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Paramount thwarted an attempted sequel to Frank Capra‘s 1946 Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life last week, but the original lives on in two current parodies.
One is by comedian Owen Weber and the other is from Jean-Marc Vallee, director of the Oscar contender Dallas Buyers Club.
Weber recut a Wonderful Life trailer to the tune of Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead,” which also is heard in the first trailer for Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street (opening Dec. 25). Weber’s parody The Wolf of Bedford Falls, called “smart and hilarious” by blogger Anne Thompson, depicts Jimmy Stewart‘s hero as a corrupt sellout to evil banker Mr. Potter.
The other current It’s a Wonderful Life pastiche is more serious. “My Frank Capra homage is my favorite scene in Dallas Buyers Club,” Vallee tells THR. “I always loved that Wonderful Life scene where Jimmy Stewart is praying in the bar, and then he gets punched in the face — that’s how God responds. I tried to put a scene like that in Crazy [Vallee’s 2005 Toronto and AFI Fest award-winning film], but it didn’t work out and I cut it.”
So Vallee added the Capra reference to Craig Borten‘s and Melisa Wallack‘s Dallas Buyers Club script, in the scene where AIDS patient Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) prays in a stripper bar. “I like characters that are struggling, and they’re gonna die or they want to die, they’ve never prayed in their life, but they say, ‘Help me, God, I’m at the end of my rope!’ And then something happens.” In Dallas, instead of getting punched, McConaughey’s character gets his divine message of hope and tips a lap-dance stripper $20, as if it were a church offering. “It’s not easy to tell that he’s paying God for a dance,” says Vallee, “but it doesn’t matter if you don’t get it.”
At first, McConaughey hated the It’s a Wonderful Life homage — until he got it. “I remember reading the rewrite and immediately wrote notes [to Vallee] saying, ‘No! Ron would never go to a church,” McConaughey tells THR. “Then I turned the page and said, ‘Aw, he’s in a strip club.’ So I called and said, ‘Jean-Marc, you got me!’ ”
The real It’s a Wonderful Life will be seen around Christmas week on NBC and at multiple theatrical venues including — in Los Angeles alone — at the Egyptian, the Aero, the Arclight Sherman Oaks, and (six times at) the Cinefamily.
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