When Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry and Clark Duke jump back into Hot Tub Time Machine 2 their time travelling partner from the first film, John Cusack, won’t be along for the ride. The actor has declined to participate in the sequel, leaving MGM and director Steve Pink to scramble for an alternate fourth cast member. The Wrap is reporting that they might have found that person in Parks And Recreation cast member Adam Scott.
Scott is not being cast into Cusack’s old role, but will be playing a new character. There are no details yet as to how his character will relate to the other three or how the absence of Cusack’s character will be explained.
Although Cusack has never been one for sequels or franchise films, I have to say that I am a bit disappointed in seeing that he is not returning. The original film was such a love letter to the teen comedies of the 1980s (see our Cinematic Swipe for one particular instance) and with Cusack having starred in several iconic films in that genre, his presence in the first film lent some cache to the proceedings. While I am sure that the cast will do as good a job as they did before, I still think that there will be missing a certain vibe that marked the first film.
Tom Jankiewicz, the Michigan-raised screenwriter who wrote the John Cusack comedy Grosse Pointe Blank, died January 23rd at San Bernadino Community Hospital in California it was reported by the Detroit Free Press yesterday. Jankiewicz had collapsed at the end of a question-and-answer session following a screening of the film at California State University, San Bernadino. He was 49.
Raised in the Detroit suburb of Sterling Heights, Jankiewicz drew on many elements from his life there for the 1997 comic film about a hitman who returns to his high school’s class reunion and reunites with his former girlfriend. The name of the hitman character’s best friend, played by Jeremy Piven, was originally the name of Jankiewicz’s best friend from high school while his high school’s ten year reunion announcement was used almost word for word in the film. The one thing he didn’t base on real life – a hired killer returning for his class reunion – was the one plot element that became urban legend for actually having happened.
Following Grosse Pointe Blank, Jankiewicz found work as a script doctor on several films. He had spent several years trying to get a project called Kung Fu Theater off the ground. Describing it as a cross between Pleasantville and the Bruce Lee movie Enter The Dragon, the comedy centered on a slacker who finds himself trapped in a 1970s Hong Kong martial arts film. Recently, he had been working on a screenplay about a real-life averted nuclear disaster from the early 1960s, the Goldsboro Broken Arrow incident.
John Cusack is developing a biopic about controversial talk show host Rush Limbaugh. Cusack will also star in the project, tentatively titled Rush, which is being developed through his production company, New Crime Productions. Although no writer was named, it was stated that the script is nearing completion and the the project should start shooting next year. Betty Thomas, who also directed the biopic of talk radio superstar Howard Stern, Private Parts, is set to direct.
Although some would probably suspect a rather partisan lambasting of Limbaugh, a statement about the film released by New Crime to the Hollywood Reporter stated, “The script would explore the rise and reinvention of American Talk Radio, and Limbaugh’s continued influence and impact over the last three decades in that world.”
Limbaugh first rose to national prominence in the late 1980s and it was his heated political rhetoric and attacks that seldom held up to factual scrutiny that helped create the severe political divide that the country currently suffers under. Although he has spoken at political events, he has tried to hide behind the label of “entertainer” when confronted over his more egregious statements. He once again trotted out this defense after calling a Georgetown law student who spoke out about the need for female contraception to be covered by insurance plans for various women’s health needs a “slut” and a “prostitute” on air.
A college drop out, Limbaugh’s career in radio started after he was classified “1-Y” and then later “4-F” by the military and was ineligible for duty in Vietnam. He worked at a number of stations through the 1970s, first as a DJ and then in sales until he finally took a job as promotions director for the Kansas City Royals baseball team in 1979. He went back to radio in 1984, when he took over Morton Downey Jr’s airslot on a talk radio station in Sacramento. Once the Reagan administration tore down the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, Limbaugh was poised to take his show national. Although an outspoken critic of drug users, Limbaugh had his own brushes with the law over illegally obtaining the prescription drugs oxycodone and hydrocodone and having possession of viagra that had not been prescribed to him.
Given that Cusack’s political leanings are in direct opposition to Limbaugh’s, the film should be fairly interesting. Given that Cusack’s and Limbaugh’s body types are also fairly different from one another, how the actor will be transformed into the radio talker should be equally as interesting.
