In Your Wilderest Dreams

Not Eric Idle

When a celebrity of a certain age passes away, like the great Gene Wilder did today, there is often a moment when you take stock and admit the inevitable:

“I genuinely thought they were already dead.”

Perhaps I should consult the website Dead or Alive? more often but the fact that its design hasn’t been updated since the (first) Clinton Presidency, I’ll take my chances with my memory.

For actors in particular, the reason this happens so often is that a long time passes since their last film. For Wilder, aside from some minor television work through the 90s and earlier this century, his last theatrical release was 1991s Another You - a film remembered by only three people:

  • Me
  • My Brother
  • Vanessa Williams

It is fair to say that Another You is a terrible film and ranks fifth out of the four Gene Wilder / Richard Pryor collaborations.

  1. Stir Crazy
  2. See No Evil, Hear No Evil
  3. Silver Streak
  4. The Kevin Hart / Will Ferrell film Get Hard
  5. Another You

The only memorable thing was Pryor riffing over the Tri-Star Logo before the film even begins: “Wait? Whoa! Fuckin’ wings? What’s goin’ on? Fuckin’ white horse!”

For all intents and purposes, this was also Pryor’s last film, leaving both legends with a final performance not befitting their stature.

This isn’t consigned to actors either. When musician Lou Reed passed away in 2013, his final release was 2011s poorly received Lulu a collaborative album with Metallica that absolutely no one asked for. The best written review of this album came from Chuck Klosterman who stated: “If the Red Hot Chili Peppers acoustically covered the 12 worst Primus songs for Starbucks, it would still be (slightly) better than this.”

The reason I bring this idea of a finale up is because I am concerned for another Gene.

Gene Hackman.

In fact I have been concerned about him for some time.

Hackman retired from the screen twelve years ago to go and write novels for a living. From his point of view, what was there left for him to achieve in acting? Hackman had the rare ability to either star in a film or play a minor role that lifts the viewing pleasure by at least 15%.

The only other actor that can do that is Bill Murray.

But what pains me to know is that when Hackman passes away, on every obituary printed will be the sickening line: “His final screen performance was 2004’s Welcome To Mooseport with Ray Romano.”

It is fair to say that Welcome To Mooseport is a terrible film and ranks third out of the two movies where Gene Hackman plays the President.

  1. Absolute Power
  2. His brief tenure running the White House in Superman II
  3. Welcome To Mooseport

Hackman deserves better than this dammit and it is incumbent on Wes Anderson to rectify this matter.

There is still time.