November 9, 2011

"Tower Heist"

From my movie review in Taki's Magazine:
Six years ago, Eddie Murphy proposed taking Ocean’s Eleven and inverting it. An all-black cast would play Trump Tower servants who join forces to steal tens of millions from their overbearing boss. And rather than be ace criminals, they’d be bumbling, law-abiding citizens who have to learn their new craft on the fly. 
Producer Brian Grazer and widely despised director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour) immediately started kicking around names such as Tracy Morgan, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, and Jamie Foxx to team with Murphy in Tower Heist. Over the years, they paid a dozen or so top screenwriters to take a whack at this story. But Hollywood’s finest were repeatedly stumped. 

Why wasn't the movie made with an all-black cast as Murphy proposed?

Read the whole thing there.

By the way, Tower Heist features some good casting and/or rewriting to fit the cast. For example, I've long wondered why Matthew Broderick is considered a star. He seems lazy, puffy, and unenergetic to me. I guess it's because Ferris Beuller was a hit 25 years ago and he's been coasting on that every since. So, here he's cast as resident of Trump Tower, a former Merrill Lynch trader, who has gotten foreclosed upon.  He's introduced with lines something like these:

Ben Stiller as manager: "Sir, the bank insists that you vacate today."

Matthew Broderick (looking puffy, probably from heavy duty anti-depressants): "The market went up 106 points today. Do you know why?"

Ben Stiller: "No, sir."

Matthew Broderick (mournful and slightly hysterical): "Neither do I. I used to know, or I thought I did. But now I don't."

In other words, Matthew Broderick's character, a stock trader who got lucky early in his career, is pretty similar to Matthew Broderick, an actor who got lucky early in his career. And guess what? Broderick is good at playing a passive, self-pitying has-been.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

"An all-black cast would play Trump Tower servants..."

An all black cast to be headlined by black fan favorites like Matthew Broderick, Alan Alda, and Ben Stiller.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

I'd never heard of Ratner until listening to him on the DVD commentary of one of his movies ("The Family Man"). After about 10-20 minutes of his crap I concluded he was a complete a**hole.

Jon Leibowitz Stewart said...

An all black cast to be headlined by black fan favorites like Matthew Broderick, Alan Alda, and Ben Stiller.

Broderick: can wear the tartans of clan MacDonald

Alda: can wear the tartans of clan Campbell

Stiller: clan Macleod is preferred, although Knox family tartan is acceptable

Anonymous said...

Perhaps American consumers are experiencing Negro Fatigue.

Anonymous said...

Maybe an 'all black movie' is not popular abroad, but gazillions of people around the world love movies starring blacks like Will Smith, Denzel, and etc. And of course they all seem to love rap.

Anonymous said...

Murphy should just do a movie on Omar Thorton where the saintly black guy was wronged by 'racists'.

Anonymous said...

Eddie Murphy should do a comedy on a bunch of blacks stealing from a rich gay guy.

Anonymous said...

If an 'all black cast', Murphy ought to play every character. He pretty much did in NUTTY PROFESSOR.

jody said...

wargames was better.

Eric said...

I guess it's because Ferris Beuller was a hit 25 years ago and he's been coasting on that every since.

Broderick was a big star before Ferris Bueller's Day Off because of Wargames and Ladyhawke. I'm not sure he's still considered a big star, though. I'm kind of curious what he was paid.

Broderick's problem was being typecast into a loveable-brainy-kid role that middle-aged people can't play, so he's spent the last 20 years trying to get audiences to accept him playing an adult.

Johnny Depp was developing the same problem after 21 Jump Street, albiet with a different typecast, but he was able to nip it in the bud by playing weirdos.

Broderick needs a Hannibal Lecter or Gordon Gecko, assuming he can play it. I haven't seen all his stuff - did he try something like that?

Matt Broderick/has-been said...

Thanks Mr Sailer for your kind comments! At this stage of my career I need all the encouragement I can get.
Sincerely yours
Matt

Jon Leibowitz Stewart said...

Eddie Murphy should do a comedy on a bunch of blacks stealing from a rich gay guy.

Yeah, and make it one of those Scots-Irish gays, like, oh, say, David Geffen.

Whiskey said...

Eddie Murphy was hilarious in "What's Alan Watching" where he did a screamingly funny impression of James Brown, interspersed with a semi John Hughes teen guy story.

Steve Sailer said...

I don't know who the funniest actor of all time is, but if I had to try to decide, I'd start with Eddie Murphy and compare other people to him.

j mct said...

Not really fair to Broderick. He hasn't done a lot of movies, but he's been big on Broadway for quite some time, as in if one has some sort of deep need to see him on the stage, one usually won't have to wait too long. He was one of the leads in 'The Producers' from a few years back which was a big hit. Stage acting is acting too.

Wade said...

