Features
Interviews
Columns
Podcasts
Shopping Guides
Production Blogs
Contests
Message Board
RSS Feed
Contact Us
Archives

 

By Christopher Stipp

November 11, 2005

“I’m a dangerous interview, dude.”

I’ve lived with Robert Patrick for the last three weeks.

I usually rue the experience after an interview of having to do the actual work, transcribing the whole damn thing, but this time everything was different. It was honestly the best three weeks I’ve ever had living with the hour of digital tape, the proof, if you will, which shows this one man, Robert Patrick, as a guy who has a lot on his mind, has passion for his craft and really lets throttle out when he gets going.

It would be a mistake thinking that he’s needlessly verbose or too wordy, it would be a fatal falsity to infer this, as everything he talks about is imbued with the passion which has no doubt helped him survive a Hollywood system that would rather see its hired help harangued in the tabloids in the name of keeping their names in the public sphere. Robert has no use for these things. He’s an actor who wants to get better at what he does, pure and simple and he’s more interesting as a person, as a human, because of it.

As I wound down my transcription of this interview I was not only left exhausted by my countless rewinds, fast forwards and CIA-like analyzation of words to ensure accuracy but I found myself laughing at the very things which come out of his mouth.

I actually made an audio copy of this interview to share with some people from this site just because this was a conversation I wanted to share just as if it was a new band that needed to be shared with my closest friends. He excuses himself for being wordy but it’s an unnecessary gesture. He comes across as a wily force, no doubt, but if every interview went like this, if actors could just express honest moments, reflections, about their jobs without having to worry if a man like Larry King is going to corner them on national television and ask them what it’s like to go through a public divorce and if they now enjoy having private relations with Vince Vaughn then I think we could enjoy consuming the very thing Robert Patrick is able to express: love for what he does.

WALK THE LINE opens next week, November 18. Much public thanks have to go out to Robert who really only had to toss me 15 minutes but wonderfully gave me a story worth sharing with everyone else.


Are you a good buddy of Kevin Smith’s? Is that how you got hooked up? No, I’m not. It was the editor-in-chief of Kevin’s movie website who was looking for somebody to take over their Trailer Park column…The one you do…Right. I wrote in and said, “This is who I am, I’ve written a book, I can do it…”

What’s your book?

It’s a work of fiction, it’s self-published, I made a 100 copies…

You sell a hundred? Made a hundred, sell a hundred?

No…

Aw…

I could sell it on the site, I could say, “Hey, come buy my book…” but I still feel awkward.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Chicago. And even moving to Arizona nearly 10 years ago…when I went to write my first book I set it in Illinois just because…

You missed it so bad.

Badly.

I’m working with David Mamet. He’s from Chicago. He’s a Chicago boy.

That was going to be my next question. He’s absolutely, without question, one of the best living playwrights living today.

He’s a great guy, I love him. I didn’t know how I was going to get along with David. Because I did one of his plays, I told him this the other day, I did one of his plays back in 1990. Now I work for him, he’s my boss; he just directed this last episode I did the other day. He’s so great. He’s fucking great. He comes up to me so excited, “I wrote you some great speeches!”

He’s so charged up. “I wrote you some great speeches!” What a pleasure to go do a television show and everything is being funneled through David Mamet…

I think that’s the amazing part is that the man who has done GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS and all those great films which came after is turning his attention to…

Our television show. It’s fantastic. I don’t think there’s anything like it on TV. As a matter of fact I kid everybody, “We’re not makin’ television it’s Mamet, dammit.” It’s not TV, it’s Mamet.

He writes in that way, you’re not really talking about what you’re talking about, you’re going around everything. It’s staccato. You’ve really got to listen to the other guys’ cues, our overlaps are almost there but not quite there, it’s just intense stuff. His energy and his enthusiasm and the exuberance he brings to the project and the artistic craft and the respect he has for other actors…He is an actor and he wants to get in there and roll up his sleeves and get dirty…It’s infectious.

Really?

