I really like King of Kong, Seth Gordon’s documentary about people competing for the world record score in the old arcade classic Donkey Kong. The film is a lot of fun, and it has some nice insight into people. Gordon decided to jump into narrative features after Kong, and he began with Four Christmases. Okay, we can forgive this – you want to make some money and a name for yourself. Which this film did for him. But when you follow that up, people are hoping you’ll find something… better.
Sadly, he’s sticking in the world of mainstream glossy junk. At least that’s my take (admittedly a barely informed take) on his next film, Mr. Romance. Here’s what Variety says about it:
The pic will be a comedy about a cynical guy who is forced to enter the Mr. Romance competition to win back the love of his life. The competition, which finds hunks whose photos grace the bodice-ripping covers of romance novels, is a real event.
“Romance novels sell 50% of all books, and there is a convention where guys submit themselves to physical and psychological tests to determine their romantic IQ,” Gordon told Daily Variety.
This sounds like a horrible Owen Wilson or Matthew McConaughey movie (actually, I can really see it being another vehicle to reteam Gordon with Vince Vaughn, a guy who stopped making movies I want to see years ago). Maybe Gordon is going to go dark, or maybe he’ll hire Zach Galifinakis as the lead and go absurd. But my suspicion is that this is going to be a straight down the middle movie that will appeal to as many quadrants as possible and be mostly bland (but with a couple of edgy post-Farrelly Bros PG-13 jokes!) and will make a bunch of bucks.
I don’t know Seth Gordon, but a lot of my colleagues have met him and seem to really dig him. He apparently reads lots of websites. So here’s my plea: Cut it the fuck out, Gordon. Stop making the kinds of movies that fade as soon as you walk out of the theater. Find the humanity and humor that you had in King of Kong and bring that to a narrative. You see that road ahead of you? Just stay out of the middle of it.