Critics' Corner: Everything Is Terrible! (Or Is It?)

Critics' Corner: Everything Is Terrible! (Or Is It?)

Mar 28, 2011

Grae and Dave try to see both sides of the sequel/prequel/remake/reboot/toy-themed movie onslaught.

Dave: It's too dang early to talk about summer movies, but it has come to my attention--not like, just now or anything—that all movies are summer movies now. Except for The King's Speech.

Grae: We do live in a world of a Neverending Summer, and I hate that 311 song. But I get it—the line between summer and the other months of the year is completely blurred now.

Dave: And so is the line between audiences. Consider what’s coming out here soon. Arthur (remake), Wimpy Kid 2 (sequel to an adaptation), Scream 4 and Fast Five (sequels to sequels).

Grae: I have to digress here a bit—

Dave: I knew I liked you. We haven’t even started this important cinema discussion and you’re already digressing.

Grae: Thank you. So yeah, I would like to go on the record as saying Fast Five is the lamest title for a sweet-ass movie about fast cars. Couldn't they have at least called it Five Finger Discount? Or Paul Walker and Tyrese Wrestle?

Dave: I would have called it FIVE TIMES NOW YOU WILL GIVE US MONEY! SHINY VROOM!

Grae: You should name every movie.

Dave: I would name them the way they do in China. Stuff like Blue People In Three Dimensions.

Grae: That’s like my favorite store on Hollywood Blvd called FAMILY PANTS. I love it when titles tell you exactly what you’re getting. This is why China is a world superpower.

Dave: My favorite store in Hollywood is called BODEGA NO PROBLEM. Sorry, where were we?

Grae: The terrible movies coming out in the next three months.

Dave: Right. It doesn’t matter what they call these movies. Fast Five is just Cars for grownups. Or rather, “grownups.” And I say this having really enjoyed most of those fast/furious movies, even at their rock-stupidest, especially Tokyo Drift, which is the best of them all.

Grae: And since they all have some modicum of wrestling, I like them all equally.

Dave: I’m only now learning about your thing with man-on-man wrestling. But whatever. I’ve been reading a lot lately about why everything is so screwed up in Hollywood. Movies cost approximately one thousand-billion dollars each to make now, so everyone is scared to death to fail. It’s killing cinema--no movies about anything except Stretch Armstrong and GI Joe Deux are being made.

Grae: You’re correct. Everything is an adaptation, sequel, graphic novel, or movie based on a toy. But since I ‘m essentially an optimist, I wonder if this means that we’re headed for another independent revolution?

Dave: No. I think we are headed for Ass, that movie from Idiocracy. Just buttocks on a screen, farting. And it’s kind of our fault. Because truthfully, I like that kind of stuff too. I will happily watch the Stretch Armstrong movie and I’m keeping my hopes up that they’ll provocatively explore the goopy colored liquid that oozed out when you stretched him too far and he broke open. I like hobbits and Michael Bay and Johnny Knoxville taking it to the balls. I like fast and furious cars, and I like aliens.

Grae: This is why we love you. But the cinephiles that complain look like "grownups" throwing tantrums, only to be sated by more ice cream (if ice cream meant movies destroying the integrity of their favorite comic book heroes).

Dave: I only read the comments on this site when someone points one out to me that's especially gross, but one of the consistent comments I get from whoever it is out there with spelling management issues is "Dave, you only like movies where British people drink tea," and "Dave, you don't like real movies."

Grae: To be fair, you do love tea.

Dave: And what that actually means is—besides the fact that most of those commenters are paying no attention at all to what we write—is that the moviegoing population is divided in a way I don’t understand. It’s like if you dare to enjoy an art film from Thailand or any movie that reaches for higher or stranger or less explored ground, then suddenly your love of stabbing and explosions and car chases is erased because now you are an elitist.

Grae: I prefer beer to tea.

Dave: Panderer.

Grae: Though I do agree. What we have is a choice now between an art-house world for one percent of the ticket buying audience where really funny, smart indie films like Please Give and strange ones like Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives are things a handful of people pay money to see, and a multiplex world where it's a giant pair of buttocks. Oh I just scared myself with that.

Dave: The two wide-release movies out right now in theaters are Limitless and Lincoln Lawyer. These should be coming from some big studios. They’ve got big names, big stars. One is sci-fi high concept silliness, and one’s a freaking Matthew McConaughey legal thriller adapted from an airport paperback.

Grae: And yet they got released by Relativity/Rogue and Lionsgate.

Dave: Right. And my feeling is that neither movie fit into a safe-enough marketing package. Limitless breaks rules by featuring a horrible person as its hero--he murders someone remorselessly and suffers no consequences.

Grae: And he drinks blood!

Dave: Exactly. Then Lincoln’s fatal flaw is that it has all adults in its cast and a convoluted plot. And Matthew McConaughey has sex with…A WOMAN HIS OWN AGE.

Grae: Say whaaaat?! That’s as ridiculous as making a fourth Pirates movie without the original cast…oh, wait.

Dave: Right. It's not a crap romantic comedy, it's actually the best movie McConaughey’s been in for years and years. So who releases these movies? Smaller outfits with less to lose. They're not great movies but they're perfectly decent and entertaining and, in their own small ways, they deviate from the norm in what most people would consider inconsequential ways, but somehow that makes them less of a sure bet.

Grae: So you’re saying ideally, there should be more films that bridge the divide—grown up movies for grown ups and for young people who aren’t addicted to pure sensation alone.

Dave: Those young audiences exist. I ran out to see Robert Altman movies when I was 13.

Grae: You realize those movies are about people drinking tea, right?

Dave: I know it makes me weird, but still, I am not alone.

Grae: No you aren’t. With the success of Inception (which is being ignored as a huge hit by the studios because it’s the glaring example that refuses to fit into their worldview, according to a GQ article), people are excited for more unique, original stories. I hope.

Dave: Me too. I want to believe that people who like movies really do like movies, that audiences would be open to any kind of story as long as it was told well, that stuff you don’t have to think about while you’re watching it wouldn’t be the only option on the menu. And most importantly, that we aren’t going to be forced to choose camps, like “I only watch important films” or “I’m no snob, I only watch Adam Sandler and alien invasions.” It’s like we’ve been taught to personally opt out of anything in the culture that isn’t micro-aimed at our sweet spots. That’s no way to live.

Grae: Yes. I want to be surprised. I want to be pushed into the position of having to root for Bradley Cooper even though he just killed a random lady in cold blood. I want to be confused for a minute while I piece Inception back together in my head. I want to go “HUH?” when the long-lost son shows up for dinner having mutated into a Monkey Ghost with laser eyes. (Readers: that last one is from Uncle Boonmee. Check it out.)

Dave: Now, Universal has been taking more chances, in general, than the other guys. But they’re not getting their money back. Look what happened to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Grae: That movie was made for nerds but they didn’t go see it.

Dave: You can't count on nerds. They don't play along.

Grae: If studios want to make money they have to stop counting on these imaginary throngs of nerd crowds rushing out to see nostalgia. If you make a story that speaks to people, they’ll go see it.

Dave: So, having said all this, I would like to close this up by saying that I can’t wait for the Ouija Board movie.

Grae: I’m on board for that, but only if I can bitch and moan about how it’s not only a reboot (see 1986’s Witchboard) but it is a movie about a freaking toy. A toy that I was not allowed to play with as a child, by the way. Oh, and when is Angry Birds happening? That’ll be swell.

Dave: It sure will be. Everybody go see Jane Eyre.

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