Boffo! Tinseltown's Bombs and Blockbusters (2006) Poster

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A must see if you love movies!
nanooks22 June 2006
Much more than just another compilation of film clips, this celebration of movie magic made me smile from start to finish. With personalities ranging from George Clooney to Bob Evans to Richard Zanuck, it's a privilege to listen in on these insiders discuss why we love movies, and what makes them hits or bombs. We see Jodie Foster and Charlize Theron talking about why they have made their role choices, and what drives them to take the difficult parts no one thought they could do. We see Morgan Freeman commenting on his involvement with big flops (Bonfire of the Vanities) and huge but unexpected hits (Unforgiven, Driving Miss Daisy, March of the Penguins). Best of all, we do see wonderful clips of some of the best and worst films in cinema history.
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Could have been incisive but ends up forgettable
Cool Hand Luke10 August 2006
I found out about this 75 minute HBO doc in an issue of ASC. The article touted a bill of big Hollywood players; studio heads, producers and actors. I was intrigued so had to watch it.

I am very interested in how Hollywood works and read Variety/Screen/Premiere, and also check out IMDb's daily news. You get a sense of the workings of the big studios but rarely do studio heads lay it out on the table, and that is where you hoped Boffo! would be revealing.

Unfortunately it plays as some sort of AFI/Oscar ceremony montage of great Hollywood movies, past and present, with the interviewees giving very OBVIOUS quotes such as "rules are there to be broken" and "success and failure balances on a very fine line." Sure, if you're a fan of film, then surely you wanna hear anything Bogdanovich, Evans, Grazer and Guber have to say. But if you want to hear some revealing comments you better off sticking to the trades.

It seems the director wanted to avoid focusing on the flops. Heaven's Gate is not mentioned ONCE. Disasters like Cutthroat Island, Battlefield Earth, Gigli, The Avengers, The Postman and Town & Country are not mentioned, yet are prime material to devour and assess. You look at these films and the main reason they flopped was because of the egos behind them: Costner, Beatty, Travolta, Cimino, Harlin. Then you have the excess of Hollywood. The extravagance of their budgets and the ridiculous costs of marketing. Somehow these topics are barely talked about. Why not venture into The Cable Guy when Columbia went nuts and gave Carrey a 20 mill pay check and changed the film industry forever?

An interesting point was made that spending more money can sometimes be a safer bet, like with Troy. Sure, it cost one or two hundred million dollars to make, but it made back double because it seemed like a sure fire winner. Compare that with Training Day, Denzel winning the Oscar, costing maybe less than a third of Troy, yet not grossing nearly as much. But these passing comments are not delved into. It's almost as if there was no structure to the filming. Let's get as many big names as we can, ask them some questions, and see what we can get in the edit. It would have been more fruitful cutting the number of people in half and focusing on a few films as opposed to allowing them run riot with pointless anecdotes on the making of Jaws which any self respecting Hollywood fan would already know about! The importance of the script, of course, is mentioned. You know why? Because it's the first thing you learn at film school, because the most important part of a film is the STORY. Sure, there are exceptions. Bad stories have made lots of money, but in general, if you look at the most successful films in the history of film, you will see most of them consist of good storytellers telling good stories.

But it is all the other factors that Boffo! could and should have focused on.

There is a great moment when Morgan Freeman is asked about The Bonfire of the Vanities, and why it flopped (despite having the box office lifetime guarantee hallmark of Tom Hanks) and whether there was any sign during production. The great Freeman is very VERY delicate with his words, pausing for what seems like a whole minute before concluding; "when an airline crashes they say that it is mostly a series of mishaps...same thing." And that my friends is the closest you will get to any sort of directed criticism made in the entire film.

More prescient is the fact that Richard Dreyfuss harks on about the importance of the story and how filmmakers today have all this great technology but do not know how to use it. It just so happens he is conducting the interview, in glorious bloody makeup on the back-lot of Poseidon, 2006's first major summer SFX flop! So all in all a big disappointment, but still containing enjoyable nuggets if only because the likes of Clooney, Dreyfuss, Freeman and DeVito are as charismatic as ever!

On a side note, if anyone wants to see how stars should be lit then look no further. ASC member Stephen Lighthill did a sterling job and made everyone look fantastic.
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A definite "ADD" to the filmmaker's library
DarkAngeloX4 July 2006
Excellent documentary exploring the dichotomy, mystery and miracles of film-making. It's funny, serious, whimsical, self-contradictory, and full of the width and breath of personalities that rule Hollywood...behind or in front of the camera. Filmmakers from Sidney Pollack to George Clooney all take the stage in all their glory and personality to explain to the view the tricks, formulas, secrets, mysteries and miracles of film-making. We see that not as the A-List superstars they are, but as mere cogs in the Hollywood system deftly juggling creativity with the economics and politics of film-making. I highly recommend adding this to your library if you are a filmmaker in any sense of the word.
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T Y6 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"There's no formula." "Anything can flop." There! I just saved you two hours of another well-produced but meandering, pointless, over-scored, self-admiring clip show. Variety cranked up the same production line to poop out the usual generic love letter to Hollywood, peopled mostly with figures who haven't had a natural, PR-free moment in front of the camera in decades, and can't stop talking in sound bites (Jodie Foster, Clooney). Except perhaps Morgan Freeman, who visibly deflates to talk about Bonfire of the Vanities.

