Thursday, January 17, 2013
Doc Hollywood: Will Smith
Come in, Will. Have a seat on the table.
People like you. You are an actor that moviegoers root for. We want you to make good movies, but I can’t help but notice that you’ve become really lazy recently. I also think a little humility might do the trick. And stop being so sullen all the time...but we’ll get to that.
Good news is you don’t NEED a comeback. This is a preventative measure more than anything. Back in the '90s, you were the IT guy. Ask anyone under the age of 25 and they'll say Will Smith was one of their favorite actors. More importantly, you were cool and funny. Unfortunately for some, it’s not the '90s anymore, and I fear the ‘too cool for school’ act expired by the time you felt the need to tell The Legend of Bagger Vance.
So what happened? I’m not going to say you haven’t made a good movie since the '90s, because that’s just not true. I, Robot, I Am Legend and The Pursuit of Happyness were all solid movies -- nothing for the ages, just solid programmers, and that’s ok. And though the movies are a bit wonky, you acquitted yourself in Hitch and Ali. Bottom line is, you grew up and so did your audience, but where we used to walk on the same side of the road, you took a bit of a divergent path. You became Will the Saint, Will the Grouch, Will the Cynical Box Office Chaser. I don’t want to get jiggy with anyone of your characters besides Hitch after Enemy of the State.
I might be wrong, but I think you really got spooked around 2008 with the release of Hancock. You were never the guy to take many risks; you’ve always played it safe. Hell, you were even quoted as saying that back when you started out, you wanted to be the biggest movie star in the world, so you and your producing partner looked at the top 10 movies of all time and boxed yourself into a formula of making special effects movies.
Men in Black 3...you got lucky more than anything. The movie's heart and Josh Brolin were what saved it, and you seemed at sea. Did you forget how to be the Will Smith we all know and love?
So, what’s coming up for you? Ok, After Earth. Did you lose a bet? Please don’t tell me you bought into an M. Night vision? And Jaden’s doing fine; you don’t need to ease him along. Plus, you’re the grumpy Sci-Fi guy again. But it’s in the can, so whatever. What’s after that? Hancock 2? I, Robot Too? Bad Boys 3? Will, buddy, no one is asking for these sequels.
If you insist on one of them, do Bad Boys 3. But there’s a catch. You can only do it if you make it the closing chapter in a trilogy about the fall of King Dingaling, Mike Lowrey. You can validate an entire series by making Mike Lowrey into Denzel from Training Day. And your best friend Marcus Burnett has to take you down. That’s DRAMA. You boxed yourself in, buddy, with Bad Boys 2, where you really are a monster that’s just as bad as the villains (including Cuban John Stamos). Mike Bay might not want to do that, so I’m going to need you to use your clout and maybe wrestle this franchise away to another director. See if Joe Carnahan is available.
And what’s this about you turning down a role that Quentin Tarantino actually wrote with you mind (Django Unchained)? Even your agents and manager wanted you to accept it! You did a crazy thing there, ok? After you leave my office today, call Quentin and apologize. Do what DiCaprio did: get a hold of QT’s future scripts and call him to say you’ll take any role. You don’t have enough movies that will stand the test of time. So let’s focus a little on that, mid-career.
While you wait for QT, here are a few other ideas based on what I learned about you from your file. Just food for thought.
1. You’re a huge Star Wars fan and you’ve said your entire career you have been trying to make people feel like Star Wars made you feel. Do you want to have a go at the next Star Wars movie? With your passion, it could just be what that franchise needs.
2. I loved this: supposedly you’re a huge fan of a melodic Swedish heavy metal band called Soilwork? Do you have an indie in you? I want to see this movie. Go WAY outside the box. Let’s explore you in this world.
3. Your favorite movie is Bridge On The River Kwai. I could see you in a war movie. A big epic. Again, let’s find some projects that will surprise movie audiences, but also work to what you like. You have the clout, might as well use it.
4. Your fans from the '90s are mostly parents now. Make a family comedy to remind them of your charms and introduce you to a new generation of youngsters. How about an old school Disney sports comedy?
5. Think Harrison Ford in his Jack Ryan phase. Mid-career buddy!
Ok, I think that’s about all I have for you my friend.
And don’t forget…say "Aw, hell no!" in every movie. Work that in. That’s your trademark. We need to hear it!
Take care, Will, and good luck. My office is open for you anytime.
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Nice new column; welcome aboard, Adam. :-)ReplyDelete
Don't forget that the "ID4" sequels (which reunited Emmerich and Devlin after a decade apart to write the scripts) are still floating around on Fox. Talk about sequels nobody except movie executives are asking for the 'grumpy sci-fi' actor to appear in, which he won't unless they're shot back-to-back and he's paid too much dough for Fox to agree to greenlight the project.
Also, the one thing Will can do for himself and his career is to not take another four-year break from movies to relax and build-up his son's movie career (especially if your last two films are the underwhelming "Hancock" and "Seven Pounds"). A movie actor is not like a director or producer (think Tarantino or Cameron) that can afford to be out of public view for years working/nurtiring a project from the ground up. Will only has charisma and likability, and the public nowadays is so fickle they assume you're dead if you're not regularly on TV (i.e. guest on talk shows or the subject of tabloid reports) or coming out with a new project semi-regularly. Adam is right, Will lucked out that "Men In Black III" had more than his good looks and 'fish out of water' schtick to carry it to the box office finish line... barely.
It's pretty shocking that Fox didn't move heaven and earth to make ID4 sequels happen.
I do think Will should have taken a 4 year break after Seven Pounds just to allow us time to forget. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall the first time a jellyfish was brought up.
I SOOOO wish that he took Django. To see him be the Angry Man (especially the Angry Black Man) turning on the (white) hand that feeds him would have been spectacular cinema, and an artful satire of his public image. But, I think he's too invested in his image to satirize it.ReplyDelete
Great column, Adam.
Yeah, between Will Smith and Kevin Costner not doing Django...I don't even want to think about it. I'm just happy the movie turned out so well.Delete
Thanks for telling me a story all about how,ReplyDelete
his life got twisted upside down.
I liked how you took a minute as I sat right there,
and you told me how he became less relevant than Prince in a town called Bel-Air.
Great article Adam! Looking forward to my next appointment with the Doc!
Thanks GDiddy! I like your flow. Spit that into a hot mic.Delete
Doc Hollywood... another fun movie from 1991. There were so many. :)ReplyDelete
My new-to-me movie for 1/17/12:ReplyDelete
The English-dubbed version (a pretty big deal since it was deliberately made to not be easily dubbed) of Jean-Luc Godard's CONTEMPT (1963) on DVD: http://www.dvdverdict.com/juryroom/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=6028#p74508
My 7-word review: 'Hooray for the red/white/blue butt.'
Hancock -Still picturesReplyDelete