The Real James Franco

He’s hot right now. James Franco is an actor’s actor. He adds another dimension to a whole Spiderman series. He steals a scene from Steve Carell and Tina Fey in Date Night—a difficult feat in itself. He shares his love on General Hospital. He carries Oz The Great and Powerful.

 

I’ve seen interviews with him, and he impresses me. He enjoys acting, and seems truly grateful to be part of the entertainment industry. He loves to work, and it shows. He seems to embody the idea of “no small parts.”

My family has a few “Inside” jokes about him. When I told the boys we were going to see Oz, my older son says, “Wow. He’s amazing—being able to be portray the Wizard with only one hand!” He was, of course, referring to Franco’s role as Aron Ralston in the 2010 movie, 127 Hours, a true story about a mountain climber forced to cut off his own hand to survive in the Utah wilderness.

My younger son refers to other actors that he calls “Fake James Francos,” like the young Theo James, star of NBC’s new series Golden Boy. The Franco look-alike claims (as his character) to do 6000 push-ups a day. We laughed at that. My son says things like, “How can he say that? Only the real James Franco can do 6000 push ups a day.”

Franco is a hard working man. Besides being in every theatre across the country, IMDb.com shows that he has ten projects in either pre-, active, or post-production. What that says to me is that the REAL James Franco is a man to watch.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.

If you’d like to see any of the movies mentioned above, just click on the pictures for a link to watch or purchase.

 

To purchase a copy of my children’s book, Pockets, I’ve provided a quick link to amazon.com. Thanks!

Can We Be Silly for Just a Moment?

This morning I’m having a difficult time being serious. Last night our family watched Ladyhawke from 1985, starring Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer. Now when this film came out, nobody considered it a comedy—at all. It’s a tragic love story, a fable perhaps, about a couple cursed by an evil bishop. It’s set in medieval France, and features sweeping vistas and castles and monasteries in ruins.

Why did I giggle nearly all the way through the movie?

I watched it with my husband (we were married the same year this film was released), my two sons, and my older son’s fiancé. The “kids” had never seen the movie, but they love Broderick from Ferris Bueller and Pfeiffer from Stardust.

Sam (son #1) says something like this: “This is one of those eighties movies that’s set in the dark ages but the music is still done with electric guitars.” Sean (son #2) leaned against my shoulder and he and I whispered silly comments throughout the show. He’s seventeen years old, and I really love that he still leans on my shoulder.

We appreciated that though the names were very French—Etienne, Isabeau, and Phillipe—the accents were all over the place. The boys especially liked that in the end credits, under “Titles and Visual Effects,” there was only a list of three people. Though IMDb.com credits a total of twenty-two people in that category, it’s still certainly a far cry from the hundreds of technicians listed in today’s movies. It’s especially remarkable when you consider that this is a film in which two of the main characters transform from humans to animals multiple times in the story.

This movie isn’t silly. We made it silly, with our “enlightened sophistication” and goofy mood, a la Mystery Science Theater 3000. The point is that sometimes, despite the way things actually are, we need silliness. It’s good for us. Laughter is healthy exercise. Smiling keeps us young.

My family has a nice collection of silly movies and TV series. We enjoy the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello, and especially the Bing, Bob and Dorothy ensembles. These are the masters of the classic madcap comedies. The one-liners and physicality of their shtick keep us giggling.

The same goes for Monty Python productions. They introduced the “Ministry of Silly Walks.” They understand and embrace the ridiculous. In the same way, Mel Brooks has assembled casts of comic geniuses for films like Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety, The Producers, and Spaceballs. Every one of these movies showcases the recommended daily allowance of stupid.

Larry Blamire’s casts of characters pay homage to the best of the B Movies, and provide us with memorable lines that embroider even the most serious situations with smiles. “Ranger Brad, I’m a scientist, I don’t believe in anything.”

Saturday Night Live (SNL), SCTV (Second City), MADtv, and In Living Color have also graduated celebrated idiots like Steve Martin, Martin Short, Rick Moranis, Gene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O’Hara, Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Jane Curtain, Gilda Radner, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Mike Myers, Jim Carey, Michael McDonald, the Wayans and many others.

This morning I asked Sean about his favorite silly movies, and I must say that my husband and I have raised our boys well. His favorites—in his own words—are “all of the Larry Blamire movies, The Three Amigos, and Princess Bride.” Good boy.

Comedy helps us deal with situations. It diffuses tension. It provides common ground with others. Highbrow comedy tests us, dark comedy reveals us, but slapstick comedy just allows us to be, and to enjoy it. Hooray for hilarity!

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.