Oh yeah…You’re just so jazzed…”I’m going to work today with David Mamet!” It’s so great. You know he comes up to you at the end of the day and he’ll go, “Oh…Thank you so much. It was such a wonderful day today, you were great.” He’s just that sort of person. I mean, God, what a dream job. My perception before I came to this point today, and one my friends asked me how I was going to lead off the piece, of you I had to base solely on the work you’ve done on television, movies and the like. I think if I had a perception of you is that if we were out drinking, playing pool, what have you, is that a guy could say one wrong thing and you’d be the first person to turn a beer bottle upside down and get into it…

(Laughs) It’s all about perception…

It’s all about perception. I am like J.R. Cash in that sense. (Laughs)

Is that what you’re brining about what you think David is like?

Yeah, he’s a playwright, I think anyway, first and foremost, and I imagine him to be quiet, reserved…

No…Total opposite. Total opposite. Bright, wonderful, jogs at lunch, lots and lots of life in him. Lots of enthusiasm. He’s just so great. He’ll…(motions like he’s scribbling on a piece of paper)…”Hey, say this!” It’s different. I can’t wait to see how the show is going to go over. I mean we’re talking about something no one has ever seen yet but I really think it’s going to be a neat, it’s going to be unique and I think people…I keep saying it’s more like the Soprano’s more than anything in that we’re a fringe part of society, on the outside, we’re about the Delta Force, the elite Delta Force, it’s their world, and they can’t talk about what they do, it’s coded, covert, it’s deception, it’s a family unit itself and my guy is the colonel in charge of the whole operation and I send these guys out on these missions and I do a tap dance with D.C., with the President, with the White House people, and I got to come back and I have to manage my guys and then I got their wives, and they cause me problems…It’s this neat little world that I don’t think anyone really has been exposed to. It’s like 2% of the population is in the military and this group is composed of these Scotch-Irish-Cherokee kind of blend kind of guys, which is what I am, and Eric Haney, the guy who wrote the book The Delta Force, the book the show is based on, is David’s friend and he and David came up with the idea to put the show together. And Eric is Scotch-Irish-Cherokee and, you know, we’re fighting men, that’s what we are, we’re fighting men and so it’s interesting that there is such a high percentage of Southern commanders and people kind of get reassured when they hear that Southern drawl come out of somebody who is in charge of the armed forces, I don’t know what it is, but it’s a neat world.

I don’t want to put anything on it besides that I hope it does really well for Eric, David and Shawn Ryan, who has also done The Shield.

Do you know what network…

CBS. Is this going to be a mid-season replacement?

Mid-season. We’re doing 13 right now. Well, if they say successful projects like this are all about the writing I don’t think you’ll have too much difficulty. You look at shows like Lost and…

Yeah, I did an episode of Lost. I know this.

I don’t know where they’re going to go with it. They called me up and said…one of the producers called me up and said, “We’ve got this role of a con man. We want you to do it with,..” what’s his name, “Josh Holloway.” I interviewed him.

He’s great. Sweet kid. He’s from Georgia. We found that out in the van, we were riding to work together and he says, “So where you from?” and I say, “Atlanta. Where you from?” It was great. We had one scene together…but getting back to it I’ve been really lucky with my television stuff because, for years, I resisted the temptation to do TV and then I did the Soprano’s. Amazing. Loved your performance.

Oh, thank you. I did it and went, “Wow. This is some of the greatest writing.” And I denied myself the opportunity to do this, I’m an idiot. I want to do TV. Why do think you denied it for so long?

I just came into Hollywood in ’84 and it was always like if you’re going to be a film guy, be a film guy. Even if that meant doing films that went right to video, it didn’t matter, you were a film guy. You weren’t guest starring on television, you weren’t doing TV commercials, you weren’t, you were not doing it. You were scrounging around, making a living however you could, doing independent movies, popping in a studio movie here and there, you worked your way up. Man, when I got to Hollywood, fuck man, I lived in my car. I slept in my car out here. I didn’t have an agent, I didn’t have any of that shit, I started by doing a play in Hollywood…Hollywood is sort of like…jump in there, claw your way up as best you can, as fast as you can and I got started with Roger Corman, the king of the B-movies, and I never let go. Partly was I didn’t have really great representation, so I never got the opportunity to do television, never even auditioned, so I kind of became this guy who got passed around to director to director till eventually I auditioned for Renny Harlin who was the first audition I had just after I got into the union, he cast me on the spot, and the next guy I auditioned for was James Cameron and he cast me right on the spot.

