Dr. Beardhussein Expounds on Summer 2010’s Lackluster Blockbusters
Check your watches…
I walks up into the movie theater and I’m already happy. I like going to the movies. I enjoy the entire experience and I’ve already covered why.
I don’t go by what’s “Good” or what’s “Bad.” I go by what is Entertaining, and what is not entertaining. I check my brain at the door and let my emotions take over. If a movie makes me happy, yay! If a movie makes me sad, yay! If a movie makes me laugh, yay! If a movie makes me think, yay!
I don’t care if the acting is stellar as long as the lines are delivered naturally, in a way people actually speak. I don’t care if the “plot” (a nebulous word that infuriates me to no end–as seen in my rant about “That Guy”-ing the plots of classic flicks such as The Godfather) is goofy or serious. Just tell me why the characters are doing what they’re doing, and make it interesting and logical enough so that my suspension of disbelief is left in tact.
Thems are my requirements. If those things are checked off, I’m gonna enjoy the movie and tell people I liked it. Let the critics criticize, Let the people that hate whiz-bang movies hate them, Let the acting’n’plot snobs find reasons not to like a movie. Whatever floats your boat.
Me? I’m not that much of a joyless prick.
That being said…
This summer was not a great summer at the movies. Strangely enough, the movies I felt the best after were movies that I had low expectations for (when your BFF is a manager at the local cinema and hooks you up with free passes, you can spend 2 hours on a low expectation movie and risk seeing a clunker) that ended up blowing me away.
There were sequels, reboots, tv-to-big-screen adaptations, comedies from mega-stars, and reimaginings. All of them duked it out from May ’til August, with wildly varying results. Luckily, your ol’ pal Rey is here to tell you what was entertaining and worth the time, and what was kiiind of a letdown.
Movies That Were Awesome And Fun And Made Me Happy
1- Iron Man 2. You had Robert Downey Jr. back as Tony Stark/Iron Man. He was funny, he was heroic, he was vulnerable. You had Gwyneth Paltrow back as Pepper Potts. She was hot. She was loyal. She was hot. You had Don Cheadle taking over as Colonel James Rhodes. He was loyal, he was humorous, and he was brave. You had Mickey Rourke as Whiplash. He was sinister, he was cruel, but he also had that bit of logic that all good heels need to have. You had Samuel L. Jackson as Nicky Fury, and Samuel L. Jackson is always awesome. Lastly, you had Scarlett Johansson, who was so hot that I made “aaughghghghhhhh” noises every time she showed up on screen. Put another way: I would sell my younger brother into slavery to Jabba The Hutt for a long term relationship with Scarlett–and Mario would understand.
2- Get Him To The Greek. At first glance, I wondered if I would really find this funny. Unlike Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill doesn’t have “Samuel L. Jackson Rule” status. So, while I was looking forward to seeing it, I was prepared to be let down. Oh Rey of little faith! I laughed my ass off both times I saw this movie. Russell Brand cracked me up, and Hill did a great job of playing an accessible every man. I would’ve preferred he play the same character he played in Forgetting Sarah Marshall (the Aldus Snow-obsessed waiter, Matthew), but I guess that would be a bit too coincidental. Either way, the movie was very funny and easily the best comedy to come out in Summer 2010.
3- The A-Team. Ten minutes into this movie I was already completely and totally overjoyed. It was funny, it had good action scenes, it had heroic bits… It was awesome. The entire flick was a guy movie paradise, full of insane capers and sequences that, while probably impossible in real life, made for the kind of viewing that 8 year old me would’ve acted out in the backyard for weeks. Unfortunately, the movie tanked at the box office, which means no sequel. I hope the DVD does well enough to warrant one, but my hopes for that are low. Still, the movie itself is a classic “Check Your Brain At The Door And Just Have Fun” experience, so do check it out.
4- Toy Story 3. Now, because I’m a loyalist, I must say that Wall*E is, IMO, Pixar’s crowning achievement (and still probably the most incredible movie I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing), but TS3 had a similar depth and maturity. Plus, the characters are well-known and loved (and overall more enjoyable than in 2009’s Up). Pixar definitely wins again, and this is the third straight summer those motherfuckers had me crying.