OK, this is the first blog post I've ever read by you Steve that left me thinking, "Hey that was a little mean!" lol

Matthew Broderick ain't that bad!

Fred said...

"I don't know who the funniest actor of all time is, but if I had to try to decide, I'd start with Eddie Murphy and compare other people to him."

His concert movie Raw is still funny, 25 years or so later.

syon said...

Broderick suffers from young male star syndrome; all of the traits that made him winning as a teenagerish twenty-something now work against him.

Allison said...

Puffiness comes from narcotics addiction not antidepressants. jowliness is genetic and leads to triple bypasses.

Harry Baldwin said...

And guess what? Broderick is good at playing a passive, self-pitying has-been.

He was great doing that in "Election."

Anonymous said...

"I don't know who the funniest actor of all time is..."

Then I'll make it easy for you.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, it's Charlie Chaplin. (really)

On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, it's Buster Keaton. (really)

And on Sundays, it's John Belushi in the old, long-running Samurai sketch.

I realize this is a boring opinion, sort of like saying the Beatles, the Yankees, and the USAF are the best in their respective fields, or that Charlie Watts is the best rock drummer; nevertheless it's all true.

(btw, the funniest standup is of course Richard Pryor, though he isn't the funniest "actor" strictly speaking. For funniest _single_ performance as an actor, it may well be Gene Wilder in "Young Frankenstein".)

Mitch said...

Matthew Broderick has had a huge career on Broadway as a musical star. It was on the weight of his resume that he, not Martin Short, was given the Gene Wilder role in The Producers (Short was Brooks' choice).

And he's had several sterling roles playing puffy unlikeable guys, in critically acclaimed movies where he was singled out as being excellent. Election and You Can Count on Me come to mind. They weren't big hits, but huge critical successes.

MQ said...

Matthew Broderick has made a very successful transition to middle-aged character/comedy roles after being a teenage leading man. He's so good at playing a funny put-upon loser that Steve mistakes it for his actual life situation.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that Ratner got hit by a not-particularly insulting crack about gays, but survived multiple ones directed at Olivia Munn about her sluttiness and Asian identity confusion.

Conclusion: Hollywood is run by gays, not Women or Asians.

green mamba said...

Broderick has made a successful transition from winning young star to convincing middle-aged actor, precisely by not desperately trying to hang on to his youthful winsome charm, but instead turning in solid, realistic performances as put-upon middle-aged guys (most notably in Election and You Can Count on Me). He's not a star anymore but he's still in the game, and rightfully so.

Btw, Broderick is a half-Jew, Jewish on his mother's side. His father, actor James Broderick (anyone remember Alice's Restaurant?) is of Irish descent.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who the funniest actor of all time is...

En masse: The Pythons, no contest.

Individually: Dudley Moore, John Cleese, and Bill Murray at various points in time.

Anonymous said...

Trump is also featured, reasonably prominently, in 1991 novel American_Psycho

Henry Canaday said...

I saw Eddie Murphy at The Comic Strip on Second Avenue in Manhattan the last summer before he became famous overnight on Saturday Night Live. He was about 20 and the funniest thing on the stage by far. He introduced me to such choice samples of New York ethnic joshing as “busier than a pair of jumper cables at a Puerto Rican picnic.”

After rocking the audience with laughter by riffing through all of New York’s ethnic groups and their loveable idiosyncrasies, Murphy did a Polish joke. I don’t remember the joke, but this blonde guy, apparently Polish and certainly built like a linebacker, stood up, broke a beer bottle and started walking toward the stage with a dangerous shred of the bottle in his hand.

Management was prepared. Two large guys rushed Murphy off the stage while two others, equally robust, surrounded the Polish kill-joy.

When I left about a half-hour later, Murphy was sitting at a table in the back sipping a drink. I thought, he’s very funny, too bad he will never make it in show business.

I am very stupid.

Anonymous said...

"Being a bastard product of an unmarried white woman and a nonwhite man seems to contribute to success."

The Syrian father looks pretty white to me.

Anonymous said...

"He's so good at playing a funny put-upon loser that Steve mistakes it for his actual life situation."

Dude. His actual life situation is living with SJP. Think about that.

Anonymous said...

"I don't know who the funniest actor of all time is..."

Jim Carrey. Hugh Laurie as Wooster. Rowan Atkinson as Blackadder. John Cleese as Basil Fawlty. The Kids in the Hall, Thompson and Foley especially. Michael Richards.

Of all those, I would say Rowan Atkinson as Blackadder. The first, medieval series, is probably my favorite thing ever on TV. Especially the episode with the Spanish infanta.

Ray Sawhill said...

The wisdom of the Rattner.

TH said...

Of all those, I would say Rowan Atkinson as Blackadder. The first, medieval series, is probably my favorite thing ever on TV.

