If James Franco reads his reviews, he should avoid David Edelstein's critique of Oz The Great and Powerful at Vulture.com. "Franco is unconvincing generally, tamping down the passion, ironicizing everything out," wrote Edelstein. "It’s possible Franco’s modern-sounding stammers and shrugs opposite actors playing it straight are meant in the spirit of Bob Hope’s hipster cowards — or those of Woody Allen, who cited Hope among his inspirations for Sleeper and Love and Death. But Franco doesn’t have the comebacks. He’s playing a noncommittal character in a noncommittal way, so that you want to scream, “This isn’t a performance-art project! You’re carrying a movie!”
Ouch, though I'm with Edelstein on this one. It's weird to see Franco giving such a modern performance in a movie that functions as a prequel to the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, and is supposed to be taking place in the early 1900s. I guess that tornado didn't just transport Franco from Kansas to Oz, it messed with the time-space continuum, too.
Well, while we wait to see if the weekend box-office results will vindicate Franco's performance, I've noticed something about Franco that is fully committed: his smile. Watching him promoting Oz over the last few weeks and the films he brought to Sundance in January, Kink, which he produced, and Interior. Leather Bar, which he co-directed, I've discovered that Franco does for beaming what Futurama's Hypnotoad does for staring. He's all in — teeth, gums and crinkled eyes — and the effect kind of mesmerizing in a man-he's-really-going-for-it way. Check out these photos:
So, bad reviews be damned. Keep smiling James....I...await...your final...orders.
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