5- Despicable Me. Yep, another CGI movie. This one was a lot of fun. Great characters, a fun story, some depth, and a great score by *cringes* Pharrell Williams of the Neptunes. The voice cast was stellar, with Steve Carrell leading the way and Jason Segel as his adversary. This was a good kids flick that adults could like, and as an added bonus, it made me want Minions of my own. Pixar is still the GOAT CGI movie company, but they’ve got some competition with this new (sure to be) Franchise.
6- The Expendables. Speaking of franchises, it looks like Sylvester Stallone has found his next one. I dug this for a lot of reasons. I like the idea of a “Dream Team” of all the action stars. This was like the Ocean’s 11-12-13 movies, only with lots of explosions and cool action scenes. I’m happy for Sly, as his catalog is fairly impressive, even outside of the Rocky and Rambo films. Enjoyable movie, lots of “Hey, it’s ___!” moments, and it also had my 2nd favorite wrestler of all time, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in it. Win-Win-Win!
Movies I Liked But Either Didn’t Necessarily Crash Thru The “I’m Emotionally Invested In This Film” Barrier Or Sort Of Left Me Wanting For One Reason Or Another
1- The Karate Kid. I’ve been over this one already, but let me comment again. I liked this one okay, and seeing as how I was crying during the “Jaden and Jackie Finally Bond” scene, it definitely had me emotionally invested… but it kind of left me wanting. *shrug* Not much more to add. I don’t know what it was missing (aside from “You’re The Best”), but something was definitely missing. I’d see a sequel and give it my usual fair shot, but I won’t necessarily be rushing to see this again when it comes out on DVD (unless a cute girl wants to, but that’s true of pretty much any movie ever).
2- Grown Ups. Another “Hey, it’s ___!” movie, I had a bunch of good laughs during this one. I guess it was cool seeing Chris Rock, David Spade, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider and Kevin James all in one movie, and I like how they’re sort of gearing these movies at their core audience as they are NOW, not trying to make silly movies their core audience would’ve liked back from 1995-2002. I enjoy the growth (no), and like I said, I had some good laughs during this. Still… it never had a great big memorable belly laugh or classic bit, or “bad impression of…” moment or even a line of instantly-quotable dialogue. Kinda brings the experience down juuuust a bit, but still worth checking out.
3- Inception. *ducks barrage of trash being thrown* Look, I liked this movie. I recognize its attempt at outside-the-box-thinking. I sincerely appreciate the fact that they only had 400 CGI shots instead of the usual 2,000 that go into this type of movie. I liked Leonardo DiCaprio (shhh, not so loud! 17 year-old me might hear that and fuck things up even worse!) and Joseph Gordon Levitt. I even liked Ellen Page (who is stupid pretty, even tho’ she suffers from Lack Of Rack–respectfully). The thing is… Those nebulous kinds of endings are supposed to be all the rage. The ol’ “Finale of The Sopranos” draw-your-own-conclusions bit. Great. Fine. Dandy. Ya know what tho’? How about you just tell us what happened. Christopher motherfucking Nolan knows what happened. He just doesn’t want to tell us so he can appear all cool and edgy. Fuck that shit, Chris. If you know the ending, you tell us the fucking ending. You know why in none of the love songs I’ve written it doesn’t say “…and we lived happily ever after?” BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW IF I WILL! You know what happened to Dom Cobb. You know. You’re just not saying it because you’re pissed that we kicked your limey asses in The Revolutionary War and The War of 1812. So, for that reason, Inception ends up on this list.
4- The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. This was a tough one to place. It definitely doesn’t go on the first list, but it also doesn’t really belong on the other lists. I suppose it’s fine here, as I dug the flick, but wasn’t in love with it. It had cute moments and some cool tricks, but I didn’t leave and immediately tell people how great it was. Nick Cage has redeemed himself from the crapfest that was Numbers with this (and with Kick-Ass), so that was nice. Really tho’, the reason I saw this was (aside from the fact that it looked fun) was Mr. Jay Baruchel. Jay’s been granted entry-level “Samuel L. Jackson Rule” status, because of how much I enjoyed his previous films that have come out this year, She’s Out Of My League and How To Train Your Dragon–the latter I enjoyed so much that I put it just below Wall*E on my “All Time Favorite CGI Flicks List.” A good time, a solid rental, and the Jay Baruchel Experience. I’ll take it.
