Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summer Movies from the Isle of Stinkeroo

There's a saying, probably started by a movie publicist, "Nobody ever set out to make a bad movie." I would add, "Except during the summer blockbuster season." Because that's when filmmakers tend to wave their hands in the air like they just don't care, budgeting for the biggest stars, the most extravagant visual effects, and anything left over can go toward that crap written on a piece of paper—what's it called?—oh yes, the screenplay. You know, the story.

Being a movie snob is not my choice—it's a necessity. I personally don't have a big budget to blow on bad films, so I have to be particular. I like my movies like I like my men—quirky, fine-looking, with some intelligence and genuine humor. That's not generally the call of duty during the summer season. Do I judge a movie by its trailer? Yes, millions of dollars went into these marketing ads, so use them to your advantage. What are they selling you? Often times, a whole lot of stinkeroo, but you be the judge!

World War Z - I don't care who says it's good (so far, mostly YouTube comments only), when I'm watching some TV with my kid and this trailer comes on in the middle of Major League Baseball, or Hockey playoffs, or something sporty and all-ages in nature, I DON'T WANT MY KID TO SEE THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE BEING PLOWED OVER WITH GIANT VEHICLES, OR GETTING SUCKED OUT OF AIRPLANES. I don't care if they're zombies or not (no one looks like a zombie in this trailer).

If I find this imagery greatly disturbing, how will my 11-year-old feel about it? Since he's a sweet-natured person with anxious tendencies, my guess is: pretty bad. I don't know because every time this trailer has aired, I quietly turned off the TV in order to steep in my hatred for the Hollywood CGI violence industry that gives us ever-more graphic massacres in the name of entertainment. Plus there's Brad Pitt's cute kids and darling wife to worry about, for that human element. So I guess we put all our survival anxieties on them and forget about the millions who are plowed under within moments of this trailer. Hey, fuck you. That's not how my heart works. I can confidently report that this movie was not marketed for me

Kick-Ass 2 - A little teenage girl beats the shit out of people and slices them up with knives. Lots of fists smacking into heads, cars blowing sky-high, Jim Carrey looking manic (and having second thoughts about all this), and a dog-bite to the balls—creative! This doesn't even look fun. Unless being cured of ultra-violence by torture like Alex in Clockwork Orange is your idea of fun.

The Purge - An American utopia is in our grasp because all crime is legal for 12 hours a year. Don't even try to understand the logic of this premise. Just sit back and watch Ethan Hawke's family be terrorized in a brutal home invasion. Brutal home invasion films are now a cottage industry. If it takes a futuristic Utopian concept to bring us one more of these brutal home invasions, so be it. Perhaps we get the brutal home invasion films we deserve.

This Is The End - A bunch of successful comedy guys face the apocalypse together. It's the ultimate end-of-the-world buddy-film vanity project with crunching bodies and mansion-as-lifeboat humor, plus Emma Watson wielding an ax. So, you get a brutal home invasion too. I liked all these guys so much better when they were sidekicks, co-stars, ensemble players, you know—in small doses.

Does anything in this trailer make you actually laugh?  Because I do remember laughing at everyone in this cast in other projects over the years, but Even with a duct tape gag—which cannot lose. Small doses, guys—from small doses comes great, concentrated comic moments. From overblown concepts—much potential mediocrity.

You're a studio exec at Disney and you're running out of adaptable summer blockbuster superheroes. You mentally run down the list of B-grade comic-book fodder from years gone by: Green Lantern, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor (for God's sakes, Thor), multiple Hulks—done—all done in multiple screening formats with varying degrees of success. Hmm, no She-Hulks yet...naaah... she's hot, but look at Wonder Woman—in development hell for decades now...that leaves...nothing. Wait! What about...The Lone Ranger. The guy in the white hat and mask with his monosyllabic Native American sidekick, Tonto.

That Tonto (doesn't Tonto mean fool in Spanish?) might run us afoul of actual Native American actors—get PR on it, pronto! We'll cast Johnny Depp—king of the hipsters. He'll make Tonto cool, like he made a Little Richard/Keith Richards-based pirate cool. Doesn't he claim he might have Cherokee ancestors, or maybe Creek—one of those? Put him in some mime paint with a dead bird on his head, but call it a spirit animal. Put in a bunch of train explosions, Monument Valley, a madame with big hair—all those chicks in brothels back then had big hair—it's going to be big, Pirates of the Caribbean big, madame with big hair big. Big, big, big!

Big big big big big!

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