I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

VERN Sees THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE!!

SPOILER ALERT !!

Hey, everyone. “Moriarty” here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

All my favorite muthas are hanging out tonight. Quint and Beaks and Vern, our man in Seattle, all 7 foot 5 inches of bad-assedness of him. He’s here tonight with a look at a film that I am hearing basically nothing good about so far. I hope all the buzz is wrong. I hope Jonathan Demme has made a great, breezy entertainment that manages to have fun with the classic CHARADE. I hope because I like Demme. I hope because the alternative is tears.

Fellas –

It’s me Vern again. Last week I sent you a review of the unneccessary remake of THE RING, which if I remember right, I believe I liked that one. This week I got another review of an uneccessary remake. This one wasn’t quite so hot.

The movie is THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE and if you know your shit, you know it’s a remake of Stan Donen’s CHARADE, an undeniably great movie starring Carey Grant and Audrey Hepburn. I mean you can’t beat that. You young “geeks” reading this sight, go out and rent some Carey Grant movies and study the master. It is completely believable that Audrey Hepburn would fall for this guy, even after discovering he’s a fraud. Harry is a good guy, I met the man in person and I shook his hand but if you REALLY want somebody to look up to and base your lifestyle on, look into this Carey Grant. When he was a young man he ran away and joined the circus, changed his name and what not, I’m not sure what happened in between but long story short he became the most charismatic man ever on screen. YES, he is more charismatic than superman.

The Truth About CharlieSo there’s your homework, you newsies. Become Carey Grant. Anyway about THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE.

The number one mistake in this movie was to remake CHARADE. The number two mistake was in the casting. Who they really needed, for this to not be overshadowed by CHARADE, would be to cast Carey Grant and Audrey Hepburn in the lead roles. Unfortunately today’s filmatists feel they have to slum it with more “contemporary,” “living” actors.

Actually Thandie Newton is great, she’s about as perfect as you could get for this role without using a shovel. She’s beautiful and glamorous and she has that great accent. She could probaly talk about “takin a huge dump” and make it sound adorable. Without any great star power (I mean, I know she was in Mission Impossible part 2, but…) she still has a tremendous knock you on your ass screen presence that fills the Audrey Hepburn hole real good.

I’m not knockin Mark Wahlberg either. He does his best to be charming and works surprisingly well in a retro leading man kind of role, even wearing a fedora. I heard they were gonna play him “Street Smart” instead of suave, but I didn’t see it that way. I mean I like the guy, I think he did good. The problem is, he’s not trying to play it too different from Carey Grant, and the simple fact is there’s no fuckin way you’re gonna get a human being that can fill Carey Grant’s shoes. Maybe Chow Yun Fat could try, but I don’t think he could pull off the witty banter in English quite yet.

Thandie Newton immediately falls for Mark Wahlberg, the way Audrey did for Carey, and melts like a popsicle in a toaster when he flirts with her. But it’s not very convincing because she seems out of his league. She seems out of anybody’s league. I mean it’s not awkward and embarassing, like when Vin Diesel gave Asia Argento that sloppy kiss in XXX. But if you’ve seen CHARADE it’s just not acceptable because Audrey and Carey were just eyein’ each other up and down the whole movie in that weird flirtation/competition where at various times it seems like they can barely hold back from tearing off each other’s clothes and/or killing each other.

I’m pretty sure Jonathan Demme who directed this picture thought of the idea of casting Thandie Newton and decided to make the movie based on this stroke of admitted genius, and didn’t really think through the full ramifications of remaking CHARADE. I’m not against remakes and I guess I’m not even against remakes of really good movies, since I liked the remake of THE RING. But CHARADE is so perfect on so many levels that it’s suicidal to fuck with it. Not only do you have the perfect leads, but you got Walter Matthau, you got James Coburn. And you got Stan “the man with the plan” Donen. This man directed SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN. This man directed SATURN 3. Well, bad example on that last one but the man knows what the fuck he’s doin, you couldn’t get
a more perfect cast and director and story combo. And this time, you didn’t.

I think I can see what Demme was thinking, though. Even without the Carey/Audrey factor, CHARADE is a real good story with exotic locales and thrilling twists and all that kind of business. It’s alot of fun because you realize early on that most of the characters aren’t who they say they are and aren’t trying to do what they say they are trying to do and reality keeps shifting as you think Carey Grant is one person and then another. The trouble is Demme seems to be going for pretty much a straight thriller, he
dumps the whole fun romp type deal. There are a couple flirty lines lifted from the original but mostly it doesn’t have a sense of humor. So it ends up very dull.

Did you ever see SATURN 3 though Harry, that’s the weird mad robot on a space station movie where Harvey Keitel got his voice dubbed by another actor, even though I’m pretty sure he speaks english.

HUGE SPOILERS THIS PARAGRAPH ONLY. DO NOT READ, ASSHOLE. MOSTLY IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN CHARADE. TRUST ME JACK YOU DON’T WANT TO RUIN IT FOR YOURSELF.