How did that happen? How did you go from…

Fucking timing, man. It’s just, fuckin’, I don’t know how I did that. That’s God, baby, that’s not me. It’s just…I don’t know. It was desperate times for me; I needed a job. It’s me and my wife, I was fuckin’ broke, living in a $100 a month apartment in Hollywood, “You’ve got an audition for Jim Cameron tomorrow.” “Really? What am I?” “Just got to be an intense presence, that’s all we know, we don’t know what it is. We don’t know, no one knows. They’re just looking for somebody intense.” “Right. Ok.” You know, who knows? Who knows how all that stuff works. But, boy, did I need it. And, man, am I grateful, tell you that much right now.

And then you went on to reprise that role two more times…

Is it WAYNE’S WORLD? It was a nice little payday for a day’s work. And then Arnold called me up personally, I was doing ADR on a soundstage for some little movie I did and he called me up and said (affecting his best Arnold Schwarzenegger he can muster) “Robert…it’s Arnold. I want you to do what you did in the WAYNE’S WORLD for my LAST ACTION HERO movie. I will not pay you the same. HAHAHA…You’ll get SAG minimum, of course.” I went and did it. I did it. How do you say no to Arnold? You just go do it and it was great. It was a great day because Sharon Stone was there so there was a lot of eye candy.

Now, I’ve done a lot of research…

I want you to use that research! If I’d shut-up I’d let you be able to ask questions… (Laughs)

Well, that’s the thing. Even at your own website, Robert-Patrick.com, the handful of articles that you have posted there are all around the time TERMINATOR 2 came out. I was upset there hasn’t been more written about you since that time because you’ve been involved in dozens and dozens of projects…

I’ve done a lot. I’ve done 60 some-odd movies SINCE I did T2. The interesting thing is that the movies I am most proud of, not that I am not proud of T2 by any means, because I am…ach…this may be very boring to people…it might not be, I don’t know…I REALLY like where I’m at. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to have access to better material and do better parts but to come out here and to achieve what I’ve done, I did it all on my own, except with God’s help, obviously. I was an unknown when I was cast in T2 and everybody believed that character. So, having said that, anything I’ve done since, I’ve tried not being THAT guy. I tried to hide it.

Right.

And so we started with FIRE IN THE SKY. Which is the next big studio movie I did, I’m not the same guy. Totally different guy. Gained weight, grew a beard. That to me is what an actor is. What scares me is that I’m still that way. I guarantee you, we could walk out of here, right now, and someone would go, “Um…TERMINATOR.” And they won’t be able to list another fucking thing I’ve done. They’ll have a hard time trying to figure out what I’ve done since.

I’ve literally had people say, “Do you still work in movies?”

(Pauses)

And that’s fine. Because, whether they know it or not, when they do see me in a movie and they’re going, “Who the fuck is that guy?” it’s me and I’m an actor and you’re not going in there with a preconceived notion of who I am. It’s not my personality first. I’m not a guy who goes on Conan O’Brien or whatever and get this bright, shiny personality guy, I’m an entertainer, I’m funny fucking guy, I’m this, I’m that, I’m not that guy.

I work where guys like David Mamet write me the material, I work my ass off on it and then I interpret it and I bring that character to life. And whether you know it’s me or not it doesn’t matter, I still got paid either way, right?

But I literally think that there’s people that don’t realize it’s the same guy, it’s the guy who did the X-Files who did…(pauses) It’s a totally different personage and even John Doggett, John Doggett’s not…John Doggett has that New York accent, he’s closest to what I did in COPLAND but yet COPLAND is so far removed…

Another great movie.

Well, Mangold cast me for that and the thing for that was, “Shit, how am I going to do this New York accent? I’m the only guy from LA who doesn’t know…I’m not from fuckin’ New York. Now how the fuck do I do this?” I was in New York when I got it, I was doing press for STRIPTEASE. Right.

