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Ads rife at MTV Movie Awards


Rob Salem

Toronto Star

June 02, 2008

Barely 30 seconds into last night's MTV Movie Awards, homeboy host Mike Myers dropped a plug for his upcoming comedy, Love Guru (opening June 20). There was another less than 30 seconds later, and yet another almost immediately after that, with the title Love Guru (opening June 20) projected behind him in great glowing letters at least 10 feet high.

And really, that first minute-and-a-bit laid bare the mercenary heart of the youth-skewed audience-voted awards show: "Free advertising," as Will Ferrell put it so succinctly soon after (naturally, following a plug for his own upcoming Step Brothers, opening July 25).

Not that all this overt flick flogging is necessarily a bad idea. Between the pre-show trailers, the in-show plugs and the in-between commercials, it may just be the kick in assets the film industry now so desperately needs. I mean, if the Oscars could ever lower themselves to this level of pandering to the middlebrow masses, people might no longer be tuning out in droves.

Of course, few of the popcorn movies honoured last night are in any danger of Oscar nomination. On the other hand, no one over the age of 20 will have otherwise even heard of MTV winners Never Back Down and Step Up 2: The Streets.

But then, the actual MTV Award is a gilded bucket of popcorn "'Nuff said" (a quote popularized by comic-book creator Stan Lee, well represented again this year by nominee Spider-Man 3, winner Iron Man and the upcoming Incredible Hulk, opening June 13).

Of course, Hulk co-stars Ed Norton and Liv Tyler were there to present, as were Will Smith, Charlize Theron and Jason Bateman from Hancock (opening July 2), Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson from Get Smart (June 20) ... essentially, anyone with a mass-market movie coming out in the next 100 days.

And several in need of summertime spin, like a confused Lindsay Lohan, a bored Paris Hilton and a slumming Tom Cruise praising "icon" Adam Sandler's "legendary work" on the "best-loved comedies of the century" (the newest, You Don't Mess with the Zohan, opens June 6).

One notable deviation from the above, Johnny Depp, was pretty much obliged to show his face (for a change, clean-shaven) with a contradictory double win for Best Comedic Performance (Pirates 3) and Best Villain (Sweeney Todd).

An even more welcome win went to gracious and well put-together (leather jacket, cool kicks!) Ellen Page for the Canadian-made Juno.

And it wasn't all "shameless promotion" and "pimping," as Myers himself allowed (though only after another two or three references to Love Guru, opening June 20). Indeed, it was Myers who eventually proved the most entertaining exception, with an ecstatically received Wayne's World reunion with Dana Carvey, and filmed shorts introducing two hilarious behind-the-screen characters, an Aussie set caterer and a myopic pet wrangler either of whom would make a more interesting film subject than a "love guru" (opening June 20).

Also break-out funny in a show surprisingly devoid of real laughs, a violent "viral" bit with Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black and Ben Stiller riffing on Iron Man, Kung Fu Panda (opening Friday) and the Stiller-directed comedy co-starring all three, Tropic Thunder (opening Aug. 15).

The same cannot be said for any of the lame presentation gags, notably the "fake pot" piece by Seth Rogen and James Franco (Pineapple Express, opening Aug. 8), initiated then disavowed by MTV by pulling the cameras back to shoot it from the back of the hall.

Lamest of all, alas, were the crammed-in MTV Canada interstitials, featuring a mob of no-name, know-nothing "hosts," gushing and giggling away precious moments of airtime that could otherwise have been used to promote more summer movies.





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