The Top Ten Quotes From Stephen Sommers's Self-Pitying G.I. Joe Victory Lap
Fresh off a resounding box-office win in which his critically savaged G.I. Joe trounced all better-reviewed comers and further established his place in the upper echelon of directors of lowbrow, but cash-generating, late-summer fare, Stephen Sommers sat down with Variety to bask in the kind of vindication only a big opening weekend can provide. But rather than flip a defiant bird to each and every critic who cravenly lobbed a rotten tomato at his latest film, Sommers instead invited the world to watch as he sullenly applied a poultice of mashed-up hundred-dollar bills to the still-fresh scars his tormentors inflicted upon him over the past few weeks. Movieline has selected the ten choicest, most self-pitying examples from Sommers' limping victory lap, so that we can all share in the lesson that money does not, in fact, heal all wounds.
1. On preemptively punishing critics who've already demonstrated they're out of touch with the tastes of mainstream filmgoers because they've refused to praise plotless, two-and-a-half-hour reels of giant robots clumsily trying to sodomize one another with their junkyard-supplied cybergenitalia as things blow up around them:
"You have to gird your loins. I don't think the mainstream critics are relevant here, they have criticized themselves into irrelevancy. `Transformers 2' got the worst reviews in the last decade, and it is the biggest hit of the year. More people will see that than any other movie. On my movie, it became so clear to us. Why not make those reviewers pay their $15 like everyone else?"
2. On not reading reviews, because critics are joyless pimps for the Cinema of Sadface, and hate all popular movies, except for the Harry Potter ones, or the Star Trek ones, or the ones with drunk jackasses stealing Mike Tyson's tiger, or the ones with old widowers who fly around in balloon houses:
"I know it sounds cliche, but I don't read them. Why would I? I make the kind of movies critics love to hate. They love dark and depressing movies. If you make those, you expect they will love you, you need them to love you. The kind of movies I make? They don't enjoy commercial or popular movies."
3. On why critics are so darn nasty nowadays:
"On the most popular movies of the last decade, the reviews have gotten more vicious, more personal. These critics have become a dying breed, and part of it is how much more vicious and personal they've become. They attack the directors, personally."
4. On whether or not critics would ever fairly review his artistic output, even if he temporarily eschewed the $200 million budgets his success gives him access to make a smaller, "Hurt Locker" kind of war movie, where the suit worn by the protagonist somewhat protects him from being destroyed by the intricate bombs he's detonating, rather than giving him super-powers that allow him to joyously hopscotch through enemy missile fire while cracking wise about all the fun he's having:
5. On Michael Bay's theory on the genetic makeup of critics, with a reference to a lingering hurt inflicted during the formative period of his auteurial development:
"I don't get mad at all. I get it, they don't like these movies, they don't get them. It's like Michael Bay said, they don't have a fun gene. These critics remind me of my 78-year old mother. She liked the movie, but it was a little fast for mom. I would love rave reviews, but I learned early on to discount them. When I made `Huck Finn,' some reviewer in Cleveland or Cincinnati got on me about hating the mat paintings I used for the Mississippi River. We shot on the Mississippi River. My job is to please the audience. A critic's job is to be critical."
6. On not feeling professional jealousy towards a colleague currently basking in critical praise for a movie in which nothing larger than a cornish game hen is blown up, with a little note to prospective studio employers about his ability to come in on schedule and under budget:
"No, I feel good for Nora. I'm sure she took a pounding on `Bewitched,' and I know how hard it is to make those movies. I root for her. Her movie needs good reviews. As long as my wife and two kids are proud of me, it's all fine. I know what I'm making here, and I am confident I do it well. I work really hard and consider myself a professional filmmaker. I don't yell, scream at or belittle people. I came in three days under schedule, and $1.7 million under budget. Everybody thought this would be a 95-day shoot, and we would have had a budget problem unless we tried to shoot in 85 days. We shot in 83 days, and added stuff to the original plan."
7. On the pain of having to tell your precocious child to stop reading the websites of mean, angry producers who like to lie about their father's employment status:
"You have to ignore it all. But when your nine-year old comes up to you and says, `Daddy, did you get fired off your movie?' That is when it gets personal."
8. On how a savvy person taught him to pander to the girlfriends of the blockbuster-loving dudes who drag them to his movies, but it's not really pandering, because he totally would've focused on the romance in an epic, CGI-heavy action-adventure about reincarnated zombie pharaohs of his own volition because of his fondness for a good love story backgrounded by flesh-eating scarab beetles:
"The studio never told me anything like that, but a very smart person pulled me aside on the very first `Mummy' and said, `You'll get the boys and men to like this movie, but if you focus on a romance, you can get girls and women to like it too. I focused on the romance and girls and women turned out as much as boys and men. It's not that calculated, though."
9. On how, when the studio gives your casting budget lemons, to make ensemble-ade:
"It is funny when the studios tell me, `the movie is the star! You're the star.' I suspect what they're saying is, `we don't want to pay a star.'"
10. On filling the void of viable leading men between the ages of 20 and 35 with a former exotic dancer he's recently elevated to star status:
"On `Tarzan,' the way we're writing it, he will be mid-20s. There are many great female actors between the ages of 20 and 35 but a real dearth of male stars that age. Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey, those guys are 40 or past it. I hope `G.I. Joe' is creating one of those stars in Channing Tatum."♦
· Interview: Sommers Gets Last Laugh [Variety]