|The Outsiders Redux
Much of the past three or four years of Francis Ford Coppola's
life has been dedicated to the exhausting task of reduxing
Apocalypse Now, thus officially bringing to the world
Kurtz's angry reading of an article from Time magazine;
a very bourgeois dinner party for Willard; some more swamp
time with Chef, Lance, and Clean; and, not in the least, a
bartered session of heavy petting with the Playboy Bunnies
for Willard and the boys. The project was arduous, important
work, or at least that's what James Lipton says. I recently
caught the Coppola episode of "Inside the Actor's Studio,"
which got me to wondering: Whose job is it to redux the rest
of the Coppola canon? Surely there's some hidden subtext in
Jack that additional footage of Bill Cosby, Fran Drescher,
and Don Novelloproperly edited, of coursewould
finally unlock the secret mysteries of the film. More importantly,
I wondered to whose charge it would fall to tackle Coppola's
S.E. Hinton period in the early eighties.
The answer now seems obvious: The mysteriously unbusy Matt
Dillon, in the wake of One Night at McCool's, There's
Something About Mary, and Wild Things, found the
time to show up for three scenes in Deuces Wild. Though
uncredited as a director, certainly Dillon contributed his
knowledge of young thugs and street gangs to this Romeo
and Juliet derivative, which can only be described as
West Side Story without the singing. Imagine, if you
dare, The Outsiders, but replace Matt Dillon and Patrick
Swayze with those two guys from O.C. and Stiggs, and
replace Diane Lane with a young Fran Drescher. Goodness, it's
hard to "stay gold" and not make fun of The Outsiders,
but as bad as that movie is, Deuces Wild is certainly
worse. Of course, The Outsiders is most significant
for Coppola's precocious cast, but I cannot possibly imagine
anyone from Deuces Wild achieving a career that would
even match C. Thomas Howell's (To admit, one of my favorite
really bad movies of all time is Soul Man.) Really,
is Brad Renfro even capable of embodying Ponyboy Curtis?
Furthermore, Stephen Dorff is no Matt "Dally" Dillon;
Balthasar Getty is no Patrick "Darry" Swayze; Norman
Reedus is no Tom "Steve Randall" Cruise. Do we even
need to suggest that Johnny Knoxville is no Ralph "Johnny
Cade" Macchio or Rob "Sodapop Curtis" Lowe?
As said before, Brad Renfro gets the Ponyboy role, and the
object of his star-crossed desire is Fairuza Balk, who gets
the Cherry Valance role. Unfaithful should remind us
that Balk is no Diane Lane, so comparisons to Natalie "Maria"
Wood from West Side Story are like saying James "Texas
Rangers" Van Der Beek is no John Wayne. But enough
about how lame this cast is; let us speak of the lameness
of the script. It does nothing new with the old story, except
to show fisticuffs in this sort of stop-go slow motion that
makes the gang rumbles look like they're being streamed over
a 28K modem. That's really all you need to know about Deuces
Wild, except that their gang is named "The Deuces"
because it would be really stupid to have a movie named Deuces
Wild and the gang not be named "The Deuces."
What a disappointment from Scott Kalvert, whose previous work
includes The Basketball Diaries. Coppola should have
bought the script, gathered the Greasers and Soces (most of
whom aren't busy), and turned the project over to Matt Dillon.
He's got the time.