Often, people will go to see a movie merely based on who is in it. After all, almost every movie poster in existence highlights the lead actor or actress as a means to get people into the theater. Generally, these actors and actresses are highlighted because they are good at what they do, be it action, drama, or comedy. They are stars of their profession. So, it stands to reason that if one star can elicit a monetary response from moviegoers, a whole lot of stars could exponentially increase that amount. If one star makes a movie good, a lot of them will make it great! Of course, that’s not always the case, as the 2010 film, The Expendables, showed us. There needs to be cohesion between the stars in order to make a great film. This week’s two films highlight some all-star casts that work well together.
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
Length: 154 minutes / 2.57 hours
The cast list from It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) reads like a “who’s who” of comedy. Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, and Buddy Hackett just to name a few. That’s not even mentioning the plethora of other comedy legends that made cameo appearances throughout the film. Jack Benny, Stan Freberg, Buster Keaton, Don Knotts, Jerry Lewis, Carl Reiner, and even the Three Stooges had screen-time in this film. With so many funny people showing up, you just know that the antics of this movie must be absolutely hilarious.
What makes this film so fun, aside from the star-studded cast, is the frantic way that so many people travel to get the first chance to find a buried treasure. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The movie starts with a car crash, where it is revealed that the driver was on his way to pick up his hidden treasure of $350,000. The four groups of people who were there to help immediately get the idea that they can strike it rich by discovering the treasure themselves. They just have to find it first, by any means possible. Driving, running, flying, boating, or any other method that can get them to the fabled “X” that marks the spot is utilized to fulfill these characters’ lust for money.
Length: 116 minutes /1.93 hours
Where the stars in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World may have gone to Clown College, the “Rat Pack” in the original Ocean’s 11 certainly graduated from the Cool School. The group of singers more commonly referred to as “The Rat Pack” included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. The challenge presented to the 2001 remake was to be able to re-create a group of actors who were popular by themselves but made a dynamic team when put together. Of course, they could never replace the Rat Pack, but George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Matt Damon and even Carl Reiner (mentioned above) seemed to do a pretty good job, considering their predecessors.
In Ocean’s Eleven, George Clooney plays Danny Ocean, a recently released prisoner (much like the thief in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World) who is ready to settle the score with Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). A clever con-man, Ocean gathers up some of his usual friends to start planning the biggest heist in Las Vegas history. Three casinos store all their money in one super-secure vault, and it’s Danny’s goal to take all that money. Why? Because it all belongs to Mr. Benedict. Of course, he can’t do it alone. With his few friends, he gathers more, until there are eleven guys ready to perform an intricate plan to get through the various countermeasures and end up with more money than they’d ever know what to do with.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 great groups of actors