The Two Coreys

On the heels of Lindsay Lohan’s recent DUI arrest and Britney Spears’ reported meltdown at an OK! magazine photo shoot, the premiere of A&E’s The Two Coreys seems almost suspiciously well-timed. Like Lohan and Spears, Corey Feldman and Corey Haim are former child performers who grappled with the crippling fallout from early stardom (substance-abuse problems included). The men achieved pinup-boy fame in the ’80s after appearing in seven films together, and for the A&E show, they’ve shacked up (with cameras and Feldman’s wife, Susan, in tow), hoping to revive their professional partnership. Only time and ratings will tell if the series will be the means to that end, or the end in itself.

According to the A&E’s website, the Coreys, “propelled by their legendary onscreen chemistry,” starred in a “series of films that would define a generation, including The Lost Boys, Dream a Little Dream, and License to Drive.” Um, that would be my generation: please excuse me while I gag myself with a spoon. Hyperbole and inaccuracy aside (everyone knows we were defined by John Hughes’ movies, for Pete’s sake), both actors were

capable of fine performances back then, as indicated by Feldman’s comedic role in Stand by Me and Haim’s poignant turn in the terrific Lucas.

Although Feldman’s fame waned, he worked far more often than Haim, and the show presents him as the “sensible Corey” in an Odd Couple- like pairing. He’s described as “married, a working actor, and a neat freak,” while Haim is “single, unemployed, and a total slob!” That Feldman — once arrested for heroin possession and who dressed like the King of Pop well into the ’90s — is considered the normal one suggests how sharp a downturn Haim’s life has taken since the height of his celebrity.

In the third episode of The Two Coreys (the only one made available for preview), Haim reinforces this impression by referring repeatedly to his “past mistakes” and by throwing bravura hissy fits when he’s not the center of attention. Boiled down to its essence, the Coreys’ “legendary onscreen chemistry” seems to involve Haim whining and Feldman cajoling. In this episode, Haim bemoans Feldman’s “umbilical cord”-like connection to wife Susan and eventually lashes out at her during a heated argument. Haim yells, “She’s not part of The Two Coreys, and she never will be!”

The line is so ridiculously overripe, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. At first, I assumed that Haim had unintentionally parodied himself, but upon watching the scene, I realized the cameras were not on him when the words were uttered. Even if the line wasn’t scripted outright, it looks as if it was dubbed in post-production. In any event, it underlines the drama and offers up Haim as an object of self-deluded ridicule.

In a 13 July interview with Entertainment Weekly, Feldman asserts that The Two Coreys is “not a typical reality show, for the record. A lot of it is very suggested and set up,” even going as far as to call it an “improvisational comedy.” Whatever his motivation for this admission, Feldman clearly understands that on a “reality” show, he and Haim are expected to play themselves, rather than be themselves, and moreover, that their audience is poised to mock them. Because Haim is characterized as the show’s resident fuck-up, his image will take the biggest hit, but at this point, he has little to lose.

We learn in this episode that Haim has been banking his comeback on a sequel to The Lost Boys, and that he and Feldman are on a publicity tour in celebration of the film’s 20th anniversary. Haim is “stoked” by the opportunity, and he’s “doing what [he has] to do to promote the shit out of this thing.” Eventually his dream of producing the sequel is crushed when Feldman tells him Warner Bros. already has a straight-to-video follow-up in the works — and that Haim has not been invited to participate. Upon hearing the news, Haim breaks down in tears, and seeing Feldman compassionately tend to his rejected friend kind of got to me. As Feldman embraced Haim and whispered, “Dude, we were kids raised in this industry before we knew what the fuck we were doing,” I nodded my head in agreement and thought, “Right on, Corey.”

But then he related his own experience with rejection and the spell was broken: “Ninja Turtles 2? When they did that sequel without me, do you know how much that hurt?” And there I was, laughing again. But this time, I couldn’t tell if Feldman was laughing with me, and I felt guiltier for it.

RATING 5 / 10