Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Black won't be blue, but 'Zohan' rates edge

Fans of the wild and crazy Jack Black and a warm and fuzzy Adam Sandler will have to wait a while. In fact, the film funnymen likely will be trading audiences next time around on the big screen, with the former starring in the dark “Tropic Thunder” (Aug. 15) and the latter telling “Bedtime Stories” for the Disney crowd (Christmas Day).

This weekend, however, the comedic heavyweights clown around for distinctly opposite demo groups, with Black starring as the lead voice in the animated “Kung Fu Panda,” and Sandler trying to hit political correctness out of the park with the very risqué "You Don't Mess With the Zohan."

For one man’s opinion, go to my reviews to see why Sandler’s in-your-face film wins by an edge – pun intended -- over the perfectly cast Black’s kiddie-oriented story of many things we’ve seen before. Oddly, though, in their own ways, each star is playing a character that can succeed only by kicking butt first and taking names later.

“I always loved the martial arts,” Black said last weekend in L.A. about voicing the daydreaming bear that saves China. “I guess I was also crazy for improv games, like the Viola Spolin games, when I was a kid. I definitely wanted to master it all.

“As an adult, of course, I liked movies like ‘Kung-Fu Hustle’ and ‘Shaolin Soccer.’ I will say those Kung-Fu poses I’m doing for various photo shoots for this film are a real killer, though.”

In an obviously separate interview for his own film, Sandler says that, despite the dirty – and albeit often hilarious -- deeds his Israeli agent, "The Zohan," performs, his main aim always was and always will be squarely on comedy.

“My intention is never to hurt anybody,” he says. “I'm really only happy when people are having a good time.

“I got to tell you, if someone comes up to me and is offended by anything I've done in the past, then I listen to them and I'm bummed out. When we are working our asses off on the script and making a movie, I'm just picturing people having a great time. The fact that anybody walks away saying, 'Oh man, I wish they didn't say that.' That breaks my heart. We just want to make a funny movie, that's all.”

Already Sandler is hoping for that with his aforementioned next film, too.

“We haven't put it all together yet, but 'Bedtime Stories' could be great. I feel good about doing it. I'm trying to make a funny movie for kids, so we'll see.”

On the other hand, Black seems just as geared up for the late-summer release of DreamWorks’ “Tropic Thunder.”

“It's a spicy little film,” he says. “We're in a very politically correct environment right now and there are certain things that are taboo that you can't do, but I think that, when people see the film, they will appreciate it all in context.

“I do not think it'll be deemed racist or inflammatory at all. It's just very funny and smart comedy.”

Read another post about Black and Sandler at MovieZen.

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