Will Spider-Man 3 underachieve?

Inside the big picture show.
April 26 2007 4:54 PM

Let the Games Begin

In a crowded summer blockbuster season, someone's going to get hurt. Will it be Spider-Man?

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The video may be a giant hit, but it seems to us, in our tragic humorlessness, that it's another depressing instance in which a child is exploited rather than protected. We've written about this kind of thing before: Dakota Fanning, playing a rape scene at 12 in a movie that was critically reviled when it screened at Sundance. Eight-year-old Bindi Sue Irwin, who—a mere four months after her father was killed—was on tour promoting her fitness video and television series.

The greed or desperation that draws many adult outsiders to show business is sad enough. When those adults have a child they can put to use, it's worse than sad. The state of child actors from Britney Spears to Lindsay Lohan to Danny Bonaduce to Mary-Kate Olsen makes it pretty obvious that Hollywood can be very bad for kids. In this case, McKay volunteered his own child to play Pearl. He seems pretty successful, so why he finds it amusing or necessary to exploit his daughter eludes us. (link)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Shia LaBeouf. Click image to expand.
Shia LaBeouf

Told you: We are not ones to gloat, but we did report on March 7 that Shia LaBeouf will be in the new Indiana Jones film. Some of you gave us static because the new It Boy made a number of statements that he knew nothing about being in the movie right up until the deal was announced. These Hollywood types, they learn to prevaricate young.

Shia is hotter than ever now that Disturbia opened well, and he may be all that Steven Spielberg thinks—but he should keep an eye on his image. Obviously, he didn't have a choice if George Lucas and/or Spielberg inexplicably made him go out there and deny that he had the Indiana Jones role sewn up, but he might have been a tad less vehement: Once the news was announced, an editor at a Hollywood Web site sent us an e-mail with a subject line that read: "He's a liar!"

In a recent interview with the Austin-American Statesman, LaBeouf not only denied knowing whether an Indiana Jones project existed but then, as he expressed an interest in playing Holden Caulfield some day, argued energetically that J.D. Salinger is dead. "Clearly the young actor relies too much on Wikipedia," the reporter observed tartly.

We can't expect a 20-year-old who grew up inside the child-mauling Hollywood machine to know that much—but again, a little less certitude might have been in order.

Another journalist from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram described LaBeouf as unsmiling, "intense," and "ready to bite your head off." Whew—don't mess with Texas.

If the folks at DreamWorks see him in the Tom Hanks or Jimmy Stewart tradition, as they do, projecting a nice-guy image might be important. No one needs a hostile press these days, when the level of scrutiny far exceeds what Stewart or even Hanks had to withstand as young men. Sure, all those snarky reporters can drive you potty. But act, Shia, act!

LaBeouf has segued from Bobby to Disturbia to Transformers without a break, so perhaps it's understandable that he's cranky. But clearly Spielberg can't be too thrilled when LaBeouf says he doesn't care about the box office for the $200-million-plus Transformers because he's doing it "for the exposure."

On a related note, we hear that Spielberg and director Michael Bay are having what our parents used to call "discussions" about the amount of big noise in Transformers. So, while we're dispensing free and unsolicited advice, we urge Bay to listen to Spielberg. As for LaBeouf, more will be revealed. A veteran who's worked with the young man says he's talented, yes, but the movie-star quotient is not yet quantified. "Whether he's Tom Hanks remains to be seen," he says. "He might end up being John Cusack." (link)