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David Poland

By David Poland

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Gross?

Richard Corliss is not altogether missing the point in his piece on

13 Responses to “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Gross?”

  1. LYT says:

    The vast majority of those were star-driven, especially if you count fictional characters with a proven track record as stars, i.e. Fantastic Four, Optimus Prime, The Chipmunks, Bart Simpson, Spider-Man…

  2. We were counting Will Ferrell’s last moments of fame after Bewitched and Kicking and Screaming just to see him return with a vengeance in Talladega Nights. Semi-Pro was being derided when Blades of Glory was being released, it was a tired concept. Ferrell will be back with Step Brothers unless it starts getting smashed by the press. He’s still a star.

  3. Also, of the stars you mentioned, only Smith and Denzel can open a movie regardless, the rest need to be there in combination with some sort of brand, whether it be sequels (Depp, Damon), high concept (Travolta, twice), broad comedy (Sandler, Ferrell). Damon released The Good Shepherd not too long ago, Depp had the Libertine, Travolta had Lonely Hearts, Sandler had Reign Over Me, and Chan hasn’t had anything worthwhile since the last Rush Hour movie. If these are our top 10 stars, that’s pretty pathetic.

  4. LYT says:

    In fairness, Bartholomew…
    Wild Hogs was Travolta AND Tim Allen AND Martin Lawrence. You could give them the worst script in the world and they’d make it a hit. Which is pretty much what happened.
    And Rush Hour 3 was as much Chris Tucker’s movie as Jackie Chan’s. He hadn’t even been seen onscreen since the last one, and there was a demand in some quarters.
    Sandler in a drama is box office death, agreed.

  5. THX5334 says:

    I thought the star system was defined as going to see that “star” or actor regardless of what genre the movie was.
    The idea is the audience was so enthralled with the persona of whichever particular star they saw them in whatever movie no matter what.
    Going by that criteria, I feel the star system is pretty much crashed.
    And can anyone name anyone younger than Will Smith male or female that has the potential to pull the same kind of box office draw as a Smith, or Ford or Hanks?
    Yes, no one has a perfect track record, no one, but there is no one coming up the pipeline that has that magic that these guys did.
    I know everyone says Will is still a star, and that Clooney is the last great movie star. But that’s wrong…
    There is one last great movie star in the era of Cagney, Bogart, Clift, Peck and Mitchum…
    Harrison Ford, bitches.
    The last true cinema Pimp.

  6. jeffmcm says:

    Let’s not forget Denzel had The Great Debaters not so long ago – domestic gross $30 million – which is pretty good for a movie of that type, but not exactly a megahit.

  7. LexG says:

    All I know is I gladly fork over my 11 bucks anytime ALBA, BIEL, BOSWORTH or SOBIESKI is clocking in to OWN my ass.
    But I doubt that’s relevant.
    On a more serious note, pre-PR problems, I used to think MEL GIBSON was the MASTER on this issue; Sure, Hanks, Ford and Cruise practically guaranteed a BO bonanza every time out, but they almost always, ALWAYS did A-list MEGABLOCKBUSTERS. Same with Will Smith now.
    But Gibson was fucking laying laws at the box office with mid-budget, middling-appeal B-movies like PAYCHECK, BIRD ON A WIRE, CONSPIRACY THEORY, even AIR AMERICA; Most of those made serious bank in their day. Swap out Gibson for any other actor, and you’re talking about borderline cable movies there. Yet somehow Mad Mel could galvanize the masses to line up for even something like FOREVER YOUNG… maybe not a huge hit, but always many times bigger than they’d be with anyone else in command.

  8. jesse says:

    I even thought the 2005 Ferrell write-off was premature. Two movies that not very many people liked, K&S and Bewitched, opened to over $20 mil, and K&S did so on his strength alone. Hell, by today’s standards, Bewitched’s staying power wasn’t even that bad! $20 million opening, $60 million gross? Isn’t a multiplier of three pretty standard? Semi-Pro, following more hit movies and within his proven genre, seemed like a much bigger disappointment even before its second-and-third-weekend-nosedives. And even then, as Dave says, a $15 million opening for a movie that wasn’t in strong demand or particularly well-liked… not really that bad.
    THX, Harrison Ford hasn’t had a big hit since 2001. And even before then, he wasn’t exactly a “put him in anything!” kinda hit… though really, few actors in any era actually have that kind of pull. Tom Hanks was around his peak popularity when a movie he co-starred in and directed and wrote and promoted made about $30 million.
    I think we’re just seeing more specialized stars just as TV and music have become more fragmented. Sandler is gold in a comedy. (And Stiller and Ferrell are both pretty good bets, though obviously not invincible.) Denzel Washington is gold (or at least silver) in any kind of male/crime/cop type of movie. Travolta still works in anything broad that old people or Oprah viewers want to see. I don’t know that this (the fragmentation, not the Travolta demo) is such a bad thing.

  9. R Scott R says:

    Some of Tom Cruise’s movies relied on him as a star. Was it the script of “Days of Thunder” or “Cocktail” that brought audiences to the theater?
    Still, I think he’s a good actor, even if “Lions for Lambs” wasn’t a hit.

  10. R Scott R says:

    Speaking of Mel Gibson, isn’t it ironic that his biggest movies aren’t typical Mel Gibson movies?
    (What I would think of as typical anyway.)
    “signs,” “What Women Want,” and as producer “The Passion of the Christ.”

  11. Josh Massey says:

    Apparently Steve Carell isn’t that much of a star if he can’t even get his name spelled correctly.

  12. Hopscotch says:

    The thing about Wild Hogs, which I never saw so can’t comment, but it had an amazingly effective trailer that brought it from “oh that looks stupid” to “man, I gotta catch that.”
    I remember watching the trailer on a packed house on Friday night and that theater laughed at every damn joke. Granted, I knew it probably wasn’t for me, but I sure as hell knew it would be a hit.
    I usually like Corliss’ essays, but this one I thought was kinda flat.

  13. movieman says:

    Corliss hasn’t been the same writer since he was the editor of Film Comment back in the 70s. Not sure what happened to him.
    He’s really become something of a joke in recent decades with his irrational ‘toon love, et al.
    I don’t take anything Corliss has to say seriously anymore.

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