Monday Morning Critic – The Hypocrisy of Jim Carrey, Gun Control and Kick-Ass 2 – Lindsay Lohan & Mean Girls DVD Review

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The most interesting this week was that of Jim Carrey and his public disavowing of Kick-Ass 2 over Twitter. Mainly he is not doing any publicity, nor will he be hyping the film, because of the events of Newtown. He can’t support that level of violence, apparently, and as such he won’t be actively supporting the film. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, as it is Carrey’s decision to potentially violate his contract and not live up to the obligations he agreed to when he signed onto the film.

He’s not a main character, of course, but has been hyped as part of the publicity leading up to the film’s release because he’s still perceived as a star to a big part of the audience. He’s there to bring in the outliers who might not want to watch a comic book film but are willing to see something with Jim Carrey in it. He lends a certain star power to the film that Chloe Moretz and Aaron Taylor don’t have yet. It’s a layer of prestige and credibility he brings; it’s the same reason why Nicolas Cage was such a perfect fit for the first film.

For the current age group the film is being marketed to he’s an old star; 20 years ago he has starting to become famous with In Living Color and the bulk of his peak years were in the 90s. Carrey’s last massive smash was Bruce Almighty ten years ago. Carrey now is in the same spot that Eddie Murphy found himself in 10 years ago; his heyday was done by the time the current ticket paying public came of age to become regular cinema goers.

So it’s why Carrey’s public disavowing of the film isn’t that big a deal. He’s not a relevant star anymore; Carrey can still headline a film on his own but it’s not to the point where he has the ability to get $100 million for a budget without having more than just his name attached. Those days are over for Carrey, of course, and it’s why him leaving the publicity of Kick-Ass 2 to others before it comes out isn’t nearly as big a deal as it should be.

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But it’s rank hypocrisy from Carrey on a number of levels.

I understand why Carrey would do it and have no intrinsic problem with his reasons. Sometimes you have to take a stand and it’s admirable in any number of ways that he’s choosing to do so when he could’ve just shut his mouth and done everything he was contractually obligated to. He’s standing up for principal when it’ll end up probably costing him money down the road as he’s going to probably to get sued for not living up to his obligations. Hollywood may talk about a lot of things but violate a contract and lawsuits come out fast and furious.

I’m not going to comment on why he did it because I’m not a political pundit and no one cares about my thoughts on gun control. What I will say is that if Carrey was really serious about doing the right thing and standing up for his beliefs he should’ve done more than just talk about how he can’t support Kick-Ass 2 anymore. That’s the easy part.

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Publicity for a film is the easiest thing about the film because 99% of the work is already over. He’s already shot the film and the finished product is ready for distribution. All the heavy lifting is done for Carrey. This is the final thing he has to do to fulfill his contract and justify everything he’s done. It’s also the thing most actors and famous people hate doing the most; you get asked a lot of similar questions and mainly have stock answers to keep repeating. I’ve been on the question-asking side and I can tell you there isn’t much you can do besides hopefully find a couple of questions they haven’t heard before in between the ones you need to ask for whatever you need to write.

Really Carrey isn’t bailing on a film before production, or looking to hold them up for more money. Events occurred outside of his control and he can no longer justify being a part of the film and there’s nothing wrong with it. In a similar spot I could see taking his position, as well, but here’s the thing. He only bailed from the publicity tour afterwards: he kept everything else.

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If Carrey really wanted to make a stand he’d cut a check for every single penny he was paid and send it back. He’d publicly disavow the film and sign a pledge stating that he’ll never appear in a film with such violence ever again and disavow every film he’s ever made that featured violence. He’d make it a movement; if every Hollywood star that did the “we need to do something” act after him can make a video asking Congress to stop gun control but still appear in violent action films then Carrey can take the next logical step and extort his compatriots to join him in that regard.

It’s one thing for guys like Carrey, Patton Oswalt, Kristen Bell, Dax Shepherd and others to get all preachy against gun control but still appear in television shows and films that have no qualms resorting to gunplay and shenanigans when a paycheck is involved. If Carrey really has a problem with supporting a violent action film, the original being a film he liked enough to appear on Conan O’Brien’s show dressed as the title character, then he can gladly return the cash he was paid for his services as “blood money” and complete the disavowing.

Otherwise it just comes off as arrogant posturing from a fading star, slowly working his way into “has-been” territory. I’d have no problem with Carrey taking a stance if it was a meaningful one. This isn’t. It may cost him in the future, as someone may be reticent to work with him because of this, but one imagines Carrey could walk away from Hollywood right now and never want for anything again.

