This Week in Style Historical past: ‘Stardust’ gave us Robert De Niro dancing in a pink costume for the tradition

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Welcome to This Week in Style Historical past, the place Tim Grierson and Will Leitch, the hosts of the Grierson & Leitch podcast, take turns trying again on the world’s best, craziest, most notorious style films on the week that they had been first launched.

It’s outstanding that Stardust will not be one of many largest flops of the final 20 years. After I first sat down to jot down this piece, I remembered it as a flop. It positive looks like a flop, doesn’t it? It has all of the issues a traditional flop normally has. It was an costly adaptation of a beloved mission (on this case a Neil Gaiman fantasy comedian sequence and subsequent novel) that’s revered by followers however not broadly recognized by most of the people. It tried to corral a number of completely different genres and tones without delay, together with fantasy, romance, and comedy. It featured large stars, together with Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Peter O’Toole (there’s at all times an older legend in certainly one of these), Ian McKellen, and, weirdly, Ricky Gervais. Moreover, it was formidable in scope and theme, the type of swashbuckling, big-swing “action-comedy-romance” that’s at all times this near turning into Gigli.

And but, it was completely not a flop. Stardust not solely greater than made again its funds, however it was additionally usually revered by critics, rather a lot that normally traces as much as take potshots at a movie like this. It was not a monster hit, and it’s not prefer it was an awards-season darling or something. However if you happen to had been to line up 10 completely different situations, starting from “Oscar winner” to “unbelievable sh**present that wins a number of Razzies,” this is able to have actually fallen extra to the previous finish of that spectrum. The movie will not be talked a lot about right this moment, and in some ways, it appears to belong to a unique period altogether. However you understand what? It did positive. It turned out to not be an issue in any respect.

Fourteen years later, Stardust nonetheless danced between all of the raindrops.

Why was it an enormous deal on the time? Gaiman had resisted the thought of a Stardust movie for years, significantly after he’d failed in his makes an attempt to make his personal model a decade earlier. However he cottoned on to an adaptation a younger filmmaker named Matthew Vaughn had been engaged on. Vaughn would appear an odd selection; he had labored as a producer with lifelong good friend Man Ritchie on Lock, Inventory and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch and directed a strong thriller referred to as Layer Cake with a younger unknown actor named Daniel Craig. Nevertheless, he was in all probability finest recognized for being married to mannequin Claudia Schiffer. This was the man Gaiman trusted?

It was that stability of tones, although — the comedian and the tense — that Vaughn was going for, one which he’d later carry to Kick-Ass, an X-Males movie (after dropping out of the Brett Ratner one to make Stardust) and the Kingsman films. Greater than any of these films, he’d offered Gaiman on a romantic coronary heart. He actually did need this to be his Princess Bride. Gaiman in the end gave in, saying that Vaughn clearly liked the fabric however needed to make it his personal, which is all he might hope for. Nonetheless: The match appeared odd. But when they may pull this off…

What was the impression? Issues about how the movie would play in the USA, the most important market on the time (particularly with China banning the movie, not for political causes however as a result of there had been too many non-Chinese language movies launched within the nation that individual month), had been warranted: It opened fourth within the U.S., behind Rush Hour 3, The Bourne Ultimatum, and The Simpsons Film. But it surely truly held up robust over the following month, and its largest income got here from Europe, significantly the U.Ok. It will in the end even win a Hugo Award.

The film didn’t find yourself making fairly sufficient to earn the sequel that Vaughn had at all times needed to make. It truly sounds wonderful: “The opening scene was Charlie Cox’s character, being the king and throwing out the necklace,” Vaughn advised Den of Geek. “This time the necklace goes over the wall and bounces off Massive Ben, and also you’re out of the blue in London within the early Nineteen Sixties, with these mad kings and princes and princesses working round London. All on the search for the stone.”

So it wasn’t a franchise, in the end. But it surely was far, removed from a flop.

Has it held up? Vaughn’s type, surprisingly, holds up extremely effectively for a household movie, or not less than a family-adjacent movie. He by no means looks like he’s reining himself in, or that he desires to go bloody like Kick-Ass or all sweaty and cursing like a Ritchie film. He simply provides the film a cheerful vitality that’s in the end infectious. It’s not as sleek as The Princess Bride, and generally that vitality is a bit too hyperactive: Like with all Vaughn films, generally you need it to only take a little bit of a breath.

But it surely’s nonetheless a blast, and significantly better than I had remembered it being. Extra to the purpose: It seems just like the type of big-ticket, four-quadrant filmmaking that really might have crossed over and been an enormous hit. Perhaps it was presupposed to be a flop, because it had all these elements for a flop, however Vaughn was simply too impressed to let it get out of his management… Nevertheless, there was nonetheless a ceiling right here, a ceiling that has stored him from making his sequel. Typically, although, avoiding catastrophe is its personal victory. Stardust won’t be broadly remembered right this moment, however that’s higher than being remembered for being a disaster, and that effectively might have occurred.

Although if you happen to bear in mind it in any respect … you actually bear in mind this:

This scene actually must be in wider circulation. It could include all of the huge multitudes of the human expertise.

Will Leitch is the co-host of The Grierson & Leitch Podcast, the place he and Tim Grierson assessment movies outdated and new. Observe them on Twitter or go to their website.

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