The comic (auteur) who wants to be Hamlet
lor_ from New York, New York
23 June 2011
This brief "extra" included on the DRAGONFLY DVD explains a bit about
why this rather goofy film was made. I was interested in director Tom
Shadyac's oddball point-of-view, which makes sense when you read his
The comic writer who became a very successful film director of hit
low-brow comedies (particularly associated with Jim Carrey) clearly
harbors a serious side, but on the basis of his comments here appears
to have a screw loose. Though he's coming from almost the opposite end
of the political/social spectrum as the right-wing nuts who currently
are using their muscle to turn back the clock a century or two, his
thinking is oddly in the same camp.
When he (and a couple other interviewees) stress the "gee-whiz"
attitude towards rationality and science, to defend their interest in
nonsensical theories about the afterlife, I could only think of the
reactionary nutcases blocking any serious efforts to deal with Climate
Change using such similar arguments. The campaign to denigrate and
ridicule science is demonstrably harmful, whether coming from Club for
Growth types or their opposite numbers on the Left.
Shadyac evidently believes in the asinine material presented here by
screenwriter David Seltzer (and a couple of original scripters who get
lost in the shuffle). Clint Eastwood recently stubbed his toe in
similar fashion with one of his worst all-time films HEREAFTER, but I
doubt Clint actually puts any stock in the credibility of its fantasy
Later, perhaps "fated", Shadyac had his life-changing bike accident
experience, not the near-death claptrap dealt with in DRAGONFLY, but
enough to send him off on another '60s-style tangent (getting rid of
all his possessions and Hollywood success trappings) and yielding the
documentary I AM.
Just as the star of his unwatchable film PATCH ADAMS, Robin Williams,
has increasingly moved from comedy to maudlin exercises in bathos and
"seriousness", Shadyac is another comic who would be Hamlet. I've seen
all his hit comedies from ACE VENTURA to the bloated (and unfunny)
ALMIGHTY films, and personally don't find his pleasing-to-the-masses
humor of any value at all. He started his career writing for Bob Hope,
and even the lamest of Hope's many Paramount comedies is funnier than
the sum total of Shadyac's blockbusters.
In Hollywood, success makes you a genius and an instant solver of all
the world's problems (see for example Leo DiCaprio and the Pitt/Jolie
team), and even in his current selflessness campaign Shadyac is a prime
example of that perilous ego trip.
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