Monday, July 14, 2008

Peter Pan and Tom Cruise

What are the limits of the 'Tinkerbell comes back to life when you clap' moment in Peter Pan? For example, what if a theatre troupe was performing the play in front of a group of amputee war veterans? Would Tink just die a horrific death, thus leading to the lesser-known alternate ending that J.M. Barrie wrote for just such an occasion? In this ending, a demoralized Peter goes into action against the pirates and winds up being gutted by Captain Hook. You can see why the children, ergo, play such a key role by having to clap for Tink's reincarnation. The other version wouldn't go over nearly as well --- except, ironically, with the amputee war veterans, some of whom probably have hooks. Boy, now that I think about it, Peter Pan is a play that would polarize a lot of theatre-goers. What if, by pure happenstance, the majority of the audience just happened to be comprised of victims of crocodile attacks? What if the audience was comprised of people with growth hormone anomalies, and thus in a way couldn't physically 'grow up'? (The best example I can think of for this is Robin Williams in Jack, which makes me think that another movie about a man-child needs to be green-lighted ASAP.) What if the audience was made up of short, effeminate male actors angry over the fact that such a fitting role as Peter Pan traditionally goes to women playing men?

There are lots of ways this story could go wrong. Good thing nobody has given a damn about Peter Pan in many years. I blame Hook. What a whacked out movie. Are we sure that film actually happened? That has to be the strangest entry in Spielberg's resume. It's also arguably the worst, indisputably in the bottom five given Spielberg's impressive body of work. General critical consensus seems to agree that '1941' was probably Senor Spielbergo's worst, but I'll cast my vote for Munich. I still can't get over that scene of Eric Bana thinking about the Munich Massacre while having sex, complete with his thrusts of passion synched up with the terrorists' gunshots. That might have been the worst scene in any movie in the last 20 years.


So, apparently, Tom Cruise and Ben Stiller are going to appear in a comedy next year about the Hardy Boys as grown-ups. Normally I'm distressed by all things Tom Cruise (I hated the guy's acting WAY before the whole Scientology thing), but by god, this might be one of the movies that I just have to see to believe. Maybe this is how Cruise is choosing to combat his descent into self-parody, by taking the Walken-esque or Shatner-esque step of embracing it head-on.

The reason I'm cautiously optimistic about this film is because the last time that Cruise and Stiller joined forces, it was comic gold. This clip is still referenced far too often by my group of friends. My personal favourite part is the reference to 'TPS.'


I may have just thought of this given that I referred to the role of Peter Pan being perfect for short, effeminate male actors, but....what would be the impact on the world if it was announced tomorrow that Tom Cruise was starring in a new, live-action adaptation of Peter Pan? The only word I can think of is 'unnerving.' I'll bet you got a few goosebumps just upon reading the title of this post, didn't you? You were thinking, "Oh no, is Mark going to post about some new movie with Cruise as....oh lord...." I certainly hope you were thinking that instead of just "Oh no, is Mark going to post?"

The only creepier choice I could think of as Peter Pan would be Michael Jackson, but that's for a much different reason. Goddammit, Michael. I just listened to Thriller again recently and it still sounds awesome. Why'd you have to go and be all crazy and ruin things for everyone? I was telling this story to someone recently, and I'll repeat it here: Michael Jackson may have well been the first 'famous' person I was consciously aware of. Back in my old house in southeast London, we grew up next door to a family named the Jacksons, and one of the kids was named Michael. Now even at age two, I knew it was notable that this kid's name was Michael Jackson. I'm not sure if I ever knew what that name was famous for; it's not like I was going the Thriller zombie dance with my stuffed animals, cute as that would have been. (I was an adorable child, thus begging the question of what the fuck happened.) So I'm pretty sure Jacko was the first celebrity I was conscious of, except for perhaps Dick Clark (I used to watch American Bandstand all the time at age two --- again, no earthly reason why) or Bob Barker. The Price Is Right literally helped me learn to count as a child. I'm fairly confident that I could've replicated Barney Stinson's legendary dominance of TPIR, except I would've done it as a toddler.


Re: Robin Williams in 'Jack.' Jack stunk. Jack was one of those movies that was universally regarded as terrible, and yet here we are 12 years later, and it's still the go-to reference for a "child-in-man's-body" scenario. There are certain bad movies that may lack the charm of cult-classic bad movies (Roadhouse, Plan 9 From Outer Space), but still had at least one memorable hook that kept them from totally falling into obscurity. The next time you find yourself in one of these situations, feel free to use one of these wisecracks...

* Someone is losing a lot of weight: "What is this, Stephen King's Thinner?"

* Someone male is gaining a lot of weight: "Let me guess, you're either fat or starring in a remake of Junior?"

* A friend has shaved their head/needs some sun/is wearing a lot of white clothes/all of the above: "Hey look, it's Powder."

I could only think of these three examples, which prevented this topic from being a full-fledged Listamania idea. Feel free to suggest any others in the comments section.


Anonymous said...

About Jack: It wasn't about a person who couldn't mentally grow past a certain age, but instead about a kid that grows 7-10 times faster physically than he does mentally. Like Snake from Metal Gear Solid 4.

On 'bad movie wisecracks': So, what you're saying is you want to be Family Guy now.

Mark P said...

Oh man, I forgot two obvious ones!

* Someone does a random good deed and is just a bit of a goody-goody about it: "What, did Kevin Spacey tell you to pay it forward?"

* Someone does something really bizarre intentionally or unintentionally..."Well, cross that one off the bucket list."

Christopher Crighton said...

The Hardy Boys idea is intriguing. I read an article with David Spade just after Chris Farley died and he mentioned that such a project was in the works for the two of them. It may have gone the way of Tommy Boy/Black Sheep 2 but it also could have been a great vehicle for those two cats.

Kyle Wasko said...

Not sure where else to put this, but in response to your latest poll:

here's the thing: say what you want/must about Cruise (I'll be charitable and say that, in recent years, it's become less about him taking on new roles and actually acting and more about him playing slightly different versions of himself), but, in the last twelve years, he's appeared in four very good movies (Jerry McGuire, Minority Report, MI:III (yes, I liked it), and Collateral), one great movie (Magnolia), and three decent movies (War of the Worlds, The Last Samurai (I assume, I haven't seen this one...), and Lions for Lambs--you'll note the conspicuous absence of Vanilla Sky anywhere in that analysis).

Costner, on the other hand, during that same period, has been in two great movies (Tin Cup and Thirteen Days), and...eleven shit ones (OK, The Upside of Anger and For Love of the Game were alright...I haven't seen Open Range (which I believe some liked), and I've watched worse things than Mr. Brooks).

Big Edge: Cruise. (If nothing else, his work as Frank T.J. Mackey gets him the nod.)