The biggest question at the box office this weekend is whether or not Alice in Wonderland will be strong enough to knock Shutter Island out of the number one spot. Usually, I get excited to see how these battles between two big name directors will play out, but I’m having trouble mustering up enthusiasm over either one of these films.
Oddly enough, my lack of interest in both of these films comes from the same place – I’m just tired of seeing these actor/director pairings. I’ve seen what a Martin Scorsese/Leonardo DiCaprio film looks like (Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed). I know what to expect when those two work together. And Tim Burton has worked with Johnny Depp so often (Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd), that it’s bordering on obsession at this point. In fact, I’m convinced he married Helena Bonham Carter just so he can squint and pretend she’s Depp.
On the one hand, I understand a director’s desire to work with the same actor over and over again. There is a comfort level there. These two directors know they can get what they need from these actors. However, I think it’s possible to get too comfortable. I think shaking things up can be a good thing, especially in Hollywood, a place where original ideas are often hard to come by.
So, in the interest of saving Hollywood, I’ve decided to do the shaking up myself. I’m taking five director/actors combos and mixing and matching them to create new pairings. In addition to Depp/Burton and Scorsese/DiCaprio, I’m also breaking up Will Ferrell and Adam McKay (Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers and The Other Guys, which comes out next year); Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow (Freaks and Geeks, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Funny People) and Ron Howard and Clint Howard (who have done 16 films together).
Throwing these five pairs into my comically-oversized lime green fedora and shaking them around, here’s what I came up with …
Will Ferrell and Tim Burton
This pairing just feels right to me. We already know Ferrell is capable of playing colorful, over-the-top characters that fit right in to the bizarre worlds Burton creates. Plus, I think Tim Burton could actually reign Will Ferrell in and keep him from being too wacky or outlandish, which has been the downfall in Ferrell’s failures. Plus, Ferrell tends to go for broad comedy, so seeing him be a bit more wry or subversive could be a lot of fun to watch.
Of course, Burton has been on a remaking/reimagining kick lately and Ferrell hasn’t had much success with remakes (Bewitched and Land of the Lost instantly come to mind), so there is definitely a chance for failure. There’s also a possibility that things could go too well, which could get awkward when Burton attempts to find the female equivalent of Ferrell to replace his wife.
Johnny Depp and Martin Scorsese
Seeing Public Enemies was a very frustrating experience for me. I thought Depp did a fantastic job as John Dillinger, but the film as a whole was disappointing thanks to director Michael Mann. That’s why I think giving Depp another shot at playing a gangster with someone as reliable as Martin Scorsese behind the camera is a recipe of success. Whether they made it a period piece like Gangs of New York or did something more contemporary, either way I think we’d be in for something memorable. As an added bonus, Depp also has boyish good looks, which should keep Scorsese from pouting too much over losing DiCaprio.
Clint Howard and Adam McKay
I’ll admit it, this one is for selfish reasons. Those of you who listen to the Hobo Radio podcast have already heard the pitch Lars and I came up with for a Clint Howard movie. We think it would be comedy gold for Clint Howard to star in a Freaky Friday-esque movie where he switches bodies with a handsome, successful playboy. Come on, admit it – you’d pay to see Clint Howard play a smooth ladies man, wouldn’t you? And frankly, I think Adam McKay is the right director for this film.
Seth Rogen and Ron Howard
I admit, this pairing seems a little strange, but who am I to question the fedora? I think it would be a stretch for Seth Rogen to attempt to do any heavy lifting in a serious drama, so I think the best possible outcome would be to have Ron Howard direct a comedy. He’s not known as a comedic director, but he does know comedy. After all, he’s been featured on Arrested Development, The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Judd Apatow
It’s no secret that I find Leonardo DiCaprio to be worthless. I feel like at best his presence in a movie adds nothing and at worse he actually detracts from otherwise promising films. His continued success and popularity baffle me.
That being said, pairing him with Apatow could lead to something worth watching. Perhaps DiCaprio has potential as an amusing stoner, a la James Franco. Or maybe he could do something similar to Paul Rudd’s character in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Honestly, I can’t say I have high hopes for an Apatow/DiCaprio movie, but at least it’s something different. I’m tired of seeing DiCaprio play the charming hero in every single film. Besides, if these two can’t come up with something on their own, we can always cheat and have Apatow produce my Clint Howard/Adam McKay masterpiece, freeing DiCaprio up to play the handsome lothario trapped inside the body of Clint Howard.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.