They really blow it on some of the story too. They just don’t tell it as well. Tim Robbins plays the Matthau character with a goofy Kennedy accent, and he’s menacing from the beginning so it’s not a surprise when he turns out to be, uh, a menace. The war veteran thieves all die pretty fast so they’re not as threatening either. The guy they got to replace James Coburn is surprisingly good, but he dies of a heart attack after about a minute and a half screen time. When Thandie finds out Mark is trying to get the money, he becomes a villain to her. So you don’t get the whole angle that she loves him even though he’s a thief but she needs him to give the money back to the rightful owner. And then they throw the final twist into a climactic gunfight so you don’t get the surprise in the office at the end and Carey Grant doing that goofy face. Carey Grant’s not in it anyway though so I don’t know how they woulda got him to do the face.

Not to say it’s entirely without merit. There is a pretty good chase/race between Mark Wahlberg and some other dude. There is a dancing scene that would’ve fit into the original, but I don’t think it was in there. They got some weird Truffaut references and shit, with an appearance by the dude from SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER. Kind of a weird thing to have in a remake of a movie that has nothing to do with the french new wave, but I ain’t complainin.

If you love Thandie Newton and you get giggly about cute homages to the french new wave, it might be worth your while. Otherwise, go rent the criterion of CHARADE and forget this thing even exists. It won’t be that hard.

thanks boys,

Vern

p.s. Harry, the talkbackers want me to tell you to stop giving them mental pictures of you in sexual situations with moriarty, etc. So please, whatever you do, DO NOT say something about buttfucking moriarty in your intro, or anything along those lines. Even in a loving and consensual way. thanks

You know, Vern, my sainted mother reads this site. She’s 342 years old (she had me young), but she still manages to get up every day and read the site, every word, and now you have to go and say that, and…

*sigh*

Ma, he was in prison. That’s all I can say. He’s got an excuse. Seriously.

“Moriarty” out.

Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/13511

View the archived Ain’t-It-Cool-News Talkback

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 10:19 a.m. CST

    As a purist…

    by straxboy

    …I prefer Cary Grant to that interminable impostor Carey. Oi ! *smacks head*

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 10:53 a.m. CST

    Cary!!! If you

    by unclemonty

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 11 a.m. CST

    CARY Grant was great and few actors have that charisma

    by the_pissboy1

    The annoying thing is that Demme would cast a bland, expressionless, ultra-gutter southie like Marky Mark to replace CARY Grant. What an insult. Didn’t Demme see Out of Sight? If there’s one cat out there who plays suave like Grant it’s Clooney. Regardless, the casting’s awful and given that the film takes itself seriously it won’t be half as fun as the original.

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 11:13 a.m. CST

    Why even bother remaking a Cary Grant classic? It’s an impo

    by JohnnyTremaine

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 11:21 a.m. CST

    “Are you a real cowboy?”

    by NicholasWolfwood

    Charade was a great movie- I wish they digitally remastered it for DVD instead. (or have they?) I think Chow Yun Fat can pull it off, if it was done in Cantonese. That be interesting, Chow would only speak in Cantonese and the lead actress would speak in her own native tongue, which would have a setting in another country anyway. George Clooney would be a much better replacement than Marky Mark. Curious about Thandie though.

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 1:49 p.m. CST

    Just Wondering

    by Anton_Sirius

    How many crappy movies in a row does Demme have to make before people start admitting he got lucky with Silence of the Lambs? In thirty years he’s directed exactly *one* good feature film, and somehow I think Jodi and Sir Tony are more responsible for that than he is.

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 1:54 p.m. CST

    charade

    by cornjob1

    there is a good Criterion version of “Charade” with a Stanley Donen commentary track that’s actually pretty funny…..

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 4:09 p.m. CST

    Mori and Vern crack me up

    by Edward Rooney

    yeah.

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 4:11 p.m. CST

    is there a Mrs. Joshua?

    by Edward Rooney

    yes…but we’re divorced.

    CLASSIC!!!!

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 4:47 p.m. CST

    Clooney is the closest thing we have to Grant.

    by Christopher3

    Every one else these days is just a kid or a geezer. This is what happens when H’wood markets to youth.

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 4:51 p.m. CST

    George Clooney could have a go but Mark Wahlberg? When I read th

    by gertrude perkins

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 5:38 p.m. CST

    Too bad

    by Tahd

    haven’t see it yet… liked Charade… agree they shouldn’t have remade it… but will still go to see it. Mark Wahlberg is a hit and miss (no laughing from the peanut gallery); great in Boogie Nights, terrible in Planet of the Apes, good in Three Kings, bad in Rock Star and fun in The Big Hit. Plus I get to see Thandie again… mmmmmmm, Thandie.

