Monday Morning Critic – Discussing How A Thousand Words w/Eddie Murphy Misses DTV Status – London Boulevard & Colin Farrell on DVD

Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.

While John Carter may be the film with the biggest box office gross prediction coming into this weekend’s slate of films, the one film that intrigues me the most this weekend is A Thousand Words. But it’s not because of the film’s quality potential, which looks to be miniscule at best, or because it’s the biggest comedy opening against what would normally be a summer tentpole release. There’s plenty of digital ink to be spilled looking at the first film adaptation of a work that inspired George Lucas to create Star Wars, or ripped off from to create as some would say, but that’s tendy.

Me, the refusal of Hollywood to force the downfall of Eddie Murphy out of crap A Thousand Words is much more newsworthy than the kid from Friday Night Lights running around in CGI land. But technically this isn’t a news piece so “newsworthy” is perhaps the wrong word in the situation. Eddie Murphy’s career of almost 100% failures and flops is more interesting to talk about than anything else. Why?

Because Eddie Murphy is proving to still be too big a star in name value to go direct to video.

For all the faults of Eddie’s recent career he still has that magical “star power” that makes him fairly invulnerable to a DTV release. Think about all the actors and actresses of substantial name value that have had work go from “in the can” to store shelves without a theatrical release. Hilary Swank, she of one “L” and two Oscars, had The Resident go right to video. She’s probably the biggest of the bunch, considering she’s got more Oscars than almost any actress not named Meryl Streep currently working in Hollywood. Jane Fonda and Jodie Foster are the only working actresses besides Streep with more than one Oscar win beside Swank. That’s rare territory and the fact that she went straight to video speaks volumes.

No one is untouchable in modern day Hollywood and yet Eddie Murphy has gotten a release of a film that for any other actor would go direct to video. That’s remarkable considering that outside of Shrek an Eddie Murphy centric film hasn’t been super profitable in a while. And considering A Thousand Words was filmed in 2008 and help up for nearly four years because of outside difficulties the fact that it’s getting an actual release is remarkable.

In most normal situations it’d be shunted direct to video like The Accidental Husband was and Fireflies in the Garden nearly ended up becoming. And with Garden getting a quick shunt to DVD after a brief theatrical release, that’s probably where Words is going to. And I’m not sure what’s worse for a career: being shunted to DVD after years in post production or getting a quick theatrical release if only to prevent you from having a stigma of going direct to video.

I think the latter at this point in modern Hollywood might be worse for an actor. It’s one thing to go direct to video because sometimes circumstances dictate that it happens. Ripley’s Game went direct to video because New Line was too busy with Lord of the Rings, but most times films go DTV because they weren’t really theatrical worthy. That says something because there are so many bad films that hit theatres every year, I think, but the fact that a studio is willing to invest a fairly substantial amount of cash just to avoid a stigma is something.

What do you think? Does a quick jaunt into theatres before DVD change your perception on a film or would you rather have seen it go DTV in the first place? Let me know below; I’m curious.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – London Boulevard

With such a great cast for a British crime thriller, London Boulevard couldn’t find an audience or a wide theatrical release. It debuted on VOD late in 2011 and in a limited release shortly thereafter but it never really found its way into audiences. But it shouldn’t be surprising because we’ve seen this film before and seen it done better.

Colin Farrell stars as an ex-con trying to lead the life of an honest man. Released from prison, he winds up in the employ of one of the biggest actresses alive (Keira Knightley) as her handyman and bodyguard. As they begin an interesting romantic liaison, Farrell is also being hassled by a crime boss (Ray Winstone) who wants him in his crew in the worst way. Mix this all together and all Farrell can do is try to avoid his old ways while engaging in his new life on the up and up.

And for the most part it’s actually an interesting film about a con trying to live a straight life while the rest of the world wants him to be a criminal. But the thing is that in tone and in spirit the film feels like a low rent version of Layer Cake for the most part. For those who haven’t seen that film it’s one of the better British crime dramas of the past 10 years or so and a significantly better film than this one. London Boulevard kind of cribs a lot from it and even ends in a similar manner.

Slightly recommended.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

John Carter – A Confederate soldier magically gets whisked away to Mars. Craziness ensues.

See It – It doesn’t have the best trailer or promotion so far but here’s the thing; before George Lucas essentially took major elements from this film and made them into Star Wars. This isn’t old, well-fed George Lucas. This was young, hungry George Lucas coming off of American Graffiti and wanting to do something special. When George Lucas takes chunks of something and retools them into the greatest trilogy ever you know you have something special. The potential of the franchise is the reason to see this film; John Carter could be the sort of franchise we’ve been waiting for.

Silent House – The other Olson sister gets the living crap scared out of her for 90 minutes.

Skip It – It’s a remake of a film of the same name out of Uruguay and has been getting good reviews. I just keep thinking the gimmick won’t be good enough when all is said and done.

A Thousand Words – Eddie Murphy lies a lot. The bad guy from True Lies invokes some weird yoga magic to curse him with only 1,000 words to say before he dies. Shenanigans ensue.

Skip It – Catch it now … before it shows up on DVD shelves in two weeks.

Friends with Kids – A couple of platonic friends decide to go halfsies on a bastard but without the soul-crushing marriage. Shenanigans ensue. In limited release

See It – This has such a great cast of good, quirky comedy actors that it can’t stink, right?

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – Yemen wants to introduce Salmon and make fishing the creature into a sport. Ewan MacGregor is there to call shenanigans. In limited release

See It – Ewan MacGregor has fairly crappy taste when it come to big studio fare but when it comes to the indie world he’s always in really good projects, most recently Beginners opposite Oscar winner Christopher Plummer.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @MMCritic_Kubryk.

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