IMDb sows confusion about the origin of the 1998 comedy stinker
Film fans might have been puzzled scanning IMDb on Tuesday after the death of Tom Wolfe, the beloved author of nonfiction and fiction best-sellers like “The Right Stuff” and “The Bonfire of the Vanities” that were adapted into memorable Hollywood movies.
The movie site listed Wolfe, who died Monday at age 87, as the co-screenwriter of the 1998 Chris Farley-Matthew Perry comedy “Almost Heroes” along with David Nutter and “Fuller House” co-executive producer Boyd Hale.
But no, the famed paragon of New Journalism is not the same Tom Wolfe who co-wrote Farley’s last movie, which has an abysmal 8 percent on RottenTomatoes despite a starry ’90s cast and director Christopher Guest.
“My co-writer was a different Tom Wolfe, of course,” Nutter told TheWrap via email.
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The period adventure comedy about rivals of explorers Lewis and Clark grossed just $6 million and earned a rare F grade from Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman, who concluded: “It’s as bad as any comedy I’ve seen in the post-‘Animal House’ era, right down there with the worst of Dan Aykroyd and the scripts Pauly Shore must have turned up his nose at.”
According to the 2009 oral history “The Chris Farley Show,” Wolfe was a young comedy writer and professional partner of Nutter, whose credits at the time included “Saturday Night Live” and the ’90s sitcom “Nurses.”
“Tom Wolfe and I were working on a sitcom with our third partner, Boyd Hale,” Nutter said in the book. “Boyd came up with the original concept of a Lewis and Clark comedy; the ideas flowed freely from there.”
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But despite what producer Denise DiNovi called a “brilliant” script, the finished film became a notorious posthumous flop for Farley.
“I thought so many times about what went wrong,” DiNovi said in the book. “I always like to say I have the distinction of making the only unsuccessful Christopher Guest movie.”
Reps for IMDb and the other Tom Wolfe did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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The more famous Tom Wolfe had no direct role in the two more noteworthy Hollywood adaptations of his work. 1983’s “The Right Stuff,” about the early days of the American space program, won critical raves and four Oscars.
Brian De Palma’s 1990 adaptation of “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” meanwhile, was a notorious flop — though its 16 percent RottenTomatoes score still tops that of “Almost Heroes.”