Is a Les Grossman movie a good idea?

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So all those relentless Les Grossman promotions for the MTV Movie Awards finally made (a little more) sense today, as Paramount announced that it was developing a movie with Tom Cruise based on the Grossman character, who of course first appeared two years ago in “Tropic Thunder” and returned at the awards show on Sunday.

There are seemingly a dozen reasons why this wouldn’t seem to be a good idea, starting with the fact that the character is based on a single joke that, no matter its satiric value, doesn’t seem capable of carrying an entire feature.


Characters based on sketches, no matter how viral or beloved, also tend to make wobbly and unsuccessful features (“MacGruber” studio Universal may be able to share a little wisdom about that). Movies that spin off minor characters from hit comedies aren’t faring much better these days (again, Universal can share some insight after the middling performance of “Get Him to the Greek”).

And comedies about studio executives, while perhaps an appealing idea to the people who decide whether to make movies -- Paramount president Adam Goodman had fun with it, offering an “Everything I learned in this business, I’ve learned from Les” statement -- rarely appeal to those who watch it. (Here the producers of “What Just Happened” may have something to add).

Still, you have to at least admire the canny synergy of it all -- trot out a few promos for a cable awards show and, once it goes viral, develop a movie around it. And all of it based on a nearly forgotten scene-stealing cameo. Somewhere, Bronson Pinchot is calling his agent.
There’s a faint hope that if it’s not just 90 minutes of over-the-top Hollywood caricature -- and say, more of a fleshed-out satire a la “Entourage,” with the real entertainment business blurring with the fictitious one -- it may, just may, have some bite. The Grossman movie is also a chance to see Tom Cruise try comedy, something he does with impressive aplomb in the upcoming “Knight & Day.” And if nothing else, a Grossman movie will cut a wicked trailer.

-- Steven Zeitchik

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