10 years from now, some studio exec will come up with the bright idea to remake the 2002 smash hit “Phone Booth”. I guarantee it. And I’d like to tell future Hollywood Exec, pump the brakes. “Grand Piano”, starring Elijah Wood and John Cusack, already stole your mediocre idea. I’m not joking. “Grand Piano” is “Phone Booth” for the upper class. Allow me to show off my uncharacteristically bad summarizing skills.
Elijah Wood plays a pupil to the recently deceased “best piano player in the world”. He was some old guy who was up there with Bach and Beethoven in skill. And apparently, he left a huge sum of money after he died. Elijah ( I don’t recall his characters name. Or any characters name for that matter) comes out of retirement to play one last concert in his teacher’s honor. Oh yeah, Elijah has MAJOR stage fright. During his performance he suddenly learns Cusack has a sniper pointed at him. One wrong note and boom! See you later Elijah. Also, Elijah’s wife is in the crowd. She will succumb to a bullet in the head if he dares cry for help. Very Phone Booth-ish. I didn’t dislike this movie, yet I probably should have. Instead it brought three distinct things to my attention. I’m not sure how distinct they are, but here we go.
- First I’ll address why I liked this movie. It’s simple. I will always support Elijah Wood. And for the most part, really enjoy what I watch him in. Lord of the Rings, Green Street, Wilfred, Eternal, Happy Feet, etc. We all have THOSE actors we fully support. No matter what. It can be for a variety of reasons. The actors who were in a role you will hold on to forever (Elijah Wood and Sean Astin as Frodo and Samwise respectively), the actor who attended your high school ( Mike Vogel ), the hidden gem you knew about before anybody (Paul Rudd because you knew about him in Wet Hot American Summer. What’s that? He was on your radar since Clueless? I meant Wild Oats…), and of course the actor that stops you from completely hating a family name (Dave Franco for saving the Franco legacy after James desperately tried to tarnish it).
2. Bill S. Preston is back! I couldn’t take my eyes off him throughout the entire film. He plays Cusacks evil right hand man. And guess what? He nails it! Totally pulls off the charming yet creepy killer. Not surprisingly, he brought the funny in a couple of scenes too. This really got me pumped for a new Bill and Ted. I wasn’t sure if he had been working and I just haven’t noticed it, so I took it upon myself to peruse his IMDB page. Spoiler alert, he hasn’t been up to much. In the last ten years, one Robot Chicken episode, a couple TV movies, some show called “Saul of the Mole Men” (I won’t lie, this intrigues me), and an episode of Bones. There is legit reason to get excited. If you don’t see this movie out of dedication to Frodo, see it for Alex Winter
3. Hey John Cusack. What the fuck is going on? From the late nineties on, it’s as if he doesn’t know what kind of market he wants to be in. He was red hot at first (I’m not going to include Anastasia, but I should. Criminally underrated). It looks like he’s going to produce critical darlings with High Fidelity and Being John Malkovich. Then he takes a sudden turn to chick flick and thrillers (Serendipity, Identity, Runaway Jury). All pretty crumby in my opinion. A few years later he jumps into the horror genre with 1408. I actually found that film rather enjoyable. But Johnny M is done with horror. He smells the green over at “Apocalyptic Movie Headquarters” and stars in 2012. Generally considered a pretty bad movie. One year later we get the glorious Hot Tub Time Machine. Cusack really does well in this raunchy comedy setting and I’m surprised he didn’t try another one. Or at least a sequel ( which is apparently in the works. Four years too late?). Instead of sticking with comedy, he decides to go back into horror. And oh MY god was that a mistake. The Raven was an abomination. We finally come to a stop at Grand Piano. He now is the villain in the Bourgeoisie Phone Booth. What I’m saying is John Cusack doesn’t know what the hell he wants. And I’m concerned.
But not concerned about you enjoying Grand Piano. If you like Phone Booth you will enjoy this. If you hated Phone Booth, well, this is a bit better so there’s still a chance you will enjoy it. Here is their website where you can download it from iTunes.