And if you haven’t seen STRIPTEASE, STRIPTEASE is the ultimate white trash, redneck… Yeah, you’re rocking the mullet real well.

Yeah, I kind of got the mullet. I’ve kind of got a James Dean mullet going on but I got that part when I was in New York. I remember that. That was the big for me was sweating the fact that I was going to be working with De Niro and Keitel and all these guys who are so authentic with their accents. But I had a great guy, an actor buddy of mine, Arthur Nascarella, worked real hard with me on the accent. And I also went to New York and I did three weeks of ridealongs with the New York City police department and prepped for that so it gave me confidence before I went out there day one with those guys. But…Shit, I’m jumping all over. But I just think I’m one of those guys, no one knows anything about me, and therefore they believe, I hope, my theory is that they believe what they see when they see it and that’s what I’m hoping for. And, to me, that’s an actor.

Interesting story: sometimes I gauge, let’s say I have an interview, what people think when I say, “Oh, I have an interview coming up.” Let’s say it was when I was going to do Josh Holloway. “Who?” might be the best way to characterize the responses I got…

Well you would know Josh Holloway’s name before you would know my name, I would think. He’s probably got a much bigger TV Q… Oddly enough, there’s a certain segment of the population who watches that KIND of program. And just this past week when I talked to the same people, people who have zero connection to the entertainment industry, I just wanted to gauge the response. “I’m going to LA to interview Robert Patrick.” Every single one of them, “Who?”

Who? “Who?”

Yeah, yeah. But, but, all I have to do is start dropping a few names. “T2,” Oh, I love that movie.” “COPLAND,” “Oh yeah, I fucking love that movie.”

Right, right, right. “X-Files…” In a way I have to believe that’s a good thing.

I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s a good thing but then I am also aware of the fact that, you know, I’m starting to starve for really good material. I mean I am fortunate that I am working for Mamet right now, fortunate that I am doing a Paul Haggis, FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, with Clint Eastwood, I’m fortunate I just did a movie with Harrison Ford. I’m really fortunate that I am getting better material. I realize that you’re going to get that material, that name recognition thing kind of has to feed that, feed that beast as it were. It’s a celebrity orientated world, the business we’re in and, hence, I’m sitting here talking with you.

(I laugh)

Because we’ve got to get the name out there. I guess now I do got to try to…got to bring more attention to me and my work. Hopefully that will transfer into access to better material. I’d almost disagree with you on that point…

I don’t know, I don’t know…I mean I am just throwing this out there. I’ve been doing it 20 years one way… Straight up, what I do, and to give you some idea it’s de regur to be assigned pieces, who you’re going to interview and what the angle is.

The Q rating. Yes.

“Look where he is on the Star Meter!” What the fuck is the Star Meter? “I am DB, professional Star Meter. You are a…600.” (Laughs) “Is that good or bad?” “Well, you want to be one.” “Oh, ok.” Yeah, you want to be profiled in US Weekly holding hands with your wife under the caption They’re Just Like Us! “They walk with their wives!” “They play with their kids!”

I’m following you… The one thing that Tej, the publicist who made this meeting happen…

Yes, yes, wonderful woman… I’m telling you, she couldn’t have said Robert Patrick fast enough. I mean, really, Joaquin? Probably would be a good interview. Reese? Probably a great interview. But, honestly, when it came to deciding who I wanted to talk to about this movie, you’re one I wanted to talk to the most.

No shit? Thank you. What I see, and this is just me, I think you have the kind of career most actors would like to have. People who start really hot, fade out and go away but you’ve worked at it, cultivated, and managed to work with some of the biggest talent there is. I mean I flew out here from Arizona just to talk with you.

Oh man, I am so, so thrilled…I hope you’re staying at this hotel. Nope. I’m leaving today.

(He starts laughing) I flew in this morning and I am leaving this evening. I’m telling you, I was not going to miss this opportunity.

