Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl, or On Failure To Merchandise

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE DISNEY CORPORATION, specifically the products-and-marketing division, from Mr. Tom Goulter:

You stupid fucking idiots. The fact that now, of all times, you don't have a whole shitload of my money, makes you quite obviously morons of the nth degree; and while your friends over in Motion Pictures Making will probably get some MORE of my money, you, you normally synergy-hungry nincompoops, missed the ONE CHANCE you had at ALL MY MONEY.

Okay? Usually, you make these pictures, and I say yeah, great, whatever. And maybe I'll like them ok, like Finding Nemo, and maybe I won't, like every other second-rate paternal-reconciliation cookie-cutter Cliff's Notes adaptation of Vogler you bring out.

But this time, this ONE TIME, you got me. You developed a movie based on a fucking theme park ride, so shameless in your cynical bid for the cash of people of course not as, ahem, savvy, as me. Of course you weren't after my money. You don't need the money of some putz who posts vitriol about you on the Internet making witty allusions to seminal works of Hollywood literature[1] and their legacy on your narrative stylings.

But Disney, you coulda had it. You made some sort of wonderful alchemy here - no, alchemy's the wrong word because that involves science, involves a tangible process. One you could repeat. But I don't think that's applicable here.

Because Mr. Bruckheimer does not make movies I go nuts for. I don't want to sound like a snob here - Con Air, in particular, I have enjoyed a multitude of times - but let's face it. I'm not Bruckheimer people. Similarly, while I was highly optimistic when I heard you'd (for whatever reason) got Verbinski directing, I wouldn't call myself president of the Gore Verbinski Fan Club.

(Total lack of a slight at Mr. Verbinski, that, because my personal take on the fellow is: forget that name. Forget it right now. Because here's a guy who took no great shakes and turned it into The Mexican, for which the word "charming" was invented; a guy who made authenticity-geeks the world over eat our (subbed, of COURSE) words by crafting a perfectly serviceable thriller from the pitch-room nightmare of "Let's Van Sant Ringu for white people!". And now, from what I've seen of his ouevre (Mouse Hunt, though it might be fodder for some sort of half-assed barb in this context, I missed), the guy's just plain three for three. So forget his name RIGHT NOW, cause the last thing we need is a well-meaning worthy Film From The Director Of The Ring And Pirates Of The Caribbean. Hell no. I want more anonymous brilliance, thank you, Mr. Verbinski, because right now, nobody does it better).

Wait, I'm angry here. That's right. So you Disney fuckheads, what you did, is you took a concept that does NOT work - Pirates and Cutthroat Island, in case you assmonkeys forgot, both lost gargantuan amounts of money - and you threw in some nice safe ingredients for an Okay Movie. Mr. Bruckheimer. Mr. Verbinski. Mm-hmm.

And what the fuck happened next? Somehow, the script ended up several thousand times better than it needed to be, putting viewers in mind of the indisputably classic writing that is The Princess Bride with its mixture of wit, charm and elegance. Instead of putting Colin Farrell in it, you somehow got Johnny Depp to have, quite obviously, the time of his life onscreen, and back it up with Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush also being more fun than any performances I care to remember. Some guy - not Hans or John or Alan, some guy - wrote a score which already is impossible not to hum and enjoy and be recognized and spread knowing smiles on the faces of all whose lives have similarly been altered by the totally inexplicable magical confluence of all these factors.

And where can I BUY this magnificent soundtrack?? I have to ORDER it! Where are the toys, the cheap Indonesian seam-mismatched Black Pearl, the misshapen plastic Johnny Depp with special crazy-stumble waist-action, the Deluxe Will Turner With Real Guybrush Threepwood Homage Hair??

I CAN'T BUY THEM! Where the fuck are they? THIS ONE TIME, Disney, I'd go all the way on your cynical marketing extravaganza, I'd buy any piece of shoddily branded junk just to proclaim to the world, "Know what movie I liked? Pirates of the Caribbean!".

You found the perfect marketing strategy - want to sell a movie, MAKE A GOOD MOVIE - and where's the fucking EXPLOITATION?!

You stupid fucking mouse. I love this movie.

[1] If you want to call that an oxymoron, hey, I'm not gonna ENDORSE you, but I ain't standing in your way.
[2] EDIT: This review was written before nobody, with good reason, saw The Weather Man.