SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW 2011
paul cooney, john cribbs & eric pfriender
JOHN: I have to admit, I wasn't even paying attention to what was due out this summer. "Superhero movies and sequels" seemed to sum it up pretty well. But I just saw Fast Five, which rocked me to the back of the theater. It felt like Justin Lin was saying "on behalf of Hollywood, we apologize for the many many disappointments you've had to bear over the last couple summers. I hope this makes up for it." And boy howdy did it ever! So now I'm actually excited to see more explosions and car chases and rear bikini shots...but at the same time, I'm skeptical that anything will come close to the epic chase that destroys half of Rio de Janeiro at the end of Lin's masterpiece. To help me decide what might actually be worth seeing, I've recruited 'smoke favorites Eric Pfriender and Paul Cooney (sadly Chris Funderburg is spending the beginning of the summer in style with his wife and son down in Bogota and isn't available to share his thoughts on the new Transformers.) What have we got, dudes?
THOR (Kenneth Branagh, Paramount)
The warrior Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) for his arrogance and sent to Earth to live among humans. Falling in love with scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) teaches Thor much-needed lessons, and his new-found strength comes into play as a villain from his homeland sends dark forces toward Earth.
PAUL: I have grave concerns. Natalie Portman as the honey pot Thor hammers? How can a 90 pound girl withstand the power of his mighty hammer thrusts? I fear her ballet career will suffer. Who is going to watch her stagger around stage in a tutu and complain about how much her pelvis hurts?
Actually I might pay extra to see that.
I digress...have Vincent D'nofrio's lawyers begun their lawsuit yet? I thought he owned the Thor role? The costumes look silly and I don't trust Anthony Hopkins. Kenneth Branagh? How do you say sell-out in Shakespearean? Thou art a douchebag, thine stench wafts through the ages and wounds mine peepers with Olympian violence!
ERIC: So, I have a confession to make: I donít know which superheroes are in the Avengers. That is, I am slowly finding out who makes up the Avengers as new Marvel movies come out. When I was still into superhero comics, I was into the basics: Batman, Spider-Man, and the X-Men. Now that I'm older, those are still kind of the only comic book movies I care about. Batman is like America's Zatoichi, a kind of folk-tale that can keep getting retold in every medium imaginable, and each new generation gets a revised version, but it's always the same basic tale. Spider-Man has an obvious appeal to an adolescent without super powers, since it's about an adolescent with them. (Although I have to say that even in a modern movie industry that can barely think of anything to do but adapt, reboot, remake, reinvent, reuse, and recycle, it seems really soon to be doing another version of Spider-Man. Even Disney used to wait a generation before re-releasing their classics into theaters.)
But even given my admitted lack of knowledge or interest, the slate of superheroes getting movies this summer has the distinct feel of scraping the bottom of the barrel. I have never read a Thor comic. (Nor have I read Captain America or Green Lantern, but we'll get to those later.) I've had people tell me that they canít wait to see what Branagh does with a comic book movie, to which I can only reply "I can." Seriously, who cares? If you like the Shakespearean gravitas that comes with Branagh, wouldn't you just be excited to see him do Shakespeare?
Also, I don't understand why they are pushing so hard for the Avengers movie. Each movie with just one hero already feels overstuffed. How is that thing even going to work? And aren't we about to be on our third version of the Hulk in a decade?
Incidentally, a fun game to play for the next few months: every time Sam Jackson pops up in a Marvel movie, punch the person sitting to your left in the nuts.
JOHN: Thor's a homo.
SOMETHING BORROWED (Luke Greenfield, Warner Brothers)
Friendships are trusted and secrets come to the surface when terminally single Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) falls for Dex (Colin Egglesfield), the fiancť of her best friend Darcy (Kate Hudson.) Also starring John Krasinski. Director Greenfield's first film since 2004's The Girl Next Door.
PAUL: Is it too late to change the title to, SOMETHING THROWN INTO THE OCEAN, NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN? Hahahaaha! Woo!
Rachel falls for Dex, the fiance of Darcy! Dex and Darcy?? Where is this movie set, the land of made-up names? Oh but at least John Krasinski is involved. I saw ten minutes of Leatherheads you monster, how dare you spoil George Clooney's picture with your gangliness and lack of charm! Go back to hell where you belong devil spawn!
ERIC: This is clearly not up my alley, but I'm rooting for the adorable Ginnifer Goodwin despite the fact that she has one of those made-up spellings of her name. And kudos to whoever put this together for casting Kate Hudson as the villain. Is the calculated charm of John Krasinski still working on people? I thought we were done with that.
