G.I. Joe: The Rise of WTF?

June 11, 2009

Reports out of Hollywood tonight seem to indicate trouble in the editing room as Paramount tries to pull its tentpole G.I. Joe movie back from a suicide run. Apparently, test audiences hate this movie … hate, hate this movie … so much so that director Stephen Sommers has been booted from the editing room, fired from the picture, and alleged “fixer” Stuart Baird has been brought in to salvage the film. Who’s Stuart Baird? This is Stuart Baird. Yeah, he made Nemesis. Anyway, the studio is denying any problems, and as you know, studios always tell the truth.

I was not part of any G.I. Joe test audience. But I am a lifelong collector of G.I. Joe products. So let me tell you five things I know for a fact about G.I. Joe:

  1. He’s an American soldier action figure from the 1960s
  2. He’s an American peacetime “Adventure Team” hero from the 1970s
  3. It’s the name of a sprawling collection of 3.75-inch action figures representing an American special ops task force in the 1980s
  4. That team was also the focus of a longrunning and well-made Marvel comic book
  5. And those little guys were also the stars of a popular animated series.

I could get into the missteps, like space hero Super Joe and some of the cheesier later Hasbro lines (Sgt. Slaughter, anyone? Sigma 6? Didn’t think so.) But that, up there, is the gist of G.I. Joe. There are several of the 70s versions watching me type this, actually.

Having been to see Star Trek once or twice now, I have seen the trailer for G.I. Joe a few times. And all it left me with, each time, was a feeling of WTF. Because Paramount apparently took more than 40 years of content — ever-changing, but still fairly similar thematically, content — and came up with a Bold New Concept™ for this big-budget movie. So, after studying the trailer yet again, I can now say that G.I. Joe is

  1. A global international multi-contintental task force
  2. Made up of young, pretty people
  3. One of whom is a Wayans, but I’m not sure which Wayans
  4. All of whom are also apparently Iron Man, which was my first WTF moment in that trailer
  5. Who can fly.

Oh, it isn’t in the trailer, but the evil global terror overlord Cobra Commander is being played by Tommy from Third Rock. I couldn’t have made that up if I’d tried.

I suspect Sommers was caught in the middle between trying to make an action movie in the wake of Transformers (“It was a hit toy 25 years ago, so let’s amp it up!”) and pleasing the studio (“That Iron Guy movie was a big deal last year, so let’s put the G.I. Joe’s in them metal suits!” “Yeah, and while we’re at it, they can’t be Americans. Foreigners hate Americans.”)

All I know is I saw this trailer in the theatre with my 10-year-old son. It was packed in with Transformers: The Revenge of Megan Fox, Terminator: Salvation, UP! and Year One. After the movie, he was most excited about Year One. He indicated a desire to see Transformers, Terminator and UP. I asked him about G.I. Joe — and bear in mind, he’s this kind of stupid movie’s target audience — and he just shrugged.

I’m the other target audience, even if I’m a bit too old for the 80s stuff. And I suspect this movie is based more on that than the ill-defined characters from my kung-fu grip childhood. But I’ll be taking a pass on G.I. Joe. Maybe I’ll just get the kids to act out scenes in the back yard with my old action figures. I’ll even let Stephen Sommers come over and edit.

Not Stuart Baird, though. Nemesis was poopy.


One comment

  1. Wow! I had no idea what a tool Baird was. No wonder Nemesis sucked.

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