If he doesn’t want the association with Kick-Ass 2 then he shouldn’t keep their money for the work he provided. If he really wants to make a statement he should make it an uncompromising one. Otherwise it’s just worthless, lazy posturing from an expired star trying to stay in the headlines.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

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This Week’s DVD – Mean Girls

This is alternatively a film I enjoyed to an absurdly high degree … and one of the greatest letdowns in cinematic history. Why? Because it showed us how breathtaking Lindsay Lohan could’ve been. This is a film you watch and for a moment you remember what kind of transcendent star Lohan could’ve been.

It’s a simple film. Lohan’s been in the African safari for most of her life, homeschooled by her parents, when she’s brought back to civilization in the Chicago suburbs. Going into high school after a lifetime away from it all, she has to integrate into the newfound society with which she has no familiarity. Warned about the popular girls, The Plastics, Lohan decides to infiltrate them for all the wrong reasons. It turns out much differently than she thinks it will as she learns about life and friendship in ways she never had to before. Throw in a couple of brilliant supporting turns for Lindsay Lohan and Tim Meadows, as well, and this was a film that seemed to be the right role at the right time.

Lohan was just coming into her own as an adult actress, transitioning from being a child actress nearly perfectly. This was designed to be a showcase for her abilities and launch her into what was supposed to be an A-list career. She had everything going for her coming into the film and exited the film with A-list stardom seemingly all but secured. It may not have been a massive hit but it was much bigger than it was supposed to be.

And it was in no small part due to Lohan; the film is good but she’s mercurial it. Right role, right actress, right time. If you’d have told me in 2004 that a decade later Lohan would be more of tabloid star than a movie star I wouldn’t have been shocked … but I’d have thought she’d have done something more substantial with her career after that besides a handful of throwaway roles and a failed attempt at reviving the Herbie franchise at that point. Even back then I thought Lohan could be the biggest star in the world before pissing it away, ala Elizabeth Taylor, instead of being someone who just flashed so much potential and wound up being more famous for substance abuse than actual talent.

It still is more substantial than the Kardashians. Lohan at least did something once that didn’t involve having sex on camera to get famous. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out, years from now, that Kim Kardashiam’s mother directed that famous sex tape between Kim and Ray J. Wouldn’t be all that shocking; that whole family wanted to be famous and apparently Kim’s dignity was the first thing to go. If you’d have told me that someone’s entire family would be more famous and culturally significant than Lindsay Lohan in 2004 because they screwed a rapper on camera I’d have laughed and placed money on that proposition.

Lohan, in sports terms, was the rookie who had an amazing first year and then never lived up to the potential she showed. She’s on the verge of washing out of Hollywood and winding up being the ultimate cautionary tale of how not to handle stardom. It’s just amazing to see now, in retrospect, what could’ve been. Mean Girls was the perfect star vehicle for her to go from being a child star to an actor. It was the film that should’ve been the one that leveraged her into being a film star … and yet it didn’t.

It’s kind of like how Justin Bieber is trying to go from being the “Baby” type of pop star to being a legitimate adult contemporary musician like Justin Timberlake right now. The process is difficult but he’s succeeding for the most part. Lohan never had that moment right after the breakthrough; she burst through the door to celebrity but never arrived at the one where celebrity meets genuine movie stardom.

Watching it now lets you see just why Hollywood keeps giving her chances to get her life and career back. It’s why people are willing to keep giving her chances despite pissing it all away repeatedly; there’s still that talent inside Lohan, waiting to come out. It’s just that she’s just such a nightmare to work with on set, apparently, and her personal & professional problems have combined to make her into someone more famous for screwing things up than actually accomplishing anything.

Strongly 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

Despicable Me 2 – Gru is back; this time he’s a hero trying to save the world.

See it – The original was oddly affecting and I can see this continuing the trend.

The Lone Ranger – Johnny Depp is Tonto as Jerry Bruckheimer revives the long dead franchise.

Skip it – $200 million plus westerns don’t generally tend to work and this looks all sorts of awful to boot.

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain (In Limited Release) – A standup comedy film by one of the funnier working comics today.

See it – Standup comedy films are usually either horrible or hilarious with no point between. Hart’s genuinely funny and probably the next big breakout star of comedy.

The Way, Way Back (In Limited Release) – This year’s indie coming of age film.

See it – So far it’s been getting strong reviews and the buzz on it is pretty strong, too.

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

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