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 5:42 p.m. CST

    Classic Case of Hollywood Dumbth

    by Jervis Tetch

    “Charade” was a superstar vehicle with the only pairing of Grant and Hepburn in their careers. It was hard to get Grant for anything (Billy Wilder lost him 4 times and never worked with him) and Hepburn only made “Charade” because Grant was in it. A “back-up” version of “Charade” to star Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood was vetoed because they weren’t big enough stars. Co-stars Walter Matthau and James Coburn were about to become stars themselves. “Charade” stands as a monument to one of the most perfectly cast star casts ever cast.

    And Demme thinks he can match that with Wahlberg, Newton, Robbins, and Ted Levine (“Buffalo Bill” in Demme’s “Silence of the Lambs.”) Not bloody likely. We can ask Demme why he did this, but his answer won’t be any better than Van Sant’s was.

    Note: the print movie poster for “The Truth About Charlie” gives away one of the film’s secrets. More dumbth.

    Skip “The Truth About Charlie.” Rent “Charade.” Have a much better time.

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 6:06 p.m. CST

    Is it just me….

    by heymanniceshot

    ….or does Thadie look like she’s been aged 20 years since MI:2? Facially she’s one of the hottest women of color to be on the BIG SCREEN in ages yet she really does look like she hasn’t slept for a few years. Say it isn’t so!

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 6:43 p.m. CST

    I also like that other Stanley Donen film ARABESQUE

    by Son Of Batboy

    With Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren. No Hepburn and Grant but it was a fun movie with lots of humor and plenty of style. It was made a few years after CHARADE. Another cool part of CHARADE was the Henry Mancini score though I think he might have thrown in one those shmaltzy ballads which seemed to be part of his contract on every Audrey Hepburn movie since BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S. The cast on the original was fantastic even with the supporting players as already mentioned. Another guy in that was Mr.Breath-Asure himself GEORGE KENNEDY as the menacing hook guy. Casting Mark Wahlberg as a romantic lead baffles me. Zombie Bruce Paltrow has more charm and charisma. I’m just wondering if he had to shoot all of his scenes while standing on a foot stool. Maybe they had Thandie act on her knees. Who’s taller, Mark Wahlberg, Tom Cruise or Warwick Davis?

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 6:47 p.m. CST

    The stupid give it away movie poster

    by holyRoller

    When I saw the retarded movie poster for this, I realized it was going to be bad. What’s the point when you know the mystery? The characters Cary Grant plays are amazing. His personal life, well, not too terrible by today’s standards, if that means anything. Audrey Hepburn was the most amazing women ever on screen, and she was a regular mother theresa off. You don’t see that anymore. Its either total rag offscreen or the untalented Sally Struthers at 3 in the morning with the hungry kids. You never see both anymore. A real shame.

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 8:06 p.m. CST

    demme’s good

    by bootyschool

    demme’s good-check out melvin and howard. the talking heads film is good too. he didn’t get lucky with silence of the lambs, he knows what he’s doing. and it may be in bad taste, but the zombie bruce paltrow thing is funny. they’re celebrities, not saints, and not beyond off-color jokes. nobody is being vindictive, just jokes.

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 8:15 p.m. CST

    demme’s good

    by Jervis Tetch

    Yes, he is. So is Van Sant. That’s what makes both of their diastrous decisions to make “one-of-kind” movies into “born-to-lose, guaranteed-to-suck” remakes so hard to understand. Why? Why? Why?

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 8:15 p.m. CST

    demme’s good

    by Jervis Tetch

    Yes, he is. So is Van Sant. That’s what makes both of their diastrous decisions to make “one-of-kind” movies into “born-to-lose, guaranteed-to-suck” remakes so hard to understand. Why? Why? Why?

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 8:17 p.m. CST

    demme’s good

    by Jervis Tetch

    Why? Why?(A question so nice, I had to ask it twice.)

  • Oct. 9, 2002, 2:05 a.m. CST

    great review; I need to see Charade now. But Gary Cooper owns Ca

    by Tarl_Cabot

    Cary Grant was almost too classy (uptight/snooty)to be really interesting-think Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, that was a great character-cool as ice yet accessable. Grant is a country club blue blood type. He was cool but almost too refined for his own good that he became a characiture of himself in later films. Now Bogie in Casablanca wore a tux and was suave but very much a man’s man. A blue collar man’s man too. The James Bond franchise really took off b/c they went against the grain by not casting Cary Grant and or a clone of him and went with the more rugged Connery and it really paid off.The Roger Moore/Pierce Brosnan eras have been the weakest in the series(sorry but I prefer Connery, Dalton and even Lazenby)-both Moore and Brosnan have starred in the worst of the Bonds(Goldeneye, A view to a Kill) and share in common to be in the Cary Grant mold of leading men…just my opinion. Cheers!

  • Oct. 9, 2002, 10:42 p.m. CST

    two things

    by joe_buck

    I think that the reason for the French New Wave references is that French New Wave films were being made simultaneously to Charade (Charade was largely filmed in Paris,) like right down the street. So I guess this would be Demme’s little way of paying tribute. Also, another concert film of Demme’s that bears mentioning besides the wonderful Stop Making Sense is Store Front Hitchcock, it’s worth watching, check it out.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

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