Funniness Negates Wrongness
Friday, July 21, 2006
As most of you know, I call the great(?) city of Dallas home. Actually, that's not true...I live in Valley Ranch, a semi-autonomous enclave of Irving, but it's just easier to say "Dallas" when asked where one lives. Everyone has heard of Dallas, thanks to a little show called Dallas. A show so fucking popular around the world that there is even a Dallas theme park of sorts in Romania. It portrayed the greed, the glamour and the glitz of an oil-rich city and the corruption of the power-elite, a perfect commentary on the Eighties.

And now, plans to film a Dallas movie have been announced. And here's where things start to go wrong. If you were the head of a Hollywood studio, who would you hire to direct a movie that is essentially a over-the-top look at the quintessential "American Experience"? A great American director, such as Martin Scorsese, John Sayles or even Robert Rodriguez (bonus with that one, as he is a real, live Texan). Instead, though, the studio has hired Gurinder Chadha, an Indian-English director whose biggest film so far is the funny Bend It Like Beckham. A great film, certainly, but nothing on the scale of Dallas. What kind of moron thought this would be a good idea? Maybe she can pull it off, but I'm really starting to have my doubts.

Next, if you were going to film a movie about people who call Dallas home that takes place in the city of Dallas and its immediate surroundings, where would you film it? Dallas, of course. For months, we've been hearing rumours that the movie would be filmed elsewhere. For instance, while 'Shank and I were chatting with one of the lovely bartendresses at the Imperial Pub in Toronto, she casually mentioned that she'd heard that the movie would be filmed there. My immediate thought was "heresy". And not that good kind that gets you excommuniated from the Holy Roman Catholic Church. No, I'm talking about the kind of heresy that insults me and my fellow Texans to our very souls. Toronto, while one of my favourite places in the world, is no Dallas. First of all, the cities are entirely different. Dallas is a spread out homage to the car culture, with great freeways and massive parking lots, with a lot room to grow outward, thanks to no real natural barriers. Toronto is New York, if the Swiss ran New York. Built up instead of out, but clean and modern. Vibrant downtown. Real history and culture, instead of conspicuous consumption. Definitely un-Dallas-like. The differences go on-and-on...Toronto definitely couldn't stand in for Dallas. Would the CN Tower double for Reunion Tower? The Air Canada Centre for the American Airlines Center? The Eaton Centre for the Galleria? Toronto Mayor David Miller for Dallas Mayor Laura Miller? Standard units for the metric system? Quebecois French for Mexican Spanish? I don't think so. Then, of course, there is the problem of Lake're not going to pass that off as White Rock Lake--it's not called a "Great" Lake for nothing.

Fortunately, the producers decided against Toronto. Unfortunately, they did settle on Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which, while similar to Dallas is an oil town, is much smaller and more white-trashy. But at least it's part of the United States...and somewhat adjacent to the Dallas area. Somewhat. If you squint and have a very active imagination.

And then there's the problem of the cast. John Travolta as J.R. Ewing? Jennifer Lopez as Sue Ellen? Goddamn this movie's going to be a disaster...First off, John Travolta can't help not sounding vaguely retarded, and J.R. wasn't retarded...he was a evil, manipulative, cold-hearted asshole. The only thing that Travolta has going for him in this area is that he's a Scientologist, and evil, manipulative and cold-hearted asshole describes most Scientologists rather nicely. Jennifer Lopez as Sue Ellen...hmmm...she's many Latinas have you ever known with the name "Sue Ellen"? None? Thought so. Besides, everyone knows that J.R. Ewing would never marry a Latina...employ them as maids, maybe, but never actually marry one.

So there you have it...Dallas is looking more-and-more like it's going to suck the big one. I'm just hoping that J.R. gets shot and dies really early in the film--maybe that'll make it worth seeing. Maybe. But probably not.