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All Righty Then
November 18, 2010 8:59 AM   Subscribe

Tom Shadyac is the director of terrible but hugely profitable Hollywood films such as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Nutty Professor, Liar Liar, Patch Adams, and Bruce Almighty. (We'll skip right over Dragonfly with Kevin Costner.) Then he had an epiphany, sold his mansion and private jet, shed his possessions, moved into a Malibu trailer park, and started giving away his money.

Now he has returned with his first feature film since 2007's Evan Almighty: I Am, a self-produced documentary about life, connectedness, and emotionally sensitive yogurt. Bonus interview if you're a New Yorker subscriber.
posted by eugenen (86 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
..where do I get in line?
posted by The Whelk at 9:03 AM on November 18, 2010


I really, really applaud Shadyac for what he's decided to do with his life, but I really, really hope he doesn't do that remake of "The Incredible Mr. Limpet".
posted by briank at 9:05 AM on November 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Excuse me but please keep the bullshit editorializing out of your posts. Ace Ventura is a god damn awesome movie, as is Liar Liar. Get over yourself.
posted by spicynuts at 9:06 AM on November 18, 2010 [30 favorites]


While these films aren't M, I would take issue with the assertion that they're terrible. They're relatively competently made, and the first few work quite well as comedies. As we get later into the series and Shadyac starts trying to affix morals to his films, that's when they start being a drag. But Jim Carrey running in reverse slow-motion? It's gold.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:06 AM on November 18, 2010


Nice try but he's still going to burn in hell for those movies.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:06 AM on November 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


I've been to that trailer park, and, it's really not a trailer park in the "oh no here come tornadoes!" sense. It's on the Malibu cliffs and has a gorgeous ocean view. It would be a huge step up for most of us.

But I guess if you're downgrading from a private jet and a mansion, then a Malibu trailer park would be kind of a dump.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:07 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Huh. I really enjoyed Patch Adams, was surprised by your characterization of it as a bad movie, and went to look it up to be sure it was the same one. Apparently, it wasn't well thought-of by critics.

Regardless of what they may think, I've seen lots of terrible movies, and that wasn't one of them. I'm not sure exactly how to characterize it, but I'm dead certain that 'terrible' does not fit. Way too much laughing for that.
posted by Malor at 9:07 AM on November 18, 2010


"not incompetent" is the new good.
posted by boo_radley at 9:07 AM on November 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't think Ace Ventura is a particularly terrible movie. It has a rather specific target audience, a particular style of humor, and I have to say that I believe is the apex of a certain moment of Jim Carrey's career.

I'd sooner chew through my arm than watch Patch Adams again, though.
posted by griphus at 9:10 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Nutty Professor contains one of the greatest comedic film performances in the last 20 years. For this reason alone, I could not consider it a "terrible" movie.

You can say that Shadyac's direction contributes nothing to the movie's quality. But you can not say that it hinders it either.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:10 AM on November 18, 2010


You can downsize your ecologinomic footprint without living in squalid horror. Of course it's a nice trailer park!

Also, Patch Adams was the one truly awful film on that list. I will brook no dissent on this issue.
posted by Mister_A at 9:10 AM on November 18, 2010


Hey, if 90 percent of humanity just strove for competence, we'd be living in an earthly paradise.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:10 AM on November 18, 2010 [13 favorites]


I met Tom at a rush party at his fraternity way back when. He is the 'brain' behind the "Are You a Preppie?" poster from the late 1970's. Funny guy back then.
posted by AugustWest at 9:11 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can say that Shadyac's direction contributes nothing to the movie's quality. But you can not say that it hinders it either.

New Oscar category: least hindrance in a major motion picture
posted by fleetmouse at 9:12 AM on November 18, 2010 [20 favorites]


New Oscar category: least hindrance in a major motion picture

Add "While being George Lucas", and I'll be right behind you.
posted by Catseye at 9:17 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Helping a performance look effortless is not an easy thing to do, is what I'd say. Good direction isn't about wacky cuts and zany action sequences as much as it is about solid story-telling.
posted by Mister_A at 9:17 AM on November 18, 2010


fleetmouse: New Oscar category: least hindrance in a major motion pictur
And once again, Breckin Meyer goes 0-fer at the Oscars...
posted by hincandenza at 9:17 AM on November 18, 2010


