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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Should Shia LaBeouf keep his mouth shut about 'Indiana Jones'?

Shia_labeouf In recent days, Hollywood has been in a tizzy over one of those earth-shaking issues that frequently set off four-alarm fires all across the movie industry: Should actors who took a lot of dough to star in a cruddy sequel be punished if they turn around and talk openly about what a lousy experience it was?

The debate erupted the other day when news surfaced that Megan Fox had been dumped from the upcoming "Transformers 3" after she slammed the film's director, Michael Bay, having recently said of the director that "he wants to be like Hitler." Now Shia LaBeouf is getting heat for acknowledging that Steven Spielberg's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" was a snooze, having said (in the course of promoting his new sequel, "Wall Street 2," in Cannes) that "when you drop the ball, you drop the ball. You can blame it on the writer and you can blame it on Steven. I'll probably get a call. But he needs to hear this."

You'd think that LaBeouf (who was also in "Transformers 2" with Fox) would be deluged with e-mails and giant bouquets of flowers for having the temerity to tell the truth. As anyone who sat through "Indiana Jones" in a theater could tell you, it was a bust, not to mention one of the worst movies of Spielberg's career, an all-too-cynical attempt to go back to the well one more time to revive a franchise that should've been left in the deep freeze.

But only in Hollywood is truth telling considered heresy. Instead of being congratulated for his honesty, LaBeouf got a stern lecture from Michael Fleming at Nikki Finke's Deadline, who seems to have forgotten that he's now working for the supposedly fiercely independent Finke instead of the industry apologists at Variety (his former employer). Fleming hewed the studio party line, echoing the sentiments of the usual coterie of unnamed executives who complained that LaBeouf was being "disrespectful" for saying what audiences had learned long ago: The movie was a stinker.

Noting that actors like Fox and LaBeouf are overpaid to star in silly summer movies, Fleming wrote that "What they're not supposed to do in return for that all that moolah is trash those hits and their directors." He added that a host of Hollywood suits believe that "LaBeouf's comments could potentially hurt his career," adding that "violating Hollywood protocol is a dangerous game to play. Megan learned that today. Will Shia learn it tomorrow?"

So let's see if we can get this straight. Hollywood actors are celebrated when they oppose the war in Iraq or bash George Bush, they are encouraged to lobby Congress for a thousand different pet causes and given awards for supporting free speech, but when they dare to say that some lackluster sequel was a dud or that Michael Bay is a tyrant on his film set, they are sent to the woodshed, accused of being disrespectful and told their careers could be in jeopardy. And just to add to the hypocrisy, the criticism comes from Finke's Deadline website, which has made its living hurling tons of napalm-like inflammatory invective at many of those same titans of the industry.

Megan Fox may be an airhead and Shia LaBeouf may be a lightweight, but when it comes to speaking the truth, they deserve credit for having far more bracing honesty than most of the suck-ups who rule the business. Only in Hollywood is calling a lousy movie a lousy movie considered an act of sedition. 

Recent and related:

Cannes 2010: Shia LaBeouf: We botched the last Indiana Jones

Megan Fox on Michael Bay: 'He wants to be like Hitler.'

Photo: Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf at the German premiere of "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" last year. Credit:  Maya Hitij / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (43)

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You really nailed it on this one, Mr. Goldstein. I also suspect it is the relatively lightweight nature of these two celebrities that allows the suits to feel safe in going after them. While doing pre-release publicity for The Abyss, Ed Harris was extremely vocal in his criticism of the director (and future eunuch of the world,) James Cameron. But who in their right mind would ever mess with Ed Harris?

And let's be real. In slamming Indy IV, Mr. Labeouf waited two years before stating what was obvious to even the small children in the audience begging their parents to leave. And while her timing was pretty dumb, given all the things which could (and should) be said about Mr. Bay, Ms. Fox deserves kudos for limiting herself to 'Hitler.'

Hollywood is run mostly by people with warped self images that makes hypocrisy almost a given. In the long run the only thing which will ameliorate the situation is for them to be called out on it when it becomes especially absurd.

So, again, well done, Mr. Goldstein.

Actually I disagree with the authors assertion that being pilloried for speaking the truth is only an issue in Hollywood.
I have worked for many companies in my lifetime, some excellent, some not. It's ridiculous to think that I would not have been reprimanded, possibly fired had I gone out and publicly bad-mouthed either the companies I worked for or the executives that ran them.
While I think we can all agree that the movies in question were lousy, the notion that Hollywood is somehow unique in it's desire to keep bad products/services/employees out of the limelight is ridiculous. I am sure a lot of people employed by Yugo wanted to tell the world Yugo cars sucked too, but so long as the paychecks aren't bouncing...

Since La Beouf has no talent and since no one can actually figure out why he's in the movies, yeah I think shutting his mouth might be a good idea. After all, when an average looking , average acting twirp like this hits the jackpot, I think he should thank his lucky stars that his benefactors have anointed him to be the next
rich little no-talent to hit it thanks to his ambiguous ethnicity. Thank his lucky Steven I mean.

No he should NOT keep his mouth shut. That movie was garbage, everyone with half a brain knew it, and I have more respect for Shia for doing so.

Not much more, just a bit.

While I agree that Shia LaBeouf should be able to say what he wants about his previous work (especially after a couple years when the audience has moved on), I think you took his comments out of context. From what I read he eluded to what we all know: The film sucked, but never actually said it, instead he said he felt HE dropped the ball due to his poor acting in the film. He was saying that he was supposed to portray this great character who was intended to carry on the film franchise after Harrison Ford and he wasn't able to capture that. He said you could blame a lot of people, like the writers and director, but at the end of it he himself was accountable for his lackluster performance.

I agree with the point you are making and I think it is very valid especially in Hollywood, but don't cheapen it by only quoting parts of a conversation so that it seems like something else was being said.

Here, Here! Well said!

Here's the tip to the journalist who wrote this piece. If I talk trash about my employer in public, EVEN if I'm right...I get fired. I'm in finance, not movies. I agree 100% with the corporate heads on this one, don't bite the hand that feeds you. He wants art for arts sake, or better movies? That's fine, but how about saying it while its being filmed? Or perhaps, turning down the role? OH NO, he's got to get paid AND THEN, he'll talk trash?

Dumb as dumb can be. I wish I could talk trash about my finance firm and still think I would get hired back by them...its called UNREALITY VILLE.

How well said. Is there any industry more "politically correct" (read "gutless") than Hollywood?

I agree with the author; props to the actors who can speak truthfully. But what I'm really wondering is, when will "the executives" realize that the common thread in the disappointments of the recent past is Cate Blanchett. I don't think it was a case of Steven "dropping the ball" - Indy 4 could have been so much better with a less predictable and boring choice for villain. For a more current example, half the appeal of Robin Hood gets sucked out with Blanchett playing Maid Marian. Overrated, overly-serious actress offender #1.

I really enjoyed hearing Mr. LaBeouf's candor regarding Indy. I equally enjoyed hearing Miss Fox's honesty of Michael Bay. I think Hollywood stars SHOULD speak their mind and be open to the public about their bosses. In this way, the bosses will learn from their mistakes and go on to produce better product for the industry. If they don't, then the stars were right on the money and the industry will know they were right. Eventually, down the road, the bosses will cost the studios tons of barrels of cash, which would force the studios to close down. Let's not forget what happened with Michael Cimino. Had one of his stars told him off, he'd still be directing.

Anyway, thanks Shia and Megan...good work!

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