Recently, I bought a ticket to a movie that wound up costing me the most tedious 96 minutes of my life in recent memory. Those are the breaks when you review movies for a living – sometimes it's a crap shoot, and sometimes it's just plain crap. But while the ins and outs of Tim Allen's latest old man vanity project are neither here nor there, and I thought/hoped I'd never give Crazy on the Outside another waking thought after that day, one peculiar plot point came up again as I read this New York Times piece on the poor, Internet-happy schlub who got busted for posting a work print of Wolverine online. This man, this Gilberto Sanchez from the Bronx, is in danger of turning into Tim Allen.
Let me explain: In his directorial debut, Tim Allen leads Sigourney Weaver, Ray Liotta, and J.K. Simmons in the story of a recently paroled ex-con (played by Allen, naturally) who has trouble adjusting to the wacky normalcy (or normal wackiness) of life in not-prison. His character has spent three years behind bars cozying up to tattooed thugs and evading prison rapists because he got caught committing an awful crime and took the rap for his much more dangerous pal. What was this crime, you ask? Video piracy.
That's right, he was copying DVDs and streaming them to China. There's even a scene where Ray Liotta walks Tim Allen through his illicit and quite cozy DVD-pirating headquarters, where his metrosexual employees drink lattes and send stolen movies along the information superhighway. It's here that Liotta talks about how the business isn't handheld camcorders in darkened theaters anymore, but based on pristine digital prints taken from who knows where, which is a reality that studios and the MPAA appear to be slowly figuring out for themselves.
[Side note: Tim Allen's character isn't wearing a pirate costume in the picture above because of his piracy crimes (but how funny would that be in real life?), he just works at a pirate-themed fast food restaurant. Yep. I watched this movie.]
Back to this New York Times profile. It's not what you might call flattering to Sanchez, who's described as a cost-conscious family man who didn't think twice about buying a $5 street copy of Wolverine from a nondescript Asian man who was, in his recollection, probably Korean. "Talk to the Korean," he told the Feds who came busting down his door after the Wolverine leak blew up last spring. Never mind that Sanchez in turn uploaded the file to the Internet in exchange for what assistant United States attorney for the Central District of California Wesley Hsu calls "some sort of Internet prestige thing." (Isn't that why we all do what we do?)
Anyhow, I'm neither advocating sympathy for movie pirates nor saying you should watch this Tim Allen flick for some sort of 21st century ethics lesson. But this Gilberto Sanchez and others like him should take a good, hard look at where they're headed before they upload their next movie to share with the Internetz, lest their lives turn into Crazy on the Outside – which, you can take my word, would be a living nightmare. Better yet, lock Mr. Sanchez in a theater and force him to watch Crazy on the Outside, at once a cautionary tale and a punishment in itself.
(If you're Tim Allen and this post hurt your feelings, I'm sorry. Also, can I have my $10 back?)