“District 9” — per the Ain’t It Cool crowd, the greatest film of all time, ever, at least this week — is out today. And Slate‘s Daniel Engber is bored by it. Why? Because “District 9” has a corporate villain, and “Could there be a more egregious sci-fi cliché?” Sci-fi is full of them: “Moon,” “Alien,” “Blade Runner,” “Terminator.” He’s not so wrong to be bored — bashing major corporations has become an exercise in the obvious, if well-timed one, though clearly not all these movies belong on the same playing field. And there’s more on the way: for your angry slumping economic pleasure, Frank Langella is set to join “Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps.” The recession movie may well be the new Iraq movie: a few years late and a bit too obvious, but here anyway.
What we need is a new corporate hero, someone to reinspire our faith in the American entrepreneurial spirit. That, at any rate, is the only conclusion I can draw from the news that four separate John DeLorean movies (three features, one documentary) are in the works.
DeLorean’s best remembered for a career-ending entrapment cocaine bust and his outrageous namesake car (as featured in “Back To The Future”), both of which made him a staple ’80s punchline. But it’s not hard to see why he’s coming back around: DeLorean may have flopped, but he never did it at the expense of shareholders. He was a high-roller who dated Raquel Welch, but he never screwed anyone but governments, creditors and intimates to get his status, and in the new non-ethics of corporate malfeasance, that’s practically endearing. He once changed the name of a company he owned in Utah from Logan Manufacturing to “Ecclesiastes 9:10-11-12,” but the piousness of the rebranding was just a way of delaying his creditors from claiming the company. Halfway between the tales of scrappy kids making right and the mess we’re in now, DeLorean — at one point a legitimately brilliant engineer — rests.
Alex Holmes of “House Of Saddam,” who’ll direct a biopic based on DeLorean’s unpublished memoirs, sees him as “an almost mythic figure.” His producer, Tamir Ardon, is making a documentary on DeLorean. There’s another in the works from veteran producer David Permut (of “Face/Off”). And then there’s the one I’d most like to see: script by James Toback, Robert Evans producing and, er, Brett Ratner directing. It’s totally understandable why Robert “The Kid Stays In The Picture” Evans would be interested in the story of a man who peaked in the ’70s and then suffered a long, public fall from grace, and Toback knows a thing or two about male hubris. Ratner… I’ll live with.
So welcome to the post-recession era: DeLorean is here to usher us back to a kindler, gentler form of meltdown. Corporations will never become benevolent executors of the public good anyway, so we might as well have some charming hustlers. Incidentally, this is not the first sign of the man’s re-emerging cultural currency. Last year a one-off band called Neon Neon released an album called “Stainless Style” all about DeLorean. It’s excellent. Here, contemplate “Dream Cars”: