Val Kilmer – Cinema Twain

June 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Interviews

Actor Val Kilmer isn’t a stranger to portraying real-life men in history. From playing musician Jim Morrison in the 1991 biopic “The Doors” to gunslinger Doc Holliday in the 1993 Western “Tombstone” to porn star John Holmes in the 2003 crime drama “Wonderland,” Kilmer has made these type of performances some of the cornerstones of his extensive career over the last 30 years.

In “Val Kilmer Presents Cinema Twain,” which is a 90-minute film version of his one-man stage show “Citizen Twain,” Kilmer takes on a new real-life persona in Mark Twain, 19th century American writer and humorist, best known for his novels “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” During the satirical performance, Kilmer, who considers Twain “an honorary Founding Father,” waxes philosophical on politics, family and faith.

“There’s nothing different between playing all these real-life characters,” Kilmer told me during an interview earlier this month. “It’s just more challenging because he’s a genius. It’s hard to play a genius. You have to pretend to be smart, and that’s a bitch.”

For Kilmer, “Cinema Twain” is sort of pre-production work (and practice) for another film he is planning on directing, writing and starring in called “Mark Twain and Mary Baker Eddy.” The film tells the story between the two contrasting lives of Twain and Eddy, the founder of Christian Science.

“I needed to take time before pre-production to prepare for the role,” Kilmer said. “The fastest, best way to do that was to create a stand-up show, like [Twain] used to do.”

Kilmer admits the stage production took on a life of its own and “engulfed” him before he knew it. Suddenly, Broadway producers where calling him asking if he’d be interested in taking the show on the road.

“Theater is my first love,” he said. “So, I created a tour to refine it, but I had to cancel because of a health issue (Kilmer recently revealed he was battling oral cancer). Now I’m back in perfect health, but still healing. So, while my voice returns, I’m screening the film of the play to sold-out comedy clubs and cinemas across the country.”

Although Kilmer has starred in a few comedies in his career (“Top Secret!,” “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” “MacGruber”), it’s not a genre he is necessarily known for. However, he hopes “Citizen Twain” helps him flex those comedy muscles.

“I’ve been trying to do more comedies for 15 years but it’s a locked system in Hollywood,” he said. “They want the name recognition on the movie poster like the wonderful Owen Wilson or Jack Black. It’s just one of those rare hurdles—a Catch 22.”

MacGruber

May 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe
Directed by: Jorma Taccone (debut)
Written by: Will Forte (“Extreme Movie”), Jorma Taccone (“Extreme Movie”), John Solomon (“Extreme Movie”)

It’s no secret that for the last 18 years film adaptations of “Saturday Night Live” skits have been as embarrassing for the long-running TV show as an Ashlee Simpson hoedown. From the pathetically unfunny gender-bending of “It’s Pat” to the irksomeness of Catholic school girl Mary Katherine Gallagher in “Superstar,” not much of anything has worked since the original “Wayne’s World” hit theaters in 1992.

That might be the reason it’s taken “SNL” a whole decade to try again. The show’s last attempt was transferring the Courvoisier-drinking radio show host Leon Phelps to the big screen in 2000’s dreadful “The Ladies Man.” Ten years, however, seems to have made a world of difference. While it doesn’t mean much to call “MacGruber” one of the best “SNL” movies ever made (for obvious reasons), it’s still rather funny even on its own merit.

In “MacGruber,” comedian Will Forte stars as the title character, an American war hero whose impressive military resume is second to none (it includes 16 purple hearts, three Congressional Medals of Honor and seven presidential medals of bravery!). Laying low in Ecuador after the murder of his fiancée by his archenemy Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer), MacGruber is called back to action when Von Cunth (the name loses its luster after the third or fourth joke kind of like Alotta Fagina and Felicity Shagwell in the “Austin Powers” franchise) steals a nuclear warhead with plans to blow up Washington D.C.

After a major mishap with his first team of renegade soldiers, MacGruber enlists Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe) and his wife’s best friend Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig) to help him avenge his fiancée’s death.

Based loosely on the 1980s TV show “MacGyver,” which followed the adventures of a resourceful secret agent working for the government, MacGruber doesn’t sport as many miscellaneous objects one would imagine him to have at all times. Instead, most of the gags in “MacGruber” come in hard rated-R form from multiple crass sex scenes to the occasional Ramboesque ripping out of a throat.

What makes “MacGruber” the most enjoyable, however, is how aware it is of its own stupidity, which often times makes for the best parody. While the movie might feel like a dragged out “SNL” skit at times, in this instance it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Jokes might hit more often than not in first half and veer off in the second, but you can count on MacGruber to always have a few tricks up his plaid-patterned sleeves.