5- The Other Guys. First off–SAMUEL L. JACKSON AND THE ROCK AS COPS!!!!??? There was no chance in hell I was gonna miss this. If there’s any justice in this world (and the jury is still out), they would get their own silly movie. Kind of like Lethal Weapon (i know, i know–shush) meets AnchorMan. Anyway, back to the movie that WAS made. Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg have a surprising amount of chemistry together. I’ll go one step further in saying that Mark Wahlberg stole the show. Marky Mark doesn’t really do (intentional) comedy, so this was a bit of a treat. Will Ferrell though… *sigh* Look, I’m late to the Will Ferrell party, I admit that. I hated everything he did pre-Old School, but after that landmark Frat Pack film, I was a convert. Thing is… Starting with Semi-Pro, he’s just lost his fastball. Step Brothers had its moments, but I didn’t think the humor in it was that substantial. I didn’t bother with Land of the Lost, but apparently nobody else did. I think I hit the nail on the head with “Substantially humorous.” The Other Guys was funny, but were there any quotables? Not really. Were there any particularly funny scenes that stand out a month after I saw the movie? Not really. I enjoyed it in the theater, but that’s kind of it. I’d watch it again on DVD or On Demand, but I’m not in the rush to own this the way I would be for Will’s 2003-2007 movies. Sorry, amigo.
Movies That I Loved Even Though They Were Weird, But By Weird I Mean More Serious And Thought Provoking Than The Other Movies I’ve Mentioned So Far, Plus They Were Funny
1- Cyrus. Jonah Hill shows up again on my movie screen, this time as the socially awkward home-schooled titular character (heh-heh, titular) son of a still smokin’ hot Marisa Tomei. John C. Reilly is the main character of the movie, a divorced guy who is still best friends with his ex-wife (Catherine Keener, aka Andy’s GF in The 40 Year Old Virgin), but it also giving moving on a sincere shot. Anyway, shenanigans ensue when Johnny C. is being cockblocked by Jonah. This movie is funny, but it’s not a comedy. It’s a drama with more than a healthy dollop of comic relief. Performances are great across the board, and as a guy who has *cringes* just turned 30, the idea of still being able to find love later in life–battle damage be damned–appeals very strongly to me. If you’ve got a mature taste in movies, if you want a more complex story, check this out.
2- The Kids Are Alright. Wow… Where to start… The girl that played Alice in the barf-worthy Alice In Wonderland and her brother are the children of Julianne Moore (still CGI status, btw) and Annette Bening (boy is Moore’s, girl is Bening’s), two lesbian partners that are both artificially inseminated by the same man (Mark Ruffalo). Hijinx ensue when the daughter decides she wants to meet her father. This movie was so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so awkward at times, to the point where I was uncomfortable in my chair. Not in a bad way, necessarily, it was just a very raw film that handled the issues of the principle characters in an unflinching manner. That being said, it was also very funny in spots (fair warning tho’: i saw this with my BFF and hetero-lifemate Joe, and we had a great time making quiet jokes during the film, so that might be why I remember it being so funny), and the characters were all likable.
