Ryan Kavanaugh, I Love You

I have to say, when it was first announced last June that Lionsgate had its hands on Marc Forster’s Machine Gun Preacher, I was less than thrilled. Lionsgate has dropped the ball in the past, JMHO, on some other films that I’ve had high hopes for. Just as an example, they bought a well written, intelligent little thriller called Butterfly on a Wheel, changed the title to something more “marketable”, Shattered*, and then buried it on basic cable instead of giving it the theatrical release and the attendant publicity it deserved. They did, however, see fit to release Good Luck Chuck the same month and year. I’ve been wary of seeing Lionsgate on anything I’m interested in ever since, and this is one film I did not want to see mishandled.

The film is a fact-based drama about the Reverend Sam Childers, a reformed biker slash drug dealer who found religion, established an orphanage in war-torn Sudan and to this day still supervises a militia to protect the children who were and are being abducted to become soldiers. 

Gerard Butler plays Childers, and Michelle Monaghan his wife Lynn.  Michael Shannon, Kathy Baker and Souleymane Sy Savane also star. Jason Keller wrote the script that was based on the book, Another Man‘s War: The True Story of One Man‘s Battle to Save Children in the Sudan.

It’s no secret how I feel about Gerard Butler, but regardless of how I feel about him as an example of male perfection, I’ve always believed in his talent as an actor and that he hadn’t been given the opportunity (perhaps due to the fact that he is so damn good looking, perhaps not) to showcase his abilities with a really meaty dramatic role. Admirers of Butler have been pinning their hopes for such an opportunity on Machine Gun Preacher and Ralph Fiennes’ adaptation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, since they were announced.

When MGP filmed in Detroit last summer, the initial word coming off the set had high praise for Butler’s performance (if not for his mullet), and now industry insiders who’ve seen the film are starting to whisper things like Oscar-caliber. This in and of itself is enough to have me calling for Uncle Peter and the smelling salts.

Now I find out that The King of All-Hollywood, as I’ve been referring to Renaissance man Ryan Kavanaugh for quite some time, and his Relativity Media have taken over domestic distribution for MGP and I’m almost beside myself .  Supposedly Lionsgate’s packed fall release schedule, and Relativity’s lean one, led the companies to the arrangement.  Lionsgate will still handle international rights on the film, but this, if it’s as good as people are saying will give Relativity a stake in the Oscar race. They did well last year with The Fighter so they have a taste for it now and I can imagine they wouldn’t mind going to the big dance again. I don’t care why they’re doing it, I’m just glad that they are.

Per Mike Fleming at deadline.com "Relativity Media will set a fall release {for MGP} and is expected to platform the picture for Oscar season. Early word is that Forster might have pulled a performance out of Gerard Butler akin to the one Halle Berry turned in for Monster’s Ball."

Of course, I have yet to see a single frame of this movie. It’s entirely possible that this is all Hollywood hype and the movie is total crap. But I don’t think so. I’ve had a really good feeling about this one from the moment I heard Marc Forster was directing. He’s a talented and versatile director who manages to pull the best out of his actors. Monster’s Ball was brilliant and he not only got an Oscar -worthy performance out of Berry, but he got amazing performances out of Heath Ledger and Billy Bob Thornton as well.A nomination for Johnny Depp was among the seven earned by  Finding Neverland. Hell, Will Ferrell was nominated for a Golden Globe for Stranger Than Fiction. I’m a fan of all three of these films. I’m also a fan of Forster’s much-maligned Quantum of Solace.

So there’s Forster directing and, in addition to Butler and Monaghan, the cast boasts Kathy Baker and Michael Shannon, actors whose names alone tend to lend gravitas to the idea. The wild card here is Jason Keller, but he’s just done the screenplay for one of the Snow White movies, (the one with Julia Roberts) a very hot property right now, so I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. All of this has given me hope that they’ve done justice to the material and created something worthwhile.  The addition of Ryan Kavanaugh takes my expectations to the next level, just as the interest of Harvey and The Weinstein Company did for Coriolanus.

If The Great Ginger Hope has chosen Machine Gun Preacher to be his date for Awards Season, I’m all for it. Just give me a release date and I’ll buy the corsage.

*I understand that this title does fit the plot, but it’s a little too simplistic for my taste and “tv movie-of-the-week-ish”. JMHO, but the original title was much less obvious. Maybe it’s just me but I like a good literary reference. Changing the title, yet leaving in a key scene that referenced the original title, lessened the dramatic impact of that scene. Again, JMHO.

7 responses to “Ryan Kavanaugh, I Love You

  1. I need you to leave where you are and go find a paper like the Times or someone to go work for. You’re the only one who has movie reviews and movie talk for that matter that I will read and actually enjoy.

    • You Said It @RandomLanda

      I couldn’t agree more!! I’ve been saving and savoring this blog post all evening so that I could focus and process all the nuances you’ve given us with this analysis. I’d go see this movie regardless *cough*, but I’ll do so now with a better appreciation for the ensemble of director, fellow actors, screen writer, and now distributor.

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