For the last couple days we’ve run several posts reporting on Sony Picture’s apparent decision to make a $50M+ soft money contribution to the Obama campaign a month prior to election day in the form of a Mark Boal/Kathryn Bigelow bin Laden movie. The screenwriter/director tandem previously teamed up for the repetitive and subtly anti-military “Hurt Locker,” which won numerous Academy Awards despite not having a plot and pulling in a total gross domestic box office roughly equivalent to the opening weekend of “Confessions of a Shopaholic.”
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But this isn’t Sony Picture’s only effort to subvert common decency that’s making headlines this week. Their new film “30 Minutes or Less” is brewing up some controversy of its own. From the Associated Press (emphasis mine):
PITTSBURGH (AP) – The family of an Erie pizza delivery driver killed eight years ago won’t be among those in line when the comedy “30 Minutes Or Less” opens nationwide Friday.
Brian Wells died when a time bomb collar he was forced to wear exploded after he robbed a bank. The movie plot features a pizza driver forced to rob a bank while wearing a time bomb vest. A spokesman for Sony’s Columbia TriStar Motion Picture group says the filmmakers and stars knew nothing about the Wells case, though he acknowledges the screenwriters were vaguely familiar with it.
The screenwriters haven’t responded to requests for comment through their agent.
Jean Heid of Erie is Wells’ sister. She says the movie isn’t funny–whether or not it’s based on her brother’s death.
Now that you know that the screenwriters (IMDB lists them Michael Dilibert and Matthew Sullivan) of this goofball buddy comedy starring Danny McBride (but I repeat myself) were inspired by pain and suffering inflicted on one man and his loved ones, watch the preview (above) again. Go ahead.
Pretty messed up, right?
(Aside, to the screenwriters: Aziz Ansari doesn’t need to say that what looks like a middle school or high school is “filled with young children.” “Children” covers it. “Young” is already implied. Annoying…)
As it happens, Wells may have been involved in planning the robbery, though he also may have been under the impression the bomb was fake–he wasn’t alive to assist in the investigation. Still the most offensive item to come out of this story isn’t even the plot of the film itself; it’s this line highlighted above:
Sony’s Columbia TriStar Motion Picture group says the filmmakers and stars knew nothing about the Wells case, though he acknowledges the screenwriters were vaguely familiar with it.
Wait a minute… how come I knew about the headline-grabbing story of the pizza man who was blown up by a time bomb but not a single one of the “filmmakers and stars” of “30 Minutes of Less”? And what does it mean that the screenwriters “were vaguely familiar with it”? And they never mentioned this little coincidence in a single pitch meeting or in any liner notes that went with the script?
Now even star Ansari is denying the movie about a pizza delivery man who wears a time bomb and robs a bank has anything to do with the real life incident where a pizza delivery man wore a time bomb and robbed a bank. “I think if you watch the movie, you know it’s not based on [Wells],” he said.
We’ve all learned from Watergate, Zippergate, and Weinergate that the cover-up is often worse than the crime. Yes, all signs point to “30 Minutes or Less” being a cruel, exploitation of a tragedy (and, based on the preview, marginally funny at best); still, it should be beneath a motion picture distributor like Sony to lie about the origins of a major release.
But considering their other plans reported this week, we know that’s probably far from the case.