Friday, October 19, 2012

Yes, that Tyler Perry

I'm thinking there's a reason this poster features a huge silhouette of a recognizable Matthew Fox looming over a smaller, unrecognizable figure who appears to be African-American.

It's probably because Summit Entertainment has no idea how to market the latest Tyler Perry movie, releasing tomorrow.

Yes, that Tyler Perry.

What? Madea is going to start tracking down serial killers now?

Not exactly. In fact, Alex Cross is not even a comedic take on the detective thriller. From the trailers, it seems to be a deathly serious continuation of the on-screen adventures of the title character from James Patterson's series of novels, who first appeared in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider.

Then he was played by Morgan Freeman. Now he's played by a man who gained most of his fame doing pratfalls in drag.

And to be honest, I think it looks kind of awesome.

Here's that trailer if you want to judge for yourself:

He looks totally equal to the task, doesn't he? Serious and imposing and ready/able to kick some ass.

With the caveat that I don't see commercials as much as I did five years ago, I haven't seen this trailer anywhere except online, when someone specifically directed me to it months ago. In fact, the only way I even knew it was opening tomorrow was that I happened to see it leading the list of opening movies on IMDB.

Which tells me that yeah, Summit is not really sure what to do with Tyler Perry as an action hero.

It should be a no brainer. Perry's movies make money hand over fist with the target demographic, African Americans. And African Americans certainly like action movies. Plus, Alex Cross has the rare opportunity to go way beyond Perry's usual demographic and get a large stake of the white audience.

And perhaps that really gets at Summit's hesitation in this ad campaign. It's not that they think that Perry's Madea audience won't show; it's that they worry the white audience won't show if they know it stars Madea.

If I get out to the theater this weekend, I will prove them wrong. That is, if I don't see Argo. And I really need to see Argo.

Speaking of playing against type ... it's interesting that someone finally realized Matthew Fox might make a good bad guy. Cast as a hero throughout his career, Fox has always had that way of looking so intensely, bitterly indignant when he's pissed off. The "I can't believe you're suggesting that" expression is one Fox has mastered. It's a pretty short road to go from put-upon hero to psycho pushed past the breaking point, and it looks like Fox may have walked that road successfully in Alex Cross.

As for Perry, it'll be interesting to see if this is the beginning of a full crossover career for him. Perhaps he thinks he's done all there is to do in his corner of the cinematic universe, albeit a massively successful corner. If your ambition is to be one of the biggest stars in the world, you have to make people start seeing you as someone other than a gun-toting grandma.

So Alex Cross might be an interesting crossroads for Perry ... so to speak.

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