Notes from the back row 

How not to win an Oscar

By Feet Banks



How Not to Win an Oscar. By Eddie Murphy

Step 1 - Get cast in a dreamy, semi-historical music flick when music flicks have done well at the last two Oscars ( Ray, Walk the Line .)

Step 2 – Use your acting. Do a pretty decent job on what ends up being a pretty decent flick and watch the hype build.

Step 3 – Win Golden Globe’s “Best Supporting Actor.” Get Oscar nomination.

Step 4 – Two weeks before the big show, release another flick but this time play a wimpy dork who’s routinely raped by a dominating and grossly overweight girlfriend, also played by you in a whale-ish fat suit.    

Step 5 – Hope nobody realizes that an Oscar nominee has a movie out where he literally f*cks himself…

That’s right, in a return to the form we all fondly remember from such energy-draining films as Daddy Day Care or Doctor Dolittle2:Meet the Klumps Eddie Murphy seems out to prove that Dreamgirls was a total fluke in Norbit, a PG-13, nice-guys-can-finish-first “comedy” that hits the Village 8 this Friday. Luckily for anyone who goes to see it, the always-excellent Charlie Murphy co-stars as the voice of a talking dog, the highlight of the film.

I hope Eddie wins, I really do. Not just because he actually is much better than crap like this and not just ’cause his “My Baby likes to Party All the Time” is one the best ’80s songs ever, but because he’s been in the game a long, long time. Raw was amazing when I was a kid and I still have that killer synth song from Bevery Hills Cop stuck in my head (it’s called Axel F.)

Murphy still might win that Oscar (although I think Mark Walberg has it locked up for his stellar, cuss-filled performance in The Departed) but Norbit sits fully in the realm of Saturday morning cartoons as far as character, theme, or sophistication. Don’t you think that might affect how people vote Eddie — a fresh, stinky reminder of how shitty your movies usually are? I do.

On the other hand, perhaps I expect too much. I suppose not every movie has to be so “powerful” it makes your girlfriend cry and get all introspective and quiet for half an hour afterwards. Sometimes, if you’re 12, simple, high, or hungover, cartoon sophistication is the best thing going. Next to, of course, tense, popcorn thiller-crime flicks starring golden teenybopper music stars in a breakthrough role. Nothing beats that for killing time.

Directed by Nick Cassavetes, Alpha Dog, opening Friday, is a drug-riddled, sun-bleached film about a bunch of white valley-boy gangsters in over their heads. In lieu of an outstanding drug debt Prankster Gangsta Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsh) kidnaps the younger brother of one of his customers. The kid, however, goes all Patti Hearst; enjoying the liquor, drugs and women of the faux-tough guy lifestyle.

This is another innocent-in-a-world-of-depravity film and Justin Timberlake turns in a strong performance as Truelove’s right hand man and the moral centre of the story. This movie won’t change your life but it’s refreshing to see a dark-humoured crime flick where the criminals are incompetent posers, and for all its faults Alpha Dog is quite naturalistic as far as white wanna-be gangstas go — you see these jokers every day now that Hip Hop is popular culture. Alpha Dog is a fun, if forgettable, flick that, thank Christ, doesn’t include Eddie Murphy in a fat suit. Sharon Stone wears one though, no Oscar for her either.

At Village 8 to Feb. 13: Norbit; Hannibal Rising; Alpha Dog; Smokin’ Aces; Pan’s Labyrinth; Catch and Release; Casino Royale; Blood Diamond; Dreamgirls; Because I Said So. Feb. 14-15: Same except Catch and Release is replaced by Music and Lyrics.

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