Sunday, December 28, 2008

(Hollywood) Auteur Watch: Shankman v. Levy - Who kicks more ass?

I always get these two mixed up, so perhaps it's time to untangle their surprisingly similar resumés. Both Adam Shankman and Shawn Levy are children of the late 60s which no doubt influenced their worldviews. Both started out as actors and both have recently come into their own as directors with monster box office hits, Shankman with Bedtime Stories, and Levy with Night at the Museum and the upcoming Night at the Museum 2: Havana Nights.
But things weren't always easy for Shankman and Levy. Both had to crawl their way through a thousand auditions during the 80s and 90s, but all that hard work paid off and we are all the richer for their acting legacy. If you had to pick one role, and given the attention spans of people today you HAVE to pick just one, it would have to be Rockula, where Shankman played 'Driver'. For Levy, it has to be Terry in The Kiss. You know, that one where the woman gets run over by the car, and it turns out both her legs were cut off, but it looks like they weren't. Classic.
But alas, the realm of actors were about to lose two of their prodigal sons, as the craft of directing was more alluring to them. For it is truly the more talented actors who actually make that leap across the chasm. Every actor always has it in the back of their minds, that nagging thought that says "Hey! I can direct these crappy movies better than the lame-o's who DO get to direct 'um..." But it's not the old days, and these boys aren't afraid to do the occasional TV job. Nay, the cineplex market place is a little crowded these days. And so, with their student films under their arms, Levy with Just in Time and Address Unknown, and Shankman with Cosmo's Tale, they jumped right in to the Hollywood Shark Tank. Levy hit the TV scene with a vengeance, directing the most loved episodes of such classic shows as Animorphs, The Secret World of Alex Mack and The Journey of Allen Strange. Shankman bided his time and landed the directing job of a lifetime: The Wedding Planner, in which he had the Herculean task of directing Matthew McConaughey in a movie where he's not leaning up against the girl in the poster. WTF?!
Finally at long last these two's paths would cross... the paths of these two would cross at St. Martin's point. Levy would get there first with Cheaper by the Dozen, but Shankman would be tapped for the sequel! And of course, Shankman would do Steve's Bulworth... So really, they both came to the aid of Steve at about the same time. Hard to say who he prefers.
Needless to say, they've both had a taste of the big time, and unlike Antoine Fuqua, they knew what they had to do to stay on top of their game. Shankman stayed on top with such hits as The Pacifier and Hairspray 2007, and Levy would tap the talents of the Pacifier screenwriters for his PG-rated gold mine, Night at the Museum. What an incestuous family tree!
I could go on and on like this, and really, couldn't we all, but I gotta get to my NordicTrack which eagerly awaits me, so to wrap this mother up, who does kick more ass? Well, they're both pretty evenly matched. They both act and direct, but Levy writes as well. On the other hand, Shankman's a choreographer, so he always has that to fall back upon. Plus, he's on top right now with Bedtime Stories, so clearly, the Shank kicks more ass. At least, until 2009, when Night at the Museum 2 comes out, and that's when the Shawn will kick more ass. So until then, enjoy 2009, Shank! From the Movie Hooligan.

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