July 12, 2011
Horrible Bosses and Donkey Kong
I haven't watched Horrible Bosses (but I kind of want to after reading A.O. Scott's half-embarrassed positive review, in which he compares the crude, idiotic, absurd style of humor to snorting cocaine) but there are a couple of interesting things about it that I thought I'd point out:
- It's directed by Seth Gordon, whose first movie was one of the more entertaining documentaries I've ever seen, The King of Kong, about the world's most dedicated classic video game players and champions of Donkey Kong. The most memorable figure in King of Kong is Billy Mitchell, reigning Kong champ, extravagant megalomaniac, and collector of dazzling patriotic ties (see above).
- Colin Farrell allegedly based his horrible boss character on Billy Mitchell, after Seth Gordon gave him a copy of Kong to watch. Gordon says, "It was wonderful that Colin was open to the role and really breathed life into it. At the first meeting, we talked about giving him a belly and a clubbing enthusiasm -- and Colin wanted a comb-over. As soon as we saw the first attempt at that I knew it was right."
- Seth Gordon now says that he wants to remake King of Kong, a straight-up documentary, as a mockumentary. The original has such grandiose and over-the-top characters that it sometimes edges into mocking territory, but Gordon was inspired by his recent experience directing episodes of "The Office" and "Parks and Recreation" and wants to try that style with the Kong remake.
In my opinion, the reason the original is so wonderful is that the characters are all real people who are completely sincere in their dedication to video games. They say things like, "I wanted to be a hero. I wanted to be the center of attention. I wanted the glory, I wanted the fame. I wanted the pretty girls to come up and say, 'Hi, I see that you're good at Centipede' " or "No matter what I say, it draws controversy. It's sort of like the abortion issue." And THEY MEAN IT. A mockumentary about these people could easily slide into mean-spiritedness and winking at the camera.
- One more thing about Horrible Bosses: do you know who wrote that cinematic cocaine that made A.O. Scott so giddy? Sam Weir! John Francis Daley, who played little Sam in Paul Feig's "Freaks and Geeks" now writes offensively vulgar comedies! I'm so proud.
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