We don’t go to the movies much. We see probably 100 movies a year, but most of them are at home, where the floors are nice and clean, nobody’s going to talk, and you don’t have to worry about some moron with the attention span of a mayfly texting his buds during the picture. (“Awsum! Its gr8! C U l8r!!!”) Every January we go out to the Sundance Film Festival and gorge for a long weekend, and in the fall we pick and choose at the New York Film Festival (festival crowds tend to behave more responsibly, though there are exceptions), but it’s rare that we pony up at a real movie theater.
That only happens when there’s something we want to see before we read too much about it, or so art-housy that most d00dz will stay away. So we’re sucked in to a couple of blockbusters every summer (this year it was STAR TREK and HARRY POTTER 6), and we’ll also catch the odd BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN once in a while. Every single summer, though, I lose a little more faith in my fellow human beings, or at least in the major-studio suits who force-feed them such drivel year after year.
It doesn’t take a genius, or a snob, to know to stay away from something like WOLVERINE 3, or whatever it’s called, no matter how cute Hugh Jackman is. Or TRANSFORMERS 2. Or DA VINCI CODE 2, TERMINATOR 4, PAUL BLART MALL COP, G.I. JOE, All we have learned this summer is that sequels don’t always work, at least not past the first weekend. (The next most witless trend is remakes of movies that were perfectly fine in their original incarnations; most seem to cycle from the Eighties. HALLOWEEN? FRIDAY THE 13TH? Why do we need remakes of CHILD’S PLAY, HELLRAISER, John Carpenter’s THE THING? They’re all coming soon, because remaking THE OMEN or THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE is all the suits can think of. THE WICKER MAN, for heaven’s sake!)
Audience indifference ran rampant this summer. Jack Black and Michael Cera, both actors developing not insubstantial fandoms, excreted a piece of glop called YEAR ONE. Will Ferrell, as bankable as a comic star can be, served up LAND OF THE LOST. Nobody cared to see Sacha Baron Cohen pretend to be flamboyantly gay for an hour and a half. Not even a night at the museum or the Ice Agers could find the same sweet spot as their prequels.
Still, it’s nice to see that good work can indeed rise to the surface. Coming out of nowhere was THE HANGOVER, no stars, grabbing audiences the old-fashioned way: viewers told their friends that it was funny. And DISTRICT 9, which had absolutely nothing going for it except Peter Jackson’s participation, earned back its entire production budget, and then some, on opening weekend. Comedies and thrillers are the best types of movies to see in a crowd, but there’s a limit. Michael Bay’s frenetic camera and all the surround sound in creation still can’t plant you into the world of the Transformers; all you’re able to do – allowed to do — is grab the safety bar and hang on for the ride. The only guy who enjoys blowing stuff up more than Bay is Roland Emmerich, and guess who’s back with the basic end of the world in a movie called 2012?
Oh well. Bring on THE LOVELY BONES (hi again, Peter Jackson!) and THE ROAD. Not to mention James Cameron’s AVATAR. There’s always tomorrow at the movies.