A representative for Limbaugh stated that he had not talked to the radio show host about the film yet, though I imagine Limbaugh will have quite a lot to say when he takes to the air this week.
John Cusack is in negotiations to star in the thriller Airspace. He will be joining director Roger Avery, who is also working out his deal with producers even though he has already started work on polishing Briana Hartman’s screenplay.
Variety describes the film as a variation of Steven Spielberg’s Duel, set in the sky with Cusack as –
[A] work-absorbed charter pilot flying home to his family who must escape a sudden attack by a heavily armed MiG fighter jet after finding a mysterious briefcase in his plane.
The project is another in Cusack’s recent career journeys into thriller territory, a change up from the usual light comedies and dramatic films that have made up a bulk of his resume so far. In the near future we will see him in The Paperboy, The Numbers Station, The Frozen Ground and Motel.
1. The Pirates! Band Of Misfits (Sony/Columbia, 3,358 Theaters, 88 Minutes, Rated PG): Kind of a busy week for the movies. I guess the studios are dumping all their leftovers before the summer movies season begins next week, a month and a half before the official start of summer.
Maybe “leftovers” is a bit too cruel. This film is by Aardman Animation, the folks who brought us Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit, so they have a pretty good track record.
The film follows a band of pirates who are trying to win a “Pirate of the Year” contest who somehow get involved with Charles Darwin and run afoul of Queen Victoria. Wackiness ensues, voiced by an all-star, international cast.
2. The Five-Year Engagement (Universal, 2,936 Theaters, 124 Minutes, Rated R): Jason Segel has developed a career on film as a sad sack who always has a difficulty in the relationship department (usually in films he has a hand in writing). Emily Blunt has failed to fully capitalize on the big splash she made in The Devil Wears Prada. Now, they are together in this film, one which–surprise–Segel co-wrote and–just as surprising–produced by Judd Apatow (he’s the said “producer of Bridesmaids” on the poster to the left).
They play a couple whose engagement stretches to a five-year span through some incredible and extreme circumstances.
I’m a big fan of the Apatow school of comedy, and liked both The Muppets and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but this one just seems kind of eh for me. I’ve seen Segel playing someone who has fate screw up his happy romantic ending before. Do I really need to see it again?
3. Safe (Lionsgate, 2,266 Theaters, 94 Minutes, Rated R): The initial premise of this film reminds me of one my favorite “acquired taste” films, Shoot ‘Em Up. Both films feature a man who stumbles a group of thugs meaning to do harm to an innocent child. The man, skilled in the art of combat, defends the child from its attackers and acts as its protector until he can figure out what the bad guys want with the kid.
From there, the paths diverge. Shoot ‘Em Up was a live-action cartoon that pushed its violence to an absurd level. This film seems to be more of a conventional thriller.
Jason Statham’s films remind me of the kinds Chuck Norris and a early Steven Segal used to make. The films might not be Oscar worthy, but if you’re in the mood for a tough guy hitting bad guy in the face with his foot, you’re bound to be entertained.
4. The Raven (Relativity, 2,203 Theaters, 111 Minutes, Rated R): Just noticed that three of the four films out this week are Rated R. That hardly ever happens anymore.
As dismissive as I was at the start of this column about the week’s new releases, I’d probably have a hard time picking which one I would like to see first. I can see value in all of them (yes, even The Five-Year Engagement). But if I had to choose, I’d choose this one, if only for the premise alone.
I’m a big fan of Poe. That man has the market cornered on macabre wit. To build a period piece about a serial killer using Poe’s writings to kill his victims and Poe having to be called in to try and catch him is brilliant. While I do think that John Cusack looks a bit too healthy to play
Woody Allen is adapting his Academy Award nominated screenplay Bullets Over Broadway into a full-on Broadway musical.
The New York Times is reporting that Allen is transforming his story of a playwright, played by John Cusack in the 1994 film, who is forced to hire a mobster’s girlfriend to play the lead in a show he is attempting to produce in order to get the funds necessary to mount it. The show’s tunes will be chosen from popular jazz songs of the era.
