Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Les Mediocrite: Oscar at 85

Any awards program longer than a David Lean film that simultaneously left this viewer longing for the comparable whimsy of previous wince-inducing hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco has to be judged a disaster – three-and-one-half hours signifying nothing other than the egos of those put in charge of this year’s Oscar telecast.

Admittedly, I threw in the towel less than two hours in, but I didn’t see the point of going any further after watching a tribute to 2002’s Chicago and an over-the-top rendition of a song from Dream Girls. What on earth did either have to do with this year’s roster of nominations, which included but one musical? Oh, yes, it turns out the Oscars’ producers were also quite proud of their achievements previously producing, you guessed it, Chicago and Dream Girls.

Viewing last night’s presentation, this writer had the distinct impression all those given the task of producing the program had insisted on an ego-gratification clause – particularly the show’s host, Seth McFarlane. By any measure excepting those possessed by the inexplicable hoards of Family Guy fans, McFarlane is a one-note pony – churning out pop-culture references more rapidly than a dropped box of Trivial Pursuit cards in a wind tunnel.

He can carry a tune, but his voice reveals nothing truly distinctive. Same might be written about his dancing. True enough, some of his jokes hit the mark, making even the stone-faced Tommy Lee Jones crack a smile. But the remainder too self-consciously skirted the edginess for which McFarlane initially earned his bones, putting attendees in fear of roasting noticeably on edge. There are, after all, good reasons why Don Rickles was never asked to host the Oscars.

McFarlane would’ve fared better had he stuck to lighthearted jesting a la Billy Crystal or Johnny Carson. But, no, he had to resort to his old tried-and-true puerile schticks: William Shatner reprising his role as James T. Kirk to discuss how the future will judge McFarlane’s turn as host; gay jokes; overweight jokes; and a ditty about Oscar-nominated actresses who’ve appeared topless on screen. Yeesh.

I’m certainly not the first to suggest this, but perhaps the Oscars could poach Amy Pohler and Tina Fey from the Golden Globes for next year’s telecast, and as well producers a little less eager to trumpet their own past cinematic accomplishments.

 

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