Critics’ Corner: We Can’t Wait For Summer!

Critics’ Corner: We Can’t Wait For Summer!

Apr 25, 2011

And Hollywood understands. They think it starts at the end of April. Grae and Dave thoughtfully consider the implications…

Dave: So according to movie release schedules, summer now starts on the first Friday in May.

Grae: Obviously you’re paying too much attention to the road when you drive and not enough to billboards for Fast Five, which state, definitively, that “Summer Begins April 29.”

Dave: I like to think that someone just asked Paul Walker a question about the calendar and that was his answer and it just stuck and he got a raise.

Grae: That could just as easily have been Jordana Brewster’s response, too.

Dave: A fact. Okay so, as proper film critics we are expected to trash the summer movies. And while that can be a great pastime and is often necessary, I’d like to start this conversation by saying that I always anticipate the summer movie season with excitement. This is because I was raised by Jaws and The Empire Strikes Back and Purple Rain, all summer movies. So the question is not when summer starts but when does it start for us?

Grae: For me it starts with THORRRRRR. And boy is his Mjolnir looking good.

Dave: I, too, am stoked for Thor. Any movie where stuff is getting crushed with a giant thunder-mallet has at least that one thing going for it. And I’m experiencing a pre-release enthusiasm for this one that I don't often feel for the run of the mill comic book movies. It could be terrible--and it has at least a 50% chance of living up to that fear--but for now I'm excited. Another one I'm anticipating is Bad Teacher. The trailer for that one got me laughing.

Grae: Nobody makes smeared eye makeup accenting an air of hopelessness and rage look better than Cameron Diaz. I like that they’ve taken the template of sardonic-woman-as-second fiddle and turned her into the hot girl instead.

Dave: Right. So it’s Bad Santa but with someone cute to look at. And obviously you can’t judge a movie by its trailer, but I’m holding out hope.

Grae: If trailers were trustworthy then Sucker Punch would have been the opposite of The Worst Thing to Ever Exist.

Dave: I just pray that Cameron Diaz doesn’t have to learn any important lessons about life before it’s over. You know what doesn't have a funny trailer but that I hear is really great from friends who saw it at SXSW? Bridesmaids.

Grae: Good. I can’t get enough of movies where the women are swearing. It’s like watching myself in a big, bright mirror.

Dave: I like that too. Watching myself in a big, bright mirror I mean. And that is why I’m also looking very forward to—

Grae: Rise of the Apes?

Dave: Yes.

Grae: Me too. I like to pretend, while I’m watching them, that all movies are real, like documentaries. So the idea of James Franco as a scientist in the midst of a monkey rebellion has made me so giddy it’s hard for me not to begin typing in all caps.

Dave: Everything’s better with monkeys. That’s a Law of the Cinema. Even that sucky Tim Burton remake of Planet of the Apes ? I liked it because it had fake monkeys. I know I’m wrong. But I did.

Grae: And we have to talk about Harry Potter. Since I’m new here I don’t know your feelings about Harry. Are you a Potter man?

Dave: Very much so. I mean, I didn’t read the books. But I’m a Potter film enthusiast. And this one, especially, for one specific reason.

Grae: And… that is…

Dave: Death.

Grae: Actually I should have known that was why.

Dave: But, seriously, think of any franchise and the movie quality level as they lurch onward. Think about how insultingly bad they all become by, like, the third installment.

Grae: But the Potter movies get better and better. They made smart choices instead of expedient ones.

Dave: Exactly. Good directors, great casting, respect for the books but not slavishly literal all the time. Think about how they would have turned out if Chris Columbus was still directing them.

Grae: This last movie would be one long Quidditch match with Ron and Hermione getting married at the end.

Dave: So we have at least one huge franchise movie coming this summer where it’s almost a lock that it’ll be decent.

Grae: That and Transformers

Dave: Are you making a joke?

Grae: No.

Dave: Okay, good. Because I like them too. I mean, yes they’re the worst thing that’s ever happened to movies, I totally get that. But I love them. I don’t care that they’re incomprehensible. I don’t care that they break rules of space and time. I don’t care that some of the robots have balls. I don’t care that when they fight I can’t tell which robot is which. In fact, I’m framing this defense all wrong. I like them because they’re incomprehensible and a headache-making visual assault. It’s like they're a giant ongoing art prank someone is playing on the world. I’m totally in favor of every minute.

Grae: And why else do you invent CG but to make a robot climb the pyramids? I’m a little less gung-ho, but only because sometimes after watching them I feel like I just ate a gallon of ice cream on an empty stomach.

Dave: I don’t believe in guilty pleasure. I’ve seen Ozu and Bresson. I eat my vegetables. I don’t need permission to enjoy robot wrestling. Also, this one is on the moon, I think, and it’s got Jason Statham’s girlfriend, whatever her name is, instead of Megan Fox.

Grae: Oh yeah, the Victoria’s Secret model. Those girls really do make the best actresses. Changing gears a little, let’s wrap this up by reminding folks of the odd summer movies. Meaning the ones that just happen to be coming out during the summer that bear no resemblance to what most people think of as summer film. Specifically Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life.

Dave: I’m a huge fan of his and of the idea of counter-programming, in general. So this is going to be beautiful and meditative and all those other Terrence Malick adjectives.

Grae: “Slow” comes to mind.

Dave: As well it should.

Grae: Very excited about The Help and The Beaver.

Dave: The Help will be nice because it's got Viola Davis and because it's the one I'll be able to take my mom to see. It gets tougher in the summer to chaperone her to movies because I don't want to pick one that'll give her a seizure. I think The Beaver might just do that. We'll be avoiding it. I think she might like Beginners, though.

Grae: That's the one with Ewan MacGregor and--

Dave: Christopher Plummer. And my mom loves Christopher Plummer. He's her age, more or less.

Grae: Everyone's mom loves Christopher Plummer.

Dave: And he plays this 80-year-old gay guy finally coming out of the closet. How's that for a plot no one's bothered to get around to until now?

Grae: Does it take place on the moon with monkeys and robots?

Dave: Nope.

Grae: Hmmm. Okay, I guess I'm still in.

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Carmen Ejogo