3- The Switch. I know, I know. Let me ‘splain. First off, despite the advertising: this is NOT your generic Jennifer Aniston Rom-Com. This is another drama that has a liberal amount of comic relief. Also? Jennifer Aniston is the antagonist, but the story mostly revolves around Jason Bateman. If you can get past the premise (man switches the sperm sample his best friend was going to use to get herself pregnant with one of his own, wackiness ensues), there are just a ton of things to like about this movie. Bateman’s character is similar to John C. Reilly’s in Cyrus, only instead of just being an average guy stuck in one place, he’s an average guy stuck in one place…while also being neurotic and over-thinkery (sorry if that was redundant… sorry if that was redundant…). Bateman’s character development was stellar, and logical. He didn’t wake up one morning, make a speech, and POOF! Happy ending. He goes thru some shit, and he takes you with him. For me, seeing this older dude have his life go one way for so long, only to have a curveball thrown… It’s a story I can get behind. The idea of being a father probably means more to me than I’m willing to discuss right now, most likely because it’s very, very, very far off, so watching ***MINOR SPOILER ALERT*** Bateman interact with his son touched a nerve (in a good way). Plus, before he knows it’s his son, their exchanges remind me of my nephews Bryon and Nicholas, and anything that reminds me of them is a good thing. ***SPOILER ALERT OVER*** So yeah, good flick. It was just saddled by a lousy advertising campaign that focused on the film being another Aniston Rom-Com. Bollocks to that.
Movies That Were A Very Pleasant Surprise Despite The Lousy Reviews Or My Feelings On/Or General Cynicism *salutes General Cynicism* Of The Stars Involved
1- Shrek Forever After. I can’t stand Mike Myers. Not even a little. He’s so severely untalented that I almost want him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Cameron Diaz irks me. She’s irked me ever since she got too skinny (Hollywood calls it “Toned”, I call it “Eat a sandwich, already!”) and forgot that she was Cuban. Eddie Murphy I’m okay with. The Shrek series itself has also kind of always bugged me. I thought the first one was good enough, I really ended up liking the second, and the third was crap… but throughout it all, they just seemed very forced and almost cynical. I can’t dig that. Too many shots at Disney, and the fact that Mike Myers dug up the Scottish accent that he had already beat into the ground just kinda turned me off. Still, it was a weekday afternoon and my friend Briana had picked me up from work and it was the only thing we wanted to see, so we ended up seeing Shrek Forever After. You know what though? I ended up liking it. I thought the humour was on point, and the annoying things about the 3rd film (Justin Timberlake’s character’s whiny ass and the annoying Disney Princesses) were no longer there. They were definitely running out of gas by the end of the movie, but they made it there pretty much okay. A fitting farewell to the franchise.
2- Killers. I hate Ashton Kutcher. I thought Punk’d was, Justin Timberlake episode aside, the stupidest shit ever. “Wow, you spent $40,000 to fool me and it worked! Gosh, I’m so gullible!” No, no. If someone spends $40k on a stunt and I fall for it, I’m not gullible. I’ve got no reason NOT to believe it. Assholes. So there’s him. Katherine Heigl is another victim of “Toned” Syndrome. Back when *barf* Grey’s Anatomy first started, she had this thick body with a great rack, and it matched her pretty face. Then… *sigh* Then that abysmal wreck of a show took off and she headed straight to the “Toned” factory and now she’s another hollywood bobblehead with deflated boobs being puffed up by the evil bastard wonderbra device (sorry if that was harsh, but these chicks are too skinny and I’m, quite frankly, offended at the American ideal that skinny chicks are the beauty ideal). So the movie had all of that working against it. Then… Then I kinda actually liked it. It was fun, it had some humour, a couple of scenes went differently from what I thought would happen, and the ending wrapped everything up nicely. I can’t really complain about that. I still hate Kutcher (less nowadays seeing as how he’s not really all over the place and his big starring vehicle bombed), but Heigl’s new Rom-Com (what’s a “rom-com”? it’s right here!) with Josh “Sam Jackson Rule Status” Duhamel looks fun.
