You wouldn't think the movie Rush Hour and the Oscars would be mentioned in the same sentence... until now. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that Brett Ratner — the director and producer behind the Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan crime comedy trilogy — will produce next year's Academy Awards telecast. Ratner, who also directed X-Men: The Last Stand, is certainly an unusual choice, given his action-oriented resume: The job typically goes to a more obviously distinguished producer or director. But after last year's critically-ravaged show (starring an all-too-mellow James Franco), does the Academy's decision make sense?
No. Ratner's reputation precedes him: It's not easy to create an Oscars telecast that can entertain a broad audience without tarnishing the event's highbrow reputation, says Anne Thompson at Indie Wire. History proves, however, that "it's far better to go classy than cheesy." Inevitably, Ratner will sacrifice "the patina of cinephile class" the Academy requires.
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Hold on. It's not that simplistic: A producer's film credits are not always a reliable barometer of his ability to deliver a successful Oscarcast, says Joal Ryan at E! Online. Gil Cates, director of the atrocious 1980 religious comedy Oh, God! Book II, was responsible for the "beloved" Billy Crystal-hosted Oscars. The man behind 2009's "joyful" Hugh Jackman ceremony directed the infamous Jennifer Lopez-Ben Affleck bomb Gigli. As for last year's derided show, it was produced by Bruce Cohen (the Oscar-winning family drama American Beauty). Don't write off Ratner yet.
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Regardless, the Oscars couldn't get worse: "It doesn't actually seem possible that things can get worse than they were this year," when Franco and Anne Hathaway hosted a disastrous ceremony, says Christopher Rosen at Movieline. If Ratner delivers a "merely OK" telecast, he will be showered with praise. If not, he will simply live up to "his hack reputation." But the odds are in his favor.
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