JOHN: The director of The Animal is back! That's right, they couldn't even get the guy who made the "pseudo-sensitive female" Rob Schneider movie The Hot Chick (the Gisele-less Tom Brady) to helm this pseudo-sensitive female fare. And while we're all on the train that runs down John Krasinski, lemme say I was never taken in by that smug bastard's sly grin-out-the-side-of-his-mouth mugging: who does he think he is, Jesse Bradford? He's not even qualified for a DTV Swimfan sequel. Still, he's got more charisma than this Egglesfield guy - who'd he fuck to get this gig?
All I can say is, I'm an Expendables guy. Doesn't this film have the exact same plot as My Best Friend's Wedding or The Truth About Cats and Dogs or that one where the stand up comedian plays the fat friend? Is there any chance an audience member will get more out of the full feature film than he or she (ok "she," let's not kid ourselves here) would from the all-encompassing 3 minute preview? Everybody gets uptight about horror movies, but I haven't heard a single complaint about "wedding porn." Except Tonya Harding's.
JUMPING THE BROOM (Salim Akil, Tristar)
The wedding of Sabrina (Paula Patton) and Jason (Laz Alonso) brings together her uptown family and his downtown folks over a revealing weekend in Martha's Vineyard.
PAUL: Jumping the Broom? Is this another witch picture? Or does it refer to a vigorous handjob of some sort? Done outdoors perhaps, with the aid of ropes? I'm intrigued I'll shit you not, unless Melissa Joan Hart is involved, cause I don't want Sabrina anywhere near my bits! What's that? She's not in it...it's a bunch of nobodies? Who are the people involved in this movie and why was it allowed to be made? I'm still waiting in vain for Arnold Vosloo to get a starring role and yet this shit streaks down the pike. Class differences at a Martha's Vineyard wedding? Tell that haughty bitch Martha her wine tastes like piss and no one gives a shit about her grapes! Get off your high horse Martha! We're not impressed!
ERIC: Foreign movies aren't supposed to be released during the summer months. I demand to see this film's birth certificate. (Seriously, though: this country is not only racist, but deeply, deeply weird and fucked up about its racism. Even this trailer is racist. It's a movie with a cast made up entirely of African Americans, but then there's that joke at the end: "Itís like the Bold, the Black, and the Beautiful!" So, the joke is that everyone is black? As in "What are all these black people doing in a movie? That is hilarious!"
Or, "This is just like a soap opera, but with black people!" Zing! Honestly, what the fuck?
Since I'm supposed to be planning one, movies about weddings stress me out. The trailer has a couple of funny lines, but just once I'd like to see a class comedy that isn't funny, but rather painfully awkward, the way it really is when you end up in a social situation alien to you. But I guess the movie I'm describing wouldn't be entertaining, and thus disqualified from being a summer flick.
JOHN: "Jumping the broom?" Is that some asinine phrase like "nuking the fridge?" How literal is it? Is there an actual broom-jumping game intregal to the plot? Is clearing the broom worth more points than leaping the mop or lurching the rake? Is it slang for getting out of a chore? "What are you doing here, I thought your old lady asked you to mend the fence." "Nah man, I jumped the broom there." Is it a Dean Martin song? Am I gonna have to see this goddamn movie just to find out what the title means?
No. I don't think that will be necessary.
THE BEAVER (Jodie Foster, Summit Entertainment)
A troubled executive (Mel Gibson) adopts a beaver hand-puppet as his sole means of communicating with his family and colleagues.
PAUL: Mel Gibson as a medieval knight sent on a quest to find the tightest pussy in the realm, the holiest of holes, the Beaver. If ever there was a vehicle that could bring the odious Mel back this is it! Will America forgive him? They are mostly a bunch of racist retards themselves so sure, why the fuck not?
ERIC: I'll try not to make any jokes about Jodie Foster's Beaver here, but it still seems weird to me that she would be interested in participating in the revitalization of Mel Gibson's career. It seems weirder still that anybody thought this was the way to do it. This has that special "Jim Carrey in The Majestic" feel of a premise that everyone thought was going to be heartwarming and Academy-friendly, but is actually just silly, awkward, hollow, and dumb. I could go on, but the simple fact is that Jodie Foster's Beaver looks like it stinks, and I advise you not to go anywhere near it.
JOHN: Seems like several movies these days have revisited the basic "Harvey formula" of a man experiencing some kind of personal meltdown that becomes quirky and cute when it manifests into a relationship with an imaginary/inanimate buddy. They've all sucked. If Adrien Brody in Dummy and Ryan Gosling in Lars and the Real Girl couldn't make it work, I doubt Mel Gibson could bring more to this story we didn't already learn from the Saga of Ranger Joe...
(I know, Ranger Joe's sidekick's not a beaver he's a fucking woodchuck. What am I, retarded?)
