‘Mysteries’ Finally Opens in Theaters

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh is finally opening today in limited release. If you are in New York, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, then you too can go and see Jon Foster, Sienna Miller, and Peter Sarsgaard bring Michael Chabon’s first movie to the big screen.

But should you?

Let’s face it, the reviews, well, they ain’t that pretty. And there’s a reason it’s taken more than a year since it opened at Sundance in 2007 for the movie to finally to get distribution. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gives the film only two out of five stars, calling it “artificial” and says “to call it ‘inspired by’ [Chabon’s novel would be a stretch.” Ebert has some good words for the cast, noting “some well-developed performances for such an underdeveloped screenplay” thanks to Sarsgaard and Mena Suvari, among others. But still, Ebert doesn’t sound thrilled.

A.O. Scott of The New York Times says “even the most passionate fan of Pittsburgh-in-the-’80s-crazy-summer-coming-of-age stories is likely to be disappointed” by Mysteries, “a clumsy and confused adaptation” of Chabon’s novel. David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle calls it an “earnest but unconvincing film” missing “the edge, charm and drily pointed cultural observations that made Chabon’s 1988 debut so auspicious.”

Almost all the reviews compare Rawson Marshall Thurber’s film to last weekend’s other coming-of-age flick, Adventureland, with the implication being your money is better spent watching that over what Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune calls a “slick” but ultimately “fake” film. Indeed, out of 139 reviews, Rotten Tomatoes says 88 percent were positive for Adventureland; of the 16 reviews for Mysteries, only 11 percent were good.

If you want to judge for yourself, you can find the trailer over at Apple. I myself will probably go this weekend just to see for myself if it’s as bad as it sounds. But don’t say I didn’t warn you in advance.

LA Times Profiles Thurber

The Los Angeles Times profiled Rawson Marshall Thurber in the run-up to today’s premier of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.

A large part of the article focuses on the odd risk Thurber is taking professionally making Mysteries his follow-up to Dodgeball. The paper reports that Thurber’s friends and agent tried to convince him not to do it.

“I probably actively dissuaded him four times,” said John August (screenwriter for “Go” and “Charlies Angeles”). “A script is a year of your life, and there’s no guarantee it will become a movie.

“Rawson has always come to me for advice and rarely taken it. He understood the risk but was completely undeterred. That’s how somebody gets a career in this business.”

Over on his blog, though, August suggests he’s happy Thurber ignored him.

“I’ve seen the movie five times, and am ridiculously proud of Mr. Thurber,” he wrote.

Mysteries Clip Online

For those of you who couldn’t make it to the Sundance Film Festival this week to see Mysteries of Pittsburgh premier, Spike TV is hosting online an interview with Rawson Marshall Thurber that features a clip from the film.

And never fear — while in the past some Sundance films have found themselves abandoned without a home and never to be seen in wide distribution, odds are good that Mysteries will get purchased thanks to the writer’s strike. The New York Times on Thursday profiled Groundswell Productions, the house behind Mysteries and two other competitors at the festival.

Thurber Defends Mysteries Changes

Rawson Marshall Thurber, the director behind the up-coming screen adaptation of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, defended changes he made in the story in a new interview with The Advocate.

“My real goal was to make a film that felt like the novel did to me, and I think I’ve done that,” he said.

Thurber took significant liberties with the book, eliminating the character of Arthur, making Cleveland bisexual and romantically linked to the main character, Art, and cutting the role of Phlox to that of a minor character. Online, many fans of the book have bashed the changes, and anti-Mysteries MySpace pages are easy to find. But Thurber says he made the changes with Michael Chabon’s blessing.

“I knew what I wanted to do, and I told him, ‘I’ve got a pretty radical take on it, and if you’re at all interested, let me do a five-or six-page treatment. If you’re interested in that, let’s go do it, and if you’re not, please say so, and I’m a big fan and I can’t wait to read the next thing,'” Thurber said. “I wrote it up and sent if off, and I never thought he would say yes, actually, but then he read it and he sent me an e-mail back saying, ‘It’s great — let’s do it.'”

For more, check out the interview. Mysteries of Pittsburgh premiers at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 20.

Mysteries To Premier At Sundance

It’s official! The Sundance Film Festival announced its 2008 lineup. And the film adaptation of Mysteries of Pittsburgh made the list. The festival is Jan. 17-27.