Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

The Simple Logic of Slumming

February 25th, 2011 · 4 Comments

I have no plans to watch the Academy Awards this weekend; any enterprise that once saw fit to honor the abysmal Crash is simply not worthy of my time. But I do harbor some fond memories of ceremonies past, including the most hilarious no-show in the Oscars’ history: Michael Caine’s failure to accept his Hannah and Her Sisters Best Supporting Actor statuette. Caine was stuck in the Bahamas on that fateful evening, waiting for the Jaws: The Revenge crew to get the animatronic shark’s eyes to roll back. The punchline, of course, is that Caine sacrifice his Oscar moment for a historically awful movie—a sequel so godawful that it was one of Bad Movie Friday‘s very first honorees.

Caine seems to have a good sense of humor about his Oscar whiff, but not when the talk turns to an indictment of his Jaws: The Revenge involvement. Unlike many actors who sheepishly try to explain away their paycheck-cashing performances as failed art rather than crave commerce, Caine makes no bones about his commercial impulses, as revealed in this recent Q&A:

Given how many great films you’ve made, does it disappoint you when people want to talk about the ones that didn’t do so well?
No, what annoys me is when, as happened today, you’re doing a day’s worth of interviews and the very first question you’re asked if, “Why did you make Jaws: The Revenge?” When things like that happen, the interview becomes very short indeed.

Just out of interest, how did you reply?
I just said what I’ve always said – I made it because they paid me a lot of money! It’s like when people ask me why I made The Swarm – I made The Swarm because my mother needed a house to live in. Then I made Jaws IV because she was lonely and I needed to buy her a bigger house which she could live in with all of her friends. It’s that simple.

If only the great William H. Macy could be similarly forthright about his involvement in Marmaduke.


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4 Comments so far ↓

  • scottstev

    Did you immediately hate Crash. I’m afraid to admit it’s one of those films that I thought was pretty good at the time, but left no lasting impression. After I read a lot of the Crash hate, I found myself agreeing with almost all the points. It is a remarkably clumsy and hackneyed film. I wasn’t personally offended for the accolades it received, but definitely can see it’s shortcomings now.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @scottstev: Definitely hated it right away. I remember watching that scene where Matt Dillon rescues Thandie Newton from a burning car–in SUPER SLO-MO–and thinking, “Wow, that’s quite a coincidence.” It was all downhill from there. Not even enjoyable as camp–just flat-out embarrassing.

  • Gramsci

    My brain is happily innocent of Crash– I don’t think I’ll ever watch it, given what I’ve heard. It sounds like a desecration of “Short Cuts” with cloying racial sentimentalism poured on for good measure. I did find Paul Haggis entertaining and instructive in one respect– Lawrence Wright’s gripping profile of his Scientology nightmare in the New Yorker.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Gramsci: Loved that profile. It actually made me like Haggis, and not just because he was brave enough to take a stand against Scientology. I was impressed by just how much of himself he poured into his craft–I admired his professionalism (though, to be fair, it did come at the expense of familial happiness).

    When I finished the piece, I was initially disappointed that Wright never really got Haggis to describe exactly why he was hoodwinked for so many years. But the more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that was the whole point–Haggis genuinely doesn’t know why he went along for the Scientology ride for decades. He’s still trying to sort out those feelings; the profile was really a glimpse at a man in the midst of some serious introspection, brought about by the realization that much of his spiritual life was grounded in a monstrous lie.