“What a week, right, people? I mean this week, Americans turned on their televisions and were witness to a pathetic disaster slowly unfolding. And then after the Oscars were over…”
New Rule: Colin Firth has to admit that he’s not a human being, but a robot designed by women. He’s handsome, charming, witty, he’s got that accent, and he has a gay best friend. The only way he could be any better is if he ejaculated Hagen-Dazs. — Bill Maher, ‚ÄúNew Rules‚Äù (March 4th)
Admittedly, if we’re not even permitted to see two straight guys swap a jokey air-kiss in America then we won’t get away with “ejaculating Hagen-Dazs” on network TV. While sanitized sex is timidly endorsed, the sticky bits are frowned upon. But even within the stringent limits of family-friendliness, is it too much to ask that the culminating celebration of the year’s achievement in movie entertainment be as entertainingly aimed as a few deftly-lobbed slingshot zingers like these? Bill Maher’s good friend Ariana Huffington sums it up precisely:
When comedy works, it seems effortless. This year’s Oscar broadcast showed what happens when it doesn’t: you can see the heavy lifting (Franco coming out dressed like Marilyn Monroe and delivering a lame Charlie Sheen joke? Or ending a recap of the technical awards by saying, “Congratulations, nerds!” …You know things aren’t going well when the funniest part of the show is the clips of Bob Hope delivering 50-year-old jokes.
And there’s the key. No matter how many flashy autotune gimmicks the producers concoct to drag the Oscars into the 21st Century, it’s all just slapstick lipstick on a 3D pig without retuning the writing to bring it up to date. No matter how fresh the presenters’ physical appeal, until the Oscars wise up and realize their writing staff is stale, the hosts can’t help but stink up the joint.
I think one reason Franco had an out-of-body demeanor is because he was already in postmortem mode, doing an instantaneous mental autopsy of his onstage oblivion. Riding the clutch, with the meta-gears grinding in his own head, already deconstructing the mediocrity of the banter before propping it up with any game-face grinning facade. In spite of the jazz-hands CPR Hathaway was valiantly trying to administer, in his mind’s eye Franco was already seeing the tiresome lines on the teleprompter shrivel and wither on the vine. The quips had no sizzle, no wit, no bite. And who’s the notoriously tacky writer I like to blame? Nobody chokes the gag reflex from a gag like Bruce Vilanch. Academy, please ditch this haggard relic!
First step to fixing the Oscars: Move past the fusty claptrap Villance has been foisting off as funny for the past 22 years (!!). Stop trying to screw this hoary round peg into the vapid hole at the center of The Hollywood Squares. It does little good to enlist “hipster” starpower if you’re only going to have them spewing the same lazy twaddling nonsense that’s been an embarrassment to every presenter who ever had to deliver Vilanch’s trite obsolete snotticisms.
If Franco was a humiliating spectacle as Marilyn, at least his awkward mortification had a wretched self-aware pathos. But there’s nothing sadder than a feeble elderly drag queen who still thinks she’s irresistibly foxy. Bruce Vilanch is what he is, but he ain’t what he used to be (which was never much).
Only a consummate showman can float a feeble intro. Contrast Whoopie Goldberg’s audacious sure-footed opening in 1999 with the insecure stumble we got this year. You have to click to see this clip on youtube.
“This will be a long show, so we don’t want to read about how long it was — we know it’s long. Tough!”
That line is nothing. It’s empty, hollow, totally devoid of humor. But at least Whoopie courageously sells it.
Painful. Might as well have written, “Welcome to the Academy’s 83rd Annual Slow-Motion Trainwreck.”
James Franco posted this photo on Oscar night. As revenge?