I really enjoyed a few of his films but it's not exactly outlandish to categorize them as terrible. I think a better word would be "lowbrow" or "crass" but that's pretty much just semantics. The important thing is that Shadyac now sees them as somewhat terrible and is trying to make up for them by making high-concept 'art films'. Which is either a further ridiculous delusion and par for the course in Hollywood flakiness, or somewhat touching and inspiring, depending (in my case) on whether I am hungover or not.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:18 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


terrible but hugely profitable Hollywood films

Scores of these movies on imdb:

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective: 6.6
The Nutty Professor: 5.7
Liar Liar: 6.7
Patch Adams: 6.3
Bruce Almighty: 6.6
Dragonfly: 5.8

Okay, so they are all below the imdb average (Currently 6.9)... but "terrible"? The Bottom 100 needs a 2.6 or worse
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:18 AM on November 18, 2010


“I had a woman at my production company whose job was to find people in need that we could help — people whose houses had burned down, kids in a blind children’s center,” he told me last week, sitting in his cozy trailer overlooking the gorgeous California coastline. “But I didn’t realize that even though I was giving my money away, my own life was a very poor reflection of who I thought I was. I thought I was taking care of others, but I was really only taking care of me.”

It takes a lot of guts to see this in yourself - his story is inspiring, and I hope he keeps it up.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 9:18 AM on November 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


...least hindrance in a major motion picture

Someone call Oliver Stone and tell him to clean off a bookcase!
posted by griphus at 9:19 AM on November 18, 2010


What, to place his many awards for the opposite of that?
posted by Mister_A at 9:21 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


emotionally sensitive yogurt

Look, Alec Baldwin's gone to seed, but I don't think it's fair to call him totally shapeless.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:21 AM on November 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I hope this guy gave the plane to a homeless guy that would be rad.
posted by Mister_A at 9:21 AM on November 18, 2010


"Huh. I really enjoyed Patch Adams, was surprised by your characterization of it as a bad movie, and went to look it up to be sure it was the same one."

Hunter Doherty, Patch, Adams feels differently
posted by Blasdelb at 9:22 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't even know who's in Bruce Almighty and Nutty Professor ... but if it stars Jim Carey and/or Robin Williams and they're not playing a heavy, it's terrible. It just is.
posted by philip-random at 9:24 AM on November 18, 2010


Someone forward this to M. Night.

And the only movie worse than Pet Detective is its sequel, wherein Ace Ventura goes to a bad caricature of tribal Africa, mocks the natives, desecrates their places of worship and farts on their holy Gods, to the howling delight of the audience!
posted by naju at 9:29 AM on November 18, 2010


Yeah I also came in here to rage at the "terrible."

They aren't highbrow features, but they are fully realised, terrifically executed films.
posted by fire&wings at 9:29 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I loved Bruce Almighty, and I'm not a particularly big Jim Carrey fan. Evan Almighty, when I eventually forced myself to watch it because my friends with kids wouldn't shut up about it, not so much.

I might be tempted to see this movie.
posted by Gator at 9:30 AM on November 18, 2010


And holy shit, how did this slip under the radar of movies to see in 2009?
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective Jr.
posted by naju at 9:34 AM on November 18, 2010


It's ok, eugenen. I think they're pretty bad movies too.

As an aside, I was pretty blown away when I learned that the budget for Evan Almighty was $175,000,000. That's bigger than the budget for Michael Bay's Transformers, which came out the same year.

I never saw it, so what's the deal? I know it ends with a big flood scene, but where else did that money go?
posted by brundlefly at 9:35 AM on November 18, 2010


Excuse me but please keep the bullshit editorializing out of your posts. Ace Ventura is a god damn awesome movie, as is Liar Liar. Get over yourself.

This isn't wikipedia; the OP can have an opinion as long as it isn't the point of the post or overwhelming to the framing. Would you feel better if we went all wiki-bullshit and included 5 links to "regarded by many as sophomoric"? The point is that the man made mass-entertainment for gobs of money before deciding that money wasn't the calling of his life.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 9:36 AM on November 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Spoiled film director? Tired of making lightweight comedies? Takes up life in a trailer? Am I hearing Sullivan's Travels here?
posted by Faze at 9:37 AM on November 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Would you feel better if we went all wiki-bullshit and included 5 links to "regarded by many as sophomoric"?

No, the only request is to leave the "terrible" out of it. There's no reason to disparage someone's work, especially if it isn't the point of the FPP. Even "batshitinsane" doesn't convey as much aesthetic judgment as "terrible" does.
posted by griphus at 9:41 AM on November 18, 2010


All of these movies are basically

Step 1: cast a manic improv comic.
Step 2: throw away the script
Step 3: profit!

