Sunday, May 29, 2005

Our heroes will inevitably disappoint us

I experienced a massive disconnect the other day while watching a trailer for Herbie: Fully Loaded, a movie that I can't conceive of being any good. This is party because it's a remake of a movie from the days when Disney pumped out crappy live action movies (often starring Dean Jones), but mostly because it's about a self-aware car that doesn't kill people.

Anyway, I habitually scan the credits of trailers for the writer & director of the movie. It sometimes helps to evaluate the potential of the film. I've done it for so long that I usually can lock onto the names even if the credits barely flashes on the screen. I was sneering through the Herbie trailer when it ended and I said to myself, "I can't believe this is happening again." See, the movie is written (at least in part) by Thomas Lennon & Ben Garant. I love these guys. They wrote and performed in and now, Reno 911, two great, funny shows.

Lennon & Garant came to Austin years ago with most of the other members of The State to perform at the late, lamented Big Stinkin' Improv Festival. I got my copy of the ridiculously useless travel guide State by State with The State signed and then saw them perform that night. At one point, the troupe moved off the stage, ostensibly to change costumes, while member Ken Marino stayed behind and chatted with the audience. Instead of leaving the stage though, the performers stopped and starting taking off their clothes down to their underwear, all while Marino continued to obliviously talk about...something, but at this point who was paying attention to him?

While the near-naked members ambled about, quietly talking amongst themselves, Marino pulled out a disposable camera and encouraged the audience to squeeze in so he could take a picture. At the count of three, he snapped the picture and on the other side of the stage, the underwear came off. Despite the long set-up, it was still a surprise. I doubt the Paramount Theater will ever again have so much exposed genitalia again. At the time I distinctly remember thinking, "Dang. The one guy I've wanted to see naked is the only one who isn't. Dang." Still, hilarious. The crowd went nuts crazy. There were more than a few people with videocameras in the audience, so if anyone has access to a recording of it, please let me know.

Getting back to the point, I was stunned to see Lennon & Garant at least partially responsible for Herbie because it continues a frighteningly trend. These guys are also credited writers for The Pacifier and Taxi. When I saw that they'd writen The Pacifier, I convinced myself that they had authored a subversive movie that was taken away and dumbed down by the studio. Clearly I was fooling myself. I'm sure they made good money, but guys, I beg of you, stop writing vehicles for the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Vin Diesel, and Jimmy Fallon.

Hmm, I meant for this to be a thoughtful argument for smart, small comedy over bland, lowest-common-denominator crap, but it seems to have gotten away from me. Oh well.


  1. wow, i had no idea garant and lennon were behind such crap as taxi and the pacifier, and now herbie. it's kind of how i felt when i found out mike white wrote for pasadena and dead man walking, and that daniel walters wrote demolition man. and that julie brown wrote for clueless the series. on the plus side, new season of reno 911 starts soon, and have you heard of stella, which stars michael showalter, michael ian black and david wain? seems comedy central loves the former state people. i know i do.

  2. I'm thrilled that Stella will be debuting soon on TV. I was going to see them in Austin, but they cancelled (I think b/c Black was up for the Late Late show host gig at the time). Interestingly, Reno 911 was a pilot for Fox who didn't pick the series. Their loss.

  3. Hi, St, Murse - I have cited your post in my Weekly BlogScan, this week titled "Living with Disappointment." To view the citation or read comments, please join the following two lines into one URL: