December 12, 2008, - 3:10 pm

Weekend Box Office: Lotta Crap, A Time to Rent Originals

By Debbie Schlussel
Not much worthy at the box office, this weekend. The best stuff–I’ve seen most of the new releases–comes out on Christmas Day. For this weekend, at least, the best movie is a remake far inferior to the original classic. (Will add my review of “Beauty in Trouble,” soon.)
* “The Day the Earth Stood Still“: There’s not really much objectionable about this remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic about a spaceship that lands on earth, with an alien, Klaatu, who warns of our imminent doom. It’s just that–like most remakes of classics–the rehash isn’t nearly as good. It’s yet another on-screen version of “If It Ain’t Broke . . . Don’t Remake It.”


Then, there’s the tad of leftist green envirocrap inserted in. In the original, an alien comes to earth to tell them the earth will be destroyed unless nations get together and make peace. It was allegedly a reference to the nuclear arms buildup and the Cold War. In this version, Keanu Reeves says that we earthlings are destroying the planet. He never says how, but apparently he means we are wrecking it environmentally. It’s not very in your face, so I wasn’t too offended.
This version was longer than the original, and seemed much, much longer. It was slow and boring. It missed the charm and class of the original. It did have better special effects, but we expect that when it’s a 2008 flick versus one from the early ’50s. The only other difference seems to be what I call the Obama movie factor–everybody’s in interracial families and relationships in so many movies, lately. In this version of “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” the single White mother (Jennifer Connelly) has a Black kid (Jaden Smith–Will’s annoying, whiny son), whose father died in Iraq.
Like I said, the movie wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t great. You can definitely take your kids to it. But best to rent the original.
* “Frost/Nixon“: Hmmm . . . When are they gonna make “Frost/Clinton” or “Walters/Lewinsky,” or “Barack Hussein/Jeremiah/Khalid/William and Bernadine”? Don’t hold your breath. Never before have I wasted two hours watching the description of how someone prepared for a TV interview trying to “get” someone.
This movie is about journalist David Frost doing the first, in-depth TV interview with former President Richard Nixon, post-Watergate/Nixon resignation. Nixon is played by Frank Langella. And while he looks the part, David Frost looks like Tony Blair (no surprise, since the actor who plays him played Blair in “The Queen”).
Frost and left-wing journalists Bob Zelnick and James Reston are shown trying to get the Nixon interview, trying to pay for it, and most importantly, trying to “get” him. Gotcha journalism is loved by liberal movie critics everywhere, who are raving over this okay, but not very interesting movie.
The best parts of this movie are when–for about 2/3 of the way–Nixon outsmarts his lesser interviewer. That was entertaining. I found myself quietly rooting him on against these arrogant, unduly indignant lefties who really weren’t interested in real journalism, so much as they were solidifying the left’s takeover of Congress and other institutions. Also well done is Kevin Bacon, playing his Vietnam War Vet chief of staff and trusted adviser and protector. I probably should have nominated him for Best Supporting Actor for the Detroit Film Critics Society.
But mostly, this film was just a sneering exaggeration of the real Nixon. And, admittedly, some of it is made up. Shocker.
Do you really need to waste your time and ten bucks seeing an interview you didn’t really watch or care about in the 1970s? Do we really need to relive and relive a tiny blip in repeated leftist media victories that weren’t so victorious for America’s long-term survival?
In history, this interview doesn’t really have a place. It’s really an irrelevant figment of pop culture, not history–no matter how much director Ron “Opie”/”Richie” Howard wants to make it so. It’s been long forgotten, and President Nixon’s reputation was rehabbed, anyway, despite the effort to embarrass him further on national television via this interview. Nixon went on to become a trusted foreign policy consultant to every President until his death. He was sought out for interviews on his views in that area. David Frost, on the other hand, went on to a lackluster perch at the Terrorist News Network a/k/a Al-Jazeera. But they don’t tell you that in the movie. Gee, I wonder why.
Yes, this interview wasn’t history. This movie is just a desperate attempt to make it so. And despite that, Nixon will be remembered as a good and decent man. And David Frost? Remind me again who he is.

* “Nothing Like the Holidays“: If I were Hispanic, I’d sue the makers of this film for defamation. It’s a dumb American-Hispanic-Family-Gets-Together-for-Christmas movie, full of stupid, dopey jokes you’d see on a bad sitcom and stereotypes, not just of Hispanics but Jews. And it was just a slow, boring waste of time I’d expect to see as a TV movie. Not sure it’s even worthy of Telemundo or Univision. It’s the usual plot: everyone is fighting, then there’s a happy ending. Like an episode of “The Love Boat” or “Hotel” revisited. No thanks.
The Puerto Ricano family consists of the usual suspects you see in Hispanic movies: cheating, unfaithful father . . . check, boisterous interfering mother who likes to cook and complain . . . check (well, this one is in every ethnic movie, to be fair), Iraq veteran “war hero” who is really not a hero and is in the Army because he has no other place to go . . . check; pretentious, vixenish actress wannabe . . . check; successful professional son who out of the ethnicity to a stuck up Jewish woman . . . check, check, check.
The movie was annoying and had way too much screaming and melodrama piled on top of the dumb jokes and stereotypes. Extremely substandard. The only thing that stuck out in this movie was actress Debra Messing’s nose. Time to get the bad nose-job redone . . . check, check, check.

