It's always tough when you come across a movie in which there's no one to root for. Sometimes you find yourself rooting for the least insufferable of all of them, or, more often, hoping that all of the characters die in a bus accident, but usually you tend to gravitate towards the most charismatic and entertainingly cruel of the bunch. And in this particular movie, that's Stone, Edward Norton's cornrowed convict, who displays both willful ignorance and deadly cunning in his attempts to earn himself an early parole. Norton has always loved his accents, and his streets-of-Detroit delivery is funny at first, then sad, then just plain evil. The story of how he gets from here to there doesn't have a lot of twists in it, although it meanders quite a bit, but it serves to show off the new, entertaining character he's created.
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.
Limitless is that old morality tale of a man who gets everything he's ever wanted, only to find those things quickly turning on him until everything's gone to hell and he's face-down in a pool of Russian loan shark blood while thieves power-saw into his safe full of genius pills. Which sounds over-the-top -- and Limitless most definitely is, through and through -- but the movie revels so spectacularly in being mindless, well-crafted, moral-free fun that, like Crank before it (it's even frenetically shot like Crank is), it works on a visceral level, hitting all those pleasure centers of the brain that only watching Bradley Cooper beat the hell out of 12 guys at once (in a $10,000 custom suit, mind you) can.
When we saw the headline "Universal taking another Midnight Run," we were instantly appalled at the idea of a remake of the 1988 road movie starring Robert De Niro as a bounty hunter (apprehending an accountant played by Charles Grodin). Then we saw that it was going to be a sequel, and that De Niro would be reprising his role, and that it was his idea, and our disgust quickly turned to confusion. Does Midnight Run really need a sequel? Especially starring a 67-year old De Niro? We're not saying it'll definitely be terrible -- in fact, we can think of seven other De Niro films where a sequel would be a bigger travesty than whatever Another Midnight Run turns out to be. Little Fockers will be pretty awful, but these are the ones that signal Ragnarok.
If Robin Williams can become an actor -- and win an Oscar doing so -- then his Awakenings co-star Robert De Niro can do stand-up comedy. The Defamer has a video clip and several quotes from Travis Bickle's speech at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's 50th tribute to Meryl Streep. Unlike his work in Eddie Murphy's Showtime, Bobby D turned in an incredibly funny performance, dissing Meryl and his former agents at CAA. He was loose, warm and off the cuff despite having more 3 x 5 cheat index cards than all the presidential candidates combined. Streep, whom I love in comedies but find occasionally overprocessed in dramas, couldn't have asked for a more enjoyable tribute from a most unlikely source.
This video got me thinking. What actor would I most love to see doing stand-up? Tom Hanks and Sally Field tried it, to terrifying effect, in a movie called Punchline. So they're out; anybody who'd want to see The Flying Nun tell penis jokes on Def Comedy Jam needs psychiatric care. Streep's Angels in America cohort "Screamin'" Al Pacino would top my list. Pacino has done comedies before, like and Revolution, but he's never taken to the stage. He won't need to, either. All we have to do is loop quotes from his movies on a record and toss in one of those fake-ass laugh tracks, the same ones they've been using since I Love Lucy. It would be fantastic!
He'd come out with "Say hello to my little friend!" [Laughter] "They keep pulling me back in!!! " [More laughter, followed by someone heckling him -- probably Beverly D'Angelo] "C'mon! Gimme Whatcha Got!" [Heckler says something unintelligible] "You're out of order! You're out of order!" [Laughs and applause as heckler quiets down] "Free Will, It is a bitch!" [Laughter] "I'm just getting' warmed up! Hoo-ah!!"
Even in that patched-together configuration, he'd be a lot funnier than Dane Cook.