Shia LaBeouf Disses Spielberg and "Crystal Skull," Critics React

| by Hollywood Elsewhere

Having written last Thursday that Shia Labeouf deserves "alpha points for trashing '08's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and, by obvious implication, Steven Spielberg," I was naturally gratified with Patrick Goldstein's 5.20 "Big Picture" column having said roughly the same thing and more.

"You'd think that LaBeouf would be deluged with e-mails and giant bouquets of flowers for having the temerity to tell the truth," he wrote. "As anyone who sat through Indiana Jones in a theater could tell you, it was a bust, not to mention one of the worst movies of Spielberg's career, an all-too-cynical attempt to go back to the well one more time to revive a franchise that should've been left in the deep freeze.

"But only in Hollywood is truth-telling considered heresy. Instead of being congratulated for his honesty, LaBeouf got a stern lecture from Michael Fleming at Nikki Finke's Deadline, who seems to have forgotten that he's now working for the supposedly fiercely independent Finke instead of the industry apologists at Variety.

"Fleming hewed the studio party line, echoing the sentiments of the usual coterie of unnamed executives who complained that LaBeouf was being 'disrespectful' for saying what audiences had learned long ago: The movie was a stinker.

"Noting that actors like LaBeouf are overpaid to star in silly summer movies, Fleming wrote that 'what they're not supposed to do in return for that all that moolah is trash those hits and their directors.' He added that a host of Hollywood suits believe that LaBeouf's comments 'could potentially hurt his career,' adding that 'violating Hollywood protocol is a dangerous game to play.'

"So let's see if we can get this straight," Goldstein responds. "Hollywood actors are celebrated when they oppose the war in Iraq or bash George Bush, they are encouraged to lobby Congress for a thousand different pet causes and given awards for supporting free speech, but when they dare to say that some lackluster sequel was a dud or that Michael Bay is a tyrant on his film set [as Megan Fox did], they are sent to the woodshed, accused of being disrespectful and told their careers could be in jeopardy.

"And just to add to the hypocrisy, the criticism comes from Finke's Deadline website, which has made its living hurling tons of napalm-like inflammatory invective at many of those same titans of the industry.

"Megan Fox may be an airhead and Shia LaBeouf may be a lightweight, but when it comes to speaking the truth, they deserve credit for having far more bracing honesty than most of the suck-ups who rule the business. Only in Hollywood is calling a lousy movie a lousy movie considered an act of sedition."

For obvious reasons, I'm not going to offer apologies for being three days behind on this thing.