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Thursday, 31 March
Funny About That

I've seen an ad for a TV movie a couple times now. It is called "Mork & Mindy: Behind the Camera."

This might be the worst thing I've ever had no intention of seeing, and remember, I saw the movie Prospero's Books. (Well, some of it.)

It is obviously a tawdry travelogue of the various horrible things Robin Williams shoved into his body during his well-known drug years, including, presumably, cocaine, heroin, meth, speed, cough syrup, Belladonna suppositories, hair loss agents, books on tape, extract of vole glands, certain smooth vegetables, exotic forms of rennet, and possibly Ginger Baker. The man was a machine, let's face it.

The movie seems to feature an actor that, if you squint hard enough or medicate yourself with Morkish levels of drug toxicity, sort of looks like Robin Williams, but of course with none of the . . . how does one put this? Gifts? Hellacious tics? (Anyway, the guy kinda looks like Scott Bakula too, so maybe he can parlay this role into something like "Quantum Leap: Dean Stockwell Is A Great Big Turd.")

The thing is, Robin Williams wore out his welcome a helluva long time ago, at least as a comic actor. Think about how bizarre that is for a moment. This is a man with undeniable improvisational comedic skills, who came to celebrity utilizing same, and is now--in my circle of friends, most of whom are actors and comedians--nearly universally reviled for being an insufferable jabbering asshole.

Couple this with another weird fact: when Williams got into serious roles--where he abandoned his awful, nerve-ripping schticks as found in Mrs. Doubtfire, say, or the utterly reprehensible The Birdcage--he actually turned out to be . . . pretty talented. Check out his restrained work in Insomnia or Good Will Hunting and tell me I'm wrong. This is good work.

(It may be that, like so many actors, he requires a good director to achieve this sort of thing. That lots of actors don't like to admit this is kind of stupid, really: I know my best work has been done with the help of good directors. Otherwise, why the fuck have one? Anyway, notice also that Williams was pretty manic and yet non-annoying in The Fisher King, where he was presumably listening to Terry Gilliam. Let's move right on by the aforementioned The Birdcage, which was directed by Mike Nichols, but Nichols made about two and a half good films when he was young and has been pretty much totally useless ever since.)

But while Williams is most effective dramatically, a cursory glance at his rather alarming IMDB listing reveals that he regularly depends on weak comedy. It's hard to find the most depressing nadir amongst the many listings. Was it Jakob the Liar? Was it Patch Adams? Was it the astonishing fact that he managed to be in BOTH Shakes the Clown AND Death to Smoochy?

I have no intention of watching the TV movie about Mork & Mindy, even though it promises to be utterly terrible (has there ever been a TV movie that wasn't?), and I certainly hold out no hopes for the future: announced for 2006 is a film called The Krazees. How promising. Here's the IMDB bullet:

"Unable to deal with his daughter reaching puberty, a psychologist (Williams) has to get a handle on his emotions, which have come to life as different characters."

Oh and here's the writeup for The Big White, supposedly coming out this year:

"To remedy his financial problems, a travel agent has his eye on a frozen corpse, which just happens to be sought after by two hitmen." This one has Woody Harrelson and Holly Hunter!

Here's Pam Dawber's most recent IMDB listing:

1. Don't Look Behind You (1999) (TV) .... Liz Corrigan
... aka Du entkommst mir nicht (Germany)

It's a tough old world.

Note: Comments are closed on old entries.


Everything's in italics! ('cept for the first few paragraphs)

Comment number: 005661   Posted by: Jenny on March 31, 2005 12:25 AM from IP:

but it's kinda fun pretending skot meant to emphasize the last two thirds of the entry.

Comment number: 005662   Posted by: nick on March 31, 2005 01:43 AM from IP:

Well, that was exciting, by which I mean, totally not exciting. Sorry about that.

Comment number: 005663   Posted by: Skot on March 31, 2005 07:55 AM from IP:

I need you to watch it so I don't have to. I want to live vicariously through your bad movie watching. As a matter of fact, why didn't you watch "Spring Break: Shark Attack." That looked much worse.

Comment number: 005664   Posted by: Jamy on March 31, 2005 09:13 AM from IP:

I agree with Jamy, Skot. We need your write up on this show.

Comment number: 005665   Posted by: dayment on March 31, 2005 09:32 AM from IP:

'spring break: shark attack' was brilliant, and don't let anybody tell you different.

Comment number: 005666   Posted by: kirsten on March 31, 2005 10:11 AM from IP:

It is really a sad thing when actors/comedians/musicians are at their best while on massive amounts of drugs. Robin Williams was certainly one of the best back then.

He is surprisingly good as a non-comedic actor. One Hour Photo was one of the creepiest films I've ever seen. We kept saying, "But that's Mork!"

I did like The Birdcage, though. I liked the outrageousness of it.

Comment number: 005667   Posted by: onyxblue on March 31, 2005 12:12 PM from IP:

I actually worked with the guy playing Robin Williams maybe 5 years ago? I was knocked over to see that he was in this TV movie ... I will be watching it but only because this genre (actors forced to play other, more famous actors) is so horrible. What's funny is that Chris was cast in "hunk" type roles ... toured as the lead in Full Monty I believe ... had the 8x10 showing the biceps, etc. etc. And you would never say he looked anything like Robin Williams ... or sounded like ... or was funny at *all* like him. So ... poor guy.

Comment number: 005668   Posted by: Rob on March 31, 2005 07:22 PM from IP:

Oh.My.God. Prospero's Book! Gawdalmighty that was a bad movie. I seriously refused to go out with a guy just because he liked that whatshisname idiot director--cook, thief, etc. And Prospero's Book totally validated me.

Comment number: 005669   Posted by: Miel on April 1, 2005 12:02 AM from IP:

"The Final Cut" is another one where Williams managed to put out satisfactorily. I saw this one by mistake last week and was surprised. Movie wasn't great, but his acting was better than anything else he's done lately.

Not that different from Jim Carrey's talents, really. The more they're told to tone it down, the more talent they actually seem to have.

Comment number: 005670   Posted by: Candi on April 1, 2005 01:50 AM from IP:

Williams was also excellent in One Hour Photo. I think my jaw rested firmly in my lap throughout Insomnia - THAT'S the blathering cock who always appears to be on meth? Who knew?

Comment number: 005671   Posted by: CG on April 1, 2005 11:08 PM from IP:

That dude isn't hairy enough to be Robin Williams. Believe it or not, I paused my TIVO on this piece of shit movie for about 1 minute, just to be amazed at how much that girl looks like Pam Dawber.

Comment number: 005672   Posted by: porkbone on April 4, 2005 09:09 PM from IP:

Why didn't Pam Dawber play "Pam Dawber?" She seems to be available... and I hear she looks a lot like Pam Dawber...

I saw 'Prospero's Books' at its New York Film Festival premiere. Peter Greenaway came out before the movie -- usually directors wait until afterwards -- and said, "Despite what you've heard, please try to stay until the end of the film."

Comment number: 005673   Posted by: J on April 9, 2005 09:50 AM from IP:

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