Kevin: Awards season officially began last week, with “Call Me by Your Name” and “Get Out” cleaning up at the Gotham Awards , whatever those are (meanwhile “Geostorm” went home empty handed, ‘aint that a bitch!). Of course the main event is still the Academy Awards, which will be following up its most buzzed-about ceremony in years following the epic Best Picture flub in which Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway initially called out the wrong winner. However, in terms of sheer drama, celebrity meltdowns, attempted assassinations, and shitty scripted banter, nothing will ever top the fictional Oscars ceremony from “The Bodyguard,” which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary:
Ironically, for a film that features so much Oscar talk, “The Bodyguard” is shockingly mediocre despite boasting the combined star power of Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, both then at the height of their popularity. Director Mick Jackson seems to go out of his way to avoid anything that might come close to an action scene, while Costner had more sexual chemistry with Robert Duvall in “Open Range” than he does with Houston.
(Interesting fact: The script was originally written in the ‘70s as a potential vehicle for Ryan O’Neal and Diana Ross, around the same time that Lee Majors asked his best friend O’Neal to guard his wife Farrah Fawcett’s body while he was away shooting a film. Why Majors put that kind of trust in one of the most notorious lotharios in Hollywood at the time is still a mystery, but either way it didn’t take long for Farrah Fawcett Majors to become Farrah Fawcett O’Neal.)
But despite the fact that it kind of sucks, “The Bodyguard” apparently holds some nostalgic sentimental value for people of a certain age in 1992, when it seemed like you couldn’t escape the film or especially its blockbuster soundtrack. I watched it once when it came out on video and never had a desire to see it again, but even though most of it quickly receded from my mind, I still have not forgotten the hilariously cheap and cheesy recreation of the Oscars that takes up most of its third act.
So before we start handicapping the real Oscar contenders this year, let’s take a look at the fictional frontrunner for Best Actress in the world of “The Bodyguard,” Houston’s character Rachel Marron, who is so obviously based on the real singer that she might as well be called “Whitney Dallas.” Marron should be riding high coming into awards season, except for the fact that she is simultaneously getting death threats from a crazed fan AND is being targeted for assassination by a hitman. We later discover that it was Marron’s sister who put a hit on her after drunkenly stumbling into a random bar, and I’ll just say that it’s a good thing for my brother and sister that all I usually do when I get drunk is order random shit from Amazon (that being said, I can’t wait for my “Death Wish” 3-pack to arrive!)
Anyway, while Costner’s ex-Secret Service agent Frank Farmer is focused on her safety, Marron is focused on getting Oscar gold for her performance in the film “Queen of the Night.” We learn early on that “the smart money” is on Marron to win, with John Tesh describing her as a “versatile” singer-actress, although despite featuring A LOT of singing from Houston in “The Bodyguard,” we never actually see any clips of her supposed powerhouse performance in “Queen of the Night.”
That’s probably no coincidence, because as much as I hate to speak ill of the dead, it’s no shock that the real Whitney did not exactly get a lot of Oscar buzz for her performance in “The Bodyguard” (there hasn’t been this much of a chasm between an actor and the role they were playing since “Entourage” tried to pass off Adrian Grenier as the world’s biggest movie star). Marron could charitably be described as temperamental and demanding, and less charitably as a pain in the ass beyotch. She also makes it hard for us to root for her survival since she is always yelling at Frank for overreacting about a possible threat, even though he always turns out to be right, while her erratic behavior in the film can probably be chalked up to the fact that in real life Houston was starting to come under the “influence” of Bobby Brown.
But despite her real-life shortcomings as an actress, in “The Bodyguard” Houston is apparently the “odds on favorite” to walk away with the Best Actress Oscar, at least according to a rather bizarre article in The Hollywood Reporter:
Now I have to give credit to whoever in the prop department worked up this mock front page, because unlike in “The Karate Kid III” and especially the Los Angeles Chronicle from “Tango & Cash,” at least the accompanying article actually has something to do with the headline, although I’m a little confused by the assertion that “Queen of the Night” is “raking a quotient of the International Market share that is larger than the national debt.”
