Hollywood is filled with secret clubs. Some are nicer than others, but a true Hollywood player needs to join them all, regardless of reputation, creed, or entrance fee. Recently, I heard of a decade-old club called, “I directed a Harry Potter film.” I had no idea what a Harry Potter was, but since I DO know how to direct shit, I put my name in the cauldron (this is what we call Paul Sorvino’s hat in the “Hollywood Hat Club”).
Eventually, Paul Sorvino pulled my name out of his Kangol, and I was set. The only problem was I had just twenty hours to figure out what a Harry Potter was. As usual, I asked my kids, who talked too much, then cried too much, then got something to cry about too much. In the end, I got rid of them (one by one) and just watched the six damn movies.
Since most of you have probably never heard of this malarkey, I’ll give you a primer. Harry Potter is a series of films about nerdy Jedi who do all sorts of magic tricks. The general aesthetic kind of looks like Star Wars directed by The Beatles. It’s extraordinarily French, which is probably why it never picked up here in the States. Also, I hear the script novelizations aren’t that great.
The over-arching story involves Harry Potter, a very special Jedi nerd (played by Rachel Dratch). His two best friends are nerd Jedi Ron Weasely (played by Rupert Giles) and nerd Jedet Hermione Weasely (played by Emma Thompson). His main enemy is a Sith nerd named Lord Voldemort Weasely (played by Joseph Feinnes).
Harry is special because he is the last surviving non-Weasely in the nerd Jedi world. The Sith nerds want to limit magic use strictly to Weaselys, while Harry and his friends (especially his wise elder, Dumbledore Weasely) think magic should be shared among everyone, Weaselys and non-Weaselys alike. Also, they all play a broomstick game called Quiddich, which I do not understand. It looks like a fun way to clean a sports arena, though.
I’ll give you a quick run-down of each film:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — Harry Potter learns 1,000 things and 100 new names and somehow remembers them all. He fights a snake at the end.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets — Harry Potter learns some new names and some new things. At the end he fights a — Oh, shit! THIS is the one where he fights a snake. Sorry.
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkabahn — Harry learns to masturbate. He also learns how to fight Ringwraithes with butt-holes for mouths by shooting them with ghost-deer which may be a metaphor for something. There’s also a werewolf, and eagle with legs, and Gary Sinise. And time travel. I liked this movie best because it was only 79 minutes long.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire — Harry must compete in the nerd Jedi Olympics. He and his Rubber Soul hair wins many beautiful mahogany medals. Then some Jedi nerds get his blood and bring Lord Voldemort Weasely back from the dead (but, sadly, not his nose). His first act is to kill Justin Timberlake.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix — Some lady named Jeb Bush takes over the school and Harry has to… I don’t really remember. At this point the series stops caring about being individual films and start bleeding
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince — bleeding into each other, mildly punctuated by big character deaths. I think this is the one where Dumbledore Weasley is cold and distant to Harry and then gets killed in the end.
The next one is mine: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows.
Directing this film was an interesting experience. In fact, to say I directed it is a bit of a lie. See, the Harry Potter machine runs on autopilot at this point. My first day, I ordered a series of sweeping helicopter shots over New Zealand because Peter Travers told me that’s how they made the Chronicles of Narnia movies look so epic. The shots went off okay, but soon after, Harry Potter himself took me aside and basically told me, “We appreciate your enthusiasm, but we’ll take it from here if you don’t mind.” Normally I don’t let lesbians dressed as schoolboys tell me what to do, but this one was backed by Alan Rickman. And I do not cross streams with Alan Rickman.
The basic story for this one is simple. Everything is all screwed up. The Sith nerds are in charge, and they’re killing the hell out of pro-Potters.
The film begins with a big hullabaloo about transporting Harry Potter from one dangerous place to another dangerous place. To do this, all the main Jedi nerds take a potion which makes them look just like Harry Potter. This scene really highlights the movie I’m watching vs. the movie I wish I were watching. You’ve got all these cool looking nerds in a room, all begging for screentime. Instead, they turn themselves into clones of the boring dude.
Seriously, to the child actors who unofficially directed this film: How do you have not one, but TWO burly badasses (one of them with a wandering, cyborg eye), and not only ignore them but kill one OFFSCREEN? Even Dweezil and Ahmet Weasely, the goofy identical twins, hint at a more exciting film. There’s a werewolf with a punk-rock girlfriend in the room for god’s sake! As the stymied director of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows, it’s not my business to tell you what to do, but what the fuck?
Anyway, there’s a brief broomstick fight where our heroes battle black-cloud people. Lord Voldemort Weasely even shows up. But he’s so focused on Harry Potter that he flies into a telephone pole, a la George of the Jungle. That’s the film’s best shit.
From this point on, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are off on their own trying to figure out what to do next. We focus primarily on their brainstorming, their arguments, and their quiet contemplations. It’s incredibly exciting. Someone will get an idea, look into it, then disregard it as a bad idea. It’s not a thoughtful film, but it’s definitely a film concerned with what people look like when they think for long periods of time.
Eventually, the film itself gets fed-up and starts handing out clues and macguffins at will. I don’t know what these things mean or what they’re intended to do at all because