5.28.18: The Rejection Of The Singing Cowboy


Just a quick life-coaching allegory gleaned from the relative box-office failure of the movie Solo: A Star Wars Story

Now originally, Solo was directed by the team of Miller and Lord—the duo who did The LEGO Movie, 21 Jump Street, etc. Smart and quirky humor/action blend, basically.

But at some point during Solo’s production—a bit far into it, I think—Lucasfilm got cold feet about a “funny” Han Solo movie. It was just too “out there” for them—too weird, too much of a risk.

So they fired Miller & Lord—and replaced them with the most “safe” option they could possibly think of: Ron Howard.

I have nothing against Ron Howard, mind you, but he was clearly chosen as a “safe” option for Solo.


In addition to radically retooling the film to be more “standard,” they also apparently sent its star, Alden Ehrenreich, back for acting lessons. All of which, I’m sure, helped crew morale a lot.

All because Lucasfilm was worried about Solo being too “out there.”

So Solo finally debuts this past Memorial Day weekend to underperforming box office numbers. And many people feel the film is just kind of…meh. Not terrible…just meh.

Had Lucasfilm stuck with the original vision for the film—sure, it might have seemed really weird, out-of-the-box. It might have pissed off the fans of the “classic” Star Wars.

But it would have also been its own film. Its own unique vision. And while it might have caused some critics to go “what the hell???!”—to others, it could have been this singularly weird and wonderful thing.

Because of fear, however, the studio stripped most of that “weirdness” out.


How often do we try to “Ron Howard” ourselves so we can fit in and play it safe? 

This Miller & Lord version of ourselves is too “edgy”…too weird…it might not “play” to certain markets…so we anxiously tear things out of the script, axe entire scenes, just reconfigure everything. And what we get in the end is…meh.

We are then not our true selves. We are the skeleton of our own selves as a shaky foundation for all this other stuff that’s not us. And the result may be “OK”—but it will never be brilliant. It will never be this lightning in a bottle.

It all reminds me of Ehrenreich’s character in Hail, Caesar!, Hobie Doyle. Doyle is most famous for being a “singing cowboy.” But the studio wants to push him into doing like a very elitist drawing-room comedy—which is totally not him. Doyle doesn’t fit in with this new schema. And eventually, he gets dressed down by the director and given impromptu acting lessons—much like Ehrenreich had to do in real life for Solo.

Whereas: Doyle should have stayed Doyle. Or: they should have made the singing cowboy movies better to live up to Doyle’s growing popularity.

Would that it twere so simple!