Tuesday, June 9, 2009
When life makes things less funny
The Hangover did excellent business this weekend, raking in an impressive $43.3 million -- which is frankly phenomenal for an R-rated comedy. What's more impressive is it more than doubled the box office for the opening weekend of Land of the Lost, in what must be a huge disappointment for Will Ferrell, whose appeal as a leading man appears to have flat-lined.
But I have to wonder if many of those in the Hangover audience watched it with some amount of melancholy.
You see, the part of the TV commercial that made me laugh out loud was when Mike Tyson is drumming and singing along to Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight," and punches out Zack Galifianakis on the final beat of percussion. (My guess is that's how it's cut in the trailer, not how it actually happens in the movie).
This was, of course, before Tyson's four-year-old daughter strangled herself on the wiring of a treadmill at their house.
From a purely business standpoint, Warner Brothers, the film's distributors, must have panicked when they found out about the death of little Exodus Tyson. How can you keep showing an ad in which a joke about Tyson is the tag (is that the right term? DGB will tell me), when the real-world Tyson is engulfed in tragedy?
I didn't notice them pulling the ad. Nor did I notice, obviously, any effect on the film's box office. But when I see it myself -- probably sometime this week -- I expect to feel a bit melancholy during Tyson's scenes.
It's really interesting how something like this humanizes a guy we all love to feel superior toward. They cast Tyson in this movie, I'm sure, because of how absurd he is, and it shows the guy is a better sport than we thought that he decided to be in on the joke. Well, now the joke's on us for making Tyson our clown. He's a pretty sad clown right about now.
It's been a prominent year for Tyson -- James Toback also released a documentary about him called Tyson a couple months ago. I heard mixed things about it -- some said it was brilliant, some said Toback, his good buddy, made a puff piece and failed to ask the probing questions. Either way I expect to be seeing it as soon as it comes out on video.
Here's hoping the big box office for The Hangover at least helped the former ear-biter feel a little bit better after the bitter pill he's had to swallow. After all, a lot of that was people coming to see him, people who laughed out loud at his appearance in the commercial, like I did. For a guy who loves the spotlight, Tyson may need a little personal validation to help get through this.