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Steve Likes to Curse
Writing, comics and random thoughts from really a rather vulgar man
The undying sin of Joel Schumacher 
Saturday, November 3rd, 2007 | 10:42 pm [commentary, film]
Reviewing The Lost Boys earlier this week got me to thinking of the other unholy atrocities Joel Schumacher has unleashed on humanity. A few jump to mind immediately — Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, obviously; the Anthony Hopkins/Chris Rock vehicle Bad Company; Phone Booth, one of the most ludicrous, most contrived films ever made; and, lest we ever forget, the perhaps inevitable but nonetheless regrettable big-screen version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.

The list is incomplete, but would still seem more than sufficient to qualify Schumacher as one of the most incompetent filmmakers in the history of the medium. He is also responsible for a far more lasting transgression, one that goes beyond individual films and endures to this day. It is an evil, but like many evils, it has a name. That name: Matthew McConaughey.

Schumacher’s film of John Grisham’s novel A Time to Kill provided McConaughey with his first starring role. Not only was it an awful, maudlin, brazenly manipulative film, its existence justified only by its contribution of yet another cool Samuel L. Jackson one-liner to our cultural memory (“Yes they deserved to die, and I hope they burn in Hell!” — it’s no “I’m tired of these motherfuckin’ snakes on this motherfuckin’ plane!” or “I’m a mushroom cloud-layin’ motherfucker, motherfucker!”, but it’s literally the only reason to watch the movie), it was also irrefutable proof that McConaughey has the acting chops of a pork medallion.

Let’s skim McConaughey’s filmography and pick out the highlights. Prior to A Time to Kill, he had supporting roles in such classics as Angels in the Outfield, The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and My Boyfriend’s Back — who could ever forget his indelible performance as “Guy #2”? After Schumacher gave him his big break, he starred in the sappy historical melodrama Amistad, Ed TV — essentially The Truman Show told not as a story but as a knock-knock joke — and The Wedding Planner, alongside Jennifer Lopez, whose own colossal success is almost as baffling as McConaughey’s.

In recent years, he’s also taken part in Bill Paxton’s attempted horror film Frailty, romantic comedies How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Failure to Launch, and lame Indiana Jones rip-off Sahara. I don’t see a legit good film on the list, other than John Sayles’s Lone Star, in which he had a supporting role. There’s one or two — Contact, for instance — that are better than terrible, but for the most part McConaughey’s résumé reads like a prolonged malicious assault on the audience. What have we done to him to deserve this? Why doesn’t he leave us alone?

It was Joel Schumacher who unleashed this evil, and I believe it is his responsibility to destroy it. Another role in another dogshit Schumacher film might be just the thing to sink McConaughey’s inexplicably ongoing career. Pull that Akiva Goldsman screenplay out of your velour-lined desk drawer, pick up the phone, and tell Matthew you’ve got the perfect part for him. Do it, Joel. You owe us as least that much.
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