The Burning

By Kelan Young

Mailed on August 14, 2012

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Dear Jason Alexander

Dear Jason,

Ah, Jason. I can't help but regret that you weren't the leading man in The Burning. How amazing would it be to have a young George Can't-Stand-Ya going toe-to-toe with Cropsy, the deranged killer described in the film as having "a face like a fucking Big Mac, overdone!"?

This humble little slasher was clearly your breakout role. No, I'm not being sarcastic. See, unlike so many other comic characters whose cringeworthy antics provoke not laughter but the burning desire to leap through the screen to personally hasten their demise (I'm looking at you, Shelly from Friday the 13: Part 3), you're actually funny.

The script itself isn't remarkable, but your sense of energy and skillful comedic-timing makes it actually seem witty. It's hard to imagine anyone else making these lines work. I'll be honest: I expected that the hacks who penned this by-the-numbers prank-gone-wrong-creates-mutilated-killer-seeking-revenge-on-camping-teenagers screenplay would have diminished into moviemaking obscurity, but it turns out that they simply decided to focus on producing instead of screenwriting. Which has worked out well for them. But perhaps I'll write a letter to Harvey (story by) and Bob (screenplay by) Weinstein some other time.

Your character isn't just a quip-machine, but a well-rounded, supremely likeable individual. The kind of guy willing to stand up for the kid being bullied by the camp meat-head by shooting a pellet into his ass. Which seems like something the leading man should do, right? Unfortunately, the "hero" of this piece (Brian Matthews), who I will be henceforth refer to as Final Dude (a refreshing change of pace from the slasher film trope of Final Girl) is likeable enough. He just isn't given anything to do, and comes off pretty bland compared to you.

Unfortunately, for every nice thing I can say about you, I struggle to say anything positive about your fellow cast members. Not to say they're all terrible--but one might expect more from a roster that includes future Oscar winners Holly Hunter and Fisher Stevens, and teen comedy character actor Brian Backer. In the climactic moment, when we should be most excited - as Final Dude races to save a fellow camper who has been abducted by Cropsy - we're left to wish that your character was still around, providing his acerbic commentary. Even director Tony Maylam seems to be aware of this, and rushes through to the end as quickly as possible. Which is a shame, because we miss out on some highly-effective set design (the decayed remains of the camp are wonderfully creepy) and makeup effects (gruesomely revealing the full extent of the killer's prank-induced injuries).

Let me suggest something. Seeing as Hollywood has such a hard time coming up with new ideas, it's inevitable that The Burning will eventually be remade. Starring in the remake of your very first film could be just the reboot your career needs.

Just imagine an enraged George Can't-Stand-Ya taking the fight to Cropsy in the film's final scenes. A no holds-barred brawl of banter! Witty ripostes flying through the air like fists! I'm telling you, Jason, I could really get behind a film like that. Maybe you should get in touch with the guys who wrote the original script? Just make sure those Weinstein Brothers stick to producing and stay away from the keyboard.



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