Evan Almighty didnt work because Steve Carell isnt Murphy, Carrey, or Williams.
posted by Billiken at 9:42 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know it ends with a big flood scene, but where else did that money go?

I'm guessing it went to a combination of the big name stars (I think 2007 was when Steve Carell's star was at its zenith -- he was in at least four or five films that came out that year) and special effects. It was so moronic I actually found myself getting angry while watching it, which is something that doesn't often happen to me.

Also, I did not think spicynuts' comment above was completely serious, but perhaps I am alone in that.
posted by Gator at 9:42 AM on November 18, 2010


Evan Almighty didnt work because Steve Carell isnt Murphy, Carrey, or Williams.

I think it's even more decisive that, Ghostbusters and some other exceptions notwithstanding, big-budget, SFX-heavy comedies don't usually do that well.

Anyhoo, good on Shadyac for walking the walk.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:43 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I get the feeling that the people defending Pet Detective were the same ones going around saying "Allllll righty then!" until about way too long.
posted by orme at 9:47 AM on November 18, 2010 [11 favorites]


Gator: "I'm guessing it went to a combination of the big name stars (I think 2007 was when Steve Carell's star was at its zenith -- he was in at least four or five films that came out that year) and special effects."

Talking animals, I'm guessing?
posted by brundlefly at 9:47 AM on November 18, 2010


big-budget, SFX-heavy comedies don't usually do that well.

I hope you're wrong in at least one instance.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:49 AM on November 18, 2010


That'll teach you not to use adjectives in your FPPs!
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:49 AM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


ace ventura rocks
posted by Addiction at 9:51 AM on November 18, 2010


not a trailer park in the "oh no here come tornadoes!" sense

This is totally going to be my metric for trailer parks from now on.
posted by mykescipark at 9:54 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Scores of these movies on imdb:

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective: 6.6
The Nutty Professor: 5.7
Liar Liar: 6.7
Patch Adams: 6.3
Bruce Almighty: 6.6
Dragonfly: 5.8


Scores of these movies on Rotten Tomatoes:

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective: 48% (audience: 57%)
The Nutty Professor: 67% (audience: 50%)
Liar Liar: 82% (audience: 72%)
Patch Adams: 24% (audience: 77%)
Bruce Almighty: 48% (audience: 61%)
Dragonfly: 7% (audience: 68%)
posted by zarq at 9:55 AM on November 18, 2010


I hate Jim Carrey and can't stand to watch anything he's in. Does that mean I'm selfish, competitive, and materialistic, or does it mean something else?
posted by Xurando at 9:55 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


All of these movies are basically

Step 1: cast a manic improv comic.
Step 2: throw away the script
Step 3: profit!


Have you ever tried to direct or edit a film with a lot of improv in it? That man earned his millions fair and square. Liar Liar and The Nutty Professor both stayed as close to their scripts as any film does. I haven't read the production drafts of the other films, but I'd bet they don't stray as much as you might think they do. But, y'know, enjoy your smug meme about your perception of filmmaking.

And objectively, those movies are not terrible. You may not like them and you might think they're crass, but terrible? Not even by a country mile.

And Potomac, I have a bad feeling that Your Highness will get more than a couple executives fired. That movie should've cost 8 million dollars, not 80.
posted by incessant at 9:57 AM on November 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ace Ventura ate farts.

You are allowed a Taste Exemption on that one only if you were born on or after Jan 1 1984.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:00 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


During my senior year of college Shadyac taught a couple of classes (this was the fall after the release of Evan Almighty, the most expensive comedy film ever made). The class I took was called something like "Life and the Biz". He also taught a screenwriting course called "The Art of Storytelling and Life". He was very generous with his time and Hollywood insights. It was a blast of a class. Every time we met he ordered like ten pizzas and had a Coffee Bean/Tea Leaf catering truck come by so everyone could get a coffee drink before class started. Class sessions often were shoot-the-breeze style, talking about movies or helping students brainstorm about their screenplays. Friends of his from the "industry" came to speak almost every week. My personal favorite memory from the class was the field trip to the CAA offices in Century City. We got to tour the beautiful building and watched "Into the Wild" in the screening room. Before the movie started I noticed that Tom had a copy of "The Power of Myth" tucked under his arm. There was no final exam and everyone got a mountain bike at the end of semester.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 10:02 AM on November 18, 2010 [15 favorites]


YOUR HIGHNESS COST $80 MILLION!?!?!?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:02 AM on November 18, 2010


Yeah, I was already to think that this was a deeply inspiring story, until I did a little bit of Googling and found out what it really meant to live in a trailer park in Malibu.
posted by eschatfische at 10:02 AM on November 18, 2010


I hate Jim Carrey and can't stand to watch anything he's in. Does that mean I'm selfish, competitive, and materialistic, or does it mean something else?

