Johnny, get off the hook on ‘Limpet’

July 23, 2009

Dear Johnny Depp,



Has it really come to this?


An article in Tuesday’s Hollywood Reporter talked about the fact that, while you’ve got “Public Enemies” in theaters and Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” in the can (along with “The Rum Diaries” and “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus”), none of your other prospective projects was coming together.


Then it started listing them – and the first title on the list was a remake of “The Incredible Mr. Limpet,” a 1964 movie in which Don Knotts played a man who was transformed into a talking fish.


And a new “Lone Ranger” film – in which you would play Tonto. And a remake of the vampire soap opera “Dark Shadows.” And “Pirates of the Caribbean 4.”


I recognize that Hollywood ran out of original ideas years ago – and that it’s suffering some sort of massive brain bleed this summer with “Transformers 2” and “Land of the Lost.”


But I always assumed that you, Johnny Depp, had a little more integrity – and taste – than this.


OK, “Pirates 4” makes a certain financial sense, even though the series ran out of steam after the first one. An eight-figure paycheck – and infinite residuals – are hard to pass up.


But “The Incredible Mr. Limpet”? This was a movie that stank on ice when it was fresh.


Is this what you now aspire to? Remaking the Don Knotts oeuvre? What’s next: teaming up with, oh, I don’t know, Nicolas Cage to reboot “The Apple Dumpling Gang”?


Look, I understand you doing the “Pirates” movies. You can never own too many Caribbean islands or villas in France and you’ve got to pay for them somehow.



But “The Incredible Mr. Limpet”?


That’s not just sad – that’s pathetic. It’s disgusting that anyone would consider remaking this POS – but that you would consider starring? Even having your name mentioned in the same sentence with a movie like that puts you squarely in Nicolas Cage country: as an outstandingly adventurous actor who has abandoned interesting work for the mega-million-dollar payday.


Dollars? Try dolor.


C’mon, Johnny – those first three “Pirates” movies will pay your way for the rest of your life – and the last one flat-out sucked. You’ve got more money at this point – assuming you’re not as idiotic with your finances as Eddy Curry of the Knicks – than you (or your children) could spend in a lifetime. Now is the time to take chances and put your weight behind those great little indy films that otherwise would never get made – or seen – without someone like you coming in and doing them for scale.


And I’m not talking about “Shantaram,” a film I’d dearly love to see (Mira Nair was set to direct, before it fell apart because of the writers’ strike). But I’ll bet you could get that project back on track if you wanted to. It would certainly be a more worthwhile use of your time than “The Incredible Mr. Limpet.”


I mention Cage for a reason. Before he became Jerry Bruckheimer’s bitch, Cage was an odd, daring actor who made his share of big-budget bombs (“Trapped in Paradise,” “Amos and Andrew”) but mixed it up with smaller, riskier movies (“Red Rock West,” “Wild at Heart”). He won his Oscar for “Leaving Las Vegas,” as much of an outsider movie as you’ll find. But once he had the Oscar in his hands, it was time to cash in, doing one crappy, high-concept action film after another.


At this point, Cage is a punchline for jokes about bad movies. He’s an actor whose presence in a film almost guarantees that it lacks credibility – sort of like Michael Caine in his prolific mid-1970s/mid-1980s period. Remember “The Swarm”? “The Hand”? “Blame It On Rio”?


Yes, Johnny, we forgave you for “Secret Window” and “Nick of Time” and the last two “Pirates” movies – because you also did “Ed Wood” and “Sweeney Todd” and “Donnie Brasco.” That’s where you belong. You’re better than this.


Let Nicolas Cage play “The Incredible Mr.Limpet.” I’m sure he will if it’s offered to him.


You’ve got bigger fish to fry.


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