Here it is, the rare occasion Hollywood acknowledges what they don't know, and it still feels like one of those heraldic, schmaltzy Oscar show tribute segments (you can't wait to end), on steroids. 'Magic' is big here, ideas and thought are out. What none of them acknowledge is: you have a decent chance of calling a blockbuster before it's released; only when someone makes a movie that everyone expects to flop (but inexplicably brings home the cash - Titanic!), an execs tiny, overtaxed, barely elucidated set of film values is destabilized, warped, or tossed out the window entirely. Then 'nervousness' and 'hope' reign over the green-lighting process instead of business acumen and/or reality. As they dance around secondary causes, none of the stars can bring themselves to say, "...and the biggest problem is temperamental, know-nothing stars with colossal egos who cannot believe they're wrong, until they fail spectacularly... probably not even then."

Robert Evans, who until now had an ego with no upper boundary, has a nice moment where he confides a rather humbling moment. Oh, and Richard Dreyfuss again confirms he is the most annoying actor that has ever lived. He just can't stop acting, and fawning over himself. Rent Scorcese's clip show instead, or read the book 'Fiasco,' which places 'celebrity ego' front and center, on the pillory.
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Avoid at all costs
generaljpn18 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I Have an interest in the box office performance of films, such as how a critically panned movie becomes a hit (Pirates of the Caribean 2) and how a critically acclaimed movie can flop (Zodiac) Both of which bring up the question of what really makes a "good" movie. So I was of course thrilled when I heard about this documentary. But when I got around to watching it I found the title incredibly misleading. In the ENTIRE MOVIE, id say that about five minutes in the whole film are about box office bombs and blockbusters. the rest of the movie is just big name actors and directors talking about what film making means to them. Not worth yours, or for that matter, anybodies time.
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NewYorkYankee1313 June 2006
This was an excellent documentary on the ups and downs of the film industry. I was among the first to view this film and it changed my outlook on a lot of things pertaining to film making. I also had the honor of meeting the director. He knows his stuff. I know for sure that film is what I want to do now, because I saw this film. It was honest and in your face. The talent that graced the screen and gave their first hand confessions about the industry also opened my eyes to the film world. Everyone, if you have a chance, check it out! It might be a great experience for those who are interested in film and who want to get the real(or, reel)deal on the industry.
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Pointless collection of people talking about flops and hits never amounts to much of anything
dbborroughs11 July 2006
Easily the dumbest documentary HBO has ever been involved in this is a "look" at what makes a hit or a flop. Using loose subject headings various people talk about how we can never know what will hit or what will miss. We see how the rules of one moment don't apply to the next. There is also a good deal of discussion about how all film making is a crap shoot since what should work very often doesn't.

Actually what this film is lots of stars and studio execs sitting in chairs telling "witty stories" about the films that worked and the films that failed all the while trying to come across as "gee whiz" nice guys. While the stories are interesting the film quickly reveals that there isn't much of a point, or if there is one, the point doesn't require 75 minutes to have it beaten into your head. Its the sort of movie where some one says Howard the Duck and expects it to get big laughs. We also get rapid fire clips from the various movies that are suppose to illustrate the point but are too brief and fleeting to be much beyond a visual reference. Its so many people talking so briefly about so many different movies, or speaking so generally that you get no real information about anything. Yes, there are some telling remarks about life in Tinseltown but its much ado about nothing since its the equivalent to reading a book of quotes on the movies with nothing beyond the quotes. Personally, I was bored and after half an hour I picked up a magazine and began to read.

If you like movies give it a try,after all there are some good lines and confessions (George Clooney on responsibility and Brian Grazer on wishing someone else's failure) but its too long and never adds up to anything worth anything.
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Boffo! Very Entertaining for those not in the business but interested in movie-making
trinacarol24 November 2007
I really enjoyed this documentary. I don't believe HBO ever meant for it to be a 'how to guide' for anyone wanting to get into the business. Instead, it is just an interesting look at how the movie making industry works. The studios are often formulaic and pump out movies as if they were on an assembly line just to make big bucks, and this documentary gives examples of how all the planning in the world sometimes bombs while other times weird unplanned series of events can result in making a blockbuster. I found it rather enlightening to know that there is still an element of 'luck' involved sometimes in movie-making. It helps those of us who want to 'escape' when going to the movies instead of just being weighed down by the business end of film-making that can suck all the enjoyment out of the experience. I encourage everyone to watch this, but remember to just sit back, relax, and enjoy yourselves! Definitely don't view this too seriously because it is obvious that even though the people being interviewed sometimes talking about serious issues, they are enjoying themselves as well.
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Completely uninspired waste of time
damian-504 July 2006
This is one of the worst documentaries I've ever seen. Each new segment presents an obvious idea like "There are no rules for making a blockbuster" or "failure sucks". It then presents a handful of producers saying the same thing or slight variations of the phrase such as "There aren't any rules to making hits" or "There's no formula for making blockbusters" Intercut with the interviews are newspaper and trade magazine headlines that show the same phrase and small clips of different movies.

There is really no substance or insights in this movie. There aren't even any hard facts. It's a shame, too, because there are some really interesting people interviewed on the documentary. Too bad they just asked them the same softball clichéd questions. I would have loved to hear some insider stories, or just anything with some "meat" to it.

To sum it up it's a completely uninspired waste of time.
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