This, of course, isn’t the first time that Allen will have work produced for the stage. He wrote the play Don’t Drink The Water, which was turned into a 1969 movie that Allen did not participate in and a 1994 television movie in which he directed and starred. More famous was his play Play It Again Sam, which became the 1972 film.
This is also the not the first time that Allen has created a musical using pre-existing songs. His 1996 film Everyone Says I Love You used a number of songs from the American Songbook, including a few from the movies of one of Allen’s idols, the Marx Brothers.
Although it appears as if the project is in a relatively early stage, the producers seem hopeful for a 2013 premier.
John Cusack and Malin Akerman have been signed to play the leads in the thriller The Numbers Game. Cusack is replacing Ethan Hawke, who had been previously attached to the project.
According to the folks at Content Film -
Cusack plays a disgraced black ops agent tasked with a dead-end job of protecting a code operator for an isolated covert CIA broadcast station played by Akerman. His mission is simple: protect the code operator. Keep her safe and secure, whilst knowing that she must never be taken alive…”
Filming is set to commence next month with Danish director Kasper Barfoed behind the camera. The screenplay is by F. Scott Frazier who sold the spec script Line Of Sight to Warner Brothers last February.
I know this doesn’t seem to be much of a news item, but Cusack is a pretty solid and dependable actor, even when he is in a stinker of a film. His presence alone means we’ll be watching for more news on this project as it moves towards actual production.
Although many of his films have been successful enough to spawn sequels, director Cameron Crowe has yet to follow any of them up with a second film. That’s not to say that the idea has never crossed his mind, at least for possibly his most popular film of all – 1989′s Say Anything…, which starred John Cusack and Ione Skye.
Speaking at a Television Critics Association press tour event on Saturday to promote his upcoming documentary Pearl Jam Twenty for PBS’s American Masters series, the director stated -
[Say Anything... is] the only thing that I’ve written that I would consider doing that [making a sequel] with. And I’ve thought about it from time to time, and talked about it with John Cusack once. This is the only story that [I've thought], there might be another chapter to that at some point… We have to keep the guy that Lloyd Dobler has to drive home from the prom party — he’s got to come back.
The documentary itself, which airs on October 21, should be of interest to film fans as well as music fans, considering that Crowe’s relationship with the band started back when he was filming his 1992 tale of Gen-X love and angst Singles. Members of Pearl Jam played the movie’s fictional band that was fronted by Matt Dillion’s character. And even though they are friends, Crowe promises that the documentary will contain lead singer Eddie Vedder’s “perfectly hideous” performance and intoxicated stage rantings at a party celebrating the release of the film.
What better way to celebrate the 202nd birthday of writer Edgar Allan Poe than getting our first look at John Cusack as the author in the upcoming The Raven. Taken on the set of the James McTigue directed film, I have to say that the first photo certainly removes some of the skepticism that I’ve had about the casting of Cusack as Poe. Sure the resemblance isn’t perfect, but the film is a fictionalization of the last days of the writers life as he supposedly is chasing down a serial killer, I don’t think biographical accuracy is first and foremost on the production’s mind.
Be it coincidence or homage or the outright hope that they don’t get caught aping someone else’s movie, filmmakers have been replicating the work of those who have gone before them for some time now. Every now and then we like to stop and point out one of those instances.*
Open this past weekend to a surprisingly low box office gross of $13 million, Hot Tub Time Machine sends four guys back to 1986 via the titular jacuzzi with the expected comedic results. To help set the mood, director Steve Pink has peppered the film with a number of references to teen comedies and dramedies of the `80s. Some are extremely subtle, but others are much more obvious. But no reference is more apparent than the scene where John Cusack’s character spends some time getting to know Spin magazine reporter April played by Lizzy Caplan. Pink decided to stage the scene in a way extremely familiar to anyone who has seen John Hughes’s Sixteen Candles. (And that’s a lot of people.)
As the scene comes late in Hot Tub Time Machine, I won’t spoil it by comparing it directly to the scene in Sixteen Candles. Suffice it to say, though, that there is a similar romantic tension, which Pink shorthands for us with the reference.
*And in the spirit of the swipe, we readily acknowledge that we were “inspired” by a similar feature over at Rich Johnson’s comic book news and gossip site, Bleeding Cool.