You can tell from reading Zach Helm’s script of Stranger Than Fiction that the movie, being directed by Marc Forster, will probably be a good score for everyone involved, including star Will Ferrell, when Columbia releases it next year. And Ferrell will kick ass in The Producers: The Movie Musical (Universal, 12.23) in the Franz Leibkind role — i.e., the one played by Kenneth Mars in Mel Brooks’ 1968 original. But it must be said right now that Ferrell is in trouble. Partly due to over-exposure (appearances in five films in ’05 not counting the un-released Winter Passing and The Wendell Baker Story). Partly because his stuff is feeling really labored and unfunny. Partly because Kicking and Screaming was awful and died. Partly because he was especially grating in Bewitched. Partly because his appearance in a forthcoming comedy is so unwelcome and groan-inducing he poisons the comic atmosphere and (temporarily) stops the film in its tracks. Is Ferrell over? Could the two-year spurt that began with ’03’s Old School and Elf, peaked with Anchorman and then received a late-inning boost from his appealing supporting performance in Melinda and Melinda be winding to a close…or am I just over-reacting to Ferrell’s death-cameo in that comedy I just referred to? What’s everyone thinking? Please send in reactions for a piece I’m going to cook up for Wednesday’s column.
Pithy observation here from New York Times critic Tony Scott in a piece about the differences in the way films are sold, absorbed and processed between the ’70s and now. “The window between the theatrical and DVD release is now shorter than a successful first run used to be,” he writes. “Even the term ‘first run’ has a ring of almost vaudevillian antiquity. There is now a pre-release sprint that leaves audiences (and journalists and publicists) winded by opening day. Three weeks later, the picture is a fading memory. Here I am still going on about War of the Worlds, which is so last week. Revenge of the Sith? Who even remembers?”
Wedding Crashers costar Owen Wilson is asked by Hollywood Hitlist columnist Gregory Ellwood about his “Butterscotch Stallion” nickname in this recently-posted interview on MSN. Owen’s reply: “I love that. It has to be one of the most ridiculous, insane nicknames, but some of my friends have really picked up on it. I think they know it’s kind of humiliating to me.”