Favreau and I are cut from the same 80's-wheelhouse cloth. We both went to Hebrew school. We both come from a Jewish-Catholic household (oy, the guilt!). We both got a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. And, we're both writers and comedians. Our matching Jew-fros aside, I'd say we were cosmic twins, except I have a feeling Favreau, raised in Queens, is probably a Yankees fan. I was born in Boston. And Red Sox Nation never dies. I share all this because Favreau so perfectly represents our generation's sensibilities--at least, for those of us with enough intelligence to have a sense of humor. Some of our 80's comrades still think balloon pants and neon colors are in. But there's no accounting for taste--except for mine, which I freely share here. I found Favreau's most recent flick a delightful summer romp featuring two pop culture icons (count 'em--TWO!): 21st century iconic tough guy, Daniel Craig and 20th century iconic tough guy, Harrison Ford. I know, you probably think of Harrison as The Fugitive or Calista Flockheart's domestic partner. But you have to go back a bit and remember that this guy was Han Solo in the BIGGEST movie franchise (and total rule-breaker/maker) of the last century in film, the Star Wars franchise. Hot, I tell you--H-O-T! And Craig, well, what more needs to be said about a man who can move like Craig??? A little Layer Cake on your 007, perhaps? Yes, please!
Only a guy like Favreau could pull off such a brilliant juxtaposition. Favreau--I give you mad props for pulling up your college-drop-out-ass with barely a boot strap to spare. Yesterday, you were just a kid from Flushing, Queens with a wing and a prayer. Today, you're a superhero. Or at least, you direct them. As my Aussie peeps might say, "Good on ya, Mate!"
And COWBOYS & ALIENS is good. Very good.
Hard to get bored amongst the dusty gunslingers, hot guys with piercing blue eyes, Olivia Wilde as an alien...yes, that's right. Olivia Wilde, House-alum and child of fabulously connected premiere journalists, matches one piercing blue eye for another opposite Craig. Good one, Favreau--loved the visual appeal there. You see, film-making is more than just the pretty people on the screen. If that were all it took, well, Halle Berry's Catwoman would have sold out every theatre in America. It's about matching a well written story with equally excellent visuals set to music that doesn't detract (or distract) from the action, but enhances it to the point that the audience practically takes it for granted.
This movie is a pop culture explosion of goodness, like those little wax bottles with brightly-colored liquid sugar on the inside. You know it's bad for you, but you have to sink your teeth in anyway.
Fellow Queens-raised cinematographer, Matthew Libatique, known for his recent work on Black Swan, did an amazing job with sweeping canyon-like views and close-quarter darkened space fighting scenes in the belly of the proverbial beast...the alien space craft. The list of writers and producers is a mile-long but include graphic novel creator, Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, also Chairman of Platinum Studios--the publisher of the graphic novel (which has a sequel, by the way--in case you weren't sure why Craig was riding off in the sunset at the end...and into the next movie!).
So take a trip back to 1873 Arizona this summer with COWBOYS & ALIENS. You won't regret it, Pardner....
COWBOYS & ALIENS gets a 9/10 on the Housel-scale for full-scale entertainment. Nicely done, Favreau, nicely done....