It means I mostly agree with you. In an ideal world, Jim Carrey would be a character actor who generally had small but memorable rolls in everything from broad comedies to heavy dramas, but he would always be "that weird guy". As is, I can't help but feel his career (and the attendant fame) is one protracted and very public nervous breakdown. It creeps me out, and I feel sorry for him.
posted by philip-random at 10:03 AM on November 18, 2010


I know it ends with a big flood scene, but where else did that money go?

I'm guessing there was a lot of CGing of animals in that film.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:03 AM on November 18, 2010


Oh Jesus Christ you guys.
What he is doing with his life is a Net Good and he doesnt need to live like a beggar in Calcutta to keep from diminishing it.

Question: Do you own a television? A smart phone? Are there homeless people in your town? Well guess what, you're an asshole then.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:05 AM on November 18, 2010 [12 favorites]


incessant: "And objectively, those movies are not terrible. You may not like them and you might think they're crass, but terrible? Not even by a country mile."

Objectively? Are we talking about the same thing here? Thinking a film is "terrible" is definitely subjective.
posted by brundlefly at 10:05 AM on November 18, 2010


Wow. I might have thought that was amazing when I was 24, but now that I'm in my 30s, I know I'd never do that. At least I hope I'd never do anything like that. I guess I'm just a selfish person, but I'd rather just get mine and keep it (after paying off my student loans, buying a decent car, putting a down payment on a modest house here, and getting a new mattress, and traveling and seeing Australia and New Zealand, and buying better health insurance than my employer provides).
posted by anniecat at 10:22 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


There was no final exam and everyone got a mountain bike at the end of semester.

This may be everything that is wrong with the higher education system in America. Or it's a joke.
posted by elwoodwiles at 10:23 AM on November 18, 2010


Metafilter: regarded by many as sophomoric. 1 2 3 4 5
posted by zippy at 10:24 AM on November 18, 2010


Oh, and I'd get a Smart Phone. I don't even have one yet and I wonder if people on the metro are laughing at me when I'm trying to text on my clamshell one that came with my plan.
posted by anniecat at 10:24 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Born in 1983. LOVED Ace Ventura. The sequel? Not so much.
posted by flippant at 10:26 AM on November 18, 2010


You guys are assholes because you don't share my worldview about fart jokes, trailers, or the morality of smart phones.
posted by cmoj at 10:33 AM on November 18, 2010


Heh. It occurs to me that this thread might be going very differently if we still had the IMG tag.
posted by Gator at 10:42 AM on November 18, 2010


Whoops, wrong thread!
posted by Gator at 10:43 AM on November 18, 2010


Allllrightythen.
posted by stenseng at 10:43 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man, I came here to hear more about this guy's epiphany and who he's giving all his money to and why, but all I see is arguments about the merits of this dude's movies. What do you want, you want I should *read* the *article* to find out what it says? Sheesh!
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 10:46 AM on November 18, 2010


I read this article last week in the Los Angeles Times and found his circumstances and decisions very courageous. I must say the posts in this thread have a kind of irony in relation to his perspective in the interview.
posted by effluvia at 10:46 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think what he is doing is lovely. And living in a very nice prefabricated home is still plenty o' downsizing for him, so kudos on that--one of the reasons I am not a journalist most of the time is the whole "HE'S LIVING IN A TRAILER PARK"/"WAIT IT'S A REALLY LUXURIOUS TRAILER PARK" dialectic.

In other news, I didn't particularly enjoy his direction in those movies (especially Evan Almighty, which had very weird pacing issues) but so what? That doesn't make his philanthropy any less awesome.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:59 AM on November 18, 2010


The sequel? Not so much.

