By Clint Morris
The only thing fuzzier than Robin Williamsâ€™ arms is the reasoning behind some of the decisions he makes. Last week, I was watching a documentary on Williamsâ€™ entertaining early 90s comedy â€œMrs Doubtfireâ€ in which the star, and director Chris Columbus, begun talking about the prospect of a sequel (which, if I recall correctly, Bonnie Hunt was said to be writing at one stage) to the hit film. According to Williams, who seemed very reluctant to step back into the role of the cross-dressing nanny, heâ€™d only do it if it had a killer script. There has to be a â€˜reason to do itâ€™, he said.
Obviously Williams was wearing his smart cap the day the doco was recorded because usually heâ€™ll dive head first into anything â€“ killer script or no killer script, reason or no reason. If you pay him, he will come â€“ the cornfields whisper.
Proof? â€œAugust Rushâ€ â€“ the latest in a long line of â€˜Why?â€™ efforts from the one-time king of comedy.
Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? Is it a musical? And why is Williamsâ€™ dressed as Bono from U2? Sadly, I canâ€™t help you out there â€“ and Iâ€™m betting Mork from Ork canâ€™t either. Seems our furry friend signs for anything a little off-kilter these days, when he probably should be signing up for a few more â€˜sure-thingsâ€™ (yes, like â€œMrs Doubtfire 2â€), and merely answers to the bank teller.
In â€œAugust Rushâ€, Freddie Highmore (heâ€™s the youngest British actor that seems to be everywhere at the moment â€“ â€œCharlie and the Chocolate Factoryâ€, â€œFinding Neverlandâ€, â€œThe Spiderwick Chroniclesâ€ â€“ to the point where heâ€™s actually becoming annoying!) plays a young orphan who heads into New York in search of his real parents â€“ who he knows are musicians. Of course, neither mum (Keri Russell) or Dad (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) even talk to each other anymore, let anyone know theyâ€™re parents â€“ her father tricked her into believing she lost the baby after a fall â€“ so itâ€™s not going to be easy for them all to reunite. Or is it? The film makes it look pretty simple. The ending made me want to bring up that morningâ€™s McDonaldâ€™s it was so cheesy and unrealistic. Williams plays a crazy old sod who uses the homeless boys he knows to make money â€“ they basically busk on the streets for him and he lives off their takings.
Williamsâ€™ took a big gamble when he played the kind psychologist in â€œGood Will Huntingâ€ (1997) but that was over a decade ago and ever since it seems Williams is determined to remind us that heâ€™s not, well, Mrs Doubtfire anymore but an Oscar Winning artiste thatâ€™s capable of playing anyone in anything. And he might have succeeded in convincing us of that â€“ he played a scary old fart in â€œOne Hour Photoâ€, a psychopathic killer in â€œInsomniaâ€, an unlikely president in â€œMan of the Yearâ€ and so on and so on â€“ but when is enough-enough? Seeing Robin Williams in all these mediocre dramaâ€™s and thrillerâ€™s is like watching Mike Myers act his way through a Merchant-Ivory production â€“ itâ€™s not just intolerable, itâ€™s ridiculous.
Maybe if â€œAugust Rushâ€ had been a good drama â€“ or musical â€¦ or whatever the heck itâ€™s supposed to be! â€“ and not a dull and disheveled head-scratcher thatâ€™s impossible to become engrossed in (none if it rings true!), you could forgive Williams for caving in and accepting the â€˜second fiddleâ€™ role as the pimp of the homeless â€“ it could have been a good part. But itâ€™s not. Ditch this like Williams ditched the â€œMrs Doubtfireâ€ sequel.