Is this the funniest comedy you’ll never see — because of cancel culture?
In 2016, Jamie Foxx, 54, and Jeremy Piven, 57, started filming “All-Star Weekend,” a movie about two NBA-obsessed friends in Indiana. Piven’s character is Steph Curry’s biggest fan, while Foxx’s worships LeBron James. The pair win tickets to the NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles and on their way out west, they run into a cast of wacky characters and find themselves in a dangerous situation with their hoop idols.
The premise and the cast, which includes Robert Downey Jr., Benicio del Toro, Gerard Butler and Eva Longoria, seem like a slam dunk. And Foxx, who was making his directorial debut with the movie, gave many glowing interviews about the project.
“It’s so relevant right now,” Foxx told the Hollywood Reporter in 2018. “Comedy, right now, needs a movie like ‘All-Star Weekend’ and something you haven’t seen before.”
The movie was originally slated to be released during the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend, but was pushed to the 2019 hoops extravaganza because of post-production delays. Then it never appeared, and now the film seems to have been indefinitely shelved.
Last week, Foxx suggested the humor was too out of bounds for today’s uptight comedy climate in which comedians like Dave Chappelle and Ricky Gervais have landed in hot water for jokes that have touched society’s third rails.
“It’s been tough with the lay of the land when it comes to comedy,” Foxx told CinemaBlend last week when asked about “All-Star Weekend.”
“We’re trying to break open the sensitive corners where people go back to laughing again,” he said, continuing to be vague about the film’s status.
In the envelope-pushing flick, Robert Downey Jr. plays a Mexican man and Foxx plays a “white racist cop.”
Foxx has been vocal about the need for provocative comedy. In a 2017 appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast, he said he never reads social media comments because it would stifle his creativity.
“If I read all the comments I would never tell another joke,” he said. “I got a movie we just shot for little or nothing, called ‘All-Star Weekend.’ The jokes are all the way out there … If you read the comments, that will make you tuck that in,” he said, calling the project “brilliant.”
“There is some things where you can see ‘ooh,’ you can see there’s some s–t going on,” he said of the independent movie, which was never attached to a studio.
In the same interview he defended Robert Downey Jr. doing blackface in the 2008 Vietnam War satire “Tropic Thunder” and said he suggested Downey Jr. play a Mexican person in “All-Star Weekend.”
“I called Robert, I said, ‘I need you to play a Mexican.’ ” He initially agreed, but the “Ironman” star got cold feet and texted the Oscar winner saying the role made him nervous.
“I said, ‘S–t, you played the black dude and you killed that s–t.’ We got to be able to do characters.”
The “Tropic Thunder” role earned Downey Jr. an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor — and tons of blowback. But he has no regrets. During an interview with Joe Rogan in 2020, Downey Jr. acknowledged the delicacy of the part and that Sean Penn had “possibly wisely” turned it down.
“And 90 percent of my black friends were like, ‘Dude, that was great.’ I can’t disagree with [the other 10 percent], but I know where my heart lies. I think that it’s never an excuse to do something that’s out of place and out of its time, but to me it blasted the cap on [the issue]. I think having a moral psychology is job one. Sometimes, you just gotta go, ‘Yeah I effed up.’ In my defense, ‘Tropic Thunder’ is about how wrong [blackface] is, so I take exception.”
Co-star Piven seemed to suggest the delay wasn’t the potentially offensive material but Foxx’s perfectionist streak. During a May appearance on “Get Some with Gary Owen,” Piven was frank about the flick’s future.
We did a movie with Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. and Benicio del Toro and Gerry Butler and you’ll never see it. Jamie doesn’t want to release it.
“And it’s one of those things where Foxx is probably the most talented guy I’ve ever been around, known, heard of. He’s the funniest guy in the room. He can sing. There’s nothing Foxx can’t do.
“I had the time of my life … Foxx is really hard on himself. He’s one of these dudes, you know, he wants it to be perfect, so he’s been holding onto this thing for five years.”
Perfectionist or not, comedian Luenell, who also has a part in “All-Star Weekend,” gave the film and Foxx a ringing endorsement in 2017.
“Lots of people are in it, and it’s a really good role. It’s more than a cameo. And it’s really funny. Jamie doesn’t do junk,” she told the St. Louis Dispatch.
Another potential wrinkle is timing. When it was originally slated for release, the movie had a perfect real-life basketball peg. Then-Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James and Golden State guard Steph Curry spent four years going head to head in the NBA Finals — but the running rivalry came to an end with the 2018 series.
Shelving a finished film is a rarity in Hollywood, particularly one with such big stars. Warner Brothers made headlines earlier this month when The Post reported the studio was yanking “Batgirl” after it was poorly received by audiences at test screenings. Similarly, Jerry Lewis insisted his 1972 flick, “The Day the Clown Cried,” never see the light of day because the story about a clown imprisoned in a Nazi camp was also poorly received during test screenings.
According to Deadline the film was financed, but it’s unclear if investors have been paid back by Foxx.
“All-Star Weekend” producer Avram “Butch” Kaplan said “no comment” when asked about the mysterious delay and Foxx’s representatives didn’t return a call for comment.
“It’s going to be a period drama by the time they put it out,” Piven added.