8 Responses

Re: Langella’s performance as Nixon – I presume Dan Aykroyd wasn’t available, since what little I saw of the film in the promo ads came across more as a bad “Saturday Night Live” skit.

ConcernedPatriot on December 12, 2008 at 8:14 pm

Patricia Neal stated in an interview on Bravo channel that she gets more fan mail for her role in the original “The Day the Earth Stood Still” than for her Academy Award performance in “Hud” or “The Fountainhead”.
From the previews the remake looked bad. What is it with my generation that they have to put their perspective on everything past? They do it either disparagingly or without regard to the original theme of the song, movie or story they are re-interpreting.

P. Aaron on December 12, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Debbie, Debra Messing was on the radio here today to promote her new crap movie. The radio guy asked her what her family tradition was for the Holidays. She said that they are usually “on the road” and that they try to see their son’s grandparents. I think the host felt like she didn’t answer the question very well. I was disappointed she didn’t indicate any religious preference. Somebody should tell these jewish celebs that they don’t have to hide or deny their Jewishness. It’s like with the closeted gays: it just makes it worse for those of us who are “out” when the Debra Messings of the world make it seem unpalatable.

Anonymous1 on December 13, 2008 at 1:59 am

As always your usually right on the money with these crap movies, but I have a small beef with you on one thing. *shocker! he actually has a beef with the conservative goddess on something??*
I dunno if you mean it, but you seem to have a issue with so-called inter-racial cuples. Whether they are popping up in movies or not is irrelevant. The thing is, I don’t see what your issue is with a so-called inter-racial cuple in alot of movies lately.
I’m in a supposed inter-racial relationship with a beautiful lovely white woman. I’m not with her becuase she’s white, but becuase she’s wonderful and she’s the best for me. I’ve seen a cuple of these as of late and it makes me happy knowing that people shouldn’t have to be so selective when it comes to finding their love.
Hey….there was a time where I had a crush on you, before I found my Megan.

Squirrel3D on December 13, 2008 at 11:55 am

Thanks for the heads up on the movies review. Both seem to be too ridiculous. Hollywood todyay has a propensity in messing up the re-makes of a classic. So my wife and I saw “The Dark Knight” on Blu-Ray once the kids were asleep. To bad movies like the most recent Batman movie get awards. I though Heath Ledge was brillient in that movie and did some of his best acting. I truly think he should be nominated for best supporting actor. Weather he should would win…would depend on the competition. Still was an excellent movie. And the producers and director leave the film open for another one. Only thing is, if another Batman movie is made the must have Christian Bale as Batman. I think by introducing different lead characters is what ruins the movies continuty.

Tenn Scholar on December 14, 2008 at 9:14 am

“The Day the Earth Stood Still, 2008” deserves 10 Marxes. If members of an advanced inter-galactic civilization saw a film where earth-cops trained their revolvers on a space ship, the mere sight of that would lead them to destroy humanity. Save your money.
I was able to see a screener of “Gran Tourino.” Nice cross-cultural material, and an interesting portrayal of someone who choses to stay in an ethnically changing neighborhood. But, fails my would-I-want-to-see-it-again criterion for good movies. And let’s not over indulge the Oriental “honor” system. Japan has run a 12 year recession because honor says bad loans be paid back, regardless of the context in which they were issued. I’m for the Creative Destruction theory of capitalism.

supercargo on December 14, 2008 at 12:38 pm

I actually saw the original David Frost interview of Richard Nixon when it aired. Hollywood must be real hard up for movies if they are going to try to make something dramatic of a pretty run of the mill interview. The one thing I do remember about that interview was Nixon being honest enough to say that although he did not plan Watergate or know anything about it he should have created an administration where such things would have been unthinkable. As for Nixon I actually felt somewhat sorry for him during Watergate (before I realized what a Jew hater he really was) and agree with Henry Kissingerís assessment of him (paraphrasing) ìHe was brought down by a combination of his own paranoia and insecurity as well as by his enemies in the press and the Democratic party who had absolutely zero compassion for him and were determined to bring him down no matter what the costî.

Ripper on December 15, 2008 at 11:07 am

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Emilio on May 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm

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