Well, I hope I’m not a disappointment, one, I have to kind of constantly remind myself that I don’t need…I don’t need any outside…I’m not looking for other people to tell me I’m good…I’m not looking for any outside thing from the business, telling me, “Atta boy.” I’m really fine with the fact that if I take everything one day at a time, this is 12-step stuff but it’s the truth, if I take one scene at a time, if I take one project at a time, no matter what it is, no matter what circumstance I find myself in, it could be the shittiest movie of all time, but if I am in there and I am doing the best that I can and I am treating it’s something, then I am going to be ok. And I’ve tried to do that. I don’t know if that’s what’s helped me…I know there are a lot of actors when I started when I was in my early 20’s, my mid 20’s, 20 years, um, I don’t know where they are. And I don’t know what happened to them. A lot of them were a lot hotter than I was. I’ve always been focused on longevity. And, consciously or unconsciously, I take pride in…I ran into Bruce Willis last night at the premiere of Annie down the street. There’s a guy I worked with in 1989 and he still remembers me from that and he’s seen what I’ve done since. And, I like that. I like the fact that guys like him…David Chase will call me up and say, “No one would ever cast you this way but I will.” Or Chris Carter would go, “Hey. I saw FIRE IN THE SKY, I want you to be in my series.” I like that. I kind of feel weird talking about myself like this. I have dwelt on this a little bit. “Where are you?” “What are you doing?” “Where are you in this business?” “Where do you sit?” I don’t know.

I don’t know where I am right now. Right now I am doing this Mamet show and I am working for Clint Eastwood and I’ve got a movie coming out with Harrison Ford and I’ve got WALK THE LINE coming out. What’s going to happen next year? I don’t know. But, by God, I’ll be working, I’ll tell you that much.

What’s your drive to keep working, keep going?

I do feel like there’s a certain sense of I want to accomplish as much as I can in my craft. I am not like a guy who’s multi-faceted. I love acting, I really do, and I really feel like that’s the only place where I can really control, have control of my life, is what happens between “action” and “cut.” It’s the only time when I am allowed to do what I want to do even though I have a director telling me what he wants me to do but that’s really the only time when I’m the one who can do it. And it’s a neat kind of a thing. Of course I need all the guys with the cameras and the lighting guys, I need everybody else to be there or else it’s not worth doing but, really, I enjoy that. I get kind of restless if I don’t work for, weeks. I get like, “Whoa! What’s going on? Don’t we have something I can do somewhere?” I love acting.

And I feel like my best years are ahead of me. I don’t feel like I’ve had my best years yet. I still feel like the next 20 years is where the best stuff is going to be and I think that’s a healthy way to look at it but it’s honestly, truly, the way I feel.

I think there’s a lot of little movies that I’ve done that I’m most proud of like with Sam Sheppard, Diane Keaton and Diane Lane, I did a movie called THE ONLY THRILL. No one saw it. I’ve got a lot of these different kind of things out there that no one’s ever seen. I get that a lot of times. There’s a Law and Order: SVU aired that I just did where I played a rapist, a child rapist. I’ve always played bad guys. I’ve played some good guys you’ve just never saw it. You haven’t had a chance to see any of it. It wasn’t a wide released film, or it wasn’t a television show…

That was the first thing in your biography on IMDB.com. It says something to the effect that you’ve essentially played scurrilous, deviants…

Deviants, I don’t know if I’ve played that many deviants, have I? Well, I think in the general sense. There was the gambler in the Soprano’s…

Yeah, that’s true. The addicted gambler. Which turned out to be the smartest thing I ever did, doing that role. Because that had a big Hollywood fan base. A lot of people in Hollywood saw that. And I remember getting some meetings with some directors that didn’t want to see me before. It’s a lot easier to get in now. It’s a lot easier to get in and see people now. Is it that fickle?

