Welcome to July, and the sixth edition of The Franco Files! No good and thorough evaluation of an actor’s career would really be complete without taking a turn to negative town once in a while. In order to appreciate the good, you must experience the. . .well, the shit, to go all Charles Barkley on ya’ll. There’s almost no getting around the stinkiness of today’s performance, and, not to air Franco’s dirty laundry or anything, but this is certainly not his finest hour and it’s good to get this over with right now. Right? Or will you see this is as the great tainted TFF. . .a.k.a. TTFF???
Eh, it’s not a real big deal, I suppose. When I stop to consider the damage caused by this über-unnecessary 2013 re-boot of The Wizard of Oz in which the usually-reliable Franco inexplicably elected to take part, I feel just a little bit better. One negative TFF surely won’t taint this feature forever. . . will it? And compare that to the pain of this CGI-loaded, cheese-stuffed (sounds like I’m talking about pizza) experience that feels something akin to the teeth-kicking-down-throat that Ryan Gosling “vaguely threatened” in Drive. I kind of know what that feels like. . .along with anyone else who got to see this and didn’t really like what they were handed!
Well, no. That’s all rather melodramatic. This movie’s pretty bad, but I think I can still defend Franco. . . . within reason. It is not his greatest performance by a mile but it is also not entirely entirely ENTIRELY his fault. This shall be a tricky little evaluation, though. No two ways of getting around the fact that objectivity gets much harder when things tend to. . . well, suck. (Man, I’ve really been watching a lot of Inside the NBA lately, haven’t I . . . )
Francophile #6: Oscar Diggs/Oz, Oz, the Great and Powerful
Role Type: Lead
Character Profile: Oscar is part of a small-time traveling circus racket performing magic. He’s rather dissatisfied with what his life is, yet has no real motivation to better himself. Franco imbues this character with the requisite smugness that goes along with being able to pull off what he considers ‘simple acts of magic,’ often using the stunts to attract women, although he comes off perhaps too sleazy. When he does this to the wrong woman, he’s chased down by the circus strong man, forcing Oscar to escape in a hot air balloon that gets caught up in a gigantic storm, whisking Oscar away to seemingly an entirely new world. Oscar is soon discovered by a beautiful woman who incorrectly assumes him to be a great and powerful wizard, a vision prophesied to come save the people of Oz, the strange land his journey has taken him to. What will he do to prove who he really is inside?
If you lose Franco, the film loses: one really bad performance out of a slew of bad performances. Ouch. . . this really pains me to say this. We’ve come to the inevitable negative review, boys and girls. And this stings, because there is no getting around the fact that Franco’s performance is a stinker in this awfully wooden, sleazy lead role in which he has few redeeming qualities but until the very end, at which point they are generally bestowed upon him in the most contrived of ways possible. He’s not entirely to blame, given the script isn’t worth a penny. But there is something inside me that thinks that perhaps Oz, the Great and Powerful might have benefitted from another actor in this role, one who might have been able to make the schlockiness of the character actually work for them. Sorry James, but the more I think about this outing, the more I want to toss this one down the garbage chute.
Out of Character: “I can’t say that my attraction to [the film] was identifying with any of the characters as much as it was being transported to a fantastical world. If I look back on the kinds of books and movies that I was interested in when I was younger, I’d say that the common denominator was this feeling of being transported to a fantastical land.”
Rate the Performance (relative to his other work):
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