Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Jack Nicholson Will Return to Acting with "Toni Erdmann" Remake

Jack Nicholson
Among the many world cinema movies making the rounds this awards season is director Maren Ade's Toni Erdmann. It's a story that follows a father trying to befriend his hard working daughter. It's a film so beloved that it not only made many critics Best of 2016 lists, but will be competing for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. Even then, there's been talk beyond this of the film getting a much maligned Americanized remake. While this news still feels premature, there is one piece of good news to come from this story. After seven years off of the scene, three-time Oscar winner Jack Nicholson will officially be returning to acting for the film. It's the type of news that should be met with overwhelming excitement, and will hopefully show why Nicholson is one of the all time greats.

To the best of my ability, I have kept my love for Nicholson discreet. With few exceptions I try not to go on about why I consider him my favorite actor. It's hard not to understand that; as his resume features such inevitable masterpieces like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Chinatown, The ShiningA Few Good Men, About Schmidt, and The Departed. He's been nominated for 12 Oscars, winning three. He's an icon of the 1960's counterculture and has defined a "cool" type of acting. Even in bad movies, he brings a charisma that lights up the screen. You can argue that there are more creatively diverse actors, but few have the track record of Nicholson.

It has been a bummer in recent years, even in recent months, to think of if Nicholson would ever retire. A rumor started years ago that was quickly debunked. Then earlier this year, Nicholson's friend Peter Fonda made the allusion that he was retired. Nobody had reason to doubt Fonda, who likely was the closest that most people outside of the 2013 Oscars ceremony or Laker games was going to get to knowing what Nicholson was up to. With many assuming his retirement, it became embarrassing to think that How Do You Know was his last film - a film made more notorious because it was a romantic comedy that cost $100 million due in large part to salaries (you can guess how its box office went). At best, the excuse could be that it was a favor to his pal, director James L. Brooks. Other than that, it was an embarrassing conclusion to a fulfilling career.

Speaking as I have yet to see Toni Erdmann, I am unsure what drew Nicholson to the project. However, the one thing that is known is that he is a fan who pitched the remake to Paramount. With no directors or writers attached, there is little known as of this moment about how the project will take shape. However, Kristen Wiig is currently on board, and the Oscar-winning Adam McKay (The Big Short) is scheduled to produce along with original director Ade.

There's a lot of personal excitement in this decision. For me, the promise of more Nicholson is always welcome. I am even, if prematurely, hoping that this gets him another Oscar nomination whenever the film comes out. But for now, it only creates more reason to see the original and get on board before the remake comes out and creates a more American version of the story. While this isn't the only Nicholson-based story this week (Lee Daniels is working on a remake of Terms of Endearment with Oprah Winfrey in a lead role), it's probably the most exciting thing to happen. I hope that Nicholson still has it and can remind us why we love him. If nothing else, hopefully it will make us forget that How Do You Know ever happened. 

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