I don’t know, you know, when I did TERMINATOR, and I go back to that because it’s the biggest thing I’ve done, I don’t think a lot people wanted to have that guy in their movie. It’s too recognizable. I’ve heard that from some people before. “You’re too recognizable from that movie.” I heard that a couple of times and that was immediately, “Well, I’m gonna gain some weight and grow my hair and grow a beard, fuck ‘em. They won’t ever recognize me.” I walked in, got FIRE IN THE SKY and the director went, “Wait a minute. You’re kidding me. He’s that guy from fuckin’ TERMINATOR 2? That’s the guy who just read for me? No fuckin’ way.” Anyway, I’m being redundant.

I love working with Joaquin. I’ve gotta tell you this. I’m gonna tell you two little things about Reese and Joaquin, if I may, if you don’t mind.

Of course.

Joaquin. I love working with Joaq. We did LADDER 49 together and we became good buddies. He’s very much like a little brother to me. And he was up at my house, some barbeque we were having, a bunch of guys, they were up at my house, I had my meeting with Mangold for WALK, and so I asked him, “Can I play your dad in WALK THE LINE? Are you going to be alright with it?” And he looked at me and he went, “What do you mean?” And I told him, “I am going to play your dad in WALK THE LINE.” I said, “Is that going to distract you or are you are going to be cool about it? Because I don’t want to do it if it’s going to fuck you up because I know how important this role is for you. I don’t want to be a distraction. Can you buy the fact that I can be your old man?” He scratched his head a little bit and went, “Yeah…Yeah, I like it. No way. You’re going to be my old man?” It was one of those moments. And, he was awesome. We had so much fun together. Really neat stuff. I’m really proud of him.

And another little thing I’ll tell you and I told this to Ryan Phillippe the other day as we were walking on FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS. He and Reese used to live down the street from us.

Five years ago my little boy was born. He was in intensive care at Cedar’s. And Reese came by, I had met her a few times, she had just waking down in front of my house, I would be digging around the yard or something, and she came by and said, “I heard your little boy was born. Is he home yet?” And I said, “No, momma and he are still at Cedar’s and coming home pretty soon.”

And, later that day, and this, I just think it’s a little thing, later that day there was about two dozen, fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. She buzzed my gate…little note from her and Ryan Phillippe…and this was five years ago…I was blown away by that and I was blown away by that for a couple of reasons. Being from Atlanta, being from the South, that’s a real Southern fuckin’ thing to do. And this is before LEGALLY BLONDE, and this is before she made that really big jump, I think she was right on the cusp. It was right after ELECTION. I remember talking to her about ELECTION, how great she was in that…And I was really really blown away by that. I mentioned this to her during WALK THE LINE, I introduced her to my son, “This is the boy, this is the one.”

I just think that’s a neat story because I think Reese is really that. I think she’s a genuine…she’s got a lot of that Southern sensibility that June Carter Cash had and I think it comes through in the film. Those two together just did and amazing job and so did James Mangold of portraying those two larger than life people and those are the stories I wanted to tell you about Reese and Joaq.

Absolutely. I guess if I could, the last question I have…

Did you get enough of your questions? (Laughs)

I’m a dangerous interview, dude.

(Laughs)

Get a little coffee in me and I’m gone…

I think the biggest thing I wanted to end with is now that you’ve gotten to the point where you are, your kids are growing up…

Right. You’re able to go into virtually any store, any video store and have these things to show your children and say, “This is what I’ve done…This is my work…” What does it mean to you to have movies like TERMINATOR 2 which will live on long after you and I are here…

Let’s hope so. Not so much DOUBLE DRAGON…

Yeah, but even in DOUBLE DRAGON there was some stuff in that performance that I liked, I had a lot of fun with that movie. My kids have seen SPY KIDS so they’ve seen their daddy. I took my daughter to the premiere of that. She did the whole red carpet and that was where she realized that I was an actor. She literally did. She sat in my lap and she turned around and looked at me…

(Robert looks back and forth, back and forth.)

She looked around and she was like 5. And it was awesome. And my kids, they know this is the family business and that mommy and daddy take care of daddy’s career and daddy’s an actor.

They’ve been on the set to visit me on the X-Files, every Friday night they would come down and I really tried to include them in that.

(Pauses)

I just want them to be proud of me. And provide for them just like anybody else. I’m trying to instill some good values in them as we walk through this minefield in Hollywood.

