Monday, August 18, 2008

A Longshot

There is almost nothing surprising about a benign piece of cinematic fluff like "The Longshots." Every bit of it oozes formulaic, PG rated, family oriented, inspirational, film making. It's got all the elements: a plucky young protagonist (Keke Palmer of "Akeelah and the Bee" fame), a down on his luck mentor (played by a crazy, family friendly, motherfucker named Ice Cube), a team of lovable misfits, an improbable championship run, and of course the all important "inspired by a true story" pedigree. I'll even make an educated guess that there'll be an evil (possibly white) antagonist coach and a rival team of antagonists twice the usual size with half the dimensions. If I remember one ad I saw correctly the movie's promoters don't even bother feigning any suspense and mentioned that "it's the story of the first girl to win X championship." The modest run in theaters and DVD that awaits it is also a forgone conclusion.

Despite the forgettable lack of surprises that "The Longshots" appears to have; it has, without me having seen a single second outside the previews and a week before it is even supposed to be out, given me one of the most shocking cinematic twists I have ever experienced. Bruce Willis' ghost, that murderous red hooded dwarf, Keyser Soze, Rosebud, the remains of the Statute of Liberty on the beach are all ham fisted telegraphed conclusions compared to the bomb this movie dropped on me right from the promotional poster. For those who aren't in the know already, without looking it up on the Internetz, can you please identify this man, the directer of "The Longshots" as photographed at the Tribeca Film Festival:

If you haven't figured out the identity of this mystery auteur from this recent image. Perhaps this photo taken about a decade prior from his previous profession would help. That's right, it's every one's favorite late 90's relic Fred Durst. Please watch out for falling OMGs and WTFs.

For a man who for most intents and purposes vanished without a trace around the turn of the millennium, helming this rah-rah, heart cockle warming, family feature would be one of the absolute last places to find him working again. I would have thought a Surreal life appearance, or an mildly publicized arrest for weapons possession, or an unsuccessful comeback tour with a new band with the same name, or at least a niche line of personally licensed hard liqueur would have been the predicted path back. Instead here he is sharp, capless, looking like the long lost third Weinstein brother.

As shocking at it is, perhaps the most observant of his fans (all four or so of them) may have actually seen this coming. According to his wikipedia entry he has a surprisingly extensive music video filmography. He did all major videos for Limp Bizkit, a few Lincoln Park videos, Korn's "Falling Away From Me", a bunch of noteworthy Staind videos (including their immortal "I'm Been A While"), and Puddle of Mudd's megahit "Blurry". As much as I hate everything about the Nu-Metal dominance of my high school years, for better or for worse, some of these videos really defined the time for me. I unfortunately can remember a lot more about these videos then I'd care to. In a way he's sort of like the Hype Williams of turn of the millennium, angry white Nu-Metal, at least the Russell Mulcahy.

So will this be the modest first step towards a total career reinvention? From Family Values Tour to actual family values? Or will he suffer a similar fate as fellow double threat Fred Savage and his feature debut "Daddy Day Camp"? Maybe it's just a question of Faith.

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