Popcorn

Ben Elton satirizes ultra-violent movie directors

After making a name for himself in England by writing TV shows like Blackadder, Ben Elton wrote a novel called Popcorn, satirizing ultra-violent movie directors such as Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino. Then Elton adapted Popcorn for the stage. He's a funny guy, so Popcorn is funny, but it isn't actually very good. Bill English plays a pompous, Oliver Stone-like director named Bruce Delametri, who wins an unexpected Oscar for some blazingly violent film only to find his Hollywood mansion invaded by a blood-spattered outlaw couple known as the “Mall Murderers.” The Mall Murderers, Scout and Wayne, imitate Delametri's movie characters. The rest of the play is essentially a clever debate about free speech, responsibility, and America tarted up in a Natural Born Killers style. Paul D'Addario gives an amusingly glowery, swaggering, over-the-top performance as Wayne — consciously imitating Woody Harrelson — and Elizabeth Phillips is sharp as Delametri's spoiled daughter, Velvet. But some of the performances, including English's as Delametri, are so astoundingly wooden they seem unrehearsed. “Oh great, now I got bitches in stereo,” says the movie director, stealing (I think) a Tarantino line; instead, he sounds like somebody's uncle.

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