As grand an idea as this final Alan Smithee feature focuses on, burning down Hollywood is not a possibility. The logistics are a nightmare for such a project, as it was for this Eric Idle-led feature. A film about a director trying to take his name off of a bad film, directed by a man who took his name off of a bad film. The irony is not lost on this all-star cast of cameos. Arthur Hiller may have removed his name from the “Directed by” credits found within, but he will stand the test of time on the Wikipedia page, a place that dedicates three lines to the entire plot, and does a better job of describing it than Hiller’s work manages here.
We may wish for inspired results when the finest comedic minds of a generation come together under the umbrella of one project, but it was not to be for Yellowbeard. It is rare to see so many entertainers collaborate on something worthwhile and culturally embedded, and a film about the eponymous pirate, played by Graham Chapman, was never going to set the world on fire. It suffers from the overnumbered cast, who each bring a different styling of comedy to the table. That blend is bad enough, for it makes good comedians look bad. Yellowbeard takes the likes of Eric Idle, John Cleese, Cheech Marin and Marty Feldman, and turns them from torch-bearing heroes of the comedy genre to fumbling fools with anguish hidden behind grins and guffaws.
Orson Welles lay dead, his final project an animated feature about robot cars from a distant planet, knocking hubcaps and heads off of one another in pursuit of a glowing cube. Such is life, I suppose, and had Welles lived a tad longer, he could have hung his hat on something that wasn’t a supporting role alongside Eric Idle. Prestigious that may be, the former Python and the Oscar-winning master of cinema are not predictable bedfellows. Still, Unicron and Wreck-Car were bound to appear together at some point, but it is an odd one under these circumstances. Possibly? The only part of Transformers as a concept I am aware of is that the Hot Wheels promotion was rather good, and the Michael Bay attempts are also available.
If anyone were to benefit from the Terry Gilliam treatment, then it would surely be the erratic and imaginative world of Baron Munchausen. Dawning in its first moments in The Age of Reason, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen settles itself immediately into the craftsmanship of the Karel Zeman classic, while also reimagining the world of the titular protagonist and his merry band of misfits. But as the real Munchausen staggers up the stage to spin his story, he fends off the Angel of Death and others who wish to see him dead. It is a story that, if told straight, dreams of darker themes and deadly occasions with detail usually reserved for the harshest and hardest of stories. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen layers that well, but never forgets that comedy is at its heart.
Detailing the fall from grace the side-villain of Shrek 2 had, Shrek the Third follows on the story of a man who believes himself to be the rightful prince. His life is tormented by that titular ogre, who has changed from swamp demon to beloved hero and royalty. Heir to the throne and not happy about such a change, much of this third in the quadrilogy of the Shrek series depicts an unhappy lifestyle for the protagonist. He is far, far away from the life he used to lead, and the toll is taking comedic mental effect. Setting out to find the next in line, Shrek (Mike Myers) and the reliable gang he has collected over the previous two instalments set off to find distant relatives who would be better suited to the royal lifestyle.