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The comic (auteur) who wants to be Hamlet

Author: 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 bio.

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 content.

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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