Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Auteur Watch - Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander

Damn! I always get the order of that wrong.
Welp, it's time to ring in a new year,in the dead of winter no less, and you know what that means around here! Time for a new year of auteurs. It's been working out great for me since I've been planning a whole year of them in advance. On the other hand, I paint myself into a corner. For example, I'm trying to do a year's worth of brother filmmaking teams. But as good as I am, I wasn't able to come up with 52 of them! So I filled out the roster with teams that are PRACTICALLY brothers. Or sisters. (Ephrons: check.) Or husband and wife!! (Hess: check)
Take Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, for example. Perfect example of what I'm talking about. They've been like peas in a pod since the inexplicable success of Problem Child. Well, John Ritter had that rare Hollywood commodity: integrity. Integrity can sell the damnedest products. And this was before director Dennis Dugan started working for Adam Sandler on a full time basis. Why, even Alexander Payne was never quite the same after getting sucked into that black hole.
But pure madcap comedy was a dead end for the tireless A&K writing team juggernaut. And while they didn't want to leave comedy behind for good, they also knew they had a knack for the biopic. Was there a way to get the comedy chocolate into the biopic peanut butter and come up with a sorta Oscar-worthy Reese's peanut butter cup? Girl, you know it's true! After the Problem Child virus had run its course, out came Ed Wood, firmly establishing them in this hybrid genre. Or, let's just say, they ain't doing Cleopatra. Time to do the left-overs in biopic territory.
Yes, the 90s were shaping up pretty good for them. And Martin Landau winning the Oscar for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi couldn't hurt, either. Then, almost out of a Charlie Kaufman movie, they wrote themselves a two picture deal with Milos Forman. Will the world ever be the same? Larry Flynt and Andy Kaufman might not seem like subjects worthy of a biopic, but we're not talking about Oliver Stone or Richard Attenborough in the director's chair here. This is the guy who did Hair and Ragtime. And thanks to K&A, Milos delivered a coupla slick biopics!
Drunk on their success, K&A decided... hell! We MADE a movie about a film director, why not direct one of our own? We got the experience! We got the moxie! So, what did they pick? Screwed. Basically, they directorially shot themselves in the foot. Like I need to tell you. Yes, the go-go 90s came to an end for them that day, the day Screwed was released. Everyone's tried to distance themselves from the stench... even Elaine Stritch! No, it was Letterman that revived her career! That's how she GOT that gig! But, apparently, K&A didn't completely a-hole their way out of the business, and so... back to work on sub-par scripts they go. Cody Banks? Puh-leeze. Poor Frankie Muniz. Send him your love, people.
So the 2000s weren't kind to K&A, nor to the people of Iraq, but who knows? Maybe the 2010s will be a decade of rebuilding, because frankly, they have to be. And K&A seem to be on the way back. They got Big Eyes coming in 2011... boy, that's a strange photo of Kate Hudson. And apparently, even she's tired of Matthew McConaughey. I never thought it could happen.

Not to be confused with: Scott Lawrence Alexander, writer of 1990's Spaced Invaders. It kinda killed his career... REALLY killed it.

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