Even stranger is this quote from studio accountant Stephanie Claxton: “I’ve burned out three calculators trying to figure out what to do with all this dough. This is a larger positive cash flow than those soft porn aerobisize tapes ever hoped to achieve.”
Uhhh, I’m starting to think maybe some of this “dough” has been going up Ms. Claxton’s nose, but either way, while she seems like a fun chick to party with, I think the studio is probably going to be sending their head accountant to brush up on her media training before letting her talk to The Hollywood Reporter again.
Finally though, after more than 90 minutes of Oscar talk, we finally get to the climactic ceremony. Now considering that the mysterious assassin is still targeting her after gunning down her sister, you’d think Marron would bow out of attending the ceremony for her own safety, but apparently rubbing her success in the faces of the losers from her hometown is more important than making sure her son doesn’t lose his mother. Seriously, she tells Farmer the night before the ceremony that back in “Squirrel Hill” she bet everyone $50 that she’d win an Oscar someday, which makes me think she was just as annoying and insufferable back then as she is now.
Although thank god she didn’t bow out, because there are few things I enjoy more in a movie than a fake awards ceremony. You’d think with all the time they spend sitting through these events that Hollywood folks wouldn’t be so bad at depicting them, but they invariably feature some of the worst and laziest made-up names for supposed film stars and hit movies you can imagine, and in that department “The Bodyguard” doesn’t disappoint.
As Marron’s limo approaches the Shrine Auditorium, we hear MTV’s Chris Connelly heralding the arrival of stars such as Jason Bogard, Robin Miller, and Ben Glass (who apparently is “moving from TV to movies”), before greeting the star of “Queen of the Night” with the most obvious “What about being the queen of THIS night?” banter. We then tune into the broadcast to see the first award of the night for Best Sound, which goes to Kay Colvin and Mychal (ugh) Smith for “Hot and Cold”:
Seriously, that’s the best fake movie name they could come up with, “Hot and Cold”? Did they brainstorm for all of a minute before deciding to go with that instead of “Left or Right” or “Up or Down”? And what kind of movie is “Hot or Cold”? I could picture it being a crappy romantic comedy (“She’s hot, he’s cold, but when they come together …”) with the usual side-by-side poster of the two stars:
Or it could be an action buddy comedy (“Det. Reginald Hot. Master thief Chris Cold. They may be on opposites of the law, but if they can work together …”), although those usually don’t get nominated for Oscars. I can only assume “Hot and Cold” is some kind of sweeping special-effects-filled epic blockbuster, because here are all the movies that won for Best Sound in the 1990’s: “Dances with Wolves,” “Terminator 2,” “Last of the Mohicans,” “Jurassic Park,” “Speed,” “Apollo 13,” “The English Patient,” “Titanic,” “Saving Private Ryan,” and “The Matrix.” Just the kind of movies I think of when I picture a title like “Hot and Cold.”
(By the way, not only is Kay Colvin noticeably more attractive than the usual behind-the-scenes folks you see winning Oscars, she is also quite the trailblazer, as in real life no woman won for Best Sound and only two even received nominations during the entire 1990’s. So what I’m saying is that the person playing Kay was probably the girlfriend of a producer on “The Bodyguard.”)
Anyway, while we don’t get to see Kay’s speech about breaking the highest, hardest glass ceiling in the studio sound department, we do get to see our Oscars host for tonight, and if you weren’t convinced that this is the lamest ceremony in history, then the fact that it’s Robert Wuhl should put that to bed. Remember when Eddie Murphy was briefly going to host the Oscars a few years back and we all got kind of excited about actually watching for the first time in forever? And then he dropped out and they brought Billy Crystal back, and we suddenly had that Sunday night freed up again? I just can’t imagine how many stars had to drop out, overdose, or get arrested for the gig to fall to Robert Wuhl.
Actually maybe I’m being harsh, let’s see what his first joke is: “I heard that in New York, the economy’s gotten so bad, that the mafia has laid off five judges.” Anyway, moving on. Unfortunately the writers don’t come up with anything better for our next presenters, foppish British gentleman Clive Healy (described as “England’s knight in shining armor”) and Rachel Marron (described as, yes, “America’s queen of the night”) for Best Song, which includes “I Have Nothing” from “Queen of the Night.”
