Even if terrible reviews and the exploding scandal around Harvey Weinstein were not an issue, past as prologue informs us that director George Clooney’s Suburbicon would still be in trouble. While the Hollywood bubble, which includes the lackey entertainment media, likes to pretend Clooney is a Big Star, moviegoers disagree, most especially when it comes to the films he directs.
Other than the forgettable mess that was Monuments Men, which squeaked over $75 million (and probably still lost money), American audiences have expressed a startling indifference towards everything Clooney’s directed. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002) grossed just $16 million, Leatherheads (2002) was a total washout at $32 million, Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) crashed and burned at $31.5 million, and 2011’s The Ides of March stalled out at $41 million.
The same is almost as true of the movies Clooney stars in. Unless you want to count his extended cameo in Gravity (2013), without the help of Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, and the word “Oceans” in the title, it has been 17 years since Clooney appeared in something that reached $100 million — and the real star of that particular film was a giant wave.
Another problem for Clooney is that over a 21-year film career that began in 1996 with Miramax’s From Dusk Till Dawn, nothing Clooney has been a part of has stuck. What I mean is that not a single movie he has made has stood the test of time; not a single title is iconic. In simpler terms, Clooney has no Fight Club, Pulp Fiction, Heat, Forrest Gump, JFK, Do the Right Thing, Fargo, Zodiac, Titanic, Iron Man, Boogie Nights, Malcolm X, Matrix, or Trainspotting on his resume. Nothing we will still be talking about in 50 years.
Clooney is all arrogant flash, pomp and pretty. At the end of the day, though, there is just no there there.
I do not want to be unfair. That does not mean Clooney has not made some decent movies. From Dusk Till Dawn, The Peacemaker (1997), Out of Sight (1998), Ocean’s Eleven (2001) and The Perfect Storm (2000) are all in my vast and beautiful DVD collection, and one of these days I am thinking of giving Michael Clayton (2007) a second chance. Other than that — yeah, no.
So, on top of the fact that a George Clooney Movie generates no excitement among us normal people (most of us groan and roll our eyes at the sanctimonious lecture to come), Suburbicon is also facing withering reviews. The closer we get to this Friday’s wide release, the lower the score on Rotten Tomatoes, which now sits at a brutal 40 percent. Considering just how eager the critical class is to give Clooney a pass, this is especially bad news (look for my review Friday morning).
And then there is Suburbicon’s whole Harveywood problem…
To begin with, Clooney’s acting and directing career began at Weinstein’s company, Miramax. Nevertheless, Clooney claims he knew nothing. Although a whole lot of people did, he was out of that particular loop. Clooney has also been accused of blacklisting an actress from the television show E.R. after she complained of being sexually harassed — a charge he denies.
And while Clooney is out there lecturing Middle America about right and wrong in movies like Suburbicon, he is defending the likes of fugitive child rapist Roman Polanski.
An even stronger tie to Harveywood, though, is Suburbicon star Matt Damon, who also got his start at Miramax after Good Will Hunting launched his (and Ben Affleck’s) career in 1997.
To begin with, Damon was accused of successfully pressuring the New York Times to kill a negative story about Weinstein in 2004, a charge the actor denies. Then there is his decades-long association with the Affleck brothers, Ben and Casey, both of whom have been accused of sexual harassment. Ben recently apologized to one of his accusers. Casey settled a 2010 lawsuit. But while these stories were swirling around Casey during last year’s Oscar campaign, Damon was reportedly running around campaigning for him.
The worse news for Damon is his admission Monday that he in fact did know about Weinstein harassing actress Gwyneth Paltrow. This directly contradicts what he told Deadline just two weeks ago when he denied any knowledge of Weinstein’s alleged wrongdoing.
“I never saw this,” Damon said. “I think a lot of actors have come out and said, everybody’s saying we all knew. That’s not true.” But now Damon admits he did know about Paltrow.
Damon also says that Suburbicon is a lecture about white privilege, so that sounds like fun.
Hey, what’s the difference between a child rapist and a Republican?
There is no record of George Clooney ever defending a Republican.