You're crazy. That film is bat guanolarious.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:03 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Have you ever tried to direct or edit a film with a lot of improv in it? That man earned his millions fair and square

No, but I saw the Wedding Crashers once so I agree with you on that point at least.
posted by Hoopo at 11:06 AM on November 18, 2010


I thought the article was fascinating, and I'm sorta sad that people appear to have not read it. Let this be a lesson to us all in editorializing: The reason not to do it is that it distracts from content.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:44 AM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


See, Joaquin, THAT is how you do it!
posted by symbioid at 11:48 AM on November 18, 2010


Wasn't emotionally sensitive yogurt busted?
posted by elsietheeel at 11:57 AM on November 18, 2010


Shadyac, Meshach, Abednego
posted by fungible at 12:21 PM on November 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


There was no final exam and everyone got a mountain bike at the end of semester.
posted by thescientificmethhead


I'm pretty sure you actually had Oprah as a professor.
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:23 PM on November 18, 2010


the OP can have an opinion as long as it isn't the point of the post or overwhelming to the framing

When there are more comments about whether Ace Ventura/Liar Liar/Patch Adams/etc. are good movies than there are about Sahdyac's move and charity (ostensibly the point of the post), I'd say that constitutes strong evidence that the editorializing was "overwhelming to the framing."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:21 PM on November 18, 2010


Good on him. Anyone who says:

“It’s already enough of a privilege to be an artist. We don’t need anymore privileges."

...is someone I'd love to have lunch with and learn from.
posted by LooseFilter at 1:33 PM on November 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


he decided that he needed to make a film that could explore why today’s culture is so obsessed with competition and separation instead of community and cooperation.

Filmmaker's Q: Why do we focus so much on what drives us apart?

Mefi's A: LIKE FUCK ACE VENTURA'S NOT FUNNY, YOU FILM-SNOBBY FUCKSTICK!

QED?
posted by gompa at 1:40 PM on November 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


that's called a midlife crisis, not an epiphany.
posted by krautland at 2:03 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have no opinion about his films, having never seen any of them. (I rarely watch movies, and when I do, it's mostly documentaries). I read the article because I am endlessly fascinated and inspired by people who downsize their lives, give up conventional careers, and refuse monetary gains in accordance with a deepening ecological awareness, spirit of community, and ethical sensibility.
“Look, this is an experiment,” he says. “I still have a lot of money that I don’t feel is mine because it came from a competitive system that is helping, in its own way, to destroy the world. So the way I run the economy of my life is to take only what I need to live and funnel the rest to other people.”
Sounds like my kinda guy. Thanks for posting this, eugenen.
posted by velvet winter at 2:19 PM on November 18, 2010


I did a little bit of Googling and found out what it really meant to live in a trailer park in Malibu.

Sure it seems nice, but people are always showing up at your door to beat you up and every pretty girl you meet is just up to her eyeballs in trouble.
posted by InfidelZombie at 3:09 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


that's called a midlife crisis, not an epiphany.

I like that kind of "midlife crisis" a lot more than the kind where people buy lots of expensive shit and cheat on their spouses. A lot more.

not that I think this is a midlife crisis
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:12 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I like that kind of "midlife crisis" a lot more than the kind where people buy lots of expensive shit and cheat on their spouses.

I'm sure if he'd had a spouse to cheat on, he would have. But since he didn't, there was no one to divorce him when he flipped his shit and gave away all their money and moved into an upscale trailer park.
posted by anniecat at 4:39 PM on November 18, 2010



I hate Jim Carrey and can't stand to watch anything he's in.


Agreed, with one major exception in the form of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

As to our director - how downmarket would he had to have gone before it becomes a real gesture? I mean to say, Spielberg still has the summer place out in the Hamptons.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:15 PM on November 18, 2010


In an ideal world, Jim Carrey would be a character actor who generally had small but memorable rolls in everything from broad comedies to heavy dramas, but he would always be "that weird guy".

Instead that honor went to Crispin Glover, god bless 'im!
posted by mannequito at 8:02 PM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I like that kind of "midlife crisis" a lot more than the kind where people buy lots of expensive shit and cheat on their spouses. A lot more.

exactly the same thing. he made an irrational and exuberant choice and went diddeliwutzki for a while. replace spouse with religion.

marriage is overrated anyway.
posted by krautland at 2:14 AM on November 19, 2010


What a fantastic photo that ran with the latimes article! Goofy and geniune.
posted by Sarah Jane at 11:09 AM on November 20, 2010


Jim Carrey may not be my favourite artist, but he has done some interesting work referencing social boundaries.
posted by ovvl at 4:50 PM on November 22, 2010


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