Full disclosure: I hate lies. Specifically, I hate movies based on lies, where all of the action is based on a lie or secret or misunderstanding which must then be covered up for the remainder of the movie, usually by more lying. This includes a lot of Ben Stiller movies, and most definitely the Meet the Parents franchise, where approximately 90% of all the spoken dialogue is a lie. Granted, if they told the truth, the movie would pretty much end, so I understand why they do it, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. The third film, Little Fockers, is as dishonest as the others, but with recurring theme of marital infidelity that gives the formulaic farce a dark center.
Ok so I admit that I never saw Night at the Museum, which may well render me unqualified to write about the news that Christopher Guest will appear in the sequel -- yes there's gonna be a sequel -- playing Ivan the Terrible. I am, however, qualified to speculate on whether or not Guest -- whose work in such gems as This Is Spinal Tap and Waiting for Guffman has placed him among the retinue of modern day comic geniuses -- is, like totally selling out or if he's pulling a Colbert in The Love Guru, i.e. elevating cinematic dreck to a higher plane by virtue of his involvement. It's a toughie. Could be he's doing both.
Thinking outside the box is not a new concept in Hollywood. I mean, this is the town that said, "I know! Talking, dancing Chihuahuas!" and then actually made a bunch of money. So, it may come as little surprise that they're doing the same thing with The Trial of the Chicago 7, an upcoming DreamWorks project about the 1968 riots at the Democratic convention and the events that followed. And by "same thing" I don't mean talking, dancing Chihuahuas. Praise be. Written by Aaron Sorkin, the political drama has had a few directors who've come in for talks about attaching themselves to the film, including Steven Spielberg, Paul Greengrass, and Ben Stiller. No, you totally read that right. Stiller is the latest in a line of helmers that have been in discussions to work on the film, even though this project is decidedly different in tone from the rest of the director's oeuvre. Not that a guy can't change direction or want to work on something a little bit different, but it seems an interesting choice.
Welcome to today's episode of "When Keepin' It Fake Goes Bad!" News item: Using the patented New Yorker magazine "It's satire, folks!" excuse wasn't enough to keep Dreamworks from getting into hot water over its movie-within-a-movie website for Simple Jack. Simple Jack is a feature within Ben Stiller's upcoming war-and-blackface satire, Tropic Thunder, wherein Stiller's character, Tugg Speedman, attempts to win an Oscar by playing a mentally challenged man. The marketing folks at Dreamworks thought it would be a great idea to publicize the film-within-a-film by making a fake website for it. After all, it worked for their other film-within-a-film, Satan's Alley, as well as for Kirk Lazarus, the actor played by Robert Downey Jr. in Thunder. With Simple Jack, however, Dreamworks' marketing team got their pictures hung up on the jackass wall. Apparently nobody at the studio thought anyone would be offended by Simple Jack's tagline: "Once upon a time, there was a retard." They wuz WRONG! Folks got upset, and the website for Simple Jack got Simply Canned.
There are a whole lotta sequels going on. Particularly for the animated animals of the Dreamworks slate. Jeffery Katzenberg, head of Dreamworks, was at a preview for the upcoming Madagascar sequel, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and said that they were planning not just an additional sequel in the Madagascar series, but a sequel to this summer's Kung Fu Panda as well. Having enjoyed both originals and also being always on the lookout for new movies to keep my nephews entertained on long car rides, I'm okay with it. I mean, there are only so many times my poor sister can listen to Cars.
If this were a movie, we could call it Ballistic: Zach vs. Odie. Last week, I successfully challenged Zach about Pineapple Express not unseating The Dark Knight at the top of the box office chart, but he refuses to pay off our bet based on some fuzzy math he borrowed from a Hollywood studio. [The movie opened on a Wednesday! Obviously, the film would require opening-night revenue to pull off the victory. - Z] Today, the movie I predict will unseat the Batman opens, and if I am right, I should get my dollar bet with interest. Our female contributors here at Movies Without Pity are probably shaking their heads at the typical exploits of male one-upmanship, but at least we're not doing mixed martial arts fighting in the lobby. Score one for us guys for restraint!
Forbes' list of Hollywood's best paid actors was released this week, and even in this shit economy the boys of the big screen are certainly not hurting for cash. The girls aren't hurting either, but no woman managed to break the top ten in earning. My get-paid-less-for-doing-the-same-job-in-Tinsel-Town bitch session will commence in the break room here at Moviefile headquarters around 12:30, but in the meantime, I'll skip right to the top earners.
Film industry relationships are complicated. Most relationships are, but at least with marriages and dating, we at least have some frame of reference. Our friends or family members have been through the same things we have, and can share their experiences with us. And if not, we can always watch the wack-jobs on Maury to make ourselves feel better. Let's look at the relationship troubles between DreamWorks SKG and Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, as reported by Zap2it, in terms we might be able to relate to.