It's both sad and hilarious when a glitzy, star-studded Hollywood movie that cost about $100 million to make ends up being as well received as "Paul Blart: Mall Cop".
The upcoming "House Of Gucci" was meant to be that big, beautiful, buzzy film that steals the summer and has everyone talking. The crime drama – based on the true story of how Patrizia Reggiani, the ex-wife of Maurizio Gucci, plotted to kill her husband, the heir to the Gucci luxury fashion house — is set to hit Australian cinemas on New Year's Day, but some early reviews coming out of the US indicate the flick is more bargain basement than it is high-end.
By the sounds of it, it would've been more entertaining if producers just clipped together two and a half hours of CCTV footage from Lowes.
Rating the film one out of four stars, The New York Post described it as "a hodgepodge of wacko performances and disparate tones" and declared, "the abysmal Gucci would get a better grade, perhaps, if it were a term paper titled 'How to Make the Assassination of a Famous Person Boring'."
On the surface, this movie has everything going for it. It's about a glam world set inside an iconic global fashion house. The production had a budget of A$105 million to play with. Legendary director Ridley Scott is at the helm, leading an A-list cast including Lady Gaga, Jared Leto, Salma Hayek, Adam Driver and Al Pacino.
But that's exactly what the problem is these days. All the gear, no idea. It's as if the people who make productions like this think that — just because it's expensive and has a couple of celebrities attached — it's an automatic win. Nothing else about it needs to be good because all of us bozos who watch it will be dazzled by the fancy clothes and entranced by Lady Gaga's fake Italian accent (this accent has also been singled out in many of the reviews. Even the film's own dialect coach said in an interview this week that it sounds more Russian than Italian).
As a viewer, movies like "House of Gucci" can be bad but also good at the same time. On a technical level, it may be a stinker that doesn't live up to the hype. And this is what makes it so fun to watch. It's terrific because it's terrible. Movies like this have the potential to become a future camp classic, like Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in 1981's "Mommie Dearest".
"Gucci: it was a name that sounded so sweet, so seductive," Lady Gaga, who stars as Patrizia Reggiani purrs in one of the trailers. "They had it all: wealth, style, power … Who wouldn't kill for that?"
We'd all totally kill for that. But we'd also kill for a half-decent movie. And wealth, style and power don't guarantee an excellent production.
"Morning Wars" – or "The Morning Show", as it's known outside Australia – is the same. With Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon fronting the show, it was the jewel in the crown of Apple TV+ when the streaming service launched at the end of 2019.
The original idea was simple: a pacey series set inside the shiny, toxic and ridiculously lucrative world of American breakfast TV. But the initial brief got tossed out the window when the Matt Lauer sexual harassment scandal broke and the #MeToo era kicked into action. The whole thing was rewritten to reflect all this.
Coming from Apple, the goal was to deliver unrivalled blockbuster television. It's reported the series costs A$21 million per episode to produce – a total of A$420m for the first two seasons.
The result? An indulgent mess that pounces on every opportunity to crowbar in self-righteous speechifying about society and the state of the media industry — all in a quest to seem important.
Attempts to be topical with hot-button issues – #MeToo, the coronavirus pandemic, cancel culture – just end up making the series feel dated, even though the season two finale only just dropped last week.
Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon are phenomenal to watch – their performances, as well as the glossy sets and locations, stop you from turning off. Still, they deserve better.
The writing is desperate to be included in the category of prestige television but really it's just an expensive soap opera. "Dynasty" set inside a breakfast TV studio.
As season two wraps up, Jennifer Aniston is knocked unconscious when she whacks her head on a bedside table after tripping on a shoe. That's just stealing from the playbook of "Home And Away".
The saddest part is thinking about the lofty heights that could've been reached if a $100 million budget was given to "Paul Blart: Mall Cop".