3- Knight and Day. We’ve already covered how I feel about Cameron Diaz, but lemme expound on Tom Cruise for a moment. *ahem* I like Tom Cruise. Sure, he follows a wacky religion and he spazzed about vitamins and whatnot five years ago, but riddle me this: Has he ever been caught with a prostitute? Have you ever heard about him getting drunk and acting a fool? Any arrests? Anyone ever claim he’s been rude or worse to a fan? No? Right, I didn’t think so. He jumped on a couch, and said Brooke Shields should stay off meds, and belongs to a funny religion. You know what tho’? Who the fuck cares? If his funny religion makes him a nice guy who is charitable and a good father, then more people should go hang out with Xenu or whatever. Maybe he just doesn’t like those danged pills being prescribed left and right! Maybe he was just plain happy he was with Katie frickin’ Holmes! The guy’s a regular guy, and a nice guy, and most of the people in this country are under-educated fuckbags. There ya go. On to the film! I liked this one. Kind of on the long side (and if one of you says “That’s what she said”, I will find you and I will smack you), and the ending was kiiiiinda hokey, but it was fun. This is a good date nite DVD flick, plus Tom Cruise was in wacky fun mode, and I laughed quite a bit at him. Between this character and his hilarious “Les Goodman” character, it’s proof that Mr. Cruise should be doing more comedy. I say we team him up with Rudd, Rogen, or Segel and make it hizznappen!
4- Going The Distance. First off, this movie should really be in the first category, “Movies That Were Awesome And Fun And Made Me Happy.” Unfortunately, it’s earned it’s spot here because I read the review and thought the movie was going to be average at best. Turns out that it’s one of the funniest Rom-Coms I’ve seen in quite some time. There’s an authenticity in it that I enjoy, plus I’m a sucker for a good love story. The leads in this movie–Drew Barrymore and Justin Long–are solid, and I felt that their interaction was believable (even tho’ I was surprised to hear Barrymore curse so much. she wasn’t necessarily raunchy, but come on! she doesn’t usually cuss!). The supporting cast was great in this too. Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day were very funny, and Day’s character in this film was similar to his character on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia–something I rather enjoyed, as I’ve recently gotten into the show and find it very funny (a fact my BFAMs Tank and MK will be happy to hear). Good flick, very funny, and it’s a shame the critics panned it. Shows what those fuckbags know.
Movies That Were Just Aight For Me, Dawg
1- Predators. Ya know… I was giddy when I heard they were bringing this series back. I ranged from “Content” to “Whoa!” with all the other Predator films, so I was excited. This movie tho’… Mmm. I mean like, it was okay. Some cool scenes, some nice dives into the Predator universe. It was just lacking for me in a lot of areas. It was more remake than sequel (director Robert Rodriguez views it as a skraight sequel to the Arnie film), and it’s only a reboot in the sense that they ignore every other Predator-featurin’ film to come out. Maybe I hadn’t seen the original recently enough to be able to point out the homages, but I would put this far behind Predator and Predator 2. Sorry kids.
2- Dinner For Schmucks. *sigh* I like Steve Carrell. I love Paul Rudd. I hate Zach Galifianakis with a passion, and that other d-bag from The Hangover that was in this can go scratch. The thing is… There just wasn’t anything redeeming about any of the characters. Paul Rudd doesn’t really learn anything, and Carrell’s character was so stupid that I couldn’t take him seriously. He was just soooo dumb that it took me completely out of my Suspension of Disbelief. I had a couple of laughs, but this was definitely the least-funny movie of the summer for me. Sorry, Paul. I hope we can still be friends.
3- Piranha 3-D. This movie is currently the greatest Terrible Cinema Tuesday film of all time. It had gratuitous EVERYTHING. Boobs, blood, killer fish, Christopher Lloyd, Ving Rames, Elisabeth Shue, Kelly Brook, and so many adult film actresses that I felt ashamed at being able to recognize all of them. It had over-the-top deaths and peril and mayhem and Eli Roth’s head exploding. It had everything that I want out of a low budget cheesy horror movie. The thing is… I wasn’t really very entertained. There was SO much blood, there was SO much gore… I mean, I’m the boobest boob guy you’ll ever boob, but I felt like even the boobs got to be a bit much. At some point, it felt like it was TOO gratuitous, without any kind of art behind it. I know, I know, art shouldn’t come into play with a TCT movie, but this was a shallow flick even for what it was. Was I entertained? Sure. Did I feel good about it afterwards? No.
Movies That Were Free, So They Had That Going For Them, Which Is Nice
1- Robin Hood. My father wanted to see this one, and he prefers going to the movies with me. I saw this but was more concerned with the Game Nite that was to take place after it. Movie had some cool fight scenes and a line or two that made me chuckle, but there wasn’t anything remarkably good or bad about it. The movie was set up to have a sequel, but the box office take was so low that it looks like it won’t happen. Ah well.
