Carbon copy joins remake ranks

Midway through the screening of “The Italian Job” I leaned over to my viewing accomplice and whispered, “Eddie Norton is just phoning it in.”

Yeah, I call him Eddie instead of Edward, like we’re friends.

That’s not the point. The point is that essentially, Norton is phoning it in. I was not surprised to come home and read that Norton was contractually obligated to act in this film and subsequently, he has been very vocal in his disapproval.

That whole longwinded story can serve as quite an accurate description of “The Italian Job,” a movie that seemed like a good idea to somebody but should have just been left alone.

In case you haven’t caught an ad from the increasingly aggressive ad campaign for this film, “The Italian Job” is the latest Marky Mark vehicle brought to us by the lovely folks at Paramount Pictures. It’s a remake of the British film of the same name, and seems to be an attempt to capitalize on the forgotten fever of recent remakes like “Ocean’s Eleven,” “The Thomas Crown Affair” and “Get Carter.” Could it be more than coincidence that Hollywood is throwing out another ill-fated Michael Caine crime caper remake? Did they think that Marky Mark would find success where Stallone failed? Silly American fools.

Having never seen the 1969 original, I had no expectations going into the theater. What “The Italian Job” is, for a lack of better words, a piece of garbage. Have you seen the previews? Then you’ve seen the film. Norton turns his back on his friends and they try to steal back from him what he stole from them, blah, blah, blah.

People get punched and things blow up. No real surprises. Perhaps the most embarrassing aspect of the remake is the car chases, which include different colors of the latest car fad, the Mini Cooper. What’s embarrassing is that it was a somewhat original and entertaining idea in 1969, when they did the exact same thing in the British version. The scene hardly seems fresh 34 years later. At the very least they could have used actual vintage Mini Coopers, not those silly retro ones. Also, it’s hard to believe that Marky Mark and his zany team of super crooks could maintain a level of anonymity in present day California when they’re rolling around in color coordinated Mini Coopers.

The only nice thing I have to say about this lame remake is that it sports a good supporting cast. Maybe that’s why I seem so bitter. Jason Stathan, better known as “The Transporter,” rapper Mos Def and Seth Green are left without much to do, while Marky Mark and Charlize Theron hog most of the screen time, trying their very hardest to act like they care. Eddie Norton, as we have already discussed, makes sure that everyone knows that he doesn’t care. I hope that moustache was simply an aid in driving his point home.

The only positive things, aside from the cast, that I was able to come away with from “The Italian Job” was a well placed cameo by Napster creator Shawn Fanning and more arsenal for my Marky Mark rants. In the end though, at least this movie wasn’t as bad as “The Matrix: Reloaded,” but then again, is anything?