Maybe I'm wrong. The material must be good to have drawn Jodie Foster from a 16-year directing hiatus! 16 years is a long time to withstand the demands of a public hungry for a follow-up to Home for the Holidays. No seriously, I just think it's a missed opportunity on Mel's part. Instead of making a movie about it, he should have made fresh headlines by meeting with the heads of the Jewish Church and refusing to talk to any of them except through a beaver puppet. Or producing an all-beaver puppet version of Passion of the Christ. (Yep, I went there.)
EVERYTHING MUST GO (Dan Rush, Roadside Attractions)
After Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell) loses his job, the rest of his life begins to crumble as his wife leaves him and he starts drinking again. Oddly enough, selling his worldly possessions on his front lawn with the help of two neighbors (Rebecca Hall and Christopher Jordan Wallace) might be the key to his preservation. Adapated from a Raymond Carver story by first time writer-director Rush.
PAUL: Will Ferrell as an angry drunk who holds a yard sale and smashes long discarded vases over the unsuspecting heads of bored housewives on the prowl for bargains. This is exactly what this country needs right now to pull us out of our doldrums. An orgy of drunken violence eventually leads to redemption, or so my uncle used to tell me.
ERIC: This thing has a calculated, Little-Miss-Sunshiney, heartwarming pseudo-indie vibe that makes me want to beat it to death with a DVD copy of Garden State. And there's something desperate about the "based on a short story by Raymond Carver" declaration. ("No, this is a real, serious movie! Seriously! With a genuine literary pedigree!") And while I'm pre-disposed to be charmed by movies about broken men who are rescued from the brink by the blossoming of an unlikely friendship with a teenage social outcast, it's actually been awhile since I watched Rushmore, so I'll probably just re-watch that instead.
JOHN: I guess that "man experiencing some kind of personal meltdown" formula also applies to a scenario where it manifests as some kind of quirky act, like throwing a garage sale. Or buying a mobile home. Or taking a trip to wine country. This sounds like Alexander Payne lite to me, which is really saying something since there's no weight whatsoever to Payne's brand of pathetic slub in crisis cinema. And since they already tried to sell "dramatic Will Ferrell" six years ago and nobody gave a flippin fuck, I can't imagine Round Two will meet any more enthusiastic a reception.
PASSION PLAY (Mitch Glazer, Image Entertainment)
Down-and-out trumpet player Nate Pool (Mickey Rourke) meets Lily (Megan Fox), an angelic creature working as a circus sideshow attraction. As they fall in love, the couple must stay one step ahead of the gangster (Bill Murray) who wants Lily for himself.
PAUL: Megan Fox has to choose between Mickey Rourke and Bill Murray?? Was suicide not an option? Is she blind and retarded in this movie or just blind? Megan Fox choosing between repulsive freak Mickey Rourke and creepy old man Bill Murray. Whatevs. I mean sure there are some hot young ladies who are into older men cause they are savvy lazy tarts and enjoy the spoiling a sugar daddy gives them (yes Salmita, you heard me!) and then there are those adorable mixed up chicks with daddy syndrome. God bless those angels. But this shit takes the cake! I know in real life she dates Brian Austin Green and so obviously has egregious taste in men (to say nothing of her tattoos), but I am seriously supposed to believe she is having sexual congress with Mickey Rourke and Bill Murray? She would sooner screw Arnold Vosloo! Anna Nicole Smith woulda had reservations about banging those two decrepit freakshows (I mean that in the kindest possible way.)
ERIC: There's good pretentious and then there's bad pretentious. This is the bad kind.
JOHN: What the fuck happened to Megan Fox? It seems like after Jennifer's Body didn't pan out, her agent just said "Well that's it girly, it's the skids for you!" Since then she's talked herself out of her bread & butter summer action series (not that it wasn't admirable of her to call the kettle black, just not the greatest career move) and appeared in a useless supporting role in the disastrous Jonah Hex. Now she's turning up in this garbage that sounds like it should have gone direct to video. Don't get me wrong, I don't really understand Fox's appeal, but she certainly had America by the balls there for a very brief amount of time and now it seems like she's on a one-way road down Halle Berry Drive.
Everything I've read about the movie compares it to those "bizarre" "indie" movies from the early 90's. I know exactly what they mean, and this sounds EXACTLY like The Dark Backward: instead of a superfluous arm coming out of the dude's back, it's wings coming out of Megan Fox's back. But that's not a good thing! It's just a lame gimmick to add to an otherwise dull melodrama. "She's this chick except, get this...she's got wings."
More movies like this and Megan Fox is gonna be SERVING wings...at Hooters! Burrrrrrn! (But seriously, don't burn those wings, Megan.)
To sum up: just because you can afford to hire Christopher Doyle to shoot your movie doesn't make it legit.
Just a quick little aside/reminder: Natalie Portman won an Oscar for her Aronofsky film, Mickey Rourke did not. There's no justice in this world.
<<Previous Page 1 2 Next Page>>
home about contact us featured writings years in review film productions
All rights reserved The Pink Smoke © 2011