Movies That Were Crap, Crap I Say, Crap
1- Sex and the City 2. For anyone rolling their eyes and sarcastically saying, “Wow, really? The Sex and the City movie sucked? I didn’t need to read 2,000 words to know that, Rey!” allow me to formally invite your lips to be introduced to my metallic blue ass. The first SATC film was actually very enjoyable (as I say here). If your knowledge of the series included knowing the names of the girls, you knew enough to like the movie (i wasn’t a follower of the show, but I had enough nites with female friends watching episodes to get familiar, clinton sparks). That being said, every single bit of good will and contentment from knowing that beloved characters were sent off properly that was generated from the first movie was ripped apart and shat on by this sequel. I’m not a critic at all, but this was bad. The jokes were bad, the movie was overly long, the characters were gimmicky… I just couldn’t get into this one, despite the fact that Kristin “Charlotte” Davis is one of my All Time Favourite MILF-Next-Door Brunettes. It was just not good, and worse than that, I wasn’t entertained–the worst sin a movie can commit. Also… the ending… I might’ve popped a blood vessel screaming about how stupid it was.
2- Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. My goodness, what a waste of $100m-$200m. This thing… Like… It was awful. It didn’t make any sense. Jake Ggyylleennhhaall was laughable as a sword swinging hero. The plot… See, I know I bitched about use of the word plot, but for the life of me I didn’t know why any of the characters were doing anything! The girl in the movie, Gemma Arterton, is ridiculously hot, but that’s where the enjoyment stopped. Over three months later and I’m still trying to figure out what the fuck happened.
3- Splice. This is the worst piece of shit I’ve ever had the misfortune of seeing in a theater. It was awful. God-awful. People that bitch about the Prequel Trilogy or the Transformers movies or the last Indiana Jones movie need to never, ever, ever criticize movies again until they’ve watched this crap. I mean, I get what they were trying to do–the old “Man Shouldn’t Play God” bit. This fuckin’ thing tho’ was an abomination on all levels. I’m actually getting physically angry just typing about it. It sincerely offends me that this movie was made… and people thought it was a good movie. Let me put it this way: I’d rather listen to Young Money’s debut album for 2 hours than watch this piece of shit. Adrien Brody should be ashamed of himself. I saw it for free and I wanted my money back. Enough. I’m gonna vomit.
So let’s see…
I saw 25 movies this summer.
Only 6 of them made me go, “Wow!” when I knew for sure I would go, “Wow!”
3 of them made me go, “Wow.” when I thought they’d be weird or long’n’talky or just plain bad.
The majority of them were good times, but ultimately forgettable.
Some were terrible.
Not a great Summer Movie Season, and I don’t think we’re ever gonna see a SMS like we had in 1999, 2002, 2004, or 2007, where it was hit after hit, classic after classic, event movie after event movie.
25 movies, some I saw more than once (Iron Man 2, Get Him To The Greek, Inception), other movies in that span that didn’t necessarily count (I’m looking at you, chick flick to end all chick flicks Letters to Juliet), so let’s call it a good 60 hours spent at the cinema this summer.
I like it, as I like the movies.
Let’s just hope next summer has a bit more of List One, and far less of List Two.
Call Reynolds, Cuz it’s a Wrap
Okay kids, that’s it for today. I hope you had fun reading my ramblings on the cinema!
As always, comments, critiques, questions, and reasons why Iron Man 2 sucked but Splice ruled can be left below in the Dr. Donda West-Christopher Wallace Memorial Comments Section.
Thanks for tuning in,
PS– This thing was 4,851 words. There are bound to be grammar errors. Make your peace with it, lol.
Editor’s Note– I forgot to add another note on Katherine Heigl… Apparently she had some disparaging remarks to make about the movie that made her a viable box office commodity, the Judd Apatow-directed film, Knocked Up. She had some comment about how she never would have taken the role opposite Seth Rogen if she knew what the movie was going to end up being. And what did that film end up being? A $100m+ box office success. Moron.