Here is Clive’s opening “joke”: “Well Rachel I know you only came here to present this award, and you’ll want to leave as soon as we’re done.” I’m not even sure what the context of this joke is. Is it supposed to be that it’s funny that Rachel would want to leave before she gets her Best Actress Oscar? Is it implying that she’s stupid and doesn’t remember that she has another award coming up? Or is it an acknowledgment that she’s super bitchy and probably wants to leave as soon as possible? Either way the audience is obviously in stitches:
And here is Marron’s totally off-the-cuff pre-scripted response: “No Clive, I’m very interested in one of the other awards that’s coming up tonight … [pause for what feels like an eternity] … Best Actor.” Once again, not sure what the context of this joke is, but I guess it’s that Rachel is attracted to one or possibly all of the Best Actor nominees (which in 1992 included young and sexy hotties like Anthony Hopkins, Nick Nolte, Robin Williams, Robert De Niro, and Warren Beatty). The line isn’t helped by Marron’s awkward and forced delivery, which we are supposed to chalk up to her being afraid for her life, although actually it doesn’t seem any less stilted than the rest of Houston’s performance.
Also, here are some of the other nominees for Best Song: “Clock on the Wall,” from “The Dining Room Table,” “Give Me Your Trust” from “Out of the Gloom,” and “Reflections of My Heart,” from “Hot and Cold.” I don’t know, while “Out of the Gloom” sounds like a laugh riot, I’m really starting to wish I was watching awards-season powerhouse “Hot and Cold” rather than “The Bodyguard.”
Either way, the winner has barely been called for “Queen of the Night” before Marron finally makes this shitshow interesting by rushing off the stage after hallucinating that the envelope revealing the winner actually contained a death threat (which seems ridiculous, but based on the job PriceWaterhouse did on the last Oscars I could actually see it happening). Either way, backstage Debbie Reynolds speaks for all of us watching:
Of course Rachel somehow blames her insanity on Farmer, and even though he tells her he is sure the killer is in the auditorium, she once again screams at him like a lunatic and proceeds to disobey him. Rather than do what I would do, which is grab a drink at the bar and enjoy Rachel’s demise on primetime TV, Farmer actually tries to stop it. He figures out that the mysterious assassin is none other than Portman, a former Secret Service colleague of Frank’s who is impersonating a cameraman so he can take Rachel out after she wins Best Actress (although in real life he never would have gotten the chance, as the Teamsters would have beaten the shit out of him and tossed him in a dumpster after seeing a non-union cameraman working the floor).
Now why Portman didn’t shoot Rachel when she was giving out the Best Song award is a mystery, since at least she was guaranteed to be on stage then. But I guess Portman has been reading a lot of Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, so he knows that Rachel is a shoo-in because this year’s Oscars seems to be less about celebrating Hollywood than about celebrating Whiney Hou … sorry, I meant Rachel Marron, the Greatest Human Being Who Ever Graced This Earth. Of course obviously Rachel does win, and while Portman is preparing to take the concept of shooting celebrities with a camera very literally …
… Rachel makes it even easier for him to aim by obnoxiously standing at the foot of the stage and basking in the affirmation of her fellow Hollywood narcissists, rather than, you know, graciously walking up to the presenter and accepting the award like everyone else does …
Fortunately we never have to hear what I’m sure was a nauseatingly self-important victory speech, as Frank rushes in to catch a bullet meant for Rachel and kills Portman by shooting his camera, causing it to explode and hopefully prompting a major recall by Panasonic:
So in the end Farmer’s still batting .1000 in the “saving obnoxious and ungrateful celebrities from death” department, Rachel won her Oscar and showed up all those assholes back in Squirrel Hill, the two of them say goodbye forever in one of the least convincing passionate kisses since Lance Bass and Emmanuelle Chriqui in “On the Line,” and the Academy Awards finally ended ahead of schedule for a change, although unfortunately I will never know if “Hot and Cold” picked up the Best Picture award it totally deserves in my imagination.
While the actual Oscars next March is probably hoping to avoid another epic flub like the kind that ended this year’s ceremony, at least returning host Jimmy Kimmel won’t have to worry about dodging bullets meant for Armie Hammer. Unless of course Armie has a VERY jealous brother.
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