Ah, the "Message Movie." You gotta love 'em. Well, maybe "love" is too strong a word. For all their best intentions, most message movies have a tendency to turn off audiences left and right. In theory, they're made to change your mind, but the Hollywood marketing machine usually has trouble convincing anyone who doesn't already agree with the film's message to see them in the first place. And often they're just not that good, since they're trying so hard to be important that they lack the subtlety needed to make their point without pandering to those who already agree with them. But that's the minefield Rob Reiner will have to navigate with his new film about the challenge to California's Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in the most highly populated state in America.
Reiner was mum on the details, but announced his intentions at the American Film Market (AFM) to The Hollywood Reporter on Sunday. It's a subject close to the actor/director's heart: he co-founded The American Foundation for Equal Rights, a non-profit organization which seeks to overturn Proposition 8, which passed in 2008. That judgment was challenged in "Perry v. Schwarzenegger" and overturned in August, 2010, but the judgment has been stayed, preventing new gay marriages in California. The case is currently in the hands of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Reiner says his film will be "based a little bit on the court challenge to Proposition 8, which I have been involved in." His organization is prepared to take the issue to the Supreme Court if necessary. No word on whether Reiner would wait until the legal issue is settled before making his movie, which we imagine might have a serious impact on the movie's ending. Then again, Proposition 8 might be more of a backdrop than an actual "A" story, but as we said, details are scarce right now.
Rob Reiner enjoyed one of cinema's most impressive winning streaks between 1984 and 1992, directing a string of great films including This is Spinal Tap, The Sure Thing, Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Misery and A Few Good Men before his career stalled with the critical and box office bomb North, a strange film about a young boy (Elijah Wood) who sues his workaholic parents (Seinfeld's Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus) for neglect and is given two months by the court to find suitable replacements. Since North, Reiner's career has been decidedly hit and miss, with The American President and The Bucket List proving successful while romances like Alex & Emma and The Story of Us failed to find an audience.
That period also found Reiner directing another message-type movie, Ghosts of Mississippi, a drama about the prosecution of Byron De La Beckwith, the man found guilty of assassinating Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers 31 years after Evers' murder. James Woods was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for playing De La Beckwith, but otherwise the film received mixed reviews and has been largely forgotten. Hopefully his Proposition 8 movie, which is apparently as-yet-untitled, will meet with more success.
CraveOnline will return with more Rob Reiner news after we track down that six-fingered man…