At the right times, bad really can be good. From a "Love Story" or "Gone With the Wind" spoof by Carol Burnett to "The Californians" on "Saturday Night Live," there can be fun in starting with an exaggerated tale and then cranking the acting to overload. The latest to try are some former "SNL" people who made "The Spoils of Babylon." If you get IFC (via satellite or digital cable), you can catch the entire six-part, three-hour spoof Thursday; here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
This is the sort of job some actors savor:
Forget about subtlety and sub-text and such. Just take a deliberately
bad drama and crank it up.
“It’s always fun to do something overly dramatic and not
worry if you’re doing a good job acting,” Kristen Wiig said. “(You’re) trying
to do it badly.”
That’s in “The Spoils of Babylon,” which some viewers can
catch in full Thursday. It’s a comically exaggerated version of an old-time,
soap-style miniseries; it also gives its cast a sort of double responsibility. “You
get to play a bad actor playing a part,” Tobey Maguire said.
In “Spoils,” he’s Devon Morehouse, the adopted brother (and
forbidden lover) of Cynthia Morehouse (Wiig). Others include Tim Robbins,
Jessica Alba and Val Kilmer; in the finale, Haley Joel Osment, as Winston
Morehouse, seeks revenge. “Getting to play the evil, sort of black-hearted
bastard in this one was pretty fun,” Osment said.
And in many roles -- icluding author Eric Jonrosh – there’s
Will Ferrell, who’s at the center of this.
Ferrell and writer Adam McKay created Funny or Die as a sort
of Internet playground, making short comedy films. Then that kept expanding.
There are TV series, a new production facility and now this short (six-part,
On “Saturday Night Live,” their colleagues have done mock
soap operas, first “Casa de mi Padre” and then “The Californians.” Later, the
two “Casa” writers -- Matt Piedmont and Andrew Steele – wrote “Spoils”;
Piedmont directed and they rounded up stars.
“We all had different actor names on set,” Wiig said. “We
didn’t go by our real names.”
On other days, they could take serious roles – currently Maguire
is in “Labor Day” and Wiig is in “Walter Mitty.” At Funny or Die, they could
simply be overwrought actors in the overwritten “Spoils.”
“The Spoils of Babylon” finale debuts at 10 p.m.
Thursday on IFC (formerly Independent Film Channel), generally via satellite or
digital cable; the five previous episodes rerun, 7:30-10 p.m.
Finale reruns that night at 1 a.m.; then the
last two episodes rerun from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 p.m. to midnight
Entire miniseries reruns in two chunks, from
4:30-6 a.m. Feb. 13-14.