“That’s not Peter, that’s a stop-motion figure,” said animation legend Ray Harryhausen, “He is moved thirty tiny times a second – and that’s how often he used to eat.”
Whether Jackson was bitten by an Olsen twin or the personal trainer bug is beside the point. The New Him means fan-boy geeks everywhere know miracles are, indeed, possible, as if yet another Golden Globe nomination for Sarah Jessica Parker weren’t proof enough of that.
One of Jackson’s all-time-favorite movies was the 1933 classic King Kong, the story of a misunderstood beast ripped from his natural habitat and cruelly exhibited for the public’s entertainment much like CBS deer-in-headlights Dan Rather.
Jackson’s new version of King Kong rocks – unlike the 1976 version, the one with ingénue Jessica Lange writhing in a flimsy, shaky monkey paw apparently constructed of papier mâchè and a shag rug. That’s the Kong featuring a Jeff Bridges grizzly enough to audition for Nick Nolte’s mug shot.
Like the Kongs before him, this one is found on a remote island where man lives beside dinosaurs, thus altering the evolutionary timeline and adding weight to the historical veracity of The Flintstones.
Jack Black is a filmmaker with a glint of madness in his eye – having less to do with characterization than with a variety of chemical imbalances one hopes he’s self-medicating.
He needs a starlet for his movie, and Jack finds Naomi Watts, who’s about to strut her formidable stuff in burlesque, which is like Vegas but with layers.
Jack is out to make a movie! He’s equipped with a hand-cranked camera and a Tommy Gun. It’s a good thing weapons aren’t standard issue on movie sets or surely that crazy bitch Oliver Stone would have killed someone by now.
Adrien Brody is a playwright, and he falls hard and fast for Naomi sparking the kind of chemistry one usually reserves for estranged siblings.
Brody’s aquiline features are immensely distracting, as if John Barrymore returned from the dead for one last role. “By the end of this movie there won’t be one dry eye in the house,” said a characteristically pickled Barrymore, “and I won’t have one dry scene in the movie.”
Soon enough Brody has morphed from playwright to action hero, a writer’s fantasy if ever there was one. Folks, writers don’t even like writing action, let alone performing it. Fortunately, most of Adrien’s action challenges him to stare wide-eyed in wonder as if he’s momentarily possessed by Dakota Fanning.
Watch for Kong- and Gollum-model Andy Serkis as a scurvy ship’s mate with a cockney accent and one eye permanently closed -except when Andy forgets to permanently close it.
Jack’s number two man is Colin Hanks, allegedly the son of Tom Hanks, but more likely a secret Korean clone financed by the Hollywood establishment in order to lengthen the lifespan of a star franchise by generations.
Black and Hanks, together again. I never expected an Orange County reunion in this lifetime and especially not with a nine-figure budget and an audience subject to free will.
Off to Skull Island go cast and crew. There, our heroes meet what are easily the ugliest indigenous people this side of Fox’s Trading Spouses. “Tori Kong, Tori Kong” squeals a horrible old native lady who, in her addled state, seems to believe that Kong is the heir to the Aaron Spelling fortune!
When Kong meets Naomi he scoops her up and carries her madly through the jungle, whipping her about with enough fury to induce whiplash. Said Brody: “I’ve heard of shaken baby syndrome, but this baby’s head is about to fly off like a pebble in a slingshot!”
In a heartwarming moment, Naomi performs her vaudeville act for Kong: Somersaults, juggling, dancing like a fool.
Kong sniffs. It’s not his kind of entertainment.
“Maybe he prefers the drama of Law and Order,” noted Jack Black.
Kong’s eyes light up: “Yes, Jerry Orbach,” he growled. “Not that new guy.”
As everyone knows, Kong is captured and removed to New York, where he opens with a full orchestra on Broadway making him the Chita Rivera of his day. “What I go through just to get my caricature posted at Sardi’s,” muttered a disgruntled Kong.
Is there a danger to Kong’s Broadway audience? Of course not. “These chains are made of chrome steel,” says Jack Black. The ignorant masses are duly impressed despite never having heard of “chrome steel” anywhere but in the movie King Kong.
Oops. So much for chrome steel! Kong is on the loose! It’s fleeing room only!
Kong rampages through Manhattan, overturns cars, loots Plasma TV’s, and flips the bird when he encounters a Red Sox fan. His big ass crushes a table outside Dean & Deluca, where he pauses to read the Sunday Times.
On the run again. “What’s opening at the Met?” Kong asks Naomi whose head is whipping around so fast in his palm it’s swatting the flies off his wrist.
“If we’re going uptown I’ll need some Dramamine,” Naomi replies, “and a neck brace.”
Knowing how this ends makes the conclusion all the sadder. Even after three hours, the audience was transfixed as the climax played itself out.
“it was beauty that killed the beast,” said Jack Black.
And what a beautiful beast King Kong is.
Photos Copyright ©2005 Universal Pictures
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