Brett Ratner is the dumbest muhfucka on the face of the earth! He’s also the worst director on the face of the earth, but let’s delve into the dumb-muhfucka stuff first.
You’d think that after making a movie where he’s received some of the most favorable reviews of his career, along with getting a gig producing the most prestigious awards show out there, Ratner would work his ass off not trying to sound like his usual dickish self and try to maintain some sort of respectful, professional image. But, no, this is Brett “I Lost My Virginity to a Paraplegic” Ratner. When have you ever known this guy to be respectful or professional?
It started late last week when he appeared for an interview on "Attack of the Show," that tech/T-and-A variety show on cable network G4, to promote his new movie, "Tower Heist." When host Kevin Pereira asked Ratner whether or not he is the unnamed, oft-rumored director former Attack host Olivia Munn had a regretful dalliance with (and whom she later slammed in her book Suck It, Wonder Woman), Ratner responded in the classiest of fashions:
“I used to date Olivia Munn, I'll be honest with everyone here. But when she was 'Lisa.' She wasn't Asian back then. She was hanging out on my set of "After the Sunset," I banged her a few times, but I forgot her. Because she changed her name. I didn't know it was the same person and so when she auditioned for me for a TV show, I forgot her, she got pissed off, and so she made up all these stories about me eating shrimp and masturbating in my trailer. And she talked about my shortcomings.”
See what I mean when I say “classy”?
It’s hard to believe that a guy can go on a TV show, say that a possibly bitter ex made up all these stories about him beating off and eating shrimp and still end up looking like the douchey loser in this whole affair. Was it really necessary for Ratner to be all spiteful and mention that the still-half-Asian Munn “wasn’t Asian back then”? What the hell does that have to do with anything? And, seriously, “bang”? Who the hell does he think he is — one of the guys from "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia"?
Ratner could’ve handled that whole thing with dignity and tact, perhaps even coming out of it looking like the better man for not attempting to stoop to Munn’s level. But, sadly, this is Ratner we’re talking about, and he felt that not only does he have to stoop to her level, he has to go even lower.
But it turns out none of what Ratner said about Munn was true, as he admitted on Howard Stern’s Sirius XM show on Friday. (He did admit to having some sort of sexual encounter with that in-and-out jailbird Lindsay Lohan.) But the shit didn’t hit the fan until later that evening when he screened Tower Heist at the Arclight Hollywood multiplex and took part in a Q & A afterwards. When asked about whether he rehearses scenes with his actors, he simply responded by saying, “Rehearsal? What’s that? Rehearsal’s for fags!”
If there is anything the Isaiah Washington scandal has taught us, it’s that if you work in the film and television industry, you don’t use the F-word — under any circumstance, even if you aren’t actually referring to homosexuals. Jesus, this is Hollywood – you don’t say that shit! You never know who is within earshot! And who does say that shit? “Rehearsal’s for fags” – for real? I’m shocked Ratner hasn’t received a flaming pile of dogshit on his doorstep from William Hurt yet.
Of course, he went on an apologizing tear the following Monday, telling Hollywood news blog The Wrap that he doesn’t have “a prejudiced bone” in his body and making sure AMPAS president Tom Sherak wasn’t appalled by his words. However, by the next day, as bloggers began demanding that Ratner be fired from his producer duties for the upcoming Oscar telecast, he sent out an open letter to the entertainment industry announcing his resignation. It was a letter filled with Ratner apologizing profusely and declaring, “Having love in your heart doesn’t count for much if what comes out of your mouth is ugly and bigoted.” (I’m shocked Ratner didn’t confirm his tolerance for the LGBT crowd by bringing up how he unknowingly got his first hummer from a transvestite, an anecdote he recalled when people complained of homophobic scenes in Rush Hour 3.)
Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with this dude? It seems like, in just these past few days, Ratner has been on a self-destructive mission to become Hollywood’s most prolific asshole, a man able to offend legions of people with just one, short soundbyte.
And it appears now that once Ratner ignorantly shoots his mouth off, we all end up suffering. The day after he resigned, "Heist" star Eddie Murphy, whom Ratner handpicked to host the Oscars, dropped out of hosting. So, thanks to Ratner, we'll probably have yet ahnother boring-ass, four-hour Oscar telecast coming our way.
It’s a shame Ratner still prefers to keep his d-bag persona alive and kicking; after finding myself actually entertained by what I saw in "Heist," I began to have some grudging respect for the man. There hasn’t been a Hollywood filmmaker whose filmography I’ve loathed more than Ratner – and yes, I’m counting Michael Bay. Just like Bay, Ratner became another in a long line of slick-ass music-video directors who graduated to helming slick-ass feature films. But unlike video visionaries turned challenging auteurs David Fincher and Spike Jonze, Ratner became a director who trafficked in crass crowd-pleasers. His comedies are usually crude and offensive, his dramas are bland and lifeless and his action blockbusters are just a whole bunch of noise.
His first movie, "Money Talks," was just a loud, nonsensical vehicle for its star, the equally loud and nonsensical Chris Tucker. Ratner and Tucker would reunite for all three "Rush Hour" movies with Jackie Chan, a franchise that may have been lucrative but more and more mediocre with each volume. His all-star, overblown version of Thomas Harris’s "Red Dragon," complete with Anthony Hopkins hamming it up as Hannibal Lecter, just made me appreciate the moody subtlety Michael Mann embedded in the same material when he made it into "Manhunter." And when he took over for Bryan Singer and directed "X-Men: The Last Stand," it was so gotdamn tedious, me and a comic book-loving friend of mine who accompanied me to the screening immediately went to a bar and got shitfaced while we tried to decipher what the hell was that all about.
So, color me slightly surprised when I left "Tower Heist" quite satisfied. As several of my colleagues who didn’t like the movie have reminded me, it’s a routine story. And while the movie makes some wrong moves narrative-wise, I still found myself getting into it. With "Heist," you get a sense that Ratner has finally understood that when you hire skilled, decent actors to star in your movie, the main thing to do is get out of their damn way and come in when you’re needed, like when it comes time to stage the convincingly death-defying climax.
But when Ratner started saying all this other stuff, the respect I was trying to have for the man quickly became nonexistent. I mean, here is a man who I’m sure has made a lot of money making mediocre movies, considers Warren Beatty and Robert Evans close friends and has had Rebecca Gayheart, Naomi Campbell and Serena Williams as ex-girlfriends. And here he is, acting like he’s still living in the gotdamn frat house! What’s interesting is that Ratner spent most of a 2007 Vanity Fair profile convincing readers he is a credible, competent director. “I eat, sleep and breathe movies,” Ratner said. “I’ve been dreaming about this every day since I was eight years old! I’m not what people think I am – I’m a filmmaker!
Really, Brett? You’re a filmmaker? This is what you’ve wanted to do since you were a kid? Then, for Chrissakes, act like a fuckin’ filmmaker and stop saying dumb shit in public! Jesus Christ, man, you’re 42! You’re officially too old for this shit! A man who is responsible for a slew of hit movies should carry himself with a lot more decorum, especially if he does want to be taken seriously as a filmmaker.
In short, Brett Ratner, stop being an asshole and start being a man. There’s already one John Mayer on this planet. There shouldn’t be two.
Craig D. Lindsey used to have a job, as the film critic and pop-culture columnist for the Raleigh News & Observer. Now, he's back out there hustling, writing about whatever for Nashville Scene, the Greensboro News & Record, Philadelphia Weekly, the Independent Weekly and other publications. He has a Tumblr blog now (unclecrizzle.tumblr.com). You can also hit him up on Twitter (twitter.com/unclecrizzle).