Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Limos crept up the street, the paparazzi jockeyed for position, and the red carpet was thrown down on the sidewalk.
Ah, a big splashy premier Hollywood-style!
With flashbulbs popping, I strode into the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences building in downtown Beverly Hills to take in "Resurrecting the Champ."
The sharp-suits at Yari & Phoenix know how to throw a bash!
The liquor flowed generously throughout the night courtesy of the house!
And, a swirl of the jaded Hollywood elite swarmed around the banquet tables to snap up the succulent chicken, a wide array of designer cheeses, tasty imported crackers, mouth-watering fruit, and the most fabulous! desserts sure to satisfy any discerning sweet tooth.
But as I slipped through the throngs of excited moviegoers, from the conversations I surreptitiously listened in on, there did not appear to be much talk about the "Champ".
The film - starring Samuel L. Jackson, Josh Hartnett, and Terri Hatcher - is apparently based on a true story which caused an initial buzz for the picture.
Hollywood is keen on down-and-out tales about underdogs who are resurrected, of course!
"Resurrecting The Champ" survived the fight, but there were a few bruises inflicted along the way.
When the tale first flickers up on the silver screen - the audience is introduced to a young journalist (Josh Hartnett) who is under a lot of pressure from his boss (Alan Alda) to deliver up quality news stories for the daily morning paper.
To add insult to injury his boss laments at one point,
"There's a lot of typing going on, but little writing."
Subsequently, Hartnett's character is anxious to get his hands on the "big ticket" - as he puts it - a dynamite story capable of lifting him up out of his professional slump.
Gee, do people still talk like that?
He stumbles on an idea for a feature story and slaves over the material until it is crafted to perfection and ready for publication.
But, shortly after the feature is published and acclaim comes his way, petty annoyances like facts and accuracy of reporting rear their ugly head.
At this juncture, it appears that "The Champ" is supposed to be a hard-hitting film about ethics in journalism and "doing the right thing".
But, the script is flawed and there are serious credibility problems to overcome, if that is the case.
One has to wonder, for instance, how did the naive young writer land the post at the Denver daily in the first place?
In spite of his obvious lack of ability, Hartnett's character manages to turn out a stellar piece of Pulitzer-Prize winning caliber.
But, we can't help but wonder how he to pulled it off given the facts.
To make matters worse, a sub-plot focusing on a failed marriage is introduced.
On screen, the audience doesn't get much of a peak into the relationship - not enough anyway - to determine what caused the coupling to go awry in the first place.
In fact, Hartnett's character makes so many mistakes (with his son and his boss) we seriously have to wonder, what makes him tick?
There's no clue emanating from the big budget screen endeavour overhead.
Hartnett delivers his lines well - and is a handsome appealing man - but at times I wanted to yell at the screen.
"Hello, is anyone home?"
At one point, the film - which takes a small foray into the mystery of the ironies of life - actually manifested one of its very own in the theater packed with enthusiastic film goers.
For example, about a quarter of the way into the movie, Hartnett's character suddenly appeared on screen with a big bruise on the side of his face.
Everyone in the audience turned this way and that, whispering among themselves, trying to figure the phenomenon out.
The film ground to a halt. The lights went up.
After a few awkward moments, the Chump - um - Champ flickered on the screen again without explanation.
About a half-an-hour later - after a physical fight breaks out between Hartnett and another character onscreen - the clip with the bruised face popped up again on screen.
Ah, it all made sense now.
The reels were out of sequence!
And, there's the irony.
Just like the projectionist who needed to restart to set things right - Hartnett's character was now forced to retool to make good - as well.
Samuel L. Jackson's portrayal of a homeless man is a stand-out in a long distinguished career.
But, Peter Coyote and Terri Hatcher nearly steal the show out from under him in precious cameo roles.
In fact, Terri Hatcher shows such great potential in this cougar-style role, there may not be any looking back.
She masterfully handled dialog quite well; but, similar material was better articulated in powerful films like Network, for instance.
One guest noted that there weren't enough fight scenes.
Yeah, in my estimation, "Resurrecting the Champ" lacked a lot of punch.
Essentially, it wrestled on the ropes.
No knockout, though.