Saturday, October 4, 2008

PROM NIGHT II - The Paycheck

It's time we discussed on THinPB a phenomenon that's all too common these days in Hollywood. DeNiro is famous for it. Al Pacino has been a victim quite a lot these past few years, and somehow, Jack Nicholson has been immune. I speak, of course, of that happening known as The Paycheck Movie. The Paycheck Movie was made famous by DeNiro and his less than Oscar-worthy performances in dreck like THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE. It's the reason we get movies like RIGHTEOUS KILL (with both DeNiro and Pacino, incidentally) which scored a massive 36 on Metacritic. It's the phenomenon in which a real-deal, bankable actor or actress allows him or herself to appear in a film that has zero chance of being anything other than putrid. Perhaps the conversation goes like this:

Name-brand actor: "I want to make an artistic film about carpet salesmen in 18th Century France - I've got a great script. It's got Best Picture written all over it!"

Studio: "Of course, of course, we'll get right on it. We will gladly make your film. Of course, in return, you will make three films of our choosing - starting with a Michael Bay vehicle."

Name-brand actor: "Ok devil, I will make this deal with you. But if I hear the words Jerry and Bruckheimer, I'm out of here..."

Studio: "Umm... that brings us to film #2."


I know that Idris Elba is not DeNiro or Pacino, but he is a burgeoning star. He was brilliant in "The Wire" and he's had some fantastic performances in good movies like 28 WEEKS LATER, THE GOSPEL, and AMERICAN GANGSTER. That's why it's particularly depressing that he made PROM NIGHT, a remake of a 1980 Jamie Lee Curtis and Leslie Neilson vehicle that's become somewhat of a minor cult classic. This updated version, suffice it to say, is no classic at all. Take out the middle three letters from that word, and you;ll have a clue as to the value of this film.

A quick synopsis: Brittany Snow plays Donna Keppel, a high school student who, three years previous, watched her mother murdered in front of her by her (Donna's) former teacher, who had become obsessed with her. The teacher (played in complete monotone by Jonathan Schaech) gets sent away for life to a loony bin. Meanwhile, Donna overcomes her issues and becomes a somewhat normal teenager. When she, her friends, and their dates all get ready for prom night, Donna's adoptive parents encourage the activity. Little do they know that crazy teacher guy has escaped and is coming for Donna. Enter Idris Elba, as the detective who put CTG away in the first place, and now puts his life on the line to save Donna. Typical teenie-horror antics ensue, the body count grows to about 10, and Idris saves Donna. The end.

So a message to Idris Elba: Come on, Idris. You are awesome. They talked about you being the first black James Bond, for cryin' out loud! You were in the greatest TV show of all time (and your character had the best name - Stringer Bell). You have had a string of great films. STOP DOING PROM NIGHT! Please. I understand that it's a paycheck - and probably a very nice one. I understand that you need to feed your family. But come on. PROM NIGHT? Come on. For the love of your fans, come on. You're better than this. Brittany Snow isn't, but you are.

By the way, the movie was stupid. Don't watch it. 1 and a half paychecks out of 5.


the hamster said...

the poster is boss. i freaking love that shattered glass and screamy mouth poster. it looks daunting. it looks crazy good. but i know it's not.

still, i promised some friends in town to do a double feature of the old and the new PROM NIGHT. expect that comparative review in the weeks ahead.

dude, jamie lee.... i mean, she knew how to wear the tube socks.

i like this review. i like the issues of paycheck acting that you tackled here. keep it coming. i've seen three films in the past month that i just couldn't do anything with here. i tried - believe you me, i tried. but nothing. you have inspired me.

leida said...

i, too, am also a fan of idris. the gospel was formulaic, but he played his part as the non-prodigal brother to perfection. i also think he's a bit of a hottie. okay, not just a bit. idris is a lottie hottie. i can't fault the brutha (brit, though he may be) for taking a paycheck for a movie i'll never see, when there are so few vehicles (beyond action) for black men in hollywood.

anyone wanna sign my petition?

myleswerntz said...

This is about the 45th time someone has brought up The Wire in conversation. I must now see it.

the hamster said...

leida - how you gonna come chat up john's reviews and not mine?