It's always disappointing when strong directors come out with a film that is absolutely terrible. Jim Sheridan's "Dream House," with an 8% critics' rating on Rotten Tomatoes and only $14.5 million dollars in box office so far, initially had a boatload of promise with charismatic stars Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts, but what we saw was terrifyingly bad (and not because trailers promised a horror story à la Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining"). And just as everyone was beginning to wonder what had happened, besides the extensive reshoots, the LA Times reported late last week that Sheridan wanted his name taken off the final film.
According to them, Sheridan sought out the Directors Guild of America to petition having his name taken off the film as director, replacing it, as is standard practice, "Alan Smithee," the director equivalent of John Doe. He tried to prove that the final film, what we've seen in theaters, drastically differs from the film he set out to make. He rescinded his bid to drop his name when the studio financing the film, Morgan Creek Productions, agreed to those reshoots everyone knew were going on.
As we already know, the reshoots didn't do much to help a film that got off on the wrong foot from the beginning, but it sounds like it was at least partly the director's fault; Sheridan apparently changed David Loucka's script completely in favor of the improvisational method we've seen in other, more successful films like "In America." When an initial test screening didn't go as planned, Morgan Creek demanded changes and reshoots, eventually taking the reins from Sheridan in the editing room. He didn't have final cut, so according to the LA Times, Morgan Creek essentially put together Sheridan's footage the way they thought would work for modern audiences.
Sheridan has declined to do any publicity for the film, and both he and Morgan Creek declined to comment on the LA Times' article. Needless to say, it's probably not a relationship we'll see working together anytime soon. And though the Times accuses Sheridan of getting too far out of his "wheelhouse," "Brothers" was a good film that just didn't get a lot of attention (or good marketing). We think it's probably more that studios, in trying to make as much money as possible, no longer have faith in the directors they've hired, despite the fact that these stories rarely ever turn out well for anyone.
Sheridan might be turning back to his Irish roots with "Sheriff Street Stories," an autobiographical coming-of-age tale, and hopefully that'll see him back on the form of "My Left Foot" or "In The Name of the Father." For the rubberneckers or the sadists, "Dream House" is still lingering around theaters now.