legs, or paws, as the case may be.

I mentioned Mickey Mouse and this story just popped into my head. During an interview,Michael Eisner, Disney CEO, told the story of being in a limo with Mickey. It was at the inaguration for President Bush (The first one). Their car was stuck in the long motorcade and they were alone, Mike and Mickey. Now the employes that are in the costume are sworn to remain silent. Mr. Eisner felt odd just sitting there and started talking to Mickey. No response. Eisner says. “It’s okay, you can talk.” Well, the poor kid or whoever was in Mickey’s head thought he was maybe being tested and never said a word no matter how much his boss said it was okay. Just trying to picture what that scene looked like cracked me up.

While we’re on Disney… The Haunted Mansion starring Eddie Murphy is a PG romp through a scary house based on the Disney attraction of the same name. Eddie must have come to terms with the fact he is not Will Smith and there is a future as a Disney Dad. Well, that is unless you wereBob Crane, who was spinning into a sex addiction nightmare when he made Super Dad.

Murphy does all of his well known schtick. That big grin . The rapid fire delivery . It all works. He plays a real estate salesman that takes a detour from a family vacation when this mansion comes on the market. His supporting cast, including the special effects ghosts that haunt the place, are great. Nothing is too frighting for young kids and enough fun for us adults that get dragged to see it.

So what’s Disney going to do next, “Its a Small World, the Movie”?

If Christmas films that make you feel warm and cuddly are your cup of tea. .. if a feel good film about Santa and children puts you in the holiday spirit… skip Bad Santa.

This film is filled with obsenities, perverted sex and booze by the gallon. It is also the funniest picture I’ve seen since Airplane, all the way back in 1980. Billy Bob Thornton plays Willie, a drunken, I mean really drunken, department store Santa. He and his sidekick, three foot tall Marcus, played byTony Cox, rob the stores they worked. Along the way Santa hooks up with an overweight loser of a boy simply called The Kid (Brett Kelly). The Kid lives in a big beautiful home with his almost comatose grandmother (Cloris Leachman). Santa finds it a perfect opportunity to freeload at their house. Enter Bernie Mac as store dick Gin, who turns out to be a sleezy as Santa and Marcus. John Ritter in his final film role is the milquetoast store manager Bob Ghipeska. Bad Santa is non-stop laughs and whatever you do don’t bring the kids. Remember the film is called Bad Santa.

As they used to say in the newspaper biz, “That’s thirty for now.” I don’t know what it means either but they used to always write it at bottom of the page.

– Bill Tush

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon