Via David Germain at the AP, "Scary Movie 4" has a $41 million opening weekend (apparently without screening for the critics, though some, like Ben Wasserstein at Slate, managed to review, and give it a far more thorough reading than it may have deserved, just fine), the first number one opening for the Weinstein Company, and the best Easter weekend debut ever.
And they say independent film is dead.
In honor of this "hilarious" "indie" "spoof," something to think about from William Booth‘s interview with director David Zucker and producer Robert K. Weiss (the team behind the last two "Scary Movie"s and 1980’s "Airplane!")
"Scary Movie" mocks horror films and pop culture. An audience member
who does not enjoy physical comedy involving alien sphincters and Oprah
may choose not to peruse the Zucker-Weiss product. It is spoof, it is
slapstick, it is stupid. And it has made Leslie Nielsen rich and famous
beyond his wildest dreams.
"American Dreamz" is more hopeful than cruel about whether a president can pull out of a second-term slump and renew the public’s faith in him, says writer/director Paul Weitz ("American Pie," "About a Boy").
"I definitely thought certain people from the right would be annoyed with a sendup of the administration, and some from the left would feel I let the president off the hook," Weitz says. "In the end, the president is a fairly sympathetic character in the movie."
Well, we hadn’t really expected razor-edged satire from Weitz (despite "About a Boy" being something of a guilty pleasure for us), but after dismal reviews in both Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, the film’s shaping up to be barely watchable.
Breznican also has a sidebar in which he talks with Dennis Quaid, who plays faux Dubya in the film, and others about the film’s possible (but probably not) controversial aspects. But never truer words than this summation of the film’s soft targets:
John Amato, proprietor of the liberal political blog CrooksAndLiars.com, says "American Dreamz" will catch on only if it’s an entertaining movie, not just because it spoofs a president.
He adds that, for many of the president’s critics, Bush and his policies have become self-parodies.
"Some sort of (movie) satire about Bush doesn’t really engage anybody," Amato says. "We see what goes on every day."
And the Boston Globe‘s Mark Feeney places the film less in the realms of political satire than in the long tradition of films mocking television.
[T]he implication is clear: The movies give us the truth (or at least a truth), while television just sugar-coats or, the lesson of ”Network," panders to maximize profits. ”Network" is in a class by itself: the ”Sunset Boulevard" of movies about television. (Did William Holden suffer from whiplash?) When Peter Finch, as rogue network newsman Howard Beale, bellows ”I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore," you can almost see a thrilled membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences mouthing the words along with him. Take that, TV! Is it any wonder Finch won the best actor Oscar (the only actor ever to win posthumously), and Paddy Chayefsky won for best original screenplay?
Also at the Globe: a slideshow of TV-slamming flicks.
+ ‘Scary Movie’ Sends Weinsteins to the Top (AP)
+ The B-Team (Washington Post)
+ Pardon the potshots, Mr. President (USA Today)
+ The president as parody (USA Today)
+ A movie tradition: mocking television (Boston Globe)