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Interview With Elvis Mitchell

Aired July 18, 2003 - 19:51   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ain't nobody getting away from me today.



COOPER (singing): Bad boys, bad boys. What you gonna do...

All right. Well, future summers yield a very different -- go, Elvis. ELVIS MITCHELL, FILM CRITIC, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It's your birthday. It's your birthday.

COOPER: All right. We're talking about summer movie sequels with Elvis Mitchell from "The New York Times."

Thanks for being with us.

MITCHELL: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. I -- we got to start with "Bad Boys," because we just played the clip. You just saw it this afternoon.

MITCHELL: And boy, are my fingers tired. It's weird. I guess it's good, because there's really a lot of chemistry between these two guys. But the world has changed a lot. And -- but this movie still (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 1985, it's that sort of Jerry Bruckheimer thing (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

COOPER: Is this directed by Michael Bay (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

MITCHELL: Michael Bay, that's right, they brought him back.


MITCHELL: They brought everybody back. This is one of these things where Will Smith is some kind of weird, like, cop with an inheritance.

COOPER: Right.

MITCHELL: Because, you know, if I had several million dollars, I'd want a day job so I could get shot in the face. And...

COOPER: Yes, there are a lot of cops out there who have private trust funds. It's...

MITCHELL: You know that too? Is that, like, one of the big stories coming out?

COOPER: I've heard that, I've heard that, yes.

MITCHELL: It's -- the movie depends on (UNINTELLIGIBLE) chemistry, unlike the other sequels, it's been eight years since the first one, and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Will Smith has become a real movie star. He saves the world (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

COOPER: And Martin Lawrence, I mean, he still, I guess, makes some money, but it, but, I mean, his sort of, his star has faded or sort of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) gotten a little cloudier.

MITCHELL: That's right. He was the bigger star when they made the first one. But Will Smith is actually photographed like he was emerging as a star in that first one. In this one, he owns it. Martin Lawrence is peeking...

COOPER: Yes, oh, I...

MITCHELL: ... from behind him on the poster.

COOPER: I actually noticed that. All the photos of him are sort of -- they're very odd. I would have been very upset if I was Martin Lawrence. But, I mean, is the chemistry enough to really hold this movie together?

MITCHELL: Let me put it this way. No. No, it's not. You know, if the (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

COOPER: Ah, you're a writer. You have such a way with words.

MITCHELL: You know, it's that sort of soupcon, as they say in France. If the DA spent as much money as Jerry Bruckheimer, there wouldn't be a drug war in this country any more.

COOPER: I see, OK. Lot of explosions, not much chemistry. Or I, maybe a lot of chemistry and explosions, still it doesn't work.

Well, sequels are not, I guess, doing as well at the box office as a lot of people thought they would this summer.

MITCHELL: Oh, and we talked about this last time too, because these movies are just reiterative. I mean, there's just sort of movies by the yard. There's more of the same car chase in "Terminator 3." In "Legally Blonde 2," it's like she somehow was in a coma, forget what she'd learned in the first one.

There's nothing new in these movies, and these movies all sort of came from nowhere and caught people off guard. The first "Bad Boys," (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that kind of chemistry and the weird sort of, like, violence overkill of Michael Bay, who somehow never learned that there is a B in the word "subtle." You know, it's -- he just sort of cranks it up.

And there's still, I guess, an appetite for this kind of thing, at least from them, and people want to see Will Smith. I sort of think Arnold Schwarzenegger's star has sort of faded a little bit, and people don't want to see, I don't think, somebody like Reese Witherspoon do the same thing over and over and over again.

COOPER: The exact same film, basically.


COOPER: Well, is this, then, maybe the summer of the independent films? I mean, I guess every summer they say, Oh, this is going to be the summer of independent films. But there are a lot of very good independent films out there. I mean, you told me about it off camera last weekend, "Whale Rider." Went to see it. It's fantastic.

MITCHELL: It's one of the best movies I've seen this year. And there's other great things around. There's a wonderful little sort of independent art-house version of "Night of the Living Dead" called "28 Days Later" that's set in London. And it's...

COOPER: Right, which was made, I remember reading, just for a very small amount of money, has already generated a lot more money on it.

MITCHELL: Well, they basically make the money back in the U.K. alone. It was made for about $6 million. This is one of the most haunting openings you're ever going to see. It sort of starts off in London, downtown London, deserted.

COOPER: And it's about an animal virus, or something, gets released by some animal rights activists?

MITCHELL: Yes, I mean, basically they sort of stop -- they want to stop, basically, this -- the -- these research on these monkeys. The monkeys infect the world, and the guy comes out of the coma 28 days later, and he sees what's happened. But -- and unlike other zombie movies where the zombies seem to be all on, like, Zanax and, like, stumbling around waiting for the drugs to kick in, the zombies here are incredibly fast.

COOPER: So it's actually worth seeing, "28 Days Later"?

MITCHELL: Absolutely.

COOPER: "28"...

MITCHELL: "28 Days Later," yes.

COOPER: OK, "28 Days" with Sandra Bullock, not a zombie at all.

MITCHELL: No, it's...

COOPER: Well, some might argue, I don't know.

MITCHELL: Oh, it will turn you into a zombie, that's another effect altogether, though.

COOPER: OK. There's another movie coming up, which I actually just read a little bit about, sounds fascinating, "Sea Biscuit." It's an -- and it's an amazing story. I know there are hopes are kind of riding high on it.

MITCHELL: Well, you know, every summer there's one sort of, like, big, important movie. Generally it comes from DreamWorks. Last summer, it was "Road to Perdition," where somehow, in the '30s, nobody ever had, like, an umbrella. So they were, like, all getting soaked all the time, these big wool coats.

COOPER: Right.

MITCHELL: Couple years before that, it was "Saving Private Ryan." And this year it's "Sea Biscuit," from that amazing book by Laura Hillenbrand (ph). And what's kind of incredible too is that there was that "New Yorker" piece about her a couple of weeks ago, where she talked about having this really, really case of chronic fatigue syndrome, and being housebound. And clearly, that book was kind of a metaphor for what she had to go through herself.

COOPER: Interesting.

MITCHELL: So it's something I think a lot of people are looking forward to seeing, and it's also such a great story.

COOPER: Yes, it's...

MITCHELL: It's such a movie story. You wonder, what are they doing?

COOPER: It's so true. You know, actually, I didn't know anything about Sea Biscuit.

I saw a documentary about it, I think, on public television, and I was, like, you know, not that I watch a lot of public television, but I have to watch it, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) whatever, I don't want to sound too highbrow here, but, but it was one of those stories, it's, like, I cannot believe this has not been made into a movie already, because it is such -- I mean, it sounds fake.

It's so -- it's one amazing, you know, overcoming odds after another story.

MITCHELL: And it it's also set during the Depression, when this country was hungry for heroes, literally hungry for everything, including heroes. You get this little horse that could, this jockey who's too big to ride him, was blind in one eye.

COOPER: Right.

MITCHELL: Basically, it's sort of like the island of lost toys coming together around this horse.

COOPER: All right.

MITCHELL: And it's a movie -- it's such a movie that you almost kind of wonder, well, I hope they don't make it too melodramatic.

COOPER: Right, the island of lost toys, I like it. OK, so "28 Days Later," "Whale Rider," that's what people should see this weekend if they can, independent films.

All right, still to come this evening, Elvis, thanks very much, Elvis Mitchell.

MITCHELL: Thank you.


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