As I said before, I want them to be able and pick up that DVD of TERMINATOR 2 and say, “This is my old man. That’s my dad right there.” And, I think they are already. They’ve got a few of the action figures and they think it’s kind of cool.

But, you know, it’s a job. It’s just a job. It’s just a craft. As Harrison Ford explained it over a dinner one night, of the craft of acting, it really is a craft and you just get better at it the more you do it and the harder you work to refine it.


LOOKING FOR COMEDY IN THE MUSLIM WORLD (2006) Director: Albert Brooks
Cast: Albert Brooks, Mike Akrawi, Rauf Alaskarov, Barbara Ali
Release: January 20, 2006
Synopsis: To improve their relations with Muslim countries, The U.S. Government assigns comedian Albert Brooks to find out what makes the Muslim people laugh.
View Trailer:
* Medium (QuickTime)
Prognosis: For once, something I can actually watch by this guy.

Albert Brooks.

Sometimes I could just write that name and, depending on what mood I’m in, be completely knocked over with his brand, style and delivery of comedy or be shoving shreds of cork in my ears as his grating delivery of lines in FINDING NEMO makes me wonder who owed him a favor at Pixar. The man can find that kind of funny which isn’t always the best stuff to go after: the thoughtful laugh. He can be dense at times, trying too hard to be obsequious to the audience at other times when he’s doing crap like THE IN-LAWS, but, overall, he has managed to create a career with doing whatever the hell he wants when he wants.

With this film I have to give him props for having a title that has already drawn criticism. I’m surprised that a fatwa hasn’t already been issued with regard to the existence of this movie as I am sure we are only going to hear more about it as the release date comes closer. The opening lines of this trailer don’t help to minimize this issue.

“Millions of Muslims around the world hate our guts…”

We see the capitol building, a plane landing late at night and there is a smoky jazz soundtrack playing the background. Now, we have a chance to really rip into things and kick it off quick like a good trailer should but we’re bogged down early by the extended moment with former senator Fred Thompson (who’ll always be the overly stoic air traffic controller from DIE HARD 2) who is sitting down with Albert Brooks and saying blah blah blah find out what makes Muslims laugh. I don’t know if Albert had a hand in creating this trailer but I understand that this movie is going to skew to an older demographic. What gets me is that nearly a ¼ of this trailer is spent just setting up the premise. Once we get that Brooks is being sent to India and Pakistan to find out what makes them giggle we finally get going with seeing the actual subject of this flick.

In fact, this is the best part of the trailer: it’s one part Amazing Race, as we see the congestion which exists inside the most dense parts of India, and one part Frontline as Albert is shown wandering around a call center as people are heard saying, “Toys R Us, how can I help you?” and, “The White House…How may I direct your call?” That’s funny. That’s sharp. Unfortunately, it’s stuffed all the way in the middle of this cannoli.

We forage ahead, again, with the funny as Albert interviews people who are going to help him with his quest. The exchanges he has with the hopeful few are tinged with the kind of humor which is probably going to incite some conversation about what kind of movie this is but it’s genuinely interesting and effective, to me anyway, about what one can expect out of this film.

When you see Brooks take the stage and float a joke in English to a throng of Indians, purposefully horrible, and listen to his follow-up temperature-check about who in the audience can actually UNDERSTAND English it is, again, pretty good. Like I said, sometimes Albert’s mere presence on the screen feels like someone grating on my perineum with a rusty cheese slicer but I like him, I really like him.

As the trailer winds its way down, seeing snippets of Albert using a ventriloquist dummy which has its own turban, watching as Albert is blindfolded as he’s whisked over the border into Pakistan and the small little scene with a bit player who defends his own funniness should be seen as fairly good representations about what one can expect from this film. At first I honestly thought this was going to be a documentary but, as you find out, there is a tinge of romantic comedy percolating right beneath the surface. Be that a good or bad thing? I dunno but the one Indian who asks Albert if he’s a Jew and listening to Alberts’ response is, again, reassuring to me as a viewer.

Comments:

Leave a Reply

FRED Entertaiment (RSS)