I agree that Blackadder is one of the funniest things ever, but I think the first series is a bore. I always advice people to skip it and watch Blackadder II-IV.

Svigor said...

Maybe an 'all black movie' is not popular abroad, but gazillions of people around the world love movies starring blacks like Will Smith, Denzel, and etc. And of course they all seem to love rap.

No no, don't stop there. Will Smith, Denzel...and who are the "etc"? Please do go on.

Bourbon said...

"An all black cast to be headlined by black fan favorites like Matthew Broderick, Alan Alda, and Ben Stiller."

It's obvious who is to blame for this, Steve - the Harvard WASP Mafia and women who hate, hate, hate, HATE BETAs. And Iran.

Paul R said...

"I don't know who the funniest actor of all time is, but if I had to try to decide, I'd start with Eddie Murphy and compare other people to him."

Of course it's all a matter of opinion, but on the axis of humorous I'd put Eddie Murphy and Will Ferrell on one end and everyone on the planet somewhere on the funnier end of the axis.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps American consumers are experiencing Negro Fatigue."

Someone here a few weeks ago mentioned that he refers to commercial breaks as the "Negro Insertion Point." Ever since I've noticed how true this is. If the commercial is a) not about another show or movie and b) has more than one live person in it, the chances there's at least one black in it is probably better than 50%. What I've also noticed is that companies that are liberal by reputation seem to have fewer blacks.

The irony is that viewers may be getting so fed up of black overcasting in movies that by the time they get to seeing something they have to pay for they don't care to bother. And I'm getting really annoyed at having to watch black actors cast in professions that in real life they almost never perform.

"I don't know who the funniest actor of all time is"

Jim Carrey is definitely in the top 10. I think Broderick is a terrific actor. I like Ben Stiller, too. But I'm not ever watching another movie by Brett Ratner.

the anti-Semitism of socialists said...

Ratner is now Public Enemy #1
How did this obvious madman ever get so close to the levers of power...

On another note, wow, Sailer despises SJP's spouse just as much (see "Sex & the City" review for enlightenment)

Anonymous said...

Did Matthew Broderick run over your dog or piss in your cornflakes or something?

Anonymous said...

Conclusion: Hollywood is run by gays, not Women or Asians.

Did anyone ever claim Hollywood was run by Asians?

Steve Sailer said...

Did you ever see Matthew Broderick as Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man on TV in 2003?

Truth said...

"No no, don't stop there. Will Smith, Denzel...and who are the "etc"? Please do go on."

Wesley Snipes, Samuel Jackson, Danny Glover, Morgan Freeman, Chiwetel Eliofor, Laurence Fishburne, Jamie Foxx, ....You know, ET. CETERA meaning "and so forth."

Charlotte said...

"Being a bastard product of an unmarried white woman and a nonwhite man seems to contribute to success."

"The Syrian father looks pretty white to me."

Of course he was white. These fussy definitions are so limiting. I blame the National Socialist Party. They were a fussbudget bunch when it came to racial definitions and that didn't lead anywhere that we want to be.

Re various whitish folk, I think of Darwin describing the trait of blushing as it occurs (or doesn't) in different races, he noted that blushing among middle eastern people presented much the same as among Europeans, which was not surprising considering the "general similarity" between Europeans and many, perhaps most, persons in the middle east. I'm paraphrasing, but that's the gist.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever see Matthew Broderick as Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man on TV in 2003?

No, was he horrible?

Anonymous said...

Wow, people call you an evil racist, and, to your credit, you very politely shrug it off and turn the other cheek.

But Matthew Broderick phones in a bad performance in the Music Man, and you rip him a new one. It seems a little harsh, especially from one of the nicest people I've - sort of - come to know, and, certainly, the nicest person in the blogosphere.

I'll admit that I haven't seen the Music Man, nor many of Broderick's other movies in the past decade or two, so you certainly have more knowledge of his career. (I will say, however, that Election helped inspire me to move to the outermost fringe of the DC suburbs to avoid people like the girl in that movie.) But even if they're God awful, I'm not sure that I can understand the vitriol toward him.

My point here isn't so much to defend Broderick but to try and figure out the animosity. Again, it's just so at odds with the usual Steve Sailer. It's like evil Steve with his goatee wrote the entry.

it's simple said...

To modify Ambrose Bierce, it's that Broderick must be thrashed to set a good example for the others

TGGP said...

I was also surprised at the Broderick dig. But it's kind of hard to feel offended for his sake.

Anonymous said...

I've wondered the same about Broderick, asking myself, "why is he even considered an actor?" when he puts in one energy-less performance after another. Perhaps he became permanently morose after he removed two women from the planet in a road accident in Ireland 20 years ago, in which he allegedly was driving on the wrong side of the road. The incident was quickly papered over after he dispatched attorneys carrying a very large check to the family of the women.